Jesus, Continued . . . Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside YouJ.D. GreearZondervan / 2014 / Trade Paperback$12.99 Retail:5 Stars Out Of 5 2 Reviews
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Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Beside Us to Guide Us -- and More!January 26, 2015Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5As soon as he started talking about guidance, J.D. had my ear. You see, I am THAT Christian the one who becomes paralyzed whenever theres a big decision on the table, and even though I know that God is not interested in mindless robots (and truly, Im not interested in becoming one), I still perseverate about making the RIGHT decision, and I want God to tell me what that is. Basically, I want sky-writing: Buy the Ford! in big puffy letters against a blue heaven. At the other end of the spectrum of error are those who, function[ing] as deists, act as if God rules from the heavens and has spoken in his Word, but does not act on earth or move in their souls. Clearly, the truth about guidance and the Holy Spirit lies somewhere between these two erroneous approaches, and in his reassuring and stimulating book, J.D. Greear digs into the Word of God to debunk the myths, set the perfectionist free, and empower the body of Christ to begin functioning as confident, Spirit-led, Christ-exalting children of God.
Part 1: The Missing Spirit Christians have a tendency to gravitate toward extremes in their thinking about the Holy Spirit. Either they over-emphasize the work of the Spirit apart from the Word of God (e.g. hearing voices and finding direction from God in their cereal bowl); or they have no real interaction with Him at all. The authors thesis in part one is that the Spirit and the Word work in partnership to guide the believer into truth. The pattern Jesus gave with the Great Commission is this: Do nothing until the Holy Spirit comes upon you. THIS is dependence, and Greear transparently and most helpfully shares his own frustrations with the ambivalence and lack of clarity this sometimes creates in the seeking heart. It is encouraging to know that even the Apostle Paul experienced ambiguity from time to time (see I Corinthians 16).
At the same time, the Spirit is described as a mighty, rushing wind and Gods presence came at Pentecost in the form of a flame. This is NOT subtle, and the Spirits presence in the life of a believer is meant to empower for ministry and to inspire confidence that the Spirit inside you is the One who does the work. Unfortunately, believers fail to realize their identity as burning bushes who are called to serve and who are equipped with the ability to do even greater works than those chronicled in the New Testament. (Yes, its true see Matthew 11:11 and John 14:12.) Our ordinary obedience can be translated into extraordinary results when we realize that God doesnt need us, but chooses to work in concert with us, graciously multiplying our efforts as we cooperate with Him.
Part 2: Experiencing the Holy Spirit Christians can be a superstitious lot, making major decisions on the basis of goose bumps or the mysterious juxtaposition of multiple coincidences. While it is true that the sky-writing I long for is not forthcoming, there are six distinct ways in which the believer does experience the Spirits presence:
1.The Gospel As an invitation to relationship, the truth of the gospel is the doorway to intimacy with God and a changed view of the world.
2.The Word of God Ninety-percent of the will of God is in the Word. Given that, J.D. Greear invites us to ask ourselves how much of Gods revealed will we are already following in the shaping of our moral character. Awareness of the Holy Spirit is a matter of acknowledging Him in all our ways, and if we do, He promises to direct our paths, (Proverbs 3:6). Much of this is going on behind the scenes in ways that we see only in retrospect, if at all.
3.Our giftings Becoming aware of ones spiritual gifts (Great definition: unusual effectiveness in a responsibility given to all believers) is a great push in the right direction for working in tandem with the Spirit who gives the gifts. This does not give the believer permission to put God in a box (Nope, sorry, I cant share the gospel with that person who is right under my nose, because I dont have the gift of evangelism.), but it should inspire confidence and enthusiasm for taking on the assignments that God gives.
4.The church In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit appears fifty-nine times. In thirty-six of those appearances, He is speaking through a person who is part of the early church. The Spirit continues to empower prophetic speech today not woo-wooey God-told-me-youre-supposed-to-marry-me kind of prophecy, but, primarily proclaiming and applying Gods Word to particular situations. Any strong impression that the believer is tempted to attribute to the working of the Holy Spirit should first be lined up beside Scripture. With that in mind, the Spirit may use a believer to be His mouthpiece to build up the church or guide in mission. Refreshingly honest, Greear urges a level of skepticism on the part of the hearer, and presents the challenge of knowing the Word of God well enough to recognize truth (and error) when it is spoken.
5.Our spirit Here it becomes evident that the Holy Spirit is indeed a Person, not an algebraic formula or a Ouija board. His leading, therefore, is not an exact science and our receptors are not flawless. Greears oft-repeated wise counsel is to hold loosely what you think God is saying to you through prayer, through special insights, holy ambitions, or through dreams and visions.
6.Our circumstances Again, the word here is, hold your interpretations [of circumstances] loosely. God does use our circumstances to guide us, but we are given to much superstition, flawed interpretation of events, and just plain confusion. Hearing from God means balancing what God puts in your heart with how He guides you through other means, and trusting Him all the way.
Part 3: Seeking the Holy Spirit Inexplicably, believers, at times, experience the silence of God which J.D. Greear terms white space. These wilderness days are further evidence that God the Holy Spirit will not be managed by humans, but in retrospect, it may become apparent that God was at work during the white spaces to write something into the seekers soul. At other times the Holy Spirit moves in power and the results are like a flood of repentance and prayer and great response to the gospel.
Jesus, Continued . . . is an important book for the believer who wants to make an impact on his world for the glory of God, because Greear is walking that path himself and is collecting resources, making mistakes, and correcting them along the way. His sources in writing the book read like a whos who of Spirit-led followers of Christ from the past (e.g. Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd Jones, C.S. Lewis, John Newton) and the present (e.g. Tim Keller, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Vern Poythress, Henry Blackaby). A new believer who wants to develop a reading list for fast-track growth in the faith should use Greears footnotes as a beginning point.
The huge and inescapable truth is that God wants a relationship with His people and has made every provision for it. If I find myself wishing that He would communicate in ways that are not part of His nature, I must be wanting something I shouldnt have. In my case, I want a guarantee of smooth-sailing and efficiency in a world where one of Jesus most verifiably true statements is, In this world, you will have tribulation. Part of Gods provision is the uncertainty and ambivalence surrounding our interactions with the Holy Spirit. He has provided power, but we want visible results. He promises his presence, but we want answers. I am coming away from Jesus, Continued . . . with an increased and focused thoughtfulness about the ways in which God the Holy Spirit is waiting for me to notice what He values and to allow Him to show off His power in my work, my relationships, my failings, and my availability.
Disclosure: This book was provided by BookLookBloggers in exchange for my unbiased review.
ldesherl5 Stars Out Of 5Jesus, Continued..., by J. D. GreearJanuary 16, 2015ldesherlQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is a book that is addressed to the Christian community about the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune God, known as the Holy Trinity. It is so titled because this author's objective of this book is to help Christians see that having the Holy Spirit living inside them and working actively in them, is superior to having the Person of Christ's actual physical presence next to them. The first part of his book illustrates what he sees as the "missing part" of the Christian Church, which is the neglect and misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit and what His role in the life of a Christian is. The second part of the book is devoted to how Christians can actually experience the Holy Spirit's work in different partsof their lives, from the objective Scriptures to knowin how to interpret ad relate to HIs work in one's sprit and in one's circumstances. The third part of the book is meant to show the reader, through stories and illustrations, how to "seek the Holy Spirit" and interact with Him as a Person, tapping into His power.
This book was written to correct many misconceptions about the Holy Spirit and to give the facts on Him. First of all, He is a Person and not a "force," an "it" or spiritual magician who has Christians engage in goofy practices like whoop, holler, jump up and down, or get "slain in the Spirit." This book brought to mind my growing up experiences with peers of "the Jesus movement." Many of hem were sincere, committed Christians whose zeal for Jesus was commendable. Their prayer meetings were full of healings and "words" of knowledge" and words of wisdom." People often were "slain in the Spirit" and spoke in tongues. The author, in his book, says little about these matters, except to affirm that he believes in signs and wonders, especially supernatural "words of knowledge" and "words of wisdom." He gives examples to prove his point, such as the story of how his wife, as a college student, came to realize her need for Jesus as her Savior and Lord. He also gives the example of a Muslim to whom Jesus supernaturally appeared in a dream. Throughout other parts of the book, he gives stories showing God's intimate involvement in his life and in the life of his family. I found myself wistfully wanting to hear supernatural "words of knowledge" and "words of wisdom" for my own life and the lives of my family and church, but I sadly realize that I belong to a local church that, in my opinion and like so many others, seems to be more dominated by tradiion than by the authority of the Scriptures or te Holy Spirit. This is not a put-down of my church, for my church is made up of people like myself, and our leadership comes from us. It just proves this author's point, that not realizing the Holy Spirit's ministry to us robs us and the world around us as we do not have power to witness apart from the Holy Spirit. I found this book easy to read in a literary sense, as well as interesting.But I was challenged and convicted, as far as the author's assertion that one "cannot claim to be Spirit-filled" if one does not witness in face-to-face settings. Really? Where does that leave many people on the autism spectrum who have social differences? Are they doomed to not know the happiness that he refers to? What about those with "nonverbal learning disabilities" or who are nonverbal?
Despite this book's few weaknesses, I recommend it for all Pastors. They need to learn about the Holy Spirit's ministry to them, to their families and to their congregations. They need to see that the revival they long for may just happen if they would let go of traditions that don't put God first, and to be open to the Holy Spirit. This may be risky for them. I recommend this book for every Christian, so that they will be grounded in Who the Holy Spirit is, what HIs role is in their lives and what His role is not. Our churches may be much more effective if we would be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our worship services, in our leaderships, in our small groups, and in our own lives. Who knows? We may even see revival.
I received a free copy of this book through Booklook Bloggers in exhange for this honest review. I was not required to give a positive review of this book.
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