FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Jesus Moments: The Best of FamilyLife Today this Year

with David and Meg Robbins, Mary DeMuth, Philip Yancey, Shelby Abbott, Sherri Lynn | November 27, 2023
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Ready for the best of FamilyLife Today 2023? FamilyLife President David Robbins, his wife Meg, and Shelby Abbott recall the Jesus moments from a year of wisdom, beauty, and compelling truth.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • 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.

Ready for the best of FamilyLife Today 2023? FamilyLife President David Robbins, his wife Meg, and Shelby Abbott recall this year’s Jesus moments.

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Jesus Moments: The Best of FamilyLife Today this Year

With David and Meg Robbins, Mary ...more
November 27, 2023
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Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, and welcome Dave and Ann Wilson. I’m so glad to have you here with us. We have special guests today.

Dave: It’s nice to be on. It’s nice to be on FamilyLife Today.

Ann: It sure is!

Shelby: It’s a unique experience for you guys.

Dave: It is. [Laughter]

Shelby: Also, we are joined by the President of FamilyLife®, David Robbins and Meg Robbins are here today, too. [Whistles] It’s an all-star cast!

Ann: Yay! [Applause] Whoo!

David: The family is here. It’s good to be all together.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Shelby: I’m Shelby Abbott, and today, we are going to be revisiting some of the best moments on FamilyLife Today from this past year. Today’s theme is going to be “Jesus Moments.” I know that is very broad, very general; but we’ve selected some very specific things, where we identify them as “Jesus Moments.” Thankfully, our listeners got to enjoy quite a few of these “Jesus Moments” in 2023 on FamilyLife Today.

Brace yourselves, guys. We’re going to jump right into it; into the emotional deep end today with Mary DeMuth, who took our listeners to maybe the most life-changing tender moment in her life, when Jesus entered into her place of deepest wounding.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Mary: Hearing about Young Life, attending it, and hearing about Jesus for the very first time; I just didn’t know. I remember at the end of every session—after the water balloons, and the shaving cream, and all of that [Laughter]—they would have a

15-minute talk about Jesus. My heart would just—I could feel it in my chest: “Oh, this is the truth. This is what I’ve been looking for my whole life. All I was, was this little girl who wanted a daddy. Having three or four dads, and most of them predatory, was just difficult.

That summer of my ninth-grade year, I remember hearing one of the stories. The story was about Jesus calming the seas. The question was asked: “Who is this that even the wind and the seas obey Him?” [Mark 4:41] That question just stayed with me all summer long. That fall (of my sophomore year), I went to the weekend camp, where they just told you the whole gospel: dying on the cross, resurrecting. I remember going outside—and this was in the Pacific northwest [with] big, huge trees, and my place of biggest violation was under big huge trees during my kindergarten year. The teenage boys who did that to me took me to this horrible park that had these big trees. I would disassociate and fly into those trees.

I remember hearing the message—I sit, my back against this tree, a big, huge hemlock, the sign of death—hearing about Jesus’ death on a cross, on a tree. And the stars are up above me. I just say this very simple prayer: “Would You please be the Daddy who will never leave me?” In that moment, I was completely healed and fine the rest of my life. [Laughter]

Ann: Wouldn’t that be nice?

Mary: I would love that! That’s not my story, but that was the beginning of a very long healing journey; the beginning of falling in love with Jesus Christ, and following Him for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget that moment.


Shelby: Wow! I mean, it doesn’t get much more painful and, simultaneously, beautiful than that, does it? What do you guys feel when a guest takes you to such a holy, kind of, Jesus moment like that on the program?

Dave: Yes, I remember that moment. I’m sitting in the room where she shared that story. It was so intimate. It felt like she was honoring the whole world—we as hosts, but all the listeners—to say, “I’m going to take you to a place that’s holy.”

The fact that we get to do that—! And the flipside of it, as I’m looking across the room at this woman who is healed, [is] you can see the redemptive work of Jesus, In just a horrible, dark place, there is now light beaming. I think the listener says, “God can do that in me, too.” That’s a Jesus moment.

Shelby: Thank you, you guys. You do such a great job of treating those moments with such delicate love and reverence for the deep work of God in the lives of our guests. We’re better for you guys doing that.

Now, I’m going to transition. One of our favorite guests this year was Sherri Lynn. She’s radio co-host with Brant Hansen, one of our favorite guests here on FamilyLife Today. They’re heard all around the country. Sherri took us all on an unforgettable moment she experienced on her very first overseas mission trip, a moment that changed her forever.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Sherri: I was always fearful of international travel. In our job, people will say, “Hey, come see this mission,” “Come see that mission.” One time, someone said that to us—I don’t know what mission it was—they said, “It’s Peru. We’re going to go, and you have to go.” I said, “I don’t have a passport.” They said, “Okay, we’ll get so-and-so to go.” That became my thing.

Ann: That was your excuse?

Sherri: “I don’t have a passport,” “I just don’t have a passport.” I actually didn’t.

Ann: Sherri, what were you afraid of?

Sherri: I don’t know. It was the unknown; it was the unknown. I didn’t know what to expect, and it just continued to overtake me.

But when I got there, and I felt the joy of that place; the kids dancing—! And there’s a story we told about three sisters who have brittle-bone disease. They were constantly breaking their bones and couldn’t walk. We had told that story for so long. We had made a video about it; I had talked about it on the radio and everything, not really putting together that it was this hospital.

The one day I’m in the ward, and we’re praying for the kids who are going to get surgery, they said, “Hey, on the other side is where rehab happens and all that.” As I walk around the corner, I see one of the sisters walking toward me. They couldn’t walk before. [Laughter] I was like, “Is that one of the sisters?” They said, “Yes,” and then the other one came around, walking.

To me, it was such a Jesus biblical moment. We talked about these sisters; we had talked about healing. That’s what that trip meant to me. I believe so much in the mission, but when I felt it and saw these little girls—and I didn’t want to be the big, blubbering lady from America. [Laughter] I just felt like I was crying all the—and I’m not a crier; I felt like I was crying all the time. [Laughter]

Brant: That’s what happens!

Dave: The tears of joy?

Sherri: It was tears of joy. It was tears of, “God I can’t believe You let me intersect with this. God, these lives are changing; healing is forever.” They’re learning about Jesus, too, so their lives are changing in that way. It’s everything that I talk about, but I saw it, and it’s real.

Brant: Yes.

Sherri: At one point, there was a little party. Some of them hadn’t had their surgery yet, so they were in their wheelchair, dancing, and everything. It was such a joyful party. I remember walking out of that room, and starting to walk down the walkway. I did a video with my nieces. I said, “I can’t remember what I used to complain about in America. I don’t know what I was complaining about. Whatever that was—those kids! And the reason why that joy is there is because this place has given them a place of beauty that looks like Jesus.”


Shelby: Those moments on our program, David and Meg, really give our listeners a window into the powerful work of God all around the world. He’s really moving in mighty ways through ordinary people, wouldn’t you say?

Meg: Most definitely, yes. Even just hearing her talk about just the privilege of being able to see that, firsthand: what God is doing, what He’s up to—the tangible picture of God’s power, His kindness, and His deep love for us.

David: Yes, hearing her smile, which exuded joy, just reflecting on that moment, we get to participate, as 1 Peter talks about, as being the royal priesthood. He sets us apart because Christ is in us, the hope of glory. We get to pass Him on to those around us.

One of the coolest things about mission trips—and at FamilyLife, we have started FamilyLife family mission trips, because there is something special when dads and sons, and mothers and daughters, and grandkids with their grandparents go and take steps of faith together—you see a bigger God. That’s really what we get to see! We see God is at work in other countries, just like He is here. We get to join in with what He’s already doing, and you get to participate and see Him move.

Shelby: You get your eyes opened, too, like she was saying, “What are my problems, back at home?” I think we all need that reminder, every now and then—

David: —sure.

Shelby: —to look at our life and say, “In comparison to what is happening in different places around the world,”—we’re not saying that as an alternate view of reality; that actually is reality—“maybe my world is the alternate view; maybe my world is the one that needs to be changed.”

So David, I know that we are being intentional about breaking down some of these most amazing “Jesus Moments” here on FamilyLife Today. It’s important that people know that they can participate with us at home. Can you talk a little bit about that?

David: Yes, I think about Sherri’s story that she shared, and Mary’s, and it is about bringing the gospel into our lives in fresh ways; the power of the gospel that we are not ashamed of. Whether that is bringing it to people around the world, who do not know Jesus, or as Mary shared, God coming and our wounds getting swallowed up in His wounds.

All of us have wounds; every person listening today has stories and backstories. And we, at FamilyLife Today, get to participate in bringing the gospel and the good news of Jesus’ wounds swallowing up our wounds, and redeeming our stories. When you give to FamilyLife, that’s what you’re giving. You’re giving, every day, the hope of Jesus and the gospel to enter into people’s everyday lives, lives that, maybe when we go out of the country, we get to see: “What is my problem?” Everyday we’re in that grind. FamilyLife Today is one of the parts of our ministry, where we bring the good news of Jesus, day in and day out.

We would invite you to give. Right now, we have a matching gift campaign that’s been given by several generous partners and friends of FamilyLife. When you give, every dollar you give will be doubled to impact more homes, knowing the gospel deeply.

Shelby: Yes, it’s really important that people can know that they can participate in all of this. That’s what’s unique about this matching campaign that is going on. If you want to be a part of that matching campaign, you can go to, or give us a call at 800-358-6329. That’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Dave: Hey, Shelby, have you ever said that before?

Shelby: I’ve said it—[Laughter]

Dave: —you’re pretty good at that.

Shelby: —two times. [Laughter] 400,000? [Laughter]

I want to transition to our next clip from one of our favorites here at FamilyLife Today, Ron Deal. He produces our podcast, FamilyLife Blended®. Because he’s a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today, our listeners know a little about Ron and Nan’s story of losing their son, Connor. Here’s a powerful moment from the program this year, where Nan describes God meeting her at Connor’s grave. It happened, of all days, on Mother’s Day.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Nan: That year of Mother's Day, we went up to go visit my mom—

Ron: Whew!

Nan: —and—

Ron: She says some things to her mother, and I was like, “Wow!”

Nan: I said some things to my mom; I just said, “Mom, I want to thank you for being my mom. Thank you for taking me to the library, for my love of books, my love of teaching.” My mom was a teacher.

My sister looked at me, and she said, “Oh, that was cool.” Ron looked at me, and he said, “Now, I know something has changed in you.” [Laughter]

Ron: That was real; that was from the heart.

Nan: That was Holy Spirit, right there.

Then, on our way home, we stopped at the cemetery. It had been 12 Mother’s Days. I remember going to Connor’s grave. [Emotion in voice] I said, “Son, it is not good that you’re not here for me to hug on Mother’s Day, but God is good. God is good all the time.”

Ron: Since Connor’s death, I hadn’t heard her say anything like, “God, I can trust You.” [Emotion in voice] I was like, “Okay, God’s done something here. I’ve just got to figure out what it is, and I’ve got to try to join in the process.”

We tell people, “Covid was really good for us, to help us lean into Him in ways that we just couldn’t quite do together and, then, lean into one another in new and radical ways.

Nan: I was a very prideful person in my hurt, and my pain, and my loss. One thing I learned in my recovery is that I’m not the defender of my heart. I’ve been trying to do that for so long, defending myself from pain, abandonment, words, over-working, loss.

Music has always been such a balm for me and such a place to go. I learned that God is the defender of my heart. There is a song called Defender. I love this line—this is the line that just floored me—in the song it says [emotion in voice], “When I thought I’d lost me, You knew where I’d left me. You re-introduced me to Your love. You picked up all my pieces and put them back together. You are the defender of my heart.”

I can just see the Lord, with that shield and that sword, going, “Okay, fears, shame; anything!” He’s defending that now. I can rest in that. I can go to Him with my losses. I mean, Ron can over-work; he can! All of that stuff could happen again. I could lose another child. But I know that God has never left me nor forsaken me, and that He never will.


Shelby: There are beautiful moments like that in our lives when God meets us and changes us authentically, and not just behavior modification, but heart change. You guys ever experience something like that?

Dave: I’ve felt pain—Ann knows that—with my back and different things. Pain gets your attention in a way that either makes you really angry at God, and you feel like He’s very distant, or like God is right in the middle of our pain, sort of embracing us in a way that we can’t feel any other way. It reminds you of the power and the grace of God, who understands our pain because He went through pain as well for us.

Shelby: Yes, thanks for sharing that, Dave.

One final clip for today; a Jesus Moment. We’re going to hear from a man that, Dave, you appreciate. Our listeners learned [he] was instrumental in your spiritual journey. His name is Philip Yancey.

Dave: Oh, yes.

Shelby: He’s a written a lot over the years about doubts and disappointments as a Christian. He wrote the famous book, Disappointment with God. Here in this clip, Philip takes us back to his own turning point, kind of a Jesus Moment, where the truth of the gospel became clear to him in ways that it wasn’t before.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Philip: Here I am, in this room, and for some reason, I started to pray. I said, “God!” Any everybody kind of got tense, like an electrical charge hit the room or something. [Laughter] I said, “We’re supposed to care about these 10,000 students at this university; try to keep them from going to hell. But I don’t care if they all go to hell. I don’t care if I go to hell.” And then, it was really tense in that room. [Laughter] This is at a Bible college campus, so I was about to get struck by lightning.

I started praying aloud. This was completely unplanned. I had never prayed and hadn’t gone into that room intending to. I had—I guess I would have to call it a vision. I wasn’t asleep; it wasn’t a dream. But I started talking aloud about the story of the Good Samaritan. What I said was, “Here, we’re supposed to care for these people like the Good Samaritan cared for this tramp, lying in a ditch, covered with blood.” As I said that, that vision flipped in my mind, and I looked at the figure leaning down, and it wasn’t the Good Samaritan; it was Jesus. I looked at the figure in the ditch, and it wasn’t a tramp who had been robbed; it was me.

I didn’t know what to do. I just kind of closed the prayer quickly and went away. It just rattled me: “Where did that come from?” I realized that was a truth that God was reaching down, trying to heal me and my wounds. Every time He did, I would spit in His face. I actually did that in the vision I had just seen. Jesus was leaning down, and I would spit in His face. He’d lean down again, and I’d spit in His face. I realized I was the neediest person on that campus and how much I needed God’s grace.

A week later, we were supposed to have a time to tell a story when God had spoken to us through the Bible. I had no idea what to say; but this was such a powerful experience. I had a girlfriend at the time; I wrote her a note that night. I said, “I may have had the only authentic religious experience in my life.” I had gone forward

20 times and given my testimony hundreds of times—you do that when you’ve grown up in a church environment; but none of them really felt authentic.

When that class happened—again, much to my surprise—I raised my hand and, at the last second, was called on. That changed everything for me. People ask me, “With all the church abuse that you suffered, how can one experience like that change everything?” That’s like asking Saul of Tarsus [Laughter]: “Why did you turn from a Christian persecutor to a missionary—Christian missionary?” Well, when you’ve had an experience like that—and I’ve got to say, I’ve waited to tell that story in detail for my whole writing career because, as soon as you tell a story like that, people will say, “Well, that never happened to me. I never had one of those experiences.” They’re right. God deals with us in different ways, but God knew that I needed that. That was something that I didn’t manufacture and wasn’t even seeking; and God reached down in an act of great grace and mercy, and said, “I can work with you.”


Shelby: I know he’s close to you, and he means a lot to you, Dave. How do you feel about hearing that clip, when he had an authentic Jesus Moment?

Dave: Yes, I was so excited when I found out that Phil Yancey was going to be in our studio. He was like a hero; and I knew Jim Mitchell, our producer, felt the same way; because when I discovered his book, Disappointment with God, I had never heard an authentic Christian write about doubt, and struggle, and skepticism; even cynicism. I thought I was the only one, you know?

Because you never talk about it in church; no Christian had ever talked about it. Everybody just believed, and they had this faith, and they never—and then, I found this book! I showed it to Ann, and she’s like, “I don’t struggle with those things.” [Laughter] I’m like, “Okay, here I am, all by myself.” That book allowed me, as a young man, to understand: “I’m okay; there is evidence. You can go on a journey: you can bring your doubts to God. You can bring your questions to God, and God will meet you right there! He doesn’t shame you. He literally says, ‘You need evidence? Go ahead: put your fingers in the holes of My hand, Thomas.’”

It’s such a beautiful—so, when he was sitting across from me, I was like, “It’s like Tom Brady is in the studio!” [Laughter] It’s like, “Oh, my goodness! Philip Yancey!” It’s hard to be able to tell him, “Your writing changed me,” and I know millions of others.

Here’s what’s so cool, as I hear that story again, is I know that we get to do that at FamilyLife Today. Honestly, I had never heard a Christian radio or broadcast ever be that honest. And we get to be that honest. I think it is a joy because I know there are listeners who are like us and like Philip, [who] say, “We can say those things out loud?” We get to bring Philip, and other people into your kitchen, into your car, and meet you right where you are.

Here’s what you don’t understand: that doesn’t happen without donors, financial partners, of FamilyLife® saying, “I have been changed by this program. I want others to hear it.” That’s why you get to hear this. I want to say to you: “If you’ve given to FamilyLife, thank you. You are our partners; you make this possible.” If you haven’t, I don’t know what you’re buying for Christmas this year; but, maybe, take out your checkbook (which nobody does anymore),—

Shelby: —no, they don’t.

Dave: —go online, and make a donation. Be a FamilyLife partner. This kind of programming will change not only your life, but your neighbor’s life, and you can jump in and help us do that. Do it this month! Iit’s matched, so your donation will be doubled. I say, ‘Become a partner with us.’”

Shelby: That’s right. Every donation given will be matched, dollar for dollar. You can go to, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. Again, that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

I wanted to remind you that our Cyber Monday deal is today, and it’s not too late! It’s going on until the end of the day. You can check it out at

Coming up tomorrow, if you’re anything like me, you have trouble consistently reading the Bible. It’s tough! Dave and Ann Wilson are going be joined tomorrow by Trillia Newbell as she talks about her devotional, 52 Weeks in the Word. That’s tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

Thank you guys for joining us—me; all of us—today on “Jesus Moments,” a special FamilyLife Today episode. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a donor-supported production of FamilyLife, a Cru® Ministry.

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