Tag Archives: hunger

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.


Hungry for God’s presence

Being at Bethany last week has re-awakened in me a hunger and thirst for the presence of God.  Not that I didn’t already have this hunger – but it has been stirred up significantly in recent days.   I want to taste and see the goodness of God on a daily basis.  One of my areas of ministry is preparing and leading worship for our church intercessory team and I am sensing a deep desire to see our church intercessors move more fully into the presence and glory of God.  I also desire this for our small groups and small group leaders.

But isn’t God everywhere?  True, He is.   Theologians call this “God’s omnipresence” (omni is Latin for everywhere). King David expressed his awareness of God’s omnipresence like this ( Psalm 139:7-10 ),

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

However, I believe that David wasn’t just stating an abstract theological truth, he was communicating an experience.  In other words, David didn’t just believe intellectually that God was present everywhere; He consciously sensed God’s presence everywhere.

Powerful experiences of the presence of God are not new.   There are many examples of this in the Bible.  Here are just a few :

  • Moses and the bush that was burning but was not consumed
  • Elijah and the fire from heaven on Mount Carmel
  • Elijah and the still small voice in which he sensed the presence of God
  • Healing miracles at the command of Jesus
  • The Transfiguration of Jesus
  • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
  • Paul’s experience of being caught up to the third heaven
  • John’s experience of the majesty of Jesus described in Revelation chapter 1

Such experiences always result in a sense of awe, wonder and holy fear at the power and holiness of God.

I believe that Jesus Christ is returning sometime in the next generation.  He told us we would not know the day or the hour of his return, but he did say that we can tell the times and seasons, and he left us many signs which are being fulfilled in our day.  The people of God will be tested as never before, and there will be intense persecution.  Many will fall away before the Lord returns, but there will also be greater revelations of God’s glory than ever before, as the glorious bride (the believing, enduring church) is prepared for her bridegroom (Jesus).

If this is correct, then it is more important than ever that we learn to endure.  The shallow, soft, me-centred Christianity of much of the North American church will not stand the test.  Only a church that has learned to be intimate with the Lord will be able to stand and thrive in the Last Days.

We are made for intimacy with God and He delights to respond to our hunger for Him.  I want to see the glory of God revealed in greater measure.  We all go through many little tests in our lives.  How we respond to these little tests is an indicator of how we will do when the big tests come.  Will we be paralyzed with fear or will we confidently lift our heads, knowing that our redemption is near?  I want to be among those who are confident in God because I know Him intimately and have learned to feed on every word of His mouth and to drink of the living water of His Spirit.  I want that for you too.


Wisdom and grace

God seems to have this habit of messing up my plans.   He seems to prefer His plans to mine … funny thing, He seems to think He can act like God …  This happens in many areas of my life, but at the moment I am thinking of this blog.  Just when I had a nice little pattern going  (I was going to write a well-planned series of posts on being made in God’s image – for His glory, of course) God kept interrupting my series by interjecting other topics !

The most recent interruption came in the form of the birth of my first grandchild, Sophie Grace, born yesterday.  So of course I have to blog about it – after all everyone brags on their grandchildren, don’t they?  And since she has been on the earth for a full day now, I can say without a doubt that Sophie is the smartest, nicest, cutest baby that ever lived …of course I haven’t seen her yet, but how could she not be?  She’s my granddaughter!

All kidding aside, I find this a very moving experience.  I once heard Ed Piorek say that our children are like arrows that God uses to get past our defenses and reach our hearts.   It seems to be the same with our grandchildren.  God is definitely using Sophie’s birth to speak to me.

Today was a busy day, full of necessary tasks that had been put off over the past couple of weekends.  At the end of a long day, needing to draw near to God, I picked up my guitar for a few minutes of worship.  I sensed such a hunger for the presence of God.  I desire a season of refreshing like – no, greater than – the one that was poured out on Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship 15 years ago in 1994, greater than the Jesus People revival of the 1960s and the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, greater than the Hebrides revival of 1949-1952, greater than – well, you get the picture.  I want my children and grandchildren – and the young adults that seem to have adopted Marion and me as spiritual mentors – to know God as He really is.   There are so many wonders in our generation that are invented by human ingenuity (even though that ingenuity came from the hand of an infinitely wise and loving Creator God).   I want my beautiful new granddaughter to know the wonders that point unmistakeably to God alone.

Sophie Grace is a beautiful name.   Sophie is derived from the Greek sophia, which means wisdom.   This evening when I was thinking about her name, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

It sounds like a paradox, but true wisdom is to recognize that we aren’t wise at all.   True wisdom is to humbly recognize our dependency on God, and our need for a Saviour to wash us, cleanse us and heal our broken, sin-shattered hearts.  True wisdom is to recognize that we depend totally and completely on God’s grace – His amazing, undeserved kindness and generosity.  That’s the kind of wisdom that I pray my granddaughter Sophie will cultivate as she grows in faith – true wisdom that leads us to the grace of God.