FamilyLife This Week®

Spiritual Resolutions

with Dennis Rainey, Gary Thomas, Jen Wilkin, Sam Allberry, Tony Evans | July 4, 2020
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Dennis Rainey, Sam Allberry, Tony Evans, Jen Wilkin, and Gary Thomas outline some life habits with eternal significance.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Michelle Hill

    Radio has been ingrained in Michelle for most of her life. This love for radio has taken her to various radio stations and ministries in places like Chicago, Alaska and other snow covered terrains like her hometown in north central Iowa. In 2005 she landed on staff with Cru/FamilyLife®. While at FamilyLife she has overseen the expansion of FamilyLife Today® internationally, assisted with the creation of Passport2Identity™-Womanhood and is now the host of FamilyLife This Week®. For the last 15+ years Michelle has been mentoring young women and is passionate about helping them find their identity in God. She also has a fascination for snowflakes and the color yellow. Michelle makes her home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dennis Rainey, Sam Allberry, Tony Evans, Jen Wilkin, and Gary Thomas outline some life habits with eternal significance.

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Spiritual Resolutions

With Dennis Rainey, Gary Thomas, ...more
July 04, 2020
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Michelle: When you interact with other believers, have you ever stopped to consider that you’re dealing with royalty? Author Gary Thomas shares how he came to the startling conclusion.

Gary: For me, it came out of a bad episode in my marriage. I was not being a very good husband. God was convicting me in prayer; and He applied 1 John 3:1, which I always applied to myself: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God.” I claimed that as a single man: “I’m God’s son; He loves me as a son. That’s a relationship that could never break.”

But God was now challenging me to apply it to my wife—He said, “Gary, Lisa isn’t just your wife; she’s My daughter, and I expect you to treat her accordingly.”

Michelle: We’re only about—what?—six thousand days into this COVID thing? Okay, no. I know we’re not that many, but we’ve probably failed a couple of times in how we treat each other; right? Well, today I’m going to help you apply some beneficial non-negotiables into your Christian life, so stay tuned to FamilyLife This Week.


Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. You know, it is the Fourth of July weekend, and the flags are out. People are barbecuing; picnics are happening; of course, with social distancing only. We are celebrating/we are celebrating our great nation. You know, as we look back in history, we see men and women, who have done incredible things to preserve these freedoms that we enjoy today; because “freedom isn’t free.” You know, it has become a cliché; but it’s true!

Our Christian freedom—it’s not free either—it was paid for by Christ; He died for our freedom. He should be, and is, our ultimate hero; the hero we should strive to be like: you know, walk like; talk like. As I thought about this, I remembered sitting in a crowd, a few years ago, when Dennis Rainey gave a talk to some professional radio broadcasters; and most were on the edge of their seats. He shared with us seven non-negotiables he distilled from the Bible. Today, we’re going to talk about those non-negotiables; but real quick, I want you to hear that list. Here’s Dennis.

[Recorded Message]

Dennis: The first one: “Seek God, not sin.” Number two says, “Fear God, not men.” Number three: “Love God, not the world.” Fourth, “Believe God, not the deceiver.” Fifth, “Obey God, not your appetites.” Sixth, “Serve God, not self.” Finally, number seven, “Worship God, not comfort.”


Michelle: Did you catch those non-negotiables that Dennis was talking about? Okay, so as I mentioned earlier, Dennis distilled this from the Bible. When he came up with these seven non-negotiables, he laminated a little/sort of business-sized card and gave them to everyone here at FamilyLife®.

If you didn’t catch that list, here it is again: “Seek God, not sin,” “Fear God, not men,” “Love God, not the world,” “Believe God, not the deceiver,” “Obey God, not your appetites,” “Serve God, not self,” “Worship God, not comfort.”

This list got me to thinking—you know, we’ve all been self-isolating for a while or quarantining. We’re slowly getting back in society, but remember at the beginning? We were going to read our Bible more; we were going to work out more; eat with the family around the table; be more intentional about spending time with those who really matter. But is that what really happened for you? I’ve got to admit that’s not what happened for me. I got to see that what I did didn’t line up with Dennis’s list of non-negotiables, like seeking God, not sin.

We talked with Sam Allberry about seeking God. He’s a pastor from England—writes for The Gospel Coalition—is an author and a sought-after speaker. Sam, for many years, has worked with Ravi Zacharias Ministries. Here he is, talking with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine about seeking God, not sin.

[Previous FamilyLife Today® Broadcast]

Sam: Well, I was really intrigued by Jesus. I’d grown up with a mental image of Jesus that was—He was a cross between Gandhi and one of the Bee Gees—He was this guy who said, you know, good things. I pictured him as  looking like one of the Bee Gees—long blonde hair—

Bob: Right.

Sam: —and good teeth and that kind of thing.

That was sort of—but anyway, what I began to realize was that the real Jesus was far more interesting, far more frustrating, and far more compelling than I had ever realized. His Word seemed to expose me. I began to realize I was one of the people for whom He came.

I remember thinking, in a general, abstract way, “This is true.” But then I also remember thinking, “What does that mean for me?” That was the point—because I/there were several reasons—I thought, “Yes, I think this is true”; but then I began to realize that Jesus was calling for me to respond.

This is not one of those things that I can say is true and leave to one side. It’s got to be everything, if it’s true, or nothing. I remember consciously thinking, “If Jesus has died for me”—and I believed He had died for me, not just for sinners, but for me—“I want to follow Him.” I remember, that moment, sitting in my mind, thinking, “I’m going to follow Jesus now.”

Bob: Did you know that where He would take you would conflict with the feelings that had started to emerge, sexually?

Sam: Not really. I knew that Christians believed sex was for marriage, so I figured that was probably going to be part of the deal; but I kind of figured, “Well, in that case, my feelings will change.” I didn’t anticipate this being a long-term situation that I would be in; but at the time, all I knew was, “I do trust Jesus; so whatever He ends up saying, in any area of life, will be good for me.”

Bob: I have to wonder if some of the folks listening to us today have always thought Christianity was about, “God does nice things for good people,” rather than understanding that it’s God forgiving all of us who need forgiveness?

Dennis: Yes; and I’m just wondering right now if there is a listener, sitting there, going: “Yes, I’m familiar with His claims. I’ve been thinking about it a little bit,”— maybe thinking about it more now as a result of hearing your words—what would you say to that man/that woman, who is maybe at the same fork in the road you were?

Sam: I would say a couple of things. I would say we’re not Christians because we think we’re good; we’re Christians because we know we’re not. We know our own hearts; we need a Savior. We do not need a performance coach; we need a Rescuer.

The second thing I would say is what we’re told in the Scriptures: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” If you are someone, who’s beginning to think, “I’m feeling drawn to Jesus,” this is a man who is unfathomably good, and His ways are good and right. It’s, as we start to follow Him, we can taste that. It’s not always easy; sometimes it’s very, very hard; but we can taste the goodness of what He says as we follow Him.


Michelle: “Taste the goodness” of Him when we follow Christ. That’s Sam Allberry showing us how to “seek God, not sin.” Did you catch what He had to say about his same-sex attraction? He thought God would change it, but He didn’t. Sam is still same-sex attracted, but he hasn’t acted on his feelings. He’s choosing to seek God and not sin; and the benefits of tasting the goodness of God?—well, Sam is finding out that they far outweigh our own wants and desires.

Sam has a very powerful story. It’s a story of a man who chose to find his identity in Christ. We have that story on our website. Go to; that’s

You know, one thing that happens when we seek God is that we come to fear Him. That is when you become so preoccupied with walking in His presence that what others think of you just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. That’s not only fearing God, but being kingdom-minded. Here’s well-known pastor, author, and radio host, Tony Evans, talking about fearing God, not men.

[Recorded Message]

Tony: During my research and study, I’ve discovered that God has broken down His kingdom into four categories; in fact, only four: your personal life; your family life; your church life; and your societal, governmental, or community life. The kingdom is simply your ability to relate those four areas to one another and all four to God that makes you a kingdom person.

Now, this is a study that could take hours upon end. I would simply like to reduce it to Psalm 128. He says, “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy, and it will go well with you.” He starts off by addressing your personal life. He says that if you’re going to be a kingdom person, it always begins with the kingdom within—he calls it “the fear of God.”

That’s an interesting Old Testament word; it really combines two concepts: on one side, to fear God meant to dread Him for He was so high, and holy, and just; but on the flip side of that coin, it was to awe Him or hold Him in high reverence. When you mix together the dread of God with the awe of God, it simply comes out to mean: “Blessed is he who takes God seriously. Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.”

I would assume, in Anaheim, there is some sort of loop that surrounds this community. Most major cities have a loop; they are close enough to give you access to the city, but far enough so that you don’t have to get bogged down with traffic going downtown. They are loops that circle the city. You and I, today, live in a world with God on the loop: close enough to look respectable but far enough not to be bothered with.

God is not interested in being on the loop of your life. He is not interested in the marginalization of His existence on your life or in your ministry. In fact, He’s interested in exiting the loop and going downtown, where the legislation is made. To fear God is to let Him run the city hall of your life. [Applause] To fear God is to take Him so seriously that He sets the legislation for every aspect of your existence and mine. And if there’s any adjusting of the rule-es to the Ruler, it is the adjustment of finding out what the prescriptions of the King are so I can adjust everything in my world to who He is.

And there is always one test as to whether you fear God. It says, “You walk in His ways.” The fear of God is not ultimately measured in the feelings; it’s always measured in the feet. If there is no adjustment in the feet, there is no fear in the heart, regardless of how inspired you may feel at any given moment. Blessed is everyone who fears God, because you’ll always see them shifting the way they walk.

What He is simply saying is: “If you are serious about this kingdom, then God must be the Sun of your life’s solar system, where the planets of your activity revolve around Him; and you do not request that He revolve around you.


Michelle: Did you catch that from Tony Evans?—those words? You revolve around God; He doesn’t revolve around you. Timeless words to live by.

You remember?—we first started off with seeking God, not sin; we moved on to fear God, not men. We’re going to continue to work through two more of the seven non-negotiables when we come back with more non-negotiables. Stay tuned.

[Radio Station Spot Break]

Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. So as we mentioned a little bit earlier, Dennis Rainey came up with a list of seven non-negotiables: things that should be true of you and me if we claim to be children of God. Once again, let’s just recap that list. Let’s hear from Dennis:

[Recorded Message]

Dennis: The first one: “Seek God, not sin.” Number two says, “Fear God, not men.” Number three: “Love God, not the world.” Fourth, “Believe God, not the deceiver.” Fifth, “Obey God, not your appetites.” Sixth, “Serve God, not self.” Finally, number seven, “Worship God, not comfort.”


Michelle: What I love about this list—these non-negotiables—is it’s timeless. These non-negotiables aren’t something that Dennis just pulled out of thin air and said, “We must live by these rules.” He pulled these right out of the Bible; and for eons, other people have been latching onto these principles too.

Okay, so far, we’ve talked about seeking God, not sin; fearing God, not man. For the sake of time, we have to skip over a few of those non-negotiables; but you can find the entire list on our website,; that’s

The next one we’re going to talk about is “Believing God, not the deceiver.” Part of believing God comes from knowing the Bible; knowing what is true of Him; basically, knowing God better than you know your spouse or your best friend. Here’s Bible teacher and author, Jen Wilkin.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Jen: I thought about the first commandment so much as I was writing this book; because I’m writing about all these things that are only true about God: His infinitude and just how He is unmeasurable and unquantifiable, and so much bigger than anything we would have come up with on our own. When you learn about who God is described to be in Scripture, it becomes readily apparent that there cannot possibly be any other gods.

That’s essentially what the first commandment is telling us when it says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” It’s saying it because there are no other gods! When we focus our attention on who the Bible proclaims God to be, it helps us obey the first command; because we realize the insanity of thinking there could be any rivals.

Bob: Talk about the self-sufficiency of God. He doesn’t need us for anything; does He?

Jen: Right! And that’s a little bit disappointing to some of us. I think that some of us grew up with a narrative that God created us to fill a little human-shaped hole in His heart; and yet, God has always had complete sufficiency. You know, He didn’t need our love; He had that within the Trinity. The Triune God has always had love and fellowship; He wasn’t lonely. We don’t supply Him with anything.

It intuitively makes sense once we acknowledge that He’s the origin of all things. He can’t possibly have been dependent on any of the created things. Sometimes the greater obstacle to the gospel is not: “I’m such a wretched sinner”; it’s: “I’m pretty awesome, and I’m doing okay on my own.”

But then I think the other issue we run into is thinking that to be needy is somehow to be flawed. We were needy/we had needs—before that whole issue with the serpent and the lies and everything that came after—why? Because we were created to acknowledge that we had need of our Creator. To be human is to need. We’re created, not just to need God, but also to need one another/ live in community with one another. That’s Adam and Eve: created for one another, and created to rule and subdue the earth together. We need restoration; we need our sins removed by the atoning work of Christ.


Michelle: Jen Wilkin with some very true, true words: “the atoning work of Christ.”

You know, there are many times in my life where I’m tempted to believe something that isn’t true of God; because I look around the world and I see pain; I see suffering and people hurting other people. I’m tempted to think, “God just doesn’t care; does He?” I have to stop, and I have to go back to what I know to be true of God: “What have I learned of Him when I’m reading the Bible?”

I am in a Bible Study at church, and we are studying some of Jen’s material. Jen has a way of teaching God’s Word and equipping women to dig deeper into His Word and to grasp what God is saying to us. It’s amazing to look around and see the number of women, who are growing in their belief in Him. So thanks, Jen; I really appreciate you and all your hard work.

Okay, so we’ve learned: “Seeking God, not sin”; we’ve talked through “Fear God, not men”; and we talked through “Believe God, not the deceiver.” Now we’re going to turn a corner a little bit here. Have you ever thought about your marriage—how it could be a form of worship to the one true God?—really?

I know what you’re thinking: “So I’ve heard that. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.” And I’m sure you’ve heard that also, right? It’s found in Ephesians. But worship of God in marriage?—yes. I didn’t come up with this. He’s a pretty smart guy—Gary Thomas—he’s a faculty member at Western Seminary in Portland. He’s a teaching pastor, and writer-in-residence at Second Baptist Church in Houston, and he’s a well-known author.

But most importantly, he lives out what he’s saying. Here’s Gary Thomas, talking about another non-negotiable: worshiping God, not comfort.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Gary: I’m a huge fan of marriage, but God didn’t create any of us to be satisfied in our marriage. He created us so that we find our greatest meaning and purpose in a life of worship, and service, and sharing fellowship; or what we would call “love.”

Here’s the reality: the human condition is such that none of us are so incredible we could keep somebody fascinated for five to six decades! But when we connect our marriage to things that grow, like worship. For me, one of the most transforming aspects of marriage is when I really began to connect my marriage with my life of worship. The brilliant thing about worship—it’s not just a religious concept. The more you worship God, the more you want to worship God; because that’s what God created you to do! The more you get to see how beautiful He is, the more you want to spend time in His presence.

So when my marriage is based on worship, and worship is something that grows, then everything else that the world tends to base marriage on—personal appearance, present level of happiness and satisfaction, comfort—not taking into account the fact that we get sick, or that we can get disappointed, or poor, or have disappointments—all of those things tear a marriage down—but when marriage is based on worship and relating to God in an eternal perspective, those things become more important as you age, not less.

Bob: Okay, you’re going to have to help me out here, though, because I was following—marriage should have an eternal purpose—and we should see it in light of eternity. Then you talk about marriage being connected to worship. What does that look like for marriage to be connected to worship? I mean, how does that happen on a daily basis in my home?

Dennis: Yes, give us a working definition of “worship”; because I think that’s where a lot of folks miss it, Gary. They don’t really understand what it is.

Gary: For me, it came out of a bad episode in my marriage. I was not being a very good husband. God was convicting me in prayer; and He applied 1 John 3:1, which I had always applied to myself: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God.” I claimed that as a single man: “I’m God’s son; He loves me as a son. That’s a relationship that could never break.”

But God was now challenging me to apply it to my wife; He said, “Gary, Lisa isn’t just your wife. She’s My daughter, and I expect you to treat her accordingly.” It’s scary to me, at this stage in my life, with two daughters of marriageable age, how desperately I want them to be loved.

Dennis: Right.

Gary: And there are two men that can make me among the happiest men on earth—not by ever doing anything for me, not by complimenting me, not by giving me anything—if I watch them love my daughters well, they will be two of my favorite people on this planet.

Dennis: Yes.

Gary: So I began looking at God, not just as my heavenly Father, but my heavenly Father-in-law. Our marriage is about far more than our own happiness. Our marriages are about God’s happiness! I want to bring great joy to heaven. That’s where it can be so overwhelming to listen; we feel so insignificant in this world. And yet, each person listening to us can bring great joy to our heavenly Father by loving one of His sons or daughters supremely well today.


Michelle: Gary Thomas wrapping up those non-negotiables with “Worship God, not comfort.” What Gary’s saying is that one of the best ways that we can worship God is by treating others well, whether it’s in your marriage, or the clerk at Walmart®, or your co-worker who is chomping on their ice. How are you treating others?

I don’t know if you’re writing a list of these non-negotiables, but here they are: “Seek God, not sin”; “Fear God, not men”; “Believe God, not the deceiver”; and “Worship God, not comfort.” There are three of them that we didn’t talk about today; they are: “Love God, not the world”; “Obey God, not your appetites”; and “Serve God, not self.” Of course, we have that entire list of all the seven non-negotiables on our website,; that’s

Hey, next week, I’m going to have a chat with Bob Lepine. I am so excited! He just wrote a new book about love and how to love each other. We’re going to talk about Loving Like You Mean It, so I hope you can join us for that.

Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. And a big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producer, Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.

Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.

I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.


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