With the incredible commercial success of his best-selling book Crazy Love in 2008, Francis Chan did not waste any time writing his next published work released in 2009 titled, Forgotten God. With Crazy Love being one of the most influential books I have ever read, it was an easy decision to read this latest offering.
The front and back covers are fantastic. They are mainly dark brown with the attention being focussed on what appears to be a dove with it's wings and feathers created by a collage of various scriptures. The text is beautifully laid out while allowing a lot of empty space.
Forgotten God brings awareness and attention to the third person of God that Chan believes Christians and churches have tragically neglected; The Holy Spirit. Chan explores the fundamental knowledge most have about the Holy Spirit, but also looks at our own abuses, misconceptions, and even fears of Him.
I found two distinct questions that Chan challenges readers to ask themselves:
1. "When was the last time I undeniably saw the Spirit at work in or around me?"
2. "Do I want to lead or be led by the Holy Spirit?"
I continue to appreciate Chan's down to earth writing style. He writes in a way that really makes the reader feel like they are having a one on one intimate conversation with him. Chan is not afraid to call out the hypocrisy of churches and Christians, but his ability to convict the reader with truth in a loving and encouraging way is exactly the experience readers would hope for. At the end of each chapter, Chan provides incredible true stories of how ordinary people did extraordinary things that would be considered impossible to do on their own strength, but instead done with the power of the Holy Spirit.
"I can't imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Holy Spirit out of fear that He won't come through." - page 47/48
"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." - page 120
Critics have often voiced that there is not much academic material to really learn about the Holy Spirit. Aside from one chapter explaining the basic fundamentals of what the Holy Spirit is and what he does, there was little theology about this person. These complaints are valid, but that is not the purpose of Forgotten God. If Chan were to write a complete doctrine of the Holy Spirit, it would overwhelm most readers to the point there would be complaints about the book being too filled with theology. Readers cannot really have it both ways, and I am glad Francis chose the introduction approach while letting them decide if they want to pursue further theology.
Another challenge is that while Chan often explains WHY we have neglected the Holy Spirit and shows WHAT having the Holy Spirit looks like, readers really want to know HOW do we connect with the Holy Spirit. This is also a fair complaint as Chan concedes that he does not as he quotes, "have a 4-step guide to connecting with the Holy Spirit". However, he does not exactly leave readers in the dark as he does point out two potential obstacles in our lives. One is our comfort and being too safe to depend on the Holy Spirit. The other obstacle is our lives being too noisy with distractions and busyness. Chan believes that if we discipline ourselves in being still, to listen, to wait, and to cut out distractions, it is then that we can experience deep intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Of course he points out the most obvious reason we are not connecting with the Holy Spirit in that we simply do not pray, do not ask, and do not take action in walking with him. The more interesting points Chan makes is the fears that hold us back. People either fear the Holy Spirit will not work, fear he will work in ways we do not want, or fear what people will think, say, or do when they see the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
Forgotten God is not recommended to those that desire a deep theological understanding of the Holy Spirit. It does not give you a step by step guide on how to embrace Him. It is a wake up call to the church to not live a life of dead works. It is an invitation to those that claim to follow Jesus, to not miss out on a fulfilling life through an all powerful Holy Spirit that Jesus promised his followers. Just as Crazy Love invites readers to a relationship with God the Father and God the Son, Forgotten God invites readers to a relationship with God the Holy Spirit with a convincing message that would be tragic to ignore.
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