What Happened to Peace and Joy

I arrived back in the city where I live to discover that while I was away in the eastern part of Canada a young boy tried to burn down the north-end Walmart in my city. You know, the one nearest where I live. So, I drove over to do some basic household shopping the other day. I don’t ever do any Christmas shopping. It was closed. There was enough fire and smoke damage to close the store for the rest of the holiday season. 

So, several days ago I drove to the southend Walmart along with, I am sure, many other northenders. After all, Walmart has what we need and at a decent price. The traffic into the parking lot was bumper-to-bumper. It took a half hour to just get into the parking lot from the nearest stop light. Then, no shopping carts. I mean none. None in the store and none in the outside “place your carts here” locations. So, I followed someone around the parking lot while they tried to locate their car so I could grab their cart once they had loaded things into their car.

The store was packed. You waited at every isle and every turn. But, I finally had everything I came for (nothing with respect to Christmas) and was looking forward to getting out and getting home.  So, cat litter, cat food, dog pads, and dog food in shopping cart I head to the cash out. Well, forty minutes later I was finally out the door heading for my car. Being chased by a little old lady looking to steal my cart as soon as I was finished with it. 

Getting out of the parking lot and back to that nearest stop light – 40 minutes. And, figure this, no coffee. 

So, I arrived home, unpacked everything and poured a strong coffee. And, as I sat in my favourite chair I was thinking about my experience. I wondered what happened to the “great joy” that the angel spoke of when announcing the birth of the Christ child? Luke 2:10 states, “I bring you good news of a great joy…” I didn’t see any joy in my outing. Regretfully, not even in my heart. In fact, I am sure even my countenance did not exhibit any joy. 

Then I got to thinking about the fact that we are celebrating the birth and arrival of the “Prince of peace.” And, believe me, I did not see any semblance of peace on anyone’s face during the whole outing. Anger, yes. Frustration, yes. Impatience, yes. Anxiety, yes. Tiredness, yes. Peace of heart or mind, no!

Is it just me or is there something wrong with this Christmas thing? It seems to me that the worse time of the year to find or see peace and joy is in the mad rush of the Christmas season. 

Could it be that we have taken the Christ out of Christmas? Could it be that there is simply no time to find that peace that so easily escapes us. We are just too busy with the celebration of a Christ-less Christmas. Yes, even the Christians. And, in the busy season when so many extra activities are added to an already busy and full schedule what little peace of heart and mind we regularly experience seems to disappear completely. 

It’s time to take back Christmas for the Christ child. Maybe it is even time for those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ and have not confessed Him as Lord and Saviour to get off our holiday. Go to work. Don’t take a holiday.  You don’t believe so what is it that you are really celebrating. And, why are you celebrating with a Christmas tree and Christmas presents when you don’t love or worship the Christ. Get off our holiday. Or, celebrate your days off differently and stop living like a hypocrite apparently celebrating the birth of a child you don’t believe in.

Just a recurring thought I have about this time each and every year. Just a thought. 

Two Simple Habits

Despite the thousands of good habits we could adopt in our lives as believers, according to the broad-brush themes of the Bible, I would suggest that there are two basic habits we all need to adopt. “Sit and wait” habits and “go and do” habits.

God says we are to be still and know that He is God, and that we are to wait on His voice and His guidance and His peace. And then He says that faith without works is dead faith. And that a primary purpose in our lives is to go and share the Gospel of the Kingdom with people who need to be saved.

Jesus says, “Come into my presence. Still your mind. Quiet your thoughts. Hear from me. And then take the grace and peace I’ve given you to a chaotic and embittered world.”

If you crave a reset and a change in your daily routine, then this two-part sequence is for you. First, sit and wait. And then, in God’s Name, go and do.

Sit and Wait:

Tomorrow, start your day with a simple prayer. Before your feet hit the floor, say, “God, today I want to follow you. I want to hear your voice. I want to feel joy and peace and fulfillment. I want to live today as your child.” After you pray, open up a passage of the Bible and read until a verse strikes you as relevant to the situation you are in. Write the verse down – log it on your phone, grab a dry-erase marker and jot it down on your mirror, scribble it on your hand – and come back to it throughout your day, letting the power of God’s truth wash over you again and again.

Go and Do:

Next, as you work to stay in conversation with God throughout your day, ask him to give you the strength and courage to practice being grateful and kind and wise. Start with little things, like making eye contact with a stranger and saying hello, or reaching out to a friend with an encouraging word, or changing the subject when a friend starts gossiping to you about someone, or saying thanks but no thanks when you’re offered the drink or the pill or the bong or whatever the thing is that usually leaves you deflated and derailed.

Day by day, add a few small habits that lead to life, and subtract a few that don’t. Over time, you will be remade. You will see drastic and permanent change in your life and in your relationships. As Paul said in his famous letter to the church in Rome – “Do not conform to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2)


I was recently at a church in Canada. One that was new to me. I enjoyed my time with them and we connected, as pastors and leaders often do, exchanging email addresses and cell phone numbers. A follow-up to it was that I was asked to befriend the leader on Facebook and then ended up having a closer look at the man and his church on their Facebook page. Great way to see what is happening or not happening and to help form an opinion or two as we begin building relationally.

I am amazed how many churches are advertising “revivals.” I shouldn’t be shocked or surprised as often they talk about revival over coffee, pray for revival, and hold regular revival services. I have always found that to be interesting. In earlier centuries the Church would schedule revivals. They would advertise that they were coming up and ask people to mark their calendars. Then there would be a series of special services usually with a guest speaker. People would attend and some would even get born again. This practice continues in some Christian circles through to today.

There were a number of major revivals in the Old Testament. God would send His messenger to call His nation back to their God. So, Israel would assemble, the prophet would preach, and people would repent and turn back to worshipping their God once again. This was God calling His nation back to Him. He selected the time and place and announced it through His spokesperson, the prophet. It was not planned and scheduled by man. It was something God initiated. The last revival was when John the Baptist called God’s people back to Him in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. 

Interesting to note that there are no references to “revivals” in the New Testament other than John’s. And, that was initiated by God and was still under the Old Covenant because Jesus had yet to die on the Cross and thus the New Covenant had yet start.  

Under the New Covenant, God no longer had a nation to call back to Him through repentance. Now He has a people who were, in time, scattered throughout many nations. These people were very much alive and in a personal relationship with Him. When they repented and turned to God He poured His love and His life into them. They were alive; vibrant and enthusiastic about God and the things of God. So alive that they spread the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout the then known world and more than half the Roman Empire claimed Christ as their Lord by the year 300. No revival – just believers fulfilling the command of Christ to “go into al the world and make disciples.”

However, some still hold revivals today expecting non-believers to come and receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour. And yet, this is not what revivals are really all about. You do not revive something that has never been spiritually alive. Revivals should, if you are going to have them at all, should be focused on turning the church members back to God. The focus should be believers returning to the ‘life’ they once received and experienced. This ‘life’ now needing to be revived. They were not meant to see the lost saved. 

Saving the lost is accomplished through Christians building relationships with the unsaved and showing them the love of God. Eventually, having won their trust and respect then sharing the Gospel verbally as spiritual questions are asked and people begin to have an interest in finding out more regarding the God we believe in, worship, and serve. 

However, we still hold tent revivals, church revivals, youth revivals, spring revivals, fall revivals… focusing on seeing the lost come to the Cross and receive Christ. They are man-made programs designed to grab the attention of the unsaved. And who are kidding – do we really believe a sign saving “Revival Service Tonight” is going to attract an unsaved person. And, advertising “coffee and Cookies” isn’t exactly a drawing card either. 

We are apparently missing the fact that in the early Church there were no revivals. Just on-fire, enthusiastic, and obedient believers who spread the fire through their lifestyle and their words. No revival needed to do this.  

Instead of praying for revival why don’t we pray what Jesus told us to pray… that there would be more workers reporting for duty in the fields already ripe for harvest. 

Thoughts On Life and Making It Count

How quickly things can change. One day we are doing really well, healthy and enjoying life. We are relating to our family, making a difference in the lives of those that we know, and are planning the months to come, the change of seasons, and some of the things we would like to accomplish in life. And, then realty can hit and change all of that.

I have reached the age where I realize hat I am on the down side of the hill. In my early seventies there are, at most, 15 very active years left and then a few slower ones near the end before heading into eternity and the home Jesus has prepared for me before my arrival. So, I am writing or creating a bucket list of the things I would like to do before dying. And, I chose the  word ‘dying’ on purpose as I think it is so wrong to refer to someone as ‘passing.’ Passed is what you do when you have gas. You pass gas. And, it is not a ‘bucket list’ as I don’t plan to ‘kick the bucket.’ I am planning on doing what all human beings do – die. 

So, I have a “Let’s have a terrific time” list. And, it includes many amazing activities I want to become involved in before I die. Many places and countries I want to visit and learn about. Many nations I want to preach in and share the Gospel of the Kingdom in as I plant churches. 

Of course, there are things I want to do that are simply fun – camping, paddle boarding, reading some of my favourite authors, skydiving, scuba diving, living on a deserted island in a warm climate for six months by myself, write several books, and on the list could go. Some of the “Let’s have a terrific time” lists are of a more personal nature but you get the idea.

Of course, we don’t know when we will die. Only the Lord knows that. The Psalmist states that God, our heavenly Father, has a certain number of days for each of us to live. And, if we are healthy and care for the health that He has given to us we can live three score years and ten, which means 70 years. Of course, I have been blessed with having passed that milestone and am still in great health ready to see another decade or two before slowing down. I am simply enjoying my life too much to just sit and veg as many my age do. I am not into inactivity and boredom. I want to be challenged, stretched, do new things, go new places and continue the journey with Jesus which I have now been on for 42 years, 8 months. 

Many people die before they die, if you get my drift. They stop living long before they stop breathing. It is a choice. And, I choose life. There is simply too much I want to do for the Lord and so many things I want to taste, try, and do personally that I am not ready to simply sit. I am trusting the Lord that He still has many things for me to experience. I am doing my best to stay healthy physically, relationally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. And, to invest the last years of my life pushing back the darkness, preaching, the gospel, planting churches, training and mentoring young men, and generally having a good time – a blast – enjoying all of life while doing all of these things. 

Relationships Are Key

Relationships are important in the Kingdom and thus, of course, in the Church. However, much of what we do does not encourage the building of healthy and dynamic relationships. 

Think about it, we sit in pews or chairs facing the back of someone’s head. We have a set program that we dutifully go through each time we assemble for worship – welcome, worship, greet one another (now there is a great relationship builder), announcement and offering, and then a teaching followed by another hymn, prayer time, or simply a dismissal. 

Of course there is the pre-service coffee fellowship (or mid-service or end of service) where people talk with their friends and those they know are safe. But, again, this seldom encourages existing relationships to grow and mature and certainly does not build new ones.

It takes time and effort to build quality relationships upon which the Kingdom and the Church are then built. It requires time because it actually takes a good length of time to build trust within a new relationship. And, without trust the relational sharing will lack any serious depth and simply be taking about the weather or recent sports game. Seldom about Jesus and never any sharing of personal issues, life circumstances and related feelings.

Not only must there be time for trust to be built up so that it then forms one of the foundations for healthy relationships. But, you and those you are relating to must feel safe enough to share. In other words, there must be a safe place where people can then be vulnerable. Vunerability is key to building relationally. 

You must feel that others are truly interested in what you have to say and what you are feeling. But, even more than that, they care about how you are feeling. To continue to be vulnerable the person you are sharing with must respond to what you are sharing. Continued vulnerability requires more than a passive receiving of information from the person listening. It requires that person to embrace and engage with what is being shared and the person who is doing the sharing. Again, this, like trust, does not come easily or naturally and takes time.

Add to this a large dose of confidentiality where you know that what you share will be received and responded to. But, more than that, it will remain confidential and not become the center of the latest gossip circle or the gossip chain often disguised as a prayer chain. People need to feel that you are trustworthy and confidential and will keep their confidences regardless. Not spreading them all over the local church. 

These three – trust, vulnerability, and confidentiality – are the basic requirements for healthy inter-personal relationships. And healthy relationships are essential for both the local church and the Kingdom to continue to grow and reach the lost with the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The Soaring Eagles

It is Independence Day in the United States and their main symbol is the eagle. This blog has nothing to do with that eagle or the nation of the United States. It has to do with the eagles I saw soaring on the wind this morning as I drank an early morning, and I mean early, coffee at a camp sight in northern Saskatchewan. I am on holidays and mornings have been cool and rainy. This morning was bright and sunny and clear. So, a coffee outside listening to the birds, watching the squirrels, and admiring the soaring eagles gliding on the wind currents over my head and the lake I am camped beside.

It is amazing how the eagles glide. It looks to be effortless but I am sure it is not. They look like they are having fun. Maybe they are scouting for breakfast under the water over which they are soaring. Perhaps they are simply having a good time. But, they have caught the flow of the wind and they are moving as it moves going where the wind takes them.

Of course, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is like the wind. The encounter with Nicodemus is found in John, chapter 3. Jesus told Nicodemus that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, goes where He wants. And, that often we, as believers, won’t know where He has come from or even where He is going. In other words, we may not always be deeply aware of what the Holy Spirit has done, is doing, or will be doing in our lives. And, we will not often know where He is taking us.

So, our task is to ride the wind. Go with the Holy Spirit. At times you may simply be moving forward in your relationship with Him. This is called ‘fellowship’ as seen in 1 Corinthians 13:14. At times you may be moving forward and not know why it is happening or even where you will end up – Like Abraham when He left Ur and headed out with God as his guide not knowing the direction or the destination. At all times it is fun because you are soaring on the wind and moving with the plans and purposes of the Living God whom you love and adore.

To ride the wind for whatever reason we need to yield to the Spirit. If you fight the wind you will not soar like the eagles. You have to go with the wind, go with the flow. We are reminded in Ephesians 5:18 that we are to yield to the Spirit letting Him control our thoughts, feelings, words, actions, and attitude. And, yielding means you may not always have a clear understanding of where He is taking you and what He wants you to do when you get there. But you have put Him in control of your life and you are trusting Him completely. 

It is okay not to know everything and understand fully. It is half the fun and we are called to walk by faith and not by sight or understanding. We are called to live in the spirit and not in the flesh. So, let go and begin to soar on the wind. 

Great Conversation – Great Fellowship

The other day I had the opportunity to sit with Ira. He is a older man such as myself and we were just talking. I had been out walking and enjoying the sunshine and quiet and I waved at him and he waved me over. It was obvious that he had time to talk and certainly wanted to chew the rag together for a while. 

I don’t know Ira well. I have seen him a few times in the past few years and chatted briefly as we passed each other on the road or at the lake front. He was always busy doing what he was doing and I was not looking for extra company nor did I have the need to know another person or spend time with someone else. My relational plate is rather full. But he wanted to talk.

He’s a believer. I mean a real Christian. He even pastored for a decade and a half and was bi-vocational. He worked during the week in the lumber camps of British Columbia; preached and ministered on the weekends. He had a major accident in the lumber camp when a tree he was cutting hit him in the head. Lost an eye and had a series of serious operations to repair the damage. Scars are still very evident. Moved out to my area of the world, tried raising cattle and a number of other ways to make a living. Now running a campground. General all-around Mr. Fix-It.

But, the point is we talked the whole time about Jesus. While learning all this background of how he came to be where he is now and who he is now, we continually talked about Jesus. I mean, should we not give credit to whom credit is due. If it were not for Jesus neither he nor I would have a story to tell that turned out so well and allowed us to be so blessed in so many ways. 

And, he mentioned the flavour of Christian he is and how he was hardcore in his beliefs. So much so that he put them ahead of Jesus. And, as a result, focused on convincing people that his theology and understanding was the only right one to the detriment of preaching Jesus and seeing people born again and come into the Kingdom by the blood of Jesus. And, he admitted that he had been wrong to put something else ahead of salvation through the blood of Jesus. And, that he was changing, softening in a good way. That God showed him how he had been wrong in his understanding for many years and helped him to admit his mistakes and then bring change to his life so as not to repeat the same mistake again.

The whole conversation – about our lives, the Bible, Jesus, doctrines and beliefs, the church – traditional and house styles … it was a wonderful  conversation. I sat and talked to him for over an hour and it seemed like 15 minutes. We didn’t focus on ourselves or our doctrines or our accomplishments. It was all about Jesus and what He has accomplished… true fellowship. Seriously enjoyable. Powerfully uplifting and encouraging.  It was so good to sit and talk about Jesus and share some of what He has done in our lives, giving God all the glory. So good. 

Really it was seriously good because often when believers get together they talk about their issues, the hurts, their medical situation, all the troubles and issues they are facing. They are the focus and the center of the conversation. And, in case you have not guessed it yet – this does not make for good fellowship. In fact, it should never be called fellowship.

Thanks Ira for a great time of good, encouraging, and powerful fellowship. It and you were the highlight of my day. 

Some Decent Guidelines for Life

Most of my adult life I have worked to live by a number of guidelines. These decisions early in my walk as a believer and a Christian leader have helped me in every area of my walk with Jesus and in every situation I have found myself in as a Christian and as a leader. These were thought through many years ago with the help of a mentor whose books I devoured and whose teachings I listened to on a regular basis for many years.

These are the decisions that I made that have helped me in so many situations in life and in ministry…

1> Always put people first

Often we can put a task before people. For example, we have often many things to do before a service starts on the weekend. So, we become task oriented to accomplish what needs to be done often neglecting people who are arriving early; people walking by us on their way to doing something; or those who might just need a hug and a warm hello. 

In the business world often profit comes before people – staff, customers, family members. Making a profit becomes more important than the people who are helping you to be successful and make a profit.

Remember: always put people first

2> Live to make a difference, not to make money

Live your life and chosen career to make a difference and not to make a living. Work to live and don’t live to work. You only have a given number of days upon the planet and you should, as a believer, make every one of those days count for the Kingdom. We are here, as Spirit-filled believers, to make a difference. The world should be better off because you spent time on the planet. Each of us needs to do more than breathe the air and use up space during our time on Earth.

God has a plan and a purpose for you and you need to discover what it is. He is not keeping it a secret. However, you do need to seek after Him and His Kingdom to discover what that purpose is. And, as you fulfil that purpose, you will maker a difference.

Remember: Live to make a difference, not to make money

3> Be myself, but be my best self possible

As a believer you need to find out “who you are in Christ.” He has made you “a new creature in Christ” when you were born again. Who is this person who is now “in Christ?” And, then, once you discover who you are as you journey with Jesus  – you work to be the best you that you can be. 

As you journey with the Lord and discover how He has wired you – your motivational gifts as found in Romans 12:4-8 – you will begin to see what your hot buttons are. And these interests and the passion you feel will indicate the beginning of discovering who He created you to be. 

Then, as you continue to discover who you are you have the joy and yes, even fun, of learning how best to express the best you there is – how you are going to live, your values, your morals, your dress code, your friends. 

Remember:  Be myself, but be my best self possible 

4> Express gratitude – reject entitlement

Today’s generation seems to believe that they are entitled to a good life and all the benefits of that good life. They believe that they should not have to work or struggle to obtain those benefits. They are simply entitled to them.

To live as a believer we need to understand that we are not entitled to anything and that all we have, including life itself, is a result of a gracious and powerful God who loves us. 

As a result, instead of constantly demanding more, better, bigger we should be expressing gratitude for what we do have – as little or as much as that may be. We need to reject the whole concept of ‘entitlement.’

Remember: Be myself, but be my best self possible

5> Be willing to be misunderstood and lonely for the right reasons

As believers in a non-Christian world we will need to make quality decisions based on Scripture. We will live moral and ethical lives based on the life example of Jesus as set out in the gospels.  Our choices and the things we stand for and defend will not always be understood and accepted by others. So, we need to be confident in what we, as born again Christians, believe. Then, be bold and courageous as we base decisions on those beliefs, and, at times, even take a stand publicly for what we believe. 

As a result we will be misunderstood and often need to stand alone – lonely for the right reasons. 

Remember: Be willing to be misunderstood and lonely for the right reasons

These five basic quality decisions will take each and every believer a long way in life – a life that will benefit others and leave the world a different place than it was when you were born into it. 

Christian Humility

C.S. Lewis stated, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” A good thought to dwell on for most Christians who, I am afraid, often spend a lot of time not only thinking about themselves but talking about themselves.

I believe humility is an essential quality for anyone who calls themselves a believer. And, a definite must for any Christian leader. In his book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins called this “a compelling modesty.” He write:

“We were struck by how the good-to-great leaders didn’t talk about themselves … When pressed to talk about themselves, they’d say things like, ‘I hope I’m not sounding like a big shot.’ It wasn’t just false modesty. Those who worked with or wrote about the good-to-great leaders continually used words like quiet, humble, modest, reserved, shy, gracious, mild-mannered, self-effacing, understated, did not believe his own clippings; and so forth.”

As a person of faith, I see humility as making the everyday choice to credit God for my blessings and to credit others for my successes. How would you describe it? Pastor Rick Warren said, “Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses.” 

No matter who you define humility, know that it means three things. First, you possess self-awareness and can criticize yourself. Second, you are confident and comfortable enough that you don’t feel any need to draw attention to yourself. And third, you revel in the accomplishments of others and are eager to help them shine. 

Proverbs 15:31, 33 states (English Standard Version) “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honour.”

The Passion Translation states it this way: 

“Accepting constructive criticism opens your heart to the path of life, making you right at home among the wise. The source of revelation-knowledge is found as you fall down in surrender before the Lord. Don’t expect to see Shekinah glory until the Lord sees your sincere humility.”

Humility is the key to wisdom and understanding. It is key to growing in the Lord. And, it is key to being a good believer and a terrific leader. Not to mention, being a good friend to others and having solid friends who will stand with you through life. 

The Room

I was recently in another province in Canada ministering and the leader was encouraging the people present to “enter into worship” as the music was beginning quietly in the background. The people were settling in and she commented and encouraged everyone present to enter into the worship that was starting.

I had a “God thought.” Many people enter the room called ‘worship’ but never engage in or embrace worship. They stand and sing, they sit and watch, they read, talk, or snooze. But, they never truly worship. So, ‘entering into worship’ is not enough. One must actively engage in and embrace the time of worship, the songs being sung, and releasing the love that is in your heart for the Lord. 

Worship is part of our relationship with the Lord. And, we need to be all there when we worship. Our minds cannot be running all over the place – we need to be focused. Our hearts must be pure and focused as well. And, our only agenda must be to honour the Lord and glorify His Name. Then, we do all this with enthusiasm and zeal and we have entered in as well as engaged and embraced.

The same is true for any relationship. I had just left and was heading home Sunday when I received an email from a young man who lives in the same city. He had just discovered that I was in his city and was wondering if he could have coffee so he could ask me a number of questions that were heavy on his heart. This is a person who has travelled overseas with me in the past but in the last eight months or so I have not heard from him and had little to no idea what he was doing or even where he was. He is not attending any of the churches I work with in the area. 

He entered into the room called ‘relationship’ but never connected, engaged, or embraced the relationship that was available. A relationship involving discipling or mentoring which might have reached friendship stage had he invested. I am sure that for him it does not seem awkward or strange to be connecting and asking for time with me and help from me in spite of having no contact for two-thirds of a year. In my mind this is not ‘a relationship’ even though he would most likely say that he has a relationship with me.

It is the same for any ‘friendship.’ You can enter the room marked “friendship” and not engage or embrace the friendship that is available. To embrace a friendship means to invest in it – time, effort, emotion, involvement. Friendships take time, effort, and a major investment of an individual’s personhood. 

So, a good “friend” of mine has not contacted me or even spoken to me in over seven weeks. No answers to a personal email that was sent. Texts are ignored when sent. His texts to me are few and very curt and business-like when there is one. I ask two or three times for information I need to continue to minister effectively in his church… He is disengaged in the ‘friendship’ and apparently not investing much time and effort. But, then he reappears and acts like everything is good and nothing is amiss. It’s not. 

To enter into worship, a relationship, a friendship means more than entering the room. We must invest ourselves in these relationships. We must value them enough that we stay connected and involved in building and improving the connection between us and them or Him. Passive does not work. Silence can be and usually is misinterpreted. We must be actively and regularly engaged doing so with enthusiasm and energy. Otherwise we have simply entered the room and not embraced the reason we chose to enter. 

Jesus said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)

The word “violent” here means to have zeal, not be passive, be enthusiastic, engaged, anticipating, expectant… Without being this you cannot “take the Kingdom” or truly enter into Kingdom activity. The same is true for worship, relationships, and friendships. Passive just does not work.