FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Death is the New Life

with Michael and Hayley DiMarco | November 20, 2012
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Dying to yourself probably isn't at the top of your list of things you need to do today. But it should be. Michael and Hayley DiMarco talk about the life we can find when we die to our own desires and allow God to lead. Hayley recalls how shopping, and the search for more stuff, became her idol and landed her $20,000 in debt after college. She explains how worshiping God and taking a year-long shopping sabbatical shifted her focus and brought her to a healthier, holier place.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dying to yourself probably isn't at the top of your list of things you need to do today. But it should be. Michael and Hayley DiMarco talk about the life we can find when we die to our own desires and allow God to lead. Hayley recalls how shopping, and the search for more stuff, became her idol and landed her $20,000 in debt after college. She explains how worshiping God and taking a year-long shopping sabbatical shifted her focus and brought her to a healthier, holier place.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Dying to yourself probably isn’t at the top of your list of things you need to do today.

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Death is the New Life

With Michael and Hayley DiMarco
November 20, 2012
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Bob:  There is a difference between putting a Band-Aid over your sin and really dealing with it.  Here’s Michael DiMarco: 

Michael:  It’s actually almost like a wound.  It’s like a physical wound.  If all we do is wrap it up and hide it—that we think applying pressure and putting a bandage on it, that’s good.  Well, no.  You have to clean the wound; otherwise, it’s going to get infected.  Once it gets infected, it courses through our blood system.  Then, we can die from an infection.  So, that act of confession really does cleanse the wound, and it leads to healing. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 20th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Don’t you hate when you really have to deal with sin, instead of just covering it up?  We’re going to talk today about why the hard way is the right way. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  So, I’m just curious.  I don’t know if we ever got around to you in this discussion we’ve been having this week about a moment when you kind of recognized that dying to self was a part of what you’d signed on for as a follower of Christ.  Do you remember—

Dennis:  Oh, yes. 

Bob:  —a moment or was it gradual? 

Dennis:  Oh, yes.  Let me introduce our guests first.  Then, I’ll tell that story.  Hayley and Michael DiMarco join us again on FamilyLife Today.  Welcome back, guys. 

Michael:  Thanks.

Hayley:  Thanks.

Dennis:  They give leadership to a ministry called Hungry Planet.  They create books, resources, for teenagers and now, parents.  They are meddling in a really gritty book.  I told Bob—I said, “They wrote something that I’ve been pounding the table about.”  I just don’t hear many people today talking about Romans 12:1-2, that the way you’re transformed is by becoming a living sacrifice. 

Bob:  Yes, which is a contradiction in terms when you think about it.  And sacrifice is not something that lives; yet, that is what the Bible is saying. “Yes, you keep living, but now, you’re dead to self.” 

Dennis:  Everybody wants the will of God; they don’t want the process that takes them to the will of God.  In Romans 12:1-2, it says the way you get the will of God is by giving up all—dying to self.  That’s the name of your book, Die Young

Back to the question Bob asked, “Was there a time in my life when I died young,” the answer was, “Yes.”  I was between my sophomore and junior year in college, and it really was hitting me if the claims of Christ are right, then He doesn’t just want my Sunday religiosity; He wants seven days a week, 365.  He wants the life.  As imperfect as it is, He wants all of me. 

I remember literally being nauseated, sick at my stomach, because I thought, “If I do this thing, He’s going to put me on a banana boat.  And I’m going to float across the ocean to Africa or some country to become this ‘miserable missionary.’”  Now, that’s a tip off of my theology of who God is.  Okay?  I’m confessing that.  I didn’t have a good—a real accurate picture that God doesn’t want our lives to turn around and make us miserable.  He wants us to die to self so He can give us real life. 

Bob:  There’s part of you today that would love to be living in Africa doing mission work, isn’t there? 

Dennis:  Well, there is.  It’d be a lot simpler over there in some regards.  It really would, but that’s at the core of what you guys are teaching in this book, right, Hayley? 

Hayley:  Yes, and we talked a little bit yesterday about the idea of happiness and that not being our goal; and that when you die to self, you give up kind of that pursuit of happiness.  But I want to say, on the heels of what you just said, Dennis, that there’s an amazing symptom of dying to self; and that is happiness, or as the Bible refers to it, joy. 

Bob:  Yes. 

Hayley:  So, that joy that is never ceasing but doesn’t falter in these times of trial and suffering and times of difficulty; that is the outcome of dying to self.  It’s much more permanent than the happiness we want to pursue. 

Dennis:  You will have—you really will have difficulty—

Hayley:  Certainly.  Well, there’s no doubt.

Dennis:  —trials, suffering.  I mean you’re going to have tons of it—

Hayley:  Each one of us. 

Dennis:  —whether you are married or single, whether you have one child, five or six.  I mean it doesn’t matter.  The point is, life is full of valleys and mountain tops.  The question is, how are you going to traverse both?  What’s your perspective to do that? 

In your book you have a table of contents that outlines each of the chapters.  We’ve already hit a couple of these.  Chapter One is “Death Is the New Life”.  That’s what we’re talking about here.  Jesus Christ called us to be like a grain of wheat: Fall on the ground and die.  He calls us to die, so we can live. 

Secondly, we talked about “Down Is the New Up”.  That’s humility, not being filled with pride, but knowing who we are, rightly evaluating who we are in light of who God is.  I want you to speak about the third chapter, “Less Is the New More.”  And Hayley, that’s your Achilles heel because you said—

Hayley:  I know.  (Laughter)

Dennis:  Well, you admit it.  You admit it in the book. 

Hayley:  Shopping therapy has always been my number one treatment for everything that ails me.  So, yes, I’ve ended up over the years in great debt because of my shopping—not just financial debt but spiritual debt.  I’ve been controlled by my urge for stuff to the point where it literally—there came a point where it made me sick.  I just felt like the house was crawling with stuff, like the things didn’t fit in the closets.  There was so much coming out.  I had no room to put it all.  It just made me crazy. 

So, yes, this was kind of the beginning of this death to self was when I started to look around and see how much stuff meant to me and how much it fed my flesh.  But of course, we don’t mean just stuff being actual, physical stuff.  I mean it could be being busy all the time; it can be even our kids—anything that takes the place of our worship of God becomes a problem.  I was hit smack dab in the face with that -- my worship was of anything but God.  I found opportunities to worship stuff. 

Bob:  When you looked at that and tried to evaluate, “What’s really going on in my heart here,” what was exposed?  Why would you say, “I will feel better if I come home with something I’ve just bought?”  What’s—

Hayley:  That’s a good—it’s a visceral reaction.  I walk through Target.  That’s kind of my drug—

Bob:  That’s your temple?

Hayley:  —of choice.  Yes.  I walk through there.  I just see the things, and I see them in my house making my life better.  I see a beautiful home where everything is put together and the plates match and the silverware is not bending—

Dennis:  Okay—

Hayley:  —and I see happiness. 

Dennis:  —I’ve got to stop you there because I’m married to a woman who I made this statement to—and it’s one of the true original lines I’ve ever given my wife that was really on target.  I mean here’s what I said to her.  I said, “Barbara, wherever you go, you make things beautiful.”  And she does.  She makes things beautiful. 

There are listeners right now who are hearing you describe your home.  Is it wrong to want to make things beautiful, to make a home appealing to the eye? 

Hayley:  It’s not.  I don’t think it’s wrong at all.  I think the problem comes with our heart with regard to it.  My heart was that I couldn’t be happy without it.  I literally could not walk out of the store if I saw something that appealed to me.  I had no power over that.  It didn’t matter if my bank account was overdrawn.  I had to have that.  So, the way that we worship the stuff is what’s important—it’s the problem. 

Michael:  It’s almost like when—if people have an opportunity to say “Come over to the house,” and if the house isn’t perfect—if that’s a roadblock—like in my family, my mother would not allow us to bring friends over.  We wouldn’t have people over to the house if the house wasn’t looking good, if it wasn’t clean, like, “Oh, wow, the house is a mess—no we just can’t.” 

So, when the appearance of things or the condition of things—“Well, we don’t have a nice enough car for us to participate in the carpool,” that’s where it becomes --Hayley alluded to it—becomes a matter of worship.  The “Less Is the New More,” it’s not just stuff.  It can be activities, it can be friendships, it can be followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook.  “I need more. I need more.” 

Bob:  I just have to ask you if this Target temple worship that we’ve been talking about here, was this after you got married or before you got married?

Hayley:  Well, I ended up in $20,000 worth of debt when I was right out of college.  That wasn’t college debt.  That was just credit card debt, and I wasn’t married at the time.  It was the way that I defined myself. 

Bob:  But did you start confronting this—

Hayley:  I started confronting it after I got married, yes. 

Bob:  After you got married.  So, basically, you were bringing debt and the problem into this joint relationship. 

Hayley:  Well, I had gotten rid of the debt by then, but I brought in the worship.  I brought in the worship.  It still exists.  There are still times when I say, “I really want to have my friends over, but the house is just a mess.”  Michael will say, “Are you kidding me?  Have we not worked through this?  This house, the way it looks is not more important than community and than fellowship.  And your friends love you regardless of how the house looks.” 

Now, that is hard for me to overcome, and I have to hear it from him regularly.  Otherwise, I can become consumed with how beautiful everything looks. 

Dennis:  So, how practically have you dealt with this idol?  Back before Easter, Lent—I actually fasted during Lent from certain things, and it was healthy for me to do that because I gave up things that I thought were becoming too important to me. 

Hayley:  That’s good. 

Dennis:  Okay?  Do you fast from Target? 

Hayley:  Yes.  (Laughter)  Yes.  I did more than that.  It was a few years ago when we started to confront this idea; and we—I took an entire year off from buying anything new except food.  I went to Goodwill  if we needed anything.  So I took a year off from Target.  I couldn’t even go in it.  At first I tried just to go in it with no cash, but I had credit cards. 

Dennis:  So, did that cure you? 

Hayley:  Oh, no.  It didn’t—no, I tried—really, right now, we’re going through the process of daily giving away three things a day, myself and my daughter.  We go through the house and say, “Let’s give away three things a day,” just to keep our minds in that idea that this stuff isn’t important.  If you can’t give away some stuff, then something is wrong. 

Dennis:  Like what?  What are you giving away? 

Hayley:  Well, I started with my closet.  I started giving away clothes.  That’s the easiest because they’re just everywhere.  Right now, I’ve—but this is the most tortuous one—it’s giving away books. 

Dennis:  So, right now, there is a listener who downloaded the broadcast on their iPhone or their iPod, and they are walking through Target; and she’s convicted. 

Hayley:  I’ve just ruined it for them.  (Laughter) 

Dennis:  What is your advice? 

Hayley:  Put it back.  You don’t need it. 

Bob:  Step away from the counter.  Get out of the store now.  (Laughter) 

Michael:  Sometimes on date night, I put on a red polo shirt, and she gets very amorous.  (Laughter) 

Bob:  What’s your advice to that woman? 

Hayley:  I hate to even say it because they are just going to scream at me, but my advice is stop and ask yourself, “Why do I want this?  What is my motivation behind it?”  If it isn’t so you can serve God better, then put it back because really the chief end of man is to glorify God.  Is the stuff in your cart going to glorify Him?  It might be something your kids need for school.  That’s part of your ministry, that’s part of your glorifying God; but if it’s not, then, is it meant to glorify you? 

Bob:  It sounds to me a little bit like this dying to stuff thing is not making you happier.  Do you know what I’m saying?  I mean as you are expressing it, this sounds hard.  This sounds unpleasant.  Is there joy and peace and hope in what you’re doing? 

Hayley:  Yes, there is relief in it.  I think that for a lot of us the stuff becomes a burden.  Even though it’s joyful when you’re shopping for it, when you get it home it becomes a burden.  And the relief from that is found in just the letting go.  Just like when I’m in an argument with Michael.  If I hold on to that, it feels good to get back at him and to show him how I’m right because that does feel better.  It’s a quicker payoff. 

Bob:  Right. 

Hayley:  The end result will be more suffering because it will compound—it just builds more and more animosity between us.  It’s the same with stuff.  The more I buy stuff, the more it builds this feeling of just “I’m overwhelmed.  I’m too busy.  There’s too much to do.  There’s too much going on in my life.”  And how many women complain about that? 

If we could just let go of the stuff—meaning not just the physical things, but our calendars filled with stuff.  “I’m too busy to go play with my kids or even to play with my husband.  I’ve got too much to do.”  Does that feel like happiness?  It doesn’t.  But letting it go and living a simple life in all those areas, you will find a great peace, a great freedom. 

Dennis:  Okay, my cell phone is ringing; and I just looked at who it—it’s because I have the CEO of Target on my speed dial.  He said, “Will you back off?  You’re causing problems to our bottom line.”  (Laughter)

I want to move on to Chapter 6 because I really liked this concept.  On one hand, I don’t like it.  I mean none of these—the flesh really just claps its hands and cheers about—in the end, back to Bob’s point, there really is joy and peace as a result.  But Chapter 6, “Confession Is the New Innocence.”  You have a picture in this chapter of handcuffs that are open.  You’re saying confession results, not in going to jail and to being imprisoned, but to true freedom. 

Michael:  Yes, you said it.  Boy, that would have shortened the book if you would have just written that.  (Laughter) 

Dennis:  I’ve written several of those short books, Michael. 

Bob:  Again, it seems paradoxical, the idea—

Michael:  Yes. 

Bob:  —that if I own up, if I confess, if I tell the truth, that’s not going to lead to innocence.  That’s going to lead to exposure.  Everybody’s going to know what’s really true about me. 

Michael:  Yes, the picture of walking into a courtroom and pleading guilty does not--in our flesh--doesn’t have a rosy outcome—

Bob:  Right. 

Michael:  —but in Christ’s economy, in God’s economy, that is exactly what it means.  James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”  Healing comes from confession.  So, we can say the inverse, then, is probably true; that non-confession leads to illness. 

Bob:  Well, the Psalms say—David—when I concealed my sin—

Michael:  Yes. 

Bob:  —it had a physical impact on me.  My bones withered.  So, the Bible affirms that trying to keep our image intact and hold in the truth about what’s going on in our lives is going to hurt us physically, emotionally, spiritually. 

Michael:  It’s actually almost like a wound.  It’s like a physical wound.  If we’re wounded, whether it’s self-inflicted or someone else wounds us, if all we do is wrap it up and hide it, we think applying pressure and putting a bandage on it, “That’s good.”  Well, no.  You have to clean the wound; otherwise, it’s going to get infected. 

Once it gets infected, it courses through our blood system.  Then, we can die from an infection.  So, that act of confession really does cleanse the wound, and it leads to healing. 

But it’s also that the second part of that verse in James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  We kind of sometimes just skim over that and go, “Oh, well, that’s just kind of like—oh, yes, food for thought.  Okay.”  But what that’s really saying is “Who are you confessing to?  Don’t just go out and confess willy-nilly to anyone that will listen—to the box boy at the grocery store and your bus driver.” 

No, what it says is confess to a spiritually mature person who isn’t going to condemn you but is going to speak God’s truth and mercy and grace into your life and that doesn’t dismiss your confessions like, ‘Oh, that’s not a big deal.’  But that hears your confession and encourages your repentance because that’s like having someone actually sew up the wound and offer that healing. 

We actually do that with our daughter.  We were very intentional when Addie was born; what we wanted to do was create a culture where Addie confesses so well it’s like second nature. 

She broke something one time underneath our television, and she didn’t think it was broken; but when I found that it was broken and I spoke out loud about it, my first reaction—because Hayley and I trained ourselves, committed ourselves spiritually to making our family this way—

I said, “Well, maybe I might have broken it when I put the new DVD player in.”  She just has her back to me and she’s coloring and she says, “Boppa”—because she calls me Boppa—she goes, “Boppa, if a ball hit that, could that have broken it?”  And I got this—and instead of blood coursing through my veins from my father or from my mother—it was this new creation that 2 Corinthians 5:17 talks about that God does in our lives.  I said, “Well, yes, that probably—well, thank you for solving that mystery.” 

Dennis:  And there is a reason why Addie does this.  It’s because she’s observed you two practicing this spiritual discipline in your marriage.  Explain to our listeners how that works in your relationship because I think this is really healthy.  Barbara and I do this, but I don’t think as intentionally as you guys go about it. 

Michael:  Well, just driving here from Tennessee—we wanted to drive, so that we could bring Addie because we like to bring her so she can observe this sort of thing.  I can’t even remember what I was talking about; but we were driving and I confessed this and I confessed that and it wasn’t because it was weighing on me, but it was just in conversation, so that Hayley could stay in touch with the real me and not the concealed me. 

Hayley:  I don’t remember what it was either; but it was something along the lines of something you didn’t do.  You said, “I confess I’ve been lazy on that.”  You said something else, “I confess I’ve been a glutton in that.”  It just kept coming and coming.  It was very natural, and it was very—it was very loving for the woman to hear those kinds of things.  It’s like, “Wow!” 

Michael:  But here is the other key point: Hayley is a righteous person.  She is safe to confess to. 

Bob:  By righteous, you mean there is grace there. 

Michael:  Yes. 

Bob:  You don’t have to fear that “If I confess, there is going to be punishment.” 

Michael:  That’s right.  She—I’m not going to get condemnation and law from her.  I’m going to get grace and affirmation and spiritual support. 

Dennis:  She’s not going to use it later against you in an argument. 

Michael:  As a weapon, that’s right. 

Dennis:  Well, what we’re talking about here is found in Romans 12:1-2.  We talked about it at the beginning of the broadcast: “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind; that, by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.” 

Bob:  You just need to add to that—what was Bill Bright’s favorite verse?  Because it applies right here to what we’ve been talking about. 

Dennis:  Yes. 

Bob:  Don’t you think? 

Dennis:  I’ve got it written down here in my Bible.  It’s Galatians—Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

I’ll bet I heard Bill Bright quote that passage—it has to be a thousand times. 

Bob:  He died young, didn’t he? 

Dennis:  He died young.  He died young.  I appreciate you guys.  I really like what you’ve done here in your book, Die Young, because I think taking us back where a lot of authors today are really ignoring the core part of discipleship—which He said, “Pick up your cross, die to self, and come after me daily.  Follow me.”  That’s how you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.  It’s how you live life.  It’s how you are a husband, a wife, a dad, a mother, a grandparent, a single person in this culture.  This is the way of life. 

Appreciate you guys. 

Hayley:  Thank you. 

Michael:  Appreciate you. 

Bob:  I’m just sitting here trying to think who’s going to want this book.  (Laughter)  Of course, you were probably thinking that when you wrote it; but in reality, anybody who really has been transformed by the Gospel, transformed by Christ—there’s something in you going, “I need this.  I want this.”  I think your book helps us understand what dying to self looks like. 

It’s called Die Young.  We’ve got it in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, written by Michael and Hayley DiMarco.  Go to for more information on how to get a copy of the book.  Again, the title is Die Young.  The website,  You can also request the book when you call us.  Our toll-free number is 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”. 

Now, I hope those of you who listen regularly and those of you who help support our ministry know how much we appreciate your partnership with us.  I know some of you listen regularly and have never made a donation—maybe you’re just not in a place where you can make a donation to support a ministry like ours. 

Well, I want you to know we are grateful that there are folks who have stepped up and said, “We believe that this is important, and we want to see it continue in our community;” and they have made a donation on your behalf, so that you can continue to listen to FamilyLife Today, so that others in this city can listen to the program—people all around the world can hear it. 

We appreciate the partnership we have with those of you who are able to make an occasional donation to help support the ministry.  Your donations go to defray the costs of producing and syndicating this program, keeping us on the air in this city, cities all across the country, online at 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We’re grateful for the support you provide when you make a donation. 

In fact, this week, we’re saying thank you by sending you a conversation about thankfulness.  We had a conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the author of a book called Choosing Gratitude, about how we cultivate thankful hearts.  We’d like to send you that two-CD set, about two hours worth of conversation on the subject.  It’s our way of saying thank you to you for your generous support of FamilyLife Today

Make your donation online at, click the button that says, “I CARE,” or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation; and just mention you’d like the CDs on gratitude when you get in touch with us by phone. 

We hope you can be back with us again tomorrow.  Jerry Sittser’s going to be with us again.  He was here last week.  He joins us tomorrow to talk about the question that a lot of people ask when they are in the middle of suffering and that’s the question, “Why me?”  We’re going to explore that tomorrow.  Hope you can tune in. 

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

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