Sunday, June 5, 2011

Forgotten God

I just finished reading Forgotten God Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.  I borrowed this book from the library since I have been on a quest to know more about the Holy Spirit after reading through Acts awhile ago.  While this book wasn't exactly what I was looking for as far as answering my questions, it was a good book.  Since it was on loan from the library I couldn't mark my favorite sections to remember later....bummer! 

This is the first Francis Chan book I've read after being 'introduced' when a friend shared a you tube video of Francis preaching.  I guess just by my personality I always 'test' an author to make sure that I'm not being deceived before I'm really comfortable reading their work.  I did not come across anything that I did not agree he 'passed the test'.  (Of course, that's not to say that we don't each need to 'test' anything we read or hear to ensure that it lines up with the Word of God-including anything you read here!)

In reading the book I came across a a few themes God is working on in my life now-and has been for awhile.  1. Expectation 2. Motivation 3. Comparing 4. Grace vs Works 5. Relationship

1. Expectation (Trust)
On page 47 Francis writes about a common fear-What if God doesn't come through? One concern that I've often heard (and felt) is, what if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens?  What if I ask for more of the Spirit's fruit in my life and don't see any apparent "results"?  It's scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn't that mean God failed? Doesn't that mean His Spirit isn't all we've been told He is? I think the fear of God failing us leads us to "cover for God." This means we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more. (read Luke 11:13)
Do you believe that God in heaven gives His Spirit to those who ask?  Do you REALLY believe it?  This truth and what it means is so incredible that no one who actually believes it could then fail to ask for the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:28 is where we see that we receive the Holy Spirit when we begin to follow Christ)
It really comes down to trust.  Do you trust God that when He says no or "not in this way" to you, you still believe that He is good and doing what is best?
Um...yea, tough questions, huh?  It's easy to answer the questions the way they should be answered, but I had to reassess the easy answer and make sure my life lines up with what I say I believe. 

2. Motivation
Chapter 4 asks: Why do you Want Him? While we may have our own purposes for desiring the Spirit's presence and power in our lives, so does God! Yep...this theme keeps showing up in almost every area of my life...what's my motivation?  Do I want to bring glory to myself or to my God? 

3. Comparing
One of the things I enjoyed reading in the book was the profiles at the end of each chapter of a person (or couple) that Francis describes as being Spirit filled. Their stories were amazing and inspiring to see the fruit produced by Christ living in them! Since you know I have some comparison issues, at first these were tough for me because I tried to compare where I am now in my life with these people-and wanting my life to look like theirs.  Of course the Holy Spirit reminded me that He has a plan for my life that won't look like anyone else's but will be just as significant in it's own way. I was reminded that Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith and it is not my responsibility to 'produce fruit'. My responsibility is to trust in and rely on the power of the God working in me to will and to act according to his good purpose.
On Page 130, Francis asks the reader to think of people in their life who walk with the Spirit daily so much that it's evident in the graciousness and peace they exude.  But Francis is quick to point out that in doing so it would be easy to compare ourselves with others in this area and that is NOT our job.  Instead he encourages the reader to examine their own life. 

4. Grace vs Works
Pages 131-133 is a discussion of who's job is it.  Is it God's work or my work? Francis uses Galatians 3:3
and Philippians 2:12-13 in the discussion.  Pages146-149 discuss the fruit of the Spirit and how as believers we often try to produce it on our lives. Francis encourages us with this reminder-  Instead of mustering up more willpower, let's focus our energies and time on asking for help from the One who has the power to change us.  Let's take the time to ask God to put the fruit of His Spirit into our lives.  And lets spend time with the One we want to be more like. 

5. Relationship
Throughout the whole book were reminders that it's all about a relationship with God...not religion or rules and regulations.  The last sentence of the paragraph above reminds us to spend time in communion with our God-have a relationship! Another quote stuck out to me: Our lack of intimacy often is due to our refusal to unplug and shut off communication from all others so we can be alone with Him.  ( that a BIG ouch to anyone else?  I was hit hard with this because I am usually so quick to 'comminicate' with the world through facebook-and was convicted that I sometimes do that more than run to Him throughout the day!) One last thing on relationship that came at the end of the book: You would think that learning more ABOUT  God would be a good thing....but when we gain knowledge ABOUT God without responding TO Him or assimilating His truth into our lives, then it is not a good thing.  I needed this reminder as I am always seeking to know more-just need to make sure that I spend time with the One I am seeking to know more about!

My favorite quote from the book is on page 142:
I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn't be doing this by my own power.  I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through.  That if He doesn't come through, I am screwed.  ( I probably shouldn't write that word here, but it's how I truly feel about this.) I like this paragraph so much because it is my desire as well...and I literally laughed out loud at Francis' honesty and choice of words.

So, if you are a reader I would reccomend this book-or any other by Franics Chan, since I like his wrting style...just like he was chatting with his reader.  If you have read the book would love you to post here anything you got from it!  (Also...don't know legal ramifications about posting quotes from a book on a blog-for a complimentary review.  But, note that all italicized words are dorect quotes from the book and I put page numbers with most of them.)

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