Here’s some more quotes from Forgotten God by Francis Chan. Hopefully, in a future post, I plan to add my thoughts and comments about this work.
The Christian’s life in all its aspects – intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness – is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate it and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all. – J.I. Packer (p.83)
Recently, a man dying of cancer asked the church elders to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. Before we prayed, however, I asked the man a question I don’t normally ask: “Why do you want to be healed? Why do you want to stay on this earth?” The man, as well as everyone around, seemed a but surprised that I would ask such a blunt question. The reason I probed like this is because in the epistle of James, we are reminded that we often don’t receive the answers to our prayers because we ask for the wrong reasons: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). Our desire to live should be for the sake and glory of the God who put us on this earth in the first place. (p. 83-84)
A lot of people want to talk about supernatural things like miracles, healing, or prophecy. But focusing inordinately on these things quickly becomes misguided. God calls us to pursue Him, not what He might do for us or even in our midst. Scripture emphasizes that we should desire fruit, that we should concern ourselves with becoming more like His Son. God wants us to seek to listen to His Spirit and to obey. The point of it all was never the miracles in and of themselves. Those came when they were unexpected, when people were faithful and focused on serving and loving others. (p. 88)
And maybe you are called to where you live. But if you say you are called to be in the place you are, a few questions need to be considered. For example, how would you be missed if you left this place? What would change? Basically, what difference does your presence here make? Or, as my youth pastor once asked me, what would your church (and the worldwide church) look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would the church be healthy and empowered? Or, would it be weak and listless? (p. 91)
Our lack of intimacy [with God] often is due to our refusal to unplug and shut off communication so we can be alone with Him. (p. 109)
And to expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us and, if persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into Silence. – A.W. Tozer (p. 119)
It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. it’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day. (p. 121)
Yet when I look at our churches, this is exactly what I see: a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true life. (p. 122)
“Taking up my cross” has become a euphemism for getting through life’s typical burdens with a semi-good attitude. Yet life’s typical burdens – busy schedules, bills, illness, hard decisions, paying for college tuition, losing jobs, houses not selling, and the family dog dying – are felt by everyone, whether or not they follow the Way of Jesus. When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, He is doing more than calling us to endure the daily, circumstantial troubles of life. The people in Jesus’ day were very familiar with the cross. Having witnessed crucifixion, they understood the commitment and sacrifice of taking up a cross. It is a call to radical faith. Jesus is calling us to be willing to suffer anything and forsake everything for the sake of the gospel. (p. 125)
I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for Him to come through. That if he doesn’t come through, I am screwed. (I probably shouldn’t write that word here, but it’s how I truly feel about this.) (p. 142)
God is not interested in numbers. He cares most about the faithfulness, not the size, of His bride. He cares about whether people are lovers of Him. And while I might be able to get people in the doors of a church or auditorium if I tell enough jokes or use enough visuals, the fact remains that I cannot convince people to be obsessed with Jesus…I cannot make someone understand and accept the gift of grace. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. So, by every measure that actually counts, I need the Holy Spirit. Desperately. (p. 143)
You are most likely very familiar with the “fruit passage” in Galatians 5…You may even have the list memorized. But look over those traits right now and ask yourself if you possess each to a supernatural degree. Do you exhibit more kindness and faithfulness than the Mormons you know? Do you exhibit 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? (p. 146)
What do you think about all that Pastor Chan has to say? Let me know.