Our church is starting a new series this weekend (in a new place!) before Valentine’s Day called Mr. & Mrs. Betterhalf in which we are focusing on building lasting marriages. I was out with my wife this week walking downtown San Jose on a date – call it research. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this June and I got to thinking about why we’re beating the statistics; according to divorce rates, we should have ended it at least 5 years ago. Yet, we’re better and stronger than ever. Here’s why I believe our marriage works…
- My wife is my best friend. This sounds cliche, but I genuinely mean this. I would rather spend time with my wife than any other person. While we do have our separate interests, we enjoy most things together; ministry, sports, family time, mutual friendships, etc. She knows me. And I know her. Like best friends should.
- We solve problems. Every couple fights. Or at least they should. Too often, to avoid conflict, many couples just bottle up their frustrations until it eventually explodes, resulting in an even uglier conflict. While Tiffany and I don’t like to fight, we would rather the air be clear between us than fake our way through a single day.
- Nothing is more important to us. My marriage takes second place to nothing. Really. Nothing. “What about your kids?” The best gift I can give my children is a good example of a strong marriage. Where do you think kids get their strongest impressions of what a family should/shouldn’t be like? That’s right, the one they come out of. “What about your relationship with God?” This may come as a shock, but God is not the first priority of my life. He’s bigger than that to me. He’s the center of every priority in my life. So it isn’t “God and then my marriage,” it’s “God in my marriage.” According to the Bible, my marriage is a reflection of my relationship with God. That only makes my commitment to Tiffany that much stronger.
- Two words: Date. Night. Tiff and I have some form of a date every week. With four kids, we don’t have the time or money to get out as often as we like, so “date night” means a tub of ice cream and Netflix some weeks. But about every other week, we do get out, and go do something together. After 10 years, I’m still dating my wife and pursuing her heart. I plan on continuing to date her for the rest of my life.
- Our marriage has a vision. We talk about growing old together. About watching our grand kids grow up, and seeing their marriages last. We are trying to have the kind of marriage now that we want them to have one day. We hope to be the beginnings of a godly legacy of men and women who beat the cultural trends and make it work.
It’s important for me to point out that my marriage doesn’t work because I’m better than anyone else. What I do know, is that if others had the same self-sacrificing love that I have for Tiffany, and she has for me, than more marriages would last. We want everyone to have as good (or better!) of a marriage as us. And that is what this new series is about. Strengthening marriages God’s way. Whether you’re married, single, or single-again, we believe God wants to work powerfully through your relationships. So if you’re in the area, we hope to see you!
That’s what the magazine read on my way through the checkout line at WalMart (yes, WalMart, don’t judge me). Not that I’m racing home to catch Sean Lowe picking through two dozen plus women on national television for The Bachelor, but it’s hard to miss all of the buzz as the season is apparently winding down. The cliff notes of the buzz stirring lately seem to be that Sean, “a devote Christian” has been saving himself for marriage, sexually speaking – something difficult to maintain as a contestant of the show, from what I understand.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that The Bachelor is a suitable show, nor am I advocating getting emotionally (or physically) entangled with multiple people for the sake of millions of viewers’ entertainment. I also am not verifying that this season’s Bachelor is a role-model Christian. I don’t know the guy! However, if he has indeed committed to saving his sexuality for marriage, I certainly support such a commitment.
The rub for me, is that many of the news articles I’ve seen are treating Sean as if he has some disability for being an attractive man in his 20’s that is not sleeping with any number of the potentially willing women on his show. Apparently, now engaged to one of the “contestants,” he still insists on waiting until their wedding to have sex.
I’m tired of the way the media, internet, and movies try to brainwash our culture about our own sexuality. To the point that a man who appears physically healthy is criticized for valuing himself enough to save his sexuality for a commitment (a.k.a. marriage) where it can be freely expressed with a trusted person (a.k.a. his wife). If he isn’t “doing it” there must be a reason, right? Because “normal” people don’t wait until marriage for sex… right?!
Listen up men…
- Having sex does not make you a “real man”.
- Choosing to delay your own gratification makes you wise, not weird.
- Having sex with virtually every willing female does not make you a man – dogs do that.
- Real men commit to keeping their God-given sexuality for their wife alone.
- Sex before marriage ruins good relationships and prolongs bad ones. I haven’t seen an exception yet.
- If you’ve made some mistakes in the past, you can be different from this point forward – your past does not have to define you.
Assuming this season’s Bachelor and his fiance do maintain their sexual boundaries, I am very confident that it will all work out on their wedding night. For all the talk of the need for “sexual compatibility,” our culture forgets that their talking about people, not used cars. I know far more people who slept around that regret it, than those who saved themselves and wished they had not.
Be unique. Save your sex… And find something better than The Bachelor to watch, too! Gees, people…
FINDING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE
This is one of the most misunderstood subjects among Christians. We talk about “God’s will for our life” as though it were this big mystical enigma that only a few people get lucky enough to get right while the rest of us flounder around hoping that we end up tripping over some kind of “destiny”. Sadly, many people don’t ever seem to grasp it, and end up spending their lives trying to figure out how to live their life.
They don’t lack for praying any. Many people in this position have prayed and prayed and prayed… hoping that their future would unfold before them with some kind of supernatural certainty and Divine blessing of promised success. And when they don’t get it, they feel lonely, as if God has kind of left them hanging, or has refused to show them anything. So, spiritually speaking, they conclude that the reason for this is because of a personal sin issue. “I’m just not trusting God enough, when I believe in Him enough, then He’ll show me.”And the cycle continues until the person either makes some big decisions for themselves or, often times, walks away from their faith – entirely frustrated.
Any of that sound like things that have happened in your heart or life? Then maybe these questions can help you get traction in discovering and following God’s will for your life:
- What is in your hand?: God asked Moses this when He revealed His purpose for Moses life in Exodus 4, and at the time all Moses had was a staff. Nothing fancy, it was basically a good walking stick. But this “walking stick” showed up almost everywhere through the rest of Moses’ life. God used his staff as a means of showing Moses His will. So what is in your hand? What talents, gifts, resources, connections has God given you that He may want to leverage for your good and His glory? Don’t overlook what you think of as “ordinary”; Moses had a stick, for crying out loud!
- Who has God put in my life?: Throughout Scripture, we see God calling people into His will together. You were meant to live in community. You are a part of a whole, just like me. we need each other to be all that God has called us to. Who are the people that are unmistakeably placed in your life by God?
- What are you doing now?: It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. There’s a good chance that you’re closer to God’s will than you know, yet you are trying so hard to look far into your future that you didn’t realize that you were standing on it all along. God isn’t waiting to use you “someday,” He desires a purpose for you right here – right now! So how could the things you are doing now fit into God’s design for you?
- What is my plan?: Form your dreams and desires into a functioning plan. Leave some flexibility room, because plans do change. But if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. What are the steps that need to take place in order for you to get where God is leading you? This is the part where most people quit. Whether it’s due to the fear of asking themselves the tough questions of “how?” or just laziness, many people with all of the potential never get to see it materialize for lack of a plan.
- What’s it going to take?: Too many well-intentioned people are stationary for fear of the unknown. At some point, despite the things you are unsure of, you have to begin to make some decisions and acting on those decisions. How much certainty do you need to have before you act? That is a legitimate question. Are you waiting for the finances before you enroll for college? How much of the money do you need to see first before you trust God for the rest? Create if/then decisions and take action. And if you wait for absolute 100% certainty, you’ll never do what God wants for you. Period.
Certainly, more could be said. But I hope this helps you chew over the big questions and that you will refuse to settle for less than God’s best for your life.