Monday, June 4, 2012

Forgotten God- by Francis Chan

Wow...where to start?  This book really impacted and challenged me. 

Francis starts first by challenging our rather human habit of functioning dependent on our own strength and talents. 
  • "Without [the Holy Spirit], people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results.  The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation.  And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit.  But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural.  The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice."
Francis Chan points out that Jesus said that it was "better" for Him to leave because He would send the Holy Spirit!  Have we ever really wrestled with that idea - that Jesus Himself said it was better for us to have the Spirit than Him in the flesh walking beside us?  Wow!  Jesus walked next to His disciples, but the Spirit dwells inside of us!

I think what I loved especially about this book is Francis' point that we have access to the Spirit  - and this means that living outside the realm of the 'normal life' or even what is acceptable in our Christian culture is actually what the Spirit is calling us to do! 
  • "It really is an astounding truth that the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you.  He lives in me.  I do not know what the Spirit will do or where He'll lead me each time I invite Him to guide me.  But I am tired of living in a way that looks exactly like people who do not have the Holy Spirit of God living in them."
  • "The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask you to go somewhere or do something you wouldn't normally want to choose to do.  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."  Just like Eustace in The Chronicles of Narnia:  "Sometimes the sin we take on becomes such a part of us that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to free us.  The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, and this can be painful."
My heart sang in agreement with some of the following statements...
  • "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 looking 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."
  • Francis states, "...I have felt closest to God when nearness to Him was a necessity."   -- "Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the 'Helper' or 'Comforter.'  Let me ask you a simple question:  Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?  It is those who put their lives at risk and suffer for the Gospel (Phil 1:29) who will most often experience His being 'with you always, even to the end of the age' (Matthew 29:20)." 
We don't need the Spirit if we are just trying to live a normal life...but if we want to obey everything Jesus taught - and teach others the same - then we need Him desperately!  I want to be one of these people.
  • "Thinking, questioning, and talking can take the place of letting the Spirit affect our immediate actions in radical ways.  God wants to see His children stake everything on His power and presence in their lives." 
  • The widow who gave two coins - "Jesus commends this woman, whom the world overlooked and perhaps even derided.  Jesus praises her for her revolutionary faith, for holding nothing back.  She literally gave everything she had, even though she was a 'poor widow' with no other means of income or support.  And Jesus holds her up as an example."  -- "The Spirit may lead me into total sacrifice financially, or He may lead me toward humiliation in the opinions of people around me." 
  • "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 don't believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world's perspective, a way I know I can 'manage.' I believe He is calling me- and all of us - to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged. He wants us to walk in step with His Spirit rather than depend solely on the raw talent and knowledge He's given us."
I have known people who walk with the Spirit...who leave me wondering how they manage to walk through life with such peace and grace toward others.  I look at my own life and wonder where some of that power is...and desire that God would cause a deep change in my life. 
  • "Haven't you met those rare people who you can tell are daily keeping in step with the Spirit?  Somehow they exude graciousness and peacefulness to a degree that is not humanly possible. Don't you want that in your own life?  I mean, who really wants to be a stressed-out, angry, selfish person? It's not much fun, for you or anyone who happens to come in contact with you."  ... "Look at the fruit of your own life and let it be a gauge for you of your own connectedness with the Spirit." 
I am a fearful person sometimes.  I look at my history, my life story - and it is marked with insecurities and uncertainties that long ago internalized in a why that make them simply part of my life journey, the challenges I face daily.  Some people seem so brave and strong - unhindered by fear and what other people might think.  But I have been encouraged lately - because it seems that God delights to work through those who are 'unlikely' and 'weak' - the ones that others perhaps look down on for their insecurities.  But as Francis states below - perhaps my life's palet is here so that God can do a transforming work in a way that only He can do!
  • "Have you ever prayed that God would so fill you with the Holy Spirit that people would know the change could be empowered only by the Spirit?"
  • "... He wants to completely transform us.  He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place..."-
  • "...God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him, because that means no one else can steal His glory." 
  • "If you have not known and experienced God in ways you cannot deny, I would suggest that you are not living in a needy and dependent way. God delights to show up when His children call on His Name and when they are trusting fully in Him to come through..."
To summarize - how can I step out in faith in new ways?  How can I take bold new steps to show that He is at work in me...stepping out of my comfort zone...relying on Him desperately to come through?!?!  Francis sates,  "God wants the praise for what we do in our lives.  But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them?  If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and make His presence known?"

God, I seek to follow You to places where I need You desperately... Spirit, come and transform me!

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