Forgotten God_ Theology of the Holy Spirit 101

Due to the fact that I did not originally come up with this stuff, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The thoughts written below are my take on the book “Forgotten God” written by Pastor Francis Chan. If you would like to learn more about this subject matter, I suggest that you buy the book and read it for yourself and not merely trust my interpretation. Thank you Francis for all of your hard work and devotion to our King!

For the sake of your time and my time in writing this blog, I’m going to make this short and sweet!

Who is the Holy Spirit?

For our relationship with the Holy Spirit to be correct, we need to have a good theological view point to view God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Think about it this way: Theology helps us see God as He intended us to see Him and interact with Him in a proper manner. Or, to put in another way, our theology affects our methodology. Or, still yet another way, what we think affects what we do.

1) The Spirit is a Person not a force that we can wield. He has real feelings and desires for us to interact with Him as a person.

2) The Spirit is God and deserves to have the proper authority in our lives.

3) The Spirit is eternal and holy. The Spirit is here to stay, never to leave us, and He is far different from anyone that we will ever meet.

4) The Spirit has His own mind, and prays for us. The Spirits will is not our will and He cannot be led- He does the leading. The Spirit prays for us when we are praying out of God’s will.

5) The Spirit has emotions. Emotions are not weakness, but a gift that God created. Therefore, we can grieve the Spirit when we are not unified, spiteful, jealous, and selfish. Do you care if you offend God?

6) The Spirit is all-powerful, all-present, and all-knowing.

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Forgotten God_ What are you afraid of?

Due to the fact that I did not originally come up with this stuff, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The thoughts written below are my take on the book “Forgotten God” written by Pastor Francis Chan. If you would like to learn more about this subject matter, I suggest that you buy the book and read it for yourself and not merely trust my interpretation. Thank you Francis for all of your hard work and devotion to our King!


“The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless.”

-Tertullian

Tertullian was one of the early Church fathers. He actually wrote the first of Latin Christian Literature. Tertullian spent much of his life writing against heresy in the Church, which in turn gained him much persecution. God however, used his writings to bring Trinitarian theology into the forefront in the early Greco-Roman Church.

Thanks to Tertullian, we now have much of our understanding of the Trinity.

Tertullian’s quote is undeniable when it comes to the call for the Christian life. “A Christian is fearless!”

I don’t know about you, but fear has paralyzed my walk more than once. I currently battle with fear in my Christian walk. there are all sorts of fears that limit my obedience to the Word and hinder my faith at times. Below I want to discuss two thoughts from the book that have summed up much of my lack of faith and my reasons for timidity concernging the absoluteness of the Gospel.

Two types of Fear

1) “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’?”

This is an extremely hard question to admit! 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? Doesn’t that mean that God doesn’t really care?

This particular fear, I believe, can cause us to limit our expectations of God, or as Chan says, “cover for God.” By this I simply mean, we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more because we are afraid that God will not respond.

I can’t help but wonder how this kind of fear makes God feel: Imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Spirit out of fear that He won’t come through. How much it grieves Him to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made throughout Scripture due simply to fear! Does God not truly desire to bless us with this gift of the Holy Spirit!?

Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” God is a good Father, who passionately loves His children and wants intimacy with them. The Bible openly teaches that God is a good Father! It seems crazy to me that a good Father would ever hold anything back from the relationship with His children.

Do you believe that God in heaven gives His Spirit to those who ask? Do you really believe what the Bible says about this is truth?

In Acts, after Jesus has been resurrected and ascended to heaven, Peter addressed a crowd and declared, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Luke 2:38. Think about if you were in that crowd and Peter declared, “Repent and be baptized!” I doubt we would want to have anything to do with the guy… unless… the Spirit was actually doing something in our hearts… after Peter’s declaration 2000 people came to know and accept Jesus that day because of the Holy Spirits power!

I think it simply comes down to faith. I can’t make you believe that God is real, that He passionately loves you, that He pursues you resentlessly, or that He desires us to have joy. I can’t make a good enough argument that could never be contradicted. I think it all comes down to the question: Do you believe God keeps His promises or not? Do you believe that God exist and works in the world?

For some of you here, you’ve repented, been baptized, and have prayed in boldness for God to do something and have not experienced the results you expected. Now you are afraid of asking again because it would lessen your faith if God were to “fail to act” again.

A lot of people have asked me why God does not respond when they’ve prayed in faith. I don’t doubt that these people prayed in faith. In fact, I’ve experienced the same thing and I prayed in faith. Chan points out something that I think many of us overlook: But the question is whether they prayed for the things God has promised. Often, it’s the un-pomised requests that God “fails to act” in.

There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true! So, I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised and don’t put your hope in what others promise or what you’ve been told you’ll “get” if you’re a “good Christian.”

Chan says, “Ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts that He gives. 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 He is good and doing what is best?”

2) “What if God does show up but then asks me to do something crazy or to go somewhere or do something that’s uncomfortable?”

I’ve asked myself this question more times than I can count. “If God were to tell me exactly what He wants of me, would I even want to do it?” Chan tells a story of this in his book:

A few years ago, I asked one of my friends if he genuinely wanted to know God’s will- no matter what God desired to do through him. His answer was honest: “No, that would freak me out.” He then admitted that he would rather not know everything God wants him to do. That way in the end he could say, “I had no idea You wanted me to do all of those things.” I appreciated my friend’s willingness to say what many secretly think and feel about total surrender to God. It’s honest, more honest than most people are willing to be.

Can you relate to Chan’s friend? Looking back at my life, I would have to admit that I’ve thought and felt the same thing. Even today, I am battling with this idea of total surrender.

The sad fact is, many of us just don’t want to be lead by anyone other than ourselves. The whole idea of giving up control is terrifying!

Imagine this for a moment: imagine that you are sitting in your room or coffee shop right now reading this blog. After reading this you ask God to reveal His will for your life right now. You look up from prayer and see God’s hand writing His will for your life on the wall (kind of like he did with the ten commandments in the OT). What would you think? Would you get up right then and go for it or would you say, “God I’m not really ready for that right now… can you give me something else?”

The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask us to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will always direct you to the Way of the cross, just like it led Jesus to the cross and so many others…

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is the story of the boy Eustace, who becomes a dragon. In order to become a little boy again, he must undergo a tremendous amount of pain as the dragon skin is peeled away and torn from him. Only after he endures this painful process is he finally changed from the dragon back into a boy.

Because of the Fall, sin has become such a part of our lives that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to return us to how we are supposed to be. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, which can be a painful transformation.

So, if you say that you want the Holy Spirit in your life, you must 1st be honest enough to ask yourself if you really want to do His will or not.

Chan says, “Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all? But if you decide you do want to know His will, there will be moments when you have to let go of the fear of what that might mean- when you have to release your grip of control on your life and decide to be led, come what may.”

We just care too much about the opinions of others!

“A Christian is fearless.”

Our fear keeps us from truly allowing the Spirit to work in our lives. And our fear revolves around our appearance to others. We worry about how everyone will view us. We worry that if we submit to the Spirit that our lives will be really crazy! We fear being classified as the crazy-Christians or religious nuts. I don’t want to be classified as a religious nut!

But as followers of Christ, our relationship with Him has to be our focus! When we allow the perceptions of others to guide our lives, we allow their perceptions to control our lives and rob us of our relationship with Christ alone. We become overcome with the cares of this world, which we are no longer citizens of. We are citizens of another kingdom, a heavenly Kingdom, with a heavenly King!

Where does our allegiance lie? In the heavenly Kingdom or the earthly one?


The First will be Last

Mark 9:33-37

They came to Capernaum. When He was in the house, He asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me, but Him who sent Me.”

So Jesus is walking to Capernaum. And when he reached the house that he would be staying at, he overheard the disciples arguing about something. So he asked them, “What are you arguing about!?”

There was silence! They just got caught in the act. I mean, think about it, they just got caught by Jesus. Of course he knew what they were arguing about… he is Jesus!

So these guys are arguing about who is the greatest. Really a dumb sounding conversation… In my mind, I imagine it looked something like when we were little kids and we were bragging about how better we are then everyone else. Or the old “Mine is better than yours!” fight as a kid.

Jesus knows this and sits down with the disciples and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus doesn’t really condemn them for wanting to be the greatest, instead he kind of says, “your approach here is all wrong.”

Jesus essentially is saying, “If you want to be honored and if you want to be recognized and if you really want to be the greatest, let me tell you how to do it.” It’s not by climbing the ladder, it’s by descending the ladder.

Context

For the disciple’s defense, let me set up the context for you. These guys just came down off of the mount of transfiguration. At the mount of transfiguration, Jesus appeared to them in all of his radiant glory. Not only that, Elijah and Moses, the two OT guys, supernaturally appeared to them.

Think about if you were in this situation. You’ve just spent a year or two with Jesus, hearing Him teach about the coming Kingdom, then all of a sudden you get to see some awesome supernatural feet. If that was me, I would be feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I would be thinking, “wow! I just saw the most awesome thing ever!”

Think about it this way, look back in your life and think about a time when you got to be part of something amazing. Afterward, did you feel kind of special?

A few years ago, I got to be part of Winter Jam. I volunteered to work the event, basically so I could see Jeremy Camp for free. There were tons of other bands there, but all I wanted to see was Jeremy. Well, I go the neat opportunity to help take up the offering taken up that night to help some starving kids somewhere. Well, through a weird series of events, I found myself backstage with two other guys. After handing off the buckets full of cash, we kind of stayed backstage. We knew we weren’t supposed to be there, but we were. Not only that we got to meet all of the bands as they were coming out to go up on stage. By far the best location in the whole place. The next day, as I met with my friends at lunch, I got to tell them how special I was, in getting to be back stage the whole concert. How I got to do something they didn’t get to do. How I got to experience something they didn’t get to experience.

I was feeling pretty good about myself. I imagine this was how the disciples felt after leaving the mount seeing the superstars Moses and Elijah.

So these guys knew that they got to experience something, no one else on the planet had gotten to experience. They knew that they were selected above everyone else. They felt that they were great, but the question among themselves was “Who’s the greatest?”

The American Way

Which I believe can be much of our focus here. Who’s going to be at the top of the class? Who’s going to be the leading scorer? Who’s going to win the gold metal? It’s just the American way.

I mean, early on as kids, we are enrolled in scoring contest, beauty contest, athletic contest, academic contest…etc.

How many of you guys have a lot of trophies? I used to have a lot of soccer trophies when I was a kid. I used to hang them on my wall, place them on my shelf, and brag to all who entered of my greatness.  My focus was on being the best.

I think that somewhere within us, we think that the way to greatness is through winning, through outdoing everyone else, through receiving the recognition.

So Jesus, just took the American dream and turned it upside down!

He says, “yes, this what you’ve been focusing on. You think this is what life is about, and it’s completely off. I’m telling you this is what life is about. It’s not about getting the best seat in the house. Or getting first place at an event.”

Mark 10:31 says, “But many who are the greatest now will be the least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

If this life is just a breathe, if this life is just a moment, and we have all of eternity to go; then wouldn’t it make sense to live this life with all of eternity in mind? Recognize what Jesus says here in this verse, that those who are considered least here will be greatest in heaven.

Maybe this life is not about self promotion or titles or net worth or autographs or trophies or to be famous, but to go to the back of the line, to give up the best seat in the house, to take your vacation and go on a mission trip, to take your money and buy lunch for someone else, to give of your abundance, to sacrifice something of yours for the betterment of someone else- not expecting anything in return.

You serve in ways that nobody notices, you serve in times where nobody says thank you. You are constantly doing the opposite of what “feels right.”

The Brain Game

So, I learned today that things don’t always work out like you planned- and this is a good thing! When life throws you lemons make sweet tea… or something like that…

I think that sometimes we can have the tendency to get so caught up in our own heads that we forget that others are out there willing to help us along or better yet- pick us up when we fall. God did a really good job creating relationships. When the Spirit frees us up from the trappings of the Enemy, we can see how good God is in the creation of relationships. I mean they work so well, when the Enemy isn’t involved.

Today, I learned that my perfect little world isn’t all that perfect. That I’m not always right, even when I’ve got a very good argument to be right. You see, sometimes we can get so caught up in our own heads and so mixed up in our thoughts we miss the very thing that we desire the most- relationship. We long for a good relationship, but fear the steps to get to one.

I don’t really understand how everything works, but I have learned that I need to trust others a little more than I do. Sometimes other people can be more right than me… Thanks for letting me share 🙂

Soul Cravings_ “The Longing for Community”

 

Have you every took a long look at your cravings? I have recently… and I’m not talking about the kind of late night cravings for chocolate or pizza, but the kind of craving your soul has for intimacy, love, and meaning. I’ve recently started re-reading a book by Ewrin McManus called Soul Cravings. I suggest the book to anyone who is genuinely seeking God. In the book, Erwin takes us on a journey for God through an honest look at ourselves.

I’ve spent the last day honestly looking at myself and noticed the same soul cravings in myself. I think that all of us are longing for something. But what is that something? In the Soul Cravings book, McManus breaks down these “somethings” into 8 things: Intimacy, love, ambition, destiny, origin, meaning, life, and death. All of us wonder about these things. We desire to have intimacy with others. We long for true love that lasts. We have ambitions that drive us forward in life. We continually wonder what our destiny is. We question our existance and origin. We look to have meaning in our lives. And, we live life to only be confronted with death someday. What does all of this mean?

In Mark Driscoll’s book, Doctrine, he gives us the answer:

“Our longings for love, unity in diversity, communication, community, humility, peace, and selflessness are in fact- by design- longings for the Trinitarian God of the Bible and a world that is a reflection of the Trinity. Tragically, human desires corrupted by sin turn in on themselves; rather than finding satisfaction in God, longings become lusts- bottomless pits of selfish desire, never quite satisfied, inevitably leading to despair. Because we are made in the image of the triune God to reflect his glory, we will never stop longing [emphasis added]; yet, our sin-stained longings distort that reflection.

The Trinity is the first community and the ideal for all communities. That community alone has not been stained by the selfishness of sin. Therefore, in the diversity of God the Father, Son, and Spirit is perfect unity as one God that communicates truthfully, loves unreservedly, lives connectedly, serves humbly, interacts peacably, and serves selflessly. In a word, the Trinity is the ideal community in every way. Or, to say it another way, God is a Friend and has Friends.”

Mark Driscoll, Doctrine, Crossway: Wheaton, Ill, pg.12

So, our longing for intimacy, love, ambition, destiny, origin, meaning, life, and death is all an illaberate longing for God. I personally agree with this statement. In looking back at my life- the times that I tried to fulfill these longings myself- it just seems that I gratified only my own selfishness not benefit anyone else. Driscoll said that our longings have a way of turning in on themselves… so true! Mine always do!

The sad fact about having all of these longings is that they will never be fully met until we finally meet God face to face. Only then will we have the opportunity to fully indulge on God’s everlasting goodness and be filled. I long for that day, but until that day comes, I must be satisfied in the fullness that God gives now. He is here and he is living in me.

I challenge you to take a long look at your soul cravings and see what you notice. Look at your past cravings and see what the result of those were. And if you notice some selfishness take the time to look for God in your experiences; chances are He was there, but maybe you just missed Him.