Several years ago, Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson) responded to a rumor on his blog. In the post, Michael wrote,
“According to the most recent rumor—which I’ve now heard twice—we [Thomas Nelson] are planning a layoff for June 19th … There is absolutely no truth to it … If you hear this rumor, I would be grateful if you would help me short-circuit it. You can tell ’em it’s not true, and you heard it directly from me.”
I recall when this rumor was circulating and was saddened (and surprised) at how many Christians believed it without going straight to Michael to see if it was true or false. Here’s another example that’s much more national.[Continue Reading…]
One of the exercises I give when I hold a connecting event is ask, “If someone made a movie about your life, what would the title be and which actor/actress would play you?”
This exercise gets people in touch with their calling.
Sometimes the emphasis of your calling will change over time, but the central thrust will always be the same.
For instance (speaking personally), back in 2008, people branded me as the “organic church” guy or the “Pagan Christianity” guy. Mainly because of two best-selling books I wrote back then.
Over the last five years, however, that’s all changed. I’m now known as the “Deeper Christian Life” guy or the “Eternal Purpose” guy or the “Christ is All” guy. Mainly because of the books, blogs, and podcasts I’ve released from 2009 to the present.[Continue Reading…]
Countless Christians labor under the idea that life is about working, getting a nice house, raising crumb-snatchers, sending them to college, and having grandchildren. (And of course, going to church and being a “good Christian.”)
After this, they can happily die and go to heaven.
For such souls, everything is built around these values. The wonderful spiritual opportunities they say “no” to are governed by them.
Consequently, God’s Eternal Purpose is not much of a consideration. In fact, many believers have no idea what it is.
The Jesus-followers of Century One were a different breed altogether.[Continue Reading…]
Christian peevishness is an oxymoron, but unfortunately the title fits.Because the problem is so pervasive today, I’ve spoken about it at length in other places along with identifying a solution.But so many of God’s people today are profoundly peevish and so easily offended.
Like it or not, these are marks of spiritual immaturity.
Are you quick to take offense when you hear or read something that goes against your views or is stated differently from the way you would state it?
Do you read the worst possible motives into what others say or write?
Do you whine and complain when you see or read something you feel is inappropriate? (I’m not talking about profanity.)[Continue Reading…]
I’ve often said that good preachers leave you saying, “What a great sermon!” While great preachers leave you saying, “Wow, what a Christ!”
On that score, some churches have created a culture of guilt. Every sermon preached is judged by how guilty it makes the listeners feel. The more guilty, the better. And if there’s no guilt, the sermon was a dud.In these churches, the guilt is described by the term “conviction.”
Let me illustrate. Jim (25), Bill (28), and Tom (32) are members of one of these churches.
Bill missed Sunday service because of work. On Monday night, he called Jim. Listen to the conversation.
“Hey Jim, bummed that I missed church yesterday. How was it?”
Jim responds, “Dude, it was awesome. I was SOOOO convicted. What a great sermon!”
Bill says, “Oh man, I have to listen to it online.”
Bill calls Tom, “Tom, Jim told me about the sermon yesterday. It sucks that I missed it!”
Tom replies, “The sermon was incredible. I was SO freakin’ convicted!!!”[Continue Reading…]
I’ve talked at some length on the subject of Christianeze elsewhere.
The phrase “God is good” is just another example.
Your friend has a baby and it’s healthy. Your friend declares to everyone, “God is good!”
A hurricane is headed toward your city. Against all expert prediction, it passes your town and hits another city instead. You post on your Facebook wall, “God is good.” (What about those people who got hammered by the storm? Never mind.)
Your favorite football team wins a big game and your prayers are answered. You tell your friends, “God is good.” (What about those people who prayed that their team would win, but lost? Never mind.)
You bought an awesome new house which was foreclosed for a steal. You tell your friends and family, “God is good.” (What about the people who lost that same house due to a financial crisis? Never mind.)
Whenever I see or hear people say, “God is good” when things go their way, my instant thought is, “What if that baby was born with a deformity? What if that hurricane hit your city and destroyed your house? What if your football team not only lost, but they got decimated? What if someone else bought that dream house you were hoping and praying for?
Is God still good? Isn’t He always good, even when He doesn’t fulfill your desires?
I’ve yet to hear someone say, “I lost my job today. My girlfriend broke up with me, and my car blew up. Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible, and God is good!”
Let’s think about what we say and the implications.
The following is my chapter from my new eBook, Where’s God?
The book includes chapters by 21 Christian leaders and thinkers from diverse theological perspectives and backgrounds, all responding to the agony of unanswered prayer.
What follows is my chapter in the book.
Maybe Faith Isn’t What We Thought It Was
by Frank Viola
So you’re facing a monumental crisis. Either in your own life or in someone else’s.
The situation is dire and you need God to intervene.
Consequently, you pray. You take God at His Word. You even fast. You remind God of His promise that if we ask anything in faith — anything — He will do it (Matthew 7:7-8; 21:22; Mark 11:23-24; John 14:14; 16:23-24).
So you expect the Lord to work because you truly believe that you have faith in what you’ve prayed.
But several days later, Lazarus dies.
Four days later, His body stinks.
But there’s no resurrection.
The Lord hasn’t answered your prayer. Even though you stood on His Word, and to the best of your ability, you believed He would answer.
Now could it be that faith is more than we commonly think?[Continue Reading…]
If you are NOT going through a crisis right now, you will.
Life is peppered with adversity, hardship, challenge, and difficulty.
This is especially true if you’re a Jesus-follower. We are promised suffering, hardship, and tribulation.
Your boyfriend/girlfriend suddenly breaks up with you.
You lose your job. Or you still can’t find one.
You have a parent who is terminally ill.
Your best friend is in critical condition.
Your spouse doesn’t want to be married anymore.
You have an enemy who is obsessed with destroying your life.
Your baby is sick and the situation is only getting worse.
And on and on.
How do you cope?[Continue Reading…]
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
~ Jesus, John 10:27
Countless Christians today are hungry to hear God’s voice. The trouble is, many don’t know how. In a warm and practical way, Jesus Speaks teaches readers how to listen for the voice of Jesus. The book explores the various ways in which Christ speaks today and how His sheep can grow in their ability to recognize and respond to His voice daily.
By exploring how the disciples interacted with the risen Jesus—from the Gospels to Revelation—Sweet and Viola unpack the myriad of ways the Lord speaks to His people today. They demystify the process, providing practical handles on how you can recognize the voice of Jesus in your own life.
In 2009, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola set out on a journey of discovery. They had one goal: to help restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ above all else. Soon after, they released their national bestseller, Jesus Manifesto. Two years later, they released Jesus: A Theography, beautifully establishing that all Scripture unveils a person—the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Speaks is the long-awaited third volume in their JESUS trilogy. Read it and be equipped to hear the voice of your Lord.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”[Continue Reading…]
If you missed the first part of this two-part series, you can read Demystifying the Lord’s Voice: Part 1.
As promised, I’m going to share a few practical handles I’ve discovered that will help you to recognize the Lord’s voice in your own life. There are many more that I cover elsewhere, but here are five:
* The Lord’s voice most always comes through your own thoughts, desires, and impressions. This is because Christ dwells in you by the Holy Spirit and He is completely united to your own spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). Therefore, give attention to your thoughts, desires, feelings, and impressions. Under the New Covenant, every bush is burning. So pay attention.
* If it’s the Lord speaking, the thought/desire/impression will stay with you. If it’s not the Lord, it will leave rather quickly.
* If it’s the Lord speaking, it will be marked by love — the very nature of Jesus. Specifically, the thought/desire/impression will benefit others at the expense of yourself. The Lord will also empower you to carry out what He says, which will often involve the denial of your flesh.[Continue Reading…]
In today’s post, I want to discuss the thorny issue of hearing the voice of Jesus.
First, I grew up in a movement where it was common for people to say, “The Lord told me this,” and “God showed me that.” They said it so confidently, with such assurance, projecting the image that God talked to them as unmistakably as when a solicitor calls you on the phone.
Interestingly, whenever I’ve said to such people, “We really need a practical book that shows people how to practically recognize the Lord’s voice,” they became animated saying something like, “Oh, I really want to read a book like that!”
The only conclusion I can draw from this reaction is that these same people aren’t absolutely sure they are hearing from God (despite their confident claim that God speaks to them every time they blink).[Continue Reading…]