Being a HomeBuilder, Part 1
About the Guest
Marriages and families today are in crisis. Will you be part of the problem or part of the solution? Dennis Rainey challenges men and women 50 years and up to plug into what God is doing in their communities and become a force for change.
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Marriages and families today are in crisis.
Being a HomeBuilder, Part 1
Bob: Have you looked at the moral decline that we’re experiencing in our country with concern? Dennis Rainey believes we ought to.
Dennis: Ladies and gentleman, we are headed in the direction of Europe, where Christianity has lost its saltiness, where it has no flavor. The question is, “Is it eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die,” and say, “Well, you know what? We did all we could do”; or are we going to stand up, take the Scriptures, and say, “Over my dead body. I’m going to do something about what is happening to this generation”?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Is there really something we can do that can have an impact on our culture? Dennis Rainey says there is. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. Well, I feel like today’s program ought to come with some kind of warning label attached to it. Today’s program could—
Dennis: Has a little fire and passion.
Bob: —could challenge you a little bit. If you aren’t interested in having your world rocked at all, you should probably see what’s on the other station right about now.
Dennis: Well, it’s just a little bit of a challenge, Bob, because I believe today we are facing an urgent crisis around marriages and families. I just want to tell our listeners this is not a small potatoes deal; this is a gargantuan problem that we must address. It’s not somebody else’s problem. We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do about this.
So, I’m coming to our listeners today to say, “What’s your part? Do you have a part in this? Is God calling you to be a part of this?” I don’t want you to listen for somebody else. Not all the listeners are going to have a specific part in all this, but I think there may be an assignment—maybe for just every listener who is tuning in today.
Bob: Tell our listeners about the context for where you presented the message that they are going to hear today.
Dennis: I was asked to speak at a local church here in Little Rock, my home church, where we helped start this back in 1977, a year after we started FamilyLife. It is a church of over 7,500 people. It started dozens of other churches around the country— Fellowship Bible Church.
They have come up with a group called SageWorks. What they are doing—the leadership of the church is really coming up with a curriculum and a challenge for those who are 50 years and older to evaluate where they can plug in to what God is doing in this community and around the world.
Bob: So, you’re the sage they brought in this particular—
Dennis: I was brought in to salt them down and to lay before them an opportunity to make a difference in the marriages and families in our neighborhoods, our community, our state, and, for that matter, around the world and to use their influence to be able to make a difference. I think it is going to take everybody—all hands on deck—everybody grabbing a tool and making a difference.
Bob: But you don’t have to be 50 or above to hear today’s message; do you?
Dennis: You do not. I’d welcome anybody who has got a heartbeat. Let’s go!
Bob: Alright. Well, here is Part One of a message from Dennis Rainey, where we are going to hear about how we can become HomeBuilders.
Dennis: [recorded message] Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10 is one of my favorite verses. It says, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Now, I’m going to warn you about this message. I am fairly rabid about the subject we are talking about here because, ladies and gentleman, I believe our nation and a generation are at risk. We’re not playing games here. The Devil of Hell is not playing Tiddlywinks® with our children and our grandchildren. He is out to destroy and divide them because he knows if he can kill the godly seed in its infancy, he can create a domino effect that goes on for generation after generation.
But there is the promise that righteousness will be delivered to a thousand generations; but I believe today—the problem is so large that you and I are looking at in our culture—that it transcends any parachurch organization, any media organization—it is so big—the only solution to the problem lies in the seats that you’re sitting in. You have to be the solution to the problem.
If there has every been a time when followers of Christ needed to step up and engage in the battle of good versus evil, it is today. Seven-point-five million are now shacking up, a 13 percent increase in one year from last year. If that is not bad enough, we’re told that 40 percent of all births are now to unwed mothers.
Do you know what the greatest predictor of incarceration is?—a boy growing up in a fatherless home. Right now, as you and I sit here, four out of ten live births in Little Rock and in all 50 states are being born in homes where there is no father.
The question is, “Is it eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die?” We cash in our 401K’s and say, “Well, you know what? We did all we could do”; or are we going to step up, take the Scriptures, and say, “Over my dead body. I’m going to do something about what is happening to this generation”?
Isaiah, Chapter 59, beginning in verse nine all the way to verse 15:
Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears [groaning at the weight of evil]....
We hope for justice, and there is none, for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing and denying the Lord, turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.
So, it says:
Justice is turned back, righteousness stands a far off for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking; and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
Do you get the picture of what is happening here? It says righteousness stands at a distance, just kind of shakes its head, and goes, “Whatever.” Meanwhile, it says truth has stumbled and has fallen flat on its face in the street. I believe truth has stumbled in the streets, and I believe today we are in the process as a Christian community of making ourselves a prey.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” I believe the challenge today is for you and me, as we encounter evil and good in the marketplace, is to embrace that which is good and push back against that which is evil—in a polite, respectful, with the love of Christ constraining us—and to conquer the evil before it preys upon us and our children.
Why don’t we engage? Why don’t we step up more often and into the battle? Well, I can’t answer for you; but I can answer for me. I can just tell you a little dialogue that goes around in my brain. Number one, the easiest thing to do is what?—nothing. The easiest thing to do is nothing.
This has been a few years ago, as you might imagine; but my daughter, Laura, was about 13 years old at the time. I decided to take her out on a little shopping date. I took by boys hunting, and I took my girls on shopping dates. It was the equivalent of hunting for them. We went by one of—what was one of our favorite stores, Abercrombie & Fitch, right down here in the Park Plaza mall. Okay?
We’re walking in there. We walk in, and she finds a baby blue sweater that has Abercrombie & Fitch across the front. She goes and tries it on. As she is trying it on, I lean against the counter, and I look back up to my left. There is a poster that is bigger than life-size of a completely naked teenage boy—shot from behind, standing up in water right here to his legs, leaning up against a boat dock. I thought, “I thought this was a clothing store.” He had none on.
So, I asked to speak with the manager. The manager came over, and I didn’t pull out my Bible. I just played the best card I could play with him, which was, “I want you to know I’m a really good customer. I’ve got six kids. We spend a lot of money in here, and I like your stuff. You have great stuff, but I just want you to know—I really do. This right here—this offends me.” To which the guy said, “Why?”
I said, “Because it is indecent.” He looked back at me—he was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He said, “I beg to differ with you, sir. There is nothing indecent about that.”
Now, I don’t know what struck me, but it was just too good of a set—to a spike at that point. I smiled—I did—I smiled, and I said, “Well, if that is not indecent, then, I would like you to get into the same pose that this young man is.” He looked like a deer in the headlights at that point. He thought for a moment, and he goes, “Uh-uh.” I said, “Well, it’s a good thing you said, ‘Uh-uh,’ because if you’d dropped your pants and got in that pose, I would had you arrested for indecent exposure.”
I said, “You know, I understand you’re not the cause of this, but I’d like you’d to take my name. I’d like to ask that someone from your corporate office please get in touch with me.” He looked back at me—and I’ll never forget this—he said, “Sir, I can take your name, but I just want you to know our corporate office doesn’t really care what you think.”
I said, “Well, you know what? I understand that. That is fair, but I want you to know that I’ve got a lot of friends. Wherever I have the opportunity to talk about Abercrombie & Fitch and your lack of morality and where you are taking our young people, I’m going to tell the story. I figure I’ve told somewhere around 9 to 10 million people now about that. (Laughter)
Now, I don’t say it for your applause for what I did; okay? I say it to all of us, “Easiest thing to do in those situations is to walk by it and do nothing.” It does us no good if we play our Christian card, which they don’t understand. They are not going to understand that, but they do understand when you start talking about your dollars and where you are going to spend them and about decency.
One of the things I think we have to do as we move forward is we have to speak up. Listen to what Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.”
Does America really have as many millions of people going to church every Sunday? Does it matter that these things are being promoted? I think it does. I just think the Christian community needs to be galvanized with a little backbone, where its wishbone currently is; and encourage them to step up and step into it—graciously and with the love of Christ.
The second reason I don’t engage in the battle is—I believe a lie—and I’ve heard this one on more than one occasion, “God could never use me. I’m broken. I’m a sinner. I’ve failed. Who am I to say this? Who am I to speak into this situation?” I will never forget here at Fellowship a number of years ago with Dan Jarrell leading Men’s Fraternity. We talked about how God calls men through five steps. The last step, of which, is called patriarch.
I didn’t feel competent to speak about that step; so, I invited Dr. Carl Wenger to come in and speak about being a patriarch. As Dr. Wenger was standing there, I said,
“Dr. Wenger, you’ve been married over 60 years. Here you’ve made an impact in the community. You’ve built Ozark Conference Centers. You’ve been a spiritual light. What, to you, is the most profound truth of what it means to be a spiritual patriarch in the community?”
I will never forget what he said. He said, “Oh, that is easy, Dennis. It is that God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines.” There is tremendous hope, for me, in that. What are we in the Christian community, but a bunch of crooked sticks, who in the power of the Holy Spirit, obedient to God’s Word, can be used to draw straight lines. “I could never make a difference. God could never use me.”
We were in Dallas/Ft. Worth. We were doing the Weekend to Remember ® there. At the conference on Saturday afternoon, I spoke for five minutes. I said to that audience of 16 hundred people, “I know that many of you are like me. You are a daddy. You are a grandfather—some of you just getting started—but you look at what’s happening to the marriages in your family, in your neighborhood, in your community, in your church; and you are mad as a hornet. You are tired of taking it anymore.
“You’d like to push back against evil, and you’d like to do something to make a difference. I’d like to ask you to give me 25 minutes of your time and come and find out how you can make a difference where you live.” How many do you think came?—990.
Ladies and gentlemen, research has been done. The Accuser of the brethren is whispering in our ears, “We can’t make a difference.” He is telling you and me that: “We are no good; we are broken.” “God could never use you.” “The cause is too small. It’s not worth the effort. Who am I to push back against this giant, evil empire?”
I’m going to tell you something. I just sat in a room this past week with a Manhattan advertising agency that has just finished marketing research of Christians across the country. Do you know what they found? Fifty-four percent of all those who profess to be Christians and follow Christ are yearning for someone to send them. They are yearning for a cause and a commission to be sent—to make a difference in their generation. Why aren’t they doing it? I think they are like me. They are listening to the wrong voice.
Bob: [end of recorded message] Well, we’ve been listening to Part One of a message from Dennis Rainey calling men and women to become HomeBuilders. That’s actually a term we’re using around here to refer to people who get involved—in fact, you’ve kind of compared this to what Habitat for Humanity is doing in building physical houses. You want to see people grab some tools and build marriages and families.
Dennis: Habitat called out to the lay community and said, “Would you like to make a difference in those who need affordable housing?” They stepped up, brought their hammers and their saws, and got some materials together. These people threw together some pretty nice looking homes. It is quite a system. All across the country, they are doing this for physical houses.
What I want to do is I want to see, not a volunteer force for FamilyLife, but a volunteer force of people all around the globe that number a million. I’d like to see, in the next ten years, one million HomeBuilders who’d say, “Give me some tools, give me the resources, and give me the commission, the mandate, to make a difference where I live.” Bob, it is happening.
As you know, the Art of Marriage®--now, there is more than 4,000 couples who have pulled and tugged on the kit that we’ve put together to host a six-hour video conference in neighborhoods, churches, communities, businesses, and cities. I mean, there is some cool stuff happening here. There’s—conferences have come about from two couples all the way to 1,200 people. I mean, this is an opportunity to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wrap it around the family. It’s like a Trojan horse.
You can find a way into your neighbors’ homes and lives around the issues of marriage and family because why do we get married? We don’t get married to be miserable. We get married to have a meaningful life together, and raise a family, and to go the distance. You know what? People need help today to make that happen.
The Bible has the solutions; and FamilyLife has put together an array of tools—of which, the Art of Marriage is just one, where you can make a difference in your neighborhood, your community, your church, your business, and your state. Just tell us how big a territory you want, and you have got it.
Bob: You’re really okay if people want to use somebody else’s tool—if they want to use something from Focus on the Family or something from Paul David Tripp or—
Dennis: Emerson Eggerichs got a great video resource on Love and Respect. Absolutely! The problem is not going to be solved by a single tool or a single organization; so, we have to work together. We have to find a way to work together to address this. The issue, though, Bob—it is time for the masses in America—those who go to church, who profess to follow Christ—to do what happened in Nehemiah, Chapter 2, “To arise and build.”
It is time for us to engage the Enemy because he is winning the battle in marriage after marriage down your street and across the nation. He is winning the battle in marriages and families, and we need to push back against evil. We need to take the Gospel and the truth of the Bible and equip people to make their marriage go the distance.
Bob: Well, I hope some of our listeners, as they’ve listened to your message today, have thought, “I’m ready. I hear what you are saying. We’ve been talking about what we could do. We’re looking for ways to step up.”
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and look at some of the HomeBuilders tools we’ve put in place over the last several months. These are tools that are designed for you to grab a hold of and start to put to use—things like our HomeBuilders Couples Series®, a small group Bible studies; the Art of Marriage, that is an event that you can host in your community and your church. You can be the host couple. All you have to do is talk to the pastor and say, “We’d like to do this,” and get him to sign off on it. Then, pick a weekend and spread the word. Invite folks to join you for an Art of Marriage weekend.
In fact, the Art of Marriage is now available in a Spanish version. It’s completely subtitled on the screen. The workbooks are in Spanish as well. We’ve got a lot of tools available. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com, look them over, and ask yourself the question, “How could we get involved in helping to strengthen marriages and families?” Then, don’t wait for somebody to come along and nudge you; consider this your nudge. Grab a tool and get in the game.
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. We hope you’ll stop by and look over what’s available.
Now, of course, next week is Thanksgiving; and one of the things we are thankful for around here is listeners like you who get in touch with us from time to time and help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation. We are listener-supported. Without your support, we could not continue the work of this daily radio program, our website, all of the resources that we make available.
In fact, more than 65 percent of the money that we need to operate the ministry every year comes in from listeners like you who make donations to FamilyLife Today. We appreciate your support.
This week, if you are able to help with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of Barbara Rainey’s devotional book called Growing Together in Gratitude. It is a book designed to be read aloud to the family—short stories that focus on the need for thankfulness and cultivating a heart of gratitude. Along with the book, we will send you a Thanksgiving prayer card. Again, this our way of saying, “Thanks,” for your support for the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
All you have to do, if you’d like to receive a copy of the book, is go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; click on the button that says, “I CARE”. Then, make a donation. We’ll be sure to send out a copy of Barbara’s book to you, or call 1-800-FLTODAY— make a donation over the phone. When you do, just ask for a copy of the devotional book on gratitude. We’re happy to send it out to you. We do appreciate your partnership with us. Thanks for your support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to be back to hear Part Two of Dennis’ message on becoming a HomeBuilder—what you can do to have an impact on your culture and to advance the work of the Kingdom. There’s a lot you can do, and we’ll talk about it tomorrow. Hope you can join us.
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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