Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Crazy Love of Francis Chan

Another great book I read over the Summer was Francis Chan's "Crazy Love". He does a brilliant job in attempting to fathom the greatness of God's love for us. He contrasts this with how so many of us seem so complacent and lukewarm in our faith. Chan believes that if we truly grasped the awesomeness of God's love, that alone would motivate us positively to live for Him in all areas of our life. Chan also has some videos at that will accompany your reading. His video on the "Awe Factor of God" and "Just Stop and Think" were both very compelling videos that helped to set the stage for his book. I know for me that there is a big difference between reading about God's amazing love in comparison to experiencing His love. Probably one of the biggest breakthrough moments for me to experience God's love was when I went on the retreat weekend called "Walk to Emmaus" at the request of my pastor about 4 years ago. Going with my arm twisted behind my back and having low expectations, I was completely blown away by being overwhelmed by God's love for me. So as I read this book, it took me back to the feelings, emotions and thoughts of that weekend. I just know from my life that those spiritual "mountaintop" experiences are precious moments to cherish but there is so much of life that is lived in "the valley". So at times I wrestled a little bit with Chan's book, knowing that in my head I agreed with just about everything he said, and I recognized very specific times in my life where I was "overwhelmed by a relentless God", but I also know that I continually wrestle with my imperfections, sin, the mundane stuff of everyday life, and doubts. I am a work in progress where God is continually transforming me through His Spirit and just about everyday is a wrestling match between my will and His Will. But I am still climbing up the proverbial mountain as God creates in me a new heart day by day.

Favorite Quotes

Chan on our View of God: The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He's great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers. (p. 22)

Chan on the Irony about God: The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him must of the time. (p. 61)

Chan on the parable of the sower in Luke 8: My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sin, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it. Most of us have too much in our lives. As David Goetz writes (in "Death by Suburb), 'Too much of the good live ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually.' A lot of thinks are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God. . . Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it our slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?" (p. 67)

Chan on Commitment: Jesus's call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd. (p. 85)

Chan on Failure: In the midst of our failed attempts at loving Jesus, His grace covers us. Each of us has lukewarm elements and practices in our life; therein lies the senseless, extravagant grace of it all. The Scriptures demonstrate clearly that there is room for our failure and sin in our pursuit of God. His mercies arenew every morning (Lamentations 3). His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). I'm not saying that when you mess up, it means you were never really a genuine Christian in the first place. If that were true, no one could follow Christ. The distinction is perfection (which none will attain on this earth) and a posture of obedience and surrender, where a person perpetually moves toward Christ. (p. 88)

Chan on Love: Personal experience has taught me that actions driven by fear and guilt are not an antidote to lukewarm, selfish, comfortable living. I hope you realize instead that the answer is love. . . . Isn't that what brings Him glory - when believers desire Him and are not merely slaves who serve Him our of obligation? (p. 101)

Chan on Change: God wants to change us; He died so that we could change. The answer lies in letting Him change you. Remember His counsel to the lukewarm church in Laodicea? 'Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.' (Rev. 3:20). His counsel wasn't to 'try harder,' but rather to let Him in. As James wrote, 'Come near to God and he will come near to you' (4:8). Jesus Christ didn't die only to save us from hell; He also died to save us from our bondage to sin. In John 10:10, Jesus says, 'I have come that they may have live, and have it to the full.' He wasn't talking about the future. He meant now, in this lifetime (p. 103-104).

Chan on Comfort: But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through. (p. 124).

Chan on Christians: A friend of mine once said that Christians are like manure: spread them out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly. Which are you? The kind that reeks, around which people walk a wide swath? Or the kind that trusts God enough to let Him spread you out - whether that means going outside your normal group of Christian friends, increasing your material giving, or using your time to serve others? (p. 168)

Chan on the Holy Spirit: What really keeps me going is the gift and power we have been given in the Holy Spirit. . . . Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small. The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us. It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church. (p. 171)

Chan on Christians: The world needs Christians who don't tolerate the complacency of their own lives. (p. 172)


Overall this is really a great book for all to read - skeptics, complacent, lukewarm Christians as well as Christ-followers who are living their faith on the outside of their comfort zone. Chan excites his reader about the amazing depth of God's love for us and how if we truly grasp that concept it will forever change our lives as we just can not settle for a dull, bland, vanilla faith that just gets us by.

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