Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Wholehearted Holiness"

"Love is a better teacher than duty." -- Albert Einstein

In April 2005, I heard missionary Heidi Baker speak at a conference in Toronto called "Show Me Your Glory." I was acquainted with her work in Mozambique through the documentary "Mama Heidi," and I'd watched videotapes of her speaking at a women's conference in Pensacola; however, as I saw her in person for the first time - proclaiming the beauty of Jesus with such passion that I felt desperately hungry and thirsty to know the One whose Love so radiated from this woman that she would run to the poorest places on earth with joy - I remember thinking to myself, "Whatever she has, I need a lot more of that!!!"

Heidi told some of her favorite stories that demonstrate, as Pastor John Arnott likes to say, "How big God is and how nice God is." The miracle stories are impressive: blind eyes, deaf ears, other serious conditions healed and lives restored - both in Africa and, in recent years, in North American meetings, too. But perhaps just as impactful are her paradigm-shifting examples of God's kindness. On an earlier trip to Toronto, she was thinking about the wastefulness of an American-style buffet when she felt God interrupted and told her to eat cheese and take a hot bath - two "luxuries" she'd denied herself because the poor could not enjoy them. She recalled traveling with her husband to see a well-known prophet who told her God wanted her to eat two - not one, but two - warm chocolate chip cookies, which a woman happened to bring to the door just as they arrived. Heidi explained to us that she hadn't told this man in advance that her husband used to worry she would die from fasting so much, or how she'd come to believe that anything enjoyable was somehow "sinful" (I got the message that the Lord knows when we really need a couple of fresh hot cookies, instead of more fasting and prayer). Finally, she shared that, when she makes mistakes - runs too hard, too fast, or tries to do more than God really asked her to do - she feels that her heavenly Father says to her gently, "Slow down, sweetie" - picks her up, dusts her off, gives her a hug and restores her.

Going back to my hotel room after spending 10 to 12 hours each day in those meetings, I felt so in touch with the Presence of the Lord that I didn't want to turn on the television or allow the voice of the world to interfere with the amazing peace and worshipful awe that I felt. After that conference, I didn't watch television again for two years! Now I'm not saying this to make specific rules for other people - I have a television, and I do watch it these days. My point is, I remember thinking, you know, someone could have told me that watching so much TV was affecting my level of intimacy with God, and I probably would have agreed with them - but I would have struggled to obey (substitute any other spiritual activity here: prayer, Bible study, etc.); what I know I "should do" doesn't necessarily empower me to follow through. However, in an atmosphere of passionate love - well, we'll do anything when we're in love, won't we? we don't even notice... we don't even care! All we want is to be with our Beloved.

In his book, After God's Own Heart, Mike Bickle describes "an approach to holiness that 'wows' people with a revelation of His tenderness. Instead of being motivated by fear or shame, believers will be empowered to holiness because of the affection for us that burns in God's heart. The highest and best way of motivating the human heart to righteousness is through fascination and exhilaration in love." Although fear of negative consequences - shame, loss, punishment, even hell itself - may move us to make positive changes, our real staying power with God comes from falling in love with Love Himself.

What is "holiness", anyway? That's a deep question I won't even attempt to answer completely in one blog! According to Strong's concordance and Webster's dictionary, holiness has to do with being consecrated, dedicated, and devoted to God. And "wholehearted" devotion is something we associate with passionate lovers (like Heidi Baker) who practically burn with desire to give themselves completely to the One they love. God's holy (called out, set apart for Him) people are not meant to be a company of half-hearted rule-keepers who feel constantly disappointed and ashamed of their own imperfections, but the radiant Bride of Christ whose beauty reflects the Light of God's Love for her as she gazes in complete devotion upon her beloved Bridegroom King.

In closing, let's consider Isaiah 35:2-10, which speaks of a display of God's glory and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will refresh, revive, and cause God's people to walk in "wholehearted holiness" with joy:
"Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel's pastures and the plain of Sharon. There the LORD will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those who are afraid, "Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you." And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will shout and sing! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the desert. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a main road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-hearted people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God's ways; fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, and there will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will follow it. Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return to Jerusalem, singing songs of everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness." [NLT]

May we see and know the Beautiful One whose passionate Love opens our hearts to walk in this joyful new Life with Him!

P.S. This posting has a soundtrack - YouTube versions of 3 live worship songs related to this topic :) enjoy!

"So Beautiful" from Christ for the Nations CD Overtaken

"One Pure & Holy Passion" from Passion CD One Day Live

"You Are My King (Amazing Love)" also from Passion CD One Day Live


  1. This is indeed the cry of my heart to once again be passionately in love with our God. Please pray that the fire will be rekindle once more. There was a time that all I wanted was to be daily in his presence. I need a refreshing; for this i am seeking Him diligently. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jemma - thanks so much for your comments, which encourage me, too, week by week. I will be praying for you! believe that God is so willing to answer the cry of your heart and pour out His Spirit as you seek Him... Mt 7:7-8 "Ask and you will receive..." & Isaiah 44, also a promise of outpouring. He will do this! bless you & thank you for sharing, too.