Official Blog of Author & Speaker Frank Viola. Digging below the surface and moving beyond the shallows in today's Christianity. 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.
One of my main distant mentors – T. Austin-Sparks – once went to see F. B. Meyer, an amazing author on the deeper life. Meyer wasn’t available when Sparks visited, so he was asked to wait in Meyer’s study.
As Sparks looked at Meyer’s library, he spotted a wooden plaque that contained two words inscribed in gold. Those words were “Look Down.”
Meyer walked in at that moment and greeted Sparks. Sparks mentioned the plaque and asked, “Shouldn’t it be look up, and not look down?”
Meyer responded: “It’s all a question of your position. If you are in Christ, you are seated with Him in heavenly places and you look down. But if you are under the situation, the only thing you can do is look up.”
My question for you – what do you think it practically means to look down on a situation from heavenly places with Christ?
One: A young man asked me to mentor him. When I had a conversation with him (online), I found out that he only read one book of mine written way back in 2008. Nor had he listened to any of my 3 podcasts.
So he was blissfully ignorant as to what he was asking.
I applaud his awareness and desire to be mentored. This is rare today, unfortunately. (I’ve written about this problem in Passing the Torch.)
Tip: Before asking someone to mentor you, it’s essential that you first be mentored by them at a distance. That would include reading all their books (or most of them), listening to most of their audio output, getting any courses they have available, attending their live events, etc.
Once you’ve done this work, which means you’ve gotten intensely familiar with them and their ministry, only then is it appropriate to ask them to mentor you.
Two: Another young man asked if I’d be willing to cowork with him. Note that I’ve never met this person nor have I ever heard of him. And he too only read one book of mine written many years ago.
Tip: Before asking if you can cowork with someone, consider these questions: Are you their true peer? Are you familiar with their full body of work? Have you made an effort to meet them in person? What do you bring to the relationship; what can you offer them spiritually and ministry-wise?
When the Gospels tell us the story of Jesus, they pause two times to inform us that He grew spiritually (and physically) in Nazareth before He began His incredible ministry. This time period is what scholars refer to as the “hidden years.”
Nazareth represents hiddeness and growth in private. It also represents being ignored and rejected, which is what the Lord experienced in Nazareth.
Jesus spent most of His earthly life in Nazareth. Those years were critical for what He would later do in public.
Too many leaders today have never had a Nazareth experience. They’ve never grown in a hidden way. They’ve never known the pain of being ignored, rejected, and even repudiated.
Therefore, when they rise to prominence, they prevent themselves from having peers who can speak into their lives. They insulate and isolate themselves instead.
To all my 20- and 30-something friends who are called to the Lord’s work — don’t skip Nazareth or rush the clock on it. It’s a necessary ingredient for the impact of your future ministry.
When Jesus seems distant, the antidote is not to run away from Him. Ignore Him. Or throw your hands up and decide to become a practical atheist.
It’s to act as if He’s near. That’s called faith. You can’t see Him, but you believe that He is with you (as He promised) and act accordingly.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Now if you’re tolerating a particular sin in your life, drawing near to God means dealing with that sin and eliminating it from your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. (I’ve explained how elsewhere.)
This is how James puts it:
“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8-10
I was blessed by this quote this week, especially after I found out who wrote it.
“Christianity was also, to my surprise, radical – far more radical than the leftist ideologies with which I had previously been enamoured. The love of God was unlike anything which I expected, or of which I could make sense.
In becoming fully human in Jesus, God behaved decidedly unlike a god. Why deign to walk through death’s dark valley, or hold the weeping limbs of lepers, if you are God? Why submit to humiliation and death on a cross, in order to save those who hate you?
God suffered punishment in our place because of a radical love. This sacrificial love is utterly opposed to the individualism, consumerism, exploitation, and objectification, of our culture.
Just as radical, I realised, was the new creation which Christ began to initiate. This turned on its head the sentimental caricature of ‘heaven’ I’d once held as an atheist.
I learned that Jesus’ resurrection initiated the kingdom of God, which will “bring good news to the poor, release the captives, restore sight to the blind, free the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18)
To live as a Christian is a call to be part of this new, radical, creation. I am not passively awaiting a place in the clouds. I am redeemed by Christ, so now I have work to do.
With God’s grace, I’ve been elected to serve – in whatever way God sees fit – to build for His Kingdom. We have a sure hope that God is transforming this broken, unjust world, into Christ’s Kingdom, the New Creation.”
The highly educated Sarah Irving-Stonebraker wrote the above, after she left atheism and came to Christ. Her words mesh nicely with the gospel of the kingdom.
As John and I explained in Episode 3 of the INSURGENCE podcast, food is “the Christian’s drug.” In general, Christians in the West are addicted to food. We largely turn to food for comfort or out of boredom. We often eat the wrong things and this affects our minds and behaviors, not to mention our bodies.
In the above episode, we discuss different ways to break the unhealthy addiction (and misuse) of food.
This month (May 2019), I’m eating only one meal a day as an experiment for 30 days straight. Sugar will be completely eliminated as well. I’ve incorporated a few other restrictions that I’ll disclose when the smoke clears.
I’ll be recording my findings each day (including what I’m eating for the one meal), and I plan to write an article to my email list about my discoveries.
I expect to see dramatic physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental benefits from the program. But then again, it may just be one month of needless torture!
If you struggle with food, unproductively, or lack of motivation, I challenge you to create your own food experiment and see what happens. The gospel of the kingdom touches all things, including what we eat.
Observation: If a person can get a handle on their relationship with food, they can win many other battles in life.