So, I’m writing a book

A publishing friend of mine says that everyone has a book inside of them.

I believe it. I believe that there is a topic that is swimming around in everyone’s gut that is screaming to get out.

My gut screams kingdom-a seemingly medieval word that conjures up visions of knights and round tables but in reality it the most intricate, vibrant word on the planet.

I began to discover the reality of the kingdom back in 1995, which is also the year that my mom died. Attached is an article that I wrote describing that discovery. It is also the first chapter of my book–or the preface. I don’t have to decide that today.

Anyhow, the article was/is meant to whet the appetite of those who have never given thought to this amazing word. And it is for those who have long believed that “the kingdom” is the equivalent to “heaven”. It is not.

Nor is it simply Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism.

Nor is it a code of morality or wisdom principles or the least bit religious. (As Jimmy Fallon says, “ew.”)

Nor is it limited or measurable.

Nor can it be marketed.  Whew.

Over the past 2,000 years, the collective-we has diminished the meaning of kingdom.

Exhibit A: The word kingdom is found twice in The Lord’s Prayer. Most people can quote that verbatim as if they were uttering their address. Unfortunately, it rolls off the tongue like a religious eulogy.

If God cringes, he would certainly cringe.

So here is the article that I wrote back in the late 90’s. It is the thesis of my book. And it is the essence of what is currently spilling into a black and white composition notebook, being punched into my computer, and scratched onto a few random pieces of scrap paper.

It’s in my gut.

 

How I Discovered the Kingdom

By Karen Dilbeck

It was her 60th birthday and I was taking her out to breakfast. While we finished our blueberry pancakes, mom casually mentioned that she was going to the doctor later that day to have a knot on her neck looked at – “probably an infected lymph node.”

Within two days, the diagnosis came: squamos cell carcinoma. Surgery was imminent. Then came radiation. Weeks turned into months with more surgery and even chemotherapy. At age 61, which is far younger to me now than it was then, my momma died. And my inner war began.

I had the typical testimony: reared in a Christian home, received Christ early, later drifted away, only to come back and find that He really was faithful even when I had not been.

Now, here it was: my first real crisis of belief with the countless “why” questions.

The opened Bible came next with its seemingly neon word “kingdom” that appeared and reappeared. I grabbed one of my many unused Bibles from the shelf and began a journey with a highlighter that continues today.

This is what I have found:

  • John the Baptist shouted that the Kingdom was near.
  • When Jesus started speaking publicly, He said the Kingdom was here.
  • He added that prostitutes would enter the Kingdom before “righteous Pharisees” and that
  • one had to become like a small child in order to receive this Kingdom, which, by the way, was
  • a gift and, strangely enough, was
  • inside of us. Oh, and
  • this Kingdom wasn’t something one could physically see or touch, but it was composed of “righteousness, peace, and the joy of the Holy Ghost.”
  • To walk in the Kingdom, one had to be convinced that the last really would be first and that
  • the first really would be last; that
  • being a servant, turning the other cheek and going the extra mile were “literal” responses that spawned action in the heavenlies.

After Jesus rose from the dead, the Kingdom was the only subject He spoke on for that short 40-day period before He stepped off the earth and into eternity.

Then Phillip picked up where Jesus left off, preaching about the good news of the Kingdom and of the name of Jesus Christ.

Paul continued with great passion, describing how to get into and walk in the Kingdom. He also offered the warning that everything not of God’s Kingdom would be shaken.

What I learned personally was that “the Kingdom” was everywhere and that to “seek it first” really did mean “and all these things will be added unto you.”

With this new unquenchable quest, God provided for me an eternal view and the unshakable conviction that though my eyes saw my mother breathe her last breath, she had, like Jesus, simply stepped into eternity and her eyes saw what had previously been unseen.

Life really is a vapor.

Knowing the King and seeking the Kingdom is life … the only life that He intended for us to live.

______________________________

 In case your interested, here is a little extra stuff to read.  It’s free.

For Downloadable PDF, click here:   The Kingdom of God is

 

 

 

 

I am obscene.

I clicked on the video link: “Iraqi Christians Persecuted”.  As the three-minute tragic story ends, a legitimate tear appears in my eye.  I think, “so sad”, but don’t even utter those words aloud, as I slowly shake my head.

And then I clicked another link.  I opted for a 2:14 feel-good video.

That really happened.

I have gotten into the habit of watching one or two or, if time permits, three short videos a day.  It has become part of my personal entertainment grid that I have added to checking email, Instagram, Facebook and, well, whatever.

Somehow, though, the Iraqi Christians getting beheaded got lost in that grid.

Until God.  Until God put this article in front of me last night after I played with my Pinterest and before I clicked on my Kindle app.

It was short, well written and even had the accompanying 3:55 audio to keep my brain in focus.

One line punched me in the face: Not mincing any words, the author called the world’s indifference to ISIS’ mass execution of Christians “obscene.”

It insulted me, calling out MY obvious indifference.  IT called ME obscene.  No, it screamed to me: YOU ARE OBSCENE.

I have never had one of my links condemn me.

The article was the last thing on my mind last night as I toss and turned and finally, and comfortably, fell asleep.  Then, it was the first thing on my mind this morning.

So, this morning, I  re-read the article.  And re-read it again. And then, once again.

imagesIt’s true.  I am one of the obscene.

I am one of the many that has buried my head in the sand under the guise of “but what can I do about it?”

I believed the blatant lie that “I am help-less.”

But am I?

I had read and heard the word ISIS MANY times recently.  But, I confess that I haven’t known (nor did I care enough to find out) what that acronym stands for.  I had surmised that ISIS is the BAD GUYS.

But then I finally clicked on the link inside the article.  It tells me this about ISIS:

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is not a loose coalition of jihadist groups, but a real military force that has managed to take over much of Iraq with a successful business model that rivals its coldblooded spearhead of death.   It uses money from banks and gold shops it has captured, along with control of oil resources and old-fashioned extortion, to finance its killing machine, making it perhaps the wealthiest Islamist terrorist group in the world. But where it truly excels is in its carnage, rivaling the death orgies of the Middle Ages. It has ruthlessly targeted Shiites, Kurds and Christians.

“They actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick” a Chaldean-American businessman named Mark Arabo told CNN, describing a scene in a Mosul park. “More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”

I also learned that this is taking place in NINEVAH….yeah, remember when Jonah preached and the people repented and turned to God?  Yeah, it’s their great, great, great, (etc) grandchildren.  Their families are the ones that are being raped, beheaded and massacred.  Their descendants are being driven from the very place that Jonah preached THOUSANDS of years ago.

This is not a one time, isolated event.  It is going on while I am checking Facebook and pinning on Pinterest.  I have attempted to imagine that kind of fear–that type of aggression–in my town, my neighborhood, my street.  What would it look like for them to drive their jeep into my driveway…?  Our American borders mean nothing to them.  I know this now–I am, finally, becoming informed.

We are part of their several-thousand-year-old-plan.  When I say “we”, I mean those of us that won’t renounce our Christian or Jewish faith…well, basically any faith that is not theirs.

This isn’t a trend.  This is not a Youtube video that stops when the 3:55 is over.

My indifference has been obscene.

Truly, all (ok, most) of us WANT to DO SOMETHING.  That has been proven by the recent ALS challenge.  We are ready and willing to pour a cold bucket of water over our heads, post the video AND even write the check.  We are also eager….

So what can I do?  (Emphasis on any of these words.)

I have four suggestions, not necessarily in this order:

1. Think.  What do I have at my fingertips?  Where is my influence?

When I lived in Montgomery, I had a LOT of influence, but now that I live in Georgia, I have almost nill.  But when I THOUGHT ABOUT IT, I realized that I blog.  As a fairly new blogger, I have 72 subscribers, and if only 25% of those read it, than I have influenced a handful of people to possibly not be obscene!  That is progress.

Who do you influence even in small, seemingly insignificant ways? 

2. Ask God.  Yes, ask God what YOU can do.  He speaks to those that have ears to hear: i.e., Jonah.

3. Google.

We all Google everyday, all day.  And we Google what we want to Google

So take time, a real purposed block of time, to Google a few things, like the phrase: Arabic N  (It is the symbol/letter on this kid’s shirt to the right. You will be astounded.)

Then, Google ISIS.  Google Persecuted Iraqi Christians. This is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the obscene.

Also, watch the videos–they are horrible but watch them anyway. 

Then, think again.   And ask God again what your role is in this.

4. Become less obscene.  It really is a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Liquor (“see beer”) and Other Unsolicited Advice

As we dumped each of our three boys at their respective colleges, I slipped an envelope onto their pillows.

That envelope contained two decades of brilliant advice on many of the intricacies of life from road trips and beer to porn and dating to fraternities and stupid stuff. (Connecting the dots, optional.)

One son stuck it on his bulletin board where it stayed all year.  Another son carried it around in his back pocket and made his friends read it–one of his friends absconded it and reprinted in the UA student newspaper.  

The other son?  Ahhhhhh, it may still be in the original envelope! 🙂

Sending kids off to college ain’t easy…after all, for many, it truly is a 4 (or 5 or 6) year party.  So unsolicited advice, especially from mom, may not be, uh, appreciated.  That, however, didn’t stop me from putting it out there!

Herein lies the greatly abbreviated version.  The full version in PDF form is available for here for download:  Alphabetical Advice BLOG COPY

Enjoy!

Alphabetical Advice from Your Mama

Authenticity. Be the same with everyone, all the time, no matter where you go.

Beer. You can legally try it when you are 21. It dulls the brain and heightens your ability to make really stupid decisions. (Note: “Stupid Stuff”)

Bible. Read it. If it bores you, there’s a reason.  Ask God why and don’t be surprised by the answer.

Cynicism. Defined as pessimism, sarcasm, and suspicion. Catering to this results  in skepticism in life. It coughs up like the flu causing no one to want to be around you.

Dating. Take girls out on REAL DATES! Every date helps you to hone down what you want and don’t want in a future bride.

Drugs.  They are not an option for your life. Don’t take any meds without your name on the little plastic bottle. Leave the pot for potheads.

Education. It’s why you are there.  It’s expensive. Real expensive. Get our money’s worth.

Eternity. Think about it. It is real.

Eyes. Avoid pollen and porn. Both are irritants that will totally alter your vision of reality and make you itch when you need to be doing other things.

Fraternity. It’s not life. Just a part of it. Don’t sell your soul, your morals, your ethics or yourself to it. Be real in it. Don’t waste the myriad of opportunities that God gives you there.

Friends.   Treat them how you want them to treat you, even when they don’t deserve it. Dispense grace freely. You will never regret doing that–never. Build a good range/type of friends and try to talk with them deeply. Ask them occasionally how they really are, and really listen to their answer.

Girls. Treat all girls like ladies, even when they are not acting like ladies. That is a true gentleman. Avoid the easy ones.

God.  Trust Him, especially in the dark.  Unfortunately, there will be lots of dark.

Honesty. Don’t ever hedge the truth. Ever. Not even once under any circumstance. If the truth ain’t good enough, the truth ain’t good enough.

Humble. Be humble. Take the least seat, the last place, the lowest job. Rewards abound.

Ignore.  Ignore the voices.  There will always be voices.

Injuries.   Broken hearts heal–nurse them but not too much or people won’t want to be around you. Broken bones need casts. Broken skin needs Neosporin. Broken souls need Jesus.

Jesus.  Get to know Him better.  He will be more faithful than your friends, your brothers or your parents.  He gets where you are in life.

Kangaroos. This has nothing to do with your college experience unless you transfer to Austin College in Sherman Texas. (yes, that is their mascot.)

Laziness. Avoid it. If you are bored, then it’s time to really re-evaluate your life…and likely your grades!

Liquor. (see “beer”)

Mirror. Look in it once a day to check for stuff in your teeth and to make sure you know who is looking back. Make sure you like who is looking back. If you don’t, get a new mirror. 

No. Good word to use when your friends ask you to go out and you have a test to study for. (see “Education”)

Others. Look for the “least of these” and be kind to them. You will never regret doing that.

Parents. We will treat you like an adult and we expect you to act like one. But, we are still your parents. So, when you need a shoulder to cry on, we have four.

Politics. Listen more than you talk. Weigh your words carefully before you talk. Verrrrry carefully.

Quiet time.   Personal quiet time is good. You need it more than you realize. No phone, no computer, nobody.

Reputation. It is a lot easier to screw it up then it is to maintain it. It always goes before you.

Road trips. Make as many as you can if a) you can afford it, b) it doesn’t affect your day-to-day education. (See “Education”)

Roommates. When you are ticked at them do something nice for them. It is a good pattern to get into. And it works wonders.

Smoking. It’s illegal until you are 19. It causes cancer.  Listerine don’t hide the odor. (I know what both smell like, separate and together.)

Snobbery. You are not better than anyone.

Stupid Stuff. It happens. Get it right, then get over it.  Fall down seven times, get up eight.

Tongue. Guard yours or it will bite you.

Underwear. Make sure you always have some that is clean.

Venereal disease. It’s fairly simple to avoid, so avoid it.

Video Games. If you are more proud of your game scores than your GPA, be concerned. (See “education”)

Weather. Dress appropriately. I won’t be there to remind you to wear your coat 🙁

Xcess. Anything in excess is not good for you. Especially M&M’s.  

Yodeling. It relieves tension. Go ahead, try it.

Z. Get some zzzzz’s every night.  They are marvelous!

 Free Downloadable PDF, EXPANDED version Alphabetical Advice: Alphabetical Advice BLOG COPY