Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR


A VANISHING GOD a post by Frank Viola (ALSO: Enter to win a copy of JESUS MANIFESTO!)

Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet just released their new book Jesus Manifesto. In celebration of that release, I invited Frank to write a guest post for Jesus Needs New PR.  Learn more about the book at TheJesusManifesto.com. (ALSO: Below the post, read how you can enter to win a copy of Jesus Manifesto!)

I’m honored to have Frank blogging at JNNPR. Hope you enjoy…

“A Vanishing God”

by Frank Viola

Recall the way Jesus came into the earth.

Consider the situation. For centuries, Israel had waited for a political Messiah. They expected Him to break the yoke of Roman bondage and liberate God’s people from Roman oppression.

But how did the Messiah make His entrance into the world? He came in a way that made it easy for His own people to reject Him. He entered the planet as a frail baby, born in a feeding room for animals. The King of the universe was born as a weak human being in the ill-starred town of Bethlehem, in the midst of the stain and stench of animal manure. And His parents? A poor Jewish couple.

There He was. The promised Messiah who was expected to overthrow the mighty Roman Empire and set Israel free from Gentile oppression. A needy Nazarene born in a manger.

Ironically, none of the Bible scholars who had the Old Testament memorized and knew the prophecies about the Messiah’s coming were present at Christ’s birth. The only people who were present were those who were led to Bethlehem by revelation. All of them happened to be shepherds and pagan astrologers, not Bible scholars.

When Jesus grew up, He ate and drank in their presence and taught in their streets (Luke 13:26). Yet they didn’t recognize who He was. He was unassumingly modest, of humble origin. A mere craftsman; the son of a craftman.

He grew up in the despised city of Nazareth, fraternizing with the despised and oppressed. But more startling, He befriended sinners (Luke 7:34). As such, the people of God didn’t recognize Him. Why? Because He came in a way that made it easy for them to reject Him.

And what about the disciples? Read the story again. Jesus continued to break out of their expectations. He couldn’t be pinned down, figured out, or boxed in. The Twelve were constantly confounded by Him. His teachings were offensive. His actions scandalous. His reactions baffling.

But the greatest offense of all was the cross. It offended everyone—both Jew and Gentile. The only crown the promised Messiah-King would accept was a crown of thorns. Look at Him again. A suffering Messiah, a defeated King. It’s easy to reject Him.

One of the Lord’s most faithful disciples teaches us this principle well. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. Do you remember what she did as soon as she recognized Him? She grabbed Him, and she wouldn’t stop clinging to Him.

Jesus responded, “Stop clinging to me” (see John 20:17, Greek text). Why did Jesus tell Mary to stop clinging to Him? Because He had somewhere to go. He was on the move. Jesus was poised to go to Galilee to see the other disciples and then to ascend to His Father.

Note the principle: He was moving forward, but she was clinging to Him.

Jesus was in effect saying to her: “Mary, stop holding on to me. There’s a new way to know me that’s different from what you’ve experienced thus far. Let me go, for I must move on.”

Do you remember the disciples who walked on the road to Emmaus? Their hopes were shattered by the Lord’s horrible death. Suddenly, the resurrected Christ began walking beside them, yet their eyes were blinded from recognizing Him.

However, when He engaged in the very simple gesture of breaking bread (something He had done frequently before them), their eyes were opened.

He then quickly disappeared from their sight.

These stories hold a critical insight. You cannot cling to the Christ that you know today. He will vanish from your midst. Jesus Christ is an elusive Lover. Seeking Him is a progressive engagement that never ends. He doesn’t dance to our music. He doesn’t sing to our tune.

Perhaps He will in the beginning when He woos us to Himself; but that season will eventually end. And just when you think you’ve laid hold of Him, He will slip out of your grasp. He will appear to you as a stranger. But upon second glance, we’ll soon discover that He’s no stranger at all. Emmaus will be repeated.

We all wish to cling to the Lord that we know now. We all wish to hold on to the Christ that has been revealed to us today. But mark my words: He will come to us in a way that we do not expect—through people who we’re prone to ignore and inclined to write off.

Perhaps they don’t talk our religious language. Perhaps they aren’t theologically sophisticated. Perhaps they don’t use our vocabulary. Perhaps they don’t share our jargon nor parrot our religious idioms.

And so we cling fast to the Lord that we recognize—receiving only those who talk our language, use our jargon, and employ our catchphrases—and all along we end up turning the Lord Jesus Christ away.

I have watched this happen repeatedly. Both among Christians who gather in traditional churches as well as those who gather outside of them.

What, then, does our Lord do when we fail to receive Him when He comes to us in an unexpected way? He moves on. And the revelation that we have of Him ceases to grow.

I’ve seen churches and movements stop dead in the water, living off a revelation of Christ that was delivered to them twenty or thirty years ago. And they never moved beyond it.

In fact, this is the very root of denominationalism and Christian movements. It works like this: A group of Christians see an important aspect of Christ. That insight usually comes from a servant of the Lord whom God has raised up to restore a certain truth to His church. The group is captured by it. Even changed by it. And they stand on the earth to promote and express it.

But then, subtly, they build a circle around it. And then a castle and a wall. They then enshrine it. And when someone else comes in contact with them with another aspect of Christ to share, they blow it off with monumental disinterest.

Why? Because it’s different from the original sighting of the Lord that they received.

In effect, the group refuses to have complete fellowship with other Christians who are not like them.

Please don’t misunderstand. Fellowship is not having a meal with somebody. Fellowship is mutual participation and exchange. It’s a two-way street. If you and I have fellowship, that means that I receive what the Lord has given you and you receive what the Lord has given me. And we are both enriched. That’s fellowship.

(Obviously, I’m not suggesting that we embrace heretical ideas about Jesus Christ. I’m rather speaking about genuine Christian fellowship that is based on the New Testament revelation of Christ and echoed in the ancient creeds.)

Allow me to confess: If I only fellowshipped with those whose beliefs matched mine, then, right now, I couldn’t have fellowship with myself fifteen years ago! Furthermore, twenty years ago I would have had to excommunicate my current self from the kingdom of God!

Jesus Christ is richer, larger, and more glorious than any of us could ever imagine. And He comes to us in ways that make it tempting to reject Him.

When Peter, James, and John saw the transfigured Lord on the holy mountain, Peter wanted to build a tabernacle for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah and remain on the mountain to enjoy the encounter. But God would not allow it (Matt. 17:1–13).

There is something in our fallen nature that, like Peter, wishes to build a monument around a spiritual encounter with God and remain there. But the Lord will not have it. He will always break free from our frail attempts to pin Him down, box Him up, and hold Him in place. And He does so by coming to us in new and unexpected ways.

BUY JESUS MANIFESTO HERE!

Frank Viola is the co-author of the newly released Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ with Leonard Sweet (Thomas Nelson). You can learn more about the book at www.theJesusManifesto.com

FOUR WAYS TO ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF JESUS MANIFESTO

1) Leave a comment at this post

2) Leave another comment if you RT this post! (Tweet/comment as often as you like without annoying your followers!)

3) Leave another comment if you subscribe to my blog’s feed OR you can do that here… Subscribe to my blog’s feed now!

4) Leave another comment if you “like” me on Facebook! OR go “like” me right now!

DISCLAIMER: Winners will be announced this Wednesday morning before noon! Matthew Paul Turner received no compensation for this post/giveaway. The prizes are provided by Thomas Nelson, Inc.



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Comments read comments(112)
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Siggy

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:25 am


I love Viola’s ideas on “fellowship” and reframing our definition of the term.

I’m excited to pick up Jesus Manifesto. I just decided it’s up next on my reading que.



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Matt C

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:27 am


I am hereby leaving a comment on this post, as per rule #1.



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Matt C

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:28 am


And I am hereby leaving a second comment because I subscribe to your RSS feed through Google Reader, as per rule #3. :) Thanks for the chance to win what looks like a great book!



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Tracy Fitzgerald

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:31 am


This is a comment. The book sounds great.



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Adam Whitley

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:34 am


1. COMMENT – I’d love a copy.



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Adam Whitley

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:34 am


2. COMMENT – I RT-ed and I’d love a copy.



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Adam Whitley

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:34 am


3. COMMENT – I subscribe and I’d love a copy.



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Adam Whitley

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:35 am


4. COMMENT – I like you on Facebook (and in real life) and I’d love a copy.



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Leanne

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am


“Fellowship is mutual participation and exchange.”

We have lost this understanding of fellowship. We have reduced fellowship to potluck meals and coffee hours. This looks like a well needed book for our time.

Hope to read it soon.



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Candace

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am


oh how I would love to win a copy of this book!



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Leanne

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:36 am


I’ve also retweeted!



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Leanne

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:37 am


Also following you on Yahoo!!



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Chris Colvin

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:38 am


Great post!

To think that we chase an allusive Jesus, but even better that Jeaus wants to be persued.

I for one don’t want to stand still.



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Matt

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:38 am


I have also fulfilled rule #1



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Candace

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am


RT’d to my friends



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PersimmonPulp

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am


Comment #1
Reading this short essay only makes me want to read this book even more. Thank you for sharing it (and for the giveaway!)



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PersimmonPulp

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:41 am


And I’ve “liked” you on FB for quite some time now…



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Candace

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:41 am


and “liked” you on FB!



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Travis Mamone

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:42 am


Here is Comment #1



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Travis Mamone

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:43 am


And here’s Comment #2 (check twitter.com/tmamone for my retweet)



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PersimmonPulp

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:44 am


and I just tweeted it (and linked to FB… just trying to spread the word!)



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Travis Mamone

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:44 am


And here’s Comment #3 (you’re on my Google Reader)



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Travis Mamone

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:44 am


And finally here’s Comment #4 (I like you!)



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Leanne

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:45 am


And I already like you on Facebook. I like you outside of Face Book too–read your latest book and loved it. Thank you.



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Marcus

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:46 am


I just RTd this post!



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Dusto

posted June 14, 2010 at 10:56 am


Intrigued.

Must read more.



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Eric Stevens

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:01 am


Frank Viola is the man, I am excited about this book



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Eric Stevens

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:02 am


Comment 2 – I officially like MPT on facebook



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Evan Doyle

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:05 am


Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola are two of the most amazing men in Christian theology today. Can’t wait to read the book.



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Evan Doyle

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:06 am


Tweeted it too!



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Evan Doyle

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:06 am


AND I subscribe to your blog!



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Evan Doyle

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:07 am


You are also “liked” on Facebook. A lot.



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Tim McCracken

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:11 am


I am always amazed that the older I get the less I have in common with the younger me.



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Adam Morris

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:17 am


This looks like a very interesting read. And of course, a book being free always makes it better lol ;)



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Adam Morris

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:18 am


AND……I also subscribe to your blog so here’s #2!! :)



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Thom

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:20 am


I want a copy!



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Thom

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:20 am


I want a copy and I’m already subscribed! ;-)



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Rocco

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:32 am


If you send me a copy I will read it.



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Sami

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:50 am


I loved the essay. It really helped to put some things in perspective for me. I love my church (UMC), but it makes me crazy with the way it lives out its mission sometimes. Really trying to discern how the still, small voice of Jesus is different from the voice of the authority I serve under in the church. This post was comforting to me. Maybe the angst I feel isn’t so much about how little I fit in with the chuch I love, as much as it is about how un-institutionalized Jesus is.



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Matt

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:56 am


Loved Pagan Christianity and would be into reading more from Frank Viola.



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James Williams

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm


This is a great post!

James
http://www.middletree.net
middletree.blogspot.com



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zac

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm


i would read that. sign me up.



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Collin Simula

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm


What a beautiful post. I look forward to seeing more from Frank Viola here.



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Beth Reed

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm


I usualy feel like I’m outside looking in. You just unlocked the door and opened the window. Thank you.



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Collin Simula

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:17 pm


AND I just “liked” you on Facebook.



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Steven

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm


I’ve done 1-4 above – please let me win ;-)



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Alise

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm


Wow, what an amazing essay. Really great stuff. Sign me up for a chance to win!



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Alise

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm


Retweeted.



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Alise

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm


Already subscribe to your blog.



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Alise

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm


Already like you on Facebook. Though I probably would IRL as well.



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Larry Shallenberger

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm


I “like” you in strictly a platonic facebook sense.

I just subscribed to your RSS feed.

But getting to the 3rd base of social media fan-dom is going to cost you a book. I’m not easy.



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Dan

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm


I can’t wait to read the book.



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Jeff Watkins

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:49 pm


I have this rare, genetic disorder that prohibits me from reading a book that I don’t win on your blog. It’s called imhavingakidandneedtosavemymoneyosis, or something like that.

Cheers.



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Ana Medina

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm


I can’t wait to read this book! It look amazing! (:



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Ana Medina

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm


Just ReTweeted



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Abby B

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm


Frank Viola is a great author. Would love to read Jesus Manifesto.



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Abby B

posted June 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm


I follow your blog with RSS on Google Reader.



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Valentine

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:00 pm


I read this blog via feed and I “like” MPT on Facebook.



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Christopher

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:07 pm


I subscribed on my GWU email and liked you on facebook. :-D

Oh and my pastor studied under Leonard Sweet.



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Anita Sullivan

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm


Drew me in with those few words, would love to read more.



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Charlie H.

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:35 pm


Very true that most do not recognize God, so thank him for grace when we don’t.



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Charlie H.

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm


I subscribe via Google Reader too



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Allison Lynn

posted June 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm


I loved “11″. Looking forward to the new book!



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Katie

posted June 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm


Sounds very interesting to read!



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Andrew

posted June 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm


I have been looking forward to reading this book.

I RTed your tweet.

And I “liked” you on FB.



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Bob Hostetler

posted June 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm


I like me this book. Need me some copy. Please make me winner.



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Bob Hostetler

posted June 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm


I retweeted your tweet on the book giveaway. Unfortunately, that makes it less likely that I will be a winner. What you can do to rectify that situation: make me a winner.



report abuse
 

Bob Hostetler

posted June 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm


I subscribed to your blog’s feed. I should have been subscribed anyway. Hah! Joke’s on you! Now, make me a winner!



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Bob Hostetler

posted June 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm


I also “liked” you on Facebook. And again, I already liked you anyway, so this was a mere formality. But hopefully it’s one that will win me a free book.

Oh, and my mom just called and pointed out that each time I said, “Make me a winner,” I forgot to say “please.” So please.

Thank you.



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Paul

posted June 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm


Show some love up in Canada, eh? Love the blog and twitter feed.



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Beryl

posted June 14, 2010 at 5:52 pm


“If I only fellowshipped with those whose beliefs matched mine, then, right now, I couldn’t have fellowship with myself fifteen years ago! Furthermore, twenty years ago I would have had to excommunicate my current self from the kingdom of God!”

I occasionally get ghostly email from my earlier selves. The 20-year-ago self can’t believe that I think I’ll get away with my lack of concern over denominational doctrine issues. The the 30-year-old self is scared witless that I’m headed straight to Hell for attending the church of which I am currently a member and that I’m dragging him along with me.

Both of them are appalled at the way I’ve let myself get fat.



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Matt Pittman

posted June 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm


I am looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the chance to win it!



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Matt Pittman

posted June 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm


I also follow your blog via Google reader.



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Joel

posted June 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm


I follow you using google reader too. The book looks great, would love to win a copy!! The idea of the emmaeus experience happening to us after each new revelation of God is one well worth thinking about.



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Paula

posted June 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm


I like you on FB, follow you on Twitter, am subscribed here via my google reader, and am also currently playing you in WWF.



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lauren

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:03 pm


that post was great. i can’t wait to read the book.



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lauren

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:04 pm


i subscribe on google reader too.



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lauren

posted June 14, 2010 at 11:05 pm


and like you on facebook.



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YTMDetc

posted June 15, 2010 at 2:37 am


Fantastic article, retweeted. We can never put Jesus in a box. He doesn’t want to be there, he wants to be out revealing Himself to the rest of the world.



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Adam

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:09 am


Thanks for the opportunity to get a free copy of this book. I have been wanting to check it out.



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Jessica

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:10 am


Sounds like a book I need right now! Read Mr. Sweet’s 11 Indispensable Relationships… numerous times. Can’t wait to read this one!



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John Harrison (tragic_pizza)

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:10 am


True fellowship seems to require change… not that others change to conform to our own standards in order to be welcomed, but that, through the exchange of ideas and mutual life experiences, change occurs in an unexpected, organic way.

Good stuff, that…



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Adam

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:12 am


Tried to retweet the post , but getting error message saying the web address is wrong? I tried…



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Adam

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:12 am


I subscribe to the rss feed.



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Jessica

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:13 am


Retweet – check.



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Jessica

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:14 am


Facebook “Like” (which sounds far too close to “lick”) – check.



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Joel I

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:23 am


Looking forward to reading the book!



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Jonathan

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:41 am


I have to read this book now. This post has given me a lot to think about as I encounter Jesus today (hopefully I don’t dismiss Him as a heretic)



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Meg

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:41 am


I just read and reviewed Jesus Manifesto a few weeks ago for Thomas Nelson. It was a fantastic book! Frank Viola’s words in this post really spoke to me. Thank you for sharing!



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Jonathan

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:44 am


Mr. Turner I am now following your RSS feed. Do I get a bonus for having followed your tweets for months?



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Jonathan

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:47 am


I retweeted.3 down one to go!



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Jonathan

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:51 am


I just liked you on Facebook. Was shocked to discover my wife already liked you–I have very complicated feelings right now.



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Patrick

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:57 am


I would like another book to read! I have heard good things about this one…



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Patrick

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:57 am


Also, I subscribed to the feed…



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Patrick

posted June 15, 2010 at 6:57 am


Also, I did the Facebook Like! woohoo!



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Brendan

posted June 15, 2010 at 7:00 am


Comment….there, I did it. Also, I really like free books, of this nature. And yesterday was my birthday, so there. Cool.



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Levi J

posted June 15, 2010 at 8:05 am


Have read both Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church. Both are outstanding.



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Levi J

posted June 15, 2010 at 8:05 am


I also subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed



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Daniel W

posted June 15, 2010 at 8:31 am


Can’t wait for this!



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jstainer

posted June 15, 2010 at 9:04 am


I have only read Reimagining Church, so it’ll be interesting to see what direction this one takes.



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Phil

posted June 15, 2010 at 9:06 am


I read “Pagan Christianity” and it really forced me to ask some serious questions. I’ve got “Re-imagining Church” in my reading list, and I can’t wait for this new one!



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Bob Allen

posted June 15, 2010 at 10:21 am


He came in a way that made it easy for His own people to reject Him. He’s never been one to force himself on anyone. Interesting post.

Would love to read a copy of Jesus Manifesto



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Bob Allen

posted June 15, 2010 at 10:21 am


Post tweeted by @allenkenya



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Nuvia Jasso

posted June 15, 2010 at 10:55 am


I need to read this book! <3, I've never won anything.



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Kyle Reed

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:00 am


Comment left.



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Kyle Reed

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:00 am


I subscribe



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Nuvia Jasso

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:07 am


Just RTed this, done with #2



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Nuvia Jasso

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:12 am


Google reader? Check! :)



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Nuvia Jasso

posted June 15, 2010 at 11:30 am


Okay, listo! Just liked u on FB.
The Jesus I knew was handed down to me! Im just beginning to really know him and falling for him everyday more. <3



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jstainer

posted June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm


Guess it turns out that I am supposed to leave another comment if I am a subscriber. So Voila! (instead of Viola…)



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donkeybalboa

posted June 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm


I “liked” you on facebook, I already liked your blog enough to subscribe to it! The book looks very interesting and challenging!



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ttm

posted June 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm


I hope I’m not too late to the party… I suspect this will be a great read!!



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