On December 30th, 2013 Francis Chan addresses a crowd of over 30,000 people at the International House of Prayer’s annual OneThing Conference. There has been controversy in some camps as to his decision to join the event and speak. I want to break down the message that he shared.
This will be a longer post, but I hope that some of you will get something from it being abridged in writing that you wouldn’t have received with it just being posted as a video.
As I said in my previous post on this, Francis Chan was a great example of humility. He prayed,
“God, I don’t want anything coming out of my lips that doesn’t honor you. Speak through me. May I say anything you want me to say.”
Chan started off by admitting that this was the first time he has been to an IHOPKC event. He went online and said he thought, “Man, there’s a lot of good things going on there.” Rather than simply believing criticism, he chose to look more deeply at both sides and take this opportunity to share the message the Lord gave him.
I think that his coming speaks much about him and also about the leader of the IHOPKC movement, Mike Bickle. If Bickle was what some people make him out to be, it would have been potentially dangerous proposition to invite someone to like Francis Chan to address his ministry’s conference.
But the IHOP team not only invited Chan, but gave him free reign to speak what the Lord put on his heart. This should speak volumes about the leadership of IHOP and their confidence in following Jesus and the truth of God’s Word.
Many of my friends said they were left weeping and praying before the Lord. From my view, many people were praying with their heads down in response to the message. It was a message that I feel was well received by those in attendance.
So, what did he share? I will break it down into main headings and give you the highlights.
The Gospel: Am I Your Brother?
Chan started by saying,
“Let me share what I believe and then you can tell me if you believe I am your brother.”
He then went on to magnify God as the one who dwells in unapproachable light and is completely holy. He created each person with purpose but because of sin we were by nature children of wrath. He went on to say, speaking of Acts 17,
“It is not a coincidence that I am speaking to you right now. I believe this is God’s design.”
Eph 2: We were by nature objects of wrath. But God, because of his rich mercy…
He could have sent us all to hell, but he said I love them. I am going to have my one and only Son take the form of man.
Jesus praying in the garden said, Daddy, is there any other way? God looked at his son who was begging him. He watched his son nailed to a cross to pay for the sins that you and I committed.
The message that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost is for today. Repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to turn from our lifestyle and repent. We were dead and now we come to life.
There should be a huge difference when the Holy Spirit comes into your life. If you are a Christian and you look just like everyone else, that’s doesn’t make sense, according to this book.
I Tim 1:4: When the Holy Spirit comes into you, you should change. I look at your life and can see that you are changed. That’s how I know. We have that Spirit and that Spirit brings a spirit of unity among us.
Acts 4:32: believers were one heart and soul, great power and grace, no needy among them. I believe that can happen again today. Church where we look at each other as true family. The church can be like that again…and I see glimpses of it.
He gave the example of a friend who gave his kidney to a fellow church member that he barely knew. And he did it on his 20th wedding anniversary. Chan quipped, “Some people go to Hawaii!” “When the world sees that kind of love then the world will believe that you sent me (Jesus).”
- God is holy
- We were created for a purpose
- We sinned against God and deserved wrath
- God sent his son, Jesus
- He rose from the dead
- If you believe that…If you turned from your sin, you are filled with that same Holy Spirit
- That’s massive!
- We are his Bride where we love each other like family
- The world remarks when they see that kind of love
- Jesus will return one day for his bride.
- Existence- we will live where there is no more death!
- We will be with him forever.
That’s my belief system. So am I your brother?
“As your older brother there is something I want to share with you.”
Chan’s approach the the IHOP movement was one where he assumed they believed the true Gospel message (which they do) and reiterated it again in their hearing. (This was probably as much for the sake of his critics as for those listening.) He went on to address certain key issues that I felt were well received especially since they came from the heart and from a place of his own transparency and vulnerability. At the end, his message was one of loving and knowing God as first priority, which is a key main focus of the IHOP movement.
Bad Desires Leads To Bad Theology
Scripture: 2 Tim 4: 1-5
“I beg you to read this book. Study this book over and over and over again. Take 10 minutes a day and read this book this year. Conferences are great, but my greatest moments are with the Word.”
I hate reading. I would rather cuddle with a cat and I hate cats.
But I love Jesus and I want to know him and you can’t know him apart from this book.
Don’t just say, “Ah I just pray…I don’t”…. No, you’re lazy. Read the Word of God. Study the Word of God!
“We’re supposed to be students of this book. Read it over and over and over again. And don’t stray from the words in this book because people are going to lie to you. And sometimes in life you will actually want people to lie to you.
“Paul is telling us that there is coming a time when people are not going to want to listen to this book. They are not going to want to listen to sound doctrine instead they are actually going to want to be lied to. Stick to the book. Stick to the doctrine.”
“Bad desires lead to bad theology. So many times you just want something so you make the word of God fit what you want.”
He gives examples…
- You are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love Jesus. “I just want to be with this person…”
- What is marriage anyways? If we love each other what’s the harm?
- Is divorce really that bad? You find books to tell you its ok.
- Is there really a hell anyways?
“‘Wanting’ leads you down a path of bad theology. In the end times, it says that people will find people to lie to them. It’s always been this way.”
Follow God Above Any Other Leader
1 Kings 13:14-28 There is this man of God and this other prophet comes up to this man of God and lies to him. The man says an angel spoke to him that God changed his mind but he had lied to him.
This is the story of a man of God just trying to do the right thing, but because he doesn’t listen to the Lord he has some pretty bad consequences.
That would be like me hearing a word from the Lord then a guy like Mike Bickle, who is older- much older, (crowd laughs) and he tells me something contrary to what I heard from the Lord and I go “Ok, yeah, you’re Mike.”
Stand for Truth Even If You Are The Only One
There’s an even crazier story in 1 Kings 22: 1-23. The story of Jehosaphat. In v. 8 “there’s one more guy, Michiah. I hate him. He never prophesies anything good.”
A lying spirit is put in the mouth of all of the prophets by the Lord? That’s a scary passage isn’t it? 400 prophets were saying something and they were all lying in unison and there is going to be one guy that is standing up for the truth.
He asks, “Lord could I ever be that guy?” Is that the type of person you are? You spend so much time in the Word that you see right through it?
Test the spirits and hold to the good and the true. How can you know without this book? Study the word and do what it says.
Be Willing To Endure Hardship and Suffering
2 Tim 4:4 “As for you always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist…”
It doesn’t matter what everyone else does. In the work of an evangelist there is going to be suffering.
Chan shares how he has been out sharing his faith but not seeing fruit. He has been frustrated.
I was even seeing miracles, but not seeing people turn to Jesus.
I wanted to see revival. We all wanted to see revival. But God doesn’t always give revival. Is a life of rejection, revival?
Be Willing To Be Rejected
Isaiah Chapter 6:1-13
“Here am I send me?” We quote that verse a lot, but have you ever noticed what God says afterwards?
“I started this year feeling like a failure.” Is there sin in my life? It must be people on my team…one of you is in sin!
I started looking at these passages…and realized that the work of an evangelist is suffering.
If the world hates you, remember it hated me (Jesus) first.
Worship Jesus, Not Revival
I so wanted to see repentance and revival…which is a good thing.
“I realized I was worshipping revival and not Jesus.”
I was frustrated and couldn’t enjoy his presence in the midst of rejection and suffering.
I was seeing his presence but not seeing people turn.
Jesus says, “I will be with you until the end of the age”, but it doesn’t mean people will all turn.
He does say things like, “Blessed are you when they curse you and say all things against you.”
We must be lovers of Jesus and not just lovers of revival.
As you go out to start prayer movements, don’t get excited about the crowds, but that you get to be in the presence of Jesus
We want reival but don’t worship that…worship jesus.
I was reading Amos awhile back. Amos 7:12-17 People were getting angry with Amos. They said, “Go away and never again prophesy at Bethel.”
i love Amos’ attitude. He said, “I shouldn’t be doing this. I am a herdsman.” Do you think my dad was a prophet and I’m prophet junior? I am nothing. God saved me and told me to go out and speak up. It’s an honor.”
God says speak up for me. He says, “I’ll speak judgement. I will speak whatever.” I want that attitude God!: Amos’ attitude
The Spirit Gives Us Power To Be His Witnesses
God didn’t give us the Holy Spirit just to do tricks.
Jesus said, “you receive power to be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8-9
When I read those passages about “moving mountains” as a kid I went in my room and tried to do that stuff.
How many of you have tried to do that? haha. Look around. (many raising hands) That’s good, that’s good.
But these gifts of the Spirit are for the common good. For us “To be his witnesses.” As we go out, we experience the Spirit in a whole new way
Jesus promises to be with us when we are making disciples.
When Does God Really Demonstrate His Power?
I believe James 5:17. I want fire to come down from heaven. Everyone walked away saying “the Lord he is God.” I want it where no one leaves talking about me but they walk away saying “what in the world just happened in that room!”
The earth shakes…Those lights falls and kill someone. (people laugh)
I don’t want the ordinary. God I believe what you did in Old Testament and New Testament.
I got frustrated praying this. God, have many times have i asked for this?
I think I believe completely. I want something to happen. Why doesn’t it happen like it did for Elijah?
God spoke to me….a light went on.
Elijah was on Mt. Carmel surrounded by false prophets who would cut his head off if i didn’t come through for him….you are at a Christian concert.
Look in Scripture…when did God demonstrate his power?
- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- There is a fourth man in the fire!
- Daniel and Lion’s den
- Stephen is being stoned and sees Jesus
We so want to experience him in the room, in a nice Christian environment. People say they want to experience Christ, but I ask them “are you making disciples?” Because that’s when he says he would be with you always.
You want to experience God? Go and be his messenger and teach people to obey all that Jesus commanded.
What’s More Important? Your Reputation or Reality?
When I was reading about IHOP I thought “I don’t feel like I have a lot to say about them.” Then I walk in and see the way that you worship… It’s me coming and discovering a bunch of brothers and sisters that I didn’t have…and a fire and a passion to just go out and make his glory known.
But the passage that came to my mind was Revelation Chapter 3
Sardis. They had a reputation of being alive but…
This is not just for you, but a life verse for me.
As a speaker, people assume certain things about me. I have a reputation, that’s why I was invited.
Sometimes it’s true and sometimes my walk is not where it should be. But I know how to fake it.
I’m saying these people love Jesus, they’re praying 24/7- all of them, they never sleep. This is IHOP. they are about purity. I hear you are very much about the Word. I go, praise God for that. But i know how it goes when people assume certain things.
Reputation vs. Truth
If I were to interview 5 of your closest friends and relatives and asks them about you…what is ______ like?
Time in the word? Time in prayer? Does he love people? What would people write about you?
If I came into the presence of God Almighty and interviewed God, what would God say about you?
If those are two different things, it could be that you have been way more concerned about your reputation than who you really are and you are trying to get people to think you are a certain person, but before the Lord that’s just not you.
We can lie.
- I have a Girlfriend and we don’t really….you know what’s going on…
- I’m not really addicted…you know what’s really going on…
- You say “my prayer life is not what it’s supposed to be and you know, it’s just dead.”
Remembering When You Used To Love Jesus and Enjoy Him
Here Chan give us insight into what he believes about experiencing Jesus in intimate relationship. For Chan, it is not just about the Word only, but also the enjoyment of God, of simply loving him with deep abandonment. His vulnerability and humility stand out in the final parts of this message, which is a rebuke to many who love Jesus more with their heads than with their heart and soul.
He says, “Let me be really vulnerable. Awhile back I was rehashing old Easter messages. Reading sermons from the early days. I realized,
“I said that…I really said that? I don’t think I have the boldness to say that today. God what happened to me? I used to be in front of a crowd and I would say whatever. The criticism, the ego, the pride, it starts to weaken you and you start to change.”
“I was reading this one sermon about the birth of my son 8 years ago. My 10 year old daughter is in the room- she delivers her brother. Tears were streaming down her face. This moment was so cool. Everyone is in tears…amazing moment.”
Reading this…amazing as it was seeing the birth of my son, it paled in comparison to the times I had with Jesus this week. My times with Jesus were so amazing. I just didn’t want to leave there. I just went on and on…
“I enjoyed the Lord even more than the birth of my child! It made me sad. I said, “God I don’t know if I feel that way now. I remember Lord when I used to just enjoy you and love you and I didn’t want anyone else around, i just want to be with you.”
“Reading those words I was going God, what happened to me? I used to be more bold and what’s worse is “Jesus I think I used to love you more then!”
I kept hearing this over and over again, “Strengthen what remains and is about to die,” It wasn’t like a rebuke. It was a beautiful, comforting reminder.
- Study of the word
How are we doing?
Maybe the worse thing some of you could do right now is sing. Maybe there needs to be a time of repentance
People ask me today how I developed a love for prayer. I answered,
“My love for prayer was an answer to prayer.”
Chan leaves the crowd with an exhortation. He says we should pray,
Final Thoughts On Francis Chan and Mike Bickle
In conclusion, this post is about 5-6 times longer than I like to post, but I believe it is important to put Chan’s message to IHOP out there in some sort of abbreviated written form.
There are some who are critical of Chan’s decision to speak at IHOP’s Onething Conference before ever getting a chance to hear his message. They would very likely continue in their criticism without taking time to watch his message on video. However, they might read a blog like this and be able to scan the general points and tone of his message. My hope is that they would see both the wisdom of Chan and the heart of Bickle.
What is important is both what Chan did say and what he didn’t say. As I posted before, he publicly declared that after meeting that he “loved Mike Bickle.” He also had many good things to say about the IHOP movement. His message to the OneThing crowd was undiluted Gospel. It was said by many in attendance to be a challenging and life transforming word for them.
It must be credited to Mike Bickle and the IHOP team that they sought to break down walls of division by not only inviting Chan, but also Matt Redman, and even Jesus Culture from Bethel Church of Redding, CA. I truly do believe that all of the leadership would give a big “amen” to the message Chan preached and therefore should be considered true believers despite what some heresy hunters on the Internet have to say. These bloggers seem to thrive on controversy and creating dissension and division in the Body of Christ.
My prayer is that God will continue to bless the ministry of Francis Chan, the International House of Prayer, Mike Bickle, Matt Redman, Jesus Culture, and everyone else who loves Jesus and his Gospel.
If you didn’t catch my other posts from OneThing 2013, you can check them out here: