28 Jun Real Marriage – Key #2 Building Intimacy
– Yeah I should do it
– You should do this, cause I keep messing it up. This is like a 57th take, howdie pastor Mark Driscoll here with my wife and best friend Grace. And I wanna thank all of you through Mark Driscoll ministries, who give any amount through pray at any time or encourage with any email or social media post. We’ve got a brand new sermon series, rural marriage. It’s six keys to unlocking all of your relationships, including your marriage that we’re teaching right here at the Trinity church I’m preaching, we’re doing Q and A and we’ll give it all the way through markdriscoll.org. So thanks a bunch for helping us out. Good to see you, this is the second of our six week series. Unlocking, the keys rather to unlocking all of your relationships, including your marriage. And I had somebody come up recently. It was a really good question. They said pastor Mark. Why did you choose to do this series? And I said, cause I love you, and I love our people and I wanna help if I can. And let me just say this, that relationships are the most wonderful and awful part of life, amen. Can we just be honest about that? If you look back at your life, the most wonderful parts of your life, we loved each other, we forgave each other. We reconciled, we built a great memory. We connected the most awful, exactly the opposite. We didn’t forgive each other. We were disconnected, not connected. We didn’t love one another. We were embittered toward one another that your life. Let me tell you one statement. A pastor told me some years ago, he said, “relationships define your life.” It’s a big statement, is a well known pastor. I hold him in the highest regard. He doesn’t tend to overstate things. We were having a meal and he said, when you plant this church, the Trinity church, he lives out of state. He said, I’ll be praying for you. And remember this, that relationships, relationships define your life. And that’s a big statement, but it’s true that the most important thing in our life, most of us would agree are the quality of our relationships and that if we have good relationships, they impact our life for the good. If we have bad relationships, they impact our life in a painful and negative and awful way. And so we’re talking about relationships in general, but the marriage relationship in particular, and then the question becomes well, where do you go to get information about relationships, especially romantic relationships. There’s no lack of information. It seems like almost every daytime television talk shows, talking about relationships, be it TV or radio. If you go to the store and you’re looking at magazines, most of them are about relationships. If you’re looking to buy a book in a bookstore, most of them are about relationships. Counselors are just trying one after the other to help people straighten out their crooked relationships. There is an entire industry that is trying to meet this very painful, real problem of broken, hurting, struggling, straining relationships but the question is where do you go to get good, helpful, truthful information? Where do you go to get that? And one thing that really troubles me is there’s this prevailing cultural myth, this powerful lie. Let me ask if perhaps you’ve heard it. It goes something like this. Christian marriages are no different than non Christian marriages. There’s just as much statistical dissatisfaction. There’s just as much separation, just as much adultery and just as much divorce in Christian marriages than non Christian marriages. How many of you have heard that? It’s not true its absolutely incontrovertibly statistically not true, but it’s a powerful myth and lie. And what it does it discourages non Christians from coming to the church, from reading the Bible from considering Jesus Christ after all, if none of those things work, why try them? And it also discourages Christians from walking faithfully in their Christian convictions. How many of you have had this discussion with someone? Hey maybe you guys should come to church. Why? You guys are no different than we are. All right, okay that’s it. I tap out you win we’re all hypocrites, yay. Here’s the truth. The truth is that that is based on faulty research. Just throw it out there. I don’t know if you’re aware of this. Sometimes the polls are wrong. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen potentially a cultural experience where the pollster said something and they were wrong. Just hypothetically throwing it out there that sometimes the pollsters get it wrong. And the way you ask the question really determines what the answer will be. So this faulty research that Christian marriages are no more enduring or enduring the non Christian marriages. The question was posited basically in this way, go out and ask people, are you a Christian or a non Christian? Christian check okay. So then let me ask you a questions about a adultery or separation or divorce or satisfaction. How many of you know people who say that they’re Christians and they’re not? You ever seen that? Is it possible to say you are something that you’re not? I’ll prove it to you I’m a ballerina, don’t laugh or judge me, I’m a ballerina in my heart. You don’t know my heart. I’m also a figure skater. I’m a dynamic ballerina and figure skater. This is what I profess this is how I see myself. Now, if you followed me around, would you have any evidence to convict me in court of being a ballerina or an ice skater, yes or no? No you know why, I can’t do either. I am totally inflexible if I drop something, I have a serious debate with myself. If it’s worth picking up, because that is a lot of flexibility for me, okay. You can profess something that you don’t practice, right? How many of you have a gym membership and never go to the gym, right? You can profess something that you don’t practice. There are lots of people who would profess to be a Christian but they don’t practice their Christianity. That leaves us the question, whether or not they possess a relationship with Jesus. So another researcher came along. His name is Bradford Wilcox. He’s considered one of the leading sociologists in America on faith and family. He teaches at the university of Virginia and runs an Institute as well. That studies these things, his work culminated in a real groundbreaking book called “Soft Patriarchs, New Men.” And in it he went out and did a massive sociological survey, rather than just asking. Do you profess to be a Christian? He then asked some practice questions. Do you practice your faith? And so first it was, do you believe that the Bible is God’s word? Do you believe that you are a sinner? Do you believe that you need Jesus as your savior? Beliefs and then he went to behaviors. So do you attend church? Do you read your Bible and pray? What he found was those who have Christian beliefs and Christian behaviors. They have very different relationships, particularly marriages, and it impacts and affects positively the totality of their entire family. I’ll read a little bit of what his research determined for you, I hope it encourages you. I hope it encourages you. He says this conservative Protestant, married men. So Bible believing Jesus loving church, attending men are consistently more active and expressive with their children. That’s encouraging right? How many of us think that kids need better dads? Okay, we can all vote on that. Where would they go to become a better dad? If you’re a man, statistically you should go to the church. That’s where you learn that God is a father. You’ll meet other men, you’ll learn godly examples, and then you will grow to be a better father. It also says I’m just reading conservative Protestant family men are more likely to do positive emotional work in their marriages and are more consistently engaged emotionally in their marriages. How many of you women would like a more emotionally engaged man? Okay, all of you? How many of you would like an any emotionally engaged man? Okay. Drag him to church, welcome men glad to have you. Church attendance, almost uniformly promotes higher levels of paternal involvement and expressiveness among conservative Protestant family men, wives are more likely to report happiness. Who wants happiness? Yay! Yay! Yay! Let’s all get happy, okay. Well then let’s go to church. Wives are more likely to report marital happiness with love and affection they received from their husbands if they attend church, also religious attendance is associated with more empathetic behavior on the part of married men with children, you start to think of the wife and the kids and not just yourself. Active conservative Protestant husbands are the group least likely to commit domestic violence. The safest group of men are church attending Bible believing Jesus loving prayer uttering men, men who are regular church goers are more likely to spend time in youth related activities. They hug and praise their children more often. And they yell at their children less than other fathers. All the statistics who prove the same point. And that is that those who go to church, read their Bible and pray are more emotionally healthy, more empathetic, more considerate, more life-giving it affects their marriage relationships in a positive way. It creates a nurturing environment where the wife feels safe and loved and the children grow up to be loved and encouraged and nurtured. This is a tremendous, powerful myth that going to church and reading your Bible and praying to the Lord doesn’t do anything. The truth is it changes everything. It changes absolutely everything, but only if you will practice these things that are Christian that we profess. So this is going to be one of those really simple sermons with some things for you to do, not just believe because some of your Christians you’ve been around a long time and you say, Oh, you’re telling me things I already know. Are they things that you’re doing? Some of us don’t need more information. We need to obey the information we already have, because I could tell you all day, for example, for your physical body, if you sleep and if you drink water and if you exercise and eat healthy food, you will be healthier. But if you don’t do any of those things, you may know them, but they’re of no benefit to you. That’s why James Jesus brother tells us, do not merely listen to the word. And so deceive yourselves, I’m mature and I’m healthy. Instead he says, do what it says. So we’re gonna look at these three things today. Three things that you can do starting right now by the grace of God to become more emotionally healthy, more relationally safe, and to build relational and emotional intimacy. The first point is this churches are for marriage, not just for weddings, okay. How many of you got married in a church? Right, People like to get married in a church It looks better in the photo. Grandma sleeps better. Oh, a totally personal art. Okay. That’s all good and fine. But if you leave the church and don’t come back until you’re dead in a box and dressed up, then it really doesn’t benefit you at all. The church is not just for marriage, for weddings rather church is for marriage. And here’s what it says in Hebrews 10:24 and 25. Let us consider how to stir up One another to love and good works. How many of you get tired of loving someone, right? You’re like well they came in the car. Should I really raise my hand? Well, okay let’s just. Loving someone gets a little wearisome at times. They’re thinking the same thing, that’s why you brought each other, you’re both thinking the same thing. You’re just, man, I’m tired of loving you and good works you know what? When you’re doing the wrong thing, it’s really hard for me to do the right thing. Why should I keep doing the right thing? If you’re doing the wrong thing, we need to be stirred up. We need to be motivated, we need to be encouraged, that’s one of the reasons we come together. what he says is not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another. You know what, life is not to be lived in isolation. The first thing that the Bible says is not good is that it’s not good to be alone. We’re made to live in relationship with God. We’re made to live in relationship with one another and we help encourage and motivate and nourish and nurture one another toward love and good works. This is why a team before they take the field, they usually meet in the locker room, amen. it would just be weird, let’s say for example, a football team, every guy shows up in his car, puts his pads on and just walks out to the 50 yard line for the coin flip. They have a time together first where they motivate one another to take the field, working together for the same course. That’s what we do on Sundays. We meet to stir, motivate, encourage one another toward love toward God and others and good deeds toward others on behalf of God. That’s what church is about. We also do this in life groups, getting together with people, doing life, giving life, encouraging, nurturing, love and good works in one another because ultimately it’s like exercising or going for a job or a very long hike. If you go alone, you won’t go as far. But if you go together, you’ll go further. You motivate, you encourage one another. So I’ve had the privilege and honor of being a pastor for 20 years. And I put together a short list of things that I’ve observed through scriptures and relationships with people, benefits of mutual church involvement by a husband and wife. Let me say this couples that have the lowest divorce rate, they’d have the same religion they’re Christian, and they believe the same basic things about the Bible. Couples that have the highest divorce rate are from different religions, right so Catholic guy marries Muslim girl, does not equal happily ever after, okay. Bible believing Jesus loving guy, marries hot Hindu girl right? And I always say, hell’s hot too. Don’t necessarily just sign up for hot, right? That he signs up for hot and then it doesn’t equal and they lived happily ever after because marriage is hard enough, and then you add a child. If you don’t agree, then it becomes very hard for you to build your life together. So it’s, if you’re single, it’s finding someone who agrees with you about God and will worship God with you and attend church with you and then building your life together with the community that supports the biblical vision that God has given you. So here’s five benefits of mutual church involvement. This is a husband and a wife going to the same church, attending the same church. Number one, one community for the entire family to serve in. So our family, we’ve got five kids, elementary, junior high, high school, college and then there’s Grace and I. We’ve got multiple generations in life stages. If you’ve got a family you know okay, they’re going to this school, they’re going to that school. They’re playing that sport. They’re in this band, they’re in this dance troupe. They’re in this afterschool activity. Mom’s in this group, dad’s in this group, multiple people in the family got jobs. There’s all these networks and communities and relationships and the question is, where’s the epicenter for the family? Where do we all come together and have mutual joint relationships? That’s the church. And those relationships allow an opportunity for people to serve. Some of you would ask, how do I get connected? How do I build relationships? Let me tell you the shortcut serving. By doing stuff together. That’s how you build relationship with people. And this is entirely how men build relationships by the way. If I just told the guys, hey on week one, you tell me all your sin. I’ll tell you all my sin. And then week two, you tell me all the most painful parts of your life and I’ll tell you all the most painful parts of my life. And then week three, you tell me all your failures and I’ll tell you all my failures. We can meet in a phone booth, That would not be a men’s movement, amen. Guys do not wanna get together and talk, but guys we’ll do stuff together. Guys, we’ll do stuff together. They’ll serve, they’ll work. And through the course of serving and working together, then you open up, you get to know each other. You build relationship, the same is true for your family. Our entire family serves at this church. We attend one and serve one. The kids all have a job. They have relationships and those help build a relational support network around the family. Number two, intergenerational relationships. for example, in accountability, we live in a incredibly displaced age. Phoenix really didn’t exist until like 40 years ago, you can actually chart and graph it. When they created those square air conditioning units, you could put in a window. That’s when Phoenix came into existence, right? Because before that you’re like, I’m sweating. Like Mike Tyson in spelling bee and I can’t sleep. It’s too hot, we’ll edit that out. But it’s hilarious and you get us pay for it and this is a free sermon, so I don’t wanna hear it. So anyways, what happens is you can’t sleep. And so once they created those air conditioning units and they shoved them in the window, then you could sleep then everybody moves to Arizona. So this is a brand new city. It’s the sixth largest, soon to be the fourth largest city in America, 250,000 people are moving here. And most of us come from all over the country and world. And as a result we are displaced from our family of origins, right? We don’t have multi generational involvement and investment and what the church becomes, It becomes that multi generational place to have relationships. It’s good to have people that are older than you and ahead of you. And you can learn from their positive and negative examples. I had a guy after the first service just come up to me. He’s just on the brink of his 35th wedding anniversary. And his wife just passed away. And he said, my wife and I prayed together all the time and he said, I’m so glad we did. I don’t live with that regret, he said, I didn’t get as many years with my wife as I wanted, but I spent all those years praying with her. Thank you, sir. That is a great gift, I will take that home. It’s good to have people that are ahead of you. It’s good to have people that are in the same life stage. You’re a student fellow students. You’re single single friends, you’re newly married, newly married couple. You’ve got little kids and they’re up all night. And they’re like a sprinkler and fluids are coming out of all the different holes and you’re like, I don’t know what to do with this kid It’s good to have some other people that are in that life stage. What do you do with your kid? You know mine just keeps leaking. It’s good to have somebody to talk to. And it’s good to have people that are a life stage behind you, right? We’re young married you’re single, Okay you’re dating someone? Let’s talk about that. Okay you guys are married and we’ve got a few kids and you’re thinking about having kids? Let’s talk about that. It provides that intergenerational relationship. This is one of the distinguishing features of the Trinity church we wanna be a multicultural church, all races and backgrounds are welcome and a multi generational church. And so we don’t wanna be monolithic. We want this to be like a big extended family. And what that provides is intergenerational relationships, for example, oh that’s how you do it. I saw this in the first service, there was one couple they’ve been married more than 50 years and they hold hands and they worship God. And I thought, boy that’s good to see right there. Maybe that’s how they stayed together 50 years. Right, you can’t punch each other, if you’re holding hands and the other one’s worshiping, you’re like, there’s nothing to fight with. And also accountability. What you’re thinking of doing that? You’re gonna get to…, what are you doing? Where are you going? What do you mean you’re not coming home after work to be with your family? What are you doing buddy? Come on let’s talk about that. It provides some accountability. Also wise counsel and resources beyond yourself. How many of you have quickly realized that you don’t know enough to have a decent life, amen. if you haven’t figured that out, that’s lesson one, right? You don’t have experience someone else needs experience. You don’t know everything, other people know a lot of things you don’t, and so what the church family provides is wise counsel oh, you understand real estate. I’m thinking about buying a house. Oh, you guys love each other. And we’re thinking about getting married. Could we buy you coffee and ask questions and take notes. It provides wise counsel and resources beyond yourself, resources, beyond yourself. In addition Bible teaching that inspires family discussion. So what we do and my family will talk about the sermon. And then after I preach the kids all know the question. The question on the way home in the car is what was your takeaway? So the kids are always listening, what was my takeaway? And it allows us to have a discussion that’s age appropriate. One kid will say something. The other kid will say something else. Let’s talk about it, what was your takeaway? This is why we don’t wanna have every generation in life stage worshiping separately. We wanna come under God’s word and then you can talk about it as a family. So we do kids ministry from six months to six grade. But as soon as the parents believe that the child is ready and that could be at any age, kids can go in kid’s ministry. They can come into the service. It doesn’t matter to me either way, but we always liked our kids to be in service as quickly as possible so that we could all be studying the same thing and then talking about it as a family and discussing it. And then it allows us as parents to eavesdrop and listen in, Oh that’s their heart speaking. What they’re learning that helps us know our kids. And then it helps us walk together as a family. Also it’s preventative defense against demonic attack, okay, let me say this. Some of you are not Christian or you’re brand new and you’re like demonic attack? Do we have helmets? What does that mean, alright? What that means is that the world we live in is not just a physical world. It’s also a spiritual world. And it means that not only is there God and angels, there are Satan and demons at work in the world. And the source of all evil is incredibly personal that God is love that God is life. That God is forgiveness, that God is healing. That God is relationship and there’s a war, and there’s a very real enemy that hates God and hates all of that. He hates love, he hates life. He hates relationship, he hates healing. He hates forgiveness, and there is a demonic war at work in the world. There’s a demonic war at work in the world. And if you go to the, let’s say the mental health manual, that lists out all of the different aberrant behaviors that are considered clinically inappropriate. If you read that, here’s what you won’t hear about the demonic or the soul because the world in which we live, doesn’t think biblically and it thinks that everything can be dealt with physically. They don’t understand that often times the problem is not just physical, it’s spiritual. That Satan and demons really are real they really are at work and they really are attacking and harming people. How do I know this? Well I was reading this book called the Bible and chapter one tells us who God is and that he made us for relationship chapter two, echoes the same thing. Chapter three, Satan shows up and attacks a marriage. Here’s what I want you to see Satan in the Bible doesn’t even show up until after the wedding. The storyline of the Bible is this, wedding war. That’s the storyline of the Bible wedding war. How many of you are single? Can you raise your hand if you’re single? Okay coffee is free, meet afterward good luck, okay. For those of you who are single, for those of you who are single, here’s what you tend to think. I’m really struggling and suffering I can’t wait till I get married and then I won’t be struggling or suffering, okay. all the married people chuckled. Some of them wept because it doesn’t work like that, right in the fairytale you’re like they lived happily ever after you’re like that’s not our story, because it’s a war. Satan attacks marriages, he attacks love, he attacks families. That’s what he does. Now, let me say this, let me give you an insight into one of the worst things I’ve said in our marriage. There’s a list of candidates by the way, but I will just take one candidate, Grace and I were in a difficult position, we were not getting along well. We were in our bathroom, brushing our teeth or something. And we were arguing and Grace looked at me and she said I am not your enemy. I said, yes you are. Grace realized that we had a serious problem in our marriage. Your marriage has an enemy and that enemy is not your spouse. Grace looked at me she said, I’m not your enemy. We have an enemy and we need to stick together. Now she was right. That was a revelation from her, I was like, I know the Bible that’s totally true, what am I thinking? When Grace and I were first married, we went on our honeymoon, down to the Oregon coast. We stayed at a bed and breakfast, I’ll never forget it. The girl who ran it was on the beach it was beautiful. We had just a nice break together, was a Christian lady. She said Oh, you’re a brand new married couple. She said, I just fuck I’m supposed to say something to you. I said, okay, what’s that? And she put us together and she said, you have an enemy. You’re not the enemy. You need to stand against the enemy. That’s what she told us on our honeymoon. I thought that was a great insight. You have an enemy, your spouse is not your enemy. Your spouse is the person that God has given you to stand against your enemy with apart of being in church and in Bible teaching and in prayer and in community and relationship is to remember that you are the other half of me, not the enemy against me. That together we stand against an enemy, and if we turn on one another, then all we are doing is self-destructing our own family. So ultimately it’s church involvement, church investment, what we’re talking about here is relationship with other people that are healthy Bible believing in life giving it used to be that the average committed Christian would go to church half the time that statistic is now down to 40%. Imagine if you slept 40% of the nights, imagine if you ate 40% of the days, imagine if you hydrated 40% of the weeks of the year, you would be very sick. The most mature committed Christians are participating in joint worship and going to some sort of small group about 40% of the time. And I think that that number is actually lower in Scottsdale because we’re golfing and having fun. And everybody moved here practicing for heaven. It’s always sunny and you could be outside. And there’s a lot of leisure and real estate is cheap. Jesus, you can come back, but if you don’t come back for a while, we’ll be fine. We’re in Scottsdale, Arizona. America’s most livable city, somebody wake me up from my nap eventually Scottsdale Arizona. It’s this leisure comfort culture, Amen. And what I’m telling you is that participating in a life giving church family is preventative work before the demonic attack comes because it is coming and there will be some opposition crisis in your marriage. And if you’re not walking with God, worshiping God, reading your Bible, praying and building relationships, then you’re not making those deposits. And then when trouble comes, you’re gonna have a hard time making any kind of withdrawal. The second thing you can do to safeguard your relationships, especially your marriage is read your Bible, okay. So if you’re new, this is the Bible. This is the book that God wrote. It’s written by some 40 authors over a couple of thousand years in three languages. Ultimately it is written not for us, but about Jesus. It is not a book that is primarily about you, It is a book that is for you. And it is primarily about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our great God savior King and Lord. And that this book is the bestselling book in the history of the world. It has been translated into more languages than any book in the history of the world. This book claims to be the only perfect thing on the earth. And it claims to be the very words of God. Okay, this is actually the most important possession that I have, this Bible. If a fire hit my house, I pray it doesn’t. But if it did, I would get Grace and the kids out. And if I could take one thing with me, this is what I would grab. I was 17 years of age, I started dating Grace, I was someone who professed faith, but I was not practicing it. I wasn’t reading the Bible, I wasn’t involved in church and I wasn’t praying. Grace could discern that I was probably not a Christian. So she bought me this Bible, this was the first nice Bible I ever got. How many of you grew up in a home like mine? We had a Bible and the Bible that we had was about the same size as this pulpit. It was a lot of trees gave their life for that Bible. It was a huge Bible and it sat on the coffee table, right. And it was big enough, that if Armageddon came you could hide underneath it and you would be spared, okay. You could live through to millennium. If you got under the Bible, it was big enough to serve as a bomb shelter. And it had two primary purposes, one superstition It was just like, put it there, you know, while we do all kinds of evil things, But if we just put it there, it’ll like take care of the voodoo in the house. So it was like a lucky rabbit’s foot, right? How many of you were Catholic, and you had this Bible? it had hippie long hair dress wearing Jesus on the front. Yeah, that one, that’s what it was. And then the second reason it existed was to collect dust, and it was very good at collecting dust. I never once opened it. I never opened it, I never put it on my lap as a kid in part, because it would have cut all the blood flow to my legs it was too heavy. Never read that book. I just thought it was like decoration or ornamentation or superstition never read it. And then Grace realizing I probably wasn’t a Christian, she buys me this very Bible. I’m now 19 years of age, I’m a college freshmen at a state university. And I start reading actually this Bible. And the first thing I realized is I disagreed with most of it. I totally did, I was like what am I a sinner? Obviously not that line needs an edit. I’m delightful, now those other people, for sure, those are some wicked people, but me I’m your welcome I’m here. You know, I didn’t see myself as a sinner. I didn’t think that pride was a sin. I thought it was self esteem I didn’t know. You know and I’m reading the book and I start realizing I disagree with most of it. That may mean I’m not a Christian. So then I’m reading it, reading it, reading it, trying to figure it out. And I’m in my dormitory as a college freshmen at a state university, I read Romans chapter one and it says, and you were called from among those to belong to Jesus Christ. And somewhere in there, my soul changed and I went from death to life. I can’t explain it. I just remember thinking I belong to Jesus. I never thought that before. I thought I belong to me. So now I’ve got to figure out where’s the good church, oh boy I don’t know. You know, I don’t know what to look for, I’d never been in a Bible teaching church. I go to a church where the guys just teaching the Bible. I thought I’m going there, So then they said hey, if you wanna grow sign up for the Bible studies. I didn’t know so I signed up for all of them. I didn’t know, I’m new nobody told me. I was like well okay. 11 seems like a lot, but you know, if that’s what you do on team Jesus, I’m in college man I’m like how do you have time for college? These Bible studies, I’m doing more Bible work than I am college work. I dint know, the poor pastor is like you again. I was like, I signed the clipboard, look I’m new, I don’t know that there’s ones for me and not for me. I’m an idiot so I signed up for all of them you know, I literally I’m in all the Bible studies at the church. And then I go up to the pastor Somebody buys me a systematic theology. What are these big books, good books, I love them I praise them, I’m a nerd I’ve got a huge library, but this guy gives me a systematic theology, and he says you need to read it. So I bring it to my pastor, I got this big systematic theology, you want it? I literally have this Bible and the other, I go to my pastor, my first pastor, I said, is this a good book to read? The big systemic theology, He points to my Bible he says, have you read that whole book? I said no, he said well then give me that book. He took it away from me. He said, you don’t get this book back. You don’t get this book back until you read the whole Bible. I was like okay, best thing ever happened to me. I said well what do I do? He said, read the whole Bible. I was like, okay so I sat down and read it like in a couple of weeks or maybe a month, I didn’t know, I didn’t know you’re supposed to take your whole life and fake it. I didn’t know that you know So I’m reading so I go back to him I said, all right man hey pastor, I am in the 11 Bible studies and I read the whole book and I was like what do I do now? He said, pick a short book, study it until you know it from your heart. And then do that over and over and over until you die. I was like, so pick a book and study it until I know it and then pick another book until I die? He said yeah do that till you die. So that’s what I’ve doing. That’s what I’ve been doing since like the 80s, okay. So that’s how we got here. And I started reading the book and studying the book and learning the Bible and studying the Bible, trying to figure out what God’s word said, and I’ll tell you what. There is nothing like this on the earth. There is nothing else that is a word from God, there’s nothing else that changes your soul, there’s nothing else that reveals your sin, there’s nothing else that heals your heart there’s nothing else that guides your life, there’s nothing else that serves your soul like the living word of God. Every other book is a book that you read. This is a book that reads you. That’s why when I first started reading it, I went to my first Bible study leader I was like, I’m reading the Bible and it’s not working it doesn’t work. He’s like, what do mean it doesn’t work? I said, I read it and I feel worse. He said, then you’re reading it accurately, you’re a pretty bad guy I was like Oh, I thought it was supposed to be like greeting cards, like dear amazing self three steps to be more amazing and land your dismount love the Lord. Instead I read it like, you’re an angry man who has nasty thoughts, and you say words that the angels are blushing like Oh I didn’t know good to know. Good to know a lot of work needed to be done. This is the book that God wrote. How many of you believe that?
– [Congregation] Amen.
– Okay how many of you read it? Oh I should, I know, I know, I know. That’s what I’m saying. It only benefits you. If you’re participating in studying and reading and memorizing it again, there are lots of things that people would say that they know are good for them, but they don’t do like church participation and Bible reading. Here’s a couple of verses. My big point is this Bible is literally falling apart, usually belong to couples that are not, that’s a little paraphrase of an old Baptist preacher named Spurgeons Line, the Bibles that’s literally falling apart, usually belong to couples that are not, you know what Grace and I have in common? Jesus, you know what else we have in common? Nothing, we took one of those tests and they’re like you for real, you’re still together? Like well yeah, I like football. She doesn’t, right even to the bag of chips, I eat the big chips she eats the little chips. We can’t even agree on what chips to buy. We agree on nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. People are like, you need a shared hobby, we agree on nothing, but we both love Jesus. So we’re together, okay. Ultimately, we agree on what the Bible says. We took one of those crazy tests. We taken all the crazy as it does and it said that you score close on nothing except for theological agreement. And then we got like 100, like a little gold star on our chart. You know why we’re still together because of this book. That God used this book to change our hearts, to change our minds, to change our wills and to bring us into agreement and alignment. Grace is a person who’s into scriptures. I’m a person who’s in the scriptures. And as a result, we’re still together and pretty happy, much more so than the early years because God’s word continues to change and transform and heal us. God’s word is built to serve the soul, the deepest level of your being and make you more like Jesus and give you a relationship that is more intimate, more healthy, more life, giving, more loving, more forgiving. So here’s some issues in regards to relationships live in harmony with one another. You know what, it’s really hard to live in harmony when you disagree, right? When you don’t agree on even what you’re doing, it’s hard enough married couples, it’s hard enough to build your life. What if you don’t even agree on what you’re supposed to be building? So the key is first Corinthians 1:10. Agree with one another. How do you agree with one another while you’re gonna need a common source of revelation and information and transformation and that’s God’s word, Proverbs chapter 30:5, Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him may say this all your relationships they’re under attack, right? Satan and demons are at work. The culture is not friendly toward loving, healthy life giving relationships. All of the temptation that exists in media and on the internet, social media, all of the temptation that exists. You’re gonna need a shield because there is fire raining down in your relationship, God’s word is a shield. It’s a safe place for you. It’s a safe place for your relationships. It’s a safe place for your marriage. It’s a safe place for your family. It curves out a safe place for you to be close to the people that you love and love you. So let me give you a five quick benefits to biblical agreement, husband and wife agree. And some of you will say this so singles let me just pick on you. Singles are always like, well, he believes in God look great, You know, James says demons, believe in God, don’t marry one. You gotta marry somebody you agree with on stuff. Right, you can’t be like, Oh one time they sneezed and said, bless you, so you know, that’s good. Right? We’re good, no, it’s good. You need more than that, you gotta agree on some stuff, okay. Five benefits of biblical agreement. Number one agreement on primary life issues. Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? Who’s in charge? What’s the highest authority? It’s agreement. Right it’s hard enough to build a life. It’s impossible to build a life. If you don’t agree on what you’re even supposed to be building. Number two it creates a unified blueprint for the entire family. Single guys always ask me this. They’re like, how do you get Grace to do that? How do you get her to do that? I was like, what, what? Well she’s a mom and she loves you And you know obviously has a high pain threshold and you know has hang in there for two decades with you. How do you get her to be homeward and orientation. Here’s what I tell them, I say, we thumb wrestled and she lost. So that’s not what I tell them, right. What I did I married a woman that I agree with. Just throwing it out there for you single people it’s easier that way, right. Cause if I went to Grace and I was like, I wanna be a Christian, she’s like, I wanna be a Muslim, I was like I don’t want any kids. And she’s like, I want 27. I was like okay, you know, I don’t wanna pray. And she’s like, I wanna pray all the time in Arabic. It would be hard time to sort of roll in the same boat. Amen, you get annoyed I get annoyed. And then we put a few kids in, can you imagine that? We agree, so with Grace, I was like, I wanna get married. She’s like, I wanna get married. Okay, I want to be a Christian. I want to be a Christian. Oh, okay. I want to be in ministry. She’s like, my dad was a pastor. I can be a pastor’s wife for good. I want a lot of kids she’s like I want a lot of kids. Oh, okay, I would like a wife who stayed home with the kids. She’s like, I’d like a husband who made enough money that I could stay home with the kids. Okay, we may be on to something. Okay we agreed and we agreed before we got married. And so then when we got married, we’ve put our energy into building the life that we agree that God has called us to. It creates a unified blueprint for the entire family. So when the kids come and they wanna vote, there’s five of them, two of us. Imagine if we had a socialistic family, imagine that we go to bed at 4:00 AM. We drink mountain Dew for breakfast. And we shoot off fireworks in the house because we keep getting out voted as it is. The Bible gives us a blueprint. Mom and dad lead and children are to obey and honor their mother and father. It provides a blueprint for the whole family. Number three God’s rule reduces domineering. How many of you grew up in a home where your mom or your dad was the domineering one? The domineering one, right? They raised their voice. They were intimidating. They’re a little overbearing. They’re a little pushy, sometimes it’s passive aggressive. Sometimes it’s just plain old aggressive. Right, so if your dad, he’d get loud for your mom she wouldn’t nag. She would nag she was just jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab. Until your dad’s liver hurt, right? Okay, what happens in a domineering relationship is that both sides suffer because in a relationship it’s often I’m in charge. No, no, no I’m in charge. No you’re gonna do what I want. No you’re gonna do what I want. Do you know what the scriptures do? They place God in authority. Okay, we both need to do what he wants. I’m not gonna dominate you. You’re not gonna dominate me. We’re both gonna submit to Him. Every relationship needs an authority higher than either person in the relationship. Amen. Grace knows this in our relationship. How many of you think that I possibly could be the domineering one? Like the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, maybe, okay maybe I could be the domineering one. God’s word can handle anyone, including a really intense guy like me. And this is why men, I feel inclined to say this, this isn’t in my notes, most of this isn’t but sometimes a domineering guy will read the verses in the Bible that say that you’re the head. And you think I get to dominate her. That’s not what it means. Your wife wants to see that you’re submitted to the Lord and you’re submitted to the scriptures. And that the character of Christ is growing in you with humility and empathy and love and compassion. And then she will find you to be a safe place under authority to lead the family and to work with you, to fulfill the purposes of God. Okay, Some of the ladies said Amen. So they come on to something. Okay, that’s why a woman feels a lot safer with a man who’s in the Bible a lot because it means he’s under authority. The most dangerous thing is for a woman who says, he’s an authority, but he’s not under authority. That’s not a safe place, amen. A safe place for a woman is he’s under authority and he spends time in God’s word. And he walks in wise counsel. He surrounded himself with good men. He wants to learn and grow. He is praying over all the decisions for our family. And we are making them together because he loves me and doesn’t domineer. And together we seek the will of God for our family. Couple more, it establishes the priorities. Thereby reducing jealousy. Jealousy is you put someone in my place, God gets jealous because if we put anyone in His place, He’s jealous for His place. God’s word says relationship with God first relationship with spouse second relationship with kids and then work and hobbies and whatever else. Husbands will get very upset, if they feel like the kids have displaced me, a wife will get very upset if she says, well, work or hobbies by my husband have displaced me. What God’s word does, It establishes our priorities. So we don’t argue over them, but we seek to obey them. And lastly, it puts the family in a place that God wants to bless and help. I’ve got five kids, I love them. And if I told them kids, here’s what I need you to do. This is the right thing, this will cause your life to go well, please take it to heart please trust me, please obey me. Now let’s say that the kids or one of the kids decided, okay, dad, I love you, I trust you, I mean, well, I’m gonna try my best to obey you. And they’re struggling, will I help them? The heart is to obey. They’re struggling to get it figured out would I help them, yes or no? Yeah what if the kid says no I disagree. I’m gonna do it my own way. I’m gonna walk away from that. Would I help them? No. I’m more likely to help the child who has a willing heart and an obedient attitude. God’s a father like that. If you go to God’s word and you say, okay, Lord, this is what you say. This is what I believe this is what we wanna do. God says I wanna help you because you’re living in the place that I like to bless. Let me say this God doesn’t bless people. God blesses places. If you’re living in the place of obedience, that’s a place that God will bless. You can be a person who God loves, but if you’re not living in a place of obedience, you’re living apart from a place that God blesses. God, doesn’t just bless people. He blesses places. And if you put yourself in the place of obedience, you’re in the place of God’s blessing. He’s willing to help those who are trying to obey Him. does that makes sense? You can’t say I’m going to disobey Him, and I don’t know why He wont bless me? Because He doesn’t bless over there. He blesses in the place of obedience. So it is church participation, Bible reading. How’s that going? And then lastly, prayer, prayer. Let me read this to you. Here is the summary on the Bible reading from the sociological research before we move forward. Couples who are part of the same, Christian denomination are 42% more likely to be very happy than couples who are not moreover higher rates of attendance and theological conservatism are associated with greater marital happiness, especially when spouses have similar beliefs and attendance patterns. Conversely couples who do not share the same religious denomination or have no religious affiliation are significantly more likely to divorce and couples with different religious backgrounds are more than 120% likely to divorce. Let me say this, if you want to have an enduring enduring relationship, it has to be built on the foundation of God’s word. This can’t just be something that you believe this needs to be how you behave. This can’t be just what you profess. This has to be what you practice. There are many Christians who spend so little time in the scriptures that their soul is starving and their relationship is dying, okay. And the third thing is prayer. And the couple that prays together stays together it’s tried and true, but it’s statistically verifiable. James 5:16 talks about relationships and just says, pray for one another. Here’s the sociological research I’m quoting the study from Bradford Wilcox, the frequency with which couples engage in regular home worship activities, Bible reading, and prayer was also a positive link with relational quality. You know what, the best way some of you men, you don’t usually you’re saying like, I don’t know how to be head of my home and lead my family. Pray for everyone in your family. Pray with the people in your family. Some of you guys just say, I’m not any good at it. I’ll tell you this right now, your wife doesn’t care. She’d rather have a husband who didn’t know how to pray well start praying than a husband who didn’t pray at all. And what she knows is that if you want to learn how to pray, the Holy spirit will teach you how to pray and you just need to start praying. Some of you guys would say, but I don’t wanna pray badly. There is no such thing as a bad prayer, there’s men who pray in men who don’t pray. Every man who prays is learning how to pray. And I’ll tell you this right now, some of your wives and kids they’re like plants that have never been watered. And if you would just pray for them, there would be great nourishment that would rain down from heaven on your family. There are wives in this room that are just hoping that their husbands are listening. Please have him pray with me. Here’s why men don’t okay, you’re ready? Because prayer is the most intimate thing because prayer is at the level of the soul. A lot of men want physical intimacy, but they don’t invest in spiritual intimacy. I was certainly guilty of that in the early years of our marriage. That’s why I, talked to a single girl not long ago. I said, are you sleeping with your boyfriend? She said, yeah. I said, do you guys pray together? She was like of course not. That’s too intimate. People will sleep together they don’t pray together. Cause that’s too intimate. That’s at the level of the soul. It’s really hard to hate somebody you’re praying with, amen. It’s really hard to not forgive someone you’re praying with. It’s really hard to, I’m done with you, I have no hope for you. I’m sick of you, after you prayed together, amen. Here’s some benefits to prayer. It builds intimacy around God, if the husband is the center of the marriage and the family and everything revolves around him, he’s the idle. If the wife is the center of the marriage and family she’s the idol. Everything rotates around her. If the children are the center of the marriage and family, then everything rotates around them. And they’re the idle. If God is the center, then as everyone pulls closer to the Lord, they’re actually pulling closer to one another and they’re coming around on a healthy life giving loving center. Number two, it invites mutual caring. The easiest way to care for one another is to pray for one another. I’m struggling with this, could you pray for me? Well yeah I can. This awesome thing happened today, could you praise God with me? Yes I can. And invites mutual caring, and sometimes men tend to be fixers, right. Tell me the problem so I can fix it. And oftentimes the women are like, you can’t fix it so just pray with me and care for me and be emotionally present with me. Not always working on me, okay. Do you hear that? A lot of wives like, yea! It also unifies decision making I would never make a major decision without Grace. The Bible says that we’re one. So we have to walk together in unity. The Bible says that a prudent wife is from the Lord. The Bible also says that she’s my helper and we all agree I need a lot of help, amen. So for Grace and I to make big decisions, you know what we do, we pray. And we wait until we come into agreement on God’s will. So like our move to Arizona, I didn’t say Grace pack up. We’re going to Arizona. I said honey, we both pray for each other, pray with each other and we wanna seek the Lord’s will. And we wanna come to God’s will for our family through prayer. And God was gracious to bring our hearts into alignment. We both agreed this was God’s will it also transfers the burden, there are certain things in life that are just very heavy and weighty and burdensome. And you feel like I can’t carry this all by myself. So my spouse in pray with me, we’ll yoke together and we’ll carry the burden. But ultimately we’re gonna carry the burden to Jesus. And in prayer, we’re gonna give him the burden because it’s not a burden that I can carry, it’s not a burden that we can carry. It’s a burden that I need you to help me improve or bring that burden to Him, so that I and we are not crushed under the weight of that burden. And lastly, it prevents gossip. How many of you when you get frustrated in any relationship but let’s say in particular with your marriage, you start talking to the wrong people? You start talking about someone rather than with them. This is where you grab your friends and you form an unholy alliance. Take my side, let me tell you that my side of the story, and they get all worked up and defend you. They don’t know the other side of the story or you call your family, right that helps amen, that always helps, get your family involved. That’s cause that’s where the Holy spirit flows in the offended, extended ignorant family. That’s always the source of life and love and hope and healing and joy, right. So you get your family involved or you go online. You know what one of the most common words is now in divorce proceedings in cases, Facebook, I got this recently in my inbox, a woman says, can you please help my husband and I? He keeps saying horrible things about me on Facebook, and I told him to stop and he unfriended me. Right. Technology allows us to gossip to invite other people in. Do you talk to the Lord first? Do you pray to the Lord? Do you bring it to the Lord? The Lord is the one safe person to talk to you. The Lord is the one safe person to verbal process with the Lord is the one person that you can talk to and He’s not gonna retweet it, right. He’s gonna keep it to himself and absorb it and help you. And let me say this. God doesn’t need prayer. Some of you guys are super theological, it’s like you’re over saved, right. You’re just, you’re too much in your head. And I get this with some of you guys, I love you, I love you, I love you. But let me just say there is a little frustration with me. I keep talking to married guys in the church and every guy I asked, do you pray with your wife? The answer is always almost no. people that have been married 30, 40 years. You guys pretty good nope. You pray for each other? Nope oh well how are you still together? And sometimes I get this from the guys. I know I’m on a little bit of a rant here, but, but sometimes you get this from the guys who are like, well God’s sovereign, God’s in charge. God’s in control God knows everything. So I don’t need to pray. Let me let you a little secret. He doesn’t need prayer, you do. Right it’s not like you’re gonna go to God and be like I got to tell you something and He’s like, what! I had no idea. Thank you for the memo. I was taking a nap, you know, and having a chili dog and I missed it, You know, He knows. It’s not like he’d go to the Lord. And you’re like, Lord, here’s what you need to do He’s like, oh thank you, I was totally uncertain of what my next move would be until I heard from you. God doesn’t need your prayers you need to pray. Prayer is where we get honest with God. It’s where we invite God, It’s where God changes our will. It’s where God reveals our motives. It’s where God reveals our heart. It’s where God builds our intimacy with Him and one another. It’s where we invite the Lord into the center of the relationship. Man, I am jealous for you to be praying. And I’m jealous for you to be praying for and with members of your own family. How’s it going? Okay some of you have been Christian, I’m gonna bring up Grace for questions in a minute. I went too long I apologize you’re welcome. But anyways, how many of you coming in here, you would have said being in church and reading your Bible and praying is a good thing. Most of us would say yes. And if I asked, how’s it going? You’d say, well, not that great. The Bible talks about walking with God and you know what’s key to a walk steps, so my question is, what’s your next step? Getting in the life group, come back next week, get a Bible, read it. Get the YouVersion Bible App, get the ESV study Bible, read your Bible, pray, start praying every day with and for yourself and others. What’s your next step? We don’t wanna beat you up we want to build you up. We don’t want to make you think that we’re seeking perfection. What we want for you is progress.