charles nick

product developer | aspiring keynote speaker | musician | CEO of Douvalis Labs
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7 reasons to have lists

I love reading top tips, bullet points, and lists to learn a myriad of subjects. I find that my eyes are drawn to articles written in this way for a number of reasons. It feels good to read lists. They are like check-lists that make us feel better as we 'check off' the item that we feel we have accomplished or quickly add to our Things checklist to do later. Sometimes we are just looking for validation that we are on the right track when we click on the latest 'top 10 things you are doing right' article.

Some examples might include: 2 steps to clean your car, 3 steps to reach your market, 4 reasons to use product-X, 5 steps to lose weight, 6 steps to learn more efficiently, 7 steps to grow your income, 8 minute abs, etc. Blah, blah, you probably skipped over reading this introduction and jumped straight to the reading the list based on the header of this article, which is what I do too. Onward to the list of '7 reasons to have lists!'

REASON ONE
Pilots - We are all secretly pilots at heart and love to read checklists. Who didn't grow up loving to press buttons and steer the joystick at the local Air Force museum while making 'rrrrreeorrrrwwww' noises? Ok, maybe the next reason will be a little more relatable, but I love checklists.

REASON TWO
Brevity - Get to the point. Unless there is some earth shattering news in the introduction, we really don't care. We just want the facts ma'am.


REASON THREE
Ergonomics - Our eyes are drawn to the bullet points because it is easier for writers to present information in a uniform, sequential methodology. Most of the time it is just the same boring stuff we already knew though, but this brings us to reason number 4.

REASON FOUR
Validation - We read lists sometimes skimming the content looking for information that merely validates that we are on the right track. Point 1, yes, I'm doing that already....point 2, yes, already started that this morning too...point 3, yes, and now I'm happy that some other author wasn't able to stump me in my current pursuit. Validation!

REASON FIVE
Organization - Some of us are in love with organization. The dishes are put away, the clothes are in the hamper and our checklists are written in the comfy, reliable, aviation centric-manner we've come to love. Organization in this manner can be either aesthetic or informationally rational.

REASON SIX
Past experience - We are used to learning in a step-by-step basis so it fits many of our previous learning methodologies. First put your foot on the brake, then put the car in gear...!

REASON SEVEN
And finally...boo paragraphs - Reading a paragraph can be mind numbingly boring. Read this article, which uses some annoying vocabulary to share their intellectual verbose capacity and jargon specific research capabilities and then compare it to the list below. Which one makes you feel happier to read? The author is clearly intelligent, but a list conveys the message much quicker, which makes the message more effective. Oh wait...I just used a paragraph in this list, argh!

This article as a list:
When you get to work stop checking your email and voicemail and do this instead; it should take about 10 minutes:

1)  Ask yourself the following questions the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?

2)  Create a list of tasks from the questions. Make sure to distinguish between the tasks that are truly important and not just urgent by writing a note.

3)  Create a plan of attack by breaking down the complex tasks into specific actions using verbs (e.g. collect sales figures, draft slides, and incorporate images into deck).

4)  Prioritize the list by listing the tasks that require the most mental energy first in the list.

Now feel free to have fun and add your reasons to have lists below! 




Supernatural Church


Chan starts this chapter by examining healthy evidences of a growing church.  I've always felt that growth isn't in numbers necessarily, but in the impact of that group of people to those around them.  He gives the example of Elijah calling down fire (1 Kings 18:39) and the peoples' response.  It is true that the people had a positive response to Elijah by praising God (good fruit), but Paul had people respond by praising him (Acts 14:11) and not God once, so his example in Elijah's story as measuring good fruit of a church is a dangerous one.  The point is that a healthy response is to worship God and not man and I agree with that, but when people incorrectly respond by worshiping you for following God, that doesn't mean that you're not following God.  Just lovingly correct them like Paul does and move on.

Keying off of Chan's earlier example of Elijah he talks about this amazing reference in James, "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently." - James 5:17

We need to pray.  Pray every day.  Pray in the morning.  Pray in the evening.  Pray while driving.  Pray while talking to your peers.  Pray in your hearts throughout the day to constantly interject your dependence on God.  Get away to pray.  Stay with others and pray.  Pray to God in your heart alone.  Pray with others openly to God.  But what if we forget to pray?  When you remember....pray.  Don't live a life of fear, but freedom in Christ.  Not a freedom that you exercise hurting others, but loving them while displaying the reason you live...Jesus' grace is sufficient.

I think Chan's key thought in this chapter, and possibly the book, is this, "God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him, because that means no one else can steal His glory."

I fully agree.  

It was great reading through the section where Chan and his church began to try to live as a community with one another.  He provides the specifics in the book, but I absolutely loved his statement, "from there, we began going to some of our friends in the congregation and expressing our commitment to them."

That deeply resonates with me.  I need to tell my brothers that I am committed to them.  I am here to fight for them (and with them when necessary) and they can lean on me for anything.  Strange that this just isn't something we (I) say to those we love and walk daily with.

Chan ends with a thought that has echoed through my mind ever since I heard Ravi Zacharias talk about it in many of his sermons.  Chan says, "greater knowledge does not necessarily equal greater spirituality."  G.K. Chesterton also stated, “We are educating ourselves into imbecility."  This truth finds its way into the church as well as in the sphere of academia.  And Malcom Muggeridge also echos this thought in this amazing excerpt:


"It has become abundantly clear in the second half of the twentieth century that Western Man has decided to abolish himself. 

Having wearied of the struggle to be himself, he has created his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, his own vulnerability out of his own strength; himself blowing the trumpet that brings the walls of his own city tumbling down, and, in a process of auto-genocide, convincing himself that he is too numerous, and labouring accordingly with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer in order to be an easier prey for his enemies; until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keels over a weary, battered old brontosaurus and becomes extinct."

-Malcom Muggeridge


Back to Chan...he then extracts from James 4:17 that, "...when we stock up on knowledge without applying it to our lives we are actually sinning."  I agree.  How about pausing for a second to contrast the scary revealing in Romans 1:21-22, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools."

They knew God!!!  How crazy is this?!!  You can know your wife and not love her.  You can know God and not love him.  Anyone see what is going on here?  Knowledge junkies like myself fear the lack of application of knowledge (wisdom) as we try to absorb as much as we can waiting to apply it ourselves.  There are healthy applications of this, but there are also unhealthy applications that we choose to ignore.  "I'll get to it soon, " or, "I'll think about that later," when we learn a new truth God has taught us is easy to push aside as we continue to collect information.

I'll close the review of Chan's book with the amazing verse he quotes at the end of his book:

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." - Romans 14:17

-charles

P.S.  Anytime I disagree with Chan please do not feel any less of him.  I look up to Chan greatly.  I would venture to say that there is not one single person in this world that I agree with 100% of the time.  Chan is being used for God in powerful ways and when he provides opportunity for dialogue, it is just another one of those opportunities.   

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7




Forget About His Will for Your Life!

Chan's chapter title opener is a little over the top (the statement above), but he opens by asking a question that most people have heard in their lives and have possibly asked themselves, "I just wish I knew God's will for my life."  I completely agree with Chan that this question is full of implications to assist a misguided way of thinking.  God never laid out all of his plans for any of his prophets...ever.  He may have given them specific direction for a short time or even a vision into the future, but tomorrow's meal or what academic institution they needed to go to?  Nope.

I do however disagree with the thought that God's will seems to always be 'next year.'  Chan may not have meant it the way it seems to read, but I want to talk about it anyways.  God does say to discern what God's will is...now, but what does that mean?

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:2

Did Paul mean what God's good and acceptable perfect will be next year?  No, he meant today.  Wrestle with what God sees as good and perfect in his eyes!  Don't shackle yourself with fear of not obeying, but with joy of his promises to follow him.  It is exciting to try break apart this verse further and ask many more questions like; how do you test in order to discern?  How are you transformed?  What does it mean to have our minds renewed?

And God also tells us much of His will using the word, "this is my will," let alone throughout the Biblical narrative that require wisdom to apply what God has said to be God's will:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God."  1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

One quick side note.  I have heard many people read through the Bible and it's many layers of stories and get confused to what God's will is.  One beginning rule of thumb is to separate what God says versus what someone does.  If they perform some action, did God tell them to do it?  We have to be careful, but this basic rule helps wade through what God said versus what man did.  For example Abraham was not acting under God's will when he misled Pharaoh about his wife Sarah (Genesis 20:9), David was was not acting for God's will when he took Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-4), etc.  

Moving on, Chan compares the statement of findings God's will for his life versus the Spirit's leading in his life.  I believe that the statements in Romans and 1 Thessalonians interpret God's will as following his Spirit today...they mean the same thing.  I believe that the old phrases of knowing God's will is the same as walking by the Spirit stated by Paul in Galatians 5:16, 25.

I fully agree that, "you don't need the Holy Spirit if you are merely seeking to live a semi-moral life and attend church regularly."  Chan contrasts Romans 8:17, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, and Philippians 3:10-11 showing that a life in the Spirit is otherwise impossible for us.  It is not about shear discipline, but in loving others that our hearts are forever challenged throughout our daily walks in life.

Chan touches on a subject that seems culturally led today and absolutely wrong to me.  He says, 

"Instead of wasting time deliberating over whether others are walking with the Spirit (which is definitely not our job), I challenge you to examine yourself."

Today's culture loves to say, "don't judge me."  I understand what he's saying in examining yourself, just like Jesus said about removing the log from your eye, but what did Jesus say after that?  Here's the excerpt:

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." - Matthew 7:5

Jesus didn't say, "never confront your brother about his speck."  He said, "take the log out your own eye, and then..."  As iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) we are to judge one another, but in love.  Just like Christ came in grace and in truth; not just grace and not just truth. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 explains that we are to judge (with love and introspection) those inside the church and not judge those outside of the church.  They are not Christians and do not follow Christ so we can't look at them the same.  Once we are Christ's he expects us to lovingly confront and help one another through this life expanding his kingdom to a dying world.  Not with a strong armed approach to crush others with our self legalisms and discipline, but with love.

There is so much more layered through this chapter that helps your mind battle the flesh in understanding God's Holy Spirit and his role in your life, so please remember to pick up the book and take a gander.  I particularly love to struggle with the passage Chan dives into in the middle of the chapter; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  I want to understand how God's power is made perfect in our weakness.  Understanding when we 'lean' on God (...just like Proverbs 3:5-6) we are able to stand.  Our legs are just too weak to stand under the pressure.  We need God's 'way out' (1 Cor 10:13).  And all of this 'leaning' isn't just for us, but is so that they (those around you) might glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:12).   Look for Chan's treadmill example too, very helpful.

-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7



A Real Relationship.

In chapter 5 of Forgotten God, it seems that Chan starts by asking the question, "do you serve God as a stressed-out, guilt ridden slave or as one of his beloved children?"  Granted, the term slave still fits and sometimes we are stressed-out, Christians are not above this, but we don't rest in that and that is where the Holy Spirit comes in.

He then contrasts this question to being 'known' by God according to Galatians 4:6-7, 9:

(6-7) - And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

(9) - But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Some questions of Chan's to ponder:
  • Have you ever thought about what it means to be known?
  • Do you know God or just know about Him?
Something I think of the idea that we are all created in God's image, but we are not all his children.  This is a very difficult concept to grasp, but God is a just and holy God so his judgements on those of us who choose to go against are not 'unfair' as some of us would like to ponder.  As God's 'image bearers' we see his holy stamp on us in a unique specific way and have a special place in this world that the rest of his creation never received.  This brings a heavy responsibility of how we treat others.  They are born sinful, just as we are, but they are image bearers of God.

Chan then brings in Romans 8:15-17 to continue to defeat the idea of living a fearful live in slavery as believers in Christ.  He then shifts to two possible potential obstacles 1) Comfort and 2) Volume.

Comfort (Maybe Your Life Is Too Safe)
I once heard this statement, "comfort and equilibrium is the beginning of death."  I definitely agree, we almost begin to die when slip into a life of pure comfort and avoid risks at all cost.  When we take risks and test our faith in God by stepping out on our faith, trusting him, and following where we think he is leading us (confirmed by the boundaries of scripture) we then feel uncomfortable and unsafe.  When you don't know clearly what the next step is, it is scary.  When was the last time you really and honestly didn't know what to do next?

This is a place where God seems to refine us by pulling us out of our comfortable little lives.  Safe in the corners of our existence, quiet, not getting our hands dirty we drift through life in chapters of our lives hoping not to be in that place again.  We don't want to 'not know what to do.'  It is obvious, I know, but why do we ignore scriptures call on our lives about being uncomfortable?

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you - 1 Peter 4:12

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing - James 1:2-4

Peter almost makes fun of you for thinking that trials shouldn't happen to you in your life and James helps you wake up and see another perspective of what trials are really doing.  I think the heart of this is that we are trying to rely on ourselves for the answers at the fork in the road and not God's Holy Spirit.  We fear trials primarily because we don't have control, but when did we really have control in the first place?

Chan asks a hilariously obvious question, "Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?"

Duh?!  If you are already comfortable, why do you need a comforter?

Do we purposely throw ourselves in danger's way to experience that closeness?  Um....no, but there are some major thoughts to share here.  We are not called to live 'safe,' but when are called to walk in danger then do it.  Hastily and foolishly endangering our lives is not what God is asking from our testimonies, just a trust in his purposes and will for our lives.

Volume (Maybe Your Life Is Too Loud)
Great opening question by Chan; when was the last time you had an uninterrupted conversation with anyone?  Or how about, "when was the last time you were not distracted or multitasking?"  He mentions Jesus' constant fight to pray alone with the Father (Mark 1:35) and partially mentions the famous Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."  This is a Christian virtue, to phase out the world, not merely for relaxation's sake, but to connect with the one who created you.  If you told your wife you love her wouldn't you spend time with her?  God isn't your wife for sure, but the principle is the same: relationship.  If we truly love and follow God, won't we mimic Jesus' example and strive to find that time to love God turning our hearts heavenward...and through the one he gave us to effectively communicate (the Holy Spirit)?

Are you his temple?  I often wonder about the implications of being God's temple.  What happens when I sin?  He grieves.  He doesn't leave like some mystical being controlled by our whims, he grieves.

The "promised" Holy Spirit
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us...so that we might receive the promised spirit through faith" - Galatians 3:13-14

We are adopted as children and can pray as Jesus taught us to...Father.  Not just to a 'friend' or a 'god,' but father.  Wow.

When is the last time you sought God with all of your heart?

I'll end with my notes for a Bible study we did on this chapter:


A Real Relationship.

Do you serve God as a stressed-out, guilty slave or as one of his beloved children?
Read (being known by God) Galatians 4:6-7, 9
Ask - What do you think it means to be known by God?
Ask - Do you know God or just know about Him?  What’s the difference?
Discuss - Stop living fearfully – read Romans 8:15-17.

Two potential obstacles (Comfort and Volume)

1) Comfort (Maybe Your Life Is Too Safe)

Discuss - When was the last time you experienced a trial where you really and honestly didn't know what to do next?
Discuss - 1 Peter 4:12 (trials are not strange) and James 1:2-4 (consider it joy…)
Discuss - Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?  (...If you are already comfortable, why do you need a comforter?)
Read the short story of the missionaries (pg 107 – para 3)

2) Volume (Maybe Your Life Is Too Loud)

Ask - when was the last time you had an uninterrupted conversation with anyone? 
Ask - When was the last time you were not distracted or multitasking?
Discuss - Jesus' constant fight to pray alone with the Father (Mark 1:35)
Discuss - Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." 

Are you his temple? 

Ask – what are the implications of being God's temple?
Discuss - Made in God's image, but now his temple.  (possibly discuss the old covenant vs the new covenant)
Read - Galatians 3:13-14 (…Christ redeemed…so that…receive..spirit).
Discuss (pg 112) - Don't let your personal baggage keep you from enjoying this intimacy. Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) - No condemnation in Christ (Rom 8:1)
Ask - When is the last time you sought God with all of your heart?


-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7


Chan really does ask the tough questions that shoot straight to the center of our heart's desires.  He starts this chapter with an illustration and then the question, "why do you want the Holy Spirit?"  Is it for your own desires or is it to be used for his kingdom?  How would I answer this question?  I'll attempt.

Why does Charles want the Holy Spirit?  Trying to be as transparent as possible (sorry for the political term), I feel my urges fight strongly to try to use God as a genie of sorts.  I look around and see what others have and then struggle, fight, and work hard to get their positions in life.  Not all comparisons are bad, if we're doing bad then a comparison to good is a good and right comparison.  Is this a good heart?  A root of jealousy within to motivate a covetous heart to get what I want?  Thankfully that is not the only thing I feel deeply though.  Cuing into Mr. Chan's earlier question in chapter one, "when was the last time you saw the Holy Spirit at work?"  I am led to a place where I deeply desire; brokenness that forces dependence on Him.

The Spirit was very obvious when I broke up with my last serious girl friend.  I felt God convicting me in how to lead our relationship and protect her and after a long while, I finally listened.  When we stopped our illicit behaviors God took me to the next level...."you need to break up with her."  I didn't want to.  I fought it and just couldn't believe it.  Why would God ask such a thing right now?  I loved her during the last year and half of our relationship helping her through the loss of her mom.  I was such a child inwardly and didn't know how to help a woman through a bereavement process, let alone with the loss of her only mother.  But I knew what God was telling me was as clear as the day was bright.  Adding another layer of complexity to this relationship was the fact that I was laid off of my job for almost 6 months now.  Getting a job was always easy, but I just couldn't find work anywhere and my unemployment was about to run out.

After a short set of unremarkable circumstances God helped me make the decision and I broke up with her.  What happened next still fills me with joy when I think back to these days.  The very next day I got a contract....in Dallas, which was far away from her.  A good friend of mine had a partially 'under construction' house on a lake close to Dallas and let me stay there for free.  Off to Dallas I went.

When I got there I plugged immediately into a local church, worked and caught up on my bills, and felt a freedom I had never felt before.  I wasn't pursuing just what I wanted, was still in the dumps materially, but felt more alive than I had ever felt before.  God blessed me with new friends in the church from the first day and we connected musically together playing at a few different venues for Christ (I played guitar).  It was like waking up from a deep dark painful sleep, I honestly don't know what other cliche to use, but that's how it was.  I could feel alive again and in a fresh new freeing spirit that was only from God.  The story gets even more amazing, but I'll stop there and just say, God pursues us and I'm so thankful for that truth.  I was pursuing dust and dirt (all our future demise) and God shook me out of it.

Further into chapter 4 Chan trips along a few subtle concepts I disagree about.  He mentions the Spirit's work (page 92) through us for "the common good," but I disagree, I think that this statement would more accurately be stated as "God's common good."  If you leave the term as 'the' then it becomes relativistic on who the 'the' is.  He definitely empowers us to be his witnesses, but what the common good is can be a slippery slope to major issues.  He doesn't just leave it there in his book though.

Another statement that surprised me was his statement (page 92), "Do they see a person who lives according to the Way of Jesus or someone who does business according to capitalistic and self-centered standards, just like everyone else?"  I understand what he is saying about 'like everyone else,' but he trips on a word that isn't evil in itself...capitalism gets picked on a lot these days.  It is a word used and abused in many social circles today and I'm not afraid of the word myself.  Maybe a definition can help pull us through the confused thoughts about capitalism.  One definition of capitalism is, "An economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit."  The key is 'private owners for profit,' which I would argue that Paul, Jesus and a slew of other examples in the Bible would agree with.  Paul was a tent maker (Acts 18:3) and made his own money in order to provide for others and he even mentions for those who used to steal to now work for a living so they can give to others (Eph 4:28) and that those who don't work shouldn't eat (2 Thess 3:10).  Capitalism doesn't = selfishness, it means working for personal profit, which can be used for whatever you feel the profit should be used for.  Is profit bad?  No, but selfishness is.  Money is not bad, but it should not be our life's goal either.  I'll drop this argument and move on, but just think about the fact that both rich and poor can both be greedy.  Capitalism should not be delegated as a negative by-word of working hard.

I also disagreed with this statement on the bottom of page 92, "When we submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, He helps us become more holy - more like Jesus."  If he had replaced 'more holy' with 'more sanctified' I would have agreed.  The scriptures tell me I'm broken and dead apart from Jesus and with Jesus I am purified before a Holy Father.  Are we automatically just like Jesus in all of our ambitions in life?  Of course not.  When we begin to believe we start an amazing painful, soul crushing and soul joyful process call sanctification.  It is the process of being transformed into the likeness of his Son Jesus.  The Holy Spirit begins testing our hearts through trials (not punishment, but discipline) as he trials those he loves (Heb 12:6).  What good father would let his son continue to hurt himself?  Does this make us more holy?  No, because holiness is a question of righteousness, which we have none apart from Christ and can't build up a bank of holiness.  We either are dead and belong to the kingdom of this world or we are alive and belong to the kingdom of righteousness, there is no between.

Now Chan jumps us into an amazing foundation that I struggle with remembering...love trumps all (1 Cor 13:1-3).  Chan reminds us of Paul redirecting our focus from supernatural gifts (gifts of the Spirit) to love.  God will do many amazing things in our lives and around us as we live, but those 'things' are not life's goal, love is.   But what does that mean?  Love?  What about love?  Loving others requires unselfishness and courage to focus those we're loving to our source of love, Jesus Christ.  Remember what Jesus said (Luke 10:27), "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your strength.  And love your neighbor as yourself."  First love God then love those of us who will usually hurt you because we are fighting within ourselves to be selfish (James 4:1).

In the midst of talking about capitalism and the possibilities of selfishness and materialism we'll end today with a thought that hit me in the face like a refreshing breeze yesterday.  I wasn't scared of this thought and it actually brought joy to my heart as I continued to ponder it:

"I do not want to die an old comfortable life, but I want to die for God however he would call me."

This world is so very temporary so let us let go of our idols and hold onto Jesus with all of our hearts.  It will be over soon.

-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7


This is the third post of a review on the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan (see post one and post two).

CHAPTER 3

What does the Holy Spirit do?  Chan starts off by reminding us that what we believe (doctrine) may not change what God will do, but it matters as it will shape what 'we' will do.  He also adds that we should hold fast to solid doctrines and be careful about ambiguous doctrines.  Here's a short quote from page 65, "The point is not to completely understand God, but to worship Him.  Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur."  Also, any analogy of God will never encapsulate God's nature (e.g. God is like the three parts of an egg, like a flame, etc), but the trinity is obvious and implied (Isaiah 9:6). Listed below are a few bullet points he makes about the Holy Spirit:
  1. The Holy Spirit is a person.
  2. The Holy Spirit is God.
  3. The Holy Spirit is eternal and holy - and he dwells in us...wow!
  4. The Holy Spirit has His own mind and prays for us.
  5. The Holy Spirit has emotions - we are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit.
  6. The Holy Spirit has his own desires and will.
  7. The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
I omitted the Bible verse references and main points because I think the book does a great job of creating a more powerful atmosphere than this blog can do....so read the book.

He ends the chapter with a list of 'fruit' that the Holy Spirit can have in our lives.  I admit that I feel like I've ignored the Spirit a lot when I read through the list.  Like I've been trying to do it all on my own.  Sure, I believe in Jesus with all of my heart, but I have ignored Jesus' thoughts about the Holy Spirit as I kept an unhealthy focus on the physical world hoping to bow down to Jesus in person.  Wasn't that the focus of the song 'I Can Only Imagine' by Casting Crown?  Why else did this song resonate with so many of us so powerfully?  We are so excited to see Jesus, but sadly I think we are not worshiping the Holy Spirit that he has given to us today when we only think of the physical present world.

There are two verses I want to end with; John 16:7 and Acts 2:38-39.  In John, Jesus reminds us of why the Holy Spirit is such a big deal and Acts has Peter reminding us how to respond to God:

"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you" - John 16:7 (ESV)

"And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." - Acts 2:38-39 (ESV)

-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7



This is the second post of my review on the book Forgotten God by Francis Chan (see post one here).

Why do a chapter-by-chapter review of a book?  As I could count many possible reasons for doing so I'll just stick to the actual reason I chose to do so.  Why?  To hopefully walk a little deeper in a book that I think will be profound.  So far so good, now on to chapter 2 :)

CHAPTER 2

Wow, he hit the nail on the head.  Coming from a largely conservative background, similar to Mr. Chan, he understands my struggles and my questions deeply about the Holy Spirit and isn't afraid to address them.  Let's walk through some thoughts and questions in this amazing chapter:

1)  What if God doesn't come through?  We feel as though we have to cover for God not coming through in our lives when we pray for something and it doesn't happen...but that's a problem.  The real issue is what we're praying for; something promised by God (like giving the Holy Spirit - Luke 11:13) or the gifts God gives?  James investigates this issue further.  Point: pray for what God promised.

2)  Do I even want this?  If we are honest with ourselves we will all admit that we don't like the thought of someone telling us what to do, especially if it is uncomfortable, which is usually what God does.

3)  Is my reputation in the way?   We all have fears about what others think of us.  Why is this important, because our fears sometimes drive unhealthy behaviors (e.g. ignoring investigation of the Holy Spirit for fear of others judging us).
4)  God Fear.  1 Thessalonians 5:19 and 20 - "Do not quench the Spirit," and "Do not treat prophecies with contempt."  This has always been something I've just browsed through not paying attention to like Mr. Chan.  While we fear individuals being overly zealous joy about things that 'God said to them,' we need to not ignore their words.  We need to do what scripture says and "test everything" (1 Thess 5:21-22).  Point: next time you hear someone tell you 'god said...' just merely test their words to scripture, do not just push their words away as 'crazy' or 'misled.'
I want to end with a verse from the beginning of Acts that calls attention to the Holy Spirit as pointed out by Mr. Chan:

"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:38

Mr. Chan is definitely discussing questions I have had sitting in the back of mind for some time, unlike some authors (e.g. Celebration of Discipline discussing submission ignores the elephant in the room...relational submission).  Every author doesn't have the foresight, nor the amount of pages to answer all questions given on a topic, but so far I am impressed and can't wait to read chapter 3.

-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7

This is the beginning of a series of reviews about an amazing book our MC (Mission Community) is studying called Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  Today's review is over chapter one.

I had two initial fears in reading this book:

1) That I'll start mimicking a Pentecostal's actions of jumping wildly in the aisles and screaming like a mad man possibly scaring others away from Jesus.
2) That I'll find out that I really don't understand the Holy Spirit like I should (that I could have read and not understood).
I loved his opening story about the Jehovah's Witnesses.  He drew me in then quickly dropped me down like I needed, great opening.

I definitely feel like there has been a recent draw to understand the Holy Spirit deeper lately before getting the book.  One of my cousins wisely asked me, "What is the big deal about the Holy Spirit anyways?"  I admit that I didn't really know how to say what I knew scripture said, because I didn't feel the reality of what the scriptures said (to live alive).  All I could say was that He was the one that made it so our works were not just filthy rags as they were without Him.  So He enabled us to be able to do good finally.

I have thought to myself that it would be better to have Jesus with us physically, leading us, but this is wrong (John 16:7).  Why didn't I believe Jesus?  It's almost like I'm worshiping the physical reality of today than God's words.  My flesh desires his physical presence as a further proof, but Peter expounds on this and agrees that we're still blessed, even if we haven't seen him (1 Peter 1).  I feel like I should remind myself daily, "It is 'better' for the Holy Spirit to be with us right now," like an addict trying to get sober I have to let go of my false theology of Jesus being with me physically as being a 'better' situation.

Chan poses a question, "When was the last time I undeniably saw the Spirit at work in or around me?"

My answer, "when I was working 80 hours and missed visiting our MC and wrote a quick letter about what we were reading in the book of Mark.  I wrote soundly, when I usually don't, as much as I'd like to take the credit.  Before that would probably be when I had to apologize to a co-worker for something she misunderstood.  I thought I was helping her but she took it as a threat and tried to get me in trouble for it.  My anger was almost unbearable.  It was the hardest thing I had to do in quite awhile as I was being led (by the Spirit) to show kindness to the ungrateful (Luke 6)."

Some main points:

1)  The Spirit makes a change, do we see it?
2)  The Spirit will move differently than the world, it will look different, therefore making us look different.

This book is amazing so far; chapter 2 is on it's way :)

-charles

» » Chapter 1
» » Chapter 2
» » Chapter 3
» » Chapter 4
» » Chapter 5
» » Chapter 6
» » Chapter 7


When I moved to Houston, Texas over 2 years ago I really didn't expect to find what I did.  What did I find?  I found a plethora of amazing restaurants, cool places to hang out, venues for live bands, beaches, boats, ocean front property, palm trees and more.  If someone was going to come to Houston, Texas what would I recommend to see?  Well, one of my brothers recently came to Houston with his wife for a 3 day trip and I decided to put together a quick itinerary of cool things to do.  Here is the itinerary:

Thursday:

  •  Dinner at Niko Nikos (Montrose)
  • Walk around Kema Boardwalk
Friday:
  • The Strand @Galveston
  • Pier 21 @Galveston
  • Drive to west end of the sea wall (dead end) and watch the boats come through the channel
  • Moody Gardens @Galveston
Saturday:
  • Kaloche's @Shipley's donuts
  • Cookies @Miss Ginny's bakery
  • Disc golf
  • Lunch @Bullritos by JSC
  • JP Morgan Chase Sky Tower
  • Walk through Houston tunnel system
  • Tour NASA
  • Flying Saucer for dinner/Create your own flight
Sunday:
  • Shopping @the Galleria
  • Water wall by the Williams Tower
  • Tour Rice University
  • Rice Village @El Meson
  • Rice Village @Chocolate Shop
Monday:
  • Breakfast at the 'Egg and I' off of Bay Area

There is so much to do in Houston, we just skimmed the top of cool things to do here.  Here is a quick list of a few more things to do and restaurants to eat at:

Things to do:
  • St. Arnolds Brewery ($5/person - bring some snacks)
  • Forbidden Gardens @Katy, TX
  • Walk through tunnel system (a lot to walk!)
  • The Miller Outdoor Theater - a gem in Houston
  • Sports - professional basketball (Rockets), football (Texans), and hockey (Aeros)
  • College sports (Rice University, University of Houston, etc)
  • The Orange Show
  • Houston Rodeo (once a year)
  • Clearlake Boat Show (they put Christmas lights on the boats and light up the harbor - very cool)
Food/Drink @Clearlake:
  • Perries (get their pork chop)
  • Lupe Tortilla (get their fajitas)
  • Boondoggles (amazing food and drink)
  • Thai Cottage (get their Thai Tea and Panang Curry)
  • Frenchies (great Italian food)
  • Red River BBQ (simple, amazing)
  • Pappa's BBQ
Food/Drink @Rice Village
  • Gingerman Pub (drinks only - amazing on-tap selection) 
  • The Chocolate Bar!!
Food/Drink @Galveston:
  • Rainforest Cafe @the seawall
  • Olympia Grill @Pier 21
  • Luigi's Restaurant Italiano
Food/Drink @downtown Houston
  • Three Forks (best salad ever)
  • House of Blues
  • Bombay Pizza Co.
  • Brennans (French/Creol)
  • Mark's American Cuisine (...date night, she'll love it - formal dress)
Food/Drink @Galleria
  • Yia Yia Mary's Greek Kitchen
  • Maggiano's
  • Grand Lux Cafe
Kema:
  • T-bone Tom's
  • Bakklus Taverna
  • Ichabon (sushi)
  • Saltgrass (typical Texas steak house)
  • The aquarium
Other
  • House of Pies
  • Dot Coffee Shop (off of 45)
  • Bada Bing (great Italian pizza!!)
All else fails, Austin is only 3 hours away:
  • Stubs Restaurant
  • Congress Street
  • Austin City Limits
  • Six Street

There is so much more to list of course, but these are the places that I have personally been to or heard great things about.  Start here and venture out on your own, but you'll be glad you started with this list.

-Charles

We've all heard about the story of the 300 Greeks who stood up to the Persians, but have you heard about the story of the 300 Israelites standing up to the Midianites? There is one huge gaping difference between these two stories, the glory of the victory.
I won't retell the story of the Greeks, you can easily find it on Wikipedia and the full story of the Israelites and their battle is found HERE.
What I want to do is show how God works when the glory is given to him; the very purpose we are made. The Greeks did hold off the Persians for awhile, but were soon destroyed; and the glory goes to the Greeks. Being that Greeks run deep in my ancestry it is hard to just dismiss the pride I desire to show in such stories, but I must. Gideon's story is much different.
Gideon starts off his march with 33,000 troops, but God has something to tell him as he goes to battle in Judges 7:2:

The LORD said to Gideon, "The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'

Anyone else see what he is saying? You are too well prepared and will be tempted to say that the victory is yours if you triumph. God performs a few litmus tests and fleeces out the army leaving Gideon with only 300 men left to fight the battle. Why didn't Gideon give up? God is taking away your great army Gideon, just give up! The reason Gideon didn't give up was because he was listening and obeying God. God said he would give him victory (Judges 6:16) and (Judges 7:17), then he'll be victorious. And guess what, Gideon's army lives through this impossible defeat. God basically confuses the armies and they fight each other causing Gideon's army to win the battle.
So take the glory and die like the Greeks or be a real man and give it to the one who created you and died for your sins and see what he wants to do.
It is all about God's glory, not ours. God will use us in this physical world to do great things for his glory (great and small in the eyes of man) and we must remember to lay at his feet our successes and failures. Remember Gideon's story next time you walk into a trial that seems completely impossible. As Jesus once said about man in Mathew 19:26:

But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."



I used to read through a Bible study guide by Robert Murray Mccheyne, but soon found one in the 'Jesus Freak' books that I really like. This is the Bible study guide I use most often. Click the picture to download and print on your computer (the picture was split in two):




I agree with in depth Bible study too, but keeping ourselves in the Word constantly is always good. Choose to do both as reading a few chapters a day does not take that long, but dig deeper with questions and subjects you are more curious about. Take those studies as long as you'd like, just as long as you are studying something deep. Reading has a great benefit, but going deep has its own benefit as you will grow in ways that surface level reading just won't do. Be sure to use the references in your Bible to help you understand other uses of similar words and subjects. Grow strong and be sure to thank God for 'testing' as he trials those he loves, God bless,

-charles

Jesus Freaks: DC Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs

The title of this book is very appropriate. Open the cover and you'll find yourself in the utter places of darkness in other's lives and see their real hope, Jesus Christ, come alive. These are true stories of how Christ has openly and physically worked in the lives of people who have been murdered for their faith in Jesus. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who profess the name of Jesus Christ. It will give you strength to see just how real Christ works both today and forevermore!


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