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Enjoying the Simple Things in Life

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
March 27, 2022 10:00 pm

Enjoying the Simple Things in Life

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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March 27, 2022 10:00 pm

Can we enjoy the simple things in life and still honor God? Author Joe Rigney discusses how the the good things God gives us are invitations to know and enjoy him more deeply.

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When I read the Bible and it says that your word is sweeter than honey, your word is sweeter than pumpkin crunch cake, if I've never tasted the sweetness of the pumpkin crunch cake, that verse doesn't mean anything. Similarly, when my kids grow up and they read, your father loves you, will that have any weight to it? Will they go, well, I know what that's like, because my dad did tickle fights with me all grown up?

Like sensitivity that they have because they grew up in my home, or this is the scary thing, will they grow up and I will have taught them falsely. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So do you remember the opening of, little drum roll, Raiders of the Lost Ark? Yes, I do. I think we stood in line. Yes. 1981.

Super excited. We were married one year. I had hair. There you go. That's what I remember.

Yes. And I remember thinking, this is such a fun movie. And, you know, you've got the Ark of the Covenant in it, and at the end you're like, this is how great God is. So I was really excited about it.

Epic adventure. Yeah. We were on staff with crew at the time, and somebody told me a few days later, did you know that Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, went to that movie?

I'm like, yes, of course he did, because it was so amazing. And they said, and he walked out. And suddenly- He walked out? Why? He walked out. I said, why did he walk out?

And he said, you know, this is a bad use of my time. I can go home and read the Bible and experience the real truth of it. I felt like the biggest loser and lack of faith. I thought every time I'd go to a movie, I'm thinking Bill Bright would have walked out of this movie, and here I am enjoying it. And the thing that you think, I don't remember talking about this, but you think if I really love Jesus, I'm not going to love things in this earth like a movie- That are enjoyable. Yeah. I'm just, I'm going to be so in love with Jesus, the things of this world are just going to be not that important anymore.

A movie, a football game. We're getting near my love now. Now we're getting in your area. I mean, this is a really interesting topic because we have a guy sitting in the studio with us today, Joe Rigney. You've written about this. This is something you're passionate about. I can see it in your face. You're looking over at us like you've had this same dilemma as well. Absolutely. By the way, Joe, let me first say this.

Welcome back to Family Life Today. We were in your city last time we interviewed, Minnesota. That's right. Minneapolis, but now you're in Orlando, Florida, where it's really, really cold here, isn't it?

Yes. Super cold. All of 70 degrees. I just came, it was negative five when I got on a plane. So I get here and they're like, sorry, it's so cold. Oh, sure.

It's really cold. Well, we're glad you're here. And I know you've had a pretty interesting couple few months where you were just named the second ever president of Bethlehem College and Seminary.

That's right. And that's an esteemed honor. Way to go.

Congratulations. I'm very excited. We feel honored to have somebody so distinguished in our studio today. Should people go there?

People should absolutely go there. Thanks for asking. You're welcome for that plug. You're wearing a shirt that says Bethlehem College and Seminary. I've got all the gear ready to go.

Yeah, I'm very excited. I am the second president of Bethlehem College and Seminary. Intentionally small Christian liberal arts school. We teach great books in light of the greatest book for the sake of the Great Commission. And we really want students to grow up into maturity. So we're, you know, we live in an age of extended adolescence and we want to accelerate adulthood. We want our students to grow up and be mature, wise, capable, competent adults in whatever vocation they go into. And we want them to have a deep ballast in their boat. So we want to we talk about education and serious joy with the idea that that's the joy in Jesus is the ballast in their boat that helps them to weather the storms and trials of life because they're going to come. And we want our students to be ready for life, not just ready to make a living, but ready, ready for life. Jesus, I want to go to school there. Yeah, I mean, you just sold it.

And it's not like there's this old guy either. No, that's right. Bring it. Y'all can come. We can come.

I need, I'm working on a doctorate. Can I get one there? That's right. Well, we offer Masters of Theology. You had to think about that.

We have a lot of programs. There's a number of different letters that you can get after your name. Well, you know, Joe, I got to say, you know, as we're thinking about having you back on, your name sort of reminds me of something that, you know, I love of the world and it's music. And so, you know, our team here, we had a little discussion about how can we properly introduce you and welcome you to family life today?

So you know what? Oh, no. We came up with a song. Yeah, we've never done it. So I don't know how this is going to come out. Me either. Have you ever had someone write you a song?

No. This became a very famous song back in the day. It goes like this. I look at all the lonely people. You can harmonize, girl. Welcome Joe Rigney, man who now sits in the chair that John Piper once had. And he's a dad. Look at him smiling. Passionful baseball with pumpkin crunch cake on his lips.

Really on the lips. All the lonely follicles. How much I sympathize or empathize. All the jealous hair boys.

It's time bald men reunite. I look at all the lonely people. So what do you think of our little welcome song? I'm speechless in fact, which is unusual.

I usually have lots of things to say, but I am actually speechless. Now you actually have heard of Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. I've heard of that thing. I mean, you got the name Rigby, you know.

It's close. But you know what? That was just a fun way to say welcome family life.

But here's what we're talking about today. And I thought it'd be fun to sing it. Okay. Because your book, Strangely Bright, is based on a line of this song, right? Yes, it is.

You know, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. So let me sing it. Do it. I'm not going to sing it perfectly. Are you a singer? Can you sing it?

Better than Eleanor. I'll sing it. You'll sing it? Yeah. Okay, good.

I'm going to do a little. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful grace.

And the things of earth will grow strangely bright in the light of His glory and grace. I noticed you changed a word in there. I did change a word. I have been known to change words to songs sometimes, as apparently you do too. Yeah, I do that a little bit, right? But I did.

Let's talk about that concept though, because I've never heard anybody write or even think the way you have approached this whole idea, and I think it's ingenious to think, okay, the song says, you know, when I look full in His wonderful face, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim. Right. And you asked the question, why? Is that really true?

So tell us why that's a discussion. The song is a great way into it, because I think the gal's name is Helen Lemel, wrote that song. And I'm almost positive that in her head was the passage in Colossians, set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. So she's thinking of a biblical passage and she don't set your mind on things of the earth, which in that context is sinful things, you know, sexual immorality and covetousness and idolatry and things like that. But I know that just growing up in church, singing songs like that, you kind of begin to transition, it's not just sinful things that grow dim when Jesus shows up, but it's just...

It's raiders of the lost. Things in general. That's right. It's just the normal stuff, the good things. And there becomes a tension because you begin to think, well, if Jesus shows up, all of these other things are worthless. And there's a kernel of truth there, which we have to wrestle with. There's language in the Bible that gets us there, but that's not the whole picture. And so this tension, there's a real tension both in the Bible, a tension I think that then flows over into our experience of how do I, if I want to love and honor God, if I want to treasure him above everything, that's the way we talk about, we treasure Jesus. If I want that to be my life, what do I do with all of these things that surround me on every side every day that I live and move and they're all there.

They're so potent and powerful and delightful. How do we do that? And so that's the tension. I spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last, I don't know, 10, 15 years.

And this book is my best effort to make as accessible as possible how I have tried to wrestle with the Bible over that problem. Yeah. And so you end up taking a word out.

Tongue in cheek, you changed it even in the song from strangely dim to strangely bright. Yes. And that's something that's coming out of my own experience. So I noticed that whenever I'm most full of Jesus, whenever the Holy Spirit is alive and kicking, I find that my wife and my kids are more delightful. I enjoy them more.

They're more what they ought to be. I'm seeing them rightly because I'm seeing them in the light of his face. So Jesus shows I'm seeing them in the light of his face and they're not dim. They're brighter and more glorious because he's more glorious. And so that was my experience. And so that was where kind of the little spin on the song came from was the things of earth grow strangely bright when Jesus shows up because they're in their proper place. Yeah.

I mean, I love this dilemma, this tension, because I think there really is a question in our mind if I'm full of Jesus, if I'm fully obsessed and surrendered. What'd you call? Treasure. Treasure.

He's my treasure. A hundred percent. I think what Anne experiences sometimes we feel guilt if we have any enjoyment of anything, not sinful things, but beautiful things, even of like a movie or a song or you mentioned baseball. I think football is much more important, but either way, I mean, there's parts of us that's like, well, wait, I feel almost guilty or almost maybe even sinful to enjoy a pleasure of the world. Right. I'm trying to put my finger on this low grade guilt that people have simply because they're creatures in God's world enjoying the things that he's made.

And it's there. It's a real thing. And there's reasons for it because we are sinners too. We're not just creatures, we're sinners and we're prone to make things be more valuable than they are and exchange the glory of God for images and like that idolatry is a real thing.

So I get into that. That's part of what we have to wrestle with if we're going to be whole Bible people. But we start from this notion of God made everything and it's good.

Everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it's received with Thanksgiving. That's what Paul says in first Timothy four. And so, and so there's this need to really get into how do we, how do we take the passages on the one hand that say things like whom have I in heaven but you and on earth there's nothing I desire besides you. And then if you say that you're in church and you sing a song that expresses that and then you look down the row and there's your family and you're going, did I mean what I just said or what about them?

And then how do we bring those together? And so, so that was the tension. It's a real one in my heart, was for a long time. And I think I don't live it out perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but in terms of knowing what I'm aiming for, I think God has helped me to see in the Bible the way forward.

So what are the things that Joe Rigney looks, he said down the aisle, look at your family. Are there things in life that you're like, you know, I just really love this and there's nothing wrong with loving this. So you write a book like this and you're always trying to think of examples. And after at some point I started going back through my examples and it was, well, apparently I really like my family and food because all of the things were that, nah, it's not true.

There was, there was others. I'm a sports fan. I like baseball.

There's a whole chapter in this book on baseball and how baseball is a special thing for me. But a lot of it is food and relationships. Some of that's because I think that those are universal for everybody. Yes. Most listeners are like, yes. Not everybody's going to love baseball and not everybody's going to love football and not everybody's going to love the Beatles, but everybody's going to love food, some food or other. Is that the kind of food you really, really like? And everybody's going to have people that they deeply value and care about.

And so it was like, those are the ones you really got to deal with. Okay. What's your food? My food? I threw it in the song. You did.

You did. So the one that came up, there's actually a really funny story here, is pumpkin crunch cake. So it's this dessert that my wife makes. It's a fall, it sounds like a fall dessert and it is. And it's, you know, pumpkin filling with kind of, you know, cake mix over the top with lots and lots of butter and walnuts thrown in there. And it's, it's fantastic.

It's my favorite deal. I'm going to make a whole thing of it for me and I will eat it for like multiple meals. So it's like dessert and then it's like breakfast because it's just like a donut. It's like, it's the equivalent of a donut.

We cake all the time for breakfast, we just call them donuts. So it's that. And then I'll have it for lunch. And so I love this thing. And so I, in my first attempt at a book like this called The Things of Earth, it's a bigger, bigger book than the one we're talking about, I talked about this all the time.

So then the most common thing, I'd go speak at a church on this, the most common thing, people will be lining up afterward and I think they're going to want to come up and say, oh, we really appreciated what you just said, which they typically did. But they always had a question and it was always, how do we get the recipe for pumpkin crunch cake? And so I kept getting asked this question.

I was like, oh, what a missed opportunity. So then I get to do the second book, The Little Cousin Strangely Bright, and I got to rectify the error and include the recipe in the appendix, which is also a great way to sell books because people, you know, then, you know, where's the... You got a cookbook out there. Yeah, that's right. There's a little, it's a little cookbook at the back. So pumpkin crunch cake is the quintessential example. When you put a recipe in a book, that's right.

Some people actually go make it. That's right. And we have somebody that made your pumpkin crunch cake.

Right here. All right. Yes. Rebecca Markham made your cake.

Rebecca Markham is amazing. Have you ever done an interview and you're eating pumpkin crunch cake at the same time? No, but man, I've got songs and I got pumpkin crunch cake and man. And ice cream with it. Ice cream. This is the way you do it. I don't think I've ever had this. Oh my goodness.

Are you serious? Wow. Rebecca, did you follow the recipe? She did. She did. You can tell.

She did. Joe knows. Yes. Nice. Well done. Wow.

You know what? I'm not a pumpkin guy, but this is... Is it? This is really good. You can tell on air that we're eating because... We are. We're just gonna... Oh man.

There's gonna be no talking for about... That is so good. It really is. So... And it's a great example. You're saying that this shouldn't grow strangely dim. That's right.

It should be strangely bright. So I think this is actually a really good example. And the Bible actually gives us an equivalent example. So in the Bible, they didn't have pumpkin crunch cake.

Sorry, King David. But they could have manna. But well, what they had was honey.

Yes. And in the scriptures, honey is a regular image that the Bible uses for good things. The scriptures are sweeter than honey.

The drippings of the honeycomb. May your word be sweeter than honey. And there's a proverb, I think it's in Proverbs 24, that says, my son, eat honey because it's good. And the dripping of the honeycombs are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul.

This was a paradigm verse for me. This is the one that I say, okay, if we get this about honey and then just go out from there, we get it. So you can substitute pumpkin crunch cake. And the idea is your soul has taste buds, just like your tongue does. And you can, according to that passage, train your soul buds by exercising your tongue buds.

Does that make sense? So you're training the soul. I'm doing that right now. You're doing it right now.

That's right. But you can't just do it because if you just eat it and you don't think about it. But what's happening on my tongue right now with the pumpkin crunch cake is something like what my soul should feel when it encounters God's wisdom. That experience, that experiential reality of my son, eat honey, he's saying to his son, go eat some pumpkin crunch cake and then meditate on that.

Think about that experience and say, no, then having, okay, now I got it. Experiential knowledge. Now, no, wisdom is like that to your soul, which means you can't know what wisdom is like unless you go through honey. Like the path to understanding God's wisdom is through honey, through pumpkin crunch cake. So something of creation reveals what God is like.

Which is interesting because I don't know. That's a good thing. It's a wonderful thing.

That's not a thing to feel guilty about. It's what God designed the world. This is the reason the world exists. I don't know if you guys know this, but many rabbis in Israel will go to an elementary school with five year olds and they'll put wax paper down in front of every five year old and they'll put honey on it and then they'll have the kids taste the honey with their tongue.

And then they'll go to scripture and say, God's word is like this. That's right. Sweet taste. It's that same connection.

A hundred percent. So my wife was a preschool teacher for a number of years. And when they would do Bible time, she would have skittles or something like that.

And she'd be like, here's a skittle. And then we're going to do a Bible verse. And the goal was to make that exact connection because that's what the Bible wants us to do.

It's how God reveals himself to creatures like us that he made to receive him in that way. You know, it's interesting as I'm listening to you, Joe, and when I read Strangely Bright, this is critical to understand. Here's why. There's a lot of reasons.

And I'm telling the author that this matters, but you've written about it. But when I was finishing college, I had a choice to make. What am I going to do with my life?

Everybody's trying to figure that out, right? One of my options was to play in the NFL. As a college quarterback, I was going to get an offer and I got it.

I didn't get drafted, but I got a free agent offer from Cincinnati Bengals who almost won the Super Bowl. This close. I'm not bragging at all.

I'm just saying. So here I am a 22 year old young man trying to figure out the future. I'm probably 18 months to two years now, a brand new Christian growing like crazy in my faith. I go to my spiritual mentor on the campus and say, how do I think about this decision? Should I go try and play in the NFL? You know what he said? Absolutely not. That'd be sin. I'm quoting him. I go, sin?

He goes, God has called you to full-time ministry. You know that. I know that. The NFL is a waste of time.

It has nothing to do with ministry. And I'm sort of paraphrasing, but I walked away like, okay, that's not an option because I have to do one thing and it looks just like this. I realize now, now you're looking at a guy, you could tell this guy's not going to play 10 years in the NFL. If I'd have made it, I'd been a backup for a couple of years and then out.

And I maybe wouldn't have made it, who knows, but I didn't even consider it an option because I thought it was things of this world and things of this world like football and playing football. And I never considered, well, maybe God wants to use that as ministry. And by the way, NFL is not a long-term decision. It's a short-term decision.

But I thought, man, that's a critical understanding because I bought into what I would say now is not really, I wouldn't say a lie, but a distortion of truth. Like no, there's a lot of ways you can do ministry based on who you are and what God you do. And because it may not look a certain way, doesn't mean it's second best to God. Right? Right. There are many different vocations.

There's different ways. We want to honor Him in whatever you do, whether you eat, whether you drink, whatever you do, do everything in the glory of God, whatever you do, work at it with all your heart. So there's a, there is a broadness in the biblical call to say all kinds of vocations, all kinds of locations, all kinds of any of that. The goal is how do you know God through it and help others to know God through it. Like that's, that's the overarching category, which means then that it's as wide as, as the world is that He's made.

So that's right. Let's apply it this way. You know, we're a marriage and family ministry.

We're trying to help our listeners pursue the relationships that matter most, which is your family. How does this apply in your home? I mean, there's a lot of ways that applies in my home. Um, well, we maybe back up here and say, so the fundamental thing we get with pumpkin crunch cake, which we then take and say, that's a honey. And then we say, that's everything, everything that God made is designed to reveal what He is like.

That's the baseline. That's why the heavens declare the glory of God. It's that principle.

And then you just run it. It's not just the heavens that do that. Everything does that. Honey does that.

Pumpkin crunch cake does that, which means made things make invisible realities visible. So in Romans 1... General revelation. General revelation.

That's exactly... Seminary. You're like, I want to come to college.

She's like, she's already got the seminary. So, uh, the idea there is that God has revealed Himself in the things that He's made. His invisible attributes, His eternal power, His divine nature clearly perceived in the things that are made. Now, so made things make invisible realities visible. That's step one. Step two, you're a made thing. You're a made thing.

You're made. Well, okay. So follow the logic.

Therefore you make invisible attributes visible. That's why God made you, which means now then you go, okay, now we're at to the home, which means what's my role in the home as a dad? I want to tell the truth about what God is like. So the way that we've kind of summarized this in our church is I want to be the smile of God to my children.

Say that again. That's good. I want to be the smile of God to my children. So God is a happy God. This is Christianity 101 within the fellowship of the Trinity. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. And then there's an explosion of joy that is the Holy Spirit. And so there's this, you know, God is a happy God. And we see pictures of that when Jesus is on earth, when it is baptism, where he comes up out of the water and the Spirit descends like a dove. This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. That's like the deepest realities there is.

Like, you don't get deeper than that. There's nothing behind that that's more fundamental than God loves his Son. And then gospel, God loves us in Jesus. The same love that he has for his Son is extended to us because we're united to Christ by faith and Christ is ours. So that's fundamental theology, fundamental gospel, now bring it into your home. And it's I want that to have experiential weight for my family.

It's unbelievable to feel that kind of gravity there. But I want, just like what we do with the cake here, when I read the Bible and it says that your word is sweeter than honey, your word is sweeter than pumpkin crunch cake, if I've never tasted the sweetness of the pumpkin crunch cake, that verse doesn't mean anything. Similarly, when my kids grow up and they read, your father loves you, will that have any weight to it? Will they go, well, I know what that's like, because my dad did tickle fights with me all grown up. Like, well, in other words, will there be a kind of resonance and experiential, like sensitivity that they have because they grew up in my home, or this is the scary thing, will they grow up and I will have taught them falsely.

Right? In other words, dad's grumpy, dad's distant, father's are grumpy, distant. You're not the smile of God, you're the frown. The frown of God. That's right.

Is that what they'll grow up? And so one of the things this does for me is like, again, it puts just the weightiness on that. And that's true everywhere you go, it's not just in your home, but everywhere you go. What it means when I come home from work, I'm thinking, I want to come into my house with that kind of communication happening because I'm showing them what God is like or I'm not. I'm showing them what God is really like or I'm lying about God.

Those are the two options. I'm going to speak, I'm going to reveal, and it's either going to be truth or it's going to be lies. Yeah, and one other thing I heard, I'm not putting words in your mouth, but if I'm having a tickle fight with my boys on the family room carpet, I'm worshiping God. That's right. That's a worship God moment as a husband and a dad.

Yeah. So the soundtrack playing in the back of your head when you're doing the wrestle fight with the kids is, this is my beloved son with whom I'm well pleased. That's the soundtrack that God is saying, I'm bringing that into the room.

And it's something that's sort of offered to all, but you have to actually receive it. You have to have eyes to see that's what this is. And the point of the book is to help people have those kind of eyes. That was David Ann Wilson talking with Joe Rigney on Family Life Today. If you'd like a copy of Joe's book, Strangely Bright, you can grab it at or you can give us a call at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today.

What if I told you that the foundation of your marriage isn't all on you to figure out? Sounds good, right? Family Life's weekend to remember is three days for you and your spouse to get away together, hear from some great speakers, and connect over God's Word. Whether you want to take a road trip or stay close to home, there's a weekend to remember getaway for you. And when you sign up this week, you'll get over 40% off the regular registration price. You can find out more at or by calling 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. And if you know of anyone who could benefit from today's conversation, you can share this podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

And while you're there, it'd really help us out if you'd rate and review us. Do you ever feel guilty for wasting your gifts and talents? Yeah, me too. Well, Dave and Anne Wilson will be talking again tomorrow with Joe Rigney about how to stop that draining guilt. That's tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-14 19:42:58 / 2023-05-14 19:55:59 / 13

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