Book Shelf: Forgotten God

Forgotten God:
Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Francis Chan (Author)
Published by David C. Cook
New edition (September 1, 2009)

My review: 5 out of 5 stars
In Forgotten God, Francis Chan discusses the mystery and importance of the Holy Spirit from a place of great reverence and humility. His servant heart brings forth a book full of approachable stories and illustrations, yet crystal clear in Biblical truth and classic Christian theology. His engaging style invites you into a conversation. You leave challenged but not condemned. Great for persons at all points in their journey of faith.

From the publisher:
A follow up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction in our lives.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and … the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two? As Jesus ascended into heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit—the Helper—so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ. Unfortunately, today’s church has admired the gift but neglected to open it.

Breakthrough author Francis Chan rips away paper and bows to get at the true source of the church’s power—the Holy Spirit. Chan contends that we’ve ignored the Spirit for far too long, and we are reaping the disastrous results. Thorough scriptural support and compelling narrative form Chan’s invitation to stop and remember the One we’ve forgotten, the Spirit of the living God.

Trinity, Community and Love

Icon Celtic Trinity by Jim Harris

2 Corinthians 13:13 (NRSV)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

God created us so that the joy He has in Himself might be ours. God doesn’t simply think about Himself or talk to Himself. He enjoys Himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who He is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we’ve been created to join the party!
Sam Storms

All sorts of people are fond of repeating the Christian statement that “God is love.” But they seem not to notice that the words ‘God is love’ have no real meaning unless God contains at least two persons. Love is something that one person has for another person. If God was a single person, then before the world was made, He was not love.
C.S. Lewis

The Christian response is contained in these two fundamental dogmas: that of the Trinity and that of the Incarnation. In the trinitarian dogma God is one, good, true, and beautiful because he is essentially Love, and Love supposes the one, the other, and their unity. – Hans Urs von Balthasar

Jesus wants to include us in this most intimate communion by giving us the Holy Spirit: “It is good that I go,” says Jesus,” so that I can send you the Spirit” (see John 16:7). In and through the Spirit we become full participants in the communion of love that Jesus shares with his Father. That is the mystery of our redemption and the promise of the spiritual life. – Henri J. M. NouwenA Spirituality of Living

In the mutual relationship of the three persons of the Godhead we find the model for a human community. This relationship is characterized by kenosis and “inclusion”. Kenosis connotes the emptying, or total abandonment of oneself for a higher good, as with Jesus emptying himself for the glory of God and for the salvation of humanity (Phil. 2:5-11). “Inclusion” refers to the acceptance of others, joining them with oneself while honouring the diversity among the many, in a unity that does not seek uniformity.
– Thomas J. Scirghi, The Trinity: a model for belonging in contemporary society

Prayer for Unity
Holy God, One yet Three, reach into the abundance of Your companionship and bring forth unity and healing. Bring it forth in our land and all the nations of the world. Bring it forth in places of power and places of great need. Bring it forth in Your people. Pour out peace on violent homes and hearts. Shower compassion on selfish and short sighted motives. Rain down love and understanding so all are covered in Your blessing and harmony and life, forevermore…. forevermore. Amen.

This poem/lyric was born out of a reflection on the nature of God, One God and yet Three living in perfect freedom, love and unity with one another. God’s desire is for the people of God to live in this same type relationship with God and each other. God in Jesus Christ lays down his life so this might be possible for us. The simplicity of the lyric and tune, harkening to a lullaby, attempts to express the reality of God’s love; profound and mysterious, yet beautiful, welcoming, creative and humble. – Lisa <><

God lives in community
One and yet Three
Loving, creating, eternally
We’re called to community
One, yet Many
Loving, creating, one family

All praise to the Trinity
The One who is Three
Who came as a baby
To calm our rough sea
Who died on a lonely tree
And rose on day three
Loving, creating, our victory

God lives in community
With all who believe
Loving, creating,
What we’re to be
We’re called to community
For now we can see
That loving, creating,
Makes us all free

Please consider patronizing the joyful and faithful work of today’s feature artist, Jim Harris

Prayer for Unity © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
Community © 1998 by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use these works in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish these works in any form. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set Comunity to music or to have her original tune for this lyric notated.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Pentecost: Christ Proclaimed in Many Tongues

The Coming of the Holy Spirit by Soichi Wantanabe

Acts 2:1-6 (NRSV)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Other languages. Real languages. The disciples, who spoke Aramaic (and with an accent) suddenly were able to speak in other people’s languages. The true miracle and gift of Pentecost is not ecstatic prayer, but conveying love by bridging differences, by reaching out to the Other. Whatever separates us is the place where the miracle of Pentecost happens.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

Pentecost is thus about the reversal of Babel. For the author of Luke-Acts, the coming of Jesus and the continuation of his presence in the power of the Spirit inaugurated a new age in which the fragmentation of humanity was overcome. Or, in words attributed to Paul, through Christ and the Spirit, the breaking down of “the dividing wall of separation” and the creation of “one new humanity” had begun (Ephesians 2:14-15).
– Marcus Borg, Pentecost and Babble/Babel

Sometimes people say that at Pentecost, God reversed the Tower of Babel, but that is exactly what He didn’t do. At Pentecost, God underlined the linguistic diversity that He introduced at Babel. Everyone in the crowd was able to understand the disciples speaking in his or her own language. The first miracle that the Holy Spirit did was to make it possible for the story of Jesus to be understood in many languages all at once. The Triune relational God did nor force conformity on his followers by making them all hear his message in one language, He encouraged diversity by allowing them to hear in their own language. From even before the Christian church was called Christian, it was multi-cultural and multi-lingual.
– Eddie Arthur, Babel, Pentecost and the Blessing of Diversity

1 Corinthians 13:1 (NRSV)
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels,
but do not have love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

‘disparted tongues’- that is, tongue-shaped, flame-like appearances, rising from a common center or root, and resting upon each of that large company – a beautiful visible symbol of the burning energy of the Spirit now descending in all His plenitude upon the Church, and about to pour itself through every tongue, and over every tribe of men under heaven!
– from Commentary on the Whole Bible by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown

The miracle was not in the ears of the hearers, (as some have unaccountably supposed,) but in the mouth of the speakers. And this family praising God together, with the tongues of all the world, was an earnest that the whole world should in due time praise God in their various tongues. – John Wesley

Zephaniah 3:8-9 (NRSV)
Therefore wait for me, says the Lord, for the day when I arise as a witness. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger; for in the fire of my passion all the earth shall be consumed. At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.

Philippians 2:9-11 (NRSV)
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Click Here for more about Soichi Wantanabe and his elegant and faithful work.

Prayer for Pentecost

The descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and Mary at Pentecost. © Elizabeth Wang,

What does the Spirit do? His works are ineffable in majesty, and innumerable in quantity. How can we even ponder what extends beyond the ages? What did He do before creation began? How great are the graces He showered on creation? What power will He wield in the age to come? He existed; He pre-existed; He co-existed with the Father and the Son before the ages. Even if you can imagine anything beyond the ages, you will discover that the Spirit is even further beyond. -St. Basil the Great

This Pentecost, I find myself hungering for revival, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to awaken God’s people to the fullness of faith. This prayer (or song lyric) was born out of that hunger. Each verse was inspired by scriptures relating the work of the Holy Spirit. The first verse uses images of the Holy Spirit as sacred breath, as found in the gift of life in Genesis 2:7 and Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit in John 20:19-23. The second verse relates the empowerment of God’s people by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-40) The last verse draws together images of the Holy Spirit’s transforming power at work in those who believe. (Acts 2:41-47; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel:37:1-14) May hungering become happening- Lisa <><

Come, Holy Spirit
Breathe into us the breath of new life
Come, Generous Spirit
Bring peace and bring hope
Bring courage for change
Bring freedom from all falsehood and fear

Come, Holy Spirit
Embolden us with the fire of your heart
Come, Pentecost Spirit
Bring light and bring strength
Bring tongues filled with truth
Bring passion for the world to know you

Come, Holy Spirit
Unify us in the ways of Christ
Come, Creating Spirit
Bring gifts and bring fruit
Bring life to dry bones
Bring wisdom to live justice and love

Come, Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit
Come, Holy Spirit…

Prayer for Pentecost © May 22, 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

Please patronize the exquisite work of Elizabeth Wang at Radiant Light

For more information on the use of the art, scripture translation and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Daily Bread: A Collection of Table Graces

Bread by Think Draw via Wikimedia Commons.

Acts 27:35-36 (NIV)
After he said this, Paul took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.

Traditional Lutheran
Common Table Prayer

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,
let this food to us be blessed, Amen.

A Slovak Lutheran tradition adds a second verse:
And may there be a goodly share
on every table everywhere.

My friend Kevin Baker modified the text slightly so you can sing it to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”
Come Lord Jesus, be our guest
May all these gifts to us be blessed
Blessed be God who is our bread
May all the world be clothed and fed. Amen.

Traditional Scouting Grace
Neath these tall green trees we stand
Asking blessings from Thy hand
Thanks we give to thee above
For Thy help and strength and love.

Wayfarer’s Grace
May be sung to the same tunes as “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”
or “For The Beauty of the Earth”

For all the glory of the way
For all thy protection night and day
For rooftree, fire, and bed and board
For friends and home we thank thee Lord.

Table Grace by Alcuin of York
Lord Christ, we ask you to spread our table with your mercy. And may you bless with your gentle hands the good things you have given us. We know that whatever we have comes from your lavish heart, for all that is good comes from you. Thus whatever we eat, we should give thanks to you. And having received from your hands, let us give with equally generous hands to those who are poor, breaking bread and sharing our bread with them. For you have told us that whatever we give to the poor we give to you.

Table Grace attributed to Brigid of Kildare
I should like a great lake of finest ale
For the King of kings.
I should like a table of the choicest food
For the family of heaven.
Let the ale be made of the fruits of faith,
And the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
For they are God’s children.
I should welcome the sick to my feast,
For they are God’s joy.
Let the poor sit with Jesus at the highest place,
And the sick dance with the angels.

God bless the poor,
God bless the sick,
And bless our human race.
God bless our food,
God bless our drink,
All homes, O God, embrace.

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Quotes: What is Prayer?

Man Praying. Artist Unknown. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Luke 11:1 NIV
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Prayer takes place where heart speaks to heart, that is, where the heart of God is united with the heart that prays. Thus knowing God becomes loving God, just as being known by God is being loved by God. – Henri Nouwen, Behold the Beauty of the Lord

Something prowls in your heart that is true and powerful and it gives you life and moves you forward. It may not be belief. It may be a vague sense of how things ought to be, or hope disguised as loss. What is it? Sit still and let it emerge from the shadows. Let it speak, let it invite you. In what direction does it point you? Go there. That desire is the voice of God, pulling you closer. Follow it. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you.- Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse

Some things are proved by the unbroken uniformity of our experiences. The law of gravitation is established by the face that, in our experience, all bodies without exception obey it. Now even if all the things that people prayed for happened, which they do not, this would not prove what Christians mean by the efficacy of prayer. For prayer is request. The essence of request, as distinct from compulsion, is that it may or may not be granted. – C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night and other Essays

There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true. I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised. Don’t put your hope in what others promise or what you’ve been told you’ll “get” if you are a “good Christian” (e.g., a good job, financial success, the perfect spouse, healthy children, a big house, etc.). And ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts (good as they may be) that He gives. It really comes down to trust. Do you trust God that when He says no or “not in this way” to you, you still believe He is good and doing what is best?
– Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

How we Christians fear straying from the correct path! In our concern to do it right, we have forgotten how to respond spontaneously to an encounter with the Divine. We remain children, depending on someone else’s approval, in that most important core of our life, the spiritual. We don’t learn how to pray, only to say approved prayers. We sit at the dark edges of a richly laden banquet hall, hoping for a few crumbs that might fall our way. – Robert Lentz

Psalm 17:6 NIV
I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.

In prayer we change our posture from reasoning to trusting, from thinking to conversing, from self-oriented meditation to communicating with God, from self-reliance to trusting in God, from me-centered to God-centered. Disciple II Bible Study: Into the Word, Into the World

I entered into the secret closet of my soul, led by Thee; and this I could do because Thou wast my helper. I entered, and behold with the mysterious eye of my soul the Light that never changes, above the eye of my soul, above my intelligence. It was not the common light which all flesh can see, nor was it greater yet of the same kind, as if the light of day were to grow brighter and brighter and flood all space. It was not like this, but different: altogether different from all such things. Nor was it above my intelligence in the same way as oil is above water, or heaven above earth; but it was higher because it made me, and I was lower because made by it. He who knoweth the truth knoweth that Light: and who knoweth it, knoweth eternity. Love knoweth it.
Augustine, Confessions

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. –Thérèse of Lisieux

Real prayer penetrates to the marrow of our soul and leaves nothing untouched. The prayer of the heart is a prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotions. By its very nature such prayer transforms our whole being into Christ precisely because it opens the eyes of our soul to the truth of ourselves as well as to the truth of God…. The prayer of the heart challenges us to hide absolutely nothing from God and to surrender ourselves unconditionally to his mercy. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Reader’s Theater: Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

Jacob’s Dream by Marc Chagall

A few thoughts on Genesis 28:16-17 from Richard Rohr
“You were here all the time, and I never knew it!
This is nothing less than the house of God; this is the very gate of heaven.”
– Genesis 28:16-17

  • The gate of heaven is everywhere. This is what I mean by the great democratization of God and the total accessibility and availability of God.
  • God is as available and accessible as the very thing we all do constantly—breathe.
  • All of our faults and ego possessions are just heavy and burdensome luggage that keep us from walking through the always-open gate—or even seeing it in the first place.
  • It is one sacred universe, and we are all a part of it. The here and now has the power to become the gateway and the breakthrough point to the universal.

Reader’s Theater: Jacob’s Dream at Bethel
Based on Genesis 28:10-22 (NRSV)
Version with three speakers

Click here for a PDF of this script

Click here for a PDF of this script for one speaker

Play instrumental music in the harmonic structure of We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder under the Scripture reading (but not a recognizable tune)

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. Music stops so the following line and verse are in silence

And he dreamed…

We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, verse 1 a cappella
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
Soldiers of the cross.

Instrumental music continues under the Scripture reading.

Jacob dreamed there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him

I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, verse 2 with instrumental support
Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Every round goes higher, higher,
Soldiers of the cross.

Instrumentalist transitions to the chorus of Surely the Presence of the Lord during the Scripture reading.

Then Jacob woke from his sleep

Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!
Fearfully How awesome is this place!
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

Surely the Presence of the Lord, chorus, with instrumental support
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
I can feel His mighty power and His grace
I can hear the brush of angel’s wings
I see glory on each face
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

Instrumental music continues under the Scripture reading.

So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow.

If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that you give me I will surely give one-tenth to you.

Surely the Presence of the Lord, chorus, with instrumental support
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
I can feel His mighty power and His grace
I can hear the brush of angel’s wings
I see glory on each face
Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, traditional Afro-American Spiritual. United Methodist Hymnal #418.

Surely the Presence of the Lord, by Lanny Wolfe © 1977 Lanny Wolfe Music. United Methodist Hymnal #328. CCLI #7909.

Compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Contact the compilers for posting and publication considerations.

For more information on the use of the music, scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.