It doesn't make sense that Almighty God would have children characterized by fear and insecurity. Could it be that we've forgotten the One who distinguishes us from every other religion and cult in the world? Chan returns us to the Holy Spirit as the Bible describes Him.
As the pastor of a mega church in California, Chan was bothered by the lack of supernatural power and dramatic life-change within his congregation. It began to dawn on him that “something very important (was) missing..... namely, the Holy Spirit.” This realization pushed him to search the Bible for truths about who the Holy Spirit is and how He operates in our lives. The result is a book that is scripturally sound, personally convicting, and powerfully motivating. Chan's book is a wake-up call to the church, as he urges us to live radical, spirit-filled lives that show we are different from the rest of the world. He reminds us that we have the same power within us that created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead. Too often, we want to live safe, comfortable lives, taking no risks and avoiding danger at all costs. This book made me realize that if I am filled with the Spirit, I should be doing things that seem crazy at times...and I should be encouraging – not discouraging – other Christians to live the same way
A fairly good discussion, although the author never seems to account for likely differences between the work of the Spirit in the first century from what He has done since the first century. Nevertheless, Chan makes many compelling observations about how whatever God is doing, man must also work as well and submit his will to His; that we should seek to follow God more than keep begging to try to find out His particular will for us; that we should seek to participate in God's work more than expecting God to bless our work; that if we live according to the Spirit there should be evidence of His fruit in our lives-- love, peace, patience, etc.
A more theological bent that is greatly appreciated; nevertheless, an issue that still requires a lot of wrestling and challenges, and many vexing issues that could have some clarification and yet not.
In the introduction he states, "While no evangelical would deny His [Holy Spirit's] existence, I'm willing to bet there are millions of churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experienced His presence or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can" (15). I don't think too many would argue with this statement. Unfortunately, too many Christians are convinced that they can't do any better and they accept the status quo. Of course, that is the point - they can't do any better and need to let Holy Spirit empower them. Why are so many Christians discouraged and feel disempowered about living holy lives?
Chan addresses this issue in seven chapters each of which seeks to answer a specific question. At several points in the book he cautions readers to stop and think about where they are at, or to read a certain section of Scripture and reflect on it before coming back to this book. This is helpful if people are willing to do it. Like most things in life, readers will only be successful in receiving a fill-up of Holy Spirit and living out of his strength if they seek to place themselves within his sphere of influence. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit isn't about intellectual knowledge but about allowing Holy Spirit to control us. Let us renew our minds and walk in his ways. Amen!
This book isn't overly long (167pp) so it will be an easy read for most. There is more to be said about Holy Spirit and his role in our lives and in the church but if there was one introductory book I would want church goers to read this would be it.
Top clips from the book are as follows:
forget what God wants for our life and concentrate on what God wants you to do right now (dwelling on God's plan for us in the future often enables us to neglect God's call NOW.)
sometimes we don't feel the HS because our life is too safe; or too loud
don't let the church normalize, mellow, or institutionalize you
Right now, I don’t even know how to describe Francis - he was a pastor of a local LA church, I suppose now he is a book author, a husband, a father, a Calvinist, a public speaker, a prophet, a sounding board for resolute doctrine and a very funny and likable guy.
In Forgotten God, Chan makes a case that the true “power” and “tapability” (my own word) of the Holy Spirit is often left unaccessed, by both Christians and the Church. Chan writes,
“You are most likely familiar with the fruit passage in Galatians 5 which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, (and) self-control…” You may even have the list memorized. But look over those traits right now and ask yourself if you posses each to a supernatural degree. Do you exhibit more kindness and faithfulness than the Mormons you know? Do you have more self-control than your Muslim friends? More peace than Buddhists? More Joy than atheists? if GOD truly lives in you, shouldn’t you expect to be different from everyone else?”
Francis is one of those voices who can look at scripture and find the “obvious” point we have all been missing – he finds some prophetic way to see something new in the same text we have all been reading.
Chan tells a story about how two Jehovah’s Witness knocked on his door one day to share their message – Francis “gently” told them that he found their message offensive because they believe that Michael the arc-angel is also Jesus. Francis shared that Jesus is so much more than an angel, to which the JW’s assured him that Jesus/Michael is the only one. Francis then read Daniel 10:13 to them that says “Michael was only one of many chief princes.” Francis went on to say that he could not believe that honest bible study had led to their conclusions. He accused them of being spoon fed and instructed them to read the bible for themselves.
And I think I would offer the same advice, but to all of us…again Francis Chan
“”I left that conversation feeling a bit proud of myself because I stumped them and got them to question their beliefs. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was fair to them. Had I ever sat down with the Bible and sought after its self-evident truth? Or had a passively ingested what I heard from other people, much like my front-door visitors?”
Forgotten God will challenge you to beak open the word and unlock the truth that the power of God resides in you – and that power and gifting is available to you today. And if you do not possess it to a ‘super natural degree’ may you hunger and seek after it all the more.
If you claim to be a Christian, this book could very well convict you, as it did me. Convict you of thinking or praying too much to God to reveal what He wants you to DO rather than praying to Him about who God wants you to BE . Do you wonder about what God's will is for you in a year? 2 years? What is God's 5-year plan for you? WHY? Why are you not seeking to understand God's will for you TODAY?
This book will also remind you that Christians believe in a triune God, three persons - three co-EQUAL persons - manifested in one God. I know for me, as I read it and discussed it in a small group, I started to understand Chan's message more and more and realized that I had, perhaps unintentionally, excluded an equal focus on the Holy Spirit as I do on God the Father and Jesus the Son of God.
Chan is not telling us we must change to a different faith tradition that may focus more on the Spirit. In fact, he specifically tells us such a change is not what he is suggesting. What he is teaching is that to fully have God's presence in our lives, we must seek out the Holy Spirit's guidance and presence in our lives as much as we seek out God the Father's and Jesus the Son's guidance and presence. After all, before Jesus left his physical life on earth, he gave a part of himself to his disciples and us in the form of the Spirit. For me, that has pushed me to not only pray specifically to God the Father and to God the Son, but also to the Holy Spirit every day.
I really enjoyed the book. A couple in the group struggled a bit more with understanding that Chan's teaching is not in conflict with their Christian beliefs.
I think that the traditions they grew up in simply did not focus on the Spirit as a co-equal. And that was the reason they struggled with Chan's teaching.
I challenge you to read and discuss this book in a small group.
And there is always “Jesus” as the God to whom we pray. Jesus lived on earth as God’s divine Son, and lives today in heaven at “the right hand of the Father,” to cite the Apostles Creed. There are numerous Bible verses that instruct Christians to pray to, and through Jesus, so praying to Jesus is another easy image to hold in mind as we pray.
But to be Christian is to also know that God has revealed himself as Triune, having three distinct persons of Father, Son and Spirit, and yet always being God. This last person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit, is the subject of Francis Chan’s Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Colorado Springs, CO: David Cook, 2009). Chan’s thesis is that the Holy Spirit is frequently neglected among Christians and the aim of his book is to help Christians understand the absolutely essential nature of the Spirit to being a follower of Jesus. He wants us to love the Spirit as deeply as any other aspect of God, including Jesus, and to be empowered to discern the presence and follow the lead of the Spirit in every aspect of our lives.
Chan is a gifted preacher, with the ability to clearly express deep and powerful thoughts in ways that make his audience want to love and follow God more than anything else. His writing has a similar style, and in the seven chapters of this book he leads his readers to a greater understanding of who the Spirit is, what the Spirit does, and what the Spirit can do in the lives of Christians today, should they take the time to listen and follow God’s voice as made known in the Spirit.
Each chapter addresses a way in which the Spirit impacts Christian living, such as why Jesus alone is insufficient, or what a personal relationship with the Spirit might look like for the person who doesn’t yet have one. Each chapter also includes a brief story of someone that Chan knows who is living in a way that demonstrates the Spirit at work in their life.
Chan believes that many Christians often look to God to meet their own needs, rather than seeking God and submitting themselves to God’s purposes. He writes, “[God] wants us to know that His gift of the Holy Spirit is really not for our own pleasure or purposes. The Spirit is meant to lead us toward holiness. The Spirit is here with us to accomplish God’s purposes, not ours.” (93) It is the Spirit, living within Christians, that guides, strengthens, and comforts Christians for a life of joyful submission to God in the world, come what may.
I really liked this book and thought it was a good follow-up to his preceding book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. In Crazy Love Chan wrote about the greatness and goodness of God, a God so wonderful that, in faith, we should be head-over-heels in love with him. In Forgotten God we are shown that it is the Spirit active in us that makes that type of love of God possible.
Forgotten God ends with this heartfelt word of prayer, “Come, Holy Spirt, come. We don’t know exactly what that means and looks like for each of us yet, in the particular places You’ve called us to inhabit. But, nonetheless, whatever it means, we ask for Your presence. Come, Holy Spirit, come.”