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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Learning to Live Out God’s Call on Your Life

Learning to Live Out God’s Call on Your Life

Did you know that God uses ordinary people like you to do extraordinary things? Pastor Jeff Simmons shares insights into living a fulfilling and joyful life by embracing God’s call. He’ll encourage you to invest your time and money wisely, with your focus on God and others instead of yourself.
Original Air Date: February 26, 2024


Jeffrey Simmons: But what I’ve loved is just saying every day, God, whether I’m in business or whether I’m in full-time ministry, I am in ministry. And how can I use that for the glory of God. And then to see what God’s done. I mean, it’s only Him. But learning to trust in that still, small voice in your heart, in your mind. When God prompts you, be obedient in that.

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Pastor Jeff Simmons describing how God uses ordinary people in extraordinary ways. I’m John Fuller and welcome to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, we all want to live good and purposeful lives, right? I think that’s reasonable human beings, even those that are non-believers want to live a purposeful life. Maybe not everybody, they just kind of get through the day. But as Christians, one of our goals should be to get to Heaven and hear those words, “Well done thy good and faithful servant,” right?

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, we as believers have that desire to please the Lord. Sometimes our path in life isn’t what we hoped it would be, or it may be a temporary detour, right, and we don’t understand, “God, why am I on this detour.”

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And it can be a little fraying to our sensibilities. And, uh, when Jean and I first became involved with Focus, I remember driving up to Pomona and it was 1989. I remember saying to Jean, “You know, I think we could just give this a couple years. It’ll be our, our payback to the Lord, and then we’ll get back into the business world, and buy the house, and do all the things we want to do financially.” (laughs) That sounds horrible, but I was only 27.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: (laughs) So give me a little bit of a break.

John: And so two years has stretched into?

Jim: 34.

John: Wow.

Jim: 35, I don’t… I mean, it’s been an amazing ride. And, uh, yet at the same time, it was unplanned. This wasn’t the direction we thought the Lord would take us.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And today, you might be living in that place where it feels a little unplanned. This wasn’t what I expected. We’re going to address those issues and so many others.

John: Yeah, and Pastor Jeff Simmons has spent his life pursuing God’s purpose-

Jim: Hm.

John: … and he writes and speaks. And he’s the founding and senior pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in the Nashville area. He’s also the president of Justice & Mercy International. They do missions work in Moldova and the Amazon jungle. Uh, Jeff has written a terrific book published by Focus on the Family called Finding the Extra in Ordinary: Embracing the Beauty of the Christian Life. You can find out more about Jeff and the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Jeff, it’s great to have you here at Focus for the first time.

Jeffrey: Aw, Jim, thanks so much. John, love being here with you guys. It’s beautiful.

Jim: (laughs) Okay. Here’s the right opening question.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: What is the purpose of life?

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: Well, uh, I-

Jim: Can you finally answer that?

Jeffrey: Yes. I’ll tell you, Jesus. How about that?

Jim: I like it.

Jeffrey: Honestly. I mean-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … I think that’s where life comes alive is when you yield your life to Christ, you begin to follow Christ. And I think so many people are searching out there for hope and meaning, and we know that Christ is the one. Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have life and have it to the full.”

Jim: Full.

Jeffrey: Right?

Jim: No, it’s awesome.

Jeffrey: And so that’s, I think that’s where it all comes down to.

Jim: Okay, the opening, uh, thought here out of the book.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: You have this relationship with Dolly Parton.

Jeffrey: (laughs)

Jim: I’m sitting there going… We were visiting foster kids in Tennessee, and Jean went one summer without me back there, and went to, uh, what is it?

John: Dollywood?

Jim: Dollywood.

Jeffrey: Dollywood, yeah.

Jim: And so she had a great time with the kids, uh, but-

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Jim: … talk about your relationship with Dolly Parton.

Jeffrey: Well, yeah. Dolly’s a legend, you know? It’s funny, anywhere you go in the world, you say you’re from Tennessee, people go, “Dolly Parton.” You know? You’re like, “Yeah, Dolly Parton.”

Jim: In the Amazon jungle?

Jeffrey: Even in the Amazon. It’s incredible. I mean… Uh, and she just kind of has transcended. But if you know her story, right, I mean, she grew up in rural, dirt poor Tennessee.

Jim: Very poor, yeah.

Jeffrey: Yeah. And, uh, but how amazing to see her joy and her, man, just her love for life, her generosity. And several years ago, I get this call, a guy named Steve. And he says, “Hey, uh, Dolly and Carl are wanting to do their 50th wedding celebration. And would you come do their vow renewal?” And I was like, “Uh, okay.” You know, and so I w- I was like… I wasn’t sure, like, how this was gonna go, you know?

Jim: (laughs)

John: (laughs) Did you know them at all?

Jeffrey: Yeah. So well, I, I’ve met Dolly a few times, but, uh, I wasn’t as close, uh, back then. I didn’t know her as well. And I, I said, “Well…” And I went home and told my wife. I was like, “Lisa, they want me to do…” She’s like, “Dolly Parton, are you kidding? Yes,” you know? (laughs)

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: And-

Jim: Confessions of a Christian.

Jeffrey: Yeah, exactly. And so sure enough, I, uh, show up. And it was pretty amazing because it was her 50th wedding, uh, uh, renewal. Carl had told Dolly, he said, “I will get you anything you want, Dolly. It’s been an incredible 50 years.” And here’s what Dolly said. Dolly said, “Carl, I don’t want to go anywhere else in the world.” She goes, “I want to just have a real wedding,” and she said, “I want a real preacher, and I want to take lots of pictures, and I want to sell them to the paparazzi so I can make money for the Imagination Library.”

Jim: Hm.

Jeffrey: And her Imagination Library, they give books to every child born in Tennessee. And now it’s gone, you know, nationwide, and even global.

Jim: Huh.

Jeffrey: But she wanted to do something to help kids learn how to read. And even our kids, growing up, we got books, um, great books from Dolly, and that just showed her heart. So I showed up, and it was just a few of, it was just us.

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: And, uh, it was a special time.

Jim: You know, what’s interesting about that, ’cause Jean, when she did go there to-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … Dollywood, she said one of the things that was really refreshing, she said… You know, these kids are small. They were, like, 5 and 7, or 6 and 8 when Jean took them. And she said, uh, they couldn’t really hit the amusement park games like throwing the ball-

Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: … and knocking over the milk cartons or whatever, but everybody got a prize, you know? Even the three-year-old that couldn’t throw the ball and hit, they still got a little stuffed animal or something.

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah.

Jim: And the person said that’s ’cause Dolly wanted it done that way, that she didn’t want a child to be disappointed that-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … they didn’t get something.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: I think that’s really sweet.

Jeffrey: It’s amazing.

Jim: I mean, that’s what the amusement park should be about, right?

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: Anyway, sounds-

Jeffrey: Well-

Jim: … like she’s a, you know-

Jeffrey: Oh-

Jim: … a very authentic person. I’ve never met her, but that’s a great story.

Jeffrey: Oh, it’s amazing.

Jim: Let me ask you to describe, um, you know, this kind of understanding that you have characters in the Bible. Some of them certainly seem extraordinary, uh, Daniel, perhaps. But you say most of the characters in the Bible are pretty ordinary people.

Jeffrey: Yeah. I mean, you start looking down the list and you think Mary, you know, well… I mean, she was uneducated, poor, and God chose her, right? You think about Peter and John, I mean, Acts 4:13, right? It says, you know, they were ordinary, like we talk about, they were ordinary, unschooled men, but they had this courage. And people took note that they had been with Jesus. And that’s where the change is. I mean, these were ordinary fisherman guys. You know, they hadn’t been to seminary. They didn’t have some great education. But they were with Jesus, and they spent time with Jesus. And all of a sudden, their life became extraordinary. And I really think that’s where it all comes down to.

Jim: Absolutely, knowing the word. Of course, the word was walking with them. (laughs)

Jeffrey: Yes. (laughs)

Jim: So they had it firsthand.

Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: But, um, and it’s there f- and available for all of us to have that kind of wisdom that makes it extraordinary.

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah.

Jim: The key is for us not to heap that, uh, pride unto ourselves.

Jeffrey: Amen.

Jim: Aren’t we smart-

Jeffrey: Yeah (laughs).

Jim: … because we could read?

Jeffrey: Right.

Jim: You know, so often, I talk about treating people with kindness and gentleness. And people say, “Man, that’s a great concept, Jim.” I go, “What? I can read. I had a good first and second grade teacher. I’m just reading the New Testament,” right?

Jeffrey: Exactly (laughs).

Jim: But give that credit to me.

Jeffrey: Yeah, right.

Jim: If I’m not doing it, you should come after me.

Jeffrey: Right.

Jim: Uh, with regard to serving Christ, what’s the difference between being able, and I really love this, uh, phrase that you coined, being able and being available.

Jeffrey: Hm. Yeah, I think that’s a big difference. You know, I think-

Jim: Yeah, I like it.

Jeffrey: … you know, it’s… Peter and John, they walked with Jesus for three years, right? But then after Jesus ascends into Heaven, the Holy Spirit comes. So now, I mean, it’s not just every day, it’s every moment that you’re with the Lord and the Holy Spirit working through you. So I think we’re all able, not in our own strength, by the grace of God, but in the strength that God provides through the spirit in us. And then it’s being available, right? It’s just saying, “God, every day, what do you want to do through me?” You wake up and you just go, “God, I’m your servant,” right?

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: “I’m not living for myself. It’s not about making money or looking great in the world’s eye. It’s I’m living for you. What do you want to do through me, God, for your glory?” And all of a sudden, you become available to God, and then you start seeing God work. You see these divine appointments that God has, that they were there before, but you weren’t looking, you weren’t ready, you know?

Jim: It’s super amazing when that happens.

Jeffrey: (laughs) It’s amazing.

Jim: I mean, that’s why we walk around like, “Wow, did you see what God did?”

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And people are going, “Why, what’d he do? Where?”

Jeffrey: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: You know, they’re looking for a pillar of fire, and you’re going, “No, it’s connecting this person with that person,” or-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … whatever happened. Um, this is great content, and I, I think again, let’s just poke at some of the things that-

Jeffrey: Yeah, come on.

Jim: … tend to derail us. But, um, describe how we can disqualify ourselves-

Jeffrey: Hm.

Jim: … from the service of God. And, and then what are some of the excuses that we make that disqualify us,

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah, yeah. I think we disqualify ourselves a lot, you know?

Jim: What does that sound like in our head?

Jeffrey: In our head, I think the enemy comes in. I think we forget that we’re in a spiritual battle, and I think a lot of times, the enemy will come in and go, “You, you remember what you did in college?”

Jim: (laughs) Yeah.

Jeffrey: (laughs) “You remember that? You remember what you did in high school? You, you remember what you said? You remember? You know, and now, you’re trying to be a Godly husband, you’re trying to be a Godly father? You’re, you’re trying to make a difference as a Godly wife or a mom? Or you’re… What are you thinking? You can’t do that,” or, “You haven’t been to seminary. Are you kidding? You haven’t read this book.” And I think we just go, “Yeah, you’re right,” you know? “Oh, man.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: “Who am I,” and we disqualify ourselves. But we’ve, we got to push past that. I mean, the apostle Paul murdered Christians. I mean, like, you don’t think Satan’s in his head every day going, “What do you think you’re doing?” And there had to be a time Paul’s going, “Get behind me, Satan,” you know? “I’m going in the way of the Lord. I’m walking with Jesus.” And, I mean, God used him to impact the world. And I think-

Jim: If-

Jeffrey: … God can use us.

Jim: Yeah. And it’s good to think about, ’cause you’re right. There’s a little hint of that in scripture with the disciples.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: When Paul’s name is mentioned, they’re going, “Hm.”

Jeffrey: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: “Uh, we sure about this conversion?”

Jeffrey: (laughs) Yeah.

Jim: You know, in, in modern terms, yeah, they were together going, “I’m not so sure. You know he was killing us?”

Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jim: How we, how we vet this thing? (laughs)

Jeffrey: (laughs) Yes.

Jim: You know, who’s gonna go talk to Paul?

Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: And everybody took two steps back-

Jeffrey: Took back, yeah.

Jim: … and somebody was out there in front, “Okay, I guess I’ll go do it.”

Jeffrey: Barnabas, praise God, you know?

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: (laughs) I’ll take it for the team, yeah.

Jim: Barnabas, I wonder if he stepped forward or just everybody else stepped backward.

Jeffrey: (laughs)

Jim: “All right, Barnabas, go talk to Paul.”

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: “Okay.”

Jeffrey: “You’re the encouraging one.”

Jim: Yeah, but, I mean, it does come down to that sometimes.

Jeffrey: It really does.

Jim: I like that idea, too. Just to elaborate a bit on the simplicity. What I find the older I become-

Jeffrey: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and maybe a little bit of wisdom comes with that, but it’s almost the better understanding I have of God’s simplicity.

Jeffrey: Hm.

Jim: It’s not complicated.

Jeffrey: Right.

Jim: He doesn’t need a PhD-

Jeffrey: Right, no.

Jim: … which is your point.

Jeffrey: No.

Jim: Peter’s out fishing. He’s a fisherman.

Jeffrey: Yes.

Jim: And, and h- how we can undermine our own godly confidence to be able to talk to somebody about the Lord, especially in a day where tolerance is so-

Jeffrey: Oh.

Jim: … valued.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: You know, for us to say to a coworker or somebody we bump into at the grocery store, “Man, I see you’re struggling. Is there anything I can do? And, you know, I love the Lord, and I’d love to help you.” Just little things like that.

Jeffrey: Exactly. I think it’s being available every day. You know, I, I think about a woman, Marilyn, you know, and she was at work. And they brought another lady in, and she was like, hated her job, but she said, “God has me here for a reason.” And she started talking to her and found out the woman was going through a divorce and all these things were going on in her life. Ends up inviting her to church, leading her to Christ, watching her be baptized, and she’s like, “God had me at that job for her. It wasn’t just to make money, it was for her.” And I thought, “That’s a different perspective right there,” right?

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: That is being available to God.

Jim: And what’s so good about that, and I’ve heard this said by many people, when you look at your vocation-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … look at it as missions work, a ministry.

Jeffrey: Yes.

Jim: And sometimes, that could be hard. You know, you’re the engineer or the accountant-

Jeffrey: Hm.

Jim: … uh, maybe not in a people skill business. How do you wake up every day and go, “Okay, Lord. I’m gonna do my vocation as my ministry. Help me today with numbers, help me today-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … whatever I got to do.” How do you gear up for that?

Jeffrey: Yeah. Well, I think you do your job with integrity and with character ’cause people are watching your life. I think you do speak up. I mean, I think there’s a call to boldness. You know, it says they saw the courage of Peter and John. You know, they, there is a boldness factor there. I think even asking, “How can I pray for you,” you know, people. I mean, it, it’s so, you know, disarming, but it also says a lot in that moment. And people will open up, and they’ll say, “Thank you for praying.” And, and even, you know, using those opportunities just to point people to Jesus and those little things make a huge impact and difference. And I think generosity. I mean, what, uh, people love about Dolly, her generosity, right? I mean-

Jim: That’s what I think Jean was experiencing at, at the-

Jeffrey: Oh, yes.

Jim: … place. I mean-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … everybody got something ’cause she didn’t want people to be sad.

Jeffrey: Yeah. And Carl, her husband, said, “Jeff, that’s the most generous woman you’ve ever met.”

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: You know, she would give it all away if she could, you know? D-

Jim: Yeah, right.

Jeffrey: And he goes, “I have to hold her back. Say, ‘Hold on, Dolly,’” you know?

Jim: That is so good.

Jeffrey: But I think living that kind of life, that joy-filled, that generosity, that love, it changes everything. And there’s a lot of people that go to their job, and they just hate their job. And that’s hard. But if you go in with a different attitude, people see that attitude.

Jim: Yeah. Jeff, so often, it’s, it’s refreshing to see, uh, authors talk about their own experiences, right-

Jeffrey: Hm.

Jim: … to fess up to challenges that they had (laughs). And you do that brilliantly in this book. Uh, you had some wrestling to do with God on some indecisions about what God wanted you to do for a career after college. So fess up.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: What was going on? What was the tug-of-war, and how’d you resolve that conflict?

Jeffrey: Yeah. Great question. Uh, when I majored in… I majored in business in college, so I majored in finance and marketing. I always thought I would go into business. And then-

Jim: My goodness. That was my major.

Jeffrey: Was it really? (laughs)

Jim: Finance and marketing.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: So I was interviewing with, uh, a major company in St. Louis, and, and me and my good buddy, uh, had great interviews. But that night, I couldn’t sleep, and I had a wrestling with God. Literally, I felt like j- I just couldn’t sleep. I got down on my knees and was crying. I was going, “Okay, God.” And God said, “I’ve called you to ministry.” I’m like, “What is that,” you know? And, and I felt like the trajection of my life was gonna be doing business and making money, and, and-

Jim: What we just said…

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: You can use your vocation as ministry.

Jeffrey: Exactly.

Jim: So I’m gonna…

Jeffrey: That’s what I thought.

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: That’s what I was pla-… I wanted to be-

Jim: You can do that.

Jeffrey: My dad was a Christian businessman, and he was great. I watched my dad, you know, he was generous, he always invited people to church. He always served at church, and I thought that’s what I was gonna do. I mean, I wanted to work on the Chicago stock exchange, I wanted to make a lot of money. I wanted to do mission. I love missions. I want to do ministry, but I want to do it as a side, you know? And God said, “This is what I’ve called you to full-time.” And so I wrestled with God literally, like, “God, is this it?” And God said, “Yes.” And so I went in the interview next day and said, “I feel like God’s called me to do ministry,” and they were like, “What?” You know, but-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … but by God’s grace, I didn’t take it. My buddy took the job. He’s head of AT&T or VP of AT&T. So, but God had a different plan for me. And I’ve loved it, but what I’ve loved is just saying every day, God, whether I’m in business or whether I’m in full-time ministry, I am in ministry. And how can I use that for the glory of God. And then to see what God’s done, I mean, it’s only him. But learning to trust in that still, small voice in your heart, in your mind. When God prompts you, be obedient to that, when God prompts you to step into that.

Jim: Well, and I think, uh, it’s good for people to hear this, especially in your 20s and 30s-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … I think, ’cause I was there. I was going, “okay, Lord. What do you want me to do?”

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And I didn’t… I was unsettled-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … in the business world. I mean, I felt like people were… I was able to introduce people to the Lord, and there was good success. I was getting promotions and all that, but I was like, “Okay. Is there anything else here, Lord? What do you want me to do?” And sometimes, it was just quiet.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: You know, I’m not getting any kind of impression or, you know, tea leaves-

Jeffrey: Right.

Jim: … whatever you want to say. But I just wasn’t feeling like the Lord was giving me that direction. So how, how do you make your heart available and listen to that still, small voice?

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: How do you prepare your heart to be able to hear him?

Jeffrey: That’s a great question. We talk about that in the book, too, but I really think there’s four ways. One, I think it is through his word, right? I mean, when you’re reading God’s word, if you just take the time to stop-

Jim: That’s a good way to go.

Jeffrey: Yeah. (laughs) God’ll speak through his word. Two, I think it is, you know, those circumstances. When you start looking around and you’re seeing God open and close doors. I think, three, it’s through wise counsel. I mean, having spiritual mentors in your life, people that you can bounce things off saying, “God’s prompted me for this.” And then, and think I think, four, it is that still, small voice. And like you said, Jim, I mean, it’s so hard in this world. There’s so many distractions. We get on our phone, we start scrolling. Everything’s going off in our life, but when we can pull away and just go, “God, I want to hear from you,” you know, be still and know-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … that he is God. God speaks. I’m telling you. I mean, you think about Elijah, but God will speak to you. If you will make yourself available to hear from him, God will speak.

Jim: That’s so good.

John: Hm. Lot of encouragement today to listen to God-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

John: … to seek him out. Our guest is Jeff Simmons, and, uh, we’re so glad to have him here talking about his book, Finding the Extra in Ordinary. And you can learn more about the book and Jeff, and, uh, find other resources at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Jeff, you tell a story about a modern day rich ruler.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And again, this sometimes, uh, as a new believer or a yet-to-become believer, one of the things I’ve heard from this is, “I don’t really understand all the parables and things.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: I d- I don’t get it. It’s not clicking for me.” But what’s so amazing is how those parables in the New Testament-

Jeffrey: Oh.

Jim: … where the Lord is talking to us, he, I think He did that very purposefully so that it would be relevant to generations 2,000 years-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: …. later, like we are today. And so the rich, young ruler, set that up as the biblical story. And then how did that play out for you in modern times?

Jeffrey: Yeah. You know, I mean, we’ve probably heard the story, the rich, young ruler, right? And here’s this guy. I mean, he’s rich, he’s young, he’s a ruler. Uh, he’s got all this money, success, but he comes to Jesus, right? It tells us he falls down on his knees. So he recognizes that money doesn’t satisfy, even though he has all this that the world offers, he still realizes something’s missing in his heart and his life. And so he comes to Jesus. And Jesus, we know, right, says, talks about keeping the commandments. And he’s like, “I’ve kept them all,” right, which that’s pride, arrogance, but-

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: … anyway, nobody has. But yeah-

Jim: Didn’t, didn’t keep that one.

Jeffrey: Yeah, exactly.

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: But then Jesus says, “Go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” Wow, you know? A- and there’s this moment right there in that story where the rich, young ruler has a decision to make. Am I gonna live for Jesus, am I gonna go sell it all and follow Jesus, or am I gonna keep living for the world? And it says that he walked away sad, right, because he knew right in front of him was the extra, right in front of him was the hope, right in front of him was everything that he needed, but he couldn’t give up the world. He couldn’t give up all the allure, and all the riches and the possessions. A- and it even says that Jesus was sad. Well, I mean, but Jesus didn’t run after him and go, “Oh, just kidding. It’s only 10%.” You know, Jesus was like, “No, I mean, I want your life. I want you to literally follow me.” Uh, and so that played out. I mean, I was sitting in my office one day, and this guy came by out of our church, young guy. And, uh, here he is a dad, two kids, and he walked in, and he just started bawling, I mean, crying, lost it. And I said, “What’s going on?” And he said, “Sports gambling.” Said, “I’ve lost over $300,000 dollars.” He goes, “My wife just found out. I… She’s gonna leave me. I’m gonna lose my kids. I’m gonna lose everything.” And I said, “Man, this is a defining moment right now. You know, right now, you’ve got to decide, you know, have you ever given your life to Christ?” And he goes, “No.” And I go, “Why not?” And he goes, “‘Cause I love money.” And he said, “I just kept thinking I’m gonna hit it big, I’m gonna hit it big. The next gamble, the next move, I’m gonna hit it big.

Jim: Right. Make up all the ground.

Jeffrey: I’m gonna make up all the ground.” And he g-… And I said, “Give your life to Christ. I’m telling you, there is hope, there’s redemption, but only in him.” And he got up, and he walked out.

Jim: Oh.

Jeffrey: He left. And I was sitting there just… I, I started crying, ’cause I just, my heart broke for him, for his marriage, for his kids. And I thought, “He can’t give it up.” But praise God, two weeks later, he came back. And he said, “You know, last night I couldn’t sleep.” He said, “My wife told me she was leaving. And I got down on my knees, and I just said, ‘Okay, Lord. It’s all you. It’s all you.’” And he said, “I met with her this morning, and we talked about it. And we’re willing to go to counseling. She’s willing to work on it. And I’m gonna figure out a way to pay it all back.” And I watched this kid’s life change right there in that moment as he committed his life to Christ. And I just thought, “Man, what God’s gonna do through the generations.” I mean, you think about not only the impact on his life, but on his kids, and on his grandkids, fu-… I mean, it’s gonna be unbelievable. But God just changed his life right there.

Jim: Yeah. That is such a powerful story.

Jeffrey: Oh.

Jim: You had some friends who frantically called you from Hawaii.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And I think it’s 2018.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And, and it was really a moving story, but what happened?

Jeffrey: Well, it was crazy. I had these friends. They went on vacation to Hawaii, so then I get this call. And, and I, I saw their number, and I knew they were in Hawaii. And so I thought, “Oh,” it was a joke. And I was like, “Hey, you… What’s going on? You guys having a blast?” You know, they’re like, “No. You wouldn’t believe. We just got an alert on our phone that China’s launched two nuclear misses at Hawaii, and we’re all gonna die.” And I’m like, “What?” And I go, “You’re kidding.” I thought they were joking. And they go, “No.” And I said… And you can go look this up.

Jim: I remember this.

Jeffrey: This was really happening.

Jim: I, I remember-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … when this happened.

Jeffrey: They were there. And-

Jim: It was, uh, it was a mistake. Somebody-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … tested the system, but it actually went out to everybody.

Jeffrey: Went out to everybody. And they said people were running, and the hotels were screaming, were crying. You know, they had gone down to the front desk, the front desk people were hiding behind the desk. They said, “Go find a bomb shelter. Go…” And I said, “What are y’all doing?” And they said, “We just went to our room to pray. We just went…” And we asked, uh, and they said, “Can you get on speakerphone? Can we just put you in the middle of our room? Can you pray over us right now?

Jim: Hm.

Jeffrey: And I said, “Yeah, I’ll pray right now.” But you know what I was reminded of is in that moment, we’re all gonna stand before God one day, right, and we don’t know how much time we have on this earth. I mean, we could-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … you know, God could call us home today.

Jim: Right.

Jeffrey: You know, or tomorrow. But in that moment, have we told the people that we love that we love them? Are we living our lives for Christ?

Jim: Hm.

Jeffrey: Because one day, we’re all gonna stand before God, and we want to hear those words-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So if there’s anything in our lives of unconfessed sin, if there’s any area of our life that we need to get right with God, let’s do it now.

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: That reminded me, let’s live every day for the glory of God.

Jim: Here’s a great idea. A friend of mine, Randy, uh, he’s recorded a video on his phone-

Jeffrey: No.

Jim: … to each of the kids individually-

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … and to his wife.

Jeffrey: Oh.

Jim: I thought, “Man.” And I thought, “I’ve got to do that.”

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: And it’s already, you know, four, five months have passed since he mentioned that to me. But that’s a great thing to do.

Jeffrey: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: And just… ‘Cause they’ll find it.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: You know, you can put it in a place where they will find that. But what a great thing to leave behind for your-

Jeffrey: Oh.

Jim: … adult children. Hopefully, they’re adults.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: Uh-

Jeffrey: There’s a guy in the book I write about, a guy named Tim Burke, and he went to the doctor, and the doctor said, “You’re eaten up with cancer. You’re terminal.” And he goes, “Aren’t we all terminal?”

Jim: (laughs)

Jeffrey: He goes, “You know, I mean, we’re all gonna die.” And he said, “Well, you just have a couple months left.” And he started recording videos for his kids.

Jim: Yeah, that’s great.

John: Hm.

Jeffrey: Oh, my good-

Jim: That’s a beautiful idea.

Jeffrey: When, when they turn 21-

Jim: Yeah.

Jeffrey: … watch this.

Jim: Oh, yeah.

Jeffrey: You know, when you get married, I won’t be there to walk you down the aisle, but watch this. And blessing his daughter, blessing his son, you know?

Jim: Good for him.

Jeffrey: Oh. Yeah.

Jim: Good for him.

Jeffrey: Praise the Lord.

Jim: Th- those will be so meaningful-

Jeffrey: Oh, yeah.

Jim: … to those kids.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, but why is it important to manage our expectations of what an extraordinary life means? I mean, again, we can build this up to such a point that it’s unattainable. And it’s not the goal, per se.

Jeffrey: No.

Jim: Um, what are some good ways to think about how to be extraordinary for God in our simplicity?

Jeffrey: Yeah. I think it’s being faithful every day, right? I think it’s taking captive every thought. I think when you put the things of the world into our head all the time, uh, that’s what’s gonna come out of our lives. When we put the things of God in our head, that’s what comes out of our life. And so, yeah, I think God opens our eyes, and we see miracles happen. But it doesn’t happen every day, but it’s in the everyday obedience, you know? The disciples followed Jesus for three years. Now, they saw a lot of incredible miracles, but there probably days they sat around the campfire, you know, (laughs) and just told stories, or there were days when they went off to pray, or there were days when maybe it was the persecution, it was hard, and they just said, “We just got to make it through right now. But God isn’t finished with me.” And I think for reminding ourselves everyday God’s not finished with me. I’m still on this earth for a reason and for a purpose, and there’s something that God’s doing in me and through me for his glory if I will just trust him, if I will stay faithful to him every single day.

Jim: That is good. Jeff, for that person who wants to start, uh, pursuing that purposeful life.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: … but they feel like they’ve blown it so many times, “God can’t really use me,” you know the argument-

Jeffrey: Right.

Jim: … and you know how the enemy speaks, and even our flesh speaks into our soul, how would you encourage them to take that next positive, godly step to move toward that purposeful life?

Jeffrey: Yeah, I do. I think it, it comes asking forgiveness from God, right? It starts with our relationship with Jesus. Y- putting our lives fully in His hands. And then when we realize that God’s forgiven us, then I think the second part is forgiving ourselves. And I think that’s a bigger struggle for a m- a many people, because they won’t let go. But you have to let go of that past. You learn from the past, but you go forward in faith, you go forward in Christ, you go forward in that forgiveness, and you start trusting God. And you say, “God, use me for your glory.” You know, it’s like Isaiah, right, here I am. You know, send me. I mean, it just becomes that daily obedience, that daily dying to self, uh, and living for God. You know, I remember when we started the church and we had 15 people, but, but God said, “It just can’t be about you.” And so we said, “Let’s do a mission trip.” And so eight months later, we took, you know, 18 people and went to Moldova. I don’t even know where Moldova was, but I, but I started hearing the statistics that 60% of girls trafficked into prostitution come out of this small country of Moldova.

Jim: Hm.

Jeffrey: And God started breaking my heart.

Jim: Huh.

Jeffrey: And we started working with orphans in Moldova. And I remember the very first time I was there, I was like, “God, this is totally out of my realm,” right? You know, I… But I just saw these kids sleeping two to a bed, and, and I saw the need there. And I remember standing outside of this orphanage camp, I mean, probably 300 kids there, and tears running down my eyes, but God said, “I want you to invest here. I want you to be involved here.” And, uh, and so it’s in those moments that you don’t know when God’s gonna show up, but God shows up, and then you’ve got to be obedient to step into that. And when you step into that, man, god does what only God can do.

John: Hm.

Jim: Well, and this is it. This is the theme of your book.

Jeffrey: Yeah.

Jim: What a great resource. And Jeff, it’s been really good to talk to you about this.

Jeffrey: Oh, Jim, loved it.

Jim: I’m kind of feeling a vibrancy inside of me right now.

John: Hm.

Jim: But let me turn to the listener and just say if this is a need that you have-

John: Hm.

Jim: … you’re feeling like, you know, I’m going to work, coming home, taking care of the kids, or maybe the kids are now gone.

John: Yeah.

Jim: It’s empty nest time, what a great time to participate in what the Lord is doing around you. And, uh, man, engage it. And this wonderful book will, uh, I think give you some great ideas on how to do more and to recognize the extraordinary within you. And, uh, man, what a great resource. Finding the Extra in Ordinary: Embracing the Beauty of the Christian Life. We often do this, even this is an act of worship and service. We will send a copy of the book to you if you can make a, a donation of any amount, even $5. Um, it’s fine. We just want to get it into your hands so you could use it as a tool. And when you support us that way, you’re partnering in the ministry here. We’re gonna reach other families and help those families either save a marriage, maybe help a parent in a crisis, how about save a baby’s life? Is that worth $5 bucks? I think so. And, uh, we could do that together when we work together, much like Jeff is talking about. So if you can’t afford it, hey, okay. We’ll send it to you. Just get in touch with us, and we’ll make sure you get it. And others we will trust will cover the cost of this. Let’s do this together and be active for the Lord. Jeff, again, thank you for being with us.

Jeffrey: Oh, Jim, John, thank you so much. It’s been awesome to be with you guys.

John: Hm. Well, we’re so glad you’ve joined us today, and you can donate and get a copy of this book when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of the whole team here, thanks for joining us for 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.

Today's Guests

Finding the Extra in the Ordinary

Finding the Extra in Ordinary: Embracing the Beauty of the Christian Life

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