Christ in You
About the Guest
Are you walking in the power of the Holy Spirit? Pastor Francis Chan talks about his life since becoming a Spirit-filled follower of Christ. He explains how his marriage, family, and day-to-day life have been enhanced because of his reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Francis ChanFrancis Chan is the best-selling author of Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell and the host of the BASIC.series (Who Is God & We Are Church). Currently, Francis is planting churches in the San Francisco area. Together, Francis and his wife Lisa raise their seven children in Northern California and are co-authors of the new book You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. For more information, check out youandmeforever.org...more
Pastor Francis Chan talks about his life since becoming a Spirit-filled follower of Christ: his marriage, family, and day-to-day life have been enhanced because of his reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Christ in You
Bob: Pastor and author Francis Chan says, “If your children are Christians—if they really know Jesus and have the Holy Spirit living in them—that changes everything.”
Francis: I’m raising kids with a purpose. I’m looking at my kids and I’m saying: “Look! This is what God has revealed to us through His Spirit—through His Word.” We’re not just trying to keep our kids from doing bad things. We’re teaching them: “Look! You’re on a mission. You’re on a mission with us. We have a goal in mind, as a family. We’re showing the world how good it is when we understand the grace of God.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Do your children have—well, for that matter—does your whole family have a Spirit-directed focus about life?—why you’re here and what is your purpose? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, this is making me just a little nervous—what we’re talking about this week. You know—I mean, seriously, you stop and think about it.
Dennis: Is this your Presbyterian roots coming out?
Bob: If you stop and thought: “Imagine tomorrow—if everyone, who names the name of Christ, walked in the power of the Holy Spirit, and was living under the influence of the Spirit—
Dennis: There would be a spiritual revolution within 48 hours in America.
Bob: —it would get scary! I mean—good scary not bad scary. I’m talking good scary, but it still—it blows my mind to think about it.
Dennis: And mine, as well. Let me introduce our guest; and then, I have a tough question for Francis. Francis Chan joins us again here on FamilyLife Today. Francis—welcome back.
Francis: Thanks! It’s good to be back.
Dennis: Francis is a pastor, a writer, a husband, a father—does a lot of things—but he’s in love with Jesus Christ, making a great impact out on the west coast, and leading the next generation in terms of really reaching out to some young people. I’m really thrilled to see your work. Here’s my question for you, practically: “If the Holy Spirit walked out of your life today, how would your life be different tomorrow?”
Francis: Wow! That’s a great question! For me, personally, I really believe I’d be bored stiff. I would be—here’s the thing—I thrive over supernatural things that happen every day. I love when I pray for something, and it’s supernaturally answered.
I love when people’s lives actually change, and they don’t just nod their heads to my message or whatever else. That’s all an act of the Holy Spirit. I believe all that power would be gone. I still believe I could do things and manipulate things, but it wouldn’t be real fruit. That would bore me to death.
Dennis: That’s a great answer, but that’s really not the one I was looking for. [Laughter]
Francis: Okay, let’s try again!
Dennis: No, I’m going to peel the onion a couple more layers. What would your relationship with Lisa look like if the Holy Spirit left your life today? What would your relationship with Lisa look like tomorrow?
Francis: You know—here’s the thing—Lisa and I—we have a natural compatibility. We just get along. We really don’t fight that much. So, to me, I don’t believe that’s a Holy Spirit-thing.
Bob: Well, pagans can get along. Yes, right!
Francis: Exactly—you know, you love the same things and everything else.
Dennis: You never unleashed your anger on Lisa in the early years of your marriage?
Francis: Very little—I’m being serious! Yes, I would in some ways—I’d use my sarcasm. You know, that’s kind of the gift I’ve been given. [Laughter]
Dennis: Or a curse!
Francis: Yes, exactly—and then said a lot of things that I regretted in those early days; but even then, it wasn’t a lot. We’re one of those weird, weird couples where we really didn’t have a lot to fight about. I think a lot of it was because, early on, we established: “We’re on a mission together.” When you’re on a mission together, that changes everything.
Bob: I can imagine, though, if the Holy Spirit wasn’t in control of my marriage, there’d be a lot more self emerging. There’d be a lot more flesh showing up. We would be finding ourselves moving pretty quickly toward isolation because what we’d care about isn’t God—isn’t one another—we’d care about us. It would all be lived out—you talk about living it out in the flesh.
It wouldn’t be about good performance, at that point. It would be about: “This is what I want,” and, “If I don’t get it, I’m not going to be happy.”
Francis: You’re right. You know that’s true. I didn’t think about that! See, when I first got married, I was already on a mission—my wife and I—because the Holy Spirit had taken control of my life to a degree—
Dennis: And had given you conviction of that mission.
Francis: —and gave me an understanding that I’m not here just to please myself. I am here to live for the glory of God—I’m after something!
Dennis: So, now, the mission’s gone if the Holy Spirit’s gone!
Francis: Exactly—see—we get along because we’re after something together.
Dennis: So, what’s your marriage going to look like if you have no mission?
Francis: Oh, it would be completely self-centered. It would be about: “You’re not making me happy.” It’s kind of like—okay, I’m a basketball fan and a Lakers fan.
Dennis: Oh, Bob is—he’s Spurs all the way.
Francis: I’m sorry. You have to love the Lakers. We went through some years—do you remember when Kobe and Shaq? Of course, you remember Kobe and Shaq.
Bob: Oh, the years that the Spurs were beaten! Yes, I remember! [Laughter]
Francis: Here’s why they were beating them. In LA, we’re watching these two superstars—arguably, the two greatest, at that time. You know Duncan—yes, he’s fine; but he’s boring. Okay, but anyways—arguably, the two best players; but they couldn’t get along!
Everyone’s saying: “Gosh! Quit fighting. Quit arguing about whose team this is,” because we’re going—it’s not that we care about Kobe and Shaq: “Oh, I hope they become really good friends.” We could care less. We just wanted to win a championship. You know, there was a bigger picture than their friendship.
In the same way, when we look at our marriage, we go: “This is more than you and I getting along. We’re after a championship! We’re after something—we’re trying to impact this world for Jesus Christ!” So, there’s this mission in our marriage. If that wasn’t there, then the selfishness would have taken over; and we probably would have strangled each other.
Bob: You’d be Kobe and she’d be Shaq?
Francis: Exactly; no, you’d better call me Shaq. Otherwise, she’d say, “What, do you think—I’m fat?” [Laughter]
Dennis: Okay, enough Lakers illustrations. I want to peel the onion one layer further; and then, I want us to make the point here. How would your parenting be different with you, as a father, if the Holy Spirit left you?
Francis: I would go back to mission again. I’m raising kids with a purpose. I’m looking at my kids and I’m saying: “Look! This is what God has revealed to us through His Spirit—through His Word. We’re not on this earth to make you happy. We’re raising you into this warrior.” We’re not just trying to keep our kids from doing bad things. We’re teaching them: “Look! You’re on a mission. You’re on a mission with us. We have a goal in mind, as a family. We’re showing the world how good it is when we understand the grace of God.”
Bob: So, you take the Holy Spirit out of the equation in your parenting; and what do you default to then, at that point?
Francis: Oh, then, now, I’m suddenly—all I’m concerned about is: “Will my kid like me? Will she make a lot of money? Will she do this? Will she do that?”
Bob: “Will he or she not mess up in public and embarrass me?”
Francis: Exactly! You’re thinking about yourself again. We’re not thinking about God and what He wants—about: “Thy will be done!”
Bob: That’s what I think—you know, we’ve been talking all week about the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the Spirit in our lives. I think, fundamentally, He takes our orientation, which is a self-centered orientation, and refocuses us—corrects us, points us in a different direction, reminds us, convicts us—and helps us see that we ought to be living for something beyond our own glory.
Dennis: And He directs us and empowers us to do what the Scriptures command us to do.
Dennis: That’s why Christ said, in Acts 1:8, to His disciples—He said, “Wait here until you receive the Holy Spirit because, when He has come upon you, you shall receive power.”
If you look at this generation of, really, believers—the church is really not nearly as powerful, in this culture, as it ought to be. You break the church down to individual families—families are not powerful.
The reason I asked the question about: “How would your life be different? How would your marriage be different?” and, “How would your parenting style be different?”—I wanted to illustrate, for our listeners: “The Holy Spirit’s work is extremely theological but very practical. He came to comfort, to guide, to convict, to teach, and to direct. He came to lead us to Christ and to convict us of sin and our need for the Savior. He came to do far more than that. That’s why His work in our lives—in marriages today—you call Him the forgotten God. He’s also the forgotten God in Christian marriages today, as well.
Francis: It’s really sad—it just is.
I grieve because, when you read the Scriptures, you see that life should be so much better and so different for us. People are attracted when they see God—not when they see talented people, or gifted people, or smart people. When they look at believers, they want to see God. They want to see something that’s inexplicable—something that had to be of Him.
In your marriages—in your lives—are people seeing that? That’s what I want. I want people to come over to my house. We had a couple boys over—people who didn’t believe in God. My daughter brought them home. I just remember going out and talking to these two boys. After spending the night with our family, they said: “Wow! You don’t understand it. We’ve never seen anything like this.” I went to bed that night, going, “That is so cool.” That’s exactly what you want to hear—that they see something supernatural. They see a family that loves the Lord. They envy it—they want it.
Dennis: You know, I found it interesting, in your book, Forgotten God, that this whole idea and emphasis in your own life—of going back to the Holy Spirit and His work in your life—was prompted by an encounter, at the front door of your home, with two missionaries from a cult.
Francis: Yes, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They said: “What do you think about us? Do you know who we are?” I said: “Yes, I know who you are. I think what you’re doing is awful, to be honest.” I said it in love. I said, “Here’s the thing—you’re going around telling people that my Jesus, my Creator, is just another archangel.” They said: “Well, no, we don’t think He’s just another archangel. We think He’s the only archangel—the only chief prince.” I said, “Turn to Daniel, [Chapter] 10.” In Daniel 10, it talks about Michael, who they believe is Jesus.
Bob: Wait, all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, now, are thinking: “Stay away from Francis Chan’s house. He knows Daniel 10!”
Francis: Yes, Daniel 10:13—Michael, one of the chief princes.
The guy read it. He said, “I never noticed that.” But, here’s my point—I go: “I don’t want to argue about this verse or that verse. That’s great that I taught you something, but here’s my point—there’s no way you can tell me—you can look me in the eyes and say, ‘You came before God one day, and you prayed, and said: “God, open up Your Word to me. Show me the truth by the power of Your Spirit.” Then, you read through the Bible, you put it down, and you thought to yourself: “I got it. Jesus is Michael the archangel.”’”
They go, “No, we’ve never done that”! I said: “Well, try. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to your leader. Just go home and read the Word of God. What is the obvious conclusion?” I say: “Just try it. Try it. Try it.” These guys leave, saying, “Okay, we’ll consider that.”
I left thinking, “Wow! I really showed them. They had no answer to this question or that question;” but then, when I was done, I thought: “Wait a second! Am I being fair to them?” In other words, did I ever do that?
Did I ever sit down with the Bible and say, “God, tell me the truth about this book,” or was I fed a theology from leaders in the church? Not that it’s all wrong, but did I ever really study for myself?
When it came to the issue of the Holy Spirit, I thought to myself: “If I were on an island and I just read the Bible over, and over, and over again, what would I come away with? I would come away, going: “Okay God—give me this Spirit You are talking about. Give me this!” That’s the way I would come away from that encounter and from that reading of the Word of God.
Dennis: It, ultimately—not only caused you to write a book—but it changed your life—to look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit in fresh ways—and how He works in your life and your ministry as God uses you; right?
Francis: And I love it. I love everything that God’s been teaching me about the Holy Spirit—and everything I’m experiencing with the Holy Spirit now—just from studying the Word of God, and taking it literally, and saying: “Wow! These things ought to happen.” It’s this faith that God blesses.
He says: “When I return, I want to see if I find faith on that earth. Do you really believe that you are filled with the Holy Spirit of God? Do you really believe this is better than having Me walk on that earth with you? It is God—it’s Me coming into you! Do you believe that? Do you believe that power?”
I’m looking at the church—looking at people who attend churches, across the nation—and I don’t think they really believe that they have this supernatural power available to them. They’re living as defeated as people who don’t know Him.
Bob: As you’re describing that, I’m thinking: “Okay; a lot of us—me included—we may tend to live our lives on what I’d call spiritual auto-pilot.” You know? “We’re kind of there. We have a relationship with Jesus, but we’re going through the day without a whole lot of high expectation of what God might be up to on a particular day.” I thought, “Why would I be like that?”
Well, one reason I might be like that is because, if I have high expectation and nothing happens today, then, I’m going to walk away, going: “Well, I don’t want to be disappointed again tomorrow. I need to lower my expectations.” Now, I just have to ask you—here you are—you’ve written this book. So, every day, you’re going : “I want to be where the Spirit—I want to see God do great things.” You have normal days where nothing really huge happen; don’t you?
Francis: I do. I do; but, you know, now, I am surprised when nothing happens. It used to be once a year where I’d think: “Wow! I think God moved.” Now, I pray; and I am so surprised if God doesn’t answer my prayer right away—if He doesn’t, supernaturally, do something that day—that moment. I know because God has answered so many times in a way where it’s undeniably Him. I’m at a point in my life where I think, “It doesn’t even require faith.” I’ve seen so much that it doesn’t feel like faith when I pray anymore.
He’s proven Himself over, and over, and over. So, when He doesn’t answer something now, I don’t question, “Well, maybe, He didn’t hear me the first time,” or whatever else. I know that He’s listening. There just must be something else going on. His ways are higher than my ways—He understands the big picture. There’s something I don’t get, but He asks me to keep praying. So, I do.
Bob: I still come back to this whole issue of expectations because I think it’s big for all of us. I think some of us are afraid to ask God to do things through us—to ask the Holy Spirit to work in us—because we’re afraid that life’s going to be normal and we’re going to get to the end—and it’s going to—we want to keep our faith more manageable so it’s easier to get our arms around.
You talk about reading the Bible. I don’t see a whole lot manageable as I read the Gospels, as I read the book of Acts, as I read God moving among His people. There’s a lot going on there that was out of control.
Francis: We fear praying specifically because: “What if God doesn’t answer that?” Then, we almost feel that’ll shake our faith or make us question God. Yet, for me, I’m saying, “When you do pray like that, you’ll see answers so often that the times, when God has something else in mind, you’ll know.” It’s not because He’s not listening or that He’s not real. You’ve seen it—you’ve seen Him way too much—way too much evidence—but sometimes, we almost want to protect God: “Okay, let me not ask for that because I don’t want Him to look bad just in case He can’t do it or doesn’t do it.”
Bob: I’m thinking of friends I have who are in a marriage that really, externally, looks pretty hopeless. I’m thinking about—how have I been praying for them? You know, there’s really been, in the back of my mind, “I wonder if this marriage can survive.” Now, can God show up and do a transformation? You’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen. Does it always happen?
It doesn’t always happen, but I should not be hedging my prayers to give God some wiggle room in case that’s not going to happen with them. I need to be going to God and saying, “God, I want to see you work here;” right?
Francis: Oh yes, there’ve been times when I did not have the faith that God would restore a marriage. I remember this one gal—this couple that I was counseling. It got so bad. He was with another woman, and her and her kids were living with us. Then, he broke up with the other woman; but he looked at his wife and said: “Don’t get excited. I have another one. I have a new girlfriend.”
It was the week the divorce—the week the divorce was going to be final. She comes in my office; and she says, “Francis, I know this sounds crazy; but I still believe. I do.” She asked, “Is that wrong?” In my head, I’m thinking, “Oh, poor girl.” I almost wanted to discourage her faith; but I said, “”No, it’s not crazy. It’s not crazy.”
Sure enough—that week, he grabs her—the two kids—sits them down and says: “Listen, Daddy really messed up. This will never happen again.”
It’s been about four or five years now. They are a great, great family—doing huge ministry—in love with the Lord. But, I didn’t have faith, at that moment. I didn’t, to be honest; but she did. And it happened. It was another one of those times where I thought: “Wow, God! I really thought it was impossible. I am so sorry I doubted You! Praise God—she didn’t.”
Dennis: If a listener is in a circumstance, listening to us right now and saying, “That’s me!”—maybe with a child, maybe with a spouse, another relationship, lost job, or illness. Find somebody who can pray in faith over you.
Dennis: We’ve been talking about the Holy Spirit here. We’re not talking about some ethereal, mystical entity. We’re talking about a very real person—who’s the third member of the Trinity—who raised Christ from the dead.
He defeated death. He didn’t come just to live in the heavenlies. He was sent, by Christ, to indwell those who have surrendered their lives to Him.
If you’re listening, and you’ve not experienced the Holy Spirit like we’re talking about here today, this is not just for some radio guys and a pastor, here in a studio. This is for husbands, wives, moms, dads, grandparents, and single people who are listening—who are facing all kinds of issues—who need God to show up, and who need to be walking a life of faith, right now.
My encouragement to you is—don’t let the sun go down or don’t go to sleep before you settle the issue of surrender to Jesus Christ in your life. Let Him—through His Holy Spirit—fill you, empower you, control you—and be able to work in and through you.
Bob: That could be for someone who has never cried out to God before; or it could be for somebody who has had a relationship with God but it has, over time, gotten dry, or stale, or hopeless.
Dennis: Yes, you may have played church along the way.
Bob: Yes. This is where I think—what you’re talking about surrender and understanding what the empowering and the filling of the Holy Spirit in our life is supposed to look like and be like—it’s so important in the life of a Christian. It’s where a book, like the one Francis has written, can help bring clarity to what is sometimes a confusing or clouded area.
Let me encourage listeners—go to FamilyLifeToday.com. The book is called Forgotten God. Again, it’s FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can request a copy when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—again, call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, I’m still reflecting on the Valentine’s weekend when Dennis and I had the opportunity to speak together at the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and to meet a lot of FamilyLife Today listeners. That same weekend, we had Weekend to Remember getaways happening in Napa Valley, California, and one in Ashville, North Carolina. I think there were three or four other cities where there was a Weekend to Remember going on that weekend.
It’s always encouraging to me—first of all, to meet FamilyLife Today listeners and hear some of the stories that you guys share with us about how God uses this program—and then, to see God at work—see the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of those weekend getaways.
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And we hope you can join us back again tomorrow. Francis Chan is going to be here again. We’re going to talk about what it means to test the spirits and how you do that. We’ll talk about that as we continue our conversation about the Holy Spirit tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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