The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence

Have you ever read the verse about the kingdom of heaven suffering violence and the violent taking it by force, and wondered what it meant?

"And from the days of John the Baptist 
until now the kingdom of heaven suffers 
violence,  
and the violent take it by force."  
Matthew 11:12

John the BaptistThe context for the verse is “the days of John the Baptist.”

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight.’ ” 
Matthew 3:1-3

After hearing him preach, what do you think the Jews were looking forward to?

They wondered if John was the Messiah, or Elijah – who Malachi prophesied would be sent before the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5.)

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem asked who he was: “Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.  He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.””  John 1:19-21

Jesus indicated John was a type for Elijah when He said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Matthew 11:14 

The Day of the Lord is yet to come and so is Elijah.  He may be one of the two witnesses described in Revelation 11.

Elijah will explain both Testaments and unite Jews and Christians, as he shows how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6

Elijah will probably also heal a generational divide which I fear will happen as our children are being taught a different version of end-times after receiving an Agenda 2030 based green gospel at school.  Imagine being a climate skeptic with a child like Greta Thunberg.

Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”  It doesn’t bear thinking about.  If it’s uncomfortable now – what will it be like in the future?

But getting back to Jesus’ day, the Jews believed John the Baptist when he announced the Kingdom of God was at hand.  When Jesus fed the crowd of 5000 bread, they intended to make Jesus king by force. (John 6:14-15)

Were these people violent or enthusiastic and desperate?  I don’t know, but Jesus separated Himself from the the crowd.  Their idea of the kingdom of God was not His or His Father’s.

Before the Kingdom of Heaven can come, a false messiah and a false kingdom headed by ten kings will come first.  Jesus warned us not to be deceived.

Will we have to go against the crowd at a time when truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey?
(Isaiah 59:14-15)

Matthew-11-12-How-to-Enter-the-Kingdom-of-Heaven


I’ve written about the Kingdom to come in my second book “The Wayfarer’s Guide to the Apocalypse.”  It’s a unique peek at the happenings in Heaven and on earth as the world lurches through the apocalypse.   Book link: https://books2read.com/u/3RaOvG

The Kingdom within

When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21.  Some translations have him reply “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.”

How could the Kingdom of God be within the legalistic Pharisees – religious leaders who shut people out of the Kingdom?  Jesus said “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13

How could the Kingdom of God be within them, or in their midst?  Well, they had the Word of God.  That’s it, plain and simple.  They were the scribes.  The Word was in the scrolls they read and taught from in the synagogues and temple. As for the Kingdom of God in their midst – they should have known from the Word who the King was.

The Kingdom of God is accessed from the Word of God.

god-s-word-translationThe Bible is no ordinary book, as I discovered.  It’s a door.  Reading and seeking the Kingdom of God through the Bible will change you.  What does it look like when a person travels through the Word of God?  Come with me and find out.  I wrote what I learned and experienced in my story “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.”

Seeking an open minded reader

book-and-letters-ipad-backgroundRecently I attended a party in a beautiful spot near Leigh, a fishing village further up the coast.  While we were all mingling and enjoying the view, I was asked about my book.  “What’s it about?”

Er, um.  “It’s about a journey through two worlds – the outside world, and a hidden, inner world called “The Kingdom.”  The main character, the King, is Jesus.”

I study my listeners face as I try to explain my counter-cultural book.  I’m relieved to see she hasn’t shown any antagonism at His name.  I never know what kind of reaction I’m going to get.

“Are you religious?” she asks.

That’s a tricky question.  To me, religion is a lot of man-made rules and structures in man’s attempt to reach God, which doesn’t interest me. Jesus is different.  He is God’s attempt to reach man.  Jesus said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”  With Jesus there are only two rules – to love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength and with all our mind, and love others as we love ourselves.  I believe and try to live by those rules.

the-greatest-commandment

“I am a believer” I answer.

“Where is your book sold?” she asked.

“Right now, as an eBook on Amazon.  It’s a bit hard to market the book because Jesus lacks credibility in the world’s eyes.  And my book doesn’t fit in a niche.”

How can I promote the King in a world full of disinformation and lies?

It’s a shame because I know Him from experience, but it’s MY experience.  How can I convince people He is real?  Or of His worth?  Or talk about all the proof there is for Him?  I can’t offer any of that unless I have permission to.  And a party is not the place.

“I’ll check it out” she said.

I am surprised.  I think people can be more open-minded than I give them credit or.

overcome-personal-prejudice-step-1-version-2

Nicola was one such reader.  She wrote “I didn’t expect God to play such a huge role in the book or for there to be quite as many bible quotes, I am ashamed to admit if I had read the info sent to me better I wouldn’t have read the book. That being said I am grateful if misread my info as I would have missed out on a truly original book.”

Willing to overcome her bias and consider new ideas; she kept reading and found she liked my main character; “I really liked that God was a real character in this story and I think he would be very happy at the way he was portrayed, we saw things from Joanna’s view and also from God’s.

Lucifer was also portrayed, his voice at least. I liked the way that Lucifer was portrayed, not as his cloven, evil personal as he usually is, in fact I found him quite funny the way he heckles, scoffs and laughs, all the while whispering in Joanna’s ear how God doesn’t love her, how she doesn’t deserve his love. His role is to put doubt in people’s minds, convince them they are not good enough, not liked etc… etc… I found him more believable than the fire and brimstone totally evil role he usually plays, in this I found him more real his turning people from God by deceit.

God on the other hand is constantly assuring Joanna and others of his love for them, that he has always loved them and always will, and his sadness at those who turn their backs on him. I felt he was a very human God who had all of our good points amplified and more, with none of our bad.”

So I am seeking open-minded readers for “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.”  Come and read a one of a kind book where God actually replies and converses with the characters. At some points you can even see the story from His perspective. This story is written with a different mind.

Can we understand something of the mind of God?  I hope you will read and decide for yourself.

 

 

The book journey

I’m getting ready to publish my manuscript about ‘The Kingdom Within’ as an eBook.  I haven’t settled on the title yet.  My plan is to self-publish as I don’t think traditional publishers will be interested.  This book is in a unique genre all by itself.

I’ve been told in my book appraisal that the manuscript is so different that it may struggle to find a market. The blend of memoir/fantasy fiction/devotional theology is extremely unusual. Despite what has been said about publishers looking for fresh vibrant voices, they don’t actually want too unusual a book, since it is too great a risk for them in a marginal market. 

I understand that and look forward to the self publishing adventure.

Cath Dunsford, my publishing consultant, really helped me kick the ball off.  I gave her the first three chapters on paper whilst working on her computer.  Then she asked for the rest, saying “First impressions are always important when considering a text for assessment for publication as well as subsequent readings of the full manuscript. 

I have read the text you left me already – so gripped I could not put it down.  Many have written memoirs and about abuse but none, in all my 40 years of work, have ever related the close guidance of the Bible to finding a way forward in quite the way you have.  The writing is utterly beautiful and very moving. It is compact and powerful.”

Her feedback got the book going as I really respect her.  She is a published author and literary associate of Witi Ihimera, the author of “The Whale Rider.”

I’ve had the manuscript edited.  There’s a bit of a back-story finding Marie Anticich, my editor.   She’s a journalist and editor for some Christian magazines.  I got led to her through learning the sound desk at church!

The back-story:  Why, oh why did I put my hand up for a job best left for the boys?  That’s what I asked myself when I started doing the sound.  I’m a computer technician, so buttons and knobs don’t frighten me. I thought the sound desk would be easy enough to learn.  I also thought the Lord wanted me to volunteer for it!  Well you know what ‘thought thought.’  Sound practise was okay – but I made all sorts of mistakes during the church service the first few times.  Anyway it’s all good because the church has survived my efforts on the sound desk, I’ve learned a new skill, and it led me to the book editor.

Marie is a bit of a sergeant major, but I really appreciate her and the manuscript needed her criticism.  Marie told me about the Caleb award, a book competition that Omega Writers were running in 2013.  The competition fee included a book appraisal.  That was the next piece of the puzzle.

The book appraisal said “the constant reference to ‘the Princess’ actually detaches the readers slightly from the story, instead of allowing them to walk in her shoes.  Instead of the massive emotional punch certain scenes should carry, the real conflict is muted because of this detachment.”

So I’ve changed ‘the Princess’ to ‘Joanna’, keeping the viewpoint in the third person.

I was advised to tell the reader more of who I am and aim for reader sympathy.  Taking Marie’s advice, I changed the first chapters with that in mind.  Then she said I was too sad and no one likes a victim!  So it’s been back to the drawing board; and now (hopefully) I’ve got the mix right.

Here’s the overall comments so far:

Omega Writers: “This is a really awesome story with a fabulous blend of unusual elements. It has the potential to wield a strong and powerful impact if the issues of ‘show don’t tell’ are addressed.”  (I hope I’ve addressed those issues.)

Dunsford Publishing: “The quality and beauty of the writing in the preface really draws the reader in and it issues a warm invitation to come ad share this amazing journey. You have really achieved a stunning work of writing, here, Jo.”

 

The rider on the white horse

Horse-homage

WWI soldiers shown paying homage to their equine partners

In NZ we’ve just observed the centenary of the battle of Gallipoli, where ANZAC troops fought for the British empire.  On Anzac Day I watched the movie “War horse”.   It bought a lump to my throat and made me think of our own horses.  Of the thousands of horses shipped off to war from New Zealand, only a horse called Bess came back.    

There were lots of tears by those men over their horses, and I know the Lord understands.

When Jesus returns as the King, he will be on his own warhorse, at the head of his army.

Perhaps God had the war horses in mind when he inspired Job to write about the horse in the earliest book of the Bible;

“Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting?
It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.
It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword.
The quiver rattles against its side, along with the flashing spear and lance.
In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
Job 39:19-25

Holy to the Lord

There will be horses in the Millennial Kingdom.   You will hear the sound of their bells as they trot, and on their bells will be the inscription “holy to the Lord.” Holy means “whole”.  When Jesus reigns in his kingdom, all will be made whole.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  Revelation 21:3-4

But be aware that before the second coming, we will be hearing the hoof beats of the first horseman of the Apocalypse – the rider on the white horse who is given a bow and told to conquer.  Just remember – that’s not Jesus. It will be Apollyon (the destroyer) imitating him.

So while the world is going ooooh and aaaahh marvelling over the fake Messiah, remember the warning Jesus gave us in Matthew 24:5;
Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my Name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.
“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  – Matthew 24:1-26

Jesus will come like a thief in the night for the Church; an event as sudden as lightning.  After that He will return at the end of Tribulation on his white horse, for all to see.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Revelation 19:11-13

Jesus wins

Within ancient ink there is a living God

2015

Happy New Year!

Before Christmas I wrote about Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith. 

I wrote about his nail scarred hands writing and turning the pages of the Bible, the book he inspired.

The day after I wrote about it, this video clip was played at church;
https://skitguys.com/videos/item/study-says-the-writer

I like how it says; “Within ancient ink there is a living God.”

The author and finisher; and the race

Did you know the author of the Bible wrote about a race?

Heb12-prv“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:1

We’ve all got a race to run, a race that we were entered in before we were even born.  Think about that!

Do you know the race is on; and the author has got his eye on you?

It’s no ordinary race. Some of you may be already running. You may be the first in your family line to run, or you may be the last.

Sometimes you will run, sometimes you will walk, sometimes you will stumble and fall, and sometimes, you will rise on the wings of an eagle. Those are the best times, when you can stop running, wing it and see what the eagle sees.

I’ll leave you with this verse for the times when you feel discouraged
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I’ve written about my own race in Chapter 79 The year of inheritance, in case you are interested.  I have referred to myself in the chapter as “the Princess”, but I will be changing her to myself in accordance to the advice I got from Publishers. Anyway, here it is;
https://kingdom777.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/chapter-79-the-year-of-inheritance/

Putting the author in authority

hebrews-12-2I probably won’t be blogging much over the next few weeks.  I’ve tasked myself with getting my story “The Kingdom” into an e-Book while I’ve got a break from work.  I’ve lost the plot and need a lot of guidance and help from God getting it finished. 

When I first wrote this story, it didn’t have a plot. I’d simply kept a rough sort of journal made up of individual chapters where I’d kept a record of my spiritual journey with God.  Then I strung them all together and called it “The Kingdom”.  I got a book report back from some Christian Publishers that said the manuscript needed 51 to 250 hours of structural editing.

They did say; “This is a really awesome story with a fabulous blend of unusual elements. It has the potential to wield a strong and powerful impact if the issues of ‘show don’t tell’ are addressed.”

I’m praying about what to change.  I know the Lord understands because He is an author himself.

I started tidying the story up last week.  On Saturday night I added this paragraph to a chapter called “The Kingdom of God Within”;

“The Author and finisher of faith held to his word, his nail scarred hands turning the pages of his living book, a book that is alive and active.   The words and verses contained his breath, his will for creation.
In order for faith to come, people needed to hear him – and hearing came from his word.”

Hebrews_12-2The Lord must have liked it because His authorship of the Bible was the subject of the sermon the next morning (Sunday 7th Dec).

I found out that author and authority share the same root word.

 When Jesus was on earth, He taught with authority, not as the teachers of the law.  You can read that in Mark chapter 1, and in John chapter 1 you can read that Jesus was the LOGOS, the Word of God.

If you want to find out what something in a book means, you go to the author.  He is the authority.

May you look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  I sure will be in my attempts at getting the second draft of “The Kingdom” finished.