Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Francis Chan, The Forgotten God

Forgotten GodOver the last couple weeks I have been reading Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, by Francis Chan. I have been blessed over the last couple years listening to his sermons on Youtube and I have read a couple of his other books and enjoyed them. One of the opening questions in the book really got to me, “If there was no Holy Spirit how would that affect you life and your church? How would it change?” Because we do (at least I do sometimes) often proceed with our lives without overtly thinking about what the Spirit wants or recognizing his work in our life, I think this is a good question to ask oneself periodically. Now, the Spirit is a sovereign person and works in our lives even when we are  not thinking about Him, but he wants us to “keep in step,” “be filled” and submit to His work in our lives and enjoy His presence.

One of the benefits for me of reading the book was a renewed emphasis on hearing what the Spirit is saying to me, or how He is leading me, if you prefer that language. I have always struggled in my life with a dedicated prayer life. Frankly it is hard to keep doing it when it feels like a one-way conversation. Since I have been sick I have been much more focused on listening for the Spirit and (why are we surprised when God keeps promises) and I have heard Him. Yes, there have been times of tremendous closeness with God, speaking into my life and definite proddings in my own spirit. In addition, I have been better able to recognize God’s voice and leading in the scriptures, in worship, and in the voices of His people. It is likely this was happening all along and I was just a little too busy to always hear it. That reminder in the book was more than worth spending the time in it.

Another thing I appreciated about the book was the balanced approach. All of us have been put off by “crazy excesses” or have been assaulted by someone with a “word from God for you”, that was obviously an attempt at controlling or a flight of megalomaniac fantasy. He deals with that in the book, but avoids the other extreme of throwing out all the sometimes strange and miraculous in the working of the Spirit. Again, as I listen, I find God giving discernment to recognize what is His voice and what is not. The Spirit will never draw you outside the parameters of scripture. We Christians believe in the supernatural. If we believe a man rose from the dead, it is not a stretch to believe that God can speak to us, as He did over and over to people in the Bible.

So, I would recommend the book to anyone who wants to focus more on “keeping step with the Spirit.” It is a well-balanced book which treats seriously the authority of scripture. God has given Francis Chan a way of stating things that brings new life and insight into truths we have known for a long time. A better awareness of what the Spirit is doing cannot help but draw us closer to God, grow us in our ability to serve and better accomplish what God is doing in our lives.

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