Archive for August, 2009

Forgotten God – Overview

I finished reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan yesterday, but delayed blogging about it right away. While yesterday was just a rough day after recovering from my first (of what will be many) FIX Quarters, the delay wasn’t due to exhaustion or busyness – but I wanted to soak in the book for a day to try to collect my thoughts. FG in many ways was a great deal like Crazy Love, but in many ways I believe it was more challenging, more hard hitting, more to the core of modern Christianity than much that I’ve read in the past few years. I am still trying to digest all that was written in FG so for my first (well technically my second) post about it, I’m just going to pull our some quotes and write a few things about them for you. Watch for future posts concerning FG and my struggles with it and how it’s challenged me on a deeper level than did Crazy Love

“I also believe that the Spirit is more obviously active in places where people are desperate for Him, humbled before Him and not distracted by their wealth or comforts (like we are)” p. 17 – I read this post and it immediately slapped me in the face.  I moved my mp3 player,  cut the Tivo off, turned off my TV, and put away any other distractions and felt the weight of this statement.  (ok, that was just for effect… I didn’t have my mp3 player with me).  Sometimes you read something that you knew was true, but you choose to ignore it for whatever reason.  You know, maybe you just didn’t like how it made you feel like junk because you’re not living up to it. My life, minister or not, does not show a desperation for the HOly Spirit to act and work in my life. Sadly, I can do ministry without Him and probably do it sort of well.  May I cast off the worry of my comforts and be desperate for Him.  

People are more likely to describe the quality of the music or the appeal of the sermon than the One who is the reason people gather for “church” in the first place p. 31 — Well, if that’s not a slap in the face of my life, I dont know what is! You have pretty much described me well.  Thank God that I am in a church now that focuses more on the Spirit’s moving than the music, but it’s so easy to slip into this way of thinking.  

In Chapter 3, Francis lays a simply but effective theology of the Holy Spirit that rivals my seminary classes. I wish that my class work would have been this good to read! (no offense Mr. Grudem) In doing so, Chan asks “When was the last time you were saddened because your sin pained the Holy Spirit” (72) – Sadly, I cant remember the last time I thought about paining the Holy Spirit. I think about sinning against God – but not about paining Him. Maybe I should more.

Chapter 5 (which was my absolute favorite chapter) really challenged me to take my relationship with the Holy Spirit seriously.  My life is too safe and too loud too much!  The story about the man locked away for his faith and how, upon getting his freedom, longed for the persecution he once endured. I’ve heard similar stories before, but this one really stuck with me. If today, I was hit with persecution, how would I respond? How would I act.  May God help me to quiet my life and not worry about running toward safety and more running toward the cross.

The last thing I want to talk about is something I saw a long time ago in Experiencing God – God’s Will “for my life.”  It’s not the point!!! God wants me to be concerned with His will. period.  It’s about walking with Him daily. “God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, then what we intend to do next year.” (120) It’s so easy to get caught up in what God is going to do than what He’s doing right now!  

FG really made me stop and think and ask this one super important question – Am I letting the Holy Spirit do anything in my life and if so, what?  After you read it, I believe you will be asking the same questions and will end up at the same place I am right now – desperately wanting to remember daily the Forgotten God.

Powerhouse Ignition

At 10:00 am this morning, I began to really get ready for our big event, POWERHOUSE Ignition tonight.  I, along with the help of several able bodied men of our church, pulled the stage out from it’s garage, tore down the stuff on the stage and tried to get it cleared off as much as possible for the band coming in this afternoon.  It’s going to be a busy day of setting  up and  quick planning with visions of logos, t-shirts, backpacks, cd’s, and paper airplanes flying in my brain. (all of that makes sense if you will be here tonight!)

I am so excited about the possiblity that God will change lives tonight. There will be people who will walk into this gym tonight who maybe dont know anything about God’s love and forgiveness.  Tonight they will hear and God will be honored above all else that is done.  But all this prep work got me thinking – what if we didn’t do this? What if, instead of giving away $10,000 for a paper airplane contest, we gave away free cups of water?  What if instead of bringing in Shane Baker to rock the house, we played soft piano music without any lyrics?  What if instead of giving away a ton of free door prizes, we just showed people the love of Christ by serving them in whatever way we could? Then I asked myself a new question – is God more honored in the small things than in the big things, or vice versa?

A thought occurs to me as soon as I type that last question.  The answer is simple and one that I should have seen way before – God is not honored in things. God is honored in the hearts and the lives of the people.  Things are good, but Jesus didn’t die for things.  He did not die so we could have great events, big blowout celebrations, gymnasiums, incredible sound systems, lights that flash, boom, and sparkle.  No Jesus died for people.  So may God be honored tonight not really in what we do – but who we become.

forgiveness

This morning I woke up and grabbed my devotional guide that I’m doing along with our students at Highland Park.  What I read this morning stuck with me a little more than I thought it would. The Scripture for today was the 3rd chapter of John.  I read how Nicodemus couldn’t wrap his mind around the phrase “born again.” When I hear that term, I immediately think “second chance.”  My mind goes right to the fact that I screw up way more than I should, but God continues to love me and give me more chances to serve him anyway.  I guess God’s forgiveness knows no bounds.

However, I think that there is an idea that has caused this to stick with me so far today.  Not just about God’s forgiveness or what it means to be born again.  But what I’ve thought about is how Nicodemus was so trained to “do” the right thing that he had trouble believing the right thing.  It seemed as though maybe he didn’t get the “you must be born again” from Jesus, not because it was that hard to understand, but because it went against what he had been taught. Maybe it was more about him not believing it than him not understanding it.  Whether or not this is true, one thing we can all agree on – Nicodemus was very short sighted.  His mind was wrapped up in what he had to do to earn God’s forgiveness; Jesus was more caught up in God’s forgiveness. Period.  May I and  whoever else reads this be overwhelmed with God’s forgiveness today.

Excitement

I think I am way to easily excited from time to time.  I get caught up in the normal, everyday stuff in my office and forget that there’s a world that God wants to change.  There are tons of lives in which God wants to invade and totally mess up!  As I see our church baptize more people who have given the control of their lives over to Jesus, I get so pumped up and it makes me want to celebrate what God is doing in the midst of His people.  However, I must stop and consider something – there are still so many more that need to hear the message of Christ – that need the forgiveness that only he offers.  I can get so caught up in the movement of God within our walls that I lose track of what is happening outside them.  While I do not want to make it seem thta what God is doing to and in those within our church, I want to make sure I stay humble and reconize how much God is looking to do in the lives of those outside of the church.  I want to make sure students are aware that God doesn’t just work in our gym or in our sanctuary, but in the halls of the school, on the practice field, in the parking lots.  I think one of our biggest problems is that we seperate and try to classify some things as spiritual and some things as secular way,way, WAY TOO MUCH! May God help us blend that dividing line once and for all so that all we do, we see as having spiritual significance.  Then, and only then, can we get excited like I believe, we are really supposed to get excited!

Forgotten God – the warmup

I received an email today that made me happy.  As I checked out the tons of junk e-mails I had (and by checked I mean deleted) I saw an email about Francis Chan’s new book, Forgotten God.  It was an email like I have been sent in the past – check this new book out (we send it to you free) and write a review on my blog about it.  So in a week or so, I should be getting Chan’s newest writing.
The book is about the Holy Spirit.  I’ve only read the sample first chapter so far, but I am sure it is going to be an excellent book.  So until I finish the book and write my reivew, here’s a question I will leave you to think about: How much do we take the Holy Spirit for granted?