This is the fifth, and the final, week of our series called Family Vacation. I’ve been on vacation myself for the last couple of weeks, but it is good to be back with my tribe here at Connect.
My family took a little road trip during our vacation. We went to Tennessee for a few days, and then swung up to Virginia for a few more days. And this meant that our two boys rode together in the backseat for over 1,200 total miles.
And over the course of these 1,200+ miles, I had a few revelations. First of all, one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to mankind is the portable DVD player. Seriously, where were these things when I was a kid?
Now, I’m not in favor of turning on a TV in the car for your kid if you’re just running to Kroger or something like that. But on a 1,200 mile road trip with 2 kids…thank God for a portable DVD player!
This DVD player really helped keep our two boys occupied. And it kept them out of a lot of trouble. To be honest, they handled all the driving really well.
But even so, there were still a few moments. A few of those classic family vacation moments. There were a few moments when I was driving, and in the rear view mirror, I would see a hand fly across the backseat. And then another hand would fly across the seat in the other direction. And I would inevitably tell them to stop fighting.
It just happens, doesn’t it? I’ve always said that if you have one child, you’re a parent. But if you have more than one child, you’re a referee.
Fighting just happens within a family. You can deny it. You can put on an act and try to convince us that somehow your family is the exception. Or you can just own the messy truth. Fighting within a family happens.
But today, we’re going to talk about a much more important fight. We’re not talking about fighting with your family. We’re going to talk about fighting FOR your family.
Let’s pray and then we’ll jump into this fight.
During my vacation, I had a chance to watch a few of my favorite movies again. I hadn’t seen them for years, and I forgot how great these films are.
I’m talking about the Rocky movies. And out of all these movies, I think that Rocky III might be my favorite. This movie has Sylvester Stallone, Hulk Hogan, and Mr. T. That makes for one awesome movie!
If you remember Rocky III, you know that Rocky Balboa decided to retire from boxing…until he met Clubber Lang. Clubber had a really big mouth, and kept taunting Rocky. But Rocky never fully agreed to fight him…until this happened.
Rocky was getting agitated with all of Clubber’s talk, but then he crossed a line. Clubber started talking about Rocky’s wife. That’s all it took. All of a sudden, it was personal and Rocky accepted the challenge, because the fight was no longer about him. It became a fight for his family.
If you have a family, you also have a choice. You can choose to accept the fight or you can choose to reject the fight. But don’t make any mistake about it…the fight for your family is very real.
Specifically, I want to challenge our men today. Ladies, don’t check out on me, because you need to fight for your family, too. But men, the fight starts with us.
Men, you need to know that Satan has already declared war on your family. Your family has a target on them. Your enemy is gunning for your family.
God has given you permission to fight for your family. In fact, it’s more than that. God has given you the responsibility to fight for your family.
So today, we’re going to talk about three little phrases that will help you not only get into this fight, but win this fight. And they all come from the story of a guy that you’ve probably never heard of.
The man’s name is Shammah. His story is only two verses long, which means we don’t know a whole lot about him. But these two verses tell us enough.
Here’s Shammah’s story. It’s in the Old Testament book of 2 Samuel. “Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Samuel 23:11-12, NIV)
Shammah was one of the elite soldiers in David’s army. Think Navy Seal. Army Ranger. Green Beret.
But even though Shammah was one of the elites, he still found himself in an impossible situation. The army of the Philistines were bearing down on him and his fellow soldiers. The Philistines were among the most deadly fighting forces in the ancient world. They were a killing machine. And they were coming straight at the Israelites.
So the Israelites did about what you would expect them to do. They ran. The Philistines were attacking, so the Israelites hightailed it out of there. All except Shammah. Shammah decided to stay and fight.
And when I read this short, but incredible, story of Shammah, three phrases really come to mind. These three simple phrases are key when it comes to this fight for your family.
Here’s the first one. “This is what matters.” Everybody say, “This is what matters” on three. One, two, three. “This is what matters.”
The key to any fight is knowing what you are fighting for. If you don’t know what you’re fighting for, you’re not going to win. Period. So it starts right here. It starts by recognizing what you’re fighting for. It starts by deciding what matters.
Shammah decided what mattered. The Scripture tells us, “When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down…” (2 Samuel 23:11b-12a, NIV)
The Philistines were coming after the Israelites in a field of lentils. What are lentils? They’re kind of like peas or beans. This battle was going to go down in the middle of a pea field. And Shammah decided that this pea field was worth fighting for. He decided this field of beans mattered.
Now, I’ve got to be honest…I don’t think I would fight for peas. Would you? And I know some of my vegan friends are thinking, “Heck yes, I would! I’ll fight for lentils!”
Listen, that’s awesome. You go right ahead and fight for your peas or your beans. I’ll fight for my steak.
My wife cooks peas sometimes, and I’m a good husband, so I eat them. But I never, EVER ask for them. And I dang sure wouldn’t fight for them.
So at first glance, I’m not really with Shammah here. A field of these bean/peas are worth fighting for? Not in my mind. Now, if it was a field full of Skyline 3-ways, I’m in. I’ll strap on the gloves and throw down for that. I’ll get in that fight. But not for peas or beans.
But if we peel back the layers and think about this a little deeper, we see what really mattered to Shammah. It’s likely that the Philistines were invading to carry off the Israelites’ crops. In the ancient world, you didn’t go to the grocery store to feed your family. Your family ate what you were able to grow or kill. That’s it. So an invading force that came to steal your crops was a really big deal.
Shammah wasn’t just defending a field of peas. This fight wasn’t about a bean field. It was about his people. He was defending these crops because they were needed to feed his people. He was fighting for his nation, his family. And that is what mattered.
That’s where the fight started for Shammah, and that’s where the fight starts for us. And like I said, I’m really challenging our men today.
Men, this is what you have to decide. You have to decide what matters. You’ll never win the fight until you make that decision.
Let me tell you what matters. Your marriage matters. We’ve talked a lot about kids and parenting in this series, but you know the absolute best gift you can give to your kids? Make sure your marriage is healthy.
I realize that some of you are single parents. I get that. But I also get that you could very well get married again someday. And you’ll need to own this truth.
Your marriage matters. It’s worth fighting for.
It’s so easy to convince yourself that the problems or issues in your marriage are unique to you. Nobody else has these problems. No other marriage has these issues.
You’re wrong. You are not alone. Every marriage has problems and struggles and issues and even times of crisis. But the difference is made in the decision of fight or flight. You can join the rest of the Israelites and run away, or you can stand with Shammah and fight.
Your marriage is worth fighting for. Your marriage matters.
In fact, nothing else in your family matters more than your marriage because your marriage is your family’s foundation. If you decide to build a house, you’d better get the foundation right. Because if the foundation isn’t solid, it doesn’t matter how amazing or how beautiful the house is. It’s going to end up as a pile of rubble on the ground.
Your marriage is the foundation of your family, but you’ve got to fight for it. And men, it starts with you. Does your wife know that you fight for her? I didn’t say that you fight WITH her. Any guy can fight WITH his wife. But a man will fight FOR his wife.
So let me ask you, men…are you fighting for her? Are you pursuing her? Remember how you pursued her when you were dating? Remember how relentless you were in coming after her? Making her know that you valued her? Remember how stubborn you were in this pursuit? You just wouldn’t give up. You wouldn’t give up the pursuit.
Let me ask you a question, gentlemen. Why did you stop? Why did you ever stop pursuing your wife? Why did you stop making her feel valued and loved? Why did you stop romancing her? Why did you stop?
“Well, cause we’re married now. I put a ring on her finger. That should tell her all she needs to know.”
Listen very closely, gentlemen…it doesn’t. It doesn’t.
That ring signifies to you that the pursuit is over. But in your wife’s mind, the pursuit never ends. Because the secret that your wife will never tell you, but I will, is that she still feels insecure about how you see her and how you feel about her. And that insecurity will never go away.
She needs to be reassured every single day that you still love her. She needs to be reminded every day that you’re not chasing after that half-naked, Photoshopped, anorexic, fake woman on a magazine cover. You’re chasing after her. She needs to hear all the time that you don’t want anyone but her, and you never will.
That’s what it means to pursue your wife. And men, when you stop pursuing your wife, she will interpret that to mean that you have stopped fighting for her. That might not be how you see it, but it is absolutely how she sees it.
And I’m telling you guys…she is worth fighting for. Your wife is worth fighting for. Your marriage is worth fighting for.
Now ladies, I told you not to check out on me, because I’ve got some stuff for you. I know I’m hammering on the guys today, but you need to hear this. If your husband is not pursuing you, the reason might be him. But the reason might also be you.
If your husband pursues you, and you say something like, “Ugh…all you care about is sex!” guess what…the time is going to come when he just gives up his pursuit. Why pursue something that you know you can never catch?
You’re not married to Wile E. Coyote. It didn’t matter how many times he failed or how many ACME products blew up in his face? He never caught the Road Runner, but he never gave up the pursuit.
But ladies, that only happens in cartoons. That’s not what your husband will do with you. If he knows he is pursuing something that he can never catch, he’ll eventually give up.
Or if you are disrespectful to your husband, to his face or behind his back, he will eventually stop pursuing you. If you run him down to his face, if you make fun of him to your friends, if you post gripes and complaints about him on Facebook, he WILL stop pursuing you.
Ladies, your greatest need is to be pursued and loved. Your husband’s greatest need is to be honored and respected. And when you take that away from him, you really take his legs right out from under him. He can’t pursue you.
My wife is not here today. Nicki and our boys are in Alabama with her family. They’ve been gone all week. And as a side note, I can’t wait for my wife to get home! I want her home NOW!
But here’s one of the things that I love most about my wife. I never, ever worry about her disrespecting me, when we’re together OR when we’re apart. We’ve been apart for over a week, and I’m not the slightest bit concerned about her saying anything disrespectful about me when I’m not around.
She doesn’t disrespect me to my face, and she doesn’t disrespect me to her friends or her family. In my presence or in my absence, I know that my wife honors and respects me. And you know what that makes me want to do? Pursue her! And when she gets home from her trip…I will be pursuing her!
The bottom line is that it’s worth fighting for. Your marriage is worth fighting for. And men, it starts with you. Your wife is depending on you to fight for your marriage. Your kids are depending on you to fight for your marriage. And even beyond that, your friends are depending on you to fight for your marriage. Our church is depending on you to fight for your marriage.
I’m sick to death of seeing marriages falter and crumble and die because nobody was willing to fight for it.
Men, you will fight for your career. You’ll fight for a bigger house or nicer car. You’ll fight for the approval of others. You’ll fight for a promotion. You’ll for your status. There are all kinds of things that you’re willing to fight for, but you’d better make dang sure that your wife is at the top of that list. Your marriage is worth fighting for. It matters.
Which leads to a second phrase that will help you win this fight. “I’m not moving.” Everybody say, “I’m not moving,” on three. One, two, three. “I’m not moving.”
We always talk about stubbornness like it’s a bad thing. But it’s not always a bad thing.
The great Steelers coach, Chuck Noll, passed away last month. Chuck Noll said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Being stubborn is a virtue when you’re right; it’s only a character flaw when you’re wrong.”
When it comes to fighting for your family, stubbornness is not just a good thing. It’s a great thing. You’ve got to be stubborn. Persistent. Unmovable. Because it’s not a fight that will be won quickly or easily.
Go back to Shammah. “When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down…” (2 Samuel 23:11b-12a, NIV)
Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. Not on the edge where he could run away. He took his stand, and he took it right in the middle of the field. In other words, he told the Philistines, “I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m not moving.”
If you want to win the fight for your family, that’s what you’ve got to do. And again, men, it starts with you.
You’ve got to take your stand, right in the middle of everything. Not close to an escape route. Not close to an easy out. You take your stand right in the middle, and you let everyone know, “I’m not moving.”
Your wife needs to know that you’re not going anywhere. Period. You are taking your stand, and come hell or high water, you’re not moving. You are with her, you are beside her, you are for her, period.
Your kids need to know that you won’t be moved. No matter what happens. No matter how they succeed or fail. No matter what, you are there. You are fighting for them. And you’re not moving.
This is not what we are conditioned to do in our culture. Especially men. If men were trained to take a stand and not move, 24 million American children wouldn’t be living in a home without their dad.
If men were serious about taking a stand and not moving, cohabiting couples wouldn’t be eclipsing the number of married couples. When a man moves in with a woman without marriage, he is not telling her, “I’m taking a stand and I’m not moving.” He’s telling her, “I’m taking your bed, and I’ll move when I get bored with you.” Moving in together isn’t taking a stand in the middle of the field. That’s standing on the very edge, with one foot in the field and one foot out. And running away is very, very easy.
We are in a fight. And you don’t win a fight by hanging around the edges, with a wavering, wishy-washy commitment. You win a fight when you are all in. When you take a stand. When you say, “Here I am, and I’m not moving.”
The Apostle Paul tells us exactly what kind of fight we’re in. In Ephesians 6, he wrote, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. [Make no mistake about it. This is a spiritual fight. Satan is gunning for you and your family.]
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV)
Stand. Do not move. That’s how this fight is won.
In his book that is actually entitled Fight, Craig Groeschel wrote, “God calls you to stand. Your enemy wants you to fall. So as God’s warrior, there are only two acceptable actions. You’re either standing or you’re getting back up. Even if Satan trips you, you’re not down forever. Get back up. Never stay down.”
Some of you have been tripped up. You’ve been knocked down. That’s only a problem if you stay down.
Men, I know what a lot of you are thinking. It’s the same thing I’m thinking. “I’m such a failure. I haven’t fought for my family like I should. I seem to fail and fall all the time. I’m not the husband my wife needs. I’m not the father my kids need. I feel like a complete failure.”
I know you’re thinking it. I am, too. I’ve been tripped up and knocked down. So have you. But I don’t have to stay down. And neither do you. And here’s the reason why. It’s the last phrase we need to remember to win this fight.
“I’m not alone.” Everybody say it with me on three. One, two, three. “I’m not alone.”
This is the only reason we can win the fight. Because we’re not in the fight alone.
Go back to the story of Shammah one more time. At first, it really looked like he was alone. “When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down…”
Sure looks like he was alone to me, until you finish reading the verse.
“But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.” (2 Samuel 23:12, NIV)
Shammah wasn’t alone. He wasn’t standing alone. He wasn’t fighting alone. The Lord brought about a great victory.
You are not alone. And again, men, hear this: you are not alone. You are not standing alone. You are not fighting alone. If you will commit to fight for what matters, you won’t be fighting alone. If you decide to stand and not move, you won’t be standing alone.
I know you won’t always feel it, I know you won’t always see it, I know sometimes you’ll have a really hard time believing it, but God is fighting for you. You are not alone.
And unlike Shammah, you also have other people around you. In fact, we’re going to be signing up for our next round of Connect Groups soon. One of those groups will be a men’s only group that will be working through the Craig Groeschel book that I quoted earlier. Guys, you can get in that group and you can surround yourself with men who are taking the same stand and fighting the same fight that you are.
The point is, you are not alone. Even if things are hard right now, you’re not alone. If your marriage is struggling, you are not alone. If things are tough with your kids, you are not alone.
If you are fighting to live a life of purity but it’s really hard, you are not alone. If you’re struggling to overcome the stuff in your past so you can fight for your family in the present, you are not alone.
You are not alone because you worship a God named Jesus. You worship a God who gave His life for you on a cross. You worship a God who is more powerful than death itself and walked out of that tomb three days later. And His sacrifice for your sin means that you don’t have to stay down. In fact, it means that your victory is already won.
You are in a fight, but the fight is fixed. Jesus already won the victory for you. All you have to do is stand with Him and refuse to move. It doesn’t mean that it will always be easy, but it does mean that your victory is guaranteed.
If you’re not sure about that, if you don’t really know about all this Jesus stuff, we’d love to listen to you. To talk with you. To help you on your journey in any way we can. We’ve got a team of people who would love to meet with you after church today.
And if you feel like you’ve been losing the fight, we want you to know that you’re not alone. We’d love to pray with you. To help you. To do whatever we can to serve you. You are not alone.
Here’s what we’re going to do to close out this service and this entire series. I know that I threw down a gauntlet today, especially for the men. I challenged you to decide what matters. I challenged you to stand and to not move. And I told you that you’re not alone.
But now I’m going to prove it to you. Men, if you’re ready to take a stand for what matters, if you’re ready to fight for your marriage, if you’re ready to stand and not move for your family, then I want you to symbolically take that stand right now.
If you are a man who is ready for this fight, you’re ready to stand and fight for your family, then stand up right where you are.
Look around, men. You are not standing alone! You are standing with other men who are in the same fight. But most importantly, you are standing with Jesus Christ who has already won the victory for you.
You are not alone, so decide what matters. Take your stand. Do not move. And if you fall along the way, get back up. The stakes are too high. The fight is too important. Get back up. Take your stand. And fight.
Ladies, if there is a man of God who is standing up nearby you, show him that you’re with him. Stand up right now beside him.
We are all in a fight, but we’re not fighting alone. We are all called to take a stand, but we’re not standing alone. Everyone in this room stand up now, and let’s blow the roof off this place in worship. Raise your battle cry! Take your stand! Because Jesus is with you. He is standing with you. He is fighting for you. So let’s tak our stand and worship Him now!