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Craig Smith - The Marriage You've Always Wanted


Craig Smith - The Marriage You've Always Wanted
TOPICS: The Big Ten, Marriage, Adultery

Well, hey, thank you for joining us today. If you’re not already aware, we’re in the middle of a series on the Ten Commandments. And if you’re just joining us, two things you really need to know about the Ten Commandments. We’ve been talking about these throughout the series, but they form the right and the necessary framework for understanding the Ten Commandments, and not turning into something they were or never intended to be. So, two things to know about it. Number one, rules don’t create relationships, they regulate them. So, following the rules isn’t how you get a relationship with God. We get a relationship with God, not by following the rules, but by faith in Jesus, and faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. But when we have that relationship, the rules regulate the relationship. They keep it moving in the right direction, and they keep us centered, where we can experience all the good things that God created us to experience. And so they don’t create relationships, they regulate them.

Second thing you need to know to make sure you don’t turn the Ten Commandments into something they were never intended to be is this, is that each commandment is a first step, it’s not the finish line. Each commandment is a first step. It gets us moving in the right direction, but it’s not the finish line, it’s not everything that God calls us to. And that’s really clear when it comes to the seventh commandment that we’re going to be looking at today. If you want to join me, we’re going to be an Exodus chapter 20, verse 14, the seventh commandment says very simply this, it says, “You shall not commit adultery,” which is pretty straightforward, right? Like, if you’re married, don’t be sleeping with people you’re not married to. Done, right? I mean, it’s pretty straightforward. But if you think about it, it’s a pretty low standard, isn’t it? It’s a pretty low bar. I mean, every now and then somebody will tell me, “Oh, I have a great marriage,” and I’m always looking for tips, so I’ll go, “Oh, you know, why do you say your marriage is great?” And I’ve never had anybody say, “Oh, because we’ve never had an affair.” That’s never anybody’s answer to how it is, I know we have a great marriage. That’s way, way too low a bar, right? It’s a first step, it’s not the finish line.

Jesus actually gave us another step. Jesus said this, he said, “You’ve heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery, but I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s another step, and that’s a much higher standard, right? It’s a much higher standard. And I’ve had people ask me, “Hey, what exactly constitutes a lustful look?” And I’m like, I go, “Well, first off, that’s the wrong question.” Like, if you don’t want to cross a line, if you don’t want to keep them crossing a line, don’t ask how close can I get to the line, and how far over the line can I lean without putting my foot down on the ground the other side of it, don’t ask that. If you want to keep from crossing a line, stay away from the stupid line, okay? Stay away from the line. So, it’s the wrong question. But sometimes I’ll give an answer, and you know what the answer is? You know what constitutes a lustful look, the second look. That’s where it starts. It’s the second look, it’s the…you know, you’re walking in… Oh, nowadays it’s, mmm. Hey, and it’s a small step, but here’s the reality, small steps in the same direction, take us to places we wouldn’t have thought possible. And then that works both positively and negatively, okay? Small steps in the wrong direction, little steps, one after another, take us places we would never have dreamed we would ever be, and we can’t believe that that’s where we are. But it also works positively. Small steps in the right direction can take us to places that we would not have ever thought we could get to. They’re so great.

And what Jesus is saying is it’s those small steps towards entertaining attractions to somebody. That’s really what he’s talking about. It’s about entertaining attraction to somebody other than your spouse. Because here’s the thing, listen, we can’t always avoid experiencing attraction, but we can avoid entertaining it. You can’t always avoid experiencing having that moment, well, “Oh, I’m attracted to him. I’m attracted to her.” We can’t avoid experiencing it, but we can avoid entertaining it. We can avoid inviting it in and letting it have a seat at the table where it really begins to influence us. That’s the small step that leads to things that we would never have thought possible. And so Jesus says, here’s the next step. But the crazy thing is even that isn’t the final step, it’s not the finish line. The finish line is not just not committing adultery, it’s not even not entertaining attraction to somebody other than your spouse. The finish line is something way higher than that.

Couple months ago I got a letter from somebody, it was an actual letter, I didn’t even know they did those anymore, right? It had a stamp, and it had pieces of paper inside, they’d been handwritten. And it was from a woman in another state. She’d been watching Mission Hills for a while, and she was very complimentary. She said, “You know, I’ve really been blessed by the worship services, I’ve learned a lot from your teaching, but…” and I knew there was a but, she said, “but,” and then she kind of went on to express something she was really upset with me about, something that I’d said a couple different times, and it really bothered her. And what she was really upset about was a couple different times I had said that I think that my wife is really hot. She was really bothered by that. And she said, “Pastor, the Bible never says that men are supposed to think that their wives are hot.” And she’s right, the Bible does not say that. What the Bible says is way worse than that. What the Bible says is way more explicit than that. In fact, it’s so explicit, I don’t even feel comfortable, like, reading it, without censoring it in an audience that I know has some smaller kids in it. Okay? So, let me give you the censored version of what the book of Proverbs, The Book of Wisdom says, it says, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful dear, may her… Hmm, satisfy you always. May you ever be intoxicated with her love?” Like, I feel like saying, “I think my wife’s hot,” is dialing it down quite a bit, don’t you? Like, that’s the finish line. That’s the finish line. The finish line is actually being satisfied and intoxicated with your spouse’s love.

And listen, if you are satisfied and intoxicated with your spouse’s love, adultery is not going to be a problem. It’s not going to happen. Like, a couple years ago I had dinner at a buffet, it was called the Bacchanal Buffet. And I should have known it was gonna be a good buffet, if it’s got the name Bacchanal because it’s named after the Greek god of excess. Okay? And let me tell you what, it did not disappoint. Five minutes into this buffet, I was satisfied. Twenty minutes in, I was intoxicated, not with booze, with meat. I was high on meat at that point. And listen, in the midst of that, when I was satisfied and intoxicated with that buffet, if some guy with a hotdog cart had come along and stopped at the window and tried to get me to come out and buy a hotdog, I’d have been like, “Dude, you’re wasting your time. I just had filet mignon wrapped, bacon-wrapped sirloin. Get your hotdog cart out of here.” Right, that’s a finish line, that we will be satisfied and intoxicated with our spouse’s love to the point that adultery is just not even…it’s not even an option. It’s not even a possibility. That’s the finish line. Okay? So, how do we get there?

And I want to tell you something, no matter what state your marriage is in right now, it’s possible to get there. With God’s help, it’s possible to become satisfied and intoxicated with your spouse’s love. How do we do it? We don’t obviously have time to spend, you know, unpacking all of what Scripture has to say about getting to that point, but we do have time to do two really important things. And the first one is this, we’re going to see why it is that God is obsessed with great marriages. We’re going to see why God is so focused on having great marriages among His people. The second thing we’re gonna do is we’re gonna discover five key steps to a great marriage, five small steps in the right direction that will take you to places you might have never thought possible in your marriage. And by the way, let me just say this, I know that some of you listening to this are not married, and some of you that’s a hard thing. And I know that sometimes being single can be lonely, and sometimes in the church, it can feel even lonelier. I know that. But I want you to know that, listen, you are not a second-class citizen or a second-class member of the kingdom or this church because you’re single. And I want to encourage you to stick with us through this message because, even if you’re single, there’s a couple of reasons why you need to hear what’s going to be said today, from God’s Word.

The first one is just this, you might be married, at some point in the future, and it may be coming sooner than you think. God often surprises us. So, even if you feel like, you know, it’s not happening, or it’s not going to happen, I want to encourage you to listen to this because it might happen, and God needs you to know this. But the second reason is this, you have people in your life who have marriages that they need your support for. You have married friends and they need you. I love what my friend Ted Cunningham said, he was with us this past Thursday night for the Marriage Comedy Night. How many of us were at the Marriage Comedy Night? Ted did a great job. Yeah, he did an awesome job. And Ted said something a while back that I remember, and he said it this Thursday night as well. He said, “Marriage is a duet in need of some great backup singers.” It’s a great way to think about it. Like, you may not be married, but you have some friends who are and they need you to be great backup singers to make their duet marriage everything that it can be. So, even if you’re single, I want to encourage you to stick with us.

Let’s start by talking about why it is that God is obsessed with great marriages. And he is. He’s obsessed with great marriages. Jesus’s first miracle, at a wedding that should tell you something, it should tell you something about the priority that God places on marriage and weddings. But the whole Bible is kind of evidence of God’s obsession with great marriages. From the first to the last book of the Bible, marriage is a central theme. It happens over and over and over again that the Bible talks about marriage. It talks about marriages, and weddings, and husbands, and wives, and how we interact with each other. In fact, the Bible talks about marriage almost as much as it talks about money. It talks about marriage 800 and some odd times, which is just slightly behind the amount of time that it talks about money. And the reason it talks about money so much is because money is powerful. And God knows that how we think about and how we interact with money has either the ability to unleash us to the life God intended us for, or it has the ability to chain us to a cheap imitation of life. It’s why the Bible talks so much about money, and just right behind money, talks almost the same amount of time about marriage for the same reason, which is that marriage is powerful. Marriage is powerful and it has the ability either unleash you to the life that God has always meant for you to experience, or to change you to a cheap and a painful imitation of it.

That’s why it’s so important that how we live out and how we seek out, if we’re not married yet, and we’re thinking about getting married, and we’re looking for that person, how we live out and how we seek out our marriage is so important, because it is so powerful. And here’s really the bottom line, you need to understand this. Your marriage matters to God because you matter to God. Your marriage matters to God because you matter to God. He’s not obsessed with marriage; he’s obsessed with you. He loves you so deeply, and he knows that marriage is powerful, and it can either set you free or it become a chain that holds you back from being everything that he wants for you. That’s the bottom line, is that your marriage matters to God because you matter to God.

Let me take you to the invention of marriage, we can see that. If you want to go back and look with me, we’re going to be in Genesis chapter 2 starting in verse 18. And while you’re turning there, let me just say this, an important thing to know about Genesis chapter 2, is that Genesis chapter 2 comes right after Genesis chapter 1. And I know you’re like I had no idea we’re gonna be getting so deep, so fast here. But here’s the thing, Genesis chapter 1 has a very clear rhythm. It’s a rhythm that happens over and over and over again. And basically, it’s the God creates, and then he celebrates. He creates and he celebrates. He creates light, and land, and the sea, and then living creatures. And every time he creates, and he looks at it, and he celebrates. And he celebrates it by saying,” It’s good.” So, he creates and he celebrates, he creates and he says, it’s good, and he celebrates. That’s the rhythm we see it over and over again.

And then Genesis chapter 2, we get kind of a deep dive into the creation of human beings, which happened in two parts, God made Adam first, he created the first human being, Adam. And this is what God said about his creation, “The Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone.” It’s the first time the rhythm gets broken. It’s the first time God looks at something and he says it’s not good, it’s not there yet. The Lord God said it is not good for the man to be alone. And I know there’s a bunch of women out there, going, I did not need the Bible to tell me that my man should not be left unsupervised, right? A couple of years ago, there was a guy who made a boatload of money, he just printed up some shirts that said, “In my defense, I was left unsupervised.” And he made them in men’s shirts, and women’s shirts, and kids shirts, but 99% of the money he made came from women buying them for their man because women know men should not be left unsupervised. But really what God’s talking about here isn’t just men, he is talking about human beings. He’s talking about the fact that God created us with a need for community. He creates with a need for connection. He created us with a need for companionship. We’re not supposed to do life alone. We need companions. And really, the reason that God then proceeded to make the woman and invent the institution of marriage is because God created marriage to meet our need for companionship. God created marriage to meet our need for companionship, a need that he created in us.

Now, two things real quick because these are important. The first one is just this, understand, marriage isn’t the only way to meet our need for companionship. And so if you’re single, understand that you can still have your need for companionship met with other people, with the right kinds of friends in your life. And God will certainly meet that need as well to a certain extent, but he created other people to meet partly that need. And so marriage is not the only way to meet that need. And it’s important, not only for single people to know, but it’s important for married people to know too, because sometimes what happens is married people look at their spouse and they go, “You’re it. You’re supposed to meet all my needs.” And that is way too much pressure for those poor people. I had a guy a couple of years ago, tell me, “I think I found the one, Craig.” I said, “That’s great. How do you know she’s the one?” He said, “Because she keeps telling me over and over again, she says you were all I want and all I need.” I was like, “Oh, run. Run fast, run far.” Because you can’t live like that. Your spouse cannot be anything and everything to meet all those needs. Your spouse is an important part of meeting that need for companionship, but you need friends in your life. You’ve got a duet going, but you need some backup singers. And if you don’t have them, what’s gonna happen is going to put so much pressure on your spouse that the relationship is going to start to crack. Marriage is not the only way to meet our needs for companionship.

Second thing I want you to understand is this, a lot of people misunderstand what companionship is, especially when it comes to marriage. And some people seem to…what they’re really settling for is just not being alone, and they think it’s the same thing. As long as there’s somebody, then I have companionship. And that’s just not the case at all. In fact, I’ve known a lot of people who have gone into marriage because they just didn’t want to be alone, they found somebody to not be alone with, and then, a little while into the marriage, they found themselves feeling more lonely than they had before they got married. And the reason is because they didn’t really find a true companion. So, here’s companionship. True companionship is a relationship with someone who knows everything about you and loves you anyway. That’s true companionship. It’s a relationship with someone who knows everything about you and loves you anyway. That’s not an easy thing to find. Let me tell you something if you are looking for that person, stop looking for fixer-uppers. Stop shopping fixer-uppers. Because so many people go into a relationship with somebody, and they’re like, “Okay, yeah, I don’t like that. I don’t like that. I’m not sure I can live with that, but once we get married, he’ll change. Once we get married, I’ll fix her.” You’ve got to stop looking for fixer-uppers. Because that one wall in the house that you just hate, you just can’t stand it, it might turn out to be a load-bearing wall, and it ain’t going nowhere.

Listen, if you can’t live with everything that you know about your spouse, and you don’t know pretty much everything there is to know, you shouldn’t be getting married to him. Don’t move into a house that you can’t live with as is. It doesn’t mean there can’t be improvements, it doesn’t mean there can’t be growth together, there’s absolutely going to be all that, but if you can’t live with them as they are, you shouldn’t be marrying them. Companionship is someone who knows everything about you, and they’re okay with it. They’re okay with it as is. Marriage is a powerful tool for meeting this deep need for companionship that God created in us, but it’s not just about companionship, it’s also about mission. It’s also about our mission. “The Lord God said it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.” And I’ll be honest with you, I’m not crazy about that translation. I get it, all the English translations do something very similar. And the reason is, there’s not any good English words that communicate the intent of the original Hebrew there. So, we’re kind of left without the vocabulary for it, but it’s more important to understand, two things.

First off, He says a helper, and in English helper is just kind of an innocuous word. It’s kind of a low-level word, right? I mean, like, you know, you got little kids and they’re like, “Oh, she’s Daddy’s little helper.” And we really mean it with quotation marks around it, because she’s not helping. She’s making this so much harder, right? It’s just a low-level word. And the Hebrew word is a much deeper word, it’s a very profound word. In fact, God uses the Hebrew word there to talk about himself. He describes himself as our helper, and God is not our little helper. He’s our helper and our shield in times of trouble. He’s the foundation on which we stand. And yes, that’s helpful, but He’s not our helper, and neither is your spouse. They’re not your helper, they’re something more profound. But again, there’s no good English word for it. It is a deep and profound sense of partnership, which also, we see in that other word that I’m not crazy about. He says, you know, I will make a helper suitable for him. Most English translations say something like that. But the Hebrew word literally means a helper, alongside him, to helper side by side him. The image is people who stand shoulder to shoulder in advance on the world together. It’s a powerful word, it’s a word about partnership. And really, what we’re being told is that marriage is a partnership in pursuit of our purpose. Marriage is a partnership in pursuit of our purpose.

See, God created us with the purpose. He made us in his image. He made us to represent God. He made us to extend his influence into every corner of creation. And so we have to stand side by side and advance on creation to accomplish our purpose. And that’s partly what marriage is, it’s a partnership in pursuit of our purpose. It’s a powerful thing. And this helps us to understand why it is that God is so obsessed with great marriages. Not only do great marriages meet this need that God created in us, but they also allow us to accomplish our mission. They accomplish the ability to become more like Jesus and to join him on mission. It’s what we talked about here, our marriages are central to that. So, God is obsessed with our marriages because he’s obsessed with us. Unfortunately, as you continue on through the Bible, what you’re going to find page after page is all of the things that get in the way of our marriages being everything that God intended them to be. Everything that gets in the way of our marriages being everything that we always wanted in a marriage, right? I mean, the world throws a lot of things at us to get in the way of us having the marriages we’ve always wanted, right? I mean, some of it’s innocuous, and some of it’s pretty insidious. Some of it’s really innocuous, we almost don’t even see the damage that it’s doing. We get so busy, right? We’re so busy doing stuff that we forget that we need to be investing in that marriage relationship, and that causes damage over time, but we don’t really even see it happening.

And then there’s insidious things. I mean, the world throws things like pornography at us, that create dissatisfaction, and unrealistic expectations, and standards that no human being can meet. And it’s not just pornography, so there’s other things that do that. There’s other things that create unrealistic expectations, Hallmark Channel. Look, I’m sorry, the Hallmark Channel is creating a lot of dissatisfaction. Every now and then, I’ll wander through and my wife will be watching some Hallmark special, and I’ll hear the guy speak to the girl. And I’m like, “Oh, no. Man, I can’t live up to that.” And there’s women out there going to their men, going, “Hey, why don’t you say to me the kinds of things that he says to her?” And the answer is, “Because they’ve got a team of scriptwriters, and they’re probably mostly women.” We can’t live up to that. But you have all these things out there that are creating dissatisfaction. Here’s an important question. What is the world throwing at me that’s hurting my marriage? I encourage you to ask yourself that question. What’s the world throwing at me that’s hurting my marriage? What am I allowing in and allowing to influence me that’s hurting my marriage? Because the world is throwing a lot at us.

And then there’s the people, right? They’re a little subset of the world. There’s people that are trying to undermine our marriage, there’s people that are actually out there looking, they’re preying on married men and married women because there’s something twisted in them that loves seeing if they can peel them away from the spouse that they said, “Until death do us part.” But then there’s other people that are doing similar kinds of damage, and we’re not necessarily on guard against them. There’s mother-in-laws, there’s moms, there’s dads, there’s brothers, and sisters who are cutting down the person that you’re committed to and creating a sense of dissatisfaction and undermining your marriage. I’m sorry, but here’s the number one category of people that are undermining your marriage, is your kids. And I don’t mean, yeah, right. I mean, it’s not that they’re like coming after you, it’s that what so often happens is, we get married and, like, that’s the foundation of our family, right? And then we bring these small people into it, and they become the center of everything, and we forget about each other, for 18, 20 years, 27 years these days, 30 years. And then when they’re gone, we look at each other, and we’re like, “Well, who are you again?”

Listen, I honestly believe that one of the biggest dangers to our marriages is a kid-centered home. I’m not saying we neglect our kids, of course not, but our kids need to see that our marriage is the center of our home, not them. Because they’re gonna go out from that home at some point and they’re gonna find that the rest of the world does not think that they’re the center of the universe. And that can be a rude awakening because they came out of a home where they were, and they shouldn’t, they shouldn’t have that experience. They need to know that it’s you and your wife first. They need to know it’s you and your husband first and everything else comes from that. It’s so important. I was reminded recently, my oldest daughter, she has her own condo, she’s got a career. She’s adulting. It’s awesome. But she was at the church for something, and I was somewhere else and she had to go to my office. And then she came in, she found me, and she kind of pulled me aside, and she was clearly struggling with something. She was heavy. There was something weighty, and she goes, “Are you and mom doing okay?” And I said, “Yeah, we’re doing great, honey. What…? We’re doing great.” And you could actually see her, “Oh, okay.” I said, “What are you so worried about?” She said, “Well, I was in your office, and I didn’t mean to snoop, but I saw some books on your desk, and one of them was called, What To Do When You Feel like Walking Away From Your Marriage.” I was like, “Oh, I was prepping for a marriage message.” And you could just see she’s like, “Oh, okay.” And I realize, even as an adult, she needed to know that her mom and her dad were in lockstep. Her mum and dad were okay. Like, so much of her world dependent on knowing that that foundation was solid.

Our kids can undermine our marriage. Here’s an important question for you. Who’s undermining my marriage? Who’s undermining? And then I love you, and because I love you, I gotta tell you a hard truth. The number one obstacle to your marriage isn’t something that’s going on out there, it’s you. The biggest obstacle in your marriage might be you. Because I know the biggest obstacle in my marriage is me because I’m selfish. Because your selfish, we’re all sinful. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But sin is rooted in selfishness, it’s inherently selfish. And selfishness is the biggest obstacle in our marriage. And I know there’s a bunch people going, “You’re absolutely right. He’s so selfish. She’s so selfish.” But you know the only reason we’re so frustrated by their selfishness is because their selfishness is getting in the way of my selfishness. You might be the biggest obstacle to your marriage. So, what do we do about it? How do we move past that to the marriages that God has intended for us? How do we get past the marriages that you and I’ve always wanted? Five key steps.

Number one, stop being okay with your marriage not being great. That’s the first key. We get so comfortable with things that we should be uncomfortable about. We get so comfortable even with brokenness or mediocrity, and we settle in. And we’ve got to stop being okay with our marriages not being great. Quick little quiz. How many of these apply to you? We’re more roommates than we are lovers, or we’re communicating, but we’re not connecting. Maybe we’re texting more than we’re talking, right? Our longest conversations are about logistics, who’s going away and doing what for who? Right? We lack emotional intimacy, we lack physical intimacy, we’re bumping fists, instead of locking lips? Right? How about this one, my husband or my wife gets what’s left of me, not what’s best of me. Huge problem in marriages. If you can check any of those, or maybe some other ones that the Holy Spirit right now has suggested to you, then the reality is your marriage is not everything it could be and we got to stop being okay with our marriages not being great. That’s the first and most important step.

Second step is to recognize…well, it’s really part of the first step, it’s recognizing that we’ve got to fight. It’s amazing to me, people will say, “Well, we did. We fought, we fought for our marriage. We read a book. We listened to podcasts, we went to a seminar.” I love what the Bible says, Hebrews 12:4, “In your struggle against sin,” and you could easily insert against mediocrity in my marriage, against brokenness in my marriage, “in your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” So, as you think you fought, you haven’t even begun to fight. Until you’ve shed blood, and by the way, not their blood, right? Your blood. Until you shed your blood in fighting for your marriage, you have not even begun to fight. We’ve got to stop being okay with our marriages not been great.

Second step is we need to focus on ourselves. You need to focus on yourself, not your spouse. Twenty-eight years of vocation ministry, I’ve done a lot of marriage counseling, I have never had a couple came in for counseling, and at the end of that first session, I was like, “It is all him,” or “It’s all her.” It’s never happened. And I’ve seen some horrible husbands. Okay? I’ve seen some horrible wives. But no matter how horrible they might be, at the end of that first session, I can always go, “Hey, there’s two people who are part of the problem here.” You’re part of the problem. I’m not saying your spouse isn’t also part of the problem, but I’m saying that’s not where you start. You’ve got to focus on yourself, not your spouse. We’ve got to stop looking across the table, we’ve got to start looking in the mirror first.

Jesus said it so famously, he said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye,” in your husband’s eye, in your wife’s eye, “and pay no attention to the plank you have in your own eye?” How can you say to your brother, or your husband, or your wife, let me take the speck out of your eye, I can fix that for you when all the time there’s a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First, take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother, or your husband, or your wife’s eye. That’s the second step. Focus on yourself, not your spouse.

Third step is admit your failures to God and accept his forgiveness. Admit your failures to God. Acknowledge God, “I realized this is what I’ve done wrong. This is what I’m doing wrong. This is how I am making things harder. This is how I’m making things worse.” Admit those to God, and then accept his forgiveness because he promises forgiveness. 1 John 1:9, it says, “If we confess our sins, if we admit our sins, and we repent, we turn away from them. If we confess our sins, he is faithful, and just. and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That when we admit our failures to God, and we ask for his forgiveness, it’s given, we accept them and we go, “I’ve got a clean slate, I’m starting everything fresh today.” And then we do that again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. That’s the third step.

Fourth step, and this is a little bit harder. Admit your failures to your spouse and ask for his or her forgiveness. Those things you admitted to God, you need to admit them to your spouse too. And I know that was harder because there’s something in our culture that has lied to us, that has said to us, when you admit you’re part of the problem, when you admit that you are the problem, or even just a part of it, you’ve given up power, you’ve given up leverage. And it’s a lie from the pit. Here’s the reality. Listen, I wish we had time to fully unpack this, we don’t, we’re going to actually do a message at the end of this series one day, where we’re going to really unpack this. But listen, let me just give you a sneak peek. The most powerful marriage tool that you have is just three words, “I was wrong.” That’s the most powerful marriage tool. It’s better than any book. It’s better than any podcast, it’s better than any seminar, it’s better than any counselor. You grab hold of those three words, and you use them every time that they’re true, and it will change your marriage in ways you cannot even imagine, “I was wrong.” And listen, I cannot promise you that they’re going to give you the same forgiveness that God always will, but I can promise you if you never ask for it, you’re never going to get it. And I can promise you that even if you don’t get it from them, just asking for it sets you free in a way that you haven’t been up to this point. That’s your fourth step. Admit your failures to your spouse and ask for their forgiveness.

And then the fifth step, ask for, ask for it, and then act on God’s power to take a next step. Remember what we said, small steps in the right direction will take you to places you never thought possible. So, we just asked for God’s power, and I promise you, he’s going to give it. So, this is a prayer that God always answers in the affirmative, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks, receives, the one who seeks, finds, and the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” God will give you a positive answer to that prayer. You asked for his strength to take a next step, and then you act in faith on that next step, and you will see that it will be transformative in a way it’s hard for you to even imagine right now. So, that’s the fifth step. Okay, so what are the next steps? What could you do? Let me give you a few that we’re working with, a lot of people around the Mission Hills congregation with right now.

The first one is Date Night Challenge because so many people got married and they stopped dating, and that’s a problem. So, we’re trying to reignite dating in your marriage. Some of us were here at the Date Night, or the Comedy Date Night this past Thursday. And so a lot of you signed up, actually, we had almost 500 couples sign up for this already. It’s awesome. But I want to encourage you to do it if you haven’t done it yet. Here’s what you do, you’re just going to text the word date to 80875. Once a month, you’re going to get a text back, and it’s going to give you your mission parameters. You got to do this kind of thing for the date, and here’s some questions you’re gonna talk about. Coletta and I did the first one this past weekend, and it was great questions, very creative, it was awesome. And then just to incentivize you, if you’ll take a picture of yourselves on the date, then you can submit it to a link that will give you, and you can be entered to win some great prizes, I mean, hotel nights with your spouse, I assume that’s understood, great dinners out, all those kinds of things. So, that’s one thing you can do. Take the Date Night Challenge, I really encourage you to do that.

Another thing you can do is what we call our Intentional Marriage curriculum. Pastor Jeff Baxter in our next-gen department has put together a great four-week curriculum on being more intentional about our marriage. You could do it with a Life Group, you can do it with your spouse together, very, very powerful. I really encourage you to think about checking out the Intentional Marriage four-session resource, you can find that at mssionhills.org/… What was it? It’s gone already… Intentional-marriage, right? Pretty easy to find.

Third thing you might think about doing is Re Engage, powerful ministry at Mission Hills that has transformed a lot of marriages, from marriages that everybody thought was good, but now that they’re great, and other marriages that they thought were done, and now they’re also moving towards great. In fact, let me ask you to just check out one story from Re Engage.

Katie: Aaron and I met back in 2014, we were attending young adults group at Mission Hills and kind of just started off as friends, and then I guess as we got to know each other better, turned into dating and we hit things off from there.

Aaron: We dated for about…what is it?

Katie: Two years.

Aaron: Two years and were engaged for a year, and then got married in 2017.

Katie: All throughout our dating relationship, I guess, we kind of stumbled our way through discussions of vulnerability. We both had built up walls around our heart, just to protect ourselves from some shame and pain that we had experienced previously. And so then, when we got into marriage, it was kind of hard for us to connect on a deeper level, and it really struggled with our intimacy.

Aaron: In 2020, Katie was deployed to Kosovo with the Army National Guard. From when Katie returned, it was just very hard to develop that connection again while she was in her own world, and I was in my own world. And so when she returned, we looked into Re Engage. And at first, for myself, I thought it was more of marriage counseling and for broken marriages, and only for broken marriages. But from attending the class, you learn that every individual is broken in a marriage, so whether that’s Katie or myself, we both are failing each other in some sort of way.

Katie: Re Engage really helped us identify just areas where we both were kind of falling short and helped us recognize some of our own communication errors that we have with each other that was kind of hindering our ability to grow intimate with one another. And so, Re Engage has really helped us just get back on the same page and learn that we’re not in this alone. There’s other marriages that struggle through it too, but together, and with the help of Christ, we can redeem our marriage. And so it’s been a true blessing for us.

Aaron: I think the key takeaway from Re Engage is that God provided me a wife and that she is a gift from him, and I am the same to her…

Katie: Most of the time.

Aaron: …most of the time.


Powerful ministry, yeah. Really, you owe it to yourself to check out Re Engage, whether you feel like your marriage is good, but you want to take it to great, or maybe you feel like it’s bad, and you’d be happy with good, but God actually wants to take you right past that towards a great. You should check out Re Engage. But whatever the next step is, ask God for the strength, accept his strength, and move forward in that next step. Some of you, as you’re listening to this, your next step, honestly, it may simply be taking that first step of saying yes to a relationship with Jesus. Because although we’re talking about God’s power to give you a marriage that you’ve always intended, all that power is available to you, it comes through relationship with him. And that relationship with him starts from faith. And so if you’ve never said yes to faith in Jesus, that might be your step today. Can I ask all of you just to pray with me?

God, for those of us who have that relationship with you, we ask now for the power to figure out and to take our next step in making our marriages everything we’ve always wanted them to be, and everything that we see from your Word that you’ve always wanted them to be. Lord, for those who are listening to this message that don’t have that relationship with you that’s so foundational, I pray you’d speak to their hearts even right now. Let them know how deeply you love them.


And please understand God does love you so much that he sent his own Son to die on the cross to pay the price for all your failures, your wrongdoing, your sin. But three days later, Jesus rose from the dead and he offered salvation by faith, he offered salvation simply by putting our trust in what he did. That’s where the relationship begins. And if you’ve never begun that relationship, you can do it right here right now. You’re just going to have a conversation with God, say something like this in your heart to him. Say:

God, I’ve done wrong, I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead, and I’m ready to accept your forgiveness and a relationship with you that starts now and goes on forever. So, Jesus, I’m saying yes to you. I’m going to follow you from here on out. Amen.

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