Kingdom-focused

A few weeks ago I was reading Mark 8, and I came across a story I’ve heard a million times about Jesus rebuking Peter. Jesus is walking with his disciples, Peter has just confessed that he recognizes that Jesus is Christ, and Jesus is telling his disciples what will happen next.

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:34)

Wait. Don’t skip past that too fast. Let that settle in: “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.

Even then, the disciples had a problem with being Kingdom-focused, so it’s not a wonder that we do today as well. Jesus had to constantly remind the disciples that He wasn’t referring to Earthly things when He spoke. He shows us throughout the Gospels that being Kingdom-focused wasn’t a suggestion, but a requirement to be able to do His work. He made that very known in verse 34: “But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter.” I truly believe in that moment Jesus had a “big brother” moment. Peter spoke. He recognized Peter’s influence with the disciples. He turned and looked at the disciples. He recognized that Satan knew the influence that Peter has as well. He could have spoken only to Peter (remember, Peter had pulled Him aside), but Jesus, being fiercely protective of all of the disciples’ Kingdom focus, used this as a moment to address how Satan will use what is seemingly bad as a reason to keep us from looking to Jesus.

Our human minds have a hard time comprehending anything that doesn’t benefit us. We do anything to avoid pain. We blame everything on the devil, and sometimes we can’t wrap our minds around the possibility that God may just lead us into something that will blow up because He has a greater purpose. Yet, here Jesus is CLEARLY stating that yes, sometimes, brokenness is the will of God for our lives, and for the purposes He will have us to walk in. We have to take our minds off of what looks and feels good to us.

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35)

Man, it’s one thing to say, “I’ll follow you, Christ.” It’s another to say, “Regardless of the cost, my focus is deadset on the Kingdom of God being spread throughout the Earth. Even if it costs me everything: friendships, material things, being talked about, I will stand firm, and lean into what you’re doing right now, God.”

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Here’s the thing: We’ve never had to die on the cross for anyone. We can’t be focused on bringing glory to ourselves “for the sake of the Kingdom.”

  • What if we prayed for someone to get out of a wheelchair, and didn’t give any thought to our pride if they didn’t?
  • What if instead of being jealous of another ministry, we began to recognize and be grateful for the vision and execution of a God-vision saving a group of people that God hasn’t called us to?
  • What if we went a week intentionally setting our needs aside, and praying for the needs of our friends on social media and their families?

So, I challenge each of us with this question: What is the Holy Spirit leading you to take your focus off of? What is preventing you from being Kingdom-focused?

I can guarantee one thing: You will not miss out on your own needs or promises. As we take care of Kingdom business, God will take care of ours.

Father, give us a new perspective. We thank you for the Holy Spirit at work in each of our lives, and we pray for greater wisdom moving forward. If we don’t know where to start, Holy Spirit, you do. We willingly surrender our focus to you, and we choose to live a life that doesn’t glorify self but glorifies and encourages the Kingdom of God. We say “It’s truly not about us being seen as ‘good Christians,’ but as one who moves in such humility and love, only wanting to further your Kingdom, that people will know YOU. We lay religion and rules aside, and we choose your perspective. As we begin to walk in this, teach us. Give us a higher perspective. Give us a greater love for your Kingdom, in whatever capacity it looks like. We love you. We thank you for what you’re doing on the Earth. We thank you for an even greater measure. Do it, Lord! In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Blogging Thus Far (Advice for the Weary Blogger)

It’s easy to start playing the comparison game without realizing it. While social media platforms can be positive, uplifting resources, they can also break down self-esteem and hinder growth. It usually starts the same: scrolling through different apps to catch up on the lives of friends, acquaintances, and role models. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden you’re looking at so-and-so’s recent tropical vacation and feeling down and out about your own life. It’s a slippery slope that can bring out negativity and hatred. I think Joy Sussman puts it best: ‘The blogosphere is a big community — there’s plenty of room to support each other.”

-Danielle Williams

Assistant Senior Managing Editor

I picked up an issue of “Artful Blogging” this past weekend, and I have not put it down! (Seriously, you will not regret buying it!) I think the editor puts it perfectly: Whether we have a desire to blog, or sing, or produce, or whatever, there is always that pressure to outperform the “competition.” We have all fallen captive to the lies of “But, look at that blog! I don’t know if I could ever get to that level. It’s probably easiest to just keep dreaming about what I want to do.” My favorite thing about this magazine issue is that so many of the bloggers talk about having to deal with that pressure of overcoming the “Competition” mindset. They talk about getting to their “sacred places” of learning to execute their vision regardless of what it looked like to the world, a place where their blogs felt like home to them. A place where (as one of the featured bloggers expressed) “Your own corner of the internet is your own.”

Over this past week, this issue has inspired me to really do some self-evaluation in making sure that my blog is reflecting the real me, and not who I think will sell. Now, I am definitely not a pro at blogging, but there are some things that I’ve learned during this process of blogging that I think are cool to share whether you’re blogging for the first time or needing to go back to the drawing board:

1. Before you even pick the platform, decide what you want your blog to represent. Whether it be all about you, certain aspects of your life, your walk with God, your career, or your hobbies. Whatever it is, let it be consistent, and something that you’d be passionate about posting about for a period of time.

2. Stick to being you. What makes you you? What is your thing? Go with that! YOUR thing! Your blog doesn’t have to be super over the top because another blogger’s is. I find that some blogs are pretty, but I’m so distracted by the pretty that I never read any of the content (That is just me, though! If you like glitter and frill, GO FOR IT! BE YOU!) You don’t have to impress. You just have to be you. People can tell when you’re genuine, and they’re drawn to it. God has made each of us uniquely different. So, stick to what you know. You are enough.

3. Pick a platform. I’ve found that some platforms are not free, but the freedom to express yourself is awesome (i.e. Squarespace). Some are free but require some work if you do like the girly, frilly things. However, If you’re willing to put in the work and do your homework, you can use websites like WordPress or Blogger and have an amazing blog without it costing so much.

4. Be okay with NOT being perfect! If you wait until you get it together, you’ll never start. So many blogs that I’ve read say that bloggers got their start by just doing it. They made many mistakes. The beginning content was horrible but a year later, it’s so much better than they’d ever imagined. It was through the act of beginning that they got to where they are now.

5. Don’t be afraid to grab inspiration from other people. Obviously, don’t copy, but you can use small pieces from other blogs to test what you do and don’t like. There’s no end to what your piece of the internet could look like. I love that we’re not all the same, nor do we all have the same interests, but we can draw people into our interests without them having to change who they are.  Personally, I’m not a fan of sweets, but recently I found a food blogger that I LOVE. Yes, her food looks great and her blog is cool, but I’m drawn to grab inspiration because I can tell that she genuinely loves her corner and that it expresses her.

6. Pray! Lol! I have to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom all of the time on what to post. “Is this a good idea? Is that fully developed as a lesson in me before I post about it? What are my motives in saying that? Does that look good? What about this?”

7. Don’t forget to express yourself! That’s the ultimate goal, right? How do you see your world? Use photography. Use paint. Use charcoal. Use your words. Use dance! Use them all! Just don’t forget the most important part of your corner is that it’s YOUR. CORNER. We know our worlds. Show us the world through your eyes.

*Bonus*

Maybe take some time away from social media for a few weeks. It’s hard to operate in your lane when you’re constantly comparing it to another’s. It’s okay to get away and to quiet your life for a little while to gain fresh vision and a new perspective. Some time away never hurt anyone!