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About this series
Keeping Love Alive - Volume 3
Four Challenges Great Marriages Have in Common
If you could take a step back and really evaluate your marriage… how does it look? Is it just a little out of sync... are there a few areas that need some work... or is your relationship on the verge of completely falling apart? Through his newest volume of “Keeping Love Alive,” Chip reveals a humbling truth… every marriage has its struggles… even the ones that look perfect. In these programs, Chip addresses the 4 challenges great marriages have in common. He exposes how - busyness, temptation, kids, and stagnation - can ruin relationships. Discover from God’s Word how you and your mate can handle these trials together - and become a stronger couple, more effective parents, and create a happier home.More from this series
I’m going to talk about four challenges in our time together that all couples have and the first one is the challenge of busyness. You just, when life gets going fast, when there’s pace, you don’t have time to really talk. When you get going really fast, you don’t parent the way that you know you want to parent. When you cross each other in schedules and over time, busy, busy, busy.
And so, we are going to talk about how not to be crazy busy. In your notes, these are six symptoms of misplaced priorities. Are you ready? I’ll go through them rather quickly and rather than overly analyze them, I’d like you in your mind, not like, Wow! Two and four really apply to my mate. Maybe think about you. These are the symptoms of misplaced priorities.
Number one, it’s, I’ll just use the word “busy”. It’s called the activity trap. People who are close to you are saying you really need to slow down. You are always in a hurry. When you walk into the grocery store or the bank, you’re constantly looking for what is the shortest line. When you’re in your car, you’re driving mostly in the left lane and sick and tired of the person that won’t get over and allow us to get through. You’re trying to analyze if you don’t have one of those little things on the dashboard of your car, “How far over the speed limit can I go without actually getting a ticket?”
You rush. You find yourself eating fast, driving fast, thinking fast. Apart from areas where other people will see, inside your dresser drawer is a mess. Your closet is disorganized and your desk is a mess as well, because you’re constantly going here, here, here, there. If it’s not a mess, it’s because what you do before you leave is you stack everything together in a very unorganized order, but it looks good on the outside. And you are just, you are just busy, moving fast all the time.
If you have children, the worst symptom is when one of them is grabbing your leg as you are walking out the door, and looking up at you like, “Can I really have some time?” As you say, “Yes, real soon. As soon as this is over. As soon as I get back; as soon as things calm down.” Busy, busy, busy. You feel held hostage, you feel like there is honestly not enough time and you actually have believed the lie that there’s just not enough time, instead of misplaced priorities.
Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators said, “Emotion is no substitute for action, action is no substitute for productivity, and productivity is no substitute for reproduction or real accomplishment.”
The second is emotional stress and pressure. You feel uptight, you might have tightening in your chest, trouble sleeping, uneasy feelings, restlessness, can’t get your mind to stop, indecisive, decisions are on the line and you can’t quite make up your mind, you feel like there is way too much to do, there’s too many balls in the air that you’re trying to juggle.
And it’s not the hours of the work, it’s the stress and anxiety, when you are honest, of wondering whether the important things are really getting done. And you feel the tension. And you know there are really important things and you are moving and you feel it inside and it’s eating at your soul.
If it happens long enough, some people burn out. If it happens long enough, some people break down. And depending on your personality type, sometimes you blow up. It causes marital tension, outbursts of anger. Or if you stuff it, you find yourself, after a while, getting really depressed.
Busyness, emotional stress and pressure, [third] low-grade nagging guilt. You feel bad about yourself, it’s a different kind of restlessness. You don’t, I’m not fulfilled. A lot of things you know that are really important that you are actually telling other people how important they are, and that they ought to do them, but if the truth is known, you’re not even doing them yourself.
Relationships are more and more superficial, little time for celebration, daily pressures push aside the need to envision and plan and pause. You have that feeling down inside like, I know this is the kind of man, or, the kind of woman, the kind of Christian, the kind of mom, the kind of dad I’m supposed to be, and I’m juggling and I’m moving and I’m juggling and I have this low-grade nagging guilt that tells me that I’m a hypocrite. And I will tell you one thing about life: everyone hates hypocrites.
But what is really painful is when you look in the mirror and realize that person you’re looking at is you. And so, you fake it and you skim and you juggle and you pose and you find yourself projecting that things are better and find yourself in moments that aren’t really good inside. And then someone that you know, “Oh, yeah! Hey, man! Yeah! Right at you, man. Good to see you again!” And these things build. And some of them have some really deep causes.
A fourth symptom that your priorities are misplaced is financial debt, financial problems. Money is tight. You used to give the first portion to the Lord, and you look at your finances right now and think, Man, I would love to. I don’t see any way. The fact of the matter is is that debt gets higher and higher.
And, see, when you have busyness and emotional stress and low-grade guilt, what you do is, a lot of us at least, is it really feels better short-term to go buy something, or to go out to eat, or to buy a toy, or to pay for a vacation because you really need to get refreshed with money that you don’t have.
And then about thirty days later, when the credit card comes, and they tell you crazy things like, “Well, you only need to pay a minimum of sixteen dollars and forty-four cents on the four hundred and ninety-nine dollars that you just charged.”
Except that you do that and you keep pushing that can and you realize you’re paying twenty-three, twenty-five percent interest and you’re getting robbed. And the hole gets deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.
And the car is on time, and the TV is on time, and this is on time, and this is on time, and the credit cards come, and the mortgage issues come. And pretty soon, you start drowning. Over half of all marriages that fail, fail because of financial pressure. And the issue has nothing to do with finances.
The next one is, I just call it prayerlessness. It’s leakage in your devotional life. When you get going really, really fast, it’s not like you don’t pray, but instead of – you know those times when you’re walking closely with God and you find yourself where you have built-in times and you realize you have nothing to bring to anyone unless you are with Him, and you sit down and you make time. And maybe it’s not as long as you would like, but it’s not rushed. And you’re in His Word and you close your eyes and you think about it and you really pray and you process and He brings things to your mind and, Ooh, yeah, oh. I’m sorry. Father, thank You so much.
And then you think about what is coming up and those issues that do bring anxiety and then you begin, one by one, cast them to the Lord. And, I don’t know how it’s going to work out with schooling and this is going to happen with the finances.
And there’s a sense that you are walking with God. And when prayerlessness kicks in or there is leakage, pretty soon, when you pray, it’s, like, in the car when you can turn off the radio. And you pray on the run. Or you meet with someone else and you pray with them. But what you realize, again, it’s like you start to skim.
And then there’s this, just this weird feeling like someone moved, but God feels distant. You know what I mean?
You close your eyes, you’re ready to pray, and it’s like, I mean, I know what the promises say, but He just…
And then it creates low-grade nagging guilt. And then the low-grade nagging guilt causes you to buy stuff that you really don’t need. And then that causes more emotion and anxiety and as you have more anxiety, I don’t know what it is about we are the, maybe the only species that we think when we don’t know what to do, we’ll do what you don’t know faster. Right?
I remember sitting on a plane and feeling so overwhelmed and a mixture of all these things and I opened up my phone and unlike some people who want to get it down to zero, I just sort of, ah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And a bunch of it’s a bunch of junk and you unsubscribe, and it seems like somehow they resubscribe you somehow. And I remember, and I remember sitting on a plane doing this. Delete, delete, delete, delete. And I looked down, I deleted a hundred and sixty-six of these things. And I had this little feeling like, I accomplished something. And I thought, Is that sick or what? To think that deleting an email that is meaningless, but I just wanted to do some kind of activity that made me feel like I was actually accomplishing something when I felt paralyzed and anxious and struggling.
And what I really needed was to clear all the decks and draw near to God, have Him draw near to me, and get refreshed in my soul.
The final one, as I have alluded to maybe in a sense, but it it’s escapism behavior. It’s the quick fix, it can be the vocation, or the vacation, but often it’s bingeing on a Netflix, it’s logging onto porn, it’s going to the refrigerator and eating food that you’re not hungry for, but you just feel better for a little while, until about three weeks of that and then your clothes don’t fit and you don’t feel good about yourself and you buy some stuff that you don’t need, that you buy them in another size, then you…anyway.
These are just symptoms. And then what we tell ourselves, and this is the lie, this is from someone who was a class-A workaholic. And that grew out of some of my father issues. My dad loved me, but he didn’t know how to put his arm around me, I didn’t him say those words, “I love you,” until probably he was maybe in his fifties. Not because he didn’t, but…
And he was a Marine. And he was a great athlete. And he was a schoolteacher, math and science. So other than needing to go four-to-four, up to bat, scoring a lot of points, getting a basketball scholarship, and getting almost straight As all the time, and when you did that, it wasn’t enough to, then you get a degree. And then at the graduation, instead of, “Great job,” it’s, “Eh, not bad. So, when are you going to get your masters?” And when you got your masters, “Oh, that’s pretty good. When are you…?” And it didn’t matter. You go three for four, “How many times have I told you?” It’s, “Hey, it’s an inside curve ball! When you open your hips and step here, you’re always going to ground out to the shortstop. Come on!”
He was drafted by the Saint Louis Browns, amazing athlete, and I can just tell you this, he loved me, loved me, loved me. But it did not matter what I did, it wasn’t quite enough. And I have lived a big portion of my life learning my heavenly Father is not like that. And my adult boys would tell you, “Dad, you recovered a lot and you made a lot of progress, but whatever he was passing down to you, you gave us a pretty good dose of that yourself.”
So, what I want, here’s what I want you to know. Those are just symptoms; they are not the root problem. And the lie that those of us that live like this more than we want to admit, and by the way, for whatever level right now that you’re saying, Yeah.
And others are a little bit more like, “Yeah, you know, I got a little bit of this,” you’re in denial. And what we say is, “This is only temporary, as soon as we get into the house, as soon as we get relocated, as soon as the kids start school, as soon as we can sort of balance our finances…”
In other words, it’s when/then, when/then. I just want you to know, then never comes. It’s a way to stay in denial and keep your life always focused around symptoms. And what I want to talk to you about is how to get a hold of your life, because you break out of busyness when you get your priorities clear and get them God-honoring, receive God’s grace, make some very hard decisions, learn to say no to some things, develop some new habits, and we heard about the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I’ll tell you the one that everyone misses, the very last one is self-control. Self-discipline.
And I’m not talking about a God who everything has to be in cookie-cutter order, but I’m telling you about a God who is a God of order. And so, let me shift gears and open your notes and let’s get to the solution side.
You might wonder then, so what are biblical priorities? What do they actually look like? I’d like to say that turn to 1 Priorities chapter 7, verse 3 and I will line this out for you, but there is no book of Priorities. But Paul wrote two twin epistles while he was in prison. And the first half of Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 is doctrine or what is true about us; the first half of Colossians chapter 1 and 2 is doctrine or what is true about us and what is true about God.
And then beginning in the second half of both books, he talks about, “Therefore, walk,” or, “live in a manner that is aligned with God’s will and God’s wisdom.” And I put it in your notes. And so, I’m not going to go through these, but just look. Each one of them start with your relationship to God, then your relationship with your mate, then your relationship with your family, relationship with your work, relationship with your ministry.
Now, here’s for years how I used to think about this and it never worked. I thought, That means every day, seven days a week, three sixty-five, then the order of what I do is it has got to be God first, then I guess I meet with my wife, then I meet with my kids, and, well, wait a second. One kid is in ICU. Oh, wait a second, we’ve got a – I’ve got to be overseas. Priorities don’t work. They are lined out in terms of what is most important. Can I give you a picture that is different of priorities that I think will really help you?
Have any of you ever seen one of those, maybe at a wedding or a super fancy hotel, a chocolate fountain? Okay, so you know there’s this, they shoot the chocolate up and it’s here, right? And it’s in a little circle. And then it has a little “V” and it goes to another ring, right? And then has another ring, then it has another ring, and so, it’s like these – I will date me, but for really old people before ice makers, they used to have ice trays. And you would fill the ice trays. And in between all the little diggity-doos, I don’t know what you call those things, but there would be a little “V” so that as you poured the water in it would go from this one to this one to this one to this one.
And then no matter what you did, you spilled it when you put it in. But you get the idea. Okay? When this one got filled, it would fill the next one. When it got filled, it filled the next one. Am I going too fast for you? You got this? Okay.
I want you to think of your priorities as a chocolate fountain. And at the top cylinder, and do you remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well? He said, “If you knew the gift of God that I have,” and then He talks about, “My life is like living water. It’s like it’s an overflowing fountain.” And what it is is the Spirit of God in your new life, what He wants to do is have you abide in Christ, talking with Him, being in His Word, the company of God’s people.
So, the first priority is being filled with God, abiding in Him.
Now, depending on where you’re at in your life, what happened that day, but what does it, what do you need? I mean, you don’t feed a baby the same thing as a three hundred- and thirty-five-pound lineman, right? So, we all have a little bit different diet, but what of God’s Word, what time, what prayer? And then what happens is now when that is full, guess what, now you have something to give to your mate.
See, you are commanded to love your mate, if you’re a man, the way Christ loved the Church. Well, what does that mean? Die for her. That’s not hyperbole. I mean, if you need to physically die for your wife, die for her.
But actually, it’s much harder to live for her, to put her needs first. Love is giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. That’s the cross. And I am to serve my wife in that way. I can’t do that. It’s impossible. So, I need to be filled up with the grace of God and the power of God so that I am having this kind of relationship with my wife.
As we connect and love one another and we build intimacy, that builds tremendous security in these kids. But she is more important than them and she is more important than my job. And as we connect then, that overflows into the life of our kids. And as that, you get the idea?
And so, I’m going to give you two words, two tools to start focusing on the important. This will literally be sort of like to get you started. But two words that hold the keys to enjoying the peace and the power of a prioritized life. That’s really what right priorities do.
And, by the way, do they flex? Of course. There’s no rigidity, there’s not legalism.
Here’s a prioritized life is, “Give me your phone, give me your calendar, give me your checkbook and if I could I would hook something up so I could see what you’re dreaming about when you daydream. And I could look on your phone, in your calendar, and where your meetings are, and I could tell you within a millimeter of accuracy the trajectory of where your life will be ten years from now, with absolute certainty.
Because, “As a man or a woman thinks, so you become.”
One of the great mentors in my life was a guy named Howard Hendricks, he was my professor and mentor. And I’ll never forget, he said, “Almost everyone lives with two sets of priorities. The one that they write down on a sheet of paper that says things like, ‘God, marriage, family, etcetera.’ And then the one that they actually live out day by day. And usually they don’t match much at all.”
And if you want to have a successful life, a successful marriage, have kids that – you can’t make your kids turn out right, but you can create an environment that gives them really good possibility. And whether you like it or not, more is caught than taught. And here’s the thing with children. They don’t do what you say, believe me. They become who you are.
They don’t become who you say, they don’t become who you would like, they don’t become who you would dream. They become very much like who you are. If you’re a person of integrity, by and large, they will be. If you have a hunger for God’s Word, demonstrated not by words but by your behavior, in general, they will. If you pray and depend on God and are kind to people, they will probably catch: I pray and depend on God and am kind to people.
And if you say, “These are really important things and I send you to Sunday school or even a Christian school and here is what is really important,” but when they look at your behavior, because that’s all they do, they will model your behavior.
My background in undergraduate and graduate work was in psychology and there was a guy name Bandura that was famous for all of his studies. He says, “The number one most powerful means of socialization,” and that’s just a big word that means how people turn out by all the things they experience, “is modeling.” Modeling. Modeling. Perfectly? No. Imperfectly, yes. But progressively.
So, tool number one, you must get a hold of your time, right? I could say something like, “We all have a hundred and sixty-eight hours a week,” so time is never the issue. It’s how you spend them.
Psalm 90 was written by, it’s the only one written, did you know who wrote Psalm 90? Anybody? It’s Moses. And it’s one of the last things he wrote.
Let’s just say in general, somewhere around two million-plus people came out of the Exodus. And we know that only the people that were twenty and under were going to go into the Promised Land. So, maybe there were three million, I don’t know. But I conservatively would say Moses did about one point five million funerals. So, that’s burying a lot of people over forty years.
“The length of days,” he says, “is seventy or eighty if we have the strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow. For they quickly pass and we fly away. Who knows the power of your anger, for your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.” Application, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart,” and circle in your notes the word, “wisdom.” A heart of wisdom. Basically, what he says is, “Seventy, eighty years – life is very, very short.”
You don’t have time to run from the pressures and the pain and log on and eat and buy stuff you don’t need.
You don’t have time to play games and be in denial and think that fantasy football or who wins the next NFL game…
Pleasure is a wonderful interlude, it’s a terrible destination. It’s a great reprieve; it’s a gift from God. Good food, good meals, good vacation, good movie – wonderful. Thinking that having enough, getting enough, earning enough so that you can do whatever you want – believe me – it’s a life without meaning.
He says, first, you want to get a hold of your time, recognize it is way shorter than you think. You’re a breath away.
Second, he says there is coming judgment. Moses: “Who knows the power of your anger?” God is holy. He is loving, He is compassionate, He is caring, but God is angry at sin. Here’s a group of people that said, “Yes! We know You parted the Red Sea, You did this, You have supplied the manna, but we are going to do it our way. You know?
Thanks for the cross, Jesus, appreciate You a bunch, but I’ll tell You what, I’m going to sit on the throne of my life and I am going to do my life, my way, and the way I think is important.” That’s the heart of sin. The heart of all sin is saying to God, “You, though [You] made me, and died for me, and care for me, and have a plan for me, I dethrone You and I will get to say what I will do with my life and my time and my way and it will be my goals and my dreams, not Yours.”
And when you do that, it’s called pride. And God is opposed to the proud. The little word in Greek is “anti”. He puts on warrior clothes, because He cares, and the velvet vise, God loves all of His children, but He loves us so much, every son, every daughter whom He loves, He disciplines. And when your priorities are out of whack and you are going down paths that are not wise…
In the Bible, wisdom is doing life according to God’s plan. In other words, God says, I have created relationships to work like this. I have created finances to work like this. What you do is you remember that it belongs to Me, you don’t spend more than you have, you invest over here, you are generous over here, and as you do that, what you’ll find is you will accumulate, you don’t have financial pressure. And I, as you are generous and caring and loving to other people, I will pour more into you and you’ll have peace in your life. This is how you work. This is how you discipline your kids. This is how you raise your kids.
Wisdom is nothing more or nothing less than the skill, the knowledge, the understanding to apply what God says about how life is supposed to work. And He, by the way, created life, He is all-knowing, and He gave us the truth about how to do it.
So, He says, Here’s the application. Ask God for wisdom to know what to do. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul would write, Ephesians chapter 5, “Therefore be careful how you walk,” or literally, “how you live, not as unwise, but wise,” are we getting sort of a pattern here? “…making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
Put a box around the word “time”. “So then, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” There are two major words in Greek for time. One is kairos, the other is chronos.
Basically, the way that he says, “Making the most of your time,” it’s like opportunity. In other words, you have a window of opportunity.
Some of your kids are very small right now. I just talked to a young man who is very, very smart from another country. He asked me if I would mentor him. So I said I would. And so, I was on the phone with him yesterday as I was driving. He’s very, very smart. And He has been very successful, came out of a southeast Asian country, just got a very advanced degree. And he had some ministry opportunities and he chose one and then he just in passing said, “Oh yeah, and they gave me a job so that my wife could make the decision whether she wanted to be home with our child or not.” I said, “Okay.”
The baby is six weeks old. So I said, “Well, how is it going?” He said, “Oh, it’s going really good. We, first day, this is our first day, we put our brand-new baby in daycare. And she works in this office and I work in this office and we have two salaries.” And I’m thinking…
Now, there are some people that have to put their baby in daycare. I don’t know him well enough yet, but I would say, “Why did you have a baby?” My background is educational psychology. Eighty percent of that child, eighty percent of that child’s moral development, personality development, IQ development happens in the first five to six years. You’re going to outsource that to someone who makes minimum wage that has seven other kids they are trying to take care of?
The bonding that happens, the attachment that happens with a mom, that happens with a family.
You think there’s a reason that the family is falling apart? We traded, if nothing more than saying, “You know what? I think for eighty percent of my kid’s development, it’s probably a good thing that, like, someone that loves the kid, that sings, that talks, that teaches, that loves, we trade it in for two salaries.”
Do you have to have two cars? Do you have to have that TV? Can you live on less? Absolutely.
You talk about misplaced priorities, okay, that has been a thirty-year run. Tell me how families are doing now? This guy just graduated from one of the most prestigious seminaries in America. And I’m thinking, How could you be so smart and so unwise?
And his plan is to go back into a very challenging world. And he will have a young child that grows up with attachment issues, lack of bonding issues, not as emotionally strong. Because guess what – there’s this thing that God made for babies and moms and babies and dads. Now, there are certain situations, my wife was in that case. She had two brand-new babies, a husband that ran off with someone else, and found herself with no job, no money, two babies, goes to work. And praise God, there was someone that would help take care of those babies.
That’s, you know what? Everyone has some of those times. But our priorities are comp – you have to get a hold of your time and you have to live wisely. Those moments aren’t coming back. Birthdays don’t come back. Graduations don’t come back. Windows of time where you sit out after playing one-on-one with your son and are dripping wet and are looking up at the sky. And instead of doing a Bible study, you just start talking to God out loud. And he realizes it’s not about church, it’s not about religion, and he loves his dad and you are out there sweating and that’s how you be a man. That’s how you walk with God.
And there are moments when, yes, there’s TV and junk and Netflix, but you tuck your kids in, and you bathe them, and you get up and you pray with them before they go to school, and you tell them what really matters, and they really matter. And love and family is spelled T-I-M-E. There is no substitute.
And you all have been raised in a generation of media and social media – if you want to get a hold of your time, get a hold of your time, turn off your social media for the next seven days. Believe me, all the people that are posting things, it’ll be there when you get back. Just stopping. Detoxing.
You have plenty of time to meet with God. Ask yourself: what are the habits? This was a breakthrough for me. Just ask yourself, there are little habits like you go to work, you do this, you come home, you eat, and then if you’re not careful, you can find you burned three hours every night sitting in front of the tube. And then if you watch thirty to forty-five minutes of the news – how many pictures do we need to see to think things are really challenging? Don’t put your head in the sand, but I will tell you, every time you put all that stuff in your mind, your emotions will tell you you need to help fix this. Or you need to do something about it. And it will get you discouraged and thinking very negatively and in ways that are not healthy or good for you at all.
The Bible says, “Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. The mind set on the flesh is death, the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”
The most important decision you’ll make every single day is what do you allow to go into your mind? Because your thinking produces your emotions, your emotions, by and large, produces your behavior. Your behavior is a series of decisions and then you live with those consequences. So, your thinking and our time.
Give God your best, your first and best time. And then I gave you a little, it’s called 2PROAPT. If you never knew how to study the Bible, it’s take a short, little section. It could be James chapter 1, or you could go through the book of Mark, or the gospel of John, pray before. Then read the chapter super fast. That’s what I mean by “preview”. Then read it slowly, thoughtfully.
Then read it one more time and just observe. Are there words that are repeated or what is it talking about? And then just say, God, what do You want me to do? And make some sort of application. And then ask God, pray for the help to do it. And then tell someone, “This is what I read today.”
A good someone might be your mate. You might just text them, “This is what I read this morning, and this is what I am going to do. And I am going to pray for your mom, because she called last night. I’m concerned about her.”
If this is new to you, we do a thing at Living on the Edge called Daily Discipleship where I actually meet with people individually and mentor or disciple them in how to read the Bible, how to pray, how to meet with God. And I never, I usually talk eight or nine minutes max, never more than ten. And then I give people just one something that I ask you for ten minutes. And I meet with you to build a habit for just about three weeks.
I had never opened the Bible growing up, I trusted Christ through athletics, Fellowship of Christian Athletes right after I graduated from high school. And I went to a college on a basketball scholarship and there was a bricklayer in that town who met with me every Tuesday when I was willing to get up; often I pretended I was asleep.
And he taught me how to study God’s Word, he taught me how to pray, he had me at his house for dinner with a bunch of other athletes. I watched a grown man date his wife. I had never seen a married person date his wife. He had four kids; I watched, this is what a dad looks like who loves his sons and disciplines and plays with them.
And about three years in, I didn’t know much about Christianity because it was all new, but I decided in my heart of hearts, someday I want to be like Dave Marshall. I don’t want to be a lawyer, I don’t want to be an astronaut, I don’t know when…I was a basketball coach and teacher. And I just thought, more than anything else, I want to be a Christian like Dave Marshall. I want to be a dad like Dave Marshall. I want to be a husband like Dave Marshall.
And that set me on a journey of getting a hold of my time, getting a hold of my money, getting a hold of my priorities, and it has been a long journey. And making the changes has not been easy, but life-giving.
God has so much more for us than most of us are getting. I don’t want to get to heaven and He, like, Oh, this is mostly in storage, Ingram. Shelf one, shelf two, shelf three. What are these? These are all the blessings. These were relational blessings, these were the family blessings, these were the financial blessings, these were all the big opportunities. Well, how come I didn’t get them? You decided to do it your own way. I made it pretty clear. I laid it out. The principles were clear. When you walk in wisdom, I had all these – I’m for you. God is not down on you. I loved you. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Man, the dreams I had for you, the opportunities I had for you, what I wanted to – the intimacy in your marriage, the kind of parent I wanted you to be. But you just busy, busy, busy. Phone, phone, phone, phone. Social media, social media. What does everyone think? Pressure, pressure, pressure. I just wanted you to be a man of God. I just wanted you to be a woman of God. I died for you. Don’t you think I’m going to give you the best? “He that spared not His own Son, how would He not with Him freely give us all things?”
And so, the second one is your money. Huge subject that I’m just going to say that Jesus spoke more about money than He did heaven and earth combined. Not because He’s trying or needs your money, obviously, it’s because your heart always follows your treasure.
But the thing, here’s what money tells you. It’s your values. When you have money arguments, it’s not about money, it’s about who spends what. “Why did you buy those shoes?” Or, “Why did you play so much golf?” Or, “Why did you do this?” Or, “Why did you do that?” Or, “Why did you spend that?” Or, “Why didn’t we talk about it?”
Money is about what matters. And it reflects where your heart really is. And so, God wants to have our heart. And so, why He tells us to give the first portion, He owns a hundred percent of it. I don’t have a house; it’s His house. I don’t have time; it’s His time. I don’t have a car; it’s His car. I don’t have savings; it’s His savings.
So, what? I manage it. What do You want me to do with all this? He says, Well, first, just so that we stay on the same page, every time something comes in, I want you to give Me the first portion. That’s what it means to honor, to remind you that it’s Mine, not yours. Because you’ll spend it differently, you’ll invest it differently, you’ll do different with it when you understand it’s Mine. And by the way, I’m the smartest financial manager in the whole world because I know the beginning from the end. And I’m for you.
And by the way, when people’s priorities are out of whack, I do this thing, I put holes in their purses. You want to run your finances? You want to do it your own way? Go right ahead. But I have watched over and over and over and over, He can make, let’s say you start with ten percent as a good starting place. He can make ninety percent go six times as far as a hundred percent when your priorities are in line.
And then you get to see vivid answers to prayer and when you get a hold of your money, you have to do silly things like have an actual budget and decide where it goes, find out where it is.
So, the application is four commitments. Give the first portion of each paycheck to God. And by the way, there’s tons of resources and we have some and there are others. Financial Peace University, Ron Blue Group, Crown Ministry – here’s the deal. You want to get your finances in order, there are plenty of ways to do it. I just want to tell you, you better do it.
Second is pay your bills next before you go to Costco or other places. Live on the rest.
The way we did that is we did those first two things and then we decided how much we had for groceries and how much we had and we put them in envelopes. Cash. It’s a really weird.
It’s funny, when you use a card, it just doesn’t seem like real money. When you do cash, and then when the envelope is empty, you’re done. So, hey! We’ve got eighty-five dollars for the next two weeks for recreation! We went out to dinner; it was seventy dollars! Great! Enjoy the next thirteen days on that fifteen bucks. You know? So you get the idea.
And the fourth is to get out of debt. Obviously, there’s things like homes that are appreciable and some debt that can be wise and helpful in some seasons. But those, that’s really what the Bible says. And God will bless your finances as you do it. Because really what He wants to do is bless you.
It was the longest recorded day in Jesus’ life. And it’s in Mark chapter 1. And it says, “A great while before dawn He arose and went to a lonely place to pray.” It was a crazy day. He just ministered, ministered, ministered and then He got to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house and she was sick and so He healed her. And it says, “People came from everywhere and He cast out demons and He healed people into the wee hours.”
Sometimes we think Jesus had, He called Himself the Son of Man because He was fully Man and He was fully God, without confusion. He lived, not as deity; He lived as being fully human. He said, “I can do nothing apart from what I see the Father [do]. I can do nothing of my own.”
And so, it was His humanity, trusting the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit so He would model for us how we live the life. And after His longest day, He felt the need to get up early and reconnect with His Father to remember what matters.
Because He was tempted in every way like us, yet without sin. And you just can’t have people saying, “You were awesome, You’re the new rock star, thousands of people are showing up.” His popularity. And His disciples go out that morning and say, “Jesus, Jesus, You’ve got to come back. It’s unbelievable. If You thought last night was great, I mean, You are like the greatest rock star and everyone is looking for You.”
And I believe He went out there to remember why He came, because He says to the disciples, “I must go to other villages, for that’s why I came.” There’s a little Greek word that means a day of necessity. And He had, “I have to do this.”
And so, I have kind of taken that as my challenge, that if Jesus, the Son of God, needed to meet with His Father to get clear on what matters and realign His priorities, I probably need it every day.