Kingdom Living

Kingdom Living

Experiencing Heaven on Earth
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“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” NIV

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” NRSV

Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. KJV

The opening of Matthew chapter 3 speaks of two things: the kingdom of heaven, and repentance. While the many translations word it slightly differently, the idea is pretty clear: repent of your old ways, for the kingdom, is close. There is one translation that I have found, however, that seems to tell a slightly different story.

“Change your life. God’s kingdom is here.” The Message

Side-note: I know that The Message is a somewhat controversial translation and that it is not exact. I think, though, that it usually does a better job of conveying the whole idea of a passage, more than simply translating from the Greek or Hebrew.

So what exactly about this is a different story?

Change your life. That is very different from what I have learned the word repent means. This almost makes me think that it means more than just asking forgiveness of my sins. Like what John is about to say is something that will change my entire life.

Oh.

God's kingdom is here. God's kingdom? Is that the same or different than Heaven? And it's here? Like on Earth, where I am right now? So, John is saying that God has brought His kingdom to Earth and it is not separate from us.

Cool.

He was right. That does change my entire life.

You see, growing up, I knew about Heaven and Jesus and the whole shebang. I had grown up in the church. Literally. I was practically birthed in my family's church. I had accepted Jesus and been baptized when I was 8. I was following all of the rules: being kind to people, telling the truth, usually listening to my parents. I was definitely going to Heaven when I died.

My freshman year of college, I started to study Christian Spiritual Formation at my university, and I was challenged on everything I had ever known. In the best way possible.

I was introduced to the concept above. That the Kingdom (aka Heaven) is not something we have to wait for. We can experience it here and now. Living with Jesus does not just mean following rules and being kind to people, but it is a way of transforming yourself to be more like Jesus and to experience His reality. A reality of immense goodness, beauty, and truth.

John was trying to tell the people that Jesus was here and he was bringing Heaven with him. Maybe not Heaven exactly as it will be someday, but Heaven nonetheless. There are all sorts of things around us that bring a little bit of Heaven to Earth: babies, laughter, flowers, chocolate, music. We don't have to wait until we are dead to start living eternal life. Life with and in Jesus begins now, we just have to look for it.

This place is certainly not Heaven, but I have found bits of Heaven all around me, and that has changed my entire life.

Cover Image Credit: Shawntel Shirkey

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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How Incorporating Organization In My Daily Routine Single-Handedly Changed My Life

And how it can structure yours.

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It would be a complete fabrication of the truth if I pretended that my life in any way has been picture perfect. Things are messy, life is messy, and my life becomes an endless cycle of self provoked destruction.

I've had short bursts of motivation as a last expedient to seize control of the downward spiral I have endured. But mostly they have diminished along with any motivation I have left.

None of these short term solutions have yet to salvage my mental, physical, and academic state. SO, as an attempt to overhaul my life, I decided the best way to strive for control, is to organize every aspect of my life.

Yes, this could become unhealthy if I used this tactic as a way to tear myself down or over analyze my accomplishments, or lack thereof. But I try to view my life as something I have a say in while considering that not everything will be perfect or completely satisfy my goals for myself.

To successfully enact this measure, I try to never go into a day unaware of what I must accomplish, what tasks/work I have to attend to, and stocked with a full calendar and set of alarms that prevent me from missing deadlines. Although mildly time-consuming to detail my life in advance, it is greatly beneficially outweighed through the amount of time this tactic saves me.

Recently, I have noticed how much happier I have been, and feel as if my life is back on track and it's future in my hands. This has allowed me to work an upwards of 50 something hours a week, see and manage friends, read and keep up with hobbies, as well as give me peace of mind and time to relax with loved ones.

I am grateful for the role that organization has played in my life and suggest that everyone incorporate some type of underlying structure in their lives, to realize that anything is achievable with proper organizational preparation.


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