How We Build Strong Families
About the Guest
Dennis Rainey shares the second five urgent steps a family can take to stay spiritually healthy.
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
Dennis Rainey shares the second five urgent steps a family can take to stay spiritually healthy.
How We Build Strong Families
Bob: Does it feel like it’s getting harder and harder to raise children who embrace godly values and who walk consistently with Jesus? Dennis Rainey says, “There’s a reason why it feels harder.”
Dennis: Here’s the reality, folks, especially as it relates to our children—the culture is creating a battleground around which they are redefining marriage. They are reshaping morality, and what is right and wrong, and they are recasting values—wanting to make life about money and possessions. They are going to prey upon our children and our grandchildren if we don’t have our hand on the stick.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, December 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. The culture you establish in your home is going to be more significant and more important in the days ahead than what the culture outside your home is trying to press on you. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I see you brought the stone tablets back into the studio with you today.
Dennis: Bob, Bob, Bob, I made it real clear—this is not the Ten Commandments; okay? But it’s not ten suggestions. [Laughter]
Dennis: I mean, I use the word urgent very rarely, here on FamilyLife Today; but I do have a “State of the Family” address to give to our listeners. It’s not a culture war statement—it’s “Ten Urgent Steps” that every family needs to take.
Bob: That’s what we’re spending time looking at this week because we need to be thinking shrewdly, purposefully, and intentionally about how we navigate, how we build strong families in a culture where, I think, in some cases, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to keep your family pointed in the right direction.
Dennis: If you don’t have a game plan, the world has one for you.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: It has one for you. You know what? It’s not a friendly game plan. It will destroy your marriage, your family, and your legacy.
Bob: Already this week, you have taken us through the first five of your “Ten Comgestions”—no, “Summandments.”
Dennis: “Comgestions”? [Laughter]
Bob: I was trying to add—
Dennis: That sounds like I need an antacid or something.
Bob: I was trying to combine commandment and suggestion. I came up with “Comgestions”.
Bob: What are the five that you’ve already outlined for us?
Dennis: Again, it’s “Ten Urgent Steps for Every Family”. The first five are: Number one, your first step is to kneel down and surrender to Jesus Christ. Secondly, you have to train your family to love others. We’re in the midst of a culture war, and we’re not going to win by yelling and screaming at the other side. Third, we need to become the guardian of marriage. We need to protect it, uphold it, and keep our marriage covenant.
Number four, slow down—slow down. I can hear my dad, Hook Rainey, “Slow down, son. Slow down.” Take a step back—evaluate what your schedule is all about and where it’s taking you. Slow down, take a deep breath, and, maybe, make some adjustments.
Number five—we talk to men. We need men to step up and man up. By the way, I failed to mention, Bob, when I talked about this—men need to grab hold of this resource, the Stepping Up® video event—and ask if they can host it in their church or their business. It’s Super Saturday, February 2, 2013. There’s going to be thousands of men—tens of thousands of men, I believe—all across the country—meeting together to talk about what it means to be a man. Then, they are going to—I think, they are going to spawn thousands of groups, across the country, going through the brand-new Stepping Up video series, which is a ten-part, small group series for men.
Bob: Yes, so, we’ve got the one-day event that we’re launching on February 2nd. Then, there’s the ten-part series that follows up from that. You can find out more about our plans for Super Saturday, February 2, 2013, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “STEPPING UP”.
Dennis: That’s right. I really hope they’ll do that: Step up, be courageous, and take responsibility for the men in your community.
Bob: Alright, back to your list. Number six is where we are?
Dennis: Well, alright. As I go through these next five—I want you to listen—to apply just one of them—just pick one of these five for your relationships—if you’re single—or your marriage, or your family.
Number six, become proactive, not just reactive. Bob, you’ve done this. You had five children—you and Mary Ann. You know that if you don’t set a course for your marriage and family as you go through the life cycle of a family, the culture is going to put you on your heels, over and over again, around so many different issues, as you put your kid in school, as they go through junior high, high school. You’ve got to decide whether you’re going to play offense or just defense. Now, even if you have a good offense, doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to play defense from time to time; but you need to have a good offense and anticipate the issues that are coming your way, as a family.
First of all, if your children are smaller, you have to decide how much is too much, how long is too long, what are your boundaries and your limits. If you don’t know, I promise you it’s going to create problems for you later around games, around music, around Facebook®, etc.
Then, there are issues as your children move toward puberty. Your children, at the ages of 9, 10, 11, 12, are being taught stuff that you and I were taught in our teenage years. Trust me, in this culture, they are being exposed to all kinds of stuff because of the kids they run around with—even the kids that are in church. There are all kinds of values they are being exposed to.
What you, as a parent, have to do—you have to keep your ear to the ground, know what’s going on. Then, as a mom and dad, would you please take advantage of what FamilyLife has created for you to combat where the culture is coming after your children to seduce them? Use Passport2Purity® to equip your son, your daughter, on a weekend getaway to prepare them for adolescence. I promise you it’ll be one of the best weekends you’ve ever spent with your son or daughter.
Bob: You know, what I hearing you say here, in point number six—in step six—is the importance of having a game plan.
When I was doing the work on the Stepping Up video series, I sat down with Coach Tony Dungy. I asked him—
Bob: —what would it be like for a pro coach to head into Sunday and you hadn’t developed a game plan? He said, “You wouldn’t last one Sunday in the league without a game plan.” He said, “That’s what you do all week long. You make your plan; and then, you go play the game.” Yet, how many of us, in our marriages and in our families, don’t have a three-year strategic plan—a two-year? We don’t have a one-month—we don’t have a plan for this week.
Dennis: Here’s the thing, Bob—we’re adults. We know where those young people are headed. There are certain issues they are going to face. We can either be silent and stick our head in the sand or we can be proactive and give our children a leg-up on this thing to be able to head it off at the pass.
Bob: The seventh step on your list, really, kind of ties into this sixth one; doesn’t it?
Dennis: It really does, and this is a tough one. Number seven: Refuse to allow the media monster to devour your family. I’m going to predict something here, Bob. I believe, in the next two to three years, we’re going to witness a steeper decline of immorality and perversion being embraced by our culture. It’s going to be promoted. We’re going to see all kinds of stuff pumped out in mainstream television and on the internet.
Here’s what I want moms and dads to realize: Don’t expect Google®, NBC®, or Disney® to help you protect your family. You are the mom; you are the dad; you’re the grandparents. You must guard your family, ruthlessly, from the messages of the media. Why? Because ten years ago, the average person was spending 2.7 hours a week online; today, it’s 18 hours. Did you hear that? Ten years ago, there were zero YouTube videos viewed on a daily basis; today, four billion.
As a result, 62 percent of the girls and 93 percent of the boys are exposed to porn by the age of 18. Did you hear that? Sixty-two percent of your daughters—that’s not somebody else’s, by the way. That’s 93 percent of your sons are exposed by 18. Then, listen to this—67 percent of men and 49 percent of women—ages 18-26—now consider viewing porn as acceptable behavior.
I mean, think about the culture right now. Has there ever been at any moment in history where the top three best-sellers on the New York Times Best-Seller List were Shades of Grey, porn in novel form—top three for months, on end. So, guess what’s coming? Movies, TV shows—
Bob: More of the same.
Dennis: I’m telling you, they’re going to popularize what made publishers millions of dollars. They are going to prey upon our children and our grandchildren if we don’t have our hands on the stick.
Bob: So, the point is the media culture is not going to be concerned about the moral character of your children. You better be very concerned about it, and you better have some guardrails in place to protect your family.
Dennis: You are the one who must have those guardrails in place to keep your family on the right road. Number seven: Refuse to allow the media monster to devour your family.
Number eight: Train; train; train. Train your family to think biblically. Second
Timothy 3:16 is very clear. It says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness—” now, listen carefully—this is what you want for your sons and daughters as you raise them—“that the man of God,”—the woman of God—“maybe competent, equipped for every good work.”
How are they going to be equipped? It’s the Book. You’ve got to get them in the Book. You’ve got to get the Book in them. The reason this is so important is that life is made up of decisions. Something or someone is going to inform your children on how they go about making those decisions. Don’t you want the truth of God in their soul that is informing them about how to make the right choice?
I’ll never forget, Bob, one of my sons going to school. He had a sack lunch in the back of the class. I think he was in maybe ninth grade. He was eating his lunch over the lunch period at school, and a couple of boys brought a porn magazine. I mean, today, it’s not going to be a magazine; it’s going to be on a screen of some kind.
Bob: A smart phone, yes.
Dennis: Yes, exactly. But I leaned forward as my son told the story and shared what he did. I said, “So, what did you do?” He said, “Well, I took my sandwich—put it back in the bag. I took my sack lunch and I walked past those guys on out into the hall and found another place to finish my meal.” I’ll tell you something—I went crazy. It was like, “Way to go, son! Way to go! That’s the kind of decision that is going to preserve your soul, over the long haul.”
Here’s the reality, folks, especially as it relates to our children. The culture is creating a battleground around which they are redefining marriage. They are reshaping morality and what is right and wrong. They are recasting values—wanting to make life about money and possessions as being ultimately important—not people, not a godly legacy.
Convictions are formed where life and truth collide. If life collides, where there is no truth, we call that compromise; but where life and truth collide, there is the possibility that your son or your daughter will have a conviction to stand firm in the midst of that.
Bob: Here’s the thing I think sons and daughters are facing today. If you hold to a biblical conviction around certain areas of truth, the culture will say to you, “You’re not kind. You’re not loving. You’re not compassionate. You’re truth is a mean truth.” Nobody wants to be mean. So, the tendency is to say, “Okay, well, I’ll back down.”
Dennis: Yes, back off. And Bob, that’s why my second urgent step—
Dennis: —was about love.
Dennis: We have to have love as we stand firm on the Scriptures and as we attempt to hold forth the truth of God in the midst of a culture that doesn’t honor God and doesn’t recognize Him as being relevant today. So, back to number eight: Train; train; train your family to think biblically about life, about their choices, about what they’re facing in this culture. You’ll never, never regret it.
Number nine—and this is pretty simple—pray more, together, with one another—pray for one another, and pray for others. The family was never designed by God to be a holy huddle, where a family kind of huddles up and is self-absorbed on its own issues. We need to have a place where we do that, where we do pray for one another and we hold one another up in prayer; but those prayers need to be turned outward to other people that we know who need God to touch their lives.
And Bob, I don’t think I’ve emphasized prayer enough for families. Certainly, we’ve talked to husbands and wives about praying together; but we need to get dads, down on their knees, next to their sons or their daughters’ bed, as they go to sleep in the evening, and put their hands on their hands, and hold their hands and say, “Sweetie, could I just pray with you and pray for you?”
I think there is a tremendous need to cry out today and ask God to protect our children, to give them a sense of mission in life, and to use them in their generation to make a difference because they are the warriors that we’re sending to a time that we will not see.
Bob: You’ve talked for years about the need for husbands and wives to pray together regularly. You’re just saying, “Let’s broaden the circle here.”
Dennis: I think that’d be a good idea.
Number ten, I think—and hear me on this—I think every person—every married couple—and every family needs to be about God’s mission for them. God’s got a plan for your life. He’s got a mission for you to accomplish. So, the question is, “What is it?” What do you feel like must be done in this culture? Okay. If you nail down what your mission is, then, what are you going to do about it?
Here’s the thing. When our family was in school, we had a mission to the junior high and the high school. We started a party where we’d sell pizza for a buck, and we lost money on the deal—some of those kids ate lots of slices of pizza!—but we had an outreach. It’s interesting, now 20 years later, it’s still going on—in the junior high and the high school—that we started it. I think our kids got a picture of Mom and Dad weren’t just concerned about them. We were concerned about other people’s kids and wanting to provide a good influence in the lives of others.
If, for instance, you’re passionate about marriages and families, then, let me tell you something—we have got a deal for you. [Laughter] The Art of Marriage®—folks, let me tell you something. When you support FamilyLife financially, this is the kind of thing you’re making possible. The Art of Marriage was created just a little less than two years ago. It has now been seen by more than 300,000 people. You know why 300,000 people have seen that? Because someone like you—a couple, like you and your spouse—said, “You know what? I am sick and tired of watching marriages fall apart in my community. We’re going to do something about it.”
So, they went to their pastor, they went to their place of work and they said, “Can we host one of these over a weekend, a Friday night and a Saturday, and show these videos?” You don’t have to be a seminary graduate. All you’ve got to be able to do is organize it, put it together, or find somebody who can, and join their team and say, “You know what? Let’s do this for our community. Let’s push back against divorce and let’s provide a positive solution that Christianity provides from the Scriptures.” The Art of Marriage is, I think, one of the finest things out there to make an impact on other people.
There’s another tool for the guys who are listening. You say, “I’m not into the marriage thing, but I do pound the table about guys needing to be guys—guys needing to be courageous, to step up.” So, we’ve got Super Saturday coming—
Bob: Coming up February 2nd—a video event that’s going to challenge men to step up and to embrace their responsibilities as men.
I think the point you are making here is that you really need to look outside of the walls of your family—and as a family—ask the question, “What can we be doing to advance the Kingdom together? How can we put our shoulders together toward advancing the work of God’s Kingdom around the world?” If it is marriage- and family-related, we’ve got tools to help. If it’s something else, other people have got tools to help; but let’s get after it; right?
Dennis: Absolutely. Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” What that’s saying is, “Folks, He has made you for a purpose. He has something for you to do—for you to be a part of—to reach out and to pierce the darkness.
Number ten: Every family needs an overall mission. Now, in a moment, I’m going to wrap this whole thing up with a great illustration. You do not want to miss this illustration from a young lady, that we interviewed some time ago, and how her grandmother gave her an image of what a true, godly marriage and family ought to look like, all the way to the finish line.
But first, Bob, I just want to turn to our listeners and ask them a very simple question: “Do you catch the picture and the vision of what FamilyLife Today is all about and what we’re doing, here on this broadcast, and the tools we are creating for you to be successful in your own marriage, your own family, and at helping others? Do you get it?” If you do, then, I need to be honest with you. I need your help. I need your help, financially. We are short. We need folks, here at yearend, to say, “I not only use those tools; but I want to stand with you guys, so you can keep going.”
And Bob, to encourage folks, we had a group of families step up. They said, “You know what? We so believe in what you’re doing, your mission, and how you’re helping families, we want to provide a matching gift of more than $3.6 million to match every dollar with a dollar, up to that total, throughout the month of December.” You can go online and check it out, to FamilyLifeToday.com. We’re still way short.
Bob: Still got a ways to go; that’s right.
Dennis: That’s right, and I just need you to know something. I need your help. Would you help with a donation today and help us keep coming to you on this station with these kinds of broadcasts that equip you to stand strong in the midst of the storm?
Bob: You can do that by going to FamilyLifeToday.com and clicking on the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Again, those donations are going to be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $3.6 million, during the month of December. So, we hope to hear from you and hope you’ll help us take advantage of this matching-gift opportunity.
Dennis, you mentioned a number of resources that FamilyLife has developed: Passport2Purity, The Art of Marriage, the Stepping Up video series, and the Stepping Up Super Saturday event. There’s information about all of these resources online, as well, at FamilyLifeToday.com. So, if you’d like to know about any of what’s available, go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or again, call us at 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Dennis: Now, I want you, as a listener, to listen to just a great story that Heidi St. John shared, here on FamilyLife Today, a few months back, about her grandmother and how her love for her husband gave Heidi an incredible vision for what marriage and family ought to be, all the way to the finish line.
Heidi: My grandparents spent the last five years of their lives in an assisted living facility. Grandpa had taken a turn for the worst. My grandpa had gone to a phase in the process of dying where he could no longer eat. He couldn’t be hydrated anymore. It was so painful for me to watch, as his granddaughter. He just seemed to linger—I remember, at one point, just saying, “Lord, please take him home. He just seems like he’s suffering.” It was so hard to watch.
I started wondering if he was waiting for something, and I learned my grandpa was waiting for my grandma. I think that she knew that he was waiting for her. So, the day that he passed away, we brought Grandma over to visit him. I’ll never forget because he was just almost nonresponsive, at that point. We lowered the side rails on his bed, and we wheeled Grandma up as close as we could.
Then, she leaned into him. I’m telling you, it was like there was nobody else in the world—let alone, in that room. She put her hands on his chest, and she put her face next to his face. She cried. Her tears just kind of dropped onto his face; and she said, “Daddy, I love you. I love you. You have been such a good husband”—just affirmed his life. She said, “I know I’ll see you again.” She said, “I know you’ll be waiting for me. I know it won’t be long.”
He opened his eyes. I had not seen him really open his eyes in a couple of days—just a tear fell from his eyes. He said, “I love you.” Shortly after that, he went home to be with the Lord.
I knew, in that moment, she was making the choice to prefer him. I know she didn’t want him to go, but she gave him permission to go. She said, “It’s alright to go.” That’s what she had modeled for us—her whole life—that’s what I had seen her do—was prefer my grandfather. They loved the Lord, and they finished well.
Bob: It’s a great picture. We appreciate you being with us today. Thanks for tuning into FamilyLife Today; and thanks, again, for your support of the ministry, here at yearend. We look forward to hearing from you. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make a yearend contribution.
We also want to encourage you to be back with us again tomorrow. We’ll introduce you to Rob and Rhonda Bugh, a pastor and his wife, from the Chicago area—who both experienced what it’s like when the bottom drops out of life and you have to figure out how to make sense of things. They’ll share their story tomorrow. Hope you can be here 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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