Monday, June 23, 2014

Building a Marriage that Goes the Distance (Part 3)

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Preached by David Kautt
Community Christian Church, Durant, Oklahoma                         
Sunday morning, June 22, 2014

Proverbs 5:15 – 23, “Drink water from your own cistern,
And running water from your own well.
16 Should your fountains be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own,
And not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
20 For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman,
And be embraced in the arms of a seductress?
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He ponders all his paths.
22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,
And he is caught in the cords of his sin.
23 He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

My wife, Julia, and I recently received a letter from one of our colleagues in ministry – Dennis Rainey, the President of Family Life Today.  If you don’t mind, I’d like to read just two short paragraphs from Mr. Rainey’s letter as we open up our Scripture study today.  Here’s what Brother Rainey says . . .

“Our nation is obsessed with love.  To prove it, all you have to do is look around you at the stores during the months of January and February.  Right?  Valentine’s Day merchandise is everywhere.  Everyone enters marriage with stars in their eyes and a heart full of hope.  Unfortunately, the reality that follows is approximately 40 to 50 percent of marriages today end in divorce.”

If over 41 years of marriage has taught my wife Barbara and I anything, it’s that marriages that go the distance require more than a Valentine’s Day box of chocolates.  Only couples who know Jesus Christ and are following His blueprints truly know the secrets to building a committed, long-lasting love, and a strong marriage.”
For most of the month of June – we have been focused on – learning about the subject of marriage.

Inspired, in part, by the 40-year anniversary celebration of Kent and Mary Pickens, that we enjoyed earlier in the month – and also by the fact that - traditionally June is the month of weddings – we’ve been investigating what God’s Word says not about planning a bigger and better wedding, but what this Book says about building a better marriage – a marriage that goes the distance.

So, let’s take a moment to review, shall we?  What have we learned so far?  Remember?  Marriages that go the distance – they begin with a Better Builder, right?  The Architect of the majestic galaxies – the Engineer behind the intricacies of DNA – the Person behind marriage to begin with – Your Maker – He is the Better Builder!

Marriages that go the distance – they begin with a Better Builder.

Secondly, marriages that go the distance – lasting marriages – utilize a Better Blueprint – they make use of a Better Blueprint!

My friends, there are Blueprints galore for marriage out there, aren’t there?  Believe me – there are - including many that would re-design it and re-define it in ways never planned for or intended by our Maker.  Some, in fact, X-out the word ‘marriage’ altogether.

All of those supposed blueprints are the ‘Views from the View’ – the Views from Whoopie Goldberg and company – views from the View that will hurt you!

This Book – God’s Book – however, contains the Better Blueprint.  Remember?  “This is the Way – THIS is the Way – walk in it!”

Furthermore, a marriage that goes the distance – which, remember – is God’s plan and intention for EVERY marriage!  A marriage that goes the distance must also be BUILT on a Better Foundation – a Better Foundation.

But what foundations are many people using these days?

“HE will make me happy . . .”                                                            “I want HER body . . .”
“I’ve got to get away from home at all costs – so I’ll just get married to whomever is out there!”                                    “We’ll each give our fair share – you know – 50/50 - and it will work.”

A lot of folks think that those kinds of foundations are all you need.  Listen, my friends – I’m here to tell you that none of them – none – will work.  They’re faulty – full of cracks and holes and weak spots.

Marriages that go the distance are built on a Better Foundation.

How did Dennis Rainey put it?  “Marriages that go the distance require MORE than a box of chocolates.  Only couples who KNOW JESUS CHRIST and are following Him – building on Him – truly know the secrets to building a committed, long-lasting love – and a strong marriage.”

A Better Builder – a Better Blueprint – and a Better Foundation – Jesus Christ – these key essentials are where a marriage that goes the distance STARTS.
But, then, from that basis – a man and woman must go further.  A Better Builder – Blueprint and Foundation – is just the beginning.

Next comes the WORK – Yes, I said WORK!  The two of you – side-by-side – always seeking God to help you – accomplish the work of raising up several necessary PILLARS of the long-lasting marriage.

Once again, what are those pillars – the ones we have seen so far?

Pillar # 1 – Exclusivity – Exclusivity.  Solomon said it like this in Proverbs 5 – “Drink water from YOUR OWN cistern – running water from YOUR OWN well.  Should your fountains be dispersed abroad?  And rivers of waters in the streets?”  No!  “Let them be only your own – and not a stranger’s with you.  Let YOUR fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.”

The Pillar of EXCLUSIVITY – then, there’s the second Pillar – the one I call the HONOR Pillar – the Honor Pillar, and alongside it, the ENCOURAGEMENT pillar.  Marriages that don’t just START OFF well – but that keep going and growing – do so because these pillars are in place – or, are being put in place – through words, actions and attitudes.  The Encouragement Pillar and the Honor Pillar – these two pillars are critical for a marriage to be able to go the distance.

Now, with all that in review – allow me to sort of shift gears with you, by asking you a question:  HOW IS IT – WHY IS IT – that nearly HALF of the marriages – even among Christians – are NOT going the distance?

Well, to me there are a LOT of factors – most of which come back – ultimately – to the fellow in the tuxedo and the gal in the white dress.

But, if I may – I’d like to suggest to you ANOTHER factor you and I may not have considered.  It ‘s one that related to the older, maybe even gray-headed couples pictured on either side of the Bride and Groom in almost all of the wedding photo portfolios I have ever seen. 

What am I talking about here?  I am talking about the POWER – the powerful PILLAR of EXAMPLE – the Pillar of Example.

Last Sunday, I spoke to you Fathers, didn’t I?  Well – here’s another message for us men: 

Fellows, what are our sons going to learn about women – about how to treat their wives and other women – if our life focus is all about SUCCESS – How well I do in the Board Room, in the Bedroom, on the Ball field and with the Billfold?  Yeah, men – if all they see – because SUCCESS is our focus – if all our sons see is you and me with MONEY magazine in one and hand, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue – in the other hand – what are WE teaching them – about marriage through that kind of example?
One of the HUGE missing ingredients – critical to helping marriages go the distance – is the absence – the virtual absence – of INTENTIONAL TEACHING about marriage – BY PARENTS to their children – in the home.

And, Ladies – don’t think that you’re off the hook on this.  Listen, I know – you’ve got YOUR favorite magazines, too!

While your husband’s out chasing SUCCESS – you’re on a hunt for PERFECTION!
The Perfect BODY – I’ll check out Cosmopolitan and see what it says to get the Perfect BODY.  And then, there’s the need for the perfect living room, kitchen and patio – check out Better Homes and Gardens, right?  How about Perfect CHILDREN?  That means it time to go to Parents Magazine – and for the perfect PERSONALITY – there’s always People magazine, right, Ladies?  All these magazines – sought out by women looking for the way to PERFECTION – and mixing in another guidebook – new on the scene – 50 Shades of Gray!

Ladies – what are YOU teaching your daughters about marriage – about men – about your HUSBAND – through such an example?

The power of THIS pillar of marriage is HUGE!  You don’t think so?  Listen, my friends – the WORLD thinks so – it KNOWS so!  That’s why there are TV commercials every 3 minutes.  That’s why there are slick ads in places like Sports Illustrated and Cosmopolitan!  That’s why there are BILLBOARDS like the ones I read about again last week.

The Ashley Madison Company – Ashley – How is it?  Why is it that that company spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on a billboard campaign around President’s Day – a few months ago – with this one, simple message:  WHO SAID Cheaters NEVER Prosper?  Guess whose photos appeared next to that question on the billboards?  Do the names Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and – yes – Monica Lewinsky’s friend – Bill Clinton – ring any bells?

WHO SAID Cheaters NEVER Prosper?  You know what kind of message – what kind of example those billboards were intended to convey about marriage, don’t you?  And that’s bad, isn’t it?  But, what I’m more concerned – and yes, even convicted by – is the question, “what kind of message, what type of example, is MY treatment of MY wife setting for my children?”  The power – the powerful MARRIAGE PILLAR I call EXAMPLE.  No, fellows – no, Ladies – we CAN’T do anything about the example of our ANCESTORS, but we can set ourselves toward impacting our DESCENDANTS – our children – our grandchildren – and who knows how many generations thereafter – by showing them what it means to build a marriage that will last!

Building a Marriage – what’s the key word again here?  Shall we spell it together?

W – O – R –K.  Building a marriage that goes the distance – it will take work to follow and to set these kinds of godly examples.

Finally, let me quickly point you to two more essential pillars – then, we will close.
Pillar number 5 – pillar # 5 – GRATITUDE – GRATITUDE.

I don’t know if you have this figured out yet, but I am just starting to understand it.  Two of the most important – most powerful words in all the English language – are what two words?  You know them, don’t you?  They are the words, THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!
What are those two words, really?

What they are – my friends – is the simple, satisfying overflow of a grateful heart – a heart, fellows – that looks up above – and, then looks across the table – and says, “I thank God for you…”

“Rejoice!”  That’s how Solomon put it, didn’t he?  “Rejoice – in the wife of your youth!”
Sure, she may look different than she did when she was 21.  But, listen – fellows.  SHE’S the one GOD gave you!  Thank God for her.  Tell HER – you thank God for her!
And, Ladies – the same goes for you.  Yeah, I know – I know – you didn’t figure on him snoring at night, when you said, “I do!” did you?  And you didn’t realize then – what he looks like NOW.  But, listen – HE’S the one God gave you.  He is!  So, Praise God for him – and tell him – tell your husband – that you thank God for him!

Gratitude – regularly expressing just two simple words to each other before God – Every marriage that goes the distance – somewhere – somewhere has those two words written all over it!  And, at the same time – is learning to DELETE words like, “You ALWAYS!” and “You NEVER!”

The Pillar of Gratitude – the Pillar of Example – then, finally – allow me to point you in the direction of the final pillar – the one I call ‘PERSPECTIVE’ – PERSPECTIVE.

What’s the difference – the ultimate difference between a marriage that DOES and DOES NOT go the distance?

To me, the answer to that question comes down to one, simple word – PERSPECTIVE.
Marriages that fail – do so – undoubtedly – for a lot of different reasons.  But somewhere, underneath all the reason and causes – is one critical pillar that’s missing – PERSPECTIVE.

But, what do I mean – when I use this word – PERSPECTIVE?

Proverbs 5:21 – 23 – Read it again with me, will you?

For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He ponders all his paths.
22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man,

And he is caught in the cords of his sin.
23 He shall die for lack of instruction,
And in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

Marriages that come apart – before they reach life’s finish line – I believe – do so – because they are entered into and pursued – with a “Let’s Live Like There’s NO Tomorrow”-kind of perspective.  But, listen – marriages that go the distance – that are going the distance – they don’t look at life and marriage that way!  “You only go around once in life – so go for the gusto!”  “Eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we will die!”

Those are the perspectives of marriages that don’t make it!

But marriages that go the distance – husbands and wives who – with God’s help – are seeking to build a marriage that lasts – they are driven by – sobered by – a different perspective – they are pursuing life and building their marriage – in light of ETRERNITY.  They are striving for the kind of marriage Solomon describes here in Proverbs 5 – because they realize that they their lives are always lived – CORAM DEO – before the Face of God – BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD!

In other words, their PERSPECTIVE is different than the Bud-more-foolish Beer commercial slogan!  You see – couples who are seeking to build a lasting marriage – they live their lives and build their marriages in light of the fact that one day – one day – they will have to give an account to God what they did with their lives and with His gifts.

CORAM DEO – Building your marriage with ETERNITY in view – with an ETERNAL perspective.

I began this message with a tidbit from Dennis Rainey – the President of Family Life Today.  I’d like to close with something else that he wrote – that I read recently.  It goes like this:
“The people you choose to let SPEAK INTO YOUR MARRIAGE can have an incredible impact – good or bad – on how you grow as a couple.  My wife Barbara and I had only been married 4 months when I asked my good friend Carl for some advice.  I said, ‘Carl – you have been married 25 years – and you and your wife have 5 children.  What’s the BEST SINGLE PIECE OF ADVICE you can give me – as a young man starting out his marriage?

That’s a great question, isn’t it?  And one that the younger couples in our midst ought to feel comfortable asking those of us who have been married a lot longer.

Now, listen to what Dennis Rainey’s friend, Carl said to him:  “The best advice I can give you is this:  COMMIT TO PRAY WITH AND FOR YOUR SPOUSE – EVERY DAY!’”
Building a Marriage that Goes the Distance – through PRAYER!  You know why, don’t you?

Two reasons – Because you NEED God’s help – His strength – to build that kind of marriage – number one.  And, number two – because it’s hard – in fact, almost impossible – to STAY MAD – very long – against someone WITH whom and FOR whom you are genuinely praying.  You know it, don’t you?  I hope that you do. 

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