Does Anyone Really Hear Those Radio Preachers?
About the Guest
Scott Jennings had hit rock bottom. He'd left his wife, lost his job, and been dumped by his mistress. He was broke and broken until the day he heard a radio preacher sharing the Gospel, which led him to redemption, repentance, and the rebuilding of a marriage on the rock of Jesus Christ.
Scott and Sherry JenningsScott and Sherry Jennings’ marriage ended in divorce on the day of their 14th wedding anniversary. Through God’s great redemption and grace, they are remarried and serving passionately as FamilyLife Homebuilder Catalysts. Their first encounter with FamilyLife was at its Weekend to Remember in 2005 in Philadelphia, two months after their divorce. At this getaway, they learned how they had broken their marriage with their control issues, alcoholism, adultery and drug abuse; the weekend equippe...more
Scott Jennings had hit rock bottom. He’d left his wife, lost his job, and been dumped by his mistress.
Does Anyone Really Hear Those Radio Preachers?
Bob: The Bible says, “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” Scott and Sherry Jennings both realize how much God has forgiven them, and they love telling people their story.
Scott: Folks are coming to us; and they’re, really, a lot of times, on their last legs. We can sit down and pray with them. Of course, they look at us—we’ve got a lanyard around our neck—they think we’re these spiritual giants or whatever. It’s like we start sharing a little bit of our story to give them hope. They look at us and they go, “Wait a minute! You guys were divorced? Wait, you’ve been through an affair? You were an alcoholic? You were a control freak? Okay, pray with me. Show me how you came through that.”
Sherry: How could we have gotten this hope and not tell other people that, no matter where you are in your marriage, there is hope. You can always stop whatever you are doing, and do it differently.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, July 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If God brings your marriage from death to life, you just can’t help telling other people; can you? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. There’s a passage in Scripture where the Bible says, “Behold, God is doing a new thing.” I think I probably know that because of the DC Talk song more than because it came out of the Scripture. I mean, DC Talk’s got a song like that; but anyway, I digress.
We’re hearing a story about a new thing this week about how God—well, as Scott Jennings described it earlier this week—God didn’t just restore a marriage. He gave a new marriage to a couple that had a badly-damaged marriage—at their own hands.
Dennis: That’s right. Scott and Sherry Jennings join us again on FamilyLife Today. Welcome back, guys.
Scott: Thank you so much.
Dennis: Scott and Sherry live in Goldsboro, North Carolina. They are the pastors of Marriage and Family Life. Really, it’s a remarkable story of how—what you just said, Bob—God brought life out of a dead marriage. Now, you are bringing life, as we’re going to hear today, to marriages that need it, as well.
Bob: Yes, the two of you met in college at a keg party. Scott was instantly drawn to Sherry. A relationship developed, and you moved in. Then, you got married and, really, didn’t have a foundation for your marriage.
A dozen years later, Scott, you are with another woman. Sherry, you are wondering what the future is going to look like. Ultimately, you pressed toward separation and toward divorce but still had a hope that God might do something in your husband’s life. God had started to do something in your own life.
Bob: It wasn’t long after the divorce that God did start to stir in your heart, Scott. You came to faith in Christ and called Sherry and said, “Something new has happened.” Now, you’re at a place where you had to consider—okay, God’s done a new thing in your life—“What does that mean for our marriage relationship?” because you’re divorced at this point; right?
Scott: That’s correct.
Bob: You’re a single-parent mom, raising a son who was ten years old?
Bob: Scott, you’re just off on your own, trying to figure out life.
Bob: The two of you are trying to figure out what’s next.
Dennis: Sherry, in the meantime, you are growing like a weed—a good weed, spiritually. You’re listening to—
Bob: Growing like a garden, we’ll say.
Bob: You’re growing like—
Sherry: I’m blossoming.
Dennis: Yes—like a garden! There’s a lot going on in your life spiritually; and you’re listening to our broadcast, FamilyLife Today, in Connecticut.
Dennis: There was some hope brought to you during that time, after listening to a broadcast; right?
Sherry: Yes, absolutely. I’d heard about the Weekend to Remember®. I had been praying for awhile that God would create that opportunity for Scott and me to be able to go.
Dennis: This is while you’re divorced?
Dennis: So, what did you do?
Sherry: Once we started reconciling and we realized where this reconciliation was headed, I said, “We’re not going another step in this relationship until we go to a Weekend to Remember,” because I did not want to start another marriage with Scott without knowing what we were doing.
Bob: You said, “Once you started reconciling,” what did that starting-to-reconcile process look like? Did you initiate that, Scott?
Scott: I guess so. I mean, I think we both did. I tried to be very tender with Sherry and did not take a step forward without her permission. As a matter of fact, when we first started to communicate after reconciling, we didn’t even talk on the phone because she didn’t want to hear my voice, initially.
So, we had a very brief phone call. Then, after that, we really exchanged emails for about two or three weeks. Then, we started talking on the phone again once Sherry—I had enough consistent behavior that she could take that step of faith and see that I had been changed by the redeeming power of Christ—and be willing to talk to me again.
Dennis: It was just a couple of months after you’d entered into the process of reconciliation that you found yourselves at a Weekend to Remember.
Scott: Yes, I was in North Carolina; and Sherry was still up in Connecticut with our son. We found one in Philadelphia. I drove up to Delaware, and Sherry drove down—left our son with my sister in Delaware—and we went to—we took off together.
Bob: Divorced couple at the Weekend to Remember. Were you getting along pretty well at this point?
Sherry: Yes, we were rediscovering each other—not even rediscovering but discovering a new Scott—
Sherry: —a new gentler Scott, a kinder Scott, a Scott who was loving God, who was seeking hard, following hard after God.
Scott: Really, I had something akin to a Damascus road experience where I was blind and then I could see. The scales had been removed from my eyes, and I saw Sherry as my perfect gift from God. Even before I understood, from the teaching at the Weekend to Remember, I had an understanding that she was not my enemy—that we were on the same team, and that I still loved her.
Bob: What stood out for you from that weekend—anything that you remember hearing from that experience, where you said, “We can do this. We can rebuild this marriage”?
Sherry: It was the first night, actually. It’s hard to listen to how you’ve broken your marriage, but it was almost a relief to know that we drifted toward isolation because we weren’t working toward oneness.
I think it was huge for Scott to see, because from the world’s perspective, he was the one who broke our marriage because he had the affair, and he was the alcoholic. Most people don’t see a controlling, nagging wife as contributing to a divorce. I think that was really affirming for Scott to see that the entire weight of the demise of our marriage was not on his shoulders; but I did my part, and I did it really well to wreck our marriage.
Scott: I didn’t understand that at all until that Friday night. At that time, I just really wasn’t aware of how we both have to be intentionally working toward oneness.
Dennis: On Friday night, we talk about—really, it’s five reasons why marriages fail. We’re not pointing any fingers at anybody. We just want folks to realize what takes place—
Dennis: —in a relationship between two selfish, broken people—
Scott: That’s right.
Dennis: —which we all are. What was your major take-away from the entire weekend? Was it the same, that Friday night experience?
Scott: Yes, I think so—just understanding that affairs come in many colors. It’s not just—we think of love affairs, you know, of course. You know, work can be an affair. Really, an affair is more of a symptom than a cause. The majority of the time, an affair does not just happen out of the blue. There’s usually an underlying lead up to that result.
Of course, that’s not condoning the behavior. It’s never okay to do that. It’s never okay to make the decisions I made during that period of my life; but to have that understanding and have that sort of awakening to the brokenness that was in our marriage, it—it is so crucial to unpack what you’ve done wrong and understand the incorrect steps you’ve taken so that you won’t take them again.
Sherry: And so that you can seek forgiveness and grant forgiveness.
Scott: Oh, yes; yes.
Sherry: That was a powerful part of the weekend. We stayed up all night Friday night. I was telling him because he was asking the ways that he had hurt me because he wanted to hear them so that he could ask for forgiveness and I could grant it.
Dennis: This had to be ointment to your soul—
Sherry: Yes. It was.
Dennis: —after he’d hurt you in so many ways.
Sherry: It was—to be heard.
Dennis: It was rebuilding trust, moment by moment, as he asked you those questions.
Sherry: Absolutely; and likewise, to be able to seek his forgiveness for the years that I had cut him with my words.
Scott: What’s interesting, too—I think back about that night. I think about 5 o’clock in the morning we laid down for two hours before we got up for breakfast—just sitting there for all night long—as we talked. Sherry had reached a place where she had, through God’s power, forgiven me.
As we started to discuss the ways that we had hurt each other and, primarily, the way that I had hurt her, she said, “Well, I’ve forgiven you for that. I gave you a blanket of forgiveness. God and I have had this conversation.” I really felt at that moment—through the Holy Spirit, He just laid it on me—I have to take ownership of these things. I have to take responsibility. I need to step up and say, “I hurt you in that way.” So, as these things would come up in conversation, I would say, “I am sorry that I did that to you. Will you forgive me?” Then, wait for her response.
Bob: What was the path from that weekend to where the two of you were standing, facing one another, again, and saying, “I do”?
Sherry: It was praying together and hearing that we could not live in Connecticut anymore—that we had to—he couldn’t come back to the lion’s den—that we had to move to North Carolina. It was a matter of putting the house on the market and moving to North Carolina.
Bob: You were ready to make some drastic changes and to demonstrate, “I’m serious about this. Life’s going to be different.”
Scott: Absolutely; I was really fostering sort of that intimate relationship with my Heavenly Father. He revealed to me, very quickly, that I needed to be out of there. I couldn’t be around those people and those circumstances.
Bob: You had shared with us that, prior to all this, you’d really had a bitterness toward God about your father’s death.
Scott: Oh, it was hatred—yes.
Bob: What happened with that?
Scott: It left the moment I surrendered. It was a carefully-crafted lie from the enemy. I heard somebody say that the enemy has a playbook, but it’s really thin. Although his playbook is thin, he runs his plays extremely effectively. I believe that that’s one of his plays—through circumstances of life—try to convince us that God is really our enemy.
Through that conversion experience that I had, it was revealed to me, through the redeeming power of Christ, that He’s my daddy and He wants what’s best for me.
Dennis: I don’t want to give our listeners spiritual whiplash here—
Dennis: —but the rest of this story is so magnificent—we have to get to it.
Dennis: I mean, we just talked about a dead marriage, a divorce, two individuals who came to faith in Christ. You found the truth, got the biblical blueprints at a Weekend to Remember, you remarried. It wasn’t long before you two found yourselves making an impact on other marriages.
Scott: Yes, as a matter of fact, at that Weekend to Remember in Philadelphia, we went to the staff opportunity meeting, even though we were still divorced, because I was excited.
Dennis: That would have been a problem about—
Dennis: —joining our staff at that point.
Scott: I think it was—
Dennis: But you know what? We’d welcome you to the meeting though, “Come on, man, come on; but let’s get remarried first.”
Scott: Yes, that’s that Labrador retriever-kind of faith. I was just so excited about what God had done in our lives. I knew, especially after going through the Weekend to Remember—I think that was Saturday afternoon that we went to the staff opportunity meeting. I knew we were going to have a solid foundation this time.
Dennis: Well, not just a foundation—but you turned your home into a lighthouse.
Scott: That’s right. That’s right.
Sherry: How could we have gotten this hope and not tell other people that, no matter where you are in your marriage, there is hope. You can always stop whatever you’re doing, and do it differently.
Dennis: There’s a passage in the New Testament—Jesus talks about, “He who is forgiven much”—
Dennis: —“loves much.”
Scott: Oh, yes.
Dennis: That’s what really turned your marriage into that lighthouse for other marriages; right?
Sherry: Yes, absolutely.
Scott: Oh, yes. As soon as we remarried and joined the volunteer team in the Raleigh area for the Weekend to Remember—it is just a joyful experience to be on that volunteer team. We had divine appointments. We were in the prayer room with folks. Folks are coming to us; and they’re, really, a lot of times, on their last legs. We can sit down and pray with them.
Of course, they look at us—we’ve got a lanyard around our neck—they think we’re these spiritual giants or whatever. It’s like we start sharing a little bit of our story to give them hope. They look at us and they go, “Wait a minute! You guys were divorced? Wait, you’ve been through an affair? You were an alcoholic? You were a control freak? Okay, pray with me. Pray with me and show me how you came through that.”
As we decided to get more and more invested in helping married couples, we developed a marriage ministry for our home church, which, at the time—the only ministry that was available was a reactive ministry to those who had been through a divorce. We said, “Man, we’ve got to work with FamilyLife and start being proactive with these couples.”
Sherry: Get the people before they get to the divorce, like we’ve gone through.
Scott: Exactly; exactly—before they get—not just in the ditch but off the cliff—
Scott: We just continued working with the Weekend to Remember and promoting it through our church. Then, The Art of Marriage® came on the scene.
Sherry: Well, we did HomeBuilders® group.
Scott: That’s right. That’s right. We started a HomeBuilders group and went through several of those.
Bob: HomeBuilders is our small group study. It’s a curriculum that we have. You were with other couples going through the manuals and, probably, learning some stuff as you were leading these groups; right?
Scott: Oh, yes. Amen—absolutely, especially the one about communication.
Sherry: That was an awesome one.
Scott: That’s one we’ve done a couple of times and, probably, need to do again. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well, you’re also a part of a bigger movement that we’re calling Homebuilders—and that is people helping people. It is people reaching out to their neighbors, their business associates, and people at church—whose marriages need encouragement—need, maybe, an offensive game plan—not waiting until they get into trouble—
Scott: That’s right.
Dennis: —to teach them what the Scripture teaches. You guys have been a part of helping to host a number of a six-hour video event, that we created, called The Art of Marriage.
Bob: In fact, the very first weekend we launched The Art of Marriage in February of 2011, you guys were hosting one of these in a local church in your area; right?
Scott: Yes, it was our home church. We had started promoting it, I think, the October before; and we were really excited about it. We had just about 330 people there in attendance.
Scott: Yes. Serious life change took place there. We didn’t understand the powerful way the Gospel was going to be presented. Of course, that is the core—
Scott: —of doing things differently in your marriage—
Scott: —okay? It’s having that decision for salvation made in your life. I mean, we’ve done five events now and had just about 700 people in attendance, across those five events, and 60 people have come to Christ. We absolutely are in love with it. It’s really the tool that we felt we were missing—
Scott: —in our sort of ministry toolbox.
Dennis: A part of your success, I know, has been that it has not just been your leadership and your initiative that has resulted in 700 people attending; but you’re really calling other laymen and women, other couples, to grab hold of this tool and pull it into their church and make a difference where they live.
Scott: Absolutely, yes. I mean, Sherry and I can’t be everywhere. What we do is—we partner with churches, we partner with organizations. We go to a church—there isn’t a pastor of a church anywhere that is not going to tell you that he’s got a heavy counseling load; okay? Unless he’s got already counselors on staff that take that burden off of him, every pastor has a heavy counseling load.
So, when you go to a church and you say to them, “Look, we’ve got this event we’d like to bring to you”—or we speak to a couple that we know that attends that church, then, they go speak to the pastor—“This is going to lighten your load. This is going to give some fresh perspective on marriage—maybe, that folks have never heard before—even though they come to your church. It’s going to lighten your counseling load for you.”
We partner up with those couples. We call them—and I know FamilyLife does, too—the marriage champions. We find them and ask them to, “Think of the other people who are likeminded in your church or in your organization and put a team together. Then, we’ll come and show you how to do it.”
Then, during the event, we call them up on stage. We say, “Hey, look, when you think of marriage ministry here, think of these people. Don’t think of us because we’re going to be gone tomorrow. These people will be here. These people now have the tools they need to help you, through FamilyLife.”
Dennis: What you’re talking about is so key. I want our listeners to make sure they hear this. We actually tell pastors, “We don’t want you to head this up.”
Scott: That’s right.
Dennis: “You should get behind it. This is not something additional for you to do, and it’s not going to result in more work for you. This is a tool designed to be put in the hands of a couple in the church or in the community who want to make a difference in the marriages and families where they live.”
It’s a plug-and-play tool. It really is simple to use; and it really is a biblically-based, Gospel-centered presentation, where people are going to be challenged spiritually to really make a commitment and start growing as a couple.
Bob: How many people live in North Carolina? Do you know?
Scott: I have no idea. [Laughter] Millions; millions.
Bob: So, you’ve still got a ways to go.
Scott: We’ve got some hills to climb yet. We’ve got some hills to climb.
Dennis: We’re putting you in charge of the state of North Carolina. When you get it taken care of in the next couple of years, we’ll put you in charge of the Southeast.
Scott: Alright, sounds good; sounds good. We’ll just build a taller and taller lighthouse.
Sherry: We’ll take that promise.
Dennis: I want you guys to know I really am so grateful that you both responded to God and the Scriptures, and you didn’t toss the towel in—
Dennis: —ultimately. I know you got a divorce. I know that that did occur, but you ultimately came to a faith in Christ that resulted in forgiveness of your own sins—but then, that spilled over to each other. Now, you’re taking that same forgiveness message to thousands of other couples where you live. I’m just so grateful for you guys. I pray that, in the state of North Carolina and all across the country, there’ll be thousands like you.
Sherry: That’s our prayer.
Scott: —we have this same prayer. You know, the resurrected God that we serve—Christ rose from the dead—and if we believe that, how can we say that there is no hope for our marriage?
Bob: Yes, and everybody has got a story.
Bob: You take the power of a story and a tool like The Art of Marriage, you put them together, and it’s a pretty powerful combination. As you share your story and this tool with friends, with family members, with neighbors, with folks in your church, in your community, our hope is that God will use this tool to transform lives, legacies, marriages—not just in North Carolina—but all around the world.
That’s why our team has put together an Art of Marriage bundle. If you’d like to host one of these events in your community, we’ll send you the DVD’s, a couple of Art of Marriage manuals. With this bundle, you can also receive a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway gift certificate. You get all of that, together, at a significantly reduced price. A lot of folks are using the certificate as a door prize or an incentive to get folks to come out and attend The Art of Marriage weekend event that they are hosting, Friday night and Saturday in their church.
Find out more when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. That’s our website—FamilyLifeToday.com—or call us, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Ask about The Art of Marriage bundle. This offer is good through a week from Sunday. If you want to take advantage of it, just call or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and order your Art of Marriage Event Kit, with the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway certificate. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.
While I’m talking about the website, there is also, now, a new Art of Marriage online edition. You can sign up to go through The Art of Marriage in your own home. You contact us. We’ll send the manuals out to you and give you a code so you can access the videos online. Then, the two of you can watch these videos and go through the workbooks at your leisure—whatever’s comfortable and convenient for you. If you want to do it all together over a weekend, that’s fine. If you want to do it every night for six nights, you can do that, as well.
Find out more about The Art of Marriage online edition and a special offer we’re making there, as well, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. The online edition is available on your laptop, on your Android®, or your iPhone®. It’s available on your iPad®. Again, find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear a message from Barbara Rainey, specifically for wives—for women—about God’s priorities for your life. I hope our listeners can join us back tomorrow for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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