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Filling Your Marriage With God's Best

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2022 5:00 am

Filling Your Marriage With God's Best

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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November 18, 2022 5:00 am

Pastor Levi Lusko and his wife, Jennie, describe how you and your spouse can experience a miraculous, God-blessed marriage through several intentional practices, including fulfilling your God-assigned roles, sacrificing for one another, celebrating your victories, and more. Jim Daly's wife, Jean, joins the conversation, offering her insights from their marriage of over 30 years.


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In those early years, when I came to know the Lord, he and his family were so against it that they actually advised him to divorce me. Joy spent many lonely years trying to trust God and love her husband well. Thankfully, she found the support and encouragement she needed. I think that God just really used Focus on the Family and your guys' ministry to grow me and prepare me and guide my heart to live out in front of my husband what it means to follow Christ. And the best news of all is that Joy's husband also became a follower of Jesus. I'm Jim Daly. When we work together, we can strengthen more marriages like Joy's and give families hope.

Please call 800 the letter A in the word family or donate at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash hope and your gift will be doubled. And you know what that leads to? Blood. Jesus turned water into wine.

Moses turned water into blood. And if you let Jesus take control of your relationship, it'll bring new wine because you're trying to give grace. Well, that's a rather profound insight from Pastor Levi Lesko, sharing from the stage at a Focus on the Family event right here in Colorado Springs. And you're going to hear more about how to have a grace-filled and loving marriage on today's broadcast. Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, we were at a marriage retreat with a large group of Focus friends and supporters, and we had a wonderful time with Levi and his wife, Jenny. My wife, Jean, was there on the stage and had a microphone, so you're going to hear some comments from Jean as well.

Excellent. For some reason, John, you weren't with us that night. You must have been somewhere.

I'm sure I was out of town perhaps, maybe even on a hunting trip. That could be, but what we recorded that night and what we want to share with you today is a lot of practical marriage encouragement and some humor as well, because it's our goal here at Focus on the Family to remind you, as we remind ourselves, that we need to enjoy one another in our marriages and remember all the wonderful things that we share in our relationships. Of course, we know that healthy marriages do take work, but God also designed your relationship to be full of love, affection, and fun as well. And if you'd like to experience more fun in your marriage along with that love and affection, please contact us here at Focus on the Family.

We have so many resources, including our free online marriage assessment, which is a really good, quick way to get an overview of what's working well in the relationship and maybe a few things to improve as well. Check it out. Just click the link in the episode show notes. Levi and Jenny Lusko founded Fresh Life Church in 2007. It's grown.

It has satellite locations in Montana, Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming. Levi has written several books that we've featured on this broadcast, and the Luskos are the parents of five children. And we're going to pick up today's program at the point where Levi began explaining how the first recorded miracle of Jesus, described in John chapter 2, can teach us profound lessons about how to have a more fulfilling marriage. Jesus is at a wedding, and that should right there arrest our attention.

He's got three and a half years to save the world. What's he doing at a wedding? But the answer is, in the text, it says Jesus was invited.

So here's the question. If Jesus isn't in your home, it's not because he doesn't want to be there, it's because perhaps you didn't invite him in. Every bride and groom have the choice to invite Jesus into their wedding. Invite him into the marriage. He'll come into your home if you invite him.

So he's there. His mom says, hey, they're out of wine. He tells the servants, go get those six tubs, basically giant stone pots, fill them up with water. And once the water's filled up, draw some out and give it to the master of the feast. And it was when they brought the water to the master of the feast that the miracle happened, and it turned into wine. Now, the text says the servants filled the pots up to the brim.

Those three words in that passage give us the approach for our relationships God wants us to take. Because they only got as much wine as they had the faith to put water in. They were 20 to 30 gallons apiece, and there were six of them. So they got 125 to 150 gallons worth of wine because they filled the pots up to the brim. Now, they had no guarantee while they were pouring that was working. They didn't have a hose either. They're going to the well, bucket at a time, perspiring. You know, what in the heck? What are we even doing? And they could have easily said, oh, that's enough.

Let's go bring some to the master. Then that's exactly as much wine as they would have gotten. But because they had the faith to do something that didn't seem like it was working, that eventually this to the brim mentality led to them having a lot of wine.

We think a lot of marriages have a barely enough mentality. They treat it like, you know, we do our iPhone or our gas tank, where it's like always kind of on red line. You know what I mean? And we don't get gas until, tell me you have that little thing that tells you distance till empty, and you go, I just did that yesterday. I don't need to get gas. I got 13 miles left.

I'm fine. And that was the exact mileage I had left. Exactly. You're like a profit. Because that's the point at which it kicks over and says, hey, moron, get gas. You know what I'm saying? I'm like, no way. It's like a game.

How close can I get to the edge? But a lot of marriages are doing that. They have just enough relational equity to not be destroyed on a daily basis, just surviving, as opposed to having more than enough. Not taking that date night or that weekend away or that marriage counseling until it's in crisis mode, as opposed to a to the brim. You're going to have as much in your marriage as you're willing to put into it. So I think like that miracle, we should fill our marriages up to the brim. That is good. That is great insight. And you just mentioned date nights, weekend getaways.

And what else do you recommend? We're busy. No, but busy. Everyone's busy. A lot of us have kids.

What are some practical ways to spend time together to build up that kind of love bank? Well, we've heard it said 15 minutes a day, one night a week, one day a month, one weekend a year is not like, oh, you have to do this and you're getting it wrong. But is it just a good rule of thumb that you can? I mean, that seems doable. Like, OK, 15 minutes a day. Not on your phone. Just talking.

Just like, hey, how are you doing? Just that quick. One night a week, a date night where you're setting a time to do what each other loves. When we were first married, our date nights were a trip to Costco. That $1.44 hot dog and a Coke. And on the bad nights, it was just samples, honey.

You know what I'm saying? But romance can work on any budget. And we didn't wait to put that tradition in place so we could afford the finer things. Because you have to choose, just like generosity. It's like you don't start tithing when you have a million dollars because you'd be just as generous with 100 as you would be a million. So you begin those things now and we put those things into place, like you said, the time bank, which I would say in addition to the spiritual disciplines, church attendance, small group participation, serving, those sorts of things that are going to give your relationship a rock foundation and not a sand foundation. Let me ask you this.

Sometimes people can feel over committed, especially people with great intentions that want to serve in that way. And then really the relationship takes the shortest end of the stick because we're so busy. We've got Bible studies to do. I'm going to the men's group.

Jean's off to the ladies group twice this week. And yet we've got the kids stuff going on and the projects do. And does he need help getting it done? So for that committed person who is measuring themselves in terms of their doing, so I'm a good Christian because look how much I'm doing. How do you maintain a healthy perspective with that?

You're a pastor. So you're relying on these people too. Well, I think when it comes to time, one of the mistakes we make is we say to ourselves lies that we believe, like I don't have enough time. I'm too busy. I don't have enough time. But the reality is you have the exact same amount of time as every human being that's ever lived. 168 hours every single week. That's how much time Abraham Lincoln had, Gandhi had, Steve Jobs had. You can't find time for the important things.

You make time. So I heard it said once, if you grow your no, God will bless your yes. So it's what you say no to just as much as what you say yes to.

And when we put those important things on the calendar, we at the beginning of a year put out our camping trip, our vacation, those sorts of things are set in stone. And then when other opportunities come up, and let me tell you, they come up. I'll get asked, hey, come to this. And it's like, nope, I'm going to be there at my daughter's first day of school. I got asked to speak to 10,000 people on the day of my daughter's first day of school. And I said, I'll be taking my daughter to school. And he said, we'll pay you this much. And I said, and guess what?

I'll be at my daughter's school that day. That's great. And so there's nothing in the world. You can't get that back. You can get more money. You can get more opportunity. You can get more Instagram followers. You don't get more time with your kids.

You don't get more time with your spouse. Well, you know, I appreciate this so much about Levi, because for me, I have more of the I don't like conflict, and I want to please people, and I want to do all the things, and I'm very used to just saying yes all the time. And I've learned that it's actually so good to be able to say no and to say yes to the things that are the most important. And so many people will be like, oh, you guys are so busy.

How do you make this happen? It's like, well, when you put the first things first, and you just let the other things either fall into place or not do them, then it really isn't that hard, but you do have to fight for it. You mentioned something that I think is critically important that's assumed the best of your spouse. I think this is where marriages break down, because you end up in this vicious cycle where you assume the worst, the worst intention. And the reason he didn't come home on time is because there's somebody else, or something's going on, or he doesn't love me enough, and then you ruminate on these things, and you talk yourself into a scenario, which hopefully doesn't exist.

In some cases, it might, but in many cases, it won't. So speak to the assume the best and talk to us about why that's so hard for us to do as human beings. Well, the Bible says that we should believe all things. That's what love does. Love believes all things. Now, of course, I'm not talking about the person who has been unfaithful or lost trust.

It does take time to regain trust that's been lost, of course. So that being pushed off to the side, I'm talking about just the normative patterns of a healthy relationship. We watched a comedian once who said, when you're dating, you can do no wrong, and then you get married, and you can do no right.

And sadly, that can be how it is sometimes. He went on to say that one time, his wife had some friends over, and they were all watching a movie, Chick-Flick, right? And he came in, thought, I'm going to be the good husband, and said, girls, can I make you some popcorn? And his wife didn't even look up, but she said, without even looking him in the eyes, she said, just make sure you make enough.

And it was like, she was already assuming he wasn't going to make enough popcorn. You know what I mean? I tried to do something right.

And I think we can do that. We can digress into that, where we're filling in thought bubbles over our spouse's head, and we're naming intentions, and we're writing a story. You know, our brains are built to love story, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Brene Brown talks about how our brains crave and actually give us a chemical reward when it detects a pattern. And it so craves closure that when people's bizarre actions don't make sense, our brain will at times play judge, jury, and executioner, basically assigning a motive just so it can have the self-satisfaction of saying case closed. And it will settle for inaccuracy so long as it's complete and conclusive. And so at times, our minds can assume the worst of each other, and then we're basically convicting them of crimes they may not have even committed.

So we've chosen to use the language of the Corinthian text. Let's believe all things. Let's believe the best about each other.

Let's assume positive intent. If Jenny said something that hurts my feelings, I'm not assuming she wanted to hurt me. She loves me. She wants the best for me.

So I'm going to bring my emotions to her and ask her to clarify and help me see this is what my perspective was, what do you think, and to really assume the best about each other. Yeah, and I will say, too, that a lot about your past has everything to do with the relationship that you're in now. And for me, personally and honestly, I had issues with my dad because he had left and just wasn't a great present dad. And I feel like as I entered into marriage, I was actually placing a lot of the things that I had struggled with with my dad. Seeing him, even how he interacted with my mom, I placed those things unfairly on Levi because he was the man in my life. And I figured, oh, well, if this is how he's acting, then this is why. And I was placing badges on him that he did not earn at all.

Could you name one or two of those badges for us? Yeah, I would say my dad was unfaithful to my mom. And I think that was one thing coming into marriages. Maybe I was just really suspecting and trust, just the trust already.

And Levi's never given a reason ever to misuse that trust. But because of that's kind of what the baggage that I brought in marriage, that that was definitely one thing that that was so unfair to him because he would talk to a girl and be like, oh, my gosh, like, everything's out of control and crazy. But the truth is, is that he loves me and that I was putting an undo thing on him. Well, it was a trigger for you for sure.

Yeah. And Jenny, how did you overcome that? Well, I think it was talking through it. And that's always the thing is communicating like, this is how I feel when this happens. But it was realizing that because I think I just didn't realize it until there was a point where I was like, this is why. And marriage counseling really helped for us, you know, which I think for a lot of pastors, there would be a fear of that, you know, because there's maybe an assumption that, you know, that's something you do when things are going wrong. I would say it's something you should do to keep things from going wrong, just like you change the oil in your car. You know, so for us to work through that and have a lot of help to have someone we can talk to about it and process things through and just to be able to be honest and with a third party that could listen and hear both sides and kind of steer us towards some healthy patterns in our marriage.

And that really helped us out a lot. And to say, like, look, I'm not your dad and I'm going to honor you and love you and trust you. And look, we're going to if there's something you're uncomfortable about, please pull that quality control chain and I'll do the same thing.

But at the same time, we have to trust each other and let this be a new story. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Jim and his wife, Jean, hosted a marriage retreat and pastors Levi and Jenny Lesko were speakers. You'll find a lot more encouragement from the Leskos in a book they've written called The Marriage Devotional 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage. We've got that book.

The details are in the episode notes. And now more from Levi and Jenny Lesko on Focus on the Family. Because a lot of relationships, I'm convinced, go wrong because Moses is the CEO of the marriage and under Moses, it's eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. You had the kids, I watched them last time, you watched them this time.

You bought this, so I'm going to buy that. And that's Moses. That's a Moses marriage.

Living by the law. And you know what that leads to? Blood. Jesus turned water into wine.

Moses turned water into blood. And if you let Jesus take control of your relationship, it'll bring new wine because you're trying to give grace. And if you're not doing your job, I'm going to do mine twice as hard. And if you're not doing this, I'm going to give you even more grace. And that'll bring wine and refreshment out of your relationship.

So really, I think a lot of us need to give Moses the pink slip and let Jesus take the wheel. I like it. What do you guys think? That's good. Okay, there are two other areas I want to cover before we end. And one is on the submission issue.

You guys have spoken about that. It's always the third rail of relationship, especially in the Christian church when we talk about submission. A lot of different definitions of what does it mean and what does God expect.

And people abuse it. Men abuse that authority and women can abuse it too. Pastors can really miss what the actual teaching is from Ephesians 5. Because the word submit is used in verse 21. Long before he says, wives submit, he says submit to one another in the fear of the Lord. And so the context of marriage is two people who have both submitted to each other in the lens of Jesus' sacrifice. And so here's Jesus who modeled for us this servant leadership by dying for us on the cross.

And for a man who wants to basically become Jabba the Hutt in his home instead of Jesus the Christ in his home. Jesus died for his bride and these men who want to pull the chain so Leah can come over and feed him grapes. You know what I mean? That's just a train wreck. A very gross scene, by the way.

Just saying. And you know what? There's some very gross marriage dynamics at play. Where the man's the Lord of the castle in that way. So we're supposed to both submit to each other. Does the New Testament make it clear that in a stalemate, cat's game situation, that the husband is to have the tie-breaking vote? Because he's going to be the one to stand before Jesus for that?

Yes, absolutely. But in our 15 years of marriage, I've never had to pull that card one single time because the goal is consensus. Now there have been 1,000 times where I wanted to pull that. But the Holy Spirit would have been like, hey, moron. You know what I mean? You're just being selfish here.

Right? Because Jesus died for his bride and you basically just want to be right in the situation. And my opinion is that when Paul then breaks it down further and says, so husbands may see that you love your wives and wives see that you submit to your husbands. He was saying that's the part they most are going to struggle with in submitting to one another. So he was really speaking to the subject of submission, the mutual submission that is presented in Ephesians 5. And to show what the most challenging part of that would be like.

Yeah. Jenny, for the women that are struggling with that, what would you say to them directly as a wife and a woman? If they're sitting there going, I could never do that with my husband. He isn't the man I really expected or thought that I married. I heard one preacher say, speak to the king and the king will stand up. But if you speak to the fool, the fool will rise up. And I think that's the key. As a wife, if we see the potential and we see the king and our husband, that's again going back to looking for.

Because sometimes all you see is the fool. But if you can look for a glimmer of the king and honor that in them, that's going to raise them up to the next level of the man of God they're meant to be. I love how in 1 Peter 3 starts out and says, wives, likewise, submit to your husbands. And it goes back to what chapter 2 says right before. And it talks about Jesus being the ultimate example of submitting to his father and dying on the cross. And that he's the ultimate example of that. And so when we're having a hard time submitting, we go back to Jesus as our example of, if Jesus could do this, I'm going to submit to my husband because Jesus is the Lord of my life.

And I think that's the key. And then it even goes down when it talks to husbands, husbands likewise. Honor, love your wives. Well, it's actually, to be fair, he gives six verses to the women, and Peter does, and then he gives one verse to the men. And it involves a threat, right? It's like all these things to the women.

All the details that we need. And then it's like, hey, love your wives or God won't listen to your prayers. And the guy's like, okay, one thing. It's all we can handle. He kind of knows how he made us, right? It's pretty good.

It is pretty funny. But Jenny's right, though. To the woman who says, hey, I treat my husband that way, but he doesn't act that way, it's like maybe he would if you treated him that way. Maybe you would help him become the man you wish he was. Well, and to that point, and so many of us talk about this, how the culture is buffooning men already.

You know, every commercial. We can't lay prey to that. But I mean, you know, we've got to arrest that in our own relationships and say, okay, I'm not going to play that role. And I'm not going to let my husband play that role, is what I'm hearing you say.

I'm going to see the king in him. All right, the next difficult one is intimacy, physical intimacy and relationship. This can be, and you're pastoring couples that hit this wall a lot.

And let's just talk that through a little bit, the criticality of it. You know, the tenderness of this because it's something men crave probably as much as water and food, right? And women are going, why, Lord, did you do this to them, right?

Why do they have such this appetite? And it's not always that way. We hear from listeners who, wives will say, my husband does not have that desire. So it goes both ways, but speak to the physical intimacy issue and how it can really harm the relationship. Well, there's a lot, a lot of pressure that can be put on that, especially in a culture where we rightly, as a church culture, we prize virginity. We prize the beauty of intimacy. And so there can be so much pressure that when it finally gets there, it's very scary and can be underwhelming. And I think we have to take a little bit of pressure off in that way because great lovers are made not born. And, you know, for us, we've experienced it's just gotten better and better like wine as we practiced. And, you know, we I just encourage us to practice a lot, you know, so I'm sorry.

Did I ask that question? There are challenges inherent, you know, to tell a story that just this was not lovemaking, but it was a moment where we had a really quick turnaround and we had to shower up for some event we were at. And so we're like, hey, for water purposes, let's just jump in the shower together.

OK. But our two year old at some point was watching a TV show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the other room. And we didn't notice. We thought the door was locked.

We were just showering, fortunately. But she had come in the room. Two year old daughter came in the room and we didn't know. And she was there until we heard her say, say cheese. And I thought she was going to I looked at her and we thought she was going to be, you know, snap in a picture with her fingers. No, she had Jenny's phone and we we both lunged for it. She had it open in Instagram.

She had the camera from Instagram and was about to push the shutter. Oh, we were oh my praying in tongues. We were so grateful that it did not happen. And you're sticking to this story would have been the end of ministry, guys.

Never see me again. But there are challenges in my point is there's challenges involved in being naked and ashamed. OK, yeah. Wow. That's what God wants for us.

But I tell you that story. But on a serious note, when the Bible says Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed, it was not just physically. They were unashamed spiritually because they had no need to hide. Sin causes you to cover up. The moment they sinned, what they do, they covered up with clothes, fig leaves, terrible choice, itchy plants.

Right. But the point is, they were now hiding. And when we want to experience the beauty of physical intimacy, it comes from inward vulnerability and transparency and to where you are covered up in the best possible sense.

Once Jesus put the blood over Adam and Eve, they were now clothed and covered. And when Jenny and I are covered by Jesus, we can be uncovered before each other in vulnerability. And that's the foundation for a beautiful relationship.

It's where you don't have secrets. It's where you in the Bruce Willis movie, he says, when did you know the relationship was on the rocks? He said, when I had a bad dream and didn't wake you up to tell you about it, about his wife. And I think the power of a great sex life comes from you wake each other up to tell each other about your bad dreams and your fears and your vulnerabilities and your insecurities and who I wish I was. And I think for me, when I tell Jenny, hey, I'm scared, I need you to pray for me. And I feel like spiritual warfare, will you pray for me?

Will you take my hand and pray for me? That's the power of a sex life. It comes from two souls that are knitted together.

That is really good. For the couple, who knows how long they've been married. It may have been a short time or a long time, but they haven't experienced not only that kind of intimacy, but the kind of friendship and the fun that you're speaking about right from the beginning of the program. Where can they go?

What can they do? How do they rekindle these things? I'm really asking you for hope. Well, the Book of Revelation says, speaking of our relationship with Jesus, of which we are the bride of Christ, right, that we are to go back and do the first things. And so I would say go back to there in your mind.

Talk about what, go on a walk, talk about what attracted you to each other in the first place. Before there was boats to buy and remodelings to do on your home and square footage to add and the trip to Aspen you want to take, all the pressure, all the things. How about just diapers you have to change? There you go.

Whatever it is, you know, the diapers you want to change. But before all the pressure is my point. And go back to that first friendship and foster that and blow on the coals and get it going again and enjoy each other and quit taking yourself so seriously.

Say sorry. For the skeptic listening saying, right, does it really work to blow on the coals? Will it catch fire again? Well, if you don't, you can be certain what's going to happen. I can't promise you what's going to happen if you do, but if you put yourself out there, you give something for God to bless. That's really good. And the servants didn't know it was going to become wine when they were carrying it in a ladle to the master of the feast. It was still water until they stuck out in faith. So I encourage you who feels like, I don't know, it feels stupid.

It's going to feel stupid if you're doing it right. Yeah, that is good. Levi, Jenny, thanks so much. Jean, thank you for being with us. Thank you for having us. Thank you guys so much.

Appreciate you. Well, John, I'm so sorry you weren't able to join us for that wonderful marriage retreat that we had with Levi and Jenny Lusko. It was also great having my wife, Jean, join us as well. I was so encouraged by the Lusko's reminder to have fun, laugh and enjoy your spouse in ways that you may have forgotten all about since the day of your wedding. That's really the bottom line message today, to not let your marriage drift over time. God wants you to have a full to the brim relationship, but that requires some work on your part. Regular date nights and assuming the best about your spouse and navigating those sensitive issues like submission and intimacy. Those are key building blocks you'll need for a strong and healthy relationship that will last a lifetime. Levi and Jenny Lusko have a lot more encouragement and help for husbands and wives in a book they've written called The Marriage Devotional 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage.

Get a copy of this resource from us today. It's a great tool to help you grow closer together as a couple and closer to the Lord. Probably most important, we'd be happy to put this book into your hands when you send a gift of any amount to focus on the family. That's our way of saying thanks for partnering with us to strengthen and support marriages. Donate today and request The Marriage Devotional when you call 800 the letter A and the word family 800-232-6459. We'll also include an audio download of Jim's entire conversation with the Lescos.

The details are in the show notes or give us a call. And John, I want to remind our listeners that we depend on your ongoing support to rescue hurting couples, equip parents, save preborn babies and so much more. You provide the fuel we need to help the hundreds of thousands of families that contact us each year. Here at the end of 2022, would you please consider a monthly pledge to this family outreach? That regular gift will enable us to have resources and programs in place to meet the needs of hurting families in the days and months ahead. Can we count on your support today? Anything you donate will be beneficial.

Even a one time gift is greatly appreciated. Again, our number 800, the letter A and the word family. And we'll have details in the episode notes. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Including more than 900 episodes with faith building activities, parental controls and a safe online community. The Adventures in Odyssey Club could be your best adventure yet. Learn more and start your free trial at adventuresinodyssey.com slash radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-18 05:10:20 / 2022-11-18 05:23:17 / 13

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