Christ is All

I came across this quote from professor Karen Swallow Prior:

“Christ belongs in places outside of my heart, too – indeed, in all places.”

god_loves_the_world

Christ is all, because He’s Lord of all.

 
Yes, indeed -

Over every square inch of creation…

Over all nations, societies and culture…

Over all spheres of human endeavor…

Christ now boldly proclaims “mine!”

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Resurrection Sunday

Forty-eight years young in the Lord!

On Resurrection Sunday, 1965, I had a deep, deep conversion experience as I totally surrendered to the Lord. I’m told the tears on that old wooden floor made permanent stains.

graceWow, how time has passed. It’s been – and continues to be – a wonderful adventure, and even during some tough times I never once regretted belonging to Him.

Through it all, I’ve always felt His hand on my life and was blessed with a solid foundation from Godly parents and mature teachers, which has served me well over the years.

In an age of crazy doctrines and postmodern spiritual angst, that foundation yet stands firm for those willing to surrender their sensibilities to the Living Word and His written Word.

Really, it’s just not that complicated, but it does mean letting go of your own impulse to define Jesus – and what ultimately is right, real and true – on your own terms.

My life is a living testimony to His sovereign Lordship, and His passion is my very life.

I invite you to also surrender, and find life.

~ Jim

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The Fractured Logos

Fracturing The Logos of the Gospel:

This is another timely and important blog by Miguel Labrador.

As he points out, the “Christ is All” crowd has a fractured view of Jesus and scripture.

As I’ve discussed in my own blogs, those who follow existential authors like Frank Viola and his fellow itinerant “workers” like Milt Rodriguez, Jamal Jivanjee and Jon Zens, often create a Jesus in their own image based on their own sensibilities.

They then elevate their very postmodern Jesus over His own written word of scripture, under the mantra that “Christ is All” – such that Christ (or at least their perception of Him) trumps scripture.

As a result, they sever the Living Word from His written Word.

When called out, they make feeble assurances that they have a “high view” of scripture and think it is “inspired”, while nonetheless rejecting its plenary authority.

In fact, they follow the existential “theology” of Karl Barth, which elevates our own perceptions of Christ as higher revelation than God’s own chosen revelation of scripture. The result has been a pattern of anemic churches, introspective faith, weird doctrines and practices, manipulative and at times exploitive “leadership”, and self-referential “truth”.

In essence, they eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – by choosing their own subjective perceptions of Christ and His Church over His sovereign authority to objectively define what, in fact, is true, real and right.

Fortunately, more and more are looking behind the curtain and seeing what’s what.

I look forward to Miguel’s new series on keeping the Messenger integrated with His message – and us in sync with both!

Beyond Scripture? (Part 3)

The low view of God in the Old Testament, found among those touting a so-called “Christocentric hermeneutic”, comes from too high a view of themselves.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

They often take personal offense at how God dealt with humanity in the Old Testament – including His sometimes fierce display of holiness and punishment of sin and rebellion.

So they make God in the Old Testament an aberration. They substitute their own perceptions of Christ – rooted in their post-modern sensibilities – for the totality of scripture, and make their resulting “Christology” higher revelation than God’s own external Word of scripture.

They have joined Adam and Eve in choosing the moral autonomy of deciding for themselves what is right and wrong, and have the further hubris of then imposing it on God Himself.

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Words

Words have the power to not only define, but to create reality – for good or for bad. Too often, we forget the power of words: not only ours, but of God Himself.

power-of-wordsI don’t think it was a coincidence that God spoke the universe into existence, chose to reveal Himself through His spoken Word of scripture, or came to dwell among us as the Word made flesh.

I also don’t think it is a coincidence that God still speaks to us today, or that He has empowered us to speak authoritatively on His behalf.

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The Cultural Implications of the Great Commission

The Cultural Implications of the Great Commission

Rob Moley, in his blog Restore the Word, wrote yesterday on “The Great Commission: Discipling Individuals or Nations?”.

In it, he says this about the Great Commission:

Rather than being a command to influence nations with the principles and truths of God’s kingdom, the logic of the command in Matt. 28:19-20 is to make disciples from every nation. Then, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, these disciples are able to influence all aspects of society, and God willing, even disciple whole nations.

His point is that the Great Commission is about transforming individuals into disciples who obey all that Christ commands, who in turn transform the world around them.

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Postmodern Idolatry

Does God do what is right, or is it right because God does it?

Many think God is subservient or subject to external standards – that He does what is right because there is a higher moral code that even He obeys.

This denies God’s sovereignty, and as a result many today seek to hold Him to the standard of their own sense of right and wrong.

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A Doobie Brothers’ Gospel

Jesus died on the cross because He accepted me, wholly and completely, just as I am…

By His Grace, He Bids Us Come and Die

So I could die to myself in order to accept Him, wholly and completely, just as He is.

This the true Gospel: Accepting me as I am cost Jesus His life, and accepting Him as He is costs me my life in return.

The mystery of the cross is that we die with Him to find new life in Him – but only on His terms.

Yet if you look at social media sites like Facebook, it seems that many Christians only know a Doobie Brothers’ Gospel.

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Ekklesia: A Modest Manifesto

Ekklesia: A Modest Manifesto

Wherever he went, the Apostle Paul always sparked either revival or riot.

Does our age, and our culture, deserve any less?

Let’s boldly smash our boxes of insular spirituality and cultural lethargy by confidently proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of all.

Let’s reject narcissist Christianity by allowing Jesus in me to be more than about me – and my sensibilities.

Let’s stop foisting our own grace, gifts, callings and motivations on God’s people as normative for all.

Let’s embrace the diversity of His grace, gifts, callings and motivations in the context of true ekklesia – local authentic community where Jesus in us is expressed through us as His multifaceted and participatory Body.

Let’s stop saying everything is about my relationship with Jesus while discounting his Kingship – including His commands and His precepts.

Let’s stop saying I only do what I hear Jesus subjectively tell me, while denying the power and authority of what He also says in His written Word.

Let’s stop proclaiming “Christ is all” while minimizing all that Christ has given for knowing more of Him – including not only His presence in us, but also the plenary authority of Scripture to guide us in sound doctrine, balanced community that affirms objective standards, holy lives that please Him, engaging our culture, and wise counsel from mature believers who model His precepts.

Let’s reject gnostic tendencies that seek to separate the spiritual and the material world of our everyday existence by denying the authority and relevance of Christ – and His body – regarding all of creation.

Let’s stop discounting those who went before us, and their creeds and experiences, by humbly learning what they have to teach us despite the reality that we all have flaws.

Let’s affirm God’s continual sovereign advance through history and reject the spirit of our age and its myopic, isolationist pessimism.

Let’s be discerning about self-proclaimed apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers or other itinerant ministries – and their writings – when they are not themselves presently rooted in, accountable to, coming from, or even able to demonstrate a history of integration into actual, functional, local ekklesia.

Let’s reject the voices of those who try to separate the centrality of Christ from the Great Commission, mission and discipleship.

Let’s unleash God’s people to be fruitful at all stages of their growth, as Christ enables, and stop burdening them with the bondage of our preconceived preconditions of “root before fruit”.

Let’s start embracing balance and maturity – as together we become His disciples through functional, participatory ekklesia that reflects the life of Christ but is also rooted in the authority of His written Word.

Let’s be mighty men and women of God, who once again spark revival or riot as we proclaim the fulness of Christ as merciful Savior, gracious Lord, sovereign King and ultimate Judge to a desperate world.

As such, may we be life-transforming, culture-changing ekklesia once again – the visible Body of Christ which doesn’t merely say come, but goes forth into all the world.


I wrote and posted this on the morning of my birthday, when I officially became a “senior citizen”. It summarizes a lifetime of experience serving the King of Kings. May it be both a present and a challenge to my passion: the wonderful, multifaceted, participatory Body of Christ.

Pimping the Gospel

As I’ve previously ministered in other parts of the world, I’ve been alarmed at the growing influence of the so-called “prosperity gospel”.

Money or Life?

The prosperity message is simply the latest incarnation of the historically persistent “gospel of self” that’s been a blight on the Church since the beginning. Going back to Simon the Samaritan in Acts 8, there’s always been those among us – with gifted personalities and beguiling, mesmerizing spirits of seeming sincerity – who pimp the gospel for personal gain.

Such God pimps – including John Hagee, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and their minions – are all over the airways peddling their seductive gospel of “self”.

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Evangelical Prophets or Martyrs?

I vividly recall leafing through World magazine back in 2006 and reading the unsettling but hardly surprising news that Randall Terry – the firebrand evangelical who formerly headed Operation Rescue and was then financially wiped out following a series of lawsuits by pro-abortionists – had joined the Roman Catholic Church.

“Unsettling,” because it provides further evidence of the growing weariness and disillusionment I’m seeing among spiritual “entrepreneurs” who’ve been laboring within evangelical circles to expand the Kingdom of God in all spheres of life and culture.

“Hardly surprising,” however, as those “on point” for the Kingdom increasingly seek refuge from the prevailing pop-theology (or dare I say lack of theology) and me-focused brand of Christianity that pervades evangelicalism (which includes charismatics and Pentecostals), animates many of our local church and national leaders, and cuts believers off from the great historic doctrines and creeds of our faith.

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The Church in D Pod

This Sunday, like most Sundays, I will be fellowshipping with the “Church in D Pod” at the local jail.

D Pod is a unit housing around a hundred men, and God has been pouring out his new wine in an exciting way among those inmates.

A couple of months ago, I started shifting my focus from “conducting” church services “for” the men. God was challenging me to start mentoring and training them instead to “be” the church by learning to minister one to another.

At the same time, God sovereignly arranged for two brothers from Africa — where Christians generally are way ahead of their American brothers and sisters on these issues — to be jailed in that unit. They, too, understood the concept of ministering one to another and started fostering authentic fellowship among the men.

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New Wine And Old Skins

Here’s an interesting article, reprinted below, on how people will stick to what they believe or think even in the face of contrary facts or circumstances. As I’ve watched people react to challenges and controversies Something Newover the last couple of months, and to God bursting old wine skins as he brings forth new wine, I can believe it!

Isaiah 9:6-8 tells us that God’s Kingdom, from the incarnation onward, has been and will continue to be ever advancing. As such, God is constantly fermenting new wine — and providing new wine skins to contain it — as his progressive plan of redemption moves forward from one spiritual generation to each successive spiritual generation (which can include individuals of all ages!). God’s active and ever expanding intervention in history is clear, and his tendency to discard the old while bringing in the new is repeatedly seen in Scripture.

Yet it never failed to fascinate me, as a graduate student in church history back in the 1970s, to see how — time and time again — most Christians reject God’s new wine of new anointing for new generations. Instead, they choose to stick with their old wine and old wine skins.

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God is Not Passive

I’m seeing others who also are quietly moving forward, with fire stirring in their spirits, to proclaim true repentance, Christ’s Lordship and the Kingdom of God rather than conformist, complacent Christianity.

These co-conspirators are being compelled by God to preach outside our churches because too many of our pastors have been unwilling, so far, to be jarred out of their desire for peace, stability and the comfort of long-standing personal relationships. For those pastors, complacency has become a hindrance to God’s progressively expanding Kingdom.

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Essentially Reformed or Hyper-Calvinist?

Essentially Reformed or Hyper-Calvinist?

I typically describe my Biblical perspective as “essentially reformed” because of the influence John Calvin’s writings, and his views on God’s sovereignty, have had on me. Yet I have this problem with so-called Calvinists and their attempts to hijack Calvin: Their extreme view of God’s sovereignty can’t be found in Calvin’s writings, and actually debases God’s sovereignty.

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