Participants: Willie Oliver, Elaine Oliver
Series Code: MGH
Program Code: MGH000056
00:29 Welcome to Marriage In God's Hands.
00:32 I'm Willie Oliver, Director of Family Ministries
00:34 for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:37 I'm Elaine Oliver, Willie's partner in ministry
00:39 and a Marriage and Family Consultant for the
00:41 Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
00:44 We're delighted to be with you and we're happy you joined us.
00:48 Marriage was designed by God.
00:51 And because it was designed by God, it is of spiritual origin.
00:57 Today we want to speak with you about spirituality in marriage.
01:02 How do we make it spiritual?
01:04 If it's going to work it has to, by definition, be spiritual
01:09 since it has been spiritually designed.
01:13 Spirituality is probably one of the most difficult areas
01:17 of oneness in marriage.
01:19 Because when it comes to spirituality, it's such a
01:22 personal thing for most of us.
01:24 It's a place where we need to feel safe and we need to feel
01:29 that there's trust and security in our relationship
01:33 in order for us to share it.
01:34 So we want to share today, a little bit on how we can foster,
01:39 deepen, nurture spirituality in our relationships.
01:44 I like the text in the Bible found in Psalm 127:1,
01:50 and that says:
02:05 To be sure, if God is not in our marriage,
02:08 if God has not helped us to build this relationship,
02:13 and it's spiritual, well it can't be spiritual without God.
02:17 So if God is not in our marriage and marriage is spiritual,
02:20 we're in trouble.
02:21 So what do we do to make marriage spiritual?
02:25 What kinds of things do we have to go through?
02:28 How do we negotiate the whole process of doing marriage
02:34 so it can bring honor and glory to God?
02:37 Because many times, people think that marriage is about them.
02:39 It's about my happiness, it's about my joy.
02:41 And we're trying to say here today, that marriage
02:44 is much more than that.
02:46 Marriage is to bring honor and glory to God.
02:51 That is just so true.
02:52 So many of us have bought into this notion
02:55 that "all we need is love. "
02:58 And when we talk about this "all we need is love,"
03:01 we're again, talking about what we're getting out of it.
03:06 And we want to be clear that it's not that we will not
03:11 benefit from marriage, but marriage truly is not a
03:15 self-centered venture.
03:18 It really is about the togetherness, the oneness,
03:22 about serving God, about honoring God.
03:25 And glorifying God in the way we treat one another.
03:28 And the way we can do this is by deepening our understanding
03:32 of what it means to be spiritual in marriage.
03:35 So this whole notion of "all we need is love"
03:38 is somewhat false.
03:40 We all grew up, especially as young women,
03:42 we grew up wanting this passionate love.
03:46 We see it on TV or we read about it in books,
03:50 and we desire this for ourselves.
03:52 But true love is definitely not a love that can forego
03:59 food and shelter and all the other necessities of life.
04:04 Because that kind of love is not going to sustain us
04:11 in our challenging times.
04:13 When I hear the words, "all we need is love,"
04:17 I think back to the early sixties when the Beatles
04:20 landed in the United States and their big song was
04:24 "All We Need Is Love", well I usually say to people
04:26 the Beatles lied to us.
04:28 Because we need much more than love.
04:30 And the love they're singing about was this sentimentalism,
04:33 this erotic love, this passionate love
04:36 that has nothing to do with the love of God,
04:38 with what is lasting.
04:40 And truly, couples who are so in love who think that
04:44 they don't need anything but love, will find out very quickly
04:47 that if you can't pay your rent, the fact that you're in love
04:51 is not going to impress anyone.
04:53 If you are in love, that certainly can't buy food.
04:56 So, we need much more than love.
04:58 Certainly much more than passionate love.
05:01 We need the love that is a principle,
05:04 the love that goes beyond just feeling.
05:09 And that's very clearly delineated in 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
05:55 So here again, Elaine, we're talking about love
05:58 as a principle, the love of God.
06:01 The only kind of love that will endure the test of time
06:04 is the love of God, is the agape love.
06:08 When we look at the New Testament and we see
06:10 what Christ did for humankind, that He died,
06:15 that is a love that is unconditional.
06:18 That is a love that comes from a pure place
06:21 where it's not about what you're getting but what you're giving.
06:25 And so we see here that the word "agape" is exclusive
06:30 to the New Testament.
06:31 Well, it's a Greek word but you don't find it
06:34 in classical Greek literature.
06:36 It's in the New Testament.
06:38 To be sure, there are other words for love,
06:40 and one of those, also Greek is "eros".
06:45 And "eros" is the word from which we get erotic love,
06:48 passionate love.
06:50 And not that passion is not important, but certainly
06:54 passion will fade, and passion is not going to keep you.
06:59 What is going to keep you is the agape love.
07:02 That love that is unconditional. That love that is of God.
07:06 And God wants every single one of us
07:09 who are married, if we're going to have marriages
07:13 that can give honor and glory to God,
07:15 it needs to be based on the principle of love.
07:18 One that never fails.
07:20 One that is the same today, tomorrow, and the week after.
07:25 That is the kind of love that we need for each of our families.
07:28 And then of course, there is the other word for love, "philos"
07:33 which really means the love of humanity,
07:35 brotherly love, sisterly love.
07:38 And while in marriage we also want to have that kind of love,
07:40 the love that we really need is agape love.
07:45 The love of God, unconditional love,
07:47 unwavering, unchanging.
07:50 Always ready to do the right things.
07:54 Always ready to support, always ready to be kind,
07:59 to be compassionate, to be nurturing,
08:01 to be respectful, to be honest, to be caring.
08:05 That is the only way we can make marriage
08:10 as meaningful as God wants it to be.
08:14 So you're saying then, that God is the source
08:18 of all life and love.
08:20 That we get the fuel for this agape love
08:23 through the power of God.
08:26 The only place.
08:27 So it is possible for us then as human beings that are married
08:32 to each other, to have this agape love for one another.
08:37 So as we try to understand the notion of spirituality
08:41 in marriage, it's a lot deeper than just
08:44 going to church together.
08:46 Well yes, lots of us are Christians and we go to church,
08:50 we sing, we read the scripture at least in church,
08:55 and we need to do much more than that.
08:57 We need to be intimately connected to God.
09:02 If we're not intimately connected to God,
09:04 and it's something that needs to happen every day,
09:06 well, something is going to happen in this relationship,
09:11 something is going to happen that's going to trip us up,
09:15 that's going to not have us ready when something
09:19 really big happens and we need God's power to see us through.
09:24 So spirituality then, is oneness with God.
09:28 And we've been talking about oneness.
09:30 And that's what we've been trying to bring out
09:32 in this series Marriage In God's Hands,
09:35 that God intends for us to be one with one another.
09:38 And one of the areas of this oneness, this spirituality.
09:43 What I love about what we've been sharing so far
09:46 is the fact that in our understanding now
09:48 of spirituality, we understand that is has everything
09:52 to do with oneness with God.
09:54 And that our marriages will do a whole lot better if
09:58 we put it into God's hands, and He will fuel that agape love.
10:04 He will give us the power that we need in our relationships.
10:07 He will help us to bring out the best in one another.
10:12 So, if we are one with God and we take our relationship
10:16 with God very seriously, if we are willing to surrender
10:22 completely to God each and every day,
10:26 Paul says, "I die daily," then we will experience this
10:31 oneness with God, that in essence we can have that oneness
10:35 with our spouse that God intends.
10:37 The question that we need to ask is
10:39 "What does it mean to be one?"
10:41 Certainly, to be one means to be on the same page.
10:43 Certainly, to be one means that we have the same values.
10:47 Certainly, to be one means that we're pulling
10:49 in the same direction.
10:50 So, if we're one with God, it means that our lives
10:54 are entwined with God's.
10:56 And if our lives, individually, are entwined with God's,
11:00 then we know that we are one with God.
11:05 And every Christian, every viable Christian
11:09 can only remain viable as he or she nurtures
11:13 that relationship with God every day.
11:15 I noticed as we were flying the other day,
11:18 we were in the airport and it was about 8:30 or 9:00 o'clock
11:22 that morning, and I saw people eating
11:25 in their chairs while waiting to board their flights.
11:27 And they were eating.
11:28 And I saw a woman that was really eating
11:31 like her life depended on it.
11:33 And I thought to myself, if as Christians we recognize
11:39 the need, the absolute need of feeding on the word of God,
11:44 of being nurtured by God every day,
11:47 to be spiritually viable, we would be doing
11:50 exactly what that woman was doing.
11:52 First thing in the morning, and Ellen White says to
11:54 make this your first work, commend yourself to God.
11:58 Pay attention, make sure you are connected to Him.
12:02 Because you cannot afford to live without Him.
12:06 Here's what we also found out, that crisis in marriage
12:10 is a spiritual crisis.
12:15 Why do people have crisis in marriage?
12:17 Well, marriage is spiritual work.
12:21 And because it's spiritual work, unless we are engaged
12:25 in marriage spiritually, using the values we find in scripture,
12:32 there's going to be a crisis in your marriage.
12:35 Every once in a while, sometimes more than I care
12:40 to speak about, I find Christians who come to me
12:45 and their marriages are in crisis.
12:47 Why is your marriage in crisis?
12:49 Look at yourself and ask yourself,
12:52 "Why is my marriage in crisis?"
12:54 I hazard a guess, and it's not a guess,
12:57 it is actually a fact, that if your marriage is in crisis
13:01 there's a spiritual crisis in your life.
13:05 For a marriage to be strong it needs to be caring,
13:08 it needs to be humble, it needs to be forgiving,
13:11 it needs to be kind.
13:12 For marriages to be strong they need to be spiritual.
13:16 And so, as we become more spiritual and connected to God,
13:20 our marriages become what He wants it to be.
13:23 Please stand by for a few moments and we'll be right back.
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14:10 Welcome back.
14:11 We've been speaking about spirituality in marriage.
14:14 And just to sort of review a little bit of what
14:16 we've been talking about, we've been talking about the
14:19 fact that spirituality equals oneness with God.
14:22 So when we talk about spirituality,
14:24 we're talking about our relationship with God.
14:28 It's not something that we put on.
14:30 It's not just about going to church.
14:32 It's not just about reading the Bible.
14:33 But it's understanding God's concept of oneness.
14:38 Now keep in mind that as we explore
14:40 God's plan for intimacy in marriage,
14:43 He's given us the marriage relationship to most closely
14:48 understand what He means when He's talking about oneness
14:52 in marriage.
14:53 I think that makes it so much more profound for us,
14:56 those of us who've been given the gift of marriage.
14:59 How important it is for us to nurture this relationship
15:03 if we are to really understand what God says, what He means
15:08 when He talks about oneness with Him.
15:11 So what is the spiritual crisis, we ask?
15:12 What is this spiritual crisis?
15:14 Because we said that crisis in marriage
15:17 is a spiritual crisis.
15:18 Well, a spiritual crisis is that the first one is time.
15:23 We don't spend enough time with God.
15:26 We have been so busy, we have been caught up in the rat race.
15:33 Out working, going to school,
15:35 not taking the time to begin the day with God.
15:39 Not reading our scriptures.
15:41 Watching too much TV, stuff that we shouldn't be watching.
15:46 Reading other secular books that are really not important and
15:50 really are not building up our relationship.
15:52 So, the spiritual crisis is the issue of time
15:57 and how we use time.
15:58 Because unless we use time to nurture
16:02 our relationship with God, it's just not going to happen.
16:06 We've got to put the time in for our relationship
16:08 to be at an optimum.
16:11 There's also the issue of trust as we talk about
16:14 the spiritual crisis.
16:17 Do we really trust God?
16:19 We walk around a lot and we like to say
16:21 "God is our Father" or "God is our Master"
16:26 and all these other beautiful words.
16:29 Pleasant platitudes, if you will,
16:31 that sound good and they impress people.
16:33 But do we really trust God?
16:36 Do we really believe that He has the power to heal us,
16:41 that He has the power to heal our relationships?
16:43 That He has the power to give us the type of intimacy
16:47 and oneness in marriage?
16:48 So, as we're talking about building this oneness
16:52 with one another and with God, we've got to take steps,
16:58 baby steps maybe to begin with, to really get a clear
17:02 understanding of what God means to us.
17:05 And learning to trust Him, learning to believe in Him,
17:09 getting past our fear.
17:11 Perhaps it's fear that keeps us from trusting Him.
17:15 And a lot of that comes from the fact that we think
17:18 we can do it on our own.
17:20 Most times when we say we rely on God,
17:24 it's after we've tried it ourselves,
17:27 after we've tried to fix the problem ourselves.
17:30 And then we turn to God.
17:32 And what we need to learn to do is to trust God first,
17:35 is to open His word, read His word,
17:38 get a clear understanding of what He intends for us
17:42 and the blessings that He wants to give us.
17:45 I'm always so moved by the fact that God
17:48 has a plan for our lives.
17:50 He talks about that in Jeremiah where He says,
17:53 "I have a plan for you. I have plans to prosper you.
17:57 Plans not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "
18:01 And if we could just take that to heart,
18:03 then we will begin that journey of nurturing
18:08 that oneness with God.
18:10 And I truly believe that when we have a close relationship
18:14 with God, we'll have great marriages,
18:17 we'll have a great relationship.
18:18 We'll be able to have the type of intimacy
18:21 that God wants us to have in our relationships.
18:24 Another point in this whole issue of the spiritual crisis
18:27 is the issue of surrender.
18:29 We haven't fully surrendered to God.
18:31 We haven't fully surrendered to our mates.
18:34 We're holding back.
18:36 Many times there's this false notion in secular thought,
18:42 and it comes into the church and to us a people of God,
18:45 and that is, "Well if you're going to be a Christian
18:50 what is it you're giving up?"
18:51 And so, we say we want to be children of God,
18:55 we say we want to be saved by God,
18:58 but we think that somehow there's something that
19:02 we're giving up.
19:03 I want to be clear that when it comes to God and to marriage,
19:09 the issues are synonymous,
19:13 we have to be fully surrendered to God
19:15 and understand that we're not giving up anything.
19:17 Well, indeed we are giving up something.
19:19 But what we're giving up is death for life.
19:22 I speak to young people who are in their early twenties, or
19:26 sometimes they're moving toward their thirties,
19:28 and we have a conversation about marriage, and I say,
19:31 Well, any plans for marriage?"
19:32 "Well, you know, I'm not sure I'm willing to give up my"
19:35 singlehoodness yet. "
19:37 What is it you're giving up?
19:39 Mind you, nothing against those of you who want to be single.
19:42 Certainly, it's a viable way of living.
19:45 And not everyone needs to be married.
19:47 But if you're not married because you're afraid of
19:50 giving up something, all we're giving up is not having anyone,
19:55 to having someone.
19:57 We mentioned earlier on that two are better than one
20:00 as found in the book of Ecclesiastes.
20:02 And God, His plan was for us to have marriage.
20:06 But if we're going to have marriage and it's going to work,
20:08 we have to be fully surrendered.
20:10 Surrendered to God, which means no holds barred.
20:14 What we want to do is what God wants us to do.
20:17 And surrendered to marriage, surrendered to our mate.
20:19 So that we're not holding on to some old boyfriend or
20:23 some old girlfriend, or something that we did
20:26 before we got married.
20:27 No, there's nothing better than to be in this relationship
20:30 that God ordained.
20:32 So, if there's not going to be a spiritual crisis,
20:34 we're going to have to deal with these issues
20:37 that we just mentioned.
20:38 Time, trust, and surrender.
20:43 So, how do we integrate this spirituality into our marriage?
20:47 How do we bring it all together?
20:50 One of the things that we need to do
20:51 first and foremost is self-work.
20:53 And we've been speaking a lot about that.
20:55 I think we stressed that, we've stressed that a lot
20:58 in this segment, the fact that we have to be surrendered
21:02 to God first.
21:03 So, let me rephrase that and say,
21:05 I have to be surrendered to God.
21:08 There's self-work that we have to do.
21:09 We have to work on our own personal relationship with God.
21:13 We've got to talk to God personally every day.
21:17 We have to experience God's love and accept His grace
21:22 and His forgiveness in our lives every day.
21:24 And when we're able to do that, then we're able to pass that on
21:28 to our mate.
21:29 I'm always moved by the fact that God forgives me
21:34 every single day.
21:35 And if God does that for me, then how can I not
21:39 do that for my mate.
21:42 There's another issue, also, as we integrate this spirituality
21:45 into our marriage, and that is again,
21:46 we have to take the time.
21:48 Take the time to read the Bible.
21:51 Take the time to commune with God.
21:53 There's something that we haven't learned to do well
21:56 in western society that other cultures
22:00 have learned to do better.
22:01 And that is the whole issue of meditation.
22:04 And when I say meditation, I'm not talking about some
22:08 nebulous, trying to be in a vacuum, meditation.
22:12 I'm talking about meditating on God.
22:14 Ellen White tells us in Desire of Ages
22:16 that if we spent an hour each day meditating on God,
22:22 our lives would be different.
22:24 Imagine, He gave up heaven for me.
22:28 I'm a sinner, the only thing I deserve is death.
22:31 But God gave up heaven, came down and became human like me
22:38 so that I can have eternal life.
22:40 So again, we have to take the time to be devoted to God.
22:46 We have to take the time to be devoted to our mate.
22:50 If we don't make the time, we're not going to grow.
22:54 We said earlier on that if we're going to nurture fun and
22:58 friendship in marriage, that we're going to have to
23:01 make the time.
23:02 So, spirituality doesn't just emerge in a vacuum.
23:08 We're going to have to put the time in, study God's word,
23:11 spend time in communion with Him,
23:13 spend time having fun with our mate,
23:15 spend time reading the word of God together,
23:18 spend time nurturing our spiritual selves
23:22 so that we are spiritually viable
23:25 and we have the agape love
23:28 to give to our marital relationships.
23:31 Another way that we can integrate
23:33 spirituality into marriage is through our communication
23:37 and our conflict resolutions.
23:39 We're coming full circle here, as we talk about
23:42 conflict resolution, about communicating with our spouse.
23:45 And all of this has to do with spirituality.
23:49 How does it have to do with spirituality?
23:50 Spirituality is oneness with God.
23:53 And if we're one with God, then we have the ability then
23:58 to be kind to our spouse.
24:00 We have the ability then to forgive our spouse.
24:03 We have the ability to desire to forgive our spouse.
24:08 So it makes it that much easier, not easy but easier,
24:14 for us to treat our spouse in the way that God treats us.
24:20 This whole work of marriage is salvific.
24:27 Yes it is.
24:28 This is about us working out our salvation.
24:32 God has already saved us.
24:34 If we are saved, then we're going to reflect His glory.
24:40 We're going to reflect His goodness.
24:42 We're going to be a witness, not to just our neighbors,
24:47 and our friends, and the people across the street,
24:49 but we're going to be first and foremost, a witness
24:53 to our own spouse.
24:54 So, here are some recommendations
24:55 to increasing spirituality in marriage.
24:57 Number one, if we're going to increase the spirituality
24:59 in our marriage, we need to share our spiritual walk.
25:02 Talk about "what Christ has done for me" with my mate.
25:05 What does it mean to me? What does Jesus mean to me?
25:10 Share with each other.
25:11 When you share with each other, you build each other up.
25:14 Not only that, you begin to see your marriage as spiritual work.
25:19 Because that's what it is.
25:21 And one of the things that we like to do and we can share
25:25 with others, is the fact that when we have our
25:28 morning worship, and we use to do it with our children
25:30 when they were at home, now they're both in college,
25:33 but we still continue to do it, where in the morning
25:36 we ask one another, what are your praises?
25:40 What are your prayer requests?
25:41 What are your challenges in life?
25:43 That's a safe way to share spirituality with one another,
25:48 to share our spiritual walk.
25:50 We also can share scripture.
25:52 And I know just recently, I was going through a difficult time
25:57 in my life, just some challenges.
26:00 And you said, you were reading your Bible and you said,
26:03 "Babe, I want to share this text with you. "
26:07 And that was very powerful to me.
26:08 So we can share scripture with one another.
26:11 That's another way that we can share spirituality together.
26:15 We can also pray together.
26:19 The Bible says in James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins
26:23 to one another and pray for one another. "
26:26 So, God wants us to pray for one another in our relationships.
26:31 When we pray for one another and we pray together,
26:33 we acknowledge the presence of God, we acknowledge
26:37 His leading in our lives and in our relationships.
26:41 Another way in which we can increase our spiritual intimacy
26:43 is by worshiping together.
26:45 So have morning devotions together, evening worship,
26:48 family worship, but specifically as a couple,
26:51 we can worship together.
26:53 And then we can share a ministry together.
26:55 Like we are doing, Elaine.
26:56 When you share a ministry together
26:57 your lives become richer.
26:59 You're able to make a difference in your world together.
27:04 And that is not only good for people on the other side,
27:07 that's good for us on this side.
27:11 Ellen White, in Gospel Workers page 204, says:
27:30 She has such a wonderful way of saying things.
27:33 And I'm always happy we can end with a promise of success.
27:37 Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ
27:40 who gives me strength. "
27:41 May God bless you all.