Category Archives: Literary Reflections
This past spring, I embarked on a new experience…in a couple of ways. Through paths that God placed along my way, I was able to meet a great group of women who were not only extreme sources of encouragement but who were also transparent. I believe this was the importance of the experience. I was able to be in the midst of women who desired accountability and were also able to provide it.
For Christmas, I received Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan. I had read his book Crazy Love last summer and fell in love with not only his ability to write in such a candid way, but also the truth of Scripture that he made so very evident. I had started to read Forgotten God during winter break, but once I had to return to work, I got sidetracked and the engagement with the book ended…that is until I received an email announcing a Bible study based on this book I had. There were several thoughts running through my head. I didn’t even know who these women were, but I did recognize that this was a great opportunity to meet people who were followers of God…that I could take time once a week to sit and reflect on the Holy Spirit with other believers. I fell in love with these believers. God did more than teach me about the Holy Spirit – He reminded me of community and the purpose of it.
After the introduction, I wondered about so many things since I was brought up to be a bit apprehensive of the extreme use of the Holy Spirit in some religious communities. (Which, by the way, Chan warns against apprehension as well as abuse)
If I am already acknowledging God’s work in my life, is it necessary to attribute that to the Spirit?
Could Chan just as easily have challenged us to seek God more?
Soon after I started reading, I was reminded that even though we have the Trinity presented in Scripture, there are specific passages that lead us to examine each part of the Trinity separately. There are times that we need to ponder the role of God, Jesus, and the Spirit separately in order to realize the special attributes that each has. So, here is a little of the important truths I was reminded and things I learned through the study.
John 14 – The Father gave the disciples the Holy Spirit to be “another Comforter” just like Christ
John 16 – Christ reminds His disciples that it is better for them that the Spirit would come… but do I truly believe this? Would I rather have Christ in the flesh walking with me? I must trust that God’s plan to leave the Holy Spirit within me is part of my story and my journey in this life.
I must be ready to do any radical thing that the Spirit leads me to do – let go of the fear of the unknown…no matter how uncomfortable
Analogies like the egg or the three-leaf clover can hardly begin to start to explain the nature of the Triune God
The Spirit has emotions and we can grieve Him through our lack of trust in His work in our lives
Through the Spirit we have received a spirit of adoption as children, which leads us into intimacy with the Father instead of relationship based on fear and slavery (Romans 8:15-16)
Sure, I may not intentionally promote my own glory in the successes that I have, but do I PURPOSELY BRING GLORY TO CHRIST, THAT HE WOULD BE MAGNIFIED. Without this, I miss opportunities to share HIM with those I come into contact with
The reality is that I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit; and because of this reality, stress and tiredness, and impatience don’t have to define my day
I got to the chapter entitled “Forget About His Will for Your Life!” Of course, that put me in conflict with everything I have ever thought about God’s plan for me. I will let you read the chapter for yourself with this in mind: sometimes, I think about what God’s will is for me in the future, so I fail to live EACH MOMENT in light of HIS plan for that moment. Again, focusing on some FUTURE plan, I often put off MY part in moving forward. Perhaps I feel that I will make a mistake, so I “fret over figuring out God’s will.” We should live in a constant desire to be emptied of self and then filled with the attributes of the Spirit; walking in the Spirit requires “action on (my) part.” I must find that balance – not focusing on all the things He wants me to do, but rather focusing on the kind of person He want me to be.
I pray that I haven’t confused any of the primary concepts that are presented in the book. Forgotten God is not just about the Holy Spirit; it’s about the lives that we are called to live. Willing to take on radical changes….I was able to take a radical step in meeting new believers and in allowing myself to be transparent and accountable.
What radical step towards a full life in Christ might the Spirit be calling you to take?
During my get-a-way vacation, I brought many books along. I realized that NONE of them were novels or read-for-entertainment books. Instead I had 3 books for Bible study and 5 books to improve teaching. So, I guess my vacation isn’t so much for getting away from work, but rather to do work away from the regular interruptions of my at-home routine.
The first book I completed was one I started last week – How to Assess Higher-Order Thinking Skills (portions of the book found here) by Susan M. Brookhart. Brookhart does a wonderful job compiling a variety of sources from the original Bloom’s Taxonomy (did not stay on this topic too long since there are a multitude of more innovative approaches) to the new way of looking at creative thinking in Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
I was most excited to see that this author brings in practical examples of how to do these higher order thinking skills. Believe me…I have read many books and looked at many websites that offer samples, but this book gave me a creative approach. There were always multiple choice samples (not your regular content, rote type either), essay samples, and project ideas.
Table of contents includes
- assessing analysis, evaluation, and creation
- assessing logic and reasoning
- assessing judgment
- assessing problem solving
- assessing creativity and creative thinking
All in all, I have taken some applicable methods away from this book. With just 150 pages, this resource was a quick read but invaluable.
Since my reading of Crazy Love, the Lord has impressed so many things upon my heart, giving me opportunity to think more about the point made about Obsession for Christ and living outside of what makes me comfortable or safe. Francis Chan’s book reflects on many known and unknown Christians who have made extreme sacrifices so that people that were suffering or who had very little would have the gospel…would be receivers of God’s love. (George Muller, for example.) There were so many mentioned that have gone to foreign countries as missionaries or just to live a simple life and give whatever money and time they could to those who needed love.
I don’t know if I will ever go go Africa or South America, but I began to reflect on the people in my church. Do I always have the desire to go to church? Well, since I am speaking transparently, I would have to say, “no.” I don’t know how many of you respond to that, but I am realizing more and more that there is a need in my church that I am missing out on most of the time. I don’t always live beyond self. I don’t take the chances that my church affords me to BE LOVE. I look to all these great examples of sacrifice, thinking that I want God to use me in the same way, while all along there are poverty stricken people (spiritually, financially, emotionally) that sit 10 feet away from me on Sunday morning. Just across the aisle Cindy or Tom are struggling with the loss of a job, or their home, or their trust in God to provide. Some of them are discouraged in their walk with the Lord because no one has really reached out to them…no one has taken time to learn about their struggle, they haven’t knelt with them in prayer.
We usually will take plenty of time to reach out to those with whom we are most familiar. My pastor has attempted to teach our congregation what he calls the 5-minute rule. At the end of the service, take 5 minutes to find someone who you wouldn’t usually talk to and spend a moment to find out about them, their week, their needs, their personality. It is unfortunate that I often do not take this opportunity to reach out. I don’t need to go to Africa to do something that I should be doing on a daily basis, right where God has me.
I NEED TO BE LOVE
See, we often go to church, looking for people just like us, that we can relate to. While sometimes I believe God stretches us to be able to learn from and even teach to people that aren’t like us. The least likely candidate for my friendship may be just the person who has experienced my struggle in their lives and could share guidance as to how they received godly wisdom to work through it. I will miss out on that opportunity if I refuse to step outside of where I feel comfortable and safe. I shouldn’t need anyone to teach me how to do this. As a believer, I have the Spirit of God that lives within me. Why should I need to ask, “Is it God’s will for me to show love to this person?” I pray that I would submit to the Spirit’s will for my life today and every day. It will take stretching at times. I don’t always want to reach out….there are days when I would rather be a recluse. But how can I waste a day of God’s love?
Going along with this whole theme, I was also impressed upon by a devotional that comes to my email daily. Take a moment to read, and be blessed as I was. Then, apply it to your life and look for the opportunity GOD is giving you daily to BE LOVE
Jesus said, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43b-45).
Good goers have the gumption to get involved and even get messy if needed. They initiate service to others in the name of Jesus. They don’t wait for the needy to come to them—instead they are quick to show up and serve. It may mean going to someone from church and leaving an anonymous gift to relieve pressure from their huge medical bills. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to short or long-term missions to love the poor and needy.
It could be keeping the lawn of a neighbor who travels a lot, or paying a mechanic to repair the car of a single mom. Being a good goer for you could involve opening your home to a prodigal who is trying to find their way, but they desperately need an environment of love, hope and acceptance. Good goers have the uncanny ability to look around them, and, like a radar, lock onto those who need a helping hand.
The Lord Jesus could have demanded to be served, but on the contrary served. He did not use His position for Himself, but for others. He “…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).
It is bold and unnatural to make yourself nothing for the sake of others, but this is the way of Christ. He takes your nothing and makes it something of great significance. However, as you follow Jesus, you are on the track for greatness, because you will engage your time and money for others in His name. So break free from feeling like you can’t get involved and become great for God, by going to where it’s messy and serve.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).
Who is God calling me to serve—those that others are passing by unnoticed?
Recently, I have heard from people who were reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan, a preacher in Simi Valley, California. Sounded like there were some very thought-provoking ideas and encouragement, so when my husband brought it home, I decided I would start it right away. You can read about the funny part of the reading experience at JJ&A Simonds’s Blog.
When I started, I knew I wanted to jot down some things that were meaningful to me so that I could share with all of you who read. As I began, I quickly realized that there would be more than I would have time to share; I was wondering how I would narrow things down to just a few important lessons that would hopefully spark your interest, so that you could read and see how to apply the lessons in your life. Crazy Love will affect people in different ways, but there is something for everyone. Here are random lessons I hope to apply this very day.
“When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about life, my family, my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice”
Approach time with God not with fear or out of pure obedience, but rather with reverent intimacy
Irony: “while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want him most of the time”
I Corinthians 13 – the LOVE chapter – insert my name and ask, is it true of me….”jennifer is patient, jennifer is kind, jennifer does not envy, jennifer always trusts, etc” AM I LOVE?
Trusting in God can be like running…unnatural at first, but once you run towards God as your refuge and you focus on Christ consistently, trust becomes more natural and not exhausting (there’s much more to this…see p. 104)
“People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain and distress.”
“We never grow closer to God when we just live life; it takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness”
“If you are just hearing the Word and not actually doing something with it, you’re deceiving yourself”