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This week for Valentine’s Day, four speakers shatter the myths in our culture surrounding love and relationships, and walk us through ways in which we can resolve to live in the truth of God’s love for us.
Resolve to Be Anchored in Truth
Resolve to Deal with Your Baggage
Resolve to Deal with Anger
Resolve to Remove the Myths Around Love and Dating
16 Things to Convince Your Children of Before 16
Resolve to Pursue Peace as Much as Possible
Resolve to Be Diligent to Stay Together
Resolve to Be in God's Word
Resolve to Do Life Together
Todd Wagner: When you talk about love, your heart runs not just to this day. Hopefully, it runs to something much greater than that. It doesn't happen very often, about once every seven years or so, that we gather on a Sunday that happens to be February 14. We're in a series called Resolve: A Diligent Pursuit Toward Relationships That Work, and we thought, "Today we're going to do something that deals with our beloved singles, engaged, married, and deluded, which is all the ones I previously mentioned."
When you think about love, it almost always goes toward song. I'm a child of my age, and when I think about songs that define love, I think about Dan Fogelberg's "Longer." Brandon Heath, who obviously wrote an amazing song that talks about a greater love than Fogelberg did, pays some tribute to that song. If you know that song where he goes up in the end, that is right out of "Longer" by Fogelberg.
I think about Jim Croce with "Lover's Cross" and "Dreamin' Again." I think about John Denver and "Annie's Song." I think about Elton John and "Your Song." I think about Taylor Swift and "Our Song." It just goes on and on. With all these amazing songs, I'm going, "Okay, I'm dated." Our average age at Watermark is a lot younger than me, so people are going to think, "Dude, can you bring something into the modern age that's a love song?" So I thought to myself, Well, Hello! "Hello, it's me. I was wondering…"
It's this haunting song by Adele that's out there right now. People go, "What's that about? It's such a great song." Again, going back to being a child of my age with Peaches & Herb's "Reunited"… Is that what that's about? This girl broke up with this guy, so it's like, "Hello, are you still there? Are you single? Maybe we should reconcile and get back together."
If you don't know anything about Adele, she has numbered her first three albums all for her age. Her first album was 19. Her second album was 21. This one "Hello" came from is 25. You need to know something: 21 was a breakup album. It was an album about a lot of relationships that weren't working so well. It's when Adele had a child with a lover.
Now, four years later, she's wrestling with being a single mom and the mistakes she's made. She said 25 is a make-up album, and "Hello" is the feature song off that. What you don't know about that song, though, is Adele is not talking about making up with this guy with whom she had brought this life into the world. It's about Adele making up with herself.
This amazing chorus which is Adele screaming out, "Hello from the other side," is about the other side of being a kid, a young adult. It's the other side of figuring out, "Now that I've become everything I always dreamed I would be one day, I'm on the other side. I'm not wanting to be famous, I am famous. Hello from the other side, Adele."
Listen to the words. This is what this is about. This is Adele singing to herself. She says in the song, "Hello, it's me. I was wondering if, after all these years, you'd like to meet…" This grown-up, mature woman is speaking back to her childish self. "…to go over everything. They say that time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing." In other words, "I'm still a hurt person."
She's singing to herself, "Hello, can you hear me? I'm in California dreaming about who we used to be when we were younger and free. I've forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet." She's saying, "Now I'm Adele. I am this worldwide superstar. Tonight, on the Grammys, my song I'm singing, 'Hello,' is going to be the talk of the night. You guys are looking forward to it."
She says, "There's such a difference between us and a million miles. Hello from the other side. I must have called a thousand times…" "I was young and innocent, and I was trying to figure out who I was and who I am." "Hello from the outside…" She's saying, "I'm trying to step outside of who I am and look in. Where does life's meaning come from? Where does hope come from? Where is love? Where can Adele be who she wants to be and experience what she wants to experience?"
If I just screwed up your Valentine's Day because you were planning on kissing some girl and listening to "Hello" later, and you realize now it's Adele's private therapy session, so you can't use that song… Fine, you shouldn't be kissing on her anyway unless she's your wife. That's what that song is about, all right? It's not some song about making up with this last lover. "You're still there, I mean, we could get together."
If you have an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend who was going to be your valentine… No, it's a song about finding out who you are. Adele and all of us need to know healing comes from not deep introspection but deep intercession from a God who doesn't want to leave us alone in the dark to figure out by ourselves where life and meaning comes from.
It comes from the meaning we have that God says, "You're valuable to me. I know you've been lost and taken away by a false lover. I'm going to rescue you and ransom you back. It's going to be very costly to me, but that's what lovers do. They go, they redeem, and they rescue. It's the gospel."
It's not just Adele who has believed this myth that maybe on the other side, when I really become Adele, life will be full and satisfying. We all believe different myths. The most classic myth is this fat cherub called Cupid, and that he's out there. As I was thinking about what to do today, I thought I would grab some of the most gifted guys and friends I have, who are loving people all along the continuum.
In a minute, you're going to hear from my friend JP who's going to talk to you about what to do if you haven't been shot by Cupid. Then I'm going to have Scott Kedersha come up a little bit after that, and he's going to talk to you about what to do when you've been shot by Cupid, so you don't do something stupid.
Then we're going to have John McGee come up here, and he's going to tell you what to do if Cupid shot somebody you now think is stupid, and you're stuck. Then I'm going to come back and talk about the fact that believing in Cupid is stupid, and we need to kill Cupid. That's the outline of today. That's what we're going to do. I'm not kidding.
Cupid is the Latin, Roman god of desire. Cupido, in Latin, means desire. His Greek god counterpart is Eros, from which, we know, we get the word erotic. In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, the goddess of love. They don't really talk much about Cupid's daddy, because the goddess of love is having it up with whoever she wants. It happens that Mars was his daddy. Love and War got together and gave us Desire. We desire to own and control other people so we can have life the way we want.
Here's the story of Cupid, if you don't know it. Cupid was given these golden arrows from the gods that caused people to have immense desire when they were shot by him. Venus had a little child called Psyche, which means the soul. People loved the beauty of the soul so much that they began to worship the princess, Psyche, more than the queen goddess, Venus.
The goddess of love and self was jealous of the soul and people's adoration of something deeper, so Venus wanted to banish Psyche. She went to her son Cupid and said, "I want you to strike Psyche and make her fall in love with the vilest thing in the world." Cupid, taking mama's orders, sneaked into Psyche's room late one night. As he was pulling his golden arrow back, it scratched him, and he himself was overcome with uncontrollable desire and love for Psyche, the soul.
He didn't know what to do about that. He was a bit ashamed and embarrassed, but he could not help but to love. He would sneak into Psyche's room every night and woo her in her dreams and in her sleep. He said, "Don't wake. Don't try to figure out who I am, but know I love you." Psyche's sister said, "This is no lover who is wooing you, but it's a monster," because they were jealous of the story.
She tried to awaken and see who this lover was who would come and woo her heart and pull the soul toward something of satisfaction. It made Cupid angry, because he was embarrassed. He took off, but now, Psyche's heart was already drawn toward this lover, so she began to search the whole world, looking for this long-lost love. The soul wants satisfaction. It wants what it craves.
The story goes that Venus finally had pity on Psyche and said, "If you perform a number of tasks for me, I will give you what you're looking for, and I'll tell you where your lover is." Psyche, the soul, fulfilled all the tasks, and then Venus, in her wickedness, said, "There's one more you must do. Take this box to Pluto, but don't look in it." In Roman mythology, Pluto is Hades, the god of the dead.
The soul was curious. Psyche opened the box and looked inside, and inside was eternal sleep. That's the way Venus got rid of the soul and concern and kept herself venerated. Cupid heard what had happened to his lover, so he went and woke her. See Disney, now, showing up with this magic kiss or, if you will, this wooing from soul sleep to awaken her to real love and life.
Cupid brought the soul back, and then Jupiter, in his grace, allowed them to become immortal together, that they might live happily ever after. Cupid lives today as this little guy who floats around and maybe can strike you in a way that would allow you to love like you've never loved before and have the desire of your soul met.
Friends, that's what men write about when they don't know truth. It's a myth, and there is no magic Cupid who can strike you with uncontrollable desire that will never satisfy you. There is truth that will set you free. All of us believe myths. Maybe you don't believe in a fat cherub who will shoot you, but we believe in myths that will ruin us.
If you're single, if you've been struck by love, or if you're discouraged with the love you're in, we want to shatter those myths this morning. The amazing thing is, by God's grace, there are leaders here for every single one of you and ministries to disciple and encourage you. The absolute greatest guy in the country to minister not just to single folks but to anybody is leading us in our ministry to young adults every Tuesday night. He's going to come share with you about some myths we need to shatter this morning. Bring my friend JP up here. Come on, buddy.
Jonathan Pokluda: Good morning. Happy Single's Awareness Day. It's SAD for short. We don't believe in myths like Cupid, but we believe myths that are equally as stupid. I want to talk to my single friends, those of you who have not yet been shot by Cupid's arrow. The reason I'm so passionate about this is I've been married for about 11 years, and I see the ins and outs of a lot of marriages, many of which are in trouble.
I've learned none of them had marriage problems. They all had single-people problems that were brought into marriage. The first myth I want to present to you this morning is the myth that you are waiting for the one. This is the magical, mythical one, this soulmate, if you will, who is out there with unicorns, leprechauns, gnomes, and magical, mystical gardens, waiting for you to discover or find them.
This is the one who is very intelligent, works out for fun, memorizes the Bible, has built an orphanage in Africa, and models on the side. That one. Or the one who is going to come into your life and complete you, this soulmate, if you will. This myth was created by Hollywood and fed to you by every media source imaginable that says, "There is one person out there for you, and you need to find them like a needle in a haystack."
Let's look at the math, if we will. Say there were six guys born around 1990-ish, and, at some point around those six guys, six girls, people of the opposite sex, were also born. At some point in their lives, when they hit adulthood and maturity, they have to find each other. The math is depressing because if you're just looking in America, the population is about 320,000,000 people. There are not an equal number of men and women, so that leaves 6.2 million people without the hope of a spouse.
It's not just bad math. It's also bad theology. If you're here and married, and you believe in this myth of the one, at some point in your marriage, you're going to think, "I've chosen the wrong one. Now I have to undo this and find the right one so I can be complete."
Let me hit close to home and make this personal for me. Do you think there is someone out there better-suited for or more compatible with Monica than I? Absolutely. There are hundreds of thousands of men, probably. I'm 6'7" tall, and she's 5'3". I love the beach, and she hates the ocean. I love to take baths, and she likes showers. We're very different people, but we both love Jesus. Stop thinking about that bath thing.
We both love Jesus, and we're committed to each other, and he's done a beautiful thing in our marriage. If you're here and you hear there are plenty of fish in the sea, I want you to know that doesn't make finding one any easier. The truth is, you're not fishing in the sea. Listen closely. You're fishing in a relatively small pond.
This pond is of God's people. This is the church. These are folks who love God like you do, more than you do. They're pursuing him. They're theologically compatible with you. God says over and over to the nation of Israel, "You must only marry within Israel." He tells Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, "Go find someone of my people who believes the same things about me that you do." When they do, it goes well. When they don't, it goes terribly, terribly wrong.
Look at the likes of Solomon, whose heart was turned toward other gods by his wives. Look at Samson's life. This is why it says in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
Friends, you're not looking for the one. If you desire marriage, you are looking for someone who is already married to Christ. You might say you are looking to be their number two. This is how you spend your singleness, by becoming someone with a deep relationship with Jesus and serving him.
Ladies, do not lower your standards. Lengthen your patience. Gentlemen, men, teach your heart to love what God loves. It says he does not look at the outside, but he looks at the heart of a person. Proverbs 31:30 says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised."
The myth is you must find the one. I want you, today, to resolve to be someone who has found the One in Jesus. It was, "Wait for someone who has found the One in Jesus," but singleness is not a waiting room. You're not in a holding tank, waiting for something better, which brings me to my second myth. The second myth is singleness is second best, that it's the JV team of the church. That's absolutely not true.
You're here, and you think, "That's great, JP. You are married, and you're going to tell me how great singleness is, but you don't have to endure it." I don't just want to give you my opinion. Let me give you the opinion of a friend of mine. This is the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 7:7, he writes, "I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that."
Paul says singleness is a gift. You're like, "If it is a gift, it's like that white elephant gift nobody wants. You know, it's that one you can't wait to get rid of that you got stuck with at the gift exchange." Take this bowl for an example. This is a gift someone received. It was purchased at a garage sale for $3. You're like, "Who wants a gift like that? I don't want that kind of gift." Why does Paul call it a gift? Listen closely to verses 32-35.
"I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."
You think, "Okay. You found the one obscure chapter in the Bible where it calls singleness a gift. Maybe it wasn't interpreted correctly or something." Absolutely not. Paul is expounding on the teachings of Jesus Christ when he talks about divorce and says, "No, we don't do that." They say, "Well then, marriage must be this impossible reality."
He says in Matthew 19, "There are people who live celibate lives for the sake of the kingdom." He says in verse 12, "The one who can accept this should accept it." You think you're an incomplete person? Jesus was single. Paul was single. Paul lived a very full life. Jesus lived an amazingly full, complete life, and he was a single person.
How do you know if you have the gift of singleness? This is the easy part. If you woke up this morning single, you have the gift of singleness today. It is a gift to you today for you to use today. You've heard, "Single for a reason, and single for a season." Guess what. You have both. I don't know how long the season is, but I know what the reason is. The reason is for you to seek first the kingdom of God, for you to build the kingdom, for you to serve in the church, and for you to be a part of the greatest movement the world has ever known.
You might wonder why I showed you that $3 garage sale bowl. It was sold for $2.2 million. Sadly, the person who owned that bowl didn't understand its value until it was no longer theirs. This is what I see in the lives of so many single people. They don't realize how valuable the season they're in is until it is gone.
You want to be married? Awesome! That's a great thing, but you need to understand many married people want to be single, so much so that about half of them take that out. Many others want to, and they don't. Enjoy the season you're in and use it for the intentions it was entrusted to you. Don't focus so much on a future season. Start serving God with your current season.
Remember this: Heaven awaits. If you've trusted in Christ, if you're a Christ-follower, you're going to be with God forever and ever in his kingdom. The one question that has never been asked in heaven is, "Why did you keep me single? Why didn't I get to experience marriage? Why didn't I get to experience sex?" No, you're in heaven, in God's kingdom, forever and ever and ever. No one is married there. If it were so important, that would be something we'd have in heaven. Nobody is married in heaven except to Christ, and that marriage can start today.
Singleness is not second best. I want you to resolve today to see singleness as a gift and use it to serve the King. If you're single, join us any Tuesday night. Change the world with us. We are seeking to make a difference in this world for the cause of Christ. If you're seriously dating, you need to know about our pre-married ministry here at Watermark, Merge. That ministry is led by a dear friend of mine named Scott Kedersha, and I want to welcome him to the stage right now.
Scott Kedersha: Exactly two weeks ago from today, I played hooky from church. I took a good friend of mine, my coworker Lance Sisco, and we took a Sunday away. You might wonder, "What do two very manly men do on Sunday when they skip church? Maybe they go hunting, maybe they watch football, or maybe they go to the Dallas Bridal Show." That is what Lance and I did two weeks ago from today.
If you've never been to a bridal show, first, you need to be incredibly grateful. Second, let me set the scene for you. Imagine lots of pink, lace, and flowers. Think row after row after row of people trying to sell you their goods so you have a great wedding day. We went down there as the Merge premarital ministry, and we wanted to talk about the importance of not just preparing for your wedding day but preparing for your marriage.
After 10 years of doing full-time premarital ministry, working with thousands of couples who were seriously dating and engaged, and going to three or four too many bridal shows, I will tell you there are so many myths in the world of love and dating. Today I'm going to share the two most prevalent ones. The myths are about what happens when you've been shot by Cupid so you don't do something stupid.
The first myth says you have to follow your heart. That's something we hear all the time. "The heart wants what the heart wants." It was said in the 1800s. Woody Allen said it a couple of decades ago. Selena Gomez said it in song a few years ago. The heart wants what the heart wants, and we tend to pursue what we want.
Feelings come out of our hearts, and some of us are more thinker than feeler, but we all have feelings, even guys. We feel hungry at times, we feel tired… We've all got them. Our feelings are very real. As Todd often says, our feelings are real but they're not always reliable. We need to lean into our feelings and make sure they're coming from the right source, that there's a true source behind them.
I especially see where the feelings are not reliable when we follow our hearts with pre-married couples. "We are as in love as any couple has ever been in love." They're happy all the time. They've found their soulmate. They have #allthefeels. I see and hear that phrase all the time. They love each other. The other person can never do anything wrong. That's the way God made our hearts when it comes to infatuation.
Think of an hourglass. We've all seen them. There's a glass part on the top and the bottom. The way we're made, the way God designed us, is there is about 12-18 months worth of feelings we get when we fall in love with someone. As soon as you start dating someone, you flip that hourglass over, and the sand starts to drop. At the end of the 12-18 months, there's nothing left.
If we put all of our stock and feeling in our hearts, at the end of the 18 months, there's nothing. The feelings and infatuation are over. If we marry someone, we don't marry them for 12-18 months. We marry them 'til death do us part. Gary Thomas says it extremely well. He says, "Once you're infatuated, you're vulnerable and stupid."
I don't want to make a lifelong, 'til death do us part decision when I'm vulnerable and stupid. We have to not follow our hearts. We have to resolve to inform our hearts. We inform our hearts by looking at God's Word and God's definition of love. If you've been to a wedding, you know this passage, but listen like you've never heard it before. First Corinthians 13:4-7 says,
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
When love is a feeling, when we follow our hearts, the feelings are limited. They're going to end. I've been incredibly happily married to Kristen Kedersha for almost 15 years. She has defied the myth of aging. She looks exactly the same as she did on our wedding day. I love her, but there are times when I don't like her, and I'm willing to bet there are a lot more times when she doesn't like me.
But because we've made the decision to love one another in a Christlike, biblical way, we don't follow our hearts. We do what true love tells us to do. It informs our feelings. We love one another sacrificially. We get informed by looking at Jesus. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." The first myth says to follow your heart. Don't follow your heart; inform your heart.
The second myth I see that's so destructive is the myth that you have to try before you buy. If you go to buy a new car, it would be foolish to buy a car without test driving it. You get the keys, you get in it, and you see how it fits. "Am I compatible with the car? How does it handle the curves? How does it feel? Do things work? Are we compatible?"
It makes sense for a car, but it doesn't make sense for a human being. Guys, she is not a car. You don't test drive her. She's a human being. We are believing the myth the world tells us that if you're going to get married, you have to test drive the car. You have to try before you buy. I bought it for 24 years of my life.
I made horrible decisions. I was sexually promiscuous and living with women. I was heavily invested in porn. I loved porn. I would follow everything my heart wanted, that the desires of the world would tell me to try before I buy. The world teaches us a lie, and we have to stop buying that lie. The myth says try before you buy. We have to resolve, rather, to get married before we play married. Again, we look at the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. He says,
"Flee from sexual immorality." He doesn't say, "Play around with it." He doesn't say, "Walk away slowly." He says, "You run, book it, and flee from immorality." "Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…""Your body is not your own. You've been bought with a very high price, so we are to glorify God in our bodies."
Let me speak to a few segments in the room for a few moments. Some of you are choosing to honor God with your bodies. Whether you're single or in a relationship, you are staying pure, and I want to encourage you to stay the course. Sex is a great gift within marriage, but honor God with your body. Keep going. Purity is the path to intimacy. Don't believe the lie that you have to try it out before you buy it.
For those of you who are sexually active, living together, engaging in being handsy, touching each other, and doing all kinds of things you know you're not supposed to do, I want to warn you that you are not your own. You are bought at a very high price. Honor God with you body.
For those of you who may be non-believers, I know this sounds crazy. It sounded crazy to me. I'm glad you're here, and there's nothing we would rather do than engage with you, tell you who Jesus is, and tell you about some of the behaviors you're participating in that are going to make it really difficult for you to make a good decision.
For those of you who are followers of Jesus who still think you need to try before you buy, I warn you: buyer beware. If you decide to engage in sexual activities, live together, and cross boundaries, you are telling God, "I'm going to follow you in some areas, but not this one. I know better than you." I warn you, you are going to regret those decisions. I want to tell you, still, God loves you, but please, honor him with your bodies.
Ladies, you are not a car. Don't let yourself be treated like one. Don't let him use you for his pleasure. Don't participate in those things because you think you might lose him if you stop doing those things. If that's the kind of guy he is, please let him go. Guys, don't put your selfish desires before someone else's. Lead your relationship well.
If you're in that stage of life, if you are trying before you buy, please don't run, hide, or isolate. We want to help you. That's what the church is for. That's why we do Community, Merge, and The Porch. We care. We want to help you, so please don't run, hide, or isolate from the church when you are doing things you know you're not supposed to do and when you're trying before you buy.
After 10 years of doing premarital ministry, I see the myths of following your heart and trying before you buy. I want to encourage and challenge you to inform your heart, not follow it. I want to tell you to get married, not to play married. One of the best ways I know to fight those myths is a ministry we have here called Merge.
Merge is our ministry for couples who are seriously dating and engaged. We'll have almost 1,000 couples this year. We'll go through Merge here in Dallas and Fort Worth, and we're coming to Plano this year as well. It is a great way for you to prepare for marriage. We'll fight those myths and tell you unashamedly what God's design is.
For those of you who are not in the pre-married stage of life, you know people who are, so do me a favor. Don't buy them some dumb gift off their registry. Don't buy them a fork, a cup, or a piece of china. Give them the gift of marriage prep. It is priceless. It will help them prepare, not for a great home or a great meal but for a great marriage.
Some of you are wondering, "I think I married someone who's been shot by stupid. What do I do?" I can't think of a better person to help you deal with the myths of love and marriage than my great friend, my boss, the director of the Marriage Ministry and re|engage, John McGee.
John McGee: It's been really fun to serve here at Watermark as director of Marriage Ministry these last 14 years, specifically working with re|engage. We're now seeing thousands of couples. This should encourage you. Re|engage is now at 125 other churches. One of the most common myths I hear when I ask couples, "What is the problem?" is they will say, "The problem in my marriage is my spouse. It's a person, not a thing. It's not a situation. It is my spouse."
We don't think about ourselves as the issue. We always think about someone else. Wives don't get together for coffee and look at each other and say, "You won't believe myself." We don't say that. Many of us are going, "You know what? I hear you, and I hear that myth, but it really is true. I'm married to somebody who won't talk. They withdraw, they avoid, they won't have the hard conversations, and they shut down."
I wonder if it could be there's something about you. It's not safe to talk to you. You escalate, you put them down, or you think win-lose, so their only play is to withdraw. Some of you are frustrated because your spouse won't respond to you in any physical or sexual way. I wonder if it could be that it's because you don't pay attention to them outside of that one brief moment when you want something from them physically.
Some of you are saying, "I just don't get these feelings, thoughts, words, or affirmations of love from my spouse." A lot of times, it's been my experience that that person is married to someone who is disrespectful. They're disrespectful to their face and they're disrespectful around their friends and kids, and there are these non-verbal telegraphs of contempt. We don't think about ourselves as problems, and I think instead of the myth that it's our spouse, we need to be resolved to draw a circle around ourselves and fix everyone inside the circle.
Jesus said it this way in Matthew 7:3-5. He said, "When we have conflict, it's like we have this giant log in our eye, and we see the specks in our brother's, sister's, or spouse's eye." We want to take them out and deal with them. We want to point to them and help them see, and the first step always is to deal with ourselves, draw the circle around ourselves, and take the log out. Then we can see if that even is an issue with them. We can see more clearly.
We quote Matthew 18 a lot around here. That's the passage where we're supposed to point out our brothers' and sisters' faults. If they don't listen, we take some others along, and if they still don't listen, we take it to the church. Many of us are going, "John, you don't understand. I have to show them their faults, because they have them."
Many of us have been out of school for a while, so here's a basic math lesson, a refresher: 7 comes before 18. Before you go rushing to put your spouse, or anyone, through the Matthew 18 process, rush to put yourself through Matthew 7. "God, what's my part? Help me see clearly."
One of the things I love about re|engage is the very last night. It's called Celebration, and all the couples get together, and you will hear this from about 50 percent of the couples in the room: "Hi, my name is John, and I showed up here several months ago, truth be told, to fix my spouse. I've come to see that God needed to fix me, and it has made all the difference." Don't believe your spouse is your marriage problem. Resolve to draw a circle around yourself and fix everyone inside the circle. See yourself as your biggest marriage problem.
The second myth I see a lot is marriage is supposed to be easy. We run around quoting verses like Ecclesiastes 9:9, that we are to enjoy life with our wife, who we love, and marriage is going to be great. We take these verses about the enjoyment of marriage, about how it's good, which are true, and we somehow translate them to mean it's supposed to be easy.
It's just not. That is not true. When two sinful people live together for the rest of their lives, it's going to be hard. Can I let you in on a little secret? Every married person, at some point, will wake up in the middle of the night, roll over, look at their spouse who has their mouth open and drool coming out of the side, and go, "What have I done? I made a mistake. I married the wrong person." Cupid shot the wrong guy, the wrong gal.
He didn't. You're married because God, I think, joined you together at that moment. You didn't make a mistake. Marriage is just not easy. If we believe it is, we're tempted to think we married the wrong person. JP talked about that ideal spouse, the theologian supermodel, builder of orphanages around the world. If that person existed, they wouldn't marry you. Quit thinking you married the wrong person because it's not easy. Double down and invest.
Some of you actually believe the other side of that myth, that marriage is only hard. You quote verses like 1 Corinthians 7:28, "Those who marry will have trouble." You say, "Marriage is hard, and you're all going to die." You're talking about it like it's some remote monastery with no heat. You're going to hate it. It's going to be miserable in there, but you'll look more like Jesus. That is such a myth. God intended it to be good, but it's not easy.
Pam and I were in Vancouver Island 18 years ago. We're driving through this neighborhood, and we saw something out of the corner of our eye that took our breath away. We put the car in park and came up right next to this fence. It was in a neighborhood, and we were in front of a house. We took in what was the most beautiful flower garden we had ever seen. It was spectacular.
We sat there dumbfounded. The couple who owned the home came around and said, "Hey, would you like us to show you around?" We said, "That would be great." They proceeded to walk us 360 degrees around their house and tell us, with incredible detail, all of the work that had gone into their garden.
They would take us to a plant and say, "We tried something else here three years ago. It just didn't work because of the sunlight, so we planted this. It's doing well. We actually tweaked the soil a little bit and made the flowers pop." They walked around and around and around and showed us and talked about all the work they had put in.
I've come to see over these last 14 years of working with couples, gardening and marriage are really good metaphors. They really sync up. They're parallel. I realized, in that moment, both of our gardens were a perfect reflection of the amount of work we'd put into them. Our garden back in Texas was neglected. It looked like it had been napalmed.
It was a perfect reflection of the investment we'd made in it, and it was the same with this couple here. They had been working this thing hard for years, and it showed. They experienced a blessing. The other thing was, they weren't talking about all the work as a real burden or some kind of beating. They saw it as a means to the blessing.
People who invest deeply in their marriages talk about it the same way. You don't hear a man stand up at his fiftieth wedding anniversary and address his friends and say, "Every Thursday night for 50 years I took that woman on a date, and it was a whipping!" He doesn't say that. I'm sure there were some times it was, and she was cantankerous, or they didn't have enough money, or whatever, but he sees that as a thing that brought him what he has, and he's grateful.
Pam and I just celebrated 20. We drove around Iceland together, and I kept thinking, "There's nobody I'd rather be with." We re-upped for another 20, and we said, "Let's make sure we are faithful to God, helpful to others, willing to take risks, and best friends when our kids leave." We thought about all the investment we had made. There had been a lot of forgiveness that had gone on. We're getting really good at extending and asking for forgiveness, because of practice.
We didn't see those times as a burden. We saw them as a thing that got us the blessing it was. If you're going to have a great garden, you're going to have to invest. We wouldn't come out with a cup of coffee in the morning, yell at our garden, and expect it to grow. We wouldn't give it the cold shoulder and make it feel bad or go passive. We know we have to invest in it.
Relationships work the same way. You're going to have to invest in your marriage. I don't know what it's going to look like for you, but many of us are going to have to tend to our soil. We have rocks and weeds we have to address. We have to pull them out. There's going to have to be some forgiveness and repentance. We're going to have to make Christ the rich soil from which true love grows. We're going to have to look for ways to invest in our marriage.
Last year, Pam and I did date nights around a theme of learning. We learned how to blow glass and sling pottery. It was fun to us. Those were investments in us, something fun to bring us together. Some of us need to practice daily affirmation. Some of us might need to read a book. Some of us might need to go to re|engage, some of us need to be more open in community, and some of us could try a six-second kiss every single day. Research shows it's incredibly healthy to a marriage. Results may vary, but you can check it out.
The myth is marriage should be easy or it's only hard, and it's not, guys. It is great, but we are going to have to resolve to work hard on our marriages and have fun. When we do, we'll experience the blessing God gives. It will be a deep blessing to us, our kids, our friends, and our community. It will give the genius Creator of marriage, God, much glory and honor. If you would, please welcome my favorite marriage communicator and our pastor, Todd Wagner.
Wagner: Baths, huh? That's a lot of porcelain. There are a lot of myths we all believe that are destructive to the relationships God wants and intends for us to have with one another. This morning, we wanted to break their necks and snap those lies that woo our hearts toward that which ultimately isn't going to lead to life.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. What you heard us tell you today is if you're a single person, there is some truth that's going to bless you in these days. You have the gift of being God's man or woman as you walk with him. There are some truths we tried to share with you to snap the necks of the myths and lies that go around how you court and how you move toward a covenant relationship, as you educate yourself more about what marriage is, as you evaluate, "Am I ready? Am I ready to be that man or this woman? Is this the right person to be that with?"
There are some myths, once we get into marriage, that cause a lot of us to CLEP out of marriage and go back to being single again. All of these myths are tied up in a central myth that this emotion called love can carry me through, but just a cursory reading of those verses in the Bible that talk about love will tell you love is never an adjective that describes how you feel, if you're looking at it from a biblical way. It is a verb which describes how you purpose to live. It's an action, not a feeling.
The myth is love is defined by some Hallmark holiday, when the truth is love is to be our hallmark as we live God's holy way. Our world has been really hurt by the myth. Kids have grown up in homes that were snapped in two because people didn't break the neck of the myth. Once it got hard and that feeling poured through the hourglass of time, since they had a foundation of sand, their house could not stand firm.
Those kids have had the security God intended for them shattered, even as men and women had this myth of what the relationship would provide for them shattered. The whole time, God is saying, "Hello from the other side. Why don't you step outside yourself and you own myths and start to live in my truth? I love you."
It's our hallmark that we should love each other the way he has first loved us. Jesus says, "Listen. Do you want people to know who I am? Then you have to love the way I loved. Do you want people to know you're mine? Then you have to love the way I loved." This is John 13:34-35. "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. So you should also love one another. By this, the world will know you are my disciples and not Cupid's disciples."
If we're going to be God's people, we have to learn to love the way God loves. We love, we say, because God first loved us. We aren't here today, doing what we're doing, to make God love us. We're here today, singing songs of love to God and reminding ourselves of how good God's will and way is, because he loves us. We delight to walk with him, because we've seen he is a good, good Father. He loves us.
This is what the Scripture says. "Do you want to be like me? Then love even your enemies." This is Luke 6:35. "Love your enemies. Do good. Don't yell at your garden, give your garden the cold shoulder, or exploit the garden, or purity, of another person. Do good, and lend, which is to say, give graciously." You might even put the word love in there.
"Do good, and love, giving of yourself and expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great for so many reasons, not the least of which is your life won't be shattered by lies. You, in fact, will be called the sons of the Most High, for he himself…" Watch this. "…is kind to ungrateful and evil men." He's not kind to people who can give him something he wants. He's not kind to people who make it easy to go through life. He's just kind, and he demonstrates his kindness to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Love is patient. Love is kind. It's not jealous, because love doesn't need anything from you, so it's not mad when somebody else gets it. It's not arrogant, like, "Don't treat me like that." It never acts unbecomingly. It doesn't seek its own, isn't provoked, doesn't take into account a wrong suffered, and never rejoices in unrighteousness.
That's why God is trying to shatter myths, and that's what we, as his servants, are shattering this morning. It rejoices always in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, and love never fails. That's why we sing of the picture of love that is Jesus Christ. Scripture says God is love, and if we're his people, this ought to be a place where folks can come and see the hallmark attribute of God.
I hope you don't feel condemned. I hope you feel very, very loved. Part of us loving you is stepping on the myths you've been sold, a bill of lies, so you can walk in freedom and truth. The amazing thing is we serve a God whose love never fails, a God who never gives up on us. Wherever you've been, and whatever you've done, I pray you'd start to walk with Christ and in the love of the gospel.
I want to say one last thing to you, and that's this. There is a myth out there that only people whose relationships are wretched go to re|engage. The truth is, people who want healthy relationships go to re|engage. The best marriages in our church are ones that are committed to improving them, growing them, excelling still more, and reminding themselves of biblical principles that will allow them to be diligent to make relationships work.
Do you want to give your wife a great valentine? Write her a note and say, "How about I date you for the next 20 Wednesdays? How about we get with other believers at Watermark and other followers of Christ, and we start to pursue God's truth? I want to love you the way I said I'd love you on the day I said I'd love you. I need to be reminded, or, even if I'm doing well, I want to be reminded of the blessing of it, and let's help others excel still more, as well, so come on."
Father, I thank you for my friends. I pray the truths we shared today will be a blessing to them, and I pray we, together, would be individuals who would not be swept up in the myths of a Hallmark holiday. I pray we would be people who would make the hallmark of our lives the way we love one another. We freely confess to you that we will never love each other the way you said we should or the way we represented we could apart from first experiencing the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Lord, if there's anybody in this room today who has never come to a place where they've encountered real, deep love, the love that's demonstrated toward sinners and ungrateful and evil men, I pray they would find it. I pray they would hear the truth of the gospel in this song, the song lived out by you in history. Your love never fails, never gives up, and never runs out on me. As we know more of that love, I pray we would be more committed to each other and not run out when things get hard but dig deeper to yield to you. In Jesus' name, amen.
If we love the way he does, we're not going to run out on each other when things get hard, as friends, in community, and certainly in marriage. When we say, "Here's a picture of Christ's love for the church," he doesn't run out, folks. His love never fails. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures. It never fails.
If your life has done nothing but meet failure and emptiness, and you still have not recovered from the pain of trying to find life apart from God, would you make that your number one priority today, to really wrestle with this question of, "Is Jesus who he says he is? Is he the way, the truth, and the life? Is that where love can be found?" We think it is, and we'd love nothing more than to talk to you about that.
That little perforated section you should fill out if you're a guest has a little checkbox on there that says, "I want to talk to somebody about having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ." We'd love to do it right now. We'd love to do it this week. Just let us know. That's where life is. There's also life in truth, and we've tried to give it to you today. If you know that truth, would you increase in your obedience to it? Walk in it, and don't walk out on each other. Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.