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 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.
You probably already know that I am the founder, president, and executive director of Reasons for Hope* Jesus ministry, a Christian apologist, an author, and a writer (if you want to read more, click here). But what really defines me is not who I am but rather whose I am.
Therefore, what I’ll do here is 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 song’s lyrics and inspiring message have been hidden in my heart for many years, and I call them to mind often. They are a reminder of the Person 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 have known and loved Jesus for as long as I remember. 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, verse-by-verse study through every book of the Bible.
IT WAS RATHER DAUNTING when I picked up the Bible and began my journey from Genesis to Revelation. Therefore, I started by praying, “Lord, if you want me to read and study this Book from beginning to end, please help me. Open my understanding and reveal what you would have me learn.” Little did I know how abundantly God would answer that prayer. And I certainly didn’t realize the magnificence of the journey 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 for researching, studying, and learning the Word of God. Sermons on cassette were readily available, and Bible study teachings were being posted online. Many churches recorded their sermons and teachings and distributed them on DVD. Then, by 2004, broadband internet access was replacing dial-up access, and internet speeds increased dramatically. And with the launch of YouTube in 2005, access to video teachings increased exponentially.
We are so fortunate to live in a time when we have such an extensive “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 my glorious ambition.
Obsession and Ambition
I became obsessed in a magnificently ambitious way. The more I read, the more I learned about who God is. The more I learned about who God is, the more I was reminded about all God has done for me, and ultimately, the more I was blessed by remembering who I am in Jesus.
And the more I read, the more I wanted to read. It indeed 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 we’ll never touch the “bottom,” and we’ll never exhaust the joys of the adventure of growing in knowledge and grace.
The wealth of knowledge the Bible offers can never be fully comprehended, and the depth of wisdom the Bible provides is more than we can fathom. The riches of the Bible’s blessings are more significant 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, His will, and His ways, but 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 and challenging times.
Little did I know that God was preparing me to cope during the saddest, most painful time in my life. As my knowledge of the Lord grew, so did my confidence in Him. And in 2009, when my world fell apart, I found rest in His sufficient grace and received His strength in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10).
Little did I know that in addition to God’s comfort in my pain and sadness, He 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 grew in seeking God more clearly, surrendering to His will more fully, and following His ways more closely. I came to understand that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16, Phil 2:5) and we are one in Him (John 17:22, Eph 2:10, Gal 3:28). That means if I want to know the mind of God, I must look to Jesus! If I want to know the heart of God, I must know the heart of Jesus! And, if I want to know the will of God, I must look to Jesus!
We are one with Jesus in a precious union that is mysterious, unfathomable, and yet guaranteed and comprehendible. Through the words of the Bible, we uncover the mysteries of this relationship and better understand God’s purpose and plan for our lives.
The Lord’s 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 when we read 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 disciples
In the Bible, we are given all we need for direction and hope in daily life. Our direction is on a path home. Our destination is Heaven, where we will be 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 knowledge, and that’s what apologetics ministry is all about. We learn of 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? Any affection between the two of them would diminish. Why? Because without communication, the relationship can’t grow. And anything that doesn’t grow will eventually wither and die.
Jesus has written a “letter.” 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 (believers during the Church Age), every word is intended for our 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 that we can glorify Him in our thoughts, with our words, and by our actions.
- Take what Jesus teaches through His word to heart 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 conversation and a beautiful relationship.
- Fellowship with other Christians for encouragement and edification in daily Christian living.
The joy of our salvation and 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 about…how we live our lives.
And that’s who I am. Someone with a magnificent obsession and a glorious ambition to know Jesus better, to love Him more, and to serve Him all the days of my life. I am in His hands by His grace and in His service for His glory!
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, who said 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 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 in your mind and your heart.
“One Pure and Holy Passion” Written by Mark Allotrope; Recorded by Candi Pearson; “Passion: One Day Live,” 2000
My first book, Why the Butterfly? A Book about Remembering is a big part of my testimony. It was written in a time of despair and sadness in dealing with a loss. It’s not about butterflies, but there is a significant reason for the butterfly on the cover. And even though I consider it my testimony book, it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus and His grace, love, and faithfulness. It’s about rightly remembering that gives hope and comfort in suffering. It’s about realizing that the Lord’s grace is sufficient in all things — and in Him, finding rest. You can preview the book here.