I have a strong sense that as I talk with people and what is going on, that we need to give people some very practical ways in terms of relationships.” And so, these are the things that have most impacted me. These have been the principles that have helped me build relationships with friends.
And over years, I came from a dysfunctional family, my wife did, probably all of you did too, it’s just how much, right? It’s a fallen world. But both of our dads were alcoholics and if you know anything about how all that works, you – it creates systems that are pretty unhealthy. And so, Theresa and I have had to work very hard at getting our mind renewed and saying, God, we have deep imprints about how families work and what we actually know is how they don’t work. And we need to learn Your way. And so, that has been a life-long journey. So, what I am going to share, I’m not going to say is any way from Mount Sinai; I’ll give you the biblical principles.
But what I will say is: these have been the most important principles that have helped me build friendships where it’s heart to heart, you’re connected, their honest and its real. And by God’s grace have four kids that grew up and loved God and still like to be around us, and as parents, that’s what you dream about and you kind of wonder sometimes if that will ever happen.
And so, the principle number one may sound so simple, but maybe it’s from my background, is principle number one: it all begins with God. It all begins with God; there are lots of voices that will tell you how to do relationships. You can turn on the TV and there are a zillion talk shows and amazing interviews. You came from a family background, some of you came from amazing Christian homes, some of you like me didn’t come to Christ until you were an adult.
Every movie that you have seen unconsciously has told you: this is how to be a parent, this is how to attract the opposite sex; so you’ve got books, you’ve got movies, and then now. If you have a question about anything, right? What do you do? Google. You can Google anything, so you just get on their and you Google and it will go: this is what you do and the experts…
And guess what I’d say is the most important principle in my life has been: it all begins with God. God has lot of truth through of lots of experts, I’m glad for all the disciplines of social research and psychology, and people’s experiences and great talk show hosts, but I’ve got news for you.
God created me, God created you and God created relationships. Would you jot down and then turn in your Bibles to Proverbs chapter 9, verse 10. Just one verse, Proverbs 9 verse 10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy one is understanding.”
You need to understand in Hebrew literature the word wisdom is not intellectual capacity. A better actual fundamental word for us would be skill. When the temple was being built it says God gave them the skill or the wisdom to build the temple, to have the ideas, to have the skill. The Hebrew concept of wisdom is this: it’s understanding how God designed life and then cooperating, having the skill to follow it His way. So, “The fear of the Lord,” a reverence for God, the idea that God has spoken about relationships.
And you so revere and are honestly afraid to do it any other way, knowing He’s good and He loves you, but the fear of the Lord; God – I appreciate, I bet Oprah has some really good ideas, I’m sure there’s some good stuff on the internet, I’m sure that multi-billion dollar self-help industry will have a few keys. I know there are good counselors that have good things, but my authority, I’m going to begin – the fear of the Lord is, I want to know Your wisdom, I want Your skill to know how to have great friendships and a great family.
I want to hear from You and Your Word; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” in other words the authority, I’m going to submit to, I’m going to learn from. And so, for me at eighteen I realized, I was introduced to the Bible of which I’d never read and I decided: This is going to be the basis for how I’m going to do relationships.
Now it took me two or three years as a Christian trying it my own way and having some not good results, to realize that God has wisdom and acknowledge for me, skill to do relationships His way.
And God gives wisdom, but here’s what you’ve got to understand; He doesn’t give wisdom for you to check in on. Like, Lord, I would kind of like to know what to do as a parent. Or, Lord I’d really like to know as a single parent how to relate to the opposite sex, or, Lord I’d really like to know what You want me to do in this special situation with one of my kids so that I can compare that with all the other things, and then kind of decide what I want to do.
He doesn’t work that way. The idea of the fear of the Lord is God says, if you will seek Me and My Word and if you will do, if you commit to do whatever I tell you in advance, one hundred percent of the time I’ll show you what to do in every circumstance.
You might jot in the corner of your notes there, since you’re making your own: James chapter 1, verse 5: “If any man lacks wisdom,” and this is Jesus’ brother James, this is the very first book written of the New Testament so it has a very strong Hebrew tint to it. “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who comes in doubt,” and the idea of doubt here is not questioning God’s existence.
The one who comes, it’s the word: the one who comes with the double mind; the one who comes schizophrenically, literally saying, God, I really want to know what You want me to do so that I can decide if I want to do it or not.
“Let not that man” or “let not that woman expect anything from the Lord.” So, the very first principle for me that is so basic is, God, I want you to know, and here’s the practice, is that, I want You to know I’m going to make Your Word my handbook for relational guidelines. I appreciate my family background, and they had some good ideas. I’m sure there’s movies that maybe are going to give me a great idea about how to do relationships; I thank you for all the books and the Barnes and Nobles, and Amazon.com, and all the resources everywhere. But I’m going to filter everything I ever read through Your Spirit giving me clear direction from Your Word.
And so, for me the most fundamental principle was: it all begins with God. And so, the practice was to systematically study: what does God say about relationships? See that’s – if you want to do relationships God’s way – and by the way, imagine if you will, the way God has it planned is He loves you, He’s good, He has died for you, He cares for you.
“‘I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord,” He has a wonderful plan for your life, and so as a loving, caring Father He says, Look, I made you, I made marriage, I made parenting, I made singleness, and the road that you follow is like a winding road and I’ve put guardrails, commands and warnings, and if you will follow this road that I’ve given you you’re going to end up on the top of this mountain in the beautiful chalet with the people that you love, with relationships intact.
But when I say, “Turn left,” you need to turn left, and when I say, “Turn right,” you need to turn right, and when I say, “Slow up,” you need to slow up, when I say, “Speed up…” You see, you need to do relationships My way, and I’ve given you direction from My Word, I’ve placed My Spirit in you to nudge you where My Word isn’t clear on things, and I’ve put My Spirit in the community of other believers to give you wise counsel and to model and to mentor.
And so most of what I’ve learned has been from the Scriptures and from good models and good mentors, about just wanting to do relationships God’s way. Now, what do you do, however, if you don’t know much about what God has said?
I was, long story and I won’t go into it now, but I had the privilege of adopting my first two kids. And so, I’m married maybe about a year and I have two five-year-olds and I don’t have a clue about how to be a dad.
My dad was a good, moral man; a strong, ex-marine. I learned discipline, but I didn’t know how to be a biblical dad. And I don’t know about you, but all that schooling that you have to have, I never liked writing the thesis.
I had to write one for West Virginia University and one for Dallas Seminary, and I just thought, Boy the last thing I want to do is do a zillion hours of research on some topic about some Greek word of ancient civilization; that sounds boring.
So, I decided I would take advantage of this opportunity, and so I wrote my thesis on: The Role and Responsibility of Fathers in Transmitting Values in the Family. And I didn’t do it for them; I thought to myself, I don’t know how to be a dad. But if you’ve got to write a thesis…
And so what I did is I looked up every verse in the Old Testament and the New Testament on fathering and parenting. And I categorized every, single passage.
And then from my psych background I did empirical research about fathers and sociology and psychology to find out why people became juvenile delinquents, and I took all the bible said all the sociological research and I put it together, and I came out with some basic principles about what makes fathers effective in transmitting values in the family. But that started me on a journey of saying: if you want to know something, intensively study. And so, some of you are saying, “I’d like to have a better marriage.”
Do you know God’s wisdom on marriage? Not what someone else says, not just something here or there; have you ever studied specifically what God says? Now, is that pen still hot and fiery and the ink ready to roll?
I want to give you by way of application specific passages to get you going if you’re going to make God’s Word your handbook for relational guidelines. If you’re a single person let me ask; jot down 1 Corinthians chapter 7. It’s the most definitive passage about, actually you know what you’ll find out is everything thinks being single is bad, the Bible is going to say: actually single is pretty cool.
And instead of being incomplete and you don’t have anything to offer, you have some great advantages. If you’re a married person, let me suggest Ephesians chapter 5. The second half of that chapter will tell you: “I’m a man; I need to do this. I’m a woman; I need to do this. Here’s my role; here’s my responsibility.” If you’re a parent, the two key passages would be Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6.
So, I’m a single person; I’m going to start studying. There’s a lot more, but 1 Corinthians 7. If I’m married, I’m going to look at Ephesians 5. If I’m a parent, I’m going to look at the first part of Ephesians 6 and Deuteronomy chapter 6.
And then if I’m a unequally yoked – what if I’m married to someone that either is an unbeliever or they said they were a believer, but they have no interest in the things of God?
What do I do? How do I relate? God, give me wisdom about this relationship. 1 Peter chapter 3. Jot that down.
“Well, Chip, that sounds really neat and that’s really wonderful, but I’m divorced. Does God say anything? What can I learn about the wisdom – if it all begins with God, how can God show me and lead me if I’m divorced?” Matthew chapter 5, Matthew chapter 19, and 1 Corinthians chapter 7. He’ll give you the clearest explanation of where you are, what to do, how to handle it, and how to respond.
And for some of you, the relational issues aren’t so much family, you maybe have come from some great homes and you have good models, good mentors. Anybody have any struggles in the business world on relationships? What do you do? When should you take a loan? When not to take a loan. Who should you hire? How do you deal with employees? How do you deal with bosses?
If you want good, quality business relationships, just jot down the book of Proverbs. Multiple, multiple times – the book of Proverbs is about wisdom. And so many times, this sounds kind of crazy, I have taken multi-colored pens and I read through the book of Proverbs and in pink or red, anything to do with family relationships, I underline. And then I categorize them all and I begin to look at that.
Anything to do with money, I underline it all in green. Get it? Green? Money? See what I’m saying? And then you take all those and you begin to categorize them and say, What does wisdom say about money? And then pretty soon, what you find is you begin simply to say, God, my heart is I want to do relationships Your way. You have given me wisdom.
And here’s what I can tell you: it’s not simply the content. You understand what I’m saying here? It’s not simply that you get all that down and you study it. It’s the process of studying it and discovering it. It’s you saying with a yearning heart: I am seeking You about this.
You can listen to five thousand people that know lots about marriage, but it’s amazing, you might study Ephesians 5 for yourself and read a verse and the Spirit of God takes that verse, encodes it in your heart, and then a little click occurs and you begin to respond to God and He gives you power in a fresh, new way that makes a radical change in your relationships. And so, it may sound overly simple, but I just decided that the most important thing I have learned about all relationships is the principle: it all begins with God.