Jimmy Evans - Building a Lasting Family
Chris Hodges: Hi, everyone. Welcome, today, to week number one of a four-part series we're calling, "Family Values". And to start this new series, we have our good friend, Pastor Jimmy Evans, who's the Founder and President of XO Marriage, a marriage ministry that is devoted to helping couples thrive in strong and fulfilling marriages. He's spoken many times at our marriage conferences and is a dear friend of our church. So, open up your heart to God's Word and welcome back our dear friend, Pastor Jimmy Evans.
Pastor Jimmy Evans: Good morning, good morning. Thank you very much. Good morning. You can take your seat. Thank you so much. It is wonderful to be here. I always love being with you guys. Happy Valentine's Day. Are y'all my appendix? Now, that was good. I wish I would've thought about that one. Happy Valentine's Day. My dear friend, Pastor Chris, I love him to death. He's one of my dearest friends. There is nobody in this world I respect more than Pastor Chris Hodges. He is such a wonderful man of God. Wonderful church here. Now, by the way, one of the special treats of me being with you this weekend is my granddaughters, my twin granddaughters now go to Samford University. And so isn't that great? So, I got to go out and be with them last night. And they have informed us that they're not coming back to Texas. They're staying in Birmingham forever. And we thought, well, if you can't be from Texas, be from Alabama, 'cause that's a good place to be.
So, it's good to be with you, and I am going to be preaching on this "Family Values" series. Now, I have a couple of free podcasts, if you're into podcasts. These are available on the Apple podcast network or the Spotify. We have a marriage podcast called, "Marriage Today," my wife and I do, to help you in your marriage. I also have an end-times podcast that I do that's called, "Tipping Point". So, either on the Apple podcast or Spotify, you can get those, if that interests you. This message is called, "Building a Lasting Family," and we're talking about "Family Values". The dictionary defines family as a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household, a group of people, or a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage. And so there's basically two kinds of families. There's blood family, which just means we have, you know, relatives. We have ancestors in common. But there's spirit family.
Now, when a couple marries, they're not from the same blood. But Jesus said, "What God joins together, let not man put asunder". So, the Spirit of God, when we're married, he makes us into a spirit family. But we're all family here, because we have the blood of Jesus in common, and so we're brothers and sisters in Christ, and so that's the spirit family. The best families are families that are blood and spirit, that you have the ancestry in common, but you also have Jesus in common. And even if you have a blood and spirit family, you still need spiritual family, because we all need the body of Christ. And so I want to talk about family, and I want to begin by talking about our family and kind of the dysfunctional value system that Karen and I were both the products of.
Now, if you have generations of Christian family, you know, you're gonna like this message. You're gonna agree with this message. You may not be able to relate to some of it, but I'm going to talk about it. If you come out of a messed-up family, you're gonna really be encouraged by this message, because we came out of messed-up families. My mother, her grandfather, my great grandfather was a bootlegger in Tennessee. And he fled from Tennessee one night, in the middle of the night, to keep from being arrested. That's how we ended up in Texas. We were fleeing from the law. May have swung through Alabama on the way to Texas. We don't know. But my grandfather, his son started drinking whiskey and smoking when he was five years old. He was one of seven kids. His mother died around the time that he was born, and so he was raised by a bootlegger, and he was an alcoholic.
Now, my mother, his daughter, my mother, a very beautiful woman. She was a model, when I was growing up, and my mother was always very popular. She was a homecoming queen, or whatever, but her father was the town drunk. He was an alcoholic. And my grandfather, when he was sober, he was a sweet guy; but when he was drunk, he was mean, and he would get drunk and find my mother out with her friends and shame her publicly. She spent her entire life growing up, being shamed publicly, which scarred my mother, and many manifestations of that in my youth. Well, my dad was raised in abject poverty. My father was one of ten kids. He was raised by a sharecropper in Hall County, outside of Memphis, Texas, and he slept outside. My father slept outside every night, growing up. He never slept indoors, because they only had one room in their house, and he slept on a cot.
In the wintertime, he slept with the horses, only ate meat once a week. That was during the depression. They didn't have any money. He didn't wear a shirt or shoes. He didn't know they were poor. But in first grade, my dad went to school; and he walked into school, and he saw kids with shirts and shoes on, and it shamed him, and he ran outside and grabbed a tree in the front of the school and wouldn't let go until his parents came to get him. And so my dad was scarred by poverty, and my dad was a terrible father. And I'm going to tell more of this story later on, but my dad was just a terrible father. He never touched me physically, from the time I was three years old until the time I was 38 years old, at my grandmother's funeral. And when I was three years old, he was mad at me when he touched me. He didn't talk. My dad was a workaholic. He worked all day; and when he was home, he just didn't talk, and you couldn't get him to engage. And I would go to my dad.
As a little, you know, kid growing up, you have a million questions. He never answered one of my questions. And I would go up to my dad, and I would say, "Daddy, what's two plus two"? He'd say, "I don't know". Just, you know, no one there. And I played football, basketball, and baseball, and my dad never came to one of my sporting events. I invited him to every single game I ever had. And I remember scanning the sidelines to see if my dad was there. He never came to a single football game. So, my dad was just simply not in my life as a father. Now, when I was in college, my dad started an appliance and electronics store, and I went to work for him. And so he was a better boss than he was a father, because that was kind of his world. And so, I worked for him for seven years.
Now, the Lord had called me to preach when I was 19 years old. And so, at 19, you know, I knew one day I was going to preach. And so I worked for my dad. And you know, I thought, "Well, one day, I'm going to go into the ministry". But my dad wanted me to take over the store someday. I was the future of the business, okay. And I went to my dad one day, because the church that...I pastored a church for 30 years. We were members of the church, and the church asked me to come on staff as a marriage and pre-marriage counselor, because everybody in the congregation came to us for marriage counseling. We never told them we could help them, but everybody came to us for counseling. So, they said, "Well, why don't you come on staff as a marriage counselor"? I did.
Ten months later, I became the senior pastor for 30 years. Okay? So, that's how I came into the ministry. So, I went to my dad one day, and I said, "Daddy, the church has offered me a job, and I'm going to take it, because I believe the Lord's called me into the ministry". And my dad said, "That church only needs your money. They don't need you. They just need your money. So, you work here, you make money, you give them your money, and that's all they need". And I said, "Daddy, I'm sorry. I love working for you, but I'm going to work for the church". And my dad said, "I never want to see you, again. Get out". So, I went to work for the church, and my dad disowned me. And I'm going to come back to that later in the message. I'm not gonna leave you there. But my dad disowned me.
So, Karen's parents, her mother has the most pain of any of our parents. When she was 14 years old, she was involved in a farming accident on her uncle's farm, and she lost her arm and leg. So, Karen's mom is a double amputee. That's only part of her story. She's a remarkable woman. She's 92 years old, doing great, but I'm not gonna tell the rest of her story, because it just wouldn't be appropriate. Karen's father... are y'all depressed, yet, by the way? I'm working hard up here trying to depress you, so just if you're not depressed, it's not my fault. So, Karen's dad grew up on a farm, in a ranch in New Mexico. And so, this is a mindbender now, so stay with me. So, Karen's dad, his grandfather was younger than his father. And so, Karen's father, his mother was 14, and she married a man who was 35, and her father was only 30.
Now, you're thinking, "Okay, somebody needs to go to jail". Well, that wasn't illegal back then, and it wasn't uncommon. So, her mother was 14, married a man 35. His grandfather was younger than his father. So, he grew up... and his father was very abusive and very crude, a very crude man. So, those were our parents, and that's how we were raised. And so, they were damaged. All of our parents had deep pain in their lives. And so, their value system was wrong. You can hear, in these stories, that there was a value system that was off there. And so, they all had the same value system. And this is the interesting thing. Regardless of the differences in our parents, they had the same value system, and let me tell you the value system that we were raised in: money was first, social status was second, and family was third.
And that's not unusual. That's pretty common among families. And the families that we were raised in, money was first, then your position in society, and then your family. And here was their thinking: "If we have enough money and social status, we can give our kids anything they need". And so, that's just how our family was. You say, "Well, what was the result of that"? Tremendous, tremendous pain and dysfunction for another generation. Now, let me give you one example. I could give you many examples, but just, in protection of our family, I'm just going to give you one example. My wife's brother hates his father, hated his father growing up.
When I started dating Karen, I was 16, he was probably about 14, and he did every single thing he could to shame and punish his father. When he graduated, he moved to the other side of the world. For the last 40 years, he's never been to a graduation, a wedding, a family event, a funeral, a holiday, or anything. And when his father died last year, he didn't come to his funeral. That's one example of what that family system, what that value system produced. So, Karen and I got married, had the same value system, you know, we just kind of adopted the same value system. For the first several years of our marriage, I was not a good husband, I was not a good father. I just, you know, I wasn't serious, until we almost divorced.
And when Karen and I almost divorced, I got serious about God. And Karen and I sat down one day, and we said, "We do not want to raise our children the way we were raised". There's something wrong with the value system that we were raised in. And so, we adopted, at about 22... we got married when we were 19. We'll celebrate our 48th anniversary in May. And one of the reasons I'm saying that is I just want to tell you, the enduring blessing of having the right value system. At about 22 years old, we sat down and we said, "We're changing our value system. It's not gonna be about money. It's not gonna be about what people think about us".
Our value system is very simple: God and family. And if we have God's blessing, we're going to give our children everything they need. Okay. And so, we adopted that family system or that value system in our early 20s. And we're not perfect people. We don't have a perfect marriage, we don't have a perfect family, but we have two children that are well-married in their 40s, serving Jesus, and we have five grandchildren, all love Jesus. And we did not transmit pain to our children or grandchildren. Our children and grandchildren didn't have to recover from us the way we had to recover from our parents. And I'm not saying that self-righteously, because our parents were good people. They did all they knew to do. And what they came into life with was something that was handed to them.
So, they're good people. And I love our parents. We forgive our parents and all of that, but we just simply made a decision: we don't want that for our children and grandchildren. Okay. And so, God has blessed it for many, many years, God has blessed it, and we've seen the generational effects of having the right value systems. Well, here's a Scripture that the Lord gave me back when I was in my early 20s, that helped to really get my attention. Matthew 7, "Therefore," this is Jesus, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rains descended, the floods came, the winds blew and beat on that house, and it did not fall: for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell and great was its fall".
Well, the first thing that Jesus promises here is trouble, is that, you know, we live in a world of COVID. We live in a world of economic instability, of, you know, international instability, and all the things that are coming in the world. And Jesus said, "I'm just telling you, you're going to build a house, and there's going to be trouble on that house. There's going to be wind, and rains, and all the things that come on that house". So, Jesus tells us the truth. He doesn't set us up for disappointment. And so, here's the issue: wise builders build for a worst case scenario. Your house is only as strong as the foundation; and if you're only building your foundation for good times, you're building if for failure.
One of my friends, his dad is an engineer, and my friend was putting a drainage ditch through his property to try to drain the rain water off his property. And he went to his dad, and he said, "Dad, how big, based on the property and everything, how big should we build this drainage ditch to drain the rain off when it rains"? And his father said, "Son, you don't build a drainage ditch for rain. You build it for floods". And so, Jesus said, "You'd better build your life, you'd better build the foundation of your life as a strong foundation, because trouble is gonna come". The second thing Jesus promises is total stability for people who build on his Word. "Anyone who hears these sayings of mine and does them," not the hearers, but the doers of his Word will be like a wise person who builds your life on a rock. It's going to stand, regardless of what comes.
So, this has been our testimony. The third thing he promises is failure to everyone who doesn't build on the rock. And he said, "If anybody hears my Word and does not do it, he's like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the winds came, the rains blew, and the house fell, and great was its fall". And so I've seen a lot of people experience the absolute heartache of failure in their marriage and family. We're not better than them. We almost divorced, because we were not building on the rock in the early years of our marriage. But I'm just saying these are the words of Jesus, and he promises that.
And you say, "Well, why would anyone build on the sand? Why would anybody be foolish enough to build on the sand"? Well, first of all, it's more comfortable, especially in the world that we're living in. We're not living in a non-biblical world. We're living in an anti-biblical world. And if you want to be comfortable in this world, you just reject the Word of God. But this isn't about comfort. It's about being true to the Savior who died for us, naked in front of his mother. It's about being true to the person who gave his life for us and us standing up for him. But the second thing is it's more popular. The sand is more popular. If you go to the beach, people are on the sand. They're not on the rocks. And so the popular place to be, today, is not on the Word of God. But the third thing about why people build on sand is it's conformable. It conforms to you.
When you lay down on sand, and you get up it looks like you. When you lay down on the rock and get up, you look like it. And Jesus said, "I want you to conform to me. I'm not conforming to you". I don't want a god so small that I can manipulate him. I want a God big enough that I have to worship him. And so a lot of people are building their lives on the sand, and my family is an example of this: failure, generational failure after failure, pain, dysfunction. I don't want that for my children and grandchildren. I do not want to have a failed value system that fails my family the same way that it has generationally. So, my wife and I said, "We're going to change. We want to build a family that lasts, and we want to build a family that God will bless".
Let me give you four values or four factors on how to build a family that will last, that God will bless. Number one, surrender your life and your family to the lordship of Jesus and his Word. Now, I'm talking after Christians. And some of you here may not be Christians, yet. We're going to give you an opportunity in a little bit to receive Jesus as your Lord. But some of you are Christians. So, here's what I'm saying. I know you're going to heaven. I know you love Jesus. But is Jesus the Lord of your family, today? In other words, let me say this. Karen and I made a decision, when we were in our early 20s, the Bible is the authority in our family, the final authority. It's not our opinion. We're not going to make the decisions based on our opinion. God doesn't bless good decisions; he blesses his decisions. He doesn't bless good ideas; he blesses his ideas.
So, we made a decision that the Word of God was the final authority for our home. We also made a decision that every time we made a significant decision, that we were going to make it together in prayer by consulting God, always together and always in prayer. See, a lot of the things that you're praying about aren't in the Bible. In other words, the Bible says a lot of things, but it doesn't tell you which car to buy. It doesn't tell you which house to buy. It doesn't tell you where to send your kids to school. So, in many of the decisions that we're making, there are things that we have to pray about and get the mind of God about; and if you will let the Lord guide you through your life in making decisions, he will bless you incredibly. If you don't, I don't care what your value system is, it just isn't going to work until Jesus is the Lord of your life.
This is Isaiah 53. "All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all". The reason Jesus died was to forgive us of our sin of independence. He said, "We like sheep have gone astray". One of the most common analogies in the Bible about us, that God uses, we're sheep. It's not a compliment. Sheep are pathetic animals. They really are. They're cute, but they're pathetic. They can't navigate. You never heard of the homing sheep. They can't bear burdens. You never heard of the pack sheep. Okay? They can't defend themselves. You never heard of an attack sheep. They're pathetic. They have to have a shepherd. So do we. When God looks down at us trying to manage our own lives, he's just thinking, "They're sheep. They're sheep in the midst of wolves". You don't stand a chance.
If we would just come to Jesus, and say, "Lord, I want you to be my Shepherd, and every day I'm going to trust you for protection, for direction, for provision..". See, I'm a father and a grandfather. My grandkids call me "Pappy". I love being a pappy. I love being a grandfather more than I love being a father. I'm not saying I love my grandkids more. Yes, I am saying that. But it would break my heart if my grandchildren didn't need me. Absolutely, I love being a father and grandfather. God loves being your Father; and when you don't trust him with your life, you're denying him the opportunity to do what he loves the most. You would never dream how much he loves you. You would never dream how much he wants to be a part of your life. So many years ago, Karen and I decided we were going to choose Jesus to be our Shepherd.
This is Psalm 23. "The Lord is my Shepherd". Now, this is the condition of the entire chapter. "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever".
That's the life of a person led by Jesus Christ. Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I do not want. And one of the favorite parts of this for me, because of our background, it says, "You restore my soul". All the damage that people have done, all the damage that, you know, my generational influence has done, you're going to heal it. And so, when you choose the Lord to be your Shepherd every day, when you say, "My value system is God," it means he's my Lord, and he's my Shepherd.
Number two, the thing that causes a lasting family is trusting God as your Heavenly Father to meet your needs and to care for you. This is Matthew 6. The context here is money. Okay? "No one can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon". This is Jesus here. Mammon is the money god. Mammon is money that promises you security, identity, purpose, everything that God does without morality. Mammon comes and says, "You don't have to have any particular religion. You don't have to have any particular lifestyle. I'm going to give you wealth, and that's going to take care of all your problems, okay? You don't need God. You just need money".
Jesus said, "You've got to choose. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body, more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat? or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things".
The context is money. I talked about the value system of my family was money. And Jesus said, "You've got to choose now if you're going to serve God or you're going to serve money". But I want you to know that he knows you, he loves you, and he will care for you, if you trust him, okay? This is 1 John 2. The context is money. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever".
So, Jesus is coming here, and he's saying... this is John here, and John is saying, "The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, the world", materialism, money, all of those things, you can either have a relationship with God the Father, or you can trust in that. So, my problem with the concept of father was I had a bad one. So, when Jesus is talking about God being my Father, it did not impress me at all. I didn't think that God knew me. I grew up with a father who barely knew me. My concept of God was, "I'm sure he's a good God, but he doesn't know me, personally. He doesn't know where I live". I truly didn't believe that God knew where I lived. When John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," I thought, "Well, I'm in the world, so he loves me. He doesn't know me, but he loves me".
And I struggled with money. I grew up poor, and we always struggled with money; and I just thought if I had money, all my problems are going to go away, and so I lived my life just like my parents, to make money and do all that kind of stuff. So, Karen and I were young Christians, and we went to church one Sunday, and the preacher got up, and he preached on giving. In fact, he preached on tithing. And he said, "You need to give ten percent of your income to the church". And it really made me sick. I just got real sick. I just thought, "That's the worst thing I've ever heard in my entire life". And I made $600 a month. I made $7,000 that year. We lived in government housing. Your house payment was based on your income. We paid $109 a month house payment, and we barely made it. We made it from paycheck to paycheck. If it wasn't for float at the bank, we had checks floating around before your paycheck gets there, we wouldn't have made it.
And so we went home from church that day, and I was disgusted. And I just thought, "I'll never go back. That guy's crazy, and I'm never going back there, again. And I feel a lot more sorry for me than I do that church. My money is staying right here". And so, we got home that day, and I think I was watching football that afternoon or something, and Karen came into the living room. She said, "I really liked that message that preacher preached this morning". "What? I hated that message". And she said, "Well, I liked it, and I really believe the Lord spoke to me. I'm supposed to give $40 to the church". I said, "We don't have $40, Karen. I mean, we're broke. We barely make it from paycheck to paycheck". And she was real sweet about it, you know. But she never went away. And she, "I just really feel like the Lord is telling me I'm supposed to give $40".
And my feeling was, "If I say no, God's going to strike me dead. If I say yes, we go broke. So, I'm going to go ahead and live and go broke". I said, "Well, fine, go ahead if you want to. Not me". I had a bad attitude about the whole thing. I thought, "We're going to go broke, and it'll prove to her that, you know, this stuff doesn't work". So, she gave, and we got paid every two weeks, and nothing happened. I didn't get a raise. We didn't get any extra money. Nothing happened like that. But in two weeks, the next time I got paid, for the first time ever, we had money in the bank. We were not overdrawn. And I noticed it, and I thought, "Oh, thank God, we survived that". And then Karen came up to me and said, "Did you notice we have money in the bank"? And I said, "Yeah, I sure did". And she said, "I want to give again". And I said, "Oh, Karen, please. No, no, please. We survived that first time. Don't do it, again. Don't do it".
She did it again, and she did it again, and she did it again, and she did it again. So, something changed. When you're living a life of disobedience, it's like rowing upstream. You're always against the current, and everything is really hard. When you start living a life of obedience, you flip the canoe around, and now the current is with you. And what was hard is now easy. What was impossible is now possible, and things are happening without any effort. And something began to happen in our family that had never happened before in little things. Little things that had never happened for us started happening. And one of the most important days of my life was the day that I woke up, and I thought, "He knows us, he knows where we live".
Absolutely mind-shattering to me that the God who controls the universe knew me, because he's taking care of us. He's providing for us. That's the day I met my Father. If you do not have a trusting relationship with God as your Father, you will have a wrong relationship with money. Can't serve God and mammon. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. You've got to choose. Are you going to trust God as your Father to provide for you, or are you going to trust mammon? Both Matthew and 1 John both, in that same context, my family chose mammon, and the result of that was generational pain. Karen and I decided, as young Christians, that we were going to trust God as our Father. Now, Karen did it first. I only did it after the Lord revealed himself in his loving care.
I tell people all the time, "I know God is forgiving. I met my Father as my crazy wife started giving her money away". Godly wife, not crazy. I love giving, today. I love giving to the Lord. And when I give, I have no fear, because I have a Father. My faith is not in the economy of man. My faith is in the economy of God, and he'll never go broke, and he'll never take his eye off of you. He loves you more than you'll ever understand, and he loves being a Daddy. And when you pray and you say... Jesus said he knows everything you need. Why are you so worried? Why are you so worried? He knows everything you need. All you've gotta do is just ask. He's your Father. He's right there.
So, number three, the way that we build a lasting family is think about the generational effects of your behavior and plan accordingly. It's intentional. Proverbs 13, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous". That means it's intentional. You have to sit down and think about this. What are our children going to have to recover from us? Are we going to give our children and grandchildren an advantage? Not through money, not through social status, but through God's blessing. How are we going to raise our kids?
And number four is this, and it is keep your family in Bible-believing, Bible-preaching and believing church, where they can be grounded spiritually and build strong relationships. Well, Hebrews 10 says, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching". As you see the end times coming, you've got to get together even more. Isn't it wonderful being together with other believers? It's just wonderful. There's nothing like it. I know a lot of people watching online because of COVID or whatever. I hope that's temporary, and I hope that we will all recommit ourselves to getting together as believers, especially when COVID goes away. But I want to say this. Karen and I raised our children in church, and we're so glad that we did.
Our daughter, Julie, is 46. Her best friend she met in kindergarten at five years old. All of our friends came out of church. The best friends you're ever going to meet, you're going to meet in church. Let me finish the story of my mom and dad. My dad disowned me when I went into the ministry. He told me he never wanted to see me again. Several years later, they went through a catastrophic event. They lost everything they had. And my dad called me and asked me if I could come over and talk to him. And so, I went over and talked to him, and my parents were devastated. And I led them to the Lord that day. My parents both got saved that day. And now, at this point, I was the senior pastor of the church. And I said, "I want y'all in church on Sunday". And I had never seen my parents in church in my entire life. I said, "I want you in church on Sunday".
And so, they were in church on Sunday. And I looked back at the back, and there they were. And my parents were not physical, they were not affectionate people. And so, in our church that I pastored, they're just gonna hug you. They don't care. You know, if you're sitting, you're gonna get hugged. Okay? If you don't like getting hugged, you just get out right now. So, I'm watching my parents at the back being hugged. Everybody that walks in hugs them. And my parents are just freaked out. And after church, they called me, and they said, "Do those people know who we are"? And I said, "Well, probably some of them do". And they said, "Well, why would they hug us? Like, why'd they be so nice to us"? "Well, they like you". And they said, "They don't know us".
See, my parents were only used to being loved because of their money or social status. They didn't know that Christians love you, regardless. And they stood there. My parents were the first people in church, for years, and the last people to leave. And they would stand at that back door and make everybody that walked in hug them, and it healed my parents. My dad told me a thousand times how proud he was of me. "I'm so proud of you". My parents told me, "Thank you for not raising your children the way we raised you". My dad told me, "You're a better preacher than Billy Graham". And after my dad got saved, every time he saw me, he hugged me. He talked my ear off. He's the talker. He just talked, and talked, and talked. The same father that never touched me, the same father that never did anything.
I was the Joseph in my family. They rejected me when I came to Jesus. Joseph was rejected by his brothers. He went to Egypt, and a famine hit the land. And when the famine hit the land, his brothers were starving, and they came to Egypt, and Joseph saved them. Some of you are here, you've come out of generations of Christians, and God bless you. You're better off. Some of you are here, and you've come out of families like mine. You're the Joseph. You're the first. Your family may talk bad about you. They may reject you. But when hard times hit, they're going to come find you, and you're going to lead them to the Lord, and you're going to help them to find the better way. I want you to bow your heads, if you would.
Lord, we come to you, and we just say you're the Lord of our lives. We make you the Lord of our families. Jesus, we want you to shepherd us. We thank you for how you love us. We're sheep. We just simply can't make it without you. So, we surrender to your lordship. And Father God, some of us just don't know you. We just don't have a background of understanding what a father is. But Lord, I pray that you'll reveal yourself as Father to this entire congregation, everybody watching at every campus, everybody watching online. Reveal yourself as Father and break our wrong relationship with mammon. And Lord, we just pray right now that you would break the generational curses off of our family, the generational dysfunction off of our family and that, Jesus, you would restore our soul and heal the hurts that our families have caused us. But we bless our parents. We forgive them. We bless our ancestors. But Lord, we turn to you right now, and our value system is God and family.
I want you to keep your head bowed there. I know that there's some of you here, you may not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior; and if you don't, this is the most important day of eternity for you. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He paid for your sins. All of us come by grace. That means we don't deserve it. None of us deserve to be saved. It's totally by grace. It's totally by the blood of Jesus. And if you will open your heart, Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I'll come in and dine with him and he with me". The door is our heart, and he's not going to kick the door down. He's waiting for us to open it. And if you'll open the door of your heart to him, he'll come in, today, and give you eternal life.
I want you to bow your head, close your eyes, nobody looking around. I'm looking around, campus pastors are looking around. If you would say, today, "Jimmy, I'm ready to surrender my life to Jesus, there's an emptiness in me that nothing can fill, and I believe, today, that Jesus is the answer," if that's you, and you're ready to make Jesus the Lord of your life, individually, as a couple, as a family, I want you to lift your hand right now and say, "I'm ready to make Jesus the Lord of my life," lift your hand really high. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you.
Lift your hand up really high. Somebody else. I'm looking around. There you go. God bless you. Every campus, back there, God bless you. Right here, yes, honey, God bless you. Back there, God bless you back there at the very back. Anyone else? Just raise your hand right now and say, "Jesus, I'm ready to let you..". God bless you, honey. One more second, I'm looking around. God bless you, sir, right here, and right back here. Congregation, I want you to pray this prayer with me, everybody. I want everybody that just raised your hand to pray this with everybody right here, in every service, if you'll pray this prayer, say:
Lord Jesus, I open my heart to you, and I invite you to come in to be my Lord and Savior. Give me the gift of eternal life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Forgive me from all of my sins and give me the power to change and to live for you. I dedicate the rest of my life to you. In Jesus' name, amen.