Your Mate: God’s Perfect Gift, Part 2November 15, 2013
Despite their differences, husbands and wives are God's perfect gift to each other. Pastor and marriage expert Crawford Loritts talks about those differences in the way men and women think, act, and form opinions.
Despite their differences, husbands and wives are God's perfect gift to each other. Pastor and marriage expert Crawford Loritts talks about those differences in the way men and women think, act, and form opinions.
Your Mate: God’s Perfect Gift, Part 2
Crawford: The covenant of marriage says: “Once you say, ‘I do,’ it transcends your personal preferences.” When you said, "I do,"—at that juncture—because this covenant transcends your personal preferences or even what may have not been His will—once you said "I do," it has become God's will. That person, sitting next to you, is God's perfect provision for you. He is going to use that person in your life in incredible ways.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 15th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.
Is that how you view your spouse—as God's perfect gift for you? We'll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.
Dennis: I want all of our listeners to join me in praying for Bob because I turned the temperature down, here in the studio, and he’s freezing up. I’m in a sweat and Bob—this is the odd couple. We’ve been doing this—we’re starting our 22nd year—and there is this dance—just like a married couple—with the temperature in the studio.
Bob: You sweat when you go salmon fishing, too, when you’re up in the Pacific Northwest. You’ve been to Alaska. You were probably sweating while you were fishing in Alaska.
Dennis: I probably did; I probably did.
Bob: That’s just the way you are wired—I’m telling you.
Dennis: That’s not why we have come to you today, though. We have come to lay down a challenge to our listeners about 2-14-14.
Bob: That’s right. That, of course, is Valentine’s Day. In 2014, Valentine’s Day is a Friday. Our team was thinking that would be a perfect weekend—Friday night and Saturday—for couples to host an Art of Marriage®event in their local church or in their community somewhere—have a Valentine’s banquet to kick things off—show the first couple of videos. The next day, you show the remaining videos—you take couples through this.
We thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if, in every community in America, there were a couple of churches, or a lot of churches, hosting Art of Marriage events—where, everywhere couples were looking, they were hearing about God’s design for marriage?”
Dennis: And we’re not talking about going to your pastor and asking your pastor to host it. Now, you may want to have it at the church, so you’re going to need him to say, “Yes,” to it; but we’re challenging you, as a couple—a husband and wife—who care about making a difference in marriages and families where you live.
So, you get the Art of Marriage kit—which we’re going to explain—we’re going to give you a very special offer today on that. Then, you set the date—if it’s not 2-14-14—and decide when you’re going to do it and where you’re going to have it. Then, you go to the pastor and you say, “Pastor, I want you to look at this.” Show him the quality of the DVDs, the quality of the teaching; and he’s going to get it.
This is a powerful tool that over 12,000 couples have used to host an Art of Marriage. As a result, over 350,000 people have been through The Art of Marriage. We’re saying: “Would you like to do this in your community? You can make a difference. You can make a statement, on behalf of marriage and family, according to the Scriptures.”
Bob: You said we were going to have a special offer on the event kit. I don’t know how you get better than free, but that’s what the offer is. If you’ll agree to host one of these events in 2014, you can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link for The Art of Marriage. We’ll get you a certificate for a free event kit.
That is: the DVDs, a manual, the leader’s guide—everything you need to host this event. Then, when you’re ready to order manuals for the people who are coming—as long as you have, at least, five couples coming—the event kit is free. That’s because we want to see thousands of these events happening on Valentine’s weekend or throughout 2014.
Dennis: And I’d like to just throw down a challenge to those of you who have already hosted one of these, and you’ve experienced it. You know it’s good. You’ve seen your friends—perhaps, their marriages have been saved / strengthened—people come to faith in Christ. I’d like to challenge you to do it again.
It’s interesting, Bob. There are anywhere from 5 couples all the way up to 450. I think the record was up in Portland. I think over 930 people attended an Art of Marriage by a young couple who had four or five kids. They were in their 30s, and they were busy.
But they decided they wanted to do something for their neighborhood—their community, there in Portland. They had a huge event. In fact, they turned the church, where they hosted this, into almost like a cruise ship. They had a chocolate fountain and strawberries that could be dipped in that fountain. They turned it into an experience, like none other, and made a powerful spiritual impact in hundreds of couples’ lives.
Bob: It can be as elaborate as you’d like, or as simple as you’d like. Really, it’s customizable for what fits your setting; but over the course of a day-and-a-half, folks are going to hear from people like Wayne Grudem, and Al Mohler, and Dennis Rainey, and Voddie Baucham. They’re going to hear from Russell Moore and Michael Easley. And they’re going to hear from a guy, we’re going to hear from today—and that is Dr. Crawford Loritts—the guy wearing the red sweater in The Art of Marriage. He looks good.
Dennis: He does look good. Crawford is a great friend. We share the same birthday. I’m more mature—I’m a year older. [Laughter] But Crawford is on the Board of Directors of FamilyLife.
He’s been on the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway speaker team for close to 30 years. He is really powerful in The Art of Marriage. You’re going to get a taste of that today as he talks about how a man and a woman leave, cleave, become one, and then, they build that marriage to go the distance.
Bob: And in fact, as we listen to Part Two of a message on marriage, we’re going to hear Crawford with one of the key principles that every couple needs to embrace for their marriage to be all that God wants it to be.
Crawford: “We must choose to receive our spouse as God's perfect provision for us.” Now, notice the line: "God's perfect provision for us." It doesn't mean that the person is perfect, but it is God's perfect provision for us.
Now, I want to say something that might sound a little bit harsh, but I don't mean it that way. Your spouse—your husband or your wife—may not be everything you want.
That's true—may not be everything that you want. But here is the deal—they're everything that you need. They're everything that you need.
And don't get it twisted. That person, sitting next to you, is every single thing that you need. I've heard people say: "Well, Crawford, come on, now. You know, I got married outside of ‘God's will.’" I've had people tell me—I've had couples tell me this: "I got married outside of God's will. You know, it wasn't God's will for us to get together; and because it wasn't God's will for us to get together, I need to make this right." And I go, "Oh, come on, now."
See here's the deal—it may not have been God's will—it may not have been, granted—but the covenant of marriage says: “Once you say, ‘I do,’ it transcends your personal preferences.
It has become God's will. When you said, "I do,"—at that juncture—because this covenant transcends your personal preferences or, even, what may have not been His will—once you said, "I do," it has become God's will. You closed that door. That person sitting next to you is God's perfect provision for you. He's going to use that person in your life in incredible ways. We must focus on God's character and His goodness in providing our spouse.
Receiving our spouse is not based upon our spouse's performance—performance. Adam enthusiastically received Eve because he knew and trusted God, not because of Eve's performance. He didn't know her, but he knew that God was good. He knew that he could trust God. He knew that God was Creator. He knew that God would not mess with his mind.
And so, he could receive her because he knew and trusted God.
The third responsibility is to become one flesh—establish intimacy with one another: “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Becoming one flesh is not just getting married or having sex. It's bigger than that. It is a process that helps us grow, as individuals, and grow closer, as a couple.
Intimacy is not a snapshot—it is a process. It's an ongoing, growing knowing. It's an ongoing, growing knowing. It is absolutely amazing. As I said last night, you know, both Tim and I—we've been married for over 30 years. Karen and I celebrate 37 years. In a certain sense, it is absolutely incredible how much we continue to learn about each other.
Karen will tell you I've got a number of faults, but one of the strengths in our marriage is that we talk a lot. We are continuing to discover more, and more, and more, and more, and more about each other.
Have you ever heard the old line that: “Folks have been married for so long that they look alike”? I used to hear that. I'd say, you know, "You've either got cataracts or something is wrong with your head," you know; but actually, actually, I saw that in my parents. I actually saw it in my parents.
You understand, my mother and father could not be, in many ways, any more different. My mother was the sweetest, and most gentle, merciful, kind, compassionate people you'd ever want to meet in your life. I mean, she'd cry with you, and this kind of thing, and never hurt a soul.
Mom was just really, really sweet—godly, wonderful lady—and very, very aware of people's feelings, and this kind of thing.
My father wasn't that way—I mean—he wasn't cruel. He wasn't mean. In fact, the irony about Pop is that he would give you the shirt off his back; but just don't cross him. And he was direct. Don't ever ask him a question if you didn't want a straight answer. And the PR-thing wasn't his thing. He was just straight up. And so they were very different. They even looked differently. My mother was lighter-skinned in complexion; Dad was darker.
My father was shorter than my mother; but to his dying day, he said he was taller than her—but —and he'd say, "When you get old, you shrink." I said, "Yes, you've been shrinking a long time." They were just totally different—totally, totally, different. But as they aged, doggone it, they kind of looked alike.
I remember one time I was up there. They were up in age, and we were visiting them. We're at the breakfast table, and my mother walked past the table. My father did something like this [Motion made]. And my mother said: "Give him the salt. He wants the salt." [Laughter] He didn't say anything.
Well, later on that day, we're going someplace. I was up in the bedroom, helping him with his tie. So, my mother walked past him and did something like [Motion made]—He said: "That woman don't like this tie. I need to put another one on." I said, "How long ya'll been doing this?" [Laughter]
In fact, one of the things was that we had to end up putting my father in a nursing home, later on. My mother had very, very high blood pressure; and Pop had congestive heart failure. I’ll never forget the doctor calling me, saying, “You have a decision to make here.
“I’m concerned about your mother because, when she just feels that your father is in pain, her blood pressure just goes up like this. I’m afraid you might have two funerals on your hands.” Their lives were like this [Motion made].
[Sigh and emotion in voice] This stuff says that we should never trivialize marriage. Letter B says: "This growth begins as we break dependencies with our past and cleave to one another. Growing toward oneness makes it possible for a man and a woman, as a couple, to become more than they ever could have been apart."
Now, I don't know—I don’t know—in my life—this is synergy working.
I would not be 25 percent of whatever I am—and the jury is still out on that—but I would not be 25 percent of whatever I am—whatever God has done in my life, in ministry—if it wasn't for her. I wouldn't be there—I just wouldn't be there. I don't know what I would do.
There are times, at this stage of my life in marriage, when I think: “If something happened to Karen,”—I was thinking about this the other day, driving back home from the office. For whatever reason, I just thought, "If something happened to her;" and I started weeping.
That's what this thing—marriage—is about! You're no good without that person sitting next to you. This sense of synergy is part of the relationship. Intimacy is more than just sex. There’s a synergy about intimacy—where your lives are tied together—and you’re both like 50 percent better—150 percent—because of the other person. That’s the way it works.
Why is God’s plan difficult to experience? “A: Our natural differences.” Differences are not hindrances to achieving God’s purpose in your marriage. I want to underscore that. I think you need to star that in your manual. Differences are not hindrances to achieving God’s purposes in your marriage.
I actually had a guy tell me—a young guy tell me, one time—he said that, “You know, I just really think—as I look at my wife and what I am supposed to be doing with my life,”—he happened to be in ministry—a young fellow. He said the wrong thing to me. He thought I was going to give a little tacit endorsement of this. He says: "Well, you know, Crawford, my wife and I—we come from different backgrounds. She's not as educated as I am,"—and all his opportunity. You know, he was a little full of himself.
He was going down this path about his gifts, and abilities, and this kind of thing, and: “You know, I really, really, think that she's a hindrance to my ministry." I said: "No, buddy, you're a hindrance to your ministry. You're an arrogant, sawed-off twerp,"—exactly what I told him. [Laughter] "And she is exactly what you need to get your head out of the clouds."
Hindrances—they are there, not necessarily as an anchor, but as a help. Someone said we need to learn to tolerate our mate's weaknesses because, in doing so, we either heal them or we make ourselves better. Differences are God's tools to teach us to trust Him and His goodness. It mirrors, to us, how needy we really are when we look at these differences.
Letter B says, "Our natural weaknesses". This is another reason why it's so very, very difficult to experience God's plan. We all have weaknesses. We are impatient, indecisive, overly-talkative, disorganized, critical, demanding. You could probably put 20 other things underneath that. We all have our weaknesses. Weaknesses are not justifications for rejecting our spouse because we all have them. You've got yours; I've got mine. Weaknesses have divine purposes in our lives. In fact, we are primarily developed, as people, as we address our weaknesses. They have a divine purpose. God uses them to help us to be what we ought to be.
Our natural self-centeredness—Letter C: “Our natural self-centeredness.” We talked about that last night. We have to admit that we are selfish. It's just a matter of degrees:"All we, like sheep, have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way." Receiving our spouse is demonstrated by placing their needs ahead of our own.
I love the line in Philippians, Chapter 2: "Don't look at your own interests but also at the interests of others." To reject your spouse, in any way, is to do one of the following—one of the following—to reject God and His provision for your life. See, it's not just a horizontal-thing. God provided that person, that you are sitting next to, and to reject them, in any way, is to reject God, and His provision for your life, —
also, to reflect negatively on the character of God: “He doesn't know what He's doing,”—to demonstrate unbelief and disobedience toward God—fail to fulfill God's plan and purposes for marriage.
Rejection is never a good thing. It's not a good thing. Rejection typically is fueled by insecurity, and arrogance, and pride.
I'll never forget, one time, Karen and I—years ago—were having an argument. Sometimes, when I get angry, I don't necessarily raise my voice—believe it or not—but I can get a little acid-tongued, and get a little cynical, and crisp. I was a little angry—more than a little angry. We were having this argument. I began to sort of—like surgically analyze her words—and: "That's not what you said. Well, why don't you all just say what you mean? No, that's not very significant. That's not important." You know, I was going down and down and really being condescending. She said these words to me—that pierced me.
With tears in her eyes, she said to me: "Crawford Loritts, don't you dismiss me. Don't you dismiss me.” We've got to be careful that we don't devalue one another. Rejection is a way of devaluing each other.
Letter E: “God uses our natural differences, weaknesses, and selfishness to build oneness,”—to build oneness. It all depends on what you do with it. It's not whether or not you have them. It all depends on what you do with them. Mature people embrace the differences and the weaknesses. They seek to leverage them for positive solution—not to use them as barriers and drive us toward isolation.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Dr. Crawford Loritts talking about marriage.
He is one of the featured speakers on The Art of Marriage video series that we are hoping will be seen in thousands of locations, across the country, in 2014—particularly, Valentine’s weekend.
I was just sitting here, thinking, “When a movie opens big in the United States—
Dennis: Yes, they’re always talking about the box office.
Bob: —big blockbuster movie comes out—it’s going to be in about 4,000 theaters, across the country. That’s a big roll-out.
Dennis: It is.
Bob: We’re talking about The Art of Marriage happening in 2,014 churches. That would be half the size of some big blockbuster movie.
Dennis: And you need to know—it’s already been in over 12,000 locations, across the country. In fact, it’s fun, Bob. We’ve touched more people through The Art of Marriage in just a little over 32 months than we touched in the first 17 years FamilyLife was in existence.
What we want to do is come alongside you, and your community, and help you host one of these.
Five couples, ten couples—the average size of these groups are anywhere from 20 to 25 couples that come. It’s fun; it’s entertaining. It’s not a talking-head. It is on video, and it is highly-produced.
I have to say—if President Obama and Michelle are listening right now—we’d like to challenge you to host one of these at the White House because you know what? It’s good enough to show at the White House / in the Capitol of the United States of America.
Bob: And we’ll partner with the President and the First Lady to show The Art of Marriage. In fact, in the spirit of fiscal responsibility, we will make that partnership real. If the President goes online to FamilyLifeToday.com, he can click the link for The Art of Marriage. He can probably have somebody on his staff do this for him.
Click the link for The Art of Marriage. You can get a certificate that is good for a free event kit. This has all the DVDs, it has the manual, and it has the leader’s guide. The certificate will get you the entire kit free when you place your order for, at least, five couples’ sets of manuals; okay?
All you have to do is say: “We’ll show this to, at least, five couples we know. We’ll order the manuals for them.” We’ll get you a certificate so the event kit comes to you free; alright? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link for The Art of Marriage to get your certificate; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Ask about how you can get a certificate for an Art of Marriage event kit. Then, just keep your ears open—see when they start talking, on the news, about the special event that they’re doing at the White House on Valentine’s weekend for The Art of Marriage. Maybe, they’ll want to keep it quiet—we won’t hear about it. We’ll leave that up to them; okay?
FamilyLifeToday.com is our website. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY if you have any questions or need more information about how you can host an Art of Marriage event and get the event kit free for this spring.
And with that, we have to wrap things up for this week. Hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend.
And I hope you can join us back on Monday. Paul David Tripp is going to be here. We’re going to talk about the things he says to newly-married couples about the adjustments we all have to make in marriage in order to love one another well. I hope you can be here for that.
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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