January 2020 Email Archive – Dried Up Raisins in Your Heart?
How Would You Describe the Kingdom of God in Your Heart?
I can remember a time when the kingdom of God in my heart felt small, dusty, and dry—like one of those shriveled, hard raisins they used to put in boxes of bran cereal. The enemy of our souls has a way of doing that to us, and of making it look like that’s just reality—just the way things are.
But I’ve come to understand that one of the ways the enemy succeeds at that is through subtle lies—deception so elusive we don’t even realize there is a lie: we don’t notice anything at all. And life just gets drier and more dusty.
Jesus is recorded in Scripture as saying, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10, NLT). How better for the enemy to steal and destroy our hope than to close our minds and hearts to the reality of the fullness of life that God intends for us?
But what happens when the kingdom of God surges into your heart and mind and soul with power?—when the lies of the enemy are exposed and torn down, making room for more of the kingdom of God in your life? The kingdom of God in you is no sad little raisin then, that’s for sure.
No More Dried-Up Raisins in My Heart
In my book Stay, I recounted how God came to my rescue when his kingdom in me felt as arid and small as an old raisin. And in Faith with Grit, I shared how I discovered in God’s Word a lot more of his kingdom than I’d previously been used to navigating.
God has continued to set me free in new areas. I’m working on a book now (Faith with Wings) that exposes some of the lies that I didn’t even know were there in my own life. As God revealed them and blew them away, I became more and more free—with more life in me than I ever had before. And I want that for you.
One of those areas of new freedom has been my deepening understanding of how much God wants to heal us in all the ways we need it.
For a long time I looked at healing as something like finding a 6-leaf clover: possible, but exceptionally rare. And I never realized how much my idea that God probably wasn’t going to heal very many people because the way things were were just his will was influenced by hundreds of years of slowly shifting belief away from the power and miracles of Christ.
My faith had formed to fit my sight. My experience with not seeing healing or other miracles reinforced my shriveled-raisin beliefs: God probably didn’t want to work miracles, or else he would be doing it. Whatever happened was probably what God wanted, and my involvement wasn’t likely to alter things too much either way.
All those lies! No wonder the kingdom of God in my heart had become so dry and small. I did not know the reality of what it meant that “the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power” (1 Corinthians 4:20).
But I am learning. God is giving me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). And one of the ways he is doing that is through the testimonies of other believers—those who have gone before me, as well as those who are my contemporaries.
And that’s why I’m so excited to recommend to you some excellent resources this month that have continued to grow the kingdom of God in my heart, and that I believe will do the same for you.
Recommended Book & Videos
Novel: The Second Mrs. Wu by Agnes Sanford – This book was so good that I had a hard time putting it down! I wrote more about it in this blog post. I think one of the reasons I found this novel so powerful was knowing (from having read two fascinating autobiographies of Agnes Sanford and some of her other books) that much of what made up the story of the girl Mary Lee’s experiences in the novel had, in fact, happened to Agnes Sanford in her real life.
2 Timothy 3:5 says, They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! That, to me, was the most relevant message of the book. I wanted to use the book as a mirror, and not be a person who rejects the power of God.
Videos – I’ve also recently come across some short talks by New Testament scholar Craig S. Keener on some of the topics mentioned above, that are powerful for building God’s kingdom in our hearts. They are easy to follow—and well worth hearing.
- YouTube Video: Continuationism & the Gifts of the Spirit, by Craig S. Keener
- YouTube Video: The Plausibility of Miracles in a Materialistic Age, by Craig S. Keener
If the Spirit of God is living in you, he’s not there to take a nap! We are living in God’s power.
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 4:20
And if the Spirit of God is not yet living in you, you can begin a relationship with God right now.
I’m very excited to see what God’s Spirit is going to do in me and in you in the coming year, and even yet this month. These winter days we are living—even the coldest, least sunny ones—are not placeholders. Each one is part of a life, part of a story (Psalm 139:16).
I’d love to pray for you as we start the year. Just hit reply to send me a message.
And if you know someone who might enjoy receiving these monthly emails, please share this with them.
Alive and moving in God (Acts 17:28),
P.S. Please forward this email to anyone you know who might be interested in subscribing! Anyone who subscribes for the first time during January 2020 will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a copy of one of my books.