Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan

Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit is direct answer to my prays about relationship with Jesus, and it comes from a well-respected pastor who experienced all the various forms of Christianity, ranging from Sunday go to meeting all the way through practiced charismatic response.  He, like I, wants to base his personal life at the direct disposal of the Lord, and found that the Holy Spirit had not just been neglecting in our relationship with God but most often ignored. Chan lays out the biblical support for learning to communicate with the Holy Spirit and then illustrates these truths with points and counter points from our own lives and times. At the end, I, for the first time since I invited Jesus into my life, have begun to understand what a personal relationship with the Lord is.

Francis Chan starts the book with a direct confrontation on everything I thought I knew about a relationship with Jesus, backed by the scripture and the direct words of Jesus himself. Once he lays down a convincing biblical argument for a relationship with the Holy Spirit, especially since we already confess Jesus, he then addresses that acid like response we all have when our understanding of theology and Jesus is challenged and when we ourselves may have missed an important point, in a chapter he aptly names, What are You Afraid Of? Chan then launches directly into the biblical and theological support for his understanding of the Power of the Holy Spirit, what a relationship with the spirit is, and before he concludes, as if you have always been walking in the spirit and being radical for the Lord, he tells you how to use it in your church, and why you should.  

“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…”  This statement from Chan’s book cut to the bone of how I interact with God on any level.  I have learned the Christian ease and have learned how to play the game, stating rightly that God is Love, and Jesus is Lord and that no problem is too big for Our God. Yet, I am afraid to pray the big prayer, because whenever I have in the past, it has failed.  When I bring it to my pastor, and ask why, the normal response is “you were not praying in God’s will.” Just what, I want to scream, is God’s will?  But instead, I am told to get into the bible more.  That is hard to do.  I am in the bible hours a day.  Have been for decades.  So I stopped asking how to determine God’s will, and had bought into the Open Door, Closed Door philosophy that teaches God will open doors he wants us to walk through and closes those he wants us to avoid.  Kind of, “leave it in God’s hands while I continue in my life,” life style. Chan, instead, tells you how the Holy Spirit is how you know God’s will, and then tells you how to listen.  

About the time you start thinking, I got this Holy Spirit thing, he writes: “When was the last time you were saddened because your sin pained the Holy Spirit?”  What?  I always referred that type of thing to God the Father, who I know separated my sin from Him as far as the east is from the west, or Jesus, who loves me so much he died for me. Problem is, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the Father and the Holy Spirit is within me.  I had been ignoring, hurting even, God within me.  Think about that.  I had never even though of the Holy Spirit as alive.  I had really not even though of the Holy Spirit as anything but a part of God that was something like a spiritual communication line.  A Wire. Boy was I wrong.

Then, as if Chan was my brother, he writes: “We all have to answer the question: Do I want to lead or be led by the Spirit?”  I’m a control freak.  I would like to think that I would do whatever God asks me to do, and I have done so on many occasions, but now that I know I have been ignoring the relationship I most needed, the one with the Holy Spirit, I realized that I was the main obstacle.  I have always wanted to use My gifts My way for Jesus, not the Holy Spirits gifts for God the Holy Spirits way.  

Now it gets scary.  Chan lays down some awe inspiring details about the Holy Spirit, and how to recognize if the Holy Spirit is in you church. Then, near the end, he lays down the one thing that most of my Christian friends and I have been talking about for a year, but most Christians think of as nearly anti-God. “The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community.”  Cool.  I want that too. Everyone treats everyone with respect and caring.  Well, actually, I don’t want that all the time, because I have TBI, and personal contact that is superficial sticks out like fire on water to me, and I physical get ill trying to avoid it.  So I read that suggestion as “real community.”  Ahhhh.  Warm water, sunny days.  The next sentence is a hard saying. “A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers.”

Get it.  Share your money.  My mind went right to the women that Jesus noticed at the temple giving 100% of what she had to give.  How many Christians, I wonder, share this image of real community?
If you ever asked, “what is a personal relationship with 

God?” then this book is for you.  Jump in with both feet.  If you don’t like to have your understanding challenged, however, you will find this hard to read, because preconceived notions all die at the cover of this book.

 If you want to buy the book, or read more about it, click here.  

Or, when looking for this book at a lower price, I found I could buy many (4) of his books under one cover for 1/4 of their listed price separately.

(If you end up buying the book or books, and you use theses links, the blog actually gets paid.  So if you are really interested, follow the links.)

(I mentioned that this book was a direct answer to a prayer, and this footnote is about that.  I have been for months been wondering what people meant when they were talking about "personal relationship" with Jesus, as I can not find that anywhere in the bible, unless you happen to be an apostle.  I see people with relationships with their bible, but not with Jesus or God. I had been praying about, complaining about, asking about it, and getting now where. So I asked Pastor Alex, the youth pastor at High Pointe Church in Thompson Ct, since he had mentioned this concept in a recent sermon. He suggested this book.  He was right.  Thank You Pastor Alex.)

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