Francis Chan is an American preacher who was born in San Francisco to native Chinese parents. Francis got his name from the city of his birth. He had a difficult childhood but found faith in God as a young person, attending a church youth group. Francis started Cornerstone Church in 1994 with only 30 people. The church, located in Ventura County, California, grew quickly as did Pastor Chan’s reputation. The pastor was speaking to a group of Christian leaders in Dallas recently and the message that God placed on his heart for them was summarized in a single question. Chan asked the leaders, “Are you walking with God?”
Pastor Chan told them, “I know the enemy is going to do everything he can to keep you from being close to Jesus.” He asked them to remember the last time they had humbled themselves and just said, “God, I need you.”
Chan said that Christian leaders are in danger of living off their success, or position, or the fact that other people begin to believe they are “something.” The key, he said, to walking with God is to remember the childlike reliance that King David illustrated when he said, “This is the one thing I ask for; I want to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
Then, Pastor Chan looked at his audience of Christian leaders and said:
Jim and I have been in ministry for thirty years. If someone asked us what we thought was most important, we would echo Pastor Chan’s words. It is easy to think if we spend time in God’s word to prepare a lesson or a message we have spent time with God; or think if we have led prayer in a conference that we have prayed; or think the time we spend giving God to others is time we have spent receiving God as well.
The key to walking with God is to slip away from the crowd, away from the job, and away from any other purpose besides spending time with the One we love. It is easy, as Pastor Chan said, to “get disconnected.” It is common to think that knowing about God is the same thing as knowing God. I often say, “No one knew more about God than the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they didn’t recognize God when he stood right in front of them. They preached about the coming Messiah – but were still able to shout, ‘crucify him.'”
I loved going to The Cove and sitting under Anne Graham Lotz’s teaching. I needed to be taught more than I needed to teach. The great challenge in every session was to pray and continually force myself to receive what God was saying to my own soul, instead of thinking about teaching the material myself. If I read a Christian book, I force myself to read it without a pen in my hand. If I want to teach something from it later, I will go back and reread the book for that purpose. If I want to maintain a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord and King, I have to choose to step away from the “job” and into the throne room of God. Several years ago, a man was coming onto the staff of our church and asked me, “What do you think will be the most difficult part of this job?” My answer was: “Maintaining your soul.” I watched his face and knew he had not valued my answer. But I would give him the same answer today that I gave him that evening.
Are you walking with God? Are you connected to God for the sake of your own soul? Do you study and pray to hear what God is saying to you, or only for what God would want you to say about him. This is one way I use to measure my personal walk with God. Am I ready to rush into my day or would I rather “dwell in the house of the Lord,” just because I am closer to Jesus there? One way that I suggest connecting with God each day is through my youngest son’s ministry, First15. Craig helps me to spend time with God each day and I’ve had so many conversations with people who are doing the same. He is my child, and I don’t mean to brag, but I can’t tell you how many mornings I finish reading his words and say, “Wow.”
The Apostle Paul worked harder than most while he walked this planet. He taught the church in Corinth, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
The first key to walking with God is understanding how desperately you need to.