What I’m Reading: Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory

It’s been a few weeks, but I’m super excited to share another installment of What I’m Reading with you. The past couple weeks, I’ve been reading a book called Jesus: The Seven Wonders of HIStory by David Pawson. I kind of found it by accident – I was doing research for a story on Mary of Bethany that I started five years ago and have recently decided to try my hand at again, and I came across an old note I had written to myself that said “look up what David Pawson says about Jesus being crucified on Wednesday.” Most likely, one of my IHOPU teachers had referenced this theory and attributed it to Pawson (who I had already heard of and read books by for other classes), and some 3-5 years later I was finally making good on my intention to research it more. In my googling, I quickly found this book and read several passages from it in the Amazon preview, but I liked it so much I quickly decided to drop the $7.99 to get it in Kindle and start reading it immediately. Not only did it provide several very helpful historical tidbits for my writing, but it was so refreshing to my heart to just read again about the meaning of the gospel.

David Pawson’s style reminds me of a combination of C. S. Lewis and John Piper (even if there are a few aspects of theology on which he would probably differ with both of those esteemed gentlemen). This particular book came about in a very interesting way – it was actually first taught as a ten-part series in a special seminar at IHOPKC (the totality of which was 15 sessions) in May 2011! The videos are still available online at IHOPKC.org, DavidPawson.org, and YouTube. I haven’t watched them yet, but I’d very much like to. (Maybe I’ll save the mp3s for my next road trip.) It was a special treat to realise that this book was developed from the transcript of a series taught to my own school and community in a room I’ve worshipped in hundreds of times. I even found my friend Erica’s name in the introduction being honoured as the lead transcriptionist!

All that aside, I was enormously blessed by reading this book. Pawson addresses seven theological realities of Jesus’ story (birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, return, judgment), explores them biblically, and captivates his audience with their implications. This book is richly theological but also enticingly conversational.

I’ll share one quote I read today in the chapter on Ascension that wasn’t fully a new thought, but I hadn’t ever heard it phrased quite like this before:

Never forget there is now – there was – a human being in charge of the universe. He had come down, adopted our human nature permanently, and went back to heaven as a man…there is now a man in the godhead. Jesus has taken our human nature into the godhead. God is different—he was not like this before but now in the godhead itself there is one person who is a human being like us and he will remain that human being forever. When he comes back you will see a human being; that is the Son of God, the eternal Son of God.

I love that Jesus is so, so real… I love that everything the Bible says about Him is true and has real, game-changing implications for my life and my relationship with Him. I’m so grateful for men like David Pawson who have spent decades learning and loving the Word of God and the person of Jesus and are gifted in catching others up with them in wide-eyed awe at who He is.

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What I’m Reading: Nazirite DNA

About seven or eight years ago when I was a student at APU, I came across a little booklet someone had left to share in the student prayer chapel. It was Nazirite DNA by Lou Engle, and I read it over and over and copied my favourite quotes into my journal. That little 37-page book stirred a fire in me to be wholly abandoned to God.

A few months ago, I purchased a copy to add to The Prayer Room‘s library, because this message of consecration is sooooo crucial to the prayer movement and the forerunner ministry. I’ve been reading and loving it all over again.

Nazirite DNA, $5 on Kindle

In Numbers 6:1-21, immediately preceding the Aaronic blessing, the invitation was given for anyone in the community to consecrate themselves to the Lord as a Nazirite.

In the Old Testament, only men from the tribe of Levi could be priests. The whole nation was called to be a kingdom of priests, but only the Levites were given the special privilege of living out lives completely absorbed in the vocation of jealously guarding the purity and administration of the worship of God. However, in the Nazirite vow, God opened the door to anyone, male or female, from any tribe, who longed to be as radical in devotion and near to God as the priests were. The only qualification was to have a heart that intensely desired it…Nazirites spontaneously, joyfully, and willingly apropriated the priestly separation and and condition of life because of an inward working of the Spirit’s grace.
–Nazirite DNA, page 10

Nazirites took three key vows:

  1. Abstain from wine and all grape-derived foods
  2. Abstain from cutting their hair
  3. Abstain from going near a dead body, even that of a family member

Lou Engle interprets these three vows in a modern context as being about 1) choosing to fast from certain permissible pleasures in pursuit of God as the greatest pleasure, 2) be willing to be radically and noticeably set apart from the culture, and 3) avoiding the defilement of anything that would lead to spiritual death.

God always responds to those who earnestly seek Him. Abandoned devotion to Him that chooses JESUS over everything else pulls on the strings of His heart and draws His presence close in a unique way. He moves dramatically in response to the cries of His people, and He’s shown us that a fasted lifestyle is a way to strengthen those cries.

In my own life, I know I so easily get sucked into the vortex of “lesser pleasures”–I love my Netflix and Nutella a little too much most days, and those things tend to dampen my hunger for God by making me believe I have all I need in the pleasures of this world. When I set myself apart from these things and focus all of my energy on seeking God, my hunger for Jesus comes roaring back to the surface.

It’s like I want to eat healthy but fill up on ice cream and potato chips every day. By the end of the day, I don’t really have an appetite for grilled chicken and veggies, even though I know they’re so much more satisfying. I have to actually make radical changes in my diet to enjoy my healthy food to the fullest and reap the benefit of it.

God changes history through people with a Nazirite-like consecration. He is looking for those who would be willing to be wholly set apart for Him–people to whom He can entrust the burdens of His heart and who will be in it for the long haul with Him until His dreams are fulfilled.

God, raise up a generation hungry for You above all else, who will forsake lesser pleasures in order to throw themselves into pursuit of You and partnership with Your dreams.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone desiring more of God, or desiring to desire more of God. If you’re local to The Prayer Room, you can stop by and borrow our copy to read in the prayer room. Otherwise, you can get it for $5 on Kindle (and no, you don’t have to have an actual Kindle to read it – there’s a smartphone app as well as a way to read ebooks online or on your computer) or you can order a physical copy for $5 from The Call. At one point there was an audiobook read by Lou Engle, but I can’t find it anymore (and no, the mp3 on TheCall.com is a sermon, not an audiobook) so if anyone finds it or has it, let me know!

LIVE Worship Video from The Prayer Room – “Beautiful”

The past few months, there’s been a trend of worship leaders at The Prayer Room making a Facebook Live video as they play. I was super nervous at first, but I finally did a few myself. (If you’re my Facebook friend, feel free to look them up!) One day we hope to be able to stream all our prayer room hours on our website, but in the meantime, Facebook Live is a really fun way to share a glimpse into the atmosphere of prayer and worship we’re cultivating.

I’d like to share a video with you, but I need to tell you a little bit about it first.

This video has a special place in my heart because the song I’m playing, “Beautiful” by Sam Lane, was introduced to me by Ted Dekker. He used the chorus of it in his book Green, the fourth book released in the Circle Series. In this scene, the spiritual community called The Circle is ceremonially reenacting our “Great Wedding” with Elyon — God.

Six maidens in white faced Thomas and Chelise on their knees and sang the Great Wedding’s song. Their sweet, yearning voices filled the valley as they cried the refrain in melodic unison, faces bright with an eager desperation.

You are beautiful… so Beautiful… Beautiful… Beautiful…

…And in many ways they were all perfectly beautiful as Elyon was beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.

-Green, Ted Dekker, Thomas Nelson 2009

Shortly before Green was released in 2009, I attended a Ted Dekker fan event near Nashville at which Ted went all out to bring us into the world of his stories. He gave us an exclusive cd which included the original recording of the song (you can find it on youtube) as well as a message from himself describing his heart for Green and this song. In Ted’s own words:

“I have to say that this song has always exemplified the heart of the Circle Series, of God’s creation calling out to Him, ‘You are beautiful,’ but also God, Elyon, saying to his creation ‘You are beautiful’–the Lover and the Beloved crying to each other, singing to each other, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’ When I first heard this song many years ago, you know, it brought me to tears. It was an incredible touching experience, where I thought, ‘This is what it’s really all about.’ In the end, everything distills down to this moment, this song, a song like this. And I knew I had to write about it…

“Really, at the heart of this whole series is this song, ‘You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.’… think of the people on the edge of the lake singing this song to Elyon over and over and over again… It’s all about this yearning that we have to be reunited once again–on the lake, on the shores of the lake, in the bowels of the lake, deep in the lake–to go back and be with God, with Elyon (in this story), in the same way we once were. It’s an irresistible calling to us. My hope and prayer is that this song would work its way into your spirit.”

-Ted Dekker, The Gathering 2009 cd

This is what it’s all about. This is actually my third time this week blogging about the beauty of Jesus, and I didn’t even plan it that way. The purpose of all existence is anchored in the beauty of Jesus. He is so deserving of all of our obsession and adoration, and this is our truest and deepest life’s calling–to sing this song to Him and to hear Him singing back to us. To love and to be loved.

In this recording, in between choruses of the song, I also started singing spontaneously some scriptural phrases from Song of Solomon and other passages about His beauty to us and our beauty to Him. Below you can listen to the song on Youtube (it’s unlisted, so you won’t find it if you try searching Youtube itself), and below that you can read the verses that I was singing from. (The song “Beautiful” in the video is only about the first 11 minutes, and the rest of the video segues into “Jesus, You’re Beautiful” by Jon Thurlow.)

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

 

“Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”
Song of Solomon 2:14

“Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; your eyes are doves.”
Song of Solomon 1:15, also 4:1

“Turn away your eyes from me, for they overwhelm me.”
Song of Solomon 6:5

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you… You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”
Song of Solomon 4:7, 9

 

You are fairer than the sons of men”
Psalm 45:2 NKJV

My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.”
Song of Solomon 5:10 NKJV

“In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious,”
Isaiah 4:2

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 29:2, also 69:9 NKJV

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you;”
1 Samuel 2:2

“…so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.”
Exodus 8:10

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;”
Psalm 27:1

“even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
Psalm 39:12

What I’m Reading: One King

Last week, I started a series called What I’m Praying. This week, I’m starting a series called What I’m Reading to share with you some of the things that have caught my attention in the past few weeks. Also, it will help me actually read more. I was a mad voracious reader growing up, and I’d love to fall back into that rhythm. Plus, I don’t have textbooks anymore, so if I want to continue filling my mind with quality writing, I have to go find it and make time to actually read it.

one-king

Right now, I’m reading One King by Samuel Whitefield. I’m only four chapters in, because I’m trying to really process the material and track with it in my own Bible.

One King addresses questions of God’s promises for the people of Israel, and shows how those promises are directly related to the current and historical controversies over Israel. It explores why Israel has been the centre of such controversy and violence for millenia, and how the Church is to relate to ethnic and national Israel today. Most importantly, it shows how Jesus alone can bring the fulfillment of Israel’s destiny, and He will do this in fullness at His second coming when He rules from Jerusalem as King forever.

As soon as I started seeing this book promoted online, I knew I had to read it. I bought it on my visit to Kansas City last month, but only this past week have I started seriously diving into it. Samuel Whitefield was one of my favourite instructors at IHOPU, and he has a deep understanding, both academically and practically, of issues related to Israel.

one-king-3-promises

Genesis 12: land, descendents, nations.

Right now, I’m almost finished with Part I of the book, which is titled “The Basis of the Gospel–Abraham’s Promise”. Understanding God’s Genesis 12 covenant with Abraham and its three components is foundational to understanding the big picture of the entire Gospel. These three key promises are thus:

“1) Abraham will have descendents who will become a righteous nation, 2) those descendants will permanantly inherit a land, and 3) the nations will receive blessing and salvation through the process.”
Samuel Whitefield, “One King,” p 12, emphasis mine

These three promises are geniusly interwoven in such a way that they can each be fully fulfilled only when ALL are fully fulfilled, and only Jesus can make that happen. Naturally, Satan reeeeally doesn’t want that to happen. And thus, the stage is set for the greatest drama ever known: the saga of world redemption through the story of a chosen people and their Messiah.

I’m super excited to read the rest of this book, and I’ll be sure to share an update on my thoughts after I have done so.

If you’re interested in studying more about Israel, check out One King on Samuel Whitefield’s website. I also highly suggest Parts I & II of the “Covenenant and Controversy” documentary series, which Samuel Whitefield contributed to. Both films are available to stream for free at covenantandcontrovery.com.