MAG 05: Marriage Is Your First Ministry

This conversation is with Matt and Lisa Jacobson, popular marriage podcasters at FaithfulLife and popular marriage bloggers at FaithfulMan.com and Club31Women.com! 

In Chapter 5 of Marriage After God, we share an experience we had with Matt years ago as he pointed very important questions our way. This experience helped shape who we are as a couple today. So we thought it would be great to interview Matt and his wife Lisa on the topic of Chapter 5: Your marriage being your first ministry. We pray this blesses you!

Quote From Marriage After God Chapter 5: Your First Ministry

Your marriage is the message you are preaching to others. The way you and your spouse interact with each other reveals the gospel you believe.”

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Dear Lord,

Thank You for creating marriage with such a significant purpose of revealing to the world Your divine love. Please help us to make choices that reflect Your love in the way we love one another. May we choose to walk in obedience. Thank You for Your Word which instructs us and shows us how we should walk in obedience. Please continue to give us wisdom and strength as we choose to walk in the Spirit and not our flesh. We pray we would make our marriage a priority. We pray we would gain deeper understanding of how our marriage is our first ministry and the impact we have in each other’s lives and in this world, just by remaining faithful to Your Word. If our priorities are ever out of order or if we are not unified please help us to change course. Constantly direct our hearts to align with Yours. May our marriage always be in a place where You can use us as a symbol to point others to You and may You be glorified.

In Jesus’ name, amen!

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[Aaron] Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith of Marriage after God.

[Lisa] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

[Aaron] And today we’re in part five of the Marriage after God series, and we’re gonna be talking with Matt and Lisa Jacobsen about marriage being your first ministry.

[Aaron] Welcome to the Marriage after God podcast, where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.

[Jennifer] I’m Jennifer, also known as Unveiled Wife.

[Aaron] And I’m Aaron, also known as Husband Revolution.

[Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade.

[Aaron] And so far, we have four young children.

[Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.

[Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.

[Jennifer] We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life,

[Aaron] Love.

[Jennifer] And power

[Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God.

[Jennifer] Together.

[Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.

[Jennifer] This is marriage after God.

[Aaron] Hey, thanks for joining us on week five of this series that we’re doing. I hope you’re enjoying it. You’re definitely going to enjoy today’s guests. But before we move on, as always, we want to invite you to leave a review. Those reviews help the podcast get seen by new audiences. So, if you’ve been enjoying the content, we’d love a star rating, which is the easiest way to do it, all you gotta do is tap a star in the app. And if you really, really want to and have time, leaving us a text review would be awesome. We read every single one of ’em, and we love them, so thank you for that.

[Jennifer] Another way you can support this podcast–

[Aaron] So today on this episode, we’re gonna be talking about content from chapter five of our book, Marriage after God. And the chapter’s titled, “Your First Ministry.” and we thought, what better way to talk about this chapter than to talk with our pastors and ask them who inspired us and showed us what it looked like to recognize our marriage as ministry. And now we actually reference them and talk about them in this chapter, and so today we have Matt and Lisa Jacobson with us, welcome.

[Lisa] Hey, nice to be here.

[Matt] Awesome to be here, you bet.

[Aaron] Yeah, and we’re in our garage, sitting on our couches. And today we’re gonna be talking about this topic. But before we talk about that, why don’t you introduce to the audience, just in case they don’t know you guys, who you are, children, marriage, all that.

[Matt] Okay, well, Matt Jacobsen, and this is my lovely woman.

[Lisa] Hey, hello.

[Matt] Lisa, and so we’ve been married for 26 years. We have eight kids between the ages of 12 and about 25.

[Lisa] Yup.

[Matt] Right, and there are four of them are out of the house and moved on. And so, what keeps us busy when we’re not just hanging out and kissing in a dark corner somewhere.

[Lisa] That’s right. We also, we do homeschool and we do a lot of work with our kids. Our kids help us out with what we do at home and also in our ministry.

[Matt] And so, speaking of ministries. So, my website is Faithfulman.com.

[Lisa] And I’m Lisa with Club31women.com.

[Matt] And so that is a writing ministry that speaks to marriage, parenting, church, and culture. Biblical perspective on those things. And so, that comprises a lot of what takes up our time in a given week. And then, of course, we’re the pastors of a small local fellowship as well.

[Aaron] Yeah, it’s our fellowship.

[Matt] That’s right.

[Aaron] You’re our pastors. And we love you guys. And by the way, if everyone listening didn’t hear what those were, that’s faithfulman.com and club31women.com. You guys should definitely check them out. And why don’t you tell them about your newest podcast that you guys just launched?

[Matt] Awesome, okay. Well, the name of that podcast is Faithful Life. And it’s essentially a podcast that is pursuing the and exploring the topic of what does it mean to live as a biblical Christian. There are a lot of people in the world, lot of Christians, people who identify as Christians, who are living a life that is really separate or tangential to the Bible. And really, if you’re going to be a biblical Christian, you’ve gotta know what the Bible says about these various aspects of life: marriage, parenting, how we’re to live within church community and then how we’re to interact with the culture. And so, that’s the focus of the podcast, faithful–

[Lisa] With a lot of emphasis on practical ways to do that, sometimes we kinda know in our heads what the right thing to do is, or what we believe the Bible says, but then how does that look in our day-to-day life, and that’s something that matt and I really have a passion for is just connecting those two things.

[Matt] And a little bit of experience. It’s only been, what, 26 years you’ve been married and walking with the Lord and learning through all of the eight children.

[Aaron] So we just want everyone to check out their podcast; it’s called Faithful Life. And you’re gonna love it. Just search for it wherever you listen to podcasts. So, let’s get into the icebreaker question. And this is how we start all the episodes. It’s just a fun question. How does your spouse like their coffee and what does that say about them?

[Lisa] Okay, I get to go first on this one. Because everybody that knows Matt Jacobson well knows that he likes his coffee black, but, even more importantly, he likes it burning hot so that it burns a hole in your tongue, so he, if–

[Matt] And you better not put it in a cold cup.

[Lisa] Right, the best way to show love to Matt Jacobson is to heat up the cup first and then pour his coffee into it.

[Matt] Wow, that’s one of the ways over the years you’ve shown love to me. But right, so anyway–

[Lisa] In the coffee–

[Matt] No, that’s right in the coffee, in the realm of coffee. And Lisa takes her coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and cream and–

[Lisa] That’s right, I like it a little sweet.

[Matt] She likes it a little sweet, that’s right.

[Aaron] And it’s just like her character too. Little sweet.

[Matt] And I love making coffee for her; I do. In the morning, I love making coffee. I love bringing her a cup of coffee in the morning.

[Jennifer] And you guys do coffee as a family a lot, so can you just share a little bit about that ’cause I just love that.

[Matt] Okay, so, why don’t you tell how we’ve corrupted our young children?

[Lisa] Well, we started off in our marriage. We started each day with having coffee. Matt would make a coffee tray for him and I, and we would sit and have coffee together. And then as each child came along, we then slowly incorporated them into this special time until it became something our whole family just loves and so even our older kids when they come home for the holidays or different vacations, they’ll come and that’s the thing they look forward to most is having our time together over a pot of coffee. And we just talk about what we’re thinking about, what’s going on in our world, and it’s just a really close family time.

[Matt] And you know, oh, sorry. That whole process of incorporating the kids into it. It’s kind of funny because it’s really a metaphor, or an example, if you will, of what happens in your family. Over time, we’re very strict with the older kids. I don’t even remember when we began allowing them to have coffee.

Including them. I don’t even remember, do you remember how old they were?

[Lisa] No.

[Matt] But, as time went on, the younger kids just get to start earlier and earlier. And I think we started, did Hawkin have his first?

[Lisa] He was about seven or eight maybe–

[Aaron] It was a bottle right?

[Lisa] When he had his first cup of coffee.

[Matt] That’s right.

[Lisa] A very, very tiny cup of coffee, mostly milk.

[Jennifer] Mostly milk, yeah.

[Matt] Yeah, right, and so now we’re going, okay, so.

[Lisa] Almost because their dad’s kind of soft on the issue.

[Matt] I am; I am.

[Jennifer] I was just gonna say, I follow Lisa on Instagram, and I love watching your stories because you’ll post about it every once in a while of just your guys’ family time around that, and it’s beautiful and you can just tell, just from that short glimpse that you give the rest of us that it’s a really beautiful time that you’re cultivating in your family.

[Matt] And in some senses, like you see the snapshot, and it is awesome, it really is. But, it’s just so normal, a part of life, and a wonderful life is built on a lot of normal moments that you just string together over time.

[Jennifer] Mm-hmm, it’s true, yeah, it’s good.

[Matt] And so, yeah.

[Aaron] Yeah, there’s the big one-offs that are memorable, but then there’s the, it’s the everyday things that shape who we are, it’s all those habits that we have and those routines. I love that. Why don’t you share the quote from the chapter? And then we’ll just start asking questions.

[Jennifer] Okay, so this is from chapter five of Marriage after God. “Your marriage is the message you are preaching to other, “the way you and your spouse interact with each other “reveals the gospel you believe.”

[Aaron] Matt and Lisa, how would you that that is true in what you guys have experienced, because it’s something that you’ve definitely not only shown us through your own marriage, but also directly have shown us in ours in saying hey, you can’t expect to have this ministry over here if your home doesn’t match. So could you give me some insight on how this quote plays out in real life?

[Matt] Well, one of the things that you just naturally see in life is you see people in ministry and what’s the big joke in America, at least it used to be, I don’t know if it still is, who are the worst kids in church? The PKs, the preacher’s kids, right? And so, that is so antithetical to how we’re called to live in the word of God because we are called ambassadors. That means that we are representatives of the kingdom of God on earth. We bear the name of Christ, and we’re his representatives. And how is it possible that you have this ministry or you have this public presence, and then it’s not true in your own personal life. You wanna tell somebody about the wonderful truths of Scripture. And you wanna tell somebody the gospel and explain to them how they can have a wonderful relationship with the Lord. And then you don’t have, you’re not living those wonderful relationships in your family. I know that we had seen a lot of this early on. And we were even involved in a particular church, years and years ago, they were lovely people but focused just on evangelism and kinda lost the relationships with their kids over time. We just saw–

[Lisa] And in their marriage.

[Matt] This family’s disintegrating. And the marriage is. Then we though, you know what, the life that we’re called to as believers is much more holistic than that. And the truths of the gospel are supposed to be manifest in our lives. And if I could just say one more thing. I know you’ve got a lot to say, too. You see in the instructions for church leadership in the book of 1 Timothy, one of the principal requirements of anybody in ministry and this is serving as an elder or a deacon within the church.

[Aaron] Yes, specific position.

[Matt] One of the principal requirements is that you’ve demonstrated that your children have yielded hearts to you. You’re governing your family well. You’re leading your family well. There’s a sense of order and peace in your home. So God wants it to be true at home before we go out to represent him to the world.

[Aaron] And what does Paul tell Timothy, he says how can you presume to manage the household of God if you can’t manage your own home, which is how he, after all that teaching, he says that it doesn’t make sense.

[Matt] Yeah.

[Lisa] And I think that Matt’s kind of big picture guy. And I’m more of what does that look like in my day kind of person. And one thing I had noticed that in Scripture, when it talks about how we are to be towards one another, how we’re to be, to be loving, patient, kind. And we apply all of those things to out there. So, just an example: I go to the grocery store, and the cashier’s taking forever to get me through the line. And she apologizes, but I’ve read the Bible, so I’m going to be, oh it’s fine, I’ll wait. I understand you’re trying your hardest, and we’ll get through here because I’m being patient, and I’m being kind. And then I go home, and I have a different response when it takes Matt forever to come out and help me bring in the groceries in the house. Or, because I’ll be snippin’ at him–

[Matt] Has that ever happened, like even one time in our marriage?

[Lisa] Like I wait for you? Do you really wanna bring that up?

[Aaron] Everyone listening was like that was just today.

[Lisa] So, but it really struck home to me that all those things that we think apply to out there to strangers or maybe to friends. It somehow, or maybe there’s a disconnect, to actually sometimes the hardest person, sometimes, is actually the person your married to.

[Jennifer] I was just gonna say, thinking about our own marriage. I used to do this thing where I would always be upbeat and positive and smiley with everyone. And then I’d come home and immediately my countenance would change, and Aaron–

[Aaron] I finally called you out on it, I was like–

[Jennifer] Yeah, ’cause Aaron would be like–

[Aaron] Why do they get the smiles and then I get this?

[Jennifer] Yeah.

[Aaron] What is this?

[Jennifer] And then I remember specifically him saying, I want your best. And I had to figure it out. I had to figure out why I was doing that and check my flesh on it really.

[Aaron] Well, I think there’s a default position of, well, I have you, therefore you should deal with who I actually wanna be today, and everyone else has to, I want them to see the best part of me. It’s almost like it’s just totally backwards. And it’s actually lying.

[Matt] Well, the harsh reality of the circumstance is who you actually are in terms of your personal character is who you are when the doors are shut and you’re letting your hair down, so to speak, and you’re just being your natural self with the people where the consequences might not be as immediate or severe as they might be if you do this in public. And so, that’s the reality of who we are. And so, it’s important to take stock on those things. How am I with the people that I’m closest to because those are the people that we tend to take for granted and those are the circumstances that we tend to be a little less guarded.

[Aaron] Now that you’re saying that, I’m thinking, it’s actually probably infinitely less damaging to be that kind of person in public, when people they may be offended for the moment, but they’re gonna forget your face in like eight seconds ’cause they don’t live with you than the person that we literally spend hours and hours a day and our lifetime with: our children, our spouse. We sacrifice the main thing for the non-main thing.

[Matt] Totally, and that’s of course humanly speaking, in terms of the cost, over the long-term.

[Aaron] Yeah, publicly.

[Matt] But relative to the Lord’s perspective on these relations, he wants it to be the same everywhere.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Matt] He wants us to be loving and in the spirit everywhere with the people, especially close to us, but also with everybody else that we’re interacting with.

[Aaron] Or repentant if we’re not.

[Jennifer] Yeah, yeah, there is grace

Right?

[Aaron] Which changes us.

[Matt] Well, you know what, you brought up the R word: repentance. And that is such an important word and such an abused word in our Christian religious world because repentance has a specific meaning. It’s a word that has a definition. And we cut ourselves so much slack and we dip back into the same sins over and, how about this, just this sin we’re talking about here where we’re not being kind to our spouse, but we’ve got it for everybody else. And, oh, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have done that. Please forgive me. And Lord, I was unkind to my wife, please forgive me. I should have been more kind. And then we go on our day, and then I do it again. And then I do it again. Have I repented if I just keep walking in that same sin?

[Aaron] No, you’ve apologized.

[Matt] I’ve apologized, right?

[Aaron] You’re sorry for being–

[Matt] Because to repent means I used to do that, and now I’m doing this. It means to turn from, that’s the definition of the word. And it’s such a good word for Christians, all of us, to really wrestle with, and say, you know what, have I really repented and forsaken that sin? Because that’s what it means to walk as God would have us as a couple and not to just keep going back, over and over and over again.

[Aaron] I think of this quote. I’m not gonna say who said it, but someone in our family used to say, “If you were sorry, you wouldn’t have done it.” That’s kind of the idea; we say sorry over and over and over again. But in reality, our heart hasn’t changed. We’re just allowing something, whether we’re intentionally doing something. We’re not intentionally walking in the spirit, so therefore, we’re defaulting to walking in the flesh, and we haven’t repented of anything. This is something that I had to recognize in my life with certain sin in my life was I was sorry, but usually I was sorry for the shame or the regret or being caught or the remorse I see in your face or the pain I’ve caused you, Jennifer, but I’d never had been sorry for my sin which is what leads to repentance, and then I change and walk in that. So thanks for bringing that clarity.

[Matt] Yeah, absolutely. And so to come full circle on your question, what does it mean to have a marriage that is reflecting the gospel? Well, if you have a marriage that is the kind of marriage that someone else is interested in, then you’re not creating this incredible disconnect in the mind of the person that you’re sharing the gospel with because what are you inviting them to? If the gospel hasn’t affected and hasn’t made your marriage beautiful, what are you inviting them to? Here we are married, and we have a bad, bickering, difficult, challenging marriage, and I’m out there telling somebody that Jesus loves them and died for them. It’s so critical ’cause as we, and I know you guys have talked about on your podcast and certainly in your book, that your marriage is the gospel you’re preaching, that is the gospel you’re preaching. And the power of your message will not be one iota stronger or more influential than is the meaning and the love and the strength of your marriage relationship.

[Jennifer] That’s so good. I hope everyone hits rewind and just listens to that a few times.

[Aaron] Yeah, and let’s take marriage out of the picture, just in the Christian individual’s life. If the gospel’s not true in our life, so for me, when I was walking in my addiction to pornography, and I wasn’t repentant of it, I thought I was, I was sorry for it; I was sorry for what it did to me, but I wasn’t truly repentant of it. I could never tell someone that Christ came to bring freedom, which is what the Bible teaches us, that’s the fruit of the gospel.

[Matt] There you go.

[Aaron] Because I couldn’t walk in freedom. Like you said, I’m literally showing them, like, hey, here’s God, he’s awesome–

[Jennifer] He’s powerless.

[Aaron] He’s powerless.

[Jennifer] In my life.

[Matt]right.

[Aaron] He can’t, and this isn’t about just all of the sudden everything being healed and perfect and great, but this is definitely the truth of freedom from sin and death, which is what the Bible teaches, which is what Christ came to destroy. He took the power away from it.

[Matt] Absolutely.

[Aaron] But he doesn’t have that in my life. Therefore, you should love God and believe in Jesus, but he can’t actually do anything for the core of who you are. He can’t change your physical situation or your spiritual situation, but, you know what, he’s the thing you should believe in. It just doesn’t make any sense.

[Matt] No, it doesn’t. We just need to remember that even if we’re not saying anything, even if we’re not on the street corner, preaching the gospel. We’re preaching a sermon every time we walk out the door together. We’re preaching a sermon. We’re literally saying, this is what it means to be a Christian man and a Christian woman. Whether you mean to or not, you’re preaching a sermon. The question is, what’s the message that you’re giving other people?

[Jennifer] And how, can you explain, just for those people listening, how are they giving that message to other people?

[Matt] It tends to be if you’re living in a town and you’ve got your immediate circle and then you’ve got your circle of influence, the people you interact with, the people at the bank, the people at the gas station, the people at the grocery store, they know, over the course of time, they know whether you’re a Christian or not. It just becomes evident that that is who you are. People probably don’t realize it, but as somebody who identifies as a Christian, people watch you a little closer. They tend to want to just scrutinize you a little bit, or when we’re at a restaurant.

[Lisa] I was gonna say, what I was thinking about was how many times we’ve been in an airplane, traveling together, in a restaurant together, we have been stopped so many times by people we didn’t even realize were watching us, someone who’s serving us or the flight attendant, and said, you know, you two are just such a loving couple. And they could just see the way we were just interacting. And so people do notice that. And often times, especially at a restaurant, they’ll see that we’ve prayed, so they also know that we’re believers. And we’ve had a lot of opportunities to share the gospel with those people just even based on their observation of us.

[Aaron] Well, it’s uncommon. It’s uncommon; it’s normal to have cold relationships and being on the phones. It’s uncommon to see engagement and true infatuation and adoration or–

[Lisa] Yeah, like the last time we were on a flight, we had a flight attendant come to us at the end of the flight, it was a long flight. And she said, “You know, the other flight attendants and I “were all talking about you two.” Really? We’re not that interesting.

[Matt] Well, we were kissing, I mean. We were getting along kissing.

[Lisa] That’s right; that’s right. And they were just observing how we were with each other, and how cute it was and thought we were maybe somewhat newly married. And I’m like, “Oh, no, we’ve been married 26 years, “and we have eight kids.” Like, no way, yeah, really.

[Aaron] And you’re still in love?

[Lisa] Yeah, yeah, it was really astonishing.

[Matt] And you mentioned something about praying in a restaurant. And I know a lot of people listening probably do. It’s probably less common these days than it has been in the past, but a lot of people still bow their heads and pray in a restaurant. Personally, I love doing that. I love just the witness: I’m a Christian, and I’m gonna give God thanks for this food. So I like doing that. But if you’re somebody out there who does that, can I just encourage you to leave a fat, hog tip? Okay, because–

[Lisa] It’s like a bonus.

[Aaron] It is a bonus.

[Matt] Because you’ve literally hoisted your flag at the table, I’m a Christian, and so, leave a great taste in your waiter’s or server’s mouth.

[Aaron] It’s a little sacrifice.

[Matt] It’s so small, yeah, so small. So small, but it’s a good testimony, too. Just to say, you know what, love the Lord, and oh, by the way, God bless you.

[Aaron] Going back to the, I think that’s a great little bit of advice of how to spread the love of God. Like, hey, we love God and we just wanted to bless you, thank you–

[Matt] And certainly if it’s a place that you go back more than once.

[Jennifer] Yeah, that’s true.

[Aaron] Oh yeah!

[Matt] You have struck up, well you’ve created an opportunity to strike up a conversation with the person because they’re, well, first of all, they’re business people, right? They wanna make money. So they wanna serve you well, and it’s just an opportunity, that’s all. Just an opportunity, if you’re going to pray, then by all means, please don’t complain about the food.

[Aaron] I was gonna say that actually. There’s certain Christiany things that we do, maybe we were raised that way, and we just pray. We’re Christians, we love God, we pray. But then, let’s say we’re bickering at the table, or we are being super rude to the waiters, or our kids are throwing food on the floor and silverware. That is a part of our witness.

[Lisa] It is.

[Aaron] How we are. And they’re like, you did the thing that I thought you were gonna do. They’re looking for us to fail.

[Jennifer] To fail, right.

[Aaron] Doesn’t mean we’re not gonna fail, but the majority of the time, our hearts should be aware of how we’re being, which goes back to that marriage being your ministry. You guys had this awesome, oh, people noticed us, and they stopped us and said thank you. We’ve had the other side of it. And no one’s actually confronted us and saw us fighting, but we’ve had people message us after the fact. We’ve mentioned this a few times. And like, “Hey, we saw you in the store. “I didn’t stop and say hi, but just wanted to say hi.” And they’d message us on Instagram. And then we were like, “Oh my gosh, I think we were, were we fighting?”

[Jennifer] This was a long time ago; we’ve gotten better since then.

This was a long time ago.

[Aaron] It made us aware, man, like, well, A, we have a social media presence, but it doesn’t matter if you do. Like if you’re a Christian, there’s people that know you. You have friends, you have neighbors, you have, and people that may not know you personally, they’re gonna see you regularly in your small town, or big town, I guess, because you frequent the same places. What kind of fragrance as a couple and as Christians do we give in this world where we say one thing and act a different way? That’s literally what hypocrisy is. We talk about this, actually, in this chapter. We talk about, we’re gonna ask you a question in a second, another question, but it doesn’t make any sense if we’re trying to minister in other ways, and then in the home, there is no real ministry happening. And so, question for you guys is are marriages being a ministry, and being our first ministry, because it’s our first one another, our closest neighbor, we always like to say is our spouse and then our kids and everyone else. Are there marriages that are exempt from this? Well, this husband, he’s a minister, and he doesn’t actually have time to be focused on his family. Or a wife that’s doing this thing over here for God, and she doesn’t have time to serve her home and children. Are there marriages that are exempt from this? Why or why not?

[Lisa] I don’t know that there are exemptions in that sense although Matt might want to address that, but what that’s come to mind, I do have many women write me who are in a marriage situation where the spouse is not a believer or at least not walking with God. And I know that that’s a greater challenge, and I wouldn’t want to put undue burden on that couple, especially the one that’s trying to be faithful, and the other is not walking that way. There has to be grace for that, and the one person has to, you know, scripture tells us to keep quiet and just keep shining the light of Christ in their home. But I also wouldn’t want to feel like, oh, I can’t minister to others now because my spouse is not walking in truth right now.

[Matt] And the way I would look at that is the Bible teaches us what is normal and how we are to walk as normal Christians in this world. And when it comes to marriage, what’s normal is the way Jesus loves the church, his bride. That’s how we’re supposed to love our bride. That’s normal. And that instruction, love your wife as Christ loved the church, that’s not a special instruction for somebody who happens to be in the public eye. That is an instruction for absolutely every Christian man, every man who stands up and says, I follow Lord; I have committed my life to Christ. I have repented of my sin, and I’m a Christian. Every man who has said that should have a wife who says, I’m the most cherished woman I know. And no man is exempt from that. And so, here’s the thing, if a church lays claim to being full of godly men, then there’s one thing you know for sure, it’s full of cherished wives. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot be a godly man and not cherish your wife. And so in that sense, I would say nobody’s exempt from this, but, of course, we live in a broken world with lots of relationships and circumstances, and people have struggled. And God has grace for those things. But in those circumstances, the person, whatever they are, wherever they fall on the spectrum, difficult and virtually sad and very challenging to not that bad, wherever they are in the spectrum, their job is to draw near to God and walk as closely to God as he wants them, as he desires them to, and to seek them in those circumstances. But I appreciate you bringing that up because there are lot of people, lots of wives, lots of husbands, a husband called us recently. His wife left, he’s got, I think they’ve got five kids. One of the kids has Down’s Syndrome, and the wife’s just like, “I’m done.” And she left, and he didn’t want her to leave, he tried to love her right up through, for several years, up to point where she left. He himself has remained faithful and has a ministry even though she’s left, so it’s true, it’s not that you don’t have a ministry. It’s just that God provides his standards and principles and requirements for Christian men, for Christian wives, and for marriage. And then sin comes in and everything else is an exception to the rule, but the rule is every man is to cherish his wife in the way Jesus Christ loves the church.

[Aaron] So, I do appreciate Lisa that you brought that up, too, because I’m sure that we have people that listen, and one of the spouses is not walking, is not a believer, and we get, praise God, he gives provision for this in his word, in 1 Peter, he shows, it’s funny because it’s to the wife, it’s almost like he knew that men were gonna be more prone to this, not being faithful, which is sad, but it’s true. But even then I think, you’re right, that it doesn’t mean they can’t have ministry outside of the home because their marriage isn’t in order correctly faith wise, but that doesn’t mean that their first ministry still isn’t their spouse. Like you said, they still have a call, the wife or the husband, to serve and love their spouse the way the Bible has called them to, faithfully, whether they receive it or not, of course. And that’s also, I don’t wanna say qualifies, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but, it still prepares them to do ministry outside their home because it’s in order. Instead of, I’m not going to love my husband or my wife like this because they’re treating me this way, but I am gonna go love over here, that’s not gonna produce the kind of fruit that God’s looking for. But I did appreciate that. I think it’s totally relevant to recognize that there are these non-ideal marriages.

[Matt] You know, and one of the things that might be important to mention here is wherever you are on the spectrum: you have a spectacular marriage all the way to it’s terrible. We tend to fall into this wrong thought process that goes something like this: you’re walking in sin; therefore, I can’t help being the way I am.

[Lisa] Oh, now, that’s a good point.

[Matt] And the fact of the matter is is the way you act has nothing to do with my capacity as a believer to walk in holiness.

[Lisa] Right, no that’s–

[Matt] And we kinda cut ourselves a little slack there, don’t we? ‘Cause if you’re a certain way, well then that gives me license to be another way in response–

[Aaron] Yeah, if you only respected me, I would treat you or love you as Christ loves the church.

[Matt] That’s right, and every one of us has the capacity according to the word of God to walk in holiness, irrespective of how our spouse is walking. Now we certainly make it easier, right? If we’re walking in holiness for the other person. But, we can’t blame our distance from God on how someone else has chosen to act.

[Aaron] Amen.

[Jennifer] Taking a look into your guys’ marriage. You know, you’ve been married quite a while. So go back to the beginning. Was there a learning curve in your guys’ relationship on how to love and respect each other and cherish each other in that?

[Matt] OH, absolutely. I was the most loving husband in the world. The only problem–

[Aaron] That’s a real laugh, by the way.

[Matt] The only–

[Lisa] Revisionist history, I think that’s what it’s–

[Matt] The only problem with it is I was loving Lisa in the way that said love to me.

[Lisa] Oh, that’s true.

[Matt] We’d like to tell the story, in fact, we tell it on our own podcast. We just have this crazy story where I literally am superman husband, okay? I am helping out with everything.

[Lisa] It’s our first year of marriage.

[Matt] First year of marriage. I am helping out with everything. I am helping with, not the laundry, you wouldn’t let me touch the laundry ’cause she said, nope, that’s mine; I will do the laundry. Everything else, the vacuuming, folding the laundry.

[Lisa] Cleaning the bathrooms.

[Matt] Cleaning the bathrooms, everything else, the dishes, everything, I’m helping, I’m helping. I’m doing it all, and I’m thinking–

[Lisa] And I’m getting madder and madder and–

[Matt] And she’s over in the kitchen. And there’s the flames, you know, the ones coming out of her eyes, are visible from across the room, and I–

[Aaron] Although I have never seen Lisa angry before, so I couldn’t–

[Lisa] Oh, I’m capable.

[Matt] And I thought, what is wrong with this woman? You can’t find five guys in the entire state of Oregon that do the things that I do with a willing heart, and I’m trying to bless you, you’re just, there’s nothing that will make you happy. You can’t be blessed; I don’t know what your problem is. And so, she just takes the towel, and she almost busts a dish on me as she sets the plate down on the counter. And then she takes the towel and throws it on the counter.

[Lisa] Thank you.

[Matt] And I’m going, what in the world. She turns to me, and she goes, “I just don’t know why you don’t love me.”

[Lisa] True story.

[Aaron] What’s happening?

[Matt] And I’m going, okay, am I losing my mind here? And I’m going, you’ve gotta be kid, you’ve literally got to be kidding me.

[Lisa] So my thinking is I can vacuum, I can clean the bathrooms, anybody can do that. But there’s only one guy in my life that can take me out and spend some time with me and listen to my thoughts.

[Aaron] Look in my eyes–

[Lisa] Yes!

[Aaron] And talk to me.

[Lisa] And so he could just feel my frustration over time. So, the more frustrated he would feel–

[Matt] I would try harder.

[Lisa] The more he’d vacuum.

[Matt] I’d do more!

[Lisa] And I’m just like, put the stupid vacuum down. I just want to spend time with yo.

[Matt] So I’m going, wow, that’s easy.

[Lisa] Yeah.

[Matt] Who knew love was that easy? So in our case, it was just me taking the initiative to say, okay, we’re gonna go out at such-and-such a day, and it didn’t matter what it was. We’d go for a walk; we could go have a cup of coffee. And I mean, at any time you as a husband tell your wife, “Hey, I just wanna spend some time with you.” You can turn one cup of coffee into an awesome date. You really can.

[Lisa] It doesn’t take much.

[Matt] It doesn’t take much. You talk about learning curve, absolutely we had to learn each other and what was important to you and what was important to me and this is so true in absolutely every area of marriage. For instance, we’ve given you the for instance in terms of the learning curve, but in terms of discovering what it is your spouse is interested in, what they like, what’s important to them. There’s a very, very interesting way of finding out.

[Aaron] You ask.

[Matt] You ask a question! Yeah, yeah, and it’s such a great thing to do because you know what happens when I turn to you and I ask you a question about you.

[Lisa] Yeah.

[Matt] Who doesn’t like talking about themselves? Who doesn’t like being known and explored and discovered. Who doesn’t like someone being interested in them. So that’s what we do when we turn to our spouse and say, okay, I wanna ask you a question. I wanna ask you what are three things that I can do that would make you feel loved? So that’s just the normal stuff of marriage. But you know what? And you can even take it right into the subject of sex. And you can say, what are things that you enjoy when we come together physically? What are some of those things? Because, you know what, we tend to love the other person with the things that we want.

[Lisa] I think that sometimes people boil this down to love languages, which is interesting and helpful. But what we’re talking about is so much more than a love language, for one thing, those things change over time. It depends when the season when we had four kids, five and under, the vacuum really helped a lot, and I had a, not that I still didn’t want to go out,

[Aaron] Right, in that season, that was much more loving.

[Lisa] Yeah, it was loving; it did mean a lot.

[Matt] And physical touch when we had five kids. What would the age’s spread have been with our five kids?

[Lisa] Yeah, six and under.

[Matt] Five kids six and under. Physical touch was less important to her in those years.

[Lisa] Imagine that.

[Matt] You know? She’s got kids.

You got enough of that.

[Jennifer] Her tank is full.

[Matt] Yeah, I’m touching 24/7, exactly. Right, so it does change over time.

[Lisa] So instead of thinking of it as big subjects of love language, think of it as who you are as a person and where are you at today, where are you at in this season, where are you at in your life right now. And that involves that continual seeking and pursuing and asking.

[Jennifer] So continual even after 26 years. Like you guys are still asking?

[Matt] Absolutely.

[Aaron] You have gotten there yet?

[Matt] Absolutely.

[Aaron] You haven’t gotten to the–

[Matt] No, we’re seeking each other all the time. And you know what?

[Jennifer] And it’s fun, right?

[Lisa] It is.

[Matt] It is fun, absolutely fun. And the thing is, if you love the other person, it’s not a burden to do it. You actually want to know where they’re at. You wanna know where their heart is at.

[Lisa] And I think it can even be in somewhat negative things like say, I notice something triggers Matt into a bad mood or just like a dark, you know. And it used to be, when we were younger, that would just like, oh, fine, if you’re gonna be in a bad mood, then I’ll just stay away from you. I’m not saying those things, but that was my basic attitude. And I feel like over the years, now, let’s say something like that happens, which it does, then I can say, I noticed, like something happened, you know, we had a good start today, and then something kind of went sideways. You wanna tell me about that? Did something happen or did I say something? Not in a defensive way, but just really, we’ve had some really good conversations about that. He’d go, “You know, I wasn’t aware of that.” Sometimes even going back to your childhood. As a child, my mom treated me a certain way, so now whenever I hear this phrase, it takes me back to a time when I didn’t feel cared for.

[Aaron] Yeah.

[Lisa] And you’re thinking, oh, well, I didn’t mean to

[Aaron] I know how it feels.

[Lisa] communicate that I didn’t care for you. But I can see that that would translate to that. And now I know, and I can be more mindful of that.

[Aaron] And lovingly. Just the loving hey, is everything okay? Not because you’re bothered by it.

[Lisa] Yes.

[Aaron] But because you’re concerned for it.

[Lisa] Yes.

[Aaron] Which then, I’m sure, Matt, you would experience. There’s been times that I don’t even know why I’m brooding. It just takes a moment to be checked on it. And then I’m like, oh, I actually don’t know why I’m brooding right now; I actually do feel irritated. I don’t know why. Which it totally could be a hormonal thing, it could be a something I ate, and maybe there’s something spiritual going on that we need to be praying through, but that approach of not taking it personally because we do that. Why are you doing this around me? I was in a great mood, now you just brought me down. But rather, helper, but for each, an actual concern. Hey, is everything alright? That was a really good bit of advice. I think everyone listening is gonna be loving these tips because this is 26 years of you guys learning this. We’re only 12 in, what is that? We’re not even half.

[Matt] It’ll go quick; it’ll go quick.

[Aaron] We are halfway to the kids, though.

[Matt] Oh, that’s right.

[Lisa] Yeah.

[Matt] And you got started earlier than we did.

[Aaron] We got started earlier, so we might bypass you

So you guys’ll

[Matt] Outpace us, yeah, that’s right. But then there’s adoption, we can stay ahead of ’em.

[Aaron] It’s true, that’s true. So I’m loving these tips. And it all plays back into this. Right now, you’re talking about how you guys minister to each other. Loving each other, cultivating intimacy, the communication, the strong bond which allows us, then, it frees us to be more able to minister outside the home. Not that it can’t happen, but when you guys are so connected, so close, there’s more freedom, and less internal turmoil.

[Matt] I might even say it a little differently. I would say what it does is it authenticates the message.

[Aaron] That’s perfect.

[Matt] And you know, we see this principle, well not just principle, we see this exact teaching in the high priestly prayer that Jesus prays in John 17 where he’s saying, their unity, let them be one as we are one, Jesus is praying. Let them, his followers, those who come to Christ, who come to a repentance and become the children of God. Let them be one as we are one that the world might believe that you have sent me. The unity that we have, the oneness that we have is the authentication of the message of Christ that he came from the Father. And so, that’s so true in the church as a whole, and it’s absolutely true in marriage. When we’re walking in love, when we’re walking in unity, when we’re exuding that, where we go through life, it authenticates the message when we do speak the truth of the gospel to someone.

[Lisa] And not just out there, but in our own homes, to our kids.

[Matt] Oh, that’s just so true.

[Lisa] When your kids are little, you can kinda get away with it, or at least you think you are.

[Aaron] We think we think we are.

[Lisa] Believe me, as they get older, they’ll tell the world what it’s really like at home. They’ll tell their friends.

[Matt] They do.

[Lisa] I’m just saying because it’s reality. And the opposite is true, too, that if you are loving each other, it’s a witness to them, it’s an encouragement to them. Our kids all want to get married. They want to have that kind of marriage. And that’s a huge blessing. One of the things that we recently asked one of our older daughters, who’s in her twenties. I think it was a Father’s Day thing. What do you like most about your dad? She said that, “He loves Mom so well.” And it was such a beautiful testimony that yeah, they’re watching, they know whether you have loved each other in those quiet moments.

[Aaron] Well, when you think about it, almost everyone probably listening, when they look back and they think about their home and how they were raised, I’m sure a lot of them, being raised in Christian homes or not, maybe heard the Bible, but did they see it? Did they see the Bible; did they see the gospel? They don’t remember what they ate. They don’t remember all the places they’ve been. But they definitely remember how Mom and Dad were together. They definitely remember how Mom and Dad treated them. And that’s where the ministry in our home comes in. ‘Cause I’ve told Jennifer this. I said, Jennifer, all of these things that we have, Unveiled Wife, Husband Revolution, our podcast. I said all of that means absolutely nothing if my kids don’t know the Lord. And so, not just our ministry to each other that we have a healthy marriage and that we’re godly, and that we love each other and respect each other and honor each other and cherish each other and serve each other, but that my kids see it. And that they recognize what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and that at the end of the day, they look back and they say thank you to us, not because of us alone, but because we were obedient. I want my kids to say that. I want my kids to say, “Mom and Dad loved each other. “I just know it; they loved me, and they showed me “who God was and they lived it every day. “They didn’t just use their words.” As James says, don’t just be hearers only, but doers of the word. Are we just listening and not doing? Are we just telling and doing the opposite? The do what I say, not what I do?

[Lisa] Right, right.

[Matt] Do what I say, not what I do. It works every time, just not the way the parent thought it was going to work.

[Aaron] Exactly and so I just, going back to that, that’s what I want everyone listening to understand. The main purpose of this chapter in the book, is, and it’s early on in the book, it’s chapter five, and it’s setting this idea of we could want to do lots of things for God, but God wants us to do what he’s told us to do. And if we can’t be faithful with the little thing, and the little thing is our children, our spouse, our home, this is a little picture of the world. If I can’t minister to my wife and love her as Christ loves the church, I have no right going and loving a stranger like that. I could.

[Matt] I think what we do is we tend to think like, I know what you’re saying, as this is the little thing, so to do the big thing. I actually think that reality is kind of on its head.

[Aaron] Okay.

[Matt] I think the big thing we’re doing is we’re being faithful with our spouses, we’re being faithful in discipling our children. And it’s a great, big deal, and see–

[Aaron] Man, I heard that, yeah.

[Matt] If the church had been teaching and focusing on that these past, what, I dunno, however many years.

[Aaron] 60 or 70 years.

[Matt] Would the church be in the state that it’s in today with disintegrating families and churches filled with unfulfilled marriages and disappointments and divorce and all of those things. It’s a great big deal. And if we’re faithful here, God can entrust with ministry elsewhere.

[Jennifer] In chapter 14 of the book, we talk about how what God sees as extraordinary is so different than what the world deems extraordinary. When we look at our own lives, it is that day-to-day, all those little choices of discipling our children, being faithful to one another, that is extraordinary because that is where God is working.

[Aaron] Especially today, it’s normal, you brought up the word normal, it’s common, that’s what it is, it’s common in the world for there to be divorce and unfaithfulness and children who are rebellious and hate their parents. It is extraordinary and remarkable now even though it should be normal for a marriage to have love in it.

[Matt] Well, that’s just it.

[Aaron] The gospel.

[Matt] It is normal, biblical marriage to have a loving, close, wonderful, fulfilling, enjoyable, beautiful oneness in marriage. That is normal Christianity; that’s normal marriage. The problem is, is we see what’s common around us in the world, and we get used to what’s common, and start thinking that that’s normal, but it’s not. If you have a biblical perspective, if you walk God’s way, and your marriage reflects God’s priorities and principles, then you’re gonna have an awesome, wonderful, beautiful, loving, enjoyable marriage because that’s what a normal Christian marriage really is.

[Jennifer] And the power of God’s testimony in your life is actually powerful.

[Matt] Absolutely, right, exactly.

[Aaron] Well, people can’t argue with it. I mean, they can argue with anything. We were just talking about this. When you’re around people that are walking a certain way, makes it easier to believe that you can too. That goes both ways. So when you see someone, and you’re like man they’re, like the stewardesses looking at you. They don’t your whole story, but they know the story they just saw. You’re not faking it when you’re sitting in the aisle, whatever row you’re in and like, oh we want everyone to see that we’re perfect. We have this smile on because you can’t fake it.

[Matt] Yeah.

[Aaron] Everyone fakes it, and no one falls for it. Like, oh–

[Jennifer] Maybe for a short flight, but not long one like you said.

[Aaron] Yeah, the short flight’s, but yeah.

[Matt] That’s right.

[Aaron] And again, we keep going back to this. God’s not interested in just us having a happy marriage and a healthy marriage.

[Matt] No.

[Aaron] For the sake of happy and healthy marriage.

That’s not an end game.

[Matt] That’s exactly right.

[Aaron] It’s the means to the end, like you said. It’s what, what was the word you used? It verifies, no–

[Matt] Authenticates.

[Aaron] It authenticates.

[Matt] Yeah.

[Aaron] What’s sad and still is very powerful to realize is when we’re not it doesn’t make God the liar. It makes us the liar.

[Matt] It reminds me or brings to mind that phrase. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power. ‘Cause you look at it from a galloping horse at 100 yards, and it looks like Christianity. It looks like something that’s related to God and related to the Bible. But then you get close and you see, well, no, actually. It’s not real; it’s not true, and that’s when we see the disintegration in the next generation when the kids are like, I don’t want any part of that. Again, you just can’t hide that. And especially, you mentioned, Lisa, you said, yeah, you can’t hide it, your kids will absolutely tell the story and we know of a family. The snapshot looks amazing, and nobody would know this, but their kids told us recently, oh yeah, our parents yell all the time. And you’d never know it, but the kids know it. And the kids are now talking; they’re all older now. And now they’re saying, oh, no, no, no, no. Parents yell all the time. So that’s why it’s gotta be true there because if you’re out witnessing, if you’re that parents, and it could be yelling or bickering or fighting or cheating on your taxes or any number of things, but if you’re that parent, and in the gas stations, you’re telling a guy, oh, hey, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you, and God loves you, and he wants you to have a relationship. The kid is sitting there going, “Are you kidding me?” it’s so important that for the things that we say to be true about how we live. It’s called not being a hypocrite, and your kids can figure it out at a very early age.

[Aaron] All of this was so good. I’m encouraged; it makes me think about my marriage even though we’re constantly working on it, I just think, man, I wanna–

Makes me think

[Jennifer] Of the kids.

[Aaron] Yeah, I wanna pursue you more. I want to constantly be doing that for the sake of our outward ministry and for the sake of our home, so thank you for these stories, the openness with us. We’re gonna ask you our question that we’re asking everyone. What is your definition of a marriage after God?

[Lisa] I think that it’s that ever growing a deeper love for each other. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. I think sometimes we just go, well, it’s perfect, so we throw our hands, or it’s not perfect, so we throw our hands up. Instead of thinking, no, I’m gonna move forward in this. And I’m gonna grow in these areas. I can even think of things I have struggled with. Believe it or not, I do have a temper. And Matt has the ability, somehow, to press that button better than anybody else I know.

[Matt] Well, I mean, just on a boring Saturday. I mean if there’s nothing else to do.

[Lisa] Press my buttons. So I’ll find myself reacting to him, and I will stop myself literally mid-sentence and go, wait, it’s like, yep, like okay.

[Aaron] That’s a good–

[Lisa] What I wanted say was. I didn’t quite the first two seconds or minutes, however the situation was, wasn’t right. But checking myself and going, okay, but that’s not who I wanna be. That’s how I was, but that’s not who I wanna be anymore, so I wanna try again. And giving each other that grace to grow, but being determined to change and not say, this is not who I wanna be; I do want us to be loving close.

[Matt] And for me, I think I would boil it down. I mean, that’s a huge subject, right? And there’s so many facets to it. But I would boil it down to this. The fundamental understanding that my marriage is what God is doing in the world. It’s not what I’m doing in the world. It’s not the thing that I have; I have a marriage. My marriage is what God is doing in the world. The Bible says what God has put together let no man put asunder. This is something God is doing, and so if you have that basic, fundamental faith about this relationship, it’s a foundation and a starting point for moving forward.

[Jennifer] Thank you guys so much for joining us today. This has just been, like Aaron said, incredible and inspiring. If people were inspired today and they want to follow you more, can you just remind them where they can find you?

[Lisa] We have a podcast, Faithful Life. And we’d love to have you join us over there. And we also, both of us have a website. Matt has faithfulman.com, and I have club31women.com.

[Matt] And then you’re also on Instagram, club31women and faithfulman, on Instagram, so you can find us there as well.

[Aaron] Everyone listening, definitely go follow them, they are golden.

[Jennifer] If you like Marriage after God, and you like what we share, you’re definitely gonna like them.

[Aaron] We actually just steal all of our content from them and repurpose them. They have been integral in the growth and maturity in our life. And so, we appreciate you guys.

[Jennifer] Thank you.

[Aaron] And we thank you for not only sharing with our audience now, but for sharing with us over the last five years.

[Lisa And Matt] We love you guys.

[Aaron] That we’ve known you guys. So, we’re gonna close out with a prayer. Jennifer’s gonna pray and then, yeah.

[Jennifer] Dear Lord, thank you for creating marriage with such a significant purpose of revealing to the world your divine love. Please help us to make choices that reflect your love in the way we love one another. May we choose to walk in obedience. Thank you for your word which instructs us and shows us how we should walk in obedience. Please continue to give us wisdom and strength as we choose to walk in the spirit and not our flesh. We pray we would make our marriage a priority. We pray we would gain deeper understanding of how our marriage is our first ministry, and the impact we have in each other’s lives and in this world just by remaining faithful to your word. If our priorities are ever out of order, or if we are not unified, please help us to change our course. Constantly direct our hearts to align with yours. May our marriage always be in a place where you can use us as a symbol to point other to you, and may you be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[Aaron] Amen.

[Matt] Amen.

[Aaron] So, thank you all for listening today. I hope this blessed you guys. And as always, we want you guys to have a conversation about this. Go on a date, and discuss the things that we talked about today. We have, what is it, 11 more episodes in this series. 11 more interviews to come. They’re gonna be awesome; please stay tuned. We look forward to having you next week. Did you enjoy today’s show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave a review on iTunes. Also, if you’re interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageafterGod.com, and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

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