Married for Life – Wrap up Part 1

This past weekend at Harvest Church, we wrapped up our four week series, Married for Life. We considered the idea of having a plan for our marriages. The idea of the “plan” for marriage comes from Gary Smalley’s book, Love Is A Decision. In the book, he presents his thoughts for why couples should have a plan for their marriages. The plan comes from a story he shares that I recounted for the church. Here is part one of this weekends message.

Presented to Harvest Church…
No one hopes for success more than the owners of a new NFL expansion team. When a new team is started in a city, there is a great level of excitement. But the first 4 seasons of this new expansion team hadn’t gone as well as many had hoped. This fledgeling team lost it’s first four seasons, including it’s debut. The players stood on the sidelines, game after game, and watched as week after week as their team lost. Morale was low. Energy was low. Excitement was low. There wasn’t much happening to motive these guys to play well. Losing became the norm.

After four losing seasons, it was clear that something needed to change. In 1970, the team made the decision to call in a new head coach. But with the direction this team was heading, there wasn’t much hope. Just the season before, the team went down with a 3-10 record. It didn’t look good for these new coach.

But sometimes, looks can be deceiving. Not only would coach would break the losing streak, but he would lead his new team into three super bowl appearances, walking away with back to back wins. Beyond that, he would lead he team to a long stretch of winning season, becoming one of the most winningest coaches in NFL history, securing a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Team? The Miami Dolphins. The coach? Mr. Don Shula.

In 1970, Don Shula took the reigns of the Dolphins and led them to an amazing 10-4 season. A dramatic turn around.

In 1971, the “No Name” defense along with 1000 yard rusher, Larry Csonka, would lead the ‘Phins to a 10-3 season claiming their first division title and earning their first Super Bowl experience. However in the big game, the Dallas Cowboys were too much for the Dolphins, winning the game 24-3.

In 1972, the Dolphins dominated the league going 14-0. They capped their perfect season with their first second Super Bowl appearance and their first Super Bowl win. The season ended with a 17-0 finish, the first team to go through a full season and playoffs, undefeated.

1973 took the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl with a 12-2 season. Their third straight appearance would bring them face to face with the Minnesota Vikings. But the ‘Phins’ were too much and claimed their second Super Bowl with a 24-7 win, making them the second NFL team to claim back to back Super Bowl Wins!

In the years to come, the Miami Dolphins would continue to see success under the leadership of Don Shula. In his 26 years as head coach, the ‘Phins’ saw only two seasons below .500.

What made the difference? What was the change that led this sad team of football players from 4 losing seasons to back to back Super Bowl wins, and 24 winning seasons?

At the first team meeting following Shula’s hiring, Don entered the room where the team had gather. And in what must have be an awkward experience, Don stood in front of his new team. Saying nothing he looked into the eyes of each player. One after the other. Then he said, “Men, you’re going to be champions of the NFL.”

Now remember, the team had face four painfully losing seasons. And now, his new guys comes in and says, we’re going to be champions? Well, Shula went on to explain himself.

He said, “First, we’re going to give you a great game plan each week that works. I’ll guarantee that you’ll know more about the person you’re playing against than anyone except his wife. Second, you’re going to practice that plan until it becomes a natural part of you. Third, you’re going to learn the game plan and practice it — and win!”

Don Shula had a plan to win football games. But having a plan wasn’t enough. The team had to practice that plan. They had to know what they were up against, and they had to make the plan part of who they were. And then they would win!

There is an amazing truth in what Shula said to his team that day.

He promised then a plan that would work. A plan that if they learned it. If they practiced it. If they made it part of who they were, they would be NFL Champions.

A Plan for You
What if I said that, Don Shula’s inspiring speech is applicable to you and your marriage? Would you buy it the way the Miami Dolphin’s did. If I came in here and looked at each one of you and said, “Husbands and Wives, you are going to be Marriage Champions!” Would you believe it?

Well, I believe that you can, and you will be, if you follow the plan.

You do have a plan for your marriage, don’t you?

I’m not talking about a plan for your life. You know that plan. The…
– Establish career by this date…
– Marry by this date…
– Have children within these dates…
– Do this by this date…
– Experience that by this date…

No, I’m talking about a plan to make your marriage last for a life time?

I doubt that any of us started our marriages with a plan for how we wanted our marriages to look like or how we wanted our marriages to be lived out. In fact, for Amy and I, I think we would say that aside from never wanting to deal with divorce we really didn’t have a plan for how we wanted our marriage to go.

But having a plan is a good thing. In fact having a plan is biblical.

God has a plan. God has a specific plan for you. He tells us so in Jeremiah 29:11. He says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God’s plan for you includes your rescue through Jesus Christ.

My point is, if God has a plan for us, wouldn’t it make sense for us to have a plan as well. And if we want our marriages to last, I would propose that we need a plan for our marriages.

Do you have a plan for your marriage? Join us tomorrow as I post part two of this past weekends message.

– jay

For more about Harvest Church, visit it the Harvest Church website at,

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