Lordship of Christ

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My Journey (3): Childhood Faith and Encountering the Living God

Growing up in a small-town, Southern Baptist, cultural background meant that coming to Christ was a prescribed formula that I knew about for as long as I can recall. The pattern was rooted in a Pauline type conversion experience. You realized that you were a sinner, you knew that you needed to be saved, you prayed and asked Jesus to save you and then you went forward at the end of a Sunday service during a “hymn of invitation” to publicly confess this inward transformation. My journey followed this path with one major difference, a difference that I shall always be grateful for as I look back on these early years of my life.

Before I elaborate let me be clear about this one important point. Coming to Christ in faith can follow many different patterns and paths. The end is to know Christ. The way we can come is not prescribed in the Bible, at least in so far as I can tell. Some children come to faith without ever knowing a time or place where they realized they were in darkness and needed to consciously

My Journey (2): Asking Questions About My Purpose

I began, on August 30, an account of my life’s journey that I promised to continue. I will try to write these particular blogs as I have opportunity. I cannot produce a new entry each day but I will attempt to faithfully tell my story over time. I would like to slowly develop this story because I need to ponder the mercies of God deeply at this stage of my life. I hope that through such intentional pondering, and writing, several things will happen:

  1. I will personally see the mercies of God afresh and marvel at God’s tender mercies and love day-by-day. I live by his grace and thus by this story of faith, hope and love.
  2. I desire to share my story with readers who are interested, especially my friends who love me and pray for me faithfully. Many who read these words have shared in parts of my story and many who are reading them now will share more in my story if God grants me longer life. Our lives are interconnected in a remarkable way and with age you generally see these connections more clearly.
  3. I

My Journey Into the Love of the Triune God

In my seventh decade of life (b. 1949) I now see that my entire life has been a journey, a pathway that I’ve followed by God’s grace, a road that leads home. But home is not in some far off place that we commonly call heaven. I get ahead of myself a bit here but this is important to grasp. “In the sweet by-and-by” is not my understanding of the final end of this journey. Because Jesus is Lord over all creation, and because he has redeemed it all “by sacrificing his blood on the cross . . . all things in heaven and on earth” I/we will be brought back (home) to God.  I am not denying that at death I will be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! I am simply saying what Paul says again and again about the realities that have come about because Jesus is “above all others” (Colossians 1:18). The ultimate destiny of all the saints is to be in his presence and raised in a glorified body to live in “the new heavens and new earth.” This,

The Trinity Is Not an Abstract Doctrine

Christian_Triquetra I wrote yesterday about my growing awareness of the love of God as a community of persons. I was brought into this community by faith in the Son of God and through Christian baptism. This is why I was baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Far too many Christians I’ve known over the years seem to find the Holy Trinity to be nothing more than an abstract doctrine. It is not, in their understanding and experience, a living community of persons. We think of God as pure mystery, at least in the sense of his being someone who is impossible to understand, rather than as an invitation to endless love and understanding. The fact that God is three persons in one is a mystery, a mystery so profoundly deep that it is endlessly rich. It is in this sense that St. Paul speaks of “the mystery of God.” Without this insight our life will become little more than a moral effort

By |July 30th, 2011|Categories: Lordship of Christ, The Trinity|

The Church and the World of Business

I have personally engaged in a number of attempts to connect the field of business with the redemptive mission of Christ. The typical evangelical approach to applying one’s faith to vocational activity is admittedly facile. It primarily emphasizes personal piety and evangelism within the workplace rather than a genuinely kingdom centered perspective regarding divine calling, or vocation. This approach is utterly inadequate in transforming culture or in effectively bearing witness to the in-breaking of God’s reign in Christ.

images What is needed is for men and women in the world of business to see their activity as a redemptive instrument in service of the kingdom. This is scarcely heard of in modern evangelicalism, much less encouraged. In fact, most churches and pastors have little or no idea how to actually do this in practice. Business leaders seem to threaten many pastors if the truth is known. This is why I find serious business leaders checking out on the local church again and again. They are not giving up on

The Bible’s Most Frightening Text?

I am amazed at how people often respond to various tests in the Bible. Some in the Old Testament are filled with terrible warnings and clear promises of divine punishment for breaking God’s law and covenant. But for all of these difficult and terrible texts none has ever compared, at least to my mind, with the words of our Lord in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to me, '”Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

The obvious seems quite obvious here. It is one thing to profess Christianity and quite another to possess  Christ as one’s Lord. On the final day only one’s personal relationship with Christ will really matter. But that relationship is more than profession in the here and now, it is a life

Fatal Attraction

images The classic Hollywood movie, Fatal Attraction, was truly a surprise film in 1987 when it first appeared. It has endured, over nearly twenty-five years now, as a film noir. The premise is that a person may form an attraction for another person (in a sexual and emotional way) that is much more than it appears to be on the surface of things. This relationship may ultimately become so neurotic that it becomes fatal. When I recently watched this dark film again I was struck by the parallels between the figure in the apocalypse who is, “The woman clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand the golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4). This metaphor is meant to remind us of the allure of “Babylon the Great,” a symbol for the power (and ideology) of the world as arranged against the cross of Jesus Christ. This woman is said to be “drunk

By |December 19th, 2010|Categories: Lordship of Christ, Personal, Spirituality|

Is Jesus Really Central to Your Life?

My friend David Bryant helped to persuade me some years ago that we Christians, and especially we evangelical Christians, had come to the place where we no longer treasured Jesus Christ above all. His book, Christ Is All, makes this point so powerfully that it became an instant classic on the subject. The problem here is rather simple. Most people do not read real Christ Is All classic. In this case I urge you to read Christ Is All. David shows that religious concepts, ideas, strategies, doctrines, techniques, formulas and methods had all worked to push Jesus to the periphery of our life and practice. I would have said, for more than thirty years, that we had pushed doctrine to the side in favor of all of these other pragmatic concerns but frankly I too had failed to see that even in recovering doctrine, at least in most of the contexts where I labored, we still had not

Lent: A Time for Conversion and Preparation

PaulRubens From the beginning it seems that Lent was a time for penitence. This word penitence troubles some evangelicals because they are reminded of the errors and bad teaching of the sixteenth century Catholic opponents of the Reformers. But the word penitence comes from the Latin word paenitentia, which referred to an attitude of repentance. Repentance, from the Greek word metanoia in the New Testament, meant to change one’s mind and thus the direction of one’s life. Very early in the development of dogma the practice of penitence did not have the idea of something that we could do to earn our salvation by doing works of penance. Modern Catholicism does not teach penance in this way either, even though it still clearly retains the idea that penance is a sacrament, known as the sacrament of reconciliation.

Some years ago I heard my friend Scott Hahn give two lectures in a Saturday seminar in a local Catholic parish in the

The Disturbing Ministry of Jesus

Viktor Frankl, the famous psychotherapist who endured the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, maintained that to love you must encounter. I agree with Anthony J. Gittins, a priest in the order of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (CSSp), who says that Jesus' ministry could best be described as loving encounter. He moved beyond familiar reference points, broke through boundaries and reached out without discrimination to all people. He also disturbed the status quo and routinely challenged the complacent. He repudiated the notion that some people are more worthy than others and seems to have regularly called those that society deemed the most unlikely into his kingdom. His essential message was inclusion, unification and reconciliation. This does not mean everyone will come but everyone is invited without distinction.

The gentle Jesus meek and mild, of so much popular Christian imagination, is quickly shattered by any careful reading of the Gospels. Gittins says, "Jesus was undoubtedly a disturbing figure." This is why we need a sanctified imagination to adequately grasp how this boundary-breaking, healing servant of