From the importance of reaching younger generations to our own personal study of Bible prophecy, Jonathan Evans explains how we can live knowing that we’re already on the winning team.
Learn more about Jonathan Evans at www.JonathanBlakeEvans.org
- Your Time Is Now by Jonathan Evans
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Todd: Well, hey. Today, you guys are in for a special treat. We have Jonathan Evans in the studio with us. Jonathan Evans is an author, speaker, and a former NFL fullback. He’s a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in Christian leadership. He also serves as the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys and co-chaplain of the Dallas Mavericks. Jonathan is a dynamic speaker at churches, conferences, men’s events, student events, FCA events, you name it. He is committed to developing the next generation of devoted Christian leaders. And that’s why we have him on to talk about the next generation as it appeals to Bible prophecy and eschatology.
Jonathan serves with his pastor, friend, and father, Dr. Tony Evans, both in the local church and national ministry. And Jonathan and his wife, Kanika, are the proud parents of five children. And they reside in Dallas, Texas. Jonathan, welcome to the show.
Jonathan: Hey, good to be here. Thank you for having me.
Jeff: Well, so, Jonathan, you’ve had the opportunity to speak to a lot of different audiences, all different ages, all different ethnic groups, all different backgrounds in everything from sports, to theology, to youth, to Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. I mean, God’s just really kind of saturating you out there. Tell us just a little bit about some of the key principles that help you as a communicator of biblical truth. I mean, what are some of the things that really kind of inform your direction as a communicator?
Jonathan: I mean, first of all, when Tony Evans is your dad, it’s kind of cheating because it’s kind of one of those things where you’re able to watch him. It’s like Steph Curry, watching his dad play in the NBA. So, that’s part of it, is that God positions you how he wants to use you. And that’s why you can’t take those things for granted. And as you get older, you look back and you say, “Well, God positioned me in such a way where I could watch one of the most amazing communicators of our generation.” And really, learned so much from him and my mom, just by virtue of dependency on God and really walking with God and allowing him to use you the way that he made you. And so, I give him all the glory for that because no one asks, gets to decide where they get to go. You just kind of get drafted in.
Kind of happened to be on the right team from that perspective, but also it was really just getting to the point where I said yes to God, and no to my fears; yes to God, and no to where I feel like my insufficiencies are because public speaking, number one, is one of the biggest fears there is, as far as what people will do. But it had a lot to do with me not allowing fear or my insufficiencies stop me from my purpose. And that’s kind of what fear is. Fear is seeing the purpose, but seeing your insufficiencies in light of that destination. And so, when people see the destination, but then they start looking at themselves, you get stuck. And God, a lot of times, will give you something you can’t handle so that he can show you that only with him can you handle it. And so, that’s where that came from.
And then the theology part, I ran away from doing anything that was anything close to what my father was doing. So, growing up, I was like, “I’m not doing that.” I mean, if Michael Jordan’s your dad, you don’t want to play basketball. That’s not going to go over well.
Jeff: I don’t want to [inaudible]. Yeah.
Jonathan: That’s not going to be a good thing. But it was really learning that in life… I don’t get credit by riding Tony Evans [inaudible] coattail. I started my own journey with my own faith. Ended up going to seminary. And once I said, “Yes,” then that’s when the doors to do what God wanted me to do swang open.
Jeff: Man, that is so exciting. I remember my first year at Dallas Seminary, you were at Dallas Seminary, your dad was one of my professors there. And my first year there, I went to graduation to see what graduation was going to be like. The speaker was a man by the name of Dr. E.V. Hill. Obviously, you know who he is. And he gave an illustration that just… I mean, just resonated with me all these years later. He was giving a football illustration. He said, “When you’re given the truth, that’s like a fullback being given the football.” And he said, “For God’s sake, don’t fumble the ball.” He said, “That’s the thing you don’t want to do. You don’t want to fumble the truth.”
And having been given that legacy from your dad, from the seminary, I think we all get to this point, see if you agree with this, where we just go, “God, you’re my sufficiency. You’re my grip on the ball. I might fumble this thing, but I’ve got to depend upon you.” So, that dependence you were talking about, Jonathan, really does resonate with us and with our listeners because we all need to grip the truth in order to communicate it accurately. Would you agree?
Jonathan: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Dependency is a big thing. It is God’s word. And so, it doesn’t belong to us; it belongs to him. And we’re supposed to be great stewards of it. And you want to really steward God’s word well because you don’t want to tell lies when you know you’re handling the truth. And so, you definitely want to do that. And so, that takes dependency on God. And in life, you learn that growing up is to be independent, but in spiritual, growing up, it’s when you’re more dependent.
Jeff: Yeah. A lot of freedom there too. Yeah.
Todd: And that’s powerful for a lot of our listeners too because they’re… Jeff and I are trying to reach younger generations and a lot of them… And I can relate to that, in terms of the speaking. I hate public speaking, but God keeps putting me in these roles where I have to do public speaking. Jeff is a natural at it, man. He’ll just go out there and have the whole crowd just… but God just keeps putting me there, and so I could relate to that.
And I think it’s pretty cool that you went out on your own and kind of learned life and then… not good that you ran from God, but good that you tried to establish yourself apart from your dad. And then how cool is it that God just honored that, and then brought you right back in to where you could minister with him in just such a natural way, man? That’s really exciting.
Jonathan: Yeah. Definitely. God gives you the things that you desire in your heart, but when he gives them to you, you’ll be like, “Oh, I didn’t really know that’s the way I desired it.” Because it’s for his kingdom, and we grow up thinking about our kingdom. And once he’s able to take those same passions, but just shift the kingdom, you end up doing what you were always created to do, but now you’re just doing it the right way. And so, it’s the same passion; it’s the same kid; it’s the same young adult; it’s the same teenager; it’s the same things that you’ve always been excited about, but it just shifts kingdoms. And once he shifts kingdoms, it’s like, “Oh,” the light bulb goes off.
Todd: Amen. Anything we thought we were missing, he replaces with something 10 times better. And actually, that leads right into our next question. Talking about being kingdom-minded, serving him. Of course, this is a podcast that’s generally about Bible prophecy and eschatology, so we often talk about the future millennial kingdom and how we serve God now, not trying to get to God, but out of our salvation. And we work for him. And we work hard. And we know that there are rewards in heaven and stuff like that. But salvation is free.
And you’ve talked to a lot of students and younger generations. When you talk to them, this is kind of a two-part question, what are some of the barriers that might keep younger generations from studying Bible prophecy and eschatology, even the book of Revelation? Those are topics that are kind of hands-off for a lot of people in our days.
Jonathan: Well, I mean, they’re not even just hands-off for young people; they’re hands-off for preachers. I mean, it’s one of those topics that’s looked at as “dun, dun, duh,” you know?
Jonathan: It’s daunting. And because of the daunting nature of when you say the word “prophecy,” that is daunting. And it seems to be over a lot of people’s heads. And so, they decide to stay away from what may not seem easy to attain intellectually, just to understand it.
But really, it’s really just getting to the point where you realize that the foundational truth of God’s word, being able to believe that God’s word is the truth, has a foundation undergirding it called prophecy. In other words, once you recognize that how in the world did Isaiah know that there would be one that’s born of a virgin in Isaiah Chapter 7, and then Jesus is born of a virgin 700 years later. So, Jesus didn’t come 700 years later after Isaiah said that. Well, because Isaiah was that precise, it lets you know the Bible must be real because there’s no other way that that could be possible. How would he know, in Isaiah 40, that there would be one that comes that makes the way of the Lord? And he’s talking about John the Baptist. Then in Matthew 3:3, it says John the Baptist has come to make the way of the Lord. So, there’s all of these things that are foreknown because of who God is. And God is so true and so precise that he’s able to foretell you what’s going to happen, then give you examples in his word of what he foretold actually happening. How do we know that there was going to be a baby born in Bethlehem, like Micah 5:2 says? Well, that was 500 years before the baby was born in Bethlehem.
So, once you realize, if I learn the basics of prophecy and the basics of just foretelling and what was foretold coming true, I can actually use that as a foundational argument of God’s word being true, and not just the things that are true in life that you experience. My dad would often say, “If you want to know God’s word is true, just don’t do it what it says. You’ll find out quick.” So, that’s one way you find out God’s word is true. But Biblical prophecy, using the Bible to prove itself, is how you find out God’s word is true.
And so, I think just coming to the understanding of, “You know what? Let me see what the Bible foretells that’s come true, just as it relates to Jesus.” You can find that in Isaiah. And you can see the things that are said in Micah. That just is shocking and very biblically truthful, appealing. So, you start there.
And then once you get there, you kind of build this appetite for, “This is incredible.” What I believe is true. And it’s undergirded by foretelling and prophecy.
Todd: It’s wild. What you just shared is actually my exact testimony. I grew up unchurched. I was an atheist. I thought the Bible was a book of fairytales. Jeff and I have talked about this on the program before. But somebody showed me fulfilled Bible prophecy, and I could not shake it.
And then that led me to, “Okay, well, if that’s true, then this other crazy stuff about God creating me must be true. And this other crazy stuff about God splitting the Red Sea.” And then, “Well, hey… ” And then that’s a natural progression into future prophecy. Well, then everything he says about the end times must be true. So, that helps me look at the world differently now, knowing that God is a promise-keeper and all of his prophecies will come true.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
Todd: So, the flip side of that is what are some things we can do? I know for older generations, there’s been a lot of sensationalism and date-setting and weird stuff that turns people off. But in terms of younger generations, what are some of the barriers or some of the baggage that they might have? Hopefully, they don’t have as much as the older generations, but what are some of the things that we should be aware of as we try to engage younger audiences and talk to them about Bible prophecy and even eschatology?
And one other thing, because part of that is we don’t want to scare them. We don’t want to scare the kids. We don’t want to them keep-
Jonathan: Right. Right. The sci-fi.
Todd: Yeah. We don’t want to keep them from planning for their future and dreaming and all the things that God created them to do, but, at the same time, we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We want to teach them eschatology in a biblical, balanced way. So, what are some ways we could do that?
Jonathan: Well, it starts with the basics. It starts with not jumping to eschatology, but learning draft, and learning the reason why you’re drafted is to play the game, and to understand that after you play the game the coach always judges the performance. And so, when they just understand that drafted by grace and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, they understand that now that they have the uniform, this is the way that you’re called to play based on that playbook. And so, now, it’s spiritual growth, spiritual development, that you can’t… If you jump to eschatology before we get Christology, then you’re going to have a problemology, you know?
Todd: Well put.
Jonathan: So, I think that you got to stick to the basics, first of all, with young people because young people… because, like you said, all the weird stuff going on in the church and people jumping out there, making up stuff and the church not being who the church is supposed to be, has a large percent of millennials and younger running from the church as it is.
So, the start is helping them understand that we are the church and here’s how, and going through that process. I use football because I’m a former football player and current chaplain of the Cowboys, so it’s easy for me to relate to it. But it always starts with drafted by his grace, and then understanding to play based on the uniform and the playbook that we’ve been given.
When we understand that, then we can have conversations on what life is really about. Seek ye first his kingdom, and then these things will be added to you; that if you play for his kingdom, the things that will be added to you, none of those things judge you. Only the king of the kingdom does.
And so, then you move into judgment, which comes into the realm of eschatology and end times and the judgment seat of Christ. And eternity and millennial kingdom and all of those different things come when the player simply learns that, based on my draft and my uniform and this playbook, this is how I need to play because I’m grateful that I was drafted to begin with.
And then you move. You move to the end of the game, when they get in the game.
Todd: It’s a natural progression. That’s genius, man. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. And I’m sure you find out as you go along, “Hey, there’s a part of this playbook I’ve never read before,” you know?
Jonathan: That’s right.
Jeff: It’s called Revelation, you know?
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s right.
Jeff: It’s like, “This is actually pretty cool stuff. It’s just like the flea flicker, man. This is the post pattern here.”
Jonathan: Yeah. It tells you how to finish.
Jeff: Yeah. Absolutely.
Jonathan: It tells you how to finish.
Jeff: And that’s true. I mean, it’s kind of like we get to read about the end-zone dance in heaven. We get that. But to get there, you got to get first downs. To get there, we’ve got grind and we got to get on down the field. And sometimes that’s bloody. Sometimes that’s messy. Sometimes that’s not fun, as a Christian. And there are hard truths that God introduces to us and we go, “Oh, gosh, I didn’t realize that things were so serious at times.” But, at the same time, God gives us the joy of walking with him and experiencing his abundant life. And, as Jesus said in Matthew 28, he said, “I’m with you until the end- “
Jonathan: End [crosstalk].
Jeff: ” … of the age.”
Jonathan: That’s right.
Jeff: Isn’t that a great comfort?
Jonathan: Yes, sir.
Jeff: So, yeah. And I think that’s one of the things, Jonathan, that… Tell me what you think about this. Young people today and Gen Z and millennials out there today, they’re seeing the same thing that’s happening in the world that we’re seeing. I mean, everybody’s experiencing it. I don’t think any longer is it just kind of the prophecy crowd or even the Christian crowd that’s saying, “Wow, times are really weird. Something really big could happen at any moment.” And here’s a tiny, invisible virus that shut down the whole planet.
So, tell us what you’re seeing in these generations, as you’re talking to them. What’s the spirit that you see coming from them? Is it fear? Is it confusion? Is it apathy? Is there a lot of seeking going on, asking questions? What are you getting from these generations right now?
Jonathan: Man, it’s different. It’s different from different generations because in my kids, they see, unfortunately, normality. They see normalcy because they’re young. So, the way the times are for them are the way they’ve been. Some of the things they see on the news… they’ll watch the news with us, and so they ask a lot of questions. We explain a lot of things.
I’m the oldest of the millennial group. When you talk about the millennial group, well, we’ve seen phases. And so, I’ve asked my dad, “Is this the worst it’s ever been?” I wanted to make sure. This seems like a crazy time. He says, “It’s so much different because it’s global.” We’ve had our United States problems. We’ve had civil rights. We’ve had all those things. But now, you have this global issue with the coronavirus, with the financial structure, with… There’s so many things that are going on global.
And then you’re able to explain what the Bible says in Matthew 24, “Nation will rise up against nation. Kingdom against kingdom. You’ll see earthquakes and famines.” I mean, all of those different things you’re seeing from a global perspective, not just from a United States perspective. And the Bible was written for the globe; it wasn’t just written for the United States. And so, when you see it that way, you’re able to communicate God’s word back to those fears and back to those concerns and even to what may be normal for some because that’s all they know.
And when I say “normal,” I mean normal in the sense of that’s what they’re seeing for years and years, but abnormal in the sense of made in the image of God, so they know it’s wrong. So, it’s just different for different generations, but we still have to be able to communicate the one truth.
Jeff: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. To be able to answer those fears, answer that apathy, clear up that confusion, give clarity where there’s fog. We talk to a lot of people. And a lot of people invite… send their questions, rather, to us, and we invite those questions. But a lot of people are just… even in the church, Jonathan, they’ve never been taught about how to discern the times, how to really face really challenging times. My dad’s generation faced things I didn’t face. And now, I’m facing things my kids are not even going to face.
So, I mean, there’s so many different variations in generations, like you said, but it all comes down to being rooted and grounded in the word, like you said, and just knowing what God says. And that brings that peace. That peace just comes over us to be able to handle the storm. And sometimes he calms the storm; sometimes he calms us. But either way, we get the calm.
Jonathan: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think the reason why knowing biblical prophecy and understanding where this thing is headed is for the reason you just gave, is to understand that, “Oh, I can have peace in the middle of the storm,” which is what Philippians says in Chapter 4, peace that surpasses understanding because I don’t understand why I have peace. That’s why it’s God’s peace.
But it’s like watching NFL Replay. When I watch NFL Replay, it’s a replay. So, I already know who’s going to win the game. So, when I see fumbles and interceptions, it doesn’t matter because I know where this thing is going. And so, what biblical prophecy does is basically puts you on replay. So, all you’re seeing is what you already know. And you already know that Jesus is going to win. You’re on the winning team. So, there’s no reason to be afraid, even though fearful things are happening because you just know where this thing is going.
Jeff: Amen. A lot of comfort.
Todd: Yeah. Jeff and I, we have recorded a couple of podcasts about people’s reaction to what’s going on right now. And we’re kind of seeing two extremes. Either people are kind of freaking out and going to the extreme and buying food and ammo and hunkering down and saying, “The Lord’s returning tomorrow.” And then the other swing of the pendulum is just complete apathy like, “No, this is just cyclical.” So, how do we balance that out?
Scripture gives us some things and lets us know we are kind of in the fourth quarter. We’re late. We’re deep. If it was the end times when Paul was speaking, we’re deep in the end times now. But what Jeff and I have been talking a lot about is really, now is time for us to live like the first-century church, where we just live with expectancy, but also hope and joy, regardless of what’s going on around us.
And you and your dad, I’ve heard both of you use the analogy of any type of division in our country or the world, where you got two teams against each other, but we should be like the referees, where we live according to a different playbook. How can the church rise to the occasion now, shine a light, whether it’s racial stuff, whether it’s division within the church? How can we unite and show the world what the church is supposed to be?
Jonathan: You said it when you talked about being the light, the salt of the earth, the light of the world. I mean, light is needed in darkness, and salt is needed when there’s a decay. And so, that’s exactly what’s happening right now, where the church is supposed to be leading, but we’ve joined teams on the field. My dad’s illustration about we’re supposed to be the referees that govern the game; we’re not supposed to be joining teams on the field. We listen to crowds boo, and so we jump to the cheering side. We listen to the crowds cheer, and then we jump to… when we’re supposed to be… I mean, we’re jumping around, when we’re supposed to be operating from one book governing the entire game. And so, the church… all authority has been given to him. And we’re his people. And that means that we’re supposed to be operating in that authority, but we’re not because we’re allowing what’s happening on the field to distract us from our authority position.
And so, that’s why we’re more focused on being Democrats and Republicans. That’s why we’re more focused on the human trinity instead of the spiritual one: me, myself, and I. We’re trying to make sure we’re okay, when we talk about hunkering down and all those different things. And I’m not saying don’t be responsible; it’s somewhere in the middle. You want to be responsible with what you have.
But we have to be, as the church, responsible with God’s word because if the earth is decaying, it’s the fault of the salt. If meat decays in Bible times, it’s because it didn’t have salt on. So, we’re, as the church, shaking our head at the culture, but God is looking at us saying, “I worked through you to the culture.” So, if the culture’s decaying, it’s the fault of the salt.
And the salt too long has gotten comfortable in the shaker. And the purpose of salt is to leave the shaker. And so, what God has done is shaken us out of the shaker. And now, we’re kind of running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to figure out how to go back in the shaker. We’re spending all of our time trying to figure out, “Well, how do we… ” And it’s not about forsaking the assembling of the saints. That’s important. But really, go ye therefore and make disciples is a decentralized opportunity with a centralized truth. And so, we’re in a position now, where we can do that if we get our minds off of the distractions and what’s going on in the field, and focus in on the authority that we’ve already been given.
Jeff: Yeah. It’s kind of like Satan is that defensive lineman that’s just trying to get the offensive line to jump offsides at all times. Any kind of distraction. Any kind of smack counts-
Jonathan: Hard counts.
Jeff: Yeah. Hard counts, smack talk, whatever it takes, man. Just lining it up, just trying to get the other guy to trip up. And that really is kind of emblematic, I think, of Satan’s end times strategy. I mean, he wants to distract the bride away from her wedding day, away from the things that really matter.
So, with that in mind… So, just speak for a moment, Jonathan, into this topic of just, what are some of the keys for Christians to be devoted, rather than distracted? How can we focus in and simplify and give that centralized devotion to Jesus in the midst of times, where we’re being bombarded with so many different distracting messages politically, racially, personally, gender? There’s so many things going on in our world. How do we keep our focus, brother?
Jonathan: I know. It’s like my son, Kamden. He went to school one day. And I told them how to be obedient. And he came out of class. And the teacher told me he wasn’t obedient. And I said, “Kamden, what happened?” And then he turned and looked at me and he said, “I don’t know. All I know is Jeremiah said… ” And once he said that, I stopped him because I said, “Jeremiah said? Who’s Jeremiah?” And then he pointed to some other four-year-old in the classroom. And I said, “You let another four-year-old distract you from what your father said. Now, you got to deal with your father. So, the thing that you need to be doing… ” and you need to make this an episode, Todd, [inaudible].
Jeff: That’s right.
Jonathan: “But the thing that you need to be doing, Kamden, is being focused on my word because Jeremiah has no say on how you’re judged in my home.”
And so, what happens is, is we do what kids do. We go out into the world and there’s all these messages, there’s all this news, there’s all these Facebook posts. And the enemy is so crafty because he brought a different message to Adam and Eve. He skewed the word. And when he skewed the word, it turned the whole earth upside down. And so, the church has been turned upside down by a skewed word that has come in many directions, but from one source, the enemy, so that we’re not focused on what the father has said.
The father has spoken. He has not stuttered. His word has not changed. It’s been thousands of years. It will always stay the same for every generation because he’s the same today, yesterday, and forevermore. And so, it’s making sure that we don’t leave this life, going to the judgment seat of Christ saying, “Well, they said,” or, “Jeremiah said,” or, “The news said,” or, “Facebook said,” or, “Twitter said.” That is going to be irrelevant to the father. He’s going to say, like every father says to their kid, “Yeah. But what did I say?”
Jeff: What did I say? Yeah.
Todd: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jonathan: And that’s the only thing that you’re going to have to deal with. And so, focusing is just realizing, “Okay, I’ve been distracted too long. We’ve been distracted too long, as the church. What did the father say? And let’s do that as an individual. Let’s do that with our families. Let’s do that as every local church, so that we can permeate it into our communities.”
Jeff: That’s so true.
Todd: I love that.
Jeff: And getting into that word just only enhances our relationship with our father. And we know our father better. We trust our father more. We’re able to run to our father for things or for problems.And that’s where a lot of Christians are today. I mean, we all face this. We all struggle with this. But it boils down to that relationship factor. I mean, being able to relate to God based upon his word, what he said in his word.
And when we accept that and just say, “You know what? I trust him. I think he’s got the best deal for me,” then we can kind of relax and let him fight our battles for us and let God talk to Jeremiah instead of us having to deal with Jeremiah all the time, you know?
Jonathan: That’s right. That’s right.
Jeff: It’s like, “My father said, so that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Jonathan: That’s right. That’s right.
Todd: Man, well, Jonathan, we could literally do this all day, but we got to land the plane here. But before we do, are there any books or initiatives or ministry projects or anything you want to bring to light or let our listeners know about? And also let them know where to find out more about you and your ministry and what you do.
Jonathan: Yeah. So, one of the things that we have now just started at TUA is a “Different” series for youth. And so, I did it with RightNow Media. So, on RightNow Media, there is a video series called “Different.” And The Urban Alternative has a booklet that you can go through with your youth at home or with youth ministries. So, it’s good to engage them in their identity, the reason why they’re supposed to be different, and the reason why they’re supposed to be listening to God instead of others.
The next thing that’s coming out in June, in the future, is my first solo book, which is Your Time is Now: Getting What God has Given You. And so, it’s going to be an awesome opportunity.
You can find out more about me on jonathanblakeevans.com. And also, on YouTube and social media, Jonathan Blake Evans.
Jeff: Fantastic. Jonathan, thank you so much, brother, for joining us. It’s great to meet you and to be able to fellowship around the word of God and the things that really matter in life. We pray God’s greatest blessings on you, your ministry, your family, your marriage, and all that God leads you to do in the future.
Jonathan: Awesome. Thank you, man.
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