Ed Stetzer, “10 Things I’ve Learned after 26 Years of Marriage”

This past weekend at Eastbrook I spoke about marriage in our series on relationships, “Made for It.” On Saturday night, I shared a list from pastor and author Ed Stetzer entitled “10 Things I’ve Learned after 26 Years of Marriage.” Unfortunately, I was unable to share this list on Sunday morning because of time. There is a lot of practical insight here, so I wanted to make sure I shared with everyone. Here goes:

Here are ten things I’ve learned about marriage and relationships along the way.

1. Marriage is worth the investment. Yes, it is and investment. I know that it is not always easy, but it is always worth it. I’m thankful for a strong marriage.

2. You have to invest in a marriage for it to be worth the investment. It sounds strange, but it’s true– it takes continual investment on the investment. I’ve seen “perfect” couples—like some we knew in high school and college—get married, drift apart, and end up divorced. We did not. It’s not because we are perfect, it’s because we work hard.

3. Choosing your marriage partner is the most important human decision you will ever make. I’ve seen many, many miserable marriages. And a big part of that relates to bad marriage choices. My wife was/is beautiful, but that’s a really bad foundation upon which to build a marriage.Read More »

Marriage (discussion questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message on marriage from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church as part of our series on relationships entitled “Made for It.”

Discussion Questions:

1. Who has the best marriage you know and why?

2. As we continue with our series on relationships, “Made for It,” we want to explore the topic of marriage. Before you begin your study, ask God to speak to you through the Scripture.

3. When you look at Genesis 1:27-30 and 2:20-25, what do you learn about God’s intention for marriage from the beginning of creation?Read More »


Made For It-ThumbI continued our series on relationships, “Made for It,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church with a message on marriage. I started the message in the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2, then built from there into Paul’s instructions for households in Ephesians 5, moved into some words about the role marriage has in God’s mission, and concluded with a variety of responses to specific questions I have received about marriage. There is so much that could be said about marriage that I had to limit myself in many ways.

The outline and presentation slides for the message are below. You can watch or listen to the message online here or download it via the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read More »

Singletons – the changing shape of the single world

Last week’s issue of The Economist included a provocative article about the increase of single adults internationally entitled “Singletons: the attraction of solitude.” The evangelical church has not historically done a great job of reaching out to single adults. In one of my former church settings, a significant leader who was a single adult challenged me and others on our leadership team to actively change the way that we spoke to the church to be more engaging with singles in our midst. It changed my perspective greatly.

Here are some highlights from the article. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Singledom is on the rise almost everywhere…singletons [those living by themselves] will be the fastest-growing household group in most parts of the world…

The trend is most marked in the rich West, where it has been apparent for some time. Half of America’s adults, for instance, are unmarried, up from 22% in 1950. And nearly 15% live by themselves…

In Japan women are refusing to swap their careers for the fetters of matrimony. Even in Islamic Iran, some women are choosing education over marriage, exploiting newly relaxed divorce laws or flashing fake wedding rings to secure sole lodgings….

‘Living alone, being alone and feeling lonely are three different social conditions,’ says Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at New York University and author of a recent book, ‘Going Solo.’…

Some governments are now trying to stem the tide. The UAE’s Marriage Fund, for instance, has spent almost $16m this year in one-off grants to encourage couples to tie the knot…In America the Obama administration has continued to fund the ‘Healthy Marriage Initiative’, a programme launched by George W. Bush, to encourage unmarried parents to get hitches, at a cost of $150m per year…

Broken and Weak


[I wrote this article for Relevant Magazine’s online edition a few years back. It is no longer available online, so I am re-posting it here.]

I have a friend who is in the midst of a separation from his wife. He’s hurting. We were talking in another friend’s kitchen tonight about all that is going on in his life.

There are the practical things about the separation: phone calls with lawyers, figuring out the timing of who has the kids at what time, and looking for a temporary place to live.

Then, there are the relationships with others around them. How do you re-approach your own parents and in-laws in this sort of situation? What happens with the relationships in a small group when both people are involved in it? They are trying to figure out who their support network is, when everything is so intertwined.

At the core is their relationship with one another. Do they want to work this out or not? What if they don’t even agree about that? What if he’s blown it too many times? What if she’s hardened toward him? What happens when the pain traces back through years and multiple events? Did they get married too young? What about the kids? Is there still hope?

All through the conversation, he kept breaking down in sobs of tears. It’s not too often that three grown men stand around in a kitchen drinking coffee and commiserating with tears and hugs. His shoulders shake. His face scrunches up in anguish. His lips quiver. The end of his nose is pinky-red and moist. He’s a mess. And the outside is nothing compared to all that is within.

I try to listen. I really care. What would I do in his place? What if Kelly and I were there? My God, are we headed there? What would keep us from the same spot in two more years?

My friend is broken? It’s sad and difficult to see. I never enjoy seeing someone in this state. It’s not pretty or neat. It’s not controllable. It’s not one of those places any of us ever imagines ourselves in when we’re asked to think about who we’d like to be or what we’d like to be doing in five or ten years.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” we’re asked. Would we ever answer, “Ruined”?

I hate being weak. For me, the only thing worse than seeing another person being broken is to be broken myself. I like to portray the image that all is well at all times and in all ways.

“How are you, Matt?” someone might ask.
“Fine,” I casually offer in response.
“Fine?” they ask quizzically.
“Really, good,” I elaborate mildly.
“Good?” they query me again.
“I am doing quite well,” I firmly conclude.

It really doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life at all. The portrayal tends toward automatic similarity.

I hate being weak. But the awful truth is that I hate being weak before others more than being weak itself. Even if I feel shattered, God forbid that I should have to talk with someone else about it. “We just don’t do that!” reverberates in my head for some reason. “It’s not our way. We are above that.”

Somewhere along the way I learned this avoidance of any appearance of weakness. “All is well. All matter of things is well. And even if they’re not, you’d better not tell.”

So, I stand in the kitchen with my broken friend: nose dripping, eyes watery, hands wringing, not knowing what to do, where to go, how to do anything. In his anguish, he’s trying to run to Jesus daily and be held there.

I keep thinking of the words of a psalm:

The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise (Psalm 51:18).

Perhaps my friend is in the best place he could possibly be right now with God, himself, his marriage, his kids, and everything else.

Broken and weak.

Learning the right sacrifices of God.

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