Guest Post Featuring Amy. . . Pondering

I am so glad my friend Amy is over here today posting. Amy is a real woman, who loves Jesus, and shares her journey through life in an open and often humorous way. I know you will be blessed and challenged by her post today. AND over at her blog she is having a link-up party. Check it out by clicking here.

Pondering

I was stuck. My Bible study ended and I had no direction as to what comes next. As I sat, day after day with my Bible in my hands, praying and clueless, I asked God where to turn. Several aimless weeks later, I decided to just start at the beginning of the New Testament and read.

As I opened to Matthew, the Bible-Belt-Southern-Baptist-Raised voice in my head said “I’ve heard these stories a hundred times. Maybe I could just skip them and start with Acts.” But no, my OCD side won over. Not start at the beginning? No way.

So I waded in, completely expecting to find nothing new.

I got as far as Matthew 4:17 and came to a screeching halt.  “From that time Jesus began to preach ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Now, I’m unsure if I was ever actually TOLD this, or if somehow I just inferred it growing up, but basically I had always interpreted this verse as “Repent, for you are about to die and you may not get into heaven.” The kingdom of heaven was equated with the afterlife in my brain.

Suddenly I realized I had been wrong. And if I was wrong about that verse, then I was wrong about everything else in the next few chapters of Matthew. All the parables: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard….”, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven….,”, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field….” and on and on it went.

It felt a bit like I thought the world was flat and someone proved me wrong. Everything began to shift inside of me. This was the gospel that JESUS preached and I had ignored it my entire life.

I suspect we all have. I have never heard a sermon on what the kingdom of heaven is. I’ve never read a book that explained it to me. And, after taking a random poll that likely made people think I was mentally ill, I realized no one else has a clear idea either.

All this, after knowing the Lord for 18 years, and a seminary education.

My mission has been to answer this question ever since. At times I have been completely undone by the fact that this was such a major part of the gospel and I was still confused as to what it meant. I have read every book I can find that talks about the kingdom, listened to every podcast, asked every preacher.

I want to understand. 

And now, five years after that initial shock to my system, my quest continues. It is back in the forefront of my mind and I am yet again praying through what this means for my life as a believer. What am I to do with this?

Here is what my muddled mind has decided upon.

The kingdom of heaven is not an idea, it is a tangible reality. We are daughters and sons of a King, we have this King dwelling inside of us (Holy Spirit), and anywhere this King is present is the kingdom. We are ambassadors of a kingdom that IS the gospel, the actual good news. The good news that life can be so much more that what those outside know. That the King wants them for his own. That this King fights not only for their souls, but also for their earthly lives.

The kingdom of heaven moved into South M street last month. We are but one of at least twenty houses on our street, our number small, a mustard seed. As I pray for my neighbors, get to know them as friends, minister to their needs and join them on their journey to get to know the King then the tiny mustard seed will grow. The seed on South M will grow into a mighty tree that the people on the surrounding streets will want to come and find shade in. (Matthew 13:31-33, International Amy Version)

How about you? Are you exploring the kingdom of heaven? It’s right there in the room you’re in, it’s outside on the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house, it’s in the coffee shop you frequent and the preschool your child goes to. Don’t keep it to your self, make sure to look for people to share the Good News with.

 

Amy Schaffner lives in the promised land of Arkansas with her husband, two kids and two dogs that sleep entirely too close to her. She loves Jesus with all her heart, and is trying hard to figure out how to live that out in her daily job of mothering and homeschooling. She blogs about her life, the good, the bad, and the ugly – the adventures of ministry, motherhood and anxiety disorder that makes her just crazy enough to be interesting. You can find her at her home on the web at http://www.piecesofamy.blogspot.com/ or on facebook www.facebook.com/PiecesOfAmy.

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Angela
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4 Responses to Guest Post Featuring Amy. . . Pondering

  1. Lorri says:

    great job Amy! I have never thought of it that way…

  2. Gary Ware says:

    Hello Angela and Amy,
    Both your posts have intrigued for some time in your desire/hunger for God’s presence. “Pondering” stirred a reply trigger as a brother to a sister regarding our Father. From our beginning Father desired a close personal relationship with us:
    Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
    Gen 3:9 And the LORD God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou?
    Gen 3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden
    He knew them, visited regularly, and they knew him. Through the centuries God searched for people that wanted to be close to him, and when he found them, he blessed them and used them to reach others, and heal, and deliver, etc.
    His children lived normal lives taking care of themselves and the Earth. When required, he would direct them and empower them to do great things:
    Gen 21:1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
    Gen 21:2 And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

    Jdg 13:2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.
    Jdg 13:3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
    Jdg 13:4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:
    Jdg 13:5 for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head: for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.
    Jdg 13:6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; and I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
    Jdg 13:7 but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazirite unto God from the womb to the day of his death.
    Jdg 13:8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, Oh Lord, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do onto the child that shall be born.
    Jdg 13:9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.
    Jdg 13:10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and told her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.
    Jdg 13:11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
    Jdg 13:24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.

    Mar 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits;

    Luk 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall in any wise hurt you.
    Luk 10:20 Howbeit in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

    Mat 28:18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.
    Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost:
    Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

    Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.

    Act 3:4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us.
    Act 3:5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them.
    Act 3:6 But Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.
    Act 3:7 And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his ankle–bones received strength.
    Act 3:8 And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
    Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus:

    Normal Christian lives may include any of the happenings in scripture and more. Do we see Angels daily or heal some disease daily? No, but we are capable, when instructed and empowered.
    As a Christian:
    • I responded to a friend of a friend to visit a dying young man, husband and father, in a hospital. Medical staff confirmed his condition before I spoke with him and his wife, prayed and left. Within two days, he left the hospital and in a week was back at work and riding his motorcycle.
    • My wife and I responded to a family request to visit and pray for their son in a local hospital. We confirmed his terminal condition with the medical staff, visited with him, prayed and left. About two months later, we attend a social and heard about the miraculous cure of a certain young football player. Inquiring, we discovered it was the same young man and God healed him and he was again playing football.
    • We attended the funeral of a young person in our church. During the closing prayer, with our heads bowed and eyes closed, I among others, heard flapping of wings. Several raised our heads, at the sound, and saw Angles descending through the ceiling, landing at the head of the casket, then walking to the foot facing the family.
    • A friend and I visited a man in ICU, having attempted suicide, to pray for him. He was strapped in the bed because of continuous major convulsions from the gunshot damage. We were new at this, and were not sure what to do. The scripture about Jesus crying Peace to the raging storm came to my mind so we laid our hands on him and simply said, “Peace”.
    o The convulsions instantly stopped, the ward nurses looked at us and then his equipment to confirm he was alive. We prayed for him and at patient’s request, several others in ICU, then left. We quietly returned to my car, and once inside, FREAKED OUT. OMG, what happened in there? Nothing to report afterward, because we were assigned to pray and leave the rest to God.
    Act 3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk?
    Act 14:12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercury, because he was the chief speaker.
    Act 14:13 And the priest of Jupiter whose temple was before the city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the multitudes.
    Act 14:14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out
    Act 14:15 and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is:
    Act 14:16 who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways.
    Act 14:17 And yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.
    Act 14:18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the multitudes from doing sacrifice unto them.
    Act 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch,
    Act 14:22 confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.

    Peter, Paul and the others emphasized they were normal Christians that God chose to use at a specific time. The Natural world we live in governs our abilities but the world God lives in merges with ours to circumvent, not oppose, the natural. When God imbeds his spirit in us as at:
    Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
    Act 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
    Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

    We are once again in his presence and empowered to live a supernatural life in a natural world. Notice, John’s love for Jesus was deeper than the other disciples and he expressed it by being closer to him than the others; also Martha and Mary, Zacharias. In a family, one child or more will tend to be more sensitive to the parent than the other children; in a group of people one spouse is more attentive to his/her spouse than others are to theirs.
    This is NOT dependency or co-dependency, it is a natural love that is stronger and desires the presence of the other family member/spouse/friend. When my wife and I go to the Mall, we hold hands while walking, and she often comments about people looking at us. I realized I notice other couples as they display affection. When our relationship with God is such that “we hold hands or lean on each other, it draws others.
    I have observed some people after prayer as they literally glowed. My wife and I returned from a trip and were looking for friends in a crowded airport. We noticed a brighter area and moved toward it. As we drew closer, we saw our friends, the glow was coming from them.
    Exo 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of the testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him.
    Exo 34:30 And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

    My wife and I were visiting with friends we had not seen in years. During the visit, I kept noticing a glow about his wife and finally asked if she had experienced the Holy Spirit and she answered, Yes. Then I explained the reason of my question.
    My friend replied, “I told her she was crazy but if this was real, then have God send someone to him that he would believe.” Well, here I am and the experience is real.
    http://onepersontoanother.blogspot.com/2012/05/only-for-gods-or-only-with-god.html
    http://onepersontoanother.blogspot.com/
    Ladies, a friend of ours said:
    Php 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on, if so be that I may apprehend that for which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus.
    Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself yet to have apprehended: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,
    Php 3:14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
    Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, even this shall God reveal unto you:
    Php 3:16 only, whereunto we have already attained, by that same rule let us walk.
    Php 3:17 Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them which so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.

    James was reprimanding some Christians having problems and in the midst of his converse, he writes:
    Jas 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.

    The principle James emphasized is when they went closer to God he would be moving closer to them.
    Luk 19:2 And behold, a man called by name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief publican, and he was rich.
    Luk 19:3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the crowd, because he was little of stature.
    Luk 19:4 And he ran on before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
    Luk 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.
    Luk 19:6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

    I told my wife that as I typed this, I trembled and shook from excitement for you. I am an Asperger and have to reign myself in when great things are in process.
    1Jn 5:14 And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us:
    1Jn 5:15 and if we know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.

    I am still learning about blogging and responding. I hope this comment is not too long, pretentious or appears to proselyte. I am Christian by lifestyle and Pentecostal by doctrine.

    Have a wonderfully full and long Christian experience and grow in Jesus.

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