What is God's purpose for your life, and how can you discover it? Dave and Ann Wilson encourage you to look around. Where you are right now is exactly where God wants you to be.
What is God's purpose for your life, and how can you discover it? Dave and Ann Wilson encourage you to look around. Where you are right now is exactly where God wants you to be.
Bob: Have you ever thought about God’s will for your life / God’s purpose for you? Pastor Dave Wilson says, “It’s not that hard to figure out.”
Dave: As I always say: “What’s in your hand? What’s in your heart?—that’s what you are made to do.” “What’s in your hand” means: “What are you gifted at?” and “What are you good at? What do you have in your hand that you can do; and, maybe, other people can’t?” “What’s in your heart” is what you lay in bed at night about—what fires you up / why you can’t sleep. You’ve got a fire in your belly about this.
Those things, together, come together and say, “This is what you’re on this planet to do.” That’s when you discover “Why I was born.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, July 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re convinced that, for some of you, God’s design / God’s purpose for your life involves helping people have stronger marriages. We’re going to hear more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You’re going to hear a message today that—Dennis Rainey is going to be pounding the table throughout this whole message.
Dennis: I was just thinking about pounding the table before you said that, Bob. [Laughter] The listener is going to hear my passion because—listen to me—marriages and families, today, desperately need you—you, as a couple—to pick up the mantle, and get in the game, and make an impact on your friends’ marriages, your family’s marriages, your community’s marriages.
I mean, marriage and family is, in my opinion—it is a Trojan horse way to invade enemy territory and take the truth of the Bible, the truth about Jesus Christ, and the truth about how to have a relationship with God into people’s lives.
They need it. They want it. They’re looking for it. Their marriages aren’t working, and they’re looking for somebody who can provide some help and hope; and we’ve got it! It’s called The Art of Marriage®. And we’re going to explain to you how you can do that.
But first of all, you need to hear a pair of warriors, Dave and Ann Wilson, who speak at our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. Dave is a pastor of a little country church up in the Detroit area called Kensington Community Church. They are going to challenge you with your purpose: “What’s your mission as a couple?”
Bob: They pound the table, like you do—
Dennis: They do—
Bob: —on this subject.
Dennis: —because they know it’s important.
A bicycle is a whole lot easier to balance if it’s headed somewhere / if it’s going in a direction—especially in the right direction.
Bob: That’s right. And the whole point of this message is that we know you’re busy, we know that your marriage isn’t perfect, we know that there are other things you could be doing with your time; but we think there are friends, family members, and people around you who need you to be investing in them.
That’s what Dave and Ann are talking about in this message.
Dennis: And we just happen to have some tools—that if this resonates with you, and you want to get in the game and start a small group—we’ve got some material / it’s video-assisted—that is some of the best material that is available anywhere in the world. And that’s not being proud about that—it really is excellent stuff. More than 700,000 people have now been through The Art of Marriage small group or event; and it’s made an impact in people’s lives.
Bob: We’ll talk more about that after we listen to Part One of Dave and Ann Wilson’s message on how God can use you in the lives of other people.
Dave: We actually—Ann and I met in a little town—some of you might have heard of it / probably, most of you’ve never heard of it—called Findlay, Ohio. [Cheering] You’ve heard of Findlay, Ohio?
Dave: Are you just saying that? [Laughter] Yes; it’s a town—I grew up there / Ann grew up there.
Yes; we didn’t really date in high school. We were like a year off. We had a three-year high school; so, we didn’t date. But I always knew her as the sister of—her dad coached me / her brothers played ball with me. So, tell about—
Ann: Yes; and I really just—I knew of Dave Wilson because everybody knew him.
Dave: Oh, yes; everybody knew him.
Ann: He was this athlete, and all the girls liked him. And I thought—
Dave: I used to take my hair and flip it like that. [Laughter] I played in a rock band, and I flipped it like that. I’m not kidding!
Ann: And I just thought—
Dave: I had like two bangs that went—swoosh. [Laughter]
Ann: —“This guy is the most conceited guy.” That’s what I thought. So, we kind of—
Dave: She did not like me.
Ann: —stayed far away from each other.
Dave: Yes; we met—I came home from college, and we met in the gym. But here’s what happened—when we finally started dating and—literally, from the day we went on our first date and got married, it was nine months—or maybe, eight months.
Ann: Nine months.
Dave: It was very quick. By the way, we don’t advise that; okay? Even at our church, during our premarital mentoring, we say, “We want you to be at least a year dating.” So, we don’t even tell them that that is how we got married because it was less than a year.
But when we got married, we actually were told we were—I was at Ball State University/ she was at the University of Kentucky as a freshman. I was a senior. We were both involved in Cru—now—it was Campus Crusade at the time. Both of the staff there—her Kentucky staff and Ball State told us both, separately, we need to go to the Weekend to Remember / FamilyLife Weekend to Remember before we got married.
We went as an engaged couple two weeks before our wedding to the conference that we now speak for. It’s the only conference we’ve ever attended as a conferee. We’ve been a speaker ever since—not immediately, obviously—but we went / just sat there as an engaged couple. Tell them what we were thinking.
Ann: Oh my gosh! We were like, “This is exciting.” We went to Chicago—the ballroom was packed, and these couples are taking notes. Dennis Rainey was our speaker. They are taking notes furiously, and people are crying. We’re looking at each other like: “What are they doing?! Why are they taking so many notes?!
“How hard can it be?—really?” [Laughter]
Dave: Seriously. We thought that all weekend. We never made that bridge into “We’re going to need this,” the whole weekend. We thought it was great; but the whole weekend, we thought: “They’re in trouble. They have bad marriages. I don’t know why—they must not be as good as us / they love Jesus as much as us”; right?
Dave: The whole weekend, we’d have these little conversations, like: “They’re writing love letters to each other. You’ve got to be kidding me! There are scheduling sex—what?! [Laughter] We’re going to get married and make love every day, three or four times a day.” I mean, we were just like—
Ann: I never said that. [Laughter]
Dave: I did. I should have known! [Laughter] But I’m not kidding—we went through the whole weekend, thinking, “This doesn’t apply to us.” Honestly, went home from the conference, even though we both would have said, “Great weekend,” because we did get God’s plan—
Ann: We loved it.
Dave: —for marriage. We took the manuals. Back then—it’s the same manual that we teach today only packaged differently—
Dave: —same notes. It’s been a little updated. We put it in like a shelf and never looked at it again.
You know, we got married in two weeks. We were like: “Great stuff. We’re not going to need it.” And honestly—I mean, I wish I was lying. We never thought God would use our marriage or anything we learned that weekend to help anybody else.
Dave: That weekend was for us and only us. That’s how inward focused we were and never thought He’d ever use us in any other way.
Ann: And yet, we did something really—on our honeymoon night—that I think marked us. And that’s before we got into our bed—we got down on our knees, and we asked God to take our marriage and to not just make it good but to make it great—to use us for His kingdom. I think, sometimes, we pray these prayers—we just think it’s this little prayer. Yet, those little prayers, sometimes, have these huge dividends. We didn’t know that back then; did we?
Dave: Oh, we had no idea. I mean, we wanted God to use us.
Dave: We got that from the Weekend to Remember.
Dave: But we really hadn’t thought it through. We were just naïve honeymooners. So, we get married. We crawl in our marriage bed; and we, like Ann said, prayed on our knees before we crawled in our marriage bed.
The next day—our first night was in Columbus, Ohio. The next day—wasn’t it?—we flew to—we’re really cheap, at least, I am. I’m all about not spending any money. So, we got our honeymoon for free because we went to my brother’s in Boston; and her sister and her husband had a cottage on a lake, and it was free—I’m not kidding!
Ann: It was awesome.
Dave: That’s the only reason we went there. But we spent one night at my brother’s house. My brother is, still, ten years older—still is. [Laughter] He and Cathy, at that time, had been married about—what?—15 years probably. So, we spent one night there—again, free. And then, we were going to drive the next day to the cottage we were going to stay at for two weeks.
And then, that first night at my brother’s house—we’d been married two days—guess what we did all evening? We counseled their marriage.
We—I had no idea! I mean, I didn’t know my brother real well / we sort of grew up separate. But we were sitting there talking at the dinner table that night. They started sharing problems in their marriage. We were like, “Oh my gosh!” And they were asking us for advice—I am not kidding! We were like, “We know nothing!”
Ann: So, we were like, “What did they say at the conference?” We were like, “Oh, they had some really good things.” So, we’re sharing what they shared at the marriage conference, not having had to apply it yet; but they were eating it up; weren’t they?
Dave: Yes; and we realized, the second day of our marriage: “Oh my gosh! Our marriage isn’t even about us.” We thought we were getting married to be happy. And of course, every couple wants to be happy; but we knew, in the first week: “This isn’t about us anymore.” And we realized, “We prayed on our knees, two nights ago, that God would use our marriage to impact others; and here we are, two days later.” We know—you know—we knew nothing! We’re talking: “There are five threats to oneness,”—like—“ What were those again?” And we’re going through them and “God’s plan and God’s purpose for marriage is to mirror, to multiply, and to mutually complete each other.”
I mean, we teach this stuff now. But I mean, we would just—we didn’t even know. If you’ve been to a Weekend to Remember—how many of you have been to one? Yes; you are a marriage expert!
Ann: You are!
Dave: You are. You have got more material in one weekend than most marriages get in a lifetime. You know more about God’s design for marriage—
Dave: —than most Christian couples in churches. We pastor a church. Most of the couples at our church do not get, ever in their lifetime, what you get in 48 hours. And we got that before we were married. So, we saw immediately: “Oh my gosh! God’s going to use us.” We’ll tell you the rest of the story later, but that was week one, as a 22-year-old and a 19-year-old—again, we don’t advise that. Don’t get married before 20, but we did. [Laughter] And here we are—being used by God—and it was amazing.
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are”—anybody know?—“the day you were born”—and?
Audience: The day you die?
Dave: “The day you know why you were born.” If you’re going to write something down, write that down; or just remember it—
—it’s simple. Mark Twain, of all people, said that: “The two most important days of your life….” Obviously, the day you were born matters—even though none of us remember it. It was pretty traumatic for us; right? It’s like—nobody remembers that.
But what’s more important?—to know why you are born. Here’s what I know—and I said this last weekend at my church—I said: “Most people in our church do not know why they are on this planet. They think they are on this planet to be happy, get a job, get married, have a house, have a couple dogs, have a kid—three or four kids—win the Super Bowl in Detroit.” That’s what they think their—yes, whatever. It’s like that’s what people think is their reason for living.
I wonder if you know why you were born because the second you know why changes everything.
Ann: I really feel like, when people—like even our kids—when I die, I want to have lived out every single thing that God had in mind when He put me together. I don’t want to miss one thing. Do you? I want to live that / I want to do it. So, some people say, “How do I know?”
Even our kids have asked, over the years when they were growing up, “How do I know what God’s purpose for me is?” I sit there, and I think: “What are you good at? What are you passionate about? And what have you experienced pain in?” Sometimes, those ingredients mixed together—God will reveal what His purpose for you is.
And there are a lot of different things; but in our case, it’s kind of like that. We’re passionate about marriage; but we also have some real pain and brokenness in it, which has made us want to help other people—it’s like: “Oh my gosh! Don’t go through what we went through. Let us help you”; you know?
Dave: Yes, and I think another way to say what Ann just said is—I always say: “What’s in your hand? What’s in your heart?—that’s what you’re made to do.” “What’s in your hand?” means: “What are you gifted at / what are you good at? What do you have in your hand that you can do, and maybe, other people can’t?” “What’s in your heart” is—what Ann says: “What do you lay in bed at night about?—what fires you up? / you can’t sleep—you’ve got a fire in your belly about that.
Those two things, together, come together and say, “This is what you are on this planet to do.”
That’s when you discover “Why I was born.”
I was actually in college the first time I ever heard—and it was Bill Bright—the President and Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, who has since passed—but I was at a college Christmas conference in Chicago, which means I’m 20 years old / I’d just become a Christian. I wasn’t your church kid. I didn’t understand the Bible—never heard this passage before.
Bill Bright got up—maybe, 2,000 college kids were there on New Year’s Eve. We were going to pray in the new year. And I’ve got to be honest—at this conference, I was like: “We’re going to what?! Pray in the New Year!” I was that new in my faith—I was like, “I’ve never been to a New Year’s Eve party where we prayed in the new year.”
I’m sitting in this room. Bill Bright walks up and he says, “I’m going to share the most important words ever spoken by the most important man that ever lived at the most important moment of His life. I didn’t know what he was talking about—like: “Who could this be? It must be Jesus because we’re in a Christian setting. It’s always Jesus. That’s the answer.” [Laughter]
And he read a passage, maybe, you know—
—it’s Matthew 28. It’s referred to as the Great Commission. How many know what I’m talking about? Yes. I tell you what—I knew, that night, why I was born—it was to be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission. Can anybody quote it? [Murmuring] Yes; it sounds like tongues. [Laughter] Okay; so, here we go—I’ll read it to you. I’ll read it to you, but you were saying the exact thing. Jesus said—He came up to them. This is just before He ascends to the Father. So, that’s why the most important man, Jesus—He’s on His deathbed, basically—He’s going to ascend to the Father / He hasn’t come back yet—you haven’t seen Him physically since. He’s going to share the most important words on His mind; and He doesn’t say, “Pray,” or “Get married.” He says—what?
Here’s what He says—Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I’ve commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
That has since been called the Great Commission. It is the commission of all Christ-followers—to “Go;…make disciples…”—that’s it.
I preached last week in my church. I said this—we are talking about a different topic—but I said: “It’s really interesting—when Jesus called His first disciples, He told them on their first sentence what His mission was for their life. And it wasn’t, probably, what they were thinking.” You know when you come to Christ, you think He’s going to give me a better life, going to make my marriage better, going to make me disciplined—better man/better woman. No; Jesus told the disciples what His mission was, and His mission for them is the same mission here. It’s the same mission for you and me. Do you know what it is?
He said to Andrew and Simon—he said, “Follow me, and I will make you”—what?
Audience: Fishers of men.
Dave: —“fishers of men.” They were like, “What is a fisher of men?” Well, a fisher of men—and Andy Stanley says it this way: “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, here is your mission. This is why you are on the planet—every one of us. It’s a general mission. The specifics—you’ve got to figure out. But the general mission for every Christ-follower is the same thing: “Followers fish,”—
—heard that last weekend: “Followers fish.”
It’s like everywhere I go, I’ve got my eyes open, thinking, “Okay, how does God want to use me”—and now, us, as a married couple—“to fish for men and women?” because what?—people that don’t know Christ are spending eternity apart from Him. So, God has put me strategically in places, where it’s like: “Oh my gosh! If we have the mindset / the reason we were born—now, together as one—is to use our marriage to fish to fulfill the Great Commission—changes everything.
Ann: And I don’t know—you guys have probably seen this too—but how hurting are marriages today? I mean, we just did a marriage series in the fall. We bumped up in our numbers so much. Why? People are in pain, and they don’t have answers.
And it drives me crazy that we grow up learning—we’re educated, we’re taught to have good manners, we’re taught to have a career, we’re taught like, “Oh, this person is going to be great.” Who teaches you how to be married? Where do we hear that? We watch it on TV. We go to the movies. Are those great examples?
So, when I sit there and think: “Oh my gosh! Could it be our job to take the gospel?” And maybe, people aren’t open to the gospel; but what they are open to is, “Help me in my marriage because I need this.”
Dave: Yes; and it’s really interesting—if you ever looked at that Great Commission passage—it’s really a very important distinction. When Jesus said, “Go…make disciples,” the word, go, is a participle in the Greek. Anybody know what a participle is?—it’s an i-n-g word—so the literal translation is: “As you are going, make disciples.” Is that significant? Does that sort of change things?
See, here is how most people read that verse—like, “Oh, if I’m going to go make disciples, I’ve got to leave what I’m doing and go become a missionary, or be a pastor like Dave and Ann, or speak for FamilyLife, or I’ve got to stop doing what I’m doing.” I go: “No, no, no. That’s not what Jesus said—He said, ‘As you are going, make disciples of all nations.’”
What does that mean? That means whatever God has placed you—do. If you’re a doctor, you’re a plumber, you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re a school teacher—I could keep going—truck driver—right? —any job you have—like: “God has made you good at that. That’s what’s in your hand.” Now, He says, “What have I put in your heart?—where, as you are going, make disciples.”
So, you want your business and, maybe, you work in a cubicle. You don’t work in a cubicle to do a job. As a follower of Christ, who is a fisher of men, you go to your cubicle—like: “Okay; who am I going to interact with today? How am I going to treat them? Whom am I going to talk to today? What’s going to happen in this meeting?” The whole time you are like: “Oh my gosh! I’m on this planet—I know why I was born—to fish!”
I said it this way this weekend—and some of you write this down—this is what I said, “Make a dent where you’re sent.” [Laughter] That’s it! Followers fish. People at my church know I like to rhyme things / I can even rap that if you want: “Make a dent where you’re sent.” Anyway, I think you’ll remember that: “Make a dent. Leave a mark. There should be a mark left in your neighborhood. When you move out, they should say: ‘Oh, man! I can’t believe they are moving away. They helped our marriage more than anybody. They had a small group in their home.’”
We’ll talk about all the different ways you could do great things to help marriages; but it’s like: “Make a dent where you’re sent.” Whenever I say that at my church, people come up and say, “Well, how do I know where I’m sent?” You ready? I said this during this weekend——it’s profound. Nobody would ever think of this / this is profound—God gave me this: “You know how you know where you are sent? Where you are is where you’re sent.” There it is—boom! [Laughter] That’s profound. Don’t clap for that—it’s ridiculous—[Laughter]—they’re from our church.
Ann: You guys can.
Dave: They’re just trying to make me feel good. But it’s sort of a play on words, but it’s like: “Wait, wait, wait! You think you have to be sent somewhere? No, you are already sent.”
Dave: You just got to understand—God has already sent you to that neighborhood, to that school, to that family and that small group, to that church. It’s like: “Oh my gosh!—to that business.” Literally, get on an airplane—think of this—“Why am I talking to this dude beside me? He’s asking me what I do.” God wants you to fish! Could it be that God has sent you, right there, to make a disciple? So, you think you have to be sent somewhere—no; you already are sent!
Bob: Well, we’ve got to interrupt. We’ve been listening to the first part of a message from Dave and Ann Wilson about making a dent where you are sent. I like that! [Laughter]
Dennis: I do too. I think he’s right. I think you just need to look around and see where you are—look at the relationships you have—and say: “You know? We know some couples who could use some relevant, high quality material that’s going to benefit their marriage and their family, maybe, even for generations to come.”
Bob: One of the reasons we created The Art of Marriage couples series is because we had people who said: “I would love to do something for my relatives,” or “…for people at church,” or “…for people in our neighborhood—people I know who are struggling in their marriage. I just don’t know what to tell them / I don’t know what to say.” I mean—
Dennis: And they are not alone in that, Bob.
Dennis: I think a lot of people think: “I’ve not been to seminary. I can’t preach like my pastor does.” If that’s the case, you just need to pick up a tool that’s going to make you a highly effective couple in building into other people’s marriages and families.
It’s called The Art of Marriage. It’s been field-tested over the past five years in, literally, hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.
And I’ll tell you what—I was just with a couple from Washington, and they’ve now hosted more than a dozen of these Art of Marriage events. They just—they are convinced this is the message of the day for our country. They are committed to hosting these things in Montana, in Washington, Oregon. They are going all over the place wanting to equip people to be successful in life’s most important relationships—your relationship with God, spouse, and your kids.
Bob: This is something that’s easy to do in your living room over a six-week period. You get together with three or four other couples—invite them in. You say: “We were going to go through this material. We thought you might like to see it as well.” You watch a video for half an hour / you go through some questions together. I think you’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have.
I think you’ll be surprised about what you’ll learn about one another. I think you’ll be surprised at how eager people are to come back for Session 2 and Session 3 when you start something like this.
There is still time this summer to take some friends through The Art of Marriage couples series. So, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Get more information about The Art of Marriage small group material; or order from us, online, or over the phone. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com, and the phone number is 1-800-FL-TODAY. Plan to spend six evenings—the rest of this summer—with some friends, going through The Art of Marriage small group study. I think you all will really enjoy the time together.
Now, we want to wish a happy anniversary to Brent and Stacey Mitchell, who live in Orland Park, Illinois. They are celebrating 11 years together today.
They have, in the last couple of years, been to a couple of Weekend to Remember getaways. Way to go, you guys! “Congratulations!” on your 11th wedding anniversary.
We think anniversaries matter. We think your anniversary matters, and that’s why we are celebrating anniversaries, all year long, here on FamilyLife Today. We are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™. This is our 40th anniversary year, as a ministry. Our goal is to provide couples with practical biblical help and hope to strengthen their marriage and their family. We hope we’ve done that for you as you’ve listened to FamilyLife Today, or as you visit our website, or if you attend our events. That’s our mission, here at FamilyLife.
And we want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who support the work of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate your financial partnership with us, here in this ministry. You can make an online donation to support our work when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone—or mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; the zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear more from Dave and Ann Wilson. They have more to share about how you have more to share than you probably realize you have. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with 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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