VIDEO Crown Him with many crowns

May 27, 2009

Crown Him with many crowns

Crown Him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him
Who died for thee,
and hail Him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of love,
behold His hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends His burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
all hail, Redeemer, hail!
For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail
throughout eternity.

Sowing Faith

seed start

There’s no fast track to a full and beautiful life. And it starts with a humble beginning.


In 1963, a team of Israeli archaeologists excavated Herod the Great’s palace at Masada. They unearthed the usual suspects—skeletal remains, ancient artifacts, wall frescoes, and the like. But the most important find may have been a jar of preserved seeds. The seeds belonged to an extinct species of trees called the Judean date palm, which was wiped out around A.D. 500. In 2005, three were planted in the Arabah region of southern Israel, and eight weeks later one sprouted—the oldest known seed to be successfully germinated. Named Methuselah, after the oldest person in the Bible, that one seed grew into a four-foot tree with a dozen leaves by 2008 and flowered for the first time in 2012. Today, Methuselah is a 10-foot tall, pollen-producing palm.

In the field of botany, there are two types of seed—orthodox and unorthodox. What sets an orthodox seed apart is its ability to survive. Unorthodox seeds die when exposed to temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius, but orthodox seeds are able to survive droughts, glaciers, and the ravages of time—even 20 centuries, like Methuselah.

Long after you are gone, the things you plant have the potential to impact the world, near and far, for generations to come.

Faith, too, is an orthodox seed. It can survive any and every circumstance. Even when you die, your seeds of faith do not. Long after you are gone, the things you plant have the potential to impact the world, near and far, for generations to come.

To the Third Generation

On May 17, 1902, Christian Schmidgall boarded a ship in Antwerp, Belgium, and set sail for America. He was 16 years old, had 10 dollars to his name, and didn’t speak a lick of English when he landed on Ellis Island. Christian boarded a train bound for central Illinois, where he took odd jobs. After renting a farm for many years, he was finally able to buy 80 acres of farmland in Minier, Illinois. That land is still in our family—farmed by Christian’s great-great-grandson. The original owner raised oats and hay, and now his farm produces beans and corn as well. But the seeds he planted a hundred years ago are reaping a harvest to the third and fourth generation.

Was Christian Schmidgall thinking of this when he immigrated to the United States or bought the farm? I doubt it.  We tend to think right here, right now. But God is the God of three generations—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. His thoughts are so much bigger, so much longer than ours. And what God does isn’t just for us. His blessings have a trickle-down effect to the people who come after us.

When Christian Schmidgall put his faith in Christ in the 1940s, God became the God of Christian. He also became the God of Edgar, the God of Bob, and the God of Christian’s great-granddaughter—my wife, Lora. Christian may not have been aware of it at the time, but his decisions—both to immigrate to America and to follow Christ—have had a domino effect in our family. And so it is with our lives, far beyond our ability to control or comprehend. We don’t know when, where, or how, but every mustard seed of faith reaps a harvest, often where we least expect it.

Unintended Consequences

In Matthew 13, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. He says, “This is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matt. 13:31-32).

Yes, the mustard seed is unassuming—only two millimeters in diameter—yet grows into a 10-foot-tall tree its first year. It is packed with vitamin B6, B12, C, E, and K and is a natural source of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, and zinc. And it’s the key ingredient in one of my favorite condiments—mustard. Whether you like classic yellow, spicy brown, or Dijon, it’s hard to imagine a hot dog without it, right? But if you didn’t know what that seed was, you would never guess what it could do.

Such is faith.

There is a little phrase in this parable that I want to focus on—so that. It’s the key that unlocks a mystery. But first, a little backdrop.

In 1936, a sociologist named Robert K. Merton wrote a paper titled “The Unanticipated Consequence of Purposive Social Action.” Simply put, he said that every decision we make, every action we take has unintended consequences beyond our ability to control and our ability to predict. Those unintended consequences come in two flavors—unexpected drawbacks and unexpected benefits. An unexpected drawback is when a decision backfires and has the opposite effect of what you intended. For example, if you’ve ever taken a medication that treats one symptom but causes complications, those side effects are unexpected drawbacks. An unexpected benefit, on the other hand, is when a decision doesn’t just accomplish what you intended, but also has a net benefit beyond what you imagined.

Every action we take has unintended consequences beyond our ability to control and our ability to predict.

Here’s a fun example. When our family started attending Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois, I didn’t know the pastor had a daughter and didn’t care. But that daughter was meant to capture my heart, and we dated throughout high school. I grew spiritually at Calvary and am so grateful for the teaching. So grateful for the worship. But I’m also beyond thankful the pastor had a daughter I’ve been married to for 23 years! She wasn’t our reason for attending Calvary Church. She was the unexpected benefit.

Bearing these two things in mind, let’s look again at Jesus’ parable. What is the purposive action in this story? Why does the man plant the seed? I think it’s pretty simple—he wanted mustard on his kosher hot dog. It was a culinary decision. But there was also an unintended consequence. Jesus said, “It is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches” (Matt. 13:32).

Is that why the man planted the tree? So the birds could build a nest in its branches? Absolutely not. But God has a way of taking the seeds of faith we plant and accomplishing His purposes in a way we couldn’t predict. In other words, God has ulterior motives for your life, and that’s good news. Consider this:

• He has plans to prosper you (Jer. 29:11).

• He’s preparing good works in advance (Eph. 2:10).

• He is working all things together for the good of  His followers (Rom. 8:28).

• He is ordering your footsteps (Prov. 16:9).

• And He who began a good work will carry it to completion (Phil. 1:6).

Our so that is different than God’s sometimes, but God’s is so much better than ours.

The Speed of a Seed

Our job is to sow the seed of faith. God’s job is to make it grow. And it doesn’t just grow in a linear fashion. It grows exponentially through time and eternity. The dream God has given you will probably take longer and be harder to accomplish than you imagine, but that’s because God wants to do much bigger and better things than you can imagine. And the seeds of faith you plant will often reap a harvest where you least expect it.

Our job is to sow the seed of faith. God’s job is to make it grow. And it doesn’t just grow in a linear fashion. It grows exponentially through time and eternity.

Like a mustard seed, our faith often goes underground for a season. There is no visible evidence of what God is doing, but it isn’t for naught. Take heart. Faith has to take root before it can bear fruit. And it’s often in this phase that we give up on God’s plan.

We want success to happen at the speed of light. We want what our parents worked a lifetime for to come to us in half the time with half the effort. But in the kingdom of God, success happens at the speed of a seed planted in the ground. It’s not 15 minutes of faith. It’s a lifetime of faithfulness. And as Eugene Peterson—quoting Nietzsche—said of discipleship, success is also created through a “long obedience in the same direction.”

Here’s the good news. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year or two, but we underestimate what God can do in a decade or two.

The Talmud—a book of Jewish law and tradition—records a telling story about Honi the Circle Maker. He’s famous for the prayer that saved a generation. But there is another story. Honi was walking by a man planting a carob tree and questioned him. “Since a carob tree does not bear fruit for 70 years,” he asks, “are you certain of living so long as to eat from it?” The man answers, “I found the world filled with carob trees; as my forefathers planted them for me, I likewise plant them for my descendants.”

We don’t plant seeds of faith for ourselves. Faith is thinking in 70-year timelines. What God does for us isn’t just for us; it’s for the third and fourth generation. For what it’s worth, that’s why I write books. They are time capsules to the third and fourth generation of Battersons. And you can do the same for the people who will come after you.

The mystery, the beauty of it all, is that only eternity will tell the full story. Someday God will connect the dots between what we plant and the story of redemption He is writing across nations, across generations. We will never know when or where or how our lives will reap a harvest. But God is faithful. He is also able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. All we need is a little bit of faith.


Photography by Ryan Hayslip


Living Under Jesus’ Lordship

Philippians 2:6-11

The Lord Jesus Christ—God’s only begotten Son—has been given the name above all other names. Jesus has complete authority over heaven and earth, and He exercises that authority according to His Father’s good purposes. Christ’s position as Lord over all of mankind will never end.

Most of the people in our world have not acknowledged Jesus’ right to rule. They reject His lordship and do whatever they think is best. As a result, sin abounds, wreaking havoc in the lives of many. The good news is that the Father has a plan, which cannot be stopped. One day every person will acknowledge the authority of Jesus. Just as God promised, all created beings in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will kneel before Him (Phil. 2:10)—including those who have rejected the Son of God. What a triumphant and glorious time that will be!

Even before that day, we who follow the Savior are to live with our wills bent in submission to His. If Jesus is Lord over us, then we will acknowledge that life revolves around Him and we exist for His purposes, not the other way around. We’ll also make His priorities our own, giving the Lord’s plans precedence over all others. We will furthermore confess His Lordship over us (Gal. 2:20), proclaim that He is our Savior, and testify to what He has done for us. Our choices will reflect the desire to be a living testimony to His lordship in our lives.

Surrendering control to Jesus Christ is the wisest decision we can make. Is He truly Lord of your life?

Love’s Longing Prayer

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9)

Paul’s longing for the Philippian church is eloquently expressed in his prayer for their maturation in the faith. It begins simply with a prayer for their growing love—love that will “abound yet more and more.” This phrase is only used two other times: in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 10. Essentially, the prayer is that their love would never stop increasing.

The focus of the ever-increasing love, however, is not emotive reactions or depth of feeling. It is a nonstop, ever-growing love for “knowledge” and “judgment.” And as one might expect, the Holy Spirit’s choice of words is important.

Several Greek words could be translated “knowledge.” This specific choice in Philippians 1:9 is epignosis, a term that emphasizes understanding of facts or truth and carries an intensive meaning with a fuller, clearer, more thorough knowledge than mere awareness of data. A person with epignosis knows both what and why they have certain facts.

“Judgment” is the translation of aisthesis, an unusual term that demands perception, understanding, and discernment of what to do with the knowledge. Both terms are intellectually based and require a growing grasp of information. But both are the product of love—not human standards of high intelligence.

We must be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17), speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and always be conscious of our relationships so that we “increase” the “edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Finally, there is this overarching statement: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). HMM III

Three Persons, One God

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. —Deuteronomy 6:4

I am a unitarian in that I believe in the unity of God. I am a trinitarian in that I believe in the trinity of God. And they’re not contrary one to the other….

Now that’s what we believe, my brethren: we believe in the three Persons, but one God. The three Persons are three, but the one God is One. And this we believe. So when I talk about God, I mean the three Persons of the Trinity. You can’t separate them—”not dividing the substance,” said these old fathers. You can’t have God the Father except you have God the Son; you can’t have God the Spirit unless you have the Father and the Son, “for the Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son” (see John 15:26). So when I’m talking about God, I’m talking about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—not confusing their Persons, for there are three Persons. But everything that is true of the Father is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And everything that is true of the Son and the Holy Spirit is true of the Father. Let’s get that settled before we go any further.

Lord, I don’t completely understand the Trinity, but it is clearly taught in Scripture, and I will accept it because Your Word is truth. How awesome that You can be both three persons and yet one God! Amen.

Money Isn’t Truth

The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)

It is a fact in human history that men and women have never in any great numbers sought after truth.

The young people who stream from our halls of learning each year confess to having no more than a passing and academic interest in truth. The majority admit that they go to college only to improve their social standing and increase their earning power.

So, the average American will confess that he most wants success in his chosen field; and he wants success both for prestige and for financial security.

The ominous thing about all this is that everything men and women want can be bought with money, and it would be difficult to think of an indictment more terrible than that!

Real seekers after truth are almost as rare as albino deer! Why? Because truth is a glorious but hard master. Jesus said, “I am the Truth,” and followed Truth straight to the Cross. The Truth seeker must follow Him there and that is the reason few men seek the Truth!

Pleasing God Brings Man Great Amount of Happiness

Man cannot please God without bringing himself a great amount of happiness; for it any man pleases God, it is because God accepts him as his son, gives him the blessings of adoption, pours upon him the bounties of his grace, makes him a blessed man in this life, and insures him a crown of everlasting life, which he shall wear, and which shall shine with unfading luster, when the wreaths of earth’s glory have all been melted away; while, on the other hand, if a man does not please God, he inevitably brings upon himself sorrow and suffering in this life.