Jesus Manifesto Book Review

Earlier this month Thomas Nelson released Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.  A good deal of fanfare, (Facebook, Twitter, Blogosphere, etc.) preceded and accompanied  it’s release.  When books come to us this way, I find that many are disappointing, but that is not the case with this book — quite the opposite.

The title serves as a clarion call to the Church to make a course correction that provides an alternative path that is neither left or right, but forward with Christ.  From the introduction to conclusion, “Christ must be  ‘the ‘North Star’ or ‘Southern Cross’  in our exploration to know Him.   The point: the church is off course and nothing will bring her back on course, but “an inward revelation of Christ to our hearts by the Holy Spirit — “a progressive unveiling of the person who stands behind the sacred page and is the occupation of all things.” (p.19)

Throughout Sweet and Viola constantly and consistently make their call to course correction by providing their readers with fresh and needed correctives to our understanding of the person of Christ.

The serves as reminder that Christ is our chief occupation in both life and ministry.  Too often the Church occupies itself with secondary issues and doctrines (evangelism, missional ministry, social justice, praise and worship), relegating Christ to a mere side issue, or sub-point.  The reader is reminded in a fresh and culturally significant way that the route back is once again placing Christ as the end all and be all of all things.  The corrective is always found in the person of Christ – first and foremost.

Here is some of what I highlighted reading through this book:

  • God doesn’t lead you through phases or steps.  He draws you to Himself in continuous motion. p.69
  • In all the religions and philosophies of the world, a follower can follow the teachings of its founder with having a relationship with that founder.  But not so with Jesus Christ.  The teachings of Jesus cannot be separated from Jesus Himself.  Christ is still alive, and He embodies His teachings.  This is what separates Him from every great teacher and moral philosopher in history. p.82
  • Our problem is this: We have even created a narcissistic form of Christianity, in which “conversion” is less a turning toward to Christ than a turning turning toward success or fame or fortune.  Narcissus never had it so good than in best-seller Christianity, which has become self-centeredness wrapped up as “spirituality,” which has become the latest fashion accessory for the person who has everything.  p.100
  • The meaning of Christianity does not come from allegiance to principles of justice or complex theological doctrines, but a passionate love for a way of living in the world that revolves around following Jesus, who taught that love is what makes life a success; not wealth or health or anything else. Only love. p.117

If you are one who is dissatisfied with the present anemic condition of the western church, whether you are conservative or liberal, armenian or calvinist, reformed or pentecostal, whatever your theological ilk; this book is latent with Christological insight that all should agree on.  It serves as a timely corrective that will provide for the church a view and understanding of Christ that will aid it in an authentic embodiment of the Good News before the present postmodern world. Reading this book will engage many with a Christ they never knew and for others it will renew the “first love” they lost somewhere along the way.

If I were fashioning a curriculum for a “Christianity 101” class, this book would be at the top of my required reading list, it is extremely relevant, valuable, prophetic and timely.

Resurrection Quote

Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). There is a real difference between the two things; the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection. It is not from ars moriendi, the art of dying, but from the resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world. … If a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed. To live in the light of the Resurrection—that is what Easter means.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

A Spiritual Giant Went Home Today

joe-ruth1In the process of recalibrating life due to colon cancer, I’ve been reflecting on people that have been influential in shaping my life in positive and eternal ways.  These people are not numerous nor ordinary but special unique men and women of God who due to their character, spiritual maturity and accomplishments make the world and the church better.  

One person on the top of my list is Dr. Joseph Aldrich, president emeritus of Multnomah Bible College.  No, I was never a student of his nor did I attend Multnomah, but around 20 years ago Dr. Joe’s vision was to call city and local pastors and leaders together for a four days away from the normal routines of life and ministry to simple pray.  The the very first one occurred with in Salem Oregon February 1989.  In very quick order this type of gathering caught on here in the Pacific Northwest.  They were called Prayer Summits and so far over 2,000 have taken place in 40 states and 30 nations around the world.  

Countless pastors and leaders including myself had our lives spiritual transformed by attending a prayer summit.  We learned  how good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell together in unity and pray.  The venue involves gathering at a neutral location far enough away from the norm of ministry that one is less tempted to return to the daily routine.  Participants invite Jesus to be  present while directing and protecting the gathering.  Its an agenda free environment where Holy Spirit is given freedom to operate. 

The monumental impact of Prayer Summits personally and corporately within the Body of Christ cannot be calculated.  As a result, I am a more authentic follower of Jesus, a better husband, father and grandfather and leader.  Knowing and experiencing the power and reality of prayer as a participant has been life changing to say the least.

To my way of thinking and many others, Dr. Joe was a spiritual giant of a man. Whose humility and authenticity God used to change thousands of lives around the globe. 

For the last 15 years Dr. Joe has been gallantly fighting a battle with Parkinson’s disease.  Many of us who have loved this man have watched him move with grace both inwardly and outwardly as he continued living passionately for his Savior despite his debilitation.  Today this same Savior, Jesus Christ welcomed Dr. Joe to his new heavenly home with open arms. I’m sure he is both smiling and crying as he experiences his face to face encounter with his Lord.  

Dr. Joe, thanks for your life and ministry that was marked by great faithfulness. We will never be the same because of what God did through you on our behalf.

Words that describe passion & fruitfulness

I will not die an unlived life,

I will not live in fear

of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid,

more accessible

to loosen my heart

until it becomes a wing,

a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance,

to live so that which came to me as seed

goes to the next as blossom,

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.

 

By: Dawna Markova

From: I Will Not Die an Unlived Life:

Reclaiming Purpose and Passion

Conari Press, 2000. p.1

 

Thinklings Reflections

I spent last Sunday through Tuesday with twelve others out at Edgefield McMenamins in a Thinklings gathering. Each participant was invited to present an essay on their perspective of 1) how and in what ways is the church prophetic? and 2) what is prophetic ministry today and how is it done? The collage of prophetic voices was insightful and exellerating as time was given following each presentation for debate, questions and further conversation. In addition to sharing meals at the Power Station Pub, and liquid refreshment, cigars and pipe smoke everyone experienced some fantastic short-term community.

Some personal highlights were just hearing from those who share like passions and desires for the Lord Jesus and His church. Their spiritual journey’s in the form of story was quite invigorating and inspirational. Another was the prayers that went up on behalf of each presenter for their life and future ministry, and thankful for the insight and enrichment they extended to the gathering through their participation. Maybe the most meaningful was just multitude of conversations that occurred over the days where we celebrated our connectivity. More later.