Walking by the Spirit
About the Guest
Are you walking in the flesh or by the Spirit of God? Pastor Francis Chan, author of the book Forgotten God, talks about the exciting lives believers can have when they completely surrender to the Spirit of God. As Chan explains, the Holy Spirit is like our own GPS system. He leads and directs, and it's our job to keep in step with Him. How do you know it's the Holy Spirit leading and not your own thoughts?
Pastor Francis Chan talks about the exciting lives believers can have when they completely surrender to the Spirit of God.
Walking by the Spirit
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, February 28th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. What does it look like for a person to really be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit? We are going to spend some time unpacking that today with Francis Chan. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I just got in trouble because I asked to see a picture of our guest’s wife. [Laughter] Let me just explain why I did this. Okay?
Dennis: Yes. Why don’t you explain this, Bob?
Bob: In your book, Crazy Love—
Bob: This is, by the way, our guest—Francis Chan—back with us. Welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Francis: Thank you.
Bob: In your book, Crazy Love, you share an illustration about people seeing your family picture—and seeing your wife and going, “How did you get her?”—right?
Francis: Exactly: “It just doesn’t fit. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Bob: So, as soon as you share the illustration, I’m going, “Well, I want to see a picture of the guy’s wife;” but I realized it is not right to say, “I’d like to see a picture of your wife and see if she is really hot.” [Laughter] I’ll just take your word for it!
Dennis: I’m looking at his book that we are talking about in the broadcast here, again today, Forgotten God. They forgot Francis’ picture—himself there.
Bob: That is a marketing issue. They thought the picture would not help sell the book. [Laughter]
Francis: Exactly; exactly. It kind of hurt the sale of Crazy Love.
Dennis: Well, Francis is a pastor. He is a husband to his wife, Lisa—three daughters and a son. We have been talking about the forgotten God, and that is the Holy Spirit. I went on my Facebook® and mentioned, earlier this week, that I wanted people to describe Him in one word. In a second, Bob, I am coming to you for your word; okay? But I had some really good words—Francis—that people gave. See if you don’t like this one from Rebecca: “Relentless.”
Francis: That is great.
Dennis: Isn’t that a great word—
Dennis: —to describe the Holy Spirit? Another one came: “Meshing.” The idea of—
Bob: Not moshing?
Dennis: —connecting us with God. Dave wrote: “Molding,”—molding. Dawn said—and I like this one: “Alluring,”—alluring. And then, the last one I’ll share is by Terry—
one word: “New-start.”
Dennis: Isn’t that good?
Francis: That is beautiful.
Dennis: What is yours, Bob?
Bob: Well, you are not going to like it; but my word is, “Parakaleo.” I just went right to the Greek and came up with it.
Francis: Oh, wow. You are really spiritual.
Bob: Thank you.
Dennis: He is reallyspiritual.
Francis: Brilliant. [Laughter]
Bob: Actually, I thought of two things. I thought of Paraclete; and I thought of pneuma, which are both biblical words. Let me explain why I thought of those.
Dennis: In the original language—let’s just clarify that.
Bob: Paraclete. You know, when you stop and think about a parasite—what is a parasite? It is something that attaches itself to you and sucks the life out of you. A Paraclete is something that attaches itself to you and breathes life into you—gives life to you. The Holy Spirit is not a parasite—He is a Paraclete. He attaches Himself to us and gives us life.
Of course, the other word, pneuma—which shows up—it can be either “wind” or “spirit” in the Bible.
It is breath. It is life. So, you ask me what my word is—I guess the simple word is to say it is “life.” The Holy Spirit is life. Apart from the Spirit of God, there is no life. Where the Spirit is, there is life; right?
Francis: There should be life!
Bob: How did I do? Pastor, did I do okay?
Francis: That is beautiful. That is wonderful! Wow! I’m impressed.
Dennis: He got out of that in a hurry; didn’t he?
Francis: Yes, he did.
Dennis: He actually cheated and gave two words, though. Did you notice that?
Francis: I noticed that, too. Then, he ended up with another one, “life.” You know, why didn’t you say, “Life,” to begin with?
Dennis: There you go.
Francis: He wanted to show off his knowledge. [Laughter] That is not of the Spirit. That is arrogance. [Laughter]
Bob: No. I repent! Knowledge puffeth up!
Francis: Exactly. There you go.
Dennis: Well, we are talking about the Holy Spirit, though, and helping listeners understand Him—who He is, why He came, His work in a believer’s life—and, for that matter, in an unbeliever. You said you had a story of a couple—that if we have somebody, right now, who is listening, who is outside the faith—this might encourage them.
Francis: Exactly. Because this is what should—you use that word, “alluring.”
This is what attracts us about God—is when you see a life completely changed. Mike was a guy who came to our church. He only came in order to bother his ex-wife. In other words, they had been divorced for seven years.
This guy—the reason his wife left him was because he cheated with one of the neighbors. Then, he cheated with the neighbor on the other side. I mean, just a mess of a guy. He will tell you the whole story—a good friend of mine. He comes to church because he found out that she started going to church. He would bring the kids on the off weeks, but he did it to bug her because she couldn’t stand seeing his face.
Dennis: To irritate her?
Francis: Yes, to irritate her. He goes, “That was my only motive—was to annoy her,” because he had so much bitterness toward her. But, as he was there, something happened. He started hearing the message. It opened his eyes, and he gave his life to the Lord. He comes in my office; and he goes, “Francis, you are going to think I am crazy, but—
“I believe God wants me to approach her and ask her out. It has been seven years that we have been divorced. I think I am supposed to remarry her. Do you think this is crazy?” Part of me is going, “Yes, but I have also read the Scriptures.” I told him—I go, “Mike, God has done crazier things in Scripture.”
Sure enough, I had the honor of doing their remarriage—just this transforming nature of the Holy Spirit—what He can do in a person’s life to put together, not just struggling marriages, but even marriages that have ended. You talk about—what is it?—“New birth,” or “New life,” or whatever that word was?
Francis: New-start. That is exactly it. It is never too late. I don’t think people really understand that. God wants to take people who feel like it is too late. God wants—this is His pattern—what does He do? He gets the people to the edge of the Red Sea and go, “We’re dead.”
“No, no, no. Now, I’ll save you.” He gets people where they are starving and go: “No, just watch. I’ll make manna appear.” He loves to do that. He loves to put Jesus in the tomb and say: “Okay, it’s over. It’s done.” “No, it’s not. Watch what happens!”
Bob: One of the things you are helping us do, as we talk about this—or, at least, helping me do—is redefine supernatural. Because when we think of something being supernatural—at least, I generally think of: “Here are the laws of nature. Supernatural means going against the laws of nature.” So, flying—for me to fly is supernatural.
Dennis: Walking on water.
Bob: Yes, or food appearing out of nowhere. That is supernatural. But there is another sense of the supernatural. Our nature is a depraved, selfish, self-focused nature. What the Holy Spirit does is—He changes our nature.
What you describe—with this couple coming back and this guy saying, “I know this sounds weird, but I want to ask her out,”—well, that was against the nature he’d been displaying. That was a supernatural moment.
We really have to stop and realize when God takes selfish, sinful, self-absorbed people and puts a new heart in them, there is something supernatural when they display kindness, goodness, gentleness, graciousness, faithfulness, all of these things—that’s supernatural.
Francis: Yes, because the Bible says that we were dead. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were enslaved to them. We could do nothing but sin. And then, suddenly, we’ve been given this power to put to death—Romans 8 says, “…to put to death the deeds of the flesh.” Wow. I can overcome these things I was never able to overcome before.
Dennis: In fact, I want to take you to Galatians, Chapter 5.
Galatians 5 is just a great passage where it talks about how the deeds of the flesh—which is what you were just talking about there—and the fruit of the Spirit are contrasted with one another. Here is what I want you to comment on, Francis. It says, here in verse 16, “But I say, ‘Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.’” You will not carry out the deeds of the flesh.
The phrase, or the word, that I am focusing on here is the word, “walk”—walk by the Spirit. What does it mean to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit day by day?—because we talked about, earlier, there is one baptism of the Holy Spirit that occurs at the point in time a person places his faith in Christ and he is forgiven of his sin. The Holy Spirit comes and indwells him. It doesn’t mean He controls him and that that person is empowered by Him.
Now, that we come to this word, “walk by the Spirit,” help us understand what that means.
Francis: Yes. Some Bibles say, “Keep in step with the Spirit.” It is a step by step—it’s not just a one-time action, but you continue in it. Remember, He is a person. He is a person who leads and directs. We have to constantly be saying, “Holy Spirit”—like right now, I should be saying, “What do You want me to say right now?”
Then, five minutes from now: “Holy Spirit, what do You want me to do? What do You want me to say?” because He is a person. I don’t want to make this silly; but it is almost like a GPS system that says: “Okay, now turn right. Now turn left. Now…” It is that type of ongoing direction that we should seek from Him.
Bob: It is a practice of the awareness—the presence—the Spirit is with you. Not ignoring that—not wearing headphones that tune Him out—the noise-cancelling headphones—
Bob: —but instead, saying, “He is here.
“I need to be constantly consciously aware.” I am thinking of the old classic book, Practicing the Presence of God. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us. We need to practice the reality that He is with us, here in the studio, indwelling all of us.
Dennis: Yes, and He does lead us. That is one of His functions of what He does, as a person. He guides and controls us, as individuals. You write, in your book, Francis—that at times, we can reverse roles and try to lead the Spirit.
Francis: Exactly. I think we do that with—we do that with God. We want to control God and tell Him what we would like to see Him do. Which, you know, God does tell us: “Tell Me your desires. Tell Me what you want. Pray for the things that you desire.” But, ultimately, we are called to follow Jesus in the same way we are called to follow the Holy Spirit and keep in step with Him. We are not asking, “Holy Spirit, keep in step with me,” but—
“Let me walk and keep in step with You.”
I love the promise of that. It says, “…and you will not gratify the flesh.” You will not gratify the desires of the flesh because you can’t do both at once. You can’t say, “Holy Spirit, what do You want me to do?” and start pursuing that—you won’t sin at the same time. It is when you stop walking in the Spirit that you start going with your own spirit—what you desire and what you would want to do in that moment.
Dennis: So, a mom of a teenager—the teenager flies off and gets angry and tries to pull the mom off into an emotional mud puddle.
Dennis: That mom can be filled with the Spirit—
Dennis: —and not end up matching emotion for emotion with the teenager.
Francis: If, at the moment, she prays and says, “Lord, how would You want me to respond right now?” But typically we don’t. We react in the flesh.
Dennis: It is so easy to do.
Francis: It is. It is!
Dennis: It comes naturally [Laughter]—
Dennis: —not supernaturally, as Bob mentioned earlier. You know, I think the word, “supernatural”—
back to that point for just a moment. What we are really talking about here is—God invading our lives on a day-in and day-out basis and us experiencing Him.
God does speak to people today. Now, I am not talking about giving them books that need to be the next book of the Bible; but I do believe God guides. He puts impressions upon us. He does lead, and direct us, and may, at times, say things to us where we just need to go back and say something to the guy at Starbucks®.
Bob: Let me unpack this a little bit with you because there are some folks who are a little nervous with what Dennis just said. You know the reason why—because there are people, running around, saying—well, I remember a guy walking up to a car dealer and putting his hands on the car and said, “God told me that you should give me this car.”
You go, “Well, I’d like to see the chapter and verse on that.” And he says, “Well, God just spoke to my heart.”
So, how do we deal with this idea that the Spirit is speaking to us? How do we know the voice of the Spirit—if, in fact, that is happening today?
Francis: Well, the Bible says to test the spirits—to see what is truly of Him. So, every time we believe that the Lord is leading us to do something—what I do is run through the grid of Scripture. He is not going to deny something that He said earlier.
For example, in the Corinthian church, Paul says: “Listen, some of you guys are saying Jesus is accursed; and you are saying that the Holy Spirit told you that. There is no way because that contradicts the Scriptures.” He tells us, “Test the spirits.” So, there are times like that when you sense the Spirit is telling you: “Go, speak to this person. Tell him about the love of God. Go to this place.” I have heard some really amazing stories that way—but test the spirits.
Dennis: You know what? That is a soapbox for me, right there. I personally believe there are all kinds of ministries that need to be started—
empowered, led, and driven by the laymen and women who are listening to this broadcast. I mean, not just tens of thousands—I’m talking hundreds of thousands and millions of ministries. I’m not talking about ministries that even have a name.
I’m just talking about ministries of kindness—to reach out to a neighbor whose marriage may be going through some valleys—reach out to a child who may be down the street or a friend of one of your kids. It is the idea of stepping into the spiritual battle, as laymen and women, and saying: “You know what? This battle is not just for Francis Chan, the pastor in Simi Valley, or for Bob Lepine, or Dennis Rainey. This battle is mine. I need to seize the moment and be there.”
You tell a story, in your book, about a guy by the name of Dave Phillips—, who sensed God calling him to—
who sensed God calling him to respond to the Holy Spirit and engage in ministry. In this case, it was a ministry with a name—I mean—he had to go do it full-time. Share that story with our listeners.
Francis: Yes. I don’t remember all the details—it is in my book—but basically, Dave, who started Children’s Hunger Fund—he just believed that God was leading him to start a relief agency and to care for those who are in need. So, he starts it out of his garage. Right after he starts it, the North Bridge earthquake takes place—right there in his backyard! So, immediately, he has this platform to give away all these things.
Then, he gets this phone call from some obscure place saying they need this certain drug and only two companies make it. It costs a fortune. They say, “All of these people are going to die if we don’t get this drug.” It is some 26-letter drug. He doesn’t even know what it means. He just writes down all of the letters. He says, “I don’t know how I am going to get this, but I will pray about it.” They prayed on the phone.
He hangs up. As he hangs up the receiver, the phone rings—he hadn’t even let go of the phone yet. It rings. It is some drug company—one of the two companies that make this drug. They ask him: “Would you have any need for this drug? Not only do we have a ton of it, but we will ship it anywhere in the world for you.” How do you explain that? How do you explain that outside of God?
Dennis: But it occurred because Dave was obedient to the Spirit’s prompting in leading him to begin to make a difference. There are some listeners who need to start ministries to orphans, to pre-marrieds, to marriages, to families. There are all kinds of ministries in local churches that need to be started, right now, by laymen—not held apart for the paid professional.
Francis: Here is the deal. Some of you are listening right now. When we talk about God’s will for these great things, you immediately think:—
“Okay, does He want me to start a relief organization? Does He want me to move to Thailand right now?” Now wait. Slow down; slow down. The Bible teaches—when we are faithful with little—then, He is going to entrust more to us.
Dennis: There you go. There you go.
Francis: I believe that the best thing that some of you can do, right now—because I agree with you, Dennis, there needs to be hundreds of thousands of people who are beginning these ministries.
I believe I would take this a step further. I would say, “Right now, could it be possible that the Holy Spirit wants you to maybe even stop listening?”—sorry!—“But maybe stop listening to us and maybe even, right now, God is leading you to go and do something—something small—that isn’t starting this major organization but keeping in step with the Spirit.” Maybe, wait until the broadcast is over—before the next show. [Laughter]
Maybe, you are supposed to just turn off the radio and go and do something, right now. If the Spirit is leading you to do that, do it. You will be amazed at what will come next, what will come next, what will come next;—
but you have to take that first small step of faith—just like Dave did. It is just like Abraham: “Just leave your country. I’ll tell you what is going to happen next.” You know, you won’t even get the whole plan right now; but just take this first step of faith.
Dennis: I like what you said. It is very simple. He who is faithful in little, much more shall be given to him. Start with what God has placed on your heart, and do that. Just be obedient today. Back to James, “Don’t be merely hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word.”
Francis: I was at a conference with college students. They were so fired up. I remember just telling them—I go: “Hey, if I told you, tonight, that: ‘Some of you could get on a plane with me, and we would go to Thailand, and try to rescue these kids; but we may lose our lives tonight,’ I bet you—some of you would come with me.” You see all of these heads nodding—“But you guys are insane. You would give your lives for the sake of the gospel.
I said: “But how many of you are willing to get up early tomorrow, and get on your knees, and pray to God, and read the Word? How many of you are willing to go back to your dorm room and speak a word to your friend?”
Sometimes, we want the large/huge, amazing splash—die-for-the-gospel moment. But my question is: “Why would God entrust you with that type of huge ministry if you are not faithful to even get on your knees and beg Him for the souls of your friends, right now?—if you are not faithful to get into His Word today?” In other words, it’s like, “We’ll do the BIG thing;” but why would He entrust us with the big things if we are not faithful in the little?
Dennis: I think our listeners, by now, have probably noticed that, this week, we have had a pastor and a shepherd in the studio with us, Bob.
Bob: A passionate pastor and shepherd. [Laughter]
Dennis: He just took over just a few minutes ago. [Laughter] We are going to wrestle it back from him and send him back to California. But you know what? It has been great to have you here, Francis.
I just wish you Godspeed and His favor upon you. Pray you’ll keep preaching this message and others—and hope you’ll come back and visit us again sometime.
Francis: Thanks, Dennis. It’s been a great time. Thanks—Bob.
Dennis: When you do, bring your daughter, Mercy, with you. We’ll teach her how to catch a catfish. [Laughter]
Francis: Yes. She would love that. [Laughter]
Bob: If our listeners want to catch a copy of your book, they can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. We have copies of the book available there. It is called Forgotten God. It is all about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I think it is a great primer for those who are not familiar with what the Bible teaches about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and a great reminder for those who may have looked at what the Scriptures teach before—but they could stand a refresher.
Again, the title of the book is Forgotten God. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy of the book from us. Order online if you’d like—FamilyLifeToday.com.
Or call to order Forgotten God by Francis Chan. The toll-free number is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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And with that, we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family can worship together this weekend. And I hope you’ll join us back on Monday.
We’re going to share with you some recent highlights of time we spent at sea with about a thousand couples on the Family Life Today Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. We’re just back from that. We’ve got some highlights that feature folks like Gary Chapman, and Crawford and Karen Loritts, and Dennis Rainey, and Alex Kendrick. We’ll share some of that with you next week. 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.
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