It recently occurred to me that even though this blog has been active for almost two and a half years now, I have never really formally explained what the purpose of this blog is or why I invest so much time into what I do here with uploading and summarizing my sermons, along with writing articles from time to time. After all, I have now made over 50 posts on this blog, which is crazy to think about. So moving forward, I want to give a formal explanation of the purpose of the blog, which also fits in with what I see my goal in ministry as.
I want to break this particular post into two parts: Part 1 will focus on the backstory and context leading up to what I believe my calling in ministry is, and Part 2 will look at the actual what of what I believe my calling is as well as why I believe it is what it is. So, without further adieu, I present to you the history of this blog, and where I believe it is going.
When I first started this blog in the summer of 2018, I initially intended for it to focus mainly on the political and cultural happenings that were relevant at the time. However, as time went on, I started to realize something; something that would completely change the direction of not just the blog, but also my life.
I began to realize that the more I learned about and got involved in politics, the less it interested me and the less I wanted to write and talk about it. I saw myself becoming more and more frustrated and sometimes even angry about some of the things that were happening in the world, some of which I even wrote about in strong language I wish I could take back.
This is not at all to say that politics aren’t important, because they absolutely are and do have a place in the world (see my sermon on Romans 13 where I show how Jesus upheld the legitimacy and validity of government), but I started understanding that there are things, or a thing, that vastly outweighs and is much more urgent than talking about the latest controversy that people will likely forget about in a couple of days. After all, let’s not pretend we really remember what was being talked about in the news a few weeks ago, let alone months ago.
Though I had been aware of this for a long time as a Christian for as long as I can remember, it became more clear than ever that there is more to life than spouting whatever political opinion I felt like that day. I realized that the kingdom of heaven takes precedence over any earthly kingdom we try to build. We may try to build our Republican and Democrat kingdoms, our conservative and liberal kingdoms and so on, but at the end of the day, these will all fade away and there will be one Kingdom forever: the kingdom of heaven.
The very beginning of 2019 is when this shift in my thinking started happening. My whole world was turned upside down and was spinning, to say the least. God had wrecked my theological system (in a good way) that I had held to for so many years and brought me to deeper understanding of him than I had ever experienced before. It was a huge blessing in my life, even if for the first few months of this change I was knocked off my feet and trying to find my way.
This was not an overnight event, however. It was months and months of conversations with friends and mentors, along with lots of prayer and personal study on my part. Even though I had been a Christian for basically my whole life up until this point, I was seeing God and the gospel more clearly than I ever had before. This led me to have a greater appreciation and love for the Scriptures than I had ever had before. This is when I really started getting an idea for what I wanted to be the focus of my ministry.
All of this has simply been the backstory to what I believe my calling and focal point of ministry is. As we move into Part 2 of this post, we will now look what I actually believe my calling in ministry is.
As I started to love the Scriptures more and more because of who God has shown himself to be in them, it started becoming abundantly clear to me that many Americans, and even Americans who would call themselves Christians if they were asked, do not love God, or at least the God the Bible describes. Rather, they love a god that they have twisted the Scriptures to create for themselves and to serve their own pleasures.
Verses and passages are taken out of context and twisted to suit our own earthly pleasures, when heavenly treasures which are beyond our understanding await us, yet are tossed aside as we choose to focus on the temporal rather than the eternal. So many people take a man-focused approach to Scripture rather than a God-focused approach, which is backwards, to say the least. Many people are simply biblically illiterate.
This is something I am currently writing about in my second book, which I hope will be published by the end of next year. I believe that many people, again, including self-professed Christians, do not love God primary because they do not understand the Scriptures properly. So what I want to do, what I believe my calling in ministry is, is to help people glorify God properly by understanding the Bible properly. That’s it. That is my one-sentence thesis and mission statement for what I hope to do in ministry.
There is where the name of this blog and the theme verse come into play. The theme verse comes from Mark 8:34-35, where Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” From this stemmed the name of the blog, Above All Things, as these verses show that Christ matters above all things. We must deny everything else in this world if we wish to follow him. And to know this requires the understanding that we must know the Scriptures well, for we cannot know how to follow Jesus if we are not instructed.
So my train of thought goes something like this: 1) People must understand God properly so they can worship and glorify him properly. 2) God has revealed himself fully in the person of Jesus Christ. 3) Therefore, our worship is to be set on Christ, whereby we glorify God. 4) We know how to worship Christ by being instructed by the Scriptures. 5) Therefore, we must understand the Scriptures in order to glorify God properly.
I have already explained a little bit of why this is what I want to do, namely, that many people do not understand the Bible properly, but I want to dive into that a little deeper and give a little more reasoning as to why I feel such a strong draw to this.
What do I mean when I saw that “many people…do not love God primarily because they do not understand the Scriptures properly”? The implication of this statement is that in order to have a proper understanding of God, we must have a proper understanding of the Bible. This is somewhat controversial, as many people believe we can know God by others means that are not the Bible. We can know him through acts of service, personal experience, and even by seeing what other people experience. All of these are good things, but they are not primary ways of knowing God.
The primary way of knowing God is through reading and hearing his Word. Any other way we learn about God must always be informed by this. This is why if a pastor preaches a sermon, but it is not built on the foundation of the Bible and is not Bible-saturated, it is not really a sermon. It is simply the pastor giving his opinion on something. So just as a sermon must always have its foundation on the Bible, so also must every other aspect of our lives have our foundation on the Word.
Another example is that personal prayer is certainly a good thing and something we are commanded to do, but we are also commanded to pray in accordance with the will of God (Matthew 6:10). We are not to pray for things that will simply bring us earthly pleasure. We are to pray for God’s kingdom to come, not ours.
So I have tried to establish that everything we do in life must align with the Scriptures. But why is this? What is my actual reasoning? In other words, why are the Scriptures so important?
Consider what Peter says in his second letter. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). Or what Paul writes to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Putting both of these texts together, we can see that “all Scripture” is from God (meaning, it is perfect, without mistake, and inerrant) and has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” and helps us train “in righteousness.” In other words, we do not need anything else outside of the Bible for us to understand God. This is incredible, that God has given us everything we need to know about life and pursuing him in his Word! We have no need for the things this world offers in attempts to gain knowledge or be successful. God has already graciously given us everything!
Yet people still go outside the Scriptures in their quest for God so that at the end of the day, the God they search for is not the God of the Bible, but it is their own god they have created for themselves. And this is where the problem lies. You see, the God of the Bible does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “For I the Lord do not change,” (Malachi 3:6). “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). You cannot say you worship the God of the Bible when you attempt to change him from what he says he is. This is why people must understand the Bible, so they can understand who God is.
There is so much more I want to write on this issue, but I will save those words for my upcoming book. I hope that in this short post I have given you a good idea of what I believe God has called me to as well as why. People need to understand and love God. Apart from him, there is no hope, no joy, and no satisfaction. But for this to happen, people must be able to read and understand the Scriptures properly. Not with the focus being on themselves as the hero of the story, but with the focus being on God who saves all who come to him.