New Hope Notes
The Blessing Of Marriage
Bless This Mess
Pastor Jon Burgess
The Blessings Of Marriage
Bless This Mess
Pastor Jon Burgess
May 18 & 19, 2019
[Video: Pastor Jon Burgess Interviewing His Father, Pastor Neal Burgess]
PASTOR JON: Welcome, New Hope! Today, I have Dad to discuss some points about marriage that I’ve learned from him over the years—Dad and Mom have been married for 48 years!
PASTOR NEAL: Our parents were still married and loved each other, but they were not in love with each other; and we were thankful they stayed together. My wife and I made it a goal in our hearts and minds that we wanted more from our marriage. We were determined to have a lasting and loving marriage because God bought us together!
We were married for a year when things got tense and we were arguing and fighting. We didn’t know how to love each other, even though we loved each other. One night we went to a Love Song concert and rededicated our lives to Jesus—but we needed Jesus in the center of our marriage. Through the frustrations of life, we kept pressing into Jesus, spending time with Him, and being loved by God! Now I can love my wife not because she loves me, but because Jesus loves me!
PASTOR JON: It took you and Mom a year to realize you needed more than love to make the marriage last. It took me just one month to realize how selfish I was! I absolutely love Cyndi, but, suddenly, I don’t want to share my bacon or my dessert, thinking, “Why are you always invading my space?” Now we’re sharing everything 24/7. Marriage is like a mirror! It made me realize I’m not the humble and giving nice person that I thought I was. Whoa, what was that!?
PASTOR NEAL: Marriage is like a mirror. You are seeing yourself differently because now you have another person to bounce it off. It is a humbling reality. I learned not to be discouraged when I fail because we are different people. We appreciate and celebrate where we are, as we learn to mesh and accept each other. Surrendering really went a long way—it’s willingness to say, “I don’t know,” rather than putting that on my wife!
[End of Video]
Ephesians 5:21, 24-25 NIV says, “21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
PASTOR JON: We continue this week with our Bless This Mess series, speaking, specifically, about The Blessing Of Marriage. This message applies if you’re single, divorced, or not sure if you want to get married! It applies to all relationships but not fully understood—mutual submission. Submission sounds synonymous with subduing, but it really is about serving each other, coming under Christ’s leadership—He came to serve.
Marriages and relationships don’t work outside of mutual submission because we’re fighting for what we want, so there will always be tension. The scenario completely changes when you ask the Servant of All, “How can I serve the person you’ve put in my life?” When we invite the Holy Spirit into the process of marriage, God will change the mess into a message!
The divorce rate between Christians and non-Christians is identical. After years of research, studies show that cohabitation (living together before marriage) leads to divorce, and cohabitation is on the rise: Four out of five unmarried Christians, ages 18-22, have had sex. That’s real. If the Word of God doesn’t work in real life, we should all go home; but I believe the Word of God is the manual that will help us through everything that you and I are facing.
Interestingly, cohabitation started in the 1960s, when it was cool to be rebellious, saying, “We’re not going with the system. We’ll live together and make love—not war!” But if you want to be rebellious, the thing to do is to get married! If you want to be a rebel, stay married! People are changing marriages quicker than cars. If you really want to be a rebel, follow the Savior! Marriage may not be perfect, but God invented it to actually work better than the mess we’ve made of it!
It takes a village to have a successful marriage; and requires a community of faith. We cannot do this on our own. Mutual submission means we are submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 4:2-7 NIV says, “2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
We must show grace! In marriage, especially, we demand and expect grace more from our spouse than we give it. If you want to make your marriage last, do your relationships in the context of community filled with grace. We get married in community, yet we think our marriage will work outside of community, which is not true. Often the problem is shame—we don’t want people to know we are having problems.
If we are not willing to humble ourselves and ask for help from the very people who were there to support your marriage, then we’re in trouble. I believe in this so much that when I perform weddings, I invite a Community Vow, having the wedding couple turn to the guests and ask the guests to repeat after me: “We are here not only to witness your past and to bless your present union, but to support your future together. We will stand with you in good times and in the bad. We will always be a listening ear, a helping hand, and an open heart to see this marriage strengthened and succeed in Christ—we are here for you!”
This part of the ceremony is what most couples thank me for the most. After the applause and honeymoon, real life sets in when they get home—and they feel alone! The Community Vow reminds them they are not alone! If we’re not careful, we could do a lot of acting as if our marriage is good and everything is just fine; but, inside, we’re crying, “Is anyone else going through what I am?” The answer is a resounding yes—they are!
If you keep going over the same things, expecting different results, maybe you’re both looking at your problem from your own views, and you need a third perspective to speak truth into your life—not to condemn or discourage, but to see things another way, to make your marriage whole again. When you need some outside help, don’t wait until it’s too late! We cannot have a healthy marriage outside of community.
2. The Grass Is Greener: Where You Water
The second way to turn your marriage from a mess into a message is Contentment. Instead of looking over the fence at what someone else has, work on your own garden (relationship), and you will find contentment! My dad is a gardener and tells me, "Jon, the natural state of any garden is death. It takes daily work to have a fruitful garden." I would say the same is true of our marriages. It takes daily work to have a fruitful relationship!
Ephesians 4:17-21 NIV says, “17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.”
As Gentiles, we learned from the School of Greed: “What's in it for me? I'll be married as long as it serves me, not till death do us part, then I'm out!” But Paul is saying we used to think that way, but when we met Christ, He taught a different way of thinking, called mutual submission, laying down your rights to serve the one that you committed your life to!
It's always interesting to me that the devil works overtime to get us into bed before we get married and to keep us out of bed after we get married! He loves to make sure that we are discontent. Single people, let me make this very clear: You are not complete when you get married; you’re complete in Christ right now! It's a misnomer to think that someone in this world will complete you!
Let me also say this: You are the most attractive, incredible version of yourself when you find your identity in Christ alone. The one that God has for you (if you're supposed to get married) is someone that's more in love with Jesus than they'll ever be in love with you—an incredible marriage when God brings you together!
Begin now to be thankful for who your spouse is—not who you wish they were! Things you thought were cute while you were dating are bugging you after you get married! Let's be content with what God has given. Water the grass on our side of the lawn!
3. No Plan B: Covenant
God's plan A for every marriage only works with covenant. There’s no Plan B, a second plan, no back door—a way out of marriage! Wall up the back doors because covenant is not the same as a contract.
A contract can be broken. A covenant is made between two people and a higher power—His name is Jesus! When we make a covenant with God, we are submitting our relationship to the One who reigns over it; He laid his life down to establish a new covenant so we could be forgiven and know salvation. A covenant is not to be entered into lightly. When we make our vows in a marriage, it’s a covenant between two imperfect people partnering with a Perfect Love!
Ephesians 5:29-33 NIV says, “29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
This is covenantal not contractual language. It is God being intimately involved in the intimacy of your marriage. Invite God into every difficult awkward conversation and tense moment, everything you dislike about your spouse's habits, and refuse a plan B—only a plan A.
Could it be husbands, that your wives just want somebody to listen to them and not solve their problems? Could it be wives that your husbands just want somebody to respect them and notice how hard they're working and call that out. Do not assume that they already know you feel that way!
I saw a sticker on paper towel dispenser that said, "Remember, these come from trees. This sticker will save up to 100 pounds of paper every year." For someone getting their towel, if they are reminded the paper comes from a living thing, they will be more likely to take only one sheet of paper to dry their hands instead of five!
It was as if God grabbed me and said, “Jon, I need you to remember, and I need you to put a sticker somewhere and remember your spouse Cyndi comes from Me. She's a gift from Me. Do not waste that gift. Do not take it for granted. Do not take a whole bunch of her time and throw it in the rubbish can, as if she doesn't matter. You need to understand she is a gift from Me. Treat her that way!”
When we remember that, we'll understand that marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It's something you do—away of partnering every day with God!
1. How does a village help in a marriage?
2. Explain the meaning of mutual submission.
3. What is the difference between a contract and a covenant?
4. Give an example of how to Water the grass on our side of the lawn.