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The Holy Spirit Disconnect

pushIf you read the account of what occurred in the book of Acts with the explosion of the Church even in the midst of trial and persecution, you see people who relied on and experienced the Holy Spirit’s power.

Then you look to today at congregations who claim the Spirit’s involvement in building their local body but then the children’s ministry declines or the pastor leaves or has a moral failure, and it all falls apart. Churches built over years can disappear with a few setbacks.

Isn’t it the same Holy Spirit today? It may have you crying out at Vizzini did in the Princess Bride, “Inconceivable!

If the Spirit is the same, we should see a lot more resilience to the movement. As Francis Chan writes of the early Church in Forgotten God,

The church was powerful and spreading like wildfire, not because of clever planning, but by a movement of the Spirit. Riots, torture, poverty, or any other type of persecution couldn’t stop it. Isn’t that the type of church movement we all long to be a part of? So much of what we see today is anything but unstoppable. It can easily be derailed by the resignation of a pastor or an internal church disagreement or budget cuts. Churches we build only by our own efforts and not in the strength of the Spirit will quickly collapse when we don’t push and prod them along.

How many could describe the movement in which they are involved today as an “unstoppable force”?

This is so convicting to me! I am more fully convinced than ever that our manmade efforts to “improve” Church are destined to fail. I don’t want to keep prodding these institutions along like a Weekend at Bernie’s-style con.

Without the spirit in our body, there is no life. Without the Spirit in our church body, there is no life.

We can’t back down from praying for real experiences with Him, real awakening. We can’t shy away from radical obedience to what He gives us to do. I don’t want to be a part of something for a few years or a few decades and come to the place where I say, “well, we had a good run, but it’s all over now.”

I want to be part of something that will continue into coming generations until Jesus’ return. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times. There will be sacrifices made. There will be moments where fear will try to overtake and boldness will be required.

I want to make an impact–not a momentary one, but an eternal one.

That’s bigger than me. People and generations together have to heed the call of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to do what He desires. It’s bigger than living a “good life” and being as moral as possible.

A few men who had been with Jesus and received the Holy Spirit changed the world. Why should we be any different?

I realize there’s not a lot to this post other than my stated passionate desire, but I hope it stirs something in you as well. Status quo Christianity is not going to cut it. Never has, never will. It’s time to be untamable, unashamedly following the Spirit.

Are you with me? Does this stir anything in you as it does me?

Welcome to Chapter 7 of our book club discussion of Forgotten God (disclosure) by Francis Chan. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it (a chapter per week). If you have a response on your blog, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts and the widget to add your post. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

For those adding posts, we’ll cover the afterword next week!


  1. I remember being young and passionate and zealous and leaving my mainline denominational church to begin to attend churches where the Holy Spirit was more openly welcomed and outwardly expressed. So, I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum — raised in a denomination where the Holy Spirit had retired and hadn’t been seen since Acts 2, and then working in a denomination where occasional pew-running and leaping from the stage were considered common manifestations of the Holy Spirit. And what I’ve learned is that passion for the Holy Spirit doesn’t necessarily need to be a bold, audacious, outward manifestation. (I don’t think this is what you’re saying. I’m just making the statement anyway. Because I’m a verbal processor.) I find that my most passionate and intimate moments with the Holy Spirit are sitting alone, cross-legged on my bed, in the dark, at night, singing old hymns. Or standing on the Columbia River Gorge watching the wind ruffle the Queen Anne’s Lace and balsamroot blooms. It’s those quieter moments that stir the Spirit in me the most.
    Sarah Salter recently posted..Peace Like Broken GlassMy Profile

    • Absolutely. It’s both. The quiet and the “loud” expressions, but I guess what I’m more concerned with is seeing it outside the church walls and impacting people everywhere we go. I don’t want boisterous expressions in church and nothing the rest of the time. I want the quiet transformation in me and the light of glory as I go into this world and love the broken. Thanks Sarah!

      • Jason, that’s why I love my new church. Our mission statement is, “Deep in God. Deep in Culture.” On Sunday mornings, we’re in church. But on Tuesday nights, you may find a crowd down in Pioneer Square buying coffee for the homeless. And on Friday nights, part of our praise team takes their band into local bars to play. And on Saturday nights, we have a group of ladies that go give hugs, smiles, and cupcakes to dancers in many of Portland’s skin clubs. And there’s a movement in our church of families who are taking in foster children. And others of us who are signing up to provide respite care for foster families. Worship isn’t about a song sung in a pew or at a microphone. It’s about the thoughts, words, and actions of our hearts.
        Sarah Salter recently posted..Peace Like Broken GlassMy Profile

        • That is awesome! Love it.

  2. Yes! Count me in! I long to not only sense the Spirit moving in our gathering, I long to have Him move in me! That people may know that it is not me, but the Holy Spirit within me that is propelling me ever onward in this life.

    • I’m finding again that it’s a much more radical commitment than I thought. I know it, but it’s hitting me in the face again. Funny how I can see these weeks and pursuing Him have been setting me up for something bigger. What grace! I so appreciate how He moves. Thank you, Dusty.

  3. Jason, the one thing that came to my mind when I was reading your post (well-done!) was this: In my opinion, part of what happens when churches *ace out* the Holy Spirit is that they become too comfortable -- they start seeking to please the people in the pews (or chairs). The church in its early infancy faced great persecution. And I think that happened because they were speaking radical, uncomfortable and unpopular Truth. Feel-good messages might pack the seats, but is there room for the Holy Spirit to attend? We are promised in Scripture that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth -- and as we know personally, truth is sometimes very convicting. If the Holy Spirit is indeed the driving force in a church, just like He is in an individual person, truth will be spoken “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    Church isn’t a popularity contest. It must be all about a “Person”ality -- Jesus, in all His wonderful and controversial glory, with His radical and life-changing message, brought to us by the Holy Spirit.


    (Love the movie references. Especially “Weekend at Bernie’s” -- hysterical movie, and a very apt description.)
    Sharon recently posted..JUST CALL ME JACOBMy Profile

    • Yeah, I showed a little of my pop-culture side there, Sharon. 🙂 And I agree with you--there has to be an emphasis on speaking what He is speaking. That’s what it says of Jesus in the book of John. He spoke only what He heard the Father speak. Jesus spoke some outrageous and counter-culture things. The servant is not greater than His Master. It won’t be comfortable at times, but He does lead well! Thanks Sharon.

  4. It’s a great point about how a few small things can send a congregation into free fall. That doesn’t happen when God presence is there in the lives of the people who are doing His will. In the first Bible I ever got someone wrote in it above my name and date. It said; “Some day soon this life will pass and only what’s done for Christ will last.”

    Funny, I just read that a couple of days ago. If it’s not about Him and His will it is failing and fading.

    • So true. The move to consumer-driven churches is what precipitates the free-fall I believe. There’s nothing wrong with marketing in the sense of getting the word out clearly, but when it’s designed simply to fill seats, you lose something valuable. Good thoughts and love that snippet someone wrote to you. What a reminder! Thank you, Floyd.

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