Thursday, July 16, 2009

From Eternity To Here - Book Review

I really enjoyed and was challenged by From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola. It was the first book I had read by Mr. Viola so I had quite a few questions on general ideas that were briefly mentioned (such as what does "organized religion" really mean? if it's bad - what makes it bad? and when did it become bad? when did it start? It didn't start with Jesus' followers in the early church? what went wrong and when?). I'm sure many who read writings from him and similiar authers don't come with those questions so it would make even more sense to them - but despite being naive to many of those terms and topics, I could still understand and readily receive the ideas presented and though I don't agree with everything written (obviously) I loved the book and it really fit well with my Spirit - very challenging and truthful.

I would go so far to say this book was a direct answer to prayer. Even if you go to back to my blog entry on June 18th you can see that what I was going through was directly answered by God to me through Desiring God by Piper and this book. I was going through this phase where I "got" that everything was supposed to be God-focused and somehow "we" were all us-focused/individual-focused... I knew that. But then as the devil does - he planted seeds in there as I tried to let Jesus help me be God-focused and I started doubting I was loveable at all. If the only thing good is God then what am I worth? I was feeling unworthy, empty, not worth being saved or receiving His love.... this book brought me back again to the gospel message and help me find that middle ground of understanding my worthiness as part of His creation and part of His ultimate God-glorifying purpose & mission.... yet it never denied my brokenness and it took away my self-focus and individualistic tendencies at the same time!! The problem before was that I didn't get the bigger picture and what I was apart of. Thank you God for all these beautiful lessons and reminders and reassurances of your love!! :)

I don't know enough theology to debate much of his stances on scripture.... I haven't read enough books to know if these ideas presented or new or not..... but they were new to me! I am simply reviewing this book from a standpoint of a lover of God & people who is allowing God to use her to exemplify how to live in community in love with God and others. I am simply a young passionate woman who has known Jesus since I was little but never allowed myself to truly be set free and filled with the Holy Spirit until a few years ago. Since that time of submission to Him (finally) in 2007 - the growth of Him in me has changed so much. I have so many questions, struggles, passionate pleas to Him full of doubt and questions but everything in me is completely convinced that He is the solution to everything and an all satisfying God that I want to partake in for eternity. Now on to the book review......

The book is a compiling of 3 distinct 'volumes'. The Bride of Christ. The House of God. The family of God and the Body of Christ. Reading about God's central purpose which is all 3 of these combined, was very powerful to me and it really helped unbridle my passion to be part of all these things.

Through it, I really felt God helping me take steps to stop thinking of the christian life as 'me' getting closer to God. Me becoming obedient to Him to be able to be used. Me living life abundantly. I truly was able to see the bigger shift and I really felt a paradigm shift happening in many areas. As I read some parts I literally felt some sort of shift in my brain happen. It was as if a box I had created was blown apart and my mind was open to many other perspectives and ways of looking at our purpose.

I really understood more God's ultimate purpose and how we really had messed it up in many ways with our human efforts to promote individualism and independence... when the Bible preaches exactly opposite. God's mission is not man-centered but God-centered. (pg 14) Amen!
Commentaries on each volume:

The Bride of Christ

I loved this chapter. I walked away from it thinking WOW how come we don't talk about the Bride more!? He is right, she is "a forgotten woman".... This truly confirmed so many of the things God has been doing in me the past year truly learning to love others. It really helped some things "click". This past year it seems He's been teaching me a lot about the Bride.... especially this section in Ephesians where it discusses the bride and Christ and each roles ('jobs').... so much of this chapter fit so right into my spirit I felt like I could have written it! God really spoke to me through this chapter a lot.

  • God is perfectly adequate within Himself. But because God is love, He is not content to be adequate in Himself. (pg 39).... was so thankful Mr. Viola made sure to make this clear. I would have been so turned off if he had not written this yet continued to talk about the Son's passion for a Bride and counterpart.
  • loved reading the connection/parallels between Adam & Jesus's love stories
  • curious how other men would receive these ideas of being part of the Bride. Does that sit well with other men? There are so many things we think of when we hear the term "bride"... are any of those things (gender specific) true about THE Bride? Wasn't sure how to work that out in my brain. Is Jesus male? He is a son, He is a male like Adam? I kept getting that all jumbled up. I can really relate being a bride, since I am now a wife - I wonder if the majority of men can fully appreciate being part of the Bride?
  • Very powerful explanation of why Jesus had to find a lover and have an outlet for His love on page 57. Loved that entire part of the book. Jesus' love must find a home and then it will eventually return to Him. If a woman doesn't open her heart to a man's affections, his love will find no outlet. It will stay frozen within him and he will experience an agonizing frustration.
  • "Free at Last" section might have been my favorite in the whole book. Pages 61 - 64 Without seeing yourself as God sees you, there will always be anxiety between you and the Lord. We have no right to an inferiority complex. We have no right to perpetual guilt. We have no right to see ourselves as unworthy. We have no right to allow ourselves to be hounded by an accusing conscience....... we *are* unworthy in ourselves... we all are... but we are not in ourself, we are in Christ. And that is where God sees you and me, inside of purity itself..... what grieves Him the most, is when she does not accept that love........ He has accepted you completely and fully. His love is not based upon your conduct, but upon His own. Open your heart and receive His fervent love. In this way, you will be able to reciprocate it...... she (the bride) has been programmed to believe she must work, sweat, and strain to earn God's favor and love...... She can only love her bridegroom when she is utterly liberated from fear, guilt, and religious duty and takes her Lord's view of herself..... We are His Bride, not His slave or His maid. She has His favor. He is pleased with her right now.
  • The writing on God's love... more thoughts on the 'fear' of the Lord, guilt and the condemnation we put on ourselves and each other on page 74 to 78 again so powerful! We do not have to hide from the Lord, though that is a spiritually transmitted disease started in the garden. Distancing ourselves from the Lord due to a guilt headache and a condemnation hangover hurts Him far more than the sin that created those feelings.
  • Your good works do not affect His love for you (pg 76)
  • Really liked how he continued to tie together different passages and books of the Bible. Gensis & the Gospel of John pg 116 and then Revelation &the Gospel of John
  • the chapter ends so beautifully: This glorious woman is in Him, by Him, through Him and to Him. God's grand mission is to obtain a bride who passionately loves His son. Any missional endeavor, therefore, that doesn't put the chruch front and cetner falls short of God's central thought...... This passionate God of yours is simply looking for a people who will love Him! Let us then accept His opinion of us and get down to the simple business of allowing Jesus Christ to overwhelm us with His unbreakable love and His unbridled passion..... this is the first step to fulfilling God's ageless purpose.

  • One thing I did not like throughout the book was the numerous "lists" as the author tried to parallel or make exhaustive support for a point he was trying to make. He lost me each time he did that and I'm really not sure where he's getting it from. "This represents this" ---- metaphors/parallels to what things could symbolize what. It seems to me many times he was trying to go 'too far' and though I don't think it went against scripture - I just don't think scripture supports the ideas he was listing off. But it didn't turn me off enough to put aside what he was trying to get across. I would just zoom through the "lists" and simply read the one or two from the list that he went in depth with and those 2 would usually make enough evidence for me for the point he is trying to prove.

An Eternal Quest: A House for God

  • In the last section, we discovered that God's ageless purpose is to obtain a bride for the eternal Son..... God's ultimate purpose is bound up with obtaining a home for the everlasting Father. (134)
  • I really believe Frank Viola did a great job tying in the scripture to this 2nd purpose. It seems so obvious to me now - God's mission to find a home/house. Not sure why I had never heard that talked/written about before but now I see it all over the Word.
  • stones that are not built together with other stones ruin good land (2 kings 3:19) Thus lone-ranger christians are of no use in the building of God's house... COnsequently, God is monumentally disinterested in raising up spiritual giants. He's looking for a people who are willing to be cemented together for His dwelling.... The Lord Jesus is looking for willing vessels who will abandon their western-styled individualism and live a shared life with others under His exclusive headship. (171)
  • had trouble with chapter 17 - sent the author many questions about "organized religion". what it means really, implications, and many other questions because I really just don't know enough about this debate and what is good/bad .... right/wrong about either. I do really understand the description and discussion of "ekklesia" and am in agreement with much of the chapter - but at the same time much of it is confusing - I am sure many of his other readers won't have that problem though.
  • one of those lists I wrote about above that I don't get and think just goes too far is pg 198 - 199 ..... really am not into all the symbolism.... symbolism always just seems too opionated and not always biblical.
  • Enjoyed that the book really promoted personality responsibility to partake in our Savior but also that it is impossible to make it an individual pursuit. We need each other.
  • Food, Drink and Rest section one of my favorites in the book. (pg 204) all about partaking in Jesus and letting Him do His work in us - there is rest in partaking not work, legalism, standards, expectations
  • section named Tale of 2 Trees (207) I believe did try to explain further the debate against religion..... "organized religion" I guess.... and this chapter made a lot more sense... but still wrestling with it all.
  • Great last paragraph that really summed up the section: The need in this hour is the same in every age. It is for God to secure a people who will allow Him to work the imperishables of gold, pearl and precious stone in them corporately. A people who will make their exit from the counterfeit habitats that vie for their loyalty, and who will pay any price to be constituted together with others who are learning to partake of Jesus Christ. For it is through such that God builds His house. (220)

A New Species: The Body of Christ and the Family of God

  • Loved this section as well! All three really were incredible and came together beautifully. This one really caused a lot of shifts to happen in my thinking. Just incredible points to focus on.
  • Description of church was awesome in chapter 22.
  • The Body has truly been the focus of much of what God has been teaching me in the past year - in preparation for how God is using me now/ what God is doing through me now in our church community.... so this chapter really sparked a lot in me. It brought all the lessons from the book together for me so much that I almost felt like wrote many parts of this myself. Love when the Spirit does that.
  • salvation is not simply an individual transaction. It's rather a translation from one community into another. (col 1:13)
  • Jesus Christ is one with His body.... We are part of His body.
  • When I read that section about how we truly are part of His body, that it's not a metaphor, but we are part of Him. He being the head, us the Body.... I just had such a shift in my brain/heart. It really gave me so much clarity and it was the puzzle piece that made so many things click. I think I knew that.... but for some reason reading it the way he continued to write about made it so much more clear. Thinking of how we are inseparable from Christ and how we are looked at by the Father the same way He looks at the Him (since we are one) just really helped me understand and accept on a whole new level His love, grace, undying passion for us.....
  • if you are in Christ, you cannot help but be loved by the Father, enraptured by Him, and the object of His undying love. this truth is difficult to hold in our minds. consequently, it is one of those tasks of a local Christian community to remind its members of those realities (250)
  • Because you and I are in Christ, we come to the Father through Christ and by Christ. If Jesus Christ can be condemned, than you and I can be condemned. If He is outside the reach of condemnation then you and I are as well (251) Romans 8:1
  • I like that he made sure to put in there a brief note about chastisement and that God will chastise out of love - but that it in no way affects His unconditional acceptance
  • when we discover that our relationship to the Father is actually Christ's relationship to His Father, it changes everything. Our souls find rest..... no longer do we say things like, "*I'm* working on *my* relationship with the Lord"... "*I'm* struggling to be a better christian"
  • You and I do not have separate fellowship with God the Father. we have been called into the one unique fellowship of God's Son. Christ's perfect unclouded relationship to His father is the marvelous legacy that He has given to you and me (254)
  • *loved* chapter 25 - discussion of Paul's letter to the corinthian church that was full of all kinds of problems.
  • We christians are not simply disciples of Jesus. We are not simply believers in the Savior of the world and the Lord of creation. We are members of Christ.
  • because we are all inseparable from Christ..... to wound a member of the Body is the wound Christ.
  • Col 1:18 - eph 1:10 --- wow this chapter really helped me understand much scripture in a totally new light.
  • pg 270 to 271 the Fullness of Christ - great explanation of church and how wrong our individualistic nature is
  • *really* loved the description in chapter 27 - what does it look like today?.... helping it sort of come into focus what true church should and could look like in its simplest forms. Many church leaders today will not like this chapter but I believe it's the truth. It really boils down what is of most importance and what "stuff" we could leave out of our church communities. challenging stuff but so true!

When then is God's end? What is His grand mission? It's to expand the life and love that's in the Trinitarian Community. It's to increase the fellowship of the Godhead and reflect it on earth........ to obtain a bride, a house, a family, and a body that is by Him, through Him and to Him..... God's ultimate purpose begins in Genesis 1 (which he did a great job explaining) before the fall not after the fall.

Just absolutely LOVED the community and corporate focus. I got so excited as I truly was convinced of God's purposes and it really just re-affirmed everything God has been teaching me the past few years. These topics, the bigger picture.....are truly not talked about often enough. This all (in general) fit so right with my Spirit and I just LOVE talking, listening, reading, writing about the Body, the Bride.... and now I can add in to that... the House of God.

Focusing on these purposes of God and finding my place in them, in Him, for Him, by Him has been an incredible revelation. I loved this book and would recommend it to all who understand or desire to understand that our purpose is not just to be saved from hell or to try to be a 'good person' or 'to please God'.... but there's a much bigger picture that is entirely focused on God and His ultimate purposes - as it should be! His story is so exciting and SUCH 'good news'!! Life is not about simply 'winning the lost' but it is ALL about God!!! We are part of a much bigger picture, praise God for making His purpose be in our best interests as well! More than any other 'purpose-focused' book and 'finding our place in the story' book --- it truly was God-focused; God-glorifying; God-centered and not me-focused; not individual focused..... which was truly soothing to my Spirit since I know that is the way things should be! It is all about Him!

Thank you so much God for using this book in my life and Mr. Viola for allowing this work to flow through you!


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The following bloggers are posting a review or Q & A with Frank Viola on his bestselling book FROM ETERNITY TO HERE today, Tuesday, July 21st. You may order the book at a discount at www.FromEternitytoHere.org – it’s also on audio book. Free discussion guide, sample chapters, interviews, and a free audio of the first chapter are available on that site also. Here are the bloggers who are participating:

Jay Becker - www.jaybecker.org
Mark D - http://deadmanstravelog.blogspot.com
Igniting Hearts - Kimber Britner - http://www.ignitinghearts.blogspot.com/
Karyn - http://tiger-kar.blogspot.com
Barefoot Preacher - http://thebarefootpreacher.blogspot.com
Every Day Angels - www.WeAreEverydayAngels.com
FaithEngineer - http://www.faithengineer.com
Kristen Schiffman - http://dancinginthemargins.typepad.com/
CrossPointe: The Church at Bevo - http://churchatbevo.blogspot.com/
Crazy Love for God - crazyloveforgod.blogspot.com
Amazima Ministries - oatsvallteam.blogspot.com
Down to Write Honest - http://downwritehonest.com
A Beautiful Mess - http://blnorth1105.blogspot.com/
The Blakes on a Mission - www.theblakesthailand.blogspot.com
Words by Jud Kossum - http://judkossum.blogspot.com
Eric Jaffe - http://www.ericjaffe.org
Reconnect with God – www.Reconnectwithgod.org
2nd Cup of Coffee - http://www.2nd-cup-of-coffee.blogspot.com
Nolan Bobbitt Website - www.nolanbobbitt.com
Klappyanne - www.xanga.com/klappyanne
Daveingland - http://www.daveingland.com
Randi Jo Rooks - http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com
Ephesians Five – http://ephesiansonefive.blogspot.com
Michael Bayne - http://www.michaelbayne.net
Encounter Church Helena Blog - encounterhelena.org
Thoughts B4 Conviction N2 Action - tsharrison.blogspot.com
Edevotion - http://www.e-devotion.blogspot.com
Seeking After - http://seekingafter.blogspot.com
Eric Powell - www.encounterhelena.org
Borrowed Light - http://fbcnewlondon.blogspot.com

5 comments:

babyfordawn1983 said...

Randi,

I can always tell when you get excited over something because I can feel it when I read your blogs. One day I hope to have that kind of passion towards Christ but this book seems way over my head for now. I am so glad it had a great impact on you. Have a great vacation!

Shelby said...

Randi,

Your ability to communicate the depth and root of our Christian experience is powerful. This felt like more than a book review; almost like a testimony of how God used Mr. Viola to answer prayer and give you vision. Sometimes, I think we all need permission to think the way we do. It sounds like this book did just that for you. And, your insightful review gave me freedom to continue seeking God beyond the pulpit. I'm going to get my mits on a copy as soon as I can. Thanks for sharing!

!!The Obnoxious SAHM!! said...

Great review. I'll have to look into it for myself :)

Randi Jo :) said...

Thanks you all.

Shelby - that is exactly what happened! :) You are so insightful and you SEE so much! :) Miss you!!

Thanks OSAHM :)

Candy-faith said...

Randi,
Hi :)
Thank you for your encouraging comments :) See that your expecting, how wonderful for you and your family...congratulations :)


Candy :)