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Aug 28, 2022

God’s Path for Relationships

God’s Path for Relationships

Passage: Jeremiah 6:16

Speaker: Shawn Stoever

Series: Stand Alone Message

Category: Sunday Sermons

Keywords: love, worship, faith, jesus, wisdom, sunday, god, sermon, gospel, hope, marriage, pain, believe, husband, wife, relationships, married, divorce, communication, relationship, bible study, trust god, couples, inspirational, therapy, inspire, motivate, live music, marriage advice, relationship advice, relationship counseling, relationship tips, livestream, burnt hickory baptist church, burnt hickory worship, shawn stoever, gods path for your life

This week, we focus on building stronger relationships at Burnt Hickory with our special guest speaker Shawn Stoever. Just like being on an adventurous hike, in life we have to have a guide, we choose our partners for the journey, and we will find beauty on the way. In relationships, the world’s way is the wrong path leading to the need to control others, selfishness and pride, and being influenced by culture. Takin the wrong path leads to taking life too seriously, emptiness and exhaustion. We see in scripture that God’s way and His paths lead to listening and understanding, enjoyment of life, and intimate connections. When we follow God’s plan, we show selflessness and humility, we walk in truth, and we learn to give and share. God’s plan is really so much better than the worlds way in building our relationships. What are some ways to change the path your on with your spouse or other significant relationships? As always, we’d love to connect with you as you take the next step and answer any questions you have as well as pray with you. Reach out today –

Well. Hey, good morning, Church. I am excited about today. As you know, if you've been here for any length of time, this church has incredibly, incredibly passionate about your relationships. First of all, your relationship with Jesus. And then secondly, your relationship with specific people in your life: your wife, your husband, your kids, and how all of that looks like in our lives to honor God. Well, this morning I am not with you, but I want you to meet a new friend of Burnt Hickory this morning with some incredible expertise. We have Shawn Stoever with us this morning. Now, listen, Shawn comes with an incredible background of education and passion. He's worked for a long time with the Cathy family and Chick-Fil-A has worked with Gary Smalley Relationship Center and he leads many of the Winshape marriage retreats. He's authored a couple of books that maybe you have read on the Wholehearted Marriage or Five Days to a New Marriage. But most importantly, Shawn and his wife Christina, that will be with us this evening, loves the Lord and loves looking at the lens of healthy relationships. Church, Melissa and I are out actually enjoying our marriage relationship and growing together on a trip that you gave us for our 20th anniversary. But I'm so happy to welcome to all the services today. Shawn Stover, Would you give him a hand as he comes to lead us this morning?

Thank you. Good morning. It is fall. Now, I'm sure the weather or the calendar don't tell you it is fall. But I saw football games yesterday and in our family that made this fall. Anybody glad that that's happening? Yeah. So, we love football. You're looking at me going, dude, you are kicker at best holder possibly. What would you know about football? I don't. My wife is amazingly athletic. She played college on a basketball scholarship. All our kids get their athletic ability from her, and we have some boys that play football. Our oldest son made his way through the ranks and small football here in Georgia. Actually, we were up in Rome, Georgia, for a lot of years and working with Win Shape and the Cathy family and peewee football and playing around here. You guys have some great football in this part of the state and then we move back to Texas. And Texas loves football. Friday nights over there, high school football and he's making his way through gets to ninth grade. He's got a great group of boys that he's playing with. They're doing really well. They have a solid quarterback, great line. They're winning games. They win all the way through their freshman season. They're undefeated going into the last game and we drive a little over an hour and a half to a town that's got a really great football tradition, and we're going to play them in that town, though didn't have a freshman team, they only had a varsity in a JV. And so, our freshman boys are going to play their JV and we match up and we get out there and it's going back and forth. It's a really good game. At the time, my son Cade was about five foot six and he was playing cornerback and slot receiver and the other team had a six-foot five receiver. I'm not kidding you.

I'm pretty sure he was 22 years old. They don't you know, if you keep failing, if you're a good athlete in some Texas towns, they just let you keep playing as long as you want to stick around. So, you knew it was coming. If you know anything about sports, they're going to find that weak spot at some point, right? And the game is back and forth. We're losing and then we're winning again. We go ahead with two minutes to go, and then they get the ball and they're marching downfield. And sure enough, made inside of a minute, they decide to run the out route and they throw it up to this guy, and he goes up and Cade goes as high as he can and he's not even close. This guy just gets it right over the top of an and it's a touchdown. We lose the game, and you just watch. If you've ever seen your kids do something in sports, you see them get deflated and dejected. And we watched him mope off the field. And Christina and I are in the stands now, we handle things differently as parents. I don't know if you're just like your spouse if you're married, but we're a little bit different. So, I am feeling all of this sadness and this overwhelming helplessness. Like, what do I do? Christina doesn't feel helpless. She knows exactly what we should do. And in her opinion, what we should do is we should go tell the coaches that they were foolish to not roll a safety over the top and double cover in a situation like that and leave our son on an island. And because he did, he's not mad. The coach, we lost the game and all this stuff and she's like, Are you going or not? And I'm like, I don't think I want to go down there. And she said, You need to go down there and I'm like, I don't want to go down there. And I stalled long enough for everybody to get in the locker room. And so, a little bit of time passes and then the players start coming out. And then here comes Cade. He's one of the last ones out. He still has his helmet and his jersey on. And he comes up and he is just bawling, and he puts his head on my shoulder and he's crying and Christina's saying I told you, you should have gone said something so and so then she's comforting him and last game of the season. So, we let him ride home with us. So, in the car he's in the back, still upset. He just keeps saying, I lost it. I let everybody down. We were undefeated. Now we're not, you know? And Christina's like, come on, super psychologist boy, figure out what to say to him. And I'm like, I don't know. Well, they didn't teach us this stuff in grad school.

And so, we make it home and it was terrible. I'm telling you that story to say that relationships are everywhere, and you do not want to do life without. Because if you're by yourself, when bad things happen, you're in trouble. But in that instance, Christina and I had relationship stuff going on. I had relationships going on with my son. He had relationship stuff going on with his teammates and feeling like he let them down, the coaching staff. And then he had, you know, relationship of him with the opponent that defeated him in that moment. And he had a relationship going on even with himself. Like what did he feel about himself and how he was looking at himself or thinking about himself?

We are surrounded by relationships. Life is about relationships. You guys here at Burnt Hickory, I love that you set a sun aside to talk about relationships like you do. I know this has been happening for a few years now and I'm very thankful because if we can figure out how to do relationships well, we can make a difference in this crazy world and we can have a lot better health and fulfillment and peace and joy in our own lives. What a cool series y'all have been in. Pastor Matt has been talking to you about moving forward. Right? He talked about being, you know, kind of stuck in and then making your way toward the promised land and like the Israelites did. You got the Jordan River, and you don't look back. You keep moving forward. And once you move forward, you want to fully submit yourself. You want to be wholehearted, not halfhearted, because if you half-submit, bad consequences to that. They talked about that three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, we talked about prayer. And he said that, you know, one of the tools to move forward is prayer. And in a really significant prayer, time of prayer, life that is consistent and dedicated and real. So that that was that was important. But last week, man, that one really spoke to me. I hope it did to you the idea of the power of God's word and the five points that he came up with. You know, we need to love God's word. We need to read his word. We need to share it. We need to study his word, apply his word and shares word. That's it. Those five and mean it hit me like I want to do that. I want to love God's word so much that I do the other four things. You know, I read it, I, I study it, I apply it and I share it. Good stuff that he's been giving you. It's the same way.

I want to help you continue by moving forward in your relationships and moving forward means we got to pick the right path as we go ahead. And as we pick that path, we need to find the right scriptures and verses to help guide and direct so that we're applying those accurately in our lives. Jeremiah, if you're over there somewhere around Jeremiah Chapter six, it's a time in Israel's history where things aren't going well for God's people, or they've turned their back on him and he's pretty frustrated. He's sad about it, but mostly he's mad about it and he's about to do something about it. And Jeremiah is a prophet that's telling them what's about to happen. Even the city of Jerusalem, the holy city, is they've turned away from God as well and are doing bad things. It's not unlike where we are today. You guys, in our culture, a lot of things going on out there are moving very far away from God and we find ourselves in those times. And He goes on in verse ten six, Jeremiah 610. And he says, You know, they even find my word offensive. People are offended by God's word today. They were offended by his word, which is the opposite of Pastor Matt's point one, about we have to love God's word. Are we going to be a people that loves his word or are we going to be embarrassed or even offended by his word? We want to be the ones that love his word. And so, Jeremiah's saying, we have to find these people. And he gets into verse 16 and he says it this way. This is what the Lord says, stand at the crossroads. And look, I'm going to try to convince you this morning that we are at a crossroads, and we have to decide, do we want to do God's will in God's way for our relationships, or are we going to let moving forward be on the world's path in the world's way?

We're standing at the crossroads. We're looking, he says, ask for the ancient paths. All right. I know there's a lot of young people over there, some folks that got baptized over here. When you hear the word ancient, you're probably tuning out about this point. You were like already thought that guy was ancient. He's gray headed. He put glasses on to read. Just a second ago. He's going to tell us about relationships. He didn't even know anything about high school. That's probably true. Ancient, I mean, anxious. I don't know what ancient is to you guys. Rotary dial phones, probably ancient. You know, pulling a map out to figure out where you need to go. Ancient. I get that. This is even way more ancient than that. He's saying we got to look way back, way back to the truths of the Bible and how to apply them. And he goes on, Keep going there in verse, man. You know, I've been saying that dyslexic-ly all day haven't I. Is it 6:16? I'm on the right one. That's right. All right. So, it is. There we go. Jeremiah 6:16. Then he says this Ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls. Ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls. But we, the people oftentimes say we will not walk in it. We want to be a people who look at the ancient past, find the right way and we walk in.

Have you ever hiked anywhere? There’re some cool hiking trails here in north Georgia. Appalachian Trail starts over there. There's lots of other good hikes you can do. Christina and I did this marriage adventure program that we started at Winshape up in Rome. And then we took those marriage adventures to different places in the world. And she was amazing partner to me on most of those when we were sailing with other couples. She loved that and loved doing that with me. You know, when we were traveling to cool places and doing adventures, she loved that when I said, Hey, we're going to go hike the Inca trail in Peru, she's like, Nah, I'm out. I'm like, No, it's a marriage adventure. She goes, No. How far are we walking? Like 28 miles. She goes, Why would we walk 28 miles? Well, that's how long the trail is. It's an ancient trail. We're going to walk it. And she said, I don't think so. So, you have to. It's a marriage adventure. We're doing it. It's just like, well, of whatever. Okay. So, she went with me faithful, loving wife, and I forgot to tell her a few things about hike in the Inca trail. Like in the 28 miles, you start at 8000 feet, you go up to 14,000 feet, back down to 10,000. It's about four days. You sleep in some tents the whole time. There's no baths, snow showers. There's just that little picture. That's not the sleep tent. That's actually where you go to the bathroom, that little tent. Oh, I forgot to tell her that. That we're going to the bathroom and ten over a bucket and that one picture, it looks like she's celebrating, which is why I put it on there in the middle. But is actually saying, why did I marry this man and agree to come on this adventure? But it looks like she's celebrating, so I thought I'd put it in there, too. This trail taught us a lot about relationships. So, whether we're looking at a marriage relationship this morning or a parenting relationship or you guys your relationship, your kid’s relationship with your parents or relationship with our friends in your life group and your community and the people you are hanging out with, relationships matter and their principles that apply. And this journey theme is important, right?

Because we learned one thing hiking that trail and that is you need a guide. They gave us a guide to take us because there were lots of places, we could have gone the wrong direction, but we had a good guide. If you want to do relationships well, you need to choose a guide. Are you going to choose Instagram as your guide and the cool little quips that pop up daily in the advice that you get from influencers? You can do that. Or do you want to choose the God who created us and invented relationships as your guide? That's what you got to pick. You know, we also learned on this trip that who you journey with matters find people around you that encourage you, that are for you, that support you, speak truth in life into who are you journeying beside? Man, if you're a teenager, you need to have people in your life who have the same values and encourage you toward your faith. Because the Bible says bad company corrupts good character. And that is true. And we say a lot of times, no, no, I'm going to go influence them. I'm going to be the one light in that group. And there are times for you to be that. But if you start looking more like them, then they're looking like you. That's not the people you should be journeying with. Who are you picking a journey with? The third thing we learned on the trip is it gets hard sometimes, and you got to just stop and look at the beauty that's around you celebrate the successes along the way. So much you can learn while you journey.

We fast forward to the New Testament in Luke Chapter six Jesus says something pretty similar about this choice this fork in the road on our journey. He says, I'll show you what it's like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. Like Pastor Matt said, Are we reading it? Are we studying it? And then are we following it? Are we applying it? It's like a person. He gives us metaphor. It's like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn't obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins. What. What are your relationships built on? Is there a solid foundation of truth that you're building your relationships on? Or are you building them on emotions and feelings and opinions? Because we need to have a solid foundation in our marriages, in our homes and in our friendships so that we can succeed ultimately. One other lesson that we learned on that trip hiking that Inca trail, I also forgot to tell Christina that you don't have to walk 28 miles to get to Machu Picchu. That's the cool way to get there. And you earn it and then in this amazing ancient city and you get to see the archeology and the history. But you also could just take train and get there. But I didn't tell her that. And so, we get to the last day and we're about to head out there. And I said, listen, this morning, we're going to get there and it's going to be so rewarding. And I said, But you're going to see some people there that took the train to get there. And she said, Train? I said, Yeah, it's an easy shortcut. They made it, but they're going to smell good and, you know, look refreshed and just know you're going to have resentment toward them. And she said, I'm not. I'm just going to be so glad we made it. Whatever. Okay. Tell me about the train next time. It's fine. Well, we hiked the last half day, and we get there. And sure enough, about the third smelling good, looking good person that said, ma'am, ma'am, can you take our picture by this? She she's like, you didn't earn it. You didn't walk here. I'm not taking your picture. And she kept on going. Here's the deal. There are going to be people that take shortcuts in life and you're going to see them and it's going to look like they are succeeding. And you're going to be like, But they did it the easy way and look, it's working out for them. That doesn't last.

Choose the path you want to walk. The world's way or God's way. And I assure you, God's way is tested. It is true, and it will persevere through hardship. So, what are we talking about practically? We get to hang out with a lot of couples. I'm a psychologist to do these marriage intensives. Over the years, thousands of couples. And in making a list of the places they make wrong turns. I'm just going to pop about 11 of them up on the screen. All right. So, we're going to buckle up. We're going to look at some of these. We look at all of them. But these are the wrong paths. I just want you to just read the list for a second. You know, I mean, the idea of being driven by fear. Fear of failure, fear of being rejected, fear of being alone. So, we make desperate decisions because of that. Our selfishness, our pride, our desire to take control of situations, our fierce independence. Our, you know, conforming to this world in its ways and wanting to do what cultures doing, Our emptiness and our exhaustion. There's just a long list of the world's way. When you look at relationships, this is what's going on in the average relationship in our country. These principles are being applied consistently. Now, let's just be honest for a second. I'm not going to make you shout this out or tell anybody else. But as you look at the list and you think about your relationships in any places, there may be some pain, or some hurt or some discomfort.

Think of whether there's one or two of those things on the list that would apply in that relationship. Is there something going on there that's robbing you of having the kind of relationship that you want to have with God, with others, with yourself? And as you think about that, let's just kind of go through them and discuss them a little bit because each one of these are major forks in the road. I can tell you that because Christina and I didn't start out in the best of circumstances. All right. She loved the Lord from a young age, and she grew up in a Baptist church. She knew His principles. She came to college, and she bumped into me in a bar. And she wouldn't tell her parents, because she grew up in church, that she was there passing out tracts and witnessing to people. I can assure you that's not what she was doing in the bar at that time. But thankfully, she did love the Lord and had that foundation that we were talking about a second ago in Luke. And because she had that foundation, she pulled me toward Him. But we had a lot of bumps along the road in the pulling process and we had a dating career. When you start in a bad spot, young people don't go try to find somebody in a bar. It doesn't work very well. It's very hard. Find somebody in your life group or Sunday School. It's a good place. All right. So, here's a picture of us in our in our dating years. And if you look closely, you can see in the picture that it's got some tears in it. Right? When you choose the wrong path and the wrong foundation, you're going to get some rips and some tears, and some beat up along the way. During one of our break ups, Christina tore that picture up and I said, Well, if you tore it up, why didn't you just throw it away? And she said, Well, I was just about to, but I looked at it again and I was having a really good hair day in that picture. So, I thought, I better keep it. I said, All right, but you know, we patched it back up and we taped it back together and we're like, I don't. Man 27, 28 years trying to do marriage now following God's way in his path.

So, as we look at these 11, the anecdotes that God has to those things that the world is trying to pull us toward The first one is that instead of being driven by fear, he wants us to walk in truth. This one's foundational and it's critical. In the very beginning there was Adam and Eve, and they had a really cool relationship. It was amazingly intimate, and yet they ate of this fruit. And after they ate of the fruit, they started to do anti-relational things. And after they did that, Adam said, Hey, why are ya'll acting this way? And they said, Adam said, Well, we ate of the fruit, and we were you know what they said next? Afraid. Fear entered the picture. All right. Fear entered the picture. There was no fear before that. They were hanging out with lions and tigers, and they were running around without clothes on in the jungle. All that sounds really scary to me, but they weren't scared until they ate of that fruit because the enemy's plan was to introduce fear into our lives and allow that to motivate us away from relationship. Fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being disconnected, fear being helpless, fear being out of control. Fear being a failure, fear of being rejected. All of those buttons get inside us and then they get triggered in relationship. And when they get triggered, we do one or two things right. We either fight or we flee. I'm a freer man. I start to feel rejected or helpless. I'm bailing on this thing. And I did that multiple times to Christina early in our in our dating life and early in our marriage. And it was very unfair to her because I would run away and wouldn't address conflict when I got scared. Fear is the world's way. That's the enemy's way. God said, I didn't give you a spirit of fear, but we know now that we saw it right there in Genesis, that we got that from the enemy, and it's been introduced and we all some point in life that fear gets in us, and it robs us of intimate relationship. God's way is different. He says I want truth etched on the tablet of your heart to counteract any fear. I want you to know that you are worthy, you are valuable. You will never be alone. I will never forsake you. I want those truths to guide you. Because when you live from that truth you look really different. Twice as in John 8:32, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. The trauma in our life, in the drama, in our life, is designed to create fear in us so that we will behave in anti-relational ways. God's plan is to heal the trauma, bring truth into our life so that we can walk in health and love for the people around us. Two different paths. If you've been in a traumatic situation and had unhealthy environments around, you had buttons and fears written on your heart. Get help. Go get help and help. Let somebody speak truth into your life. The Bible is an amazing source of truth. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and there are counselors and people and good friends who will speak truth into your life. That's the first one.

The second divergence here on the trail, the ancient path versus the new world way, is that instead of selfishness and pride, the ancient path was about selflessness and humility. Proverbs 11 two says, When pride comes, disgrace follows. But with humility comes wisdom. It's so easy to want to just think that I've got to I've got to get what I need out of this relationship and out of this situation. I've got it. I've got to be selfless to the point that I don't know if you understand, narcissism is now a real popular word in our culture. About 25 years ago, people didn't know what that was, because narcissism is a psychologic disorder that at the extreme of selfishness, people have this inability to experience empathy for anybody or feelings for anybody else. It's all about them. It's a real thing and it's a real disorder. And it's unfortunately, significantly on the rise in our culture because we've tolerated pride, we've allowed selfishness, which will ultimately, if we keep allowing this, it ends up in narcissism. And a lot of people get hurt in relationships and situations like that. God's way is very divergent. Say, hey, we're not going to we're not going to look out for ourselves first. Instead, we're going to look out for the needs of others and people around us. We're going to humbly enter a relationship, not always trying to get our way or our point across or be heard, but instead wanting to consider what's going on in the hearts and of the people around us. It's very different.

The third divergent path is listening to understand. Instead of talking and being heard. Man, we live in a time in a culture where everybody wants to be heard. Social media is not all bad. There's a lot of connection points there and good information there. But there's also this amazing megaphone that people use because they want to be heard so desperately. Honestly, it's back to that fear because they have a fear of not being, you know, not being understood or not being seen or not being appreciated. So, I'm just going to keep getting my message out there louder and louder. I want to be heard, but God's people in God's way says, you know what, before that, let's be slow to speak. Let's be quick to listen. Listening is becoming a lost art. You guys are good at it. Yeah, I've been doing it for about 15 minutes to me ramble on. But you got to do it in your relationships too, right? You've got to be willing to listen. Not only listen but listen to the point of understanding. The richest, smartest man who ever lived, Solomon said. If it costs you everything you have, get understanding. First Peter 3:7 says husbands live with your wives in an understanding away so as not to hinder your prayer life. This is different. To have to look at Christina and try to understand what's going on inside her, to look at my kids and try to understand. We do the simple thing in our house, this simple phrase, jot this down. If you got some notes, help me understand. Three-word phrase. It will change your relationships if you're willing to ask that of the people around you. When your kiddo barges off from the table and slams the door to their room, in our desire as a parent and first inkling is to go in there and say, Hey, you can't do that. You can't talk back to your mom that way. You can't get it from the table without permission. You can't slam any doors in this house. If before you speak, you looked at them and said, Hey, help me understand what's going on. Help me understand why you walked away like that. Help me understand why you're so angry. The posture changes everything, and that's what God does when he talks to us. He doesn't throw verses at us like, well, let me tell you how you screwed that up and that up and that up. He just pauses to listen. That's what we want to be. A people that are good at listening to understand. That will drastically change our relationships.

Number four Willingness to submit. Willingness to submit instead of a need for control. Man, This is a big, big divergence in the road between our culture in the world. Ephesians 5:21 says Submit one to another as to Christ. So, we're all submitting to Christ and we're submitting to each other. In Ephesians five talks about submission and submission in marriage and it says, Let me further define submission to one another, man. You should submit so much that you're willing to lay down your life and die for your wife and women. You should submit to your husband so much that you will respect them. That's a big deal submitting to each other, not what the world wants. The world says, get your way, get your get what you need out of that. Take what you want, God says now submit yourself, submit your desires, submit your needs for a moment and try to put the other people ahead of you.

Number five Instead of influenced and fitting in with culture, intentional vision. Man, we conform to this culture in so many ways. The pace of life is one of them. We conform to this culture, and you know how we spend our time and the activities that we do. What you need instead. I'm not telling you the culture is all bad. Well, I'm telling you, you need his vision. The antidote to that is vision. If you just let yourself drift where I don't know what I'm going to do this year, I'm just going to see what life has for me. Well, guess what? You're going to drift away from relationship, away from health, and away from God if that's your attitude. God says instead, why don't you sit down with me and say, Hey, Lord, where do you want me to be this year? What do you see for my marriage? What do you see for me as a parent? What do you see for me in my friendships? What life group do you think I should be a part of? What people should be hanging out with? And you have intentional vision about creating whatever vision is. He lays out for you a strategic plan around that your life will look very different. There's a proverb that says Where there is no vision, the people perish. Go so far as to say, you know, it's the other translation is if there's no revelation, no time with God, we cast off restraint. That's the image of a boat just drifting that's not tied to a dock. We don't want to be drifters. We want to be intentionally getting somewhere. A guy named Scott Stanley wrote a lot of research around marriage and he said most young people and young married people in the last decade are sliding into relationship as opposed to deciding if they want to be in relationship. And the outcomes of sliding versus deciding are very drastic. The worlds way is to just slide, and I'll just see I'll test it out. I know they're not exactly like me, their morals aren't exactly like me, but we'll live together a while, and we'll just see how it works out. Men The research on where that heads is very scary versus, I know what kind of person I want, I know what kind of values I want them to have, and I need to I need to decide if this is a good relationship or not. That's not just about dating, though. That's about the friends that you choose and the people you hang out with. Even as you get older in your life, decide who you need to be spending your time with. Let's keep rolling.

Number six Intimate Connection instead of fierce independence. Men, we were designed for intimate connection that whole early on with Adam and Eve, them being naked and unashamed, them being two flesh that became one, them walking physically. Well, that's all intimacy. That's what God desires for us. But when we're a country and a culture of independent thinkers and independent people. I'll tell you where I see it. In my little community, where I live, there are a bunch of 40-year-old married dads who somehow think they're still in a fraternity and they act like it. They're not showing up as husbands. They're not shown up as dads. They find a place to go drink over lunch, a couple of beers and talk about how bad their wife is and you know, how their kids are screwing up. And then they, you know, decide they want to go fishing or hunting or out to the lake and hang out till one or two in the morning and talk about the same bad things. But they're not doing anything to change any of it. They're just hanging out with a bunch of guys doing that. That is not what God meant when he said, you need to have relationship with people. We need intimate connections; we need real connections.

And then verse in point seven, Instead of taking life too seriously, we need to enjoy life. We need to enjoy it. You guys, we take so much so seriously. We need to just stop and enjoy it. Solomon again later in life after Proverbs he wrote Ecclesiastes. And after he summed it all up, he said, Life is hard. Life is difficult. He said, Let me tell you two things. Ecclesiastes 3:12. He says, You need to enjoy life and you need to do good things. That's how I would sum up the smartest guy. The wisest guy that ever lived summed up life It's probably worth hearing. And those are the two things he said. Just enjoy it. And along the way, do some good and we need to be playing together. Ya'll, find people that you enjoy and do fun things with them, laugh together, play together, experience adventure together, have fun, don't take your kids’ stuff so seriously. Don't let them take it so seriously. Anxiety in our kids is at an all-time high. A lot of it is because we are putting too much pressure on them as parents and as a culture. Let them have fun. Who cares what the score of the eight-year-old soccer game is? Nobody's going to remember. All right. Keep moving through a few more points. Point eight was instead of emptiness and exhaustion, God's way is restoration and fullness. God wants us to experience health. We can't we can't do relationships well if we're empty and exhausted all the time. You just can't. You end up showing up thinking you're going to help somebody, but you're empty and exhausted, so you're just a vacuum and you suck whatever life they have out of them. What God wants is us to be whole, full, healthy and recharged spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. And when we're recharged in that way, we're going to show up and bless the socks off of people around us. Romans 15:30 says I pray that my joy would be in you, filling you up so that you would be complete, so that you could then overflow that hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what God wants. Are you taking the time to slow down and say no to the right things? Say no to stuff so that you can be recharged and to show up for relationships in a healthy way.

Point nine Show compassion and comfort instead of excuses and solutions. Man, So often in my communication, in my family, I'm trying to solve stuff. I'm solving stuff for everybody, and its good solution and I fix that for them, and I fix Christina over there. And I did this, and people don't want me fixing them all the time. That's what I figured in my own house and in my friendships. Now at work, you guys got to fix a lot. I get that. But at home, what they really need is some more compassion and some more care.

It says frequently in scriptures, Jesus saw at least six times. It says the phrase Jesus saw in each of those six times. It's followed by these words, same words each time, and was moved with compassion. Jesus saw and based on what He saw, He was moved with compassion. If that's what Jesus did, then maybe we ought to do that too. After that it changed. Then it says it was moved with compassion and healed. He was moved with compassion and taught. He was moved to compassion and shared he different actions after that. But each time he stopped to see and then he felt compassion. And then it changed how he interacted. How are you doing in that? When you see something, what's your first emotional reaction as a compassionate care or as a judgment? Well, they got themselves into that. Well, that was stupid decision they made. No wonder they're messed up like that. That's how I get when I'm empty and exhausted, I tend to be less compassionate. Honestly, they kind of play together. Two more.

Ten, instead of taking control and hoarding, we need to give and share. Luke 6:38 says give and it will be given to you a good measure. Pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. We live in a culture that says you have to take. Take what you can. Get what you can out of everybody, hoard as much as you can, create a nest egg. Create whatever you need to be secure and safe. Do it all on your own. But man, God's way is very different. I'm so excited for you guys. What's going on around here? A new building, a new counseling center, new additions. Because y'all are willing to be generous and share. I would love to come back in a few years and see the blessings on you as a group, as a people, as families, as a church. Because your willingness to share as opposed to taking and hoarding. That principle works the same way in relationships.

And then the last point perseveres in delayed gratification instead of giving up and expecting instant results. We live in a culture in a time when people expect instant results and if things are going bad, then we throw in the towel and move on to whatever's next. Instead of sticking it out and working through and doing the difficult work, the hard work, the godly work of forgiving and persisting. James goes so far as to say consider it pure joy when you face trials, because then you can persevere. Roman says trials produce perseverance. Perseverance, character and character grows hope in Jesus. We need to learn to persevere.

We got home from the football game and got in the house and Cade went up to shower. And Christina and I worked out our relational stuff downstairs. She was right. I needed to do something, and so I went upstairs. One of the rules in our house is you don't you don't mourn alone, and you don't celebrate alone. We do that, you know, we don't ever let anybody be by themselves in that. So, I go upstairs. He's a 14-year-old boy. At the time, he wasn't really crazy about me coming in his room, but I said I'm coming in. He was still really sad, and I just got in bed with him and put my arms around him and said, You want to pray together? He said, No. I said, Can I pray over you? Say, Okay. So, I'm praying. And he's reluctantly participating. And then I remembered at the end of my prayer I was like, Hey, you know, my dad used to quote this poem to me, this speech to me. And I said, It just seems appropriate. And I remember as much as I could and shared it and went back and looked at more. But it's Roosevelt's man in the arena, if you ever heard it in it, he says, you know, it's not the critic that counts. It's not the one who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and who comes up short again and again, but nevertheless tries. Then it kind of goes on a little bit more. And then at the end it says, because that person may win incredibly, but they may fail. And if they fail, at least they fail while daring greatly. So, their place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. The tendency could be you guys in relationships for us to isolate ourselves because that arena of relationship is messy and scary and you're going to get beat up in it. But it is worth it. It is worth being in the arena that you can experience the joy that comes from being there. It was the last game of the year. Cade was done, but by the next year he had worked hard. And he just got better football and better and became the best on his team. And then the MVP of the district. And then he got a Division one scholarship and played football in college in a really undersized stature. He never gave up. And, you know, it was because of the people around him speaking life and encouragement.

And you need people like that in your life. You need to be a person who doesn't give up. You need to be a person who encourages others to not give up. We need that for each other. Well, pop the whole list up on the screen. So, God's path in relationships, there's so many principles, so many verses. I get it. But there's 11. So, as we wrap up our time, I want you to think about which of those would you like to apply this week? Which are you willing to apply this week? Out of all 11, which one? If you picked them all, you're going to fall short. But if you pick one, you may succeed. Pastor Matt said, We need to hear the word. You know, we need to study it and then we need to apply it. So, which one are you going to apply? Literally, want you to pick a number. I'm about to get your hands ready. You're going to hold up whatever number you pick. And I don't I know there's probably some nine fingered folks here, but there's probably no 11-finger people. So, I know that one is going to be hard, but do this if you're 11. Okay? All right. So whatever number, when I say go, I want you to hold it up. Hold it up boldly and proudly. Which one are you going to work on and apply this week? Ready? One, two, three. Go. All right, good job. Good job. I'll close with, close with this verse. Eugene Peterson said it this way. He was translating

Matthew chapter 11:28-30 and in his message translation, he said, Are you tired, worn out, burned out on religion or relationships? Come to me, get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest, walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Hear that? Walk with me and work with me Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to freely live. That's what we want. Guys, I want you to, I want you to live freely in your relationships and experience the lightness and the beauty of that. But it's going to get hard sometimes. But you fight through that too. It's worth it. Let's pray.

Thank you, Jesus, that you love us so much that you came to save us. You died on that cross so that we could have relationship with you, restore relationship with a God who loves us. Help us to walk boldly into that relationship. Help us to trust you. For those who are listening, who don't know you yet online or here in person, who don't know you as Savior Lord, I pray that they would understand that you want relationship desperately with them. And it's possible. Lord, I pray that for those of us who know you, we would pass your love along to others. We would boldly pursue relationships. We would get up. When we get knocked down, we would ask for forgiveness when we fall short. We would give forgiveness when it is needed, even when it's not asked. And we would be a people of compassion and truth and selflessness and humility. We'll walk toward that. Lord, please help us. Thank you for the folks that are here who want to be better and do better and apply your word in their lives in powerful ways. We pray all of this in the name of Jesus.