Hey, it's Jim Daly here. Just so you know, it's time. Time for a challenge. Time to not only be a Christian, but live your faith. Bring Your Bible to School Day is the next Live It Challenge on October 5th. Nationwide, kids will team up to share the gospel at their schools.
To learn more or register your children for the first time, visit bringyourbible.com. His word gives us confidence. So let's live it up.
bringyourbible.com. So this is not a time for spiritual chumps or punks. This is a time where you have to go public and you have to declare with compassion, with love, but with crystal-clear clarity, heaven's point of view.
And this demands a kingdom focus and a kingdom mindset and a kingdom declaration and demonstration. That's Dr. Tony Evans encouraging you to have a kingdom focus, chasing after Christ in his heart as you go through life. He's our guest today on Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. John, I woke up this morning going, I can't wait to get into the studio to talk with our guest today. Dr. Tony Evans is such a powerful communicator.
I mean, it's wisdom bomb after wisdom bomb. And it's fun to be with someone like that. And I'm so looking forward to it. You know, as Christians today, we need to choose who we're going to serve. This is probably the question of the moment in our culture, not in a mean-spirited way, but are we going to serve the Lord in what we do, how we behave, how we think?
Or are we going to let, you know, kind of the culture bend us toward what they want us to do and what they want us to think? And I am so looking forward to being taught by Dr. Tony Evans today about how to be a Christian in this current kingdom. Yeah, intentional Christian living. And Dr. Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and the founder of the Urban Alternative in Dallas.
Both of those are in Dallas. He's written a number of books with us, Jim, part of the Kingdom series. The new one that we have from Dr. Evans is called Kingdom Focus, Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity.
And we'll invite you to check the show notes for details. Welcome back, Dr. Evans. It's always good to be with Focus. It has such an imprint on my life and ministry, going back to the early days when that first connection was made with Focus. So we are indebted to Focus, to James Dobson, and to what this ministry stands for in fighting for the family.
Yeah. When you look at today's culture, Christian culture particularly, especially as a pastor, I'm thinking you preparing a sermon. And I'm not saying your church is like this, but people in the congregation, congregations around the country that are halfheartedly going with the Lord. You know, maybe excited sometimes, but mostly uninspired, going to work. They don't feel the presence of God and what they're here to do.
And I guess the right question is, what do you think God intends for us in this life? How should we be living? Well, you know, Christians have become the visiting team.
We've lost home field advantage. The values of the culture have become dominant and have transferred itself above the values of the Kingdom of God. And because we have been more culturized and kingdomized, that has led to an attitude reflected by an action of noncommittal.
Enough religion for us to be dangerous, but not full commitment for us to be transformative. And Jesus says to the church at Laodicea, you're lukewarm. You're neither hot nor cold. You're not hot coffee and you're not iced tea. You're just warmed over milk and I have to spew you out of my mouth. You make me want to vomit.
So a lot of contemporary Christianity makes Jesus want to throw up because we're not all in. You know, I'm from Dallas, you know, which means that you're a cowboy fan. Yeah, I was going to ask you that. You are a cowboy fan. Yeah. And you know, you have fair weather fans. They can take it or leave it. You have some committed fans. They won't miss the game on television. But then you got the fanatical fans. They're going to go to the game. They're going to get season tickets and they're going to know the stats because they're all in. Well, when it comes to the kingdom of God, God's got some fair weather Christians, you know, a little bit of Jesus here, a little bit of Jesus there. Then you've got those who are fairly committed. They won't miss church. They'll do maybe a small group of Bible study. But God is looking for some kingdom fanatics.
He's looking for some folks who are going to go all in for this thing called the kingdom, which is the jurisdiction of God's rule designed to be from heaven transferred to earth through his people. Yes. Let me carry that football analogy a little further because you had an opportunity with the Cowboys, I think, to be with them at certain times, even the night before Super Bowl or two. And you used to be in Super Bowl. Yeah, well, we're in Bronco Land. We know the feeling of what used to be. But the but the point of it is in the book, you kind of draw that conclusion being with these guys that know what the prize is.
The night before the big game. And you can see it in their faces. It's intensity. It's we're in for this. And that's kind of adding to that analogy, right? Well, absolutely. I mean, in pre-season, I was chaplain for the Cowboys for five years under Tom Landry.
And now my son, who played in the NFL for four years, has taken my place as chaplain. And when they gather in pre-season, the discussion is about the Super Bowl. Now, they got 16, 17 games to go, but they have a vision that's presented them of where we want to wind up.
So it's not just this game. It's this vision. And if you don't have a kingdom vision and you only have a goal for the moment, then you're missing the big picture. And therefore, you wind up living for the moment and not for the purpose, which means you won't accomplish the purpose because you won't be fully committed because you're not looking big enough.
You're looking too small. And that is a great goal and something that we all should be striving for, to become better and not be soft in the culture. Boy, right now the culture needs what we have to share. They may not even know it, but to get this chaos back down to some shalom, some peace. Well, we really have quite an opportunity here because as bad as things are, it is demonstrating that the culture doesn't have solutions to its own problems. And therefore, this open space, if Christians will get our act together, we can invade that open space with a kingdom worldview and a kingdom focus so that we can bring real answers to real problems that the culture does not have. Yeah, which is so good.
And the book covers so much material. Let me ask you this. How critical is it for us to recognize our own weaknesses and to not try to be that, I guess, like a super Christian, but motivated in our own power? You probably see folks like that in the church. Not to point it in your fingers, but you're really hyper-intensity in your faith, but it's not coming from the right source.
Absolutely. Well, one of the things God really hates a lot is self-sufficiency. I mean, Jesus said in John 15, without me you can do nothing.
And he was telling that to men. So what he's saying is, I want your strength to be dependent on me, not your strength to be dependent merely on you. We are to be dependent on heaven's resources for earth's involvement and earth's impact. The moment that we become our own goals and our own sufficiency, we've uninvited God to be involved with us.
There now needs to be a radical return to God's perspective, God's worldview, a kingdom orientation in order to be able to maximize the strength that he has given us that has not been made to you. You know, if you have an appliance, that means it's been manufactured to do whatever that appliance says. But until you plug it in, it won't be able to pull off what the manufacturer put in it.
So we've been manufactured to have major kingdom impact, but we don't want to be plugged in until we wonder why the equipment is not working. That is a good analogy, man. In that context, how would you suggest a person do an inventory of themselves to know if they're tapping into their own power versus tapping into God?
What does that look like in your head? Well, first of all, it does start with a mindset. When you develop this, what I call this kingdom mentality, this kingdom mindset, what you are saying is, Lord, today I am looking to you through your spirit to give me what I need to pull off what you want me to do. That is expressed in prayer.
That is expressed through the knowledge of his word and the application of it. Remember, God's word is true, but it must be activated in order for it to be true for you. It's true whether you activate it or not, but if you don't activate it, it won't be true for you. So this activation always has to do with movement. What steps did I take to demonstrate I believed your word and I'm acting on it?
Once you know what his word is, express dependency through prayer about it, and then take that step, you have now activated it. Even going back to the appliance, you can plug it in without it being turned on. So the idea through activation is turning it on. If we all have electricity in our homes, that means there's a company supplying power to our homes, but that company doesn't come and turn on the light switch. You got to turn on the light switch.
The power is there, but if you don't turn on the light switch, it's useless power. That is such a good analogy. Kingdom citizen. What's the definition of that? What is a kingdom citizen? A kingdom citizen is a Christian who brings the values of heaven to the concerns of the culture. That is, they want society to see heaven at work in its midst. That's why we're called to be salt, not of the shaker. We're called to be salt of the earth. We're called to be light, not of the bulb. We're called to be light of the world.
In other words, they should be a visible, verbal presence of the kingdom of God in the midst of the culture of men so they can see what heaven looks like when heaven addresses whatever needs to be spoken into in the culture. Man, there's so many things that you mentioned that are going crazy. How do we make a difference?
I know we talk about the public policy stuff, but really, it's bigger than that. This is spiritual. Well, we can answer that with one passage of Scripture. 2 Chronicles 15, verse 5 and 6 says, In those times there were many disturbances that affected all the inhabitants of the land.
To the man who came out, left home, to the man who went in. Then it says, city rose up against city and nation rose up against nation. And then verse 6 concludes with these words, For God troubled them with every kind of distress. You would have thought it would have said, For the devil troubled them with every kind of distress.
But it doesn't. The reason is, because they had abandoned God, Romans 1, verse 18 was interjected. Verse 24, 26, and 28, God turned them over, God turned them over, God turned them over. He says, I'm going to let you have life without me. Because you don't want me, I'm going to let you not have me.
And once that happens, then disintegration enters into that environment. He gives three reasons in verse 3 of 2 Chronicles 15. He says there were three reasons why this happened. He says there was no true God, idolatry, no teaching priests, the churches had failed. And then he says there was no law, God's governing guidelines were no longer operative. But then there was a solution in verse 4. He says, In their distress they returned to the Lord, and He let them find Him. That's the same word, distress, used in verse 6.
God caused the distress. I tell this story about Lois. When I met her, she was 18 years old, this beautiful girl, but she was not responding at the rate to which I was accustomed. She was—her girlfriend was moving a little slow, so I had to help her sister out. So what I did was, I took her to an amusement park in Baltimore where I was born and raised, and it had a roller coaster for two called the Wild Mouse. And it went wild, and it went like it was going to jump off the track and turn real quick. I got two tickets. And the wilder the ride got, the closer she got.
By the time the ride was over, you thought only one person got on it. And the reason I put her on that ride was to create some distress, because I know if I created enough distress, she'd move a little closer, okay? So God allows distress to wake us up to our need for Him and draw us closer to Him. We have abandoned a biblical kingdom worldview, even Christians have, and we have been co-conspirators to cultural demise. So there needs to be a radical return of God's people if the culture is going to be changed. God's not going to skip the church house to fix the White House.
Tony, it's obvious that you believe, but I want to make sure I hear you clearly. You think we're at that moment in the culture where God has handed the culture over to the deprivation of their desires. Yeah, and worse than that, we're in stage three. There are three stages in Romans 1. And stage three is, He turns them over to a depraved mind, because people's thinking is insane. That's where we're at. I mean, we're in the insanity stage. And what makes it worse is when He comes to the end, He says, because they not only do the same, but they approve of those who do them.
So it's the approval. When you legislate, legalize, approve, you transfer these values to the next generation that are evil. So we don't have a lot of time left right now to turn this thing around. So this is not a time for spiritual chumps or punks. This is a time where you have to go public and you have to declare with compassion, with love, but with crystal clear clarity heaven's point of view. And this demands a kingdom focus and a kingdom mindset and a kingdom declaration and demonstration. Yeah, which is so good.
Let's, you know, and this is meat. We're talking about some heavy stuff here, but looking at the church, you also feel like, you know, there's too much softness in leadership and we're not doing those things you just said. So how does that turn around? How do pastors become a little more stiff in their spine on spiritual things? Well, yeah, a mist in the pulpit will always lead to a fog in the pew. And when the leaders are not only preaching the Word, which is where it starts, but empowering members to execute the Word with accountability. For example, in our church in Dallas, we won't let you join if you don't agree to serve. You can't say, preach to me, sing to me, marry me, bury me, but expect nothing from me.
That's called a leech. And the whole idea is not just a—see, the church is not a hospice. It's a hospital.
A hospice is where you're made comfortable while you die. A hospital is where you are fixed so you can live. The church is supposed to be a hospital.
Yes, people come broken, struggling in needs, but we're supposed to patch them up so they can go back to work, not just sit, soak, and sour in a sanctuary. So, there's a critical need for pastors to have a proclamation, a leadership base, and influence into the congregation so when the benediction is given, the church has just gotten started. Because now, a doctor's not just a doctor, he's God's representative in the medical field, so the medical field sees what God looks like when God helps hurting people. A lawyer's not just a lawyer, they're God's representative in the Bar Association, so the Bar Association gets to see what God looks like when God tries a case, and on and on and on, that you are now representatives of the kingdom of God in your sphere of influence, making you a kingdom representative.
It's inspiring stuff, yeah. And I feel, for the pastors, because today's church is, it's not necessarily about come in, patch up, and go out. We come in and, you know, there isn't enough servant attitude, and we expect the pastors to do the work rather than helping them.
Absolutely. The fundamental thing that, in my view, the church has missed is the kingdom. And the Christians have missed is the kingdom. So we evangelize to get people to heaven. We then don't turn them around and get heaven to the people while they're on earth. And the idea of the kingdom is to bring, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The reason why you're not raptured the moment you get saved is there's a job for you to do until you get to heaven. And unless you make the connection that there's no distinction between secular and sacred, if you've been kingdomized, everything is now sacred. Everything comes from a spiritual root.
Let me put it this way. Everything visible and physical is always preceded by something invisible and spiritual. So if you want to correct or change or adjust something in the visible physical, you must identify its invisible spiritual cause to get the visible physical cure. And unless you make that connection, you'll have this division that is not part of the kingdom. Give us an example of that to help us learn how to do it.
Just pick something that you just illiterated on. What would it be like to think of a situation? Well, let's start with focus on the family. No, no, not the entity, but the focus of the family. I mean, when God declared in Genesis 1, I'm going to make them male and female, he said, I'm going to make them in my image. An image is a mirror, so we're to reflect him. He says, I want them to replicate, be fruitful and multiply. And then he says, let them rule. Then after that, he says, and he blessed them.
People get married for the blessing first. I want to be happy. I want to be fulfilled.
There's nothing wrong with that. But that's assuming some things preceded it, which was the basis for which you're going to be blessed. And that is, you're fulfilling your kingdom responsibility of representing me, of replicating me through the next generation of your children, fruitful and multiply, and that you are ruling in unity. So when God says in 1 Peter 3, verse 7, if a husband and wife are in conflict, the husband's prayers are hindered, you have to understand, God will work with the family based on the unity around his kingdom purpose.
Then you get to be happy. But if you forget the kingdom purpose, your happiness is going to be in jeopardy because your happiness was dependent upon just you and her and him and not the kingdom role of marriage. That's why he tells the husband, you're supposed to be like Christ. And you love the wife like Christ loved the church. How do you love the church?
To death. So if you're still alive, you ain't finished yet. Okay?
So unless you have this spiritual kingdom purpose and you're only looking for your own happiness, then you're going to miss the bigger goal, which brings the personal blessing. That right there, if I were to ask you to put a percentage on people in the church that are living there, what would you say it is? Oh, less than 10%. Right. Oh yeah, very small. Yeah.
Very small. But because we have dumbed down the institution of marriage and family to cultural nuances, not to kingdom purposes. In addition to that, the demonstration of that power that you referenced a while ago, you've had some great losses in your family over the last few years.
Yeah, we have. I mean, I was reading through the prep. I mean, first describe that loss, and then here's the point. How you have managed that publicly, how you have expressed it, doesn't mean you're without grief. But I'm still here, I still got a job to do, I'm pressing forward. But describe the loss and how you have processed that and still wake up every morning like you did today, ready to go. Well, yeah, we lost eight family members in two years, and it came down to my father and my wife passing away a month apart. So, he was November 2019, she was December 2019.
And so, I'm toggling back from Dallas to Baltimore where he was, trying to care for both of them. So, it was a traumatic time of drain, of grief, of sadness. Now, she passed away on December 30th.
The next day was December 31st, New Year's Eve service, which we have every year. As she was failing, she looked at me and she said, don't you stop preaching, don't you stop serving the Lord, don't let the devil win. And she was dying. But because of that camaraderie, I was able to get up on the 31st, go to church and share with my congregation that I have to believe what I have taught you all these years. And I used Isaiah 40 where they said that this isn't fair. It didn't feel fair, you know.
She was 70 years old and it was this time when we had planned to do some things we had not gotten around to do and we didn't get to do them. I felt that in a very deep way. But her words and Isaiah 40, he gives new strength, empowered me to keep going.
And I'm still riding off of that today. And so are my kids and so is the ministry. Maybe this is the question for the listeners.
And it's an important one in our culture because we're looking, somehow in our head we have this equation that if we are living for the Lord, then we are blessed and bad things won't happen to us. Not to simplify that but that's where that bitterness can grow because you think there's an equation there that should work A plus B equals C. And Lord, I'm serving you. I'm doing it. I'm giving. I'm doing everything you want me to do.
How could you do this to me? Speak to that person who's either watching or listening to us who might be having that argument with the Lord right now. How do you settle that and say, all right, Lord, it's all for you, no matter my circumstance? At my wife's funeral, my son spoke.
Jonathan, he's the one who played in the NFL and now works with me in ministry. And he talked about our prayer for healing. I mean, she was the most prayed for woman in America during that time, probably in Christian America. So if prayer could have changed something, it would have been in her case. I have taught our folks that God has a conditional will and an unconditional will. His conditional will are things he will do based on whether we meet the conditions. His unconditional will are things he's going to do regardless of anything else.
It's a sovereign choice. And if you only know his conditional will and you don't know his unconditional will, then you're going to be disappointed because you met the conditions and what you thought was going to happen didn't happen. But there's this other side of God and we have to give sovereignty its place. So my son, when he stood up and he preached the funeral, he said, we prayed for God's healing and God said yes.
It just wasn't on this side. And unless you have this bigger kingdom picture and not just a cultural picture and a temporal picture, you will succumb, you'll collapse when life falls upon you. John 16, 33, in this world you will have trouble. Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. You only need to overcome something if there's something to overcome. So life gives you things to overcome and that's where leaning on a faith that's vibrant and having people around you who can pick you up when your faith and your knees buckle and your faith gets weak is critical. That's why we're not supposed to be lone ranger Christians. Yeah, so good.
Tony, there's so much more. Let's come back next time, keep the discussion going and talk more about this wonderful resource, Kingdom Focus. It's so needed right now in the culture. Now is the time to kind of do the hard lifting, get us ready spiritually.
It's kind of like weightlifting, right? Get in there and do the training we need to do to be the people God needs us to be in this moment. So let's do it.
If you are touched by this, if it is helping you think through, wow, okay, I haven't been on fire, I've been kind of lukewarm, I don't want to be there, get the book. We'll make it as easy as we can. If you can make a donation of any amount monthly, one time that's fine, we'll send it to you as our way of saying thank you. If you can't afford it, this is such meat that we need the church to digest that we'll send it to you if you can't afford it just to help you in your journey and your walk with the Lord and we'll trust others. We'll cover that. The point being, call us. Yeah, get in touch and request your copy of the book, Kingdom Focus, Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity.
We have copies of that here. Donate generously as you can. Our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459 and the links are in the show notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we continue the conversation with Dr. Tony Evans and, once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ. Your marriage can be redeemed even if the fights seem constant, even if there's been an affair, even if you haven't felt close in years. No matter how deep the wounds are, you can take a step toward healing them with a hope restored marriage intensive. Our biblically based counseling will help you find the root of your problems and face challenges together. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. Call us at 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-06 05:06:53 / 2023-09-06 05:18:03 / 11