As I look at the spiritual landscape of our world today, I’m reminded of a message that I have only delivered twice in my life. The message is called “The Tabernacle of David.” If you’ve never heard it, you can listen to the recording of the first time I ever delivered it. I believe it’s a message for our times, even more so now than when I first spoke it. Go here to give it a listen.
The Lord will not always rescue you when you want Him to. And He certainly will not act according to your timetable every time.
In fact, sometimes He will let you die (metaphorically speaking). He may even wait until you’re quadruply dead and stinking in your tomb before He does anything (think Lazarus).
So when things become black in your life, and there seems to be no way out, your situation has the fingerprints of Jesus Christ all over it.
Chisel it in stone: you can’t have a resurrection without a death. Resurrection is God’s act alone. And that’s why it always brings glory to Him.
Two things to remember during your trial: 1) the Lord is seeking to show you something new about Himself and 2) the lesson you learn is not just for yourself. It’s given to you to help others.
So lean hard on your Lord. Trust Him, yielding, waiting, and seeking, expecting your resurrection. And in time, it will surely come.[Continue Reading…]
The high-voltage political season in the US has got me thinking about smearfests. Jesus of Nazareth was no politician. Yet He was subject to a continuous stream of smears. Here are 11 accusations that were laid at our Lord’s feet during His day:
He was an illegitimate child, a drunkard, a glutton, a false prophet, a deceiver, a blasphemer, mentally ill, demon possessed, a law-breaker [“unbiblical”], Beelzebub [Satan incarnate], and a temple-destroyer.
Strikingly, the Lord never defended Himself against any of these allegations. That’s just how divine life rolls.[Continue Reading…]
In every presidential election, those who cheer for a particular candidate feel like it’s closed curtains on the free world when their candidate loses. Those on the winning side feel the opposite.
Laying that aside, throughout this year’s US election, countless Christians engaged in the same level of anger, vitriolic rhetoric, and political smackdowns in which the unbelieving world engaged. There was little difference save for the words “Jesus” or “God” peppered in.
As I reflect on the kingdom of God, I believe many of us have forgotten who we are and what our citizenship entails. The kingdom to which we belong isn’t reduced to going to heaven when we die. Nor is it trying to make the world a better place by grabbing political power.
The kingdom of God is here right now (though not in fullness). It broke into this realm 2,000 years ago when Jesus of Nazareth — this world’s true Lord — began a divine insurgence. It’s a kingdom that’s not of this world, yet it’s for this world.[Continue Reading…]
Some quick background before I make two points.
Last week, I had the privilege of facilitating a mastermind gathering with 12 top-shelf pastors and teachers. The gathering was called MinistryMind 2016. The leaders who attended were incredibly diverse. Men and women came from different parts of the world and represented different theological persuasions.
After our initial dinner together on Wednesday I announced, “For those of you who live outside the USA, there will be a civil war occurring at 9pm and broadcast on television tonight.”
I was speaking about the third Presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
We then met from morning until evening the following day (Thursday) and then again Friday morning.[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…]
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…]