Monday, January 17, 2011

Forgotten God

Francis Chan has quickly become one of my favorite pastors and author. If you would like to know more about him, his books, or his church you can click on the following links: Francis Chan or Cornerstone Church. In 2009, I read his first book Crazy Love, and it was simply amazing. Forgotten God was released in September of 2009, and I decided it was a must read for 2010. This past semester I read Forgotten God with a student I disciple. In this book, Chan refers to the Holy Spirit as the "forgotten God." He says, "There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today." Chan challenges the reader to experience more of the Holy Spirit and to open our lives to His presence and action.

Growing up in the South and being a regular attender of church, I believe I had a pretty good head knowledge about God and Jesus Christ. Of course, it was not until college that I entered in to and began developing a personal relationship with the Lord. Somewhere along the way though, I completely missed out on the Holy Spirit. I am not sure if it was the lack of teaching in the church or my lack of comprehension, but I did not begin to even hear about who the Holy Spirit was until my college years.. Ephesians 1:13-14 says, "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." As a believer in Christ, we do not have to live the Christian life by our own strength and power, we are empowered by another, the Holy Spirit. As a new believer, this completely changed my Christian walk, but over the years neglect slowly set in. There are days, even weeks, when I completely neglect the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in my life. I often seem to think that I can handle life on my own, and that I can get by apart from the Holy Spirit. What a tragedy! I am so grateful to Francis Chan for exploring a topic that not many authors have thus far, and for re-awakening my heart and mind to my daily need for the Holy Spirit. I desperately needed to read this book, and I pray that as it goes back to sitting on a shelf that the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life will not go "back to the shelf". I pray that every day I will live more fully in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Listed below are some of my favorite quotes:

"The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely human creations. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God."

"Christ said it is better for us that the Spirit came, and I want to live like I know that is true. I don't want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly."

"When it comes down to it, many of us do not really want to be lead by the Holy Spirit. Or, more fundamentally, many of us don't want to be led by anyone other than ourselves. Do you thrive on controlling the big and small in your life? Does the thought of letting go and listening to the Spirit's guidance scare you and only make you cling tighter to what you think you have?"

"The Spirit will lead you to the way of the cross, as He led Jesus to the cross, and that is definitely not a safe or pretty or comfortable place to be. The Holy Spirit of God will mold you into the person you were made to be. This often incredibly painful process strips you of selfishness, pride, and fear."

"The truly startling thought is that by not submitting and totally trusting the Holy Spirit, I am not submitting to or trusting God. This is no small matter. We all have to answer the question: Do I want to lead or be led by the Spirit?"

"And like our Savior, who poured out His life and blood so we have reason to rejoice, we were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts. We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of. This is our purpose for living. This is our hope."

"It is a spiritual discipline to be still, to listen, and to cut out the distraction and din of our world. And as we practice this stillness, this waiting, this being, it is then that we can experience deep intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit."

"I think a lot of us need to forget about God's will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions."

"I struggle to always and actually keep in step with the Spirit moment by moment. To submit and give up everything truly is radical and terrifying. However, when I think deeply about it, walking in my own wisdom, contrary to the Spirit's leading, is even more frightful. Though I struggle, I know that ultimately I want nothing more than to live in total surrender and abandonment to the Spirit every moment I have left on this earth."

"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."

"No matter where you live and what your days look like, you have the choice each day to depend on yourself, or to live safely, and to try to control your life. Or you can live as you were created to live--as a temple of the Holy Spirit of God, as a person dependent upon Him, desperate for God the Spirit to show up and make a difference. When you begin living a life characterized by walking with the Spirit, that is when people will begin to look not to you but to our Father in heaven and give Him the praise."

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