The “Point System” Marriage

Posted by on June 27, 1999 under Sermons

[This lesson will be introduced by a video presentation entitled, The Ledger People. Running time: 7 minutes 17 seconds.]

What makes marriage successful? The popular answer to that question is a “no brainer.” In fact, the popular answer to that question is the same in virtually all generations. If we divided everyone into decades–teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, etc., I would expect the popular answer to be the same in every age group.

What makes marriage successful? LOVE!

  1. I have a question, a rather important question.
    1. The greater majority of people who marry each other in Western culture marry because they love.
      1. They are so convinced that love exists that you would seriously insult them if you suggested that their love did not exist.
        1. I can imagine the reaction of a couple working with me in premarital counseling if I suggested that they did not love each other.
        2. Talking about someone being indignant and offended!
      2. Yet, as certain as the greater majority are of their love, almost one in two of all couples who marry for the first time divorce.
        1. Of those who do not divorce, a significant percentage are miserable in their marriage.
        2. In marriages that do not divorce, more are unsuccessful than are successful.
    2. How do you explain this situation?
      1. If the majority of couples who marry are totally convinced at the time of marriage that they love each other,
      2. If almost fifty per cent of those who marry divorce,
      3. If the majority of those who never divorce have unsuccessful marriages,
      4. How can the key to successful marriage be love?
    3. “They thought they loved each other, but they really did not love each other.”
      1. Assumption: all divorces occur because of the absence of love.
      2. Conclusion: all people who divorce never loved each other.
      3. I have known divorced people who continued to love each other.
        1. They love each other.
        2. They have deep feelings for each other.
        3. They just cannot live with each other; it does not work.
      4. Many things other than a lack of love can cause a marriage to fail.
  2. A suggestion: if mutual love is healthy, maturing, and responsible, marriage will be successful.
    1. The real question: what allows mutual love to be healthy, mature, and responsible?
      1. There are many factors involved in love being healthy, mature, and responsible.
      2. Consider two key factors.
        1. A healthy, mature, responsible love has the courage to be vulnerable because it is rooted in and nourished by trust.
          1. “I give you my heart because I trust you not to break it.”
          2. “I give you my emotions because I trust you not to trash them.”
          3. “I give you my confidence because I trust you to be fair with me.”
          4. “Because I trust, I know you won’t hurt me.”
          5. “Therefore, I am not afraid to be vulnerable with you.”
        2. A healthy, mature, responsible love expresses itself in unselfish devotion.
          1. “You matter to me.”
          2. “Your happiness matters to me.”
          3. “Your will being matters to me.”
          4. “Your joy and contentment matter to me.”
          5. “You matter so much to me that I will not knowingly make you unhappy, put you at risk, or destroy your joy and contentment.”
          6. “You are so important to me that I will not hesitate to make sacrifices for you.”
  3. A marriage that chooses to function on the “point system” or the “ledger system” opposes the health, maturity, and responsible nature of love.
    1. What is the “point system” or the “ledger system?”
      1. It is a system that determines what happens in your marriage, when it happens, and to whom it happens.
        1. “I get my way this time; you get your way next time.”
        2. “We must be very careful to take turns about everything every time, and we keep very careful records about whose turn it is.”
        3. “We always keep track of who owes whom what.”
    2. Why does the point system or ledger system work against the health, maturity, and responsibility of love?
      1. First, it works against healthy, mature, responsible love by declaring:
        1. “I do not trust you to take care of me; I must take care of me.”
        2. “I am so focused on taking care of me and making certain that you are fair to me that I am rarely focused on you.”
        3. “I must protect myself; I must force you to be fair to me.”
        4. “My mother (or my father) was really hurt in her (his) marriage, and I will never let you hurt me.”
        5. “I do not have confidence in you; I really don’t believe that you know how to take care of me or want to take care of me.”
        6. This approach to marriage proceeds on an insecure foundation of self-centered thinking.
      2. Second, it works against love because men and women are different.
        1. “Duh! That is a brilliant observation!”
        2. The differences between men and women go far beyond sexuality and physical makeup.
          1. There are significant emotional differences.
          2. There are significant differences in perspectives.
          3. There are significant differences in their approach to life.
          4. Such differences do not make one superior to the other.
      3. I have no desire to build or promote stereotypes, but in speaking in this context it is necessary to deal with generalities. I readily acknowledge that there are exceptions. But, for the sake of illustration, let me cite two things.
        1. Illustration one: shopping.
          1. Telephone rings, husband answers, his wife’s friend asks for her, his reply: “She’s gone shopping.” Interpretation: I don’t know when she will be home.
          2. Telephone rings, wife answers, her husband’s friend asks for him, her reply, “He has gone to buy something.” Interpretation: call back in thirty minutes.
          3. Women shop; men buy; women search before they buy; men just buy.
          4. We husbands should be eternally grateful they do.
          5. If they did not, the economy would collapse, there would be no Christmas and birthday presents, and we men would wear the same thing every day.
        2. Decision making.
          1. Men solve problems; they consider only facts; they reach decisions privately with what they consider to be logic.
          2. Women are intuitive; considerations other than facts are as important as facts; they reach conclusions by talking about it.
      4. So what? So men and women are different. What does that have to do with the point or ledger system?
        1. They will never be perceived as fair by both husband and wife.
        2. Men and women’s definition of “fair” is different.
        3. Men and women’s definition of “big matters” and “little matters” is different.
        4. Men and women’s definition of “important matters” and “unimportant matters” are different.
      5. Any such system will do three things.
        1. At times it will make each of them feel exploited.
        2. At times it will depersonalize each of them.
        3. Many times it will make both of them feel like they are losing.

When marriage becomes a win/lose situation, everybody loses.

The Most Difficult Thing God Asks Us To Do

Posted by on under Sermons

The most difficult thing God asks us to do is to love. “David, that is an absolutely ridiculous statement! There are many, many things God asks us to do that are far more difficult than loving. One of the easiest things on earth to do is to love!”

Oh…it is? I am sorry. I did not realize how easy it is to love.

  1. Consider how simple it is to love by considering the easiest people to love.
    1. First, consider the words of love.
      1. Since it is simple to love, how often do you tell the individual members of your family that you love them?
        1. Do you tell your wife every day that you love her?
        2. Do you tell your husband every day that you love him?
        3. Do you tell each of your children at home every day that you love them?
        4. Children at home, do you tell Mom and Dad every day that you love them?
      2. Oh, I feel certain that everyone one of us tell every family member every day, “I love you,” because it is such an easy thing to do, and we are only talking about using words.
    2. Second, how often do you tell your husband, your wife, each of your children, your Mom, or your Dad in specifics why you love him or her?
      1. If I asked you to write down why your husband, wife, child, Mom, or Dad said that you were loved, could you do it?
        1. Wives, could you write down three reasons that your husband told you that he loved you?
        2. Husbands, could you write down three reasons that your wife told you that she loved you?
        3. Children, could you write down three reasons that your Mom and Dad told you that he or she loved you?
        4. Moms and Dads, could you write down three reasons that your children told you that they loved you?
      2. I am sure that each of us could do that because love is so easy, and we are only talking about being truthful with the people that we love.
    3. Third, if I asked each family member to write down three things done for you this month to express love for you, could you do it?
      1. What was done this month to express love for you, wives? husbands? children? Moms? Dads?
      2. And we are only talking about expressing love for the people we should find to be the easiest people to love.
    4. Fourth, do the people living in your household know your deepest feelings for each of them?
      1. A major crises exists in our families because many family members do not feel loved.
      2. Husbands and wives in troubled marriages don’t feel loved; husbands, wives, and children caught in a divorce don’t feel loved; people who live in impersonal families or alienated families or families hiding addictions don’t feel loved.
    5. Question: if loving is so easy, so simple, why do we have so much trouble with love in our families?
  2. “David, David, David, you might have a point about families, but you do not have a point about God. The most difficult thing God asks us to do cannot possibly be to love. It simply has to be something else.” Like what?
    1. “The most difficult thing that God asks us to do must be some act of obedience.”
      1. Of course! You are absolutely right! It must be obedience!
      2. Matthew 22:36-38 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      3. Romans 13:8-10 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
    2. “No, no, no, David! The most difficult thing God asks us to do has to be some sacrifice!”
      1. Oh, I am sorry. Your are right!
      2. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      3. 2 Corinthians 5:14,15 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
  3. Why is loving the most difficult thing that God ever asked us to do?
    1. I do not think it is necessary for me to answer that question; I think that you understand all too well why it is so difficult to be a loving person.
      1. As a result of years of working with people, this is my observation: the people who declare that it is easy and simple to love are the people who do not love.
        1. They talk about love.
        2. But they don’t actually do much loving.
      2. Be honest: would you honestly say that one of the easiest, simplest things you to do in your life is to love other people, to feel love for other people, and to express love for other people?
    2. If you are honestly convinced that loving is easy and simple, would you consider the last night of Jesus’ earthly life?
      1. If Jesus knew that all of his disciples would desert him, why did Jesus take them to the garden?
        1. Have you every been deserted? Did you enjoy the experience? Would you knowingly create the experience?
        2. Then why did Jesus do that? Because of love.
      2. If Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times, what did Jesus take Peter to the actual place he prayed and ask Peter to pray also?
        1. Have you ever been denied by your best friend? Did you enjoy the experience? Would you knowingly create the experience?
        2. Then why did Jesus do it? Because of love.
      3. With all the power and options available to Jesus, why did he surrender to the soldiers when he knew they would kill him?
        1. Would you do that?
        2. Then why did Jesus do that? Because of love.
      4. Why endure the agony of the cross? Because of love.
      5. Why pray for the forgiveness of the mob who rejoiced in his death? Because of love.
      6. Why be kind enough to save a thief who died beside him? Because of love.
    3. “Now, David, put the situation in perspective: Jesus was the son of God.”
      1. And so are you.
      2. And so am I.
  4. Loving is the most difficult thing God asks us to do because all the difficult things God does for us begin with His loving us.
    1. Love breathes grace upon all it touches.
      1. It is good and kind to those who do not deserve goodness and kindness.
      2. We who love share grace for one reason: that is the way God’s love treats us.
    2. Love is an ever flowing fountain of mercy.
      1. You can show mercy only to the people who do not deserve mercy.
      2. We who love show mercy for only one reason: that is the way God’s love treats us.
    3. Love forgives failures and mistakes.
      1. You forgive people who failed you and hurt you.
      2. We forgive for only one reason: that is the way God’s love treats us.
    4. If we remove love from our lives and our motives, we remove God from our lives and our actions.
  5. Among the many problems in the congregation at Corinth were the mean spirited squabbles in their worship assemblies.
    1. Many things that should not be able to exist when Christians gather to worship were there: superiority attitudes, arrogance, jealousy, rivalries, condescending attitudes.
      1. Too many members were full of their own sense of self importance.
      2. Because love did not exist, they grotesquely abused the gifts of the Spirit and the power of God.
    2. 1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:3 And I show you a still more excellent way. If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      1. If I spoke every human language, and I even spoke the language spoken in heaven, but there was no love in me or what I did, it would only be a noise.
      2. If I by divine revelation could teach the truths of God accurately, if I could explain every spiritual mystery (the exact work of the Holy Spirit; exactly where we go when we die; exactly what we will experience when we die; exactly what will happen in the resurrection), if I personally possessed the most powerful faith on earth, but had no love, I am a spiritual nothing.
      3. If I am totally benevolent even to the point of sacrificing my life, and do not have love, there is no spiritual benefit in my benevolence.

[Project this slide on the screen during the conclusion: Matthew 5:46,47 If we love those who love us, we are no different to people who do not believe in God.]

This congregation stands on the brink of the most significant work and growth that it has ever experienced. But no matter what we do, if we are not a people who love and who are motivated by love, nothing we do will mean anything to God. If love does not rule our hearts, our minds, and our emotions, God cannot use us. Satan can, but God can’t. Satan has his greatest successes in the darkness and void where there is no love. God cannot function where there is no love.

That is true in marriage, true in the home, true in the congregation, true in the community, true in the nation, and true in the world.

Perhaps the reason so many people think that it is so easy to love is because we have never truly discovered what love is.

A Parable About God

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

The parable: Adam and Eve’s rebellion distressed God. They ruined everything! God’s “very good” creation; a sinless environment for human life; a human existence free of fear, shame, anxiety, and pain; the perfect marriage relationship; the ideal companionship–all irreparably ruined by their rebellion!

As human generations passed, God watched in horror as the human condition grew worse because people became increasingly evil. God watched and considered. His distress increased. He knew that He had to rescue people from the despair of evil.

God said, “I know what people need! They need ‘true religion!’ They need a world filled with church buildings! There people can affirm, defend, and argue ‘true religion.’ They can condemn the wicked ‘out there.’ They can condemn the faithless ‘in here.’ Everyone constantly can be reminded of what horrible failures people are. If people assemble in church buildings at least once a week for this experience, the world will be okay. Adam and Eve failed because they did not have ‘true religion.’ If there had been a church building where they discussed ‘true religion’ an hour or so each week, they would not have rebelled. My perfect creation would be intact if Eden had promoted ‘true religion’ in a church building!”

What is your reaction to the parable? Reactions likely run from bewilderment to anger. It deceptively misrepresents God’s concern and intent. It terribly distorts God’s solution. Perhaps most frightening is this: it represents a common Christian concept. Too many think that godliness is produced by going to church buildings and hearing discussions about ‘true religion.’

Adam and Eve’s problem centered in their behavior. Old Testament Israel’s problems primarily centered in their behavior. That was the message of God’s prophets. The Pharisees’ problems centered primarily in their behavior. That is the message of Jesus. The early church experienced numerous problems because of their behavior. That is the message of the epistles.

In each generation, behavior problems exist for two basic reasons. First, people do not trust God. Second, people’s decisions and interactions are governed by godless attitudes. As a result, faithless lives are guided by ungodly attitudes. The consequences: evil behavior curses their lives and assaults their relationships.

Christians must be (1) taught to trust God, (2) challenged to develop Christ-like attitudes, and (3) urged to devote themselves to godly behavior in all relationships. Only then do they oppose Satan. Anything less encourages Satan.

Read James 1:27 and note that it is behavior centered.

The “God Knew What He Was Doing” Marriage

Posted by on June 20, 1999 under Sermons

[This lesson was introduced by a video presentation of a marriage situation entitled One Flesh presented by Paul and Nicole Johnson. Running time: 6 minutes and 45 seconds.]

I believe that God is the origin of all things. I believe that all things began in the ideal state of existence. I believe that our physical and spiritual beings have their origin in God. I believe that we were made in the image of God. I believe that the original design and intent of God was for men and women to experience ideal companionship in an ideal relationship which was to exist in marriage.

Do you believe that? If you say, “Yes,” what do you mean by your “yes?” Do you mean that you believe that as a fact? Or do you mean that you trust that God’s way works in marriage since God is the origin of man, woman, and marriage?

  1. Marriage as intended by God has many objectives.
    1. God’s highest object in marriage is companionship. It was intended to produce:
      1. The greatest form of friendship that could be experienced in human existence.
      2. The most compassionate relationship that could be experienced on earth.
      3. The most caring interaction that two people could ever know.
      4. The most supportive relationship two people could experience.
      5. The most genuine understanding two people would ever find.
      6. The greatest level of trust two people would ever know.
      7. The most genuine commitment that could be experienced.
      8. The most dependable relationship that could exist between two people.
      9. The greatest source of love that could be experienced in human relationships.
      10. The source of the greatest appreciation that a person would ever know.
    2. If marriage existed as God intended, it would be impossible for another person to provide these qualities on the level and to the extent that a husband or wife could provide them for each other.
      1. Why?
      2. No one could possibly know and appreciate you as did your husband or wife.
      3. No one could understand you as did your husband or wife.
      4. No one could value you as did your husband or wife.
  2. “Well, that surely does not describe marriage today–not even among Christians!”
    1. For many people, marriage is the source of enormous misery.
      1. That is not a new reality; that is a ancient reality.
      2. Sometimes when we deplore the instability of marriage today we create the impression that marriage was more successful in past generations and much, much happier.
        1. A few decades ago the divorce rate was much lower in this society.
        2. That is a fact, but the basis of the fact is not that marriages were more successful.
          1. I am confident that older couples here could tell us a lot about misery existing in marriages in the first half of this century.
          2. Abuse, neglect, adultery, and incest are not new.
          3. Individual rights were virtually nonexistent, and no matter how severe circumstances were, there were few options and few places to turn for help.
      3. A significant factor in the rise of the feminist movement in our society was the exploitation of the woman in too many marriages in past generations.
    2. The truth: ideal companionship is rare in marriage.
      1. Marriages in which the husband and wife share the highest quality of:
        1. Friendship
        2. Compassion
        3. Caring
        4. Support
        5. Understanding
        6. Trust
        7. Sensitivity
        8. Reliability
        9. Love
        10. Appreciation
        11. Are the exception.
      2. Why is marriage such a common source of mental, emotional, and physical misery?
        1. Troubled marriages exist for a long list of reasons.
        2. May I suggest four very common reasons.
          1. Reason one: too many of the people marrying do not know how to be a husband or a wife.
            1. They grew up in a divorced home, a seriously dysfunctional home, a seriously troubled home, or a home in which there was little togetherness or interaction.
            2. They were deprived of the opportunity to see a loving, successful marriage relationship as it functioned.
            3. Their concepts of what a husband is to be or what a wife is to be is seriously, dangerously flawed long before they marry.
          2. Reason two: They distrust God’s principles that produce marital companionship.
            1. There are far more homes in which God has no presence at all than there are homes in which God plays an important role.
            2. In the homes where God has a presence, often when these homes are distressed, husbands and wives do not believe that God’s principles work.
          3. Reason three: Too many women and men experience failed expectations in marriage.
            1. “He or she is not what I expected.”
            2. “Being married is not what I expected.”
            3. “I do not feel what I expected to feel in my marriage.”
          4. Reason four: the purposes of marriage are perverted.
            1. The wife believes that the real reason that her husband married her was to take care of domestic responsibilities.
            2. The husband believes that the real reason that his wife married him was to find security.
            3. “You did not marry me because you valued me; you married me because of what I could do for you.”
  3. What are God’s principles that produce superior companionship in marriage?
    1. Before we consider the principles, we need two basic understandings.
      1. No marriage can produce the companionship God intended through the efforts of one person; it must be a joint effort.
      2. There must be a mutual desire to improve the relationship.
    2. The principles:
      1. You love and respect the person to whom you are married as you love and respect yourself (Ephesians 5:33).
      2. You treat your husband or wife as you prefer to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
        1. You forgive as you want to be forgiven.
        2. You show mercy as you want to receive mercy.
        3. You encourage as you wish to be encouraged.
        4. You seek to be as unselfish as you want him or her to be.
      3. You constantly pray for guidance, wisdom, and understanding to develop as the husband or wife you can become.
    3. Do you have confidence in God’s principles?
      1. Successful marriage is very much a faith issue.
        1. Is that surprising?
        2. If God is the origin of the relationship, how can it fail to be a faith issue?
      2. Do you believe that if you are God’s person that God will work in your relationship?
        1. When I say, “Do you believe that?” I specifically mean do you trust that?
        2. Do you trust it enough to act on your trust?

If you want your marriage to constantly grow toward the ideal relationship, there is an attitude that you must not have, and an attitude that you must have. The attitude that you must not have is this: “When you are, I will be.” The attitude that you must have is this: “I will be so that you may become.”

Dads Speak To Dads

Posted by on under Sermons

(On Father’s Day each of the four ministers at West-Ark shared “a father’s perspective.” Brad Pistole, youth minister, spoke briefly from the perspective of a father of preschool children. He has two. Ted Edwards spoke briefly from the perspective of a father of teens. Two of his three children are teens. Roy Dunavin spoke briefly from the perspective of a grandfather. He has sixteen grandchildren from preschool to young adult. David Chadwell gave concluding comments.)

by Brad Pistole

God uses many different situations in our lives to get our attention.
He uses many different methods to get us to look at our current spiritual condition and He tries to keep us focused on that condition. We either choose to listen or not listen.

To me, having the blessing of young children is the best method He’s thrown my way.

I learned in college as an elementary education major, with a special emphasis on early childhood development, that up to 80% of a child’s personality is developed by age 6. Please listen to that once again. Up to 80% of a child’s personality is developed by age 6. Do you find that hard to believe? I did, too, until I had my first child. My children teach me lessons every day about how quickly they pick up on the behaviors, words, and actions around them.

Do we realize as fathers and as parents what this means? The years that follow the first 6 years of our children’s lives leave us with very little opportunity to make serious changes in them. Do we realize how crucial the first few years of our children’s lives are?

I must admit, as the father of preschool children, I realize how true this really is and I see how critically wrong our world approaches the concept of the family and raising children. We seem to feel that our children don’t really start to pick up on things until they’re 3 or 4 years old, or even until they start kindergarten. So we justify very quickly sending them off to daycare or leaving them with babysitters or plugging them into after-school programs as we watch other people raise our children for us. We also use the excuse, “I’ll stop watching this or saying this or doing this later. They’re too young to pick up on it now. I’m an adult, I can handle it.”

Our line of thinking is usually this, “We need to get ahead so we can spend more time with them in the years to come. You know, when things get rough during the teen years. If I work harder now, I’ll be able to do more with them then like go to ball games, take them to movies, take vacations, etc.” And then, before you know it our 3-4 year old is 13-14 and we wake up and think, “where has all of the time gone and what’s happening to my teen? How did they ever end up like this?”

We continue to watch unbelievable things happen to young people in our country, and we’ve looked for every excuse in the books for their actions in order to take the focus off what we are doing as parents. We’ve blamed it on movies, guns, video games, violence and sex on TV. But have we stopped long enough to realize that we as parents and adults are the ones that have sent them off to the movies, we’ve paid for and put the computers, televisions, and telephones in their rooms and by doing so have practically asked them to not spend time with us. And most of all, it is our lack of involvement with them that is sending them to these other activities to find some kind of connection and feeling of acceptance.

As I looked deep inside myself and my many faults as a parent of two pre-schoolers, I remember these words from Deuteronomy 6:5-9:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

It’s really hard to follow these instructions with what we are teaching our kids at the movie theaters of today, and if someone else is raising our children each day, and if we are too tired to play with them when we are home because we’ve “worked so much.”

If there is anything that I have learned from having two young children, it’s the fact that it’s not the actions of my children that need to change, it’s my actions that need to change. After all, they’ve learned everything they know from me or from someone else that I’ve allowed to teach them when I was “too busy.”

I have found strength as a father, knowing that I will fail often, from the words of this song:

How many times have I turned away?
The number is the same as the sand on the shore;
But every time You’ve taken me back,
And now I pray You do it once more.

Please take from me my life
When I don’t have the strength
To give it away to You.
Please take from me my life
When I don’t have the strength
To give it away to You, Jesus.

How many times have I turned away?
The number is the same as the stars in the sky;
But every time You’ve taken me back,
And now I pray You do it tonight.

-Third Day

My closing advice to any father or parent of a young child is what is recorded in the book of Joshua.

“…To love the Lord your God and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all of your heart and with all of your soul.”           Joshua 22:5

Brad Pistole
20 June 1999

by Ted Edwards


Not long ago, I received an e-mail containing this short illustration (source unknown):

“Just 5 More Minutes…”

While at the park one day, a woman sat down next to a man on a bench near a playground.

“That’s my son over there,” she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide.

“He’s a fine looking boy,” the man said.
“That’s my son on the swing in the blue sweater.”
Then, looking at his watch, he called to his son. “What do you say we go, Todd?”

Todd pleaded, “Just five more minutes, Dad. Please? Just five more minutes.” The man nodded and Todd continued to swing to his heart’s content.

Minutes passed and the father stood and called again to is son. “Time to go now?”

Again Todd pleaded, “Five more minutes, Dad. Just five more minutes.” The man smiled and said, “O.K.”

“My, you certainly are a patient father,” the woman responded.

The man smiled and then said, “My older son Tommy was killed by a drunk driver last year while he was riding his bike near here. I never spent much time with Tommy and now I’d give anything for just five more minutes with him. I’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with Todd. He thinks he has five more minutes to swing. The truth is, I get five more minutes to watch him play.

Teenagers are discovering who they are and what they think and believe. They are in the process of personalizing things and concepts told to them by parents, teachers, and other adults. Often times they will accept or reject everything from values and standards to styles and politics to religious beliefs about God, Jesus, the Bible and eternity.

This can be a time of alienation, hostility and rebellion but —
it doesn’t have to be that way.

Personalities, environment, and parental styles all influence this process.

As we head toward a new Millennium, I’m constantly reminded that my children are growing up in a different world than I grew up in during the 1960’s and ’70’s.

Because this is true … Every home has a certain amount of tension and conflict over issues like curfew and dating, taking or not taking a job after school, smoking, drinking, or drugs, styles of clothes and hair, how many body parts can be pierced, etc.

But I still believe Proverbs 22:6 is true,
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

By looking at that verse, someone might assume that children raised in a godly home will make it through adolescence unscathed and unscarred from the world’s influence.

Some even feel that casualties in this spiritual war are always someone else’s kids, not ours.

Just about the time we think everything’s going great in our family, the police car rolls up in front of our house or we get the call from the Police station – regarding our children. Or our son or daughter makes an announcement that we’d thought we’d never hear as their parent.

So, if or when this happens to you as a parent of a teen, “What did you do wrong?”

Maybe nothing, since our heavenly Father can have disobedient children …
(Remember Adam & Eve; the Prodigal Son)

We realize that loving care does not always “succeed” in producing righteous children.


  1. As parents we have stiff competition for the influence of our children. We must take a proactive role in developing a positive family climate that will help to combat against the negative, ungodliness in society.

  2. Parents need to be aware of the needs their children have by being there for them. Real life in 1999 and beyond presents tough dilemmas with difficult decisions for our young people. “Home Alone” may make for a funny or cute movie theme, but it’s not healthy or appropriate for children of any age.

  3. Unsupervised kids are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex than their supervised counterparts.

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

Ted Edwards
20 June 1999

by David Chadwell

My father died six years ago. He had a dream, a dream that he tried to make happen. He had two sons. He wanted both sons and their children living in the same community with him. That dream never happened.

This last Tuesday we had a reunion of my immediate family. Mom, Jack, and I were there. Two of Jack’s three children were there, and all of his grandchildren but two. Two of my three children were there, and all of my grandchildren but one.

We spent the late afternoon until dark with the children playing in the large front yard of my childhood home. The adults played with the kids and visited with each other. The kids got to know each other and realize that they were family. As I watched, several times I thought how thrilled Dad would have been to watch that scene were he alive and without Alzheimer’s.

It also confirmed something that I have thought a lot about in the past few months. The greatest power of a father in a family is his influence. The greatest family influence a father has is in the memories that he builds in his children.

  1. We fathers are so easily deceived by the values of our every day world.
    1. Through deception we accept an upside down set of priorities and values.
      1. It is more important to give your child an exceptional bed and excellent food than it is to show him or her your love.
      2. It is more important to give your child a wonderful house than it is to spend time with him or her.
      3. It is more important to give your child the opportunity to be in countless activities than it is to build a sharing, caring relationship with him or her.
      4. It is more important to give your child his or her desires than it is to discipline fairly with love because you care about the person he or she becomes.
      5. We fathers are easily deceived into believing that what we can afford to buy for our families is more important than giving ourselves to our families.
    2. The time that our children are at home is actually a very small part of our lives.
      1. When our children are living at home, we think it is a lifetime, but it is far, far from a lifetime.
      2. In adolescence our children begin the process of becoming a distinct self, an independent person.
      3. When a young adult child leaves home, he or she can be as different and as independent as he or she chooses.
    3. When our children are living at home, we have a lot of options.
      1. We can discipline in a variety of ways.
      2. We can use our adult advantages to manipulate, intimidate, and coerce.
      3. At this stage, we think we have all kinds of power over our children.
      4. When they are gone, and sometimes even before they are gone, we learn that we have very little power over our children.
  2. What are your strongest memories of your father?
    1. Whatever those memories are, good or bad, they are the living influence of your father in your life.
      1. Whether you admit it or not, those memories touch your mind and your heart in the most private moments of your life.
        1. Maybe those memories bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat as you remember again how grateful you are that he was your Dad.
        2. Maybe those memories bring anger and a vow that you will never be like your dad.
        3. Maybe there are no memories–just a void and a deep regret that you never knew him.
      2. The simple truth is this: no father, present or absent, is a neutral, meaningless force in his child’s life.
    2. What memories of you will live in your adult child’s life?
      1. Everyday your child is at home is an opportunity to build a memory.
      2. You never know when you are building memories.
      3. You cannot even identify the moments when you are building your most powerful memories.
      4. But be certain of this fact: the most powerful influence you have on your child when he or she leaves home will be in his or her memories.
      5. Those memories will live in your children and impact the lives of your grandchildren long after you have died.

No memory has the power of this memory: Dad was a fair, kind, loving, responsible person who was genuine and godly in mind, heart, and behavior.

As God prepared to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, he wondered if he should tell Abraham about His plans. He decided that He would for the following reason:

Genesis 18:19 For I have chosen (known) him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

If God wondered if He should inform you of a decision, would He decide that He should inform you for that same reason?

To The Rescue!

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:24-26

Paul approached his death. Some Christians deserted him (1:15). Timothy, his “son in the faith,” would face hardships (2:3). He was concerned about Christians who reduced faithfulness to quarrelsome arguments about words (2:14). Such arguments ruined the listeners. He was concerned about Christians who were consumed by unspiritual, empty chatter (2:16). This kind of talk spread like gangrene. He was concerned about Christians who declared that the resurrection had come and gone (2:18). They were distressing the faith of some. He was concerned about Timothy (2:22,23). He wanted him to avoid ignorant speculations that generated quarrels.

It would seem that a concerned man facing death would sound the alarm. It would seem that he would urge “the faithful” to attack and destroy “the unfaithful.” “Evil days are upon us! Attack those who produce the threats and cause our anxiety!”

But Paul did not issue a call to destroy. Paul urged Timothy to cooperate with God’s rescue mission. How? As the Lord’s slave, he refused to quarrel. Instead, he was to be kind (not irate) and teach (not “lay the law down”). Be patient even when he was wronged! He would gently correct those in opposition.

The next insight is powerful! God is in charge of leading people to repentance. We do not possess the power to cause people to repent! The power of repentance is not found in our arguments, our logic, our “convincing” reasoning, or our powerful stands. God grants repentance by leading a person to a knowledge of the truth. We inform people, but God is in charge when the heart meets the truth.

When we are wrong–no matter who we are–we need to come to our senses (like the prodigal son did!). We need to escape the devil’s trap. Someone else cannot do that for us. We must understand the truth of our situation, come to our senses, and desire escape. We must realize that we are doing Satan’s will, not God’s will.

Jesus proved that God conquers through love, kindness, gentleness, patience, and teaching. Satan had Jesus killed, but Jesus conquered.

The “I Always Disappoint You” Marriage

Posted by on June 13, 1999 under Sermons

[This lesson was introduced by a video presentation of a marriage situation entitled Courage for the Run presented by Paul and Nicole Johnson. Running time: 7 minutes and 53 seconds.]

A powerful, internal influence touches virtually everything we are and everything we do every day of our lives. Much of the time this powerful influence is so silent that we are not even aware it exists. Though it influences our thinking, our actions, and our feeling, we are more likely to deny that it exists than to acknowledge that it is there.

What is this powerful, hidden influence? It is our family of origin. In every day language, it is the home and family of our childhood.

  1. If you doubt the power of this influence, consider this.
    1. The most significant family in the Bible was Abraham’s family.
      1. Abraham was the person God searched for to set His plan in motion.
      2. From Abraham came the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people.
      3. From Abraham came Jesus, God’s own son, who became the Christ.
      4. Because of Abraham, you and I can be sons and daughters of God through faith in the Christ.
      5. No family has influenced spiritual history as did Abraham’s family.
    2. Consider the power of the family of origin.
      1. God promised Abraham that through him and his wife Sarah nations would descend and the Christ would be born.
        1. Sarah was as central to God’s plan as was Abraham.
        2. Abraham is known for his incredible ability to trust God’s promises.
        3. Yet, In spite of God’s promise, in fear for himself, Abraham told people that his wife was his sister.
        4. Years later, Abraham’s adult son, Isaac, in fear for himself said that his wife was his sister.
      2. Rebekah masterminded a plan to deceive her blind husband, Isaac, and urged Jacob to execute the deception.
        1. As a man, Jacob was a deceiver who achieved his goals by deception.
        2. Ten of Jacob’s sons deceived him about the death of his son Joseph.
  2. The family of origin is the powerful hidden influence that touches every marriage in unexpected ways.
    1. When we marry, we do not anticipate that the person we marry will be so powerfully influenced internally by his or her parents.
      1. Clearly understand that I am not talking about the external influences that parents have on their grown children; I am speaking of the internal influences of parents on the person you marry.
      2. We say to ourselves, “I am marrying him, not his family; I am marrying her, not her family.”
        1. Then, when we least expect it, we hear her mother in her voice or we see his father in his actions.
        2. Seeing that living, internal influence in his or her life astounds us.
        3. Sometimes that influence is good, but have you noticed how rarely we see and comment on the good influences?
        4. Sometimes that influence is distressing; it is then that we say, “You are acting just like your mother,” or “That sounds like your dad.”
    2. Why are childhood experiences in childhood families so powerful? Why does this influence continue to live in a husband or a wife even if the couple is a thousand miles from parents?
      1. Our parents give us the most important education of our lives.
        1. It is the most intensive educational experience we ever receive.
        2. It comes at the most impressionable, critical time in our lives.
        3. It comes in the most powerful educational circumstances we experience.
      2. The education, given us as we live as a part of our family, is a total environment education occurring twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
        1. In this environment, you are taught by instruction, by experience, by example, by observation, by consequences, and by rewards.
        2. You absorb this education as a whole life experience.
      3. The educational environment of the family is an environment of:
        1. Reasoning, good and bad, sound and unwise.
        2. Emotion, good and bad, responsible and irresponsible.
        3. Feelings, good and bad, constructive and out of control.
        4. Interaction, good and bad, in multiple relationships and an enormous variety of situations.
    3. What transforms the environment of my childhood home into such a powerful influence in my marriage?
      1. It is in my childhood family that I form my basic concepts and understandings of how a man interacts with a woman and a woman interacts with a man.
        1. How should a man treat a woman, and how should a woman treat a man?
        2. How does a man talk to a woman, and how does a woman talk to a man?
        3. What is appropriate for husbands and wives to discuss? What subjects should be discussed and what subjects should never be discussed?
        4. How do husbands and wives disagree? How do they seriously disagree?
        5. When you fight, how do you fight? Destructively or fairly?
        6. Should you forgive or should you hold grudges?
        7. Does control, manipulation, or deception play a role in husband and wife relationships?
        8. Is being open and honest with each other good or bad?
        9. How do husbands and wives express their anger?
        10. Should feelings be suppressed or expressed?
        11. How do husbands and wives show love? How do they express affection?
        12. Long before a person marries, these concepts and understandings are learned as absolutes that are not to be questioned.
  3. Some influences from our family of origin have a unique power.
    1. Some of these unique influences are healthy and help build solid marriage relationships. They include:
      1. The willingness to be open, to share thoughts and feelings.
      2. The willingness to be kind to your husband or wife.
      3. The willingness to be honest in marriage.
      4. The willingness to show love and affection.
      5. The willingness to encourage.
      6. The willingness to disagree in constructive, healthy ways.
      7. The willingness to compromise.
      8. An understanding of how to be unselfish.
      9. A healthy, positive self-image.
    2. Some of these influences are extremely unhealthy and create very unstable marriage relationships. They include:
      1. A negative self-image that screams internally, “You will never be good enough; you will always be a failure.”
        1. In a struggle that the person commonly loses, he or she sees self in competition with everyone and everything including his or her spouse.
        2. He or she feels driven to prove something to self that does not need to be proved and cannot be proven.
      2. The inability to express and show affection.
        1. Sometimes the fear of rejection blocks affection.
        2. Sometimes affection is considered weakness.
        3. Always affection is dangerous because it makes you vulnerable.
      3. A sense of failure or worthlessness.
        1. “Mom or Dad always told me that I was stupid and incapable.”
        2. “Nothing I ever did as a child was good enough.”
        3. “I will never be successful.”
        4. “I will always fail to meet people’s expectations.”
      4. A sense of superiority and arrogance.
        1. “Mom or Dad always told me that I was better than other people.”
        2. “I am better than everyone else.”
        3. “I deserve more than anyone else.”
        4. “I am special and everyone should treat me special.”
      5. A sense of selfishness and irresponsibility.
        1. “The world exists to take care of me and give me what I want.”
        2. “My spouse has the privilege of being married to me and serving me.”
    3. Your family of origin is the likely source of three realities that will powerfully affect your life and thereby affect your marriage.
      1. Your value system.
      2. Your attitude toward money.
      3. Your attitude toward responsibility.

What you believe your parents thought of you can exercise more power in your marriage than what your spouse actually thinks of you.

While our home of origin is a powerful influence, it does not have to be an enslaving, negative influence. If we will be honest with ourselves, we can nurture the good influences and learn how to reject the control of negative influences.

Remember, one of Jacob’s son was Joseph. As a boy, he was treated as the favorite and became an arrogant, pride-filled, bratty teenager. But as an adult, he developed into a remarkable man of honor, honesty, and integrity. He became an incredible servant of God. He trusted God in extremely difficult circumstances, and he learned from his experiences. He dared break the cycle of behavior that had been passed from one generation to the next in his family.

Do We Dare Pray This Prayer?

Posted by on under Sermons

If you consider yourself to be a Christian, I want to think with you this morning. I want to think with you about one of the most horrible experiences that can occur in a believer’s life. I am talking about a spiritually devout person.

This believer in God is absolutely certain that he or she is right. He or she “knows that I am right!” He or she is so certain about being right that he or she vigorously opposes other believers who are “wrong.” He or she is totally convinced, totally certain, and totally confident. He or she has no doubts about his or her convictions. “I know what is right! I know what is best! I know what must happen!”

Then, in an unavoidable moment and undeniable way, this person discovers unquestionably that he or she is wrong. Devastation! Crisis! This person always took pride in declaring, “I am a person of integrity.” This believer who is a person of integrity has discovered that his or her whole spiritual focus is wrong. Now what will the person do? If this happened to you, how would you handle it? What would you do? I hope that the first thing you would do is pray, long and earnestly, with an open heart.

  1. That very situation happened to a man whose name was Saul (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1-30).
    1. Saul was totally convinced that he knew God; understood God; understood God’s plan, God’s purposes, God’s objectives; and knew the truth.
      1. He was so certain that he arrested and voted for the execution of Jewish Christians.
      2. Why?
      3. Because he knew and was right, and they did not know and were wrong.
    2. As he made a trip to find and arrest Christians, he had a person-to-person encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
      1. When that meeting was over he was blind, helpless, and knew that he was wrong.
      2. He was devastated.
      3. Acts 9:9 says that he did not eat or drink for three days, and Acts 9:11 says that he was praying.
      4. Wonder what he prayed about? Wonder what requests he made?
  2. Again, I am specifically talking to those of us who are Christians.
    1. Silently, in your minds and hearts, I want you to answer some questions. I am not trying to trick you; I am trying to challenge your perspective.
      1. Do you believe in God?
      2. Do you believe that God is wise, and His wisdom is superior to our wisdom?
      3. Do you believe that God has the power to make things happen?
      4. Do you believe that God sent Jesus Christ for the specific purpose of making our salvation possible?
      5. Do you believe that God has eternal purposes and objectives right now?
      6. Do you believe that God loves you and wants to save you?
      7. Do you believe that living eternally with God is the most important thing that can happen in your existence?
      8. Do you believe that if you do not go to live with God, every achievement of your earthly life will be meaningless?
    2. Would you dare pray this prayer?
      1. “Father, coming home to live with you is the most important thing in all my existence. If that does not happen, my life will fail You and me.
      2. “You proved how earnestly You want me to live with You.
        1. “For millennia you endured human failure and human wickedness.
        2. “You even sent us Your son and let him die for our wickedness and failure.
        3. “You made promises to us that You will always keep: promises of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and love.
        4. “If I fail to live with You, it will be my failure, not Yours.
      3. “This is my request: whatever needs to happen to make certain that I live in eternity with You, please let it happen.
      4. “Whatever experiences that I need in my life:
        1. “To teach me how to trust You and not myself.
        2. “To lead me to totally depend on You.
        3. “To open my eyes and my heart to Your values and Your priorities.
        4. “To guide me to live and behave as Your son or daughter.
        5. “Whatever those experiences are, let them happen.”
    3. If you are certain that you are right, do you dare pray that prayer?
      1. If your weak faith is in yourself instead of God, do you dare pray that prayer?
      2. If you are struggling in your life, do you dare pray that prayer?
      3. If you are wrestling with evil in your life, do you dare pray that prayer?
      4. If you know that God does not occupy the place in your life that should be His, do you dare pray that prayer?
      5. If you just go through the religious motions of religious habits, do you dare pray that prayer?
    4. Do you dare pray that prayer for:
      1. Your husband?
      2. Your wife?
      3. Your children?
      4. Your parents?
      5. Anyone you deeply care about?
  3. Making an educated guess, I suspect that most of us are afraid of that prayer.
    1. “O God, please let me eternally live with You. Please let me live in heaven.
      1. “Save me, but don’t let me experience changes. I am afraid of change.
      2. “Save me, but don’t let me face sacrifices. I don’t want to give up anything.
      3. “Save me, but don’t let me suffer. I never want to hurt.
      4. “Save me, but don’t let me experience any form of physical need. I want fun now and heaven later.”
    2. Why do we feel this way?
      1. If we are talking about ourselves, perhaps we feel this way because:
        1. We think that we are on our own.
        2. We think that God is far away from us.
        3. We are afraid.
        4. We struggle to trust the promises.
      2. 1 Peter 5:6,7 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. We have no confidence in the power of humility.
        2. We are not convinced that the humility gives us access to God’s might.
        3. We do not understand how God exalts through humility.
        4. We do not understand how humility destroys anxiety.
        5. Even though we praise God for the crucifixion, we hesitate to totally trust the truth that God takes care of us.
      3. Matthew 6:31-34 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
        1. We worry about the same things that people who do not believe in God worry about.
        2. We have little confidence in the fact that God understands our needs.
        3. We hesitate to trust God’s assurance that the direct way to receive His care is to devote ourselves to the kingdom’s work and purposes.
        4. We place more confidence in the power of worry than the power of God.
    3. If we are talking about the people we love, we feel this way because we are afraid that God will answer our prayer.
      1. We don’t want the people we love to suffer.
      2. We don’t want them to experience hardships.
      3. We realize that if we ask God to work in their lives and experiences in any way necessary to bring them to a saving faith, God likely will use suffering and hardship.
  4. I would like for you to pay close attention to two prayers Paul offered for some of his Christian friends.
    1. Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      1. May we be strengthened in our inner person.
      2. May our faith let Christ live in our hearts every minute of our lives.
      3. May we be rooted and grounded so deeply in love that we are unshakable.
      4. May we become fully aware of the complete work of God in Christ and the kingdom.
      5. May our lives, our hearts, and our minds be filled with God’s fullness.
    2. Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
      1. May our growing love be the foundation of our knowledge and our ability to make wise decisions.
      2. May we approve of things that are spiritually excellent.
      3. May this make us genuine and without blame when Christ returns.
      4. May our lives be filled with the fruits of righteousness.
      5. May our existence give praise and glory to God every day that we live.

[Prayer to place our trust in God.]

I have never known a Christian who spiritually survived any tragedy in life who was not blessed. They have no desire to relive the tragedy. But they are profoundly grateful for the blessings.

Any experience in life that leads us closer to God, that deepens our ability to trust God, that causes us to rely on God brings blessings so unique, so powerful that is hard to express them with words.

The Laotian Eight Are Free!

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

In early 1998, thirteen Christians were arrested, tried, and imprisoned in Laos for participating in a home Bible study. Monday, 1 year and 129 days later, the eight men who remained in prison were freed.

Have you read 1 Peter 4:14-16 recently? They were not murderers, thieves, evildoers, or troublesome meddlers. They dared be Christians in an unchristian society and nation. They were not ashamed to suffer for their faith in Christ.

Their faith and suffering glorified God–not just in their nation–but all over the world. We cannot estimate how many people worldwide heard of their faith in Christ. It would be impossible to estimate how many Christians were challenged by the faith demonstrated in their suffering.

Their arrest for meeting in a home to study scripture shocked us. Their imprisonment for engaging in activities declared to threaten their nation and society astounded us. Their example accomplished things that preaching and teaching cannot achieve.

We responded with deep concern, which was appropriate. Appeals to government officials were made, diplomatic pressure was applied, and petitions from worldwide sources respectfully requested their release. All of that was appropriate. Yet, we likely will never know the impact or effectiveness of these efforts. They certainly did not produced the prompt results we wanted.

If my understanding is correct, the most powerful influence at work was the men’s faith. Again, if my understanding is correct, the final initiative came from those in charge of the prison. They petitioned the government on behalf of the men.

While in prison, the men gained respect and trust. They were entrusted with services and given opportunities. They were allowed to care for tasks outside the prison. They recently even were permitted to enjoy a time of celebration with their families. And all this occurred in their country’s most notorious prison. Because of our efforts? No. Because of their faith. Does this remind you of Joseph?

As we earnestly prayed for their release (which we should have done!), God used their imprisonment to make a “faith statement” about Christ. I wonder if, as we prayed, God responded by saying, “I know what I am doing; I am at work.”

Read 1 Peter 3:13-18.

The “Too Busy To Be Married” Marriage

Posted by on June 6, 1999 under Sermons

[This lesson was introduced by a video presentation of a marriage situation entitled Marriage on the Run presented by Paul and Nicole Johnson. Running time: 8 minutes and 33 seconds.]

How busy are you? Too busy? Too busy for what? Too busy to live at home? Too busy to mow the lawn? Too busy to change the oil in the car? Too busy to cook? Too busy to eat at home? Too busy to wash clothes? Too busy to go to bed? To busy to exercise? Too busy to have fun? Too busy to be married?

Ask any ten people who work, or any ten people on a career track, or any ten people who own their own business, or any ten people who are a part of the corporate world, or any ten ordinary, everyday folks, “Are you too busy?” and the majority will say, “Yes!” You likely would have difficulty finding many people who did not have too much to do.

Being too busy is the common, typical life circumstance of Americans.

  1. We live in a nation and society that functions on the principles of capitalism.
    1. The merry-go-round of our economic approach to life keeps the majority of us running in circles.
      1. Two important principles in our economic system are (a) free enterprise and (b) expanding markets.
        1. Free enterprise guarantees you the right to organize and operate your business competitively without government control as long as you do not threaten the public’s interest.
        2. For business to thrive in our economic system, we must increase the need for our service or our product.
      2. For our economic system to function, there must be a market that is always growing, always expanding.
        1. You either identify an existing market, or you create a market for your service or product.
        2. To expand a market or to create a market you must do three basic things.
          1. You must identify a need.
          2. You must make people aware of the need.
          3. You must convince people that their well-being or their happiness depends on fulfilling that need.
        3. That is the purpose and objective of advertising.
          1. Advertising exists to make us want.
          2. When advertisement succeeds in making us want, advertising must then convince us that we need what we want.
          3. Advertising exists to convince us that our lives will not be fulfilled unless we acquire what we want and believe that we need.
    2. But, that is not enough to sustain our economic system.
      1. It can never be enough to acquire what you want and think you need.
        1. As soon as you acquire what you think you need, you must be motivated to want something else.
        2. Only by creating new wants that become new needs can the system grow.
      2. This is a basic objective of this approach to marketing in our system:
        1. Motivate people to be dissatisfied.
        2. But, at the same time, convince people that the key to happiness is being satisfied.
        3. Convince people that they will be satisfied if they acquire what they want.
        4. But, in business never forget that satisfaction and contentment are the enemy of our economic system.
      3. This economic view creates a way that we look at life, and we commonly call this view of life “reality.”
        1. And the overwhelming majority of us buy this view of life and never question it.
        2. So we all climb on the merry-go-round and learn to move in circles.
        3. We get so busy that we cannot get off.
        4. We have to do more to acquire more.
        5. Because we acquire more, we have to do more.
        6. And the number one casualty of our being too busy is our marriages.
  2. What are the three greatest needs we all have in life?
    1. Well, let’s see if we can identify the three.
      1. Could they be:
        1. A house
        2. The right clothing
        3. A car
      2. Could they be:
        1. A job
        2. A bank account
        3. A credit card
      3. Could they be:
        1. An education
        2. A good career
        3. A economically secure future
    2. I do not believe any of those are the three; may I suggest these three:
      1. To be meaningfully loved just for being myself.
      2. To be genuinely forgiven when I fail and repent.
      3. To share my life meaningfully with someone else.
    3. No matter what you acquire, it is impossible to reach the highest level of fulfillment in life without those three.
      1. These three experiences can never be found in a house, clothes, and a car.
      2. Nor can they be found in a job, a bank account, and a credit card.
      3. Nor can they be produced by an education, a good career, and a secure economic future.
    4. These three things can be found when a husband and wife build and sustain a mature, responsible, godly marriage.
      1. Those three things are the highest objective of successful companionship in marriage.
      2. They are the three pillars that sustain the marriage relationship.
        1. In a healthy marriage, the husband and the wife know as a fact, “I am loved, and I am loved just because I am me.”
        2. In a healthy marriage, the husband and the wife extend each other real forgiveness for failures when there is repentance.
        3. In a healthy marriage, the husband and the wife live life meaningfully with each other.
      3. To the degree these three things are true, the marriage is healthy and responsible.
      4. To the degree these three things are not true, the marriage is weak and irresponsible.
      5. To the degree these three things are true, companionship characterizes the marriage, and companionship in marriage was the intent of God.
    5. But because we “buy” without question the concept of “reality” produced by the creative marketing goals of our economic system, we neglect and abuse the most critical earthly relationship that we have, marriage.
      1. No earthly relationship has as much impact on our total lives as does the marriage relationship.
      2. No relationship can bring as many basic blessings to life as can marriage.
      3. No other human relationship brings as many benefits to the family of God.
      4. In a perfect world, there would be two things:
        1. There would be open communication in intimate relationship with God.
        2. There would be the ideal companionship shared by husbands and wives.
        3. The only time a perfect world existed, those two relationships were a part of it.
  3. Next week Joyce and I will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary.
    1. Compared to a number of marriages in this congregation, we are youngsters.
    2. I confess to you freely that Joyce is the greatest, most significant earthly gift that God has given me.
    3. “Looking back, is there anything that you would do differently?”
      1. Surely!
      2. I would not neglect Joyce because of my commitments to other people.
      3. I would not impose on Joyce by making her pay the price of my over-commitment.
      4. I would make time commitments to Joyce as important as time commitments that I made to any other person.
      5. I would be much more diligent not to be too busy.

What is the greatest threat to your marriage? There are many, many serious, deadly threats to your marriage: lack of commitment, debt, shallow relationships, selfishness, the love of pleasures, other relationships, growing apart, stress, materialism–the list is much too long to complete.

But the greatest threat to your marriage is the threat created by simply being too busy to be married. Many other threats become threats simply because you were too busy.

The first thing that you can do to protect and preserve your marriage is to guard against being too busy to be married.