A bio usually tells about one’s life, including one’s education, and details about one’s professional life and personal life. Bios are usually a “best foot forward” version of who the person is. They seldom include one’s shortcomings, challenges, failures, or disappointments, which are really a big part of one’s life — and perhaps more defining than all the other things combined.
That said, I write a lot, but I don’t like writing my bio. Plus, you probably already know that I am the founder and executive director of Reasons for Hope* Jesus ministry, a Christian apologist, an author, and a writer. Enough said (if you want to read a bit more, click here).
So instead of a traditional bio, I’ll just share a small part of my journey: I call it “My Magnificent Obsession & My Glorious Ambition”
A Song with a Focus
I first heard the song “One Pure and Holy Passion” in 2001. The lyrics to the song are moving and inspiring. The message the song conveys has been hidden in my heart for many years, and I call them to mind often.They are a reminder of thePerson I want to be the focus of my thoughts and the recipient of my heart’s affection. Take a minute and listen to the opening words of the song.
As a Christian since early childhood, I knew and loved Jesus. But in the early 2000s, Jesus truly became my magnificent obsession. I acquired a hunger for the Word that led me to a page-by-page study through every book of the Bible. When I picked up the Bible and began my journey from Genesis to Revelation, it was rather daunting. So I prayed, “Lord if you want me to read and study this Book from beginning to end, please help me. Open my understanding and reveal to me what you would have me learn.” Little did I know the journey that God would set before me.
God answered my prayer in a mighty way. The early 2000s brought greater access to biblical teachings. In addition to print format, there was a significant increase in online audio and video resources to learn the Word of God. Sermons on cassette were readily available, Bible study teachings were being posted online, and in only a few short years many churches were beginning to record sermon and teaching video and distribute on DVD. With broadband internet access replacing dial-up access, internet speed dramatically increased by 2004. And with the launch of YouTube in 2005, access to video teachings increased exponentially.
We are so fortunate to live in a time in which we have such a large “library” of resources for research and study of God’s Word. They can help “set on fire” a passion that will unfold the joy and hope found on every page of the Bible. As I began reading and studying the Bible, it truly became a glorious ambition.
Obsession and Ambition
I became obsessed in a magnificent way. The more I read, the more I learned about who God is. And the more I was reminded about all God has done for me, the more I was blessed by remembering who I am in Jesus. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. It became my magnificent obsession.
As I continued my journey from Genesis to Revelation, it became clear that as I learned more, there was even more to learn. The Bible is without end. We can “dive deeply” into the depths of God’s Word, but never touch “bottom” or exhaust the joys of the adventure. The wealth of knowledge the Bible offers can never be fully comprehended, and the depths of wisdom is more than we can fathom. The riches of the blessings the Bible conveys are greater than we can perceive, and the power of God’s Word far exceeds our greatest expectations. As the song says, knowing Jesus and following Him should be our “glorious ambition.”
Little did I know, as I studied page-by-page through each book, that God was not only teaching me about Himself, and His will and ways, but was also preparing me for a turning point in my life in 2009. Reading and studying God’s Word gave me a stronger faith and a richer relationship with the only One who gives true and abiding comfort and rest in the most difficult of times.
Little did I know God was preparing me, through His Word, for the saddest, most painful time in my life. As my knowledge of the Lord grew so also did my confidence in Him. In 2009, when my world fell apart, I was able to rest in His sufficient grace and receive His strength in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10). Little did I know that in addition to His comfort in that difficult time, God was also calling and equipping me for full-time vocational ministry in 2011.
The Riches of Knowing Jesus
As I read and studied the Bible, I learned to better seek God, surrender to His will, and follow His ways. The Bible says that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16, Phil 2:5) and it speaks of the unity that we have in Christ.
- If we want to know the mind of God, we look to Jesus!
- If we want to know the heart of God, we look to Jesus!
- And, if we want to know the will of God, we look to Jesus!
We are one with Jesus in a precious union that is mysterious, unfathomable, and yet guaranteed and understandable. Through the words of the Bible, we uncover the mysteries of this relationship and are able to understand God’s purpose and plan for our lives. His revealed will is found on every page of the Bible. And it is through the words of Scripture that we are assured of His love, mercy, grace, and faithfulness toward us. The Bible reveals the mysteries of our relationship with God and the riches that we have received in Christ, by reading about:
- all that God has done in the past for His people Israel,
- all that Jesus did and taught during His earthly ministry,
- Jesus’ sacrificial atonement that paid for the sins of the world,
- Jesus’ resurrection from the grave that opened the way to eternal life with God, and
- God’s truths for us in the writings of Paul and the other disciple.
In the Bible, we are provided with all that we need for direction and hope in daily life. Our direction is on a path home, to a destination in Heaven with our Saviour. We are to live with our hope set on eternity and our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We are to make Jesus our magnificent obsession — our one and only magnificent obsession. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, and our hearts devoted to Him, He becomes our one pure and holy passion. With a devoted heart, God will give us the glorious ambition of our magnificent obsession. And that glorious ambition includes two things:
It starts with knowing, and that’s what apologetics ministry is all about. We know Jesus through His Word because He speaks to us through His Word. And the more we know Jesus, the more we will follow hard after Him — and the more we will grow as His disciples in the truth.
Reading the Bible is of utmost importance in the life of every Christian. Consider this scenario. A woman becomes enamored with a man she has met. But shortly after meeting the man, he goes away (perhaps in military service or overseas for work). What would happen if the man wrote letters (or emails) to the woman but she never read any of them? It’s likely that any affection between the two of them would diminish. Why? Because without communication, the relationship can’t grow and would eventually “die.”
Jesus has written a “letter.” In fact, He’s written many letters, for many people throughout the ages. His words are “spoken” in written form, and although every word is not written to us (to people during the Church Age), every word is intended for our greater understanding of who Jesus is, what He has done, and who we are in Him. Every word is meant to help us grow as His disciples in the truth so we can glorify Him in our thoughts, with our words, and by our actions. We must:
- Take to heart what Jesus teaches through His word because it will transform our lives.
- Read the Bible and pray, because when we read the Bible God speaks to us, and when we pray, we speak to God. It becomes a two-way relationship.
- Fellowship with other Christians for encouragement and edification in daily Christian living.
The joy of our salvation and our love for our Saviour grows—by reading His Word, praying, and enjoying Christian fellowship. These three things will unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in us and empower us to live our lives in honor and glory to the One we love.
That’s what the magnificent obsession song is all about…how we live our lives. The song continues with a statement on the condition of our world (and remember this song was written in 2000!) It echoes the words of King Solomon, that everything in this world is meaningless compared to knowing Jesus.
The world and all that it has to offer will never satisfy an eternal soul that hungers to know its Creator. God is revealed throughout His creation and His love is offered to all. He wants none to perish. He wants all people to come to Him in repentance and faith. For those who do, He saves them to be His own, to know Him, and to receive His love in their hearts (Rom 5:5).
Therein lies the magnificence in our obsession, the purity and holiness in our passion, and the glory in our ambition. So the song closes with a heartfelt surrender and desire…
Take a minute now and listen to the whole song from beginning to end. Do you want a Magnificent Obsession and a Glorious Ambition? Pray for it and watch what God will do.