This article was originally posted on the
Beyond Evangelical Blog
by Frank Viola.
1. Instead of asking, “what is your book about,” I’m going to ask the question that’s
that question. And that unspoken question is, “how are readers going to benefit from reading your book?”
I believe that people will feel the freedom to see the Bible as more than dos and don’ts and see it as an invitation for God to move in their lives to change them and the world around them.
2. Tell us a bit about the experiences that shaped the insights in the book.
I grew up in a fairly legalistic church and along the way developed a view of the Bible as a manual on how to somehow stay out of hell. That, coupled with being a rule follower and a list maker, set me up for a life of trying to make God happy. Unfortunately, it caused me to just resent God. After years of Bible college, seminary, and ministry, I realized one day that I didn’t love God . . . and I was convinced he didn’t love me. He couldn’t. I hadn’t accomplished everything his Word told me to do. This sent me on a journey to rediscover my faith.
3. Some people teach that salvation is free, but God’s blessing requires obedience. Do you agree with this idea? Please support your answer biblically.
I do. It seems to be what Paul is saying in Ephesians 2 when he says we were saved by grace, FOR good works. In my mind this was the turning point for me. For years I knew I was saved by grace, but I just didn’t know what to do with the works. If they don’t save me, then what’s the point? But understanding these good works as an invitation from God to partner with him changed everything. We are not saved by good works, but for good works. And these good works have been prepared in advance for us to do. The beauty of these works is that they are in partnership with God and come with an enormity of blessings.
4. Briefly share the 7 things that you believe God is waiting to do in our lives?
When you trust God’s love . . . then God will invite you to partner with him. When you walk with Jesus . . . then God will help you look like Jesus. When you show others kindness . . . then God will show them grace. When you invest in God’s Kingdom . . . then God will invest in yours. When you relax . . . then God will guide you. When you notice God . . . then God will reveal his presence. When you place your hope in God . . . then God will give you hope.
5. What do you say to the person who suggests you’re teaching that God is obligated to act if we do certain things?
I’m not saying anything that God isn’t. Time and time again he tells his people that when they do one thing, then he’ll do another. So he doesn’t appear to be concerned by the obligation.
6. In your circles, what do you see more of in the Christian world? Legalistic people (those trying to make God happy by their conduct and harshly judging others who don’t follow their personal standards of conviction) or libertarian people (those who use grace as a justification for living in the flesh)?
In my circles it has always been legalism. There is something enticing about it because it helps us keep score. We can see how we measure up against each other. The problem is we don’t measure up very well with God. This leaves us exhausted, depressed, and missing out on grace because it seems too good to be true.
7. What do you hope readers will walk away with after they finish your book?
That God really does love them and wants to partner with them to change the world around them and within them.
This article was originally posted on the Beyond Evangelical Blog by Frank Viola.
is the author of
When You, Then God
and the lead pastor of Real Life Church in Valencia, California. Born in Oklahoma, he spent his childhood in Wichita, Kansas. Knowing from a young age that he wanted to pursue vocational ministry, Rusty was inspired by his youth pastor to study the Bible, and later to attend Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. Rusty played basketball at Ozark while earning a bachelor’s in biblical studies and a bachelor’s in preaching. Before his junior year, he met Lorrie Miller, and they were married in May 1994, the same month they both graduated from Ozark.
Originally aspiring to be a youth pastor, Rusty gradually began to sense that God was stirring something else in his heart. During his last two summers of college, he had served as an intern with Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and when he graduated, they offered him a full-time position as college pastor. He served at Southland for nine years, eventually moving to young adult pastor and age level director, while also attending Cincinnati Christian Seminary.
After considering an opportunity to join with a few friends who were planting a church in North Carolina, Rusty got a call from his friend Kyle Idleman, who was the founder and lead pastor of Real Life Church (RLC). Kyle had been offered a position in another church, and he recommended Rusty as his successor at RLC. In 2003, after a few trips to California, Rusty and Lorrie took the plunge and accepted the offer.
Though moving to California was certainly a change for Rusty, Lorrie, and their daughter, Lindsey, who was born in 2002, it quickly became home. In 2004, another daughter, Sidney, joined the family. There is nothing closer to Rusty’s heart than family, and this includes his extended family at RLC and their collective vision to be a church that unchurched people will find irresistible.
Rusty has led RLC through many changes, including the purchase of land, the construction of an eco-friendly building in the middle of town, and incredible growth from their original meetings in a 285-seat movie theater at the mall to now a multi-campus church where more than six thousand people gather every weekend.