I'm just coming off a week in the San Juan Islands. If you're like me, I usually spend the first couple days of vacation trying to wind down and decompress and the last couple of days getting a bit jittery about returning to work. It's like we end up with a whole day or two of complete and total relaxation.

It takes determination to just be present and value the time we've been given.

In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus was asked a question about the coming Kingdom of God by his buddies the Pharisees who were under the impression the kingdom was some sort of future event that would overthrow their Roman oppressors. Jesus said, "The kingdom is already here."

The Kingdom of God isn't made up of national boundaries and flags but is present wherever God is reigning on earth -- wherever He is reigning in the human heart. The kingdom is everywhere the people of God are, the people who are committed to living the Way of Jesus.

There are two misconceptions about God's kingdom:

First, people think God's kingdom was a thing of the past. We say, "Look at what God used to do..." almost as though our best days were behind us. Secondly, some people think God's kingdom is only a future event; it hasn't come yet. We talk about what God will do one day, almost with an apocalyptic expectation. We try to read the signs and sit around waiting for God to do something.

But Jesus says God's reign is here and now...wherever there are those who trust in God. That makes Today very important. We don't read just read scripture to prop up a stale, crusty religion, and neither do we sit around on our keisters doing nothing while we just wait to go to heaven.

Here's a few important things to remember about Today:

1] Today is a gift. Every sunrise allows us to hit reset and be renewed. Within each new day are new opportunities, and we should value the time we've been given.

2] Today is the culmination of all our yesterdays. Our experiences and memories have all brought us to where we are today. Our past profoundly shapes who we are, but God can redeem our yesterday's to make something wonderful today. The prophet Isaiah said, "Don't dwell on the past. Look, I am doing something new! It's springing up. Can you see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and bringing streams of fresh water to your wasteland" (43:18-19).

3] Today is God's groundwork for tomorrow. We can't jump ahead of where we need to be today. We need to pay attention to the little things so we can be prepared for tomorrow. Ken Crockett said, "Why would God give dynamite to someone who can't handle a firecracker?" God whispers this thought to my heart a lot: "If you can't love who you have now, how will you love those I will bring later?"

4] Today will be gone tomorrow. James 4:14 says, "You don't know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? We are like a mist that appears for a little while then disappears. So live in God's will today." We need to be faithful with today.

We look forward to what God will do in our little, living church, but we don't want to miss what he is doing here and now. We need to be faithful with what's in front of us and do today's work. We can't love what will come if we don't love what we've got.