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Kerry Shook - Chess

Kerry Shook - Chess

Woodlands Church, this weekend we're concluding our series on Relationship Games by looking at one of the most popular games of all time: chess. Now, unlike some of the other games that we've looked at, chess requires a lot of skill, strategy, and practice, and it's the same in close relationships. It takes a lot of skill, strategy, and practice to build a lasting marriage, to build a strong friendship, to build a close family. And so chess and close relationships have a lot of similarities.

Now, I have to say that my wife is really good at chess. And since we're in church, I have to admit, I've never once beaten her in a game of chess. She just destroys me every time and with great delight, I might add. I mean, yes, we're talking about the same Chris. Chris, who you know is so beautiful and kind and compassionate and unselfish, she's got a competitive side to her that you don't know anything about. And it comes out when we play chess. I mean, she's a beautiful assassin when it comes to anything competitive, especially chess. She doesn't just want to beat me, she wants to annihilate and humiliate me because the goal, they've got some cheers over there. Thank you so much for that. Yeah, appreciate that. The goal in chess is checkmate, it's to win, it's to make the other person lose, it's to take the king and end the game.

So how do you go from that checkmate to soulmate? How do you have that deep, emotional connection? Well, one of the big breakthroughs that Chris and I have experienced in our marriage is that we've moved away from building a marriage on perfection, and we've been seeking to build a marriage on purpose. You see, when you build your marriage based on perfection, trying to have a perfect marriage, you're gonna be disillusioned and really frustrated with your spouse and with yourself. And you're gonna tear each other apart because you're both very flawed and imperfect and you try to build a marriage on perfection, it's just gonna disappoint you. But what God wants us to do is build a marriage on purpose. Don't build your marriage on perfection, build your marriage on purpose.

Now, the question then is, "What is the purpose"? What is the purpose of marriage? Well, Ephesians 5:25 tells us real clearly. And so, would you stand in honor of God's Word? "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery but I am talking about Christ and the church".

You can be seated. Some people say that the purpose of marriage is companionship, to find a life companion, and I think that's good. Some people say the purpose of marriage is to find someone who complements you, who brings out the best in you. And I think that's really good. Some people say the purpose of marriage is to have kids and raise a family, and that's a good thing. And then some people, mostly men, say the purpose of marriage is sex, and that's a good thing. But there's a higher purpose that all these other things must be built upon. And here's the purpose of marriage, to reflect God's love for the church, to reflect and model the love of Christ for his church. That is, marriage is supposed to give me a better understanding of God's love for me, and my marriage is to reflect Christ's love for others.

"Yeah, whoa, Pastor Kerry, you mean I'm supposed to, in my marriage, reflect the love of Christ"? Yes, when people look at my marriage, they should get a little glimpse of how Christ loves them. And marriage should teach those of us who are married a little more about Christ's love for us and it should be a reflection to those around us when they look at us to see a little bit more of Christ's love and understand it a little bit better. Now, hold on for a minute, stay with me. I know we're all works in progress. Remember, we're not focusing on perfection.

You say, "When people look at my marriage, I'm not sure that they're gonna see a lot of Christ's love". But what you focus on is progress and God's purpose. And when you begin to make progress toward God's purpose, it begins to change things. You begin to have breakthroughs because you're no longer focused on perfection, which causes you to tear each other apart, you're focused on God's purpose and you start moving toward God's purpose, applying the principles from God's purpose for marriage, that we're gonna talk about, and you start having breakthroughs, and it brings you closer together. And so we've gotta focus in on this purpose to reflect Christ's love to the people around us. And there are four phases that will help you move away from perfection to purpose so that you'll have a purposeful marriage. First, start with checkmate.

Now, this is in the dating process. You need to really check thoroughly the person you're dating to see if their mate material. You need to have high standards in the dating process. Don't settle. This is so important because when you're dating, you're playing to win at all costs. So many single adults, though, today act like it's not really a big deal who they're dating. "We're just having fun. It's not that big a deal". Maybe it's not that serious, you know, it's just dating. They act as if they don't realize that the person they will marry will come from a subset of the people that they date. They don't seem to understand that fact. And if you're single, here's the point, you can't date losers and expect to marry a winner.

Now, that is a life-changing principle that you should write down if you're single. I mean, that's worth the price of admission right there. You can't date losers and expect to marry a winner. And so you want to have high standards in the dating process because this isn't marriage yet. Then after the vows, then you start working on unconditional love and acceptance and working through your brokenness to build something beautiful. But let me give you a checklist for those of you who are single adults. It's not a checklist of 50 different things. It's just a few really important things to have a high standard when you're dating. First, are they a Christian? Do they love the Lord?

The Bible says when you marry someone, you become one with them, one physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And so, if you marry someone who's not a Christ follower, there's a level of intimacy you'll never be able to go to. Spiritual intimacy is the deepest form of oneness and if they don't love the Lord, then you can't go to that deeper level. I like the way 2 Corinthians chapter 6, verse 14, is put in the Message paraphrase. This is the "Do not be unequally yoked" passage. It says, "Don't become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That's not partnership; that's war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God's holy temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives".

So he saying, why would you go into a marriage partnership with someone who doesn't love the Lord? Because you'll be totally unequally yoked. Or a business partnership, before you get into a business partnership with someone, you really ought to pray hard about, do they have faith in Christ? Do you have that likeness that you need when you make tough decisions?

The second C is character. Are they really growing in Christ? Are they hungry for spiritual things? I'm not talking about being a Bible scholar. They may not know a whole lot about God's Word, but which direction are they going? Are they growing in Christ? Are they seeking to have a daily time with God? Do they have a hunger for spiritual things? Do they have Christ-like character in their life? And then the third C is complement. Do they complement you? Do they bring out the best in you? Or do they drag you down? Do they help you grow closer to Christ, or do they make it harder? Are they a barrier for you to get closer to Christ? Do they criticize you, tear you down? Or do they build you up? This is really important.

By the way, you want to ask, are they builder upper or a tearer downer? Because some people are just tearer downers. If they're always criticizing everyone else, and everything else, if they're always negative about everything else and everyone else, always tearing down everything else and everyone else, I guarantee you after the wedding, they will turn it on you. And so you want to ask yourself, "Do they build me up? Do they tear me down? Do they bring me closer to Christ? Do they take me further away from Christ"? And then the fourth is commitment. Do they really understand what they're committing to?

Now, know two can really understand completely what they're committing to when it comes to the marriage relationship. But are they aware that they're gonna come into the relationship and it's gonna be two broken people who have to really work hard to build something beautiful and they have to commit to work through it, no matter what the costs? Do they really understand commitment? Well, then after you get through this checkmate stage where you check thoroughly to see if the person you're dating is mate material, then you're gonna move into stalemate at some time. Every marriage moves into stalemate at times, and you gotta break the stalemate.

That's when you're not really meeting each other's needs and maybe you don't even know what your spouse's needs are. A lot of husbands and wives don't even realize what their needs are 'cause they don't really listen. They think their needs are the same as my own. "You know, I think my spouse's needs must be what my needs are". We project that on them instead of really finding out what their needs are, really listening, really honing in and being attuned. But once you know what their needs are, then you have a big problem that's called selflessness that you gotta break through. And we see it all the time in counseling where the husband says, "Well, she's not meeting my needs, so why should I meet her needs"? "You know, he's not doing anything to build this marriage, so why should I really sacrifice to build this marriage"? "She's not doing anything, he's not..."

Back and forth, it becomes a vicious cycle. Now, if you're going to build your marriage on purpose, the Bible is really clear to reflect Christ's love, it's the husband's job to risk breaking the stalemate. Because in stalemate, a lot of couples move into resignation where one or both have just resign themselves. "This is the way it will be. We'll never be soulmates. It will always be stalemate". And in master chess, that's the way most matches end is in one resigning, one resigning or both resigning in a stalemate. And so that's what happens a lot of time in stalemate, and it's the husband's job to take the first move and to risk.

In Ephesians 5:25 it says, "Husbands, go all out and your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church, a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her". So men, this spells out our role. For those of you who are husbands, it spells out our role in the purpose of marriage. We're to risk it all to break the stalemate, to be unselfish, to meet our wife's needs ahead of our own regardless.

Now, chess has gained a new popularity recently in this generation coming up, and it's mostly because of the hit Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit". But did you know that King's Gambit is the most popular opening move in chess? It's where the pawn is sacrificed right away in order to gain a more favorable position on the board, but it's a great risk, this King's Gambit. And the King's Gambit in the marriage relationship is the husband has to make the first move to break the stalemate, to risk reaching out and sacrificing and it not being returned. The King's Gambit is for the husband to make sacrifices for her. To fulfill the purpose, the husband needs to make sacrifices for her. It's a love marked by giving, not getting.

And the King's Gambit is the sacrifice to be vulnerable, to really open up your heart, to be honest, to be open, to be vulnerable about your faults and your real feelings, your fears. That's the greatest risk of all, being totally honest. That's the King's Gambit because your wife's deep need is emotional connection. And here's the big problem, for most of us men, we're used to wearing armor, going out and fighting great battles in the world, and you wear your armor to protect you from being just destroyed. You gotta wear your armor out in the world today, and a lot of men, a lot of women, put on their armor before they go out into the world. And it protects you. You can't just bear your heart with everyone you meet. And in the dating process, you need to have some armor on.

Some people just take off their armor right away and just bear their heart and say, "Well, let me just tell you all my deepest, darkest sins and all my faults and flaws. And let me just tell you what I plan for our marriage relationship together". On the first date, it just doesn't work. You gotta wear your armor, you're gonna be wounded deeply. But then you start taking that armor off slowly, and the problem for most of us guys is we've worn our armor so much to protect us from being wounded, that we don't even know how to take it off. We don't even know what we really feel and desire. And we're not even connected with our own emotions, and that's why it's impossible for our family to really connect to us on an emotional level.

And our wife must have that emotional connection, she needs that desperately, and the only way we can give that to her is to take that armor off and learn how to connect emotionally by being vulnerable, by being honest, by being real, by admitting our hurts, all of our mess-ups, by admitting our fears, by being in touch with our own heart. We've got to do that for our kids, for those of you who are parents, to be able to take the armor off to really emotionally connect with our children. This is so important, men, and that's why the Bible says the purpose to reflect Christ's love is to do what the great King of kings did in the King's Gambit when he risked it all to love us and to die on the cross for us and to sacrifice for us. He became totally vulnerable.

The Son of God himself wrapped himself in frail human flesh and became completely vulnerable and exposed his heart on the cross. His love for you is so much. And if we begin to reflect a little bit of that love, we'll do whatever it takes to reveal our hearts, to emotionally connect with our wife. Husbands, we're to break the stalemate through sacrifice, and then we become a great teammate. We become great teammates. Now wives, there are two things that you're to do to fulfill the purpose of marriage, only two things. Husbands have four, the wives only have two, but they're so misunderstood. In Ephesians 5:22 it says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord".

Now, that word "submit" has been so misused, so misunderstood, so abused by husbands throughout the years to say, "Well, the Bible says you're to submit to me. That means that I get to make all the decisions, that you have to do whatever I say. If you want to stay together with me, then you gotta do whatever I want you to do. You've got to follow me. I'm gonna lead us and do what I want to do. And if you're gonna stay with me, you gotta follow along beside me". Nothing could be further from what the Bible says than that.

And by the way, men who often cite and misuse that verse, never talk about the verse right before Ephesians 5:22 which is Ephesians 5:21 that says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ". That is, we're to give into each other, to put the other ahead of ourselves. Now, let me explain it this way, for hundreds of years, men have been misusing this verse and abusing this verse to say, "Well, I'm in charge. I'm the leader. I'm the king and I walk ahead of you. And you follow behind me. If you want to be married to me, then you gotta go wherever I go, do whatever I do. I make all the decisions, and you just gotta follow behind me".

In fact, in some cultures, it's still sort of protocol and the culture that when you walk into a public place, the husband literally symbolically walks ahead of his wife, and she has to walk in after him because he's saying, "I'm the leader. I'm the leader. Don't ever forget, I'm the leader. I'm the leader". I always think if you have to remind everyone that you're the leader all the time, you're probably not leading anyone. And so the husband, many husbands for hundreds of years have abused this verse and said, "I am the leader".

Then about 50 years ago in America women said, "I'm fed up. No more. You have led me terribly. You have led me pathetically, and I don't have to do everything that you say now. I'm not gonna do everything you say. I'm not gonna follow you. You're not gonna make all the decisions. You know, you've led me down so many wrong paths and you've hurt me so much, I am never gonna do that again. I'm fed up". And what happened is, women said, "You know what? I'm gonna lead and if you want to stay together with me, then you gotta follow me wherever I go and whatever I do because I'm gonna do what I want to do. And if you want to stay married to me, then you need to come along 'cause I'm tired of you leading".

And ever since then, men and women have been fighting for control, fighting for control, fighting for control. And that causes so many of the problems in marriage today, fighting for control. But what people don't understand is the word "submit" literally means to walk hand in hand and that is the wife reaching up and taking her husband by the hand. They pray together about decisions. They come to unity on decisions. They don't agree on everything, but they work to unity. And they're together in it. They pray together. They make decisions together. They walk hand in hand. And I want you to know, I've rarely seen a wife who won't reach up and take her husband by the hand and walk hand in hand with him if he's loving her like Christ loved the church.

And that's what the Scripture says, that we're to love our wives like Christ loved the church. And how did he love the church? He sacrificed his life and gave it all for us. And so when we're giving our all to our wives, I have rarely ever met a woman who won't reach out and take her husband by the hand who's saying, "I'm giving my all to you" and whose actions and words prove it each and every day that he's giving everything he's got. That's the way it works. That's the way the Bible says marriage works. It's Christ's love for the church on display. But then there's a second thing that wives must do to fulfill the purpose, give her respect to her husband.

In Ephesians 5:33 it says, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband". So focus on that phrase, "love his wife," and the phrase "respect her husband". It's love and respect. She desires to feel love. He desires to have that respect coming from the one that he cherishes and loves. And if you both do that, then you move into this great risk and your risk at all to become soulmates. Ephesians 5:31 says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh".

The two becoming one physically, emotionally, and spiritually and the only way that can happen is if you both risk and you drop your guard and you become vulnerable and you risk loving sacrificially. Marriage is not each giving 50% and then going, "Hey, wait a minute. I'm giving 60%, you're only giving 40%. Hey, wait a minute. I'm giving 58%. You know, you're not holding up your end of the bargain".

That's not marriage. Marriage is each giving 100%, each giving 100% sacrificing and dropping our guard, being vulnerable, risking rejection. And that's what the King of kings did. The King of kings' gambit was he risked everything so he could have a relationship with you. He gave it all so he could have a relationship with you. And then he gives you the power to choose whether or not you love him back. You can reject him, you can curse his name, and many people do, but he said, "I love you so much, I think you're worth dying for".
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