A Cord of Three Strands
About the Guest
What do you do with a crippling past? Pastor Jack Hibbs and his wife, Lisa, remind us that God makes us body, soul and spirit, and encourage believers to glean from their pasts, but not get stuck there, realizing that God has the power to redeem our pasts and turn them into something good.
Pastor Jack Hibbs and his wife, Lisa, remind us that God makes us body, soul and spirit, and encourage believers to glean from their pasts, and realize that God has the power to redeem anything.
A Cord of Three Strands
Bob: If you had to pick five words that best describe the family you grew up in, what five words would you choose? We asked that question to Pastor Jack Hibbs.
Jack: Five words: absent, combative, doubting—it was a critical—and finally, I would say hopeless. It’s terrible to say these things; but yet, it’s exactly true. It’s because they didn’t have any spiritual, social, or emotional foundation. It left me vacant.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How can you make sure the family you are raising is different than the family you grew up in? We’ll talk about how you make those changes today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’re getting a chance this week to look inside a Christian marriage—a Christian family—and see: “How can we have the right focus / the right direction for where we’re headed? How can we be a little more—to use a word you like to use—intentional about the purpose that God has established for us?”
Dennis: I think everybody, who is listening to our broadcast, wants to leave a strong spiritual legacy to the next generation. The question is: “How do you do it?” We’ve got a couple with us that are going to encourage you in that process and, I think, equip you to leave a legacy that honors God. Jack and Lisa Hibbs join us, again, on FamilyLife Today. Jack, Lisa, welcome back.
Lisa: Thanks for having us.
Jack: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Dennis: They’ve written a book that’s, frankly, their story, called Turnaround at Home.
And Jack, you’re a pastor. You preach to thousands of people. You shared, earlier this week, how you had a stuttering problem growing up and were distant from your dad. I think all of that led you to come to a conclusion—that you write about it in your book—that how we were raised manifests itself in how we act, react, and demonstrate love in relationships.
Jack: Yes, absolutely. We are handed—if we like it or not—we are handed the tools that we’re going to carry into various relationships—
Dennis: You call it a heritage—
Dennis: —that we’re given.
Jack: The heritage, yes; absolutely. That heritage makes up what we all draw from. Initially—most importantly—we would say, in the book, that it is our perception and understanding of how we relate to God; but where does that come from? It comes from our exposure to our parents. It comes through how we form our thoughts.
We look at, for example, the father figure in our homes or in America today.
We see a disjointed family description. We see a broken home in some cases. Or if the home is not broken, so to speak, there is an absent father. He may be there; but his emotions or his spiritual leadership is, frankly, not there. All of that, or the lack thereof, poured into my life. It’s something that I think that, without God inserting His love and His grace into my life, I’m afraid to think where I would have wound up.
Jack: So, God in His grace.
Dennis: When did you first really come to grips with the fact that: “Some of these bags I brought into this marriage are going to impact me, as a wife?”—or maybe, it was after you became a mom; Lisa?
Lisa: Yes, I think it hit mostly after I became a mom, which was the ripe old age of 22. [Laughter] So, you know, very quickly because I left my past saying: “I’m doing things so differently. I’m going to be the best mom in the world.
“I’m not going to do that.” But we don’t know what the plan is—we just know: “We don’t want to do that.”
In some respects, too, we want to leave a stronger spiritual legacy—which I did leave my home with a strong spiritual sense—but we both were damaged as far as the emotional goes. I suffered that childhood trauma of losing my mother as a little girl—was difficult and bred a lot of insecurity when my stepmother came. I never felt she loved me. I thought she was very harsh, and it was difficult growing up—but not getting that real love from my dad—that strong bond with him. I think, if it hadn’t been for my siblings, I would have been a basket case.
Bob: You talk about the three heritages—and this is really at the center of the message of your book, Jack—the spiritual heritage we receive, the emotional heritage we receive, and the social heritage we receive—
—those three wrap together to influence the person we are in our adult years; right?
Jack: Yes, there is no doubt about it. Scripture lays that foundation—that plan—for us because, as the Scripture declares, that a three-strand cord is not easily broken. When you begin to look at the reality of that—1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us that we have been created by God—body, soul, and spirit.
That ultimate manifestation in public is our social interaction—be it your job, be it your marriage, be it who you are in public / in church—but where does that come from? I think this is so key where how many people are struggling today. They know what the Word says, but they don’t have the tools or the encouragement to fix things. They go to church on Sunday and they’re thinking: “Well, I go for an hour a week. Why aren’t I different?” Then, there is that sense of defeat: “Well, gosh, I know who God is; but why do I have no power? Why is there no change?
“I’m faithful to go to church on Sunday.”
Well, the reason is we need to—and that is what the book is about—we need to address the past—wrap it up in the power of the Word of God, knowing that God is for us. He’s got a great plan to turn that around and to strengthen that three-cord assembly of who we really are. God—look, He’s the Redeemer. He’s awesome. He does it, and He’ll never stop doing it.
Bob: When we talk about how our past influences who we are as adults, do we start to drift into Oprah-land, you know?—I mean, there is a little bit of the kind of “I am powerless to be any different than I am because of the past that I received.”
Jack: I’ve got to tell you—if that were true, I would have to surrender the pulpit ministry that I have. I would have to seriously doubt the validity of my Christianity because God’s Word has proven to me its power to change.
We can do a lot of things in life, and we can give a pep talk, and we can pat somebody on the back—and that is great—but ultimately, that is key for me. If I lose that power that is in His Word—because I’ve seen it happen in our lives and the lives of others now that we’ve seen over the 25 years of serving the Lord in this capacity—I’d quit! I’d give that up.
Bob: Think about the Apostle Paul who came to Christ with a background of murder.
Bob: He’d been involved in persecuting and assisting with the murder of Christians. Now, God has called him to minister to them. It would have been easy for Paul to say: “I can’t do that. I was so scarred by what I grew up with”; but he says, “Forgetting what lies behind, I press on.”
Bob: There is a sense in which we can’t forget what lies behind—
Bob: —but we can’t be controlled by it either.
Lisa: That’s right.
Jack: That’s right. That’s the whole point—is to take what God’s promised in His power, and to conquer, and to actually glean.
You know, we talk about Ruth going through the fields of Boaz. She gleaned what was there. You can glean from your past; but see, without the proper glasses on, so to speak, you look back at your past and you’ll get defeated. Nobody wants to be there, but you’ve got to address it, in the authority of God’s Word, to go forward.
Lisa: Right; you need to be able to look at the good and the bad. That’s, hopefully, what the book—would help people to be able to kind of evaluate themselves to see what was good and what was bad because—even in my own life, from experience—I can say that I was going to throw the baby out with the bath water. I was going to let go of all of it because I was going to do something so different. The pendulum was swinging so far the other way that it wasn’t healthy either. So, we need to look at it.
It took us several years, really, to finally understand that and be able to look back at the past and say: “Okay, that wasn’t right; but this was really great! I need to hang on to that; discard that.”
That’s an important part—aspect—of developing and leaving a stronger legacy than what you were given.
Dennis: I want to ask both of you to do something here. I want you both to give me five words that describe the emotional heritage you were given from your families.
Jack: Oh, dear. I’ll start. Five words: absent, combative—it was critical—it was doubting—and finally, I would say hopeless. It’s terrible to say these things because it feels like I’m throwing my—the ones who loved me their way—under the bus; but yet, it’s exactly true. Again, it’s because they didn’t have any spiritual, social, or emotional foundation.
Bob: They didn’t have the resources to draw on. They didn’t know—
Jack: They were only giving me what they had, and it left me vacant.
Dennis: You shared, earlier, that your dad received Christ—
Dennis: —and then, died seven days later.
Dennis: I mean, he was on his deathbed as he came to faith in Christ. What about you, Lisa? What five words would you say best describes your emotional heritage you were given?
Lisa: He mentioned, “critical,” that would definitely be one—insecure, definitely; fearful; doubting; distant, maybe—you know hurtful things. And yet, once again, I—when I first had kids, I was listening to James Dobson a lot—you know, I got plugged into that.
Bob: Weren’t we all? Yes.
Lisa: Yes; and my stepmother said: “Wow! If only I would have had something like that.” There weren’t the books and all of the support that happens now. So, she has apologized for some of those things that were hard; but I know, being a mom, that taking on seven step kids was an incredible commitment on her part. I don’t know how she did it.
Bob: You say, in the book, that what we want to do, as parents, in leaving a legacy to our children—a healthy emotional legacy—we want to leave them with an enduring sense of security and stability, nurtured in an environment of safety and love.
Bob: If kids grow up in a safe, secure, loving environment, that gives them an asset they can draw on for the rest of their lives; doesn’t it?
Jack: Oh, amen. In all areas of life, it’s going to be better for them. I’m a real lover of American history. I love the creation of this nation—the spirit of all of that. So, I’ve looked into that a lot. When I look at where the nation is today—how it’s gotten here, and what’s possible—so, “Why has there been a disconnect?” I believe—and I can say this, as a father—you’re leaving your child / your children something. When we look at America today, we look at, really, a fatherless nation.
Jack: And we see men today who have been beaten down by the sexual revolution or whatever it might be—women’s liberation, whatever. They’ve been boxed into a corner. On top of that, there has been an absence of the father—and again, I don’t mean he’s not at home. He’s just not pouring into that son’s life, for example.
We hear from young women today: “Where are the men? Where are the Christian men? I want a man to take the initiative.” And there are probably young men out there today saying: “I want to take the initiative. I just don’t know how to start.”
Well, I think that there is a revival possible only through the family. I think it’s going to come through dads. I mean, I know this sounds almost self-serving, in a way; but I believe that God has given the dad—the husband—a God-given authority that will result, ultimately, in the turning around of this nation if we so choose to.
Bob: Well, it’s one of the reasons that Dennis wrote a book called Stepping Up—to call men to exactly what you’re talking about.
And we developed a video series, for guys, based on that—that’s designed to help equip the guy, who is saying, “I know there is something inside of me that says, ‘I should do this. I should be this.’ I just don’t know—
Bob: —“what to do.” If you can give him the right—if you can point him in the right direction, guys will respond to that.
Jack: That’s right.
Dennis: Men need other men in their lives—older men / more mature men—men who will call them up—call them to step up. And Jack, you lead a church of several thousand people. You’ve got to see this, left and right, among singles / marrieds—older men who are, ultimately, getting lost in the midst of this culture.
Jack: Yes, absolutely.
Dennis: And men need to be called to assume the responsibility that only they can fulfill. There is a difference between men and women.
Jack: There is a difference. I believe what you’re saying is exactly true—and Bob, you said, as well, a moment ago.
I think men are recognizing—if they haven’t already—they’ve got it down: “There is a big void in my life. I need to step up. I need to do something about this.” And if we give them the tools—which, as we go through the book, there are some self-evaluation courses—
Jack: —if you’re honest—nobody else has to see it—just you look at that. Answer those questions that are there, and you’ll see what you need to work on in your own life. I think men, if they are given tools that are clear and simple—
Dennis: I agree.
Jack: —they’re going to act. They are going to do it. I think God has put that in a man to do.
Bob: I’m just curious, Lisa: “Do you think that the guys are the ones who need to step up? If they would, women would respond and that would turn things?”
Lisa: Yes. I counsel a lot of women. They are looking for that. A lot of the women want that, but they don’t—a lot of men don’t know what to do. They have no idea. They didn’t have the mentor. They didn’t have a good father in their lives. So, they are kind of lost; you know? They hear the “spiritual leader” words—
—those two words—
Lisa: —and it kind of freaks them out. They think they are supposed to be preaching to their family and their wife. They don’t understand what it means.
Hopefully, in this book, too, we’ve kind of spelled it out—what it means to live it—live it every day—be a Christian, not just out at church / not just serving on Sunday—you know, with your hands raised and looking really good for everybody to see—but in your home, being a Christian role model to your wife—to your children. And they’ll get it.
Bob: Yes, let me ask you about that because when Mary Ann and I first started dating, I was asking her about a guy she had dated previously. I said, “Why did you break up?” And she said, “Well, he just did not lead the relationship, spiritually.” I nodded my head—and just like you, Jack, I kind of went, “Hmm.” I was thinking to myself, “I have no idea what that means;”— [Laughter]
Bob: —“but I better figure it out, or I’m going to be dumped just like the last guy was.”
Lisa: Yes, that’s right.
Bob: So, I set out to try to clumsily do whatever I could do to show I was leading the relationship, spiritually. You talk about how important it is for us to leave a spiritual legacy—not just an emotional legacy—
Bob: —but a spiritual legacy. So, if that doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to preach to my kids and my wife, Jack, what does it mean?
Jack: I’m glad you asked that because so many guys, that we’ve seen over the years, when they get excited: “Okay, I’ve got to lead my family,”—the first thought they have is: “Well, you know, the pastor teaches for an hour on Sunday. I guess I’m going to take my five-year-old through a sermon.” That would kill that poor kid.
Jack: We’re really big promoters of what we write in the book about—and this is just something that is important to us. It may sound crazy to some people; but years ago, we heard of a world-renowned scientist at our church come and speak to us. He said, “God has written two Bibles.” And when I heard that, I got a little defensive.
Bob: A little squirmy; yes.
Jack: He said, “Because God is the author of science—true science. He’s the author of the Bible—He’s the author of science.” He said, “You can read the Bible; or you can be somebody—
—“down in the jungles of South America—and never have a Bible and look around at creation. It announces the Creator/Designer God.” We took that very seriously.
So, we began to introduce, from the earliest days of our children—was to teach our kids about God by going out to the park, going to the backyard, lifting up a rock, looking at bugs crawling underneath—telling them: “God did this. Look, why do you think God made this little bug to where when you poke him, he rolls in a ball?” Why would we bring it to our children that way?—because that’s how they think.
Butterflies—we talk about that because it’s something in Southern California we see: “Why did God do that?” Get them excited to realize that learning about God is really cool! It’s really fun! It’s extremely practical, and I’m learning. I want to teach my kids about God—regarding the movement of how God takes water up, moves it in a cloud, and drops it in the valley.
They are going to see that; and they are going to realize, “You know, that’s the God that my dad is telling me about,”—
—rather than trying to give them an expositional study on Romans, Chapter 2, at a young age. Every dad can do this. Every mom can do this: “Look—look, what God did! He made your dog to sweat through his little paws, and He made his nose wet. Why do you think that happened?” Then, you find out. You get in.
Bob: You “Google®” it. [Laughter]
Jack: And you realize: “My God is the Designer. If He can make this duck fly and swim like that, then, I think He can handle the problems of my life.”
Bob: We had a guest, not long ago, who said that when her daughter got older, she came back to her mom and said: “I remember when I was little that I would wake up and I’d see you on the sofa, reading your Bible. I just come and sit by you, as you were reading your Bible,”—didn’t say anything—but she said, “I knew God was real because how I saw you engaging with Him.”
Lisa: That’s it.
Bob: Our model—
Lisa: That’s it.
Bob: —our spiritual model is huge. In fact, it may be bigger than anything we ever say to our kids.
Lisa: I think so too.
Lisa: I think so.
Dennis: Years ago, I was in our living room. We had a small group, really, from which we started a church, here in Little Rock; but there were some couples there, and we started talking about where we got our first picture of who God was and what His character was like. It was fascinating—the conversation—as everybody shared the answer to that question—all gravitated back to Daddy—the Daddy model—what a father’s love looked like—a relationship, the pursuit, the presence—and I’m not talking about gifts. I’m talking about being there.
Dennis: And was he in their lives? If they had that experience, their concept of God was quite different than those who described their fathers as absent. They had to relearn, from the Bible, what God really is like—and that, maybe, they had a negative image.
I say this—not to pile on to dads, at this point—but to just exhort both dads and moms: “You two have one of the most glorious assignments in all of the universe. You’ve been given the assignment of imprinting the image of God on the soul of a child.” And we dare not miss the hand-off.
We have to assume that responsibility—with all of our deficits, all of our flaws, all of our selfishness, all of our mistakes. When we yell at each other and we blow it, we’ve got to get down on a knee and confess to our kids: “You know what? Mommy and Daddy may not do it perfectly, but we’re not quitting. We will represent who God is and what He is like to you.”
Bob: Well, and I think to have wise counselors, like Jack and Lisa Hibbs, available to mentor you, as you go through this process of making that spiritual hand-off to your children—
—I think that’s a great asset. And, of course, you can’t have the Hibbs come out to your house; but we do have the next best thing, which is their book, Turnaround at Home. It’s available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com, to request a copy.
Again, the title of the book is Turnaround at Home: Giving a Stronger Spiritual Legacy than You Received by Jack and Lisa Hibbs. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the website that says, “Go Deeper.” You can order a copy of the book, online. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.” Order a copy of Jack and Lisa Hibbs’ book when you get in touch with us, and we’ll send it out to you.
You know, it is interesting because, all across the country, calendars are a little different. In our part of the world, a lot of high school graduations are taking place this week. Some kids have been out of school for a week or more. In other parts of the country, school won’t be over until the middle of June. And, of course, that means that in mid-August, when students in parts of the country are going back to school, there are other kids who are waiting until Labor Day is over before they head back to school. So, we’re on kind of this different schedule in different parts of the country.
But one thing that we know, here at FamilyLife, that is—from about Memorial Day until about Labor Day—we often see a decline in donations coming to this ministry. A lot of ministries experience this same kind of summertime slump because people are just in a different routine. We had some friends of the ministry who came to us, not long ago, and said, “We’d like to help get you ready for that summer slump by building a little bit of a cash reserve so you can make it through the summer okay.”
What they agreed to do was to match every donation we receive from FamilyLife Today listeners, between now and Father’s Day, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $410,000.
And we’ve been excited to see listeners who have been calling, or writing, or going online to make a donation—who want to support our efforts. We’re grateful for that. We still have a ways to go if we want to take full advantage of that matching gift. So, we’re wondering if maybe today, you would go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com—click the button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I Care,”—make an online donation.
Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. You can make your donation over the phone; or if you’d like to mail a check and donate to support FamilyLife Today, you can do that as well. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today, Post Office Box 7111, Little Rock, Arkansas. Arkansas is AR, and the zip code is 72223.
Thanks for whatever you are able to do, and please pray for us that we would be able to take full advantage of this matching gift between now and Father’s Day.
And I hope you can join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to talk about some of the important spiritual disciplines we need to be engaged in, as parents, as we make this spiritual hand-off to the next generation. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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