Jesus Manifesto

Frank Viola and Len Sweet have combined their writing prowess to form one of the most powerful pieces of Christian literature of our generation. Jesus Manifesto is a no-holds-barred examination of the Bible’s infatuation with Jesus Christ. Viola and Sweet articulate the awe-inspiring truth that the Old Testament is taken up with Jesus Christ; the New Testament is taken up with Jesus Christ; Paul was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Apostle’s “doctrine” was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Father was taken up with Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit was taken up with Jesus Christ; the early church was taken up with Jesus Christ; and throughout the last 2000+ years, whenever a serious refocus of God’s people occurred, they were taken up with a fresh revelation of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. From the Creation narrative, to the summation of all things in the last two chapters of Revelation, Jesus Christ is the One through whom all things were made and the One in whom all things will be consummated. He is the Alpha and Omega.

Viola and Sweet illustrate Jesus to be the aperture through which the light of the Godhead is focused, harnessed, and glaringly intensified. They take time to develop the truth that Truth is not a statement, religion, system, buildings, or any other man-made initiative; but rather Truth is a person, the person of Jesus. They laboriously insist the gospel is not merely social activism, moral objectivity, or a system through which to make the world a better place. Instead the gospel is nothing short of a monumental unveiling of Jesus Christ in all His mercy, love, compassion, grace, wisdom, and grandeur. The gospel is both death and life. It marks the beginning of a new race, a new humanity that never existed before Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the Cross. Jesus is the gospel! Furthermore, according to Viola and Sweet, the Bible never advocates just the following of Jesus’ sayings or teachings. Rather, Jesus said, “Follow me.” This distinction separates Christianity from all other religious systems whose leaders are dead and cannot be followed.

If you’ve never glimpsed the “sight of peerless worth,” you’re in for a jaw-dropping, breath-taking, whirlwind of emotions and spiritual advancement as you journey through this masterfully written work of art. Jesus exudes its pages. No other agenda outside of exalting the Exalted Christ is at hand. Though this book may be an affront to modern religionist ideologies of social justice, doctrinal creeds, health-and-wealth purveyors, and many other religious institutions of thought, Viola and Sweet make one thing clear: Christianity is NOT about us, but is totally about Him who is all and fills all, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Quotes of Note:

  • It is all too possible to emphasize a spiritual truth, value, virtue or gift, yet miss Christ, who is Himself the embodiment and incarnation of all of these things.
  • The world likes Jesus; they just don’t like the church. But increasingly, the church likes the church, yet they don’t like Jesus.
  • When we dethrone Jesus Christ from His rightful place, we tarnish the face of Christianity and redefine it out of existence.
  • Both the center and circumference of the Christian life is none other than the person of Christ.
  • Knowing Christ profoundly and in reality is the chief pursuit of the Christian life.
  • If the heart is occupied with Christ, Jesus will pour forth from the lips and the pen.
  • [T]hose who do not present Christ when they minister not only miss a note, but they play the wrong tune.
  • It is a profound mistake to treat Jesus as simply the founder of a set of moral, ethical, or social teachings.
  • [Jesus] is not at home in any church that doesn’t give Him the place of absolute supremacy and sovereignty.
  • The gospel that’s so often preached today lacks a revelation of Jesus Christ. The contemporary gospel boils down to a fire-insurance policy, a Santa Claus God, or a performance-based religion. As long as we stay on that plane, we’ll never see or comprehend the staggering enormity of our Lord.

Why do we do it the way we do it….

Though today the places we visit and the conditions we meet may be vastly different from those of the Scripture record, yet in principle the experience of the first apostles may well serve as a our example… Christianity has lost its original purity, and everything connected with it is in a false and confused state. Despite that fact, our work today is still the same as in the days of the early apostles – to found and build up local churches, the local expressions of the Body of Christ.

– Watchman Nee, “The Normal Christian Church Life” 1980.

 

Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St. Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being accused of revolutionary tendencies… All I can say is, “This is the way of Christ and His apostles.” If any man answers, “That is out of date,” or “Times have changed” … I can only repeat, “This is the way of Christ and His apostles,” and leave him to face that issue.

– Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: “St. Paul’s or Ours?” 1962.

The above quotes came from the first chapter of Frank Viola’s latest book, “Finding Organic Church“. In this first chapter Frank writes,

To my mind, it’s a profound mistake to ignore what we find in the book of Acts concerning the manner in which Christian communities were birthed in the first century.

From there, He walks through the four models of planting churches found in the book of Acts. Any serious missional student, church planter, missionary, Pastor, seminary student, Christian, should read this book for the first chapter alone.

Thanx!

Church Reduction 101…..

“As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes saw, “There is a time to break down, and a time to build up…a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” And the second Reformation, if it comes, will be distinguished from the first by the fact that it is a time of reticence, of stripping down, of traveling light. The church will go through its baggage and discover how much it can better do without, alike in doctrine and in organization.”

– John A.T. Robinson, as quoted by Frank Viola in “Finding Organic Church”.

Mental Defragmentation…

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I have been getting adjusted to Facebook and Twitter. They will not replace my blogging, but I have enjoyed getting in touch with folks I haven’t seen or talked to in years. Though, a few I could have done without.

Anyway, I just want to unload my mind now:

  • I hate computers. It seems like I have faced computer difficulties around every corner this summer.
  • I love what we do for a living. I have enjoyed the summer to chill out and get ready for what we hope to be a VERY productive and busy Fall.
  • I can’t wait to see our new website for All Star Fundraising. We have a final logo, and should have the site up within the next month.
  • I love simple church. I love our friends we do life with. These folks challenge me and encourage me. See some pics here.
  • Kacey and I are getting ready for trip to Orlando, FL, to meet Frank Viola next week. Should be a great time to hang out and meet new people.
  • I am supposed to have a conversation today with a guy who emailed me from Memphis a couple of days ago regarding a network of folks in Memphis who are interested in simple church.
  • Kacey and I are praying about starting a new church. We believe it’s close.
  • Some friends of ours are about to make some huge changes that will effect us in a big way. Good changes we believe. Can’t share too much yet.
  • We are trying to help another new church get started on the other side of the city.
  • The CrossLifewebsite will be going through some major changes over the next several months. It will become way less of a “church” website, and more of a network training portal for simple/organic church. We aren’t really sure what that means yet other than the fact we believe this is what God wants us to do with it at this time.

Finally, I have been reading a lot this summer. I will be reviewing some books, but for now, I will just list them:

  • “The Monkey and the Fish” by Dave Gibbons
  • “The Rabbit and the Elephant” by Tony and Felicity Dale
  • “The Stewardship of the Mystery” by T. Austin Sparks
  • “God’s Spiritual House” by T. Austin Sparks
  • “Prophetic Ministry” by T. Austin Sparks

I am currently reading and very much enjoying “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee.

That’s about it for now. I am still planning on getting on a blog “schedule” for posting book reviews, meditations, website reviews, and random stuff. Just haven’t figured it out yet…

Thanx!

Blog Circuit Interview with Frank Viola…

I have been excited about this interview for several weeks now. From Eternity To Here was one of the most profound and Christocentric books I have ever read. I reviewed the book here. Below are a couple of questions I asked Frank regarding his books and his ministry. Then, you will find lots of “link love” for the book, and a full list of all the blogs participating todays blog circuit. Enjoy!

How do you personally handle criticisms about your philosophy, especially from within the ranks of Christianity?

I’ve really not had any real criticism on my book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE. Quite the contrary. It’s been received extremely well by some of the top leaders in the Body of Christ today, from every denomination. Many pastors are using the book with their congregations with the free discussion guide. Sunday schools are using it as well, along with Bible colleges and small groups, house churches, and missional churches. We’ve been rather overwhelmed by the huge response and the great reception it’s had among Christians everywhere. It’s a trans-denominational book, I think.

I’ve received some criticism in response to my and George Barna’s book PAGAN CHRISTIANITY. If someone has read the book and is actually interacting with the actual arguments that we make in the book (opposed to constructing straw-man arguments or ad hominems), I listen and take it into consideration. The rest I don’t pay attention to. To my mind, if someone criticizes someone else’s work without reading it carefully or without interacting with what the work actually says, it’s not worth taking seriously. On the other hand, constructive criticism given in a spirit of humility and love I esteem highly.

I realize everyone is very different, but I wander, can you give a “list” of possible “steps” one may go through along the journey from institutionalism into authentic, organic church life?

FROM ETERNITY TO HERE doesn’t address church practice, form, or traditions. It deals rather with the big, sweeping epic of God’s grand mission and eternal purpose. To my mind, unless a group of believers understands and adjusts their lives corporately to God’s ageless purpose, it really doesn’t matter if they have a so-called “Biblical” form of church.

I know a good number of Christians who are part of house churches, simple churches, missional churches, and emerging churches, and they have no grasp of the eternal purpose at all. Consequently, I feel that such groups miss the beating heart of God. So to my mind, the critical issue … the starting point … is not structure, form, or shape. It’s rather the receiving of a revelation of God’s eternal purpose in Christ.

Once that happens, then each existing church and individual Christian will want to answer the question: Does my church match the eternal purpose of God? Is it standing for that purpose or is it hindering it? In what ways is it fulfilling it and in what ways is it detracting from it? These are large questions. My next book, the final book in the series, explores it in detail.

I’m not sure about my readers, but I am excited about how Father is using Frank and many others to ignite passion and exploration into the deep riches of Christ. The status quo is not longer sufficient. It is time to ask tough questions and search out the answers. Does my church match the eternal pupose of God?

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OTHER BLOGS PARTICIPATING IN THE “FROM ETERNITY TO HERE” BLOG CIRCUIT

Today (June 9th), the following blogs are discussing Frank Viola’s new bestselling book “From Eternity to Here” (David C. Cook, 2009). The book just hit the May CBA Bestseller List. Some are posting Q & A with Frank; others are posting full reviews of the book. To read more reviews and order a copy at a 33% discount, go to Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-Here-Rediscovering-Ageless-Purpose/dp/1434768708/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233609867&sr=1-4

For more resources, such as downloadable audios, the free Discussion Guide, the Facebook Group page, etc. go to the official website: http://www.FromEternitytoHere.org

Enjoy the reviews and the Q and A:

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Out of Ur – http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/archives/2009/05/viola.html

Shapevine – http://www.shapevine.com/ (June newsletter)

Brian Eberly – http://www.brianeberly.com/

DashHouse.com – http://www.DashHouse.com/

Greg Boyd – http://www.gregboyd.org/blog/

Vision Advance – http://vision2advance.blogspot.com/

David Flowers – http://ddflowers.wordpress.com/

Kingdom Grace – http://kingdomgrace.wordpress.com/

Captain’s Blog – http://www.captainestes.blogspot.com/

Christine Sine – http://godspace.wordpress.com/

Darin Hufford – The Free Believers Network – http://www.freebelievers.com/

Zoecarnate – http://zoecarnate.wordpress.com/

Church Planting Novice – http://www.churchplantingnovice.wordpress.com/

Staying Focused – http://kimmartinezstayingfocused.wordpress.com/

Take Your Vitamin Z – http://www.takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/

Jeff Goins – http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org/

Bunny Trails – http://bunny-trails.blogspot.com/

Matt Cleaver – http://mattcleaver.com/

Jason T. Berggren – http://blog.jasonberggren.com/

Simple Church – http://www.simplechurchjournal.com/

Emerging from Montana – http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/

Parable Life – http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com/

Oikos Australia – http://www.oikos.org.au/blog/

West Coast Witness – http://www.westcoastwitness.com/

Keith Giles – http://www.keith.giles.com/

Consuming Worship — http://www.consumingworship.org/

Tasha Via – http://www.tashavia.blogspot.com/

Andrew Courtright – http://www.andrewcourtright.blogspot.com/

ShowMeTheMooneys! – http://www.showmethemooneys.com/

Leaving Salem, Blog of Ronnie McBrayer – http://leavingsalem.wordpress.com/ 

Jason Coker – pastoralia.missionaltribe.org 

From Knowledge to Wisdom – http://isthistheway.typepad.com/

Home Brewed Christianity – http://www.homebrewedchristianity.com

Dispossessed – http://kblog.kevinjbowman.com/

Dandelion Seeds – http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.homeschoolblogger.com%2FDandelionseeds&h=c2d85ac2c4c1ec9a2360ae786e941445

David Brodsky’s Blog- “Flip the tape Deck” – http://flipthetapedeck.blogspot.com/

Chaordic Journey – https://jeffrhodes.wordpress.com/

Renee Martin – http://www.reneemartinmusic.com/profiles/blog/list

Bob Kuhn – http://organicchurchnola.wordpress.com/

Living with Freaks: http://www.livingwithfreaks.com/

Real Worship – http://therealworshipleader.com/

Fervent Worship – http://ferventworship.blogspot.com/

Julie Ferwerda Blog – http://www.julieferwerda.com/http://www.onemillionarrows.com/

What’s With Christina?! – http://w2christina.blogspot.com/

Irreligious Canuck – http://www.irreligiouscanuck.com/

This day on the journey – http://guychmieleski.blogspot.com/

Live and Move: Thoughts on Authentic Christianity – http://liveandmove.blogspot.com/

Spiritual Journey With God – http://www.elvineve.blogspot.com/

Dries Conje – http://www.echurch.co.za/ / http://www.thejesusfeed.com/ / http://www.bookdisciple.com/.

Journey with Others – http://journeywithothers.blogspot.com/

On Now to the Third Level – http://www.080808onnowto.blogspot.com/

Christine Moers – http://www.welcometomybrain.net/

Breaking Point – http://marybethstockdale.wordpress.com/

Hand to the Plough – http://www.handtotheplough.com.au/

Jon Reid – http://jonreid.blogs.com/oneanother/welcome-pilgrim.html

Weblight – http://www.blog.worldwidewebservices.se/

D. L. Webster – http://gzmproductions.com/dlwebster

Searching for the Whole-Hearted Life – wholeheartedlife.blogspot.com

I hope you have benefited from this blog circuit. Be sure to leave a comment!

Thanx!

Blog Circuit….

Be sure to stop by tomorrow and take part in a 58 blogger blog circuit promoting Frank Viola’s phenomenal new book, “From Eternity to Here”. If you haven’t read any of Frank’s books, or heard him speak, you’ll find some great resources. I have had the opportunity to ask Frank a couple of questions, and have read all of his current books. Kacey and I will also be traveling to Orlando next month to meet him and take part in a conference with many others who are pioneers in the organic church movement.

I think you’ll agree that this book retells the greatest story ever told in the history of universe. You can check out my review here.

Thanx!

From Eternity To Here…

The title makes the book. God’s beautiful, tragic, messy, unique, passionate love story of the ages. The Eternal engaging the finite. The Powerful rescuing the weak. A homeless Father searching, longing for a home. A Son head-over-heals in love with His bride. A bride? Yes, a beautiful woman of grandeur without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. A spectacular woman prepared for an “other-worldly” wedding. A woman ripped out of the side of a Man. A Man whose side burst forth with blood and water as He sought to procure and save His beloved. An inhabited people. A family. A body of flesh and bones who incarnate the Eternal. God in us, with us. A God of relationship. A God on mission. A God who incarnates into our reality.

Do these thoughts seem sporadic? Do they seem surreal? Well, Frank paints a masterful and poetic work of art as he weaves God’s sweeping epic of the ages into a timeless book. I am glad he wrote this book.

As an avid reader of Frank Viola for nearly three years now, it was refreshing to see his passion for Jesus and His bride. This book couldn’t have come at a better time. The church is caught between multiple paradoxes, great cultural upheaval, social calamity, and economic turbulence. How shall we navigate the muddy waters of life? How can the church be real, tangible, practical, and engaging? How can the church truly engage, hear, love, experience, and fully incarnate Her lover to a world without hope?

She must know who she is…

Thank you Frank for this book.