“Receiving freedom and healing in answer to prayer is generally not something that is done to you, a situation in which you are just a passive participant. Occasionally God works this way and simply heals or frees a person outright. He is certainly capable of this. But in my experience, He typically asks us to play an active role in the journey toward wholeness. He doesn’t need our help but invites us to participate. Often this journey to freedom takes time, sometimes a very long time. And it takes perseverance. It takes participation on our part.”
Being in several southern and independent Baptist churches- the topic of the Holy Spirit was rarely discussed. Sure- we were told that when we have a relationship with the Lord that the Holy Spirit indwells us and that He convicts us of sin- but not much else. Then you have the other side, which I have experienced small tastes of as well- the ‘crazy charismatic’ who are pushing people on the floor proclaiming they have been healed of an unknown disease through the Holy Spirit. Because of these both views- I realized that for the most part I just flat out stay away from an ‘controversial’ learning or discussion about the Holy Spirit. And that truly does make Him the ‘Forgotten God’ in my life. Below I have included a quote or two and my own personal comments from each chapter of the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan. For those of you who have read this book- please tell me your thoughts. For those who haven’t- also tell me your thoughts and go read the book 🙂
“Had I ever sat down with the Bible and sought after its self-evident truth? Or had I passively ingested what I heard from other people much like my front-door visitors?…I began to read the Scriptures as thought I had never read them before. I asked the Spirit to make them “living and active” to me, though I’d been reading them for years. I ask God to “penetrate” the wrong and ill-conceived notions I’d collected along the way (Heb. 4:12). It’s a great exercise for those of us who have been immersed in church culture for years.” (pg. 29)
*I have lived most of my life being the passive ingester (yes, I know that is not even a word) of the scripture and ‘church lingo’. Whatever my sunday school teachers, parents, pastors, christian friends and family said- I instantly took as the Word of God. But those same teachers, parents, pastors, and friends are just human. God is still molding them and teaching them in different areas then He may be teaching me. And the bottom line is- we are all sinners. The only way we can find the real truth is to search for ourselves. (Acts 17:11)
“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 because we are afraid to ask for or expect more. We even convince ourselves that we don’t want more- that we have all the ‘God’ we need or could want. I can’t imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Holy Spirit out of fear 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 to fear that those promises won’t be kept! (pg. 48)”
*This particular quote gives me a mix of feelings- of conviction and just plain excitement! I am the person that ‘asks for less’ because I am scared of God ‘not coming through for me’- when I need to realize that the Holy Spirit is powerful and will do whatever He wants- but I must have the faith to follow Him and trust that He will do amazing works. That has been heavy on my heart and mind the past two weeks- I want to see the Holy Spirit do awesome things in my life. So awesome that nobody could attribute it to anything a human could do- but only God Himself.
And just because I like this quote…
“Are you afraid of getting ‘too much’ of the Holy Spirit and the possible ramifications of that? (Heaven forbid you gain a reputation for being weird or immoderate!) (pg.52)”
*I know I was classified by many as ‘weird’ and ‘inappropriate’ by baring all on my blog about our condition. I myself was up all night with stomach pains when I made that first initial blog post. But the Holy Spirit has shown up in a mighty way since–I have never felt more loved by God, more directed and empowered by the Spirit and more joyful in my entire life. Praise be to the Lord- even when people think I’m weird 😉
“I believe that if we truly cared about the Holy Spirit’s grief, there would be fewer fights, divorces, and splits in our churches. I pray for the day when believers care more about the Spirits grief then their own (pg.73)”
*Can I be embarrassingly honest here? Before being challenged by this book, I rarely even thought much about the Holy Spirit. Sure I thought about God and the trinity and how the Spirit is the one that convicts sin- but I have never really thought much about how the Spirit grieves over me and that I should care more about His grief then my own. Not only does the Holy Spirit grieve when I sin- He grieves when I am suffering, hurting, lonely, upset. He is my Counselor and my Comforter.
“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 loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. (pg. 96)”
*I am realizing how true this statement is. I felt alive when I went to Thailand- fell in love with a girl named Jang and had to say goodbye. I feel alive when I serve my husband through kind words or a home cooked meal. I feel alive when I read the Scriptures and books about my God- when I gain a deeper grasp of His immense love for me. I feel alive when I talk with other women who have Vaginismus-because it proves that God had a reason for it all. I have never felt so alive and truly blessed as I do right now in this season of my life.
“Serving God and living faithfully can become a constant guilt trip of ‘trying harder’ and ‘doing better next time’. Maybe you can relate. I have spent much of my Christian life battling insecurity, never quite feeling sure of my salvation, living out of fear and a desperate determination to earn acceptance. (pg 104)”
*This quote sums up the majority of my life. Insecure. Unsure of my salvation. Trying to do better. I battled an upsetting summer of doubt and insecurity- so bad that I could barely eat and function because all I could fathom was that I wasn’t a child of God and what I could ‘do’ to make sure I was. It was a truly awful time in my life. Looking back- I am thankful to God for that experience. He simply wanted me to rest in Him and to quit trying because I’ll never be good enough-only by His grace can I be saved. It was like I was trying to fight the current of a rip tide instead of flowing down a river in a inner tube. It has just been within the past 6 months or so that I truly feel I am experiencing the freedom that Christ has to offer ALL of those who believe in Him.
And just another short quote that really got me…
“Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable? (pg.107)”
“I think dwelling on God’s plan for the future often excuses us from faithful and sacrificial living now. It tends to create a safe zone of sorts, where we can sit around and have ‘spiritual’ conversations about what God ‘might’ have planned for our lives. 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. (pg.121)”
*This quote expounds upon earlier in the chapter about how overused the phrase ‘God’s will for my life’ is, and I am sure guilty of overusing it. So often I focus on the future that I forget the here and now- and the here and now is what affects the future.
I just thought this quote was funny…
“He cares most about the faithfulness, not the size, of His bride. (pg. 143)”
Of course the author is talking about the size of the church but I couldn’t help but smirk and think that Bennett cares more about how faithful I am to him and not the size of clothes I wear 😉
“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. (pg. 143)”
And I just want to end with this portion of the last chapter. It really struck me. I am thankful to be part of a church that truly is like a family and I pray it continues to be so.
“A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: ‘I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week- we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body. (pg 152)”
Excerpt from my latest read- Forgotten God by Francis Chan. (Will post book review once completed).
“Years ago, Dave Phillips and his wife, Lynn, had a talk about the callings they felt God was stirring in them. As they discussed what they were most passionate about, they agreed that bringing relief to suffering children and reaching the next generation with the gospel were at the top of the list. The thought of starting a relief agency was considered, but Dave’s response was, “But that would mean I have to talk in front of people.” By nature, Dave is a very quiet, behind-the-scenes man.
But after much prayer, Dave set aside his fears, and he and Lynn started Children’s Hunger Fund out of their garage. Six weeks after CHF was launched, in January of 1992, he recieved a phone call from the director of a cancer treatment center in Honduras asking if there was any way he could obtain a certain drug for seven children who would die without it. Dave wrote down the name of the drug and told the director that he had no idea how to get this type of drug. They then prayed over the phone and asked God to provide.
As Dave hung up the phone, before he even let go of the receiver, the phone rang again. It was a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey asking Dave if he would have any use for 48,000 vials of that exact drug! Not only did they offer him eight million dollars’ worth of this drug, but they told him they would airlift it to anyplace in the world! Dave would later learn that the company was one of only two that manufactured this particular drug in the United States…”
As I read this story I was convicted of what I would have done. I would have told the man that there was no way I could help him, that I was not a doctor and had no connections with anyone who may have the medication.
But as I am learning through the scriptures and this book- with the Holy Spirit the impossible happens. Not the impossible ‘can’ happen- but the impossible does happen if I let the Holy Spirit control every part of my life instead of myself trying to control the Holy Spirit.
I am thankful for a dear friend of mine- Jessica Walker. Upon boarding a flight home from her mission field in Philadelphia for the past three months- Jess really had no direction to what she would be doing back in Roanoke. No set job. Done with school. No clue. On the flight, she sat beside an older woman and struck up a conversation with her. This woman works at Gentle Shepard Hospice, a Gospel-centered hospice company, and Jess just texted me an hour ago to tell me that she received a clerical job there. Jess could have let the uncomfortableness of sitting next to someone she didn’t know overtake her, and not have spoken to the woman- but she didn’t. She allowed the Holy Spirit to lead, she now has a job with a ministry degree attached- so who knows what the Lord is going to do through her through this job!
I am loving this book and the scriptures it has been pulling out about the Holy Spirit and I am loving to watch the Holy Spirit lead in my life. The Lord has led several women to contact us that have Vaginismus and it has been such a blessing-and I have seen God do incredible things already. I do not have permission to post about them and I want to protect their privacy- but already since we have returned from New York six women have contacted us through church connections and the majority from reading this blog. Several of them are local and myself with Jessie Hatter are praying about starting a local support group.
The Holy Spirit will do the impossible if we let Him- and it is so exciting when He does because it has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. Praise be to the Lord.