Fresh Voices, Timeless Truth
About the Guest
Pastor David Platt wonders why believers are rising up against popular social injustices like poverty and slavery, but remain silent on other issues like abortion.
Pastor Francis Chan reminds believers about their need for the Holy Spirit and calls on the church to be conduits of the Holy Spirit's power and love.
J.D. Greear talks about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life.
Jen Wilkins talks about the attributes of God. Wilkins reminds listeners that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Every generation needs fresh new leaders and thinkers to point people to God’s Word. Find out more from prominent leaders Francis Chan, J.D. Greear, Jen Wilkin, and David Platt.
Bob: As parents, our assignment is—not simply to raise children who wind up being healthy, wealthy, and wise—our assignment is to raise up children who have a kingdom mindset. Here’s David Platt.
David: “Hey, guys, it’s really costly for some people around the world to share the gospel. Thankfully, we’re able to share the gospel where we live. As we talk about the persecuted church, I think one of the ways we can best serve and support the persecuted church is by taking advantage of the freedom that we do have to share the gospel. If we are not sharing the gospel here, and they’re dying to share the gospel over there, then there’s a major disconnect.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. One thing we’ve always believed, here, at FamilyLife is that our marriage and our parenting needs to be lived out with the kingdom worldview.
We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on birthday day—the 25th birthday of FamilyLife Today—the Thursday edition of FamilyLife Today. It was 25 years ago. Do you remember?—do you remember our first program?
Dennis: Yes; I mean, you sat down, and interviewed me, and asked me about something. I told the story about Barbara and I having an argument the night before. You said: “Dennis, time out! This is national radio. You’re the host of this program. You’re supposed to be this ideal perfect host who lives the Bible perfectly.”
Bob: I don’t think I said it exactly that way! [Laughter]
Dennis: No; it was—that was kind of the philosophical underpinnings. I said—
Bob: I said, “Do you want to air your dirty laundry on national radio?”
Dennis: It wasn’t that dirty, but we had had an argument—I didn’t win. So, you know——anyway, I told you: “You know what? If I can’t do what the New Testament is about—why is the New Testament about 12 guys who betrayed Christ, disobeyed Christ, left Him, [and] deserted Him?
I mean, we all are made out of the same human fiber; and we fail. That’s where Jesus Christ shows up with His grace, and mercy, and forgiveness. He can pick us up and He can still use us.”
Bob: I remember us sitting down before we recorded that first program and saying, “If we’re going to do this, we need to make sure that our program is practical, and that it’s biblical, and that we stay aimed at the target and talk about marriage and family.” We haven’t done that perfectly; but that’s been our goal, for the last quarter of a century, to continue to provide practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families.
Dennis: Did you say that first or did I?
Bob: I think that was me. I’m going to take credit for it. [Laughter]
Dennis: I’m not so sure. This is one of the advantages of being around 25 years. You can hold one another accountable to the historical record.
Bob: I’m sure it was me—the more we talk about it. [Laughter]
Well, today, to celebrate, we are going to hear from some of the folks who have joined us on FamilyLife Today in recent years. In fact, these are some of the folks who, in recent years, have emerged as godly young men and women who are calling their peers to walk with Christ. It has been a privilege to have these guests be a part of the program.
Dennis: That’s right. The first one is Francis Chan—wrote a book about the forgotten God, which is about the Holy Spirit. He and I had quite a battle over the microphone, talking about the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives on FamilyLife Today.
Francis: And He tells his disciples: “Wait here. Don’t go out there and try to change the world on your own. It’s just not going to happen. Stay in this room and wait, because this power is going to come upon you.” So they wait; they wait; they wait. And when that power comes, sure enough, everyone says they felt a sense of awe.
You know, don’t you want to feel that? Don’t we all want that? Isn’t that what this is about?—for me to know that that wasn’t just a clever speaker up there, or a great soloist, or a great man.
Dennis: —or a great doctrine.
Francis: Exactly; exactly! But to know: “I experienced God. It’s undeniable.” I want to feel that sense of awe. I want to know that it’s God.
Dennis: Well, I want to ask you a question that I ask some of my friends on Facebook®. This morning, I went online and I said, “Give me one word that describes the Holy Spirit to you.”
Francis: I would go with “powerful,”—I would. I wish I could say “powerful leader,”—is that powerful/leader?—[Laughter]—because I think a lot of times when we think of the Holy Spirit, I don’t want people to think just a power that I harness—you know, like Spiderman or something—it’s this idea of a Person that we follow that leads us and gives us this power.
I think, sometimes, we neglect that thought. We think: “Well, the Holy Spirit will come. He gives me this power that I can use at any time.” But no; he’s a Person that leads us and empowers us.
Dennis: Take it down to your wife, Lisa; okay?—because she’s not up on a podium, giving a message to thousands of people like you do. She’s caring for your three daughters and your son. How does this apply to her life about expecting God to show up where she’s living her life?
Bob: —as a mom.
Francis: Oh, yes. It’s huge as the mom—HUGE as the mom because—here’s the thing. We got to a point with our oldest daughter—we were really struggling about a year-and-a-half ago—just wondering: “Is this faith even her own?” and at one point, just looking at her and going: “I’ve never seen the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. You’ve been pretty obedient and that, but I’m just wondering…”
Dennis: Did you say this to her?
Francis: Yes; I did, and with tears.
Dennis: She’s how old?
Francis: Now, she’s 14. At the time, she was 13. I mean, I’m crying / I’m sobbing; because I can’t make her fall in love with Jesus. That’s not anything—and everything I see in the Scriptures, according to my theology—that’s something the Holy Spirit has to do.
So, I’m crying, night after night, going: “God, I can’t do this. Either your Holy Spirit comes into her and she will follow, she’ll be convicted, she’ll fall in love with You; or Your Holy Spirit does not go into her, and I can’t do anything about it. I can curb her behavior / I can, You know, just put tighter restrictions on her so she can’t get into too much trouble; but I can’t make her fall in love with God.” I just remember agonizing and saying: “God, You’ve got to do it; You’ve got to do it.” Here I am, traveling the world—telling people about Jesus, seeing people come and fall in love with Jesus, and I can’t make it happen in my own home.
So, after those times of prayer, there was a day when my daughter came in and said: “Dad, you were right. I wasn’t a believer. I did not have the Holy Spirit in me,”—and she goes—“and I know it; and I’m sure of it, because he’s in me now. So, I know the difference.” And she goes, “Dad, I talk to Him like I talk to you now—God is that real to me.”
Over the last year-and-a-half, we’ve seen it—it’s like, “Who is this girl?” And the battle is real—it’s hers—there’s a real relationship with God. So, with parenting, her understanding that and realizing we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously. We work hard / work hard at parenting; at the same time, there’s this supernatural element that you and I don’t have control over. My wife Lisa sees that completely.
Bob: Well, that’s Francis Chan, talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
As he talked about it, Dennis, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “If Bill Bright was in the room, he would have been smiling too.” One of Bill Bright’s core messages, throughout his ministry, was the need for people to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Dennis: That’s right. I look back over my Christian walk and there’s really only been a handful of Bible teachers that I’ve ever heard really teach about who the Holy Spirit is, why He came, what He’s all about, and how you can be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in the power of the Spirit. Francis Chan was one.
Another one was J.D. Greear. I was at a conference with him—sat on the stage with him as we formed a panel—I really like J. D. He is a good man, making a church highly effective around building marriages and families for the next generation.
Bob: Pastor of the Summit Church in North Carolina with a number of campuses. He joined us to talk about our need to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.
J. D.: You know, it seems like, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, Christians—
—orthodox Christians—fall into one or two categories. On the one side, you have some that are, shall we say, obsessed with the Holy Spirit. It seems like the Holy Spirit always appears in some random confluence of events, you know?—“The billboard was the same background color as the color of her eyes, and the last two digits of the phone number were the same as her age. I just knew the Holy Spirit was telling me to ask her out.” [Laughter] You know, sounds like the preamble to a restraining order to me—I wouldn’t go with that. [Laughter] Or, you know, they have these kind of like manifestations, where the Holy Spirit makes them do just really bizarre things. That would be one side.
The other side—and this is probably more where I was coming from / is, maybe, in reaction to that—they ignore or neglect the ministry of the Holy Spirit altogether. I believed in the Holy Spirit, but I related to Him in the same way that I relate to my pituitary gland—I know that it’s in there; I know that it’s essential for something; I certainly would not want to be without it—but I didn’t have an interaction or relationship with the Holy Spirit.
“I worship the Holy Duet,”—is how I would say it—“God the Father and God the Son”—or my functional trinity was “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Bible.” But there was something that Jesus indicated was so important about the Holy Spirit that He told His disciples that they would see this to their advantage that He go away if they received the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know the Holy Spirit that way.
Dennis: Yes; it’s actually an astounding statement that Christ makes—He said: “It is to your advantage—
Dennis: —“to your advantage”—I mean, think about how—“that I leave and that I go back to the Father.” Now, that sounds contradictory; doesn’t it?
J.D.: Think about how absurd that must have sounded to those first disciples when they heard it. How awesome would it have been to have had Jesus as a constant companion for three years? Every night, you go back—you sit around the campfire / you’ve got a theological question—bam!—Jesus answers it. You’re at a party—you run out of Chex™ Mix—bam!—Jesus multiplies the Chex Mix. [Laughter] Your dog dies—bam!—Jesus raises the dog back from the dead. [Laughter]
Your cat dies—Jesus digs a hole to help you bury the cat; because, you know, that’s how He feels about cats. [Laughter] That’s probably not exactly what it was like.
Dennis: We have a large, large degree of listeners who love cats.
Bob: You’re talking about our cat-loving listeners.
J. D.: I’m sure that will be edited out. [Laughter]
Dennis: We apologize for our guest, right now—continue on.
J.D.: Alright; so, I mean, it would have been just amazing to have Jesus as a companion. Yet, Jesus said: “If you really understood who the Holy Spirit was and what was being offered to you in Him / if you had to choose Jesus beside you or the Spirit inside of you, you would choose the Spirit inside of you.” I think it’s a very sobering question.
If you ask the average Christian: “Choose, right now—you could have Jesus beside you this evening or the Holy Spirit inside of you,” most of them, if they were honest, would say, “I’d choose Jesus beside.” If you told them that Jesus was going to come and be the new pastor of their church, they would be ecstatic: “Jesus of Nazareth preaching every week!” Yet, they’re not nearly as excited about the Spirit of God inside of them.
That shows us just how far removed we are from the reality of the promise that He was giving us.
Bob: Okay; that’s J.D. Greear, who by the way, is starting a radio program—he’s going to be heard on the Moody Radio Network.
Dennis: Are you going to be the voice of that broadcast too? [Laughter]
Bob: They haven’t called me; I don’t think so. [Laughter]
Dennis: I mean, I don’t know where this ends. [Laughter]
Bob: You know how great it is to have these emerging young leaders, who are holding firm to what the Scriptures teach, and calling a new generation to walk in obedience.
Dennis: And another leader that we had on FamilyLife Today—Jen Wilkin, a young lady from Dallas, Texas—actually, what’s the name of the exact town there, Bob?
Bob: I think she’s in Flower Mound. That’s where—
Dennis: Flower Mound, Texas.
Bob: She attends church at the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas—has a Bible study for women in the Dallas area, and she’s written a couple of books. She speaks nationally. You had lunch with her a few months ago; right?
Dennis: Barbara and I did—we just enjoyed her and Sally Lloyd-Jones.
Bob: Did she join you for lunch as well?
Dennis: That’s right. And Crawford Loritts—so, it was quite a—it was quite a table we were sitting at.
Bob: That’s a pretty good table, right there.
Well, Jen came in, not long ago, to talk with us about the attributes of God, and how important it is for us to understand the attributes of God, and how knowing God helps you better know yourself and vice versa.
Jen: You know, it’s been said that the knowledge of God and the knowledge of self always go hand in hand. There is no true knowledge of self apart from the knowledge of God. It follows that, if we’re going to have true self-knowledge, we need to understand what the Bible says is true about God and have a pretty good grip on that.
One of the things that I encourage women to do, when they’re studying the Bible, is to read, looking first for what it says about God Himself. I’ve just learned, over the years, that that’s a more difficult request than we might think—that many of us have an underdeveloped vocabulary when it comes to discussing the nature and character of God.
So, I wanted to write a book that helped us to form our thinking around what the Bible has to say about who God is.
Bob: I had a friend ask me, a number of months ago: “What were the most influential books in my life?” I don’t know that I had stopped to think about that in awhile. I thought he wanted a top-ten list. I put it together; and the number one book on my list—probably the most influential book—was J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God.
Bob: The reason is because—just what you’re saying—it gave me a picture of God and understanding of God that was more exalted than the smaller picture I had in my own mind. There is something about understanding just how amazing / just how spectacular God is that changes everything.
Jen: Right; I think that we have a tendency to diminish who God is naturally. We tend to form him after our own likeness.
Because God is so other than we are, and because it is difficult to wrap our human brains around that, we default to thinking about ways to sort of frame him up—within our human understanding—that diminishes who He is.
Bob: So it’s—our thought naturally gravitates to: “God is like us only better.”
Bob: And that’s kind of our—“It’s the best us you could be,” is kind of “That’s who God is.” [Laughter] But that’s not who the Bible—
Dennis: No; and that’s pretty sad, too, when you think about it—
Bob: —that’s who you think God is.
Dennis: —kind of adding up all of humanity and trying to make that into God.
If you’re going to have good self-knowledge—appropriate, accurate self-knowledge—you have to begin with God and think backward from Him.
Jen: Yes; exactly. But what we have a tendency to do—is to turn and measure ourselves against the person sitting next to us or the person that we know from work—someone who, usually, we’re going to hand-pick so that we measure up favorably when we place ourselves next to them. But when you measure yourself next to an immeasurable, transcendent God, it teaches you to place yourself rightly in the scheme of things; and it creates worship in us.
Worship is something that we need to be able to flourish as creatures.
Bob: We talked about influential books. I know Psalm 111, verse 10, was an influential verse for you. Was this early in your life that you came across this verse and it kind of grabbed you?
Jen: Yes; fairly early, I hit young adulthood and started to become increasingly aware of my own limits—I think it’s a pretty common thing that happens. I came across that verse that said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” It really stopped me in my tracks; because I just did not expect that the word, “fear,” would be where it was in that verse. I wanted it to say: “The love of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” or “The worship of the Lord…”
So, then, it became really important to develop a biblical understanding of what fear is being talked about there.
You find that in Hebrews, Chapter 12—that it’s the right reverence and awe that you should feel towards someone who is worthy of it. That made more sense, you know, that we begin to become wise when we rightly acknowledge God for who He is and we place him where He belongs in our estimation.
Bob: Well, again, that’s Jen Wilkin, talking about the attributes of God. Again, I have to smile. We mentioned that one of Bill Bright’s core messages was his message on the Holy Spirit. Another of his core messages was on the attributes of God.
Dennis: He loved to teach about who God is and just continually exhorted us to remember the truth of who God is and who you are, because you are not going to rightly understand who you are unless you remember and recall who God is.
Bob: I think you always told me that that message on the attributes of God had about 27 points and, often, went on for more than—
Dennis: —a long time. [Laughter] You know what?—when you’re Bill Bright, you can get away with anything—you really can.
Bob: Well, we also have had the opportunity to have, as a studio guest, a young man, who gives leadership to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and has just recently been named as the pastor at McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia—that’s David Platt. David is an author and a speaker. He is best known for calling Christians to live radically.
I so appreciate the fact that he understands that truth, and grace, and mercy, and compassion all have to come together. We don’t devalue truth; but if our lives are not marked by grace, and mercy, and compassion, then we’ve gotten something wrong with the truth.
Dennis: David is one of these men that I believe God is already used mightily, but his best years are yet ahead.
David: First Corinthians 12 talks about, when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. We do have brothers and sisters in Christ, around the world, who are suffering and dying for the gospel. One way we’ve got to come alongside them and suffer with them is just by praying for them. I would encourage a mom or a dad—something we do with our kids—is to, in an age-appropriate way, share stories of suffering and persecution in the world so they know it’s not easy to be a follower of Christ in this world: “We have brothers and sisters in Christ who we ought to be praying for; so we’re praying for them.”
There are ways through different ministries to actually be a part of giving to them and writing to them. I mean, there’s kids whose parents have been put in prison for the gospel. So, for our children to have opportunities to write to other children and encourage them.
I mean, there are some real practical things like that; but then, also, to realize—this is something we try to do with our kids: “Hey guys, it’s really costly for some people around the world to share the gospel. Thankfully, we’re able to share the gospel where we live.
“As we talk about the persecuted church, I think one of the ways we can best serve and support the persecuted church is by taking advantage of the freedom we do have to share the gospel. If we are not sharing the gospel here, and they’re dying to share the gospel over there, then there’s a major disconnect.” I want to encourage my kids to maximize the opportunities we have to share, right here, as they hear news about this happening to Christians in this part of West Africa or the Middle East.
Dennis: This is about the Great Commission—this is about Jesus commanding us to go. The nature of the family in America tends to be, I think—even within the Christian community—a little self-absorbed / maybe not just “a little” either, by the way. We need to be thinking about other people in other countries.
We didn’t do this, you know, great as we were raising our kids; but we actually spent the better part of two years reading through a devotional before school that was a quick—I don’t know; maybe a three- to five-minute story of people, who were missionaries in other eras to other countries—
—helping our kids get pictures and images of what it looked like to be heroic for the gospel. Sharing those stories, we heard about persecution. We read about people giving their lives. That’s not happening in America; but it is happening, right now, overseas.
David: Yes; it is. We do a very similar thing, just by exposing them to biographies and that sort of thing. Part of the reason we do that is because we want to show them good models of what it means to suffer for Christ. I know this is a point where some people may start to tune me out; but if you just hang with me for a second, we want to raise our kids up so that they’re willing to go to West Africa or the Middle East with the gospel, at great cost.
This is, as a pastor, what I was intentional about doing—was trying to encourage our families to raise their kids up to spend their lives for the spread of the gospel around the world.
That may seem extreme to people. That may seem like: “Now, you’re really talking radical Christianity.” This is not radical Christianity / this is basic Christianity. Jesus said: “You follow Me. You’re going to be like a sheep among wolves. You’re going to go and find yourself in difficult, dangerous places by My design. But you’re going to be there for the spread of the gospel and for My glory. It’s worth it.”
I want my kids to believe that there’s no better way to spend their lives than making the gospel known—right where they live, around the world, even in hard places. So, we’ll talk—we’ll just kind of dream every once in a while: “Hey, what if God leads you to this country?!” “What if God leads you to that country, where there’s suffering right now?”—and to realize: “Just because we’re born in the United States, doesn’t mean we’ve got a pass on suffering for the spread of the gospel. One of the ways we serve our persecuted brothers and sisters is by actually going alongside them.”
Bob: Again, that’s David Platt.
It’s interesting to think, Dennis—that back when FamilyLife Today started, 25 years ago today,—
Dennis: —David Platt wasn’t born—barely. [Laughter]
Bob: —nobody knew his name; nobody knew Jen Wilkins’ name, or Francis Chan, or J. D. Greear. You have to wonder: “Who is it that God is going to raise up in the next decade or the next 20 years?” I don’t know what their names will be, but my prayer is that they will be faithful to God’s Word in the same way that these folks have been.
Dennis: It could be, right now, we’re speaking to a young man / a young lady—who may even be being raised, right now, by their mom and dad, who they’re being forced to listen to FamilyLife Today. My exhortation to you, as a young lady / a young man: “If God gives you the call, answer it. Dream great dreams for God. Expect God to do big things and to use you, maybe, to do some of them.”
Bob: Yes; well, happy birthday!
Dennis: Happy birthday to you, Bob. It’s just been an outstanding adventure and a privilege to be on the ride with you.
Bob: A good 25 years; and we’ll see what God has in store—right?—going forward.
Dennis: No doubt about it.
Bob: In fact, tomorrow, we’re going to hear from some of the people who have marked this ministry over the last quarter of a century by the way they’ve marked your life. In fact, we’re going to hear from people who have gone on to heaven—Bill Bright, Chuck Colson, Howard Hendricks—and one guy who’s still alive—Josh McDowell. That all comes up tomorrow. Hope our listeners can join us for what will be a memorable program tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru®Ministry.
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