Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered February 9, 2008 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Red Poppies and Pink Sheets

John 13:34,35

(RealAudio Version available)

We're going to have a couple of artists that are going to illustrate something that I'm going to be mentioning in the sermon, and so as it takes place, enjoy it. These are some of our youth in our church.

The other day, several months ago, our computer got so slow that it could not have won a race with a retired snail. It got bad. The thing was really sick. I defragged it. I ran a spyware program, and we soon found that our computer was full of bugs. Had all kinds of bugs in it. And also the computer had gotten too full of cookies and had come down with a virus.

And so, maybe your marriage is like our computer. And your love has almost stopped. And maybe your marriage doesn't look anything like those pictures in the Bride Magazine. I don't know. Maybe it resembles a house of cards that's just shaky and ready to fall down. We want to strengthen marriages today. Maybe it's time to defrag and reboot your marriage.

Some people whose computers have gotten bogged down have the misconception that they need to go out and get a new model. When actually, if they stick with the model they've got and do some work on it, maybe they could get it running just great. So don't give up and throw the thing out. My wife and I actually did not need a new computer. What we needed was to get the bugs out of ours. To get the viruses out. The spyware out. And so we worked on it, and you know what, it's running great today. It's running great.

Don't give up on your marriage. More than likely you don't need a new marriage. No one is perfect, you know. Not even you. You may say, “Well my spouse, I know, is not perfect.” Well, how about you? During this sermon I don't want you to think of your spouse. Forget all about that. I want you to think of you. Okay? I'm preaching to you. Because you're the one. Now if you're doing something that's making your marriage absolutely bad, then you need to stop it, and you can control that with the power of Jesus Christ. Right? We didn't run out and get a new model. And let me tell you that if you don't do your defragging and your scan-disking and your regular maintenance, even that new computer is going to develop problems. Often, the answer is right there. If you look into the monitor very carefully, you will see the problem. You are reflected in there. It's your face. Often you are the problem with your marriage.

So you've got to have good input to get good output. No marriage runs on perpetual motion, so make time to do things together. Uninstall all of that clutter that you don't use anymore. Reprogram your marriage. Get regular updates. Do you update your computer? Get regular updates in your marriage from the Word of God. That's going to help you. Put a firewall between your home and evil and God’ll help you to do that. A good working marriage takes time.

Somebody came to me recently and said, "You know, my spouse and I have nothing in common anymore. We've grown apart. We’re like two old vehicles going down life's highway, passing in the night. Our schedules don't match. I go to work at one time. My spouse goes to work at another time." You know what their problem is? They're not taking time. They've grown apart. Can troubles be fixed? Yes. What can be done? Well each of them has got to make time. You've got to make it a priority to make time in your schedule for the other person. Do things together. Go places together. Develop some common hobbies. Hang in there. Hang in there until you retire, and then you can stare at each other 24/7. Is that scary to think about that? You'd better do something now before that time happens, okay. If you quake at the thought, then now is the time to do something about that.

A retired gentleman came into my office not too long ago and he stood there with a broad smile on his face and he said, "My wife and I retired together not long ago and we’re spending an hour and a half to two hours every morning in the Bible. And we're praying together. And we're doing all the exciting things together." He said, "It’s just wonderful. We're closer now than we've ever been." That's what it can be, if you take time. So develop your marriage.

And marriage is good for you. You know that. Happily married people live longer and they're healthier. A good marriage lowers the rates of cardiovascular disease. It lowers your cancer rate. Your respiratory diseases, and even helps mental illness. However, the stress of a bad marriage can make you sick. Did you know that? So you need to work on that thing. Did you know that all the arguments in a bad marriage decrease your immune system? They actually do. Even, they slow down wound healing. How often a husband rolls his eyes at his wife, or however often the wife rolls her eyes at her husband depends on how often that other person needs to go to the doctor. The references are on the website. Look up some of these references. It's amazing.

Up in Flint Michigan.-- We used to live there, and my wife and I had just purchased a brand-new home. Well it wasn’t brand-new. We had to remodel it, and the grass needed cutting, and my, what a mess it was. Was a beautiful place. Michigan’s a great place to live. Some of you come from Michigan. You know that. Well, I will tell you that we had one of the most beautiful things there. They were poppies. That's what they're drawing over here. Beautiful poppies, right outside the kitchen window. And that's one of the favorite things that my wife liked about that place.

But the grass needed mowing, It needed cleaning up. So we decided to clean it up. The grass was probably a couple feet tall. And we didn't have our mower over there yet. It was still at the other place. So we hired some professionals to come in and mow the grass for us. And I worked out there that day. And we just worked hard. Got it all fixed up, and finally I paid the man and I felt real good about the way the place looked. And I got my wife and we walked around the house admiring everything, and we came around to the other side of the house where the kitchen window looks out over the poppies, and the poppies were mowed down to the ground. And I thought my wife was going to cry. Maybe she did cry. It was a horrible moment. She said, "Donald Gettys." And I knew I was in trouble. “They ruined my poppies. Why didn't you tell them not to mow my poppies?” And her finger was pointing at me. I was in trouble. My intentions were great. I had good intentions. But I had made a mess. And I was being blamed. Well, I had told them to mow the grass. I could figure they knew the difference between red poppies. They were in full bloom. They could tell the difference between that and grass, surely. But they mowed them to the ground. I did bad. How I wish that I had stood guard over that poppy patch with a double-barreled shotgun. My wife eventually forgave me, but to this day she still calls those people the poppy cutters. And so I know that I'm forgiven. I know that, but I know that I am not forgotten.

Come over here to Ephesians in your Bible. Ephesians, chapter 4 and verse 32. Ephesians 4, verse 32 is a neat verse. It says, "Be kind." I wasn't very kind to my wife. I tried. "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as Christ, God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children, and live a life of love." Live a life of love. That's what we need to do. We need to love each other. Love each other. Forgive your mate when they blow it. Can some of you identify with me, that have been married a long time? Have you ever made a mistake like that? Live a life of love, and a life of forgiveness, which you can do.

One day, my wife was doing the wash. She keeps our clothes really nice and clean, and she had some sheets and linens and white things in there. White underwear in the washing machine, and I said, “Dear, would it be okay to put my T-shirt in the washing machine?” She said, "Yeah." I was getting ready to go over to the church, and changing my clothes, and going to get some work done over at the church. And so I took off my brand-new, red T-shirt, dropped in the washing machine, shut the lid, and it resumed washing. I felt so good about helping my wife. But you know, there's just something about red T-shirts that are brand-new that have never been washed before that I didn't realize. But that I do realize today. I will never forget it. I learned a lot from my simple deed of helpfulness. Fortunately, my wife is an expert at forgiving and an expert at clothes, and all those pink things eventually turned a nice pretty pinkish white. Oh, I will never forget that incident.

Can you identify with me? Have you ever done things like that? She said, "I'm sorry, I forgive you, but, Donald, don't do that again." I didn't. Now I give the red ones to her. I don't know what she does with them but somehow she's figured it out, you know. Forgive your mate when she blows it. Forgive your mate when he blows it. Somebody has said, “Don't let the sun go down on your anger.” Don't let that happen. And don't carry grudges. Your marriage is more important than red poppies or pink sheets. Believe me.

They did a survey of 12,000 people and they discovered the number one cause of divorce, and do you know what it is? You’ve been told that it's money. But the number one cause of divorce, actually, is a breakdown, a failure, of communication. A failure of both partners to work on the marriage. They just give up. They give up. Don't give up. Hang in there. They don't spend time at it. I'm a gardener, and I will tell you that a garden does not happen by accident. Weeds happen by accident. Tomatoes don't happen by accident. You've got to really put a lot into it to have good tomatoes. You've got to find time for your marriage.

And how do you find time? If you really want the time to clean the barnacles off of your marriage, and get things looking good again, you can do it. I heard of a couple who did find time. They had been married for several years. They had teenagers, and they went out for a breakfast date every week. On the weekend. They would go out for breakfast together. Have a good time, and come back. The teenagers were still in bed. Didn't even know the parents had gone. Now of course, your teenagers may have motion detectors built into them, and when you get up the teenager wakes up, "Everybody get up. Mom and dad are up early. Hurry. Something's going on." Make time, somehow, for each other, and God’ll help you. Maybe you'll have to trade babysitting with another couple. You can do something to find time together, but you must spend time together. Talking on the back porch. Talking, visiting, communicating. Doing something fun. Alone time. Just the two of you. Otherwise you're going to drift apart. And you're going to become strangers living in the same house.

Come over here to Mark, chapter 12 in your Bible. Mark 12 and verse 28. Mark 12, verse 28. A Scribe asked Jesus a question. "Of all the commandments," the Scribes said, "which is the most important?" Now look at verse 29. "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this." And then in verse 30 He tells you what that is. Mark 12, verse 30. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." So the number one commandment is to love God, and then He goes on, in verse 31. He says, "And the second is this. Love your neighbor as yourself. There's no commandment greater than these." Love God. Love your neighbor.

I want you to picture in your mind that neighbor. Picture your neighbor now, the one that's the closest. You got that in your mind? I want you to think even closer. The person that is the absolute closest to you, probably, is your spouse. Your husband. Your wife. That's, in a sense, your closest neighbor. And for a married person, what Jesus is saying, is love your spouse as you love yourself. That's what we need to do. God created marriage, and God said about each day, it was good. He created light, it was good. He created the sun, the moon and the stars, and the vegetation, and the animals, but when he created Adam and Eve, he said, in Genesis 1, verse 31, "It is very good." So God thinks a lot of people and of marriage, but sin has altered things. I think Adam and Eve were equals, but once sin came in, the man ended up with the muscles, and the woman didn't have as much. And that has changed. Before sin, I think they were unified. After sin, selfishness came in, and now there's a tendency for one person to dominate the other person. Eve was to be in subjection to her husband, and this was part of the curse.

One time, I read of an abused wife, who was physically abused. Bruised. She came into the doctor's office, and he said, "Again?" She said, "Yes, again." She said, "I just can't take anymore of this. I feel like that if this keeps happening, I'm going to be dead one of these times." He said, "You’ve either got to leave him, or you've got to take up karate." So, she took up karate. She zealously practiced and built up her muscles and for six months, unbeknownst to her husband, she trained. Finally, the instructor called the doctor and said, "She’s ready." So the doctor called her, and had an appointment and said, "Now, you know what to do."

Well the next time the husband started in to abuse her physically, she knocked him to the floor. And she held him on the floor in a certain way that he could not get loose. She was ready. And he was shocked. He was surprised. He raged. He pled. She held him there for one hour. He reasoned with her. Finally he wept. And finally, she let him go, and she said "Never again." And he never again beat her. He finally obeyed the Bible, and he submitted to his wife.

Now you are saying, "Pastor, you've got the Bible all backwards. Who is supposed to submit to who?" Well come over here to Ephesians in your Bible. Ephesians, chapter 5, and you’re going to come right to verse 22, aren’t you? Verse 22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands." But please look at verse 21. Would you mind reading verse 21? What does verse 21 say? It says, "Submit one to another, out of reverence for Christ." You see, we should be submissive to each other. The man is not the bull in the china shop. The man has no right to abuse a wife. If you're being abused, you just need to leave. Or take up karate. That's all I can think of. How beautiful the marriage when Jesus blends the two lives together in love. Genesis, chapter 2, verse 24. "For this reason, a man will leave his father and his mother, and be united to his wife, and they will become," what? "One flesh." One flesh.

I think the secret of a really great marriage is commitment. I have never, ever thought of divorcing my wife. It just has not entered into my mind. Are you both totally committed to the relationship? Are you both trying, or have you given up? Try again. I've never understood why we have to give up. I'm committed to my wife.

In Santa Fe, a man phoned The New Mexican. That's the oldest newspaper in the West. And he said, "I want my engagement announcement to be withdrawn from the newspaper." And the person on the phone said, “Well sir, I'm sorry. It's too late. We're already at press." And the man said, "Well, I guess I'll marry her anyway then." You know, I wonder how long that lackadaisical relationship... That's not much commitment is it? I wonder how long that lasted. It sounds like God was left totally out of the equation.

If you look at Matthew. Come over here to Matthew in your Bible. Matthew 19. Here's the secret of a good marriage. Matthew 19. Look at verse 6. "So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what the preacher has joined together let not man separate." Is that what your Bible says? Who joins them together? God joins them together. God does that. And if God has joined you together, then you're really together. Don't leave God out of the equation.

Long ago, in China, there was a teacher. I'm glad I did not have this man as my teacher. Well maybe, it would've been a good thing. He was teaching in the school, and at the beginning of the year, he would call one of his students to come forward, and he would say, "You come up. I have two hands here. And inside of one hand is a gold coin, and if you choose which hand has the gold coin in it, I will give it to you. But if you choose the other hand, I will hit you in the face." And he was a fighter. I mean he was strong. So each day they repeated this thing. “Come forward. I have a gold coin in one of my hands. If you choose it, it's yours, but if you get the wrong hand, I will hit you hard. And you have a choice.” You could choose a hand or you could choose to go back to your seat. And everybody, every day, went back to their seat. Nobody was willing. Finally, there was a little boy named Chin. And his daddy had died in the war, and how desperately they needed money. And it was his turn, and he stood before the teacher, and he looked at those fists, and he examined them. Everybody thought he would choose not to choose. But he did. He says, "I choose the left one." The teacher said, "Are you sure?" And the boy said, "I'm sure." And the teacher slugged him for all he was worth. And knocked that boy to the floor. Almost knocked him unconscious. The boy was lying on the floor. He looked up at his teacher, the teacher opened both hands, and each hand had a large gold coin in it. The teacher said, “You can have them both.” He said, "I want to teach you kids a lesson here. Nothing is free in life.” Nothing is free. Everything costs something, and there's a price that comes with everything. And people are afraid to choose. I think today, a lot of young people are afraid to commit in marriage, and that's why they live together, quote, end quote. Make the choice, with God. Pray about it. Make your choice, and marry the person that God intends for you to marry. Make sure it's His will. The teacher helped Chin to his feet, gave him a hug, gave him both gold coins, and never repeated the exercise again.

People today are afraid of making choices. Choose. Be committed. Be committed, and contrary to popular belief, the best things in life are not free. They cost. But they're worth it. Choose, if you can, to avoid divorce. Often times, divorce is like a living death. If the parents get a divorce, so often the kids are left dangling. It's hard. Choose to live a life with Jesus Christ at your steering wheel. Choose to live with the poppy cutters of life.

And my sermon is almost done. It looks like we have some poppies coming over here. I sure appreciate these two young artists. The McDonald Road Church has a lot of talent.

Choose to live with the poppy cutters of life. Live with the pink sheets. Live and learn to forgive, and learn to love. Your marriage is worth more than pink sheets and cut poppies. Choose to make time for your marriage. Choose to come to church and sit together. Choose to pray together. Choose a common hobby. Something you can do together. Go places together. Build your marriage. Build strength into your lives. Build Jesus Christ into your life. And let's be faithful to each other, and faithful to Jesus.

It's time for our closing hymn. Number 350. We're going to sing Blessed Be the Tie That Binds, our hearts in Christian love. And what is that tie that binds our hearts in Christian love? It's Jesus Christ. Let's sing our closing hymn.

Hymn of Praise:  #26 Praise The Lord! You Heavens Adore Him
Scripture: John 13:34,35
Hymn of Response: #250, Blest Be The Tie That Binds



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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 2/11/08