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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
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.