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How To Stay In Your Marriage

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2021 2:00 am

How To Stay In Your Marriage

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 15, 2021 2:00 am

How can you stay in your marriage and do it well? Dave and Ann Wilson share four ways to strengthen your relationship.

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So, we've been living in an era where there have been a lot of falls in the Christian life of leaders. Falls? Yeah.

People that have tripped up in their ministry and have disqualified themselves. And— Wow. That's a deep topic. It's a deep way to start. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.

So, we've been living in an era where there have been a lot of falls in the Christian life of leaders. But I'm going to share with you something that I really appreciated about you as you 've been a pastor for over 30 years. This one day, this woman came up to me— Is this Praise Dave Day?

It sure is right here. I like this. I didn't know this was my special day. People will think this is praise, but this one woman came up to me and she said, you know, I've really been trying to connect with your husband. And he feels aloof to me when I come up and I ask him to pray for me. There was a little hesitation in my heart when she said, I've been trying to connect with your husband because I'm like, oh, what's that mean?

But I've always appreciated that when people come up, you're always so willing to pray for them. But when I'm there and a woman comes up to you, you're always looking for me. Like, where's my wife?

Because I want Ann to pray for these women. Talk about that. Why has that been significant for you? And have you purposely been aloof to women? Well, I mean, I've heard that as well, that I've been aloof.

And no, I'm not purposely, but yes, I am purposely. And we even had a policy— So the answer is yes, not no. I mean, yes, I'm not trying to be mean, but I have set boundaries. And we even at our church have boundaries. When a woman comes up to pray, we connect her to another woman. And we do our best not to just have a guy there alone with her.

It could be a guy and another woman. And not because it's wrong for a man to pray for a woman by any means. No, we're just being careful. And it's an intimate thing to pray with somebody, I think. And so, even when we build our building and offices, we have windows on every office.

So you're sitting in there and the world can look in and see. Again, we're not trying to exclude people from connecting with each other in ministry. It was just another boundary to say, if I want to finish well, I've got to set up boundaries and guardrails to help us do that. And so that's what we're talking about. We started this conversation previously about how do you finish well?

Like you said, we're living in a time where we've seen public figures go down because they've made decisions that have disqualified them from the race. And man, oh man, we don't want to be one of them. We don't want to be another statistic. And so when you think about what success is, it isn't how you start, it's how you finish. That's what we said previously. And so the thing we started a discussion on is, okay, how do you finish well? So what did we say first? We said four stays.

The first was what? Stay in God's Word. Man, pray together daily, get in the Word together daily, get a devo, the story of us you can get from here at Family Life and start working out together as a couple. If you want to keep your marriage strong, just stay in the Word.

But the second one is what you've just sort of highlighted. And I think it's really a critical one. It's stay away. I was going to say from sin, but I think it's even better to say stay away from temptation because temptation, we play with it. It's like, oh, it's not really sin.

I'm not going to do what I'm looking at or thinking. It's just, but if you play with temptation, you're going to end up giving into temptation and then you're going to sin. So I just say, stay away from temptation because it's basically where we walk determines where we end up and you can't play with sin or we'll take you down. And I'm always reminded of a passage in James chapter one where James writes this fascinating, I think, passage about temptation that sort of gives us a pattern of how sin takes place.

I'll read it to you in James 1 13. He says, when tempted, no one should say God is tempting me for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Have you ever blamed God for temptation?

I think a lot of us have. Yeah. Yeah. Adam did. I mean, I remember in the book of Genesis, when God comes looking for Adam and Eve, he says, the woman that you gave me.

So he blames his wife. None of us have ever done that. You ever done that? Yes.

All the time. And then he blames God, you know, and we've done that. And James is saying, you can't blame God. God does not tempt anyone.

But look at this in verse 14 and 15, he gives you a pattern. If you read it closely, you see, wow, there's a temptation or a sin pattern. He says, but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin to sin and sin when it is full grown gives birth to death.

So it's really interesting. And I remember studying this years ago and finding out that the word in the original language, it's like when the bait is dropped and the fish is hooked, he's dragged away and enticed. It's literally a fishing term. So James is using this fishing sort of metaphor analogy to say temptation and sin sort of the same way. First of all, he says in verse 14, but each one is tempted. In other words, your temptation is individual to you. My temptation is individual to me. It may be similar, but it could be totally different. Some people can't walk up to a smorgasbord because food can be a temptation for them.

Others can have no problem with that, but they have problem with alcohol or sexual temptation or slander or you know what I'm saying? So it's individual. Do you think that Satan and the enemy has a strategy for us to go down and to fall? Yes. And we're going to talk about that later because that's one of the other stays.

Stay alert. You just got me off to something else. But anyway, he says, but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire. So there's this burning longing like we desire and it's pretty strong. He says he is dragged away and enticed. He is baited and he gives in. And then it says basically that leads to death when you give in to sin.

I don't mean physical death, but there's a separation in our fellowship with God that takes place at the end of temptation when we give in. Ooh, are you going to give your famous bait? Famous. Yes.

Famous. I think everyone in our church would know this because you've taught this a lot. I've taught this a few times and the Detroit Lions know this one well because we've talked about it because I think understanding the pattern of sin is important to understand from what James taught us here. And I always say this, playing with temptation leads to devastation. That sounds like a preacher, doesn't it?

It does. Because temptation and devastation, playing with temptation. And when you look back at this passage in James 1, I find how you win and how you lose. And it's really interesting because he uses the fishing term. I thought, okay, let's lay this out.

There's four B's. The first thing that happens when we're tempted is there's bait. There's bait that is dropped and each person's bait is different. And I'm not a fisherman, but I know this, experienced fishermen use different bait to catch different kinds of fish. And they know that fish, sort of what you're saying earlier. If there's an enemy of your soul, he knows what bait's going to draw you away compared to someone else. I think it'd be an interesting conversation to have with your spouse, your friends, an accountability group to say, what's your bait? To be really honest.

What's your struggle? Because it really is different for everyone, but it might be similar. But here's the thing, in that passage, he says, each one is tempted when by his own evil desire. So the second B for me is the bait is dropped and then there's this burn. It's like, if you're even going to write this down, you write the word bait and then put an arrow going to the right, burn. There's an evil desire. You desire this bait and you can feel the burn. I call it a burn.

It's internal. Nobody else can see it or feel it, but you can feel it. And you're like, man, if I'm not careful, I could make a really bad decision right now. That's temptation that leads to sin. You don't do the right thing because this next B, this next decision, I believe determines life or death.

It determines you finishing well or you being disqualified in the race. And when you lose, it goes from bait to burn to bite. And you end up, here's the last B, baked.

And the reason I say baked is, again, I'm not a fisherman, but I know that you get a fish and you clean it and you put it on a frying pan, you bake it and you eat it. And I think that's what James is trying to tell us. And James, when he says, and it gives birth to death, that's baked. And so you're going to be eaten eventually. And so I think the same pattern is true in temptation that leads to sin is there's bait. Something in us desires that there's this burn.

And right here is the decision. If you bite, if you give in, don't kid yourself. Galatians says, what a man sows, he will therefore reap. You are going to reap consequences that are very, very bad if you give in to sin.

And I think sometimes the burning is so strong, we just give in. I remember, was it Duke? When we put up the electric fence, our little golden retriever. We have this golden retriever named Duke and he's a puppy and we're trying to train him with an electric fence. So I have his collar on and this time I'm training him with his leash. And we're not saying the electric fence collar is the best way to go, because I remember when we got that and I set it all up, because I'm not going to pay anybody to do this. I buried the line and I plugged the thing in and I'm thinking, I wonder if this thing's very strong. So I literally put this thing on my wrist and I walk over with both fingers on the terminals and I mean, it was pretty strong. You can turn it up or down.

I turned it down. So every day I would take Duke out and I'm trying to show him his boundaries, but then the neighbor's dog, Rusty, would always come out and go right up to the boundary and he'd wag his tail. He'd bark at Duke like, come on, come and play.

What are you waiting for? And I remember going into the house and saying to you, Satan's out there. And you're like, what? Like every time Duke goes out there, he knows that he can't cross the boundary. And now I've trained him like he doesn't have a leash, but he knows that if he goes across that boundary, he's going to get zapped. But every time Rusty comes out, he's like, Duke, come on, come on over, pass the boundary.

And sure enough, I can just see it. Well, one day he did it. We watched him from the family room looking out there and it was almost like you could see Duke, like he looked over at Rusty. He'd been tempted day after day after day and he'd get close and he'd go back and he'd win. And then that one day, it's almost like he looked back at the house and said, you know what?

This is worth it. And it's like, we watched him just like sprint. He jumped right where the fence was.

He almost like braced his body like, bzzzzz. And then he landed in our neighbor's yard and he just ran around with Rusty, who we nicknamed Satan. But I thought, wow, we do the same thing. You know, it's like we look at the consequences. We look at the sin. We look at the pleasure that's on the other side. And there are times we decide, you know what?

I think it's worth it. I feel like I do that every night when you make popcorn. I sit there and think, I'm not going to do it this time because you put all that butter on it. Oh, I load it up with butter. And I smell it and I like the baits dropped and then the burn is there. And I almost always bite it. And then the next morning, I'm like, why did I eat that?

Do you do that? Probably not with popcorn. Well, here's the thing. I mean, we're joking about it, but there are many marriages that have been ended because of a husband or a wife that said the pleasure of an affair is not going to be that big a deal.

No one is ever going to know. It's just a one night or pornography, or it could be alcohol, it could be misuse of money. I mean, you can— It can be getting on a dating app that really isn't dating. It's just a hookup app.

Yeah. And again, that's playing with temptation leads to devastation. The truth is, what you do in private will one day be public. And you can think nobody's ever going to know. And there's a chance nobody ever will know. But I remember Jesus said, for nothing, Mark 4, for nothing is hidden except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

He's saying, do you understand what I'm saying? What you play with in the dark will come to the light. And it could end your marriage. It could end your legacy. I think sometimes about my dad and thinking, man, if he just had chosen to stay away from temptation. For him, it was alcohol and it was other women. It ended my mom and dad's marriage. It had ramifications on me as a little boy growing up. Devastating effects on your family.

Yeah. And could have been devastated effects for generations to come, unless God intervened and saved me and you and said, we're going to change the future of the Wilson name. But again, it highlights how critical it is when the bait's dropped and you feel the evil desire within you, you have a choice.

Your choice for good or bad is going to impact your legacy. And so, if you think you go back to this thing, I said, there's the way you win and the way you lose. We've looked at the way you lose. There's the bait. There's the burn. You bite, you're baked.

But think about this. How do you resist? How do you stay away from temptation?

What I don't think a lot of us realize is the pattern is very similar. There's still bait in our life. You can't get completely away. I mean, we should avoid any temptation, but there's still temptations that are going to be in life. So there's still going to be bait.

Believe it or not, even as a committed father of Christ, you're still going to desire it sometimes. And sometimes it's almost overwhelming. It feels like the burn is so strong. So the way you win looks the same in the first two. There's bait, there's burn.

But the third B is where it all changes. When you lose, you bite. When you win, you bolt. And bolt means you run. You bolt out of there and then you're blessed.

And I don't mean blessed meaning you're going to have money and you're never going to get sick and everything's going to be... No, you're blessed because you're finding happiness and joy in obedience to Christ. And it comes from the decision when the bait and burn are in your life, the way you stay away from sin is you literally run. And sometimes you may have to run physically, you know, run out of this situation, run out of this store, run out of this magazine rack, run out of this hotel room. And by the way, I think we all know you make that decision long before you get there. Those aren't kind of decisions you make in the moment.

Those are pre-decisions, which is why I say I don't pray with women at the front of the stage at our church. I've decided I'm going to pass that on to another woman just to be careful. Well, I can remember before we were married, I was a huge flirt, like terrible.

Yes, you were. And I remember after we got married, like, oh, this is like a hard habit to break because I wanted attention from other guys. And I think that's when we said early on, we need to set boundaries in different areas because, yeah, it could be harmless in one sense, but you never know when or where that could lead. And so, man, staying in the Word, staying away from temptation. We have just a short time. You want to hit the other two?

We can hit them quick. Okay. I think if you want to finish well, oh, by the way, let me say one last thing about temptation. If you're playing with something, you need to tell somebody. If you conceal it, it leads to death.

You reveal it, it leads to life. And I'm telling you, it really gets into this third one to stay in the Word, stay away from temptation. The third one is stay close to a brother. So if you're a husband or a dad and you're playing with something that you know is fire, you need to tell a brother.

If you're a wife, you need to tell a sister because Proverbs 27, 17 is so true, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. No one finishes a race well on their own. If you want to run fast, run alone.

If you want to run long, run in community. You need people besides you. You need brothers. We have couples that we've done our marriage with for 40 years. We've raised our kids together.

I mean, I don't think you make it to the finish line and finish well without brothers and sisters, couples, and running beside you. Well, not too long ago, one of our married sons called and said, you guys, I'm really struggling. I need you guys to know about it. I need you to pray. And man, it was hard for him to tell us. He said, I just need you to know. I just need other people to know about this. So it's not alone and I'm not alone.

Yeah. And I always say this, God always saves with His power and with His people. And we often think it's just His power. And in some sense, that's all you need is Jesus and His power. But He always couples that with, you need people beside you who know your struggle, who can celebrate with you in the joys and walk with you through the valley. So if you're going to finish well, you need to stay in the Word and stay away from temptation.

You need to stay close to a brother or sister or couples. What's the last one? And the last one, you mentioned it earlier, stay alert to the enemy.

I think it's so easy to forget. We're trying to finish this race and finish it well. And there's somebody that wants to take us off the road, wants to take us out. I mean, Jesus said, the thief, he's referring to Satan, comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. So God has a plan for your life, so does Satan. I mean, we talk about it all the time at The Weeknd to Remember in Family Life, his plan for a marriage is oneness, that you would advance the kingdom of God as a couple together. Satan's plan for marriage is divorce. If that's God's plan, he wants to split up a Christian couple and say, there's no power in God.

There's no life in God. It's no different to anybody else. So there's an enemy that you have to stay alert to, to protect yourself and your family if you want to finish well. And we also say at The Weeknd to Remember that your spouse is not your enemy. Because so often we think, oh, I know who the enemy is. It's my spouse. But that's kind of Satan's lies. Like, yeah, your life would be better if your spouse wasn't in it.

Yeah. And so as a couple, you turn together against the enemy. And that means stay alert.

It's like, you know, I picture a husband and even a wife standing at the front door of their house and saying, no, sin is not coming in to destroy this home. I'm the protector. I'm staying alert.

I've got my head on a swivel. I'm watching. And again, I'm thinking God had a plan for my mom and dad. Satan had a plan.

Satan sort of won that one as they got into alcohol and adultery and even abuse and then divorce. And then God saves, Jesus saves me and you. And he says, I have another plan for the Wilson legacy.

And you guys can finish well. But our part of that, because it's all on God, but our part is stay in the Word, stay away from temptation, stay close to a brother and stay alert. Well, what I did, and maybe this could be your application, is I said this at a women's conference, I took my home back, like from the enemy.

I walk around it. I'm praying like, Jesus, I pray that you would surround this house with your power, with your angels, like your Holy Spirit would invade this house. And then at this conference, I gave all the women a painting stick, you know, the stirring stick. And on mine, I wrote what Joshua wrote, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

And I took that stick and I buried it. And then I said out loud, this house belongs to Jesus. And Lord, I pray to protect every square foot of this home for you, Jesus, and for your kingdom.

So women, men, take your homes back for the kingdom of God, because there's a battle raging. And man, God gives us the power through his Holy Spirit to win that battle. I think so often prayer is the neglected weapon we have available to us that can transform our marriage and our family that can strengthen us, whether we're praying on our own or praying together as a couple for our marriage and for our family.

It's a powerful tool that God has given us. And we have a resource at Family Life that's designed to help couples pray together regularly. It's a devotional called The Story of Us. This devotional is written by the couples who speak at the Family Life Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaways along with some of our staff here at Family Life. You can order the devotional when you go online at or call to order 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Of course, Dave and Ann have written the book Vertical Marriage, which is all about the importance of, as they like to say, going vertical, being connected with God for our marriage to be what God wants it to be. That book is available in our Family Life Today Resource Center as well.

It's also available as a small group video series. All of these resources can be ordered from us online at, or you can call to order 1-800-FL-TODAY, build into your marriage, strengthen your marriage with the resources we have available here. Go to to order or call 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. You know, one of the best practices of couples whose marriages thrive all the way to the finish line is that they are intentional about pouring into their marriage. David Robbins, who's the president of Family Life, is here with us today. And David, helping couples know how to strengthen their marriage is at the heart of the Family Life Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway, and those getaways are happening pretty much every weekend this fall.

Yeah, that's right. The heart of it is spending time together, investing time together away from the hurriedness of life around timeless truth, the truth that is transforming in our soul, that draws us together in oneness in a way that only God can make us one. And that's why we put on weekends to remember, and we have two this weekend in Raleigh and San Diego. We have four more getaways happening next weekend and many more throughout the rest of the fall.

We would love for you to carve out that time, keep building the layers on your foundation to make your marriage strong and last for the long haul. Yeah, in addition to the Weekend to Remember Getaways happening this weekend in Raleigh and in San Diego, we've got events happening in Hartford, Connecticut, Louisville, Kentucky, Parsippany, New Jersey, Little Rock, Cleveland, Florida, Pittsburgh, Sioux Falls. I mean, you can go online to our website and find a city near you where A Weekend to Remember is happening this fall.

Again, go to and the link is there to find out more about the Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaways. And we hope you'll join us at an upcoming getaway. And we also hope you have a great weekend this weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church. And I hope you can be back with us on Monday when Matt and Lisa Jacobson will be here to talk about what we can do as parents to build up and encourage and strengthen our kids.

How can we affirm them and use our words to do that? That's coming up Monday. Hope you can be here for that. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back Monday for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-08 23:21:46 / 2023-08-08 23:32:34 / 11

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