Francis Chan

Adventures in Faith

I Want to Die

Every week I get to a place where I'm desperate for the Word of God. Sometimes I don't get my fill and the desperation grows. I know that the longer I stay away, the more I'm doing things in my own power, in ways that make sense to me, and the risk of being outside of God's will scares me.

Eventually I succumb and collapse at the feet of God. He's so gracious He's always there to pick me up, invite me to sit on His lap, and gently instruct and guide me. 

The point is that there are so many forces pulling me away from God. Yet, I'm already tuned into His Word, I've had a taste, I've submitted my life to Jesus, and there is no turning back. But staying there, well, its a daily battle.

The further I go into my faith, the more I see the miraculous unfolding in and around me, the more intense the battle rages. I get emails now from people who say my words or prayers or something I did brought them healing, it stirred up their interest in Jesus. I know this is God, just my making myself available to Him in some small way.

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You'd think that with these kinds of things happening that I would be ever so committed. And in some ways I am, but in other ways I feel the opposing forces growing ever greater. I'm like the Stretch Armstrong doll being pulled to the limit, until I finally get the wisdom and courage to shout to the enemy "let go, out of here, in the name of Jesus!" Then I go springing toward the prevailing force, that of my savior. 

Is this all about shaking my hand free from the enemy that's trying to pull me away? I think that, rather, its about choosing the hand that is outstretched to me so fully that I no longer have an open hand to the enemy. 

This isn't easy. I mean, on one hand (excuse the pun) it IS EASY. But then again, no, it's not. This is a struggle because I am at war with my flesh. I am at war with the world. I become interested in the pleasures of the world. The comforts of it. Even the comforts of the church and what I see and hear preached.

Lord, help me, save me, show me YOUR WISDOM. Not the wisdom of men.

I saw this sermon by Francis Chan. This brother, well, just listen to what he says about the church in China. That desperation, that abandon of self, I crave that. I crave to give up my life for Jesus.

I was thinking this last night. Then I cracked open my Bible to pick up with my reading this morning, and the verse that I read is John Chapter 10. You should read it, anyway here's a verse that jumped out at me:

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
— Jesus speaking in Matthew Chapter 10, verse 17-18

So, here I am, sitting before my computer, and before God, and before you, and I'm asking, "What does it mean for me to die to myself?" I have a couple ideas, here they are:

  1. Die to wasting time with mindless activity, and replace it with studying God's word.
  2. Die to over indulgence and comfort that robs early morning hours in prayer.
  3. Die to the sense that I can manufacture success, and bathe every effort in prayer.
  4. Die to the obsession with my self and own image, and seek instead of build up others.
  5. Die to free spending on things I don't need, and give more money away.
  6. Die to my instinct to criticize, and instead practice holding my tongue.
  7. Die to shortness with my wife, and practice assuming the best and active loving her.
  8. Die to the apathy I have that God is moving and drawing people all around me.
  9. Die to my lack of focus on learning songs of praise and memorizing Scripture.
  10. Die to judging those who wrong me, and instead pray for and seek to bless them.
  11. Die to the lust of the flesh and focus heartily on my wife, purity, cleansing in the Word.
  12. Die to avoiding service to the church and rather build it up right where I am.
  13. Die to favoring quick and dirty responses to the issues of the day versus being rooted in the bigger picture and more sustained faithful efforts.

I've had a taste of most of these things at times, and it is gut wrenching. I have a sense about the direction God wants me to go, the direction he's pulling me toward. I've gone down these paths, sometimes only to turn around the other direction. Or I go but look back. Or I go and lament going for a time, I grumble. Or I go, and sometimes, I embrace the great escape, the freedom, the power of overcoming the world, overcoming my own self, overcoming death for life, and in doing so, the Gospel and my faith comes alive.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
— Jesus in John Chapter 10, verse 10

People Getting It Done

Why Francis Chan Is My Favorite Pastor

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When I was first coming into my faith, a guy told me to look up Francis Chan's YouTube videos. The first one I found (just below) had me watching his videos late into the night, very impacted by what he was saying, his emphasis on the profound meaning of Scripture often overlooked, and his sense of urgency.

When I moved to California, I learned that Francis lived in San Francisco, and it wasn't too long before I had a chance to hear him preach in person at a youth event. I realized then that what strikes me most about Francis is his urgency, the man does not want to waste a minute on this Earth. That, and a fear of the Lord, has driven this man deep into his faith, and his teachings have literally changed me as a person.

In November 2013, at the New Canaan Society San Francisco Weekend, Francis was set to speak again. I was eager to hear what he was going to say to a few hundred business guys packed into the opulent Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill. Francis looked to be under duress during his talk, he gazed to Heaven, at one point he knelt on the ground in prayer before the men. Here is what he said.

After this talk, I was struck silent. I walked back to my hotel room, not wanting to listen to another speaker or talk to anyone, I just wanted to get on the ground before God in prayer. I wanted to repent that I just keep doing things on my own terms, not surrendering to God the way I know he is calling me to do. As I walked to my room, coming from the other direction was my roommate, Charlie. 

Charlie and I entered the room one after the other, and I don't recall that we spoke a single word to each other. We put our things down, he in his separate room, me in mine. We soon realized we were both about to be on the floor in prayer, and so we joined each other. We called out to God and our prayers sounded similar. We prayed for maybe forty five minutes or so.

As we got up, we recognized there was a reason we were connected through this group, that we were sharing a room, that we both came back to pray. We offered to each other that while we are friends, we really only know about 70% of each other, at best. We agreed that we didn't want to leave this conference, and make nominal changes for a few weeks or months, to return to the same old way of doing things.

We made a commitment right then and there that we would work hard to get to know each other. And, more importantly, we would call each other every day or two to hold each other accountable to reading Scripture and to getting before God in prayer.

Over a year later, Charlie and I still talk a couple times a week at the minimum, pray together, reveal our struggles as much as anything, and encourage each other through life. There are times when we'd rather not reach out for all kinds of reasons, sometimes we are even annoyed at each other, but we both know that our relationship serves a higher purpose, that investing in the other isn't just about us, its about drawing closer to God, and glorifying Him. I think its fairly rare to have these kinds of real relationships among men, but I think when the Holy Spirit moves men get connected in a very strong way in relationships that bear great fruits.

I digressed there a bit into my personal story, rather than about Francis Chan and why he is "Getting It Done." Most recently, I had a chance to have dinner with Francis with about a dozen other guys. We were eager to hear what he's been up to with his "Crazy Love" project in the Bayview section of San Francisco. In a nutshell, Francis decided to start living church with a core group of brothers and sisters that are known by their love and their unity first, and then multiply from there.

He shared over dinner how they had multiplied a couple of times already, he told stories about how Christ's love is being expressed, and the way that everyday men and women are being raised up to teach and make disciples. In fact, Francis says he seldom preaches, since everyone is willing and able to preach and share together.

The question that came to my mind, which I asked Francis, is this, "Are the people who are coming into the church poor?" Francis said that they are. And then the follow-up question, "Can it work among the rich?" This is the million dollar question (ok, pun intended). So many of the disciple making movements that I hear about that have the characteristics of the early church we read about in Acts, people loving and caring for each other and being united, well, it mostly seems to happen among the poor. 

This lead to Francis talking about a project he feels led to, a partnership with a larger church in Silicon Valley called Abundant Life. The elders at Abundant approached him about going "all in" for the kind of love and unity Francis is seeking with Crazy Love. And so, Francis has an opportunity to try "it" on a larger scale, he's come on as an elder and is preaching there periodically. Needless to say, I'm going to be praying for his effort and keeping an eye on the progress for sure. Here is a sermon Francis gave at Abundant Life called "Giving God Our Best."

In closing, I just heard Francis talk, again at the New Canaan Society Conference in San Francisco. And while a good deal of his talk was directed at the men and movement of NCS, his boldness in speaking the truth, in only desiring to please God was evident. And, his message about defining the God we serve from Revelation Chapter 4 has already vastly changed the way I pray. As soon as the video is available, I'll post it here online. 

Don't stop Francis, fly far as on the wings of eagles brother!