Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers whTho have never been to Pursuing Glory.
This is my first attempt at poetry here at the blog. I wrote this both as an introduction to who Jesus is for people who don’t know Him. I was also trying to find ways to explore the artistic side of my writing. I hope you enjoy it. ***If you’ve never encountered Jesus or don’t have a relationship with Him, this should be the post you read.***
Earlier in the year Ariel accepted Christ and was baptized. There was an immediate turn in her heart and attitudes. It was fun to watch and these are my thoughts from shortly after the event.
I wrote this post in December of 2009, but only got around to posting it July of last year. In my mind this post captures the best of where we were as an organic spiritual family in 2009 and 2010. If you’re wondering what sometimes happens when our house church gathers, this is the post for you.
Much of the church in the Western world is devoid of supernatural power. I wrote this post as I was reading through Visions Beyond the Veil by R.A. Baker. The book has some important insights into our anti-supernatural leanings as a Western Church and I shared some quotes as well as my own thoughts.
This was my first post after coming back from my trip to Ethiopia. If you want a good picture into the heart of a guy who just returned from Africa, this is the post to read. It will be interesting to see what the Lord continues to do with us in Ethiopia in the next year.
I wrote this post about an encounter I had with one of my 50,000 coaches, Dick Speight. Dick helped me see that I was off in my walk with the Lord because I was lacking time in the secret place. I wrote this post as I wrestled with the fact that I should know better than to let communion with the Lord slide.
This post was born out of a trip I took to meet with others who practice meeting as organic churches in Iowa. It centers around the idea that we are quick to believe others have imposed religion on us, but frequently something far more subtle is at work. If you’ve ever struggled with a “religious spirit” you’ll want to read this post.
This blog is me wrestling with whether this blog will be a personal blog (which it started out as) or whether it will be a resource blog about house churches, apostolic Christianity, and revival. I think I’ve settled on it being both, mostly because I’m both and I think about these things a lot. But this gives you a good snapshot into some of my early thoughts on the subject.
This post represents some of our early thoughts about evangelism that we had as a house church. I still believe these are things we’re called both to see and do, and that stories and miracles have a much bigger part in the spread of the Gospel than most of the Western Church understands.
This was my very first post on my blog. I started this blog as a journey into self expression and finding God in the midst of the things I love. I write about some bloggers that were stunningly honest about their lives in their blogs and some movies where I saw myself in some of the characters. Social media has given me a few more outlets to do the every day life sort of posts, but I hope to never loose the honesty and simplicity this post captures.
One of the movies that I saw back then was Akeelah and the Bee. I’ll spare you the synopsis, but a turning point in the movie talked about how Akeelah has 50,000 coaches. I was struck by the fact that many of us neglect the 50,000 coaches God has given us in our lives. This is a phrase I keep coming back to over and over again.
How To Get the Most Out of Pursuing Glory
There are lots of ways to get more out of Pursuing Glory than just stopping back to check for new content every few days. Here are some of the main ways you can join the conversation, learn, and contribute to the conversation we’re having:
Subscribe by Email or RSS
If you’re not particularly technologically inclined, hit the “Email Subscription” button on the sidebar of the blog. If you’re more into computers or you’re daring, you could subscribe to this blog using a feed reader. This link is a great explanation of RSS and Feed Readers. Let’s face it. Life is busy and it’s easy to fall out of the loop. Either of these tricks will help you stay involved in what’s going on.
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Notes From The Margins
On a somewhat irregular basis I post a blog in my “Notes from the Margin” series. The point of the series is not just what I’m finding in Scripture and what I write, but also what you’re finding in Scripture and what you’re writing about it. If you have a blog, I’d love to see you take this series and do your own. You can check out the guidelines for Notes from the Margins and read examples of the series here and here.
I love interacting with readers of the blog. Shoot me an email, say hi, show me the blog you’re writing or tell me about the work you’re doing, tell me what you’d like to see or what you’ve enjoyed so far.
[In an ongoing effort to provide a jumping-on point for new readers, over the next few weeks on Fridays I’m going to write a series of posts entitled “Basic Introductions.” Each post will focus on a seldom explored realm of Christianity that we will focus on regularly here at Pursuing Glory.]
Probably one of the hardest truths to understand about life is that God really loves us. To borrow a phrase from my kids’ picture Bible, He loves us with “a never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.” The fact that it’s hard for us to get our minds around God loving us this much doesn’t take away from its reality. In fact, God’s love is more real than we can possibly imagine.
God’s love has driven Him to do some pretty astounding things. For one He became a man. This love not only caused Him to taste humanity but to taste the most difficult humanity, to be perfect yet hated, to bless and be cursed in return, to be from the very richest of places and yet to live in utter humility, to serve and never to be honored. And to top it all off, He died for us. He tasted His own curse so that we might never taste it again. This is not the kind of grandfatherly love that we have come to think of when think of God’s heart. This is a love full of passion, deep emotion, and a commitment that goes all the way to death.
When we talk about a love this deep and profound we’ve finally begun to touch what has come to be known as the Bridal Paradigm. Don’t let those two words scare you. They’re big words that describe the deep emotions God feels toward us. Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘paradigm’ as “a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.” Paradigms are the lenses which we see the world and reality through. The Bridal Paradigm, then, is the way we view our relationship with God where we see the love He has for us as the same kind of intense, jealous, life-giving love that a husband has for a wife.
Where is this found in the Bible? All over! In fact, the thing about paradigms is that you don’t realize them until something changes the way you think and you begin to see everything a little differently. Let’s start with the great apostle Paul. Paul was the missionary of missionaries that God used to turn Christianity into a movement that spanned nations and people groups. But Paul was the instrument God used to fully declare the Bridal Paradigm. Listen to his words from Ephesians 5:
“In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows that he loves himself. None of us hate our own bodies. We provide for them and take good care of them, just as Christ does for the church, because we are each part of his body. As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife.’ This is a great mystery, but I understand it to mean Christ and his church,” (Ephesians 5:28-32).
This should blow our minds! What this passage says is that the whole way through the Bible, when God spoke about Adam and Eve, about a man and woman being joined together, about the bond of marriage, He was actually the whole time describing the kind of love that Christ has for His Church. Now here’s the real mind-bending part: God didn’t send Christ and then scramble to find an appropriate metaphor for Christ’s love, only to settle on marriage. No! He looked at His Son and saw the relationship that He would share with His Church and He created marriage as a physical picture that would help explain to people Christ and His love. Christ and His Church are the original and marriage is patterned after that!
Paul was actually so convinced that God related to the Church this way that when the Corinthians began to loose their way, he would rebuke them using the terms of engagement: “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). Paul saw his evangelistic work as an introduction to Jesus unto engagement, which culminates in marriage!
This picture of Christ loving the Church is more than just a good picture. In Ephesians 5 Paul calls it “a great mystery.” When Paul calls something a great mystery, he means there is more truth to be gained by contemplating that idea. We are edified by understanding Jesus’ Bridal love for us. He actually feels more deeply and passionately about us than any husband has ever felt for His wife. Even now where you are, no matter what sin you are in, Christ loves you with a jealous love beyond anything you have ever experienced. He alone wants to be your only love and He will fight to win you heart. The only thing to compare this to is the jealous love of the most righteous Husband.
Now there are going to be some guys who read this who will have a hard time relating to Jesus as a husband. Let me give you a few pointers. Don’t get so caught up in the marriage metaphor that you cannot relate to Jesus. This about Jesus touching your heart and causing you to love God, not anything weird. Don’t picture yourself in a wedding gown or Jesus giving you flowers. You can still be a man and love Jesus. In fact, beloved, you were designed to do just that. John, the son of thunder, laid on Jesus’ breast and was called the one who the Lord loved. You don’t have to give up your manliness to pursue intimacy with God.
So Christ relates to the Church the way a husband relates to his wife. He loves her. He cherishes her. He gives Himself up for her. And we have to begin to see Christ as more than just a thoughtfully kind person who out of responsibility died for us, but a jealous husband who loves us. This has to become personal for each of us. He doesn’t just love the universal Church. He loves you!
And His love will purify us from our sin. If we actually touch it, it will cause us to live differently from the inside out. We will be able to “love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength, (Mark 12:30)” because we’ve experienced the love that He has for us. And as John found out, “we love because He first loved us,” (John 4:19). When we come to understand this love that He has for us and truly “get it” in our hearts, we will be forever changed.
Help Other Readers Out: In The Comment Section Below do the following-
- Describe a time when you encountered the love of God and it changed you.
- Describe one way seeing Christ as a Husband to the Church has changed your perception of God
- Describe a way that you’ve been able to better understand Christ’s love for you personally.
I’ve encountered a God who is also a man
He radiates with life and energy
No one in history can compare with Him
He stands out among the masses.
I’ve encountered a God who is also a man
He leads a Kingdom with virtue and wisdom
Inspired justice flows from his reign
He is an unending source of strength and purity.
I’ve encountered a God who is also a man
His eyes are fixed with burning zeal
Nothing escapes the eyes of this man
His gaze is full of tender love.
I’ve encountered a God who is also a man
His emotions are hearty and full
No other man feels as deeply as He
His words are both gentle and transforming.
Have you ever met a God who is also a man?
Who does whatever He pleases?
Unrestrained strength meets unrestrained mercy
Who loves with His unending zeal?
Have you ever met a God who is also a man?
Who’s the perfection of strength and strategy?
Honor and nobility mark what He does,
Who can transform us like Him?
Come meet this God who is also a man:
He is altogether wonderful, unto the end.
Knowing His heart is an unending treasure
This is my love, my one true friend.
Jesus by Travis Kolder is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
A man that I deeply respect who was part of an underground church in another country was talking to a mutual friend lately. In the midst of that conversation, he stopped and said something that our mutual friend later relayed to me. There was just too much wisdom in this statement not to relay it to you:
“You know what the problem with the church in America is? You never know whether a Christian is strong or not. You can only tell in the midst of persecution.” Selah.
In a continuing effort to keep the world updated about my reading habits, I now bring you the newest finished book in my collection. Before I go into the book, I have to say that I actually did not read this book, but I downloaded the audio version from Christian Audio. They make a free audio book available for download once a month and this was July’s freebie. You may see “Stuff I’m Reading” books corresponding to their free book of the month more often.
I just want to go on the record by saying “Crazy Love” was a lot better than I expected. I’ve seen it on the bookshelves of Christian bookstores for at least a year or more and had sortof written it off as the kind of book that would last a few weeks and fade in everyone’s memory. The whole book looked like it was written to get a sale but not change anyone. It took a recommendation from (I think) Frank Viola before I would actually read the book. Who would ever believe that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover?
The first thing I loved about this book was the time that Francis Chan spent delving into attributes of God at the beginning of the book. Most modern books present a problem and then tell you how to fix it. Chan takes us into the character of God before he takes us anywhere and I believe that is part of the reason this book is so successful. In a way, this section reminded me of the book “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer, but it’s written in a way that would move the heart of any college student. Because the remainder of the book calls the church to action, Chan spends the first three chapters describing a God worthy to act on. The book succeeds because it’s not a response to a problem but a response to God as He really is.
Chan then spends the next several chapters looking at what it looks like to not be moved by God in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, we find more of ourselves in these chapters than we care to admit. The chapter entitled “Profile of the Lukewarm” was probably the hardest chapter of the book to listen to because it challenged me at a very deep level. Chan takes a look at a number of “religious people” in the Old and New Testament who thought they had it all together but really had no relationship with God.
I think a lot of people who read/listen to this chapter and the following chapter could very easily get offended because in a lot of ways it challenges what most of us feel satisfied with in our religious lives. But because Chan packs these chapters with biblical truth and an unfolding of God’s character from the earlier chapters, his observations make sense. There will still be many who will be offended as they read and my hope is that their offense will lead them to go back to the Bible and decide if what Chan is saying is true. This may be the beginning of some of us, including me, waking up.
From there Chan begins to unpack what it looks like to be moved by love for the God he described in the first few chapters. This is the “practical” section of the book where he begins to describe his journey and the journey others took to change their lifestyle to match what they see in scripture. My favorite chapter of this section is “Who Really Lives That Way.” Most books like this one leave you feeling like you could never do what the author suggests. But Chan introduces you to person after person who has lived radically for Jesus. Some of these people are from a century or so ago but most of them are still alive today. The beauty of this chapter is that most of the people he describes are not famous. They don’t even think they are special. They are all just changing their lives to respond to the God they have fallen in love with. If you want to get a picture of what that looks like, I highly suggest you read this book.
If I have one beef with the book, I would have loved to see more of Chan’s personal story to see how these things have been worked out in his life. While he doesn’t give us the whole story, he does give us quick glimpses. They are helpful, but I think readers would profit from a more personal perspective to encourage them that they can live whole-heartedly as well. I’m convinced from his writing that his life has significantly changed… I was just looking for more than a snapshot here or there.
But the book was a great read listen and I would highly recommend that if you have a chance, you pick up this book. I have to say I was moved by this book and am seriously rethinking some different aspects of my life, especially how I relate to the poor of the Earth. Chan provides one of the most balanced arguments for Christians living their lives differently that I’ve seen in a book in a long time. It will challenge you for the better. And, if you want more when you’re done, you can hop on over to Christian Audio and listen to his new book “Forgotten God” by clicking here.
[Btw, if you’ve read “Crazy Love” and have thoughts of your own, either leave a link to your review in the comment section or leave your thoughts in the comment box below.]
Each of the phrases in the title of this blog could be a whole series of blogs that I continually blog about. However, tonight, it’s late and I just have one thing to say about all three subjects: They are all deeply related.
Having said that, this was the subject of a message I just shared with our house church here in Cedar Rapids. I believe we’re beginning to cross into some areas we’ve never been in before. I had something else on my heart to share, but the Lord wouldn’t let me share about it until I took the time to lay a foundation for a real culture of repentance in our church. I’m finding that one thing that is sorely missing in our churches is a true, non-religious culture of repentance.
All of that has to start with a thorough understanding of God, His nature, His thoughts about us as we live our lives as sinful human beings, and how all of those traits of God need to be reflected in the church. If I’ve piqued your interest (or you’re one of the three people that read this blog to keep tabs on our house church–yeah I know about you guys) you can check out some of the stuff we talked about by clicking here.
One of the areas of my life I’ve been a little bit silent about is my involvement with House of Friends. House of Friends is a group of people that was brought together by this guy in January of 2008 in an attempt to launch missions movements all over the earth in the context of orphanages, night and day prayer, and church planting.
Since I’m a huge fan of caring for the poor, touching the nations, night and day prayer and church planting, being involved was real no-brainer for me. I’ve been shocked at what Jesus has allowed us to be part of even though we aren’t very large. This summer I’ll be part of a team going to Ethiopia to scout out some possibilities for more involvement there. (You’ll probably here more about this later.)
Anyways, I’m going to make an effort to provide the cause a little more cover here on the blog, starting with publishing the most recent newsletter. There is actually a little more in-depth article about our time with Gizaw and John Gross which I talked about here and a lot of information about how you can get involved helping widows, orphans, and the lost of the nations. If you’re interest is piqued, you can check out our website here or join our cause on Facebook here.
Check out the newsletter here. I will post more as they become available.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)“