Marriage oneness is more than a slogan; it is vital for the long-term success of your marriage. Pastor Robert Lewis, along with pastor Tim Lundy and his wife, Lea, help you establish a biblical vision for your marriage.
Marriage oneness is more than a slogan; it is vital for the long-term success of your marriage. Pastor Robert Lewis, along with pastor Tim Lundy and his wife, Lea, help you establish a biblical vision for your marriage.
Tim: You might have settled in because life got busy, because you’re in a hard season, and Lea and I can certainly speak to that. We hit seasons where we look at each other and realize “We’re settling. We’re just married.” Then you stop and you get back together and you go, “No, this is what Christ called us to. And that vision of oneness pulls your head up and you start dreaming again. You start connecting again in a new way. And that’s our desire for every couple.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, November 15th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What can you do to breathe a little fresh life into your marriage? We’re going to talk about that today.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You’re all about inciting a little revolution here, aren’t you?
Dennis: I am. I’m about pounding the table and calling for an army of men and women to arise in the local church to make a difference in marriages and families, because it isn’t going to happen if they don’t pick up the mantle.
Bob: You’re just talking about average folks just coming together and saying “We’re going to do something.”
Dennis: Average people who care about what’s happening to marriages and families in their community.
Bob: Okay, so they care, but what do they do beyond caring? How do they get in the game?
Dennis: Well, they grab a tool, they change a home and they change the world. And we have a tool to put in your hands here called Marriage Oneness. Let me introduce Robert Lewis. Robert is a good friend. He’s been on FamilyLife Today number two. . .
Bob: I think more than anybody other than you, and I think . . .
Bob: Yes, Barbara. That’s right.
Dennis: That would be good if Barbara’s been on more than him.
Bob: I think he’s got me beat.
Robert: But I’m helping my numbers even here today.
Dennis: You are. You are. Also joining us is Robert’s pastor, Tim Lundy and his wife, Lea. Welcome to the broadcast.
Lea: Thank you.
Dennis: I might say my pastor, too. So I have my former pastor and my pastor here on the broadcast.
Bob: You better be on your best behavior.
Dennis: I better behave, here. Actually I have the power of the mike. I’ve always wanted it with both you guys. Now we’re going to really move in . . .
No. Actually, what happened almost four years ago, Robert, you and I sat down at a restaurant that served tamales, and the rest is history, isn’t it.
Robert: That’s right.
Dennis: I actually came to you and I said, “Who would be the very best person to create a tool to put in the hands of individuals, of couples, co-laborers who would like to make a difference in marriages and families, because we’ve done some market research. We know they’re out there, by the tens of thousands, but they just need to be trained. They need a tool and they need a vision.” I had lunch with you and asked you who the best person would be.
Robert: Yes, I listed about forty names and you said you couldn’t afford them, and so at the end, I said, “What about me?” and you said, “That’s a good deal.”
Dennis: That is not a true story. I’m going to hold him accountable for that. Actually, he said, “Let me think about that for a month and I’ll get back to you.” So we got back at the same tamale restaurant and we’re sitting there and Robert said, “I’d like to do that.”
You could have picked me up off the floor. It was back to the book of Acts when they were praying for Peter. (knock, knock, knock - sound effects) There was a knock at the door and it was Peter and they said, “Can’t be you, Peter, because we’re praying that you’ll get out of prison.”
And so here’s Robert saying he’d like to do it. I really said, “What?” and we started shaping what it would look like, and now, three-and-a-half years later, we’ve birthed a baby, haven’t we?
Robert: We have, and it’s a very exciting moment to be sitting here with Tim and Lea after all the hard work they put in to make Marriage Oneness a reality. But, kind of going back to what you said at the very beginning, we have chased for years at our church what I call the holy grail of ministry, and that’s what’s found in Ephesians 4 where it says, “God gave pastors and teachers to equip the saints to do his work of ministry.”
Part of this whole exercise in coming up with this product is to help equip capable lay people to do effective marriage and family ministry in the church and in the community. I’m so excited to be here today.
Bob: The Marriage Oneness resource is one of a number of resources you’ve been working on, and all of these are designed, Robert, as a part of a strategy to get churches involved proactively in marriage and family health. Unpack that a little bit for us.
Robert: Well, we wanted to do a much better job at helping decentralize ministry in the church, and so creating these resources to equip marriages, to equip parents, to equip healthy young men, healthy young women, to launch kids to college in the most effective way, to help people learn how to share their faith – to do that we need lay people to speak into these vital needs.
Dennis: I don’t know if I’ve ever shared with you, Robert, but over the years my favorite compliment -- somebody comes up, and obviously I love it when they say they’ve heard us on a broadcast, or they’ve read a book or they’ve been to a conference – but my favorite compliment is when someone comes up and says, “You know, I got the picture of how we could be used as a couple in our church, in our neighborhood, in our community, and so we took your small group Bible study or we took another tool you’ve used, or we brought the Weekend to Remember® to our community, and that’s become our cause. We’re going to make a difference in that area.”
I would rather hear that compliment than any other because, Tim, as you know, the pastorate is overworked and underpaid. Too much of it depends upon the inverted of pastors today. We’ve got to put it in the hands of laymen, right?
Tim: Absolutely. You know, when Robert approached us with this project, what excited me was really a discouragement we were struggling with, even as a large church. There’s only so much staff you can hire, there’s only so many needs you can meet, and if there’s a way to empower the lay people to do it, it just multiplies the effect for the kingdom.
There are so many times at the end of the day I just feel discouraged that we can only do so much, but then you create one tool like this, put it in the hands of people that are passionate about it – because that’s what we found in our church. Lay people are passionate to do ministry. They want to; they just need the tools to do it.
Tim: We really feel like this will multiply, not just in our church but in churches across the country, the opportunity for them to be able to do what they are passionate about.
Bob: Robert, explain what this tool is. Explain Marriage Oneness, how it works, and what you’re hoping it will accomplish.
Robert: Marriage Oneness is an eight-week video resource that empowers a passionate lay couple, basically like Tim was talking about, to have the tool that they need that they can then facilitate in a quality environment to train mainly young couples in how to do marriage right and how to be successful over a lifetime.
Bob: And this is a DVD-based curriculum, not for small groups, but for an eight-week training course. Is that the idea?
Robert: Yes. It’s not for small groups. What it basically is, it’s an invite for couples who want to make a commitment to be trained. That’s very, very important. So at the front end you’re filtering out the non-committed from the committed, and you invite them to come to an orientation so they can fully understand it, and then make a commitment to go through these eight weeks and “up my game” in marriage, to really understand what it takes to be married for a lifetime.
Bob: Sounds like a marriage boot camp, almost.
Robert: Well, in a way it is, but it won’t feel like a boot camp. You’re going to do work. The thing I always tell couples is, “You’re not here to watch, you’re here to work.” But the lay couples provide a really warm, engaging, fun, exciting environment. There are special dates between sessions we call “Oneness Work,” and over that time they’re going to have great enjoyment, build new relationships, deeper relationships, but the most fundamental relationship, the relationship they have with each other, will be strengthened because they’ll develop new skills, new habits, and have new insights and biblical foundations that they can build on for the rest of their life.
The other night I was at a church here in Little Rock, who is on their second Marriage Oneness session. I just kind of snuck in the back as a fly on the wall, and I was amazed at how the lead couple, the host couple for Marriage Oneness, and their five support couples were hosting these twelve couples in this rich environment, providing for them a lot of fun at the beginning, a lot of laugher.
They did the video. Afterwards they got in the circle-up groups and they sat in with them. There was laughter and interaction and some tears, but I particularly noticed one couple where the wife said, “You know, the thing that’s most important to me is my husband is committed to eight weeks of giving me quality time. We’re seeing our marriage already becoming different.”
Dennis: This is really powerful stuff around a number of topics. Tim, what topics do you cover during the eight weeks?
Tim: Well, we cover the seven key topics that every couple either struggles with or needs to master in order to have a better marriage: communication, sexual intimacy, conflict resolution, roles and responsibility, money, family and friends, and spiritual beliefs. You look at those seven, and in each one of them you not only get the information, but we give them Oneness Work, an opportunity for them that week to improve in that area, or grow in it, or just begin to communicate in a new way together as a couple.
Dennis: Lea, you watched this whole thing be videoed. Robert became the executive director/producer . . .
Lea: That’s right.
Robert: Invaded their home . . .
Dennis: You also appear in this. From your perspective as a wife, how do think a couple is going to benefit from going through this?
Lea: I think the thing that Robert did that was so creative in this is he cuts into Tim’s talks, with me commenting on something that Tim had just said, or maybe the kids running through the house, or a scene of real life, or maybe us doing something as a family that Tim’s talking about. So, when you’re watching it, that gives you a real connection point. It’s suddenly like, “Okay, that’s real life. This isn’t a TV show, and this wasn’t set up to look a certain way, this is just who they are.”
I think that’s going to connect with people in small groups, in churches, people who are struggling, and they go, “Wow, they’ve got that many kids and this is their life and it’s real. It’s not fake.”
Bob: Robert, when you sat down to say, “Okay, we’re going to address these subjects in marriage,” you could tap into anybody to present the material and you leaned into your friend, Tim Lundy. Tell me why.
Robert: Well, primarily because I wanted somebody and some couple that was real that I had observed up close and personal, both dealing with just life in general, dealing with work where I worked with Tim, and then seeing their marriage and their kids. I think what Tim and Lea present is not just great communication about marriage, but they communicate as Lea just said a minute ago, a real life as a couple.
Bob: I think it would be good for our listeners to hear a little bit of that. In fact, in the very first session you guys share a little of your story and the real life that brought you together and some of the challenges from your own marriage. In fact, I think we can play a portion of that for our listeners just so they can get a sample of what they hear and what they see when they attend a Marriage Oneness event.
Tim: Lea and I are so much the same, but so very different. We were born in the same city, Memphis, Tennessee, not at the same time, mind you. As Lea will let you know, I’m almost three years older. We went to the same church, even the same high school. We knew each other, sort of, but our worlds were so different. Lea, you see, came from a great home. She’s the oldest of five kids with a strong nuclear family. Oh, they had issues like every family, but it was stable and secure, a classic household.
My house was different. My father was a Californian who married a southern girl. He was determined his kids should be raised on the west coast, so when I was six he left early one morning and headed west. His goal was to find a house and then come back and get us. But he never came back. On the way he was killed in a single-car accident. Those years were tough, tough on my mom, tough on my brothers and sister, tough on me. As I headed into my teen years, Mom remarried. Growing up in a blended family then brought on a new set of challenges.
Lea and I both went off to school for college, but for different reasons found ourselves back in Memphis. That’s when our worlds came together. First we became great friends. Then I became smitten. I was head over heels for her, and after a time of persistence on my part, we fell in love. On a snowy day in December, 1990 we married.
There was so much about life and marriage we didn’t know, but we were committed to find out. We wanted our marriage to work. And thankfully, it has, though not without our share of difficulties. Today with five kids in the house, two off at college, and more challenges and changes than you can shake a stick at, Lea and I are still learning, still figuring it out together. But what we have learned about marriage and what we know does work, we now have the opportunity and privilege of sharing with you.
Welcome, everybody, to Marriage Oneness. Believe it or not, we’re at the starting line of a great adventure together. Now before we can go there, though, we’ve got to take a little bit of time and look back. In fact, I want you to look back all the way to those words on the stage there; do you see it on the car? “Just Married.” Remember when those words were true about you, when you were “Just Married?” Now for some it’s recently. For some it may be years ago.
For Lea and me, I remember when it was true about us. It was December 22, 1990, a cold winter day. They were expecting snow. We had a huge wedding, and I still vividly remember that moment when the back of the church opened up, and we were very traditional – I had not seen her in her wedding dress until that moment. And when those doors opened up and she started walking down the aisle with her father, I’m going to tell you, I was absolutely blown away. She was so beautiful, and I remember thinking the whole time, “I can’t believe this woman is going to marry me.”
I looked up at the clock right at the back of the church and I thought, “If we can just get through thirty minutes, she’s mine for life.” And we did. We said those vows and we didn’t have a lot of money, so to honeymoon I borrowed her father’s car and they decorated it all up and we had the classic “Just Married” plastered across the back, and drove across Tennessee.
We honeymooned in the Smoky Mountains, up in Gatlinburg, had a great time, and everywhere we would drive, people would see that “Just Married” and they’d smile at us, they’d honk at us. A couple of times we pulled into restaurants and people actually purchased our meals. They just wanted to celebrate with us. In fact, I was tempted when we got back home maybe to leave it on for a couple of months there – have that “Just Married” there.
But there is a point where you have to wash it off the car. There’s a point after the honeymoon that that phrase just doesn’t work anymore. But I’ll tell you, if you were to put a phrase over the back of most couples’ car, if you were to describe their marriage, for a lot of couples the term “Just Married” is actually appropriate. I’m not talking the length of their marriage, I’m talking the quality of their marriage, where somewhere along the way they’ve settled into being “Just Married.”
And it’s easy to do. We struggle with it. We can look up and find ourselves “Just Married.” And even as I hear that, I don’t like that. I have to tell you, I have higher aspirations. I don’t want to be just anything. I want something more, and I believe the things that I aspire to and Lea and I aspire to as a couple, I think every couple aspires to. I don’t think there’s a couple out there that just wants to settle in. I think it beats in the heart of every single one of us to want something more than just a marriage. We want a partnership, we want companionship, we want that person that knows us like nobody else in the world.
Bob: I think so many times people will look at a guy on a platform and they’ll think, “Boy if I just had a marriage . . . “ Either “If I was just married to him” or “just had a marriage like his we’d be fine,” and nobody knows the reality. We’ve all got issues, don’t we? I mean, it was a little chilly at my house this weekend.
Dennis: Was it?
Bob: Yeah. And that happens. The winds kind of blow in and it gets a little frosty. That’s happened at your house, right?
Dennis: It has. What’s really sad, and that’s what Tim was just talking about there, is when a couple will allow those winds to blow into that house and then stay there. As you said, Tim, a lot of couples today are just married. They don’t experience what Jesus Christ came to provide for them in that relationship.
Tim: Yes, and in that, Dennis, they lose the vision of what it could be. That’s what I love about this series and love about the opportunity we’ve had through it, is that it gives couples the opportunity to pick their heads up. There is a vision of oneness out there, and you may have settled in because life got busy, because you’re in a hard season, and Lea and I certainly can speak to that. We hit seasons where we look at each other and realize “We’re settling. We’re just married.” And then you stop and you get back together and you go, “No, this is what Christ called us to. And that vision of oneness pulls your head up and you start dreaming again. You start connecting again in a new way. And that’s our desire for every couple.
Dennis: And really the transformational nature of this training series is that it takes great teaching and great equipping but it processes it down 18 inches from the head to the heart and helps a couple apply it in their marriage. I’m just excited, Bob, because I believe today across America there are literally tens of thousands of churches that possess individuals, couples, who have been pounding the table: something has got to be done about this culture of divorce.
Bob: And don’t you think most of them have been pounding the table saying “I wish somebody would do something,” thinking that it’s going to happen with somebody other than them. What you’re saying is, “No. You’re a part of the solution. You need to lace up your boots, and let’s make a difference.”
Dennis: You know, between Tim and Robert we’ve got over fifty years of pastoral ministry. I know what you guys think, because I’ve sat under your teaching over the years. It’s not about the pastor doing the work; it’s about putting this in the hands of individuals and couples and getting out of their way.
Tim: I would encourage a couple: If you’re passionate about a marriage ministry in your church, your pastor is probably passionate too. He just has no more bandwidth. You can take this tool and go to him and say, “I’ll be the champion. I’ll be the host.” Everything is there for you as a lay person to be able to launch it, and now your pastor has a partner in ministry, doing the very ministry he wants to launch in the church to begin with.
Bob: Yes. I can imagine that there are pastors who are going to be curious about this. Probably a lot of folks who attend a local church have been saying to one another, “You know, I wish there was something going on at our church for married couples. I wish there was a class or something.” Well, you could lead that class using a resource like LifeReady Marriage Oneness.
There’s information online about the Marriage Oneness training kit, about the couples’ sets, how you can begin a Marriage Oneness program in your local church, how you can talk over the idea with your pastor, your church staff, and get something like this launched. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information. FamilyLifeToday.com is the website, or call us if you have any questions at 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “Today.” We’ll see if we can’t answer any questions you have about the LifeReady Marriage Oneness video curriculum for churches.
Now you probably heard us a couple of weeks ago when Barbara Rainey was a guest here on FamilyLife Today and we were talking about a devotional that she has put together for families called Growing Together in Courage. We had a number of you who contacted us and requested that resource.
Well this week we’re asking those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today to consider making a donation in support of this ministry, and if you do that, we want you to feel free to request a copy of that new devotional from Barbara Rainey called Growing Together in Courage. We are a listener-supported program and we depend on your donations to be able to keep FamilyLife Today on this station and on our network of stations all across the country.
It would encourage us if you would make a donation to help support the ministry. If you make your donation online and you’d like a copy of that daily devotional, just type the word “COURAGE” in the online key code box, or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY, after you make your donation just request a copy of the devotional on courage and we’ll make arrangements to send it out to you. Let me just say how much we appreciate your financial support of this ministry. It does mean a lot to us,
Now tomorrow we’re going to talk more about what churches can do to help proactively strengthen marriages in the local church. Dr. Robert Lewis will be back with us, Tim and Lea Lundy will be here as well, and I hope you can be here too.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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