The Zeal of the Elders

I want to mature in my zeal for God. I want it to grow. Tragically, I’ve seen enthusiastic young people lose faith and drift away, turning to agnosticism or even atheism. And I’ve seen another generation, in response, claim that zeal is nothing more than emotional hype, as they themselves settle into complacency. Truly, there are more hurts and disappointments in this world than we know. There are things for which we prayed and believed that did not happen. Religion confuses, wounds and sedates. But my heart lights up when I see the elders, people like Lou Engle and Bill Johnson, the older generation that burns so much brighter now than they ever did in their 20s, 30s or 40s. Maybe there were disappointments along the way, but through every tragedy, they fought again with everything inside of them to keep their eyes open and fixed on Jesus. They know that even in times of faithlessness, He remained faithful to them. They hold tightly to their testimonies of grace.

I see my Grandpa, weeping as he listens to his grandchildren sing worship songs to Jesus. He remembers the battles of his own journey, and he knows that he’s leaving a legacy. And he knows, beyond all doubt, the beauty and faithfulness of God. I want to be such a man, knowing that he’s finishing well, not just more in love with the Lord than when he was nineteen, but more in love than yesterday!

Zeal is our calling, because true zeal is birthed from a heart of radical love. As people of God, we have tasted His beauty. We have seen His goodness. Our God is the most dazzling, radiant, loving person in the universe. How can we ever give anything less than our whole hearts?

His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”–John 2:17


Peacemaking (Part 5): Righteousness and Peace

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalm 85:8-10)

Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order—in short, of government. (Albert Einstein, On Peace)

Righteousness and peace are intimately connected. We see this in every dimension of society: from the upper echelons of government to every citizen’s daily challenge to contribute to the harmony of his neighborhood. Where there is order, and when people’s hearts are united within that order, peace has a fertile place to grow. Where there is disorder, peace has a very low chance of being prominent on any large scale.

As human beings created by God, our order, our government primarily stems from God himself, impressed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The name of this government is the Kingdom:

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:7)

Our own earthly governments are just a shadow of God’s government, and while we may achieve some level of peace here in our nations, peace’s ultimate fulfillment is found in the Kingdom of God. That being said, we can do much to bring peace to the world around us if we live from God’s heart and establish justice in our earthly systems.

We must be secure in our own morality, even when society does not agree. We cannot control society or popular opinion, but we can influence. God’s ways are always going to be better than any lesser ways. Demonstrating the merit of those values and practices, practically, scientifically, psychologically and sociologically, will go a long way to promoting peace in our world.

Living our lives individually and collectively in right standing with God, bearing the fruit of self-control, love and peace in community through the gospel: it is all a witness, a vision of hope, a gift to the world around us. We demonstrate love in relationship, and forgiveness within conflict. We get to show the world that the Kingdom works, in whatever context we’ve been placed.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”–Matthew 5:9

Christ, the Head of the Body


You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. —Colossians 2:20-23 (NLT)

I never want to idolize the wilderness. At times, I’ve approached fasting and weeping as if they were ends unto themselves, gold star ultimate expressions of devotion to God. But weeping is simply a right emotional response to a tragedy, a loving response, something that God feels even deeper than we do. Fasting is simply a laying aside of distractions, a focused time of longing for God. In both, the point is to connect with God’s heart. They are precious realities, never human accomplishments of which to be proud. Without Christ as the Head, these things are meaningless.

Just having rules and systems set up against immorality does nothing to bring freedom to the ones trapped in it. For instance, from a worldly point of view, Humanism and Communism are great ideas. They’re even based in Biblical principles! Humanism attempts to follow the second great commandment, but it ignores the first. Communism is an attempt at Church and covenant community, only without God. The rules and morals may be “right,” but without Jesus as the Head, they are doomed to abuse and failure. Without faith, there is no substance.

Like Paul, we can “do all things through Christ.” No matter what the circumstance, we can rejoice, for we have the Spirit of power, love and self-control. When our minds are set in eternity, laying down our lives is a joy. We may live weak lives, chaotic, unorganized, or not. The wilderness doesn’t define our identity. Neither do disciplines and rules. Only Jesus, our Creator and Friend, can do that. We do strive for holiness, not because of guilt or pride, but because He is holy, and we love Him.

Article originally published in “Unlocked Words,” June 28, 2015 -JH

Of Leaves and Souls

Another Easter has come and gone,
Another day to celebrate Your death and resurrection.
You were the ultimate Passover lamb!
Your blood was shed so that death would pass us by,
And we are new creations in You.

Isn’t it amazing that the spring season,
Celebrated by the world with baskets of bunny eggs,
Is the very season You brought new life to the world?
Even the seasons speak of Your glory.
Each new leaf speaks of souls won.

I just saw my son born.
He’s weak and small, but he’s so alive.
I imagine that’s how You see us.
You enjoy us, even in our weakness.
You celebrate every bold new step we take.
We’re Yours now, loved now,
And nothing could ever make us otherwise.

Thank you for our new lives, Jesus,
The ones You bought with blood.
Please teach us to grow.


“For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”–Job 33:4

Peacemaking (Part 4): the Pursuit of Peace

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears… What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?… Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:4, 12, 14)

Peace is a thing to be pursued, to seek after and to find. It is not a static entity. Peace is a moving, living reality, because the God who creates it and defines it is the Living God. This is a living earth, with living creatures, and in the context of this planet, peace exists. But where is it to be found? How can it be acquired? A great answer is found in Psalm 34 verse 4. To paraphrase, “Seek God, and He’ll get all the fear out of you.” When fear is gone, peace flourishes. When peace enters, fear flees. The two cannot coexist. So, first of all, look for God. He is the provider of peace.

Secondly, we must have a long-term, positive outlook on life. In order to steward peace well, we need to love life. Don’t get me wrong: peacemakers may not live very long, and there is risk involved. Many peacemakers died as martyrs at a very young age. But martyrdom is never our goal. Our goal is a long, happy life, not only for us, but for all the people around us. We want to see good things happen, and we love celebrating them when they do. Jesus said this:

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)

If you ever find yourself hating your life or hating the people who surround you daily, please stop and evaluate yourself. We have no excuse for bitterness. Peacemakers, like Jesus, have a purpose. We want to give all people a rich and satisfying life.

Lastly, the pursuit of peace requires a desire to bring change, and that change starts with us. As humans, we all have the ability to do good or evil things. When we do evil, just like “the thief” in John 10, we bring destruction and decay to ourselves and those around us. It’s only our partnership with God’s Spirit, our alignment with Righteousness, that brings peace to the world. If we want to be peacemakers, we must learn to confront our own degraded minds every day, get up, lift up our heads and do something good in the world. We are powerful people. And God answers prayer, if we are bold enough to ask and obey.

Something Spiritual

Have I forgotten, then,
What has made me great?
A life’s genesis, once begun,
Pressed ever forward by fate.

Something, something spiritual,
A wind, a whisper, a fire,
Not by those things was I conquered,
But by a love, a heart filled with desire!

I have not forgotten,
Nor will I ever forget that face,
The eyes, the gaze, the lips speaking
Freedom, an invitation to the chase.

And fervently I follow,
My heart spinning with limitless zeal,
This life, no solemn march, but a run!
Wild, lovely, rapturous and tangible and real.

Reposted from “Unlocked Words,” January 11, 2015.

Peacemaking (Part 3): God’s Declaration

“Fear not.”

How many times in the Bible do those words come out of God’s mouth? I used to get discouraged over how difficult that command was to follow. Think about it; if we are gripped with fear, right in the middle of it, then how are we supposed to be able to obey those words? I realized this truth much later: every command, every call to obey and follow His example is infinitely simpler when His Spirit is empowering us to act. God is the first peacemaker, and His words carry breakthrough. If we are willing to listen and obey, then His command to “fear not” will not be a further source of anxiety. It will be a comfort for our souls.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
    for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
    but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
    that glory may dwell in our land.–Psalm 84:8-9

As we read the verse above, notice that God’s word of peace is not only received by individuals, but also by the land. This is such an important part of peacemaking to understand. We the saints are blessed with peace for a greater purpose than just our own peace of mind. The community around us will be blessed as well. Glory will dwell in our land when we hear and believe God’s spoken word of peace to us.

Peace starts with God Himself, is planted deep inside of our hearts and manifests in the world around us. When we are faithful to walk in God’s ways (and “not turn back to folly”), we act as peacemakers ourselves. That is our identity. As surely as I call myself a Christian, I can call myself a peacemaker, because that is a dimension of Christ’s character. What a privilege it is to follow His lead and carry peace to my generation.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”–Matthew 5:9