A Kingdom Set Aside

Good morning. Today is Thursday, June 13, 2013.

There’s not a lot to report today. I had to work late yesterday, kind of doing damage control, as the temp that was (and I do emphasize the word “was“) working with us had a bit of a meltdown the night before. Based on emails that I can see (and ones that I don’t see), things are going pretty smoothly this morning. Oh, and I officially have vacation scheduled the week of June 24. Woot! I wish we could afford to go back to Cancun. Not yet, though.

Today is Sewing Machine Day. Okay. Well, we have one of those. I’m not sure if I have ever used one of those things.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
323 BC. “Towards evening today in the fabled city of Babylon he died, still only 32. In his twelve years and eight months as King of Macedonia he changed for ever the Western world. He was Alexander the Great.” Oh, the conspiracies abounded. There were bad omens. “Alexander’s pet lion was kicked to death by a donkey.” “Pet lion???” Ravens fought over the walls of Babylon and one fell dead at Alexander’s feet. Perhaps conspirators had poisoned his wine. However, modern historians believe that, “already weakened by alcohol,” he died from malaria. Told by his mother that Zeus was his father, rather than Philip II, shortly before he died, he order “all Greeks to worship him as a god.” Over time, this thought was eventually transformed into “the divine right of kings.”

Today’s birthday is Malcolm McDowell, born on this date in 1943. Malcolm is, of course, and actor that goes way back. He has had a wide diversity of roles, from “Alex” in A Clockwork Orange (I still haven’t seen that movie), to Paul Gallier in the 1982 remake of Cat People (loved that movie!). He even played Caligula in the movie of the same name. He’s had a recurring role in The Mentalist as Bret Stiles, a religious cult leader. He has been in 224 titles in his career as an actor, including 11 titles that are currently in production. I used to think he was related to Roddy McDowall. Then I realized their names weren’t even spelled the same. I like them both pretty equally. Well, except that Roddy passed away in 1998.

Honorable mentions go to Basil Rathbone, 1892, Paul Lynde, 1926, Whitley Streiber, 1945, Dennis Locorriere (Dr. Hook), 1949, Ally Sheedy, 1962, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, 1986.


Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:1, 3
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Psalm 86:4
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! Psalm 57:5

Father, I pray that you would “gladden the soul of your servant” today, as I look into your word to find grace and truth for my day ahead. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!

Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Guiding the Nations.” The scripture reading is Psalm 67:1-5.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!

This psalm is a strong call for the people of the earth to give praise to God. While his actions definitely include his “chosen people,” they reach far beyond that simple demographic. We have readily acknowledged that God can guide individuals through “circumstances, signs, dreams, visions, and angels.” But have we considered that he can also guide and entire nation? Is that difficult for us to fathom? It really shouldn’t be. The Old Testament is replete with examples of God guiding entire nations to do things. And if he can guide nations, then he can certainly guide individual bodies of believers, right?

The question is asked, “If God can guide the nations, how does this impact your vision about how God can guide you in the greatest concerns of your life?” The problem is, the thought of God guiding nations and other large bodies of humanity has a reverse effect on me. It tends to make me think that God is not so concerned about guiding one individual. Now, mind you, I don’t believe that, it’s just the way my brain works. The “correct” answer is that, if God can easily guide a whole nation of people, then he can certainly guide me with ease, as well.

I’m still reading chapter 1 of The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard. (I’m working quite slowly through this book, as I want to “digest” it properly.) In yesterday’s segment, I discussed the idea that, in our efforts to rule our own kingdoms, we, as humanity, attempt to do so on our own, in our own strength, therefore getting quite off the path that God desires for us. Willard writes that, in cooperation with God, however, we “discover the effectiveness of his rule with us precisely in the details of day-to-day existence.” Do we think that God doesn’t care about the minute details of our lives? I have thought that. How could the Creator of the universe be bothered with little details in my life. Frank Laubach discovered that God does, in fact, care. As he cultivated a habit of turning his mind to Christ frequently throughout his day, he found that there was “a sense of cooperation with God in little things” that was astonishing to him. He had never felt this way before. “I need something, and turn round to find it waiting for me. I must work, to be sure, but there is God working along with me.” (From Practicing His Presence, by Frank Laubach)

“When we submit what and where we are to God, our rule or dominion increases.” What did Jesus say in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Willard goes so far as to say that “the heavenly Father has in fact prepared an individualized kingdom for every person, from the outset of creation.” That is difficult for us to wrap our heads around, isn’t it? But Willard says “we have a very weak imagination toward God, and we are confused by our own desires and fears, as well as by gross misinformation.” We must learn to trust God with what he has given us, and he will gradually increase our “kingdom” until we have what he planned for us. Look at verse 34 in the parable: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ (pp. 23-25)

Now, this sounds dangerously like prosperity gospel, doesn’t it? But I know Dallas Willard well enough to know that this is NOT what he is espousing here. This will become more clear as I keep reading in days ahead.

Father, I pray that I would continue to seek your guidance in my life on a daily basis. The timing of this segment on the discipline of guidance is very good, as there may be a major decision for me to make soon. And, right now, I can tell you, I’m not at all clear on which way I should decide. In fact, what was clear to me before has suddenly become quite muddy. Therefore, I need your wisdom in this decision (should it come up at all). I believe that you can guide an individual just as well as you can guide a whole group of people. I also believe that you care about my daily activities, and that I need to be faithful to submit everything in my little “kingdom” to you. Give me faith as I “rule” my realm. May I submit all to you and allow your cooperation in my area of influence, thereby also allowing you to expand that influence. As I pray daily, keep me faithful to stay focused on the needs that I am called to pray for. I also pray daily that you form the life of Christ in me as I live, and that your peace will not only flood my soul, but overflow onto all around me.

I pray for this day. I pray for Christi as she continues walking in a regular shoe, that she will not overdo it and wind up back in the boot. She’s having a little soreness and swelling this morning, so I pray that she will take it a little easier today. I pray for her work day, that it will go smoothly, and that her job will remain secure (or that something better will come along). I pray for Stephanie today, that you would be her light today, and show her how to “rule her kingdom.” I thank you for some recent developments at my job that could make these last seven days on this account a little better. Give me the grace and strength to get through them, and then have a wonderful week of vacation.

Your grace is sufficient.

God can certainly guide us as individuals, and consider that he has a “kingdom” already set aside for you to “rule.”

Grace and peace, friends.