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I grew up watching the old James Bond movies (Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, etc.). These are not great movies to learn about healthy interaction between men and women, but they do highlight one Kingdom value extremely well: the danger of an uncontrolled pursuit of power. Unfortunately, when I look at villains like Dr. No (“World domination. The same old dream...”), I have to admit I see a little bit of myself.

Matthew 10:2-4 names 12 men who, until this point, had made no mark on history. From other passages, we know they were mostly fishermen. There were no statesmen, no religious leaders, no military conquerers. Instead, there were guys with nicknames, somebody's brother, somebody's son, a tax collector and Simon, a man so obscure, scholars today have no clear idea what his name, "the Cananaean," really means. These were not well-know people.

Perhaps it is because I am a bit of a "scribe" myself, but Jesus' message to one would-be follower (Matthew 8:19-20) has haunted me for several days now. You would expect Jesus to answer anyone who says to him, "Teacher, I will follower you wherever you go!" a little more enthusiastically.

I recently heard someone tell the story of how their life got turned around for God through a "chance" encounter. Sitting in a waiting room, the speaker was recognized by an old acquaintance. They said a quick hello and then, just as they were about to part, the guy handed him a little brochure/track that talked about Jesus. The speaker stuck it in his pocket, read it later and said the short prayer on the back. It changed his life.

What made this possible? 

Tolkien truly loved nature and was suspicious throughout his life of machines. Although I am not aware if he ever communicated what standards he used to judge whether a particular "advancement" was a thing of Mordor or instead, worthy of the Elves, I think things like beauty, simplicity and "does no harm" would be high on his list.