Dennis Rainey believes that Christians are called out of the "holy huddle" into a life that proclaims to a watching world the good news of Jesus Christ.
Dennis Rainey believes that Christians are called out of the "holy huddle" into a life that proclaims to a watching world the good news of Jesus Christ.
Bob: Dennis Rainey believes that marriage is about a lot more than just happily ever after. He believes it’s about two people being on a mission together.
Dennis: Jesus Christ didn’t just come to give you a happy marriage and a family that takes perfect Christmas card photos. He came to use your marriage as a living message of Christ’s relationship with the church—a profound mystery / a model of covenant-keeping love even during hard times—and to use your family as a training center for the next generation of Great Commission warriors and soldiers.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, August 22nd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Do you know what your mission is, as a married couple; and are you on mission together?
We’ll explore that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Do you ever get tired of challenging couples to be about the Great Commission—to be on mission together as a couple?
Bob: You don’t think: “I’m starting to sound like a broken record. I’ve said this so often”?
Dennis: Well, I do feel like that sometimes. [Laughter] I wonder if our listeners get tired of me challenge them to get in the game and be a part of what God’s up to on the planet. It’s the greatest adventure of a lifetime, Bob—is to join God in what He’s doing here on the earth. I mean, it’s been our privilege—Barbara and me for the last, almost 44 years now / and here on FamilyLife Today, coming up on 24 years.
Bob: That’s right. And today, we’re going to hear that charge afresh. In fact, you spoke recently to an audience of couples, urging them to be in the game and to understand the good works that God has prepared for us to be involved with before we were even created.
Dennis: That’s right. And before we get to that message, I just want to say a hearty “Thanks!”—and I mean this—I just want to say, “Thanks,” to you who are Legacy Partners and donors to FamilyLife Today. I just want you to know you keep us on the air, here on FamilyLife Today, ministering to millions, not only here in America, but globally in more than three dozen countries and who knows how many millions of people around the world. I just want to say, “Thank you for standing with us.”
If you haven’t given or if you gave some time ago and haven’t given recently, I’d just like to challenge you to join us on our mission of deploying God’s people to do God’s work in marriages and families and, also, in their communities. I’d like to invite you to give a gift, financially, to FamilyLife Today and help keep us on the air.
We’re short in terms of the number of donors that we’ve had join us over the last seven months. This month of August, I’ve been coming to our listeners, occasionally—not complaining / not whining—but just saying, “Hey, if you believe in what we’re doing / you believe that marriages and families are in trouble and need biblical help and hope that we provide, here on FamilyLife Today, then, would you keep us going strong and help us expand?” I need your help. And I need your help now.
Bob: It’s easy to make a donation. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and do it online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Again, we do appreciate those of you who stand with us in this ministry. If it’s been awhile since you’ve made a donation—or maybe, you’ve never supported this ministry—would you consider doing that today? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Alright, let’s hear the message that you shared recently as you were challenging couples to be a part of the work that God has called each one of us to in strengthening marriages and families.
Here’s Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: You know, you have no idea what God is up to in your marriage and where you may find yourself six hours from now / six weeks from now; but God wants you to know who you are, according to this Book, and what you’re all about as you leave here. There are a lot of believers today that suffer from spiritually amnesia. Their souls have been erased by the enemy, and they have been tricked to believe that they are someone that they’re really not.
Do you know who you are, spiritually speaking? Do you know why you are here? What’s your purpose as a couple? Every couple here needs to have some sense of a purpose that you’re about, according to God’s design.
Who are you?
If you were born again by faith in Jesus Christ / His finished work on the cross, at the moment you placed your faith in Christ, more than 30 things happened to you that changed your spiritual identity, as a man / as a woman. One of three things that occurred—that I’ll just list real quickly—is that you became / you were adopted as a child of God. John, Chapter 1, verse 12 and 13 say this—it says, “But to all who did receive Him,”—speaking of Christ—“who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor the will of flesh nor of the will of man, but born of God.” You were adopted into God’s family. You’re His child. That makes Him your Father.
I speak at a number of orphan care, foster care, and adoption conferences around the country. I always speak about the whole concept of adoption and love to ask the audience, when I speak, “How many of you have been adopted?” In an audience like this, there will always be 10/15 hands go up when I say, “How many were adopted?” Then, I turn to Ephesians, Chapter 1, verse 5, where it says, “He predestined us into His family through adoption.” So, how many people here have been adopted?—all who have believed / all who have believed.
Secondly, when we were adopted, we were given a new citizenship. We are citizens of heaven. We have a new homeland—this is not our home / we are pilgrims passing through. That passage is found in Philippians, Chapter 3, verse 20. I love this—it says:
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”—then, there is a promise in verse 21—“who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”
So, He’s adopted us into His family. He’s given us a new citizenship; and if a citizen, then, the third thing that changes when we place our faith in Christ is—He has called us to be ambassadors. Second Corinthians, Chapter 5, verse 20—and I love this passage too—in fact, we’re going to spend a little time unpacking it; but verse 20 says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ.” He has called us to be an officer—a man and a woman—on appointment from God.
I just want you to look at this.
I want you to see how He has saved us, how He has sent us, how He has given us a mission, and how He has given us a message. We are not just a part of the 6.1 or 2 billion human herd. We have been selected by God to be special emissaries on behalf of God. Look at this passage: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God who, through Christ, reconciled us to Himself”—and look at this next phrase—“and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
Now, I want to stop there. Does America need a ministry and a message of reconciliation today?
Dennis: Absolutely! Where should that come from?
It ought to come from us—people of faith, talking about being reconciled with God—but also—reconciling spouses with each other / family members with each other. Some of you are in some pretty hopeless situations—you’re losing hope in a family relationship. God delights in showing up and bringing peace where there is now war. Then, interpersonally—between people in communities—we need this ministry of reconciliation.
“All this is from God,”—it says—“who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ”—and look at God’s heart showing up here—it says, “God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, ‘Be reconciled to God.’
“For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
You and I are not just ambassadors of any king. We are ambassadors of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who stepped out of eternity to take upon Himself flesh, and to take our place on a cross to defeat death, rise again from the grave to offer eternal life to all who call upon Him in faith. You are not just any ambassador—but an ambassador of the King of kings. You want to do something interesting?—Google, “king.” Just look at all the kings that have ever existed in all of human kind throughout all of history. There are thousands of kings. The King who has appointed you is the King of all kings.
Well, I want to make three comments about ambassadors, as you all head back home, that I want you to take with you. Number one, an ambassador knows whom he serves. We are ambassadors for Christ. A.W. Tozer said this—he said: “The most important thing about you is what you think about God.” If you’re going to be all that God called you to be—in terms of your identity, spiritually—you have to know: “Who is the One who gave birth to you spiritually? Who is the One you were made in His image? Who is this God? Who is He?”
Well, you know what? It’s Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not come to take sides—He didn’t come to be a Democrat / a Republican.
Jesus Christ came to take over. He didn’t come to be a spare tire—to be used in an emergency. Jesus Christ came to be the owner, the driver, and the mechanic of your life. He didn’t come to get your attention and focus for a couple hours a week on Sunday. He came to be the supreme center of your attention and existence.
Jesus Christ didn’t come to receive the leftovers of your life. He came to be lavishly loved by us / to be received, whole heartedly, by us with affection. He didn’t just come to be your Savior and mine—to save us from God’s wrath, judgment, and hell—Jesus Christ came to be your Life-giver, Redeemer, Lord, Master so that you and I can taste heaven now.
He didn’t come to just be our buddy, our pal, a confidante. He came to be the One who is to be feared, revered, worshiped, and obeyed.
He didn’t just come to satisfy all your needs and wants so that you and I can be comfortable. He came to enlist you. He came to enlist you in His army, to endure hardship and pain, and to do the dangerous work of doing battle / spiritual battle for the lives of people who are going to last for eternity. He didn’t come to give you the good life, but He came to live in you—to live His life through you and, ultimately, infect their lives with His life—to love others, and impact their lives, and secure victories which will be celebrated for all of eternity.
And because all of us here / nearly all of us are married, Jesus Christ didn’t just come to give you a happy marriage and a family that takes perfect Christmas card photos. He came to use your marriage as a living message of Christ’s relationship with the church—a profound mystery / a model of covenant-keeping love even during hard times—and to use your family as a training center for the next generation of Great Commission warriors and soldiers.
Finally, He will not come back as a lamb; but He will come back again soon—He promised. He will come back this time as the Conquering King—the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Sovereign Lord God Almighty—who defeated sin, defeated death, and our enemy. As a result, is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
He is your Redeemer / your Advocate—He is Christ, the Lord.
Listen to me—this is who appointed you to be His ambassador. Do you know the One you serve? Are you getting to know Him better?
Second point I want to make about an ambassador is—he knows and executes his mission. He knows why he’s here / why she’s here. Second Corinthians 5:18-19: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”
You have an assignment—you are to be a part of the Great Commission. One of the things you don’t want to have happen is to arrive at the throne room of God, upon your death, and be standing before God and for Him to say, “You didn’t participate at all in the greatest commission I ever gave a human being—
—“the Great Commission.” An ambassador is about the King’s business.
I love what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:5—he said, “As for you [Timothy] always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist”—and then, he says three words—“fulfill your ministry.” That assumes that Timothy knew what his ministry was. Of course, he did. Could Paul say to you today, “Fulfill your ministry”? Do you know what it is as a couple?—as an individual? What is your ministry? What is your mission? What has God uniquely placed you here for?
All of us need to be a part—
—there is no greater adventure in life! I can tell you—I’ve been experiencing this, along with Barbara now, for 43 years. We have not done it perfectly. We have veered off course. God continues to bring us back on, but I can’t imagine / I cannot imagine life just being lived on the horizontal.
One of the great privileges that I’ve had this week is hearing from many of you, who aren’t living life just on the horizontal at all. You’re living life, being sent by God, for a mission—people we’ve never heard of / people who just did what God called them to do faithfully every day.
Rod and Rose got invited to come on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise in 2012 by Rod’s parents. Rod and Rose are in a blended family. They have three sons / three daughters—15 grandkids. They knew nothing about FamilyLife, but Rod’s mom convinced them to come on the cruise.
So, they came on the cruise. Rod’s mom and dad were coming on the cruise because—get this—they were celebrating 65 years of marriage. [Applause] So, they are there—father and mother and son and daughter-in-law—and they are experiencing this. Well, at the Love Like You Mean It cruise in 2012, Rod and Rose got a vision for how God could use them. They went back to Albuquerque and became the directors of the Weekend to Remember® there. We needed leadership in the conference back in Albuquerque. Since then, they’ve hosted 19 Art of Marriage® events / two of them in Spanish—two Smart Stepfamily events. On their way in here, Rod said he called his mom—his mom’s name is Ruth. Ruth said to him: “You know, next year, your dad and I are going to be celebrating our 70th. [Laughter/Applause]
“Sign us up for the Love Like You Mean It cruise.” I absolutely—absolutely love it! They’re on mission.
And many of you are on mission. I’ve got to tell you—I absolutely love to hear stories of how God is using you. That is the real work of spiritual viral multiplication in our nation. Your kids need to see it / our kids need to see it. This is the way this truth is going to be passed on to the next generation.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening today from a message from Dennis Rainey challenging couples to be about the most important work any of us can be about—God’s work in our lives / in our community.
You were talking about Rod Smith. I had a chance to be on radio with him recently. Our program has just gone on KNKT in Albuquerque. He was at the station, and I did a radio interview with him.
Dennis: That’s cool.
Bob: And he’s still going.
He’s just done some new Art of Marriage events in the Albuquerque area, and they are excited about the Weekend to Remember coming to Albuquerque next spring.
Dennis: I’m telling you folks—this is absolutely an opportunistic time for us to engage in the culture. This is not a time to cower in our caves, afraid of the giant that taunts Christians in the land. We need to be about what God’s about—which is redeeming, and healing, and lifting people out of their mess, and giving them a purpose.
So, the question is really twofold— Number one: “Do you know whose you are? Do you know whom your Master is, who has commissioned you to be an ambassador?” If you do: “Are you, now, on His mission? What is that mission? What are you giving your life to? What are you training your children to do?”—because there is going to be plenty of work for them to do as you and I pass off the scene. Be a part of what God is up to in this generation.
The time is now for Christians to let their light shine in such a way that men will glorify God in heaven.
Bob: You and Barbara have been doing a lot of thinking in recent days about this metaphor of being ambassadors for Christ and how our homes can be embassies. In fact, if you go to our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, you can download a set of four family nights—four guided conversations you can have together, as a family, talking with your children about how to make your home an embassy for Christ. These are short / they are practical. It fits easily into dinner table talk or a car ride home from school.
Download the e-booklet when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com—it’s free. And while you’re there, look at the resources that Barbara has designed—the “Embassy of the King” plaque and the banner / the canvas—there is a devotional booklet.
All of these resources are available. You can order them from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
And if you have thoughts about this—about how you are trying to do this in your home—get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing to be an ambassador, and to raise your children to be ambassadors, and to make your home an embassy.
I think one of the ways we do this is by celebrating / making a big deal out of anniversaries. We want to say, “Happy anniversary!” today to Rhonda and Brad Dodds, who live in Marengo, Illinois, who are celebrating their 29th anniversary today. “Congratulations!” to the Dodds on 29 years together.
We think anniversaries are important—we think they are a big deal. In fact, our purpose, here on FamilyLife Today, is to help you have more anniversaries—more and better anniversaries—year in and year out. We want to provide you with the kind of practical biblical help and hope you need for your marriage and for your family.
And we want to thank those of you who help support the ministry. Dennis mentioned this earlier—we appreciate your partnership with us. If you’re a regular FamilyLife Today listener and if you have not, in 2016, made a donation to help support the ministry, would you consider doing that today? We have seen a decline this year in the number of people supporting FamilyLife Today. So, we’d just like to ask you if you’d pitch in and help make this program possible for you and for other listeners in your community. It’s easy to do. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and donate, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Donate online or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—donate over the phone. Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Keep in mind—if your donation, this month, is $100 or more, please request the three Bible studies we’ve put together from our Art of Marriage Connect Series.
These are Bible studies on marriage; and they are designed for small group use, or you can use them as husband wife. They are our gift to you as a way of saying, “Thanks for your generous support.”
And we hope you can join us back tomorrow. We are going to hear more from Dennis Rainey about what it looks like for your home to be an embassy and for you to be an ambassador. We’ll explore that tomorrow. Hope you can be here with us.
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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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