Friday, July 31, 2009

Cultivating Awareness & The Kingdom of God

by Scott Rieger

Derek, your comments concerning my blog entry "Focused Petition" are well taken. How do I (or do I) put these "great ideas" (of entering & receiving the KOG) into practice? The short answer is that much of the time I don't, but when I do it usually starts with cultivating a fresh awareness of God. I find that when my thoughts of God become static, it's time to invite him to break into my world again. My world can become small very quickly. So...

1. I find something like the following on which to meditate and reflect.

Excerpts from "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard

"Jesus' good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world. It is a world filled with a glorious reality, where every component is with-in the range of God's direct knowledge and control - though he obviously permits some of it, for good reasons, to be for awhile otherwise than he wishes. It is a world that is inconceivably beautiful and good because of God and because God is always in it. It is a world in which God is continually at play and over which he constantly rejoices. Until our thoughts of God have found every visible thing and event glorious with his presence, the word of Jesus has not fully seized us....

"We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that he is full of joy...

"Now, Jesus himself was and is a joyous, creative person. He does not allow us to continue thinking of our Father who fills and overflows space as a morose and miserable monarch, a frustrated and petty parent, or a policeman on the prowl.

"One cannot think of God in such ways while confronting Jesus' declaration 'He that has seen me has seen the Father.' One of the most outstanding features of Jesus' personality was precisely an abundance of joy. This he left as an inheritance to his students, "that their joy might be full" is deeply illuminating of kingdom living to understand that his steady happiness was not ruled out by his experience of sorrow and grief.

"So we must understand that God does not "love" us without liking us-through gritted teeth-as "Christian" love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core....

2. As this "sinks in" I can begin to see that there are options. I find that I can focus on what it is that is stirring in me - could be any number of things - and I am able to invite God's gracious and generous activity (KOG) into those things...(Let you Kingdom come). I keep inviting God's activity into these things (could be days/weeks/months) and wrestling until I have peace or clarity. The more deeply that I am convinced of God's goodness, the more quickly I seem to resolve issues or just move forward in faith.

The challenge here, as I see it, is to seek to be ravished by the goodness and nearness of God. If we can cultivate greater awareness and be more specific in our petitions / requests maybe we will see more of the KOG than we ever expected.


  1. Just reading this now. Thanks for answering my question.

    How would I know that this this type of meditation is having a positive impact on my life-- that it is "working"?


  2. Derek... "How do I know if it’s working" is an insightful question. Meditation, like most spiritual disciplines, can be compared to physical training. People that engage in jogging, weight lifting, etc. normally have a goal in mind such as losing weight, improved health, increased strength. The clearer they are on their goal, the easier it is for them to measure their progress or the lack thereof and make adjustments. Most people don't expect immediate results... unless they have a bow flex! They know the only sure way to experience real change in their body is to be in it for the long haul. The point to grasp here is that, generally speaking, no one doubts that real, measurable results will occur if they stick to a proven form of physical training.

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said for most of us when it comes to spiritual training. Does it really work? How do I do it? We simply don't have much experience in these things. They are not embedded in our popular culture, which is where many today look for answers to the question of how to live life. Others that look to the christian faith for answers to life have been told, for a long time, that "working" at their faith will exclude them from grace... nothing could be further from the truth. As a well known author has said "grace is opposed to earning but not to effort".

    The apostle Paul, writing to his young friend Timothy had this advice, "Train (gumnaze) yourself unto godliness; for while bodily training (gumnasia) is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:7-8, RSV). (If it isn’t already obvious, "gumnaze" is where we get our term "Gymnasium")

    I think the challenge here is first, to become convinced at some level that spiritual training is valuable for the lives that we actually live. Second, find the spiritual "Jack Lalannes" that have gone before us and learn with them how to enter into this kind of training. Finally, make a specific goal for your meditation... could be greater faith, patience, direction etc. Over time and with input from others, I think you will know if it's working. It seems to me that at the end of the day, those that get the most out of the invitation to enter / receive the KOG will in fact be gym rats.