Does your life seem boring and mundane? According to Dave and Ann Wilson, your life can be surprisingly influential to those around you, if you will only share it.
Does your life seem boring and mundane? According to Dave and Ann Wilson, your life can be surprisingly influential to those around you, if you will only share it.
Bob: Has your marriage survived hardships? Ann Wilson says, “If it has, then, you’re the perfect person to help others.”
Ann: Could God take the pain that you’ve gone through—maybe, health wise or whatever it is—could God use that for gain for other people?—of course! He wants to because, then, who gets the victory / who gets that? It’s God! And who has defeated Satan? What Satan meant for pain / for destruction, God meant for good.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 8th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Dave and Ann Wilson join us today to talk about how God is looking for F.A.T. people to help with His work? They’ll explain what they mean on today’s program. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, you are so passionate about people reaching out to others to help them with their marriages and their families. It’s what you do full-time. I’m just wondering: “Have you had people in your home? Do you do Bible studies in your home with other couples?”
Dennis: Yes; we’ve done it. It hasn’t been in recent years. We’re so busy travelling that the continuity to be able to—
Bob: Gets hard—yes.
Dennis: Yes, it really does; but yes, we’ve enjoyed small groups in our marriage for a number of years. It is a great way to make friendships, to connect with people; but, also, just to have an impact in other people’s lives because I’ll tell you Bob—there is an educator who is a professor in Pennsylvania / Dr. Roberta Hestenes, who coined a term. She said, “People today suffer from crowded loneliness,”—crowded loneliness.
It means we’ve got a lot of surface relationships, but no one knows me past the surface.
What happens in a small group—if it’s a safe one / if it’s one where couples can be real and honest with each other—I’m not talking about airing dirty laundry, but I’m talking about being honest about where you struggle and where the battles are and, then, finding out you’re not that much different than anybody else around the circle.
People, today, are looking for a way to connect. We’ve got some simple tools, here at FamilyLife, that are going to be a way for you to take the message you are about to hear on FamilyLife Today and apply it in your community. One of them is called The Art of Marriage®, which is a video event, or it’s a small group study over a period of six weeks. And we’ve got some small group material called The Art of Marriage Connect. There are a number of books—that you can pick the topic you want to deal with, whether it’s conflict, whether it’s the purpose of your marriage, how to be a husband / how to be a wife—
—it’s very practical. It helps couples really get to know one another, and build some solid relationships, and experience transformation in their marriage at the same time.
Bob: So, back to you hosting small groups in your home. I’m just guessing people, who came over to Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s house for a marriage small group, were like, “I’m not saying anything the whole night!”
Dennis: No, no, no, Bob. They just knew us as regular people, who were struggling in various areas just like they were, and we just all got real with each other and developed some lifelong friendships as a result of our time together in a small group.
Bob: Well, we’re going to talk more about some of the tools that we have available; but we want to hear today Part Two of a message from our friends, Dave and Ann Wilson, who share your passion for couples getting involved with other couples and being a resource / being an asset to help strengthen marriages and families in your church and in your community.
Dave and Ann speak at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways. They live in Detroit, where Dave is one of the pastors at Kensington Community Church in suburban Detroit.
Dennis: And he believes you need to make a dent where you are sent.
Bob: Well, he also believes it’s time for you to be fat, and we’ll hear him explain that in a little bit. But Part Two of the message starts with his wife, Ann.
Ann: I love this verse: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
I love that because our marriages are like a beacon of light in your neighborhood, on your street, in your city, in your town, in your state. You’re a beacon of light, and that’s why the enemy is so strategic in how he can dim our lights. He will do anything to get you to turn from focusing on: “What’s my mission? How could God use our marriage?” to: “Why aren’t you meeting my needs?”
And we go right here. That’s his greatest strategy—to start battling each other instead over here.
Dave: And by the way, it’s really easy to do that because we’re up here, saying: “Hey, you’re strategically placed. God wants to use you.” We’ve done this very thing—“Why aren’t you meeting me needs?”—we’ve done it! You’ve watched The Art of Marriage. That was all about that: “I’m not meeting her needs because she has a lot of needs, and she’s not meeting my needs—
Ann: —“because you have a lot of needs.”
Dave: —just kidding. But it’s real easy to get here focused—what did you say? [Laughter] What did you say?
Ann: “Because you have a lot of needs too.”
Dave: I do not. I have none. [Laughter]
But what’s really interesting—even about Jesus’ words there in Matthew 5, when it says, “A city set on a hill…”—interesting. This is—three years of seminary gets me this one truth—alright?—learning Greek is this: The word “set on a hill” means strategically-placed location. Jesus is saying, “You are the light of the world,” which is a whole interesting theological study. God, in Genesis, spoke the world into being by saying, “Let there be light.” Then, Jesus comes and says, “I am the light…” Now, He is saying, “You are the light, strategically placed, where….”
So, some of you may think: “Oh, man! I’m in Toledo,” or “We’re in Detroit because we just random—we sort of ended up there.” No! You step back, and you go: “Did Jesus say we were strategically placed?” “Yes.” We ended up on Salem Court. Did we just end up on Salem Court? No, we’re probably on Salem Court—we chose the house / we bought the house—but we’ve got a couple beside us there / we’ve got a couple—Nick and Pam there. It’s like we have small groups—they’ve been in our house. We’ve shared our testimonies with them. It’s like God strategically placed us.
It’s a whole different way to look at your life. It’s like: “Oh, my gosh! So that means God wants to use our marriage to impact others.” That’s exactly what we do. We’ll tell you some quick stories. When we first started in ministry, we went to the University of Nebraska—22 years old / 19 years old, married—what?—9 months.
Dave: We never, on our radar, thought—when we started ministry at the University of Nebraska with college athletes because we were like the chaplain for the teams—never—we never even had a discussion about, “We’ll do a marriage Bible study.” We didn’t think anybody was married—they’re in college; right? And we find out: “Oh my gosh! There are five, six, seven couples that are married; and we can teach.”
What did we teach? The only thing FamilyLife had at that time was the manual.
Dave: There weren’t things that you, now, have—unbelievable materials they now have. So, we just walked through the manual / taught that; right?
Ann: Then we go to California. We’ve been married two years at that point. And we become—we’re neighbors with a couple, Russ and Yolanda, and they were having marital issues—they were a blended family—so, they were struggling. And we pull out our manuals again. We were thinking, “Oh, that stuff we taught in Nebraska, let’s teach it here.”
And so, then, I ended up having a small group—I’m 21/22 years old, leading these women who have been married for years. Sometimes, I felt like—in my head, I’m thinking: “I don’t know anything. I’m just a little kid.” No! God doesn’t care where you’ve been, how old you are, what you’re going through. He wants to use you where you are.
So, for us, that was amazing—that we were messed up / we had struggles, but God still used us. It was miraculous; wasn’t it?
Dave: I mean, you can look at us and say:
“Oh, you’re speakers on this cruise. You speak for FamilyLife. You always had the stuff that could help other marriages.” Here’s what you need to know: “No; we didn’t.” You are the same people we were in ours—we just had ourselves. We had a walk with God / we had the Word of God, and we had some really good tools from FamilyLife.
Dave: And all we did was say: “God put us on this planet to fish. God put us on this planet together, now, to make a dent where we are sent. Where are we sent?—right where we are. So, let’s open our eyes and see what the needs are.” And all we were—I always say this: “We were F.A.T.—Faithful, Available, and Teachable.”
Audience: That’s right.
Dave: That’s what F.A.T stands for. You look for somebody that’s F.A.T. to pour your life into. We were faithful to God / we were available to God—just say: “God, okay; I don’t know what you want to do with us. We don’t even have much to share, but we’ve learned some things. We have some good materials. If you want to use us, we’re teachable. We’ll be used.” And for 35 years, from the second day of our marriage, God has been using us everywhere we went.
I’ll tell you why, though—because we were available. We moved into that house in San Bernardino going to seminary. We saw Russ and Yolanda two doors down. They started talking to us. We were like: “Oh my gosh! There they are. They’re the ones we’re going to start a small group with.” I discipled their son in high school, worked out in the backyard with him on his little bench thing. It was like, “Oh, my gosh! God wants to use me to make a dent where I’m sent for three years in San Bernardino.”
Then, we moved to Michigan to start a church—become a Detroit Lions chaplain. One of the first things we did at this new church we started going to—we went to the pastor and said, “Hey, anybody doing anything for marriage here?” “No.” “Well, you want somebody to do something for marriage?” “If you want.” I mean, he didn’t even have a passion for it. He was like: “Yes, if you want. What do you want to do?” I said, “Maybe, we could start a Sunday school,”—that was back when there was Sunday school. “Okay; we’ll started a Sunday school.” Sunday school started our church—that launched our church—this isn’t the church I pastor. This is the church before the church I pastor. This church—we launched this little Sunday school—right?—
Dave: —in a high school.
Maybe, ten couples came. It became 20. Then, it became 30. Then, it became 40. We had the biggest Sunday school class—bigger than the attendance on Sunday—because the need for marriage.
Ann: Right; and we used the Homebuilder’s® material—we got it from FamilyLife. We pulled it out, and we were amazed at how hungry people were to know how to make their marriage work. And I think that we forget that the Creator of the Universe, who made the oceans, lives in us. The power of the Spirit—we have that! He talks to us, He communicates through us, and He’s the one that goes before us. So, for us, it was—we were in awe of what God could do.
Dave: Yes, literally; it was just being faithful, available, and teachable—being willing to be used. And God will use you. And I’m telling you—He wants to use you. You’re thinking: “I need to learn. I need to learn.” No, you don’t! You will. You learn more—and you know this if you’ve ever led a small group at any level—you learn more leading than anybody ever learns in your group. Am I right?
Dave: As you prepare, and you study, and you get nervous and scared—people ask questions, you don’t know what to answer—you grow greater than anybody. You want to have a great marriage? I’m telling you—
Dave: One of the reasons we’re still in love, 35 years later—I think we still are; right?—
Ann: We are.
Dave: —35 years later. [Laughter]
Audience: Check this out!
Dave: I’m not kidding—is because every year—almost every month / almost every week—we are teaching marriage stuff to people, not just on stages, but in small groups; and it keeps our marriage fresh. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do.
I remember, several years ago at our church, I walked off the stage on a Sunday. One of our guys on staff came up to me—Greg Gibbs / some of our people know him—and he’s all mad. He’s mad at me. I mean, he’s just really frustrated. I’m like: “Dude, what’s going on? What did I do? What did I say?” He goes: “You know what?! I’m so sick and tired of hearing you talk about you were in Los Angeles or you were in Colorado, speaking at a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember; and you tell this story.”
I go, “Well, it’s a good story to help our people.” He goes: “Yes. You know what I’m mad about?” I go, “What?” He goes, “You’ve never done anything for marriages at our church!”
Dave: I said, “What do you mean?”
Ann: That’s pretty convicting.
Dave: So, I said to him, “Okay, we’re going to do one.” And I actually said this—I go: “Nobody wants to come to hear Dave and Ann speak because they hear us every week. So, they’re not going to come.” He goes, “You ought to try and find out.”
Dave: Guess what happened? Fifteen hundred people were already signed up months ahead of time. It was like, “Greg is right.” What did that mean? It didn’t matter who spoke—because they are sick of Dave and Ann—they hear us every week. It wasn’t who was speaking—it was: “You’re going to give us help in our marriages? We’re in!”
We did it. Three years later, we had 3,000 people come. Two different buildings were full of just our church. It was like, “Oh my gosh!” It just blew us away! It was like: “Those are the people that are living in your neighborhoods, who are longing for somebody to say: ‘Hey, Tuesday nights at my house—come to my house. We’ll talk about marriage. We’re going to go through this thing called Homebuilders,’” or “’We’re going to go through this thing called The Art of Marriage.’”
You know, you are so familiar with The Art of Marriage—most of the world isn’t.
Dave: So, it’s crazy that God wants to use you—
Dave: —with these incredible tools.
Ann: To give you an example—so, we have this big church; but we had a woman come into the church and said: “I’m passionate about marriage too. In fact, I’m in business. I have a great job, but I feel like God’s calling me to do something at the church with marriage.” And I’ll tell you—that your pastors at your church and people are longing for this. So, she came to us; and we’re kind of like, “What do you have in mind?” So, we started this marriage mentoring at our church that she really came up with; didn’t she?—she and Chris.
Ann: And it is just blown up where we have marriage mentors that are trained; and they, then, take a couple, who is in need of help, and they kind of walk through life with them. So, that’s been huge.
Dave: We had dinner two nights ago with Tim and Cathy, who are sitting right there. I sat with that couple in the dining room the other day—all I’m telling you is he has a passion—they both do—he and Cathy have a passion to help marriages. He goes to visit his daughter in South Carolina; right?
It’s unbelievable—he would never tell you this. He got: “I want to talk to your pastor.” “What for?” “I just want to meet with your pastor.” So, he meets with his daughter’s pastor; and they are doing The Art of Marriage in South Carolina because he met with the pastor and said, “You need to do something for marriages here.” “Well, it costs a lot of money.” Tim said, “I’ll do it.”
And God is using this couple to impact—why?—because they know why they were born. They didn’t know—I’d love to tell you a story, but we don’t have time—they didn’t know for how many years?
Tim: Twenty-seven years.
Dave: —Twenty-seven years why they were on the planet. They lived the American Dream—did everything everybody says is the dream—and they didn’t know why they were born. Now, they know. And part of it / a big part of it is: “What’s in their hand?”—The Art of Marriage. “What’s in their heart?”—helping marriages. God’s using them everywhere they go.
Ann: And one of the things that we have on here is God will use your pain for others’ gain.
Dave: See, I wrote that one too—that’s rhymed. [Laughter]
Ann: That’s really true. And for these guys, their marriage went through a lot of pain; but what does God promise? He will take that and make it—He will use it for good.
Dave: Read that passage. This is—I know you’ve heard this—
—powerful truth from 2 Corinthians.
Ann: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we are ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
So, it’s so perfect in that what we have gone through / what’s been painful for us, God will use it for someone else’s gain.
Dave: You know, what’s truly amazing is that most of you know us—especially if you were on the cruise last year—and the only way you knew us was—what?—
Audience: The Art of Marriage.
Dave: —The Art of Marriage.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this—because, when we walked on the boat last year, I made a joke at my church that Sunday. We were doing a series called Overlooked. It was a series of all the people in the Bible that were overlooked, but God didn’t overlook them but used them. I, literally, said that Sunday, “We [are] getting on a plane to fly to Miami that Sunday afternoon.”
I said: “You talk about being overlooked! Guess where I’m going this afternoon? We’re speaking on the FamilyLife marriage cruise with Kirk Cameron. Think people will know who he is? Yes. Dennis Rainey—all these people—does anybody in the world know Dave and Ann Wilson?—nobody.”
I even pulled up the website. For some reason, it was wrong last year. Dennis Rainey had my name under his picture on the website. [Laughter] So, I said: “Look at this! They even got the wrong guy!”
So, we get down here, and we walk on the boat; and I am not exaggerating—the first 50 couples that saw us go: “Hey. Hey, you’re Dave and Ann Wilson!” “Who are you? How do you know us?” “Art of Marriage—I’ve shown that 20 times at my house.” “Really?” This one guy walked up to me—he goes: “I guarantee my marriage is a 9.8, and I guarantee my wife would say the same thing.” I’m like, “You memorized it!” [Laughter] He goes: “Dude, I’ve shown The Art of Marriage 50 times. So, I’ve watched your story 50 times.”
So, I was like, “Oh, my gosh!”
Now, think about this—you probably don’t think about this. This is the first thing I thought, “The worst moment, in our 35-year marriage, the world has seen.” That is the worst moment in 35 years—she was ready to leave me—and it’s on The Art of Marriage. [Laughter] And I found Lepine that day—I’m like: “Dude, everybody knows us. How many of those are out there?” He goes, “600,000.” I’m like, “Oh, my gosh!” [Laughter] But think about what God did!
Ann: Think about our prayer that we prayed, on our knees, on our honeymoon night. Did we think that we would ever be in a fight so bad or just that I would have no feelings for Dave? No.
Dave: I mean, this is—I love how God does that. When we drove to the studio to shoot that, we didn’t know what we were shooting.
Dave: We didn’t even shower! Watch it next time. Yes, you didn’t; did you?
Ann: It’s true! [Laughter]
Dave: We didn’t know it—
Ann: I turned to Dave; and I was kind of like, “What are we doing?”
Dave: I’m like: “Lepine wants us to go tell our story. I don’t know what it’s for.
“We’re just going to do this thing.” Oh, that is so God!
Ann: And could God take the pain that you’ve gone through—maybe, health wise or whatever it is—could God use that for gain for other people?
Ann: Of course! And so, we look at you guys—look, you are an army.
Dave: Yes, look at this.
Ann: God can use us to transform the world through our marriages. And so, I guess what we’d love to do, too, is just talk about that and what that looks like.
Dave: I mean, if you—Ann is so right. If we walked out of here and we went fishing to make a dent where we’re sent / we know why. Some of you just realized today: “Oh, now, I know why I was born. This is it. God wants to use me and my story.”
Some of you have thought, “I’m never going to let the darkest part of my marriage ever be exposed.” Well, you can do that if you want; but if you are willing to share it, I guarantee you—and you probably know this—others are going through or will go through what you’ve gone through.
Ann: And there is healing when it’s brought into the light.
Ann: Every time Dave and I would share that story, there was a part of us that grew closer and closer. There is something beautiful when it is exposed to the light. God begins to heal it. As long as it’s in the darkness, it’s covered; and it’s like God’s light can’t get into it.
Dave: And I tell you what—the thing I hate about the church—and I’m a pastor of one—is that we all just hide these little secrets. Everybody is fake, and everybody’s got it all together. The people who are un-churched come to your church, and they think, “I can’t go there because nobody there struggles like I do.”
So, man, I hope you will share that pain because others will gain from it; but at the same time, it isn’t just pain. It’s glory to God because there is victory in and through that pain. So, it is the packaging of both. You are sharing authentic brokenness and weakness, but you’re revealing the power of God that saved your marriage. God will use that to impact others.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson speaking about how God can use you to help others in their marriages.
And it occurs to me that some of our listeners may not have seen the video clip where Dave and Ann share their story. It’s actually in two parts. Part One is at the beginning of a session in The Art of Marriage video series, and Part Two is at the end of that session.
Dennis: Let’s make it available on the website and let people look at it.
Bob: We’re going to do that. It’s online at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can go online and see Dave and Ann share their story of their tenth wedding anniversary, which was not a very good evening for them, but was transformational in their lives.
Dennis: It really was. It is two four/four-and-a-half minute segments. It is well worth watching because it’s going to capture what takes place in all marriages. You disappoint each other, and you get in a ditch, and you don’t know how to get out. Dave and Ann are real honest about, not only the ditch they got in, but the spiritual wrecker that pulled them out and how there was healing and restoration.
Bob, I really agree with what Dave was saying there at the end. There is really something healthy about sharing our struggles; but there is, also, something absolutely magnificent about sharing redemption, and sharing restoration, and how God took broken people and made them one. It really is where God is best—He shows up, mends fences, heals hearts, and covers wounds with His grace.
Bob: One of the things we are committed to, here at FamilyLife, is providing you with resources like The Art of Marriage small group series and The Art of Marriage Connect series—different resources available to make it easy for you to reach out to others. We figure you’ve got the relationship—you’ve got the connection with your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers. We just want to put in your hands tools that make it very simple for you to connect with them and help build into their marriage while you’re building into your own marriage at the same time.
Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com—find out more about The Art of Marriage small group study / about the marriage ministry pack that we have available. We’ve got all kinds of resources designed to be plug-and-play. If you’ve got the desire, we can make it easy for you to connect with your friends and help build into their marriage and their family. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. If you’d like to order The Art of Marriage small group material, you can call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—or again, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, we’ve got an anniversary today—21 years of marriage for Jason and Amy Mancini, who live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Congratulations!” to the Mancinis on their 21st wedding anniversary.
FamilyLife is all about providing practical biblical help and hope for your marriage and your family so that the anniversary you celebrate this year is just one of a long string of happy anniversaries. In fact, we are helping couples this year have a very special anniversary by providing you with some thoughts / some ideas for how your anniversary celebration could be extra special. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and give us your anniversary date if you would like to receive those anniversary tips later on this year.
Then, “Thanks,” to those of you who make this ministry possible through your support of FamilyLife Today. As always, it’s easy to partner with us—go to FamilyLifeToday.com to make an online donation, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate over the phone. You can also mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you have a great weekend.
Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Gloria Furman’s going to be here to talk about where moms can find glimpses of grace in the middle of what can often feel like the mundane tasks of motherhood. We’ll hear from Gloria on Monday. Hope you can be here 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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
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