Who is the Spirit?
About the Guest
Are you under the influence? 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. As Chan points out, having the Spirit of God inside us should make a huge difference in the way we live. If we aren't living any differently than the world, we need to examine our faith.
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.
Who is the Spirit?
Bob: You can bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, but it takes a work of the Holy Spirit for a child to trust Jesus. Pastor and author Francis Chan says it was not long ago that he and his wife were beginning to wonder if their daughter was actually a Christian.
Francis: 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! And 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.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We will talk today with Francis Chan about the person he calls the forgotten God. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I saw a little twinkle, I thought, in your eye when we saw what we are going to be talking about today—just a little gleam/little glitter there; you know.
Dennis: Well it’s a—how should we say it? This is a controversial subject.
Bob: It shouldn’t be all that controversial—
Dennis: It shouldn’t be—it shouldn’t be, but we are going to talk about the missing member of the Trinity.
Bob: Or as one person puts it, the forgotten God; right?
Dennis: That’s right. Francis Chan joins us on FamilyLife Today. Francis—
Francis: Thanks Dennis. Good to be here.
Dennis: Francis is a pastor and speaks, extensively, around the country at all kinds of popular Christian conferences—catalysts, youth specialties. A lot of our listeners know of your first book, Crazy Love, which—how many copies has that sold now?
Francis: Just over half a million.
Dennis: That’s cool—really is.
Francis: Yes, it was never the intent. I never thought it would be a bestseller. My whole intent in that book was just: “Let me just encourage the people who are living radically—let them know that they are not crazy.” So, I was thinking: “A small group;” but—amazing what God has done through it.
Bob: That’s got to surprise you—that that theme has resonated with so many people; doesn’t it?
Francis: Oh it totally does, which excites me because you would think: “No one wants to read this stuff.
“No one wants to get radical about Jesus. We are happy being comfortable;” but I think the Holy Spirit is stirring people’s hearts, going: “This isn’t right. There has to be more—there has to be more.”
Dennis: Well, quite honestly, these are days when we need more and more folks getting radical about the Greatest One who has ever walked the planet.
Bob: Well—and now you have gone and done it—to talk about getting radical. You talk about the forgotten God—the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Is that something that, in your own walk with Christ, has been fresh for you in recent days?
Francis: It really has been. I have been in ministry for about 20 years now. You do ministry a certain way for years, and it is fine. It’s the way everyone else does it. You see more people come to church, you know—you start speaking at different conferences, and there is some response; but every time you read the Scriptures you go: “There is more. There is more!”
You start looking at everything you do and you realize: “A lot of this could be explained by natural means.
“A lot of the results I see could be happening just because it’s a good band/a good speaker—and so some good things are happening. Some talented people are drawing a crowd.” Yet, when I read the Scriptures, it was the power of God. People were stunned/shocked by the power of God.” Pretty soon you go: “I want that. I got to see that.”
Dennis: Well it was Acts 1:8 where Jesus, as He was getting ready to depart the planet, spoke to His disciples and said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” And then, he began to talk about the influence they were going to have—not only in Jerusalem—but to the uttermost parts of the world. That’s really why the Holy Spirit came—He came to shake things up.
Francis: Yes, totally. 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. When that power comes, sure enough, everyone—it says they “felt a sense of awe.”
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 band—
Dennis: Or great doctrine.
Francis: Exactly, exactly; but to know: “I experience God,”—it’s undeniable. I want to feel that sense of awe. I want to know that it is God.
Dennis: Well, I want to ask you a question that I asked some of my friends on Facebook®.
Dennis: I went online; and I said, “Give me one word that describes the Holy Spirit to you.” So while you are thinking, Francis, about the word you are going to pick, let me just tell you some of what my friends said on Facebook. Melanie said, “Transforming.” I really like that. I like what Peter said, “Sculpting.”
Dennis: That was a good one. Cara said, “Guiding.” Marilyn said, “Conscience.” Laurie cheated. She works here, at FamilyLife. She said: “Power, source, comforter, counselor, helper, advocate, intercessor—“
Bob: That’s not one word—shame on her!
Dennis: “—strengthener, guide, and teacher.” She knocked off about half a dozen.
Francis: I like the guy that wrote to you and said, “Irresistible is my word;” and then he said, “But that’s because I am Calvinist,”— so, you know. [Laughter]
Dennis: Okay, what’s your word?
Francis: Oh gosh; that’s so hard.
Dennis: One word.
Francis: I would go with “Powerful”—I would. I wish I could say “Powerful Leader.” Is that Powerful/Leader?—-Leader? Maybe, 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.”
Bob: So is—I guess the question I have for you: “Is your relationship, today, with the Holy Spirit different than your relationship with the Holy Spirit was two or three years ago because, you know, you have been resident with the Holy Spirit ever since you came to faith;” right?
Francis: Yes, I have.
Dennis: So He has been with you—He has been there—and yet, there is something going on—stirring in your soul—related to that relationship.
Francis: Yes. It’s totally different now. A lot has to do with my faith in the Scriptures and believing Jesus—taking his words literally and saying: “No, this is actually my advantage. This is better than having Jesus walk beside me. I have got the Holy Spirit of God inside of me,” and to really believe that. Because of that faith, I expect something to happen—real life change.
Dennis: Take it down to your wife, Lisa, okay—
Dennis: —because she is not up on a podium, giving a message to thousands of people, like you do. She is caring for your three daughters and your son. How does this apply to her life—about expecting God to show up where she is living her life?
Bob: —as a mom.
Francis: Oh, yes—it's huge, as a mom—huge, as a mom—because here’s the thing—we got to a point with our oldest daughter. We were really struggling and just wondering, “Is this faith even her own?” At one point—just looking at her and going: “I have never seen the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life. You have been pretty obedient, here and there; but I’m just wondering…”
Dennis: Did you say this to her?
Francis: Yes, I did. I’m crying. I’m sobbing because I can’t make her fall in love with Jesus. 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 will fall in love with you—or your Holy Spirit does not go into her. I can’t do anything about it.”
I can curb her behavior. I can 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!
And 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 am sure of it because He is 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,” and we have 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, we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously. We work hard—work hard at parenting. At the same time, there is this supernatural element that you and I don’t have control over. My wife, Lisa, sees that completely.
Bob: How do you counsel a mom and dad, who may be raising a son/a daughter—and like you, they look and they go, “I just really wonder if this child is being obedient and compliant”—
Dennis: And by the way, just to allow some comfort to those who are feeling that. It’s really not the responsibility of the parent to make their child love Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well, it’s like Francis said: “You can’t do it.”
Francis: It’s impossible.
Dennis: It is impossible. I just wanted parents to make sure they weren’t hearing us say there was something Francis did wrong or we have done wrong with our children. No, it’s a matter—this is a work of God.
Francis: That’s a great point because my wife even asked me, at that stage—she goes: “Do you feel like a terrible parent? Do you feel like you failed?” I could look her in the eyes—I go: “No, Lis. We are not perfect parents, but we have worked hard at this; and I think we are pretty good.” I go: “But this is out of our control. So, I don’t feel like a failure.”
If there is any failure it would be in, maybe, not praying as diligently as I should have; but I am going to get serious about it now. So, I’m glad you brought that up because that was the first thing my wife thought: “Am I not a good mom? Did I not do my job?” I go: “No, Honey. Don’t go there. You were a great, great mom.”
I have watched her. I don’t want anyone else raising my kids. She did her job; but she cannot be the Holy Spirit—nor can I—because I am thinking: “Hey, I can speak. I can talk to her. I can talk….” No one can do that. That is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit.
Bob: As parents, we all long for our children to come to faith. Third John says, “I have no greater joy than this, to know that my children are walking in the truth.” If you wonder about a child, are you saying the best thing we can do is beg God to invade that child’s life?
Francis: Absolutely, and be honest with your child and some of these concerns. You see, in Paul’s letters, he tells you: “Test yourselves. See if you are really in the faith.” That was something we encouraged our daughter to do because she just assumes: “Well, my dad is a pastor. My mom is in love with the Lord.” So, there is just this tendency—and, “I am not doing anything horrible. So, I must be a believer, too.”
Bob: Of course, maybe, we need to pull this back. Before Mom and Dad start begging God to make sure that the faith is authentic in their child, do we need to be making sure the faith is authentic in our own lives?
Francis: Absolutely. Look at your own life and say, “Have I seen the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in my own life?”
Bob: What’s that going to look like—the supernatural work—because you say that and I start thinking about the ability to perform miracles.
Francis: Yes; yes. There are several things. Obviously, in Scripture, you have the fruit of the Spirit. Do you have a supernatural love? Do you have a supernatural joy, a supernatural peace, a supernatural patience? You will see that in parenting—I mean—a supernatural—where the Holy Spirit has changed you. I had a lot of anger issues and things like that. It really is something I have seen the Holy Spirit supernaturally change over the years.
Dennis: But let’s just unpack that a little bit. You are not saying you don’t ever get angry anymore.
Francis: Oh no, no—not all; but again, there is a new creation element where—you ask my wife. She goes: “Wow! He is a different guy than when I met him;” and that’s the Holy Spirit changing me.
Dennis: It’s interesting—in Galatians, Chapter 5—it talks about “The deeds of the flesh are evident.” When it comes to talk about the work of the Spirit, it talks about fruit.
Well, if you know anything about fruit, it has to grow. It doesn’t instantly pop out as a whole orange—full, and ready to be taken off the tree, and eaten. It takes a season to develop. I could almost hear a mom or a dad going, “Patience—supernatural patience—“
Bob: “I need some of that!”
Dennis: “—I don’t think I have the Holy Spirit because, I’m telling you, these kids are driving me crazy!”
Bob: Well, I used to love listing to Steve Brown pray. Steve Brown is a pastor in South Florida—professor at Reformed Seminary. In all of his prayers, it seemed like—as he was getting ready to preach, he would always pray: “Lord, we are not good, but we are getting better. I am not good, but I am getting better.”
That’s really—you are not saying you arrive at some spiritual plateau. You are saying you can look back and say, “I see transformation happening in my life.”
Francis: Oh yes. You want to be a different person than you were last year. That’s the evidence of the Holy Spirit—is this conviction—this change.
But it also goes beyond that to actual things that you do and the effect you have on other people. It's amazing how God does that in our lives.
Dennis: One of the questions you ask in your book, that I thought was a great question—you said, “Who do you know that most exemplifies being filled with the Holy Spirit? I thought, “That really is a good question.”
Bob: I didn’t come immediately to mind?
Dennis: Number two, Bob. [Laughter] Actually, you know what I thought? I thought, “I wonder if anybody would put me anywhere on the list?”
Francis: Show up on anybody’s—wow.
Dennis: It's a good question, I think, to ask: “Are you so infectiously in love with Christ and walking with the Spirit that others around you go, ‘He is different,’” because when the Holy Spirit shows up, you really are different.
Now, I want you to share with our listeners who you said is the person that most exemplifies being filled with the Spirit. Honestly, there is something about me that’s going, “I don’t know if I would want to be this person, all of a sudden.” Here’s Francis, announcing this on national radio;” but I think once you say the name, a lot of heads are going to nod.
Francis: Absolutely, and I just told her this last Sunday. It’s Joni Eareckson Tada. When I was asked that question—that just popped to the forefront because every word that comes out of her mouth—it’s life-giving—it's joyful. Here, she’s been a paraplegic for over 40 years and been through incredible pain in the last year-and-a-half. I am getting words of encouragement—letters of encouragement. She calls me on the phone to encourage me.
I cry just about every single time I talk to her because you just see a light about her: “How do you….?” See, that’s supernatural joy. You are stuck in a wheelchair, from a diving accident from when you were 15/16 years old, and now she’s changed the world.
It is supernatural—the impact she’s had on the world with her Wheels for the World and everything else. I mean—just the light—you can't spend five minutes with her without her breaking into song, or quoting a Scripture, or just telling you how good her God is with a sincerity and joy on her face.
Bob: As you mention her, I am reminded of a quote I heard John Piper make a number of years ago. He said: “When things are going well for you and you say, ‘Praise the Lord,’ nobody in the watching world looks and goes, ‘Oh well, I want to get to know that person’s God because he says, ‘Praise the Lord’ when things go well for him.’” But he said, “When you are going through the fire, and in the midst of that, you radiate love, joy, peace, patience—but the watching world doesn’t know how that can be possible—and all of a sudden, your witness for Christ is on display in the midst of trial.”
Francis: Yes. And I was going to say, too—with our relationship with the Holy Spirit—what He does is—He makes us more like Christ. I have to share this one story because a friend of mine was telling me about this pastor. He’s a pastor in San Diego. He takes people over to Tijuana where he does a lot of ministry—Pastor Von. He was describing this day that he spent with Von.
He says: “I went down to the dumps in Tijuana where he was helping the kids. He was giving them food. They would run up to him, all dirty; and he would clean them up, and parents were coming. He’s feeding them/loving them.” And here is what my friend said: “It was eerie spending the day with him.” He said, “The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I have ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” He said: “The whole time I thought to myself, ‘If Jesus was on the earth, this is what it would feel like to walk with Him!’” He goes, “Francis, it was eerie.”
When he told me that, I thought, “That is the greatest compliment you can give someone!” Again, I ask myself the question: “Would anyone, in their right mind, say that about me?—the day they spent with Francis: “It was eerie. I felt like I was walking with Jesus.” But that’s what the Holy Spirit does in you—He makes you like Jesus Christ.
Dennis: And that’s why He showed up. He came to glorify Christ. He didn’t come to glorify Himself. He came to glorify Christ.
I think the real challenge for all of us—whether you are a single listener, right now, and you are facing enumerable temptations and issues in your life—whether you are married—maybe, in a tough marriage, facing issues where you are at odds with your spouse—maybe, raising some children that are struggling—maybe, a prodigal or two. Or perhaps you are a grandparent. You are watching your adult children, and it's not turned out the way you expected. You ought to come back to the playbook, the Bible—
Dennis: —Galatians, Chapter 5. If you haven’t read it recently, I would commend it to you. It just contrasts the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
The way you get the fruit of the Spirit is you surrender. It's a simple relational issue of saying: “Lord God, I can't do it. You live in me because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. You are the Master. I am the slave. The Holy Spirit can do this work in my life today. I want You to love that other person through me. I want You to forgive that other person through me. I want You to help me be patient with a two-year-old. I mean, help me in my weakness, oh, God.”
That surrender—at that point, you can do what you talked about, Francis—where you talked about: “What does it look like when you are expecting God?” You expect Him to show up and work in power.
Bob: I think there are lot of listeners who could probably use a refresher course on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You called your book, Forgotten God. I think there are a lot of people who have backed away from really seeking to know and understand the ministry of the Holy Spirit—His person, His purpose, what He is up to in our lives—because we’ve seen abuses of the understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit.
We have copies of your book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Again, it’s called Forgotten God. It’s written by our guest today, Francis Chan. If you’d like to get a copy of the book, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order the book from us, online. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. The title of the book is Forgotten God by Francis Chan. You can also call to request a copy of the book. Our toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
I think there are listeners who might be listening today and thinking to themselves: “FamilyLife Today is usually about marriage and family stuff. Why are you talking, today, about the ministry of the Holy Spirit?”
Really, it’s for two reasons. One is because we’re committed, as a ministry, to talking about your relationship with God. We don’t think your marriage and family can be all that it is meant to be unless your relationship with God is what it’s supposed to be. In other words, for your [horizontal] relationships to be working right, your relationship with your Heavenly Father has to be working right.
That really leads to the second reason we are talking about this—because couples need to understand the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives in order for their marriages to be all that God wants them to be—in order for us to function, as parents, the way God intends for us to function. So, there really is a marriage and family purpose behind what we’re talking about here today.
I mention that just because so many of you, who invest in this ministry—you really share with us this passion for this kind of conversation about the spiritual dynamic of marriage and family. That’s what FamilyLife Today is all about. We want to say, “Thanks,” to those of you who have supported this ministry in the past. Today’s program would not have been possible without that financial support.
So, if you’d like to make a donation to help support the ministry, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”, and make an online donation. If you do, we’ll say, “Thank you,” by sending you a couple of CDs that feature a conversation we had recently with Mark and Grace Driscoll—talking about real marriage and what that looks like—some of the issues they’ve faced in their marriage.
You can also make a donation by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY. When you make a donation over the phone, ask for the CD from the Driscolls; or write us a note. Say you’d like those CDs from Mark and Grace Driscoll. Include a donation and mail it to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue our conversation with Francis Chan about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We will talk tomorrow about what it means to be filled with the Spirit. I hope you can tune in for that.
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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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