A bio usually tells about one’s education, work, accomplishments, goals, personal life, hobbies, and more. They’re usually a “best foot forward” version of who the person is. They seldom include challenges, failures, or disappointments, which are really a big part of anyone’s life — and perhaps more defining than all the other things combined.
That said, 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, author, and 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 & 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 and the message the song conveys has been hidden in my heart for many years. The words still come to mind frequently. They are a reminder of the Person I want as 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 book-by-book study through 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 audio and video resources to learn the Word of God. Sermons on cassette were readily available, messages were being posted online, and in only a few short years many churches were beginning to record video and distribute on DVD. With broadband replacing dial-up access to the internet, internet speed increasing dramatically by 2004, and 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 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, and 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 very clear that as I learned more, there was even more to learn. The Bible is without end. The wealth of the knowledge that the Bible contains can never be fully comprehended. The depths of the Waters of the Word are deeper 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 is beyond our comprehension. As the song says, knowing Jesus and following Him should be our “glorious ambition.”
Little did I know, as I studied book-by-book, that God was not only teaching me about Himself, His will, and His ways, but He 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 most difficult time in my life. As my knowledge of Him grew so also did my confidence in Him. 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). In addition, God was also equipping me to be called into full-time vocational ministry in 2011.
The Riches of Knowing Jesus
As I read and studied the Bible, I learned to better seek God, to surrender to His will, and to 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!
- 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 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. We come to understand 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 fo us in the writing 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 eyes set on eternity and our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We are to make Him 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 grow as His disciples in the truth. Reading the Bible is of utmost importance in the life of a Christian. Consider this scenario. A woman becomes enamored with a man she has met. But shortly after meeting, the man is sent away (perhaps in military service or overseas for work). What would happen if the woman never read any the of letters the man writes to her? Or she never responded to his letters? It’s likely any affection between the two of them would decrease and diminish. Why? Because without communication, the relationship wouldn’t grow.
Jesus has written a “letter.” In fact, He’s written many letters, to many people throughout the ages. His words are “spoken” in written form, since the beginning of time. And every word is meant for our greater understanding of who He 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. And Jesus also desires that we respond to His words, 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 to Him, 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.
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