Popular author and speaker Francis Chan and his wife, Lisa, encourage couples to develop an eternal perspective on their marriage by discovering how God can use their relationship to impact others for His kingdom. (Part 2 of 2)
Francis Chan: I should be able to take bigger steps of faith every year, because one, I've seen the faithfulness of God, but secondly, I'm gonna be seeing God any moment. I don't want to be living this careful life, you know, as though He doesn't exist.
End of Recap
John Fuller: Well, the walk of faith can be challenging and you want to find your eyes open to see God in all of life, especially your marriage. And this is "Focus on the Family" with Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller and today, we're continuing our conversation with Francis and Lisa Chan, who've written the book, You and Me Forever.
Jim Daly: Francis and Lisa, welcome back to "Focus on the Family."
Lisa Chan: Thank you.
Francis: Thank you.
Jim: Hey, last time the discussion was so good, you know, John, I don't know if you would agree. He's sitting right in front of you (Laughter).
John: Yes, Jim.
Jim: It is just thought provoking about how we order our lives, what we're thinkin' about, what's the priority? I'm really concerned about it, because in so many ways, it's not just that, but we're looking at some monumental cultural shifts that are goin' on and a lot of people behind the scenes in Christian circles are so worried and so concerned.
Yet, what keeps resounding in my mind is, God's in control. He knows what He's doin'. Will you be faithful? And do kind of the things we talked about last time, which is, be filled with the Holy Spirit; love your neighbor as yourself. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. And I think when you're doin' those two things, whether in culture or in your relationship with your spouse or with your kids, there is something that the Lord does and it's like He shows up and He begins to take care of things.
Francis: Yeah, it's huge though. We gotta understand, it's when we take those steps of faith and I get terrified to take some of these steps. I mean, I want to play it safe. I want to be careful, but you look in Scripture and you go, no. It's when they trusted in God, you know, against all odds, that they saw the miracles happen.
And because I love my kids so much, I want them to experience that in my home. When we take those steps of faith and we see God come through, they get to experience it also and go, I want to follow that God. I walked through the Red Sea with my dad. I saw that happen. You know, it's those types of things where, I mean, you know, the world we live in is getting awful.
And so, think about the world our kids are growing up in. It's the nice little, "Hey, let's go to church, go to youth group, let's not swear thing." It's not gonna work for them in the future. They better have had some amazing experiences with God, where they saw the faithfulness of God while they were under your care, so that when they grow up, they go, "I want that. I want that kind of life."
Jim: Wow, I mean, that opens up a whole bunch of questions for me, which Lisa, you've gotta represent moms out there, 'cause a lot of husbands and fathers, Francis, hear what you're saying. There is something in our heart that resonates with it. I'm sure it's why you're a best-selling author. There is that desire, that edginess, that let's trust God without reservation and then you stop and you go, wow. Okay, can I really do that? And you start backin' up from that thrill, that commitment.
And in the wife's context, the mom's context, Lisa, you know, I'm just putting in (Laughing) for Jean and for me. You know, she usually is the safe person. She's the one saying, "Make sure their bicycle helmets are on." And you put that in a spiritual context, you have this conflict sometimes in marriage as parenting requires, where you've got dad saying, "Let's risk it." And you got mom saying, "How could you say that? These are our children." Let's risk bringin' a foster child in.
Now in this case, Jean is the one and I'm the more concerned one on the safety of our own children. Speak to that instinct, Lisa, to be a little more cautious, typically I don't want to stereotype, but for a woman and a mom to be more cautious in the environment and husband willing to, you know, charge ahead for the Lord no matter what.
Jim: And that means bringing somebody into the home that maybe is uncomfortable. You've done it.
Jim: What are your thoughts?
Lisa: Well, my thoughts are, I hate fear. I tell the Lord that all the time. I hate it that I'm afraid and that I'm anxious and that I think about everything that could go wrong. You know, I want to start with faith and with trust and with love for God that's so big that it swallowed, my love for my children is swallowed up in that love for God, but that's not typically where it is.
I do have to fight against that need to protect and preserve and keep them from any harm. I mean, it is hard to watch your children suffer or sin or go through hard times. There is nothing worse as a parent. You know, you understand the heart of God when He says, "You know, you can grieve Me. You grieve My Holy Spirit when you sin." And we know what that's like when our children are not walking with Him.
And there's this part of you that wants to believe you can shuttle them into this protective little bubble and nothing bad will ever happen and it's just not true. I think it's another lie of the enemy that he uses against us women because we are emotional creatures and he just lies to us, that we can somehow protect them from danger and from death and we've seen God take children's lives. We've seen God allow children to experience hard things.
So, at the end of the day, we better have some really good theology and really good faith in who our God is and knowing that He truly will cause all things to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. We have to have our mind so set and trusting on who God is. That's all I can say, because we are going to be given to our own fear all the time and it's not going to help you.
Jim: Francis, respond to that, because you're dad.
Jim: I mean, when you say, let's bring a foster child into the house or let's bring a stranger into the house—
Francis: Oh, gosh.
Jim: --which you guys have done and you're thinking of your 8-year-old and your 11-year[-old] and I'm asking this question in a selfish way, because Jean and I are in the middle of this discussion right now about where we're at with our kids and bringing other children into the house, even for a while or for a longer period of time.
And at first, she was the cautious one; now I'm the cautious one and she's the gung-ho one and I'm going, "Okay, Lord, where are we in this?" But I'll give you an example. We have an opportunity to bring a young boy in, very young, but he's already smoking marijuana.
Jim: And that's one of the things that he's acting out in that way. And I'm saying, "Jean, I mean, for my boys, Trent and Troy, I don't want that right there so readily available." This is a good real-time discussion. Am I wrong to say, okay, now's not the moment; let's wait? Or should I be gung-ho?
Francis: Well, that's so difficult, you know (Laughing) again, it's based on the situation. I mean, there are times where I, as a dad and as the protector, that I got scared, you know. I mean, three years ago I had a guy move in with us, I mean, straight out of prison. I met him as he was coming out of the halfway house. I mean, a scary-looking guy after 12 years in prison and I'm goin', I see the Holy Spirit in him though and I'm supposed to treat him like a brother. And in this situation, I think we're supposed to invite him to live with us. Man, at that time, we had four or five girls, you know, and I'm just thinkin', what am I doing as a dad? We've always had people live in our house, but they're usually guys I could beat up. (Laughter)
Panel: [All talking at once]
Francie: Oh, man, he would kill me, you know. And so, I'm terrified, but then you go, gosh, when I look in Scripture, if this is something which I truly believe God was calling me to do, man, you look at the story of the 12 spies. There's 10 of 'em that are going, "No, these giants, there's no way; there's no way." And they just cause everyone's hearts to melt with fear.
But there were two, you know, Joshua and Caleb. No, we can do this. We can do this and so, the way God looked on those two with favor, like now you know what? You have that faith. You have that courage. You're gonna see the Promised Land.
And I believe that's what we've seen in some ways is, when we got beyond those fears like Lisa said, when we were pretty sure about God's calling, you go, wow, we saw the Promised Land on the other side. You go, whoa! What would've happened if we hadn't done that, if we didn't take in that foster daughter or if we didn't take in that guy and his family or this person? Look at where they're at now. I feel like we're in the Promised Land in that sense of God let us see it, because we had that faith.
Jim: Well, and it's great. You've given me the kind of the icing on the cake, but what you said about meeting that man coming out of prison, I want to know when you went home to talk to Lisa (Laughter) and you said, "Hey, honey, guess who I invited home tonight."
Jim: How did you respond to that?
Lisa: Well, I had been living with this man for a long time (Laughter), my husband and so, it was not that shocking at that point and we were doing ministry in a very rough area in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, going into these SRO buildings, speaking with a lot of people who had drug history, addictions. It was a hard ministry.
And so, when we met him, you know, Francis brought him over to the house and I can only explain it by saying it's true. We saw the Holy Spirit in him and that's what alleviated [my fears]; it was a God thing. It was a God moment, like yes, I want you to invite Him into your home. And so, we did it joyfully at that point and I think, you know, when you take steps of faith and you see God's faithfulness over time, those first few are scarier, but the more you learn to walk, it's just like a toddler, right, they're so shaky in the beginning and they fall down and get back up and pretty soon they learn to keep walkin' and taking their strides.
And you know, the thing that I really feel like the Lord wants me to say is, it's very easy to make our decisions and start our decisions with what we're afraid of, rather than what God wants us to do. And to me, how can we call ourselves Christians if we're not willing to say, "I will do anything, God, if You ask me to do it." Then it doesn't matter what I'm afraid of. It doesn't matter what I think might happen. It doesn't matter that I can come up with all these terrible scenarios. What matters is, "God, are You asking me to do this?"
Lisa: And that's where Christians have [to] like man up and woman up, like don't call yourself a Christian and then not be willing to surrender to what God asks you to do.
Jim: Wow, those are, I mean, those are powerful words, Lisa and I mean, we all want to do that and I think this is one of the reasons, Francis, you speak to a lot of young people, you know, young Christian groups, 20-somethings--
Jim: --they're feeling a disconnect with the Word and then how they've seen their parents or, you know, those relatives or friends who are older not live it so well and maybe even their own friends and themselves not live it so well. And their hearts are churning, 'cause they want to see something real like you're talkin' about, Lisa, where it says this in the Word and this is how we behave. I guess the question would be, why is there such a disconnect? And is there a rekindling and awareness coming that the Lord is bringing about for us to act more like the One we love?
Francis: Yeah, I think that young people are looking at the Word and they're goin', gosh, they lived lives of adventure and I see this older generation living lives of protection and fear, just like the rest of the world, like how are they different from unbelievers, the people in the church? They're just as scared about this and this and this. They're not believing that God's gonna provide.
But part of it is, this younger generation, I love that way of thinking, but they don't understand how much more difficult it gets to live by faith the older you get, because when I'm 21, all I'm risking is my life, okay?
Francis: When I get married, now it's like I'm bringin' my wife, whom I love into this. God, You better come through. That's much more difficult [situation] and then you start having one, two, three, four, five, six, seven kids and you 're going, "Okay, I'm not alone in this. God, You've gotta come through." It's a lot more difficult to risk later on in life and that's why people don't do it and that's what this younger generation is seeing. It's like, gosh, the older you get, the safer you play it and I don't want to live that way.
And I'm trying not to live that way. I'm going, you know what? I should be able to take bigger steps of faith every year, because one, I've seen the faithfulness of God, but secondly, I'm gonna be seeing God any moment. I don't want to be living this careful life, you know, as though He doesn't exist. When Jesus returns, He wants to know, will I find faith?
And so, I want to be like that Caleb, who's 80-something years old goin', "No, I could do it at 40 and I can do it at 80." You just don't hear that anymore. Well, God, by Your grace, can I be that man that keeps living by faith? Can I lead this family into this adventure? And I think the young people are longing for people that are further along in life that are still living by faith, rather than constantly playing defense in that protection mode.
John: Well, some very challenging insights about living the Christian life, about being consistent in our faith and being adventurous, not just in our walk with God, but in our walk with our mate, as well, as we talk to Francis and Lisa Chan on today's "Focus on the Family."
And there's a whole lot of good stuff in their book, You and Me Forever and if you missed our discussion last time, please get ahold of the CD or the download and get a copy of this book at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or when you call 800-A-FAMILY.
Jim: Francis, we left off last time about your 20th anniversary story and that we were gonna share it or you're gonna share it. (Laughter) Go ahead and tell that story. What happened on your 20th anniversary that kind of, you know, was an eye opener for you?
Francis: Well, I think it was one of those things where Lisa and I look at over our 20 years of marriage and go, gosh, the greatest moments are those times when we go serve the Lord somewhere and so, rather than just going on an anniversary trip, you know, to Hawaii or something, which [there is] nothing wrong with that. It's just, let's do something that we're gonna just love and you know, look back and cherish and like, let's go with my buddy. You know, we've been supporting him.
He's in Africa and he just finds the poorest of the poor—people who are literally starving to death, I mean, days away from death and rescuing girls out of the red-light district, who have been sex trafficked for years, have no way out. I said, "Well, let's go with him. I mean, what a great way to celebrate 20 years." And we've never regretted those types of trips and Lisa was all for it and go[es], "Let's do it."
And so, we just had an amazing time. You know, and it's not this, woo hoo! What a blast! You know, it's just like this life-giving of there's such a great joy when I mean, you're filled with pain when you see their condition, but then there's just so much joy in thinking, man, I fed her. We got her in a feeding program. She's gonna live!
You know, or that girl, we got her out of that mess and she's out of that hell she was living in and we got a piece of that. And those are the things that stick with you the rest of your life, where it's just so much more blessed to give than to receive.
Jim: It absolutely is and the thing about it, is when you're doing those things, it's actually building your faith up. It builds your heart up. You feel the presence of the Lord when you're doing those things. But Lisa again, your 20th anniversary, you know, wives are goin', well, man, wouldn't it be okay to just go and celebrate and have a little romantic time? And I'm sure that's fine as you said, Francis, but a woman's heart sets the tone for that. I mean, Francis can come in and say, "Hey, we've so enjoyed doing this; what do you think?" I mean, that sort of man is actually laying out there for the 20th anniversary, "Shall we go do this?"
Jim: You set the tone. I mean, you're gonna say yes or no. What would you say to that woman to dig a little deeper and say, "Well, think about what brings you joy?" Is that what you would say? What would you say to the woman who immediately responds with, "I'd like to go take a break. I'd like to go to Hawaii" and not feel guilty about it and I'm sure again, it's okay, but what would you kinda challenge her with if you were at a women's Bible study, just 10 women and you?
Lisa: Well, I also feel like I'm so grateful that we have been given the opportunity to go overseas. Like I had said originally, I didn't go with him on his first trip to Africa many years before our 20th anniversary, but I was able to go with him a couple years after that.
And so, to me, when it says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good," it's when you get a taste of the Lord, you get a taste of His goodness, you get a taste of His character by being able to love on people and like Francis said, feed a child that you just want to wrap your arms around and bring home with you and save, nothing compares to, you know, the hour long massage that, okay, that was awesome and I like to do that, too and relax, but man, we're talking about the difference between a temporary moment of happiness, versus a moment of joy that will last your whole life and will have eternal impact.
Lisa: So, you're looking at a temporary joy and trading it for, sometimes trading it for an eternal reward—
Lisa: --and a joy that's so deep. So, I say, you know, it's not a problem to have our fun happy moments, but it is time to dig a little deeper and pursue something that's greater and bigger than what you consider to be just your own pleasure. I think you'll actually be amazed at how much more excited you get about the Lord.
Jim: Conversations tonight are gonna happen, 'cause people have heard you talk. They're gonna go home, husband and wife. They're gonna say, "Hey, we need to rethink some of what we're doing. Are we "missionally" minded, like you've said or are we about being happy and having a, maybe a great marriage, but what are we doin' for the Lord?" And I so appreciate that conviction, but how do you start that process when you come home tonight and say, "You won't believe what I heard on 'Focus on the Family.' What can we do to play out our faith in a more proactive way?" And the spouse says, "Well, honey, I'm kind of in a good place."
Jim: How do you go to that next step?
Francis: You know, a lot of times I am surprised when I bring something up to Lisa and how the Holy Spirit was stirring in her at the same time. And I think there is something about unity in Spirit-filled people. That's why I say, no Spirit-filled couple has ever divorced. There's only one Spirit and so, you really have to look at your own life and go, okay, am I following the Holy Spirit of God right now? And there should be unity, if the both of you are.
And if there isn't, then it's like, well, let's pray. Let's make sure we're both surrendered. Let's, you know and maybe I'm not seeing anything, both having the humility to do that. But I praise God. I hope discussions start, because we oughta start somewhere. At least talk about it and you may be surprised how the Holy Spirit is moving your partner at the same time.
Lisa: You know, and there's nothing stopping you individually from following the Lord's conviction in your life. Obviously, God means for the husband and wife together to serve Him and like Francis said, be unified but in the case where, let's say there's a believing woman or man married to a non-believer, what then?
There's people right in your neighborhood. There's the widow that needs you to help mow their lawn. There's the single man who, I think of John. We used to bring him an extra plate of food all the time, send the kids over. Go bring this to Mr. John. He needs some food.
There's just ways to be outward and we invited Shirley over, our elderly neighbor and she would come have chili with us and play games and it's like, let's just reach out and love people. It doesn't have to be, oh, my gosh, we've never been to Africa. Okay, maybe the Lord has that in your future, but what about right in your neighborhood? Start praying, Lord, let me sensitive to who I need to serve and love today. Have your eyes opened. God will show that to you, because if that's your heart's desire and that's your prayer, there's no way God is not going to answer that and there is always someone that needs you and needs your help and needs you to bless them. So, start somewhere. Start in your own neighborhood.
Jim: Yeah. Hey, as we're comin' in, I appreciate the vulnerability that you guys have shared and where you're at and the book, You and Me Forever, talking about the importance of marriage, but the importance of looking outward and trusting the Lord. Those have been the big themes.
But and it may sound like a downer, but I think so many of us would learn so much, when you look at failure, Francis, for you, 'cause everything that you've shared, you know, I don't feel like I'm Francis Chan. The guy's incredible. He's got all this energy. And so, in terms of failure for you, what does that look like? What do you think challenges you in that direction?
Francis: Oh, man, my failures are still based upon my fears. I get afraid. There's times when I know the Lord wants me to talk to someone, share the Gospel with them and I just clam up. I go, gosh, I don't want to say anything, Lord. I mean, there's so many failures and it's almost always that lack of initiative, that lack of taking that first step out of my fears, out of, you know, getting out of my comfort zone
And so, I can share stories of, gosh, the time I finally did it and how happy I was afterwards. But for every one of those, there are many where it's like ah! God, are You really come through? And that's … it's tough, but I will say and I hope people can hear this. Man, anything good that's happened in my life, it's just a miracle of God's grace.
And He has given me the faith at times to take these steps of faith and I think one of the things that Lisa and I hate the most is when people go, "Oh, well, that's you. You're Francis and Lisa." Well, what does that mean? You know, like you think I'm not terrified at times? You think there aren't days that I want to quit? You know, I have to remind myself everything in the Bible and if there's one thing I could tell people that are listening right now, is read the Bible. Read it; read it; read it; read it. Get alone. Read it. What does it say? Don't listen to my words, 'cause I am getting everything from this Book that is telling me to live this way and to suck it up at times and go, could [you] just take another step.
And then other times rejoice in the victories, but I just praise God for His Word that tells me, don't conform to the way everyone else is living. Trust Me and you're gonna find life. Lay it down and that's been the story of our lives.
Jim: And it's so good to remember all those things. Lisa, as that wife and mother, that fear that is so persistent, speak to that as a mom and as a wife.
Lisa: Yeah, I feel like the thing that's been on my heart recently is, when Paul said, "If there's no resurrection from the dead, then we're most to be pitied." And sometimes I think, "Lord, in some ways, I want my life to look like that, like there's gotta be decisions we make and things we do that the world is going to look at as crazy and many people even in the church would call crazy."
But I would just challenge everyone to think through that. What about your life shows that if there was no resurrection from the dead, people would pity you for what you've gone through and what you've sacrificed and what you've given up and what you do without? And it's not about being a martyr. We do it out of our belief and our trust in who God is and we do it out of joy and out of love, but there's gotta be something about our life that is so different than the world.
And it is hard and sometimes it's lonely to feel like where are even the other people in my church that are gonna live like this, are gonna take in orphans or live in a tiny little home when they could afford so much more? There's some loneliness in it and sometimes little moments of jealousy, like well, look at how these other people are living? Do they not feel the conviction of the Spirit in their life?
You know, but no, we just press on and we keep staying true to what we know is in God's Word. And at the end of our life, we want to say, man, I'm so thankful for the resurrection. I'm so thankful that here we are in heaven and God's saying, "Come in and now enjoy everything I have for you."
Jim: Well, and it's so important to remember that core call and that core conviction. I feel like if, like the Early Church, if we did the things that we should do that line up with Scripture, taking care of the widow and the orphan, taking care of these girls that are in sex slavery, all the things and many, many Christians are doing it, but think of millions of Christians doing it. If we want to change this nation like the Early Church changed Rome, it's action.
Francis and Lisa: Uh-hm.
Jim: It's not argument; it's action and I am so blessed to have you guys here. Thanks for talkin' about the way that we should go and your book, You and Me Forever, love the title. Thanks for being with us.
Lisa: Thank you.
John: Well, there's so much in this book. I'll encourage you to get a copy today when you donate at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
And then call us if we can be of assistance. There are some family situations, maybe something prompted by today's broadcast, there's a certain question you have to ask your spouse and you just can't get there. Or you're up against a parenting challenge and you don't know where to turn. Call us and we'd be happy to tell you about the videos, articles, resources that we have and ways that you can support this family outreach, as well. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459.
And today, when you donate generously to the work of Focus on the Family, it'll be our privilege to send along a copy of the book by the Chan's, You and Me Forever, which you can use in your own marriage relationship or perhaps to pass on to a neighbor, a friend or a relative. Select that book as your thank-you gift when you donate at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we once again, help your family thrive.
Featured Broadcast Resource
Receive a copy of Francis and Lisa Chan's book You and Me Forever for your donation of any amount!Give Now (Available to U.S. residents only)
The God of the universe is crazy about you! His love is the most powerful thing in the world and He wants to give it to you, so you can live for Him.Buy Now
The Family Project small-group curriculum will help viewers embrace God's design for the family even as they grapple with their own brokenness and imperfection.Buy Now
Francis Chan discusses how having a marriage focused on a mission will require commitment and sacrifice, asking couples if their view of the future is big enough.Read more
Three marriage stories that will make you rethink everything.Read more
Francis ChanView Bio
Lisa ChanView Bio
Lisa Chan is a musician, a public speaker and the co-founder (along with her husband, Francis) of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, Calif. Lisa and Francis are co-authors of the book You and Me Forever. The Chans have seven children and reside in northern California. Learn more about Lisa at www.truebeautyfilms.com.