Kingdom 1st is on Hold

Until further notice, I will be blogging entirely at The Veritas Network.  Come on over and get lost in all the goodness.  Thanks for your readership.

 

 

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Do you read with a highlighter, pen, or pencil?

So, I am reading this book right now, called, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, and it is just amazing.  Allan Jacobs is the name of the author.  He is an English Professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, and he has written extensively on one of my heroes—C.S. Lewis.

I came across this passage the other day that just made me laugh out loud.

Warning, there is a profane word in what follows:

Those of us who were trained as scholars may tend to over annotate, but I think it’s fair to say that most other readers suffer the opposite temptation.  Reading with a writing instrument in hand is an unnatural acts for many readers, yet I think in most cases it is necessary to attentive response.  You may be able to tell from what I’ve said so far that I am not a fan of the highlighter.  Highlighters allow you very quickly and easily to mark a text, but only by covering it with a bright color; and the very quickness and easiness of the process are inimical to the kind of responsiveness I’m recommending.  (There’s something to Simic’s preference for the stub of a pencil and the intimacy with the page it enforces.)  With a highlighter you can have a text marked before you’ve even had time to ask yourself why you’re marking it; and while you might be able to add a question mark or exclamation point in the margin, that will be the limit of your interaction.  And such marks are often quite hard to see after they dry.

I tend to use a mechanical pencil myself, because its line is precise and sharp enough that my marginal annotations are legible, but thick enough to make underlining reliably linear.  When I try underlining with a fine-point pen I invariably produce lines that look like paths meandering through a forest—and then of course I can’t erase the damned things.

I laughed at this for 2 reasons:

1) I am a huge nerd.

2) I was reading with a highlighter in hand.

Of Kings and Carrots

For the most part, kings and carrots have nothing in common.  A king is a ruler.  He is sovereign.  He is strong, supposedly.  And he is a warrior.  A carrot, however, is a vegetable.  It is tiny.  It breaks easy.  And, in my opinion, carrots are gross.

The world is full of kings and carrots.  You probably know many of both.  There are people who display amazing gifts and talents all over the place.  They seem, to us, like great leaders.  Great commanders.  Great kings.  These types of people seem to have their own castles… and some of them are really really big.  We also know many people who might fit the description of a carrot.

Tiny.  Puny.  Small.

Not much worth.

There is much difference between a king and a carrot.  The world takes notice of kings.  Not carrots.  The gospel points us to both, however.  The gospel is for both.  The church is for both.

May we remember that when we are tempted to put a king before a carrot.  A celebrity before an unknown (even in the church).  And the rich before the poor.

Because, as we know, there is only one King.

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“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “you sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not the made distinctions…?” (James 2:1-4).

A Few 2013 Resolutions & Goals

For the last 3 or 4 weeks, I have been at home with my family, enjoying some much-needed family time.  This time at home has given me much renewed energy for the things that matter the most to me:  again, and as always, my family, my church, and discipleship.  2012, in its glory, brought several great things.  It gave me a renewed passion for school and learning, and while timid toward the time commitment, I began my pursuit of a PhD, starting with the ThM in family ministry at Southern Seminary.  What’s more, my first book released with BorderStone Press, called, Reformational Manhood.  So far, I believe it has done pretty well — for little ol’ me, that is — and I am excited to see how God, in his great mercy and grace, continues to use it as a tool to point young men towards the great, courageous, and adventurous pursuit of biblical manhood.

Also, in 2012, we were able to split the middle school and high school ministries at Foothills Church, only after 2 years of being in existence.  I was able to travel to Haiti, twice, to begin a great partnership with a missionary there who is overseeing a ministry overseas like I have never seen before.  We took 40 students to summer camp this year, 20 students to Eastern Kentucky for a mission trip, and we have seen 2 student ministry small groups branch to 8, with 2 more starting this January.  God has been gracious to us at Foothills Church in our student ministry.

I wanted to let you know of a few great things that are on the horizon for 2013.  Though I have many goals and resolutions, several of them are resolutions to pursue each week that I want to keep to myself.  Others are ministry goals with Foothills Church.  Still others are spiritual growth endeavors.

Here are a few I want to share:

1.  Here at Kingdom First, I will begin to post more frequent, more in-depth, thoughtful, and conversation-engaging articles concerning cultural issues, family issues, and Christian growth concepts for the purpose of thoughtful dialogue and growth.  I would love to see this blog begin to host good conversation on the things that make our minds and hearts tick.  I hope to facilitate this through what I might be studying, the direction of cultural events, and popular conversations that might be taking place in the church today.

2.  I hope to begin several family ministry related things in 2013.  One of them will be a family ministry podcast with my brother, Trent Stewart, called Family First.  We will be focusing on some of the big questions that parents are asking.  This will not be a weekly, or even bi-weekly, podcast.  It will, however, be recorded an uploaded on our Foothills Church iTunes account, as well as here at Kingdom First, regularly.  There are, also, several other things I hope to do family ministry wise in 2013.  Stay tuned.

3.  At Veritas, we hope to launch a worship EP and the possibility of 2 books in 2013.  Be in prayer for this as we are in the midst of talking through the details even now.

4.  I am hoping to read through the Bible in its entirety twice this year.  I want to continue to practice what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV).  This month, I am reading Genesis and Matthew, the books where God promised the crushing of Satan’s skull, and where it partially came to be.  

I am looking forward to all that God might do this year, for His great fame, in Christ, and dialoguing with you through it all.

-GRG

 

Things You Should Never Say (or do) on Facebook

For the past 2 nights, I have not been able to fall asleep until well after 2am.  This is strange to me, because for the last 3-or-so-months, I have been enjoying my pillow by at least 9pm every night.  4:45am alarm clock noises just suck.  And I get to experience the suck 5 days a week right now.  So, because I haven’t been able to sleep, I have found myself “wondering” the halls, or walls, of Facebook WAY MORE than I should be.

One thing that stood out to me last night as I colored the walls of Facebook was the mere stupidity of Facebook statuses, pictures, and posts.  I was continually baffled by what I read.  And it’s not just the middle school girl’s Facebook statuses that I lead in my student ministry; it’s adults.  Which is worse.  Way worse.  I am “figuratively” blown away every time I click “sign in.”

So, without further ado, here is my Top 10 list of Things You Should Never Say (or do) on Facebook.  DISCLAIMER:  This post is intended to poke fun and laugh only.  It is not a passive aggressive outcry in my own right against a few people.

You should never post…

10.  Weird, public apologies that are really only a means to prove a point.  EXAMPLE:  I want to say sorry to all the people out there who say they don’t trust me even though I haven’t done anything to lose their trust.

9.  Play-by-plays of your “social outing.”  EXAMPLE:  I went to the corn maze tonight.  It was awesome.  I fell at the beginning.  But it didn’t hurt.  I got up and kept going.  I coughed.  Snot came out…

8.  Statuses that talk about people without using their name.  EXAMPLE:  This co-worker of mine is SOOO ANNOYING.  I can’t believe she still exists.

7.  Your entire day.  EXAMPLE:  This morning, I woke up… (and then continue for an entire paragraph…or two).

6.  Gibberish posts.  EXAMPLE:  Luv Mt Du l8 at nt wen ery1s gon but me. Im awsom.

5.  Every time you get a head-ache or stomach-ache.  EXAMPLE: I had a headache, now I don’t.

4.  Pictures you take of yourself.  If you don’t have enough friends who can take pictures of you then you need to join a small group and get a life.

3.  Pictures you take of yourself in a mirror.  Nothing screams “look at me” like “looking at yourself in a mirror while taking a picture and then posting it on Facebook.”

2.  Pictures you take of yourself in a mirror making a “kissing/duck face.”  This is just horrible.

1.  SONG LYRICS!  Please stop passively telling us what mood you’re in by the types of song lyrics you post.  Please.  I beg of you.  With all my heart.  Stop!

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FINAL DISCLAIMER:  I may have been guilty of 2 or 3 of these in my life.  Especially when Mumford puts out a new CD, or I’m really digging a Ron Swanson quote that I know no one will understand if they haven’t seen Parks & Rec.

 

ON LEADERSHIP: Is Being Task-Oriented a Bad Thing?

As I was driving to the office this morning, I overheard a local Christian radio station doing a segment on being more relationally-oriented throughout your day.  Now, I totally understand this concept, but it seemed to me that they were making task-oriented people out to be like a bad food group.  Don’t fill yourself up only on candy.  It’s bad for you!  And candy is the “task.”  So, stay away!

Studying personality types and gift sets have always been an interest of mine.  I am a choleric/sanguine, Type-A personality, that is bent toward accomplishing the task first and foremost.  I am also a prophet/kingly leader.  Therefore, if I’m not careful, then I can focus on the task… and leading through teaching, not relationships… all day.  However, I am very relational, which is where my sanguine comes into play.  I do love people.  But I also love the task and am bent more toward accomplishing the task.

God gifts us all in different ways.  He makes some relational.  He makes others task-driven.

Though if we’re not careful, especially in our churches and places of employment, we can begin to separate the task-oriented from the relationally-oriented.  Relationally-oriented pastors tend to be more Priestly in their leadership style, and we often set the task-oriented, or Kingly type of leader, in a position of administration where they can focus on one thing… tasks.

The relationally-oriented people tend to make radio segments about how being task-oriented is a bad thing.  And the task-oriented people tend to feel burdened every time a relationally-oriented person interrupts their day.

The relationally-oriented person comes to feud with the “process.”  The task-oriented person lives by it and sees that it is necessary for growth and sustainability.

As you can see, there is a big difference between the relationally-oriented and task-oriented.  But is one better than the other?  Absolutely not.  Much like we need all the different food groups throughout our day, we need both the relational and task-driven to make our organizations, businesses, and churches move forward.  We need balance.  We need relationships.  We need tasks.

The apostles understood this in Acts 6 when they instituted the office of the deacon to serve tables and do… wait for it… tasks… so that the apostles wouldn’t.  In a biblical sense, tasks are necessary.  And in a biblical sense, relationships are also very necessary.

So, all my task-oriented people like me, in the name of Jesus continue to flourish in how God made you, not giving up the serving of tables so others can visit hospitals, serve the poor, and even preach the gospel.  And all my relationally-oriented people, continue loving people in the name of Jesus, so others can sign your pay checks.

A Great Little Parent Rap

If reincarnation is true, then does it mess with your faith in Jesus?

I had a man at Home Depot ask me that question the other night.  I was there with my pops, purchasing some items to put up a pull-up bar in my garage, and I was rocking my Foothills Church Students t-shirt.  As I was look for something in the hardware section, the man said to me, “So, I’ve got a weird question for you.”  Yeah, I know, that was his introduction.  No, hello.  No, how are you doing?  Only the leading question.

He proceeded, “So I noticed your t-shirt there, and I have a question for you.  80% of the world believes in reincarnation (which is false by the way), so if reincarnation was true, would that mess with your faith?”  Bam!  Just like that.  In Maryville, TN, I was hit with a loaded question in the middle of Home Depot at 9pm at night.  No, I didn’t want to have a philosophical and theological conversation at this point in my day.  I was a little grumpy and kind of tired.  So, I simply said, “Absolutely it would.”

He then said, “Well, why is that?”  At this point in the conversation I was hooked.  It was only the second question, but I am a fighter by nature, so I would’ve been there all night debating back and forth with this guy if it weren’t for my dad who was with me.  He kept poking his head down the aisle giving me shoulder shrugs and the look-at-his-wrist-even-though-he-wasn’t-wearing-a-watch-pose.  So, to break a 15 minute conversation down into 2 sections, here is the helicopter view.

First of all, I answered “yes” to his first question and then proceeded to tell him that if Jesus was never raised from the dead then my faith would be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).  Continuing, I said, “If Christ only died for middle-class-white-Republicans, then our faith would absolutely be in vain.  Christ’s atonement and resurrection, I believe, and Scriptures says, are for the world (with different intents).”

He then answered with some mumbo jumbo about the early church and then said, “The difference between your faith and mine is that you are seeking enlightenment after you die and I am seeking it now.”

Sovereignly, I just preached two 55-minute sermons on the truth that God’s Kingdom is here now but not yet in its fullness, and that our faith is not just a future hope but it is also a present reality, so I was ready to dispense about two hours worth of “well, that’s not true” knowledge on him.  But I simply said, “Well, salvation in Christ is not just a future hope.  It is also a present reality.  God’s Kingdom is here now and we are to live within that reality.  It gives present hope to suffering, the problem of evil, our image, culture, social justice, etc.”

He was then a little condescending toward me for not reading anything about how the early church believed reincarnation, and that was about the time my dad popped back into the aisle giving me the evil eye.  I quoted Augustine as my salutation, saying, “I don’t expect you to understand how faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1), not only for future salvation but also for salvation being a present reality that gives Christians hope, joy, meaning, and purpose in life.  Augustine said, ‘faith leads to understand.’  Understanding does not lead to faith.  But I will pray God opens your eyes and heart to his truth so that you will understand.”

He then bowed and walked away (I kid you not)!

The point of this post is to encourage you to stand for Christ ALL THE TIME.  Our faith is in vain if all roads lead to God.  Defend that.  Be bold about that.  Look stupid for THAT!

Because yeah, our faith points to the fact that we will one day live with our Warrior-King in the New Heaven and New Earth.  No more suffering.  No more pain.  No more poverty.  No more war.  Only joy.  All the time.  I’ll defend that.

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

Justice and the Gospel – a spoken word by Propaganda

“We ain’t got time to worry about free wi-fi… or whether to protect our free web key… homey, my son idolizes a pimp… help me mega-church pastor… there go your pink elephant in the room… the culture is us… it’s you… you’re a participant…. how could you possibly be the solution… we need someone to move in… the Savior moved in… this is your city… he moved into the streets of your souls… he read your graffiti…”

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

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