Frank Viola's Blog

May 25, 2015

Today, I published the fifth installment of my “Shocking Beliefs” series on Patheos.


Check it out. It’s called Shocking Beliefs of D.L. Moody.


There’s a link on that post to the previous installments on the shocking beliefs of John Calvin, C.S. Lewis and others.


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Published on May 25, 2015 05:41

May 21, 2015

The 119th episode of the “Christ is All” podcast has just been published.


It’s a message from Ephesians 3 called “Introduction to the Mystery of God.”


In it, I cover a wide variety of topics and themes, many of which are rarely addressed today.


As always, if you enjoy it, pass this post on (using the share buttons below) and be sure to subscribe in iTunes or Beyond Pod below.


The email address I mentioned in the episode is spelled like this: FrankViolaCourses@hotmail.com


Listen to the episode in the following venues:



iTunes Subscribe (for Apple devices)


 


Beyond Pod Signet


Beyond Pod (for non-Apple devices)


If you don’t use a smart phone, then click here to see the complete list of episodes on one page, including this episode


Click here for detailed instructions on how to subscribe to the podcast using your smart phone or tablet, how to rate the podcast in iTunes, and how to find time to listen to podcasts if you’re busy.



If you missed it: A New Chronological Study Bible  


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* The Rethinking Series


* Bookstore


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Published on May 21, 2015 04:36

May 19, 2015

“You must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. You didn’t come to learn Christ that way. You were taught to put away your old self, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor. In your anger do not sin. He who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work. Do not let any unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for the building up of others according to their needs. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ has forgiven you.”


~ Ephesians 4:17, 20–32, Paraphrased


Last week I wrote about what to do when other Christians hurt you.


One of the worst ways to react to hurt is to become bitter, for there are few things that are as toxic to the human spirit as bitterness.


Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to get sick.


It hurts you, not them.


In addition, bitterness not only consumes your mind and spirit, but it always ends up unwittingly destroying other people.


Because of bitterness, many Christians have shipwrecked their faith, deceiving themselves as well as others.


“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”


~ Hebrews 12:15, NIV


Bitterness will throttle your spiritual progress and open the door for God’s enemy to both use and abuse you.


If you are having trouble forgiving other people, try this practical exercise, which may help you to release and forgive them.


* On a sheet of paper, write the names of every person who has hurt you. Leave five spaces below each name.


* Underneath each name, write what they did to you. And consider: did they do it with malice in order to injure you or with good intentions?


* When you are finished, raise the paper up to the Lord and tell Him out loud that you are releasing these people into His hands, forgiving what they did to you.


* Burn the piece of paper and thank the Lord for His release while you watch it turn to ash.


* If what they did to you comes back into your mind, tell the Lord that those people are His and you have released them.


* Refuse to nurse the hurt, feed it, coddle it, and take it with you. Let it go, and let God handle it from now on.


If you missed it: What To Do When Other Christians Hurt You


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* The Rethinking Series


* Bookstore


* Podcast


* Courses


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Published on May 19, 2015 04:49

Like most of you, I own a smart phone. But I don’t use it to read blogs.


So it didn’t dawn on me that many of you would be reading yesterday’s blog post about my current dilemma on a smart phone.


Consequently, if you tried going to the Podbean site with your smart phone, the button I mentioned didn’t appear!


(I felt my IQ drop several points when I discovered this. Sigh.)


So . . . we just added both a link and a button directly to yesterday’s “dilemma” post.


Therefore, if you’ve not yet read the post — or you read it, but couldn’t find the button on the Podbean site — the button now appears directly on the blog post.


Some people asked that I wait to make my decision since some people take awhile to getting around to reading the posts. So I’m submitting to that suggestion.

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Published on May 19, 2015 04:38

May 17, 2015

I’ll be writing a new post tomorrow that is consistent with the value I seek to add to your lives. But today’s post is a personal interlude.


If you don’t listen to my podcast and have no intentions of doing so, you should skip this post and wait for tomorrow’s entry.


I’m writing this to those of you who are subscribed to the podcast and/or who listen regularly.


NOTE: This is not the kind of post to skim. Please read every word else a misunderstanding will likely result. And since this is a sensitive topic for me, I request that you read it carefully.


Out of all the things I’m involved with ministry-wise — writing books, writing new content for this blog, ministering to people on the ground, traveling and speaking — the podcast is the most difficult to keep up with.


To date, there are 118 episodes on the podcast.


However, I may have to end it.


There are two reasons for this:



It takes an incredible amount of time to produce each show. Producing an episode takes from 2 to 5 hours. And in the line of work I’m in, time is money (more on that in a minute). So it’s costing me considerably to produce each episode.
We’ve not had many new subscribers over the last 6 months. The podcast is no longer rated in the top 25 of iTunes in the “Christianity” section, which it had been. The podcast has been as high as #1 in Canada and #2 in the USA, but now, it’s rarely in the top 50 – 100. So in short, the audience isn’t expanding.

Those of you who have been subscribed to this blog for awhile are aware that I don’t profit personally from my book royalties. Money from book royalties goes to the helping those in need, which is a large part of my ministry.


My personal income comes from two main sources: interviews on the blog for authors, musicians, and artists and consulting writers.


Those two endeavors take an enormous amount of time, not to mention the time that’s required to write several books a year, produce courses, and create new blog content each week.


In addition, added expenses require that I need to find a new stream of income, which will obviously take additional time.


Since time is not a renewable resource, I’m now in a place where I cannot afford to keep doing the podcast after the 7 new episodes are uploaded. Not unless something changes.


Why the Dilemma?


This a dilemma for me for three reasons:



Many of you have told me that the podcast is a life-line in your life. In January 2014, I asked you to give me feedback on the podcast. Lots of you responded asking me to please continue it(I received over 50 additional emails saying the same and there have been almost 300 positive reviews in iTunes.)
I like doing the show because, given the personal nature of the medium, it allows me to address topics I don’t address anywhere else.
Given the shallow state of pop-Christianity today, I believe the podcast adds a needed dimension of depth to the believing community, along with a needed dose of humor.

Keep in mind that the Christian podcasts that are regularly in the top 25 in the “Christianity” section in iTunes are all done by professional ministers who get paid lots of $$$ just for preaching. And their staffs produce the podcasts for them.


By contract, I’m not a professional minister, I don’t have a staff or a producer, so I create each show myself. And it’s a time-consuming affair.


Disclosure: Now holster your weapons. After talking it over with a close friend, they felt it wasn’t right for me to just end the podcast without sharing my dilemma and giving you an opportunity to resolve it one way or the other. So if I get taken out for the rest of this blog post, it’s my friend’s fault!


Okay, here’s what you can do to help me make a decision one way or the other.


If you really want me to continue the podcast, prayerfully consider doing two things:



Consider making a donation to help defray the costs of producing each episode. If you go to the Podbean site, on the right-hand side there’s a place to donate if you feel so inclined. Depending on how many of you donate, this could free me up financially and time-wise to continue.


Subscribe to the podcast and make an effort to get your friends to subscribe – those whom you feel will benefit from the content. iTunes is the best way because (a) if the podcast is rated in the top 10-25 in the “Christianity” section, new people will discover it, and (b) we can track the rankings and note our progress.

IMPORTANT: You are under no obligation to do any of this. In fact, if it’s not in your heart to do so, I encourage NOT to do either. 


Thanks for understanding and allowing me to share so personally with you.


I’m now suiting up with protective gear . . .

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Published on May 17, 2015 07:44 • 7 views

May 14, 2015

When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary on His first visit to Bethany, Mary could have chosen to be offended by her sister. But there is no indication that she felt that way. She also could have taken offense when Judas and the disciples protested against her act of extravagant worship. But again, there is no indication that she did.


Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the pain that was inflicted upon Mary in both situations. Here was a woman who loved her Lord with all her heart, and she was unfairly criticized for it. Not by her enemies, but once by her sister and another time by some of the Lord’s own disciples.


It reminds me of the old adage, “No good deed shall go unpunished.”


The words of Elbert Hubbard come to mind: “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”


In both cases, Mary never opened her mouth to defend herself or her actions. In silence, she entrusted the matter to her Lord. And in both instances, Jesus rose to her defense.


Point: there will always be some Christians who will undermine and denigrate your good actions.


T. Austin-Sparks once wrote, “If you get upset, offended, and go off and sulk, and nurse your grievance, you will die.”


With that in mind, here are eight things I’ve learned about being offended by others:


(1) Christians will hurt your feelings


Because of the fall, this will happen. Sometimes a person acts with malicious intent, desiring to hurt you because they don’t like you or they’ve chosen to be offended by you. Other times they will hurt you without realizing it.


I’m sure that when the other disciples chimed in with Judas’ complaint, they weren’t trying to hurt Mary. It was just the result of fleshly judgment.


(2) When others hurt you, your spiritual maturity will be revealed


You will discover how real your relationship with Jesus Christ is when your feelings get hurt. You can be the greatest speaker, the greatest worshipper, or the greatest evangelist, but when your feelings are hurt, what you do at that moment and afterward will reveal the reality of your relationship with Jesus.


People have one of two reactions when their feelings get hurt: they deal with it before the Lord, or they destroy others.


Mary left it in the hands of Christ.


(3) God intends to use mistreatments for our good


Recall the mistreatment that Joseph endured at the hands of his own brothers. Joseph took it from the hand of God, saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”


Remember King David when Abishai cursed him? David chose not to kill his detractor, but instead he saw the persecution in light of God’s sovereign hand.


To paraphrase Romans 8:28, everything that comes into our lives, whether good or evil, first passed through the hands of a sovereign, loving God before it got to us. And He uses it for our good.


Once you make peace with God’s sovereignty and His ability to write straight with crooked lines, the more at peace you will be with those who mistreat you. While God is not the author of confusion or evil, He seeks to use all things for our transformation.


When Jesus defended Mary, He transformed her act into an immortal example of what real worship entails. Her example was such that we’re still talking about it two thousand years later.


(4) Christians often get offended by reading into words and actions


This usually happens when a person is oversensitive and thinskinned. In my experience, this makes up most cases in which a Christian takes offense at another believer.


As a group, Christians are the most easily offended people in the world when we should be the least. While Mary was mistreated twice, she didn’t take offense.


(5) Christians often get offended with a person when they believe false accusations against them


Wise and discerning Christians who have been around the block ignore gossip that puts other believers in a bad light. In fact, in the eyes of the wise and discerning believer, any statement that has a defamatory tone is discredited out of the gate.


When wise and discerning believers are concerned about someone, they go straight to the person privately as Jesus taught us to do, asking questions rather than making allegations.


Some Christians, however, never think to do this. Instead, they readily believe slanderous allegations about a sister or brother in Christ without ever going to that person first.


The question “How would I want to be treated if someone were saying these things about me?” never seems to occur to them. The life of Jesus Christ always leads us to live that question. The flesh always leads us in the opposite direction.


Remember, Satan is the slanderer (that’s what “Devil” means), and he uses gossip to destroy relationships. That’s why the Bible says that believing gossip separates close friends and that one of the seven things the Lord hates is “sowing seeds of discord among brethren.”


(6) What you do with a hurt is a choice you make


You can choose to be offended and make a friend out of your hurt, feed it, take it out for daily walks, cuddle it, and protect it until it destroys you and others. A root of bitterness, if allowed to live, will defile many and prove destructive to your own spirit.


You can also choose to be offended and retaliate actively or passively.


Or you can choose to live by Christ and bring your hurt to God. Sometimes the Lord will lead you to go to the person and talk to them in a gracious manner, seeking reconciliation.


Other times He will lead you to forebear it, take it to the cross, let it go, and move on. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”


Sometimes He will show you that you’ve completely misinterpreted the actions of another.


In cases of repeated abuse, which I’m not addressing in this post, getting others involved is often wise and necessary.


Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you should enable that person to commit a crime or continue to devastate the lives of others.


(7) To be offended by a child of God is to be offended by God


When Jesus began preaching in His hometown of Nazareth, He offended His neighbors. They stumbled over Him and rejected who He really was.


When you choose to take offense at another Christian, you are rejecting who they are in Christ. Thus it affects your relationship with Jesus, whether you realize it or not. Why?


Because Christ and His body are connected, so “if you’ve done it to the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto Me.”


Again, I’m not equating being offended with being hurt.


(8) You can live free from offense


This doesn’t mean that you will never be hurt. Nor does it mean that you will never be angry. Jesus got angry. Remember His temple tantrum? Paul said, “Be angry and sin not. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.”


Anger is a normal human emotion when someone abuses you or abuses someone you care about. But what you do with your anger determines whether or not it is sin.


In addition, we should always be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” The Lord has called us to the high road of living without offense. And He has given us both the power and the will to do His good pleasure in this

area.


Excerpted  from God’s Favorite Place on Earth


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Published on May 14, 2015 05:09

May 11, 2015

Most of you know that I’m built for collaboration.


Team work and co-laboring are part of my DNA.


Speaking historically, it’s obvious to me that the Lord has done far more when His servants worked in teams than He has with individuals flying solo, no matter how gifted those individuals happened to be.


Moving the discussion over to the secular realm, both The Beatles and Led Zeppelin were super groups. What they accomplished together trumped (by far) what each artist accomplished on their own after the bands dissolved and each member went solo.


For these reasons, a ministry coalition is something that deeply appeals to me.


Because I believe so much in the team-concept, I’ve done writing collaborations with Leonard Sweet, Mary DeMuth, Greg Boyd, Derwin Gray, and George Barna.


That said, some of you have expressed your desire to see me involved in a Christ-centered ministry coalition.


I fully resonate with that desire, for it’s been in my own heart for many years.


So here’s what we’re going to do.


I want you to dream a little bit.


If you could wave a wand and make this happen, name 3 people who you’ve benefited from through their writings and/or speaking that you’d like to see on a ministry team with me.


They could be males, females, pastors, authors, conference speakers, Bible teachers, etc. Anyone who has a visible ministry today.


Pick whomever you wish (they just have to be alive!).


Let me say this for the sake of those of you who are new to the blog and only know my work from way back in 2008 when I wrote a few books on ecclesiology.


The coalition I’m speaking about will NOT be focused on “church.” It will be a team that focuses on the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s mission, the gospel, and the Christian life.


Consequently, our target audience would be all Christians from all church forms and denominational flavors.


The team would probably do some or all of the following:


* speak together in conferences and seminars.


* collaborate on writing projects.


* create a joint website featuring articles by each of the team members.


* peer review each other’s work – i.e., written articles, spoken messages, (think C.S. Lewis, J.R. Tolkien, and The Inklings).


* periodically meet together for prayer, mutual encouragement, and strategic planning.


Type your 3 picks in the comments section below. (The Blog Manager has adjusted the comments section so that no one will see anyone else’s selections. But I will see them.)


In a future podcast, I plan to talk further about this subject and unveil the people who received the most selections.


So if you want to hear it, make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast .


I’m really looking forward to what you come up with!


As a postscript, I’ll be speaking in several live events this year. So if you’ve not yet filled out our Events Form (or you did a very long time ago), you can do so here.


The Form is how we notify people about the live events in which I speak.


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Published on May 11, 2015 04:32

May 6, 2015

I’m working on my next post which I believe you will find valuable.


But it’s not ready yet. So look for it on Monday.


I didn’t want to leave you with nothing to read today, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you know two things that I’m excited about.


First, I want thank all of you for getting a copy of my new book with Mary DeMuth – The Day I Met Jesus.


On Monday, we learned that the book hit the CBA Bestseller list at #2.


What a surprise and what an honor!


(For those of you who don’t know, the CBA is the “Christian” analog to the New York Times Bestseller list.)


CBA


This means that all Christian bookstores should now carry the book – Family Christian, LifeWay, Parable, etc.


Consequently, if you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift for your mother (or wife), check out the Sample Chapter, description, and endorsements here, and head over to your local Christian bookstore and grab a copy.


So far, both men and women are loving the book, especially Christian women.


It’s also being used as an evangelistic tool to present Jesus to those who don’t know Him.


Second, some of you asked for this, and at first, we didn’t think we could pull it off.


But we finally figured out how.


Consequently, I’m happy to announce that we managed to put The Day I Met Jesus Master Course into an Online Version, in addition to the physical Home Edition.


tdimj_banner


Here’s what’s in the course:


20 Audio Sessions



Mary and Frank Tell the Story Behind the Book
Mary and Frank Speak on the Five Women
Mary and Frank Talk about Jesus, Hope, and Unanswered Prayer
Christ in You – a message by Frank
You in Christ – a message by Frank
My Testimony – a message by Mary
Overcoming Relational Heartache – a message by Mary
God’s View of a Woman – a message by Frank
God Is For You – a message by Frank
What Will They Think? – a talk by Mary
Rest, Rest, Rest – a talk by Mary
Pressing into the Kingdom – a message by Frank
Who is This Woman? – a message by Frank
Why Be Kind? – a talk by Mary
Do I Really Have to Forgive? – a talk by Mary
Introduction to Thin Places by Mary
Diary of a Desperate Samaritan Woman – a message by Frank
God’s Favorite Place Part I – a message by Frank
God’s Favorite Place Part II – a message by Frank
God’s Favorite Place Part III – a message by Frank

Workbook Table of Contents



God’s View of a Woman
God Sees It
Mary Magdalene
The Beauty of Detractors
Who Are You, Really?
Stop Yelling at Yourself
Jesus and the War on Women
Breakdown to Breakthrough to Breakout
No Matter What People Say About You, Follow Jesus Anyway
Action Plans & Bonus Books

8 Bonus eBooks


Beautiful Battle by Mary – Kindle & Nook


Live Uncaged: Find the Freedom You’ve Always Wanted by Mary – Kindle & Nook


Watching the Tree Limbs: A Novel by Mary – Kindle & Nook


Epic Jesus by Frank – Kindle & Nook & PDF


God’s Favorite Place on Earth (Introduction & Chapter 4) by Frank – PDF


If God Wrote Your Biography (from Jesus Manifesto) by Frank – PDF


The Forgotten Tree (from Jesus Manifesto) by Frank – PDF


Reimagining a Woman’s Role in the Church by Frank – PDF


If interested, you can get it here


Stay tuned for Monday’s post . . .


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Published on May 06, 2015 05:27 • 6 views

May 4, 2015

Last November, I featured Shane Claiborne’s article which asked if it’s okay for Christians to be rich.


In that post, I promised I would offer my own thoughts on the subject.


And I have.


In today’s podcast.


Listen to the entire show and make a comment or ask a question below.


I’d be particularly interested to know if the Lord revealed something to you afresh in this area after hearing the episode.


Listen to the episode in the following venues:



iTunes Subscribe (for Apple devices)


Beyond Pod Signet


Beyond Pod (for non-Apple devices)


If you don’t use a smart phone, then click here to see the complete list of episodes on one page, including this episode


Click here for detailed instructions on how to subscribe to the podcast using your smart phone or tablet, how to rate the podcast in iTunes, and how to find time to listen to podcasts if you’re busy.


Links mentioned in the podcast:


Love Not the World by Watchman Nee


Jesus: A Theography


Following Your Spiritual Instincts Regarding the Poor


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Published on May 04, 2015 04:49 • 3 views

May 1, 2015

Disclaimer: If you aren’t a writer, a blogger, an author, someone who has a business or ministry, just skip today’s post and check out my FAQ page which has been updated recently.


Aside from spiritual and theological questions, which I’m often asked, the most frequent questions I receive are from bloggers and authors who ask me all sorts of questions about the craft of writing.


In this post, I’m going to candidly address what I believe to be the chief problem that bloggers and authors face today. It’s the main reason why so many of them fail at making an impact with their written work.


Let me preface the problem with this remark. There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t see the following:



Weekly, I get spammy emails from authors who I don’t know asking me to promote their book on my blog. (Not a wise thing to do.)


Weekly, I see authors trying in vain to promote their books on Facebook groups (this is highly ineffective, and many find it annoying).


Weekly, I see bloggers who have great content and remarkable writing talent, but their blog design is horrible and they don’t know what they’re doing in terms of getting readers. If they would just invest in learning, these people could make a large impact and even become professional bloggers in time, supplementing their income and gaining thousands of readers.

All of the above is frustrating because there is a solution.


Recently, the renowned Christian media expert Phil Cooke interviewed me about blogging and writing books. Here is one of his questions and my answer. 


Phil Cooke: If you could point out the number one problem that hinders authors from being successful and bloggers from getting a lot of traffic to their blogs, what would it be?


Frank Viola: Simple: Failure to invest in training. I see authors and bloggers investing enormous amounts of time and energy on creating content, but zero on learning how to build a community of readers who will consume and spread what they’ve produced. They don’t want to invest in learning how to do this, so they end up spamming people via email and in Facebook groups, and the result is pretty horrible.


For example, there isn’t a week that goes by where successful bloggers and authors don’t get emails from strangers telling them about their new book or blog, never thinking how their email is coming across. (On that score, here’s an important article on how to write to successful bloggers and popular authors.)


In short, those emails get ignored because their approach is all wrong.


I liken the problem to a baseball hitter who only invests in learning how to hit fastballs, but refuses to invest in learning how to hit curveballs. The result is repeated strikeouts. It’s the same way with authors and bloggers who only specialize in writing their books or blogs, but won’t spend a penny on training for how to get people to actually read what they’ve produced in non-spammy ways that actually work. The result is repeated strikeouts.


It puzzles me because their hard work ends up being wasted, and it doesn’t have to be that way. To change course and see results, authors and bloggers must invest in some training.



Starting today, The Buzz Seminar Master Course will be available for 7 days. The course has several added presentations beyond the ones give by myself and three other experts in the field. There are presentations by Jeff Goins (best-selling author and professional blogger), Ray Edwards (renowned copywriter), Tor Constantino (renowned publicist and media expert), Jeremy Myers (my go-to-guy for all things blogging), and Greg Daniel (a literary agent and veteran publishing expert).


Plus, the course is now available in four different versions, all ranging in price.


Print


If you’re a writer, author, or blogger — aspiring or actual — and you really want to make an impact, taking your writing work to greater levels, you’ll definitely want this training course.


The Buzz is actually a writing course, a blogging course, a book-writing course, a marketing course, a publicity course, a copywriting course, and a publishing course all rolled into one premium training.


Let me add: if you see someone spamming you and others, do them a favor and send them the link to this post. You’ll be saving them a lot of frustration and failure in the end.


Here’s the link to the course again — the course site has been completely redesigned recently: BuzzSeminar.com


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Published on May 01, 2015 04:16 • 3 views