James 3:18 – And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I came from a blue-collar background – my dad was a union drywaller and one of my first jobs was as a longshoreman. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, an area of the country where serial killers like Ted Bundy were from, where my dad ended up coaching our baseball team not because he knew how to play baseball but because he was literally the only dad in the neighborhood.
When it came time to go to college, I decided to go to a school across the state where I didn’t know a lot of people. So, I figured I would join a fraternity to make friends.
One Friday night, early in my first semester, the entire house was preparing for a big party – cleaning the house, bringing in kegs, not doing anything that you could consider would be “Kingdom down” behavior. That night, I was preparing to go to the party, and I heard God speak to me for the first time and say, “You’re not supposed to be here.”
I wasn’t even a Christian at that time, but I know it was God who was starting a work in my heart on that night. So, I actually never ended up making it to my first college fraternity party. Where did I go instead? I had no idea where else to go but the library where, as I found out, is apparently where all the international students go on Friday nights. After the party was over, I go back to the fraternity house to sleep.
The next morning, I’m the first one up because I’m the only sober one in the house. The entire house smells like warm beer and Satan’s breath. People are starting to wake up with their hangovers, and gals are trying to find their shoes and don’t remember what happened the night before, so I help them home.
So, soon after that, I decide to move out of the fraternity house, and I move into a dorm. God had told me I’m not supposed to be in the fraternity, but I hoped this wasn’t where I was supposed to stay either. They weren’t any better and there was just as much partying; they just weren’t as organized.
I still wasn’t a Christian at this point, but I had common sense and knew that drinking led to headaches and debauchery. I eventually did get saved about a year later reading Romans in the Bible that Grace, my now wife, gave me.
Once I was saved, I needed to find a church, and the tough part about a church is that you have no idea where to start looking. Even those who are in a cult don’t know until the last day – they just think they like wearing white shoes and that Koolaid is delicious. I was blessed to find an incredible, Bible-teaching church and pastor who was a Hebrew scholar.
I am so thankful that God spoke to me that night and changed the trajectory of my life. Once I was saved, I wanted to live in a way that was Kingdom down, and no longer live in a way that was Hell up. God told me to do four things – marry Grace, plant churches, preach the Bible, and train men – and, by His grace, I did marry Grace and have been doing the other things on the list for over 25 years.
There’s a culture around your life, marriage, home with your family, business or ministry, and church, and the question is – is it coming up from Hell or down from Heaven? This is exactly what this passage in James is talking about.
Is the culture of your life, marriage, home, and work Kingdom down or Hell up? What can you do to change the elements that are Hell up to Kingdom down?