Don’t Miss Out [Book Review]

Book Reviews

I love a good book on the Holy Spirit.

He is, as Francis Chan put it, “Forgotten God” – often overlooked and misinterpreted, either ignored in our churches or emphasized beyond what Scripture says. That’s why so many Christians struggle either to embrace the Spirit’s role or to understand Him outside of sensationalism. When Jeannie Cunnion released this book, I was thrilled to provide a resource for my community.

Jeannie’s book provides thirty (!!) chapters, each breaking down a different benefit the Holy Spirit brings to our lives and hearts. You’ll learn why He is to our advantage, how He lives with us, why (and how!) He is God, how He helps us, how He authored Scripture, how He gives power and so much more. And since each chapter is only 5-7 pages, it would be a very manageable daily read – you could finish in a month!

We can continue our spiritual lives “in the dark” about the Spirit, or we can begin a concentrated to study to understand who He is, why Jesus sent Him, and how He is one with the Lord. I can guarantee that taking the time to study the Holy Spirit is time never wasted! I love this quote from the book:

“Knowing the Spirit has personality matters because we can’t have relationship with a symbol.” (Page 51) 

Here’s a how Don’t Miss Out: Daring to Believe Life is Better with the Holy Spirit can help you start that relationship.

Doctrine

Talking about the Holy Spirit brings up a lot of doctrinal questions. This topic touches on spiritual gifts (cessation or continuation?), baptism of the Spirit and multiple “fillings” – as Paul mentions in the New Testament – and even questions about how we bear fruit (Gal. 6). All of these are touched on in Don’t Miss Out.

I think it’s important to note that Don’t Miss Out honors the place of the Spirit within the Trinity, and in so doing adheres to the orthodox interpretation of His role. Jeannie actually spends the first 8-10 chapters discussing who the Spirit is and what He was sent to do, affirming His unity and equality with God, His personhood, and His origin (sent by God). This is a vital foundation for later on in the book when she discusses how the Spirit empowered Jesus.

In the latter half of the book, we read more about practical “life in the Spirit”: how we are filled, baptized, transformed, and bearing fruit by walking in step with Him. “We cannot flourish without the Spirit,” says page 59:

“What are some signs that we’ve neglected or forgotten the essentiality of the Spirit? When our faith feels dry and stagnant. When we find ourselves stuck in behaviors and patterns from which we’ve been set free. When toxic thoughts take up residence in our minds. When we put ourselves on the throne, seeking praise and glory that isn’t ours. But beyond that, to neglect Him and treat Him as the inferior part of God is insulting to the Trinity and inconsistent with Scripture… We need Him!”

Jeannie is right – we do need Him! We need to understand who He is and how He works so we can identify His movement in our lives.

Discernment

Theologically this book is very fair. Both a cessationist (certain spiritual gifts have ceased to exist) and a continuationist (all spiritual gifts continue to bless the church today) could read this and benefit from it. And as previously noted, Jeannie grounds her teaching on the Spirit in orthodox, trinitarian teaching.

My biggest concern when reading books on the Spirit is an overemphasis on gifts, signs, and wonders. The Spirit can absolutely use these things to speak to God’s people, uplift the church, and lead them in proper use of spiritual gifts. But when we overemphasize these “visible” gifts we are in danger of going beyond what Scripture tells us. To put it another way: instead of quenching the Spirit, we can create a sensationalistic wildfire restrained by and in submission to no one.

I was encouraged to find Don’t Miss Out strike a balanced, gentle, and thorough approach to the movement of the Spirit among believers. She emphasizes grounding ourselves in Scripture:

“If we want more of God’s Spirit, we need to spend more time in God’s Word. And if we spend more time in God’s Word, we avail ourselves to the activity of the Holy Spirit.” (pg. 85)

Don’t Miss Out spends the latter fifteen chapters focused on how we walk in step with the Spirit and how we experience His transformation in our lives.

On living by the power of the Spirit:

“I don’t think most Christians avoid living by the power of the Holy Spirit intentionally. I just think He seems inaccessible to a lot of us, and the actual ability to draw on His power feels unattainable. But whatever the reason, we too often neglect to take hold of the benefits of the divine Person who resides inside us.”

On obedience:

“Obedience will feel burdensome until Jesus is beautiful… The Holy Spirit motivates us by making Jesus beautiful to us. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus beautiful to us by awakening our hearts to all that Jesus accomplished for us.” (pg. 154)

On being filled with the Spirit:

“The Holy Spirit is fully present in every believer, but not every believer enjoys the fullness of His presence. Being indwells with the Spirit at salvation is not the same as being continually filled with the Spirit after conversion.” (Page 175)

On baptism in the Spirit:

“At conversion, we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is something we receive with salvation, but it is not typically experienced or felt. After conversion, we can experience baptism in (or you could say with) the Holy Spirit. This is an experienced power that can happen throughout our life, and the experiences people have will vary greatly.” (Page 188)

The doctrine of this book is grounded in truth, balanced in approach, and open to the movement of the Lord in the lives of His people.

Denouement

I am so grateful for Don’t Miss Out as a resource for my community. It would make a fantastic group study, but it is just as effective for personal discipleship. Though the cover art is geared toward women, it is just as effective for men. Couples might benefit from reading it together.

If you feel ill-equipped to understand the Holy Spirit, this would be a great starting point.

Get it here.