RPMs: RATING POTENTIAL MATES
June 12-13, 2004
My mother loves nursery rhymes. In fact, as far back as I can remember, she was always reciting and giving me all these nursery rhymes—and she knows all sorts of rhymes. But as I got older, you know, I discovered that nursery rhymes aren’t real. I really discovered they were all about fantasy. What if I told you, though, that a large majority of you, the people who are hearing my voice right now, the people right here in this venue, what if I told you that large blocks of you are believing and living out nursery rhymes? You might say, “Ed, come on man. Me? Believing a nursery rhyme?” That’s right. A lot of you are believing and living out nursery rhymes in the realm of dating—prenuptial nursery rhymes.
I want to talk to you today about several prenuptial nursery rhymes that students and singles and even parents are communicating to their kids that are really real and relevant.
The first prenuptial nursery rhyme we need to talk about is one that I’m sure you’re very, very familiar with. It is Hickory Dickory Dock. You know it. “Hickory, Dickory, Dock. The mouse ran up the clock.”
The clock – people have that biological clock ticking. Tick, tock, tick, tock. “I’ve got to find a man.” Tick, tock, tick, tock. “I’ve got to have children.” Tick, tock. “I’ve got to live in the white house with the picket fence…” Tick, tock, “…with the 2.3 kids…” Tick, tock, “…and the dog and….” Hickory, dickory, dock.
The biological clock happens in women’s lives. It also happens in men’s lives as well. You know, “I want a chip off the old block, someone I can throw a football with, someone I can throw a baseball with, someone I can shoot basketball with. I’ve got to have somebody….” And what happens is the pressure becomes immense and so often we walk down the wedding runner with the wrong person at the wrong time, all because we’re believing this prenuptial nursery rhyme.
And for women, ladies, the pressure is immense in our culture to get married. It’s huge. It begins when you’re little, playing Ken and Barbie [Ed whistles the wedding march]. And then from there, it segues into your friends, who begin to walk up to you showing you their diamond prize, “Hey, you know, we’re getting married! Will you be in the wedding?”
And you begin to be the bridesmaid and never the bride. And then, finally, you feel like a piece of unclaimed baggage at a huge international airport. Then parents begin to drop those subtle hints, “Hey, what’s wrong? You need to get married. Hey, go out with this person, that person, this person.” Then your friends begin to play matchmaker. And then every time you walk by a magazine rack or you watch a television show, people and things seem to scream at you and sing songs like, [to the tune of the “Here comes the bride”] “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? Your life will have no meaning until you say ‘I do.’”
Yeah! That was good, wasn’t it? Prenuptial nursery rhymes. “Hickory, Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock.”
But don’t get duped into thinking that you’ve got to be married. Don’t rush into marriage, because it’s all about time. I say, when I talk to students and single adults, “Go slow! Sa-lo-ow-ow, slow.” Go slow and get to know. Every month that you burn off before you get married is another month that God will give you for great discernment, for great wisdom, and it will help you make the right call.
I know someone who was really struggling with the biological clock. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The clock was so fierce in her life, it was like there was ten seconds to go in the basketball game and she had the ball. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four…. And she called the time out. “Man, there’s a guy out there. Igmo Jones is his name. He’s a total igmo, but he’s the last guy coming around so I better take the desperation shot. Because if I shoot it and make it, I can marry him. He’s the last one. Time in!” Three, two, one. She shoots. She scores! [Ed whistles the wedding march] And this girl is now married to the wrong person.
That biological clock can mess you up. Don’t believe this prenuptial nursery rhyme. It’s fantasy. It’s false. It’s not real. If you’re dating someone, get to know them. Let the T-I-M-E happen. “T” stands for temperament. “I” stands for integrity. “M” stands for maturity. And “E” stands for enjoyment.
Think about that T-I-M-E acrostic. Because every time you let a month burn off, another month burn off, another burn off, you’re giving it time and then you’ll see how they’re wired. You’ll see the integrity. You’ll see their maturity. And you’ll see if you truly enjoy them. You’ll be able to ask, “Hey, is this person the kind of person I want to spend the next three or four decades with?” Wow! Those are huge things. Prenuptial nursery rhyme is number one.
Well, let’s do prenuptial nursery rhyme number two. You’ve heard this one, too. It’s one of my favorites. Say it with me, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a…” What? “…A wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses, [neigh] and all the king’s men could not put Humpty back together again.”
Let’s face it…it ain’t easy being oval. Humpty Dumpty was broken. This guy was jacked up. He was bandaged. He was messed up. So often, singles and students are broken. Maybe you’ve come from a divorced home. Maybe your parent was an alcoholic. Maybe they were in something deep and dark. We all come from brokenness, because no one’s perfect. Yet, you find yourself in this Humpty Dumpty syndrome, broken and messed up and bruised. And here’s what you say to yourself, “I can get married and someone can fix my brokenness. Someone can help me. A human being can bandage me. A person can do for me what all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not do for Humpty Dumpty.”
But we can’t put that kind of pressure on people. You know, James Dobson’s married. Billy Graham is married. Josh McDowell is married. Maybe those three could fix you, young lady, but there’s not very many of those running around. So we need to think about the motivation of our marriage. We need to think about the motivation of our mentality to walk down the wedding runner. Is it for someone to fix us?
JACK AND JILL
Well, there’s another prenuptial nursery rhyme. This is fun, isn’t it? And I know you’ve seen this one before. “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.”
Jack and Jill. There’s Jack. There’s Jill. Cute people. People have this Jack and Jill mentality when it comes to marriage. Singles do. “I’ll get married because it’ll give me true companionship.” And that’s true. When we get married, companionship happens. Here’s, though, where we mess up. We do the Jack and Jill thing because there’s two levels of relational yearning.
Let’s call the first one Level One. Level One is a relational yearning that can only be met by a human being. After all, we’re human beings. We’re created in God’s image, and we need relationships. We have the desire for the opposite sex. That’s a good thing, because it’s a God thing.
There’s also Level Two. That’s even a deeper level, a more profound level. And Level Two is a level, relationally speaking, that can only be met by God. There’s a God gap in all of our lives that only God can fill. And here’s how we mess up when do the Jack and Jill thing. We try to put immense pressure on the person we marry. We say, “Yeah, you meet my Level One need.” And subconsciously, we don’t realize it, but we say, “You also better meet my Level Two need as well.”
Wow! And what happens is after a year or two or three or four, we wake up one day and we say, “He’s not meeting my needs. She’s not meeting my needs.” And that’s bogus because we’re asking a human being to do only what God can do. And that’s why so many Jacks say, “You know what? I’m tired of Jill. I like the way this other girl walks up the hill, you know?”
And we move from one relationship to a next, from one relationship to the next, from the next one to the next one, to the next one, to the next one. And we don’t realize that there’s a deeper level involved. Don’t make that mistake. Don’t buy into that prenuptial nursery rhyme.
ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT
There’s still another prenuptial nursery rhyme. Wow! That one was heavy, wasn’t it? The boat. “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
We think, “Marriage is a dream. It’s awesome. It’s the ultimate! Marriage, man, that’s the goal. That’s it.” Yeah, there’s definitely some dreamy moments in marriage, but marriage is not the ultimate. It’s not. So many singles think, “Well man, my life is not really complete until I get married. You know, my life is not really dreamy until I hook up with this person or that person.” But that is not reality.
Singles, I want to address your attention to several verses of Scripture that really expose kind of what we’re talking about. 1 Corinthians 7:28 says, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” And this is translated in the Living Bible, “extra problems.” And Paul says in the verse, “I want to spare you from this.”
Think about the extra problems that marriage brings into play. Because after all, you’re a self-centered sinner, and you’re hooked up with another self-centered sinner. So you’ve got a lot of self-centered sinning going on. You’ve got financial issues, financial problems to deal with. “How do we spend our money? Where do we live? What do we drive? Where do we eat?”
You’ve got friendship problems. “I don’t like your friends. She drives me nuts. I like him. I don’t like her. That’s the couple we gel with. Well, we really kind of gel, you know, as a wife-to-wife thing. But not, you know, as a husband-to-husband thing. So maybe we don’t really gel with them. Well, maybe those people over there.” It’s complex.
How about sexual issues? He’s in the mood. She’s not.
How about just relational issues? You know, he easily says, “Honey, will you forgive me? I was wrong.” And maybe she’s like, “Hmm, I’m not going to apologize to him until he does ABC, 123.”
Marriage complicates our lives. And as singles, we need to understand this. Now, marriage is great, but we’ve got to go into it with an open mind and open heart. Singles, the amazing thing is some of you are still caught up in these nursery rhymes.
I was two, three, four, five years old still hearing and believing these nursery rhymes my mother was giving me. But as I matured, I discovered, “You know what? They’re not real!” And it’s time for us to say, “All these things I’ve been thinking, all these things that society has been trying to hammer into my mind and heart are just a bunch of bunk.” It’s bogus. It’s just prenuptial nursery rhymes.
Well, the Bible comes along, and the Bible tells those of us who are unmarried some important stuff. It totally blows the doors off of these prenuptial nursery rhymes. Let’s say you are hickory, dickory docking. Let’s say you feel that biological clock. Let’s say you want to walk down the wedding runner. Let’s say you want to have that diamond prize on the ring finger. Let’s say you want to play football with Junior. Let’s say that’s really just motivating you, you know, to do the Ken and Barbie thing. Well, here’s what the Bible would say about that. Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”
So often singles are so concerned about what they don’t have, who they’re not hooked with, that they miss the joy and the beauty of the moment. They miss the joy and beauty of capturing the great stuff that God has for them today. It’s time we take the word “sin” out of “single.” So often we say, “I’m single,” and we think about sin. “Oh, it’s a sin that I’m single, wah, wah, wah, wah.” And we whine.
And singles, it’s so easy because you are single, just to think about yourself. “It’s all about me–what makes me look good, what makes me feel good, what puts wind in my sail. Me, me, me…my, my, my.”
Get outside of yourself because when you step outside of yourself, you’re going to learn, here we go, the secret of contentment. So, Hickory, Dickory Dockers, learn the secret of contentment. And that is knowing Christ, serving Him, and getting outside of yourself.
Let’s say you’re Humpty Dumpty-ing. You’re broken. You’ve come from a divorced home, a home of maybe an alcoholic or drug abuse, or a home where a lot of stuff was deep and dark. And you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, he can fix me. She can fix me. I’m broken, but surely….” That is not going to happen.
One of the cool things about driving around the Dallas-Fort Worth is you’ll see these Hospital signs everywhere. These signs with the big “H” on them. It’s so comforting to know that 24/7, if you have an ailment, a problem, or if you’re sick, you can exit and follow the hospital signs and you can get help. So many singles here need to follow God’s hospital sign because he is the great physician. You need to say, “God, heal me. God, restore me. God, fix my fracture.”
And when you’re worried about that and when you’re doing that, then that’ll give you the opportunity to be healthy and strong when the right person does come along.
Psalm 147:3, “He,” that’s God, not a spouse, “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Well maybe you’re saying, “Ed, I’m not doing the Hickory, Dickory Dock thing. I’m not Humpty Dumpty-ing. I’m Jack and Jill-ing. It’s all about companionship for me. I’m lonely, Ed.” Well, give peace a chance. I’m not talking about that John Lennon, Yoko Ono, LSD-induced, Hari Krishna junk. I’m talking about real peace. Because there’s no way we can understand the peace of God until we have peace with God. And we have peace with God by knowing Christ personally. John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.”
Maybe you’re “Row, Row, Rowing the Boat.” You’re saying to yourself, “Marriage. That’s it. Marriage, marriage, marriage. That’s my focus. That’s my agenda. That’s what I’m all about. Marriage, marriage, marriage.” Well, join the advantage club, 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 would say. Paul said, “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs–how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world–how he can please his wife–and his interests are divided.”
And that is so true. Fellowship Church could not function without the incredible ministry of single adults. 45-50% of people you see every single weekend happen to be single. And that is awesome! It’s a great thing. I’m glad we have that many singles. You know why? Because it reflects the demographic of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Plus, we have a bunch of people who are leveraging their time, money, and energy to serve God.
We have many singles involved in two, three, or four different ministries—from our band and praise team to greeters, ushers, parkers, mission field, Children’s ministry, and Youth ministry. The list is limitless. And singles give such an energy, such a vitality, such an excitement and anticipation to worship. They’re amazing people. So I definitely, wholeheartedly agree with Paul. So as a single, you have to ask yourself, “What am I giving? What am I doing for God’s kingdom?”
Also, as a single, you can have a deeper level of friendships. In fact, you can have more friends and your friendship freeway can even be deeper and better and longer and more profound than marriage, because you have the time. You can really spend time with people and get to know them and walk with them.
And that’s why it’s so thrilling to look around at all of our HomeTeams in our church. We have many, many different married HomeTeams. But the single HomeTeams, man alive! They’re unbelievable! All of the HomeTeams that are developing and that are breaking off to other HomeTeams….it’s that energy. It’s that vitality. It’s the focus that only singles can bring.
So, single adults, are you believing prenuptial nursery rhymes? Don’t do that. That stuff is bogus. Listen to God. Obey his truth. Because then you’ll recognize those real RPM’s.
If you’re a single, if you’re unmarried, I want you to stand right now. I want to say a special word of prayer for you. Just stand from the floor, from the balcony.
God, I thank you for the singles and what they bring to the table here at Fellowship. I thank you for their love, for their ministry, for their heart. I thank you just for so many, many, many who just bring it to the line each and every day. Lord, you know this church could not function the way it has without the ministry of them. I thank you now for their potential mates, and I ask now that you would give them a huge measure of wisdom and discernment as they do dating your way. We ask all these things in Jesus’s name. Amen.