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In the Lives of Moses and Aaron

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Enter now Moses and Aaron. These two men are leading the children of Israel in the wilderness. There arises a controversy over their leadership. Moses and Aaron are being challenged by some of God’s people. God says to Moses, “I want you to take a rod from each of the leaders of the tribes of Israel—twelve rods. And I want you to put them in the tabernacle” (see Num. 17:1–4).

The rods were put in the Holy of Holies where only the high priest had access once a year. The Holy of Holies was the little room in the tabernacle where the presence of God rested on the ark of the covenant. The twelve rods were put behind the curtain in this room where there was no light. The only time that this room was lit up was when God’s presence appeared on top of the ark of the covenant and He displayed His glory. At all other times, the room was utterly dark.

So the Lord says, “Take the rods and put them in the Holy of Holies in pure darkness for one whole night” (see Num. 17:5–8). That was an evening. That was darkness. That was a night. Then the morning came and Moses took the rods out. Strikingly, one of them—Aaron’s rod—had budded. Life came forth from a dead stick.

In the midst of the dark night something was going on that no mortal could have imagined. In the morning, there was resurrection. The dead rod had produced blossoms.

Take note: Evening is the time of death. It’s the time of hopelessness and helplessness. But the evening is always followed by the morning, and that’s when resurrection occurs. Every evening has a promise of the morning. Every night has within it the promise of a day. The Lord takes away that He might establish.

From Revise Us Again by Frank Viola, author

Frank Viola Author

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Frank Viola Author is a blogger, a speaker, a podcaster, and an author.

His ministry is known as the deeper journey, because it seeks to go below the surface of today’s shallow Christianity, and digs deep down to the roots of the faith.

Viola’s ministry centers on the centrality and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. His podcast, called “Christ is ALL,” is among the most popular among Christians who are tired of the shallow state of Christianity today and the uncivil and ungracious bickering among believers over various issues.

Viola has also done a great deal of work in the field of ecclesiology. His work is based on over 20 years of experience in the trenches of Christian-community living and experience.

He has been pioneering in the organic expression of church since the late 80s bringing two decades of experience to the table in what is now a growing phenomenon. Beyond planting organic missional churches, Viola is a bestselling author, top-rated blogger, and sought-after conference speaker.

The greatest influences on the author have been Watchman Nee, DeVern Fromke, and T. Austin-Sparks.

He also has a strong affinity with Leonard Sweet (who he’s co-authored two books with) and N.T. Wright.

Frank’s books and articles have been translated into Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, German, French, Swedish, Portuguese, Romanian, French, and Russian. He has traveled extensively throughout the continental United States also making trips to Europe, South Africa, and South America.

He has also been quoted in TIME magazine and other periodicals (Christianity Today, Charisma, Ministry Today, Prism, Good News, CBN, etc.).

Viola grew up in New York. He is married to his wife from South Georgia. He’s a father and happy cat owner. Presently, he lives in Florida. He used to teach high school in the 90s having a student ministry (the Christian Fellowship of Students). Viola has published several books on Christianity with Tyndale, David C. Cook, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Destiny Image, and Baker (upcoming).

He authors the popular Christian blog, Beyond Evangelical. He also blogs on Patheos on the evangelical channel. He graduated from the University of South Florida.

In his free time, Frank enjoys traveling, exotic cuisines, guitar, film and music, baseball, and reading. His favorite charities include St. Francis House, Bread for the World, and Heifer International.

Frank Viola’s podcasts are very popular among 20s and 30s and 40s. His main audience are Christians who want a deeper walk with the Lord and a richer experience of the church. They are also Christians who are tired of the infighting, vitriol, and uncivil discord over theological differences and personality conflicts.

Many of the personal attacks that Christians take to one another are rooted in jealousy. This is one of the main reasons why the world laughs at Christians and doesn’t take the faith seriously. They seek believers who profess Jesus to be their Lord gossipping and slandering one another, treating each other in ways they would never want any person to treat them.

Viola became a published author in 2005 with the book The Untold Story of the New Testament Church.

In the 1980s, Viola was a public school teacher. He would write tracts in the style of Last Days Ministry on various topics he was learning about. Influenced by Watchman Nee and T. Austin-Sparks, the tracts would contain higher teaching on many different subjects.

In those days, Viola told us he was using an advance type writer and then he’d get the tracts printed at a local print shop.

In the mid-90s, Frank was asked to host a bulletin board discussion group. This was the precursor to the Internet. It was way before Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

An article by Frank Viola would be written once every two weeks on the subject of ecclesiology. At that time, Frank had been exploring a simpler way of being church beginning in 1988. Each of Viola’s articles would reflect that way of being church.

For example, in one week, Frank would write an article on the purpose of the church meeting. Another would be on church leadership. Another would be on the Lord’s supper. Another on the meeting location of the church.

People would respond and ask questions on the Bulletin Board.

Even in those days, Viola was a provocateur.

When the series was finished, many of the readers wanted copies of the entire series of essays. So Frank stapled them together and mailed them to those who asked.

Then, Frank says a friend of his recommended putting the essays into a book. When he checked into this, he discovered that you had to print 1,000 copies of a book to get a decent rate.

Frank’s feeling was, “If I printed a book containing these essays, I may be able to get rid of 100, but then I’d have 900 in my attack collecting dust.”

Given his reservations, Viola figured out how to typeset the essays into book form and he had Devern Fromke’s publisher print 1,000 copies of the book. So it was his first self published work. Looking back on it, he sees it as immature, rough, unseasoned, and something he can’t stand by today given the nuances that weren’t present.

At around the same time, he discovered the Internet and his friend Hal Miller put together a website for him.

He gave away the first 1,000 copies in a few month.

Then, he reprinted the book, and on the first day of its released, it had 400 orders.

Eventually, he couldn’t keep paying for the costs of printing and mailing, so he charged a fee for the book.

In 2005, Destiny Image approached Frank to publish his first officially published book. Frank agreed and so The Untold Story of the New Testament Church was published. This was the first published book by author Frank Viola and it still sells well till this day.

A year later George Barna found Frank’s self published book, Pagan Christianity, loved it and wanted to get it into a wider audience. So Tyndale House offered a deal for Frank to revise the book with the help of George Barna and release the revised version.

Frank prayed about the offer and after feeling it was the Lord’s will, he agreed to have the book published by Tyndale after Viola and Barna revised it.

When Pagan Christianity came out by Tyndale House, it reach #11 on Amazon.com out of all books.

The book was received well on the one hand and criticized on the other. Though most who criticized it never read it. This was spoofed about in a video which has garnered more than 50,000 views.

An entire question and answer page on the Pagan Christianity website was put together where George Barna and Frank Viola field questions about the book.

Jon Zens even weighed into the discussion, debating with Ben Witherington.

Reimagining Church came out next. The same year (2008). This was the constructive sequel or companion volume to Pagan Christianity. However, it was published by David C. Cook, not Tyndale. And Frank Viola was the only author.

These two books go together. One deconstructs and the other constructs.

Here’s how they are described on the Reimagining Church website.

“In January 2008, Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna rocked the Christian world. Yet it was only the first half of the argument. It was never meant to be a stand-alone book. In August 2008, Reimagining Church by Frank Viola was released. It presents the second half of the argument. Both books can be likened unto a puzzle. Pagan Christianity is the deconstructive side of the argument; Reimagining Church is the constructive side. Both books go together, forming a compelling and insightful vision of the church after God’s own heart.”

Reimagining Church contains two self published books written in the late 90s that deal with church structure, order, gathering, and leadership, “covering,” and accountability. It is a revised, more seasoned version of those two self published works which are very rough and immature, lacking important nuances.

The next book Frank Viola authored is considered his magnum opus. From Eternity to Here.

This book discusses the eternal purpose and grand mission of God in detail. Endorsed by many missional leaders, it was a CBA bestseller.

Following this book was Frank’s Finding Organic Church which is a detailed manual of Viola’s over 20 years of experience in living in and planting organic missional communities.

The book is a revised look at church planting and apostolic ministry. Some have compared it to Roland Allen’s book on missionary methods and Watchman Nee’s book on The Normal Christian Church Life.

In 2010, Viola released his book Jesus Manifesto with Leonard Sweet. The book hit #6 on Amazon.com and was endorsed by over 30 Christian leaders from different denominations. It’s become a manifesto for many Jesus followers in the 21st century. Thomas Nelson published this book.

Jesus Manifesto was based on an online essay that Viola and Sweet wrote that went viral. Nelson offered the authors a book deal to expand the manifesto and create a book out of it. So they did.

Following this book, Viola released Revise Us Again. This was a compilation of updated essays and new articles. This is the least known of Frank Viola’s work, however, it’s one of his best according to readers.

Books on spiritual transformation don’t do very well these days. The interest in them is small. Unfortunately.

In 2012, Frank released his second co-authored project with Sweet. Jesus: A Theography is a magnificent volume telling the Jesus story from Genesis to Revelation. The book is over 400 pages with over a thousand endnotes.

Thomas Nelson published this work also. It’s the second Frank Viola authored book they have put out to date.

The reviews for this book were solid and strong.

In 2013, Frank released what he calls his “life’s work.” God’s Favorite Place on Earth.

This book hit #13 on Amazon (see Frank Viola Author on Amazon, this is Frank’s official author page).

Frank Viola Author is planning on authoring another book that’s similar to God’s Favorite Place, a combination of light and shade. A marriage of prophetic challenges, devotional writing, high-voltage theology, and fiction. This blending has never been done before.

In May 2014, Viola released his latest published work, Jesus Now. This book explores the present-day ministry of Christ. It answers the question of what Jesus has been doing since His ascension.

The Christian world remains interested to see what comes from author Viola’s pen next.

Viola’s newest book, Jesus Now, was a CBA Best-Seller.

He plans to release a new discipleship course every year.

See Frank Viola Author courses.

 

The Call to Action

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My work calls for change. In some cases, drastic change. And it’s never too late to begin that change. As the ancient Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” On that high note, I would like to challenge your church with the following points of practical application:

* Is Your Christ too Small? Have a meeting where your entire church reads Chapter 9 together and discusses what points apply. Dialogue about practical ways to gain a larger and richer revelation of your Lord. Pick one of the books listed at the end of the chapter and develop a plan for reading it together as a church. Discuss holding a weekend conference and bring someone in to speak—someone whose experience of Christ exceeds yours.

* Discern the Stages and Seasons. In the Old Testament, God set forth the qualifications for the priesthood. If a man had certain defects, he could not serve as a priest. One of them was a flat nose. See Leviticus 21:18, KJV. A priest had to have a working sense of smell in order to be useful to God.

Throughout the Scripture, in the Song of Solomon especially, the nose depicts spiritual discernment. The ability to smell (physically) represents the ability to discern (spiritually).

An organic church that is mature and growing in Christ will be able to discern the seasons I discussed in Chapter 12. It will have a spiritual nose to smell the beginning of a season as well as the end of one.

Have a meeting where the entire group reads Chapters 12 and 13 together. Discuss the destinies and stages of a church, and discern the present stage and season that you are in.

* Rethink and Retool the Songs that You Sing. I predict that some of you will need to do drastic surgery on the songs that you sing and your songbooks (if you have them). Songs which are not Christ-centered should be discarded or revamped. Songs that have been dead for the last 30 years ought to be tossed. Songs that have lyrics that you don’t really believe or that are theologically unsound should be scrapped.

In many of the non-traditional churches that I have visited, the songs they sang came straight out of the traditional church. Some were good. Some (like the classic hymns) were timeless. Others, however, were unmentionably shallow and gave no glory to Jesus Christ. They were what I call “7-11 songs.” That is, 7 lines sung 11 times.

I’ve been in some churches where most of their songs came straight out of the Jesus movement thirty years ago. These churches were still living in the 1970s, and they hadn’t moved one inch ahead of that era. Granted, some of those songs are timeless. But many of them are dead. They were anointed thirty years ago, but the anointing lifted long ago.

I’ve been to other churches where virtually every song that was sung came out of the charismatic movement of the 1980s. All of them were drawn from the Psalms and praised the “awesome and mighty God of Israel, our Refuge and our Fortress.” Very few if any spoke about the glories, the riches, and the treasures of Jesus Christ.

Our songs ought to reflect our experience. If we are experiencing Jesus Christ, and His multisplendid riches, we ought to be putting those experiences to music.

The early Christians lived and breathed the Lord Jesus Christ. And they wrote songs glorifying Him. That’s your lineage.

Have a meeting to discuss the songs you sing. Some questions to ask are: Do the majority of our songs reveal, glorify, and magnify Jesus Christ? Do all or most of our songs present Christ in only one aspect (Savior, King, Bridegroom, etc.), or do they depict Him in all of His aspects and roles? Which songs should we discard? Which should we keep? Discuss obtaining as well as writing new songs.

* Expose the Wish Dream. In Chapter 1 of his book, Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains that every person who is part of a Christian community has a personal “wish dream.” That is, they have an image of what the church ought to look like. But God will shatter that dream eventually. And when He does, that which is really in our hearts will come to the surface.

This is a critical yet little-known fact for those who have sailed out to sea on the unchartered waters of organic church. For this reason, I recommend that every Christian in your church get a copy of Bonhoeffer’s book and read Chapter 1 together and then discuss it. Here’s a quote to wet your appetite: “Those who love their dream of community more than the community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”

by Frank Viola, author

That I May Know Him

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      Significantly, the word “know” in the Hebrew language refers to an intimate oneness. “And Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived.” Genesis 4:1.

      As I have grappled with the meaning of the Christian life, I’ve discovered that the greatest need that you and I will ever have is to know the Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t I say God the Father? Because the only way you or I can know the Father is by knowing the Lord Jesus. We cannot know the Father outside of Christ.

      I’ve always been arrested by Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10. “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

      Marinate on that phrase a bit, would you? “The surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

      What drove Paul? A deeper knowledge of His Lord. “That I may know Him,” were his words. Paul penned this sentence some twenty-seven years after he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. I find that incredible.

      Here is a man who had a face-to-face encounter with the living Christ at his conversion . . . a man who was given an earth-shattering, jaw-dropping, mountain-moving seeing of the heavenly vision and the deepest mysteries of God. Acts 26:13-19.

      Here is a man who went away into an Arabian desert for three years and was given his gospel straight from Jesus Christ by spiritual revelation. He didn’t get it from the twelve apostles. He got it directly from the Lord. En Galatians 1:11-12.

      When he was visiting his hometown of Tarsus in Silicia, Paul had a supernatural encounter wherein he peered into heavenly realms. He saw and heard things that he could not utter. He saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6; 12:1-4.

      Then, some twenty years later, Paul would pen his matchless letter called Ephesians wherein he sought to put into human language what he saw in unseen realms. In Chapter 1 of Ephesians, Paul virtually exhausts human language in an attempt to describe what he saw of the Lord Jesus Christ outside the constraints of created time.

      And yet, with all of this experience behind him, he writes these unexpected words: “That I may know Him.”