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Pursuing Jesus Christ, His centrality, supremacy, and the Eternal Purpose of God

In our pursuit of Jesus Christ
My family and I spent years involved in traditional, institutional forms of church in the western world, pursuing things others told us were the good or right things of a Christian life. As time went on, we recognized that often times most of what we were being told to do had to do with building that particular church’s membership or budget, and very little to do with what we read about in the scriptures.  We began to recognize a deep longing for something more had grown within us.  We had a desire to truly know the person of Jesus Christ and to find out what His desires are.  At the end of March 2009, my family and I gave up the pursuit of things and what others had told us about being a good Christian and stopped attending traditional, institutional forms of church.Journey Image

We had a longing that there had to be more to being a Christian, a true follower of Jesus, than what modern Christianity has to offer.  I remember thinking to myself, “Is this all the Christian life is about? Isn’t there more to being a follower of Jesus?” Asking myself, “What was so life changing that persuaded the disciples and those of the early church to live and give their lives, even unto death?”

Then we heard about the Eternal Purpose of God, the revelation of Jesus Christ as the central being, the main character of God’s grand “story.” That He is the fulfillment, the completion, the embodiment of the Eternal Purpose of God, and His desire to have His life expressed upon the earth is like a consuming fire that is burning away all that is not Him.  Jesus Christ has become our passion and pursuit. The people we share our lives with in this pursuit have become our family.

This revelation of Jesus Christ and the Eternal Purpose of God is the answer to that longing.  We have found fulfillment of that longing in living in community, with deep relationships, and expressing and sharing the Life of Jesus Christ with others under the headship of Jesus Christ alone. This is the missing element, the missing part of life, that we had not found in any traditional, institutional church we had ever been a part of.  Jesus Christ becoming the central being and supreme passion in our lives is what I will give my life for. He is what I live my life for.

It is a pursuit because Jesus Christ is leading us on a journey.  It is a journey that has been years in the making, and from all evidence, we will be on this journey for years to come.  As with most journeys, along the way you unlearn what you thought you knew, you realize you don’t really know much at all, you grow through the process.  And at some point you find yourself.

We’ve found ourselves in the person of Jesus Christ.  Our true identity can be found in Him alone.  Understand, I write here not because I have all of the answers.  But because I’m following the One who has the answers, the words of Life and often times I need help working through it all.  So I invite you on this journey with us, to read, to think, to share, to challenge, but most importantly to pursue Jesus Christ with us, and grow in your love for Him and those around you, to see His Life expressed on the earth, right where you are.

Thanks for stopping by re:Think. I pray Jesus Christ becomes central and supreme in your lives and you will live to see the Eternal Purpose of God.

-Tobias

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The School of Christ by T. Austin-Sparks

T. Austin-Sparks, one of the most influential voices, in regards to The Eternal Purpose of God, and living by the indwelling life of Jesus Christ, has a series available called The School of Christ.  It is one of the deepest looks into pursuing Jesus Christ I’ve ever read.  I hope you enjoy!

Chapter 1: The Foundation of Spiritual Education

Chapter 2: Learning The Truth

Chapter 3: Learning by Revelation

Chapter 4: The House of God

Chapter 5: The Light of Life

Chapter 6: An Open Heaven

Chapter 7: Learning Under the Anointing

Chapter 8: The Governing Law of Divine Love

God’s Favorite Place On Earth

Frank Viola’s new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, has just released. If you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also receive 25 FREE books from over 15 different authors.

Click GodsFavoritePlace.com to ordering information and easy instructions on how to get your 25 free books.

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Recommendations

“The best thing I can say about Frank Viola is this: When I read his books—and I read them all—I don’t think much about Frank Viola. I think about Jesus. And I learn to love Him more. This book is no different. Read it, and you’ll find yourself thinking, if you’re like me, ‘I knew Jesus was great, but… Wow!’ And that, at least from me, is as good as it gets.”

Brant Hansen, Radio personality and blogger

“In Frank Viola’s hands, the story of Lazarus—like Lazarus himself—once again comes to life. In a world where hope is battered and life can so easily beat down the human spirit, we are reminded once more of the possibility of becoming a host of Life.”

John Ortberg, pastor and author of Who Is This Man?

God’s Favorite Place on Earth realigned my heart toward Jesus and His mysterious, confounding, surprising, beautiful ways. It’s not often I learn something new when reading a book, but Frank Viola’s sharp storytelling and insightful interpretation made me hunger for more of the real Jesus.”

Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Give

“God’s Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I’ve discovered I need to periodically find and read. Frank Viola’s pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill—which makes reading a joy and a sight-seeing tour that brings God’s Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages, I’m grateful for the depth of his themes.”

Pastor Jack Hayford, Chancellor of The King’s University, Los Angeles

“This is a masterfully engaging book that distills the vision of the Christian life into one focused quest: To be God’s favorite place on earth today. I recommend this little volume to all Christians and Christian leaders.”

Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker

“Combining masterful storytelling, historical knowledge, biblical insight and practical wisdom, Frank artfully uses the Gospels’ depiction of Lazarus and the small town of Bethany to lay out a beautiful and compelling vision of a God who longs to make every human heart and every church ‘His favorite place.’ This is a beautifully written, timely, prophetic work all would benefit from reading!”

Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt

“A lot of people write books, Frank writes stories and in this one we once again see why he’s such a master. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read.”

Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like 

“Frank Viola surpasses himself in his best book yet—a work of serene, soaring magnificence. Part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study, Frank’s imaginative touch and command of prose haiku leaves the reader resolved more than ever to be a Bethany—God’s favorite place on earth.”

Leonard Sweet, Drew University, George Fox University, sermons.com

“Reading God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, my soul began to burn from Chapter One. To delve into Lazarus’ heart and thoughts … I received a beautiful glimpse into the life of Christ on earth. Lazarus’ stories make a perfect foundation for God’s truth, God’s intimacy. I can’t wait to share this book!”

Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of 35 books

“In spite of my Ph.D. in Theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus.”

Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique

 

See all 47 Recommendations at GodsFavoritePlace.com 

Check out the book sampler and share it with others: http://frankviola.org/GodsFavoritePlace.pdf

Check out the short video trailer and share with friends: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG_9TeE-BO8

 

Your Actual Identity, Part VI: Loved

I had hoped to post this earlier, but haven’t had the opportunity until now.

As the previous post explained, our brother, Michael Young, is running a series on his blog, All Things In Christ, entitled, Your Actual Identity. I am a featured contributor in the series with the latest post entitled, Loved. Check it out and contribute your thoughts in the comment section on Michael’s blog.

New Series: Your Actual Identity

Our brother, Michael Young, has started a new series of posts entitled, “Your Actual Identity,” where he has invited fellow bloggers from around the country to contribute to the series.  All of the posts in this series will appear on Michael’s blog, All Things In Christ, with links to the blog writers’ own blog pages.  I’m excited to say I have been invited to contribute and am excited about the series.

So far there have been three posts in the series and it has been great!  I invite you to check them out.  They are linked below.

Your Actual Identity, Part I: Holy by Michael Young

Your Actual Identity, Part II: Powerful in Weakness by Nathan Burgman

Your Actual Identity, Part III: Accepted by Heather Proctor

 

This post will be listed on the “Shared Writings” page of re:Think, so be sure to check there for it, with all of the updates, in the future.  I’m also linking each blog author’s individual blog page here as well.  The list of posts in the series, as well as the list of original blog pages of the authors, will be updated as the series progresses.

Blog Authors from the series “Your Actual Identity”:

Michael Young, Nathan Burgman, Heather Proctor,

The Christian Life

If Christ is in you, then the Christian life is not about striving to be something you are not. It is about becoming what you already are.

– Sweet & Viola, Jesus Manifesto, pg. 58

On Being Dependent (Part 1)

“Life in My Son has always been a corporate affair. My Word knows nothing of an independent, individualistic, insulated disciple.

For this reason, the master stroke of My enemy is division. If he can get you to divide from your sisters and brothers in Christ, and be on your own-separate and isolated-you will not grow into the fullness of My Son.

So don’t pull away from the body. Get connected to other believers who are pursuing My Son. Worship and serve as one part of the whole. You can only know My Son in His fullness in conjunction with the other members of His body, the church.” – pg. 53, Jesus Manifesto, by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Here in the U.S. we have a very , independent, individualistic mindset when it comes to life in general. From an early age we are taught, and even desire to be able to do things on our own, to be independent, and self sufficient. In our culture, it’s part of “growing up.” This mindset has saturated the Body of Christ for centuries. But in Christ, nothing could be further from the Truth.

Life IN CHRIST begins by being completely dependent on Jesus. Salvation, justification, redemption…we can do none of these on our own. No, we must be fully dependent on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His complete resurrection. We cannot attain or achieve them on our own or in our own strength.

Likewise, knowing, experiencing, and expressing the Life of Jesus Christ can never happen, in its fullness, on an individualistic level. While the fullness of Christ dwells in each one of us, knowing, experiencing, and expressing the fullness of Christ can never be done by one individual alone. It takes a Body, a Church.

Sure, we can know Him in part, experience some portion of Him, and even express some portion of His life. But Jesus never intended, nor is it possible for us to do so completely on our own. For to do anything, anything at all, it takes His Life to do it, and we know that Jesus the Christ, is the Head of the Body, making up One New Man, of which we are all members. Each member functions and is dependent upon the Head for its direction and life supply.

But beyond that, for the Head to be fully expressed it takes the whole Body, the Church. Each member is part of the whole and gives expression to the Head. So we are completely dependent on Jesus, the Head and Supply, and He has also provided His Body, the Church for each of us to be connected to and a part of. We are meant to share Life with one another, to learn and know Jesus the Christ with one another, to grow and express Him to and with one another. We are meant to live in community with one another, to be the ekklesia, the community of Christ.

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