Week 5: Fighting For Your Spouse

FFY___ podcast graphic.002

Today’s post is on marriage and why it’s worth fighting for. If we don’t know the why, we have no reason to do the what. Next week’s post will be full of practical tools on how to fight for your spouse and how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

Whether you have never been married or you’re divorced or you’re separated or you’re widowed or you are currently married, regardless of what state you’re in, the next verse applies to all of us. 

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”  Hebrews 13:4

Sadly today, marriage is dismissed as irrelevant by many people, as archaic. It’s demeaned by many people. Marriage is delayed. People are delaying marriage more and more, many times for the wrong reasons. There are good reasons for delaying marriage but there are also selfish reasons for delaying marriage. Marriage is being redefined, ridiculed and disrespected. 

We don’t live in a culture where marriage is honored by everyone any more. Even Christians fall for this trap. Part of the problem is nobody knows the basics of marriage any more. So marriage is treated like just one more little lifestyle choice.

Marriage is not just a lifestyle choice. God gave us marriage for a reason.

Most people don’t know why marriage matters. In fact, most people either have an incredibly unrealistic view of marriage, and there’s no way anybody could measure up. They think marriage will solve all their problems. A lot of people think marriage creates problems.

Marriage doesn’t solve your problems. Marriage does not create your problems. Marriage reveals problems.

Marriage reveals perfectionism, insecurities, fears, bittnerness, control, manipulation and lust. If you were able to hide those things before you got married, you won’t be able to for long once you get married.

There are a lot of things marriage can’t do, but it does have a God-designed function. We are only fulfilled in marriage when we look to the designer and the builder of marriage.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1 NIV

Unless we let God be part of our marriage, we build in vain. So, let’s look at why God designed marriage.


Why Marriage Matters

1. God created marriage for the connection of men and women.

In God’s plan men and women need each other. Nobody holds the full image of God. Women get part of it, men get part of it and we need each other. God thought up gender. God thought up sex. The Bible goes back to the very beginning, in the creation of the first couple and the first marriage.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Genesis 2:18 NIV

The first thing to realize is that marriage, gender, sex, men, women, all these differences, are God-given things.

We see one of the purposes of marriages is an antidote to loneliness. Many companions are important in life. You need companions in all different areas, but there is nothing like the companionship of a marriage.

“Jesus said, ‘But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.’”  Mark 10:6 NIV

God made males. God made females. God chose who he wanted you to be.

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:7-9 NIV

This passage says three things.

  1. Marriage is God’s plan. It’s not a human plan. It’s not a human idea. It’s not a tradition we can just throw out. God invented marriage when he invented you, when he invented me, when he invented humanity.
  2. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
  3. Marriage is to be permanent. What God joins together, no one else should separate. It’s meant to be for life.

 

2. God created marriage for the multiplication of the human race.

It’s how we all got here. You are sitting where you’re sitting because a couple got together and made you. This was God’s idea.

The Bible says that God is love, it’s His character. The only reason there’s love in the universe is because God is love. If God was not a loving God you would not have any love in your life. The only reason you are able to love is because you, as a man or a woman, were created in God’s image.

God said, “I want to love and I want to express my love.” That’s why you exist. If God didn’t want to love you, you wouldn’t exist. So God created the universe, so He could create the human race, so He could express His love knowing that some of us would choose to love him back and then we would live with him forever in heaven.

Think about this: God chose everybody who is going to be in heaven to come into existence through marriage and sex. That’s the way He chose. No one would be in heaven if God hadn’t created marriage. Because everybody has come into existence through the tool that he designed.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 NIV

There are 7.5 billion of us on the planet right now because your parents and their parents and their parents were fruitful and multiplied and filled the world. The point is, that God says one of the purposes of marriage is for the multiplication of the human race, which will multiply the population of heaven. It’s not the only purpose but it’s a big one.

 

3. God created marriage for the protection of children.

“God, not you, made marriage! His Spirit inhabits even the smallest details of marriage.  And what does he want from marriage? Godly children from your union. So guard the spirit of marriage within you.”  Malachi 2:15 MSG

This is not an indictment for childless couples. There are couples who want kids and for whatever reason cannot have them or have been unable to have them. If you’re married and you can’t have kids, God is not disappointed in you.

What this verse is saying is, we’re all alive because some couple got together. For thousands of years God has used men & women to populate heaven. If men and women weren’t getting together, marrying and having sex then there would be nobody in heaven. God wants it done in the context of marriage for the protection of children. 

We all know that kids grow better, healthier, stronger when they grow up in a stable family. When they grow up in a marriage with a mom and a dad. Why did God create marriage for the protection of children? Because when you were born you were born completely helplessly. You could not do anything.

Children need somebody to protect, guide, train, and care for them. Study after study shows that kids develop best with a mom and a dad. We’re on a broken planet. Not everything works right. But that doesn’t mean that we say the ideal isn’t real. Children thrive in families. Not in institutions. That’s what every child needs growing up – a place of refuge and security. 

 

4. God created marriage for the perfection of our character.

In relationships we learn to be unselfish, we learn to be loving and no relationship has greater impact on your life than marriage. Another fact about when you were bor, not only were you helpless you were completely self centered, no one on the planet earth is more self-centered than a new baby.

A baby does not even have the capacity to think about anyone else. All he or she can think about is itself.  Maturity and the purpose of life is to grow up and realize it’s not all about you. 

In fact real happiness comes in giving your life away and being unselfish and being serving and being loving. The goal of your life is to grow from totally self-centered self as a baby to being an unselfish adult. Life is a laboratory of learning how to love.

Why is love the most important thing in life? Because God is love and God wants you to become like Him and learn how to love.

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  Proverbs 18:1 NIV

Sometimes we’ll be friendly to everyone else, except our spouse. Have you ever said things to your spouse that you wouldn’t say to anyone else?

If the goal is to pursue unselfishness, your marriage can grow your character. If you are married, the number one tool that God uses in your life to build Christ-like character is your spouse. Every day you get hundreds of opportunities to not think about you, to care about them.

Even if your spouse isn’t a Christian, it doesn’t matter. Many times in the Bible, Jesus was selfless for the sake of an unbeliever.

The more loving, giving, serving, sharing, mature, unselfish you become, the happier you’ll become.

You’ll never be happy if you make happiness the goal of your life. Happiness was never meant to be the goal. When you start caring about other people rather than your happiness you’re going to get happy.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:9-10 NLT

 

5. God created marriage for the construction of society.

Marriage is the fundamental building block of every community, church, state, nation, society and culture. If you know anything about history, you know that where marriages are strong, cultures and nations are strong. Wherever marriages and families are weak, cultures and nations are in decline. We know that when marriages are devalued, the more a nation is in decline.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.” Proverbs 14:34 NIV

 

6. God created marriage for the reflection of our union with Christ.

Marriage is a metaphor, a symbol. It’s a walking, living, object lesson of how much God loves us and how we are to be in relationship with Him. Marriage is a model of a profound spiritual truth.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”  Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV

How did Christ love the church? He died for the church. And God says that’s the way husbands are to love their wife. That’s the kind of love you’re to have. Sacrificial love. 

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:28-32 NIV

When you read this it looks like Paul stopped talking about marriage and went a different direction by talking about Jesus and the Church. He’s just laying down a metaphor of our spiritual union with Christ and his love for His family, His body, His bride, the Church.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33 NIV

This is the most profound meaning of marriage. There are some benefits of marriage that are obvious and quantifiable, like what it does for kids, women and men. This is the most profound meaning of marriage is not as easy to grasp.

Marriage is more. It’s more than an event or ceremony. It’s more than exchanging vows.

Marriage is a covenant. It’s a covenant where two become one. It is a temporary symbol of a greater eternal reality. It’s a picture of the covenant relationship God has instituted between Jesus and his people.

Marriage is the most sacred of all things, because it’s a reflection of God’s commitment to us. 

No other relationship on planet earth, including parent child relationship, can adequately illustrate our union with Christ the way a marriage between a man and a woman does. This is the strongest reason why we must fight for marriage.

So, before we get into more practical parts of fighting for your spouse next week, let’s not labor in vain. Let the Lord build the house. Let the Lord build the marriage.

In order for relationships to work, let the one who designed them define them.


Twice in the Bible Jesus says that there will be no marriage in heaven. Why will there be no marriage in heaven? Because you won’t need any of the six reasons marriage exists. In a perfect place, you’re not going to need the multiplication of the human race, the protection of children, the perfection of your character, the construction of society or the reflection of Christ’s union. 

You won’t need a metaphor, because you’re going to experience the real thing in heaven. Here on earth, marriage matters and the Bible says we are to honor it and reap the benefits.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts about the message on Fighting for Your Kids? Kids need fun, growth, protection and serving opportunities from their families.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

“We all are given different gifts. God gives the gift of marriage to some and to others he gives the gift of singleness.” 1 Corinthians 7:7 NLT

Why does marriage matter?

God created it:

  1. For the connection of men & women
  2. For the multiplication of the human race
  3. For the protection of children
  4. For the perfection of our character
  5. For the construction of society
  6. For the reflection of our union with Christ.

“‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”  Ephesians 5:31-32 NLT

Application

  1. According to John 13:35, why might Satan attack believers’ relationships? “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 NIV
  2. Why was creating a companion for man important to God? “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who is right for him” Genesis 2:18
  3. In Mark 10:6-9, what points is Jesus making about marriage and the connection of men and women? “Jesus said, ;But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Mark 10:6-9
  4. In modern society, putting ourselves first is often seen as socially acceptable. In what ways does this socially acceptable norm damage our relationships? What behaviors can we demonstrate in our significant relationships to combat this myth and make us more like Christ? An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.” Proverbs 18:1
  5.  Romans 12:9-10 provides us with four specific strategies for developing and maintaining awesome relationships. Pick one of these strategies and share how you could apply it to the most important relationship in your life. “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
  6. Read Ephesians 5:25-33 in several versions (i.e. NIV, NLT, MSG). Marriage is a metaphor for our relationship to Christ. Romans 12:9-10 above gives us a view of what we’re called to think, desire and do in marriage and in our relationship with Christ. Talk about how you want to live these scriptures in your relationships and with Christ.

Tell Someone Else

As a group, use Ephesians 5:25-33 and Romans 12:9-10 to create a prayer to strengthen relationships.

 

For Mobile Wallpaper

Brand New

blog bn.001.jpeg

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV/NKJV

Those who are in Christ, they believe in Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life. If you are in Him, you may be in a place of danger and temptation, and may fail in many ways, but the Lord Jesus has redeemed us.

Old things have passed away. Now that we have trusted Christ. We no longer identify with Adam. We are no longer bound to sin. We are no longer people of the world. We were born into a sin nature, that has passed away.

We are a new creation.

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”. Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up sinful life. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness.

So this New Years weekend, let’s talk about the new things that we have when we become a Christian, when we are in Christ.


A Christian is Defined by Newness

1. NEW BIRTH

Jesus was having a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a deeply religious man. What he was looking for was someone powerful enough to overthrow Rome and build a kingdom.

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  John 3:3 NIV

Jesus interrupts Nicodemus to tell him, you don’t know about the kingdom I’m building. I’m not here to overthrow a government, I’m here to overthrow what’s condemning you. God doesn’t intend to change the old nature. It can’t be changed.

God isn’t in the self-help business. He’s in the new life business.

New birth is necessary because we need a new nature. Why try to patch up an old life when God can give you a new one? Just like you didn’t have anything to do with your physical birth, only God can give you a new birth.

2. NEW HEART

Some of you used to have a hard heart. God doesn’t only soften your heart, he gives you a new heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

3. NEW LIFE

The hardest thing to give someone is something they don’t know they need. God says, “I want to give you a new life.” We don’t think we need a new life, because we have a life. God says, “I’m saddened that you call that living.”

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Romans 6:4 NIV

The believers power over sin and the ability to lead a new life, stems from identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. From God’s perspective, Jesus’ death to sin is ours as well. His rising to new life means that we also begin to lead a new life. And in the future our bodies will also be raised.

This is why the New Testament commands to baptize by immersion, to be buried in the water. Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old way of life. Coming up out of the water symbolizes resurrection to new life with Christ.

If we think of our old sinful life as dead and buried, we have a powerful motive to flee from sin. We can choose to treat the desires and temptations of the old nature as if they were dead.

4. NEW DESIRES

Isn’t it amazing how after you identify yourself with Christ, just naturally, things that you were okay with, you’re no longer okay with?

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 NIV

You have new desires. This passage in Galatians talks about walking in the Spirit. We learn to walk by trial and errorPeople want more & more seminars on the Christian life; thinking the more they learn the less they’ll fall. You’re still going to fall. You need to step out and lean on the Spirit of God and fulfill the new desires. Get up and start again.

5. NEW FAMILY

When you give your life to Christ you have a new family. God created everything so he could have a family. Now when I say that, I’m not saying God was lonely. Before God created anything, there was God existing three in one. The trinity. God wasn’t lonely. He had everything He needed. It was so good, He decided to create the Church to share that connection.

Jesus: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 NIV

In God’s kingdom, one’s true relatives are determined not by blood, but by a faith relationship. God’s family is accepting and doesn’t exclude anyone. Although Jesus cared for his mother and brothers he also cared for all those who loved him. Jesus did not show partiality; he allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God and becoming part of his family.

6. NEW FOES

When you get close to God, some people will not like it. You might get treated differently or get laughed at. They’ll treat you like Jesus. Some people will not like you. They’re going to say weird comments. They’re going to say offensive things.

Jesus: “Everyone will hate you because of me.”  Luke 21:17 NIV

In this passage, he’s telling his disciples that you’ll even get killed, but in the end not a hair on your head will perish. By standing firm you will win your souls. It echos of David in the Psalms saying, what can man do to me?

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 118:5-9 NLT

7. NEW SERVICE

We serve from a new motivation. Before, under the law, there was no joy. The flesh had no desire to follow the law.

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  Romans 7:6 NIV

We’re joined to the living Christ. We are to serve Him, not on the motive of we must do this or ought do this, but on the motive of wanting to please Christ. We’re set free and in love we give ourselves to Jesus. We serve him because we love him.

When Jesus talked to Peter, do you love me? Peter said, you know I love you, but you know what a failure I am. Jesus said, you’ll bring forth fruit, feed my sheep. Peter is the man who opened the door to the Gentiles and preached the first sermon at Pentecost.

God has a lost world, what will you do with Jesus who died for you? You can serve Him.

8. NEW STRUGGLE

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  Galatians 5:17 NIV

Your old nature is going to want to do things. You can’t get rid of your old nature this side of heaven. John says if we have no sin we deceive ourselves. We have two natures. The flesh warring against the Spirit and the Spirit warring against the flesh. They’re in conflict. Have you experienced that? You know that hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Do you ever feel it?

We’re prone to wander and we’re prone to worship. But praise God for the struggle. Some aren’t struggling today, they’re fine with wandering. They’re fine with doing whatever they want.

Freedom isn’t doing whatever you want. Freedom is being able to do what is right. Freedom is the choice to do what is right.  It is not doing whatever you want, because there is no guarantee that what we want is good.  Freedom is the choice to do what is right. To do what is good.

9. NEW MERCIES

His mercies are new. You can’t outrun, they never tire or become old.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT

Jeremiah was down when he wrote this, but he saw one ray of hope, the mercy of God. Maybe you are down and you think God’s grace and mercy has run out on you. You can’t exhaust the mercy of God. It’s a new season, it’s a new day.

10. NEW HOPE

God’s not in the escape plan business, He’s in the restoration business. In fact, in the end we don’t escape earth and go to heaven. God is going to purify the earth with fire and bring heaven to earth. The earth will be perfect.

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”  2 Peter 3:13 NIV

What are you looking forward to? We can joyously look forward to the restoration of God’s good world. Whatever limitations you have on your body, you will not have those forever. Whatever sickness you’re fighting, you will not fight that forever. We have a new hope, the return of our king, Jesus Christ.


Grow Your Faith in 2019

In the next couple of days we’ll start making resolutions, goals, plans and budgets for 2019. What’s your plan to grow in your faith? If you want to grow in your faith, Rock Brook has a plan in place to help. 

KNOW GOD  |  WEEKEND SERVICES

Everything begins with a knowing relationship with God. That you Know God. We want you to have a real encounter with a real God. That’s the goal of our weekend services, to help you Know God, and if you already know Him, that you’d know Him better.

FIND FREEDOM  |  SMALL GROUPS

Once you know Him, He wants to help you with areas that hurt so badly. Areas of addiction. Areas, that don’t only disappoint God, but they disappoint you. Areas where you feel trapped and hopeless and the old things haven’t passed away.

Some people have this inverted, they think they need to get it all together before God will ever accept them.

You don’t change your life to get to God, you get to God to change your life. He accepts you just the way you are. Once you know him, the power of God comes in your life to Find Freedom.

This is why we love Small Groups. They’re not mini-bible studies. Not mini-church services. You’ve already had that, it’s an opportunity for you to connect, encourage and grow together. You need people that can help you and you need to help others.

Life change happens in the context of relationships.

DISCOVER PURPOSE  | GROWTH TRACK

You can’t see what your life is about because all you see is the old. Once you settle that, the lights come on and you see the new. Yout can stop looking through the lens of yesterday and start looking through the lens of tomorrow. You begin to realize you’re here to do something.

You’re not an accident, no matter what narrative your parents or someone has put on your life. Growth Track is a great way to help you with this. We can begin to connect the dots of your personality, gifts and passions to find out your purpose here on earth.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE  |  DREAM TEAM

Do something with your life that brings about the new. You can make a difference in Jesus name. Many people want to make a difference, but it only lasts if you do it in Jesus name. One of the most fulfilling things you’ll do is help someone. You cannot do what you do, on your own. That’s why we have the Dream Team, where we serve together.

Here’s the issue:

When I don’t see God’s vision for my life, I’m in danger of settling for an earthly counterfeit.

Everything God does, the devil creates an earthly counterfeit. It makes some promises, but never delivers. The devil will offer you everything and deliver you nothing. He offers you a counterfeit to God’s vision. It looks something like this.

Instead of Know God, I want to Know MeI’m going to make it about me. I just need to find myself. I just need to live my best life.

Instead of Find Freedom, we want to Find Fame. We build our own name. We want to be famous in this building or this company.

Instead of Discover Purpose, we want to Discover a Platform.

Instead of Make a Difference, we want to Make a Dime

It’s a promise that is so empty. We don’t want you fall for the counterfeit. We offer ways for you to take these spiritual steps.

Lean in this year and see where it takes you. See if 2019 is your best year yet.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Restoring Joy? How did trusting God’s plan, letting go of resentment and following God’s light one step at a time affect your Christmas joy?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”.  Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up life, but they could never be their best. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness. A Christian is defined by newness.

  • New Birth (John 3:3)
  • New Heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • New Life (Romans 6:4)
  • New Desires (Galatians 5:24)
  • New Family (Mark 3:35)
  • New Foes (Luke 21:17)
  • New Service (Romans 7:6)
  • New Struggle (Galatians 5:17)
  • New Mercies (Lamentations 3:22-24)
  • New Hope (2 Peter 3:13)

Application

  1. Which of these ten things that are new, stood out to you the most?
  2. Have you identified yourself with Jesus Christ through baptism? (For more information about baptism, visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism)
  3. Do you feel the struggle that Galatians 5:17 describes in your life? How so?
  4. How have the people in your life responded as you’ve started growing closer to God? Have they been supportive? Have they been perplexed or frustrated? Discouraging?
  5. Where is your hope today?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message? Who needs to hear about the new life that Christ offers?

For Mobile Wallpaper

Week 6: Live With God’s Glory In View: A Conversation with Ted McMillin

*blog title.001

We love our community and want to show the love of Christ tangibly in our neighborhoods, workplaces and homes. This summer, through weekend sermons, small group curriculum and daily devotionals, we will discover how serving can make a difference in our community, makes an impact for God and grows our faith. Join us as we discover significance through serving.


This week’s post will wrap up our Why I Serve series. We will be interviewing Ted McMillin today. He is a business leader and friend of Rock Brook. Today he will speak about how serving fits into many places in his life. How being a follower of Christ has made an impact in his leadership, marriage and family.


Pastor Ryland: The first duty as a Christian is not to do anything, but to be loved by God. How has seeing yourself as a child of God shaped your life? How has that ordered your life?

Ted McMillin: There are two things I want you to know before I start talking. First, I believe the Bible is inerrant, it’s God’s breathed word for us. Number two, I’m in no way perfect. I’ve struggled, failed and sinned. It’s only by God’s grace that I’m up here talking.

In business everything has to have a process flow. As I look at my life and how I’ve pursued Christ, I see these two book ends. As God formed us, in our mother’s womb He had a purpose for us. That’s one bookend. At the other end of this chasm, we are all going to meet God one day. That requires something of us, he created us and we will all stand before Him someday. That should greatly impact all of us. That means on this journey, in my relationship with my wife, with my place in the body of Christ and what I do in the workplace in those things I must be an ambassador of God.


When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)

Ted: This passage has made a big impact in my life over the years. It hit me in a big way in 2002. I was on a mission trip in the Philippines when I found a devotional book by Billy Graham. In that book he talked about a church he visited in Germany a few years after WWII. In that church, was a beat up statue of Jesus. The building was bombed during the war and the only thing that remained was this statue. It was pitted and blackened and missing its hands. It was a symbol to that church that they need to be the hands and feet of Christ. What will matter in the end is the question, what did you do with Jesus Christ? That changed the way I saw ministry and my family. We have lived with the desire to be the gospel to the people around us ever since.

Ryland: The title of that devotional was “Live With God’s Glory in View”. When you look through the lens of God’s glory, it changes everything. How has having the heart of a servant impacted how you lead and love your family?

Ted: It’s a real joy to lead. First, it starts with the husband-wife relationship. We do ministry together within the local body. We were very intentional about having our faith be preeminent in raising our family. We’ve been intentional in making much of Christ in our home, not legalistically, but we made spending time in God’s Word fun. Monday through Saturday we had a daily prayer list and made that a big emphasis in our family time.

When we go after our children’s hearts, it’s not to get perfection. It’s to introduce them to Christ, but it’s up to them what they do with Christ. For us, last year we noticed some changes in our son’s behavior. When I approached him, a couple things came out. He wasn’t really sure who Christ was to him anymore and began making poor choices that had consequences. He is now in another state getting help. So we are on a journey for God to further remind us of His love.


Ryland: In parenting there are no guarantees that our children will follow Christ fully. How can you speak to anyone who is dealing with a child that is struggling with their faith or with their sin? What are the things you are doing for him as you pursue him, love him and father him?

Ted: I’ll confess, the first day I was so mad at the sin. But quickly, God reminded me that without His grace I’d be there too. We went after my son’s heart. I also went to 5 men who have been mentors to me and are close to my son. I asked them to pray for my son everyday and reach out to him. They have all traveled to see him and written several letters to him. They have shared their failures with him. I’m going after him like crazy and by God’s grace and mercy he will be a follower and this will be part of his story one day for God’s glory.


Ryland: You have so many stories of how God confirmed decisions you’ve made and things your family did consistently. Tell us of an example of that.

Ted: Every school year our family would pick a theme. In August of 2007, our theme was “Being a Difference Maker” and Nehemiah was our Bible character. Every year we would go to breakfast together on the first day of school. So this year, at that breakfast, we talked about today’s difference makers. I talked about how the United States is a difference maker internationally and President George W. Bush was a difference maker. About that time, I notice that there is flood of security personnel in black suits in that restaurant. I go walk around and try to figure out what is going on. I go back to my family and tell them I think the president of the United States is coming here today. We had just talked about him! After about 20-30 minutes, President Bush walks in the door and walks straight toward us. When he got to us, I told him that our family prays for him and his family almost every Saturday of his presidency. He stayed and talked with us for a few minutes. He told us how much he appreciated our prayers.

That night we had a family meeting and I told my kids that on that day God just reminded us that when we pray for people it matters. Sometimes God confirms in a big way that what we do in faith is important.


Ryland: I want to turn the page and talk about work. How has being a Jesus follower shaped the decisions you’ve made in the workplace?

Ted: I was hired as a leader in my company to include the gospel in how we manage and care for people. In business there is a thing called ROI, return on investment. We have changed that up a bit and we call it EROI, eternal return on investment. We are putting a lot into thinking about how we influence our people to see the gospel in action. We are just building this initiative right now. We expect to see some amazing things happen through people because of this emphasis.

Ryland: How do you lead and use that platform as a Christ follower?

Ted: My company recently took over a company in Denmark. I spent a week with them and on Friday I brought everyone together and let them know that I am Christian. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. What they can expect is: I am going to be very honest with you. I am going to work to make sure I am kind and careful with how I do things. I tell them I love them and care about them. That does two things: it makes it very clear who I am and it makes me be accountable. Once you’ve made a declaration that you are a follower of Christ, all of your days they people will watch what you say and do. I want that kind of accountability.

Ryland: A lot of times people will say they are a Christian and the message that often sends is “I am a Christian so what you can expect is for me to be offended, to be intolerant of certain things…” He’s saying “I’m a Christ follower and what you can expect is honesty and to care about who you are.” No one’s going to say “I don’t want THAT!” He’s leading the way with how God cares about that person. It works! One of my favorite metrics you’ve shared with me is how this has affected an international plant.

Ted: One of the great things about letting God take control is that you see the blessings and you know you didn’t get in the way and screw it up. In 2016, we were in India and analyzing the state of the business. One of the accountants told me that they have something incredible to share with me. Something they had never seen before. Usually, that means you are in a lot of trouble. He told me our company has a zero turnover rate. He had never seen that before. In 8 years, no one had ever left. In that culture, education is of high value and they are a very driven people. That often leads to job dissatisfaction and a typical person in that industry would stay at a company for less than 2 years. Our company had no one leave for 8 years. The way we lead people was making an impact.


Ryland: How important, in every season of your life, has the local church been?

Ted: The three greatest gifts from God, in this order, are salvation through Christ, the husband and wife relationship and the body of Christ. The body of Christ is where we go to get fed, grow and flourish. Over the last 2 decades, as we’ve moved all over, the first thing I look for is a great church in that community. Any success I’ve had in life, is in part because of the body of Christ.

Ryland: You can see how this is just a whole recap of everything we’ve talked about from work to leadership to family. That we are shaped in our world to make an impact for Christ.

Take a look back at any of our posts about serving in different places in life.


Check Back

Have you reflected at all on your SHAPE? How has knowing about Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences helped you see yourself?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read the entire chapter of Matthew 25.

Application

  • What themes did you notice from Matthew 25?
  • Talk about the interview with Ted.
  • What stood out to you?
  • What challenged you?
  • Anything you can apply and do because of what you heard?

Tell Someone Else

  • Who do you need to share this message with this week?
  • How could this message impact someone else in your life?

 

For Mobile Wallpaper