I was first introduced to Francis Chan (Cornerstone Church) this past Fall, 2009 (not personally). Chan is a Non-Staff Elder & Teaching Pastor at the Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California. He is the quickly popular Christian author of the books “Crazy Love” and “Forgotten God”. I started attending one of our church’s Growth Groups with our Director of Student Ministries, Bill Balbach & his wife Shelly. The topic of the small group discussion was Chan’s “Crazy Love” book and the associated DVD for small groups.
It didn’t take many weeks to become comfortable with Chan’s DVD teaching style. I must say, it really didn’t feel like teaching but more as a friend talking to you with intriguing and from the heart comments. Helping foster a great small group discussion was our group itself. We had around 15 or so people, but everybody was very open and we were able to really dig in about the points Chan was brining up in his DVD chapters, which correlated to the chapters in his book. Therefore, that’s where I’ll start in my brief analysis of his 2 books.
“Crazy Love” is really the best thesis I believe Chan can use to describe the topic of his book. The various chapters, with titles such as “Crazy Love”, “Profile of the Lukewarm”, “When You’re In Love”, and “Who Really Lives That Way?”, all touch on an aspect of your life, trying to not necessarily break down walls, but explicitly have you give your relationship with God a thermometer test. Essentially, Chan pushes you to ask yourself: “Is my relationship with God all about a crazy love for Him, or is it just me trying to have a small piece of God to keep myself out of Hell?” Yes, Chan is continually up front about that thought, which for most, is not comfortable. Throughout the book, we’re forced to ask ourselves if we’re living as a sold out believer for Christ, and why or why not? Chan just doesn’t ask these questions or bring up stories to make you feel guilty, rather, he uses a great knowledge of the Bible to point out verses where Jesus calls us constantly to live for Him and Him alone. One of those such chapters are the aforementioned “Profile of the Lukewarm”. Chan doesn’t really beat around the bush here and lays out verses, all within their context too, about Jesus rebuking people for just wanting “enough” of Jesus, rather than giving all they have for Him.
One of the toughest things for any person to do is ask yourself tough questions and realize you fall short. As with me, at the beginning of our Growth Group discussion series, I was trying to justify (un-rightly so) my actions and my life. However, for true change to come about in any situation or philosophical mindset, one needs to be truly open to a possibility that one is incorrect. What I appreciated most about this book is that Chan didn’t come close to demeaning anybody, but rather encouraging us to live for Christ. The verses he used throughout the book also pushes you to learn how to really love God, rather than just telling you to do so.
You see, I have a mind of an engineer (just don’t ask me to build a bridge, maybe a great software application though!). I process information and analyze on a step by step basis until I come to a conclusion. It’s safe to say that’s how my relationship with God was formed also. I was and still am an unwavering believer, based upon solid evidence & rationale. I could read the verses and know what was “right” and what was “wrong”. However, my actions were dictated by a mindset that said if I do such and such a thing, I’ll go to Heaven, or I’ll go to Hell, and that was always my determining factor. Is this a true relationship? It seems, now as I look back on it, utter slavery. My relationship was more of a Yes/No attitude because He that is greater than me said so, but wasn’t one of utter love. The point I try to make is that, if you’re in the same position I was in, you’d ask yourself, well what does this mean to really love God, not just act a certain way because it’s the right thing to do? Chan challenges and points out time and time again through his book that a love for God grows, because it’s a relationship. You see through Bible verses, pointed out in the book, and real life experiences on the DVD that the closer you try to draw near to God, the closer He does come to you and the more you see Him in your life.
Essentially, as Chan excellently points out, your love for God grows because you choose to grow closer to God. Isn’t that how our personal relationships are, the more we draw closer to somebody, the more the love grows; a crazy kind of love.
“Forgotten God” is Chan’s follow up book to “Crazy Love”. I do use the phrase “follow up” loosely though because you don’t really need to read “Crazy Love” to really understand “Forgotten God”. Throughout the “Crazy Love” book and DVD, Chan talks of growing in your Love for God and the resulting actions you will choose to make for God. What “Forgotten God” does is scripturally show you how to draw closer to God via the Holy Spirit. The title of the book is, in my mind, cleverly named. Chan feels that our current church glosses over discussing the Holy Spirit because we don’t want to make it appear as if us Christian’s are too mystical and/or spiritual; thus, the least talked about aspect of the Trinity, the “forgotten” one, the Holy Spirit…the “Forgotten God”.
Just like “Crazy Love”, a DVD for small groups has just come out for “Forgotten God”. Unfortunately I haven’t watched it yet. However, I can imagine it’s similar to the 1st DVD. Chan is very real and authentic. He’s very passionate when talking and through his appearance and words, you know he truly believes in what he says. Each chapter of the DVD is from locations he personally uses everyday of his life: office, home, porch, grocery store. This real and authentic personality is one reason I believe so many people are drawn to Chan’s style of teaching of the Bible. I can only imagine the “Forgotten God” DVD is similar.
As for the book, Chan has some additionally well ordered titles such as “I’ve Got Jesus, Why Do I Need the Spirit?”, “Theology of the Holy Spirit 101”, “Forget About His Will for Your Life!”, and “Supernatural Church”. Unlike “Crazy Love”, at the end of each chapter, Chan has a follow up page or two putting the respective chapter into real life application by writing about people he knows or have read about that truly live their lives with the Holy Spirit guiding them day in and day out.
Now the meat of this book consistently talks about your love for God and how people who we know have a true and authentic love for Him are capable of doing great things; things we feel we could never do. However, Chan uses scripture to point out the awesome power of the Holy Spirit. A consistent process throughout the book is showing us the power that the Holy Spirit displayed in the early Christian church is still alive and capable today. Chan points out to us that Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for Him to ascend to Heaven so that the Spirit may come and live in us. Because of the great power of the Holy Spirit, we’re capable of doing things for God we never thought possible. Coupled with our love and the presence of the Spirit, Chan directs us to passages that show us we can and should not be afraid of the various tasks in our lives that God wants us to follow. With the Spirit of God living in us, we are shown that we are more than able to accomplish great things, not on our own, but through Him.
Obviously, you’d know I’d recommend both books. Whether you need a jump start in your relationship or are looking to do great things for God, both books will challenge and encourage you in your Faith.
Live like you’re Crazy!