Terrorism of the Soul, Part 1
About the Guest
VIDEO: Dennis Rainey at Dallas Theological Seminary's Spiritual Life Conference, January 2015
VIDEO: Chris and Cindy Beall's Story - Brokenness and Redemption from FamilyLife's Stepping Up Video Series
Dennis RaineyDennis Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry of Cru®. Since the organization began in 1976 through 2017, Dennis’ leadership enabled FamilyLife to grow into a dynamic and vital ministry in more than 109 countries around the world helping families discover the joy God intended for their relationships with God, spouse, and kids. Dennis has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, including best-selling Moments Together for Couples and Staying Close and has received two Golden Medallion...more
Dennis Rainey alerts us to the dangers of what he calls “terrorism of the soul” as he explores the toxic effects of pornography on marriages, families, and our souls in part one of this message.
Terrorism of the Soul, Part 1
Bob: The Book of Ecclesiastes says two are better than one. Dennis Rainey says, after more than four decades of marriage, he understands a little bit about why.
Dennis: Barbara, for me, is a gift from God. She’s a woman, and 42 years of marriage has taught me she is different—really different. Different isn’t wrong, it’s just different; but in the differences is the gift. As her husband, I must value, embrace, and listen—listen, listen—to her counsel.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Do you see your spouse as a gift from God for you? We’re going to spend time looking at that subject today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. We are spending time this week listening to lectures that you shared a couple years ago at Dallas Theological Seminary for students and spouses—lectures on marriage. This was part of their spiritual emphasis week that they were hosting at the seminary.
Dennis, I had to think, as I listened back to these lectures: most of these seminarians—when they are listening to their professors in class—they are getting a lot of information, but they are not necessarily called to do a lot of application with the information that they are getting—but one of your professors at Dallas Seminary said, “Application is the key;” didn’t he? [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes, you are talking about my mentor and my friend—who has now gone on to heaven—Dr. Howard Hendricks—taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for over 60—count them, 6-0—years.
He believed—he said this—he said, “I think the church today suffers from a Vitamin A deficiency.” “A” being “Application”. I think he’s right.
I think we hear a great sermon on Sunday morning and then, it’s over—and we rush out to our car, we dash home, we get involved in media/TV, chores around the house—and we don’t take the time to process the truth of God’s Word that has been given to us and apply it to our lives in a practical way.
Bob: Well, as you sat down with these young seminary students, you went right to the heart to talk about challenges they are going to face—or that they may already be facing—in their marriage relationship. You had them for four days—not four full days—but you spoke to them four times over a four-day period.
Dennis: Great privilege, by the way.
Bob: You called them to be doers of the Word, not hearers only.
Today’s message was all about some of the real challenges that lay ahead for them or that may already have invaded their marriage.
Dennis: Yes, and the one I talked about today—it got very, very quiet when I talked about it.
Dennis: Well, this is going to be a heavy message, ultimately. It doesn’t start out that way, but I want to talk about the terrorism of the soul—the assault on your soul by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Sometimes, it comes from the most unusual people.
I was in Kansas City, speaking at a Weekend to Remember®. These were back in the early days of our ministry when we couldn’t afford for our wives to go speak at the conference. So the men would go, and we’d speak about the wife’s role in marriage. [Laughter]
It was one of the real high points of the weekend for those people. We quickly raised the money so the wives could go. Feedback won the day.
It was Saturday night. We’d been out to eat as a team, and I’d gone back to my room. It was about 10 o’clock, I remember. I just thought, “You know what? I’m going to click on the TV.” The Ten Commandments was on, and I just left it on. My phone rang. I’d already talked to Barbara, and talked about her day and how the kids were doing. This was in the early 80’s—I think we had four children at the time.
It was a woman’s voice on the other end. It wasn’t Barbara. The woman said, “Hey, how you doing?” I said, “Well, I’m doing fine.” “Can I come up?” I said, “Excuse me?” She said, “Can I come up?” I said, “Well, I don’t think that’d be a very good idea.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Well, two reasons.”
“Number one: I’m happily married to a woman who is a magnet. She’s a magnificent, godly woman who draws me from all over the country. Number two: I’m watching The Ten Commandments.” [Laughter] True story!
Ephesians 6 and I John 2 remind us that our souls are under daily assault by these terrorists—the unseen forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. In fact, I walked in to Bob Lepine’s office one day—he’s the co-host of our broadcast—and I said, “Bob, I wish I had glasses that would help me spot when I’m battling the world, when I’m battling the devil, or when it’s my own flesh, so I could spot it.” Well I do have the Holy Spirit, and He does help us.
Over the past 11 years, I have been a mentor to a couple of guys in the pastorate. There has been one subject that has dominated our monthly phone conversations. It’s the same issue that dominated our date nights as we were raising our children. Barbara and I would go out for a date on Sunday nights. It started out to be a romantic date, but it ended up being the President and the Vice President of the Rainey family getting together and pulling out our schedules and looking at how we were going to manage this thing called ministry, life, family, and marriage.
I do not know of another subject that caused more conflict in my marriage than those date nights, battling out the priorities of this little fledgling family that was starting. This is one of the unseen battles that can take you and me out of the race.
It’s not nearly as sexy as some of the others—it’s a private one. It is the relentless pace of life and making choices that represent this Book. Ephesians 5:15 exhorts us, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” Deadlines, emergencies, over commitments, pressure all relentlessly create a fatigue that can leave us vulnerable to the other traps. Are you with me?
I’m going to quickly go through the wisdom of 45 years in ministry of battling this assault. I would encourage you to write these down.
Number one: Pray for and seek God for wisdom. James 1:2-8 commands us to ask God for wisdom when we face various trials. Wisdom is godly skill in everyday living. You know where I learned that? Israel. I paid $399 and went to Israel with Bruce Waltke. Some of the professors know him.
Bruce taught Old Testament. It was one of the most fierce courses to pass out of anything here at Dallas Seminary. As we were going through the land of Israel, he was quoting from his photographic memory, translating from Aramaic, to some other language, to English—and spouting off all these things. Finally, by the end of the trip—I’m just a country boy from southwest Missouri. I was impressed at this professor—I said, “Dr. Waltke, what is it like to be a genius?” [Laughter]
I said, “These Arab guys are threatened by you because you know more about their country than they do, and they live here—and they grew up here. They’re professionals.” This absolutely transformed my decision-making—he said, “Ah, Dennis, back at the seminary, knowledge divides, but wisdom edifies.” He said, “As professors, we are battling this knowledge deal, and it becomes an ego-deal. It can divide us—but wisdom,” he said, “is skill in everyday living—godly skill in everyday living.”
So, to handle this terrorist attack, you’ve got to have wisdom from on high—godly skill— godly application from the Scripture. Abiding in Christ—abiding in the Word—walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. You can’t drop your armor for a moment!
Secondly, listen carefully to your spouse, if you’re married—or have a couple of best friends, if you’re single—that you can bounce ideas off and get some alignment. Barbara—for me—is a gift from God. She’s a woman, and 42 years of marriage has taught me, she is different—really different. Different isn’t wrong—it’s just different—but in the differences, is the gift. She processes change differently than I do. She’s slower. I’m faster. She adds different perspectives—different values. More than once, she saw things that I didn’t. She sees things that I don’t. As her husband, I must value, embrace, and listen—listen, listen—to her counsel.
Next point: because I have a tendency to overschedule and say, “Yes,” to too many things—
Barbara and I instituted a boundary to protect me from me. Anybody else suffer from that in here? Type-A personalities? I don’t make—here’s the boundary—I don’t make a commitment or take a speaking engagement without first talking to Barbara.
I’m going to tell you, there was a time there where, if you could get me on the phone, you got me. Why? Because I’m in the ministry to help people! How am I going to turn my back on a need? But I have found it is tremendously liberating to say, “You know, let me talk to my wife about that first.” Then, we’d have a date, and we’d argue about it. [Laughter]
Here’s one that has really been good: Take an annual inventory that monitors your commitments. Look back over your calendar from the past 12 months—take a year at a time—and total up the number of days you traveled—
—number of days you were away from your kids, away from your spouse, number of nights gone during the week—and take a look at it. It’s revealing.
Then, take a look at the year you have in front of you. Total up the number of days traveling; number of days away from the kids, number of days away from each other, number of nights gone each week. If you leave no margin, you are setting yourself up to fail where it matters most—in your private life, and in your marriage and family. If you’re married, determine together your margins that you need to set together and your limits as a family. Resist the temptation to schedule to the edge—to the brink.
Next point: Learn the power of the word, “No.” Say, “No” to something every day—even if it’s a tree. Just walk up to it and say, “No”—just to stay in practice. [Laughter]
Listen to me—too many women and men find that their success in ministry can be the demise of their ministry because, once you build it, then you’ve got to feed it. You determine you’ve out-punted your coverage.
Final point: Schedule defensively. Determine together what seasons or months during the year are most difficult for you—as a single person, as a married person, as a family—and begin to protect those months in advance. For us, two months were the worst. What do you think they were, raising a family? December and May. We found if we could protect those, it could build an island of clarity. One reminder here—to say that you don’t have time is not really a statement of fact. It is a statement of value—of what you want to invest in.
Psalm 101 is a great passage that has helped keep me and helped me in my journey to holiness. 101, verses 1-4, “I will sing of the steadfast love and justice. To You, O Lord, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. O, when will You come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house. I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall be far from me. I will know nothing of evil.” What a great exhortation!
C.H. Spurgeon, when speaking of evil, said, “Of the two evils, choose neither.” [Laughter] I want to show you what evil does to a marriage.
This is a pastor from Oklahoma City. This is from the Stepping Up® video series that we’ve done in an effort to challenge men to step up and step away from pornography.
[Excerpt from Stepping Up]
Chris: Found a magazine under my dad’s bed—and I hated myself—but the moment I saw it, my heart started beating fast, overwhelmed with curiosity. That’s where the struggle—that’s where it started. Because I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord, it made it very easy for me to feed this new thing.
I was a sophomore—I was 19 years old. I started college pretty early. A girl invited me to Campus Crusade. They were trying to reach me for Jesus, and it just started to come together.
I would love to say that everything changed.
Cindy: He had crooked teeth, and he did not dress well. So, that really wasn’t it. “What are you going to do after college?” He said, “I’m thinking about going to seminary.” That was like the moment that I thought, “Okay, I’ve got to—something is going to happen here—I really like him.”
Chris: Marriage is one of those crazy things that you have all of these ideals of what it is supposed to be like.
Cindy: You know, the first year was dreadful.
Chris: Wow! Is this really—is it going to be this hard? It becomes very easy to then go look at magazines.
Cindy: I do remember a couple of occasions where I came home from work or something, and I would walk in. There was an image there that he couldn’t get off the screen fast enough.
Chris: So, it went from looking at images to chatting; having an interaction with this girl. She said, “You want to meet?”
I will never forget driving home. I had broken my promise. I can never go back and say that I kept my vow. I hated myself. I hated what I was doing to the name of Christ. That led to about a two-and-a-half year period of time, where I was physically unfaithful to my wife.
Cindy: I just assumed that my husband—my worship leader/youth pastor husband, was walking in full integrity.
Chris: A lot of my walk with God was a show.
I met Craig Groeschel, who is the senior pastor at Life Church. A year later, he called me up. The idea of moving to Oklahoma City was not appealing at all, but I legitimately thought that this was God’s do-over for me.
I’m sitting in a staff meeting, and Craig made a statement. He said, “Our private lives are what give us the opportunity to minister publicly.”
Cindy: That Tuesday morning, February 19, 2002, the door opens—at like 9:30 in the morning. I come around the corner, and he says--
Chris: “Honey, we’ve got to talk.”
Cindy: He just starts telling me the most awful things you can ever imagine hearing from your spouse. One minute, I’m unpacking boxes and 60 seconds later, I am wanting to die.
Chris: I felt that—at the time—there is no other way than to get completely honest.
Cindy: He looked at me, and he said, “I know you’ll never trust me again.” He said, “But if you’ll let me, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn it back.” That was ten years ago. Nothing is off-limits for me. His life is an open book.
And, thankfully—because of that—God has allowed me to have trust in a man again that I never thought I would.
Chris: I am, to this day, completely free. I am not fixed, but I am not the same guy. God has set me free.
[End Audio Excerpt]
Dennis: It’s quite a story. He confessed his sin in front of the whole church, lost his job, kept going to church there. They took away every screen that he had. I believe it was two—or two-and-a-half to three—years later, he was rehired to minister. It’s a picture of redemption and God’s grace.
Bob: Well, we’re stepping into the middle of a message that you shared recently with students at Dallas Theological Seminary. As you said, it was quiet on this particular day, when you were talking about this particular issue.
Dennis: I’ll tell you, Bob, pornography is really harming boys, young men, and men. It’s preying—it’s predatory. It is aggressively coming after our sons, our grandsons, our husbands, our fathers. I just want to encourage a listener right now—Don’t merely be a hearer only. If you’ve got a problem with this, find a way to come clean. Find another man to confess to. Then, ultimately, go to your spouse—your bride—and ask for forgiveness there.
I think this may be the number-one addiction in America. It’s far more lethal, I think, than drugs or alcohol.
Bob: Yes; you shared with your audience at Dallas Seminary the story of Chris and Cindy Beall—the video from Stepping Up which—by the way—if our listeners would like to see the video, it’s online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
I should also mention that Chris and Cindy are going to be guests on FamilyLife Today at the end of August, so we’ll get an update on their story here coming up in a little more than a month. But, again, you can see the video when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
I had to think, as I listened to you, Dennis, about Chapter One in your new book, Choosing a Life That Matters, where you say one of the key choices all of us have to make is the choice to seek God, not sin. That’s the daily issue for each one of us. Are we going to go God’s direction, or are we going to be led by our flesh and wind up in sin that leads, ultimately, to destruction?
The book I’m talking about is brand-new. It’s called Choosing a Life That Matters: Seven Decisions You’ll Never Regret.
We think this is a book you’ll want to share with others. Again, it’s called Choosing a Life That Matters: Seven Decisions You’ll Never Regret, from Dennis Rainey. You can order online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com—or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information about Dennis Rainey’s new book, Choosing a Life That Matters.
You know, when we tackle subjects on this program like the subject you tackled today—the subject of pornography—the reason to address that is because this is where real life is lived. This is the kind of stuff that couples tell us— families tell us—these are the issues—that are coming up in their home—the issues they need help with. Our goal at FamilyLife is to provide practical, Biblical, honest, transparent, real-life help and hope for marriages and families.
We want to effectively develop godly families, and we’re grateful to those of you who are not only regular listeners to this program, but those of you who help make this program possible for everyone else—those of you who donate in support of this ministry. You are the ones who provide FamilyLife Today for tens of thousands of people all around the world who are tuning in each day to listen both on local radio, on the internet, through our mobile app. More people are listening in more ways than ever before—and we’re grateful to you for helping to make that happen.
If you’re a long-time listener, but you’ve never supported this ministry, how about making today the day you make your first donation to support FamilyLife Today? We’d love to have you join the team. You can donate easily online at FamilyLifeToday.com—or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and donate over the phone.
If you’d prefer, you can mail your donation to us. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today at Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear your advice to young men on how to get free from the snare of pornography and other issues—other temptations we face in marriage. That comes up tomorrow. Hope our listeners 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.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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