Jodi Tomlinson

We are often guilty of not dreaming big enough but even more often we err in not starting small enough. Fulfilling big dreams starts on our knees but it is carried out one small step at a time. That’s how good businesses are built, how relationships last, how children are raised, books are written, and dreams are achieved. We must be faithful to the things that most regard as unimportant.

The kingdom of God is about doing the little things in life like they are of utmost importance. Our marriage, our parenting, our work, our friendships, our eating, our entertainment, should all point back to Jesus. He didn’t live a sloppy life. His Spirit in us enables us to live a life of excellence. It frees us to be like Him.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 10.

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In the Kingdom of God, we are on a journey toward the high places of worship and spiritual devotion. Our kind and thoughtful King has invited us there and made a place for us. Our ultimate destination is not of this world, but until then we are charged to bring His kingdom here on earth. As we travel this place, climbing higher toward our goal, we will experience many different types of spiritual terrain. We’re going to feel the depths of the valley and the thrill of the mountain. We’ll know the hardship of desert seasons and the joyful relief of hearing our King constantly call us up higher. We must always commit ourselves to move at the speed of God, trusting the ebb and flow, and trusting He will change the seasons in His timing.

We are citizens of His kingdom and His speed is different than this world. The longer we travel, the more He will transform us into His image and His thinking. We are told in God’s Word, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Our journey toward higher ground changes us. God rewrites our thoughts and rewires our actions as we place the foundations of Christian faith as priorities in our lives. As we put Him first, He does what only He can do while we journey through different seasons of our faith. He does a work in us. He leaves no stony place in our hearts unturned, no attitude unaffected, and no action untested. He transforms us into His image.

God’s speed is the safest and fastest way to our destination even though it may take longer than we like. Romans 12:2 goes on to say, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” God has a will for each of us. It is not some mysterious or unattainable place of arrival. God’s will is about living right here and right now.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 9.

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When life is not as we wish, our greatest potential for change is found in prayer. Our chief influence is not in persuasive speech. Our nagging will not inspire change. Our strength is not our greatest ability. Our foremost power is in prayer. We change things in prayer. Matthew 13:47 tells us that the kingdom of God is like a fishing net that brought in an abundant catch. When we partner with God in prayer, He does not only what we ask but also more than we can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He fills our nets to overflowing. He dreams in abundance, and His dreams change things.

Power is an intimate exchange. The God of all creation is also loving and knowable enough to be our personal Daddy. Our heavenly Father places kingdom dreams in our hearts. He causes us to think more like natives of our homeland. We are given the power to prophesy the dreams that God places in our hearts. “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Dreaming the dreams that God places in our hearts is one of the ways that we continue our dialogue with Him.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 8.

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Israel wandered in the desert in search of a life and hope. They spent years with their allegiances floundering between God and self. It seemed that at times they tacked their hope to anything that glittered. God was their hope. He was with them all along. Their failure to wait on Him caused them to wander hopelessly for forty years before they reached the Promised Land.

Moses was going about His daily work, busy at his routine post in the desert with no one else around but the sheep. God showed up. He told him, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). God promoted Moses in an instant, and he saw the glory of God with his very eyes. Whether we wander aimlessly in the desert or recognize it as holy ground is up to us.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 7.

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The wilderness seasons of life are periods of struggle. They are the times we are left alone to wrestle with where we are in light of where we want to be and where God is taking us. This is Rapunzel’s lonely tower, Sleeping Beauty’s secluded time in the forest, Ana’s search for Elsa, and Cinderella’s nights by the stove. This is when doubt sets in; when we have misgivings about ourselves and questions for our God. It’s okay to have questions, but we can’t let the wilderness cause us to question God. We have to learn to rest in His sovereignty while living in what looks like uncertainty. This is also the landscape of the kingdom of God and this is often where He does His greatest work in us. He is placing His kingdom in us so that we can bring it to the world around us. It is here that He is teaching our hearts to sing a most captivating song of worship.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 7.

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God is calling us to a faith that is pure and faultless. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The service aspect of this scripture is not surprising to most of us. God has a work of the kingdom for all of us. We are each called to serve and to especially serve those who cannot do it for themselves. Yet, many times we neglect the latter part of this verse that speaks of keeping “oneself from being polluted by the world” as religion that God accepts as pure and faultless too. God has called us each to a faith that is unpolluted by the world. We are told that we are to KEEP ourselves from the world’s pollution. This takes a deliberate act on our part. We have to set a higher standard that keeps the pollution of the world’s ways out.

Daniel is a great example of this principle in action. During Israel’s time of captivity in Babylon, the king took notice of Daniel’s exemplary quantities, training, and breeding. He selected Daniel for royal service in his court. Daniel was like us in that he lived in a land that was not his own. Yet, he chose not to defile himself with their indulgent excess. He asked for permission not to partake of the rich things of the new kingdom. Daniel then prospered more than any of the others. He was deliberate in his devotion. He faithfully prayed three times a day to God. When he did, he would turn his face toward the holy city and focus his attention. Daniel’s heavenly nourishment did more for him than all the other’s earthly food.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 6.

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When we wake to the things of God, to a kingdom not of this world, we begin to recognize the worship all around us. We hear it in the breeze on a hot day, the smell after the rain, the sound of children’s laughter, the touch of a loved one, the smile of a stranger, the blood pumping through our veins. They all testify that there is a God. His kingdom becomes our reality. With each step closer to Jesus, we see more clearly. Our lives become a process of constant revelation. God longs to be found by us. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Great treasure is available to those that seek.

Many of us are constantly searching for the ever-elusive treasure map to happiness and success. We hold off on living, true and completely living in the here and now, because we are consumed with a false hope sold to us by this fallen world. We set our sails in pursuit of health, financial prosperity, and comfort. All the while, God is offering so much more, and the world is really just stealing our joy, our peace, and our days. I am so guilty. I have a Post-it note on my computer that says, “Be here.” I must daily remind myself to be here, today; to live in this moment. On the days I get it, I find more riches than any pirate’s map has ever led to.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 6.

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Life in the Garden of Eden was unspoiled. I would venture to guess that it was easier there. Adam and Eve walked with God hand-in-hand. They daily saw the One in whom they believed. The garden was theirs to manage. Their innocence was openly rewarded and their faith was simple. Their spirit, soul, and body prospered completely. When sin entered the world, things changed. Adam and Eve were made to leave the pristine paradise they called home. Death and decay became reality. Their bodies felt the sting of this. Their souls knew grief, confusion, and disappointment for the first time. Their spirits were also affected by their fall. Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV) tells us, “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart.” For the first time, Adam and Eve knew darkness.

In this fallen world, we are all born into darkness (Ephesians 6:12). We first know spiritual light when we meet Jesus. Our eternal address changes when we become believers. We are adopted as children of God. We inherit eternal life in His kingdom. We are redeemed from the curse of sin. God’s kingdom is not one of darkness. His is one of light. Jesus says, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). The landscape of this earthly empire is far different from God’s kingdom. Things of earth are dim. Lines are blurred. Truth is muddied. In God’s kingdom, all things shine.

When we respond to God’s invitation to follow Him, it’s like putting on night vision goggles. We see more clearly. We understand more fully and we begin to feel the strong, inviting pull of truth. “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1Thessalonians 5:5-6). Choosing God over the world is a wake-up call for our spirit. It awakens our inner person. It connects us to the kingdom of God. It gives us clear vision to see what once was veiled.

The ruler of this fallen world struggles to keep us in the darkness; to keep us asleep. He plots and he plans. He coerces and he deceives. It is vitally that we awake to truth; that we awake to our destiny. This world thinks in arrival. It considers only ways to get. It convinces us to think of ourselves. It throws at us everything that is contrary to God’s kingdom and offers false hope and empty promises to entice us. The landscape of God’s kingdom is not marked by castles or pots of gold, but by a life that the apostle Paul called an act of worship (Romans 12). To enter, we must wake up.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 5.

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We can settle for a touch or we can be immersed. God will let us settle, but He has the whole fairy tale for us to discover. He will let us choose to forfeit the desires of our hearts, but if we seek Him first we get it all. Worshipping Jesus is the greatest thing we’ll ever do. It is the cure to boredom, the fix for insecurity, and the downfall of fear. It’s what makes us different. When we follow God, our whole life becomes worship to Him. When we choose to bring the Kingdom of God here on earth, worship transcends beyond voices singing notes and instruments playing chords and becomes the journey of our lives. When we embark on the adventure of such a life, community is no longer about offense, appreciation, or feelings, it becomes a group of fellow sojourners intent on one goal. It becomes the perfect place to be planted and to grow into all that God has for us.

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 4.

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Having church does not promise the kingdom. The kingdom is built by the church. We are custodians of it. It is our responsibility to bring it. One day, the kingdom of God will be fully established for all to see, but even now we are told to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). The word kingdom means royal power, kingship, dominion, or rule. Bringing the kingdom means exercising the dominion that is given to us as believers. We are told, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Bringing the kingdom here on earth is the manifestation of the unique quality of power that the church possesses. First Corinthians 4:20 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” Could it be that the power that the church is missing is not just miraculous signs but a well-lived life of kingdom principles?

Taken from The Happiest Place on Earth as it is in Heaven, chapter 4.

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