The Comforter

There’s a great book by Francis Chan called The Forgotten God. The gist is that so many pay little heed to the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

I’m learning more and more of what the Holy Spirit’s role is and how He affects my life on a daily basis. He is called the Paraclete, literally one who walks alongside of us to guide and encourage and comfort and convict and challenge us.

One of my favorite aspects of the Holy Spirit is that when I am at a loss for words, He takes my sighs and groans and tears too deep for words and interprets those into prayers that God hears.

There have been lots of times when I simply can’t find the words. Many times, I just can’t corral my mind into any sort of coherent prayer. Even in the middle of stress and panic, the words that are buried in my heart can find their way to the throne room of Heaven, thanks to the Holy Spirit. Often, the prayers that God answers are far better than any that I could have thought up on my own left to my own devices.

So many are on their knees tonight with sighs and sobs and groans and tears as their prayers. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, their prayers are heard and God is with them in the midst of their anguish and grief and pain.

Holy Spirit, be near all those who cry out in pain and all whose grief is too deep for words. Be their Comforter and Advocate in their darkest hours. Be their voice when they can’t find their own.

In case you’re interested in the book I mentioned earlier, I’ve provided a link for you to follow and purchase it if you want:

The Holy Spirit

Francis Chan has a remarkable book called Forgotten God, one of the best books I’ve read about the Holy Spirit.

To say the Holy Spirit is a touchy topic is putting it mildly. People in general tend to go to one of two extremes. Either folks go to hyperemotionalism and experience devoid of doctrine or they practically deny His existence and never speak of Him.

And I did say “Him” and not “It.” The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force a la “May the force be with you” from Star Wars fame. He is just as much of a person as either God the Father or God the Son. He can be grieved, full of joy, and can remind us of the truths Jesus taught us.

I heard a really good reminder. The Holy Spirit isn’t mystical as much as He is practical. Everything He does isn’t so much to get us to feel as much as it is to do and to be. More specifically, to conform our character to Christ’s and build up the Kingdom of God.

True worship, as well as all other aspects of faith, involve spirit and truth, the heart and the mind, emotion and intellect. It’s folly to devote yourself to one exclusively to the detriment of the other.

There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Too much Word and not enough Spirit you puff up. Too much Spirit and not enough Word you blow up. With the Word and the Spirit together, you grow up.”

I agree with that in terms of finding a balance between emotion and intellect. I would argue however that the Spirit is not in opposition to the Word. The Holy Spirit of God will always illuminate and confirm the Word of God. He will never go against that Word, but bring clarity and interpretation and application.

As with most spiritual matters, I don’t claim to have expertise or command of the subject. There is so much I don’t know and don’t understand, so much I never will this side of heaven. But that shouldn’t ever stop me from seeking and growing and learning.

And I recommend that Francis Chan book if you get the chance to read it some time.

I Read Dead People

oldbooks

One day, I will make that into a t-shirt and feel all clever about it, even though the idea has probably already been taken.

Don’t get me wrong. I love reading the newest books by new authors. I look forward to new books by folks like Max Lucado, Jan Karon, and Francis Chan, among others.

But sometimes it’s good to read something by someone who’s no longer living. And by that I don’t mean recently deceased.

I’m talking about people like C S Lewis or G K Chesterton. People like Jane Austen or Bram Stoker. Or if you really want to get daring, go back even further and read the works of William Shakespeare or St Augustine.

It’s good to step outside of the Western 21st-century mindset to gain a fresh perspective. Especially when it comes to faith.

I’m currently reading G K Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants a deeper read. This is the guy who greatly influenced C S Lewis and whose book The Everlasting Man was instrumental in Lewis coming to faith. As if you needed extra incentive.

In the past year, I’ve read Anna Karenina by Tolstoy and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Both are newer translations of the old classics that really make the text come alive in a new way and the characters seem more alive and real.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the one book that I read by an author who is still alive. In fact. I can actually get in touch with him to ask him what he meant on certain parts and why certain people acted the way they did.

Spoiler alert: it’s the Bible. All the other books I’ve read are great, but this one is the only one that’s living and active. It’s the only book that’s God-breathed. It’s the only book where I can figure out the craziness that is my life and make it work.

I suggest you try it sometimes.

A Question I Ask Myself A Lot Lately (One we should all ask at some point)

My question came to me after I had been reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan.

How can I have the Holy Spirit inside me and have the power of the resurrection and have my life look just like the people around me who have no Holy Spirit? In essence, why can they not tell a difference? Why can’t I tell a difference?

My prayer is from Acts 4:13. May be so immersed in Christ and filled with the Spirit that those around me are astonished and can tell that I have been with Jesus. If I am gifted in every way, but do not have the earmarks of abiding in the presence of Jesus, what good is that? If I have all this education, but lack being filled with the Spirit, it is worth less than nothing.

My prayer goes like this: Lord Jesus, captivate my heart in such a way that I am drawn to You and others see Jesus in me and are drawn not to me, but to the Jesus in me. Make my life an epistle, a testimony of how good You are.