JohnSWilson3 Blog


Review of “Revise Us Again: Living From A Renewed Christian Script” by Frank Viola
April 10, 2011, 2:34 pm
Filed under: 2A - Book Reviews

I finished reading “Revise Us Again: Living From A Renewed Christian Script” by Frank Viola. What a great book! I highly recommend every Christian to read it! “Revises Us Again” is refreshing book that takes a thoughtful but candid look at and a fresh perspective of how brothers and sisters gather together, sharing life together. The problem is our “religious script” as Frank calls it. “As Christians, we can safely assume that some of the script we have been handed matches the heart and mind of our Master. But typically, much of it doesn’t.” So begins a very revealing look at how typically the body of Christ relates according to the each others “script” and how to view our life as one in Christ, and to be “revised and re-visioned to match His heart and mind.”

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.” “Revises Us Again” helps us to learn to live life together.”

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7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

John.. I really enjoyed your review… almost enough to light
the fire again (as the song goes)… Waiting for mine yet…
I’ll be sharing it with our group here! all the best, bro’.

Comment by Ron

John,
Great review! I am really looking forward to reading this book! Thanks for doing such a complete review.

Comment by Jamal Jivanjee

thanks brother, appreciate the comments!

Comment by John Wilson

Thanks for sharing your review John! “REVIVE” us again through the power of the Holy Spirit that JESUS would be revealed, renewed, LIVED amongst the body! “Not I, but Christ”

Comment by Lynn

Amen Lynn!

Comment by John Wilson

Great Review. So complete. You’ve sold me, I’m gonna have to get this one too.

Comment by linda

it is a great book, learned a lot from it, about myself and why we say and do the things we do, the religious baggage that keeps us from moving forward in Christ. Much need book for today.

Comment by John Wilson




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