The Permission to Love – can we have a paradigm change?

Hey All

Picture the scene, (actually try to imagine and feel it): 

It is AD 111 in Antioch and a man is facing the prospect of a horrifying death at the hands of Emperor Trajan (and his lions) for being a follower of Christ. You can hear almost silent mumblings that, as you draw nearer, can be deciphered as prayers,

“O Lord, I thank You that You have guaranteed to honour me with a perfect love toward You…”

His fervent prayer provokes a sense of holy unworthiness in you and of respect and admiration as you reflect on this man’s dying request: there is no mention of some kind of supernatural anaesthesia to numb the pain, or of an other-worldly way of escape to be granted; rather, the prayer is for an increase in his capacity to love his God.

I find this prayer fascinating and sobering because Ignatius clearly esteemed the permission to love God as an honour, indeed to the extreme of the giving of his life. It is humbling that a man on death row would use his ‘one call’, as it were, to further explore what it means to love God, recognising that only God Himself can grant the permission to be more abandoned to Him.

It is a much undiscovered mystery within Christendom that to love God is the greatest pleasure possible – the greatest. Ignatius understood and lived this out in reality as it spilled out of him in prayer as he contemplated being eaten alive by wild beasts.

The Challenge

My desire as a follower of Christ is to love Him as I should – i.e. perfectly but my understanding of the Bible is that I will never be at this stage this side of eternity. However,  I do want to be as far along the journey as possible before I die or Jesus splits the sky.

This supernatural relationship with God is a pursuit. A.W.Tozer talks about seeking God with ‘urgency’ and ‘creativity’ and these are two keys in moving towards loving God more perfectly. Tozer’s ‘prevenient drawing’, that, briefly stated, says that there has to have been a supernatural work in our hearts (by God) before we could show even the faintest interest in Him (We love Him because He first loved us), has to be understood in this context. This should propel us into the fascination that Ignatius was bound by.

Loving God is not about sentiment or goose bumps even, it is about the giving of everything as an expression of preferring God above all things, even life itself. Paul boldly proclaimed to the church in Philippi: “For, to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil.1:21). I can imagine Ignatius declaring these words too. Are they a true reality in your life or are they the lyrics in a song, perhaps? A neat idea? A post-modern paradigm?

Let us pursue the love of God in prayer, in worship and in life that He might allow us to fall more in love with Him. Let our love for Jesus take us to new places, to new people and to new burdens. Let our love for God swell into a crescendo to replace every proud ambition or selfish desire and that we might have our eyes opened to His fantastic love for us.

Let us esteem the honour of being enabled to love Him as the greatest reward possible.



Mount God – part 1

In Ps.24:3, King David throws out the question, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord, who may stand in that holy place…?”. Personally, I love the way that Peterson renders it in the Message, using the phrase Mount God instead of Holy Hill. The reason I love this is because I feel it better conjures an image of an Everestesque mountain rather than a recreational tor on Dartmoor.

A life of purity and holiness rarely feels like a walk in the park or an amble up Hay Tor. In reality it is never a walk in the park. The pursuit of God and His holiness is a pursuit that requires God Himself to push us up when we lose our footing or the finger-numbing frost-bite means we can’t hold on. God is always at our side as we negotiate sheer faces and crumbling foot-holds.

Scaling Mount God is like committing to climb Everest in the knowledge that few make it and some don’t return at all. Just in the same way that it would be obscencely foolish to climb Everest without supplys of nourishment and oxygen, climbing Mount God without firm faith in God’s unfailing grace and commitment to us would also be futile.

You see, when the ferocious artic winds lash at our faces and when icey crevices seem to give way from underneath our feet, God is always there to push us up. He’s already there in the Holy Place (it is  a place, guys) also pulling us up: He cheer-leads; He forgives; He inspires and he promotes love-sickness for Him in our hearts. Love-sickness with Jesus is the purpose of the spiritual discilpines.

I want to be a God-seeker, a God-quester. The exploration of holiness is an obsession. This will also be your obsession if this resonates with you as God Himself forms His otherworldly character in our jars of clay.

We desire to be like God and gaze at Him in His Holy Place. We desire to witness an open heaven and the fruit of righteousness in our lives and others. We desire to see nations saved,  raised and reformed in rigteousness.

And so our prayer must be:  “Holy are You Lord, sanctify my heart”.

But make no mistake, we need to decide to climb. There are no short cuts or base camps but there is the prospect of standing in the Holy Place as Nathanael must have imagined as he reeled after Jesus had seen him under the fig tree. Nathanael was promised visions of angelic ascensions and descentions but Jesus had also shown us that there was nothing false in him…he was a genuine article. He was a God-seeker climbing Mount God but when Jesus called him he must have had a stumble. That was ok though – God was there to lift him up, spur him on and give him a commissioning that focused on the Kingdom that had come and was standing in front of him.




Dear Reader

“With Him all things are possible”

Ten months ago, the term “Blogging” meant about as much to me as complex world of mathematics, or the equally bizarre world of abstract art. It was the kind of thing that I would have heard about briefly in a commercial break, or possibly overheard being discussed in a telephone conversation between two people I didn’t know, and weren’t likely to know because they weren’t my ‘kind’ of people.

But this electronic world of journalling on the Net was opened to me by a modern-day legend called Rob Waller. I say “legend” because with friends you can always over-exaggerate, and he is a good friend – a very good friend. I would like to briefly say a little about him here as without his influence on my life I would still think that a “Blog” is a Star Trek term used to denote a specific alien life-form from a so-called planet.

Rob is the founder and director of Mind and Soul, a Christian organisation committed to bridging the historic gulf between mental illness and Christianity. These subject areas of mental wholeness and Christianity will no doubt form part of the content of my blog as the connection between Rob and I goes beyond being merely ‘Chrstian brothers’. (It is always noteworthy when two human lives have a sharpening effect on each other). Without wanting to give inaccurate information, it will suffice to say that looking at will provide the best over-view of Rob’s heart. So I will endeavour to relate some of what I write to Mind and Soul, its creators, its partners but also to the wider array of what ‘makes me, me’.

I will chat about Jesus Christ a heck of a lot – He is the true author of life and the reason I live, and that you do too, for that matter. The Word of God and worship of Him will also be areas that I will write about, as will football (that is soccer to you ‘non-Brit’s’), the world of fitness and health, sports injuries – things like that.

I want to also formulate some of my thoughts about the issues of sexual purity and Christian leadership. Your thoughts about this specific area are welcomed, guys.

So, it is my pleasure to warmly invite you to sit back, read, think, write, comment and contribute to this Blog that, for the time being, will be called Firebrand. Maybe, like everything else in life, it should be sub-titled, “Under Construction”.

C ya

Nick reading at Beulah
Nick reading at Beulah

Nick Franks