Pre-order Kingdom Come in time for Easter!

Jesus teaches his disciples to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” But how does this actually happen? How can we participate in bringing the “then and there” to the “here and now?” If we are designed to join with Jesus in ushering in the reign of God what do we do? What are some simple, practical steps we can take to be shaped and formed by this new ultimate reality called “resurrection?” And, how can we experience resurrection – the triumph of Christ over sin and death – in a way that makes a difference where we live today?

Good questions…Image

In “Kingdom Come” Pastor Nathan Oates offers a seven part description of heaven which, he argues, serves as a powerful prescription for living here and now.

Order your copy here.

 

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Let Go to Hold On

Jesus wants us to experience a connection with God that is complete.  This is the point of his teaching about the vine and the branches in John 15.

What does “complete connection” look like?

According to the branches metaphor, “complete connection” includes two concepts:  pruning and fruit.

Pruning speaks to what must be let go, or taken away.  Fruit is the reason or the purpose or the goal.

Fruit is the evidence that the connection is complete.  It’s the designed result of a complete connection.

Pruning is the process of removing anything that hinders the desired fruit/result of that complete connection.

Here’s a story: When my son was two, he was a phenomenal climber.  We would regularly find him on top of furniture, ascending chain-link fences, and climbing trees.   Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 3.57.30 PM

Once he climbed so high in the tree in our yard that I had to climb up after him.  And at the critical point in the rescue attempt, I told him to let go of a branch.

What was so hard about this was that,

a few minutes earlier I had told him,

“hold on to that branch.”

Why was I now telling him to let go of it?

So he could hold on to me.

This was difficult.  It always is.

I was telling him to let go of a secure thing,

a known thing,

a good thing.

Was I being cruel?  Unwise?  No.  I understood something that, to him, seemed counterintuitive and scary: he needed to let go of something in order to hold on to someone.

Because God is good, what God does is good.  The pruning, the command to let go, is always and only motived by God’s desire for a more complete connection with you, his child.

Ash Wednesday

This tradition emerges somewhere in the 10th century in which Christians begin the season of Lent with a gathering centered around receiving the mark of the cross in ashes on their foreheads.

Ashes: symbolize our desperate need,

The Cross: is the symbol of our great hope in Christ,

The forehead: communicates our core identity.

And frankly, aside from baptism and communion, it is difficult for me to imagine a more perfect image of the gospel than the mark of the cross, in ashes, on my forehead.

In other words, what is Christianity?

It’s the message that I am, fundamentally,

a sinner saved by the grace of God in Christ.

I was dead, but Jesus has given me life.

That’s who I am.  That’s my core identity.

And admitting and embracing the truth of who I am is the

first step toward a whole-hearted relationship with Jesus.

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And so this is the ancient tradition:

I approach a minister who traces the cross on my forehead with ashes while he looks me in the eyes and says, “Nathan, from dust you have come and to dust you will return.  So turn from your sin and believe the good news!”