"Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Monday, May 1, 2017


There is a conspiracy afoot in the U.S. (and in the world).  I know this to be an indisputable fact – because I am a part of it.

This may trouble some people because of my recent forays into politics here in Arkansas, including three races for statewide offices.  I regret that I wasn’t more forthcoming about my participation in this conspiracy.  I campaigned on the premise of the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution, but I could have talked a lot more about real freedom.  The fact is, I am committed to a government that is much greater than that of the State of Arkansas, and even greater than that of what some mistakenly believe is the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America.  Make no mistake, I am deeply loyal to the constitutional republic that is the United States of America (to the point that I am willing to die for it if necessary), but should I be confronted with the choice to obey the laws of the U.S. or the laws of this “other nation,” I will make the choice the first century conspirators made.[1]

In my March 17, 2017, journal entry, I wrote about my commitment to “a 24/7 conversational relationship with God.  I want to hear Him and recognize His voice every waking minute of every day for the rest of my life.”  On March 24, I wrote, “as part of my commitment…I knew I needed to know Jesus much better than I did, so I added a study of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to my morning study.”

For the past fourteen months, I’ve immersed myself in these Gospels and it has been the most fulfilling and challenging study of my life.  And I’m only now starting the Gospel of John.  I have indeed been “drinking from a fire hydrant.”  On April 2, I journaled, “I needed help in those studies, and once again the Holy Spirit supplied that need in an unlikely place – a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.”  The author’s name is Michael J.Wilkins, a Vietnam War veteran who had come to Jesus and is now a seminary professor.  Mike Wilkins introduced me (through his commentary[2]) to Dallas Willard, and I bought his book, The Divine Conspiracy.  This was indisputably a divine appointment.[3]  The Divine Conspiracy (and some of Dr. Willard’s other books[4]) has had a profound impact of my life in these last fourteen months.[5]

Which brings me to my commitment to “this other nation.”  It is actually a kingdom: the kingdom of God.  And it is the most powerful “nation” on earth - or off of it.

The Kingdom

I have been amazed that through all of these years of my reading and studying the Scriptures that I had not fully grasped the core of the Gospel Jesus came to earth to teach and preach.  But as I immersed myself in the Gospels, the Holy Spirit enabled my understanding: Jesus came to tell us that the kingdom of God “is at hand” and is now available for entry by anyone willing to be born “from above.”  (When was the last time you heard a sermon or Bible study on “the kingdom of God”?)

As Dr. Willard described, quoting Mark’s Gospel, “Jesus then came into Galilee announcing the good news from God. ‘All the preliminaries have been taken care of,’ he said, ‘and the rule of God is now accessible to everyone.  Review your plans for living and base your life on this remarkable new opportunity’” (Mark 1:15).[6]  And Dr. Willard explains…
This is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus, have the option of living within the surrounding movements of God’s eternal purposes, of taking our life into his life.[7]
Jesus offers himself as God’s doorway into the life that is truly life.  Confidence in him leads us today, as in other times, to become his apprentices in eternal living (italics added).[8]
“Apprentices in eternal living.”  An apprentice is exactly what I have become: an apprentice of Jesus.  That means that I am learning from Him how to live my life as He would live it if He were I.  As I learn from Him, He is changing every part and parcel of my life. 

“So how is all of this a conspiracy?” some might ask.  That answer begins with understanding what the kingdom of God is.  “God’s own ‘kingdom,’ or ‘rule,’” explains Dr. Willard, “is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done.  The person of God himself and the action of his will are organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.”[9]  Dr. Willard continues…
….the kingdom of God is not essentially a social or political reality at all.  Indeed, the social and political realm, along with the individual heart, is the only place in all of creation where the kingdom of God, or his effective will, is currently permitted to be absent.  That realm is the “on earth” of the Lord’s Prayer that is opposed to the “in heaven” where God’s will is, simply, done.
My purpose for existence on planet earth is to be used by Him to extend His kingdom throughout the earth. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  That is actually saying the same thing twice.  God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven is, in effect, God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. 

The conspiracy?  There are millions of us all over the earth – all of us doing the same thing.  We’ve accepted Jesus’ invitation to enter the kingdom of God and the eternal quality of life that being “born from above” produces in humans, and we are extending His life, His rule and His reign throughout the earth.  How are we doing that?  With enormous power: we are learning from Jesus how to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and how to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Actually, Jesus is doing all of this in us and through us!  Yeah, pretty awesome!


As Dr. Gary Burge puts it, I have become a saboteur,
…an agent for change that not only speaks the gospel to my world, but which also is angered by the things that anger God.  I need to be a saboteur who promotes kingdom values whenever and wherever I can.  If it means being outrageous as Jesus was outrageous…so be it.[10]
As Dr. Burge explains, this is not just a matter of ethical behavior or fidelity to religious traditions, “no matter how virtuously they evoke higher ethical, religious behavior among us.”
It has to do not with the human spirit, but with God’s spirit.  It is a foreign invasion, sabotage of the first order.  True religion unites humanity with God’s powerful Spirit, who overwhelms, transforms, and converts (in the full meaning of the word) its subject (italics added).[11]
Saboteur?  Yes!  Co-conspirator with Jesus and millions more who are His disciples?  Absolutely!  Pretty awesome?  Indeed!  And incredibly exciting.

[1] Acts 4:19, 5:29
[2] The NIV Application Commentary on Matthew
[3] I call this a divine appointment because I had actually had The Divine Conspiracy in my library for years and had never read it.
[4] Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives
[5] I actually gave this book to all my children and their spouses last Christmas.
[6] p. 15
[7] p. 16
[8] p. 12
[9] p. 25
[10] This is an outstanding commentary on the Gospel of John: Gary M. Burge, The NIV Application Commentary on John, p. 106.
[11] Ibid.

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