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Sketchy Sam

A young guy just rang my doorbell.  Relieved to say, the baby slept through it. The door was open and it looked like he was going to come right in.

“Hi, I’m Sam and isn’t a great sunny day?… I’m part of the “run around the neighborhood to support non-violent neighbors”… are you non-violent?… (continued to talk without taking a breath)…

Me, speaking over him, “I’m mostly non-violent…”

Him, not skipping a beat, “… cool cool me too, mostly non-violent… I’m part of competition, as it says right here on my competitors card… (I take the card from his hands)… and I’m trying to make 20,000 points… as it says on the card… (the card says “Ryan Bea-“something) and I’m…”

Me, interrupting again, “Sam, this says Ryan. And it also says you’re 6-foot-3.”

“I know, I’m a dwarf. I’m not gonna lie, yesterday I dropped mine in the rain… so I’m selling magazines to make points… and if I win I’ll get $1000.  Not gonna lie, I’m gonna spend it on books and beer.  Less books than beer.  Ok, just beer…This is the last week of the competition and I’m in 5th place.  There’s a girl, Alison, coming first.  She’s beautiful but I want to win…”

“Dude, your stories are hilarious and a bit sketchy.”

“… my stories? This is real. A guy just donated the books he bought to Children’s hospital. You could do that too.  He’s a pastor.  His name was Goonu and he’s from Hawaii…”

“Sam, thanks for coming but I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have spare money for you.”

“That’s okay, I accept checks too.”

“No, I mean, I need money for groceries and I don’t have spare for extras like books.  Thanks for coming. All the best.”

“Cool, cool. Have a good day.”

– – – – – – – – – –

He seemed like a nice kid but these days there are so many scam artists around. Sam, how could I believe anything you said? I didn’t have money for you but even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to trust you.  There are just too many scammers out there.

My study group is doing Francis Chan‘s “Forgotten God” study. This week I read the intro and first chapter.  This morning we discussed the book and watched a clip by Chan.

There are so many things that stood out in the book and in our discussion.  So many thoughts and concepts for me to process.  I wanted to write about the difference in the ways I view Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Chan proposed that if we could choose, most of us would choose a physical Jesus over an invisible Spirit. Wow, I think he’s right. I really wanted to write about that. But then Sam rang my doorbell.

Sam’s visit has created this question in my heart: When there are so many spiritual scams, how can we know if or when the Holy Spirit is the real deal?

As we chatted today, one friend shared that when she thinks of the Holy Spirit the first thing that comes to mind is all the weird stuff people do in the Holy Spirit’s Name.  And she is right.  Some weird people have done straight up weird things and called it “moves of the Holy Spirit.”  And sadly, many things that have been done in the Holy Spirit’s Name have turned out to be scams and circuses.

I’ve seen some people declare themselves “Spirit-filled” and behave in weird and even ungodly ways.  But I’ve also seen the Holy Spirit move in beauty and power.  I’ve seen youth on mission trips be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit in mind-blowing ways.  I’ve seen them preach with wisdom that is not their own.  I’ve seen them pray for people to be healed, and they were!  I’ve seen utterly broken lives be redeemed in a moment.  And I’ve seen the comfort and power of the Holy Spirit at work in my own life.

How can we sort through all our experiences and discern what is Truth and what is a scam?

In the “Forgotten God” introduction, Chan talked about the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

“The word exegesis comes from a Greek word meaning “to lead out.” … You start with the text and draw out its meaning. Eisegesis, on the other hand, is when you start with an idea or conviction, then search for verses in the Bible to prove your point. …The danger in [eisegesis] is that we can take verses out of context to support just about any point of view. …The bottom line is that we can easily pursue just about any lifestyle we desire, then find Scriptures to show everyone it’s all right to live that way.  But what would it look like to live exegetically? If we were to start with Scripture and allow it to dictate our actions, how would we live?  I believe many people have an eisegetically formed concept of the Holy Spirit.  In essence, we have cut and pasted whatever verses and ideas work for us; this forms our understanding of the Holy Spirit.” Chan, Francis (2009). Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit [E-reader Version]. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook.

How can we know what is authentic Holy Spirit and what is not?  Through our anchor and guide: the Bible.  Confession: I’m a huge fan of solid exegesis. In fact, I get prickly about eisegesis. I definitely need to work on being more gracious in those situations.  All that to say, I’m EXCITED to exegetically study the Holy Spirit.  I have my own experiences with Him and of Him.  They are good and authentic and have brought deep change in my life.  But I have, as one of my new amazing friends described today, used the Holy Spirit like I use a friend who has a truck when I need to move.  He’s really handy in times of need but other times I treat Him like a mere acquaintance.  Ugh.

Jesus was excited for the disciples to get to know the Holy Spirit. In John 16, Jesus said that it was to our advantage that He was leaving because then the Comforter could come. Jesus seemed to value the Holy Spirit more than Himself. I have undervalued the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, I am embarrassed that I have treated You that way. Thank you for being all that You are.  I’m excited to walk with You and know You deeply.  I know You God as Father.  I know You as Jesus. I need to know You more as Spirit.

Here are the verses we read today in our group (part of the “Remembering the Forgotten God” workbook):  (Note: Also worth reading around these verses to get the bigger picture of the contexts and topics)

Acts 1:4-8                                Acts 2:1-13                                      Acts 4:31
Romans 8:1-17                       Romans 8:26-27                           Romans 15:13
1 Corinthians 2:12-14            1 Corinthians 3:16                        1 Corinthians 6:9-11
1 Corinthians 12:7-11            2 Corinthians 3:17-18                   Galatians 4:4-7
Galatians 5:16-25                  Ephesians 3:14-16                         1 John 4:13

What do you think? Is your view of the Holy Spirit exegetically founded or is it based more on things you’ve experienced or observed? What kind of person is described in the above passages?

6 thoughts on “Sketchy Sam”

  • Thank you for liking/following my blog, which in turn has allowed me to discover yours! We just wrapped a series on The Holy Spirit at church. I’m so thankful for His presence and power in my life… and equally as turned off by those who abuse and misuse. Love the Francis Chan book – so good!!!!

    Great to connect with you!

  • I became a Christian in High School, and the Christian circle of friends that took me in were Holy Spirit nutjobs, praying evil spirits out of batteries because the remote wasn’t working and stuff like that… Fortunately I’ve watched most of them grow up and grow in an authentic experience with the Holy Spirit.

    I’m REALLY wary of people using the Holy Spirit. Anytime someone shares an experience where they open with “The Holy Spirit showed up, and…” it better be REALLY Scripturally supported. Even if it is, I probably won’t believe you. Nothing personal, just baggage I carry.

    I had a college professor who modeled the Holy Spirit beautifully. She was a normal person that talked about Jesus, and sports, and the weather, and celebrities, and good TV shows, and her relationship with her husband and her kids, and even about the Holy Spirit. But she wasn’t nutty about it. Something would come up and she would calmly pray, ask God for direction, and move. When she prophesied (which she did often), it didn’t seem like a show, it seemed like she was having a conversation with you where she was speaking as if she was part of a conversation you and God had earlier. She spoke Words of Knowledge without saying “thus saith the Lord”. She made it seem like (crazy) that doing God’s choice was the most logical thing to do.

    That was the first time I saw that you could be filled with the Holy Spirit, operate in the gifts, and not be weird. I hope I become like that as I mature in Christ.

    I got that book (Forgotten God) as a free iBook recently… I think I need to bust it out and give it a try! I might even learn something! =p

    • Thanks for sharing Kevin. Your professor sounds amazing! I love seeing the spiritual life walked out in reality and humilty. I think living that way takes confidence in His presence and a confidence in your own identity. My heart echoes your words… “I hope I become like that as I mature in Christ.”

    • Oh Joel. So hard. You’ve made me think about a post I recently read about the two meanings of the word “Vanity”. The post made me think about my use of God’s Name and power. Do I use the Holy Spirit’s Name in “vain”? The Hebrew word for vain in Ex 20:27 is Shav’ meaning: emptiness, vanity, falsehood emptiness, nothingness, vanity, emptiness of speech, lying, worthlessness (of conduct). How often do I use God’s Name in an empty way? Or a lying way… where I speak in His Name but operate in my own power? So humbling and challenging to consider my faith and heart. So very thankful that God is so gracious and merciful.

What do you think?

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