You’ve taught your kids the Scriptures. Now what? On today’s edition of the broadcast, Dennis Rainey, talks about knowing and applying God’s word, and teaching our children to do the same.
You’ve taught your kids the Scriptures. Now what? On today’s edition of the broadcast, Dennis Rainey, talks about knowing and applying God’s word, and teaching our children to do the same.
Dennis: This culture we are living in today demands that you and your children have hearts that are trained by the Scripture so that you can discern between good and evil; between wisdom and foolishness, and the only way to do that is by taking of the meat of Scripture.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 11th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you want to develop some real spiritual muscle, the meat, the protein, is absolutely essential.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, I'm feeling, well, a little more spiritually buff over the last few weeks.
Dennis: I've been noticing some rippling of your spiritual muscles.
Bob: We've been talking about growing a spiritually strong family.
Dennis: Bob has some definition in his spiritual body.
Bob: The rest of the body doesn't have a whole lot of definition, but the spiritual side, you know, Paul says that "bodily exercise profiteth little," right?
Dennis: There you go.
Bob: But that spiritual disciplines are good, and Paul instructed Timothy, by the way – I've always found great comfort in this – Paul says to Timothy, 1 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 8 – he says that we should discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. And the word "discipline" there is the word "gymnadzo" where we get our word "gymnasium." And so Paul is really saying you need to be involved in spiritual workouts on a regular basis. And over the last two weeks, as we've talked about your book, "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," we've been talking about some of those spiritual workouts that need to be a part of our family agenda like being in prayer together as a family, reading the Bible together as a family, going to church together as a family – some of the basics that, really, we can't take for granted in this culture anymore. We've got some folks who are listening, Dennis, who didn't grow up in a Christian home, and the question of how you make your family distinctively spiritual, how you grow a spiritually strong family, they're having to learn, as adults, what to do.
Dennis: We started this series by sharing with our listeners the results of a survey we've now done with more than 42,000 churchgoers. These are people who attend churches that we've asked a series of questions about what do you want the church to provide you for your marriage and family? What kind of topics, where do you need to be scratched? And of the top four, three of them had to do with growing spiritually as an individual, as a couple, and as a family. What we've been trying to do over the last nine days is help you understand what spiritual growth is all about. And over in 1 Peter, chapter 2, verses 1 through 3, the Apostle Peter reminds us that if we have tasted of the goodness of God, that we need to grow in respect to salvation. And the exhortation there is not be satisfied with the status quo. The problem with spiritual growth is you can't back up against the doorsill and put a ruler at the top of your head and then come back 18 months later and realize that there has been a growth spurt of four inches over the past 18 months.
Sometimes, Bob, I've got to tell you, I long for some kind of calibrated measurement to know that I have grown. But that's where the Scriptures come in, and that's where I think you and your spouse and, for that matter, the rest of the family can affirm spiritual growth in one another.
Bob: You and your wife Barbara have written a book called "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family." It's a very easy to read, quick-to-read book that highlights many of the things we've talked about over the last couple of weeks.
In addition to all that we've talked about, though, there are some other themes that I know you wanted to touch on today.
Dennis: You know, Bob, there are some principles of spiritual growth that I just want to remind our listeners about, and this first one has to do with keeping a list of spiritual milestones, collecting spiritual stones that are a remembrance of what God has done on your behalf. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, "Satan doesn't fill us with a hatred of God but with forgetfulness of God." And I believe one of the things that contributes to us forgetting God and forgetting who He is, is we first forget what He has done for us.
Now, I want you to reflect back on your life, Bob. If you could highlight three spiritual milestones over your entire period of growth as a believer and as a follower of Jesus Christ, what three would you pick – quickly? And I know I'm putting you on the spot here, I haven't given you any time to think about it.
Bob: Well, certainly, you kind of go immediately to your conversion, to the time when somebody first presented the Gospel to you or when it first made sense to you, but I also think, actually, to a time before my conversion, a time that was a time of trial in our family. My dad had been in the hospital. He was diagnosed with manic depression, and it was one of those times when, as a teenager, I turned to God and said, "God, what's going on here?" And I saw God move in some powerful ways through that time that kind of woke me up to the fact that there is a God, and He's there, and He's listening. I didn't commit my life to Him at that point, but I think it was a spiritual marker for me.
Dennis: So your salvation was a spiritual milestone. Secondly, there was even one before you became a Christian, back to your dad and a crisis around his health. What's the third?
Bob: Well, and, again, I think there are the trial times that you go through where you learn to trust, you learn that God is faithful, and you can depend on Him. I really think of two others, both times when I was fired from a job, and that kind of shakes your foundation as a man and causes you to wonder, does God know what He's doing here and where's the next paycheck coming from, and yet looking back on those times, I can see now God knew exactly what He was doing, and He was taking me someplace better than I had been.
Dennis: And today when you face a trial, when you face a point of doubt, when you come to a crossroads that demands faith, those spiritual milestones, those remembrances of what God did on your behalf, I think, can help you defeat unbelief. And I think what it is, it's a great exhortation to us to make a list of everything God has done for us.
And so one of the practical applications that I would make out of today's broadcast for you, as a listener, is I would encourage you to take an hour as a couple and maybe get off separate and take a clean sheet of paper, and to write out a list of all the spiritual milestones and landmarks that God has performed on your behalf.
Barbara and I have done this on numerous occasions and, Bob, those pages are priceless. They remind us that God does care when we have moments when we wonder if He does care. And if you're going to grow spiritually, you can't suffer from spiritual amnesia.
A second thought I have to continue to grow spiritually is to never lose your ability to repent and confess your sin. The psalmist said, "When I kept silent about my sin, the Lord didn't hear my prayers," and it was like the psalmist was declaring, "My prayers rose no further than a few inches above my head, and then they crashed into the floor." And the idea is if we regard iniquity, if we allow sin to take up residence in our lives, and it's unconfessed and unrepented for, then that means that sin can become a controlling part of our lives. And, if that's the case, the promise of Scripture, I believe, is I don't think you'll grow spiritually, I think you'll see your spiritual growth stunted, and you'll see atrophy begin to occur.
Bob: You've hit on something here that I think is so vital for couples today. This issue of being able to own up to our sin, first before God and then before one another …
Dennis: In other words, be responsible to not blame it on your past or on your spouse or on circumstances but instead say, "I am responsible for my actions and my attitude."
Bob: That's right, and then to not just own up but to turn from – that's what repenting means – it means to turn away from sin and move in a different direction. And then the ability for us to forgive one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us. That is so key not only to our spiritual growth but to our emotional health in a marriage relationship.
Dennis: It really is, Bob, and I have to say this – if there is one thing over our 30 years together as a couple that I have been afraid of, and that is that either I or Barbara would lose our teachable spirit toward God; that our heart would grow cold; that it would become calloused and that we wouldn't confess sin. I don't know that I've ever heard it said quite in this way, but if you're not going through a day where you're aware of your attitude being wrong, a temptation that has come your way that perhaps you've embraced. If you're not confessing sin on a daily basis, then I think you've got to back to square one and evaluate, "Am I really growing as a Christian? Am I listening to God or has my heart grown cold?"
There's a third ingredient to spiritual growth that follows confession of sin, and that's found over in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 16 – "But I say walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." And it goes on to talk about a boxing match, a wrestling match that's taking place in the soul of a person, and it's a wrestling match between the flesh and the spirit, and what we have to do is we have to walk by the desire of the Spirit and fulfill the desire of what the Holy Spirit wants for our lives not what the flesh wants for our lives.
It's been a while since I've talked about the Holy Spirit here on FamilyLife Today, and a lot of our listeners, I fear, Bob, get a little spooked when we start talking about the Holy Spirit, thinking that it's a weird ghost or some kind of spiritual being that's strange. He is the third person of the Trinity. He possesses the attributes of God because He is God. And just because He's referred to in some of the earlier translations of the Scriptures as the Holy Ghost, I fear that many people have mischaracterized the Holy Spirit and His work in the believer's life. He is the one who guides us. He leads us from temptation. He guides us into the truth of God's Word. He enables us to have the strength to obey God, to please God, to fulfill God's will for our lives, and we are commanded in Scripture not to quench Him, not to put out his desire in our hearts and in our lives.
Bob: Don't tune Him out when He is trying to get your attention.
Dennis: Exactly, and I need the Holy Spirit. He is sanctifying me, helping me become a follower of Christ and helping me become like Christ. He is the source of your Christian spiritual growth, and if you'd like to think about it like this, although this is a little simplistic, I'm afraid – I was sitting down with one of my children the other night, and I said, "You know, it's like you have a radio dial, and you can turn the radio dial of your will to a radio station called "Flesh" and "Self" or you can turn the dial just a few notches to the right, and you can turn it to the spirit and God's will and what God desires for you.
And you have a choice of how you tune in your radio. Will you fulfill the desires of the flesh or will you walk by the spirit? It all depends upon who you yield to. That's the word Paul used. And so the real exhortation in growing spiritually is that we yield our lives not to self, not to the flesh, but we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit and to His presence in our lives to do what God wants us to do daily.
Bob: There are four commands in the Scriptures with relation to the Holy Spirit. Two of them positive, and two of them negative, and you've touched on a couple of these already. The two that are positive were to walk in the spirit and were to be filled with the spirit. The two that are negative we're not to grieve the spirit, and we're not to quench the spirit. And so as you think about how you're to live in relation to the Holy Spirit, it is a process of walking and being filled, and I think sometimes that idea, of what it means to be filled with the spirit, that can sound a little mystical to somebody. Explain what you mean when you encourage someone to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Dennis: Well, first of all, if you listen to those words, "Don't grieve or quench the Holy Spirit," you're talking about terms that can be used of a person to quench another person's emotion or to grieve them and cause them sorrow or sadness. So as I look at being filled with the Holy Spirit, He is not some power source that is removed from personhood. He is the person of God that Jesus Christ sent and gave to us to live in us that if we yield to Him and say yes to Him and say no to the temptation and no to the flesh, then as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we say yes to God, we will turn away from evil, we will turn toward good, and we will obey the Scriptures.
Bob: So being filled with the spirit really means being controlled by the spirit in how we walk. In fact, it's interesting where Paul says that in Ephesians, chapter 5. Right before then he said don't be drunk with wine and, you know, when somebody gets drunk, they are controlled by the wine that they've just drunk. But Paul says don't let wine control you, let God's spirit control you. That's what it means to be filled with the spirit.
Dennis: That's exactly right, and it's an act of the will that's done by faith, moment by moment in a Christian's life throughout the day.
Bob: You know, these three principles that you've talked about – the need for spiritual milestones, the need to be confessing our sins, and the need to be yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to walk in the spirit on a daily basis, really, that's what's at the heart of living the Christian life. And if we want to be a spiritually strong family, then we've got to live in the power of the Holy Spirit as individuals on a daily basis.
Dennis: We do, and we also have to be about the King's mission, which is the Great Commission. He gave us a task, a vision, and if you want to grow spiritually, trust me, one of the very best predictors that you are growing spiritually and will grow spiritually is if you are involved in sharing your faith with other people, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are lost, and we need to be doing that today as never before and, secondly, passing on the truth of God's Word and challenging other people to build their homes on the rock.
Bob: You know, where we've seen this happen over and over again is in Homebuilders couples series as we see couples invite friends, co-workers, folks who live in their neighborhood over to their house. They may have a potluck dinner, and then they sit down with the Homebuilders study guide and together they begin to look at how to resolve conflict in marriage or how to build your marriage or how to manage money in marriage or how to improve communication in marriage – all of these Homebuilders studies we created. And the studies all start off in a very non-threatening way so that you can invite them the first night and say, "How many of you would like to come back two weeks from tonight, and we'll start going through this study guide, and you'll be real surprised how many of them will raise their hand and say, "Yeah, that would be fun. We'd like to do that."
Dennis: I'm telling you, I believe today the church is filled with people who want to grow spiritually, they just don't know how. And what you do when you facilitate a Homebuilders group is you give people permission to begin to apply the Scriptures to their lives, their marriages, and their families. Why? Because it's at home where most of these issues we deal with – of anger and temptation and being impatient and worry …
Bob: That's where it surfaces.
Dennis: I'm telling you, it's where we all live, and where do we need to be able to live the Christian life? It's at home. And that's why Homebuilders, I believe, Bob, has become the number-one bestseller small group for marriages and families available anywhere in the world with over 1.2 million copies that have been distributed here in America.
Bob: Well, if you'd like more information on how to start a Homebuilders group, you can go to our website at FamilyLife.com. There's information available there, and we hope many of our listeners will take the Homebuilders challenge and invite some folks over and establish one of these groups. The folks who will benefit the most are not the folks you invite over. It's you and your mate.
Dennis: Now we're talking spiritual growth.
Bob: That's right.
Dennis: If you want to grow, you may also have a conflict or two as you grow, but if you want to grow, lead a Homebuilders group or help facilitate one. Maybe somebody else is more gifted to lead it than you, but you help pull it off and pull the people together. Bob, I just believe today in neighborhood after neighborhood and community after community, there are literally millions of marriages and families that are perishing. They are not only being divided by divorce, but they're also perishing for eternity and spending a Christ-less eternity in hell because we haven't preached the Gospel. And one of the greatest most practical ways we can take the Gospel to neighborhoods and to communities, I believe, is around the issue of marriage and family and through small group studies like Homebuilders.
Bob: Well, once again, if folks want more information about Homebuilders, you can go online at FamilyLife.com. In fact, during the month of August, we are making our Homebuilders studies available at a reduced rate for listeners, because we really want a lot of these groups to start up in September, and so we're trying to do whatever we can to encourage listeners to get these resources and get these groups going.
So, again, go to the website, FamilyLife.com. You'll find more information on our home page about the special offer on Homebuilders this month or click the red button in the middle of the home page that says "Go," and that will take you right to a page where there is not only information about Homebuilders, but there's information about your book, "Growing a Spiritually Strong Family," and folks can order from our website at FamilyLife.com, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we can make sure that whatever resources you're interested in get sent to you.
Again, our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, or go online at FamilyLife.com and click that red "Go" button in the middle of the screen, and you can request the resources from our website, and we'll have them sent out to you.
I was talking with some of the guys on our team recently about our listeners to FamilyLife Today. It was interesting because the best we can determine, for every 100 listeners we have, there are about 10 listeners who have ever contacted us to make a donation to the ministry of FamilyLife Today at any point in the time that they've been listening. And there are about two listeners in that group who maybe have contacted us so far this year to make a donation. So you stop and think about it, you've got 100 people listening, there are one or two who get in touch with you sometime during the year and say, "We believe in the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and we want to see it stay on the air in our city, and in other cities, and we'll help with a donation." And we want you to know we appreciate all of you who listen. It's a privilege, it's an honor for us to be able to interact with you on these subjects each day. But we really appreciate those of you who step forward as you are able to and make a donation to FamilyLife Today. We are listener-supported, and that handful of folks who do make a donation, you are a huge part of this ministry, and we appreciate your partnership with us.
During the month of August, we want to say thank you to any of you who would help with a donation to this ministry by sending you a copy of a CD that features a conversation we had. I think it went on about an hour with Beth Moore, the author of a number of Bible studies for women. Many of our listeners have gone through these studies, and we thought you would enjoy getting to know Beth a little better, hearing about the family in which she grew up, about her own marriage and her children and some of the challenges that she has faced. That CD is our thank you gift to you when you help with a donation of any amount during the month of August. You can make your donation online at FamilyLife.com. As you are filling out the donation form, you'll come to a keycode box, and you'll need to type the word "free" in the keycode box. That way we know you're a FamilyLife Today listener, and you'd like to receive the CD.
Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone. Again, it's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and when you donate over the phone, just mention that you'd like a copy of the Beth Moore CD, and we'll be happy to send it out to you. Again, it's our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us, and we appreciate your financial support.
Well, we hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we're going to talk about a growing epidemic in our culture – the issue of pornography and the devastating impact that issue is having on marriages and families and on the souls of young men who are being ensnared by the Internet and other forms of pornography that are available. I hope you can be back with us 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'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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