October 15-16, 2005
[Ed walks on stage carrying a closed umbrella. He will use the umbrella as an illustration of God’s authority throughout the message.]
We will never understand marriage until we stand under the authority of God. [Ed opens the umbrella over his head.] We’ll never understand dating relationships until we stand under the authority of God. We’ll never understand life itself until we stand under the authority of God.
The authority of God is something that’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty cool. If you want to reach your ultimate position in life, you’ve got to live a life of submission—especially when it comes to marriage. Here’s some good news for you. God wants the best for every relationship here. I don’t mean mediocre stuff; I mean the best! God wants the absolute best for every relationship here. And especially when it comes to marriage, God wants us to hit on all cylinders.
Well, how do we do that? To understand marriage, we’ve got to stand under the authority of God. What does it mean when we’re under the authority of God in marriage? Well, it means we’re going to have a true love affair with our spouse. That’s what it’s mean.
Well, what does that look like? First of all, it looks like being in the right position. You’ve got to be in position. You can’t be out of position. A quarterback cannot play on the offensive line. You have got to be in the right position. And the right position as a husband or wife is under the authority of God.
My wife and I have a dog that weighs 170 pounds. That’s right, 170 pounds. Her name is Chloe. She’s female and she’s very, very unpredictable. She bites now and then. People say, “Hey, does that dog bite?” I’ve got to say, “Yes, she does, so watch out.” Normally we put her up when company comes over.
Now, Chloe has never missed a meal. She’ll eat anything. Throw dog food her way and she’ll just take it in one gulp. It’s amazing. She positions herself right in line to where I throw the stuff. I’ll throw anything her way. Hamburgers, small children, you name it. She’ll just take one bite and they’re gone.
Well, positionally, if I’m going to be in the sweet spot of God’s success; if I’m going to be fed the way I need to be fed in my marriage, I’m going to be under the authority of God because God’s my master and he’s feeding me stuff. I’ve got to eat and understand that and apply that so I can have the calories, the energy, to be the best kind of spouse that God wants me to be. So positionally, I’ve got to be under the authority of God. And I’ve got to ask you right now, “Are you under the authority of God in marriage?”
How stupid do I look if it’s raining outside and I’m like this. [Ed holds the open umbrellas at arm’s length away from him.] How crazy do I look? I’m getting hammered by hail and pelted by all this rain. I mean, I don’t look that smart. You’d say, “Ed, you’ve got an umbrella, dude. Get underneath the umbrella.” Because when I’m under the umbrella, when I’m an umbrella fella, what’s going to happen? I’m going to be protected. I’m in the right position. But also, I’m going to be protected from all the elements.
When I get outside of the umbrella, I can’t really see and know what to do because the storms are knocking me off where I should be. But if I get under the umbrella, man, I’m under the authority of God. I’m protected. I’m in that spot of safety.
I want my marriage protected. I think you do, too. I want my kids protected. The Bible says that God is a God who loves us and he wants to protect our marriage. But to do that, we’ve got to do something. We’ve got to get under the stuff that God has put over us so we can get over the stuff that God puts under us.
You might be saying, “Well, Ed, that sounds kind of cute. But what does it mean ‘the stuff under us?’ What does God put under us? What are you talking about?” Well, I’ll answer that later.
But think about the right position. Think about the protection. That’s the sweet spot of God’s success. Also, think about the perfection that takes place when I’m under the authority of God in marriage. I’m a diamond in the rough. So are you. A diamond in the rough is “U – G – L – Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly.” It is horrendous looking. But someone who knows what they are doing can cut away the excess and make that blob and glob of stuff into a beautiful diamond.
That’s what God does. Marriage is not the easiest thing. I hate to rain on your romantic parade. I hate to rain on your fantasy land. Marriage is not the easiest thing. Marriage is the hardest thing. But, it can become the greatest thing when we do what? Stand under the authority of God. If we have a problem with the authority of God, we’ve got a problem in marriage. If we’ve got a problem with the authority of God, we’ve got a problem in this one and only life.
And here’s what’s so interesting about it. When we depend on God, that’s when we have true independence. But in our humanness we think, “Well, I’m not going to depend on God. I’m going to be independent and do what I want to do. I’m going to do what makes me look good, what makes me feel good, what gives me pleasure.”
But when we do that, we’re pelted by problems or hammered by hail; we’re drenched in dysfunction. We can’t really see who we are. So we’ve got protection, we’ve got position. We also have—notice this—perfection. But on top of that, we have purpose.
We have a purpose for living when we’re under the authority of God. Under his umbrella, I’ve got a purpose. Most marriages don’t have a real purpose in the world today because they don’t know how they should treat one another. They don’t know how they should react to one another.
The Bible says this in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourself to your husbands as to the Lord.” Submit yourself to your husband as to the Lord.
Then it says, in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”
The key word is “as.” So I say, husbands and wives, get your “as” in gear. When you get your “as” in gear you’re going somewhere, because it’s “as Christ.” Wives, think about your husband. Okay, it’s “as Christ.” Husbands, think about the wife “as Christ.” So marriage should be a serving contest.
Now, if I drop the umbrella; if I’m thinking about Ed (What makes Ed look good, what makes Ed feel good, and what puts wind in Ed’s sail), man, I’m in trouble. I’m going to walk on the edge and ledge of compromise in my marriage when I do that.
And the scary thing about this situation is, if the wind changes direction, or I trip up, or if I take my eyes off my feet, “Ahhhhh,” I’ve got some problems. But if I stay under the authority of God, then I understand it’s “as Christ.” And when I wake up and I say to myself, “You know what? It’s not about me. It’s about Lisa,” and if Lisa wakes up and she says, “You know? It’s not about me. It’s about Ed,” then we’re thinking about meeting one another’s needs.
And think about it. That’s what Jesus has done for us. The Bible says that Jesus lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death on the cross, and rose again for you and for me. He met our needs. He met our needs. And he does that 24/7.
Well, the marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the church. What’s the church? We’re a bunch of moral foul-ups. We’re a colossal collection of sinners. That’s what we are. Jesus, though, loves us when we’re hard to be loved. He loves me when I mess up. When I trip up, he loves me. He’s always thinking about my needs.
So as a husband, I’m to think about Lisa’s needs. Lisa, as a wife, has to think about my needs. Now naturally, we’re not going to do that. As I’ve said before, if we did not have Jesus Christ in our lives, we’d be divorced. We would have split up a long time ago.
In fact, if you don’t have Jesus, why do you get married anyway? That’s a good question. If you don’t believe this stuff and buy this stuff, just don’t get married. But if you believe in Christ; if you know he’s true, and he’s real, and he has a purpose and a plan and a power for you, which I believe, then get under the authority of God. Because Jesus Christ is the author of marriage. He’s the author of communication, the author of sex, the author of intimacy, and the author of communication. So I either do it his way and I get my “as” in gear and go somewhere as I’m loving Lisa as Christ loves the church; or I drop the umbrella and I just walk on the edge and the ledge of compromise.
A lot of you are not married. Here’s something I want to talk to the singles about. Ninety percent of you, stats say, will get married. That’s good news. Ladies, you’re looking for Mr. Right. You had better be looking for an umbrella fella. You need somebody who is under the authority of God. Now, ladies, guys can mess you up because guys will do just about anything to marry you. They’ll say anything. They’ll hold any umbrella up high. But you better watch him for at least a year to see if he’s the real deal. Let him go through some seasons to see if he’s still the umbrella fella or not. If he is, man, that’s a good one. Get married to him. If he’s not, head for the hills! Get out of town!
Okay, single guys, you’re looking for a parasol princess, right? You had better be looking for a woman who’s under the authority of God. Because a woman who’s under the authority of God is getting the best for her life. You had better watch her and check her out and make sure that she has gone through the seasons, that she’s weathered some storms, and that she’s still under the authority of God.
It’s very tempting for women who want to get married to have a vice grip on their own umbrella. And they want to get married so badly that they grab the first thing that wears pants that comes in their path and say, “Honey, I’m getting married and you’re coming with me!”
No, no, no, it shouldn’t be that way. Husbands, Ephesians 5:25 says to love your wives—what?—as Christ loved the church. How did Jesus love the church? Selflessly, sacrificially and steadfastly.
Selflessly, he didn’t think about himself. Jesus didn’t. He died on the cross for our sins. Selflessly.
Steadfastly. His love never stops. It’s a total commitment. When has Jesus ever bolted on you or me? When has Jesus ever cruised on the church? Never! He’s not going to do that. So Jesus loves us steadfastly.
Sacrificially. He laid it all down for us. He loves us selflessly, steadfastly and sacrificially.
Husbands, that’s our example. Again it’s a supernatural thing. We’re to love our wives as Christ loved the church. We’re to first love them that way, because remember, Jesus first loved us. We didn’t first love him. Because I’m a sinner, man! I need a savior. Jesus met my needs. He took the initiative. He took the step by dying on the cross for our sin and rising again. He took my junk and my funk. He took your shortcomings, your moral turnovers, and he took it on himself. And now he offers us eternal life.
Well, once we receive it, wow! We know Jesus Christ personally. So the Bible says in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
Well, when I just think about what Jesus has done for me; when I just think about that and process that and read that in the Bible, I can’t wait to serve him. I’m free to serve him because he first loved me.
And that’s the picture of a marriage. The man’s responsibility is sacrifice. The woman’s responsibility is submission. Submission and sacrifice.
Now there are a squillion things—I’ll say it again—a squillion things that Lisa can do better than I can. I mean there is a lot of stuff. And she’s superior to me in many different areas. And I submit to her gladly in those areas. There are some things, believe it or not, I can do better than Lisa. And she submits to me in those areas.
So I’m not talking about rights. “Well, my right as a woman….” “Well, my right as a man….” I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about responsibilities, because we’re all equal. The playing field is level at the foot of the cross.
I’m talking, though, about job descriptions. God has given the man, the husband, the leadership role in the relationship. The buck has got to stop somewhere. There’s got to be a president. There’s got to be a CEO. There’s got to be a coach. There’s got to be somewhere that the buck stops. And guys, that’s your responsibility and that’s mine.
But so many of us have just dropped the umbrella and we’re out here (away from the umbrella) trying to do this incredible thing called marriage in a whack way. We’re trying to do our own deal. And what happens is, we drop the umbrella and we begin to walk on the ledge and the edge of compromise. We began to say, “I know what’s best for me. I know how to do life. I know how to relate to members of the opposite sex.”
And then one day we’re attracted to someone—maybe around the office or in the neighborhood or around the apartment complex. Attraction is not bad. We’re going to be attracted to the members of the opposite sex. Even when you’re married, you’ll think, “Wow, man he’s handsome.” Or “Whoa! Look at that girl!” That’s not what will mess you up.
What messes you up is the second look and the third look and then the fourth look. And we convince ourselves, “Man, there’s no way I could ever sleep in the wrong bed! I mean, yeah, I’ve dropped the umbrella. But there’s no way I would ever cheat on my spouse. I mean, it’s not going to happen to me.” And we believe this stuff.
But John 8:44 says that Satan, the evil one, is the father of lies. It says, when he talks, he speaks in his native language. And we’ve all believed those lies before, haven’t we? He’s an incredible liar. He’ll just lie, lie and lie.
And Satan begins to lie to us and say to us, “Just look at this person. I mean, nothing’s wrong with just looking. Come on, you can just look.”
And then we began to say to ourselves, “You know, there’s no way I could end up in the wrong bed, so I’ll just kind of talk with this person and develop a friendship with this person.” And then you start walking by this person’s office. You go out of your way to deal with them.
And then you start thinking thoughts like, “Man, what would it be like to spend more time with them alone? What would it be like to hold them? To touch them?” And the evil one places these thoughts in our mind, “What would it be like to sleep with them.”
And he says, “It’s no big deal. You’re just thinking about it. It’s just fantasy. You’re not going to really do it. But just think about it.” And we walk on the edge and the ledge and we say, “Oh, there’s no way I could sleep in the wrong bed!”
And then we begin to check the person out and we begin to talk to the person and spend more and more time with the person. Then we begin to compare the person with our spouse. But we’re really comparing living with someone on the rugged planes of reality—mortgages and car payments and soccer games and kids getting sick and all that stuff—with fantasy. It’s reality versus fantasy. That’s a total farce. It’s an unfair comparison.
And then one day, because we’re out from underneath the authority of God, we do physically what we’ve already done emotionally and mentally. We connect by having sex. We sleep in the wrong bed. And the world tells us, “Oh, it’s awesome! Man, the thrills and chills, the clandestine meetings, and this and that; it’s unbelievable, man. This is off the hook!”
I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people who have slept in the wrong bed. Hundreds. And eventually, they come back to me and tell me this, usually with tears, “Ed, if only I could reverse the process. If only, if only, if only.”
What are they saying? They’re saying, “Ed, I wish, man, I could leave the ledge and come under the authority of God. I wish, Ed, I could leave the ledge and love my spouse the way God wants me to.”
In a crowd this size, I know that many people have slept in the wrong bed. The recent stats say that 80% of all marriages will deal with having an affair. You might have slept in a lot of wrong beds. You might have done this and done that, and you would have said, “You know, Ed, as you’re talking, is their hope and help for me?”
Well, the answer is resounding, “Yes!” Today you can leave the ledge and leave a legacy. You can leave the ledge. You can get out of the wrong bed and come up underneath the authority of God. You can discover what marriage is all about.
You might be saying, “Well, how do I do that?”
It’s all about authority. I get under the authority of God, and then I have the wisdom to say to myself, “I’m not going to live on the ledge. I am going to be as wise as a serpent, that’s what Jesus said, and harmless as a dove.” You say to yourself, “You know, I am going to make decisions over here (away from the ledge). I’m not going to make them on the ledge and the edge. I’m going to convince myself that an affair can happen to me and that no one is above and beyond this.”
Here’s what we have to do. We have to borrow pain from the future. The Bible says, “When you are tempted”; it doesn’t say “if.” We’re all going to be tempted. So when we’re tempted, we have got to borrow some pain from the future. Tell yourself, “If I do so and so, here’s what I’m signing up for in the future. Here’s the pain that I will process in the future.”
Also, we need to think about the pleasure that we can borrow from the future. Think, “Okay, if I do what God wants me to do and leave the ledge and come underneath the authority of God, I’m going to have some great pleasure. It’s just going to be amazing what God will do.”
Don’t sacrifice your future on the altar of the present. Say that with me. Don’t sacrifice your future on the altar of the present. Because we’re going to be signing up for some serious pain if we jump over the edge and the ledge. We’ll sign up for serious pain.
[A video is played on the side screens. It is an interview with a man who tells of the devastating results of his father having an affair. The gentleman is almost forty, but the effects are still evident.]
When we’re under the authority of God we have the opportunity and the wisdom and the ability to convince ourselves it will happen. We can make the decision not to sacrifice our future on the present day altar. And that’s a huge, huge thing.
Also, when we’re under the authority of God, we can cultivate our marriage. As I said earlier, marriage is not the easiest thing; it’s the hardest thing. But it can be the greatest thing when we’re under God’s authority.
You never arrive in your marriage. You never say, “Okay, man, I’m dialed in. Everything’s cool. I’ve got it, no problem.”
It always takes work. And Lisa and I wrote a book a while back called The Creative Marriage. It’s in its fourth printing, and over the last several months we’ve been working to go more in depth in this book to expand it. And as we began to read through this book and think about the pages and the information in it, once again we were ambushed with this thought, “Great marriages take great work. And great understanding occurs when we stand under the authority of God.”
I’ll say it again, God has the best in store for every single relationship here and every marriage here. And it’s as easy as getting under what God has placed over us so we can get over what God has placed under us.
Well, how do we know what’s under us? And what should be under us? That’s a pretty good question. One of the things that should be under us is the whole financial realm. Finances cause more divorces than almost anything, financial turmoil. Well, Scripture says that we should live by the 10-10-80 principle. We should bring the first ten percent into our local house of worship. We should save at least ten percent. And then we live on eighty percent.
We can enjoy that. And God wants us to enjoy that because God has blessed us. Our stuff is not our stuff, it’s God’s stuff. God has given us all different amounts of stuff and we’re to live by that principle. So God wants that to be under us.
How about kids? It’s interesting how many well-meaning parents give their kids the authority, and they orbit their lives around their kids. The kids run the show, and the kids call the shots. They sit in the corner office, and they tell Mom and Dad what to do. That’s not the way it should be because spouses stay, kids leave.
Have you given the umbrella to your kids? If you have, you’re not under the authority of God.
How about sex? What happens when one is in the mood and one is not in the mood? What do you do? Well, the world tells us all this wheels off stuff. We get advice from the glassy eyed guru, the talk show hosts, and the shelves that sag at Barnes and Nobel about marriage and sex.
What does the Bible say about sex? After all, God invented sex. When one is not in the mood and the other one is in the mood; when someone says “No,” they shouldn’t just say “No!” The Bible says there is only one reason why you should not have sex with your spouse: if you both agree to pray.
Now, Lisa and I have been married for almost 24 years, and we’ve never had the particular agreement that we both want to pray and abstain from sex. But it’s okay to say “no” now and then. You can say “no,” but don’t say it like, “No!” You’ll hurt the other person’s self-esteem. You need to say “no” with a caveat. “No, tomorrow morning. No, tomorrow night.” Have a 24-hour rule. That’s vital, because God invented sex. And sex is the super glue of the marriage.
Think about the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit—three in one, one in three; co-existent and co-eternal with one another.
What’s the genius, the brilliance and the uniqueness of the Trinity? Oneness. What’s the brilliance, the uniqueness and the genius of marriage? Oneness.
God made us different so we could be one. A man is superior to a woman in being a man. A woman is superior to a man in being a woman. God made us unique so we can be the same.
Well, how do we become the same? How do we become one? How do we walk in unity together? We have got to get our “as” in gear! It’s as Christ, as Christ, as Christ. And that gives us the ability and the octane to have an amazing marriage.
So, here’s my question: Are you under the authority of God and discovering his awesome position, power, purpose, perfection and prosperity? Are you braving the elements his way? Or are you like this? [Ed stands with the umbrella at arm’s length.] Like this? Or like this? What’s your choice going to be?
[Ed leads in closing prayer. During the prayer, Ed has the married couples kneel together and prays over them. Then he asks the singles to kneel and prays over them.]