Marriage For God’s GloryJanuary 23, 2018
What are you praying for your marriage? Francis and Lisa Chan, married for over two decades and parents of seven children, encourage husbands and wives to fervently pray for one another and seek a marriage that is glorifying to the Lord.
What are you praying for your marriage? Francis and Lisa Chan, married for over two decades and parents of seven children, encourage husbands and wives to fervently pray for one another and seek a marriage that is glorifying to the Lord.
Marriage For God’s Glory
Bob: It was after a trip to Africa that Francis Chan came back to his home in the United States and told his wife he thought God wanted their family to downsize. Lisa wasn’t so sure.
Lisa: I didn’t want to give up my things. I didn’t want to move into a smaller home. It was like this ripping that was happening. Of course, because God is so faithful—and every time, He says, “If you lose your life for My sake, you will find it,”—on the flip side is when I got to see the joy of it and, eventually, got to go to Africa with Francis. I was just brokenhearted at my own resistance and sinfulness because I wished I could have had those feelings [of joy] on the outset.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 23rd. Our host is Dennis Rainey; I’m Bob Lepine.
Lisa Chan says that God’s Word is true when it says, “Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” That’s true, even in marriage. We’ll talk more about that today with Francis and Lisa Chan. Stay with us.
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Now, I’ve got to be honest—I’m not sure I want to talk to the couple we have joining us today, because they just shared with us they’ve had like 12 fights in the past 21 years. I’m kind of like, “Bring me some couples I can relate to a little more”; you know? [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, I was thinking: “We’ve been married double that. We’ve got more than 24, though,”—[Laughter]—doubling your dozen that you’ve had. Francis and Lisa Chan join us on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back.
Francis: Thank you.
Lisa: Thank you.
Dennis: They’ve written a book called You and Me Forever. In case there is a listener who doesn’t know who this couple is—they live in the Bay Area of Northern California. They are about church planting there—also, ministering to men / I assume it’s only men coming out of prison.
Francis: Yes; we’ve been trying to start a women’s home as well. So, right now, it’s just the guys coming out of prison.
Dennis: I want to go to something you mention in your book. You made this statement—you said, “If you could manuscript your prayers of what you’ve prayed about for the last month, what would they reveal about you, as a couple?”
Francis: So, it’s like what David says in Psalm 27, verse 4, when he says, “This one thing I ask of the Lord and that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.”
That was his one prayer request: “God, I want You—I want You. I want to see You. I want to be with You.”
So, the question is: “Give me a manuscript of your prayers for the last month. I want to hear: ‘What do you hunger for? What do you want?’ You’re coming before the Creator, the Sovereign One, who is in control of this whole earth; and what are you asking for?”
Bob: And most of us are asking for: “Fix this,”—
Bob: —“Make life easier or better—
Bob: —“for me”; right?
Bob: So, if that’s—I mean, is it illegitimate for us to pray—
Bob: —“I’d like things to go better in my life”?
Francis: No; you know, it’s—the Lord tells us to bring what we desire before Him; but also, the things that we desire reveal a lot about us; you know? It opens our eyes to: “Wow! That’s what I’m about?—is: ‘Get rid of all my problems,’”—because I don’t see that in Scripture. It’s more about, “God, give me the strength to make it through this—develop my character through these trials.” You know, that’s what I see in Scripture.
Lisa: How much of my prayers do I pray for Francis? Do I pray for his walk with God? Do I pray that God would help in his moments of temptation? I mean, that’s something that has developed in my life that softens my heart towards him—helps me to love him better. I want to be praying for him because who else is going to pray for him the way that I will?
Dennis: One of the things that I try to do, when I pray over my meal at lunch—I don’t do it every time—but I try to pray for my wife Barbara and her walk—that she’ll see God show up in her life, and she’ll respond to Him, and she will grow in her faith. Then, if I’m having lunch with another guy, pray for his wife as well.
I don’t think a lot of us are challenging one another with that concept, Francis—that you speak of in your book—of really making sure your prayers are about the agenda of what God’s up to; because He is at work in your spouse’s life, in your children, and in your extended family as well.
Francis: I just recently started running; you know? I was getting out of shape; and so, I’ve been running around this track at my daughter’s school. Every lap, I’ll pray for a different kid. So, it’s nice to have seven kids and a wife. [Laughter] It’s, at least, two miles a day that I’m running, which is good. As I’m praying, the prayers aren’t: “Oh, help us get along better,” or “Help this,” “Help that.” It’s like: “God, make my wife just this amazing warrior for you. Give her even greater love / greater capacity.”
“Help my daughter, as she’s in this school right now, to take a stand for you. It’s about Your kingdom.” “Use them to influence other people—my kids in grade school / my kid in Little League—have him influence this team.” It’s about God: “Your kingdom—Your kingdom come.”
Dennis: Lisa, tell the truth. When he starts praying like that—
Lisa: Does it scare me? [Laughter]
Dennis: —do you get scared?
Lisa: No; you know, my immediate thought was: “I’m so glad he’s praying for me! I need it.” That is, honestly, my first thought. [Laughter]
Bob: I want to go back—because you said your dad said, “No,” the first two times to Francis—
Lisa: They are going to feel so bad about that. [Laughter]
Bob: But, as a daddy, I understand wanting to protect—
Dennis: Oh, yes!
Bob: —my daughter—
Bob: —and along comes Francis, who—as you said—they weren’t sure if he was crazy about God or just crazy. And your journey together has been a journey of risk and a journey of faith; that, honestly, I can understand a daddy going, “This may be more risk than I raised my little girl for.” Do you know what I’m talking about?
Lisa: Yes; and I’ve seen that tension in them. There have been times when I’ve just had to cry and be honest with them, like, “I need you to support me and say, ‘You are never going to regret surrendering to God and giving things up.’” That’s hard when you have that parent’s heart that immediately wants to protect. I have it, too, with all of my kids.
So, I do get it in a different way now; but how much I want to encourage parents to be that voice of courage for their kids—married or not; married 20 years / 30 years—still be that voice that says: “Honey, go for it! Don’t look back. Surrender it all to God, because He’s got you.”
Bob: But there have to have been times when crazy Francis came to you and said, “I think the Lord is saying this,” and your immediate answer wasn’t, “Yes, let’s go for that,”— where you had to kind of go:
Lisa: Oh, yes.
Bob: —“Really? There is a cost here.”
Lisa: One of the hardest—the first most difficult was when he had come back from Africa. I had not been with him on that trip. God completely wrecked him. He wanted to sell our home and cut our house size from 2,000 square foot to 1,000 square foot—it was, literally, right in half.
We had two kids. We had a couple of people living with us—we always have—but he wanted to move. He was like: “I can’t do this anymore. I need to give something up in order to love these kids that I saw.”
It was love-motivated, which was so awesome; but I was so honest with him—I said, “I wasn’t with you. I don’t feel love in my heart; I feel more like, this is going to stink!” [Laughter] No; I mean, I’m just being honest. I didn’t want to give up my things. I didn’t want to move into a smaller home. It was like this ripping that was happening.
Of course, because God is so faithful—and every time He says, “If you lose your life for My sake, you will find it,”—on the flip side is when I got to see the joy of it and eventually got to go to Africa with Francis. I was just brokenhearted at my own resistance and sinfulness because I wished I could have had those feelings [of joy] on the outset.
Bob: Your immediate reaction was, “I don’t know.”
Lisa: It was: “I don’t want to, but I will do what is in your heart. I will not stand in the way of what you want to do.” And so—
Bob: And were you still—on the day you were moving into a 1,000 square-foot house, were you going: “I don’t want to do this,” or had—by that time, had you started to go, “Okay; I guess this is going to be okay,” or what?
Dennis: Or did you negotiate a 1,500 square-foot home? [Laughter]
Lisa: No, it was 1,000; and it was hard. I think the initial reaction was the hardest. Then, it was, “Swallow it.” Then, it was, “This is going to be fine.” Then, it was: “Why am I so stupid? This has been the best thing.” It was one of our favorite homes. We had the best neighbors that we reached out to and just loved. It was the tiniest, little thing. We had six of us, eventually, there. We had two more kids there; and then, we had two girls living with us. We moved up to eight living in that little, tiny house.
Dennis: Francis, if I’ve learned anything in the years I’ve been married, in order for our wives to have that kind of response, you have to have loved her with a love that results in respect and the ability to trust—when her heart isn’t quite yet in it—but she knows she’s got to go with you because she’s committed to you and she’s committed to the mission. Talk about your love for Lisa and how you have built that kind of trust.
Francis: I think, not to over-spiritualize it, but I do really believe that one of the things I’ve been able to help Lisa with is to trust in the Lord. So, when it came to a bigger decision—like the house—she had seen God’s faithfulness in the past, and I think that’s where the trust was. She was trusting that I was following the Lord and that the Lord was going to bless our steps, as long as we just keep going, and even sacrificing/denying ourselves during those times we didn’t feel like it.
At the same time, we had been around the world. They would find us, even right now, having this conversation—about a 1,000 square-foot home, with toilets and air-conditioning—just absolutely laughable!
Dennis: —that that’s a sacrifice.
Francis: Exactly!—because this is their dream house. So, I don’t want to sit here and go, “Oh, you guys, we really suffered.” It’s like: “Man, that’s luxury. We’re living in America.”
Lisa: That’s why it wasn’t until after I had been with him into some of those areas of extreme poverty that I did feel so stupid for complaining and thinking that I was sacrificing so much. I said, “Oh, I would have sacrificed more.” I said, “We could live in a tent,”—although that would probably be really hard—[Laughter]—but—
Dennis: You kind of looked at him—
Bob: “Don’t plant any ideas!” [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, that’s what she was thinking—she was going: “Oh, no! We’re going to downsize from 1,000 square feet.”
Francis: And that’s crossed my mind—that’s happened—the tent. Laughter]
Dennis: Francis, let’s talk about how you are the spiritual lover and leader of Lisa and your family.
You’ve got a lot going on in your life out there: “How do you love Lisa? How do you provide the kind of mandate that Ephesians 5 talks about—‘Husbands, love you wives as Christ loved the church’?”
Francis: It’s something the Lord put in me. It’s weird because I didn’t really have that, growing up; and yet, it’s so natural to me. It’s not like I have to force myself to love my kids, and to enjoy them, or force myself to spend time with Lisa. I am gone a lot, but all the kids know I want to be at home with them. A lot of times, I will take them with me on some of my speaking engagements—I’ll take one kid at a time.
So, I do serve kids—you know, my kids— through relationship, through just laughing with them, and teaching them, and disciplining them, and getting the time with them. A lot of times, we’re just in ministry together.
Dennis: Lisa, we’ll let you answer the question too: “How does he love you?”
Dennis: And again—
Lisa: —practically speaking,—
Dennis: —not in an idealistic way—yes; in a practical way.
Lisa: Yes; one of the nicest things—that every mother will appreciate—is those nights, when he’ll see that I have been in the home / I have had the little people all over me—and the big ones, sometimes, that have the emotional needs that go far beyond your little ones—and he’ll just say: “Honey, I got this. You just go to Target—[Laughter]—just walk around Target, aimlessly, with a Diet Coke in your hand.” [Laughter]
That is such a blessing. He knows when I need a little moment to myself; and he knows those times when he’ll say: “Hey, we’ve got our high schoolers still at home. They are going to watch the little ones. You and I are going to go grab dessert really quick.” That is how he shows love—it is to sneak a little time away / grab some dessert or just to let me go have a moment to myself.
Bob: As I hear you guys describe your marriage and how this works out for you, I hear a strong sense of mutuality; but I also hear there’s leadership, and there’s responding to leadership. You know, there is tension, even among Christians today, about: “What’s this supposed to look like? How are we supposed to do this? Is the man supposed to lead? Is the wife supposed to submit?” Unpack how you think that’s supposed to work and why we are confused about it today.
Francis: I think we’re confused about it because we’ve rarely seen a good picture of it. We live in a culture that’s very anti-authority—because when have you found godly serving authority; okay? Yet, that’s a picture of God. It gets to the point where we even question God’s authority, like, “He has no right to give me these rules.” We forget that, no, those rules were to protect you / they were to give you life.
He is a wonderful authority! I mean, that’s the whole rebellion of Adam and Eve. It’s like: “Well, did He really say? That sure does look good.” It’s like: “No! You’re going to ruin everything!”
Authority can be beautiful. Jesus, who knew who He was—He understood He was the Lord—yet, He goes and He washes the disciples’ feet—He dies on the cross for them. That’s our picture of authority. That’s what the head of the home is supposed to do. If you had that, then, I believe you would see a lot more women, going: “Okay; I see that. I see how it can be good to be under their authority.” So, I see, in Scripture—it is pretty clear to me that the man is supposed to be the head of the home, but he’s supposed to lead in a way that’s like a servant that is Christ-like.
Dennis: When a man serves, denies himself, loves, leads, and really takes care of his wife, it makes her responsibility and her response reasonable.
And Lisa, in the book, I so enjoy what you write on Page 88 because you talk about five reasons why—what has become a very nasty word in our culture / a politically-incorrect word—the word, “submission,”—but it’s a biblical term. You talk about why we should do that. I want you to share that with our listeners, because there is probably a listener or two who is losing heart in well-doing and needs to be reminded why it’s so important.
Lisa: You know, it was hard when we were writing the book; because we could write a whole giant book about submission and authority—right?—and leadership, but we didn’t want that to be the focus of the book. But it is important to understand, for a woman—especially because so many women will say: “My husband doesn’t deserve to be submitted to. He is not a good leader. He is not following the Lord.” We’re not submitting to our husband’s perfection and the fact that they deserve it. We’re submitting to the fact that God has given them that position of authority. We’re submitting to a God-given position and not perfection.
There were times, even in the beginning, when Francis was not kind and nice about his authority and leadership; but I am still responsible, before God, to say: “You know what? He has given him this position.” You can’t get around it through Scripture. It’s not one place that says, “Wives, submit to your husbands,”—it’s a few times—look it up in your concordance. We can’t be so afraid of obeying the Lord—there is freedom in it.
The second thing is—only our submission to God should be absolute. We don’t submit to our husbands if they ask us to sin, obviously. There is a limit, in that sense. We are all under the umbrella of God’s authority. So, if our husband steps outside of that, then we are not to join him in that.
Bob: You don’t follow him—you don’t follow him there.
Lisa: Right. I think one of the most important things we have to realize is that we find ourselves thinking that we’re fighting against our husbands; but ultimately, we’re fighting against God.
That is not something we want to do—the Scripture says that God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.
It takes humility to follow someone’s lead; but, you know, you look back at the very beginning—God said: “It’s not good for the man to be alone. I am going to create a helpmate for him.” Why can’t we embrace the beauty of that and say: “Wow! I want to give my husband the benefit of my wisdom / my insight”? Then, after I’ve laid that all down—and I’ve shown him / I’ve shared my thoughts and my heart—to allow him to lead / to make the ultimate decision, knowing that I’ve poured my heart out to him and helped him understand my perspective. It may not always match up. We may not always agree, but give your husband that benefit. He needs you. You are his helpmate.
Dennis: Your belief in your husband is empowering and affirming to his leadership. I think—I’m looking at Francis, who is nodding his head—she has made you a better leader—
Francis: Oh, yes!
Dennis:—because she is a strong woman.
Francis: Absolutely! If you knew me before I met her, I am sure you would say: “Wow! That was a major transformation. There’s no way he could pull off what he’s doing without her.”
Bob: Knowing that she believes in you / respects you—that she’ll follow you—
Bob: —that puts wind in your sails.
Francis: You see—because my parents were dead by the time I was in junior high—so I’ve never had support / I never had anyone believing in me. I didn’t have a cheerleader—anyone in my corner. Yet, the Lord was enough. The Lord was absolutely enough—so, yes—amen and amen. But He created us in such a way that—now, when I finally had someone who believed in me—like another human being, who I knew was going to be by my side and support me, even when everyone else thought I was crazy—yet, she believed / she believed in me. I can’t—I can’t say enough.
Lisa: You know, one of the things I have to say is that the thought of coming before the Lord, at the end of my life, and having Him say: “Why did you prevent your husband from doing all these things I had planned for him?”—that is part of what scares me. I think we have to realize that, as women, we want to be life-givers and we want to put wind in their sails, as you put it. We don’t want to stand in the way and limit them and limit what God is going to do through them. That is what should scare us.
Francis: This is what the book was about—eternity. You know, we have this wonderful family—full of laughter / everything else—but that’s going to be over in a second. Just to put it bluntly—we’re going to die any moment. Lisa or I will stand before God, Himself—
Francis: —and what are we going to care about? So, if I love her, then, it’s not just about this time here. I want to prepare her for that moment when she faces Him. In the same way—and yes, we are saved by grace—
—but I want her to know: “I accomplished the work You gave me to do, Father, while I was on that earth—during that brief, little vapor of a time. I did what You wanted me to do.”
I think that’s true love—is when you are looking at someone—and not just thinking of the here and now, where I benefit. I think about the forever and ever and ever—“How are you going… / What’s that existence going to be like?”—it’s based upon how we live now.
Bob: Is that really your hand print on the cover?
Francis: No; my hand wouldn’t have fit on the book. [Laughter]
Bob: I was just looking at your hand, going,—
Francis: I know!
Bob: —“You’ve got huge hands.”
Francis: I know; it’s freaky/scary. [Laughter]
Bob: We do have copies of your book, You and Me Forever, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order a copy, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan. Again, find it online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F”’ as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And don’t forget—if you have any interest in—and I hope you do—in coming to one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this spring / they’re going to be in over 50 cities across the country—sign up this week and you save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. It’s a special offer we’re making for FamilyLife Today listeners that expires this weekend. If you have any questions about the getaway, call us or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
And can I just say?—for you to have a couple of days—where the two of you get away, and recalibrate, and refocus, and breathe a little fresh air into your marriage—that would be good for anybody. If it’s been a while since you’ve done that, you ought to go ahead and make plans now to be at one of the getaways and save a little money in the process; okay? Sign up at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get registered for an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. If you want to buy a gift card for somebody to attend a getaway, those are available at 50 percent off the regular registration fee as well.
Get the details at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800- FL-TODAY and join us at an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how marriage and ministry can coexist—how you can be in alignment, as husband and wife, in being involved in kingdom work. Our guests, Francis and Lisa Chan, will be back with us tomorrow. I hope you can be here as well.
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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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