Dr. Tony Evans: So this is not a time for spiritual chumps or punks, this is a time where you, where you have to go public, and you have to declare, with compassion, with love, but with crystal clear clarity-
Jim Daly: Yeah.
Dr. Evans: … heaven’s point of view. And this demands a kingdom focus, and a kingdom mindset, and a kingdom declaration and demonstration.
End of Preview
John Fuller: That’s Dr. Tony Evans encouraging you to have a kingdom focus, uh, chasing after Christ and 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.
Jim: John, I woke up this morning goin’, I can’t wait to get into the studio to talk with our guest today.
Jim: Dr. Tony Evans is such a powerful communicator. I mean it’s wisdom bomb after wisdom bomb-
Jim: … and it’s fun to be with someone like that and I am so looking forward to it.
You know, as Christians today, uh, we need to choose who we’re gonna serve. This is probably the question of the moment in our culture. Not in a mean-spirited way, but are we gonna serve the Lord in what we do, how we behave, how we think, or are we gonna let, you know, kind of, uh, the culture bend us toward what they want us to do-
Jim: … what they want us to think. And I am so lookin’ forward to, uh, being taught by Dr. Tony Evans today about how to be a Christian in this current kingdom.
John: Yeah, the intentional-
John: … Christian living. And, uh, Dr. Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and, uh, the founder of The Urban Alternative in Dallas. Both of those are in Dallas. He’s written a number of books with us, uh, 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 stop by the website for details. That’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: Welcome back Dr. Evans.
Dr. Evans: It’s always good to be with Focus. It has such a imprint on my life and-
Dr. Evans: … ministry, going back to the early days when that first connection was made with Focus. Uh-
Dr. Evans: … so we are, we are indebted to Focus, to James Dobson, and to what this ministry stands for in fighting for the family.
Jim: Yeah. Uh, when you look at today’s culture, Christian culture particularly, um, especially as a pastor, I’m thinking you preparing a sermon. And I’m not sayin’ that your church is like this, but people in the congregation, congregations around the country, that are half-heartedly goin’ with the Lord. Um, you know, maybe excited sometimes, but mostly uninspired, goin’ 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 (laughs) life? How should we be living?
Dr. Evans: Uh, well, you know, uh, Christians have become the visiting team. We’re, we’ve lost home field advantage. Uh, the, um, the values of the culture have become dominant and have transferred itself above the values of the kingdom of God.
Dr. Evans: Uh, and because we have been more culturalized than kingdomized-
Dr. Evans: … that has led to, uh, an attitude reflected by an action of a noncommittal.
Dr. Evans: Enough religion for us to be dangerous- (laughs)
Dr. Evans: … but not full commitment for us to be transformative.
Dr. Evans: And, um, Jesus, uh, says, you know, to the church of Laodicea, you know, “You, you’re lukewarm,” you know, “you’re neither hot nor cold.” You’re not hot coffee and you’re not iced tea, you just, you know, you, just is warmed over milk and- and- and I have to spew you out of my mouth, you make me want to vomit.
Jim: Uh, aw.
Dr. Evans: So, a lot of contemporary Christianity makes Jesus want to throw up because we’re not all in.
You know, I’m- I’m from Dallas, you know, it, which means that you’re a Cowboy fan.
Jim: Yeah, I was getting to it.
Dr. Evans: (laughs)
Jim: You are a football [inaudible].
Dr. Evans: Uh, yeah.
Dr. Evans: Uh, and, you know, you have fair-weather fans, they, 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- they gonna go to the game. They gonna get season tickets. And they gonna know the stats ’cause they’re all in.
Well when it comes to the kingdom of God, God’s- God’s got some fair-weather Christians, you know, uh, a little bit of Jesus here, a little bit of Jesus there. Uh, then you’ve got those who are fairly committed, they won’t miss church, they’ll do, maybe, small group or Bible study, but God is lookin’ for some kingdom fanatics, he’s lookin’ for some-
Dr. Evans: … folks who gonna go all in for this thing called the kingdom, which is the, uh, jurisdiction of God’s role designed to be from heaven transferred to earth through his people.
Jim: 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 a Super Bowl or two.
Dr. Evans: Mm-hmm.
Jim: And you- you-
Dr. Evans: When we used to-
Dr. Evans: … be in Super Bowl-
Dr. Evans: … that’s another story.
Jim: … yeah, uh, well-
Dr. Evans: (laughs)
Jim: … we’re in Bronco land-
Dr. Evans: (laughs)
Jim: … so we know the feeling of what-
Dr. Evans: (laughs)
Jim: … used to be.
But the, uh, but the point of it is, in the book, you- you, kind of, draw that conclusion of 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, kinda, adding to that analogy, right?
Dr. Evans: Well, uh, absolutely. I mean when, uh, in preseason, I was chaplain for the Cowboys for five years under Tom Landry and now my son is the, who played in the NFL for four years, has taken my place as chaplain.
Dr. Evans: And when they, and whey they, um, uh, when they gather in preseason, the discussion is about, uh, the, uh, Super Bowl. Now they got 16, 17 games to go, but they have a vision-
Dr. Evans: … 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, that 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 ’cause you won’t be fully committed, ’cause you’re not looking big enough, you’re looking too small.
Jim: And that- 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.
Dr. Evans: Well that, we- we really have quite an opportunity here, because as- as bad as things are, it, uh, it is demonstrating that the culture doesn’t have solutions to its own problems.
Jim: Right. (laughs)
Dr. Evans: 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.
Jim: 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 a, like a super Christian, but motivated in our own power? Do you, do you … You probably see folks-
Dr. Evans: Ab- absolute.
Jim: … like that in the church, uh, not to point any fingers, but, you know, you, you’re really hyperintensity in your faith, but it’s not comin’ from the right source.
Dr. Evans: Absolutely. Well, one of the things God really hates a lot is self-sufficiency.
Dr. Evans: I mean, Jesus said-
Dr. Evans: … in John 15, “Without me you can do nothing., and so, and he was tellin’ that to men. (laughs)
Dr. Evans: And so-
Jim: … exactly.
Dr. Evans: … so what he is 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, uh, 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 mustn’t … And there now needs to be a return, 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 is not been made to use.
Uh, 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 made a kingdom impact, but we don’t want to be plugged in and so we wonder why the equipment is not-
Dr. Evans: … workin’.
Jim: (laughs) 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?
Dr. Evans: 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-
Dr. Evans: … 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.
Dr. Evans: 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, uh, goin’ back to the appliance. You can plug it in, without it bein’ turned on.
Dr. Evans: So- so the idea of 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 gotta turn on the light switch. The power is there, but if you don’t turn on the light switch, it’s useless power.
Jim: That is-
Jim: … such a good analogy.
Um, uh, kingdom citizen. What’s the definition of that, what is a kingdom citizen?
Dr. Evans: A kingdom citizen is a Christian who brings the values of heaven to the concerns of the culture.
Dr. Evans: That is, they want society to see heaven at in its midst. That’s why we’re called to be salt, not of the shaker, (laughs) 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.
Jim: Yeah, and there’s so many things that you, um, mentioned that are going crazy. How do, how do you we make a difference, how do we … I know we talk about the public policy stuff, but really it’s bigger than that, this is spiritual.
Dr. Evans: Well, we can, we can answer that with one passage of scripture. II Chronicles, chapter 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’ve 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-
Dr. Evans: … was interjected. Verse 24, 26, and 28, God turned ’em over, God turned ’em over, God turned ’em over. He says, “I’m gonna let you have life without me. Because you don’t want me, I’m gonna let you not have me.” And once that happens, then, uh, disintegration enters into that environment.
He gives three reasons in verse 3 of II 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 a distress.
I tell this story about Lois. Uh, 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.
Dr. Evans: So, she was, she was a girlfriend who was movin’ a little slow, so I had to help a sister out.
Dr. Evans: So what I did was, um, I- I took her to an amusement park in Baltimore where I was born and raised and they had a, uh, a rollercoaster for two called the Wild Mouse.
Dr. Evans: And it went, you know, wild and it went like it was gonna jump off the track and turn real quick, I got two tickets. And, uh, the wilder the ride got, the closer she got.
Dr. Evans: By the time the ride was over, you thought only one person got on it.
Dr. Evans: And the reason I put her on that ride was to create some distress-
Dr. Evans: … ’cause I knew if I created enough distress, she’d move a little closer, okay?
Dr. Evans: So God allows distress to wake us up-
Dr. Evans: … to our need for him-
Dr. Evans: … 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 gonna be changed. God’s not gonna skip the church house to fix the White House.
Jim: Wow, I mean that is well said.
John: Yeah, this is Focus on the Family with Dr. Tony Evans and, uh, what an…
Dr. Evans: I’m sorry, am I talkin’ too much?
John: Uh- uh, no-
Jim: Not at all.
John: … (laughs) and this is so good. And I know you’re leaning in right now, ’cause everything he’s saying is, it’s just so spot on and, uh, relatable to our culture today and where we are as believers. Get a copy of the new book, uh, from Dr. Evans called Kingdom Focus: Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity. And you can get a copy of that book. All the details are at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Uh, Tony, it- it, it’s obvious that you believe, but I wanna 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- their desires?
Dr. Evans: 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.
Dr. Evans: And- and- and I’m … Because people’s thinking is insane. And now the-
Jim: That that’s where we’re at.
Dr. Evans: … uh- uh … I mean, we’re in the insanity-
Dr. Evans: … stage. And what makes it worse, is when it 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, that are evil. You, we are the laborers, so- so we don’t, 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 and punks. This is the time where you, where you, where you have to, you have to go public, and you have to declare, with compassion, with love, but with crystal clear clarity-
Dr. Evans: … heaven’s point of view. And this demands a kingdom focus, and a kingdom mindset, and a kingdom declaration and demonstration.
Jim: Yeah, which is so good.
Let’s, um, you know, and this is meat, we’re talkin’ 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.
Dr. Evans: Yeah.
Jim: So what, uh, h- how does that turn around? How do pastors become a little more stiff in their spine on spiritual things?
Dr. Evans: Well, you know, a mist in the pulpit will always lead to a fog in the pew. And when, uh-
Dr. Evans: … and when the leaders are not- 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 leach. And the whole idea is not just to …
See, the- the church is not a hospice, it’s a-
Dr. Evans: … 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, and struggling, and needs, but we’re supposed to patch them up so they can go back to work-
Dr. Evans: … not just sit, soak, and sour in the sanctuary.
So, uh, 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.
Dr. Evans: ‘Cause now a doctor’s not just a doctor, he’s God 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 can 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.
Jim: (laughs) Yeah, and this- this is so good.
John: Inspiring stuff, yeah.
Jim: And I feel, for the pastors, because today’s churches, it’s not necessarily about come in, patch you up, and go out. We come in and, you know, there isn’t enough servant attitude. And- and we expect the pastors to do the work-
Dr. Evans: That is, uh-
Jim: … rather than-
Dr. Evans: … absolutely-
Jim: … helping them.
Dr. Evans: … absolutely. So it – the fundamental thing that, in my view, the church has missed is the kingdom. Uh, that 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.
Dr. Evans: And the idea of the kingdom is to bring “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth, as it is 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, uh, 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.
Jim: Give us an example of that, how, uh, to help us learn how to do it. Just pick something that you just alliterated on. What- what would it be like to think of a situation?
Dr. Evans: Well let’s start with Focus on the Family. Um-
Dr. Evans: … uh- uh-
Dr. Evans: … uh, no- no, not-
John: Be good to him, please.
Dr. Evans: … the entity, but the focus of the family, the … I mean, when God made, uh, declared in Genesis 1, “I’m gonna make them male and female,” he said, “I’m gonna 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 gonna 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 I Peter, chapter 3, verse 7, “If a husband and wife are in conflict, the husband’s prayers are hindered,” you- 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 if gonna be in jeopardy ’cause 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,” uh, well and “you love the wife like Christ loves the church.” How did he love the church? To death. So if you still alive, you ain’t finished yet, okay?
Dr. Evans: So, I mean, so unless you have the spiritual kingdom purpose and you’re only lookin’ for your own happiness, then you’re gonna miss the bigger goal, which brings the personal blessing.
Jim: 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?
Dr. Evans: Oh- oh, less than 10%.
Dr. Evans: Oh yeah-
Dr. Evans: … very small-
Dr. Evans: … very small. But, because we have dumbed down the institution of marriage and family to what’s, to cultural nuances, not to kingdom purposes.
Jim: In addition to that, the demonstration of that power that you referenced a while ago. Um, you’ve had some great losses in your family over-
Dr. Evans: Yeah-
Jim: … the last few years.
Dr. Evans: … we have.
Jim: I mean, lot, uh … I- I was reading through the prep. I mean, first describe that loss and then here’s- here’s the point. How you have managed that publicly, how you have expressed it. It doesn’t mean you’re without grief, but I’m still here, I still gotta a job to do, I’m pressin’ forward. But describe the loss and how you have processed that and still wake up every morning like you did today-
Dr. Evans: Mm-hmm.
Jim: … ready to go.
Dr. Evans: Well, yeah, we lost, uh, eight family members in two years and it came down to, uh, my father and my wife, uh, passing away a month apart. So, um, so. He was November 2019, she was December 2019. And, uh, um, so I’m toggling back from Dallas to Baltimore, where he was, [and] tryin’ to care for both of them. So it was a, it was a traumatic time of- of-, uh, drain. Of grief. Of sadness.
Now, she passed away on December 30th. Um, 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.
Dr. Evans: Don’t you stop, um, serving the Lord. Don’t let the devil win.” And she was dying. And, uh… 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, uh, that this isn’t fair. It didn’t feel fair, you know?
We were, we were, 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-
Dr. Evans: … um, 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.
Dr. Evans: And so are my kids. And so is the ministry.
Jim: Maybe this is the question for the listeners, um, 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, that bitterness can grow-
Dr. Evans: Mm-hmm.
Jim: … ’cause 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 to 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.”
Dr. Evans: Uh, at my wife’s funeral, um, my son spoke, Jonathan, who, 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. Uh, so if prayer could- could have changed something, it would’ve been her case-
John: Hm, mm-hmm.
Dr. Evans: … okay?
Um, 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 gonna 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 gonna be disappointed because you met the conditions and what you thought was gonna happen didn’t happen. But there’s this other side of God, and we have to give, 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’-
Dr. Evans: … it just wasn’t on this side.”
Dr. Evans: And unless you have this bigger kingdom picture-
Dr. Evans: … and not just a cultural-
Dr. Evans: … picture, and a temporal picture, you will succumb, you’ll collapse, when life falls upon you. John, uh, John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.
Dr. Evans: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” You- you only need to overcome something if there’s something to overcome. (laughs) 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 you, your knees buckle, and your faith gets weak, it’s critical. That’s why we’re not supposed to be lone ranger Christians.
Jim: … so good. Tony, uh, there’s so much more, let’s come back next time, keep the discussion going, and- and talk more about this wonderful resource, Kingdom Focus. It, it’s so needed right now in the culture. Now is the time to, kind of, do the hard lifting, get us ready spiritually. Uh, it’s, kinda, like weight lifting, right? Get in there and do the training we need to do to be the people God needs us to be-
Jim: … in this moment.
Dr. Evans: Absolutely.
Jim: 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. Uh, (laughs) and you know, we’ll make it easy as we can. Uh, if you can make a donation of any amount, monthly, one time, that’s fine, uh, we’ll send it to ya 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 ya if you can’t afford it just to help you in your journey and your walk with the Lord. And we’ll trust others will cover that. The point being, call us.
John: Hm. Yeah, get in touch and request your copy of the book Kingdom Focus: Rethinking Today in Light of Eternity. Uh, we have copies of that here. Donate generously, as you can. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459. And you can find all the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
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.