HomeBuilders Heroes, Part 3
About the Guest
Mike and Mary began dating when Mike was only 17 and Mary was 14. They ended their four-year courtship with a storybook wedding and began fulfilling the American dream soon after. Yet even with a home of their own, two cars, a collie, and a baby boy and girl, they still weren't satisfied. Mike had an affair, and their marriage seemed to be all but dead. On today's broadcast, hear how God used HomeBuilders to save, restore and resurrect their marriage.
Hear Mike and Mary Murray’s story
HomeBuilders Heroes, Part 3
Mary: Before I found out the whole truth, we had decided to go to a church that he used to attend, and we went there, and it just – you know, he wanted to have counseling, but he didn't want to go to a secular counselor, he wanted to go to a pastor. And so we went there, and we really felt like we needed to talk to that pastor. God showed us clearly that we needed to see this man.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, August 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to hear today how God used a handful of couples, a small group, to help turn the Murray's marriage around.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition of our broadcast, and I've been checking – we have some new enlistees this week.
Dennis: We do.
Bob: Folks who have been signing up for the Homebuilders army.
Dennis: The army is growing, Bob.
Bob: That's right. We've been talking to folks all this week who have led some small group Bible studies called the Homebuilders series of Bible studies. These are studies that you lead with couples from your neighborhood or your church or your workplace. You just invite them over, take them through this material, ask some questions. The leader's guide gives you all the answers, and it's very simple for folks to do, and the folks we've talked to have not only been profoundly impacted by Homebuilders themselves, but have then seen that multiplied out in the lives of hundreds of couples.
Dennis: Yes, you know, as I've listened to these stories, Bob, and I know the same thing is true of you – I've been, once again, reminded that we serve a God of second chances, a God of redemption. God's power is exhibited in the Gospel. It is the power of God and to salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek, Romans, chapter 1, verse 16. He redeems people from imperfect, messed up, dysfunctional, selfish, sinful backgrounds where they don't know how to make it work. But you know what? He overrules the whole deal, and when He brings the blueprints into a person's life, along with a relationship with Jesus Christ, He transforms people. That's what we've heard this week, is the transformation of people who are willing to take God at His word and step out and be obedient.
Bob: Yes, in fact, if you think that your marriage may not be up to leading couples through a Homebuilders study, wait until you meet the couple that we've got on the broadcast today.
Dennis: That's right – Michael and Mary Murray join us. Michael, Mary, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Michael: It's great to be here.
Mary: Yes, it's great to be here.
Dennis: Michael and Mary live in Lindenville, Vermont. They are true Vermonters. Is that how you say that, Bob?
Bob: It's either that or Vermontians, I'm not sure.
Dennis: But they've lived there their whole lives. Michael is a sales rep there, Mary is a stay-at-home mom with their three children, and you guys, as I understand it, had kind of a storybook dating relationship. You had a beautiful wedding and began to live out the American dream, and you all lived happily ever after, right?
Bob: What did your first years of marriage look like, Mary?
Mary: From my view – that it was going good.
Bob: Everything was okay?
Mary: What a dream a girl could dream. I mean, we had everything that we wanted, we had. I had a job. I just go out of school, and we had a house, you know, I graduated in June and then in July we bought a house, and in August we got married.
Bob: And from your perspective?
Michael: Everything was going well. Like she said, we had our own home, we had two cars, she was able to go to – had a good job, I had a good job. Our firstborn child was a collie dog, and our dream was to have the American dream including a boy and a girl and everything but the white picket fence.
Dennis: When was the first hint that things were not well in your marriage?
Michael: I think the first time that I knew that there was a problem was my 10th high school reunion, and I went and I had a lot of questions. You know, like, where am I going with this? You know, we had already reached everything that we had set out to attain. We had a little boy, and we had a little girl, we had the two cars, we had the dog, we had the house, Mary was able to stay home, and there was nothing.
Bob: What happened with that restlessness?
Michael: Well, at first, I just immersed myself in my work. I worked 60 hours a week, but I became involved with another woman at work, and it started out innocent, it started out as a friendship – went out to lunch, talked, she was separated, going through some hard times, and I was able to listen, she was able to listen, and it escalated real quick into a sexual relationship.
Dennis: Let me ask you at that point – were you looking to have a relationship outside of your marriage at that point?
Dennis: It blindsided you then?
Michael: It did.
Dennis: Were you a Christian at the time?
Michael: It depends on your theology. I had said the prayer, but I certainly wasn't living it.
Dennis: What about you, Mary?
Mary: I had not accepted Jesus at all as my Lord and Savior. We never went to church.
Bob: So as far as you knew, everything's fine …
Mary: Just the communication was lacking.
Bob: You're not communicating very much and, in the meantime, he is having an affair.
Dennis: How did this relationship come to an end? Did someone catch you, and you terminate the relationship at that point?
Michael: No. Mary and I went to a wedding, and at the wedding, we got into a fight. And during the fight she asked me if there was someone else, and I said yes. But then I saw the look on her face, and I said, "It's just an emotional thing. We haven't had any physical relationship."
Dennis: Was that a lie at that point?
Michael: That was a lie.
Bob: Did you maintain the relationship?
Michael: For a little while. Not in the same intensity. It came to a point where I hadn't shut the door, but I wasn't seeing her. I hadn't told her that it's over, but, on the other hand, I wasn't involved.
Dennis: At what point, Mary, did you find out the entire truth about the sexual relationship and the lie that he had told you?
Mary: Well, we had decided – before I found out the whole truth, we had decided to go to a church that he used to attend, and we really felt like we needed to talk to that pastor. God showed us clearly that we needed to see this man. And so Mike made the appointment to go see him, and we went, and Mike told him the whole story, the lie and everything.
Dennis: You weren't there?
Mary: I was there, we both we were there.
Dennis: So you heard …
Mary: The lie again.
Michael: I lied to the pastor.
Mary: And he looked at Mike, and he asked Mike if he had ever received the Lord as his Savior, and Mike had told him he did when was little. They talked about how Mike needed to recommit himself to the Lord.
And then he looked at me, and he asked me that same question, and I had no clue what this man was talking about – being born again and committing my life to Christ, and so the pastor is explaining this to me, and in my mind I'm getting mad at this pastor thinking, "Why are you asking me all these questions?" It seemed like he was after me and not him. We're here because he messed up, you should be talking to him not me. But he kept on talking about it, and the next thing I knew I was just crying, and that night I asked the Lord into my heart.
Michael: After we went to see the pastor, after Mary had given her life to the Lord and I had recommitted myself to the Lord, and I had really made a commitment to the marriage, this girl came back to me and told me she was pregnant. So now I've got a mess. I knew that I had to come clean, and I knew that it was going to hurt her more than I ever wanted to hurt anybody.
Dennis: So what did you say to her?
Michael: I don't remember exactly how I said it, but I told her that basically that we had had a sexual relationship and that this girl was pregnant.
Dennis: What was going on in you at that point? Were you numb?
Mary: I screamed. I just – it felt like a knife had gone through my heart. My physically ached, you know, it was definitely much worse than the first time, and I was, like, "Okay, is this what Christianity is all about?" You know, it's like, "I thought things were supposed to be easy when you accept the Lord," you know, and "Now what do I need to do? I need to trust him again and forgive him again and do I even want to go on? Do I even want to be a Christian at this point?"
But, I don't know, more time went on and more prayers, and we called the pastor that night, late at night, and he came down and really worked with us and prayed with us, and we really felt like now, with the Lord, we could work this out.
Dennis: As you look back on this now, I've heard to describe, Michael, that your marriage was all but dead.
Michael: It was.
Dennis: What brought it back from the grave?
Michael: It was a combination of the local church, the pastor working with us. He was there for us whenever we needed him – and Homebuilders. Somebody was going to do a Homebuilders. They put an ad in the paper and said they were going to have a Bible study on …
Dennis: Now, wait a second, you're talking about in the newspaper?
Michael: In the newspaper.
Dennis: The classified section, the sports page, what?
Michael: I think it was in the classified. I didn't see it, the pastor saw it, and he said, "You guys need to be in this study." The way it was billed was it was designed to build and strengthen godly families, and we needed that. So we went to these people we had never met.
Bob: You called them from the ad in the paper and said, "Can we get directions to your house, when does the study start?"
Dennis: You're from a small town in Vermont. Somebody took out an advertisement in the classified ads …
Bob: Was this Ben or Jerry who took it out? There are only a few people who live up there.
Dennis: But you called them and got in touch with them and ultimately went to their home …
Michael: … and started the study. The revelation that we received even the first study, you know, how we went into our marriage with this 50-50 thing, you know, "I'll do my part, you do your part, and we'll be good, we'll be fine, we'll be set," but we found out that doesn't work.
Bob: I've got to ask you, though, walking into this house of these people you've never met before, sitting down, and they pass out these manuals for you, and then they start asking everybody to go around the room and share something with everybody else in the group. You don't know a soul in this group.
Dennis: How many were in the group?
Michael: There were four or five couples.
Bob: And did most of the other people know one another?
Michael: I think they all knew each other.
Bob: So you're the only outsiders in this group, pretty much?
Dennis: And they have no idea that here is this dead marriage coming in.
Michael: That's right.
Bob: And here is this couple, and you've had an affair, and none of this.
Michael: None of it.
Bob: So they start asking questions the first night, and they're easy. I mean, they're light questions, right? Nobody starts asking you a bunch of probing questions. But didn't you squirm a little bit and think, "What are we doing here?"
Michael: I don't remember squirming, because we really wanted to put our marriage back together, and we wanted to do whatever it would take to make it work. Both of us, at that point, had got to that point where we wanted to make it work, and we saw a real opportunity with the material that was before us, that if we could apply these things, it's going to work.
Dennis: You went through this study. Do you recall the session or at about what time you began to sense hope for your marriage; that this marriage that was once dead is now alive? Did it occur in the Bible study or during the make-a-dates when you were doing your project?
Michael: I think it was a gradual thing. I don't remember a certain revelation where, all of a sudden, a light bulb went off, but it was a gradual thing and, over a period of time, we really began to open up to each other and trust each other like we'd never trusted each other before.
There was one particular night …
Dennis: Now, wait a second. I've got to ask Mary about that one.
Mary: Yes, I [unintelligible]. You're right.
Dennis: He had just betrayed his promise to you.
Mary: I know.
Dennis: There was a new kind of trust being built that quickly in a Bible study?
Mary: Yes. People ask me that, and I didn't do it. It was – we had said things to each other that we never said to each other before or anybody else that had happened in our lives – other things. And we opened up to each other, and, like Mike said, it was a gradual thing. I don't think you have trust right away, you know, there's testing times when you think, "Okay, how long is this going to last? What is he going to do next?" But, again, that's just God's timing, and, you know, me praying and saying, you know, I have to trust in God first before I trust in him.
Bob: You know, a year after an affair, to be sitting in a hotel ballroom going, "We ought to lead Bible studies on marriage," there are some folks who would say you ought to have your head examined.
Michael: It's what God laid on our hearts to do, and we began to see the fruit immediately.
Bob: What do you mean?
Michael: There have been couples that have come through the studies that we've led that have been transformed. So it's not just our story, but it's multiplied time and time again.
Bob: How many studies have you led?
Michael: I would guess, over the last nine years, nine, 10, 12.
Bob: A study or two every year?
Dennis: You know, as I was listening to your story and just hearing what you've described and the grace of God that's been poured out in your relationship, I reflect back on one of my favorite passages of Scripture in Isaiah, chapter 58. It's pretty lengthy, it's three verses, but they're long verses, but it describes not only what has happened in your lives, but what is happening through your lives as well. It says, "And if you give yourself to the hungry" – that may be somebody who is not merely hungry for food but someone whose soul is starved for God – "and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will become like midday, and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places and give strength to your bones, and you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." But here is the part that I was really thinking of here, verse 12 – "And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins. You will raise up the age-old foundations, and you will be called repairer of the breach, and the restorer of the streets in which to dwell."
You know, you look at where you guys were. You guys were in need of being fixed.
Dennis: Being restored, being repaired, but now your light is shining. You have been a part of seeing God satisfy many who have been hungry, many who have been afflicted and who have been in need of someone to come alongside them and raising them up and building some fresh foundations and being a repairer of the breach, you know, where two people are separate and divided.
And I just think, Bob, what a privilege. It's the story of all of our lives, really. You know, you don't have to go through what Michael and Mary have gone through to be called a repairer of the breach, but God takes us wherever we are, and He can use us out of any circumstance to reach out and have a dramatic impact on other people's lives, if we're willing to be faithful.
Bob: Mary, you married your high school sweetheart. You've only been married to one person.
Mary: One person.
Bob: But it's not the same person that you married 10 years ago, is it?
Mary: No, it isn't. He's totally different than when we were first married. It's just – like I said before, the trust is there, there is not having to worry about what he's doing or where he is or knowing that he wants the best for me, knowing that he's there for me, and now we have – we work on a goal together now, and that's getting the Gospel out.
Bob: Mike, you thought when you got married, the first few years of your marriage, everything is fine, it's the American dream. You have a different view of what the dream for marriage is supposed to be today, don't you?
Michael: Yes, I do. Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, and we have an abundant life together now with that common focus and that common goal. Before, we had some common goals, but we had no focus, and now with Christ in the center of our marriage, it's an incredible adventure.
Dennis: You know, I've listened to your story, and I've looked at your faces, and your story represents more than just hope for a marriage, it represents something to the next generation that is profoundly powerful. And I'm looking at your necklace, Mary, and it's got three little people on it, and each of the little people have something in their hands.
Mary: Yes, they have a cross. They're God's children.
Dennis: And they're God's legacy.
Mary: That's right.
Dennis: For your family. And, you know, we do mention frequently on the broadcast what's at stake in a marriage is not just two people, it's a legacy, and it's generations to come. Potentially, hundreds of people can be impacted by a simple choice of two people who wish to terminate a marriage, and it doesn't have to be that way.
And, Michael, you and Mary, I so appreciate you two, and your heart for families, your heart for God, and your willingness to forgive and to learn how to love and trust again, and thrilled you've been on the broadcast today.
Michael: It's been great to be here.
Mary: Thanks for having us.
Bob: And, you know, we're hoping, Dennis, that our listeners will call us and say, "We can do that, too. If Michael and Mary can do it, we can do it. Our marriage isn't perfect. We don't know a lot, but we know where the truth is."
Dennis: And, you know, when they ask you a question you don't know the answer to …
Bob: … here is the answer …
Dennis: I don't know.
Bob: That's it.
Dennis: I don't know the answer.
Bob: It's very simple.
Dennis: That's what Bob says, that's what I say, that's what Bible teachers say when they don't know the answer to the question. And if you want to, you can say, "I'll go find out next week. I'll go ask somebody who has an answer." But you shouldn't let your lack of experience keep you from stepping up and enlisting in this Homebuilders army that we're establishing and saying "You know what? My spouse and I, we want to be in the army. We want to be in the army now. We want to make a difference." And you know what? I just want to say this to you right now – this battle that we're in, this is a life and death battle for some legacies, for some generations, for some marriages and families that are just down the street from you. I mean, you don't have to go to another part of the world to be a missionary. All you've got to do is enlist where you are and ask God to use you, even in your imperfection and your weakness.
Bob: Yes, because the reality is we're all there, right? We're all broken, we've all got imperfections and weaknesses, and God delights in taking all of us and, first of all, redeeming the mess and then using us to show others His transforming work, and that's what Homebuilders has been setting couples up to do for almost two decades now. There have been hundreds of thousands of couples who have gathered together in living rooms and around kitchen tables and gone through these studies, and the reports that we've gotten back are not just that the study material is good material to go through, but that God has used the process of relationship along with spending time together in God's Word to do some remarkable things like what we've heard about today from the Murrays.
Let me encourage you – go to our website, FamilyLife.com. There is more information available there about the Homebuilders studies, all the different titles that are available, how to start a Homebuilders group, everything you need is available online at FamilyLife.com, and this month, as a special extra incentive to try to get a lot of these groups going this fall, we are making these studies available at a significantly discounted rate.
So go to FamilyLife.com for more information or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. Someone on our team can get you any information you need, and you can begin reaching out to your friends and neighborhoods with a very practical, very easy-to-use tool to help strengthen their relationship and maybe to introduce them to Jesus Christ in the process.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, and we hope to hear from you.
Speaking of that, we've been hearing from a number of our listeners this month who have become aware of the fact that FamilyLife is ending our fiscal year here in the next few days, and we're ending things behind where we had hoped to be at this time of the year. In fact, we're about 18 percent behind budget for this fiscal year, and we have been spreading the word and asking folks if there's any way you can help with a donation for the ministry of FamilyLife here during the month of August. We would love to hear from you. We've had folks calling not only to make a donation but also to issue a challenge to other folks to make a donation.
We've got a challenge fund that's going on. We've had folks who have been involved in Homebuilders who have contacted us, folks who have been to a Weekend to Remember conference who have called to make a donation and have challenged other alumni of the Weekend to Remember to make a donation. We've heard from listeners in the Dallas, Texas, area, challenging other listeners who live in the Metroplex to make a donation. Also heard from listeners in Chattanooga and Salem, Oregon, and Chicago. We appreciate all of you who have gotten in touch with us. Thanks for your donations. Thanks for helping us try to end the fiscal year strong here in the next few days, and if you have not yet gotten in touch with us at FamilyLife, can we ask you to consider not only making a donation but making a challenge to others like you to help with the financial needs of FamilyLife Today.
You can make a donation online, FamilyLife.com is our website, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make a donation over the phone. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and let me say thanks in advance for your financial support of the ministry. We really appreciate you.
Well, I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and we hope you can be back on Monday when we're going to meet a couple who know firsthand about the impact that drugs and alcohol can have on a family, on represents, and they also know where to find help and hope when substance abuse is impacting a family or impacting relationships. I hope you can be with us 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. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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