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.

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”.

Authenticity, Organic Expression….

True Christianity has no earthly boss, bosses, or layers of bureaucratic leadership. Rather, it has one, heavenly Head Who is made manifest corporately through the Word and the Spirit as each part functions as a body. This corporate identity of the Head, which is none other than the very person of Christ, is made manifest not with ceremonies, traditions, forms, models, services, buildings, programs, structures, rules, regulations, rites, creeds, star performers, or well-crafted speeches, but, rather, through self-sacrificing, obedient love. This is the essence of God, of His Christ, and of His Bride.

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!

The Rabbit and the Elephant….

Yesterday, I received my copy for review of, “The Rabbit and the Elephant: Why Small is the New Big for Today’s Church”. I look forward to reading and reviewing it. I have met and spoken several times with Tony and Felicity Dale. They certainly have a passion for Jesus and a simple expression for His Church.

I have also had the privilege of participating in several of their breakout sessions at the CMA Conferencein Los Angeles, CA, over the past three years. Their stories are compelling and inspiring. Their life work has been richly blessed by Father. They have also been instrumental in starting a website for social networking among those involved or interested in the ideas and practice of simple church: www.simplechurch.com.

Editorial Reviews:

Back Cover:

What does faith in Jesus have in common with rabbits and elephants?

If you put two elephants in a room together and close the door, in three years you may have one baby elephant. But when you put two rabbits together for the same amount of time. . . .

Using this simple analogy, church planters Tony and Felicity Dale and acclaimed researcher George Barna bring a big message to God’s church. How could we change the world if our Christian faith began multiplying at a rapid pace—through a way of life that is explosive and transformational? It happened once before, in the early days of the church; what will it take to bring us to that point of urgency and determination again?

The Rabbit and the Elephant offers keys to twenty-first-century evangelism: leveraging the power of the small—and taking the gospel to where the pain is and where the people are. And as God uses us to channel Jesus’ love into a hurting, desperate world, we’ll see his church grow beyond anything we could have imagined.

Front Flap:

What would it take to spark new life into the church?

Today’s Western culture is indifferent to church and Christians. Yet the early church existed in far harsher conditions—and it thrived. Much like a new litter of rabbits, the infant faith quickly grew and spread. And the result was a world transformed.

In The Rabbit and the Elephant, Drs. Tony and Felicity Dale (Simply Church) and George Barna (Revolution) say that the same thing is happening today. As Christians, we are the church—whether we meet in office buildings, college dorm rooms, coffee shops, factories, or homes—and the Holy Spirit uses us to expand that church to the far reaches of the globe. By practicing “simple church,” we’ll find that a small gathering of friends loving Jesus together and reaching out to the community around them can help us to be the church, the way God intended.

The rabbit and the elephant. Something small and something big. Find out what lessons they hold for you, for the body of Christ, and for the future of church as we know it.

If you decide to purchase the book, be sure to buy it from Amazon!!

Thanx!

Something a Bit New…

I have now had this particular blog for over two years. I had another blog for nearly a year before this one, so, I have been out here in cyberspace rambling about life, family, church, books, and other stuff. I have ruffled a few feathers from time to time. I have inserted my foot into my mouth on a few occasions. I have challenged and been challenged. I have received numerous emails, both critical and encouraging. All-in-all, I have enjoyed blogging.

The downside is I haven’t been very consistent. When, on occasion, I engage my readers with provocative topics, I get to enjoy the interaction that typically ensues. My posting is very “in-the-moment” and sporadic. There is good and bad about this. The bad is that my readers never know when I will post, or what I might say. It can be a bit confusing and pointless. Recently, however, I have received several opportunities to review books. Good books. Some of them are pre-release reviews. Some are brand new releases.

This got me to thinking more about my blog and how better to use it as a platform to help people follow the Way of Jesus. How can my blog be used as an information portal where those on the journey can be challenged, encouraged, and engaged in intelligent conversation about relevant issues facing Jesus followers today? That’s, my friends, is one big honkin’ question!! 🙂

So here is what I have decided to do going forward. In a few weeks I will launch a new blog “schedule”.

It will look something like this:

  • Monday: “Monday’s Meditation” – This will be a reflection on a passage of Scripture or a spiritual thought that I have been thinking. Like a devotion.
  • Tuesday: “Tuesday’s Web Review”– This is where I will review a website or a blog that I think is relevant for the journey. If you have a site that you think deserves a shout-out, email me!
  • Wednesday: “Wednesday’s Wondering”– On this day, I will simply post a question or a survey. I want candid, YET RELEVANT, discussion. I will be moderating and will strike thy stupid comments down!! 🙂
  • Thursday: “Thursday’s Book Review”– Obviously, I will review a book on this day. I will try to give lot’s of link love and other relevant information. I will review new release books, pre-release books, and older books in my library.
  • Friday: “Friday Free For All!” – This will be my random post day. Videos, links to other articles, pics, family stuff, whatever!

Saturday and Sunday will be open days. I will probably rarely post on these days as has been my practice until now. I hope this “schedule” will help my blog be more relevant and helpful.

Thanx!

So Beautiful…

This book is “sweet“!

Yeah, I know that’s corny considering the auther is Leonard Sweet, but I am quite serious. It hit the “sweet” spot. 🙂 Wow, I did it again.

I had the privilege of downloading the audio book for free from Christian Audio. They feature a free download every month, which is “sweet” as well! 🙂 I just can’t help myself.

Anyway, I don’t listen to too many audio books, but I am glad I had this book. On Mother’s Day, I drove for 12 hours to visit my mom in Minden, LA. During the drive, I put my iPod ear buds in and listened to the “So Beautiful” audio book. It was refreshing and engaging.

His three points? Missional, Relational, Incarnational. Simple, profound, and, yes, so beautiful.

Len didn’t just throw these out as cool buzz words either. He unpacks them in a fresh and relevant story that will sting the heart of the disengaged and rally the broken in spirit.

God is missional. He is actively engaged in history redeeming a people for Himself. The church, whatever form she finds herself in, must be about the Father’s business.

God is relational. He is real, loving, embracing. Relationships are central to the Gospel and a key component to being human.

God is incarnational. He became flesh and is still being fleshed out. We must live in the world. We must be in the world, not of the world, and defiantly out of the world. We must “re-inhabit” our world. We are here to bring Him here. Oh, this is “so beautiful.”

This is my first Len Sweet book, but it shall NOT be my last.