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Part 2: Steps To a Godly Marriage

Alan Parker

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Alan Parker

Professor of missions and evangelism and director of Pierson Institute of Evangelism at Southern Adventist University

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  • April 3, 2015
    11:00 AM
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Father as we think about relationships with thinking about our own with thinking about people we can relate this to and we just pray that you will lead us through this process and help us to understand your plan in a much better way. We ask this in Jesus' name amen. So just to give you a little bit of a format for how we're going to be doing this. We're talking in the section about dating and how the challenges of dating and how we can do this in a better way over these two presentations what we're going to be doing the rest of the weekend is building on that but we're going to be dealing with how to deal when you're in a relationship how do you know if your relationship is healthy. And then we got to take a look at communication conflict resolution things like gender differences and how you can build towards a healthy marriage whether you're married or not so that that's kind of our plan for today is kind of setting the framework for the kind of dating we should engage in. And then through the rest of the weekend we're going to be talking about relationships and the purpose of relationships from a biblical perspective. My name is Alan Parker again I run a program called SALT which is soul winning and leadership training at Southern you know administering of a city and we have students who come in and learn how to share their faith how to get bible studies how to lead people to decisions and so that's a little bit about what I do when I'm not talking about relationships with my wife who would love to be in here. And if you haven't listened to the call I encourage you to listen to your own or your verse. She's just incredible with anything emotional. She's taught me a lot because as a guy I knew nothing about emotions except that I had them I don't know why but I had them all right. So even in this fiction again with dating and what's the problem with the worldly dating strategy so give me some feedback. What's what some of the problems that we face with worldly dating. People didn't freak out right. Yeah it's tryout commitments you know. Test drive commitment we let's see how it works. Well that was fun. Crash burn. Let's try that again maybe this time it'll work all right so get anything else. Yeah it's mostly about fun I did it for a while. It's fun and then it gets all messy. So we've dealt with that so I want to take a look at this a little bit again you know we talked about it in the last issue now. Intimacy breeds infatuation. We can't get enough of the other person. You can't think about anything else you have to get your fix you don't feel comfortable in this they walk in through the door. It's like where are they. You know everyone else is having a good time at whatever function it is but you are looking at that back door. When are they going to walk in when they go and then finally they walk in its light years and then you kind of you but you don't go too fast because you want to be too obvious you just kind of gently go over there and talk to the set of friends and then that sort of frames of it all you bump them all you're here. I never knew that you would come in you have Wow that's great to see have you been doing I haven't stopped thinking about you every minute for the last week. But you don't tell them that and so they when you do get together when the infatuation only grows. So I'm going to give you some suggestions here. Again I'm coming back to the good vs bad dating if you want to call it that. So I'm going to give you some suggestions that you should not follow if you want to build an insecure relationship. Just follow these rules. My wife has a presentation that I've taken some of these from it's called How to Win a loser. So if you want to win or lose these are some principles you can follow. Number one flirt with him and you know what I mean by foot. People say I don't flirt. I say really and it's just the whole way they go up you know the way they cock. It's you know the way they are haha you know it's just that extra when you get all the extra valves from and high you know but it's high. Yeah so so how you doing you know and then you mention in names like several times over and you connect with them all really all that must mean you have sadness just like in the little jog on the left there on the raised eyebrows you know so yeah you want to win or lose you want to have an insecure relationship begin with flirting then choose based on attractiveness. You know that should be your number one criteria. This will really help you when a loser because you're people who go just based on attractiveness is like the what we call the magnet people they are automatically attracted to someone who is also attractive and then these two people who are just basing on attractiveness. There's no substance but it's just like the two magnets cheating you know and then they're together. Wow look at our handsome ears and even tell me that you know when they come into account. I asked So how did you two get together and then she looks across at him and he's just such a hunk. So attractive I was like well you know was there anything else I know that was that. Well I mean he's you know he's got a great smile. You should see him when he's like in his gym shirt guy for you know and then like a clear mind to see if you know let's just figure out you know is there anything else that attracts you. No no it was the physical attractiveness Well then you got to win a loser and this guy sure enough he didn't say anything during the whole counseling they just he just with his big smile buffed body you know. So he that's all that he does is it's the you know what's his name look you know I'll be black you know that said you know there's nothing out there you notice they earn although the early on. All movies he only likes is five sentences. So this this is if this is all that it is this something missing. They initiate a relationship quickly because I mean why wait. I mean this who knows someone else may come along this is you want to opportunity grab it you know because this this is going to work really well for you in winning a loser. And when you do it recognize however that you have different perceptions. This is a guy and a girl getting together and he sees two and he's thinking Boy she's going to bring me food. I'm going to be by the T.V. and Childress bring me food smiling and then take care of everything. Meanwhile she's thinking he every day he's going to bring me flowers. It's going to be incredible what some things are going to work there right. I did tell my wife I said you know in Africa I met some of the Zimbabwean ladies and when they would when they bring when they have lunch or supper they bring the food to their husband and they lay it down before the husband and then attack or do it clapping their hands and I and so she goes well pretty you married an American president. So you know we all have these impressions but you know just just go with your gut feeling that this person will be great they'll do all these things for me it'll be wonderful will be happy for ever. Yeah. Let's see how that works out for you. So then isolate yourself because other people just get in the way they asked difficult questions like Are you really sure about this. I remember one of my famous three week relationships one of my friends said to me Are you sure you're doing the right thing and so I just kind of out of my life because you know you don't need people to ask difficult questions when you're in love. It's much better just to follow your heart you know. So it lasted all of three weeks. My brother once he told me I am so in love he was I guess about eighteen. I said How do you know he says if there was a train coming and she was on the train tracks I would I would jump onto those train tracks push her out the way and even if it meant that I got run over by a train I was like Whoa that's love I mean that's really left. So a week later after they were broken up I said What happened to that whole I'm going to die for her throw myself in front of a train and he said just be quiet all right. I don't want to hear from you. So you know sometimes other people can get in the way of really your being able to just experience things and you don't want to have to think so just just isolate yourself and you can really want to lose a very well that way and then progress as fast as you feel comfortable or if he or she is willing to let you because you know if you can I mean what if you can get away as long as it feels good do it right this is really going to help you build an insecure relationship and the reason why it's insecure is because if she was that fast with you or he was that fast with you. What is a star doing to your mind. I wonder if she or he is that fast with someone else then you start feeling insecure because they're hanging out with someone else and suddenly you see the same signals you know the little raise eyebrows the way they smile at each other the gentle putting the hand on the on the shoulder. Yeah well how you doing you know you know people who touch all the time you know and that's how it happened with me and then you begin to wonder whether went that quick with me it's going to go that quick with someone else. And because it doesn't have a secure foundation you get jealousy raises very quickly so yeah if you want to insecure relations just goes fast and as far as you can comfortably go and then ignore danger signs like the one couple the girl says to me you know he's he has so much potential. I just as soon as I say that to his so much but it what do you mean he has so much potential. Well I know he's like a little quirky What do you mean a little quirky. Well he shouts a lot but you know I know that that's not really who he is. How do you know that. Well you know he's just he's such a nice guy because some of the things he does I mean like you'll open the door for me. Yeah that's great but that doesn't tell you how he's dealing with his anger problem. Well you know that's not the only thing it's not the only thing well what else is there. Well it's the fact that he doesn't have any kind of spiritual life. But I know it's going to change you know because the other day he even went to church with me. My scores he went to church with you he's trying to win you over. He will he's going to go to the moon and back for you but it doesn't mean it's going to stick. You know I don't you see this is a dangerous sign. Well no because you know he has so much potential. You know but but if you want to great insecurity I should just ignore those because again never. This is not a sign of his future character. He is going to change you know people always change when they get married right. Yeah but not always of the right way you know you can't you can't marry someone you can't marry your future husband you're marrying the guy he is now he's. You understand you're not dating this who is going to become this is who he is you know a lot of woman particularly date someone thinking they can change the guy. I often joke in marriages when I'm doing a wedding that you know the bride is thinking through how does the wedding work. Let's see I walk down the aisle then I stand at the altar and then we sing a hymn. IOW all to him but it just doesn't work very well. So I'd say no you're not going to change. You need to be aware of the package. But if you can ignore that if you want in a secure relationship just go ahead and ignore it. Make each other the first priority. Ignore school parents I mean. Get in your way. This is the only person important in your life and that's why I was willing to give up ministry is because the school that I was dating at the time was so important to me and she said she didn't want ministry so I you know if I need to choose a new career then I'm going to do that because you are my priority and I'm going to do anything kind of what Adam and Eve did in the garden and very dangerous. But the problem is the feelings fade and Elton that leave this kind of stuff doesn't work because you've put your whole life around this person you've changed everything. You willing to sacrifice friends and family and common sense and your religion and then the feelings fade and you realize what have I done. One lady told me Well you know if this doesn't work out I can always just get a divorce. And what you can imagine a year later she didn't feel that way and then they had a kid already. So is that you know you you don't know the kind of commitment you're making. So the problem with this is we choose a partner based on attractiveness and circumstances instead of character and personality commitments based on feeling rather than on choice. And there are only two possible outcomes one I break up which is only made very painful by the bonding that's taken place or a life commitment that's based on a very faulty foundation. You know the way they make you feel and the way a person makes you feel is just transitory it will change. You know you will you. You went to bed thinking that she's a vision and you wake up and she's a sight you've got to think about that one for a while. And so you know this people change you know how are you going to deal with with a bad breath. How are you going to deal with irritating habits they have. And we all have irritating habits. The question is do you have enough of a foundation when it when it doesn't. These you know in a typical things that would happen you know with me. One of the irritating habits I have is I could never remember where I left my socks. You know I'm thinking great thoughts who cares about your socks. So the one time Nicole comes to me after we married she goes I found your socks on the dining room table and that's where I put them. I can remember now I know and she's like please that's where we eat from. Do not put your socks on the table that so no matter how great you are when you're getting married and all the soppy stuff that you share between you when you're dating the fact is there will be things about you that will irritate each other and you need to have something that's deeper than physical attractiveness and feelings. So what is God's plan for this and I think I'm going to begin with God's plan for each one of us to have love right. How do we get that love from. OK we get it from God But how does God planned for us to experience his love through our parents right and through friends and maybe our church but our parents I mean to give us love do parents ever love perfectly. No. So each one of us is meant to experience God's love through our parents but our parents love imperfectly that means that we have what we want to call these love cups inside of ourselves that are meant to be filled from God But they're always a little bit empty. Now with some people they're very empty now. Here is an empty love couplet say they didn't quite get all the love from their parents they needed or maybe they didn't get much left at all and here is another empty love Cup and they come and they meet each other in a room and they're always attracted to each other. These are magnet people again and they're attracted to each other because they were a day almost since he has a person looking for love and I'm looking for love. Going to be a great combination and then they come together and for a while it works because they get those feelings the feelings feel like true love and so they come together and they have all these wonderful feelings like at last I found love I've never my love Cup Cup is overflowing This is incredible we should get married because after we get married it's only going to get better right. We're going to have more and more love that's flowing out of us. So they come together and it's like two suction cups and then they're stuck together for a while but after a while guess what happens. We start finding out that this person is as thirsty for love as I am and they're not taking care of my love needs and so now they're bonded but they can't stand each other because you're not taking care of me and I don't feel loved and this hurt so much and because it hurts so much. We've got to take a break here in New York. And there's a break but they bonded to each other and this was the only place where they could feel they love cups being filled and so after a period of times I hate you I can't live with you and it was like I can't live without you. And then but you're not really coming up I love you but I can't live without you but I guess I didn't know any of you know a relationship like this. So we call those co-dependent relationships their relationships where we are desperately trying to get love out of the other person and it never works. So God's plan is different God's plan is we need to base our love on something else. Love is based on a commitment rather than on a Feeling. And we ultimately receive love from the overflowing love Cup that is God so what's the what is going to take is first our love cups need to be filled and when Al The cups are filled with no longer desperate and needy these magnets these vacuum. It's coming to each other and instead these four Love cups can meet each other and they can learn how to really love each other in God's plan and they do it by knowing this other person is safe to love because they love Cup is not empty. So too full of love cups you're never completely full but full of love cups that come to each other and because God's love pours into them they can actually pour out love to each other. Does that make sense with everyone. So this is God's plan is that we receive love from him which we then share with the other person which does help to bring them healing from their past because we're all wounded. Yes part of the Bible planned I'm going to read a few takes and and work through what they mean. So the first kicks I'm going to read the fissions five is twenty five. It's his Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Notice what it doesn't say this is I'll put the contemporary translation that many people have here. Husbands love your wives by ruling over them and allowing them to minister to your needs for that you love couples for. Notice it doesn't say that it says Husbands love your wife the way Chrysler of the church had to Christ love the church unselfishly right he gave himself he he surrendered himself in such a powerful way. He said that the church felt loved. We felt this incredible commitment and yet it cost him everything to do that. So this is this is from the book Holding hands holding hearts. It says here the Christian man is to put the spiritual and emotional well being of the woman he is dating a head of his own needs or desires because she needs to know that you love her so much that you are willing to put her own needs and desires. I mean her well being ahead of your own needs and desires so you may desire. To have intimacy with her. But you love her so much you respect her so much you want what's best for so much that you actually hold back on those things that make sense. And when she knows that she knows this is a guy I can trust. They did a survey in which they asked over one hundred thousand couples what they thought had led them to be happily married and you know what the number one thing was I can trust my spouse. Wow So do they sense that from you men are you willing to lead them in such a way that I can totally trust this person because he puts my well being and of his own needs and desires not this one really hit me. This again comes from holding hands holding hands the enemy that men need to stand up to is the one that lives within themselves because you know men like to protect that woman says you know who you need to protect you from yourself the one who is selfish insensitive and uncommitted and you know who that is you. So if you want to be a good man and the first enemy you have to face is yourself. So part of youth like I want to be together I want to hold the hand I want to kiss and I want to I want to do all these things that make me feel great and white wall whoa whoa stand down guy the other me is standing up the one who loves her well being. All right you get that picture. All right here's another one this one really hit me first Peter three verse seven husbands like wives. Well with him that's your wives wit. What's the key word they can you read from a distance. Understand now I haven't They always told you that men can't understand woman. You know I had a girlfriend who told me you know I'd like an open book The problem is you don't know which page I'm on. And so and what does it mean to have an understanding. You obviously have to do something that goes against the grain instead of. It makes you feel good. You're expected to find out what makes her tick. Would you like to have a husband like that. Ladies maybe you do already. All right. So it says and then giving honor to the wife that would respect to the wife as to the weaker vessel because often you as a man have certain power. You know both physical power and sometimes even emotional power over you or your staff. And is being is together all the greats of life and if you don't do this it says your prayers will be hindered. So he has what holding hands holding hearts is a Godly man will seek to become knowledgeable about the woman he is spending time with and not just how she looks and what kind of fun she likes to have. He really wants to know what is she like inside. He has to act and speak in a way that conveys the dignity and the value that he places upon him. So this is a pretty high ideal. You know men understand woman I once I was at a wedding and one of the gifts to the man was this book it's like you know everything that men understand about woman and you know and it had a whole back cover about how this person had done hours and hours of research and then he opened up the book and a book was blank. Nothing in there but it's saying that for man you are called to understand this woman. So you called to protect it from yourself you call to understand it and that means instead of going with what you feel and what makes you feel good and the kind of fun you can have really getting to understand what makes a tick. Now ladies you're not let off the hook. The Bible says your maker is your husband the LORD of hosts this is name who was your first husband ladies. God is see a lot and we my wife and I do a lot of pre-marital a marital counseling and a lot of the problems come because a woman is trying to get all of her emotional needs met by a husband and he's And then if he can't do it what's the danger. She may find someone else. And here it says No your first husband. The place who's going to take care of you first is God. You may have to you may have to really find your emotional needs met and got because your husband he's an ignorant man and he doesn't always know how to give you what you need so you have to go to God first and allow God to fill you up so that you are not emotionally demanding of your husband in the way that you have been now and that begins with dating. So before before you even date ladies Firstly you've got to find your satisfaction in God first then it says a wife of noble character who can find she is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value why. Because she brings him good and not harm all the days of a life. See in the Bible a woman is often called a helper now before you think that that's a negative to just realize that it's one of the common names for God is God is our helper and some of the Bible translate that God is our strength. So you know a woman is often a man's strength. She helps. That's not a derogatory term at all but she comes along side of him and when you guys I can tell you when you've got a woman who really knows how to help you she is incredible. She may critique you sometimes she may say you know I don't like the way you said that all the way you dealt with something but she is your help and she's coming along side of you and helping and that's part of her also even within the dating relationship. If a guy's demanding something that is not good woman you ought to help me. That's not good. Often a woman is the one who put the brakes on Nashton have to be I think guys need to have self control. But I woman or needs to know this is not helpful for him if I let him have his way. It's not helpful for him if I if I do whatever I want to whatever he wants. So she looks out for his well being and in the Bible says let the wife see that she respects her husband and a woman helps a man take appropriate godly leadership and respects him rather than try to do what changed him so. So the goal of this view is that you ladies this is an appeal help the guy to become the godly leader he's supposed to be. He needs to be that way so when you say he is so much potential and he can lead out in your devotional time well something's got to change because because this he's going to grow in that area he's not ready for the role that he's supposed to take on and if you're always leading out you're always the spiritual one he's missing out on his opportunity and if you've ever read the book Love and respect any of you ever read the book Love and Respect OK Couple of you in the book Love and respect the author suggests that woman don't need to be taught how to love they kind of do it naturally. But when he asked the woman if yes woman do you love your husband they'll say yes I love my husband. Then he'll ask them a second question Do you respect your husband. Do you like your husband. And they'll say no I can't respect him he's not worthy of respect I don't like what he does he needs to change things. He's got this problem and that problem and he doesn't come home one time years and so what they're basically saying is I don't have respect for who he is you need to be careful that the person you're thinking of marrying if you're not married yet. This is a someone you're going to have to respect the Bible commands. This kind. I respect not as an authoritarian thing but because that's what he needs he needs to take spiritual leadership and be the kind of person he needs to be. So I looked at all of this and I said to him What are we supposed to do here on the one hand it's like I'm on a pathway and I've eleven aided dating. You know worldly dating it's going to be a mess. I'm going to have to do something else. And on the other hand you know what has been presented to me was something called courtship. And so I started asking people about courtship any of you heard of courtship. So I started asking people about courtship and it looks like it worked really well for some people and it just did not work for other people you know I was just hearing stories like they this was just one way to not get married. Or some people you know they went from you know the horror stories. They went from you know just getting to know each other and then like he's checking out at the distance they hanging out in a group and next thing he's going to a dad who doesn't even live and calling up the data going I'd like to quote your daughter the dad like what's Cody But fine you want to quote my daughter whatever that is sure. So then he goes to her and she's like Oh my he's courting me and this was like pre-engagement in her mind and so I was like wow am I ready to sort of get pre-engaged to this guy and then they and then he would come to her out of the blue he would just like pop this question to her. You know you I've spoken to your dad already you spoke How did you get hold my dad's number. You know what's going on here. Yeah I think we're courting you want to marry me why do you want to marry and just be this mess and so I looked and I said something's going wrong here and I'm trying to figure it out so it looked like you know you know dating in courtship but then I said Is there another way you guys following me so when I looked at core. If I sit courtship is great it's a great model if you've got any parents who you actually live with and who really know you seem like a really good model. If you live in a close knit community where people know each other and where you can marry someone from that community because you like grown up together or you kind of know each other from a smaller environment maybe your church and you really are a healthy and secure individual who who really knows how to interact with the opposite sex. I had one guy who started courting he had never had more than a five minute in-depth conversation with someone of it with a go and now he was asking to court the first three months of courting they stated no what to talk about it was just like he would she she when she came and said I'm done with this I said why. Because he just sits there and he says well I don't know what to say I didn't have any sisters. I didn't grow up with any sisters I never learned how to interact and now they're in this courtship and what am I supposed to do and I said Well looks like you rushed into this without doing something before this stage. So you know modern in this connected society there are some problems with courtship like I'm on a university campus and a university campus. Most parents are not there so they don't even know this guy so can you imagine want to be like to be a parent. The phone rings. Didn't you answer it. Hello. Hi My name is my name is Alan and I've been watching your daughter closely stalker. Yeah immediately you know you have your year in the backyard. Get on Facebook look up the sky and I've just been know to see you know some of the characteristics and like Who are you again. Where you from. Well you know this is a little bit about me. I mean they don't have time to God back and chop wood together like in the books. You know because this is how you get to know the dad you chopping wood one day. I've been noticing your daughter. So this this doesn't seem to work well in this environment. So instead because they don't have that and because people are Barrus to coal and so on. I found that people getting married much much later sometimes even missing the boat if you know what I mean. There was a tendency to rely on on groups and there was a feeling of pressure that once you started courting someone who they accordingly. And then that was like a huge day. That means you're going to get married. And so all of that kind of stuff going on it was just intense pressure on this couple that were just figuring things out. Sometimes they would ignore chemistry and personality and then there was this idea you can get to know people in groups and that's not really true is it. You know you hang out in the group these days people laugh they have fun but they really not that they're not asking the difficult questions. So just group stuff alone wouldn't help you to get to know each other and it seems to follow this model and these methods now if you actually read some of these courtship books they're not like this I'm talking about how people implement the courtship model. It's not the courtship model itself I said what about going back to the Bible. And when I went and what a strange thought right. And so it back to the Bible I ended up with the story of Abraham not a ram and Isaac and Isaac looking for a wife for Rebecca. Now initially I was a little shocked by the story because it did everything that I thought was a disaster. I mean just think about this approach. Hey here's a great idea let's send the servant out to a different country to randomly pick a sign find somebody drag her away from her family bring it back and then they get married in the backfield. So I was like I mean how do you want to sign up for that. That's like this seems bad but then I started looking at the story and I started realizing the story doesn't teach this at all. First of all the first thing I noticed. Well I think I had some things that the story is not about these lessons are not ask God for a sign and this is a sign of character marry a stranger who offers you gifts. That's part of what happened in the story. Yes I'm sure whatever. Oh yeah let's go marry him. That's really scary Instead I learnt that there are things going on here so going back into the story the first thing I notice is that the story is bathed in pray that what Abraham is doing right to the beginning he's he's concerned about Isaac and then you notice that the servant wins and so he prays about it. Then when the servant goes out he prays and when he brings back Rebecca Isaac is in the field pray. So all throughout the story people are and pray so it was it gave me a different picture about what's going on. Isaac had not found someone close by and why was that. Why was it that Isaac hadn't found the wife already. Because the people around were were pagans and that might be something for us. He was willing to wait. And they were all saying look we're not willing to do anything outside of God's will. So as I read through it I felt like one of the first lessons here was everybody was submitting their desires to God they were praying about it. Maybe Isaac had already found people he was attracted to I'm sure he had but he submitted it to God God you said I'm not going to marry someone from here who worships idols. I have to marry someone who is the true God and there's not someone here so we don't have to look elsewhere. He submitted desired to every single person in the story cleaning Rebecca was submitting their desires to God So that was a powerful within for me. Secondly. Well willing to stay in God's already revealed will and I kind of mentioned that already here I was very clear indications you can't marry this kind of person they said if that's the kind of person we can't marry me I'm just going to stay in God's already revealed will which is very hard for us. And I've heard it so many times but I've tried looking for a guy in my church. They're all morons. You know there's not a single god be interested in here you know and you may be right they may not be a great guy but are you willing to stay in God's already revealed will he says don't do this don't. Don't date somebody who just has potential don't do evangelism dating and then what's the sense of allowing godly parents and men post to help you. Now I said that both the servant and Abraham knew Isaac really well and so they were able to give guidance and it has been so helpful for me to have mentors that I could go and speak to you know I remember going to my mentors What do you think of this relationship. When I was in a good relationship and they said you're infatuated if you get out of this relationship like well that's pretty harsh. But when I was dating Nicole I took a call to go and and meet up with them. My mentors. I was like I don't know you know I've made such a mess in the past what should I do here. They went out and bought two things one they bought a pair of warm woollen socks for my cold feet and the second thing that boat was a little fridge fridge magnet with like two you go it's standing there and it says my place in life is next to you and they said now you know what to do you go and do it. Within within three weeks I was engaged as fast as I did make a stop slowly. And as I mentioned they're praying they praying the whole time. But what really stood out to me is how everything in here was an evaluation of character. So let's just go to the story with the servant is bringing his camels how many camels does he have. I forget something like eight to ten. He has a bunch of camels he's bringing these camels and he's looking for a way to figure out who's a good this is a good wife and he doesn't have much time. So that's unique. You know you not typically are going to a foreign country to shop for a wife or a husband. So he goes What sign is it a random sign is that a sign like she's wearing a red dress. No those are terrible signs you know because maybe red to a favorite color. She always wears a red dress and so that that's not a good sign. So instead his sign is a sign of character. Now how do we know it's a sign of character. Well he picked something that was really important to his family hospitality he knew that Abraham and Isaac the number one characteristic they wanted was hospitality I mean you just read this story. It's all about hospitality. So he says this is really important I need a sign that shows you hospitality what better sign or would this be then somebody's willing to feed my camels now you have to remember that camels drink a lot of water particular in they just marched across the desert. So every camel would be drinking you know four or five gallons of water. That's a lot of water. And if you have so you would have forty fifty gallons and what's interesting in the story is that she is it says that she has to run to wherever this is. It may not have even been a well it may have been a stream it's the same Hebrew word for well and STREAM. So it could have been like some kind of stream. And so she she it but it says she runs to it so there's a little distance between where the camels are way to go. So she is running backwards and forwards maybe maybe a hundred times carrying gallons of water. Talk about a workout you know one thing you don't realize. Not only was she pretty she was back she she was toned you know then coming back you know it wasn't like after ten it was like how many more camels do you have to there was this she could keep going and this is a sign of the kind of character to what that she didn't just walk and she ran and she was willing to do this for a stranger and he says that's a sign of character. So when you evaluating a person are you evaluating their character. That's what the Bible story was teaching me. I'm praying about it I'm submitting my desires to God and following godly counsel I'm working within his revealed will. And now I'm looking for character character that will match a person who I can see myself with because you have to have the kind of character too. So Providence is followers but it's a providence based on God working through character. Now let me give you an example of how not to do this. My favorite example is a girl who comes to me and says Could you speak to this guy because I would really like him to take a dozen roses and put them on my doorstep I said why would he put a dozen roses on your doorstep. She says Well I've been praying and in my prayer life I felt that one of the ways in which God could could do this you know is if this god brought roses and put them on my doorstep it would be a sign that he was the right guy. So she's like Sir could you tell him to do it. Like why would I why would I do that and she says because he's obviously not getting it. So is this God's will or your desire and that's the problem when we make signs they often has to do without his eye when we try and read Providence we read through those lanes that indicates OK this is what's really going on. When I was thirteen I fell in love with a girl and we were driving. Yeah and I really thought I was going to marry her. So I was driving in in this car with my friends we were going to motorcycle racing that's what my family did I came from a non administers non-Christian background and so I'm going with my friend who is not a Christian to these races and I prayed Lord if she is the one that I'm to marry May he bring up a name and so we're driving along and he just doesn't get it. You know he didn't he doesn't bring up anything so I start talking about church hoping something will sink in and nothing. So then I start talking about the girls at church. And Sunny does. Oh yeah. How's that girl that you told me about a church and I like that he had cheese but was that the Lord and so we have to be careful when we're putting things together that that we are really understanding God's providence in that we're really looking for character and not just for some kind of arbitrary sign that we've chosen that we manipulate. Now another thing that I learned is when it did become clear then there was a period where they didn't delay and I have to be careful with that because Rebecca immediately decides she's going to go home she's going to follow God's will. She's going to go to Isaac's home but what I learned was that when God makes it clear to you what is Willis you have to obey it right away. And in most cases that's not getting married. In most cases it's cutting things out of your life that you need to cut out. It's leaving things behind that's what Rebecca had to do she had to leave things behind and so just be aware we got going to reveal things to you need to cut this thing. If your life and for most people it's pornography. It's something that's going to impact on their relation and you just cut it out. And when God's will becomes clear to you don't delay in dealing with that thing because otherwise it's going to come back and bite that relationship. Doesn't mean rushing to hit into marriage in fact I think immaturity is characterized by the inability to wait if you're going to be together the rest of your life. Another month doesn't matter. You may have to just take your time the more you do the heart your homework the less risk or heart ache you're going to have. So just be careful take your time. Evaluate this and so how do you go through this process. We've got several presentations online where we just break down some of the process we follow. But I want to give you just a quick overview. Do you think we can do this in ten minutes I'll give you the quick overview of of what to do. All right so the first thing is if you want to build a secure relationship instead of being flirtatious be genuine this is what you need to do begin with genuine us. That's how you going to start a relationship. Well so and be honest with each other. Say what you really feel. Don't trifle with someone's heart through flirting to trifle with Hearts is a crime of no small magnitude in the sight of a holy God and yet some will show preference for young ladies call out there are fictions and then go their way and forget all about the words they have spoken and their effect. A new face attracts them and they repeat the same words devoted to another the same attentions. Some guys it's almost like a script that they say when they meet someone they just run through the scripts or don't do that be genuine. Second thing you can do is invest in a healthy non traction based friendships those of friends you going to keep for life. So this is where you need to begin. It's really going to help you. Thirdly. To know one another in a wide variety of settings. Because remember what comes before commitment knowledge. So if you need to get to know each other so within a call one of the things that I did is as we were you know I'd made her at Andrews University we were attending a conference they together I'm from Africa she's from the states and so I said how can I get to know her. I mean it was obviously an interest and so she was like whoa you need to slow down boy. And so we said how can we get to know each other so I said what give me the names. The name of your best friend your mom your spiritual mentor and a couple of other people. And so she gave me those things and I went to them I said Tell me about the Suppose I want to get to know who this person is and they did you know. They said well you know you had an occult great in these areas but I do see weaknesses in these areas as getting to know her. And as I mentioned we went to my canoe trip together and I got to know her in that kind of city. So get to know them when you see them in a variety of settings and we talked about stuff. One of the ways we we got to know each other is we got a book of questions and we ask questions of each other. What would you do if you had a child who was disabled. How much money do you spend on a present for your dad. If we ever got married how much money would you spend on a present for my dad. You know if we did that and some of these questions come later but we already checking each other out before we got married and my wife likes to say she's boiled it down to two things and I agree. First question is is this person a lot like Jesus. You know that's what we really want to know are you like Jesus. Can I trust can I trust you in difficult situations are you going to act like Jesus are you going to act like the devil incarnate and then is this person a lot like you. Check it out. How do they do spiritually on the same page spiritually. As it may not you may not think it affects you now but let me tell you five ten years from now it's going to make a huge impact on you when you're trying to decide on major decisions are you going to go into the mission field or not are you going to take your kids to church devotions at home family worship. It's really going to have an impact. So check that out. Let's and then socially. Now you can make it work. I don't believe that there's only one person out there that you can possibly marry. I believe that just like Adam in the Garden of Eden he could eat a lot of fruits. And so you know there are many foods that were good there was one tree that was bad for them. You know I don't go to that person so there's some people you just should not date and they may be several people you could have a happy marriage with. But you want to look at socially because you know if they're a complete introvert and you're a complete extrovert just think about what that's going to mean. You know that person if that person is extrovert and you're introverted they're going to bring home thirty people for lunch and you're going to be in your room crying you know. So you know think that through ahead of time how they're going to work you know and again you can make it work it's how much work is this going to be intellectually you know and I've seen it work I've seen a person with a Ph D. marry somebody who never completed high school. But there's something missing in that they couldn't always communicate intellectually at a certain level and they were missing that. And then someone came along who she connected with intellectually and he felt constantly jealous of that person because they had a connection that outside of the marriage that he didn't have in the marriage. And then you know her but surely the things you do in your leisure time if you've got some stuff that you can do together and have fun together it helps. It's not a requirement again but the more you will like it. Have them or helps Now when I came down to it I said I I had my list and we all have a list right. And I had a list of C.D.'s and one of them was that this is a person who was committed to God So that's why I started one and committed to God Secondly I wanted to be compatible a ministry so committed to God I want them compatible with our ministry goals because that's my life. You can't just have anyone else that committed to God compatible or ministry. Then I needed someone who could communicate. Remember the girl who said that you know you don't know which page I'm on. I realize that our communication with each other was not great. They should be trying to communicate to me I didn't understand and communicate back to her she didn't understand I said I want a woman who will tell me exactly what she thinks and that's what I got and then I wanted somebody who could resolve conflict because I figured out if you've got communication you can resolve conflict I mean that solves most problems and then I'll admit I did want some chemistry. You know I've got some people you know he's such a nice guy maybe I should just marry him even though the thought of the honeymoon makes me want to puke. Maybe I should marry him anyway and I was like No if you've got no chemistry that's a problem. So I had my own little list and as I was going through and shaking out yeah she's communicating well she's handling the conflict well. She's committed to God I can see compatibility of how ministry it all seem to fit together and then the chemistry was a bonus. So get to know each other in a wide variety of settings don't rely on your own wisdom take into account those pure love will take God into all of its plans and will be in perfect harmony with the Spirit of God. Passion will be headstrong rash and reasonable defiant of all restraint and will make the object of its choice an idol. It'll just say whatever you want take it. Do you have control over my life. And and so so you get build within the network have some Godly advice. Progress precisely and you know how are you praying and you know you need to be praying more constantly Lord I surrender this to you not more keep this to me I wanted so badly. Please give me this relationship I'll do anything Lord serve you for the rest of my life just let her love me. So instead you say God I'm surrendering this to to you. I'm relying on your wisdom. You're going to step into my life and I'm going to allow your wisdom to control this and then I ask When do you proceed when you break up and you know examine carefully to see if you married life would be happy or in a harmonious and Richard and in this of questions raised in the book admin to some that are really important that the questions be raised. Will this union help heavenward. Will it increase my love for God and will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life. Now she says if you can answer these three questions at least you should just pull out. But if you can answer them correctly then it says How in the fear of God That means with a sense like God I'm leaving this with you this is partly your plan you can move forward now that can be challenging in the book. Boy meets girl by by Josh Harris he tells the story of an eighteen year old who really loves this other girl I mean totally totally in love with her and and the dad stepped in and says look you're just not ready you haven't gone to college it means you don't know what you're doing you're just not ready. And he persuaded them to break up and the guy is crying and he comes in the middle of the night and he digs a hole in her front yard and he. Takes all of her love letters they'd written over one hundred handwritten love letters and he buries a little box in a front yard covers it up middle of the night I don't even know he's done this. It's just in the middle of night tears streaming you know and he does that and then you know he goes away in a going to different colleges and it's two years and they try to forget about each other but it's so hard so hard because during this time they really felt like God is God is not leaving us together but that doesn't mean that we don't love each other and it was very hard because we're just not mature enough now. So about two years later the dad says well how are you doing with you know with getting over the other guy and she's just like it's MAN Well I haven't heard from him in two years. He just that was it it was over and a lot of pain and so he's helping her and then a little later the dad is. He's thinking I'm praying through this and he and he realizes man they've done what I asked him to do they weren't ready they broke it off. They surrendered it to God it was very challenging but they've really done that maybe maybe they're ready now to start finding out about the guy finds out he's really mature he's grown up. So we asked him to to come he was kind of his chauffeur he asked him to take him for a ride and drive and then they start talking he says have you considered going back and courting my daughter and he says you'd let me do that. I mean this is a youthful interest and he said yes but I did not have to pray about it. He goes and he prays about it they start just some mild communication and then when they finish college he ends up coming back and asking to quarter to date her if you will. And and it just progresses really well and then one day I think it's Christmas morning. He says I I bought you a shovel as a gift like a shovel and everyone's smiling because they're all in on this and they all go. When I was a tree that's right I bought you a tree as a gift or that's it. Why don't you plant it. So they got to plant the tree and there is the spot she says which are planted right over here as she digs she comes across this old box that that he had planted you know four or five years ago and it's an example of a Love Letters and there was one love letter on top that he had never delivered to her and it was one should never read and was one asking her to marry him and she opened the box and there's the love letter on the top that says Will you marry me that he wrote for the half years before that. If we follow God's man it may be difficult to surrender our desires to God but doesn't make a great love story much better than any of the other ones you have. So you do have to however watch for danger signs you have to watch that things are not going to that that this person is going to be trustworthy and in this case he proved himself trustworthy you have to but if he's is just hit strong I'm going to do this no matter what. Dangerous when the novelty of marriage is over will you love me still will he be patient with my mistakes. Or will he be critical of the bearing and detect Oriel. Good questions to ask. You know young woman except as a life companion only one who possesses pure manly traits of character another doesn't mean like he has to be able to fix the car. But you know he he has to be somebody who can be trusted and depended on that's what he's talking about one who is diligent aspiring an honest one who loves and fears God shunned those who are irreverent shun one who is a lover of idleness. You could put in video games they shun the one who has a scoff of hallowed things you know if he mocks spiritual things be careful. And on the SO when we were looking at this and we said man you know they could be some danger points here. We may have to exit. We actually came up. With a covenant. And if you want to have this coming I'm happy to email it to you. And in our covenant weaves we put this together we wrote a covenant and said This is how we want our dating relationship to be. We choose to avoid other romantic attachments and till we are sure of the will of God for our relationship. If after prayerful consideration and counsel either one of us believes God is not leading us together he or she will be free to share the reasons why in honesty and to terminate this relationship without guilt. But this where we said this Our goal was to get to know each other before we gave our feelings away. So that knowledge could come first. Now be honest it didn't flood perfectly because feelings were already waiting right. But it did help us and then seek God's will as you continue to move forward continue to pray to him and I believe that in the end it will come together and I we don't have time to get the whole story maybe in the next session. I'll talk a little bit about some specific steps you can follow and how you do intentional friendship versus courtship. But for now time is up and so I'm going to pray for all of us here for the gods. We all want to have the experience where our love was a sign of covenant and not just feelings where rather than just head strong emotions. We made a choice to care for the other person in sickness and in health and even through the valley of the shadow of death. Father God we thank you for that right here in this room are people who are making decisions about how to handle their love life help them to submit it to you to be. Like Isaac who waits at home while he allows God to figure out some of how this is going to work. And so Lord we trust you with us tonight surrendering our hearts and lives to you. We pray this in Jesus' name. This media was brought to you by Adil to a website dedicated to spreading God's word through three sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about your verse if you would like to listen to more sermon. W W W R U. verse dot org.

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