An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You know, I've watched some strong Christian couples nearly lose their marriage in the last few months because of a slow, gradual drift. Today, my friend Doug Fields will give you the antidote to stop the drift in your marriage.
Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. Today, we're beginning a short series from our guest teacher, Doug Fields, called Back Up Singers to the Duet of Marriage. As society drifts further from the truth of God's Word, we realize it's vital to turn to publicly grounded voices like Doug to share a different viewpoint for what we're experiencing in our world. Doug is a well-known author and speaker with over four decades of experience ministering to youth. He's currently the senior director of the Homeward Center at Azusa Pacific University. For these next two programs, Doug's going to share some practical ways we can protect our marital vows and support other marriages along the way.
Okay, with all that said, let's join Doug as he kicks off this series. Let me ask you a question. What is the primary role of the Back Up Singer? Somebody talk to me. To back up. Thanks. Not real. I've been warned about this service that you're not the sharpest bunch. But what is the primary role of the Back Up Singer?
Somebody with a high school education? Go ahead and answer. To add flavor. To make it sound better.
To back it up. Yeah, it's really to make the main group come alive. And here's what I love about this series is strong families in a broken world is I'm inviting you to become backup singers to the most important duet in our culture. And that is marriage.
I'm kind of on this crusade to get people of faith, people in the church, people in God's house, would you join me to become a backup singer to this duet called marriage? And I'm convinced that when you change marriage, you change the church. And when you change the church, you change the community. And when you change the community, you can change the culture. That there sometimes when your marriage is struggling, when a marriage is disintegrating or struggling or having issues, you don't wake up in the morning all excited to meet with Jesus.
You know, like Jesus waved over there with tea and crumpets and I just can't wait to do fellowship with him. Now, when your marriage isn't good, it impacts all parts of your life. It impacts your faith. It impacts your parenting. See, you can't teach little Billy about grace when you don't know how to give grace to little Billy's dad. Mom. And dads, it's impossible to teach your daughter about forgiveness when you're harboring grudges toward her mom. See, at its core, marriage is really a discipleship issue because when the primary male and female relationship is struggling, nothing else is working. I know that for many of you in here, your marriage is struggling right now. It's not vibrant. It's not alive.
It's not what God intends it to be. So let's go to this idea of a backup singer. What if you became a backup singer to marriage? Now, some of you are single. Don't check out because singles, about 90% of you will get married, okay?
And you need to know what we're going to talk about. And those of you that are married, don't check out, okay? Because in our culture, the percentages are not high that the marriage will last and a lot of marriages that last don't actually, they're more of a roommate, a roommate situation.
So when I talk about a backup singer, what am I asking you to do? Here's what I'm asking you to do. First thing I'm asking you to sing this song, that marriage needs to be honored by all. Marriage needs to be honored by all. It's something very simple that all of us can do is that you can actually begin speaking highly of marriage. That's what I'm asking you to do here, to speak highly of marriage.
There are just too many negative messages in today's culture about marriage. Now, I was at my church not too long ago. We have a little outside eating area coffee shop type thing and I've got my headphones in and I'm actually studying for a message prep and there's these two ladies that go to our church sitting behind me and I was doing the spiritual thing.
I was eavesdropping on their conversation, okay, because I needed some material for my message. And one lady says to the next, says, oh, I know you've been through a lot this year. He will never change. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and Jesus breathes new life into dead things. So we actually believe as Christians that God can take a selfish, idiotic husband and change him. We also believe that God can change a nagging wife. A constant drip of a nagging wife.
It can be transformed, right? I mean, that's what we believe in. In the book of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews, it's 13 chapters long, and in chapter 13, at least in my Bible anyway, the headline says this, concluding exhortations. And what he's saying is, okay, now we're moving to the end. I'm going to land the plane and I want to tell you what's most important.
Listen to these biggies. Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Pretty important. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Continue to remember those in prison and if you were together with them in prison and those who are being mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. And then he says this, marriage should be honored by all. Marriage should be honored by all.
So you look at the context. He's at the end of the book saying, okay, love one another, be hospitable, care for those who are suffering, follow God's teachings. And in the list of these biggies, honor marriage. See, that's what a backup singer does that he or she becomes a marriage advocate.
You lift it up as God's design. You promote marriages as good. You speak highly of it as if it is a beautiful thing. Honor really means to esteem it as highly valuable. Esteem it as highly valuable.
Now, why is this an important point? Because currently we have got the millennial generation who is scared of marriage. They're scared of marriage because what they've seen in older generations, what they've heard about marriage and it's sad and it's designed to be great.
I tell singles that all the time. Marriage is God's design. God created sex. It was his idea. What am I saying about honor? Marriage is right. It's beautiful.
It's God's design. It's healthy date. Fall in love and then honor God with marriage. People aren't getting married as much anymore. You know, just a decade ago, the average age of marriage was 22 years old, 10 years. It's 28 years old and people just aren't getting married. And you talk to people who say, well, I got to wait until I'm an adult. Oh, okay. And what's 27?
And I understand those of you, it's confusing. It's confusing in our culture because in an adult, you don't know when you're an adult. According to bare aspirin, you're an adult at what age? 12. That's right. In order to drive a car, you're an adult at what age? 16.
That's right. In order to vote, you're an adult at 18. And to buy alcohol, it's 21. And to rent a car, it's 25. Right. And according to Delta airlines, an adult ticket is age 2.
All right. So somewhere between 2 and 25, you are an adult. No, I'm an adult when I'm financially independent.
At which point none of us are adults, right? So I understand it's hard. So here's the deal. Whether you're married or not, okay, what I'm asking you to do is to sing the song that marriage needs to be honored by all. These are not the words of Doug Fields.
I stole them right from the Bible. Hebrews chapter 13, marriage needs to be honored by all. Now that's about other people's marriage. Let me pivot to your marriage. What does it look like for you to honor your spouse? I'm going to give you a way that's very, very simple. I recently read an article from the university of Georgia, and this article was published in a journal on an academic journal on human relationships.
Listen to this. After interviewing married couples on relationship satisfaction, covering everything from communication habits to finances, they found that the most consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages, ready for it? The most significant, consistent, significant predictor of happy marriages was whether one's spouse expressed gratitude. What distinguishes the marriages that last from those that don't last is not how often they argue, but how they treat each other on a daily basis. The study goes on to show the power of thank you and suggests it as a small practical ways couples can help strengthen their marriage.
Isn't that amazing? The most significant contributor to marriages that last is gratitude. You know how you can honor your spouse?
By saying thank you. Isn't that, oh, you're like, oh, that's not rocket science. I could probably even do that. Yes, you can, Spanky. You can, okay?
You can make that happen. Now, I brought this article to my small group of men, and I was asking them, what do you do to honor your wife? I go big on Valentine's Day, and I always buy her a birthday gift. Way to go.
What about the other 363 days of the year? That's what it means to honor, to express gratitude with one another. So the first song, marriage needs to be honored by all. You understand that one?
You with the second song? Second song that I want you to sing is a powerful duet, is marriage needs to be enjoyed. See, God did not give you your spouse to beat you down and drain the life out of you to make you more like Jesus. And there is a whole movement in the Christian space about marriage is to sanctify you. Marriage is to make you holy. It's not about making you happy, it's about making you holy. Am I a deeper follower of Jesus because I've been married 32 years to Cathy Fields? Absolutely. Has it made me holy or a better man?
Yes. But marriage has also made me happier, too, that I think there's a balance between happy and holy. And in the book of Ecclesiastes, in the Old Testament, as we look at the wisdom literature, it talks about how to avoid a meaningless life and take advantage of living. Look at this verse, Ecclesiastes chapter nine, it says, go eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now what God favors what you do.
Read the next five words with me. Enjoy life with your wife. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun. Isn't that a great verse? I love, I love God's word.
I really do. But that word meaningless, meaningless can actually be translated as fleeting, fleeting, meaning life is moving by, it's going by so quickly. So enjoy time with your wife. Men, you don't have to choose between a wife or a life that you can have both at the same time. You can enjoy life with your wife. God has given you a spouse, not to grind the life out of you, but to help you live life, holy and, and happy. If marriage needs to be enjoyed by all, how do you enjoy your marriage?
Let me give you one practical tip that all social science points to, and it's this, date one another, date one another. I mean, that's what we do before we get married. And then they get married and what happens? People get married like, you know, we did all this stuff and then we get married like, you know, and, and, and, and we, we miss it. Life gets in the way. We don't enjoy each other as much. Now, you know, when you go out to a restaurant tonight and you look at couples, they're like sitting next, you know, sitting across from each other, looking at their phones. It's like, they're enduring one another, listening to each other, chew their meal.
I mean, that is, that's not life. When Kathy and I 32 years ago got premarital counseling before we got married, which is a great advice for anybody. I remember two things.
The marriage counselor said first, he said, sex starts in the morning. I was 19 years old. I was like, awesome. I love that. I love, I was writing that. I don't even need to write that down.
All right. It was a 19 year old starts in the morning into the afternoon. I've heard about that, you know, and into the, and then what he explained to me is, you know, it starts in the morning on how you treat her at which that wasn't as exciting. But the second thing that he said, he says, if you want to win in marriage, date your wife, continue to do what you've done in the past. Why do we stop?
I think most of us in here, we don't understand the power of dating or we say people have all kinds of excuses. I don't have any ideas. I don't know what to do. Keyword Pinterest, Pinterest. All right. A lot of ideas on Pinterest. All right. Seriously. I kind of sad to admit that I know that my wife caught me on the computer looking at Pinterest and you just go, you know, put in date ideas and just thousands show up.
It's, it's awesome. But what my marriage counselor said 32 years ago, just out of his gut, out of his intuition. Now, fast forward today, there is all kinds of empirical evidence that dating leads to enjoyment. There's the national marriage project out of the university of Virginia suggests dating leads to increase marital satisfaction and suggested five benefits from the research. One dating keeps lines of communication open to dating allows couples to shatter routines and get out of a rut. Three dating models, commitment to their children for dating relieves stress and five dating rediscovers passion and sparks sexual intimacy. Some of you just woke up.
All right. But without here's what happens in all marriages without an intentional plan to date, a marriage will begin to drift and then other things get in the way. And when a marriage just gets one degree, two degrees off course over a long period of time, that actually leads to a shipwreck. You want to enjoy your marriage, then date one another.
As a matter of fact, these two fit hand in hand because when I said marriage needs to be honored, it's a lot easier to honor your marriage when you enjoy your marriage. You're listening to Living on the Edge with chip Ingram and the message you heard is from our guest teacher, Doug field series, backup singers to the duet of marriage. For more information about our ministry or our resources, go to LivingontheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003.
That's 888-333-6003 or LivingontheEdge.org. Well our Bible teacher chip Ingram is with me in studio now to share a quick word. Hey, I'll be right back in just a minute with some final thoughts about today's message, but I really want to emphasize to you that of all the things that have broken my heart in ministry over the years, it's watching really good people, even very godly people allow things to enter into their relationship and destroy their marriage.
Either they live in parallel lives together or it actually ends in divorce. And I long to see God restore marriages in Christian homes that are rich and deep, where you have a best friend, you have a soulmate, where there's genuine passion in every area of your life. And so I've written a book called marriage that works and it's God's design. It's what he actually says from scripture about how a marriage can be rich and deep and the romance can come back and the feelings can return and the commitment can be the foundation of all that works.
It's more than reading a book. We want to see a marriage transformed. Thanks Chip. To order a copy of marriage that works, go to LivingontheEdge.org or call 888-333-6003. This book will help you better understand God's model for marriage, the roles of husbands and wives, and what it really means to be one with your spouse. Again, to get your hands on Chip's book, marriage that works, call 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners tap special offers.
Well with that Chip, let's get to that application you promised. As we wrap up today's program, I just want to first say how delighted I am to have Doug do some teaching. Every now and then, I have friends that teach across America and actually around the world and will come across a series or a message or two and I feel like, oh wow, either I wish I would have preached that, but I wanted you to get it. The other thing I love about Doug's teaching is I'm laughing. I always find myself cracking up.
As I'm laughing, then something sort of seeps inside my soul where I go, oh wow, you know Doug, that was really funny, but I really needed to hear that. You'll notice today that he talked about two major points. One is that we need to honor marriage. We need to really value it, that it's good, that it's positive.
The second was that we need to enjoy it. I shared at the opening of the program how I have been very close to some very strong Christian couples that in the last few months, literally, they almost lost their marriage. We're talking ideal couples, leaders in their church, in God's word, the kind of people that from the outside, we would all say, wow, we want a marriage like that, but little by little by little by little, we begin to lose connection with one another.
One of the things that Doug shared at the very end, he talked about the power and the importance of dating. I've been married to Teresa for over 42 years. I would say there are two things that we have done, and I've shared in the past, we've had a lot of struggles. There's two things that we have done that I think have been at the core of our marriage. First is, out of personal devotion and conviction, every morning, Teresa and I get up first and we meet with God.
He designed marriage. I know he wants me to lay down my life for Teresa. I'm going to just tell you, flat out, there's a lot of days I don't want to lay down my life.
In fact, there's things she does still after 40 years that bug me, and believe me, I still bug her. When I meet with God and I see how much he loves me and when he fills my soul, then out of his love, I can be other-centered. I can put her first. I can honor our marriages more important than work or hobbies or stuff that I might be interested in. The second thing we've done is we've had regular dates. Probably the first 30 years, it was every Friday morning because as I pastored and had busy schedules and my weekends were really full and there were seasons with very small children.
On Fridays, that was my day off and I dropped the kids off. We would literally do a three-hour breakfast brunch and relax, take a walk, have a good breakfast, take our time, have a good talk. Sometimes it was really fun stuff, other times maybe a serious talk, but it was built into our schedule. I remember Teresa telling me once, she said, you know, it's only two or three hours, but what I know is no matter what's sort of building up inside of me, I have you all to myself during that time. The other thing that I don't know if you'd really call this a date and some of you that you hear me talk about coffee a lot, I'm not sure I like coffee as much as I talk about coffee, but nearly every morning or at least four or five or six times a week, we just hide away as a couple. It might be 15 minutes, it might be a half hour, it might be 10 minutes and we'll just look at each other and say, hey, let's grab a cup of coffee. We might just go outside and drink a cup of coffee or first thing early in the morning, even before we spend time with God or, you know, feeling a little blah and I'll just look at her and say, hey, let's jump in the car and maybe get a cup of coffee and sit in the car. But what it is, it's that connection. It's enjoying one another.
So here's my assignment. And I know many women and many men listen to our program. If you're a man, I want you to shock your wife and I want you to take the initiative and say, let's go out on a date. And if you have children, men, these are brownie points you'll thank me for. I want you to be the one to say, hey, guess what? I've already got a babysitter lined up. Now, after she, you know, faints and says, I can't believe you did that, then decide, and it doesn't have to be expensive, about where to go and what to do. And ladies, if that's not going to happen with your husband, let me just encourage you to say, hey, why don't we plan some time to get together, put it on the schedule, but let me encourage you.
The enjoyment, the refreshment, keeping the relationship of the man and the wife ahead of the children and ahead of work and demand and busyness is what will keep your marriage from drifting apart. I can't wait to hear what Doug has for us in our next program. We can't either Chip, thanks. As we close, you know, a great way to get plugged in with our resources here at Living on the Edge is through the Chip Ingram app. There you can listen to past series, sign up for daily discipleship and much more. Let us help you experience God in a new personal way starting today with the Chip Ingram app. We'll listen to next time as our guest teacher Doug Fields wraps up his series, backup singers to the duet of marriage. Until then, this is Dave Drewy saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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