1. What led you to write “Spirit-Filled Jesus?”
I’ve been a Bible-teaching pastor preaching through a few dozen books of the Bible over the course of a few decades, and I preached through the entire book of Luke. It was my longest sermon series ever. I kept seeing how Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was baptized by the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. And through deep Bible study, I came to see an aspect of Jesus that many have missed.
2. What do you hope readers take away from the book?
It’s great to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” But it’s equally important to ask, “How would He do it?” I was on a flight working on the book on my laptop and I got frustrated because I had a lot of work to do but my laptop battery was in the process of dying. It died midflight and I just thought, “Man if I had more power I could have gotten more done.” And then when the flight landed I dropped my pen and I went to pick it up and right under my seat of all things was a power outlet. My entire flight I could have been plugged into a power source to accomplish more. And I thought “That’s the exact reason I’m writing this book on this laptop.” I believe the Holy Spirit is the most significant power source available in the universe and also the most under-utilized.
3. What are some key principles we can apply in our lives to help us live more like Jesus by living a Spirit-filled life?
Well, when we think of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we often think of the miraculous – raising the dead, healing the blind, Jesus walking on water. But the Holy Spirit is also there not just for the miraculous but for the mundane – to help you with your emotional life, to help you when you’re suffering, to help you in your relationships, to help you in your parenting, to help you in your marriage. And so every single moment of Jesus‘ earthly life was lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of that was miraculous, but much of that was just mundane. We tend to think the Holy Spirit is just there for the big day, but He’s honestly there for every day.
4. How have you seen evidence of change in your life as you’ve walked more and more closely with the Spirit?
Jesus had more complex relationships than anyone who has lived in the history of the world. And we also have relationships with people who are wise, people who are foolish, people who are evil. Looking at how Jesus was able by the power of the Holy Spirit to understand the character of the people he was dealing with and have healthy relationship even with unhealthy people has been one of the personal take-aways that’s been incredibly helpful for me as a pastor, husband, father, and someone with lots of relationships. When you think about it, the average person knows hundreds, maybe thousands of people that they interact with every year. How can you be a healthy person and have healthy relationships even with those who are unhealthy? Jesus did that by the power of the Holy Spirit and he sends us the Holy Spirit to live by that same power to have those same kinds of relationships.
5. How would you explain this concept so that even young children could understand and begin walking with the Spirit as soon as they come to know Jesus?
Well, we know little about the early years of Jesus outside of Luke’s Gospel. And there it tells us that when Jesus was a young boy, he grew in wisdom, stature and favor with men and God. He submitted to parental authority, He knew the scriptures, and He was filled by the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When I raise my kids, and I’m a dad of five, I tell them “Jesus was your age, He knows exactly what it’s like to be your age, to go through that life stage and those transitions. And He grew and matured by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Often times we teach kids and adults as well, that you need to have a personal relationships with the Holy Spirit. But we don’t also tell them Jesus had a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, and so the only way to become like Jesus is by the power of the Holy Spirit. So very early in the life of my children, we tried to encourage, inform, and lead them to have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit as Jesus did, so that they can mature and grow as He did at their age.
6. How would our churches be affected if all believers started living Spirit-filled lives? Our families?
In the last chapter of “Spirit-Filled Jesus,” I talk about living Kingdom-down, not culture-up. We live in a day when our culture is a culture of death, destruction and devastation. People are divided and they are unhappy. We live in a country that was founded on the pursuit of happiness, yet the number one category of prescription medication is antidepressants. It’s not working. And so as believers are in culture, we cannot live culture-up. We have to live Kingdom-down. Jesus prayed “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Then He sent the Holy Spirit down from Heaven on the day of Pentecost so that we could live as citizens of the Kingdom, with the joy, the hope, the love, the peace, the lifestyle, and the joyful journey toward eternity that God has for each of us. For the Church, for culture and for our families, living culture-up is death but living Kingdom-down is life, and that is life lived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
7. What is one characteristic of Jesus that you would most want to emulate but recognize you still need the Spirit’s help in order to do so?
Well, for me, as I looked at the life and ministry of Jesus, I realized that, although He was not married and had no children, He was not alone. If we learn anything from the doctrine of the Trinity, it is that our God by nature is a relational God. Sometimes we think of Jesus as kind of like a lone ranger figure all by Himself, out on a mission, completely isolated and alone. But when you understand that He was living continually in relationship with God the Holy Spirit, He was never alone. He was always in constant relationship, living in the presence of the Spirit, and for me that has been very helpful and encouraging. My friends, my family, even my wife of 25-plus years who loves me, they can’t always be there for me, they can’t always be there with me. But the Holy Spirit is always with me and He’s always for me. He‘s always with you and He’s always for you. And so the primary relational needs that we have can only be met by the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
8. How does living in the Spirit help us to:
a. Resist temptation?
So we read of the Lord Jesus being tempted by the devil in Luke 4. It says at the beginning that He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness and then He had tremendous temptation, and battled with the demonic forces and Satan himself seeking to tempt Him into sin. Jesus resisted all of that by the power of the Holy Spirit, and then at the end, it says that He was then led by the Holy Spirit back into town. So the book ends around the temptation account of Jesus in the Bible are that the Holy Spirit was with him before, during and after his temptation. It just goes to show us that the only way to overcome and defeat dark forces and spiritual temptations is with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s why Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit, so that we can live by His power and walk in his victory.
b. Forgive others?
I believe that the heart of the demonic and satanic is unforgiveness. Satan and demons never forgive anyone and they’re never forgiven for anything. So as Christians we need to understand not only are we fully forgiven by the death of Jesus Christ in place for our sins the Holy Spirit comes to give us the power to forgive others so that we do not live in that kind of demonic torment, that bitterness, hatred, anger, hurt, and nursing of a grudge. It says in Ephesians that we need to forgive others as God and Christ has forgiven us. And that quite frankly is not natural, it’s super natural and that’s why he also says there to not grieve the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit wants you to experience the full forgiveness from Jesus Christ and then to give that forgiveness to others so that you can liberate yourself from the bondage and demonic attack of being a bitter, hurt, wounded, and unforgiving person. God has forgiveness for you to enjoy and God has forgiveness for you to share.
For more information about the book, please visit https://spiritfilledjesus.com/.