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: “I Never Became Straight. Perhaps That Was Never God’s Goal.”

Continuing my “What I’m Reading” series, here’s something that gripped my heart this week. Right on the heels of my blog on the beauty of Jesus posted last week, I read this article by Rachel Gilson that seemes to take my points and make them raw and relevant in a very difficult situation. In this article, entitled “I Never Became Straight. Perhaps That Was Never God’s Goal.”, Rachel shares very openly about her journey into lesbian relationships and her discovery of Jesus.

What I love about Rachel’s story is the way that falling in love with Jesus was what led her to choose to follow what the Bible has to say about sexuality. It only took a straightforward reading of the Bible for her to understand that God says homosexuality is wrong, but it was a much harder wrestle to understand why. Why should love be wrong, no matter who it’s between? How could the God who is love say no to that?

Even without having the answers, Rachel was falling in love with Jesus. And because of simple love for Him, she chose obedience before understanding.

“In the end, it came down to trust. I knew Jesus was worthy of trust, because he had made a greater sacrifice. He had left the bliss, the comfort, the joy of loving and being perfectly loved, to live a sorrowful life on earth. He took the pain and shame of a criminal’s death and suffered the Father’s rejection, all so I could be welcomed. Who could be more deserving of trust?

“The obedience of faith only works when it’s rooted in a person, not a rule. Imposed on its own, a rule invites us to sit in judgment, weighing its reasonableness. But a rule flowing from relationship smoothes the way for faithful obedience…

“We can’t say no to something good unless we’re saying yes to something even better.”

This is what the beauty of Jesus does. Becoming captivated by the beauty of Jesus allows us to trust and obey Him, even when we can’t understand why. Our faith is placed in a person, not a philosophy. We see His heart, His intrinsic goodness, humility, and love, and we cannot help but conclude that He is worthy of any sacrifice.

I believe that relationship with Jesus – real, vibrant, adoring, trusting relationship with Jesus – is the only hope for transformation in the LGBTQ+ community. “Because God said so” means nothing to someone who doesn’t know, love, and trust God. Externally imposed rules without relationship will only bring despair.

But the beauty of Jesus changes everything.

People like Rachel are my heroes – people who have chosen Jesus in the face of so many reasons not to. People who have chosen to take up their cross and follow Him, because of love.

“We can’t say no to something good unless we’re saying yes to something even better.”

Many of us will never be in Rachel’s exact situation, but we will certainly be called to do things that our flesh rebels at. The same questions that Rachel wrestled with will come for us.

Is God good?

Is He trustworthy?

Is He worth it?

If we are anchored in the beauty of Jesus, we will be empowered to say YES.

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.

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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.

Intentionally Resting Well

Yesterday was a good day.

First (and this is very important) I wore a beautiful new long flowy skirt I got on discount for $13 (originally $100). I love it. (I realised AT CHURCH it still had the security tag attached, but with a bit of cleverness I managed to get it off at home later… so that was an exciting start to my day.)

I went to the early service at church and even though I was late and missed most of worship, I got to hear a wonderful message from Rick Joyner. (If you want to listen to it, the video should be online HERE in a few days.)

I spread out my outdoor throw blanket on the grass in my backyard amid the dandelions and started reading a new novel by one of my favourite authors. (The Calling by Rachelle Dekker, everyone. Check it out.)

Did I mention that it was 69° F and sunny at that time??

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My happy place.

I spent three hours at the home of Erica and Jacob, the leaders of the Kid City 7 sidewalk Sunday school outreach I volunteer at. They invited all of the volunteers over for delicious lunch and even more delicious fellowship. I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with one girl for almost an hour (this is how introverts party hard), then went outside in the beautiful weather and played with the world’s cutest baby.

In the evening, I met with my College Station ministry trip team for some more vision-casting and logistical stuff. It was really good to talk and pray with them. (I even met a girl I have connections with from home!) The trip is only two weeks away and I’m so excited for what God is going to do!

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time for a really good refreshing Sabbath. I spend so much time either a) getting stuff done, or b) procrastinating getting stuff done. (Wanna guess which I do more of?) Unfortunately, procrastinating usually looks like scrolling through social media or watching videos online.

I think I need to relearn how to rest well.

For me to rest well, I personally need a good combination of friends, food, laughter, fresh air, grass, sunshine, solitude, books, creativity, and/or worship. Ideally, definitely worship.

As a matter of fact, my favourite part of the day was when I lay on the grass, set down my book, and lay with my face to the sun just thinking about the nearness of God and allowing myself to be the wide-eyed child again.

Yesterday I actually chose to set aside some of my to-dos not to aimlessly procrastinate, but to actually get refreshed. I’ll always have more stuff to do. The to-dos never really end. But if I don’t intentionally take time to rest and refresh, I’m going to burn out and end up forgetting who I am.

I am not my to-do list.

I am not my ministry.

I am not my education.

I’m Caitlyn. I’m the daughter and the beloved of God. I love sunshine and books and creating. I’m essentially the same person today as when I first fell in love with Jesus, and I still need those sweet moments–to put aside an agenda and just be myself with Him–just as much today.

Book Hangover

I’m currently in one of those weird moods commonly known to bibliophiles as a “book hangover,” although I contest that it can happen with TV programmes equally strongly. This happened a few days ago when I finally watched the recent Christmas special of Downton Abbey. No spoilers, but suffice it to say that there was a long beautiful sequence of scenes of joy and peace and promise and newness, and then in ten heinous seconds it all was ripped away leaving a gaping bloody hole in the centre of perfection… and then I had to walk away and do “real life,” whatever the heck that is. And all I could think about was how sadistic these writers are and how are these people going to bear it when they discover what the viewers know but the family is blissfully unaware of until the next episode… Curse you, BBC!!!

Anyway, I was talking about books. Somehow books are even weirder because it all happens completely in your mind. Interrupt me while I’m reading, and my eyes will jerk up, staring blankly, trying to reorient myself but 99% mentally still in the book. Whatever words stumble from my mouth in those next few seconds are almost guaranteed not to make sense.  The only reason I’m able to write coherently now is because I put the book down a full thirty minutes ago.

I’m currently reading a mind-bending sci-fi/fantasy novel called Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. The plot is excellent, but it’s the intelligence of the characters that makes Card’s books stand out. I feel like I’m learning so much about human nature just from the way the characters understand humanity. Anyway, I read a full 300 pages in one sitting. Took me about three hours. Yes, I know that’s insanely fast. I’m probably not human.

When I finally “come to” enough to realise that I should probably take a break, I close the book, wash my dishes which had been sitting abandoned next to me for at least two hours, and stumble upstairs and into the bathroom, something else I haven’t done in far too long. Staring into the mirror, an array of bizarre yet familiar thoughts accost me. It’s a bit of a side effect of the bleary return to the “real world.” Like waking up from the Matrix. Well, here I am. Caitlyn. Is that my name? Who is Caitlyn? Oh look at that, I have a body. Still got legs. I am inside my body. Isn’t that weird. I am stuck inside my body experiencing only what’s immediately around me. Is this how time normally passes–very slowly, in the right order? Have I always been in my body? How maddening–I’ve always been inside my body, always thinking even while asleep, never leaving myself alone. I feel completely claustrophobic inside my own skull. Because clearly I’m not my body. I’ve barely been aware of my body for the past three hours. So what is this consciousness trapped in here? What is Thought, what is Consciousness, what is Self, or Soul, or Sentience? Are all people like this–so much bigger on the inside?

And then I conclude that I’ve had a little too much book for one day and decide an appropriate remedy is finding some Real People to Hang Out with. Extreme introversion must be occasionally forcibly counterbalanced with purposeful social interaction. Except like tonight when the house is empty and my options become basically either watch Merlin on Netflix or go to bed early. If I’m smart, I’ll choose the latter and start fresh tomorrow, when I’m hopefully a bit more in touch with this thing called Reality and feeling a little more at home inside my own skull.