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Growing Closer Through Family Devotions

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2024 8:52 am

Growing Closer Through Family Devotions

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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On a previous focus on the family radio program, Dr. Tony Evans shared about the importance of parents, specifically dads, training our children spiritually while at the dinner table. The Bible says that the way a man leads his family is around the table. Every man can lead his family in less than one hour a day if he's at the table, because the dinner table was used not just for eating, but for leading.

It's work done, it's school work done, it's behavior right. When the husband, as many days as he can, is at that table, he changes the atmosphere of the home. So you just don't eat there, you lead there. Some great advice for every dad and mom, and we're going to be talking with Tony's son and his wife today about some simple ideas for teaching your children the things that are going to matter the most in their lives. Our host is Focus President and author Jim Daley, and I'm John Fuller. John, I love that line by Tony, you're not here to eat, but to eat and lead. That's an awesome responsibility. It sounds like a Tony colloquialism, doesn't it? It does, absolutely.

I mean, he's so good at that. John, as parents, we are always looking to train and to teach, and in a conversation I had with Chuck Colson one time, he said, you know, by the age of 10, your children's moral compass is pretty well set. Then from 10 forward, it's about boundaries and managing those boundaries. We're going to talk about how to set that moral compass through devotions, the devotions, and other things, discussions, and talk about the conflict that can occur between mom and dad when it comes to what devotions look like with our two special guests today. And I mentioned Tony Evans' son, and that's Jonathan, and he and his wife Kanika are here. Jonathan is the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys, and he's a motivational speaker as well. He's written a book with his dad, Tony Evans, called Kingdom Family Devotional, 52 Weeks of Growing Together. And Kanika is a proud mom of four beautiful kids, and they're pretty active in their church. And John, let me mention that we're offering the devotional book as our way of saying thank you when you make a monthly gift to focus on the family to support the broadcast.

We'll tell you more at the end of the program how to do that. Jonathan and Kanika, welcome both of you to Focus on the Family. Thank you. Good to be here. First time, right?

Yes, it's the first time here. I want to hold the Dallas Cowboys against you, being in Bronco territory here in Colorado. Please don't, please don't.

It's all about the body of Christ here. We'll do football later. Well, you know, the Super Bowl someday may host those two, so we'll talk on the phone on that. That'd be great.

I'll make sure I have seats right next to you. Try to reconcile. Okay, we are here today to talk about devotions, family devotions. And I really want to know between the two of you right from the start, how do you handle this as mom and dad and husband and wife? Has that worked out for you guys? Have you come to a formal agreement as parents?

Well, I think it's worked out well. The reason is, is because I'm the one that gets to take them to school every day. So I, it's my job to get them up, get them ready for school.

She stays up late getting all the extra work done that she couldn't get done when they were awake. And I do a lot of my father kids' time with them on the drive. And I think it's important to do that. You know, my wife will call me and I'll say, I'm preaching to him again, babe, I'm preaching to him again.

I'll call you right back. But just having those discussions, finding out what they, how their day was coming from school, what your expectations are going to school, how much God loves them and wants them to do well and how much he wants them to maximize their abilities and all of those different things I get to do while I'm moving and shaking. Right. Which is important for us guys, right?

Exactly. Kenika, I want to ask you as mom, do you worry about their development, their spiritual development? Are you the one that's saying, okay, we haven't had devotions in a couple of days. We need something formal after dinner. Let's sit down for 30 minutes. And I've got this great new curriculum.

I bought Jonathan and I want you to lead us in family. You ever have that discussion? I never really have to worry about it. Jonathan usually will automatically initiate it at during dinner, but we started doing maybe within the past year or two, we started doing something every day at the dinner table called highs and lows.

And that is when each kid will tell us their high, high point and low point for the day. How much of your background plays into how you do devotions today? I mean, describe both of your backgrounds.

Well, I'll start. Just being, first of all, from a two parent home and then Tony Evans and Lois Evans being my parents, obviously that background, you know, had a foundation of theology. It had a foundation of Christ and it was very important for my dad to lead at the table like he talked about. So he would ask my mom, please, Monday through Thursday at least, can you fix dinner?

Cause I can't do it. If I do it, the kids will be in trouble. Can you fix dinner for the kids so that we can be around the table so I can use that as an opportunity to talk to the kids, to lead the kids and we can really engage our kids at that time. So I grew up with this formula of daddy opening up the Bible and asking us all to read a verse from a specific passage that he wanted us to go through and have us explain to him what we thought that verse meant.

And if we were wrong, he'd correct us and he'd kind of train us using the Bible. And then he wanted to ask us what was going on in our life and who we were talking to, the girls who they're dating. I wasn't old enough at the time. They were already out of the house when he started asking me those questions. But it was that time, it was that family time. And so that translates to what I do at our house with our kids.

And I asked my wife the same thing, Hey, it's important for us to get around the table because that's the time we can really spend with our kids and we've got all of their attention and we're able to get the eye contact and get them away from the video games and away from the TV and really pour into them. Now, this devotional that you and your father have written, I mean, it is geared for the younger child, which is important because, again, it's where that formation, that moral formation and character is shaped. When you were 15 or 16, did you ever roll your eyes when your dad was saying, OK, let's have dinner, Jonathan, read this scripture? Because sometimes at 15 and 16 to be realistic, it's certainly possible that your child will be all in. And sometimes they are saying, you know, I'm a little distracted, dad. How are you as that child? And how is your father in that moment?

Absolutely. I think that it's it's normal to have a teenager who doesn't want to sit down and read the Bible and be preached to all the time. They're always getting that from their parents anyway, whether it's from the Bible or whether it's do this, do that, clean up this, do these chores. So you're going to kind of get that time of eye roll.

But that's not what you're focused on. What you're focused on is how when they grow to maturity, that they look back and view how important that time was. And when now that I look back, I think about my formation as a Christian, as a man came from that time I was at the table, even though I was rolling my eyes because I was mad, I was missing the Cosby show.

You know, we were all thinking about me, why do we have to do this now? You know, the Cosby show was on, you know, and all of those different things that we were missing out on. But little did we know, we weren't missing out on anything, but we were gaining everything. But we learned that later. And so the focus can't just be on them rolling their eyes in the moment, but them having their eyes straight in the future, and being able to look back and say that was well worth it.

You know, Kenika, before I move to you and your background, I want to follow up with you, Jonathan. In that context, did your dad ever get frustrated or upset at the table because you guys weren't paying attention? Or did he see the bigger picture kind of roll with those punches and say, boys, we're going to be sitting here for the next 18, 19 years.

So let's get used to it. Did he have the composure, I guess, to understand what an older child may do in a moment of devotion? Yeah, to be honest, my dad is he's extremely patient man. He's extremely patient and not everybody I struggle with patients.

And so not everybody's that way. So there would be times where he would have to, to send out some soft threats. Hey guys, I need you to pay attention or you can't do this.

You can't do this because this is more important than what you're really thinking about. So he would do those things. But ultimately, he understood that we were all three years apart. We were all at different levels of maturity. And so he would spend a little bit more time with the older kids and just let us listen. Because as the I was the baby of the family, so I would get a lot just listening to the conversation that my sister would receive from my dad who's nine years older than me. And so I would learn a lot of things just listening to those conversations. And so he just knew how to gauge the maturity of each child and how much time Well, the reason I asked the question, I think a lot of fathers particularly can make that mistake where they become more rigid about it.

And we're not getting this done. And mom may be on his back, how come you know, it's just not working well, and the kids aren't listening to you. And then your anger kind of flares or your temper may flare, and you end up demolishing the very moment, teaching your kids about a spiritual truth, you know, on anger, because you're upset because you're not listening. Yeah, that's exactly right. This balance, one of the things that's great is that my dad would talk to my sisters, I mean, I remember it this way, because I was the youngest, he would talk to them because they can handle conversation, but he may have me and my brother get up and do something.

Oh, interesting. So now you bring in illustrations to where now we're engaged in the conversation, because now we're, you know, lifting each other up, we get out of our chairs, pull out our chairs for our sisters, and he's teaching us about how men should treat women. So we get to do these things physical illustrations, which help the younger children when you can spend more time just talking to the older children. That is a great idea.

That is really good. Kenika, you have married into the Evans family, and they do something every month that must have been interesting to you. What is it that they do every month?

Every month, we have family dinner together on the first Sunday after church, and each of the children in the family will recite a scripture. And it's a good opportunity for them to learn how to speak in front of people, you know, we're kind of coaching them, take your gum out, you know, kind of a big crowd, right? Exactly.

Now with all the spouses and the kids, too. Absolutely. That's probably 30, 40 people, right? Yeah, it's a big gathering. That's a great idea. I've got to ask, though, do you have to recite a verse, too?

No, I don't. So you're off the hook now? I'm kind of off the hook when it comes to family dinner. The concentration is on the kids, but they have to know it. That means we have to teach it. So you kind of, you're kind of off the hook, but on the hook. So your dad's still testing you. That's right. The kids better be ready.

I love it. Kenika, your background, what type of home were you raised in? And who made the greatest impact on you? Well, I was raised in a single parent home with my mom. And she got married when I was about 14.

So for a long time, it was just she and I. And she always, you know, wanted me to be grounded in the church. She grew up in the church. And she felt like especially because I didn't have a father in the home that she really wanted me to, to be grounded in the church. So I was very involved in church activities growing up, was at the church several days a week.

And even because she had to work two jobs sometimes. There were other ladies in the church that would come pick me up and take me to, you know, Wednesday night service, youth service and things like that. It sounds like you really embraced that as a child. Was there a hunger that you had a natural hunger spiritually?

I think there was. And for me being an only child, then there was also just the connection that I had with other people in my youth group and things like that because I didn't have siblings. So they were kind of, you know, another family for me. So can you remember back to being that 13 year old girl or 14 year old girl and saying when I'm older, this is what I want to have. And having a picture in your mind as a young girl, what you were hoping to have when you got married someday. I definitely remember just wanting to find, you know, or not find a husband, but be connected with a husband who valued family, who valued church.

I mean, I just knew that anything else was not an option. Our guest today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly are Jonathan and Kanika Evans. And Jonathan and his dad, Tony Evans, wrote this book, Kingdom Family Devotional. So important to understand who you are and to live out Deuteronomy 6. I mean, what you're talking about right there is that we have to have our act together before we try to teach our kids. We can't be hypocrites about this. And there has to be a level of authenticity with God that you experienced before you try to teach your children this.

Yes. I mean, you know, kids are sponges. I learned that. I mean, they see everything. They emulate the things that they see. And they do realize when something is off, when they're being told something, and then you get the response, but you do this. That's especially true in the teenage years, if not, how about you, Jim?

Yes. Jonathan, let me ask you, in terms of this world that you live in as a chaplain to the Dallas Cowboys, you played at Baylor. I'll throw a shout out to Baylor.

We have a lot of Baylor listeners in Texas. So there you go, guys. But in that context, you see the impact of fatherlessness. You see a lot of guys, black and white. But because of the brokenness of homes and particularly football, it just draws a lot of young men that want to prove themselves, that want to go on the field of battle and be men. Do you see that parallel situation with training your kids in the evening at home? You're, you know, three year old, you're eight year old, and then you're with these 20, 30 something young men that are still needing to be affirmed and still needing direction.

Oh, absolutely. Fatherlessness is huge. 70% of African American kids don't have fathers, 40% rising in the Anglo community don't have fathers. And so you see this attack of the enemy on fathers, and especially because God has called them, you know, to lead their family in righteousness and justice.

Okay. And so when you don't have that around the table, when you don't have that in the home, especially young boys, mothers do a great job, but they can't teach a boy how to be a man. Only a father can do that. And so if you don't have a father, but then you come into the NFL and now you're expected to be a man, all of a sudden you're expected to know how to handle your money.

You're expected to know how to handle this level of peer pressure that comes with this world that's set up to cater to making unrighteousness right. So once you have that peer pressure on you, then the definition of manhood is twisted and thwarted to mean making yourself do as well as possible in the unrighteous realm. And so that becomes manhood. And so it's very important for men to do what God has told them to do, and that's be there for their families and raise them up in righteousness and justice so that they really understand what manhood is. And you can see that that parallel that you can be a 30 year old or 23 year old, 25 year old who can lift a lot of weights, run real fast and still have so many immaturities because no one was there to help mold you into what God's man really looks like.

Right. And since God is the creator, certainly he knows more a little bit more about life living than we do. Now you don't know about this, but we've got a little audio clip from your dad to give us some insight on his fathering with you. Let's take a listen to this.

When my son Jonathan, he's our football player, when he was young he called me and asked me to go to the gym with him in our church. And I said, okay, I want to show you something. I said, what? He said, I want you to see me dunk the ball.

He's 11 years old. He dribbles the ball, he goes up and he dunks the ball. Now the problem with the dunk is he had gotten the custodian to lower the goal from 10 feet to 6 feet and he dunked. I said, well, that was good son, but I got the custodian to raise the goal back up to its 10 foot level. And I told him, son, our goal is not for you to lower the standard and dunk, but to keep the standard where it is and you rise to the level of being able to dunk. Now he dunks it 10 feet, but we had to keep the standard up. I couldn't let him settle for a 6 foot goal. We're letting too many people settle and we're lowering the standard.

And so people are dunking at 6 feet and thinking they're achieving something. That just sounds like your dad, doesn't it? That is my dad.

That is my dad on the button. How did that inspire you? How did it shape you? How did it give you a perspective while growing up?

Well, you know what? That specific illustration was very important for me athletically because me understanding that my father was not going to get excited and run around in circles just because I was able to lower the standard and do well. Because two years later I dunked at 10 feet. At 13.

At 13. Without a trampoline. Without a trampoline, without any of those things because I was a son who wanted to please his father. And so because my father was not 100% pleased with a lower standard, then I had to raise my standard in order to please him. And I think that's the same thing in the Christian life. When you understand that the world may lower the standard, they may be the custodian that comes in and lowers the standard so that everybody can dunk and feel good about themselves. But God has a higher standard. And when we can get our kids to understand how important it is to please God and have a relationship with God that naturally makes you want to please him, then you will start raising your standard of living, raising your standard of devotion. And that's when you get God really excited. Kinika, do you as mom, do you have a fear inside sometimes that we're not doing enough, we need to do more?

And how do you translate that to Jonathan? How do you guys talk about it? Kind of the pillow talk when everything's done, and the lunches are made and you're laying in bed? Do you talk about your concerns yet?

Is that happening at this point with young kids in your home? I'm not sure that we think that we're not doing enough, because we are very intentional about wanting to sow seeds in our children. But a lot of times we'll talk about maybe if there's things we need to tweak, like how we need to adjust what we're doing to fit the individual personalities of each kid. Maybe like the themes of honesty or integrity, those things.

Absolutely. Prayer, all of those different things that are important, because they're all different ages. And so we want to make sure that our devotions we have with them are five minutes, that we use illustrations, that we get them up, sing songs, that we kind of plan a little bit ahead of time so that we're not just kind of throwing stuff together, because that's the way to keep them engaged. So we definitely spend time talking about that. We feel like we're doing as much as we can at the age that they are.

And then as they grow, we'll just have to grow. So that's just kind of the talk that we have. So being in the sports world, playing for Baylor, and then you went to the NFL as running back, let's take some of the varnish off of this.

So the coaches get in your face when you don't hit the right hole and you don't make the right play. What about the dad and his wife has been on him? You're just not engaged, hun. You need to do more. Hit us in the face. Be the coach.

Grab us by the face mask. Talk to us as fathers is why it's important. Absolutely. I mean, as men, it's easy to put that off on the wife, because especially if she's a homemaker and you're out working and doing those different things. But men need to understand that in the Bible, men were expected to raise the children.

Women were expected to help. That's why, you know, in Genesis 18, 19, he's talking to the men. He says, raise your children in righteousness and justice so that I can bring about the promise that I told Abraham in Genesis 12. And so he's trying to bring this great promise that he has for Abraham, which is legacy. It's a nation of Israel.

It's all of those different things. But he has to get Abraham to do something. And that's spend the time with his children. And a man can work hard and make a lot of money.

But if he doesn't have a legacy, that kids that look back and say, you know, father so and so had many sons and I am one of them, you know, that can sing about him like we do about Abraham, then they may have a lot of stuff while having nothing all at the same time. When she's pushing you along, hey, you need to be here. You need to sit out the table and to be with your kids. You need to you need to read. You need to have these devotion. You need to be intentional. You need to take your son out. Take your daughters out on dates.

Do it. She's helping. She's doing what she's called to do. And that's help you be the man you were called to be in the garden you were given.

Yeah. Jonathan and Kenika, this is exactly why we did this project with you. This devotional for children. Let me ask you for your favorite or one of your favorites.

I know it's asking you which child you like best. But out of the devotional material, what's one that pops out for you? And give us a taste of what people can invest in when they get a copy of the devotional. Well, you're investing in a tool. First of all, that's going to help. We don't want to challenge you to lead your family and then leave you with nothing.

We have a tool that will kind of help you do that in a simple way. One of them at the beginning of the book is just on Jesus's love and so that your kids can really understand Jesus's love for them. And Christ demonstrated his love that while we were yet sinners, Christ died. And I just used the lioness in her cubs and just talking about how, you know, there was a dangerous animal lurking about and she saw it and went out to protect her cubs. And in protecting them, she was bitten by this venomous animal.

And I think it was a snake as I think back on the description there. And so she became sick and she had to lay down for three days, but she ended up getting the snake out of there because of her protective nature. And so she became sick for three days.

And then we talked about after three days, the venom went away and she was able to get back up and play with her cubs. But ultimately she protected those who couldn't protect themselves, protected those who couldn't do anything for themselves. And we talked about how Jesus did the same thing for us, that he took the bite of sin and he died and he was down for three days. Then he rose on the third day and those who couldn't protect themselves do anything for themselves or work for their own safety because we're only cubs. Jesus did that for us.

And now we're protected because he was willing to go take the bite and protect us in an area that we simply couldn't protect ourselves. So often it's a beautiful analogy. So often we tend to underplay our children's ability to grasp these concepts, don't we? So when they're four, five, six, we want to speak down to them.

But actually when you connect these dots, they're quite capable of catching it. And that's what you're really trying to do is take a, maybe a complex theological issue and break it down into something that is discernible. But I would say don't aim too low. Like your dad said about dunking the ball, keep that up there pretty high. And I think you'll be surprised at how much your children actually understand and you just keep working it and help them understand better and better.

But I want to say thank you. Thank you for tackling this big issue because I think intentional Christian parenting requires that we have victory in this area, that we are able to embrace it, to understand our role, both as husbands and wives and dads and moms with training our children in the way they should go. And I think this devotional is a wonderful way to guide you, to put a tool in your hand to make it a little easier for you. And I'm going to point right at you dad. Why don't we do this and make sure our wives are participating, but let's take the lead.

I think that would take a great relief off of the shoulders of our wives and let's be more intentional. I love the idea to just reading scripture, Jonathan, like your dad did for you at the dinner table and talking over a verse and letting them tell you what they think it means. So thank you again for being with us. Thank you for this devotional and thank you for today. Thank you.

Thank you. And once again, our guests have been Jonathan and Kanika Evans and along with Tony Evans, Jonathan has written this book, Kingdom Family Devotional 52 Weeks of Growing Together. It's a great toolbox and you can adapt the stories and devotions for your family. It's a great time to get a copy here at the start of the year.

It'll carry you through the rest of the year and try it. See what a difference this can make in your family. John, I hope everyone listening knows this is our mission here at Focus on the Family is to help you and your family. Certainly one of the ways we can do that is helping you to train your kids spiritually. I mean, this is on the heart of every serious mom and dad. And I want you to hear from Laura Lee on how Focus has helped her to parent her kids better. I love that Focus on the Family is constantly giving us tools on how to become better parents. And I love that Focus is focused on that, you know, like following what the Bible says on how to raise children and constantly giving us inspiration and ideas and like creative ideas on how to raise our children in a godly way. And let me say this clearly. This is to God's glory.

I mean, we're here as hands and feet. We're trying to do the best job we can do to honor Him and to impact our own families as well as your families. That's job one for all of us as parents and Focus is here for you, mom and dad. So let me encourage you to support the ministry. If you want to be a better parent this year, let us come alongside you and offer the wisdom that God has placed here for over 40 years. If you believe in this daily broadcast and the help it provides, can I ask you to prayerfully consider becoming a friend of Focus on the Family by making a monthly donation of any amount? And we'll send you a copy of Kingdom Family Devotional to show you our appreciation for supporting this broadcast. And let me say thank you so very much for standing with us as we do ministry together. Yeah, make a monthly donation today to support this broadcast and get a copy of that book. And if you're not in a spot to commit to a monthly gift at this time, make a one-time donation of any amount and we'll still send you the book. Just stop by the show notes.

We've got the link there and the phone number as well. We'll join us next time as we hear from Pastor Miles McPherson who offers a godly approach to racial reconciliation. The devil says you have two options. White people and people of color.

God says, no, no, no. I made all y'all color. And I made all y'all color to be beautiful.

Everyone say I am beautiful. Well thanks for listening today to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Hey Jim Daly here. If you like the Focus on the Family broadcast and haven't grown tired of this voice just yet, you'll love my Refocus podcast. On Refocus, I take a deeper dive with a respected thinker on different aspects of culture. I ask those hard questions that maybe they don't get that often and I don't shy away from challenging topics to help you share God's grace, truth and love with others. So listen to Refocus with Jim Daly on your favorite streaming app today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-12 10:19:04 / 2024-01-12 10:31:23 / 12

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