Turning Contracts into Covenants

What does the term Christian marriage really mean?

Linn Winters
Aug 12, 2018    43m
In this sermon by Pastor Winter, the subject of Christian marriage is the topic for the first message in a series of sermons to help strengthen marriage. He discusses how most marriages are based on expectations of each other, which can lead to conflict. He challenges his congregations to look at marriage as it was was intended to be, as a covenant. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

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.

Linn Winters: 00:00 Introductory video plays.

Linn Winters: 00:29 Hey Cornerstone. Man, I'm super, super glad that you're here. I think most of us know we're starting a brand new series on relationships on marriage. So here's the question. How many of us in the room are not married? You're in a marriage, you're not married. Good for you. Okay. So, no, no, no, no, no, no. I think you may be the smartest people in the room. Let me explain why. Would you rather pack your parachute on your way down or before you go up in the plane? And the reality is, guys, there's a whole bunch of us in the room who are packing our parachute and we're in the middle of kids and we're in the middle of mortgages. And now we're all of a sudden realizing, hey, marriage is a little bit harder, a little more complicated than we thought, and we're trying to figure out how to pack the chute.

Linn Winters: 01:17 And I'm just telling you, I think, I think the people who may benefit the most, this may have the greatest impact to our people who are not married yet. It's going to give you the chance to go in much better prepared than some of us went in with. And there's a chance, you ready? There's a chance it may even change the person you decide to marry because of the things we're going to say. So I'm glad you're here. Lean in, stay in. This may be more for you than it is even for some of us that are already married.

Linn Winters: 01:46 Alright. A couple of things that we need to say as we begin this together. Okay, so I've been on the Keto Diet and I've lost 32 pounds in the last five months. Let me tell you why I say that. The keto diet is crazy. Okay? So here's the basic, just of the Keto Diet. You're going to cut all carbs out. You're not going to eat any bread, you're not going to eat any sugars, you can't have any carbs. Instead you eat fatty things so you eat fat and fat and fat and fat and fat and fat so that you can lose fat. I mean that's just a little wacky, but the crazy part is, is it works.

Linn Winters: 02:29 Here's why I tell you that. In the next few weeks as we have this conversation about marriage, it's gonna feel like the Keto Diet. There's going to be some moments you're going to go that is the craziest piece of advice. I can't even wrap my head around why that would be helpful in my marriage. I can't. And here's what I'm asking you to do.

Linn Winters: 02:50 I'm going to ask you for 60 days. For 60 days say look, I'm just gonna lean in. I'm just gonna do what the Bible prescribes as a biblical marriage. Even if I can't quite understand it, even if I'm not sure I even agree with it and just see what God would do. See what would happen if I did that for 60 days. And so that's the challenge. Would you do that? Would you set aside? Because here's look, look, look, look, if it doesn't work, you can always go back to carbs. Okay? You can do what you were doing before.

Linn Winters: 03:24 Second thing to say it again, if I were to ask you to raise hands and say who is exhausted by their marriage? Who? Don't raise your hand. Last hour or so, my wife was doing this right? If I was to ask who's exhausted by their marriage, who says man this is just way, way, way, way more work than I thought for far, far, far less satisfaction movement than I ever anticipated. I guarantee you there are some in the room who would raise, maybe a bunch who would raise their hands. Conversely, there's people in the room who would say absolutely not. Man this thing is the most fulfilling, most thrilling thing that's ever happened in my life.

Linn Winters: 04:11 What's the difference between the two? The difference between the two is some of us (the ones of us that are most worn out, most puzzled, most perplexed by it), you and I are doing city driving in our marriage. Stop and go driving in our marriage. Let me see if I can help you with that. If you go today to buy a new car, on the window there's going to be a sticker and it's going to have two different numbers on it. One of those numbers is the gas mileage you can expect when you're driving in the city. The other number is going to be the gas mileage you could expect when you're driving on the highway. Here's the interesting thing. You get better gas mileage at 60 miles an hour than you do at 20. Here's why. Your engine never works harder. It never takes more effort than leaving the stoplight and getting you to the first 20 miles per hour. And if all you ever do is start and stop, start and stop, start and stop, you will get horrendous gas mileage in your car. Some of our marriages have never reached cruising speed. We've never gotten to highway benefits. Instead, we're down here somewhere in the first 20 miles per hour to start and stop, start and stop pumping the brakes on our marriage. Say, Linn, well how's that happen?

Linn Winters: 05:33 It happens because at some point we go, hey, wait a minute. You weren't supposed to do that. If you're going to do that, we'll then I'm not gonna. Well, wait a minute. You did not do what you were supposed to do before. I didn't do what I was not supposed to do. But you know what? What you didn't do was worse than what I did. Right? And all this time we're pumping, we're pumping, we're pumping breaks, and then ultimately we get to the place of just real frustration and then we break into a marriage discussion.

Linn Winters: 06:04 Right? And in the midst of that, now we're venting everything we're saying, hey, yeah, you can't believe, and you did it, and we're saying hurtful things. We know the place because we're going to win the argument. We're going to get our spouse to cry uncle. And so now we're causing all sorts of damage. We're, we're putting the brakes on relationally within our marriage. And then we get to the end and we come to some form of an agreement that says, okay, from now on....

Linn Winters: 06:29 But you realize now you spend the next four or five months rebuilding trust, trying to heal the wounds that you just caused in your relationship. Trying to somehow get past that zero to 20 place in your marriage and get a little bit of momentum, but here's the deal. You're going to do that again. And some of us are living in marriages right now that are absolutely exhausting because we are repetitively pumping the brakes. We never get past city driving in our marriage. And what we're gonna do today....

Linn Winters: 07:10 What's going to happen today is we're going to talk about what does it take to get to highway speed. Some of us in ere are going,

Linn I'm already there. We're already doing great, great, great. Guys, guys, guys, if you'll begin to apply the principles, you might even get to autobahn And you know what autobahn is. No speed limits. Lots of fun. Okay?

Linn Winters: 07:33 So grab your bibles. Here we go. It's Ephesians, Ephesians chapter five. If you're not familiar, if you'll just go to the back of your Bible and then start working to the left. Ephesians chapter five is probably by far the most powerful conversation about marriage. I mean the insight that happens in this passage will change everything for you and me. So we're gonna come back to it a couple times back.

Linn Winters: 08:05 Back of the Bible, work to the left, Ephesians chapter five. Now here's the warning I got to give you. When we read this verse in a minute, you're going to be unimpressed. You just are. You're gonna go, I'm not even sure how that's helpful. But here's [unintelligible] I want you to lean in. I want you to listen really carefully to what it says. And then we're gonna unpack together the struggles that we have within our relationships. And then we're gonna come back and when we come back you're going to go oh my goodness. That verse, that verse would change my marriage. That verse would revolutionize our relationship if I lived that verse with my spouse. Okay? Here we go.

Linn Winters: 08:55 Ephesians Chapter Five, starting in verse 21. Here's what it says. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Let's talk about how we get ourselves in trouble. Every one of us, every one of us comes to any relationship, but a marriage, especially with expectations. We thought about, hey, when I get married someday, here's what I expect my wife to do. Here's what I expect my husband to do for me. These are just my hopes and expectations as we get ready to do marriage. So for instance, she may say, hey, my expectation is that when it comes to children, we're going to have a match set. You know, one of each. That's, that's the plan. He on the other hand says, hey, I'm trying for a basketball team. You know, that's, that's my thought on when we get married. He may say, hey, even when we're married, we're going to be the cool parents. So we're gonna have a sportscar. Who cares if the baby seat goes in the trunk? It doesn't matter. We're going to be the cool parents. She goes, oh, no, no, no, no. When we get married, we're going to have a community car. We're going to make sure everybody's in there comfortable. We can all be together at the same time.

Linn Winters: 10:18 Housework. Who does the housework? I guarantee you he's got an expectation. I guarantee she's got an expectation. You realize I can't put this in one of the baskets without getting in trouble. Right? What about disagreements? What about when we're arguing about something? She comes and she says hey my family or origin, my history is when we disagree, we take whatever that is, that conflict, and we put it in in a little jar and we seal it up really tight and then we pretend there was no disagreement. And then we can all be peaceful. Here's for you with disagreements. Hey, here's what you do man. When you don't agree, you duke it out, you say everything that comes to your mind. You just verbally vomit on each other until you get everything out and then you'll feel better because you said everything you wanted to say. He's got what he's hoping she wears to bed every night. She's got her expectation of....

Linn Winters: 11:36 Because I mean, after all, he loves her and he'd want her to be comfortable, right? What about money? Money. She's a spender. See, her thing is hey, part of my, it's piling things up, especially shoes. Shoes. So if I could have like 376 pairs of shoes that I don't even wear, but they look nice in the closet. He's a saver. See, his thing is no, no, no, no. We're going to have a safety account. We're going to only buy things when it makes sense. We're going to avoid credit.

Linn Winters: 12:12 You realize every couple has come to this thing called marriage with expectations. Here's the problem with expectations. When you and I come into marriage and say, hey, here's what I'm expecting from you as my spouse. Here's what I'm expecting you to do in order for us to make this thing work. Expectations always become a contract. See, it always turns into here's the deal look, look, look. If you'll do what I expect you to do, then I'm willing contractually to do what you're expecting me to do. But here's the deal. If you don't do what I expect you to do, then don't expect me to do what you're expecting me to do. It's a contractual agreement which requires performance on both sides in order for the contract to be fulfilled. So guess what happens? Somebody doesn't meet expectation. And guys, guys, guys, listen. If you catch this, it's gonna.....

Linn Winters: 13:22 Contractual marriages, expectation met, always stay in low gear. They always do. Here's why, because she doesn't. And he says, well, hey, if you aren't, well then why would I? And then she says, but wait a minute, what you didn't do was bigger than the thing I didn't do, so I need to not do something else to make it even. And he goes, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. No, no, no, no. You went way, way too, right? And, and within [unintelligible], we are constantly doing that. We're constantly tearing it down and that's before we get into a fight. And so then we spend the next few months trying to renegotiate the contract, trying to fight for who's right and get this thing back together.

Linn Winters: 14:19 And just about the time we get to 20 miles an hour again, we're going to pump the brakes. We're going to do the same thing because somebody's ready for this. Somebody is going to violate the terms of the agreement. Contractual marriages, marriages of expectation never get past city driving. They never get past low gear. So here's what I want to ask you to consider. Is it possible? Is it possible that the reason that marriage is not what you dreamed and hoped it could be? Is it possible the reason that it feels like you're putting in so much effort and making so little progress is because of your expectations and the fact that your spouse is not meeting them the way that you expected them to fulfill the contract? Contractual love. See, if I say to you, hey, as long as you fulfill you know what I expect....

Linn Winters: 15:27 Contractual love is conditional love. If you will, then I'm going to really, really appreciate you. When you, well then I will. Contractual love is conditional love, and here's what you've got to get. Conditional love is not real love. Conditional love is a cheap, fake substitute for real love.

Linn Winters: 15:59 If I only love you when [unintelligible]. When I say to the person I'm with, I love you if. I love you if you have a meal done every time when I come home. I love you if you have sex with me every night. I love you if. Let's even take it up a notch. Let's say that your spouse is doing a really good job. And so then you say, well you don't know. No, no, no, no. I love you because. I love you because you're doing what I wanted you to do. I love you because you're performing at the standard that I had hoped for and expected. I love you because. You realize in both of those statements, they are focused on one individual - myself.

Linn Winters: 16:50 I love you if I get out of this relationship what I need out of this relationship. I love you because you're giving me what I expected you to give me. Both of those statements (you ready?) are wildly selfish. And guys, you need to know the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is selfishness. The opposite of love is when it says I'm in this relationship for what I get out of it. This is about my fulfillment. This is about my needs. The opposite of love is selfishness, not hate.

Linn Winters: 17:38 Here's another thing. When you're in a contractual relationship, when you're in a expectation relationship, then even the kind things, even the good things that your spouse does for you don't count as acts of love because you expected them to do that.
Linn Winters: 18:00 Let me see if this helps. So the other day I take Lisa to the doctor. She's there to get a small procedure done. When we go in, our doctor is Dr. Merrill Turner, who happens to be a friend of ours. He comes to Cornerstone every once in a while.

Linn Winters: 18:15 And so we go in and we see Dr Turner and we say, "Hey, before you start the procedure on Lisa, you probably ought to know we think she's got a kidney infection."

Linn Winters: 18:24 To which he then says, "Oh wait a minute. Let's order up some tests."

Linn Winters: 18:29 So he takes a sample, sends it out and says to the guy, "I want that stat."

Linn Winters: 18:32 We had the results of the test back in five minutes. Can you believe that? I mean we had the test back. He looks at it and he says, "Yeah, she's got a kidney infection. I'm going to write her a prescription, we're going to get that taken care of. But here's the downside. I'm really hesitant to do the procedure while she's battling a kidney infection right now. So you're going to have to come back another day."

Linn Winters: 18:52 Okay, so now we, uh, walk up to the desk and I'm settling up for today's appointment to which Dr. Turner goes, oh no, no, no. Don't worry about it. And I go, really? He goes, no, no, no. Don't worry about it. Now here's the deal. If I had expected him to give me free medical care, so maybe because after all am his pastor and I'm his friend right? And what would a friend do for a friend? If I had expected him to do that, then I would have gone, oh, hey, thanks a lot and got on my way. When you expect something, even gestures of kindness and love don't count because you expected them.

Linn Winters: 19:39 But I didn't expect it, and I turned to Merrill and said, Merrill you don't have to do that."

Linn Winters: 19:44 He goes, "No, no, no. I want to."

Linn Winters: 19:50 And I looked at him and I said, "Thank you, thank you."

Linn Winters: 19:57 Because in that moment [unintelligible] and he goes Linn that's just a little thing. No, no, no. In that moment, his act of kindness, I received as an incredible gesture of friendship and love toward me. Because when you don't expect it, it's a big deal.

Linn Winters: 20:22 If you expect your mate to show up on time, then when they do it, who cares? It doesn't matter that he reordered the schedule of his life and that he worked so hard during the day to try to get all of his work done. And he actually looked at some folders and said, hey, you know what? I'm just going to put them off until tomorrow because I know it will thrill the heart of my wife if I show up right at dinner when she's got [unintelligible], and then I'm going to spend time with the kids. But if you expect that, if that's the least a husband could do for you, you realize that gesture of love never goes on the stack because it's an expectation. It's the least he could do.

Linn Winters: 21:06 She goes through her day and she thinks to herself, you know what, I've got a million, I've got a list a mile long. I will never finish the list. And even though it's completely against her nature not to just try to do it all, do it all, do it all, she chooses instead and says, you know what? I'm going to take part of my list and I'm just going to set it aside because I'm going to choose to have some energy tonight. So that when we get to the end of the evening and my husband's hoping to be romantic, I'm actually gonna have something left in the tank to engage. And if that's his expectation, if that's the least she could do, then you realize she doesn't get any credit for that act of love and kindness on her part because that was simply a fulfilled expectation. When you live in a contractual relationship, when you're already in a contractual marriage, then even gestures of love don't count because they simply met the requirements of the contract .

Linn Winters: 22:13 Right about now, right about now some of you are going to be tempted and you're gonna go look, look, look, look. I actually think contractual relationships are working. I think because I'm just telling you, uh, we seem to be doing alright. We've, argued about, we've wrestled about, and I finally got her to comply. I finally got him to be obedient, and we seem to be making progress.

Linn Winters: 22:38 You realize what's going to happen, right? I don't care what season you're in right now. You may be getting close to 20 right now. Someone's gonna fail to meet expectation. Somebody is going to begin to go the wrong direction and then you're gonna withdraw and you're not going to do it because they didn't do what they [unintelligible] and you're going to. You get it right? If you stay in a contractual relationship, you will forever be stuck at zero to 20. You will forever city drive your marriage. Because, because, because contractual relationships, and marriages of expectation can never reach highway speed. Do just a little self-diagnosis. Are you in a contractual marriage? Are you in a "hey, when you don't, I won't." When you don't meet my expectation, I'm deeply frustrated and I feel my heart moving distance from you. Are you in a contractual relationship? How do you change this? How do you shift this gear and get to highway speed?

Linn Winters: 23:59 Ephesians 5:21. Let's go back. Ephesians 5:21, here's what it says again. You ready? Submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ. What are you submitting? Expectations. The contract. And what happens is when we say look, look, look, whatever, hopes and dreams, whatever expectations I had in the marriage, they aren't as important as your needs and your hopes being met. I'm going to submit my expectations to try and fulfill your hopes. So what you do in this moment is you create a completely new box and you begin to take those things that you thought and hoped and wanted that marriage to be, and it's not like you just give them away and become a martyr. You put them in the box of hope. You say, hey, I still would like to marriage to be this way. I still am hoping for that. I just no longer make them a requirement for my spouse. I'm putting them into the I am ready, I am submitting them because there's something more important here and that is to fulfill the hopes of my spouse. I have found a person I love more than me and their happiness means more to me than my happiness means to me.

Linn Winters: 25:39 You ready for this? It's changing from having a contract with your spouse, to having a covenant with your spouse. Here's the difference. A contract relies on both parties' performance. A contract says, if you build me a building, I'll pay you for it. If you repair my car, I'll pay you for that. A contract says if you, then I. It's a two sided agreement. A covenant, you ready? A covenant is a one sided agreement. A covenant says, this is what I'm going to do for you, no conditions attached. So a covenant would be, hey, you know what? I'm going to be your friend. I'm going to be your friend. I don't care. I don't care. I don't care how many mistakes you make. I don't. I don't care. I don't even care how you [unintelligible]. I'm going to be your friend. That's my covenant, my one sided promise toward you.

Linn Winters: 26:35 Think about this. When you got married, you stood in front of God and in front of a preacher in front of a whole bunch of other and you made vows. Remember those? Hey, I'm going to love you. I'm going to be your best friend. When you're hurting, I'm going to be the shoulder you can lean on. And guess what you never said when you made those vows? If you perform, if you meet my expectations. On that day when you got married, you made a one way promise. I'm going to be this to you. No conditions. A covenant.

Linn Winters: 27:21 In the Old Testament, when you made a covenant, they would take an animal. They would slice the animal from snout to tail. They would lay one half on this side and one half on this side. They'd slice another animal. They'd lay one half on this side and one half on this side. They'd slice another animal. They'd lay one half on this side and one half on that side. And then when they made the covenant, the person would say, look here's the deal. I'm going to make you an unconditional promise. If you go to war, I'll go to war with you. I don't care what the war is about. I don't care who you're fighting. I'll be with you. It's a one sided promise. And then the person making the promise would walk through the animals and here was the symbolism. If I fail to keep my promise, may what's been done to these animals be done to me, because I am making you an unbreakable promise, a covenant today. Not based on performance. Based on promise from me.

Linn Winters: 28:26 You get that you were God's gift to your spouse. Let me say that again. You were God's gift to your spouse. He was intending to show His love and His kindness to your spouse, through your behavior, through your gestures, toward them.

Linn Winters: 29:10 As a matter of fact, grab your Bible again. Go with me to Genesis Chapter Two. Genesis Chapter Two. It's the very first time that we even run into this concept of marriage. I'll give you a hint. Genesis is somewhere near the front of your Bible. Four years of seminary to get that one. Okay, so Genesis Chapter Two. Watch this. Watch this. Watch this. Ready? The Lord God said, it is not good for a man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them and whatever the man called each of the living creatures, that is what its name was. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky, and for the wild animals. A lot of theologians believe the reason God had Adam name the animals was so that he would come to the conclusion, I'm alone. I'm alone.

Linn Winters: 30:25 But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man's ribs and then he closed up the place with flesh. And then the Lord God made woman from the rib he had taken out of the man. And He brought her to the man and the man said whoo. Man this is now a bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, or like I like to say whoa man, because he was really excited Eve. Okay? For she was taken out of man. This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh guys. Eve was God's gift to Adam.

Linn Winters: 31:14 Your wife was God's gift to you. Guys, we don't say this a lot. Men, you realize you were just as equally God's gift to her and that God's heart and God's desire when he brought you together, men, was that she would finish every single day and she would get to her knees and say a prayer and say, God, thank you. Thank you for the gift of that man because he has thrilled my heart. That God's goodness, God's kindness to her would be expressed in the way that you treat her and the way you fulfill her heart. Guys, guys, guys, you want that woman to be thrilled out of her mind that you are her husband because you are God's gift to her.

Linn Winters: 32:17 Ladies, you want your husband laying in bed at night when all the lights are out staring at the ceiling and whispering a prayer in which he says, God, thank you. Thank you for this woman who's laying next to me. She's a gift. And guys look, here's where we get it backwards. We want to say, oh no, no, no, no, no, you're God's gift to fulfill me. You're God's gift to meet my expectation. You're God's gift to make me happy. And you realize the minute you make you the focus and then the minute you do that, you just turned it to contractual. You instead are to live your life, that you are the gift to them.

Linn Winters: 32:41 And guys, I'm just going to tell you, here's how this works. Husbands, you now go to the hope box and you peek in and you don't look for your hopes. You look for her hopes and then you go, oh wow, that's a way for me to be God's gift to her. And then you run and you immediately say, I'm going to show God's love and God's kindness to my wife by fulfilling her hopes. And some of you are going Linn, wait, wait wait. You're cheating. You put way too much on that stack right there. No, I didn't. Here's why. Remember, since it's not conditional anymore then every single gesture of love counts. I'm suddenly making way, way more deposits because she left her expectations. And here's the other side of it. Because expectations were submitted, put away, there are no more withdrawals.

Linn Winters: 34:12 When you begin to live in a covenant marriage, when you begin to say, hey, I am God's gift to my spouse, you get to highway speeds remarkably fast. See, what she does is she looks into the hope box and not looking for her hopes, looking for his. What could I do to bless my husband today? What could I do to make him thrilled that I was God's gift to him? And all of a sudden when that becomes the move of her heart, she is making wild, crazy big deposits without withdrawals with everything she does counting. And guys, all of a sudden you're at highway speed. You realize this is called unconditional love. I am going to meet your, I am gonna do for you without any expectation. For me it's unconditional.

Linn Winters: 34:52 Here's what I think is interesting. We understand unconditional love when it comes to our children, right? I mean, think about this. Your kids are a mess. They come into this world. They're poopin and peeing and slobbering, and they're going to do that till they're 28, right? And here's the deal. My guess is that almost all of us have never said to our kid, hey look your performance is bad, so I'm withdrawing my love. Instead we say look, you may have just frustrated me. You may have disappointed me out of my mind. You may have actually made me angry, but I'm just telling you I love you.

Linn Winters: 35:43 We offer unconditional love to our children, but here's what you need to know. Your children are the third most important relationship in your life. First most important, God, second most important, your spouse. How interesting is this? We struggle to offer unconditional love to God because we go, hey God, wait a minute. That verse really stank. Ugh, you're asking me not to sleep with my boyfriend. I don't think I like you very much right now. And we struggle to offer unconditional love our spouse. Hey, you didn't perform. You didn't do what I want. Isn't it interesting that in the two most important relationships in our lives, we struggle to offer the unconditional love that's needed,

Linn Winters: 36:32 And guys, I'm just going to tell you, this is why divorce hemorrhages the hearts of our children. Because, one day dad walks up and says, hey, you know what? I fell out of love with your mom. I no longer love her. She says to the kids, hey, you know what? I don't love your dad, but that doesn't change that I love you. And our kids intuitively know that our relationship with our spouse is a greater relationship than our relationship with them and they go, how is this possible? You're telling me that you'll always love me. How did you stop loving dad? How did you turn away my mom? And they don't understand? You know why? Because it never should have happened. I should have offered unconditional love to my God. God, I hate what you just said. I don't know that I agree, but here's the deal. I love you unconditionally so I'm going to follow it. Hey, you know what? You're my spouse and you haven't looked at my hope box for a while, but it doesn't change the fact that I love you. I love you. I love you unconditionally.

Linn Winters: 37:40 Here's, here's something that's interesting. At weddings, right now they're, they're doing foot washing. Have you been to a wedding where they did foot washing? Okay. It's two of us, so you're way ahead of the curve. You just need to know that whole pouring the sand in the jar thing, that's old. That's old and they're not doing it anymore, and especially unity candles. The new thing is foot washing. So I'm at a couple of weddings, you know, and they're doing this thing, foot washing. And if you're not familiar Jesus, just before He dies, He's doing the Passover feast with his disciples, and in the middle of kind of having this dinner, He gets up, puts a towel around his waist, and He begins to wash the disciples' feet. Now the reason you would do this is because in those days everybody wore sandals. You're walking on dirt roads, and everybody's feet gets dirty. It's the act of a servant. So when I first saw that, you know, at a wedding I was like, that's just, that's just kind of funky and it's kind of a Passover thing and I don't get it.

Linn Winters: 38:47 And then I thought to myself, that act of being a servant that's marriage. That is marriage. And guys here's what you need to hear. Anytime you love unconditionally, it requires that you take the status of a servant. I love my Lord unconditionally. I will serve Him. I love my children unconditionally, which means I'm going to clean diapers. I'm going to get up in the middle of the night when they're sick and I want to be sleeping. I'm going to drive them to soccer practice for the 13th time this week. Right? Anytime you love unconditionally, it requires the posture of a servant. And, if you're going to love your spouse unconditionally, you're gonna wash feet. Remember the second part of the verse - submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ. What did Jesus say the night He washed the disciples' s feet? If I, your Lord who deserves.....

Linn Winters: 39:50 I've got every reason to have expectation. You should have treated me like I was God. You should have treated me with respect. If I your Lord humbled myself and became a servant, do the same. Submit your expectations to your spouse because your Lord submitted his expectations to those he loved out of reverence for Christ.

Linn Winters: 40:19 So here's the call. I'm going to ask you and me for the next 60 days to do the walk of the covenant, to just simply say, hey for 60 days I refuse to do contractual marriage. I'm going to do covenant marriage. I'm going to be the spouse that my wife had dreamed of when she was a little girl. I'm going to be the wife that my husband hoped for from the time he was a little boy. Well, not from a little boy because boys don't like girls until they're 13. The wife he hoped for when he was in junior high. I'm going to be that wife for 30 days I'm gonna be covenant. I'm simply going to be God's gift to my spouse. I'm going to be the embodiment of God's love and blessing to them without expectation. How powerful would this be? Think about this. I know this is scary. How powerful would it be if both the husband and the wife walked out of here today saying, I'll do covenant marriage for 60 days. I will be my spouse's blessing without expectation for 60 days. You'd be at highway speed.

Linn Winters: 41:39 Second thing, some of you are going to get really, really serious. Some of you are going to go man I just want to push the accelerator in my relationship. And then I'm just going to challenge you. You want to take a look at this card. It gives you opportunities to get in a room with other couples who are pushing the accelerator. It gets you in a room where there's discussions about how do you go further, how do you go faster with this thing, and if you really want to go somewhere, you need to check this out and consider for the next 60 days. I'm going to be in a room with other people who are working just as hard on this as I am.

Linn Winters: 42:11 Let's pray. Dear Lord Jesus, we're going to rip up some contracts today and my prayer is that every single couple in the room would leave the room with that contract just in pieces in shreds. And for 60 days they would choose, they would decide. I'm gonna live marriage in covenant. I'm going to live out my promise to be loving and to be God's gift to my spouse without expectation of performance on their part. I'm going to look into their box of hopes and I'm going to be the answer, unconditionally loving them. God change our marriages. May the marriages of Cornerstone be so different than this world that we live in, that people who don't know our God would be in awe of what our God does with us. This we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286