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Revise Us Again: Living from a Renewed Christian Script Hardcover – April 1, 2011
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"I loved this book. From the introduction to the concluding remarks, there was a spirit of grace that invited me to reexamine some of my own ideas about the Christian life. While Revise Us Again is an easy read, its message is profound! Please give yourself permission to ask some hard questions. I highly recommend Frank's new book." S. J. Hill, Bible teacher, speaker, and author of Enjoying God
"Revise Us Again is a very timely book. I have felt that the Christian community has needed such a work for quite some time now. Each chapter is full of skillfully written material that is spot on for this generation. We desperately need a major revision of our thinking and our speaking, and this book is right on target in placing the spotlight where it is needed: our unscriptural and unspiritual perceptions about Christ and His church. This work will greatly help in the process of religious 'detoxing' that needs to take place in western Christianity." Milt Rodriguez, author of The Community Life of God
About the Author
Frank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. Viola has written many books on these themes, including God's Favorite Place on Earth, From Eternity to Here, and Jesus Manifesto (with Leonard Sweet). His blog, frankviola.org, is rated as one of the most popular in Christian circles today.
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As I read the book Frank comes across like a brother sitting in your house (over some coffee, :)) with a gathering of brothers and sisters and sharing his heart about living by Christ's life, reminiscent of the little book "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As stated in the back of the book "Frank Viola believes we need to revisit and revise what it means to live the Christian life." Dietrich Bonhoeffer finding himself amidst an institutional church that had become apostate determined to learn to live by Christ's life and to do so organically in community underground in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer's thoughts on the importance of living in community by the life of Christ, "our life together under the Word," is described in his excellent booklet "Life Together." I can sense Bonhoeffer sitting around with the brothers and sisters sharing many of these thoughts that were put together in his booklet so many years ago. I get the same feeling as I read Frank's book "Revise Us Again." Frank, himself a church planter, with an apostolic functioning, brings his hearts burden for the body of Christ, those things he has learned of Christ as he walks with brothers and sisters organically, to learn to live by the life of Christ, to live by the Spirit.
Below are some thoughts from each of the chapters from the book:
- Chapter 1 (God's Three-Fold Speaking) one word - wow! Frank keys in on recognizing the different ways God speaks through His people and the importance of seeking the mind of Christ together. Frank sees how God communicated with His people in three typical ways in the past to how He communicates with His people in the present. He describes them as "thinkers," "feelers," and "doers." "Three temperaments, three denominations, and three forms of God's speaking." The problem is we often view how God communicates through only one of His three ways.
- Chapter 2 (The Lord Told Me). Frank notes the disturbing consequences of using "God told me" in the "vocabulary of a number of Christian traditions" and gives warning to those who "choose to use...hyperspiritual language." "I've routinely watched God get credit for things that He never authored and blamed for things He never imagined." Frank points out to speak with your own words what you believe God has said without having to punctuate it with "The Lord told me."
- Chapter 3 (Let Me Pray About It). Frank gives some real to life examples of instances where some of God's people were asked for help but never followed through and Christ's life was not increased. "In short, 'Let me pray about it' is Christian code language for 'No.'" How important it is to walk in wisdom and do what God has empowered us to do to help and serve others in love in the everyday moments of life. I am reminded of Proverbs 3:27-28, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, 'God and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,' when you have it with you." (NASB). May we learn to walk in wisdom.
- Chapter 4 (Spiritual Conversational Styles). Frank describes what he calls "spiritual conversational styles" or SCSs. SGS is the religious script of how we generally communicate with each other either charismatic, quoter, or pragmatic. By the way I tend to be a "quoter" if you haven't realized that by now, :). He makes a point that if we know each others SGS then we can "make progress in how we hear and understand one another." It sounds similar to Gary Chapman's "Five Love Languages," which is also a great book by the way, lol. Frank notes that most of our differences in opinion "over spiritual matters" are really over "differences in communication style" and describes the importance of being "better listeners" towards one another in order to better "understand each other."
- Chapter 5 (What's Wrong With Our Gospel?). Frank gives five "vital elements of the gospel" that are "neglected" in "a large portion of the Christian world." They are from brief scriptural phrases: "Christ in you, the hope of glory...who is our life;" Christ who is "head over all things;" God's "eternal purpose...in Christ Jesus our Lord;" "our old self was crucified with Him;" as as Job spoke "naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return." If Christ is not "at its center (it) is doomed to fail."
- Chapter 6 (The Felt-Presence of God). What a wonderful chapter! Frank writes with sensitivity and a conscious goal to help brothers and sisters to realize that "God is always present in the life of a believer - whether one actively feels His presence or not" and "to be conscious of His presence is to be 'intentionally aware' that He is with you and in you." This made a big impact on me. After having read this chapter and going to work the next day I realized how often I was not "intentionally aware" that Christ was with me and in me. How important to learn to set our minds on Him. Perhaps the same can be said of when we gather together with brothers and sisters, do we intentionally set our minds on Him or some thing or some one?
- Chapter 7 (Captured By The Same Spirit You Oppose). This chapter was like wow, deja vu, how many times have I seen and done the same thing. How many heartaches we give one another, how many loss of relationships occur because of this mindset. As Frank says: "we are all susceptible to this spirit...Each of us needs a steady dose of God's infinite grace to avoid falling sway to it."
- Chapter 8 (The God of Unseen Endings). This was an incredibly written chapter that looks at the mystery of Christ. Frank describes parallels in the Old and New Testament scriptures to show that "God takes away to establish, and what He establishes is always better than what He takes away" and "God's beginnings are our nights." Christ not the God of our expectations.
- Chapter 9 (Stripping Down to Christ Alone). I so appreciate Frank's candidness in this chapter. He describes what he is against, leery of, skeptical, opposed to, and critical of regarding the fleshly abuses in church gatherings. But how he is so much for "the centrality, supremacy, sovereignty, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus. Period."
- Chapter 10 (Your Christ Is Too Small). Frank describes his personal journey into the community of brothers and sisters in Christ. "I live by the Lord who lives in me, and I live by the Lord who lives in my fellow brethren (in whom Christ also dwells)." The body of Christ is a shared life. We know Christ through His body. Frank also gives warning about not moving forward in Christ together, not receiving Christ when he comes to us unexpected and the importance of diversity in the body of Christ.
- Afterword (The Three Gospels). Frank has mentioned these before but think the are still so relevant to be brought up as reminders and that is the gospel of libertinism and the gospel of legalism which are in reality not gospels, or good news, at all, they only "tether you to the flesh." Only Paul's gospel that he preached, the same as that of Christ Jesus is real, "the gospel of the new creation." This is perhaps one section above all others a must read, as institutionalism, whether in a house or a 'church" building, no matter the form, corrupts Christ to either libertinism or legalism.
So Frank ends his little book. I feel like I have sat around some brothers and sisters, those whom I love, those whom I have offended, and realize how dead the flesh is and how alive Christ wants to be expressed in me, in us, and I cry "Christ you are our life, may we so live by your life, come quickly, may it be so." How we need to remember these words about the Christian life: "For Paul, the Christian life is becoming what you already are." "Revise us Again" helps us to learn to live life together.
And yet giving such amazing insight & wisdom - I don't hear/read a bit of pride or arrogance throughout the writing. Viola is the real deal!
I praise God for how He is using this tool to reach me!!
I appreciate him for calling us back to the center of the gospel, which is Jesus. He speaks much needed corrections to both libertines (too much freedom while neglecting the issues of holiness) and legalists (trying to obtain holiness by trying harder) in applying the gospel message, as well as to the charismatics who may place too much emphasis on the gifts of Holy Spirit raher than on glorifying Jesus Christ.
I give four stars rather than five to this book because I felt that some of his criticisms utilize more of a straw man argument rather than deep understanding of the positions that he criticizes (for example, it is possible to come to know Jesus deeper through exercising the spiritual gifts. They are not contradictory). But overall, his points are well appreciated and he speaks words that deserve serious considerations for the charismatic churches.
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