daily Broadcast

Challenge #4 - Stagnation, Part 2

From the series Keeping Love Alive - Volume 3

Let me ask you: when was the last time you and your spouse had a meaningful talk? Read the Bible together? Went on a trip, just the two of you? Or just had fun laughing with one another? If you’re stumped, then join Chip for this program. He’ll wrap up his series “Keeping Love Alive, Volume 3” by sharing practical ways you can put the spark back in your marriage.

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Message Transcript

One of the things Theresa and I do a lot, this might not sound like a big adventure, but we really like coffee. We’ll just get a few minutes alone, and just – sometimes we sit in each other’s presence and don’t say a whole lot. Sometimes we talk about some things. Taking walks are a really good time together.

We… just simple things that just say, “I like you. I just, I like to hang out with you.” And verbalizing that.

The final log that you want to put on the fire of your marriage to keep it burning is, I wrote, they had to all start with a “C” so this one is a little bit of a stretch. Co-mission.

A co-mission is a shared vision to impact the lives of others for Christ. And here the focus is to serve. I think we have been inundated, even in Christians circles, that the real issue of marriage is that you, if you have a great marriage you’ll be fulfilled. You’ll be happy. Your mate is meeting your needs and you are meeting their needs.

The greatest picture of Jesus and the Church is in Ephesians chapter 5. And the apostle Paul makes this astounding statement. He walks through this whole passage about the man’s role to sacrificially love his wife, and the wife’s role to respect her husband, and the man to literally lay down his life. And then out of the blue he goes, “Oh, by the way, I’m referring to Christ and the Church.”

Apart from the body of Christ, functioning in a way that is beautiful and loving and caring, the greatest testimony for Christ you’ll probably ever have is your marriage. It’s so rare to find people who endure, people who love each other, people that still want to go on a date after ten, twenty, thirty, forty years. People who really believe that God brought them together and that there’s something that they can accomplish for Christ, that they serve together and they do things together that is beyond not making you happy or making the other person happy, but this is why God brought us together. Because you have gifts and I have gifts. And the two become one. And together, you’re a team that God uses in ways that He couldn’t use this person or this person, but He brings you together.

And there’s something powerful, powerful that happens when you serve, when you, together, care about other people.

It was a very small thing, but we were in church last weekend and I’m still learning how to – I’ve been a pastor I guess thirty-six of the last thirty-nine years of a local church. And I’m still learning how to be, like, go to a church service.

You’re used to, I can’t, I have to, don’t evaluate the worship, don’t evaluate the preaching. The good news, where I go, I really love the preaching. It’s awesome.

But when you’re not, you know, stagnation is when you’re, you know, it’s a good message, I took notes, and [sigh] I mean, I’ve got lots of good excuses, but as he was talking, it was just a, you know how a sermon sometimes, it was like, not a major point. But it really caught. And it was sort of one of those lines about, “The early Church, they came and they worshipped and they got before God and then they shared a meal together. It wasn’t just coming to a service, they shared a meal because they sat down and they loved each other.”

And they had a little time where you introduce yourselves to people, like, after the vision casting or announcements. And I turned around and there was a gal, talk about she just graduated, first time there. And I went this way and Theresa went that way. And she met a girl that was twenty-five and second or third time there. And we, so we got those two together and, “Oh, this was really good.” And went through the service and then I just leaned in the back and just that one line, I thought, I don’t know why, I know why, the Holy Spirit brought it to my mind.

In one of the most difficult times of our life, and the people didn’t know it, we had no money. We had moved to Dallas to go to seminary, and circumstances that would bore you and are unimportant, but we went to this church to visit a church for the first time, and we were in the car. And we were praying. And I was praying about lunch. And we didn’t have any money. And I didn’t know what we were going to do for lunch. And someone knocked on the window, and it was the people who sat either in front of us or behind us. And you know when you have that little time that some churches do, like, “Hey, greet the people.” And these people, they were just really kind. They knocked, I mean, this is a, it was a huge church, and big parking lot. How they found us, I know how, God. And then they said, “Excuse us,” and we rolled down the window. They said, “Hey, any chance you all want to go to lunch?” And we went over to their house and had another seminary couple. One is we didn’t visit any other churches.

And I thought that pastor of that church later became a mentor, the trajectory of my life was changed, my whole future was changed because we went to that church and all that happened, because one couple out of a little prompting said, “You want to go to lunch?” So, all this is going through my mind as and then it went on, like, “Oh man, they’ll think we are crazy.” And we’ve got some things, right? Then I started all the excuses.

And so, I just went to these ladies, I said, “Hey, I don’t know if you’ve got any plans, but would you like to go with Theresa and I? There’s a little Boston Market or something just a mile away. We could, “Oh, yeah! That’d be great!” And we sat down with them and heard their whole story. And I remember getting back and the car and thinking, That’s the best church service I have been to in months! And it was like, “Well, wonder why?” Because it wasn’t what I got out of it or what Theresa, it was we did something together that we just got to, it was very simple, and loved some people. And just two things happened. I felt way closer to God, and I felt way closer to my wife.

The log of communication, the log of commitment, the log of caring, and here, the log of co-mission. And our model is Matthew 4:19. And I’ll just quote this one. Jesus came up to the fishermen and said, “Follow Me,” can anybody finish it? And I will [congregation: “make you fishers of men.”] Way to go.

In other words, so, “Follow Me and I will make you,” you don’t have to make yourself.

“You follow Me. You follow Me.” And by the way, in that day, when someone, usually, a rabbi would go out and have many disciples come and ask to be a follower, because they wanted to learn to teach like Him and live like Him and it was part academic and then part practical. And it was just a process where all these disciples would, can you get the best rabbi?

And Jesus, by contrast, He went and picked His. And it’s interesting, His invitation was, “You come follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” And so, He models, I think, this, the co-mission says, “I need you.” I need you.

I have an unusual job where I am in front of a lot of people. And we had a little time to talk, but because of that, most people don’t see the role that my wife has, and not just praying, but my life has been shaped.

My wife, and I’m sure there are others, I don’t know anyone with higher integrity and I have never met anyone that prays like her. And I don’t to embarrass her, but I mean, I pray. Believe me, and I pray. And then I practice the presence of God.

She prays at a level and from the heart, sometimes there’s a stack of tissues. And I remember early, “What are you, you’ve got a runny nose or something?” No, she cries, she literally cries when she cries out to the Lord. And those tissues are her tears. And I believe with all my heart that there’s this connection that God has given both of us where God has used her to blaze the trail and change my children and change me and live with her in such a way where, it’s very unfortunate, because I get so much of the external credit, but I am absolutely concerned, or convinced, that whatever I would have ever been able to do would have been miniscule apart from the connection, the partnership, and the serving together, though our roles are very, very different. And some of you have heard, she’s actually an excellent teacher and counselor and disciples women. But it’s just, “I need you. I trust you. I love you. I like you.”

The very bottom, I wrote an important reminder that didn’t used to be in these notes. Personal time with God and yourself, right? Plus supportive friends, plus renewing activities, equals a fully alive you. In other words, a full battery to be a giver. And so, what I mean by that is we can’t ask your husband or your wife to be the only sounding board, to be the only person. There are certain things that men need to share with men, and women need to share with women.

There are certain things that are very, for some of us, it’s, I don’t know what it is for other people. Like, for me, working out – I need to work out, I need to be with a bunch of guys. I played competitive basketball until my back thing, and when I couldn’t do that anymore, it’s like, okay, I’m going to pick up golf. But I need to be with some guys and compete and have some fun and laugh and be crazy and not be the pastor or that person up there. And where I’m just Chip, and we just have a blast. That refreshes me. I need some personal time. My wife needs personal time.

So, you want to say, “Yeah, our marriage is the most important.” Now, you can get it out of balance where all your time is with guys or all your time is over here, but I just want to remind you that you need to be refreshed so that you can give your mate what God wants you to give.

We have identified the mission, we have identified what the big logs are that need to be addressed, and we are now, we are going to develop a strategic plan, all right? And you can execute these and develop a strategy. Question number one is, it says, “Tell your partner what kinds of words and actions let you know that he or she is committed to you.” And I give a few examples like one of you might say, “You know, when we pray together, I feel, that communicates that you’re committed to me.” “When we set goals together.” “When you lead, financially.” “When you lead, domestically.” “When you express affection in this way or that way.”

How will each of you seek to demonstrate your commitment to one another on a weekly basis?

I want you as a woman to write down three specific actions that when your husband does any of these three things, it feels like he’s committed to me. Okay? It just expresses he’s committed to me. And then, men, I want you to write down three specific actions that when your wife responds or acts in this way toward you, it feels like, “Wow,” remember? Commitment is, “I love you.” You feel like, “I feel really loved when she,” one, two, or three. Okay?

And then here’s the action step. This next week, just choose one. Choose one and do it. If you want to go for broke, you could choose two. Like, do one on Monday through Wednesday and choose another one, like, okay?

But we make this whole thing about, it’s all going to be spontaneous and this is that and we make it this mystery. How about, you know, like, “Hey, when we pray together, when we sit down and do the bills together, and when he helps clean the house.” Those would be ones I think my wife would probably say. And I might say things like, “When she initiates being romantic, when she verbalizes to me, ‘I love you,’ because that’s one of my love languages, and when she gives me feedback and strokes my ego a little bit, because I’m basically insecure, I feel very loved.”

You can compliment me as much as you want. You don’t know me; I don’t know you. It’s kind of, it’s sort of like, that’s nice. She really knows me. When she tells me, “That was a good job.” Right? I feel loved!
And what I’m trying to help you see is you can come up with specific plans and right now you might have had some hard conversations or there are difficulties in your past and there are struggles here and struggles there. Just start throwing some logs on the fire. Just start doing some of those things that you know the other person feels loved when you do them. How do you know? Because they told you.

Okay, number two, when and what will you put into your daily or weekly schedule to facilitate ongoing communication in your marriage? Set actual times and days.

Third, plan a weekly activity to have fun and develop the friendship side of your marriage. Identify the activity, jot down at least two specific things to do together.

It doesn’t have to cost money. “Let’s take a walk after dinner.” “Let’s go to that park and just grab a cup of coffee.” “Let’s go see a movie.” “Let’s go grab dinner someplace.” “Let’s…” Whatever is fun. And then whoever planned this one, then the other person gets to plan next week. And by the way, guys, again, I’m sharing this out of all the ways I was very slow or didn’t do it. On your time, especially of your kids, and I understand this, especially if you go out someplace it can be expensive. If you’ll line up the babysitter, she will think you have lost your mind. And what it says is, “I took initiative.” What it says is, “I really care.”

What you’ll have to do is get the number, because most of you have no idea how to contact the babysitter, but it’s just one of those things that – Theresa would say, probably in the car, “If you would have done more of that, Chip, I think it would have been much better for us.” Well, better late than never. We don’t have, we have no need, our babysitter is for our dog now.

Number four, identify three to four ways you and your mate, and even a family, could demonstrate care and concern for others in the name of Christ. Then set aside a time to discuss your service ideas. It might be people struggling in your neighborhood.

Our whole family served in the church in different areas. And just ask yourself, What could we do to serve together? I have a friend that, every year, he and his family as, I don’t know how much vacation he has, but they take a full week and they have built a relationship and they help build an orphanage and minister to orphans.

And from the time his kids were little all the way up through college, they understood that a week of their vacation was going to be…and it just recalibrated what matters and there are hurting people all around the world.

And then, finally, number five, who or what provides support and refreshment for you personally? I’m talking to you as an individual. Talk about specific ways to arrange your home life so each partner has time and same-sex relationships that refresh, support, and replenish. When I say “same-sex relationships,” I am referring to healthy non-sexual, you know, bros and sisters, and all the rest. But having great intel, having your mission targeted, having a clear strategy, and preparing for it, and executing it is the key to victory.