Frank Viola

You know how…

…you’ve heard and read bible stories all of your life, and then you read something that breathes new life or freshness into that story?  that happened to me today.

i was reading Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.

“Watch Him at a wedding in Cana. According to the custom of that day, the bridegroom was responsible for supplying the food and wine.  You know the story.  The wine ran out.  This represented a social disgrace–a grave oversight on the part of the bridegroom.

Behold your Lord’s first miracle.  He turns water into wine–but no ordinary wine.  He creates a wine that is finer than the wine that had run out.  In one brilliant stroke of compassion, Jesus Christ removes the bridegroom’s shame.  He supplies the lack.  He covers the mistake.  He removes the disgrace.  He reverses the failure.  And He makes the bridegroom look like a champion.


i had NEVER seen that in the story before, and i wondered how many times do i miss the REAL CHRIST in the stories of the bible?  how many times do i just read and overlook the truth behind the miracle?  how many times do i gloss over as i read and miss the reality of what really happened?

may you read the stories of the bible today with new eyes.  may you have a greater understanding of what THIS GREAT CHRIST comes to do in our lives.  may we see that He comes to remove OUR shame, that He supplies OUR lack, that He covers OUR mistakes, that He removes OUR disgrace, that He reverses OUR failures, and He makes US look like champions.  WHAT A CHRIST!

this struck me…

maybe more like….punched me in the nose!

Get a fresh glimpse of your incomparable Lord, and you will be emboldened to stop spending your life on yourself. Connect with Him who is life, and you will be empowered to deny yourself, live beyond yourself, and live outside yourself.  Let go, break free of self, the captivity of me.  Only Christ can set you free from yourself–the old self that He nailed to His cross.  No amount of willpower or good intention can accomplish this.  So lay hold of Him and escape the straitjacket of the exalted, exaggerated, narcissistic sense of self.  You and your causes are NOT the center of the universe.  You are part of a process of life that is greater than you.  The self only exists at all inasmuch as it participates in the being of God.  You are not the main character in your own story.  God in Christ is.

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola-Jesus Manifesto

i’ve been reading Jesus Manifesto…

probably longer than i should be.  i should have finished by now.  i’m a fast reader.  i’m voracious.

there is something different about this book.  it makes me slow down.  it makes me re-read.  i’m trying to digest the things it says.  go back and read the scripture that Len Sweet and Frank Viola use to paint this beautiful picture of a supreme Christ.  if i wanted to review this book, i couldn’t, because it can’t be summed up for me.  i have to take it in small chunks, process it, read again and repeat.

i’ve been dwelling on the chapter titled  “A Ditch on Either Side”.  the title of the chapter comes from a quote by Karl Barth that says, “truth walks on the razor edge of heresy.”

i guess what is really messing with me are two passages from this chapter. one is a quote by Clifford Scott, where he says.

The more you know the more you know how little you know.  Your frustration is finite and your ignorance is infinite.  The more you resolve you frustration at your ignorance, and the more you repair the damage done in your life that led to your disappointment in your ignorance, the more you may be able to love your ignorance and woo it.  All new will come from what you are ignorant of now.

Sweet and Viola follow that up with this few paragraphs that i’m still reading.

The Christ who is truly (but only partially) present in our doctrine and experience is the true substance of the Christian faith.  As for us, we will always “know in part” until we meet Him “face to face”.  Concerning the reality of Christ Himself, all the fullness of God dwells within Him.
It is for this reason that every theological system breaks down somewhere.  Every systematic theology, no matter how coherent or logical, eventually meets some passage of Scripture or passage of life that refuses to fit into it.  Such passages have to bent, twisted and forced into the system.
Why is this? It’s because Christ is too immense, too imponderable, and too alive to be tied into any immovable system of thought constructed by finite humans.
Thus He will always break out.  As Jeff Goldblum’s character said in the hit movie Jurassic Park–“Life will find a way” (That was his response to the idea that scientists had created an ironclad, airtight system to keep dinosaurs from reproducing.) Jesus Christ is too alive to be caged in any human system.  As Paul exclaimed in holy exasperation, “How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
Life will find a way
Jesus is not just one way, a better way, a pleasant way on a good day.  He is THE way.

i love that.  i love that thought that Christ cannot be caged.  not even by the finest theological minds that have ever existed.  He shatters what we might possibly know about Him. 

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corithians 13:12 NLT

i’ve been reading…

Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola.

well i say i’ve been reading it.  basically i’ve been reading 5 paragraph’s and a sentence over and over.  i can’t get past them.  they are wrecking me along with Leonard’s video on the supremacy of Christ, i’m beginning to believe that all the giftings and talents i have in ministry are for naught if i can’t sort out these things.  i’m weeping over the idea that the church hasn’t given Christ the supremacy that He deserves.  that we worship the word of God over God Himself.  i just wanted to share these paragraphs, and hopefully i’ll be able to continue on with the book.

So what is Christianity?  It is Christ.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy.  Neither is it a new type of morality, social ethic or worldview.  Christianity is the “good news” that beauty, truth, and goodness are found in a person.  A true humanity and community are founded on and experienced by connection to that person.

Conversion is more than a change in direction; it’s a change in connection.  The Bible’s use of the ancient Hebrew word shubh to call for “repentance”–in Deuteronomy4:30 and Nehemiah 1:9, for example–implies not viewing God from a distance but entering into a relationship where God is command central of the human connection.

In that regard, we feel a massive disconnect in the church today, and we believe that the major disease of today’s church is JDD:  Jesus Deficit Disorder.  The person of Jesus has become increasingly politically incorrect and is being replaced by the language of “justice,” “morality,” “values,” and “leadership principles.”  The world likes Jesus; they just don’t like the church.  But increasingly, the church likes the church, yet it doesn’t like Jesus.

Something is wrong when it’s easier for some Christians to think of the world without Christ than the world without Bach or the Beatles or Bono.  When we dethrone Jesus Christ from His rightful place, we tarnish the face of Christianity and redefine it out of existence.

Can our problems really be caused by something so basic and simple as losing sight of Christ? We believe the answer is a resounding Yes. Answers other than Christ to the problems of the church today mean that we are more into solvents than solutions.  For that reason, this global, Google world needs a meta-narrative more than ever, and the Jesus Story is the interpreting system of all other systems.  In this hour, the testimony that we feel God has called us to bear revolves around the primacy of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Specifically, we need to decide how we are going to answer one question….

Who Do You Say That I Am?

go here to see Leonard talk about inviting people to come to Christ.