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September 2023


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Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He replied to them by saying, “The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display.  Nor will people say, ‘Look! Here it is!’ or, ‘See.  It is there!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” Luke 17:20-21 (AMP)

At Friends of the King, we spend much time discussing foundational truths.

What is the gospel of the kingdom of God?  Who is Jesus Christ?  Who are we once we become disciples of Jesus?  What does it mean to know God as our Father? Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does it mean for the Holy Spirit to live in you?

All these questions are crucial to our understanding of reality.  And our scripture studies reveal many facets of truth to each one – facets not in terms of different points of view, but in the sense of a beautifully cut diamond.  Jesus is Lamb of God and Lion of Judah, suffering Servant and King of kings, Son of God and Son of Man, the One who hung on the Cross and the Risen One revealed in Revelation with a face that shines like the sun.  Wow!

Twelve years ago, we examined what the Lord’s Prayer says, to wit: that our prayer is not to go to heaven, but for the kingdom of God to come to earth.  The Kingdom exists wherever the rightful rule of King Jesus is honored and embraced. So we asked ourselves, “What would the Kingdom look like if it was here in our greater Kingsport /Gate City/Tri-Cities community?”

In other words, can we imagine (visualize) the outcome of what we continually pray for?

The answers we came up with were, in my opinion, breath-taking both then and now.

Everyone in the community would know what it is to love and be loved, both by God and neighbor.  Everyone would be valued.

There would be no pride and self-centeredness, no more people trying to force their own agendas onto others.  Our humility would empower the selfless nature of our love, including our healthy love of ourselves and our appreciation of what God made when He made “me” and “you”.

There would be no unbelief.  Our faith in God would match His flawless faithfulness.  Through our great faith, the Lord would work miracles and move mountains.

We would grow daily in truth, wisdom and understanding as, led by the Spirit of truth, we meditate daily on God’s Word.  We would be set free from the countless lies of Satan that have been imposed upon us.

Hope would abound.  No one would suffer from depression, cynicism, or low expectations.  Disappointments, if they did occur, would heal quickly.

We would all find God’s kingdom purposes for our lives on earth: no more aimlessness and no more focus on being great at unimportant things.

Everyone would know the peace of God.  There would be no fear, and no more dissension or division, because we would all live together in God’s perfect love.

Marriage would be a sacred institution of God joining a man and woman together for the rest of their lives.  Sex would be a sacred element of marriage.  People not led to marriage would live rich, celibate lives filled with faith, close friends, and family. Broken homes and broken children would be no more, and, after one generation, sexually transmitted diseases would be no more.   

There would be no poverty.  Those who have would share with those who need and help them find opportunity.

Each person, young and old, would walk in joy with the Lord throughout every day.  And our community’s prayers for the rest of the nation and world would bear much fruit.

After twelve years, l am still gripped by the awareness this “imagining” we had done is achievable, not by politics but by prayer, discipleship, and evangelism.  This isn’t false hope.  This is what God wants for us.

Isn’t there at least one person in our community who could draw so close to God these Kingdom realities become their lifestyle?  Of course there is.

And if one person could do it, could not two, or a family, or small group of friends, or congregation, and beyond?  God is for us.  Who can stand against us?

Perhaps the greatest lie imposed upon the Church is the lie of low expectations.  The Lord would never ask us to pray for something He was not ready to do.  He told us the Kingdom was among us and within us.  He told us to pray for His Kingdom to come here just like it is in heaven.  Do we believe Him or not?

I urge us all to pray “Thy Kingdom come…” with faith, deep desire and eager expectancy.  Then seek each day to be part of that prayer’s answer.


God bless you and God bless our community.


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“Who is wise and understanding among you? By their good conduct let him (or her) show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13-18 ESV)

For me, the most important character traits in any person are faith in God and the character traits that should always accompany that faith: integrity, humility, and unconditional love. When it comes to a leader, however, I add another essential trait – wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to exercise sound judgment and make good decisions. We all make decisions, but leaders must make decisions that impact both their lives and the lives of others. Their good decisions can bless many, but the repercussions of their bad judgment can be incredibly destructive.

James, the apostolic half-brother of Jesus, gives us two valuable instructions on wisdom. First, he tells us that if we need wisdom, we should ask God, who will generously provide it. (James 1:5)

This instruction reminds us that the only true wisdom is the godly wisdom that comes from above. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom because our reverence for God rightly persuades us God is wisdom’s source. (Proverbs 2:6, 9:10) God gave it to Joseph as he rose to power in Egypt, to Joshua as he rose to be Moses’ successor, to King Solomon when he asked for it so he could rule justly, and to Daniel in Babylonian exile. (Genesis 41:38; Deuteronomy 34:9; 1 Kings 3:5-12, 28; Daniel 1:17)

The ultimate example of godly wisdom is, of course, Jesus Christ, who personified wisdom and demonstrated it in both his youth and his ministry on earth. (1 Corinthians 1:30; Luke 2:40-52; Mark 6:2)

Our second instruction from James 3 tells us how we can recognize true wisdom and distinguish it from its false worldly counterpart. Scripture warns us strongly and repeatedly that this false wisdom is not wisdom at all. It is worldly cunning and craftiness patterned after the serpent’s deception of Eve that mesmerizes and manipulates people to go along with its personal agenda. (2 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 3:19)

I have researched the original Greek vocabulary for this James 3 passage and studied multiple English translations so I can offer a fuller explanation of what the passage reveals:

Who among you considers themself to be wise and knowledgeable? Demonstrate this wisdom by the moral excellence and even-tempered humility of your life. But if your heart is filled with a self-centered desire for personal success and a zealous hostility toward those who challenge or compete against you, then do not boast that you have wisdom because that would be a lie. What you have is not godly wisdom. It is worldly, unspiritual, and like the devil if not of the devil. It will inevitably lead to disorder, confusion, instability, and even open defiance of lawful authority; and it will result in all types of mean and evil behavior.

Godly wisdom, on the other hand, is first and foremost innocent and without moral blemish. It demonstrates and promotes a sense of well-being, not anxiety or turmoil. It is gracious and kind, not quarrelsome, and is open to reason and willing to listen. It is filled with mercy and compassion for others and demonstrates this through good deeds that glorify God and not self. (John 15:5-8) It is fair to everyone, and it is sincere – totally free from “glad-hander” hypocrisy. Godly wisdom cultivates righteousness in harmonious ways because the bearer of godly wisdom is a peacemaker. (Matthew 5:9)

My friends, we must have godly wisdom to break through these evil days. (Ephesians 5:15-17). Do not judge a leader by what they say, as they seek to scratch our itching ears, but by how they live and how they treat others. (2 Timothy 4:3; Luke 6:43-45; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3) For leaders and those who get to choose their leaders, godly wisdom comes from knowing God’s will through both prayer and a rich understanding of God’s Word. (Colossians 1:9, 3:16)

Moses was trained in all the wisdom of Egypt, but he did not obtain a heart of true wisdom, or accomplish any good, until he chose to learn and follow the ways of the Lord. (Acts 7:22; Psalm 90:12; Exodus 33:13)

In every leadership situation, large or small, choose godly wisdom over worldly cunning.

God bless you, and God bless our community.


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“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

God wants us to change our minds.

If you are a “not-yet Christian,” God wants you to change your mind about how you can receive everlasting life through Jesus. (John 1:12-13, 3:16)

If you are a Christian, God wants you to know the change in mind that brought you into everlasting life was only the first change in mind He desires for you. (Hebrews 5:11-14)

I have repeatedly asserted that “agape” love is the fundamental law of God’s Kingdom, and it is, but the fundamental battleground for God’s kingdom on earth is the mind. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

What we think, consciously and subconsciously, continually dictates how we feel: love, peace, joy, hope, and a sense of purpose, on the one hand, or fear, anxiety, anger, isolation, depression, and aimlessness. Which set of emotions dominates our nation and world today? Which set reflects your own life and the lives of those around you?

Even more important, what we think and how we feel then combine to dictate what we choose in every circumstance based upon what we consider important, possible, desirable, frightening, and good or evil.

We have all learned, often the hard way, that we are never fully in control of our circumstances. Our only control is our ability to make choices based upon the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Do we want those choices grounded in truth or lies? (Psalm 51:6; Proverbs 23:23)

Satan, the consummate enemy of God and humankind, is “the father of lies,” and “the deceiver of the whole world.” (John 8:44; Revelation 12:9) This deceived and broken world has been teaching us life lessons and developing our worldview since birth.

To counteract this, God sent His Son Jesus: the Truth, the Word made flesh, and the light of the world. (John 1:1-14, 8:12, 14:6) God also gave us His Holy Spirit of truth, who can lead us into all truth. (John 16:13-14) And through the Holy Spirit, God gave us the Bible, the Spirit-breathed scriptures that teach us what we need to know and do. (2 Timothy 3:3-16-17; Psalms 1, 119)

The gospel invitation to the lost is, “Repent and believe!” (Mark 1:14-15, 6:12; Luke 24:45-47; Acts 2:38-39, 17:30-31) The Greek word used for “repent” is “metanoia”, which means “change your mind”. The truth sets you free. (John 8:32)

And because the mind remains the fundamental battleground after you become a Christian, Paul tells the Christians in Rome to keep renewing their minds and transforming their lives by learning and obeying all that Jesus teaches and commands. (Matthew 7:24-27, 28:19-20; James 1:22-25; Acts 2:42) This is how we show our love for the Lord and how He manifests Himself to us. (John 14:21-23) More truth sets us more free.

The Greek word used in Romans 12:2 for “transformed” is “metamorphoo.” It indicates major change, and so, today, we use the word, “metamorphosis,” to describe how caterpillars become butterflies and tadpoles become frogs. 2 Corinthians 3:18 describes our process of metamorphosis, one glorious step at a time, into the image of Christ.

The Greek word used for “renewal” of our mind is “anakainosis.”  It also indicates major change – making something superior to what it was before. Transformation then comes about by what Paul calls “testing” (or “proving”): the Greek word “dokimazo,” which means to learn by examination and actual use.

Because the Spirit who inspired the Bible now lives in us, we have access to the mind of Christ and can, through our application of what we learn, understand things of God our natural minds could never comprehend. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16) God reframes our worldview and understanding of reality so “the eyes of our hearts” are enlightened, we know His perfect will, and we know the hope to which He has called us. (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 1:18-21)

My friends, our nation and the world are going dark. God calls us to be the light, which means we must be in the world but not of the world. (Matthew 5:14; Isaiah 60:1-3; John 17:15-18)

To be that light, we must have a biblical worldview. We must be convinced that all scripture is God-breathed, that every scripture is to be understood in the context of all other scripture, and that we have no right to delete or disregard the portions we do not like, do not understand, or have never experienced (2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 13:53-58; Revelation 22:18-19).

And since the traditions and doctrines of man, including denominational institutions, are not scripture, we have no right to treat them as though they are (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8).

We need to change our minds, and we need to do it now.

God bless you, and God bless our community.