Tag Archives: desire

One Day in Your Courts

Love is at the core of every special day. Think back to some of the best days of your life—days marked by joy and excitement. If you scratch beneath the surface of those days, you will find love at…

Source: One Day in Your Courts


God’s strong-willed children

Our feisty, spirited and very cute granddaughter Alivia (Livie), not quite three years old, is learning the power of her own will. Although she clearly looks up to big sister Sophie, Livie also has a mind of her own and doesn’t hesitate to make her wishes known. She knows what she wants, and she expresses it clearly. Sometimes she can’t have what she wants, but her Mom and Dad are wise enough to curb her will without crushing it.

Sophie, now five years old, has been learning some of the ways of the Lord. She has a sensitive conscience, wants to please the Lord, and is usually quite good to her little sister. However, like Alivia, she too has desires, and sometimes this leads to conflict.

Yesterday Alivia wanted her tricycle back. Her big sister had taken it. Alivia complained, and her Dad intervened and told Sophie to give the tricycle back to Alivia. Justice was done, and Alivia was satisfied.

However, from Sophie’s perspective, this was not a perfect solution, because for Alivia to get her tricycle back, Sophie had to give up something that she wanted. It took a father’s wisdom, and a time out, but eventually peace was restored. Eventually Sophie was able to see things through her father’s eyes, and the sisters were friends again.

This classic conflict scenario illustrates several key truths.

First, our Father wants us to present our desires to Him. It is not wrong to ask him for things. Both girls presented their cases to their father, and he listened to them both with compassion as well as firmness.

Second, when we present our desires to our Father, we also need to recognize that He is God and we are not. For peace to be restored, both Sophie and Alivia needed to be willing to let their Dad settle the dispute.

Third, we need to stay engaged with God even when the answers are not immediate, or not what we had hoped for. Even though it took some time before Sophie could see things her Dad’s way, she trusted him enough to yield to his discipline, and eventually, she too was satisfied.

Sometimes we need to let God adjust our perspective before we can receive the blessings that He desires most to give us.  If we stay engaged, and keep talking to him and listening to him, eventually he gives us the desires of our heart, although sometimes He first has to awaken in us a desire for those things that lead to true peace and lasting satisfaction.

Like Sophie and Alivia, all God’s children are on a journey to maturity. The plans God has for us are far beyond what we can now see or imagine. If we want to come into all that He has for us, we need to learn how to deal with the strong desires that arise from our souls.

Desires can cause conflict, and they can be destructive. But unlike Buddhism, which teaches its adherents to extinguish all desires, the God of the Bible chooses instead to work with our desires and shape them for our good and for his glory. In this process, we do need to reject some desires and embrace others. But let’s not reject the whole concept of desire. It was God who gave us our wills, and God who placed in us the capacity for desire. When we come to him in faith, and allow Him to sort through our desires and respond according to His wisdom and love, he does not extinguish our wills or our desires. Instead, he shapes them to His purposes, and awakens in us a desire for His glory, so that He can bless us far beyond what we can imagine or conceive.

Thanks be to God for his amazing wisdom and goodness to us!


Stirring Up Desire in the House of Prayer

We had a wonderful time together as the House of Prayer gathered on Thursday evening. We sang love songs to Jesus and asked Him to increase our desire for Him. We also prayed for the people of God, for the Bride to have her love and desire for the Bridegroom greatly increased. And we prayed for those not yet saved and for those caught in various forms of sin and bondage. that they would have eyes opened to see the glory and goodness of God and they would find desire for Him rising up in their hearts.

Over the past few weeks we have settled into a simple pattern of Harp and Bowl worship and prayer that works for us. On a typical Thursday evening we will have one devotional and two intercessory cycles, organized loosely around a common theme. We begin our first Harp and Bowl cycle shortly after 7 pm by reading a few verses of Scripture to focus our thoughts, and we usually have a time of conversational sharing after concluding our third prayer cycle. Our aim is to wrap up by 9 pm, although this past Thursday evening we spilled over a little bit.

Numbers have varied greatly. This past Thursday evening our living room was full. Some nights there have been as few as three of us (Marion and I being two of those three).  The Lord has settled it in our hearts that we are doing this for Him, not for the acclaim of people, so we are going to worship and pray on Thursday evenings no matter who shows up, as long as the Lord gives us strength and grace.

Anyone with a desire to grow in love for Jesus and to present the needs of others before His throne is welcome to join us as we pray for the people of God, for the city where we live, and for the world that Jesus died for.  Thursdays, 7:00 pm, in our living room in Vanier.



The young man across the table from me was dead serious. “Tell me about your prayer life”, he asked me. “I want to know how you pray”.

Sam was a pastor’s son from a part of Africa that had seen much turmoil and suffering. He had come to Canada seeking opportunity. He was a young man with an excellent spirit – committed to excellence on the job and in his relationship with the Lord.

I had met Sam at church, and had discovered that we worked in the same building. I offered to have coffee with him thinking that I might be able to encourage him spiritually. I soon realized that although I had years of experience and had learned some valuable lessons, none of this made up for my young friend’s zeal and passion for a consistent, fruitful walk with God. He wanted to learn from a faithful model. He thought I was that model.

As I listened to my own response to Sam, it began to dawn on me that my prayer life at this point in time was in some respects not the best model to emulate. Oh, I still prayed. In fact, I prayed much of the time. I was in almost constant dialogue with God. This part, of course, was good. I also read the Bible several times each week. But I no longer followed a structured, consistent approach to Bible reading or prayer, and my prayer life was often lacking in depth, passion and focus as a result. My malaise went deeper than this, though. I didn’t have what Mike Bickle describes as a “bright spirit”, at least not consistently. I thought I loved God, but looking back, I see now that I needed to rediscover what loving God really meant.

As I described my spiritual condition to Sam, I offered a half-hearted explanation about having moved from legalism to freedom. It sounded lame even to me, and I hope he saw through it. Sam’s question had exposed my heart, and I didn’t really like what I saw.

Anyone who has been happily married for twenty years or more will tell you that a good marriage takes effort. If you really want to have a relationship of true intimacy (tenderness, faithfulness, trust), you won’t just fall into it. Yes, you can “fall in love” with the man or woman of your dreams, but that’s mostly about attraction and desire. The attractional aspect of love is not a bad thing, in fact it’s a gift of God and an important part of any marriage, but it can be quite self-focussed, and it won’t carry you through the days when you feel miserable and everything is difficult. To truly love that man or woman will require a lifetime of costly choices. It’s no different in our relationship with God. If anything, the stakes are even higher, the choices more costly. You can get into Jesus’ Kingdom for free, but if you want to be great in his Kingdom, it will cost you your life.

To be brutally honest, the Christianity that is common in our culture sets the bar very low when it comes to the effort required to cultivate a fruitful relationship with God. When you live in an environment that is mostly cold, dark and hard, your perception gets dulled until you think that this is normal. So, maybe I do have a more vital prayer life than many people around me. I don’t know, I can’t measure that. What I do know is that compared to Jesus, my prayer life has a long way to go. But the last couple of months, Marion and I have been sensing a call from God to go deeper with him, and having reapplied myself to a more diligent pursuit of God, I am already discovering the rewards. The Word of God is more alive to me, I can hear His voice in my spirit more easily, my heart is becoming softer, I am more thankful, more peaceful and more content – and I want more.

One of the ways I have been responding to this call is by following a Mike Bickle teaching series on the Sermon on the Mount. When you are being taught on prayer by someone who has been spending hours a day in prayer and the Word for over thirty years, you get challenged to go deeper. Mike’s teaching is not complicated. In fact, it’s remarkably simple, straightforward and uncluttered. It is also very honest and comes from a place of deep humility. That’s why I find it hard to argue with. Mike has not been talking down to me. He has been appealing to my heart, and my desire for God has been stirred up.

Jesus said that the first priority of our lives is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He also said that if our eyes are clearly in focus, our whole body will be full of light. I want my life to be bright with the light of God. When I stand before God on that Day, I want to give an account of wholeheartedness, not halfheartedness; single-mindedness, not double-mindedness. The One who gave his life for me is worthy of nothing less.

The world will soon be treated to the spectacle of the Olympics. World-class athletes have given years to the pursuit of an extremely high level of fitness and athletic skill. It’s a notable pursuit, one we can’t help but admire. Physical fitness does have some value, which is why I ride my bike several times a week. But that’s not the goal of my life. I have devoted my life to running a different race, one whose outcome has eternal value. I want to pursue the prize of knowing the Maker of the Universe. It is amazing to me that the One who hung the stars in place would be interested in having a relationship with someone as small as me. But since he says he loves me, and has invited me to be his friend through Jesus Christ, the only thing I can say is “Yes” – with my whole life – again, and again, and yet again.


Can’t get no satisfaction?

I recently had a tour of Paris Hilton’s mansion – not in person, I hasten to add, but in a hilarious YouTube video with Ellen Degeneres.

Who is Paris Hilton, you ask?  Good question.  She is the great-granddaughter of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton.  She is also very, very wealthy.

Let me say straight up that I have nothing against wealthy people in general, or Paris Hilton in particular.  In fact, when I saw her home — featuring large, immaculate parlours in which she by her own confession had never sat, a beautifully-appointed kitchen that is almost never used, a walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom full of clothes, and dozens upon dozens of portraits of Paris Hilton — I felt sorry for her.

It’s easy to point fingers, but that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about our hunger for fulfillment, where this hunger comes from, how it drives us, and how it can ultimately be satisfied.  Paris Hilton, it seems to me, is not happy – not truly satisfied.  The same could probably be said of many celebrities.  There is something that drives them to always seek some new thrill, some new experience, some new acquisition.

Yesterday was Friday, everyone’s favourite day of the working week at my office.  On Fridays a near-holiday atmosphere prevails.  I have a group of friends who went to the pub yesterday at lunch time, as they do every Friday, to drink beer and play cards.  They go because they want to enjoy life.  They are looking for satisfaction.

As for me, I went to the park to walk, listen to music and talk with God.  At first glance this might seem like a very different choice than the ones my friends were making in going to the pub, but in at least one sense our choices were very similar.  I went to the park for the very same reason that my friends went to the pub: because I was looking for satisfaction.

On the way to the park I passed the Gatineau Mosque.  I was struck by the number of men who were gathering to pray, as Muslim men do on Fridays.  I prayed for them, and almost immediately the Holy Spirit pointed out to me that whatever I think of the Islamic faith, most of these men have a sincere desire for God.  They are seeking satisfaction.

When I ride my bike home from work, I am not just trying to get exercise or save money.  There is something in me that drives me to push my body, and the views of the river and the city along the bike path feed my spirit in a way that I cannot fully explain.  I am seeking satisfaction.

My son Joe is enjoying his new church family.  He loves the relationships and the family atmosphere of this new church, he senses God at work in some exciting ways, and he is thoroughly enjoying being part of a worship team again.  He is seeking satisfaction.

My daughter Bethany has just finished her grade 12 exams. As I write this, she is sitting in our living room looking at her year book with her Mom.  To celebrate the end of high school she went camping with some of her school friends yesterday and today.  They were seeking satisfaction.

My friend and colleague Stéphane volunteers at a feeding program at a homeless shelter close to the office where we work.  He also volunteers as a Big Brother.  Why does he do this?  To help others – yes – but he is driven by a desire for meaning and purpose in his life.  He is seeking satisfaction.

My brother-in-law Jamie competes in several triathlons each year.  My friends Dan and Lydia were among many who ran 10km in Ottawa’s recent race weekend.  My nephew James cycles 80-90 km on weekends on a regular basis.  I am impressed with their dedication to fitness, but I believe they do this for more than fitness alone.  They do it to satisfy some inner drive.  Like everyone else on the planet, they are seeking satisfaction.

What’s my point?  As I wrote last summer on the topic of The Importance of Desire, citing Mike Bickle’s insightful book The Seven Longings of the Human Heart, all of us are driven by deep longings that are built into us by our creator God.  Because of the way we are designed by God, we do many things in a quest for satisfaction.  Tragically, many people spend most of their life’s energy in this quest and yet never find what they are seeking except in fleeting glimpses, on rare occasions.

In the words of a classic song from the sixties – one of the Rolling Stones’ first big hits

I can’t get no satisfaction
And I try, and I try, and I try, and I try

For many people, sadly, these words are only too true.  This is where drug addiction, family violence, prostitution, and all manner of social evils originate : from wounded, deceived hearts seeking satisfaction in destructive ways.  Many are seeking to fulfill desires that were placed in their hearts by the One who made them, but they never find the peace they seek, because they don’t realize that only in surrender of our lives to Him can these desires be fulfilled.  As C. S. Lewis wrote,

we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea.

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of the activities that I described above.  Yes, it is possible for wounded, damaged, deceived hearts to seek satisfaction in ways that are destructive and wicked, but most of the things people do for satisfaction are not wrong in themselves.  There is nothing wrong with going to the pub, playing cards and drinking a glass of  beer with your colleagues, riding your bicycle along the river, praying, camping, enjoying music and hanging out with friends.  All of these are forms of blessing from the hand of a good God.   Yet my heart is sad for many of the people around me because I see that they are chasing satisfaction in things God has provided, not realizing that He himself is the true provision, and that in Christ alone can their hearts find rest, peace, wholeness, ideals worth living for, and satisfaction that truly endures.  Years ago I was saddened when my friends M. and S., who were very involved in the peace movement and in many other social justice causes, were unable to find peace in their own marriage, and went their separate ways.  This is a common story. They were trying to solve the problems around them but they had not dealt with the turmoil within them.  It was scenarios like these that led me to surrender my life to Christ, as I discovered to my everlasting delight that here was One who understood the desires of my heart, could bring order, peace and joy to my life, and give me purposes worth living for.

If this post describes your life – if you’ve been seeking satisfaction and not knowing where to find it – there are people who can help you.  Get in touch with me and it will be my delight to introduce you to Jesus, my best friend and the One who has brought peace to my life.  He knows your heart and He is the source of satisfaction you have been seeking.

If you already know where life can be found – pray for your friends and those around you.  Ask the Lord to help you see your friends and work colleagues with new eyes – with His eyes.  Ask Him to give you His heart for everyone in your life who is seeking satisfaction outside of the One in whom lasting joy can be found.  Then reach out with His heart as he opens doors – without judgment, but with genuine compassion.

Wherever you are at in your quest for satisfaction, may you allow Jesus, who alone is good and trustworthy, to guide you home.  No matter who you are, no matter where you’ve been – He is your peace.


The importance of desire

Buddhists believe that passions and desires lead only to trouble, and the way to peace is to attain a state in which we no longer have such longings.  Some Christians likewise seem to think that our desires and passions are inherently evil and should always be denied.  But that is not the picture we get from the Bible.  True, the Biblical writers do warn us that some passions are destructive and will lead us into sin if indulged, but they also speak of desire or longing in a positive sense.   The characters who populate the pages of Scripture are not weak, insipid, colourless, passionless wimps – they are people with strong emotions, who do not hesitate to express those emotions and desires.

Take Bartimaeus, for example.  He was a blind man who lived in the city of Jericho during Jesus’ lifetime, surviving by begging from passersby.  When  he heard that Jesus was on the road and heading his way, Bartimaeus cried out at the top of his lungs “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”   The people around him tried to get him to be quiet, but Jesus approached him and asked him what he wanted.   He then told Bartimaeus that his passionate shouting was an expression of faith, and rewarded that faith by healing him.

Jesus’ response to Bartimaeus is evidence that our problem is not desire, but wrongly directed desire.  God is not offended by the fact that we have passions or longings.  In fact, he created those desires and longings, and without them we cannot live.   Even the desires that get us into trouble are perversions of desires that were originally built into us by God.  The Devil is not creative enough to come up with anything truly new – he can only twist the desires that God originally placed in us into perverted forms, or tempt us to fulfil legimate desires in illegitimate ways.

As someone who ministers emotional healing to others, and as a passionate person with strong desires of my own, I have struggled to rightly understand this aspect of human nature, and have found little positive Christian teaching on the subject.  For centuries, in a well-intended desire to combat sin, much Christian teaching has implied that desires in themselves are evil and should be suppressed, but I have always known intuitively that this could not be the whole picture.  Recently I was delighted to find many helpful insights, and much encouragement, in a wonderful little book by Mike Bickle on the subject of desire.  It is titled The Seven Longings of the Human Heart and is available as a free download from International House of Prayer.

Bickle writes,

When we wake up in the morning, whether we realize it or not, we are being driven by innate desires that demand answers and refuse delay. These longings are inherent to us as human beings. We have longings, yearnings, placed deep within us by God, for the purpose of wooing us into His grace and presence. As we understand their origin in God, we begin to cooperate with these longings in accordance with His will. We find the answer to our longings in the One who put them in us.  (Mike Bickle, Seven Longings of the Human Heart, © 2006 Forerunner Books, p. 5)

Bickle then goes on to identify seven longings which, rightly understood and channeled, can propel us forward in a wholehearted pursuit of the God who made us :

  • the longing for the assurance that we are enjoyed by God
  • the longing to be fascinated
  • the longing to be beautiful
  • the longing to be great
  • the longing for intimacy without shame
  • the longing to be wholehearted and passionate
  • the longing to make a deep and lasting impact

My heart has been stirred and my understanding has been strengthened by reading this book.   I have been given fresh motivation to pursue God with my whole heart, and renewed confidence that this is what I was made for.  I would highly recommend it for any Christian believer but especially those who are intercessors, pastors or small group leaders.  Thank you, Mike Bickle.