Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord . Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.'” Haggai 2:4‭c-‬9 ESV

The covenant out of Egypt was a covenant of people-hood and adoption. Out of the plagued and shaken old kingdom to a Kingdom of priests, yet wandering, wandering, wandering from the furnace to a milk and honey-flow garden.

Don’t be afraid, God’s Spirit hasn’t departed. He has shaken and is shaking the heavens, the earth, the lands, the seas, the nations. All will fall before an unshakable Kingdom whose Sovereign rode into the town of the Temple, veiled power in humility, seated on a donkey. He shook the temple, small and close, in cleansing, righteous rage.

The Lord owns the treasures of the earth, and the cattle on a thousand hills. His Temple will be filled with glory as those he treasures come forth from every nation, drawn by the Advent, the Incarnation, the Atonement delivered on the day the earth shook, the Veil tore and the Blood flowed. Drawn by the Resurrection that fulcrumed the center of all history as a tomb door shook open, exploding the seals as hell shook apart

Out of the shaken ground, in an upper room tongue-lashed in bright flame, the true unshaken Temple stood as the wind shook the shutters and the tongues reeled back the Babel curse, the un-scattering together of a shaken-apart people.

The Temple.

Now in divine diaspora dispersed among billions of Spirit tabernacles world-wide, walking the earth in community unshaken by distance, in veiled glory, from glory to glory, as we await the final shaking when our beautiful King returns, and the shaking is fulfilled, and garden peace reigns once again.

Kingdom dreams

I read Matthew 6 yesterday. It’s cliche to say it, but sometimes you can read something you’ve read a bunch of times and suddenly see it differently; see a deeper theme you never pieced together before.

I saw the pattern, maybe for the first time. Jesus talks repeatedly about the motives we have for nearly everything “spiritual” we do (giving, praying, fasting) and what those motives should be. There’s that curious section around verse 22 referring to the good, healthy eye flooding us with light versus the bad eye flooding us with darkness. There’s the majestic ending full of encouragement and admonition against anxiety.

It is all one theme: be single minded and set our eyes on the Kingdom of God. Seek that and the rest is just details. We give, we pray, we fast for the Kingdom of God, not for attention. When we pray we pray for the Kingdom of God to come to earth, for God’s will done here as it is in heaven.  It’s not a long prayer because that’s a tight, straightforward outcome.

See the Kingdom clearly, have a “good eye”, and be flooded with light.

Invest in the Kingdom. Store your treasures there. Have faith, God will take care of you.

It’s so simple. It really is; simple yet so hard. It battles against those treasures on earth that scatter our vision: praise from others, caressing and feeding our worries, chasing the gold at the end of the rainbow. Earthly financial security. Work, work, work. The American Dream.

Jesus is calling us to the Kingdom Dream.

May I dream Kingdom dreams.

Broken or Crushed

From today’s reading of Matthew 20-21

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. – Matthew 21:42-46 (ESV)

As I read this passage and the surrounding context, it dawns on me that the religious leaders in opposition to Jesus really don’t have anything approaching a rational motive for having him killed. Their motives are fueled by the most base human emotions: fear, jealousy, protectionism, and political calculation.

I can’t stand in judgment of them, however, because so much of what I do is powered by that same fuel. Sometimes to fix something you need to break it first. I need to be broken.

The chief priests and Pharisees are doing what is natural. They are protecting their kingdom. Give almost any one of us a kingdom, no matter how tiny, and we’ll marshal all our forces in protection of it. This is human nature, the fallen human nature whose stranglehold Jesus came to break.

Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone. He holds everything together. But this central fact of creation is missed by so many. The chief priests and Pharisees missed it, and rejected the Stone of Help, the Stone that when struck produces living water.

The path they chose instead is a path many of us choose daily, driven by our own blinding hypocrisy and fear that the tiny kingdom we think so precious is going to be shaken up by this uncouth (in our eyes) Galilean.

Who does he think he is?

The Chief Cornerstone! That’s who.

Jesus presents us with two choices. Fall and be broken, or stand in our own pride and hypocrisy and be crushed. Both are painful, but those who fall upon the mercy of the Lord, though broken, are built back up into a temple of praise and worship to Him.

I need to be broken! Even as a follower of Jesus I daily see, more and more clearly, that so much of what I do is for the protection of my little kingdoms. Petty jealousies, paralyzing fears, a continual reaching out to shift the spotlight back onto me. With such a jumbled up, backwards set of priorities, if any fruit is produced it’s completely by accident and always by the grace of God.

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Dear Lord, have mercy upon me, and break me to be rebuilt and restored into the destiny that you have for me: to be just like you.