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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 Lord Told Me To Share This

Ok, so…The Lord didn’t really tell me to share this message or that message with you today.  But I wonder, did you feel the weight behind the title of this post? Did “The Lord Told Me…” give you an added thought, burden, or draw to read this post?  If so, this is the exact reason I’m writing this post.

A brother in the Lord once encouraged us to use caution and discernment when people seek to add authority or power to what they say by prefacing their statements with phrases like “The Lord told me,” “God wants me to tell you,” “The Lord gave this to me for you,”or something similar.  When someone speaks using these types of phrases it is typically out of a desire to speak a word with authority.  But the simple truth is that authority may or may not be present in the words they are speaking.  In speaking a word to people, to declare, “Thus sayeth the Lord,” in such a way actually puts those who hear what is being said in a difficult position.  It puts them in a position, by their response to what was spoken, of having to choose between either validating what the person said to be ‘the word of the Lord’ for them, or of seeming to judge whether or not that person has actually heard from the Lord.  I’m sure anyone who has ever been in this situation would agree, it is a difficult and awkward position to be in.

So if/when we find ourselves in that position, we can choose to 1) validate what they spoke, essentially going along with what they said, without questioning or weighing it against the scriptures and the Spirit of the Lord; 2) question what was said, potentially causing them to feel like we are questioning their  ‘spiritual ability to hear from the Lord, or 3) go against what was said, risking the same results as option 2.

Option 1

When someone seeks to bring this added weight to their words, if we go along with what was said because we were told it was from the Lord, we do ourselves an injustice, for this is not the way the Lord intended it to be in His Body.  He intends for us to know Him more, to hear His voice and recognize it, to live by His indwelling life.  Taking everything a person says is from the Lord and treating it as such robs us of such learning and knowing of Christ.  We must allow Him to work His life into us in this way.  We must allow the Lord to cultivate that relationship within us so that when He speaks, whether it be through a brother/sister, the scriptures, or another avenue, when the Spirit quickens us inwardly, we recognize it as the Lord and we align our lives with it.  This is not something most of us just learn over night.  It takes time, faith, and sometimes we miss it.  Sometimes we get it wrong.  But the Lord is gracious and will call to us again, and again, and again.  He is constantly working in and through us to strengthen faith, give hearing, understanding and knowing of His life and leading.

Options 2 & 3

But what happens when we question what is being spoken or go against it?  If we choose to question or go against what was spoken, we are essentially telling the person who spoke they may have gotten it wrong, or they did get it wrong.  Which, would be the same as telling them we don’t think they heard from the Lord correctly, or they didn’t really hear from the Lord at all.  I don’t know many people (any really) who want to be the one to tell someone they didn’t hear from the Lord correctly, or they didn’t hear from Him at all.

As I’ve seen many times, either option doesn’t typically sit well with the person speaking the ‘word of the Lord’ to others.  It usually involves pride, anger, hurt, uneasiness, frustration, resentment, and a myriad of other feelings.  Many times parties on both sides of this coin experience the same frustration or difficulty in trying to deal with the situation as best as possible, with one trying to re-explain what they meant, the other trying to maneuver around it without offending them.  Often times, as things are examined and weighed in light of the scriptures and the Spirit within, we begin to see or understand the person who spoke ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ may have indeed received something of the Lord, but in their humanity (which we all deal with) may have added their own thoughts to the mix, or may have only received something in part, and so they have tried to piece the rest of it together based on previous experiences or situations.  Examples could go on and on.

Humble Suggestions

In all of this, I see a couple of options that may help avoid or resolve these situations in the future (I’m sure there could be more, but I’m starting with these).

First, in anything, it is wise to search the scriptures to find Christ, to be mindful of the ‘inner quickening’ of the Spirit within, showing us the path to Life, revealing the Lord to us.  This is the responsibility of every follower of Jesus.  I can not emphasis this enough.  For too long people have been taught that being a Christian means attending a service/meeting, listening to a sermon, or sponging off of others who speak in meetings.  So many people have learned to rely on others to hear from the Lord for them, or to pursue the Lord passively, and to choose what they think to be right or good.  This is not what the Lord intends for His Body.  We must move beyond passivity when it comes to knowing the Lord and expressing His life to others.  As members of the Body of Christ, we must take the responsibility upon ourselves to seek the Lord, pursue His mind, and express His life.  We must become a people who learn, hear, understand, receive and discern the Lord’s life for ourselves.  Then we share our portion of Christ with our brothers and sisters in a way that encourages them to do the same and Christ is expressed in a fuller and broader way.

Second, we must lay down our desires and tendencies to have what we speak carry the weight and authority of the Lord.  Understand that does not mean we are to begin speaking our minds and spouting off the first things that come to mind in a given situation.  No, we are still responsible for what we speak.  We should always strive to speak Christ, to have His life flow through our words.  Doing so brings life, Christ’s life.  But we must stop being a people who act on the feeling of needing to add a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ to our own words, thoughts or interpretations.  We must seek to reveal Christ when we speak, but offer it as plainly as possible and allow those who hear to discern or recognize Christ in what we speak.  To put it simply, we are to learn and know the Lord and then allow His life to speak to others, allowing Him to add His authority and weight to what we speak because His life is in it.  In reality, if the Lord is truly speaking in and through you, the person/people you’re speaking to will recognize it because there will be life in what you speak.  In such times, most people will affirm what you’ve spoken on their own accord.  If there is not life in what you’re speaking they will recognize that as well.  In either case, you will have done them a service by allowing them, another opportunity for the Lord to bring His life and to grow within them.  I would dare say you will experience a little humility in doing so, as well.

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: A Series

Last year, a few of the saints here in Gainesville blogged about some of the things they have learned while in this organic expression of Christ, more commonly described as an organic church.  All total there were eight brothers and sisters who shared one of the many things they had learned so far during their time as part of this expression.  A few of these brothers and sisters have since moved geographically, changed blog sites, or have not continued blogging for one reason or another, but I thought it would be good to still include their posts.

I was hoping to contribute a post to the series when it was originally done, but I could not decide what specifically to write about.  In time, perhaps, there will be more posts on this topic from saints around the country, perhaps, even from around the world.

I’ve listed the links to the blog where each post was originally published.  Please check them out.  I would encourage you to read through any comments made on their posts, as some had continued conversations going on.  So, here they are in the order they were posted.

What I’ve Learned in Organic Church: An Introduction to a Series, by Michael Young

What I’ve Learned in Organic Church: Part 1, The Difference Between Brotherhood and Buddyhood (this includes Sisterhood), by Michael Young

What I’ve Learned in Organic Church: Part 2, The Life of the Church Flows From Christ’s Life in Us, Not From Our Activity, by Mark Lake

What I’ve Learned in Organic Church: Part 3, Desperation For The Lord, by Marc Hardy

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: Part 4, Just Say Yes, by Jackie Dukes

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: Part 5, The Lord is Able, by Bridget Babione

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: Part 6, Turning to the Lord as True Source of the Christian Life, by Seth Roach

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: Part 7, Christ is My Source of Worth, by Carrie Walters

What I’ve Learned In Organic Church: Part 8,Christ, by R.C. Babione

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 2)

This is a two part series On Being Dependent.  I encourage you to read the first post in this series before going on to read this post.  You can find On Being Dependent (Part 1) here.

Picking up where I left off, there are two other aspects of being dependent I would like to briefly touch on.  Both parts involve the Body of Christ, those with whom we are being fitted together, formed into one new man, having been reconciled “in one body to God, through the cross” (Eph. 2:11-22).

The first aspect has to do with those who are dependent in a given situation.  In Part 1, I touched on how we are completely and utterly dependent on Jesus to reveal Himself to us and how life in Christ begins by us being completely dependent on Christ for everything.  Salvation, redemption, justification, sanctification…none of these are works we bring about in ourselves.  Only Christ can bring them about.  When we recognize this, we begin to understand, in part, the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

Another aspect of being dependent.

Many saints will labor and toil before the Lord because of a need in their lives, pleading and begging for Him to meet it.  They will spend hours of days going before the Lord on some issue they need resolved or some decision they need guidance on.  But in all of their toil, in all of their prayers, they do not consider turning to the Body of Christ, the Church, for any kind of assistance with their need.

There may be many reasons why saints would not turn to the Body of Christ, the Church, to have their need met, whatever that need may be.  But regardless of what the reasoning may be, if we are unwilling to turn to the Body of Christ, we are doing a great disservice to our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We are missing out on an experience with the saints that the Lord fully intended us to experience for the benefit of all involved.  That benefit being one of coming to know the Lord more through sharing the need and as well as sharing burden of meeting the need with one another.  If we turn to others, bringing our need for help, guidance, or support, we are acknowledging our lack, our inability to handle things on our own, our inadequacy to figure it out or resolve the issue.  We must humble ourselves to come before a brother/sister and confess we are not able, we have no means in or of ourselves to be provision.  Truly, isn’t this what we are admitting when we turn to the Lord in any matter?

The reality is…this is a very healthy place to be.

So we must be willing to turn to our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  We must be willing to share our needs with one another and give each other the opportunity to know the Lord more through these experiences.  We must be willing to allow the Body of Christ to express His life to us.

The other side of the coin.

On the flip side of being willing to confess our needs to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, there is the position of being willing to be approached about a need.  There is the position of being willing to help, being willing to listen and understand the scope of a situation.   And we must be willing to consider what the Lord’s way is to be provision to those in need and allow His life to be lived in and through us to those who have expressed their need.

This “position” is one of humility.  But we must understand, we do not arrive at this point simply by telling others they can come to us if they have a need.  No, instead it is a recognition, a realization that we are in the exact same position as everyone else; in need.  Granted, the actual need we have may look different than the need of another, but that is beside the point.  The point is we are all in need and the only way our need will ever be met is by the person of Jesus Christ.

He is the all sufficient.

He is the supply and the provision.  All lack, all want, all need can and has been met in the person of Jesus Christ.  Our recognition of Christ as all, as well as that of our common ground of being in need is what brings us to the point of humility.  In Christ we see and understand He alone is provision.  In our brothers and sisters we see and understand that we each have the same inadequacy, incapability of being able to attain provision or supply the means to meet our own need or anyone else’s need.  We see that we all have the same need, though it may look different in any given situation.

He is provision.

All need is met in the person of Jesus Christ.  When we realize this, we understand that when someone shares their need with us we can and must rely totally on the person of Jesus Christ to express His life in and through us in order for that need to be met.  We have nothing in and of ourselves to meet any need.  But Christ, this glorious Christ who loves us and gave Himself up for us, is the provision, the supply, the fulfillment of all we will ever have need of.

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