The Vow of Pursuit

How To Pursue A Strong Relationship In Our Marriage

Andrew Barber
Feb 14, 2021    1hr 16m
We all desire to have a strong relationship in our marriage and our relationships with loved ones. The key to strong relationships is having a strong foundation. And to have a strong foundation, we must pursue God more than anything else in our lives and keep Christ in the center of our lives. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Andrew Barber (00:00):
Happy Valentine's Day here at Journey Church. It's a cold one. I'm so glad that you are joining us here this morning. For everybody here in the room and everybody online, thank you so much for joining us here at Journey Church. Hey, for those who are in the building, if you forgot it is Valentine's Day, this is your reminder. It is Valentine's Day. And if you just so happen to sneak out and use the restroom, we have some cards in there, you know, just in case you forgot. In fact, I've already seen my wife have one in her pocket. She didn't realize I saw it. So I may get a free pass this year because she may have forgot too. So love you, babe. Anyways, my name is Andrew Barber and I have the privilege of serving here on staff as a pastor.

Andrew Barber (00:49):
I serve as a young adult pastor. We call our group YNG. We are a group for all 18 to 25 year olds and we don't believe we're just a ministry. We believe we are a movement of young adults. And I'm so thankful that I get to do that. It's something brand new in our life. It's been a new challenge for me and my wife. And we love what we get to do. But before I go any further, I just want to thank Pastor James so much for the opportunity and the privilege to speak to you guys this morning. It's an honor and it's a privilege to know that he trusts me with the platform that God has entrusted him with. And that is an honor to know that he thinks that highly of me. And so enjoy your rest, Pastor. Enjoy your relaxation and we will see you next week.

Andrew Barber (01:34):
For us this morning, we are going to continue our series Breaking Up is Hard to Do. I want you to look to your significant other and say, break up. Oh yeah. Some of y'all are hesitant. Y'all are like, hey, hey, I'm just telling you what he told me to say. See, I don't know about you, but I have always struggled with breakups. Like I have been the person who has been dumped. I've been the person who has dumped somebody and that's like pulling teeth for me. I'm just like trying to ease into it and it never went well. I've been the person who has been ghosted before. Do y'all know what that term is? Like ghosted means that like you just fall off the face of the earth. Like you send a text message one day and there's just nothing on that end anymore forever. Like I'm convinced that some people's numbers just change and they never told me. So I have been dumped. I've been ghosted. I've struggled with breakups before. See, there are so many times in my life where I should have broken up with something, whether it was a person, whether it was a habit, whether it was a problem or whether it was just something that I held onto far too long to the point where it became more of a problem than it was worth.

Andrew Barber (03:01):
Raise your hand if you've ever done that before. Yeah? Yeah, you're not alone if you just raised your hand. So this morning, I want you to break up. I want you to break up. We have a problem and we need to break up with it. So I want to read you a story in the Bible that talks about the issue that you and I need to break up with this morning. So we'll read this in Luke 9 this morning. And you should know that Luke 9 is like, it's like an action movie. Every single section is something crazy happening. And so if you start a chapter with Jesus feeding the 5,000, you know that this is a pretty cool chapter. But it doesn't stop there. There are so many cool stories that happen. You got Jesus feeds the 5,000. And then He predicts his death for the first time. And that's like, whoa, to all the disciples.

Andrew Barber (03:54):
And then He goes through this glorification process called the transfiguration. And so that's three huge things that happen. But then right after that, He heals a demon possessed boy. It's like slam-packed action in Luke 9. And I want you to know, we're not talking about any of those things. We're going to talk about something that happens at the very end of the section. And it is called the cost of following Jesus. For everything we do in life, it cost us something. There is nothing in life that is truly free. See, money, time, health, your future, your friends, your relationships, it always costs something. The gift of eternal life from Jesus is free to you and me, but it costs something. To truly follow Him, to truly follow what Jesus tells us to do, it costs us something. So in Luke 9, starting in verse 57, it says this. As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus replied, foxes have dens and birds have nests. But the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. One down and He said no.

Andrew Barber (05:24):
He said to another man, follow me. But he replied, Lord, first, let me go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God. Two came up to Him, two had the opportunity. And two said no. Third time's a charm. Right? Still another said, I will follow you, Lord. But first let me go back and say goodbye to my family. Jesus replied no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Three men had the opportunity to follow Christ and all three said no. They all had a reason. They all had an excuse. And in fact, they were good reasons. They were good excuses. But they weren't fit to follow Him. It's easy for me to look at these people and say, do you know who you're talking to? Like Jesus Christ Himself just asked you to drop everything and follow Him. Like, do you know who this guy is? Do you understand what He can do for your life? Do you understand just how special He actually is? The Son of Man. Jesus Christ Himself. Whatever it is that's holding you back, drop it and follow Him.

Andrew Barber (07:01):
It is worth it. It's what I want to shout at these people. But then I think to myself, it's so much easier to look at people in scripture and be like, what an idiot. Like, are you serious? That's what they're doing? But it's so good for us to pull ourselves back and think, I do exactly what these men just did. I do what these men do every day. I make this mistake so often. For you and I this morning, we're going to break up with something. We're going to be talking about breaking up with our priorities. Look to your neighbor and say priorities. There we go. Just make sure you're awake this morning. I know you're cold. It's all good. We're warming up. Or rather our misplaced priorities. See, misplaced priorities cause unmet expectations. Misplaced priorities cause long term mistakes. Misplaced priorities cause unfulfilled potential. Married couples, engaged couples, young couples, older couples, watching myself. I got you. Singles with no relationships on the horizon. Let me speak some truth into your life this morning. Jesus Christ must be the number one priorities in our lives. Period. There is nothing else than that. He's gotta be the number one priority. More than our kids, more than our jobs, more than our hobbies and more than--wait for it--our spouses. God has got to be number one.

Andrew Barber (08:57):
See, that's so much easier said than done though. Right? So much easier said than done. How on earth do I do it? It sounds so good in theory, but how do I do it? How do I practice it? Before I share with you how I believe we make this happen in our homes, I want to share a little bit with you about my marriage. I'm married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Her name is Taylor. She's a red head which means, you know, she's fiery. She, yeah. Right? Anyways. She's a red head. She's the mother of my soon-to-be-here child. His name is RJ. Robert James. And we are T minus 10 weeks from me getting to hold my little, my little baby boy. I'm super excited about that. Yeah. Last time I got to speak up here, we found out it was a boy and that, man, it's going by fast y'all. We're so excited to meet him. We've been married for about a year and a half. So you have any questions whatsoever about marriage, please come find me. I have all the answers. No, I'm totally kidding. I'm definitely not the guy to talk to. In fact, when Pastor James told us that he would be taking the weekend off and that we would have the opportunity to speak about marriages, I was super intimidated. And in fact, I'm still nervous right now as we're speaking.

Andrew Barber (10:18):
Because marriage is not something that I'm the most experienced person in this room about. In fact, I could probably ask some of you guys to come up here on stage right now and you would teach me so much more than what I know about marriage. And see, it's not something that I have a lot of experience with. I mean it's like asking a first-time parent to run a parenting class. Pastor James, if you're watching, do not ask me to run a parenting class. Okay? I don't know what I'm talking about. And so, although I don't know many things about marriage, I do know that in my six years of being here at Journey Church that I have been able to rub shoulders with some of the best leaders in central Louisiana and some of the best married couples in central Louisiana. Just thinking about who's on our staff for a second. Pastor James and Debbie, 47 years. Oh my goodness. Incredible. Yeah, we can make some noise for them. Pastor Josh and Heather, Stephen and Miranda, Darrell and Beverley, Richie and Joy. I can go on and on.

Andrew Barber (11:26):
But I'm trying not to get choked up. But it has been so incredible. I'm so incredibly grateful to be able to sit in staff meeting, to be able to come here on Sunday mornings and rub shoulders with these people and see how they navigate their marriages. And in fact, I'm so excited to be a dad because I get to see how they raise their kids. And oh man, I'm just so, so grateful to be here at Journey Church under this leadership. And if there's anywhere in central Louisiana that I would want to learn about marriages, it is right here in this room every single Sunday. And so guys, with that being said, here's how I believe get our priorities right in our marriages and how we get our priorities right in our love lives. Number one, in fact, I only have two reasons this morning. So yeah, everybody's like, oh man, he normally has three. We getting out of here early. So no I'm just playing. Number one, pursue God more than blank. Pursue God more than blank. It doesn't matter what you put in that spot. Doesn't matter what you put in that blank. You have to pursue God more than whatever it is. God is more worthy of our attention.

Andrew Barber (12:54):
Matthew 6:33 says this, but seek first. Not seek whenever you have time. Not seek when it's convenient. It says to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Those words come from the man Himself. If you're reading it in actual scripture, those words are in red. And if those words are in red, that means you probably should pay attention to them. And so it comes from the man Himself, Jesus Christ. No matter what it is, Christ has to come first. Proverbs 3:6 says, seek His will in all that you do and He will show you what path to take. Pursue God more than your spouse. But then pursue your spouse more than everything else. That is how you have a successful marriage. Pursue God more than your spouse, but then pursue your spouse more than your job. Pursue your spouse more than your kids. More than your projects. More than that to-do list. More than your hobbies.

Andrew Barber (14:09):
And if I'm being totally transparent here this morning, I do a pretty not great job of doing that. So I take on a lot of roles in my life. I serve as a pastor here on staff. I teach sixth graders at Brame Middle School. So y'all know, living the dream, not as excited about it as it was whenever I first told you about that, that getting that restlessness. You know what I'm saying? And I also coach powerlifting at Tioga. And I wear a lot of hats. And so from five o'clock in the morning to about seven o'clock at night, I am just going all the time. And I promise you this, some of y'all work longer days than me. And some of y'all know exactly how I feel. Just all the time, there's something that to be done. And I get in a bad habit of giving everything I have to those three roles. And then when I get home, I turn it off. And not just turn off my mind from work. I mean I turn everything off. At the first moment, the first thing I do, I take my shoes off and I go to the couch. And I'm just like, I just want to sit just for a little bit. Don't talk to me. Don't look at me. I just want to sit. Raise your hand if you've ever been in that position. Yeah? Yeah. Some of you are like, I'm fixing to do that when I get home.

Andrew Barber (15:27):
Nobody look at me. Don't talk to me. I mean it happens. But I get in a bad habit of giving everything that I have everyone else except my spouse. And so when I get home and I rest my head, I just start scrolling on my phone. And Taylor's trying to tell me about her day, about some things that she experienced and some things she wants to share with me. She's been waiting all day to see me. And I'm just not listening. I'm not being a good husband and I'm not giving her my undivided attention. And what ends up happening is this, is I end up giving her what's left over of me. I don't give her the best. I give her what's left. And so what happens for you and I is that all these other things in our lives demand our attention. Our jobs demand our attention. Our kids demand our attention. That by the time that it comes to getting home and talking to our wives, we give them whatever's left of us. And don't even get us started on our relationships with Christ at times.

Andrew Barber (16:36):
See for us, for our walk with God and for our spouses, they deserve the best of us, not whatever's left over. And so all it does, all it takes is prioritizing our time just a little bit better. See, someone once said, time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back. I was doing, I was doing some research on some statistics yesterday. And did you know that the average human spends 33 years of their life sleeping? In a lifetime, you spent 33 years of your life sleeping. You spend 13 years of your life working. You spend eight and a half years of your life watching TV. And you only spend slightly over a year doing romantic things like going on dates and other things. Yo. Yeah. And you spend, I think the average American spends 70 hours a year on the things of God. 70 hours in an entire year.

Andrew Barber (17:58):
What that's telling us is that as a society, and you should feel free about that because it's not just you. There are many, many people who are struggling with placing the two most important things as the most important things in our lives. We end up giving them what's left and not what's best. So number one, pursue God more than blank. Number two, keep Christ in the center. Keep Him in the center. In order for our marriages to be the best versions and our lives to be the best they can be, we have to keep Christ in the center. Our lives have to revolve around Him. Too often in life, we like to look at our lives as Jenga blocks. Okay? So we place our lives on the pecking order in order of priority. So right here, that's our friendships. Right here, that's our hobbies. Let's say this is football because, you know, football. This, let's say this is our family. This is our job. This is our kids. But God's gotta be number one. Right? We gotta put Him right at the top. God is right here. Okay?

Andrew Barber (19:30):
What happens is with this analogy is that we know that at times the things at the bottom end up taking too much priority for us. They take too much of our time. And so whenever our work ends up taking too much of our time, we end up seeing our lives collapse. We end up seeing our lives in shambles because we placed our job, our hobbies, our health, things like that as the foundation of our lives. And I don't know about you, but a home with a bad foundation, it's not a good home. And a life with a bad foundation is not a good life. It's a life that's going to be in shambles. It's a life that's going to collapse. And see, how many times have you and I found ourselves in that boat where our lives seem to collapse, where everything around us seems to be in ruins? And no matter what we do, we just can't start stacking it like it needs to be because it keeps falling from underneath.

Andrew Barber (20:52):
See, there's gotta be a better way. There's gotta be a better way to do this. There is. Don't just put God at the top is my advice to you. Don't just put Him at the top. Place Him in the center of your life, in the center. At the center of your heart, at the center of your families, at the center of your marriage. Take this bicycle for example. I know y'all been looking at it. And y'all been like, why does he have a bicycle up there? What is he going to do? Take this bicycle for example. Mainly the wheel. See, I want us to build our lives like this wheel. See, there are many things that are going to come off of it. See, our kids, they come off of this. Our health comes off of it. Our jobs come off of it. Our friendships come off of it. Our marriages come off of it. But there's one constant on this. It's the center. The center never changes. For us, I want us to place God in the center because Christ never changes.

Andrew Barber (22:19):
He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. No matter what happens, He is worthy of your praise. He is worthy of your life. He is worthy of everything that you could ever entrust Him with. He won't let you down. And so let me, just an example of my life. One day I was 18 years old and I had no idea what to do with my life, which is most 18 year olds. And so I was stuck between two college choices. I didn't know whether I wanted to go to ULM or whether I wanted to stay home and go to LC. And I remember having this conversation with this girl named Jo. And she said, Andrew, if you go to ULM, are you going to glorify Christ? Said, duh. Well, what about if you go to LC? Are you going to glorify Christ? Yeah, of course. Then she told me, she goes, then it doesn't matter because Christ is at the center of your life. And no matter what you do, He's going to take care of you. And so fast forward a little bit. Let's talk about 2020 for me and my wife.

Andrew Barber (23:34):
So life is rolling. Late 2019, we get an opportunity to do something that we never thought would be able to. Babe, what should we do? Should we take this opportunity? We pray about it. God's at the center. Let's do it. So we move. We end up taking this opportunity. It's incredible. COVID hits. Okay. God's at the center. Things look different. Babe, He's got us. We're good. Okay. Life's going. Life's going. Oop, we're pregnant. Woo. Yeah. That's awesome. Right? Well, things are about to change. We get an opportunity to come home. We end up buying a home. We end up buying a car. Y'all that's crazy. We do all these incredible things and life just keeps going no matter what. But the thing that doesn't change no matter how fast things are moving, no matter how slowly they're moving, the thing that doesn't change is that Christ is in the center. This morning, what you and I have got to realize is that Christ has got to be the center of our lives no matter what because He is worthy.

Andrew Barber (24:58):
Church, this morning, put Christ at the center of it all. At the center of your marriage. At the center of your home. The center of your job. Don't you realize who we're talking about? Jehovah Jireh, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He is worthy. He is Holy. He is trustworthy. And this morning I'm shouting to you like I'm shouting to those people in the scripture. Those people who said no. Whatever it is that is holding you back this morning from making Him the center, drop it. Don't let it hold you back. Because this morning, Jesus is asking you, follow me. Drop it all. Follow me. He wants you to have a great marriage. He wants you to have a great household, a great career. He wants you to be a good parent. All those things happen whenever you make Him the center of your life. Are you like those men? Do you have an excuse this morning? Do you have a reason to say no this morning? Or do you have a relentless passion to take up your cross, make Him the top priority and follow Him?

Andrew Barber (26:32):
Father God, thank you so much for this opportunity to be here this morning. And as we're talking about making you the center this morning, God, I pray that you allow us to do that in our homes, that you allow us to do that for our kids. God, we do whatever it takes, whatever it is to make you the center of our relationships. God, we love you. We thank you for who you are. And I pray that if there's anybody in this room that wants to make a decision this morning, that you give them the courage, the boldness to come up here, to pray with one of these pastors. Maybe our marriages are in shambles this morning and we just need some encouragement. God, we find that encouragement in you. Jesus, we love you. It's in your name I pray.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360