Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners.
If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at greg.harvest.org. Again, it's greg.harvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. If you're building your marriage on shifting emotions and fluctuating feelings, it's going to collapse. Marriage is more than that, and it must deepen beyond that.
So here's my question for you. Is your marriage on the rock, or is your marriage on the rocks? If you build it on Christ, it will stand the test of time. It's a smooth, carpeted aisle that leads to the wedding altar, but a rough, rocky road that leads to divorce court. Some couples shift into emotional four-wheel drive to try to slog their way through the tough times. But is that really God's plan for marriage? Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps husbands and wives find the harmony and stability God designed. We'll find today's insight in the book of Ephesians.
If you miss any of this study, go to harvest.org. You know, it's been said that marriage is like a three-ring circus. Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. Okay, does it have to be that way? Oscar Wilde said years ago, the world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life.
You can understand why he'd make a statement like that. J. Paul Getty, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, once said, quote, I would give my entire fortune for one happy marriage. One happy marriage.
Is that even possible? Can a man and a woman fall in love and stay in love and be married and live happily ever after? That's how those fairy tales often end. Well, I don't know about happily ever after.
I have another idea. How about happily even after? And I believe that is possible. Of course, there's a lot of threats against the marriage today. The divorce rate is at roughly 50 percent in the United States. However, that rises with a second marriage where it becomes 60 percent.
And then for a third marriage, it rises even higher to 73 percent. Here's the problem. People aren't doing it God's way.
Here's what I think we need to understand together. We cannot look to Hollywood or this culture for cues on how to have a successful relationship. These people in Hollywood can't keep a relationship together five months, much less a lifetime.
Here's just some stories you've probably heard. Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson were married a number of years ago. You know how long their marriage lasted? Four months. A Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney got married. They lasted four months. Eddie Murphy and Tracy Edmonds, their marriage lasted two weeks.
It gets worse. Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman, their marriage lasted six days. Now, I feel somewhat qualified to speak on the subject of marriage, I suppose. And number one, my mother was divorced and married seven times. So how does that qualify you to speak on marriage? Well, let's just say I know what bad marriages look like. She had a lot of boyfriends in between that.
I had a front row seat to things that a young boy should never see. But I've seen how marriages can fall apart. Number two, by God's grace, my wife Kathy and I have been married for 41 years now. So she doesn't even look like she's 41 years old, much less being married to me for 41 years.
And thirdly, I've been a pastor for 41 years and have counseled many couples. And what I've seen and usually when people end up in my office, it's pretty bad. It's sort of like the last ditch thing where they said, OK, we'll meet with Greg, but nobody else. And by the time they walk in to see me, it's pretty far gone.
But I'll say this. After counseling many, many couples over many, many years, most marriages that I've seen fall apart did not have to. And if I hear one more person say we broke up because of irreconcilable differences, I will scream. Listen, my wife and I, Kathy, we have had irreconcilable differences for 41 years.
They're irreconcilable and they're differences. She's neat and well, I'm messy. She's sometimes late. I'm usually early. She likes British TV dramas.
I like shoot em ups. She's cute and I'm fat. It's irreconcilable. Nothing we can do to fix it. Here's what I find interesting. We say we have these irreconcilable differences, but wait, what drew you to that person in the first place?
Answer. They were different than you. You've heard the expression opposites attract. You couldn't find any two people that are more different than Kathy and I. But that is the very thing that drew us together.
And you found that person complemented you, even completed you. But now you think that you can't be in the same room with them anymore. And this wide chasm has developed and it's insurmountable and the differences are irreconcilable.
I think you need to go back and embrace it and say viva la difference. Hey, that's why we love each other. That's why we like to be with each other. Listen, if you're having marital problems right now and if in your mind your mate is the sole person responsible, I already know a great deal of the problem is with you. OK, because if you don't think that you're playing a part in a marriage that is unraveling, you're living in a dream world. Successful marriages are the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of effort, dependence on God, of course, and application of biblical principles. Marriages that are unraveling are because those things are not happening. There is no effort put into it.
There is no prayer put into it. And you're disregarding what the scripture says. Listen, marriage is a wonderful and blessed thing that God created. In fact, the number of people who say they are very happy in their marriage is very high.
It's 61 to 62 percent. Maybe God knew what he was doing when he created marriage. One study revealed that married people actually live longer than unmarried people.
They go to doctors less often and they make less use of other health care services. Now, having said all that, I don't in any way want to imply that you are inferior or you're a second class citizen if you are a single person. Because God has a very unique plan for the single. Now, there are people that are sometimes called to be single for a lifetime. But a lot of singles today will be married in time. Studies show that nine out of every 10 people are married at some point in their life.
So, you know, pay attention to what we're sharing, because even though you're not married yet, these truths will matter to you at some point in your life. But here's what I believe. I believe that as a single person and as a follower of Jesus Christ, God has someone picked out for you. Yeah, I actually believe that. Some don't, but I do.
I believe it's just that right person and you can start praying for that person right now. You know, it's a funny thing. When you're single, you often wish you were married. Oh, if only I was married, I know I would be happy. And there's some married people who would say, oh, if only I was single again, I know I would be happy. But here's the bottom line. There are advantages and disadvantages to being single, and there are, frankly, advantages and disadvantages to being married.
And I'll identify those in a moment. But here's what we want to do. We want to find contentment in the place where we are at right now. The apostle Paul said, I have found in whatever state I'm in, therein to be content. And then also we read in Hebrews, let your way of living be without covetousness. Be content with such things as you have, for he has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. So don't think if you're single, you're going to find your total fulfillment in marriage. It comes from your relationship with God first.
Start there. Find your contentment there, walking with Him. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. So many listeners have commented on the help they receive from these daily messages. God's Word ministers to them, and it often gets them through some of their darkest hours. Pastor Greg, four years ago, I was heartbroken when my husband went to be with the Lord. I prayed for God's comfort and for Him to restore me and draw me closer to Him. He led me to the sermons you gave a couple of years after your son Christopher went to heaven. I listened over and over to your messages as I mowed the lawn, planted flowers and worked around the house. You use your gifts so well, and I'm very grateful.
Last fall, my mom broke her leg and my dad went to heaven. But through it all, your messages continue to be so helpful and comforting. Thank you, Pastor Greg. If you have a story to share, why not call us and let us know?
Here's the number, 1-866-871-1144, 866-871-1144. Well, we're getting some good relationship advice today from Pastor Greg's message called What the Bible Says About Singleness and Marriage. Pastor Greg continues. Now, it may be that the person God has chosen for you is someone you already know, and it just hasn't dawned on you. And that does happen. Maybe a girl or a guy that has been a friend for years and then one day you just look at them with different eyes and say, hey, what about that thought? Then again, it may be someone you've never met before.
It may be someone you will meet tomorrow or the next day. But here's the deal, when you're looking for a guy or a girl that would be a prospect in the future for you to have a relationship with him and possibly even to Mary, you must always look for a godly person, a godly person, not just someone who says they're a Christian. Girls, guys will say anything to get you to go out with them, okay? Because some guy may say, hey, you want to go out with me? And you'll respond by saying, as a girl, well, are you a Christian?
Oh, why do you ask? Well, because the Bible says you should not be unequally yoked together with non-believers. I'll only go out with a Christian. He thinks about it for a moment. He says, well, praise the Lord.
Even the way he says it's like icky. Hallelujah. Well, get out of here.
Just because someone says they're a Christian doesn't mean they are. Look for a godly man. Look for a godly woman. Let me take it a step further.
Look for someone more godly than you. My wife tells me that I said this to her once. Doesn't seem like a very romantic thing to say, but she said, you said to me early on in our relationship, Kathy, listen, if you ever get in the way of my relationship with God, you're out of here. I said, I really said that? She said, yes. And then I asked her, well, what did you think?
She said, I loved it. Because I was looking for a guy like that. That's what I wanted in a guy. So you have your priorities in order. But let me address for a moment the advantages of singleness. Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 7, starting in verse 32. He says an unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord's work and thinking how to please him. But a married man can't do that as well. He has to think about his earthly responsibilities, how to please his wife.
His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be more devoted to the Lord in body and spirit, while the married woman must be concerned about her earthly responsibilities, how to please her husband. I'm saying this for your own benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best with as few distractions as possible. So when Paul says when you're married, you must consider your mate how to please them, that's not a criticism.
It's just a practical acknowledgement of reality. See, when you're married, you have to think about your husband. You have to think about your wife.
They're a very important part of your life, and we'll deal with that more in our next message. It's not to say it's a bad thing to be married. In fact, it's a very good thing to be married. Proverbs 18, 22 says he that finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favor from the Lord. But when you're single, you have mobility like you don't have when you're married. And then when children are born, the responsibilities increase. So here's what you want to do.
You want to use that mobility to bring glory to God and do what you can for his kingdom while you can. Well, Kathy and I, we courted for three years, and we broke up three times. It was like an annual event. And these were big, gnarly breakups. Like, I never want to see you ever again. But we always came back together, and then finally, I proposed. But actually, Kathy says, I never proposed even. I really messed this up.
I'm looking back in retrospect. She said we were having dinner, and because I have no recollection, I'm going to have to go with her version, which I'm sure is accurate. We're having dinner, and she says, Greg, you turned to me and said, well, I guess we're going to get married.
Huh. I thought, that is so romantic, isn't it? I guess we're going to get married, comma, huh. So that's how she knew I wanted to marry her. So finally, we picked a date. She was 18.
I was 21. She was a vision of beauty. I looked like I just walked off the set of Duck Dynasty. Long, long hair, long, bushy, red beard, wearing the ugliest tux that's ever been made. I didn't want to go with the traditional tux.
I thought this one was super cool looking with wide lapels. I look more like a pimp than a groom. This is the truth. I even had platform shoes.
It's embarrassing. My wife looks timeless. It's like, how did you end up with that guy? But see, she could see beyond that hair. She saw something more.
She knew underneath all of that hair was a bald man. But here's the thing. I have discovered the secret to a long marriage and a happy marriage.
So if you're taking notes, write this down. If you want to live a long and happy marriage, marry yourself. That's my answer.
That's what I did. Yes, it's true because Pastor Chuck Smith married Kathy and I. And you know, Kathy married a man with a girl's last name, Lori.
I heard this growing up. So a lot of times people will see Kathy and they'll call her Lori. But her name is Kathy. Hey, Lori, they'll say to her.
She'll respond, though she's deeply wounded. No, but you know, she's Kathy Lori. She has two girl names and I have one girl name. So this is what I mean when I said I married myself. Chuck leads us through the vows. We get to the end and then he says to all of the people gathered, I now pronounce Greg and Lori man and wife. So I married myself. Years later I was telling that story at a pastor's conference and Pastor Chuck came walking up just as I was telling the story and had given the punchline and Chuck actually said, hey Greg and Kathy was there and he said, hi Lori.
It's like, oh no. Well, we can't marry ourselves, but we want to do it God's way. Listen, every marriage is going to be tested. Every marriage is going to be tried and mighty storms have hit our marriage as well. The hardest thing we ever had to face was the death of our son Christopher seven years ago. And I know other marriages that have fallen apart when a child dies.
It's a devastating thing to happen to a marriage. And the reason we were able to get through that and continue to get through it is because we built our relationship on Jesus Christ and that's what sustained us and continues to sustain us and also the hope that we'll see our son again in heaven. But Jesus used this very analogy in his conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7 24 it says, anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise. He's like a person who builds his house on solid rock and though the rain comes in torrents and the flood waters rise and the winds beat against that house it won't collapse because it's built on a rock. But he continues, anyone who hears my teachings and ignores it is foolish. He's like a person who builds a house on sand and when the rains and the floods come and the winds beat against that house it will fall with a mighty crash.
That is a perfect picture of the family. You're building yourself on a foundation. If you're building your marriage on shifting emotions and fluctuating feelings or sand it's going to collapse. I've never understood why people build elaborate sand castles. You know they'll win these contests and you just think it's only going to be a matter of time until a wave washes that away or a crazy little four-year-old boy comes and stomps on it and enjoys every moment of it. And a lot of people will build their marriage on emotion or on sex and sexual excitement and they don't understand that marriage is more than that and it must deepen beyond that.
So here's my question for you. Is your marriage on the rock or is your marriage on the rocks? If you build it on Christ it will stand the test of time because the storms will come. Notice Jesus did not say if the rains and the floods come. He says when the rains and the floods come the storms will come to every relationship. Temptations will come. Hardships will come. Money issues will come. All the things will come your way.
You have to be built on a proper foundation and have a commitment to do what the Bible says. Great insight today from Pastor Greg Laurie on ensuring the stability of our marriages. And there's more to come as this study continues here on A New Beginning. In fact, Pastor Greg will have one more thought from this message before we go for the day.
Hey everybody. I'm here in studio with Randy Alcorn. Well actually, he's in Oregon and I'm in California but it kind of sounds like we're in the same studio but we're talking about a book that we're offering to you this month as a special resource for your gift of any size. It's called Heaven for Kids. Okay Randy, I get letters and emails all the time from listeners that tell us that they have their kids in the car and I have kids write me and say I listen to you.
You know, 20 years ago on the radio. So kids are listening. So let's direct our words to kids right now. We're talking about heaven. So is heaven going to be a really boring place where we just sit around on clouds and strum on harps and have fat little baby angels hovering over us with tiny little baby wings or will it be cooler than that?
It'll be way cooler than that. And you're right, those are stereotypes of what people sometimes think about heaven. But for sure, every kid, every adult, everyone who knows Jesus has reason to anticipate the wonders that are ahead of us. And I think the key thing is to realize that the Bible stresses the resurrection. That the ultimate heaven that we will live in forever is not the heaven we go to when we die. Paul said to die and be with Christ is better by far.
So that's a great place to go when you die. But we will all experience, all who know Jesus, the resurrection. And then we will live forever on a new earth, which means that people don't have to think, oh, well, in this life, I mean, I wish I could do forever things like eat and drink. Man, we won't eat and drink. We'll be ghosts floating around. Yes, we will eat and drink.
Absolutely. Jesus said eight times to his disciples, anticipating in the future together in heaven. And I think after the resurrection on the new earth, eating and drinking. And we'll have things to do, places to go, people to see, the fun that we have.
I'm convinced that art and music and sports and all the things that come out of our being made in God's image that people invented, well, God designed that we should think of those things and do those things. So I mean, it will be the opposite of boring. You may be bored sometimes in this life to be with Jesus, the most fascinating person in the universe and with his people forever on a redeemed earth. No sin, no suffering.
It won't get any better than that. Wow. Hey, if you just joined us, you're listening to author Randy Alcorn, author of the book Heaven for Kids, and we're offering this book to you for your gift of any size this month here on A New Beginning. Yeah, what a great resource to help us explain an important subject in an understandable way. As you know, Randy wrote the big book on heaven, and this one is especially written for kids.
It's in a Q&A format, and all the questions he answers are listed in the table of contents, so you can find the subject you need right now. And we'll be glad to send you Heaven for Kids to thank you for your investment in this daily study. So make that investment now by calling 1-800-821-3300.
Call any time 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, California, 92514, or go online to harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg says when it comes to our marriages, failure is not an option. We'll see what our options are when our marriages are struggling.
But before we go, Pastor Greg has one final comment to close today's discussion. Fact of the matter is, and you may not know this about me, I have been married to five different women. I don't know that I've ever revealed that before. Five different women. Ironically, all of them were named Kathy. I guess I just like that name. Even more strange, all of them spelled their name the same way.
C-A-T-H-E. That's how my wife spells her name. So my point is the Kathy I married at age 18 isn't the same Kathy I was married to at age 30. And the Kathy I was married to at age 30 is not the same Kathy I was married to at age 40. And we're going to stop there. And that's pretty much where it does stop in the moment. But here's my point. She has changed over the years. I have changed over the years. But I will say to you, and I wouldn't say this if it wasn't true, it gets better and better and better if we do it God's way. That's the truth.
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