Many people who pray actually wonder if there’s really anybody on the other end listening. Next time on The Alternative, Dr. Tony Evans explains how we can be sure. It’s a look at developing an “up close and personal” relationship with the Lord.
The Bible declares that man’s knowledge is extremely limited (Proverbs 30:2–3). God alone can address all the categories of life because “His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried” (Psalm 18:30).
God can give your children what no classroom teacher can give them apart from Him, for with God comes not only information but wisdom, the ability to use the information skillfully.
People can give you knowledge, but they can’t teach you how to use that knowledge in a God-honoring way. Our children need to learn how to pass life, not just pass tests. Theyneed the ability to filter what they learn through a divine grid so they can apply it properly.
According to Isaiah 8:20, knowledge apart from God is antithetical to reality. So the education process will never get the job done until there are programs and structures in place to bring education back to its root in God.
Unfortunately today, public schools trade “the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man” (v. 23). They substitute humanism for theism. That happens when people “exchang[e] the truth of God for a lie” (v. 25).
What happens when a society reaches this point? “God [gives] them over to degrading passions” (v. 26). When God is removed from the environment, who is to say that one person’s standard is right or wrong?
Finally, Paul said in Romans 1:28, “Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind.” This is where we are headed today in contemporary America unless we seek God for a return to Him in our hearts, homes, churches, educational systems and land.
Chrystal Evans Hurst: I wrote Kingdom Woman because my Daddy asked me to. Seriously. With five kids in tow, writing a book was not on my radar.
I could barely write down my meal plans much less think about writing a book for other women to read! So when my Dad called to discuss the idea of us writing the book together, my prepared answer was a “No”.
Yet, after listening to his heart and praying about it, I slowly changed my mind. Daddy realized that as much as he wanted to empower women to be all they can be through the power of God at work in their lives, he is not a woman! So he asked me to join him in this endeavor and add a woman’s practical expression and experience to the heart of his uplifting message of biblical female empowerment. I said yes.
Question: What is Kingdom Woman about?
Chrystal Evans Hurst: Every woman – in every season – and in any situation, has power. Through the transforming power of God available to her, she is capable of unleashing her full potential and purpose as she embraces God’s design for her and her role as a woman. While many women are enjoying this day and age where we have so many opportunities never available before to our gender, other women are crumbling under the pressure to do all or be all in the light of the options available to us.
This book is about the wonderful possibilities that emerge for a woman when she aligns with the dreams that God has in mind for her. Not only will you be encouraged to seek God and the purposes that He has in store for you, but you will be inspired to do so in the power that He offers when we do things His way.
In our culture there is an abundance of opinions and suggestions from professionals, personalities in pop culture, and our friends as to what a woman should be, what she should have, and what she should be able to achieve. But there is another definition of woman. And the One who designed her wants us to know about the wonderful thoughts He has in mind for her.
This book will guide every woman to the understanding of who God created her to be, what He created her to do, and how He empowers her to do it.
Each reader will sense from this work that God is on her side and that He tenderly cares about every female on this often male-dominated planet. My dad’s inspired teaching in this book gives new and transforming insights into biblical principles that can transform.
Question: How is Kingdom Woman different from all of the other women’s self-help or spiritual books out there?
Chrystal Evans Hurst: Well, there are lots of great books out there for women. I know. I’ve read a bunch of ‘em. This book largely references the Bible, but it is not a Bible study. The book is extraordinarily motivational, but it is not designed solely to be a motivational book. The book has stories but it is not a tale from beginning to end.
This book takes all of these aspects, God’s Word, encouragement and motivation, and practical stories and life examples to set the stage for God to speak to YOU about your wonderful design and destiny. It’s a book that will either remind you or show you for the first time that God loves you, believes in you, and has built you for a measure of greatness that you can achieve when you do things His way.
Nothing can compare to the electricity, fully saturated with the smell of sweat, that permeates the air as men who tower over most of us battle head to head and hand to hand in search for nothing but net. As the longest-acting chaplain for any NBA team, having served the 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks now for over three decades, I’ve become acutely familiar with the feel, smell, and taste of this atmosphere as if it were an extension of my own. It is both rousing and disarming at the same time. I love it. In fact when I am there, I grab it and hate to let it go.
One can’t help but recognize it as soon as you enter an arena. The air hangs thick with anticipation and hunger, consuming anyone who walks into the presence of the players and coaching staff. To say that passion dominates the mood would be an understatement. It is more like urge, a pure ache for greatness.
When two teams make it to the NBA Finals, five men on the court from each side unapologetically seek to prove who is the best. They are men on a quest – men with one goal, and that goal is nothing short of declaring to the entire world their greatness. We witnessed this together with the Heat and the Spurs battling it out, even taking the sixth game into overtime.
Yet, at the end of the day, one locker room erupts, while the other locker room echoes with the eeriness of an exhausted and depleted quiet. One city cheers, while the other city mourns, licking its wounds. One banner will be raised while the hopes for that same banner will taunt the thoughts of those who fought so hard to claim it, yet fell short.
In sports, as is often the case in life, when one person celebrates – another person cries. One person’s victory means another person’s defeat. One person’s promotion is another person’s stagnation. One person’s hope fulfilled is another person’s hope deferred.
So what do we do with disappointment? What do we do with defeat? The same thing every successful person has ever done: We wipe off our sweat, toss our worn and tattered jerseys in the wash, and we move on.
The difference between a person of victory living out his or her destiny and a person who gets stuck in the rut of defeat can be found in how that person views life’s experiences. A victorious person will view his or her life experiences – even the defeats and failures– through the lens of purpose. They will recognize the connecting thread taking them to the destiny God has for them (Jeremiah 29:11). I talk more about this in my book Destiny: Let God Use You Like He Made You (2013).
How you manage, or mismanage, the experiences in your past will have everything to do with your future. Learn from your past; don’t live in it.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.
Have you ever gotten mail in your mailbox that isn’t addressed to you? You take it out of your mailbox and read that the address doesn’t have your name on it. It just says, “Occupant.” You get that piece of mail by virtue of you being the “occupant” of that home. Trials are a lot like that. Just by virtue of being an “occupant” on this planet in a fallen world, we will face trials.
Of course, no one likes a trial. No one wakes up in the morning, stretches and says, “Ah, what a beautiful day for a trial! I think I’d like to have a trial today!” That would be an unusual person who would do something like that. Yet no matter how much we want to avoid trials in our lives, trials are inevitable.
Trials are adverse circumstances that God allows in our lives to both identify where we are spiritually as well as to prepare us for where He wants us to go. There is no escaping them. You are either in a trial now, you’ve just come out of a trial, or you are getting ready to go into a trial.
But even though we all have to experience them, I want to remind you to take comfort in knowing that trials must first pass through God’s hands before reaching us. Nothing comes our way without first having received His Divine approval. And in order to get His Divine approval, there must be a Divine reason for Him to approve it. We need to trust that God has our best interest in mind when He allows us to experience a trial.
Every summer I go to the doctor’s office for an annual exam. I sit in his office and he asks me, “Tony, how are you feeling?”
Assuming that it was a good year overall, I answer, “I’m feeling fine.”
But that’s not the end of my appointment. The doctor doesn’t take my word for it. Instead, he attaches electronic probes all over my body. Then he sticks me on a treadmill. Next, he makes the treadmill go faster and faster up an incline because what he wants to know is the real condition of my heart.
My heart might feel fine to me but at the same time, it might not be fine. The doctor can only determine the strength of my heart when he measures it under stress. So what he does is create a stressful situation where I’m walking for a long period of time. He’s testing my heart to see whether how I feel is how I really am. Because it’s possible to have good feelings yet still have a bad heart.
Living the Christian life is no different. It’s possible to come to church every week, sing worship songs, memorize Bible verses, serve on a variety of committees and assume that your heart, faith and soul is strong. It’s even easy to say things like, “I love you God. God, you are so good. I’ll follow you, God. I’ll do whatever you say.”
But God doesn’t want to just take your word for it.
He tests you, and me, because He wants what is best for us. He tests us because He is getting ready to do something amazing in our lives. The way that He tests us is by putting us in a stressful scenario … something we often call a trial. In a trial, God reveals how strong our faith really is.
People’s words impact us every day. They either offer life, or they offer death. Maybe you have been the recipient of someone else’s negative words about you. Perhaps it was a parent, teacher, spouse or coworker. Those words are hurtful, and can frequently damage a person’s view of themselves, and even derail them from God’s destiny for them.
Yet I also know that God’s Word is more powerful than anyone on this planet. And what He has to say about you, and about me, matters the most.
My elementary school teachers didn’t always have a lot of positive things to tell my parents on my report cards. Apparently, I had a lot of areas that I needed to improve in as a child. One of those areas was in speaking. I stuttered frequently growing up and it was something that I needed God’s grace and a lot of work in order to overcome. But even beyond that, one of my teachers wrote on my report card that I did not know how to “express (myself) orally.” My mom saved all of my report cards.
I share this reality because expressing myself orally is my destiny. Teaching and preaching God’s Word is my very purpose in life. What God knew when He formed me in the womb was that He was going to raise me up to proclaim His truth in churches, on the radio, in stadiums and across televisions in America and around the world.
Yet God often will bring us to our destinies through challenges. He asked Moses to be His mouthpiece when Moses said he could not even speak. One of the reasons God does this is so that we know where our strength comes. We give Him all the glory. We depend on Him each and every day.
But another reason is so that He can teach us whose voice really matters. The voice of humanity or His own. People will tell us many things that contradict God’s view and His purposes in our lives. What we need to do is to acknowledge the truth in what they say, if there is any, but then let go of the rest. Let go of the perceived hindrances that often come with challenges because God is able to use each of us in a mighty way for His kingdom.
Friend, God made you on purpose. He gave you your gifts, talents and even your weaknesses. Because He wants you to look to Him for your identity and definition of who you are. Let God use you like He made you. He has a perfect plan for you.
Listen to His words because His words matter most. You are a treasure – a masterpiece. You are His “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand” so that you would walk in your destiny.
Destiny is one of my favorite topics to preach on. I love this subject so much because I’ve seen firsthand that God can do anything with anyone. He knows no limits. And that is a message I want to take to as many people as can hear it because it is a message of true hope.
I’m excited that you have chosen to pursue your destiny in Jesus Christ. May God grant you favor and insight as you seek Him and His will for your life.
The Christian life is a progressive movement toward spiritual maturity. Your experience of following Jesus should be taking you somewhere. The goal of your growth ought to be that you are being “transformed” into the image of the glory of God.
The question that needs to be asked is, what do spiritually mature disciples – or at least disciples who are moving toward maturity – look like? Well, some of them look like people who once did not know how to control their anger, but now they understand how to maintain self-control. Other growing Christians look like people who at one time struggled and lost against any sin that you can imagine, but now in the strength of Christ, they are living lives that are well-pleasing to God.
Spiritual maturity does not mean sinless perfection. Anybody who tells you that you can go through life and never sin has just sinned because that’s a lie. But what I am talking about is maturity, where the normal thing for you to do is bring every area of your life under the control of Jesus Christ.
So what is maturity? Very simply, it is growing to the place where you think, judge, and react biblically to every situation. When it is the rule and not the exception for you to apply the Bible to your life; when you place every area of your life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls it Christlikeness, because Jesus is intent on making you like Him. Who else is worthy for you to pattern your life after?
We all know what it feels like to experience hopelessness to varying degrees. In fact, many people define hope as looking forward to something that they know that they will never get. Hopelessness is when you look out in front of you and you can’t see any possibility for improvement or change. Many of us today are drowning in a sea of hopelessness surrounded by a land of emptiness where there seems to be no way out.
That reminds me of a story. In the summer of 2000, a Russian Oscar II Class Submarine, the Kursk, sank in the Barents Sea due to an internal explosion. Divers made several attempts to go down and assess the situation to determine if anyone had survived. When they were finally successful, they discovered a group of twenty-three men who had survived the explosion. These men had gone back as far as they could to the end of the submarine, and had gathered together in the last remaining pocket of air.
But the rescue team hadn’t made it to them in time. All twenty-three men had died. On the inside wall of the submarine, they found this note that had been etched there by the Captain-lieutenant Dmitri Kolesnikova. It said,
“It’s too dark here to write, but I’ll try by feel. It seems like there are no chances . . ..”
The hopelessness we hear in Dmitri’s words has been shared by many of us. We’ve all faced similar feelings at some time or another where there seems “like there are no chances.” Hopelessness in the middle of life’s storms is a human experience that is common to most of us.
It’s one thing to be in the middle of a trial that has been brought on by yourself through a bad choice or action. But it’s an entirely different thing to set your heart on serving God only to discover that it seems He has abandoned you in the middle of a storm. In times like those, remember that although God may be silent, He is not still. Wait on Him. He may just come walking to you on top of your storm.