?Some years ago the comic strip “Small Society” showed a man talking to his wife. He is saying, “Of course you’re my
valentine. Of course I still love you. I’ve just stopped talking about it.” Those who truly love can’t stop talking about it.

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Missionary Dr. Albert L. Shelton said that the first wedding he performed in Tibet was a memorable one. The bride and groom had never seen each other until they arrived for the ceremony. The groom, a Chinese man, was a little over five feet tall. The bride a Tibetan, was nearly six feet tall.

But that was not the important difference. He could not speak a word of Tibetan. She could not speak a word of Chinese. The ceremony had to be conducted in both languages. For some time afterward if the couple wished to have any conversation, they had to call in an interpreter. It probably saved them from a lot of useless arguments!

Marriage counseling is often simply calling in an interpreter. It is not that a couple cannot understand one another’s words. It is rather that they cannot understand one another’s actions. Those actions must be interpreted and that is what we call marital counseling.

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When Barbara Schwartz was about 29-years-old, she visited her parents one weekend. They questioned her about her current boyfriend. Her mother asked, ‘Just what kind of man are you interested in?’ Barbara pointed to her father and said, ‘I want one like him, but with a few minor modifications.’ Her father grinned triumphantly. Her mother brought him back down to earth when she said, ‘It’s taken me 30 years to modify that one; it doesn’t come in a 30-year-old model.’

In great marriages the partners are continually being modified for the better. When two people share faith in God and love for each other, they are always changing. Negative traits and habits are being forsaken; new ways to grow and delight each other are being learned. Great marriages aren’t issued; they are grown. (Bill Bouknight, “Just a Thought,” Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis, TN)

 

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“Marriage should be a duet – when one sings, the other claps.” (Joe Murray)

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Missionary Dr. Albert L. Shelton said that the first wedding he performed in Tibet was a memorable one. The bride and groom had never seen each other until they arrived for the ceremony. The groom, a Chinese man, was a little over five feet tall. The bride a Tibetan, was nearly six feet tall.

But that was not the important difference. He could not speak a word of Tibetan. She could not speak a word of Chinese. The ceremony had to be conducted in both languages. For some time afterward if the couple wished to have any conversation, they had to call in an interpreter. It probably saved them from a lot of useless arguments!

Marriage counseling is often simply calling in an interpreter. It is not that a couple cannot understand one another’s words. It is rather that they cannot understand one another’s actions. Those actions must be interpreted and that is what we call marital counseling.

-Robert Shannon, Preaching January/February 1998

 

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A wife came in to see a lawyer about getting a divorce. He said, “Do you have grounds?” She said, “Well we have about one acre.” He said, “No, I mean does he have a grudge?” She said, “No, but he has a carport.” He said, “What I mean is do you wake up grumpy?” She said, “No, I just let him sleep.” Exasperated he said, “Does he beat you up?” She said, “No, I usually get up first.” Finally he said, “O.K. Why do you want a divorce?” She said, “We just can’t seem to communicate.”

-Robert Shannon, Preaching July/August 1999

 

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What do women really want to hear men say? The following list may seem obvious, but the authors of Why Men Don’t Get Enough Sex and Women Don’t Get Enough Love insist men don’t say the obvious often enough:

  • “Put on your best dress. I’m taking you out for a surprise evening.”
  • “Let’s take a walk together. Just the two of us.”
  • “You are always so thoughtful (sensitive, caring).”
  • “I love your eyes (legs, ears).”
  • “You’re the best wife a man could hope for. You’re my best friend.”
  • “When I think about you I get a warm feeling all over.”
  • “I’m taking your car in today for new tires because I love you and I want you to be safe.”
  • “I’m going to run an errand – is there something I can get for you while I’m out?”
  • “It’s just a little something I brought you to say I love you.”

-Sermons Illustrated July/August 1990

 

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On their 50th wedding anniversary and during the banquet celebrating it, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.

“Tell us Tom, just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?” an anonymous voice yelled from the back of the room.

Tom responded, “Well, I’ve learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, forgiveness – and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need if you stayed single.”

(From Just for Grins, http://www.coolnewsletters.com by way of Sermon Fodder and Joke A Day Ministries)

 

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In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for May 22, David Jeremiah writes, “Randy and Victoria got engaged in February of 1994. A short time later, Randy’s doctor informed him that the diabetes he had suffered with since age 12 had ruined his kidneys. He would need a transplant to live. Victoria volunteered to be tested, and their immune systems matched perfectly. A month after their marriage, they underwent surgery to share equally Victoria’s two good kidneys.

“Randy had originally taken Victoria to the doctor’s appointment so she could be sure she wanted to go through with being married to someone who might die. Little did he know that she was not only willing to marry him but to sacrifice part of herself to save his life. What a powerful example of everything that makes a marriage work: voluntary submission, willing sacrifice, generous sharing, and humble gratitude. While most biblical exhortations regarding love in marriage are given to the husband, love is a mutual responsibility. If your spouse has a need, do what you can to meet it. Sharing generously is a prescription for marital health.”

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The room was full of pregnant women and their partners, and the class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly, along with informing the men how to give the necessary assurances at this stage of the plan.
The teacher then announced, “Ladies, exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. And, Gentlemen, it wouldn’t hurt you to take the time to go walking with your partner!”
The room really got quiet. Finally, a man in the middle of the group raised his hand. “Yes?” replied the teacher.
“Is it all right if she carries a golf bag while we walk?”

(from the Humor Haus newsletter)

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Gary Thomas, in his book Sacred Marriage, writes:
“One of the reasons the trees of the western slope of the Cascades
survive so long is quite simple: The Washington forests are so wet
that lightning strikes cause relatively few fires. Whereas the
traditional forest, if left alone, might face a lightning-initiated
fire every fifty or sixty years, in this part of the Cascades it would
be about once every two hundred years. Lightning strikes still come,
but they’re not as devastating, so trees have had a much longer time
to take root and grow.

That’s a good
picture of a marriage that is based on the ministry of reconciliation.
Strong Christian marriages will still be struck with lightning –
sexual temptation, communication problems, frustrations, unrealized
expectations – but if the marriages are heavily watered with an
unwavering commitment to please God above everything else, the
conditions won’t be ripe for a devastating fire to follow the lightning
strike. If I’m married only for happiness, and my happiness wanes for
whatever reason, one little spark will burn the entire forest of my
relationship. But if my aim is to proclaim and model God’s ministry
of reconciliation, my endurance will be fireproof.”

Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000) p. 36.

_________________
Brian Hedges is Senior Pastor of Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, MI.

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“The
early church father Tertullian wrote of the connection of Christ’s
love to the marriage relationship: How beautiful, then, the marriage
of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the
way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice. . . .
Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit. . . . They pray
together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one
another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by
side they visit God’s church and partake of God’s banquet; side by side
they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations.
They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s
company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts. . . .
[S]eeing this Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace.
Where these are two together, there also He is present.”

Quoted in Bryan Chapell, Each for the Other:
Marriage As It was Meant to Be (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House,
1998) p. 55.

_________________
Brian Hedges is Senior Pastor of Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, MI.

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Recently
the Associated Press carried a story of a Saudi American man named Saleh-al-Sayeri,
who has been married 58 times.  He has not broken any laws in his culture, which
allows divorce and allows a man to be married to four women at the same time,
but even in his homeland people are questioning his choices.  He has 10 sons,
and he thinks he has around 25 daughters.  His divorces have cost him 1.6 million
dollars.  He says he has forgotten the names of most of his wives.  Nevertheless,
Al-Sayeri describes himself as “The happiest man on earth.”  One can only wonder
how happy he might be if he learned to
love genuinely.

 

_______________

J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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A
young woman noticed in church that an elderly couple held hands the entire service.
She was so moved by that, she decided to mention it. She went to the elderly woman
and said, “I think it is so sweet that you and your husband hold hands. It
must be wonderful to be so much in love.” “What do you mean love,”
said the lady, “it’s the only way I can keep him from popping his knuckles
in church.”

_______________

J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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In
what must be close to a record, singer Britney Spears went from single to married
to single again in forty eight hours. She married a high school sweetheart at
a Las Vegas wedding chapel very early on a Saturday morning, only to file for
an annulment less than twenty-four hours later. The bride wore a baseball cap
and torn jeans and was escorted down the aisle by her limo driver. No one can
truly know their motivations, but it was described as a joke that went too far.
What does this say about modern society’s view of marriage? Getting married
is no joke. The vows made between a man and a woman are no joke. No sacred institution
should be treated with such dishonor. Marriage is joyful, but it is no joke.

 

_______________
J.
Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati,
OH.

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A drive-in espresso place might be innovative
enough, but Al Holm has added a new dimension to his drive-in coffee
shop. You see, Al is a minister and he also serves up drive through
weddings. His coffee shop is called “Sacred Grounds.” There is no
waiting period in Idaho, the location of the shop, so Holm, who is a
retired police chaplain, can give you wedded bliss along with your
coffee. The service lasts just five minutes and the couple can have as
much religion as they want. Wherever you are wed it takes only a
moment to get married. It takes a lifetime to know what marriage
means.

_______________

J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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A sales woman is
driving through the Reservation toward home when she sees an Indian woman thumbing
for a ride. Because the trip had been long and quiet, the sales woman stops
the car and the Indian woman gets in. After a bit of small talk, the Indian
woman notices a brown bag on
the front seat. “What’s in the bag?” she asks.

“It’s a bottle
of wine I got for my husband,” says the sales woman.

The Indian woman
is silent for a moment and then says, “Good trade.”

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One bright, beautiful
Sunday morning, everyone in the tiny town of Johnstown got up early and went
to the local church. Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting
in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc.

Suddenly, the Devil
himself appeared at the front of the congregation. Everyone started screaming
and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort
to get away from evil incarnate.

Soon everyone was
evacuated from the Church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in
his pew, not moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God’s ultimate enemy
was in his presence. Now this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man
and said, “Don’t you know who I am?”

The man replied,
“Yep, sure do.”

Satan asked, “Aren’t
you afraid of me?”

“Nope, sure
ain’t,” said the man.

Satan was a little
perturbed at this and queried, “Why aren’t you afraid of me?”

The man calmly
replied, “Been married to your sister for over 48 years.”

 – from The
Daily Dilly

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When Barbara Schwartz
was about 29-years-old, she visited her parents one weekend. They questioned
her about her current boyfriend. Her mother asked, ‘Just what kind of man are
you interested in?’ Barbara pointed to her father and said, ‘I want one like
him, but with a few minor modifications.’ Her father grinned triumphantly. Her
mother brought him back down to earth when she said, ‘It’s taken me 30 years
to modify that one; it doesn’t come in a 30-year-old model.’

In great marriages
the partners are continually being modified for the better. When two people
share faith in God and love for each other, they are always changing. Negative
traits and habits are being forsaken; new ways to grow and delight each other
are being learned. Great marriages aren’t issued; they are grown.

 – Bill Bouknight,
Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis, TN

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A man was in his
usual place in the morning, sitting at the table, reading the paper after breakfast.

He came across
an article about a beautiful actress who was about to marry a football player.
The player was known primarily for his lack of IQ, common sense, and good looks.

He turned to his
wife: “You know, I’ll never understand why the biggest, ugliest jerks always
get the most attractive wives.”

His wife replied,
“Why thank you, dear!”

 – from Mikey’s Funnies

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A wife went to the police station with her next-door neighbor to report that
her husband was missing. The policeman asked for a description. She said,
“He’s 45 years old, 6 foot 3, has blue eyes, blond hair, an athletic
build, weighs 185 pounds, is soft-spoken, and is good to the children.”

The next-door neighbor protested, “Your husband is 5 foot 3, chubby, bald,
has a big mouth, and is mean to your children.”

The wife replied,
“But who wants him back?”

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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If it isn’t a record it surely must be close. According to the Book of Lists
#3, movie stars Rudolph Valentino and Jean Acker were married on November 5,
1919. Valentino, the heartthrob, was locked out of the house on his wedding
night by the bride. Although the legalities took a little longer, the marriage
lasted less than six hours.

Most marriages last longer than that today, but few people are satisfied with
the lack of commitment to lifetime marriage. This is a record we ought not
aspire to. Let us commit ourselves to “till death do us part.”

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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USA Today recently ran an article about a study done by the National Marriage
Project by Rutgers. This study may motivate churches to do more to uphold the
honor of marriage. In a survey of men and women in their twenties: 62% thought
living together before marriage is a good way to avoid divorce. This runs
counter to countless studies that indicate people who live together before
marriage have a greater divorce rate than those who don’t.

An even more alarming statistic is that 43% of twenty-somethings would only
marry a person who agreed to live together first. No wonder, with living
together glamorized by TV and movies. Surely the church needs to speak out more
forcefully on the sanctity of the marriage vows.

___________________________
Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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In Java a unique wedding custom is observed. The day before the wedding the
bride calls in all of her close friends. In their presence she burns her dolls,
toys, and other cherished tokens of her childhood. Then her friends console her
in the loss of these mementos by giving her many presents — new objects
identified with maturity. These signal that she is no longer a child.

Sometimes both bride and groom take childish things with them when they get
married. They are not material things; they are mental and emotional things.
The Bible urges us to leave father and mother when we get married. We need to
also leave childlike behavior and childish attitudes.

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I like to read the “Personals” in the classified section of the
newspaper, especially in large cities. For instance, several years ago I found
one in The Atlanta Constitution. The first line grabbed my attention
immediately. “HUSBAND FOR SALE!” it read.

Then the details of the sale followed: “Age 52, in good health. Out of
sorts most of the time. Never verbalizes — ‘I love you.’ Rare moments of
touching and tenderness! Asking price, 2 cents. NOTE: Price negotiable!”

______________________
Illustration by: Gary C. Redding, First Baptist Church, North Augusta, SC

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A wife came in to see a lawyer about getting a divorce. He said, “Do you
have grounds?” She said, “Well we have about one acre.” He said,
“No, I mean does he have a grudge?” She said, “No, but he has a
carport.” He said, “What I mean is do you wake up grumpy?” She
said, “No, I just let him sleep.” Exasperated he said, “Does he
beat you up?” She said, “No, I usually get up first.” Finally he
said, “O.K. Why do you want a divorce?” She said, “We just can’t
seem to communicate.”

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In a recent Kudzu comic strip, the minister is talking to his secretary and he
is upset. “I told you to let me proof read these church bulletins!”
he shouts. And then he reads from last week’s bulletin: “Floyd Barton and
Linda Snipes were married last Sunday in the Church … and so ends a
friendship that began in school days.”

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