The Holy Spirit should make a difference in our lives

Quote

“Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church. Christians talk about being born again say that they they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, out sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?”

– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2009), 32-33.

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I want to live a Spirit-filled life.

Connie & I have begun a study about the Holy Spirit. I feel like this is an oft-neglected area of Christianity in America. While I think it’s neglected theologically, I think it’s even more neglected practically. Here’s a challenging quote from Forgotten God by Francis Chan that I thought was worth sharing:
Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church. Christians talk about being born again say that they they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, out sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them (Pgs 32-33)?

Another great quote, from the same book, is about the confusion a caterpillar must experience and a challenge for us to live a Spirit-filled life:
For all its caterpillar life, it crawls around a small patch of dirt and up and down a few plants. Then one day it takes a nap. A long nap. And then, what in the world must go through its head when it wakes up to discover it can fly? What happened to its dirty, plump little worm body? What does it think when it sees its tiny new body and gorgeous wings?
As believers, we ought to experience this same kind of astonishment when the Holy Spirit enters our bodies. We should be stunned in disbelief over becoming “new creations” with the Spirit living in us. As the caterpillar finds its new ability to fly, we should be thrilled over our Spirit-empowered ability to live differently and faithfully.
I want to live so that I am truly submitted to the Spirit’s leading on a daily basis. Christ said it is better for us that the Spirit came, and I want to live like I know that is true. I don’t want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly (Pg 37).


Do you know any Christians like this? Do you know anyone who is undeniably filled with the Holy Spirit? It’s my prayer that Connie and I continue to grow in this area!

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Praise the Father, Son, and that other guy…

This is part two of a multi-entry blog series titled “Lessons I Learned in the Desert.”

Before I deployed, I decided I was going to lead at least one small study group through a book outside of the Bible. The first study I decided to go through focused on a subject that I felt compelled to learn more about: The Holy Spirit. Thus, I decided that I would lead a small group through Francis Chan’s Forgotten God.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know a lot about the Holy Spirit, and I had a lot of prejudices because of some of the people I’ve encountered and how overly focused they seemed on the gifts of the Spirit. To me, it seemed like they thought the Holy Spirit was vending machine and prayer gave them magical gifts from the vending machine. These people didn’t seem to care about God the Father or Jesus the Son, but only about the “giftings of the Spirit.” I admit that may sound harsh, but those are the kind of encounters I’ve had!

Also, I had always thought of the Holy Spirit as an “it” and not as a “He.” There is definitely a difference in the two, although I had honestly never thought about it. I rarely thought about the Holy Spirit or how He works in me and through me in my daily life. The tragedy is that my ignorance of the Holy Spirit had inadvertently led to an incomplete understanding of the Triune God! By not understanding the Holy Spirit’s role in my daily life I was missing out on the power of God living inside of me and, at least intellectually, distancing myself from God.

Although I knew about “it” from a head-knowledge perspective, now I know “Him” in my heart. He’s been there this whole time, I just never knew it! Now I’m aware of the Spirit’s power and role in my daily walk. Galatians 5:25 tells us to keep in step with the Spirit. It’s hard to have a daily walk with God when you don’t even know who’s walking beside you.

One of the ways that God demonstrated how the Holy Spirit works is through someone else. Right when our group first started our study of the Spirit, someone asked me to pace him during the run portion of his PT test. I grudgingly said yes, even though I didn’t really want to. I had a feeling that God was going to teach me something through this experience. The night before our run, I was studying the Holy Spirit and learned that when Jesus talks about Him in John 14:16, the Greek text uses the word “parakletos.” This word means “counselor” or more literally “someone to come along side.” Coincidence? The next day I ran alongside my friend for his PT test and he got the best score of his whole Air Force career! Because I, a faster runner, ran alongside him, he did better than he would have done on his own.

This is one of how the Holy Spirit helps us. He runs alongside us in our life and gives us the power to live lives that honor, please, and glorify God. Forgotten God really challenged me to ask myself whether or not I was relying on the Holy Spirit to empower me in my daily life. Was I taking steps in faith? Or was I relying on my own talents and abilities? It’s hard for the Holy Spirit to work miracles through us when we never take a leap of faith right?

There are many more things I learned about the Holy Spirit during and after the study, but perhaps the most important is simply the fact that I am never alone. The Holy Spirit is always with me no matter where I go and He will always give me the power to serve God in whatever capacity I am called.

For more information on the Holy Spirit I encourage you to read Forgotten God by Francis Chan, check out the free e-book published by Re:Lit called A Primer on the Holy Spirit, or listen to the Mars Hill Church podcast about the Trinity from their Doctrine sermon series (or just watch it below).

http://www.marshillchurch.org/v/jmus74pcujkj

Acts 17:26-27

From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

It was March 23rd and we were having our fourth meeting of the Forgotten God study series. A friend of mine named Kat was sharing that she had never, ever seen a miraculous work of God in her life. She seemed pretty bummed and discouraged about it. Kat’s very hard on herself…perhaps too hard. Three weeks later, we had our final study session. There was a new guy there named Andrew. It was a little weird for us to have a new guy at the last session, but the Spirit was telling me to just let him be part of the group. To be honest, I wanted to kindly ask Andrew to leave, because I was afraid that a new person would throw off the group dynamics the group has spent the last two months developing. It did. A few people didn’t even talk during the discussion time and I knew it was because of the “new guy.”

Afterwards, I talked to Andrew for a little bit. We had another study, Rob Bell’s Nooma Study Series, that a buddy of mine named Kalob was leading. Andrew showed up at Nooma a time or two. I didn’t really notice when he stopped going and he quietly slipped off the radar.

Fast forward about a month and a half. During that time, the chapel ordered several copies of The Naked Gospel and I am excited to be starting that small group in a few days. I think The Naked Gospel is a book that ALL Christians should read. It has helped me immensely and deepened my walk with Christ. I’m not sure what happened, but Andrew had a conversation with the local wing chaplain last Tuesday. The chaplain gave Andrew a copy of the book and said he should read it. Andrew didn’t get a chance to read it Wednesday, but he read almost 100 pages of the book that Thursday. That night, he went to the chaplain and accepted Christ as his savior!

I find it amazing that, through a simple conversation, Kat invited Andrew to the Bible study and opened the door for him to get involved at the chapel. A few weeks later, my books came in and the Chaplain gave him a copy. The Holy Spirit used the book to put a need on Andrew’s heart to get saved. Andrew accepted Christ.

The part that was truly amazing is that Kat was supposed to leave Wednesday, but her flight got delayed and delayed so that she wound up leaving on Friday night/Saturday morning. I literally found out about Andrew minutes before praying with her and then she left. God kept her here just long enough for her to find out that she had helped lead someone to Christ, and then within the same our, she was on her way home!

God chose to bring Kat to this place just so she could invite Andrew to the chapel so that he could get saved. God chooses who goes where and when so that His master plan of salvation can be worked out.

God put me in Alaska in 2005 so that I would meet the right people and get saved. God sent me to Afghanistan in 2008 to teach me how to rely on Him and to re-affirm my calling to ministry. God brought me here to meet some great people and to help lead a dear friend to Christ. God has put you where you are at right now for a reason. Seek to honor and glorify Him, and He will use you for his purposes and for His glory.

Kat left that night with tears in her eyes, because her prayers to see God work a miracle through her had been answered. All to God’s glory.

The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in ChurchForgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit