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Category Archives: Marriage

Suggestions gleaned from 49 years of a happy marriage


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The key to a successful marriage is treating your spouse as the ‘most important person in the world’ every day and putting their needs ahead of your own.

  1. Listen
    To be truly heard is the longing  of every human heart, and your wife is no exception. It sounds simple, but  listening can be harder than it seems with so many distractions around us and within us. Set aside some time every day to look into your wife’s eyes and really listen to what she has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear. (James 1:19Matthew 11:15)
  2. Communicate
    Don’t make her guess what you are thinking or feeling. Talk.
  3. Sing  Her Praises
    Shamelessly brag about her good qualities and quietly pray about her bad ones. Her reputation is your reputation. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  4. Pray For Her
    Praying on your wife’s behalf  not only enlists the help of the Almighty, but also puts her and her needs at the forefront of your heart and mind, right where they belong. (Philippians 4:6Matthew 18:19)
  5. Value Her Individuality
    Your wife is wonderfully unique. Don’t compare her to your mom, or your ex-wife, or your old girlfriend.  Your mom may make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but unfavorable comparisons won’t win you brownie points.
  6. Put the Seat Down
    Perpetually raised toilet seats are a pet peeve of wives everywhere. And while you’re at it, tidy up a bit. A little consideration goes a long way. (Philippians 2:4)
  7. Throw  Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper
    It’s likely just a few steps from wherever you are dropping them anyway. Make this a habit, and it will let your wife know your don’t consider her your personal maid.
  8. Turn  Off the T.V.
    Lay aside the video games, pocket the iPhone, and shut off the computer, as well. It is staggering how many hours we waste gazing at some sort of screen instead of  interacting with the real people in our lives. Consciously set limits on your tube-time, whatever form it takes. Use the time saved to invest in your marriage: take a walk with your wife or play a board game together instead. (Psalm 90:12)
  9. Loosen  the Purse Strings
    We all have to keep an eye on our budget, but an occasional splurge can be well worth it. Seemingly frivolous things like flowers, jewelry, and overpriced restaurants let her know that she is more valuable to you than a number in your bank account.
  10. Practice  Servant-Leadership
    All organizations have a  hierarchy. It’s impossible to function without one, but being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin. Jesus washed his disciples feet and then died on their behalf. It’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, but that is what being a godly leader entails. (Matthew 20:28,Philippians 2:1-8Mark 9:35)
  11. Remember that Intimacy’s a Two-Way Street
    Unfortunately, men are  notoriously selfish in the bedroom, yet are dumbfounded when their wives are less than enthusiastic in this arena. Make this area of your relationship as pleasurable for her as it is for you and it will pay huge dividends. It may mean washing the dishes or helping with the kids, so that she has energy left at the end of the day. It may mean cuddling  and candlelight, so that she can relax and let the worries on her mind drift away. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just ask her, and then listen. (1 Corinthians 7:3)
  12. Give Her Time to Herself
    Everyone needs an occasional break to rest and recharge, and this is especially important for a wife who is at home all day with young children. Yet it’s very easy to neglect this legitimate need unless you regularly and intentionally schedule time  for it. (Luke 5:16)
  13. Set Aside Couple Time
    Soak in the tub together each evening or go on a date night once a week — whatever gets the two of you alone on a regular basis. (Genesis 2:24-25)
  14. Be Careful with Female Friendships
    We all have friends and colleagues of the opposite sex, but tread cautiously. Not all affairs are physical ones. Honoring your marriage vows means remaining faithful in thought and word as well as in deed. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  15. Use Good Hygiene.
    It is amazing how meticulous guys can be prior to marriage in their attempts to impress a girl, but once they walk down the aisle, all bets are off. Clean up a little; I promise it won’t kill you.
  16. Limit the Gross Stuff
    Few women find burping nearly as hilarious as the typical guy does. Good manners are always a win. (Ephesians 5:4)
  17. Be Patient
    In whatever way this applies to you and your situation, apply it. (1 Corinthians 13:4Proverbs 14:29)
  18. Cherish  Her Children (they are your children, too)
    A mother’s bond to her children runs immeasurably deep. When you invest time or energy in them, you are investing in her as well. Kindness to them counts as kindness to her. (Malachi 4:6)
  19. Choose Her Over Hobbies and Buddies
    Invariably there will come times in your relationship when you will be forced to choose between your wife and something else that you enjoy. Always choose her.
  20. Provide for Her Needs
    This is so much more than just putting food on the table. It is all-encompassing. Whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, you name it — do your best to provide. Sometimes life’s circumstances hinder us in one area, but we can compensate in another area. Often the effort is as important as the outcome. (Galatians 6:2)
  21. Dial Down the Anger
    Your caveman instincts are handy on the battlefield, but horrible for a happy home life. Every outburst or flare-up is a relationship setback. To go forward, the first step is to stop going backwards. Learn to control your temper or it will control you, your marriage, and every other aspect of your life. Just because your wife puts up with it and your co-workers tolerate it, doesn’t make your short fuse an asset. Do whatever it takes to gain victory in this all-important struggle that has haunted man since Cain slew Abel. (Ecclesiastes 7:9,Ephesians 4:31)
  22. Cut Out the Condescension
    If you have been blessed with a quick wit, you can either be the life of the party or a pain in the neck depending on the circumstances. Condescension is anger’s younger brother. It isn’t as loud or as dramatic, but it can be equally hurtful and all the more so for its subtlety. Lay off the snide remarks, the sarcasm, and the belittling. Speak to your wife in the same way that you would speak to a respected colleague. She is, after all, your partner in the most valuable investment of your life — your family. (Ephesians 4:29Colossians 3:19)
  23. Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights
    Value her input and give it a preferential place in your decision-making process. (Proverbs 19:2012:15)
  24. Learn to Forgive
    Freely forgive your wife’s past, present, and future offenses. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of every meaningful relationship. (Ephesians 4:32Colossians 3:13)
  25. Verbally Express Your Love
    There are lots of ways to show your love, but women still like to hear it spoken.

Obviously no list is comprehensive, and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but hopefully this one will prompt you to compile a list of your own, tailor-made for your own wife.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2020 in Marriage

 

Love and Respect Ephesians 5:33


Indebted to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs for his insight*

Many of us have heard these words in our life: Do you take this woman/man to be your lawful wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

They are words said before our spouse, our family, our friends, and God.

When home is ruled according to God’s Word, “angels might be asked to stay with us, and they would not find them-selves out of their element.”

Why do many Christian marriages fail? Somebody is out of the will of God.

Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) However, let each one of you {husband} love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This verse is the often unknown secret to the communication code in our marriage relationship.

  • Love is her deepest need and respect is his deepest need.

Love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NASB)
1  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
13  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is what you say but just as much what “you do.” It is the husband regularly doing “loving actions” or “acts of kindness.” But don’t misunderstand, husbands, what I am saying. They also need to hear those special words “I love you.” But the words without the action(s) don’t mean as much.

Respect: to hold in esteem or honor; to show regard or consideration for. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for your judgment.

It is deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; it is a proper acceptance or courtesy; it is acknowledgment.

  • Without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love.

Marriage Report Card

No marriage is perfect

Will YOU do anything about it if there’s an area that needs improvement?

Are both of you ‘set free’ to talk about these issues?

How Being a Strong Christian Will Help Us

Christians are concerned about others.

Christians practice love.

Christians want the best for others.

Christians have a positive sexual ethic.

Christians can forgive.

  1. Make A Commitment

“Till death do us part.”

86% of the people who said that they were unhappy were happy five years later.

  1. Make it a Priority

Continue to work at marriage.

The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse.

  1. Make Marriage Fun!

Some middle age crisis are because all the fun has gone out of marriage.  It’s all work and no play!

Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Enjoy life with the wife of your youth.”

Enjoy sex:  Song of Solomon.

Learn to have fun with only a little money.

  1. Learn to Communicate, Talk, and Fight!

Learn to listen. 

Learn to talk.

Be friends first!

Learn to fight fair.

  1. Deal with your Demons!

Find out what you’re doing to harm your marriage and heal it.

Dictatorship?   Financial irresponsibility?

Temper?    Pornography?

Substance Abuse?

You name it…get help!

  1. Have God at the center

From God we learn the marriage skills of:

Kindness   Forgiveness

Unconditional Love  Faithfulness

God will help us!

 Buy Me A Rose Lyrics
 He works hard to give her all he thinks she wants…A three car garage, her own credit cards. He pulls in late to wake her up with a kiss good night. If he could only read her mind, she’d say:

Buy me a rose, call me from work, Open a door for me, what would it hurt; Show me you love me by the look in your eyes. These are the little things I need the most in my life.

Now the days have grown to years of feeling all alone, And she can’t  help but wonder what she’s doing wrong. Cause lately she’d try anything to turn his head. Would it make a difference if she said:

Buy me a rose, call me from work, Open a door for me, what would it hurt; Show me you love me by the look in your eyes. These are the little things I need the most in my life.

And the more that he lives the less that he tries To show her the love that he holds inside.
And the more that she gives the more that he sees…This is a story of you and me

So I bought you a rose on the way home from work, To open the door to a heart that I hurt. And I hope you notice this look in my eyes Cause I’m gonna make things right For the rest of your life. I’m gonna hold you tonight. Do all those little things …For the rest of your life.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2020 in Marriage

 

Biblical Christian Marriage – Ephesians 5:21-32


I have decided at every place I have ministered…to spend time each year on lessons related to marriage, parenting, and the home in general. The home is God’s creation, the first divine institution, and marriage was God’s idea.

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
19  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
20  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
21  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The sanctity of marriage (vv. 23-24). Paul’s instructions create a head-on collision with the beliefs and practices of our culture. God’s pattern for marriage wasn’t devised by Adam. “Marriage was born in the loving heart of God for the blessing and benefit of mankind.”

No matter what the courts may decree, or society may permit, when it comes to marriage, God had the first word and He will have the last word. His original plan was that one man and one woman be one flesh for one lifetime. To say the same thing in a different way: God plan was for Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve.

God had at least two main purposes in mind when He performed the first marriage in the Garden of Eden.

First, He wanted suitable companionship for Adam, so He gave him a wife. He gave Adam someone who was his equal and therefore could understand him and help him. As two people live together in holy matrimony, the experience either brings out the best in them or the worst in them. It’s an opportunity to exercise faith, hope, and love and to mature in sacrifice and service to one another for God’s glory.

Second, marriage provides the God-given right to enjoy sex and have children. The Lord commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). The sexual act is a gift from God to a married couple.

Who is in charge? A fair question, that deserves a Biblical answer.

5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.NIV This is the last participial phrase flowing out of being filled with the Spirit and functions to introduce verses 22-33.

In 5:21, Paul says that the one who is filled with the Spirit not only reflects God’s goodness in speech and attitudes but also manifests it in willingness to submit to others out of reverence for Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Submission or headship often has unpleasant implications for modern Christians, perhaps because this principle has been abused and has been used to justify overbearing and self-serving behavior. The chain of authority is God, Christ, man, and woman.

People often misunderstand the concept of submitting to another person. It does not mean becoming totally passive. Christ submitted his will to the Father, and we honor Christ by following his example. When we submit to God, we become more willing to obey his command to submit to others, that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs.

In the church, the believers are willing to learn from, serve, give to, or be corrected by others in the fellowship. Such submission can allow growth both individually and corporately as the believers seek to follow Christ.

Our motives should be “reverence” (literally, “fear”) for Christ. We should not treat one another rightly just because it is expected or because we will be well regarded but because one day we must give account to Christ of how we have lived.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Guys, get ready for this and realize that 3 1/2 verses are addressed to Christian wives, while 8 1/2 verses are written to Christian husbands.

Submission in the church should follow from submission in the home. The home, the foundation for relationships and personal growth, must be an example of peaceful submission.

In a marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. The relationships between husbands and wives are a microcosm of the larger picture of church relationships.

Paul spoke first to the wives, explaining that they were to submit voluntarily to their husbands as to the Lord. The words “as to the Lord” mean “as is fitting to the Lord.” Our concept of submission must come from that which exists between Christ and the church: Christ loves the church, and she submits to him.

We must not base it on either a feminist or chauvinist view. Christian marriage involves mutual submission, subordinating our personal desires for the good of the loved one and submitting ourselves to Christ as Lord. The wife’s submission to her husband is one way that she can demonstrate her submission to Christ. She does this voluntarily out of love for her husband and for Christ.

The best thing a woman can do for her husband is to make it easy for him to do the will of God. – Elisabeth Elliot Green

Paul explained that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. In other words, the husband is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership.

Real spiritual leadership involves service and sacrifice. Christ as head of the church is also its Savior. Christ gave his life for the church. So, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage.

For the wife, submission means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care for his wife.

Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other. It takes both.

What if the wife is married to a man with little or no spiritual interest? What is she to do? (Of course, it is best if she marries a faithful, devoted Christian). We told our 1,200 students and over a dozen teachers that “the worse thing in the world is to be married to the wrong person.” It is often the female who fears being alone that is compelled to ‘marry the wrong person.’ Being single allows you more time to serve the Lord and those around you.

1 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
2  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
3  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—
4  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
5  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
6  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7  Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
     These verses are important for what they do NOT say as for what the DO say.

They do not tell her to leave, to nag, or to lead! They tell the believing wife to act like a faithful Christian and her example is strong enough (without words) to “win him over” if he has a mind to move in that direction.

5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.NRSV

I would have expected Paul to reason in this way: Husbands are to manifest the headship of Jesus Christ over His church, and thus they are to be the spiritual leaders of their wives. If the wives are commanded to submit, then the husbands surely must be instructed to lead. But they are not. Instead of commanding husbands to lead their wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives.

These verses show a high view of marriage. Here marriage is not a practical necessity or a cure for lust but a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church! Husbands are called to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

That role is nothing less than overwhelming: to love their wives as Christ loved his church. If the task of submitting to male headship seems burdensome to wives, the obligation to love as Christ did will seem out of reach to husbands.

Christ sacrificed himself for the church because of his love for it. Husbands, then, should be ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary for their wives. Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender, self-sacrificing care.

How are men to do that? The same way Christ loves the church: sacrificially, compassionately, gently, and lovingly. Jesus laid down his life for the church; husbands are called to give themselves unreservedly for their wives and children.

John Stott summed it up well when he wrote of Jesus, “His headship expresses care rather than control, responsibility rather than rule.” Healthy, Spirit-led relationships are not concerned with power, with who’s in control. They are concerned with Christlikeness, with honoring him in their relationship with one another.

How should a man love his wife? (1) He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her. (2) He should make her well-being of primary importance. (3) He should care for her as he cares for his own body. No wife needs to fear submitting to a man who treats her in this way.

Ephesians 5:27-28 (ESV) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

In the same way means that there exists between the husband and the wife the same union as between Christ and the church. Following from 5:27, husbands should be as concerned for their wife’s spiritual growth and closeness to the Lord as Christ is for the church.

The Greek word for “love” is agapao, referring to that giving love that seeks the highest good for the other. When a husband loves his wife with this kind of love, they both will benefit. A wife need not worry about submitting to a husband who treats her this way.

5:29-30 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.NRSV This refers not to self-centeredness but to self-preservation, the natural self-concern that causes people to feed and care for themselves. As a man nourishes and tenderly cares for his own body, he should also do the same for his wife, who is one with him.

Why? Again Paul draws on of the example given by Christ, who nourishes and cares for his body, the church. As Christ nourishes and cares for believers, so husbands must imitate Christ in their loving concern and care for their wives.

5:31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”NKJV The union of husband and wife merges two persons in such a way that little can affect one without also affecting the other. Oneness in marriage does not mean one person’s losing his or her personality in the personality of the other. Instead, it means that each person cares for the other as though caring for himself or herself, learning to anticipate the other’s needs, helping the other person reach his or her potential.

In a natural marriage, the husband and wife complement one another. So Christ and the church must function together; Christ needed the church in order to assume his position as its Head. Christ is the Head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife.

5:32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.NRSV The union of husband and wife, although sometimes imperfect, provides the best picture to describe the union of Christ with his church.

Why get married? Because you simply cannot see yourself living your life without that one, special person.

What does it mean? It means you totally give yourself to that spouse, helping them get to heaven as you commit your life to God, Christ, and His church.

What will happen in that home? You will treat that person as the most important person in the world and in your life. Pure and simple.

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2020 in ephesians, Marriage

 

Steps You Can Take to ‘Affair Proof’ Your Marriage


There’s no way to absolutely guarantee that your marriage won’t be blindsided by an affair on your part or your spouse’s, but there are definite steps you can take to greatly reduce the probability of that happening.

It’s important to know what you can do to strengthen your marital connection and keep your marriage vibrant and healthy. A rewarding, satisfying marriage that meets the needs of both partners is your best protection against the destructive intrusion of an affair.

So what can you do to “affair proof” your marriage as much as possible?

Tips for Avoiding the Affair

The following twelve steps will guide you in building a stronger marriage partnership and help you and your spouse to withstand the lusty lure of temptation:

  1. Make your relationship with your spouse your top priority in the hierarchy involving family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others.
    Make a real commitment of time, energy, and effort to your marriage. You can end up pulled in so many different directions and over-extended that your most valuable and precious relationship can end up at the bottom of the list unless you make it a top priority.
  2. Nurture the emotional intimacy in your marriage.
    Make time to talk each day, not just about the events that have happened, but also about your feelings. Share on an emotional level—your fears, your frustrations, your joys, your disappointments, and your challenges. Let your partner know how much you value being able to talk to him or her about anything and to connect on a deep level.
  3. Show appreciation on a regular basis.
    Be generous with compliments and thank you’s. Tell your spouse at least once a week how much you appreciate him or her and list the qualities that you love, admire, and respect. Don’t worry that you’ve said these things before—no one gets tired of hearing their good traits praised!
  4. Spend time together doing fun things and just “hanging out.”
    Bonding can deepen when you and your spouse have unstructured time to just relax and hang out together. If every minute of your time together is tightly scheduled and rushed, you’ll miss out on opportunities to be spontaneous. Look for fun things to do—a picnic in the park, a hike, trying a new restaurant, going out dancing, or going swimming.
  5. Keep your sex life active.
    Sometimes being sick or fatigued gets in the way of sexual desire, as does family stress like caring for an ill or aging parent. Certainly the energy and time required to raise children can leave parents drained and “on empty.” In spite of these challenges, it’s essential to make time for sex. The sobering reality is that most spouses are more vulnerable to flirtations and sexual advances from others when their sex life is unhappy at home.
  6. Discuss and resolve issues as they come up.
    Don’t just bury them or neglect trying to resolve them. Learn how to disagree without being disagreeable and causing long-term damage to your relationship. Above all—communicate, communicate, communicate. Keep the communication door wide open at all times.
  7. Talk about the problem of infidelity and know that it can strike any marriage.
    Bring the subject out into the open and express your feelings and deepest fears. Brainstorm with your spouse about how you can keep your marriage strong and what the two of you think would be helpful in preventing an affair from happening. Commit to telling your spouse if you feel vulnerable or if things start getting out of control in any situation.
  8. Share goals for the present and future that inspire you.
    When you and your spouse share common goals that you’re passionate about, you will feel closer to each other and more connected. It helps you to feel like a real team. The feeling of partnership is important in deepening commitment to each other. Whatever your mutual dream is, the passion you bring to pursuing it can draw you closer together.
  9. Make wise decisions about contact with the opposite sex at work and other settings.
    You may encounter special situations and temptations on business trips or at business parties or in your work setting. Talk frankly with your spouse and agree on what you both feel comfortable with. If your spouse is on a business trip and the group goes out dancing, will you be upset if your spouse participates? Plan ahead and head off potential problems.
  10. Know the danger signals.
    Many affairs have started with individuals sharing intimate personal information with each other on a regular basis while not confiding in their respective spouses. Intimacy can mushroom quickly when secrecy is involved and a feeling of connection develops. Other danger signals are having increased sexual excitement about seeing someone in particular, being in settings with lots of alcohol and drinking when your spouse isn’t present, and being more vulnerable than usual due to feelings of loneliness, rejection, or anger at your spouse.
  11. Celebrate your love, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. Value your marriage and take advantage of every opportunity to celebrate, such as your wedding anniversary, the date that you met, your spouse’s birthday, and any other special days that the two of you share. This helps to keep the romance alive and also to keep your connection strong. Celebrate your love, your time together, your plans for the future, and the priceless present moment.
  12. Support each other’s goals.
    Make a commitment to help your spouse be all that he or she is capable of being. Your marriage is only strengthened when each of you is happy and fulfilled with your life. It’s to your advantage to help your spouse reach goals that are important to him or her, even if they aren’t your particular goals. Be positive and encouraging of your spouse’s desires to live up to his or her potential. —By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.
 
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Posted by on February 28, 2020 in Marriage

 

The Myth of “Happily Ever After”


marriage-mythsWe see from 1 Peter 3 that the believing wife can win over her unbelieving husband “without words” by her Christ-like behavior in the home.

We also saw that there are three things she is not ‘given permission’ by God to do: She cannot leave. She should not nag. She must not lead…the husband is still head of that home and, unless he is against God, she must continue following in that relationship.

We have often heard the phrase “happily ever after” when attending a wedding of two special people, deeply in love, and making vows before God, family, and friends. The Disney empire has fed our romantic fantasies for fairy tales so we are captivated by storybook romance.

This is not the Christian view. Our faith sees the wedding day not as a place of arrival but the place where the adventure begins.”1

The divorce rate in our culture is at an all-time high. Whatever happened to “happily ever after”? Why is it so hard to maintain the hopes and dreams that surround a beautiful wedding with all its promises of love and fidelity, sacrifice and service?

Marriage counselors Les and Leslie Parrott have an idea. In their excellent book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, they suggest four myths that have torpedoed many marriages because of unrealistic expectations and misconceptions about what marriage should be.

“For too long,” the Parrotts write, “marriage has been saddled with unrealistic expectation and misguided assumptions. Liberated from these four myths, couples can settle into the real world of marriage—with all its joys and sorrows, passion and pain.”2

Many people know that something is wrong but they don’t know what; and you can’t fix or change something if you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place. Many of our marriage problems are due to harmful expectations and beliefs that fly in the face of “real reality.” One divorce lawyer told the Parrotts that the number-one reason people split up is that they “refuse to accept the fact that they are married to a human being.”3 In this article we bust the myth of “happily ever after.”

Myth #1: “We Expect Exactly the Same Things From Marriage”

When people are in love, it’s easy to assume that the other person has the same values and expectations as we do. But every family has its own culture, so to speak, and we tend to expect life will continue the same way once we’re adults as it was while we were growing up. One way these differing expectations play out is in the unspoken rules of each family.

We are usually not aware of our unspoken rules and expectations unless there is much time to ‘get to know each other’ or until the other person violates them.

I recently heard a great word of wisdom: “Expectations are the mother of resentments.” How true is that?! When our spouse doesn’t live up to our unspoken expectations, we can feel frustrated and irritated, and often we don’t even know why we’re upset because we don’t know what’s wrong. It’s helpful to think through “the rules” of one’s family so that unspoken rules and expectations are brought out into the light of examination.

Here are some rules from various families:

  • Don’t ask for help unless you’re desperate.
    • Downplay your successes.
    • Be invisible.
    • Get someone else to do the hard or dirty work.
    • Don’t get sick.
    • Never ever get angry.
    • Don’t talk about your body.
    • Don’t go to bed without cleaning the kitchen.
    • Don’t talk about your feelings.
    • Don’t ever upset Daddy.

Can you see how these unspoken rules can cause havoc if a spouse doesn’t know about them?

Another source of mismatched expectations is the unconscious roles that spouses fall into, the way an actor follows a script. We inherit expectations about how wives and husbands act by watching our parents and other adults, and we often play out those roles the same way unless we choose to change it. For example, one new husband surprised his wife at dinner by picking up his empty iced tea glass and tinkling the ice cubes.

His father had always signaled this way to his mother that he was ready for more tea. The bride was not pleased to learn that her husband expected to play the role of pampered king whose every whim was gladly granted!

The myth that “we expect exactly the same things from marriage” is busted by identifying and talking about unspoken expectations and unconscious roles. The more openly couples discuss their differing expectations, the more likely they are to create a vision of marriage that they can agree on. It’s good planning to work through some of those “my family does it this way” scenarios well in advance of the actual marriage ceremony.

Myth #2: “Everything Good in Our Relationship Will Get Better”

Most people, when they fall in love, really believe their love will last forever because it’s so intense and intoxicating. It’s hard not to believe that everything good about the relationship will just continue to get better and better as time goes on. But reality “is that not everything gets better. Many things improve in relationships, but some things become more difficult. Every successful marriage requires necessary losses, and in choosing to marry, you inevitably go through a mourning process.”4

For some, marriage means giving up childhood. It means giving up the safety and security of being your parents’ child, and becoming a full-fledged adult. God makes this statement in Genesis 2:24 when He says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Marriage means the end of childhood, and that can feel like a loss to be mourned.

Marriage also “means giving up a carefree lifestyle and coming to terms with new limits. It means unexpected inconveniences.”5 Marriage means always passing one’s plans and choices through the filter of “us.” Since “the two become one,” many of our even mundane life choices impact someone else. That can feel like a loss to be faced, as well.

The Parrotts write, “By far the most dramatic loss experienced in a new marriage is the idealized image you have of your partner. This was the toughest myth we encountered in our marriage. Each of us had an airbrushed mental picture of who the other was. But eventually, married life asked us to look reality square in the face and reckon with the fact that we did not marry the person we thought we did.”6

It is an illusion that the intense romantic thrill of the beginning of a relationship will last forever. “Debunking the myth of eternal romance will do more than just about anything to help . . . build a lifelong happy marriage.”7 When we get past the myth of continual bliss with a perfect partner, we can embrace the reality that we married another flawed and fallen human being. This is good news, because God only gives grace for reality, nor for illusion or temporary enchantment. And this is good news because intimacy is only available with a real person, not with an idealized image.

Myth #3: “Everything Bad in My Life Will Disappear”

Remember the story of Cinderella? A poor, mistreated stepchild who is forced to serve her wicked step-family is magically turned into a beautiful princess. She is rescued by her Prince Charming and they live . . . all together now . . . “happily ever after.” And don’t we all long for a Prince Charming or a beautiful princess to make us happy and wipe away every tear from our eyes?

The myth of a “happily ever after” life is a legitimate longing of our hearts. We ache to return to Eden where everything bad in our lives will disappear. God promises that He will eventually make all things right again, but it doesn’t happen in marriage between two fallen human beings living in a fallen world.

Marriage is a glorious institution invented by God, but it “does not erase personal pain or eliminate loneliness. Why? Because people get married primarily to further their own well-being, not to take care of their partners’ needs. The bad traits and feelings you carried around before you were married remain with you as you leave the wedding chapel. A marriage certificate is not a magical glass slipper.”8

The Parrotts write, “Getting married cannot instantly cure all our ills, but marriage can become a powerful healing agent over time. If you are patient, marriage can help you overcome even some of the toughest of tribulations.”9

Perhaps the biggest reason for this is the amazing power of love. I believe God’s love is the strongest healing agent in the universe. In marriage, He can love us through our spouses; He can be “Jesus with skin on” to each of us.

A healthy marriage can become a place to wrap up unfinished business from childhood and deal with unresolved hurts. It’s a myth that everything bad in our lives will disappear when we say “I do,” but God’s grace is bigger than the myth. We still live in a fallen world with a fallen spouse, but God can bring much grace through mutual love.

Myth #4: “My Spouse Will Make Me Whole”

One of the greatest lines in all of movie history belongs to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire where he tells his wife, “You complete me.” It is romantic and feels emotionally satisfying—but in reality, it’s just not true.

Couples who swallow the myth that their spouse will make them whole are in danger of going to one of two extremes. One is an unhealthy dependence on the other that the Parrotts term an enmeshed relationship. They unconsciously make their partner completely responsible for their well-being. They are like ticks that constantly attempt to suck life and love and meaning from their spouse. It is a form of idolatry, because they are looking to their partner to provide emotional “living water” that only God can give.

The other extreme is a disengaged relationship of what the Parrotts call “rugged self-reliance.” These spouses are so isolated and independent from each other that they function more like neighbors or business associates than a God-created union of two souls.

The first kind of couple is looking for wholeness from their partner; the second kind of couple is looking for wholeness from within. It is also a form of idolatry, because they are looking to themselves instead of God to provide meaning for life.

Neither enmeshed nor disengaged relationships are healthy, and neither will allow the people in them to experience wholeness. A sense of wholeness is found in an interdependent relationship where two people with self-respect and dignity make a commit-ment to nurture their own spiritual and emotional growth as well as their partner’s.

Enmeshed relationships are like the capital letter A. They lean on each other so much that if one moves, the whole structure falls down. Their security is in another person instead of in God.

Disengaged relationships are like the letter H. Partners stand virtually alone. If one lets go, the other hardly feels a thing. Interdependent relationships are like the letter M. They could stand on their own, but they choose to stay connected to the other out of their fullness, not out of their emptiness. If one lets go, the other feels a loss but can recover.

Every marriage is between two broken and fallen people who cannot make each other whole. We are called to love and respect each other, serve and celebrate each other—but only God can make us whole.

“Happily ever after” may be for fairy tales, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as a happy, rich, fulfilling marriage. But it’s only possible for those who live in reality, not in the fantasy of make-believe myths. May God give us grace to trust Him to walk in truth and not illusion.

________________

Notes

  1. Les and Leslie Parrott. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 26.
    2. Ibid., 16.
    3. Ibid., 23.
    4. Ibid., 21.
    5. Ibid., 22.
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid., 24.
    9. Ibid., 25.
 
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Posted by on February 21, 2020 in Marriage

 

“Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family” Series #5  Marriage: Honor and Purity Hebrews 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:1-9


marriage2(Hebrews 13:4) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

We need to discuss a sensitive issue today, and I can assure you I will be very aware of what is being said and how it is discussed.

I heard a list some time ago of some topics that are sure to “draw a crowd.” Issues related to sexuality are a sure thing, And studies of the “end times” is also on the list. It only seems normal to assume that a sermon on whether there is “sex at the end of time” would really draw a crowd.

I do feel a strong connection to the minister who was asked to speak on the subject of Sexuality at a ladies community group. He was a little embarrassed and stammered around when his wife asked him the subject he’d been assigned – she thought he said “sailing” when she asked for the topic.

The next day his wife met a lady from the community group and she just went on and on about how good her husband’s talk went. “I’m a little surprised,” she said (thinking his subject had been sailing). “He’s only actually done it twice in his life.  The first time he lost his favorite hat, and the second time he threw up.”

The erosion of marriage is a constant refrain in political debate and a legitimate concern for society in general. In God’s eyes, marriage is honorable. He established it at creation and has honored it ever since. In much of the world today, of course, marriage is anything but honored. A great many couples who marry do so as a temporary convenience, not as a social, much less a divine, requirement for their living together.

Under relentless attack from every direction especially the Media portrayal of family on TV and in the movies and in magazines. cheapening of sexual intimacy; reality TV sleaze shows – auction off a bride or groom…government policy – marriage tax penalty…marriage is passé, out of date, no longer valid – we’ve evolved past needing it…

For us, however, as Christians, this is not a matter of mere tolerance or benign approval of an institution, but a commitment to honor!

Marriage can be held in honor in many ways.

  1. One is by the husband’s being the head. God is glorified in a family where the husband rules. “The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23).
  2. Another way is a corollary of the first, namely, that wives be submissive to their husbands (1 Pet. 3:1, 6).

(1 Peter 3:1)  “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”

  1. A third way marriage is honored is by being regulated by mutual love and respect. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (v. 7).

Scripture gives at least three reasons for marriage.

  1. One is the propagation of children.

At creation, mankind was commissioned to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

  1. Marriage is also provided as a means of preventing sexual sin.

“Because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2), Paul advises, and then goes on to counsel the unmarried and widows to marry if they do not have self-control (vv. 8-9).

1 Cor 7:1 – 9: “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.£  2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.  3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  4The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  6I say this as a concession, not as a command.  7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

  1. Marriage is also provided for companionship.

“God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18).

REASONS IT IS CONFUSING IN OUR SOCIETY

  1. Sex as a commodity. Sex sells. Why does the poster for welding equipment feature a woman in a bikini? That’s not proper attire for welding. We know why. We have been taught that sex sells. The sports car does not come with the beautiful girl, but men buy the sports car anyway. We have been taught that sex sells. Sex has become a commodity. The buying and selling of sexuality is not limited to prostitution. Victoria’s Secret does not sell underwear. It sells sexuality.

We are always pressured to buy the lie. The cosmetic surgery industry is growing at an astonishing rate. The goal is to enhance features of the human anatomy to make one sexy and youthful. Sex sells. It is good business. Pharmaceuticals to enhance and effect sexual ability are also a growing industry.

God didn’t intend for sex to be merchandise. Sex and sexuality are powerful forces, much more powerful than capitalism and consumerism. When sex is regarded as a commodity, people just might break the rules to “get it.”

2. Sex as an idol. God has already given us a word to live by regarding idolatry. Throughout history, people have carved images of sex gods. Sex has been worshipped and humans have submitted to sex as a power for ages. But that mythological nonsense is all in the past yes? We don’t have temples to sex gods and goddesses anymore, do we? Not with bricks and mortar, no. But we do build shrines of electronic lights and pixels. Pornography is a real power that can work its “magic” in someone’s life as effectively as any force. We like to think that we can control our idols, but in the end they tend to dominate us. 

3. Sex as (nothing more than) a personal choice. Even if we aren’t gratuitous or shocking, talking about sex publicly can be uncomfortable. That’s part of our problem. Although sex is a very intimate subject and does have something to do with our private world, we can go to the extreme of making it so private and personal that we no longer have anything to say about it publicly. And yet, that’s what this word from God is all about. God is affirming that there are certain societal covenants and boundaries that must be respected by all of us when it comes to sex.

This is what the marriage ceremony is all about. We are affirming as a people (single and married) a public statement about human sexuality. This is why the arguments about the definition of marriage are so fierce. It isn’t merely personal choice. If I go into my neighbor’s back yard and move the fence simply because I wanted it moved I am going to have a fight on my hands. Likewise, the ancient boundaries and covenants are not casually tampered with.

So it is doesn’t really work when we trample on marital fidelity and dismiss the breaking of covenants as a matter of personal choice. God intended sex to be something that everyone respects and when everyone doesn’t respect it the way God does, it is cheapened.

Sins Harming Marriage

Premarital sex

(Matthew 19:4-6) “”Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ {5} and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? {6} So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.””

(Acts 15:29) “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.”

(Galatians 5:19-21) “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; {20} idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions {21} and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Homosexuality

Homosexuals want our children to believe their relationships are acceptable.

(Romans 1:26-27)  “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Adultery

(Matthew 5:28)  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 

Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family #4 – “The Biblical Model for Love”


The meaning of love.

  1. Storge: family love; the love of parents for children, children for parents, brothers and sisters for each other.
  2. Eros: sensual love. It means a love that is egocentric, “wanting to have,” seeking union with the object of its desire. The value that evokes it is found in the thing loved.
  3. Philia: friendship; love given to all kinds of human beings, shown in such terms as philadelphia, brotherly love.
  4. Agape: a spontaneous impulse of the heart to desire that which is good for the one loved, and it will be at my cost. There are no prerequisites, no conditions, no requirements.

What these words mean to marriage.

  1. Storge: “my family is important to me. I want my family to be important to you. I recognize that your family is important to you. Your family will also be important to me.”
  2. Eros: “I am physically attracted to you.”
  3. Philia: “Í like you. I enjoy being with you, going places with you, experiencing things with you.”
  4. Agape: “I will be good to you. I will treat you with patience and kindness, with courtesy, consideration, and deep concern. That is an unconditional promise. I will always, under all circumstances, treat you that way.”

Agape

Agape is self-giving love, gift love, the love that goes on loving even when the other becomes unlovable. Agape love is not just something that happens to you; it is something you make happen.  Love is a personal act of commitment. Christ’s love (and hence the pattern for our love) is a gift love. Christ’s love for us is a sacrificial love. Christ’s love is unconditional. Christ’s love is an eternal love.

Agape is unconditional

That means:

  1. There are no conditions necessary.
  2. You don’t have to earn my love.
  3. You don’t have to deserve my love.
  4. You don’t have to measure up to any standard to get me to love you.
  5. You don’t have to work for my love.
  6. You don’t even have to appreciate my love.

Agape is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Agape is a commitment to act in the best interest of another without any conditions on his/her part, except his/her need. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

Philia

In a good marriage, the husband and wife are also friends. Philia’s companionship is many things…being reasonably happy to go shopping with her…watching TV together and munching popcorn…feeling lonely when he/she is out of town.

Friendship also means communication. Philia’s communication is many things…sharing something you read in a book or magazine…reminiscing how you had to catch all the mice and remove all the bats before you could move into your apartment…eating breakfast together without the morning paper…agreeing on the design of the new wallpaper for Jane’s room…having the courage to tell you her you don’t that dress she’s trying on.

Philia is also cooperation. While eros is almost always face-to-face relationship, philia is very often a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship. When there is philia, husband and wife are working together on something greater than both of them. They are finding their oneness, not directly in each other, but in their interest in a common cause. In eros, each seeks fulfillment in the other; in philia, they both seek fulfillment in one mutual goal.

Married Love

“You have said to another, “I will,” and with those words you have declared your voluntary assent and turned a crucial point in their lives. You know full well all the doubts and suspicions with which a life-long partnership between two persons is faced. It is you as a married couple who must bear the whole responsibility for the success of your married life, with all the happiness it will bring. It is not your love which sustains the marriage, from now on the marriage sustains your love.”

“I will give to you a love that is patient…a love that is kind, a love that endures. I will pledge to you a love that is not jealous or possessive, a love that is not proud or selfish, a love that is not rude or inconsiderate.

“My love for you will not insist in its own way, will not be irritable or resentful, will not keep account of wrongs or failures. I will rejoice when good prevails.

“Our love will know no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope. It will outlast everything. Our love will stand when all else has fallen. Our life together will have three great qualities: faith, hope and love. But the greatest is love.”

Marriage was designed by God to provide companionship.

“…not good to be alone” the key to a great marriage is delightful companionship. Long-term, delightful companionship is at its best in an intimate friendship!

How Love Acts (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. {6} Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. {7} It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Some reasons why our families are in trouble

  1. Lack of commitment.

“When reference is made to an individual’s ‘commitment’ to marriage, what is being described is the degree to which that person is willing to compromise self-interest, personal ideals of perfection, indulgence in tastes, and so forth, so that a particular relationship can continue. The alternative to making a commitment is not having a relationship – that is remaining alone.” — William J. Lederer, The Mirages of Marriage, 1968, p. 196.

  1. Too much attention to the urgent; not enough attention to the important.
  2. Decentralization – the average home has released or delegated too much of its responsibility to others who are not as crucial to raising good children.
  3. The expectations for a marriage are set too high

Whatever marriage can be, it ought to be! Marriage is sustained by self-discipline and evaluated through growth.

Practical advice for the wife

  1. Remember why he fell in love with you in the first place. Remember and build on them. Don’t stop the courtship.
  2. Be his wife not his child….and don’t be his mother. Learn to handle difficulties like an adult. Be a helper – not a burden. He will worship the ground you walk on if you are a “trooper” when the going gets rough!
  3. Build him up. No one on earth can build him up as high as you can, and by the same token, no one on earth can tear him down as low as you can. If there is some way you want him to change or develop, encourage him in that direction, but don’t try to push him! Be very considerate of his feelings.
  4. Learn to live on his salary and make him feel like he is a very good provider. Never make him feel that he is a failure as a provider.
  5. Make his home his castle. Make home a refuge for him. Most men don’t notice if a house is deep-down clean, but they notice if it is upside down. Feed him meals he enjoys. Make sure he realizes that he is more important to you than your parents or your children. Make him glad he came home. Make it obvious to children as well as friends that he is the head of the family.
 
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Posted by on January 23, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 

Heaven in the Home: God’s Plan for His Family #3 – Wisdom in Family Matters


wisdomProverbs 22:17-21 (NIV)
17  Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach,
18  for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.
19  So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.
20  Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21  teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?

Luke 8:18 (NIV)
18  Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

There is a cost to acquiring wisdom, but it’s worth it! It isn’t enough to own a study Bible and read books about the Bible, helpful as they are. It’s one thing to know about the Bible and quite something else to hear God speak through His Word and teach us His wisdom so that we become more like Jesus Christ.

During my years of ministry, I’ve met several people whose knowledge of Scripture was phenomenal, but who failed to manifest the fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Of these ‘knowledgeable” people, these words speak: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1).

But there’s a positive side to this as well: Wise (and blessed) people don’t waste their time listening to foolishness and lies.

Psalm 1:1-6 (NIV) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
4  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6  For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Wise people are careful about what they read, what they hear and see, and what they talk about in daily conversation.  They’re diligent to keep trash out of their minds and hearts, because “garbage in” ultimately means “garbage out.” For this reason, they carefully control the radio and television and they are selective in their reading.

Those who are wise profit from rebuke and from advice: Proverbs 9:8-9 (NIV)  Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. 9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

They don’t think so highly of themselves that they can’t learn from others: Proverbs 26:12: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

We should keep in mind two things:

  1. Life is short
  2. Our eternal existence is greatly influenced by how we live during this short life

It is imperative, then, that we not waste our time through rash and foolish decisions which not only jeopardize our eternal destiny but can also make this life miserable. Life is too short and families grow too fast for us to raise a family through “trial and error”

The value of wisdom is especially seen in family relationships: “He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind.” (Prov. 11:29).

Consider what many people think is most important in providing for a family. Many would say it is the “necessities” of life such as food and clothing, and a place of shelter. Most would feel that other things are also necessary such as the “finer things” (luxuries) for the children, which parents never had as children. A good “education” for the children, so they too can be affluent.

  1. Instilling a fear of the Lord (reverence and awe). Proverbs 15:16: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil with it.”

The fear of the Lord provides: Proverbs 16:6: “By loving kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.”

  1. Giving them love.

Proverbs 15:17: “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is Than a fattened ox served with hatred.”

Proverbs 27:5: “Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.”

Providing an environment where love reigns is more important than providing material abundance. Troubled children come from homes where “love” is lacking, not money!

  1. Providing a peaceful family life.

Proverbs 17:1: “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

What can be done to insure adequate material provisions for the family: Be righteous!

Proverbs 20:7: “A righteous man who walks in his integrity– How blessed are his sons after him.”
Today that means putting the kingdom of God first in your life. Then God will watch out for you and providentially see that your needs are adequately met! Children of righteous parents are truly blessed! But parents who fail to put God first go through life without God’s providential help, and their children may suffer as a result!

WISDOM IN RAISING CHILDREN

Inspired wisdom is explicit in the proper use of “corporeal punishment.” Used properly, it is a demonstration of true love.

Proverbs 13:24: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

Proper discipline has proper objectives…

Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

Proverbs 23:13-14: “Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. {14} You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.”

Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”

Proper discipline has its rewards

Proverbs 29:17: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.”

Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.”

It is to be applied before the situation gets of out hand (“while there is hope”). It is also to be applied under controlled circumstances (“do not set your heart on his destruction”). i.e., do not put it off until you strike in anger.

There IS a difference between proper “spanking” and “child abuse”! Corporeal punishment should never be a vent for letting off steam. Rather, a controlled use of one method to discourage bad behavior. To be accompanied with love!

These important points:

  • when you discipline your children, you’re acting like God
  • discipline is a function of love, and appropriate punishment is not something done to a child but for the child
  • spanking before 18 months of age is not wise and after 10 years of age is not effective
  • it should be reserved for times of defiant or rebellious behavior
  • when love is abundant at home, proper discipline (even a spanking) won’t be resented

Children are gifts from the Lord but between 15-36 months they don’t want to be restricted in any way. They are the most self-centered, manipulative, and controlling things on the planet…parents must be adults and be in charge

James Dobson: “The proper time to begin disarming the teenage time bomb is 12 years before it arrives. Children thrive best in an atmosphere of genuine love, undergirded by reasonable and consistent discipline. In a day of widespread drug usage, immorality, sexually transmitted diseases, vandalism, and violence, we must not depend on hope and luck to fashion the critical attitudes we value in our children.”

    “In those situations when the child fully understands what he is being asked to do or not to do but refuses to yield to adult leadership, an appropriate spanking is the shortest and most effective route to an attitude adjustment.” (The New Dare to Discipline, page 28, 7, and 60-61)
Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (as implied by the word “nurture”)

Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This allows for the common interpretation in which a child’s outcome is virtually dependent upon his training, especially in spiritual matters. i.e., if the child is brought up right by godly parents, the child “must” turn out all right…so if a child is not a faithful Christian, it must always be a failing of the parents.

The original root word for “train” is the term for “the palate, the roof of the mouth, the gums.” In verb form, it’s the term used for breaking and bringing into submission a wild horse by a rope in the mouth. But the term was also used in the days of Solomon to describe the action of a midwife, who, soon after helping deliver a child, would dip her finger into the juice of chewed or crushed dates, reach into the mouth of the infant, and massage the gums and the palate within the mouth so as to create a sensation of sucking – a sense of taste.

The juice was thought to also have a cleansing agent. They would then place the child into his mother’s arms to begin feeding.

It was a word, used, then, to “describe a thirst.” And when we see this application from the original language, it takes on a whole new meaning for Christian mothers and fathers. We must develop a thirst within our children for God and His church. The idea reminds one of Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

The verse can also be translated: “train up a child according to HIS way…” that is, train up a child according to his or her inclinations. The key in developing this thirst is sensitivity – an awareness of our children and what they are and what they need.

Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his God-given characteristics and tendencies; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from the training he has received.”

Therefore, this verse, like so many in Proverbs, is simply giving us practical advice in raising our children (without necessarily any spiritual implications). However, I might add that trying to force a child to go against their “aptitude” may encourage a child to rebel in ALL areas of parental influence (including spiritual).

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 

“Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family” Series #2 – Walking and Talking


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What would you be willing to do for your children? The quick response is “everything…anything.” When they are infants, they literally depend upon their parents for everything!

In Man in the Mirror, Patrick Morley tells of a group of fishermen who landed in a secluded bay in Alaska and had a great day fishing for salmon. But when they returned to their sea plane, they found it aground because of the fluctuating tides. They waited until the next morning for the tides to comes in, but when they took off, they only got a few feet into the air before crashing back into the sea. Being aground the day before had punctured one of the pontoons, and it had filled up with water.

The sea plane slowly began to sink. The passengers, three men and a 12-year-old son of one of the men, prayed and then jumped into the icy cold waters to swim to shore. The riptide was strong, but two of the men reached the shore exhausted. They looked back, and saw the father with his arms around his son being swept out to sea.

The boy had not been strong enough to make it. The father was a strong swimmer, but he had chosen to die with his son rather than to live without him.”

Morley went on to say: “The most important thing my dad ever taught me is that there are more important things than me. My major effort as a parent must be devoted to my children. If they turn out badly, nothing I could do in the public eye would have any meaning.’   

That remind me of Paul’s statement: Romans 9:1-3 (ESV) I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2  that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

   The Message renders these verses this way: Romans 9:1-3 (MSG) At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. 2  It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites… 3  If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family.

Parents give us a sense of self-worth and confidence. It’s advice we can pass on to any parent: Morley: “They always answered my question ‘Do you think I can do it?’ with ‘Of course you can.’ And they were never too busy to give me attention. Even as a teenager, I thought I must be the most entertaining company in the world because my folks loved to be with me–and with each of my siblings. It didn’t occur to me until years later that they chose to spend time with us.”

 There are some Christian homes which are no better than some of the worst of secular homes; affairs there can be in utter chaos and confusion. Instead of orderly, love-filled peaceful homes, they can be battlegrounds from morning to night, arenas of constant bickering and squabbling and fighting and rebellion.

Deuteronomy 6:1-6 (ESV)
1  “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it,
2  that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
3  Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
5  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

That is a word addressed to parents. The place to begin, the place to recover the proper functioning of the home, is with the parents. We must begin to heal ourselves before God in order to heal our children. There is no escape from that. We cannot pass on to them something which we ourselves are not. Parents are models, and children will invariably follow the model.

They will live with us in exactly the same way we have lived with them. So we must begin the correction with ourselves. We must discover and develop our own personhood before we can help our children to discover and develop theirs. That is absolutely essential.

Parents who do not recognize that their first responsibility is to what they are before God, and not to what their children become, will ultimately lose both.

Parents who give everything to their children and ask nothing in return quite unknowingly are teaching their children to expect to have everything done for them, and to give nothing in return. It is no wonder, therefore, that is exactly what so many children expect these days. They have been taught that in the home. So the first step is for parents to begin with themselves.

Now we come to the second step, which is found in the first part of Verse 7 in this great summary passage. Moses said, Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

This means that along with, and as a result of, obedience to the first step will come this second step. While you are learning to become a person yourself, as a parent, you will at that same time, and in the same process, pass it along to your children. You don’t wait until you have reached ultimate maturity. None of us ever do that anyway. But what you are learning, and while you are learning it, you are passing along to your children.

Some time ago I came to the realization that every day is hut a miniature of life itself, and that a child needs, every day, what a person needs for his whole life. At the beginning of life our needs are obvious — security, a sense of identity, assurance that we belong in a family. Therefore, parents are tremendously important to a child at the beginning of his life.

It occurred to me that this is true also at the beginning of each day, and that every day ought to start with an expression of security, of identity, of appreciation. So in our home we started greeting one another with a hug the first thing in the morning, the first time we meet for the day — just to say, “I love you and you’re important to me, and you belong here.” And it had been wonderful to watch a sense of trust develop, a sense of relaxation in the feeling of a secure home. That’s what God does with us, and this is what is important in the display of love.

We are preparing our children to live lives independent from us, and that, therefore, the acquisition of all the knowledge they will need must start, at least, in the home. It may be continued in school, but the acquisition of all knowledge starts at home:

  • We want our children to know the names and the natures of things. This is the beginning of science.
  • We want them to know how to count and to reason, and there you have the foundation of mathematics.
  • We want them to learn the relationships of cause and effect — why one thing does this, and another does that — and there you have philosophy.
  • We want them to learn how to enjoy themselves, so there you have the arts and crafts and sports.
  • We want them to learn how to exert their influence properly upon other people, and there you have social sciences coming in.
  • We want them to learn how to use their imagination, which brings up the whole realm of literature and drama.
  • We want them to learn how to behave themselves responsibly, how to take responsibility for their own actions and not to blame them on somebody else, and there you have the humanities.
  • And above everything else — that which no school can ever impart — we want our children to learn how to handle failure and guilt. Nothing plagues human beings more than the sense of failure and the terribly agony of guilt. Therefore, the one thing that Christian parents ought to be responsible for, above all else, is to learn how to handle failure and guilt, and to teach their children how to handle it also.

    There is the story of a woman who came to an authority on child raising and asked him, “Sir, when should I begin to teach my child about God?” He said, “How old is your child?” She answered, “Six.” He said, “Madam, hurry home. You’ve already lost five of the most important years!”

Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Unfortunately, it is a most misunderstood verse. Most people understand this verse to mean, “If you teach your child the way you want him to live, while he is a child, then, when he has grown up, he will not leave that way.” But, unfortunately, that notion is not confirmed by experience.

What the text says literally is, “Train up a child according to his own way.” What it is referring to is the fact that children are basically different. There is a mystery built into every child. And the job of a parent is to discover the particular form of the mystery which is there in each child — and no two children are the same. There is a creative urge built by the Creator himself into every child. It is usually related to one of the five senses. That is,

  • Some children love to see things. They love to look at pictures and to investigate and perceive. They are the ones who become the philosophers and the thinkers, etc.
  • Some children are related more to movement. They love to move and they enjoy the feel of movement. They are the ones who build cars and locomotives and airplanes.
  • Some will relate to smell and taste, and they are the ones who make good chefs.
  • Some like sound, and they become musicians and audio engineers, and so forth.

So what this text is saying is that God has built into every child a uniqueness that is “his/her own way,” and the parents have to find that. And when they find it, and help a child find it, that child will find fulfillment, a fulfillment so rich and full that when he is old he will not leave it. When he has grown up he will have found himself. This is true not only of natural abilities, but of spiritual gifts as well. And the role of a parent is to help him in this discovery.

Here is where love comes in — love which spends time with children, love which watches them, and thinks about them, and leads them out in various exploratory paths to find out what interests them, and what they like, love which gives security and identity, and helps a child find out who he is in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. And when these two factors interplay, one against the other — law which regulates, and love which discovers — then, you see, you have the pattern for raising children in a way which will produce God-reliant men and women, able to cope with life the way it was intended to be.

We are going to look at many other concepts as we go along in this series. Some of them will be more specific. Some will teach us how to apply these principles to the various methods of handling the education of children. But I hope we will understand that only as we begin with ourselves, and apply these principles first to ourselves, so that our children can see the changes which are occurring in us, only then can they be passed along to those who are coming behind us.

WORDS TO A GROWN UP SON/DAUGHTER

My hands were busy through the day I didn’t have much time to play

The little games you asked me to I didn’t have much time for you.

I’d wash your clothes, I’d sew and cook but when you’d bring your picture book

And ask me please to share your fun I’d say, “A little later, son.”

I’d tuck you in all safe at night and hear your prayers, turn out the light

Then tiptoe softly to the door I wish I’d stayed a minute more.

For life is short, the years rush past A little boy grows up so fast

No longer is he at your side His precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away There are no more games to play no goodnight kiss,

No prayers to hear That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy now lie still The days are long and hard to fill

I wish I might go back and do The little things you asked me to. –Anonymous

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 

Heaven in the Home Series – Where Do We Begin?


Christ In The Home seriesA question asked by many people in this 21st century is a complex and deeply felt one: is it possible to have a Christ centered home in today’s world of trouble and sin?

If you are a Christian, you are concerned about this problem. Recent studies have listed many issues with which parents must cope today:

— finances (the cost of bearing, clothing, feeding, entertaining and educating children is the greatest in our history)
— working mothers (a majority of American mothers hold jobs out-side the home, many out of necessity)

– drugs, divorce, alcohol, crime, runaways, and abuse.

More than 1.9 million couples were divorced last year. Drugs and alcohol are on the rise among youngsters. The second leading cause of death between ages 14-24 is now suicide, and one child in eight can expect to appear in juvenile court before he turns 18.

It might be of comfort to realize that the world has always been a difficult place in which Christians must live. It has always been opposed to God’s values and God’s will.

Satan longs for the soul of any age person who will reject good, right, and truth and turn to his way of thinking. Christians must daily remind themselves of the clear, simple words of Jesus, from Matthew 7:13-14: “”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

We might also be encouraged to remember a story recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, which shows a situation similar to the one we face today. Jehoshaphat had some men before him reporting the approach of a vast army, one the size of which his army could not defeat.

He inquired of the Lord his future and God’s answer is recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:15-17: “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'””

That message is an eternal one! It remains for Christians today who feel the odds against them in this sin-filled world.   

Man’s domestic problems begin when he departs from God’s counsel regarding the home. And this study is vital because our understanding of Christ’s relationship to the church is dependent upon his conception of the home. God is interested in our homes because our spiritual understanding is at stake.

Home Means Different Things To Different People

There are many reasons why people look upon the home in different lights. In the first place, we have all had different backgrounds. Our home training has been varied, the emphases have been placed in many different spots as we have been reared through the years of childhood and adolescence.

It is no wonder that the word “home” means something different to one than to another:

  • we may look upon the home as a place for protection where our simple needs are met
  • it might be a place where we have been taught respect and obedience, where character and service have been taught
  • young married couples view the home as the ideal situation, anticipating their life with optimism and ambition
  • older people define home in terms of memories, and because of their mature minds, they certainly describe it with reality…it takes on a sense of reward and meaning

A truly Christian home is a place where sinners live; but it is also a place where the members of that home admit the fact and understand the problem, know what to do about it, and as a result grow by grace.

It is important that this environment be in place so all members of the family will have a loving, graceful, safe, and warm place in which to grow. It’s vital that we treat each other in the same way Jesus treated His 12 apostles.

As they stumbled and fell and made mistakes, he was patient with them because of one simple point: He knew they were not yet what they would become. We need to “be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”

Strong Church Families– Case Examples (from actual minister from a large Southern congregation):

ITEM: A sixteen year old boy with this startling confession: “I can’t stand my parents. I hate my dad, I wish he was dead. “

ITEM: A seventeen year old youth With this pleading request: “Can I please talk with you. My parents won’t listen. My dad is an elder. He has time for everyone else, but he doesn’t have time for me. He thinks I don’t have anything worthwhile to say.”

ITEM: A nineteen year old coed on a Christian college campus asks for help. Her problem? For the past six years her father has been involved with her sexually. Her father is supposedly a leader in the Lord’s church.

ITEM: An adolescent, between the ages of 9 and 14, a resident in a children’s home in California, writes a night time prayer for sinners, wherein she prays: “I admit I am very sinful. I had a hard time with the family. Now I have no family. I was starved when I was little.”

ITEM: A college junior relays a sad message: “My parents have just informed me that I can never come home again. I am no longer their daughter. They never want to see me again.”

ITEM: On the afternoon prior to the concluding service of a gospel meeting that evening, a seventeen year old girl that has been attending the meeting, calls with this message and plea: “My mother has just kicked me out of the house. I have no place to go. I wish I were dead. In fact, about a year ago I tried to kill myself. I have been under psychiatric care. Can you help me?”

ITEM: An early morning emergency phone call, an urgent Saturday morning visit to the office and a desperate plea for help from a hurting and frustrated mother is a nearby congregation. Her problem? The night before she had discovered that her husband had been going to their daughter’s bed before coming to hers.

Each of these case examples have a least three major things in common.

  1. They are true . . . they actually happened.
  2. They each suggest some serious problems in the area of parent/child relationships in some homes.
  3. Are you ready for #3 . . . They each involve a supposedly Christian home or environment

They are not the strong families of which strong congregations are built. I am not plowing new ground when I tell you that today many homes and families, in the church and outside the church, are in serious trouble.

  1. No doubt, you know some.
  2. No doubt you have shed tears over some.
  3. No doubt, you will again.

Tragic things are happening in and to homes and families today.

  1. 53% of all marriages end in divorce.
  2. One-half of all children now live with one parent.
  3. 700,000 young people drop out of school annually.
  4. 5,000 to 6,000 young people commit suicide annually.
  5. 40% of all teenage girls become pregnant one or more times before reaching the age of 20.
  6. 52% or youth fatalities are alcohol related.
  7. Child abuse and abandonment are on the rise. In the past several years, there has been a 300% increase in placement of children outside the home.
  8. Homosexual marriages (men marrying men, women marrying women) then wanting to adopt and rear children in such an unscriptural and unwholesome environment.
  9. Abuses (sexual, physical, parental, etc.) running rampant through our society.

Let’s look in detail for a moment at three significant items that make all the difference in the world; (as they are discussed, think of the atmosphere or environment which these will create in the home):

  1. Christians admit their sins.

Because they know the Bible says that no Christian is ever perfect in this life, they are free to admit their sins.

1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

What does it mean to you to know that your boss, parents, etc., can admit when they make a mistake and acknowledge sin? What response do you give to this kind of person? What kind of response is given to the person who thinks they are perfect, who acts like they never do wrong?

Christians are able to acknowledge the fact and, in time, learn to anticipate and prepare for sin. Christians, of all persons, should never rely upon rationalizations, excuses or blame-shifting to try to euphemize their sins.

Because they can admit their sins, there can also be a certain amount of openness, honesty, and relaxation about the relationships that Christians sustain to one another, especially at home. Christians can pour their time and energies into the endeavor to replace sinful patterns with Biblical patterns of life.

Rather than wasting time minimizing or denying the fact of sin, Christians can concentrate on dealing with sin.

  1. Christians know what to do about their sins.

Because they have the Bible as the standard of faith and practice, Christians not only know why problems occur in the home, but they know what to do about them!

Is any sin too big for God? Can any sin be overcome in a loving, forgiving environment? We need to realize that each person in the Bible who stands before us a “great men and women of faith” are average people with sin in their life, which God helped remove.

  1. Christians progress out of their sins.

Where there is spiritual life, there also will be spiritual growth. No Christian may remain the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

A fundamental presupposition of the Christian faith is that there will be growth out of sin into righteousness. Where there is Bible study, prayer and the fellowship of the saints, the Spirit of God will be at work to produce His fruit.

The Christian home, then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ. Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Savior lives there too! “That is what makes the difference!

What purposes shall we try to achieve in our homes?
The first purpose is the personal development of each family member. This is not to say that one should view his home selfishly and think only in terms of what he can get out of it himself. Each family member experiences personal growth and receives a sense of genuine fulfillment by giving of himself in order to build a happy home.

The second purpose involves the accomplishment of certain social functions of the home. The primary social function is to provide a special companionship for each member of the family. To feel alone and unloved is one of the emptiest feelings on earth. But we must also prepare each member to be part of the larger group of society.

But the third purpose reaches into eternity: we must work toward achieving the spiritual development of the family members. We must never forget that marriage and the home is primarily a spiritual relationship.

We should daily be reminded of the question asked by Jesus in one of his most penetrating sermons, recorded for us in Matthew 16:26-27: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”

What qualities of character do we need to possess and demonstrate in our homes in order to fulfill these purposes?

Generally speaking, the development of Christian character is the single most important factor in achieving a successful home. The two marriage partners must desire success in their home, and genuine love is absolutely necessary! Each member of the family must take their differences into account and strive to communicate their feelings to each other.

This also relates to the church family

Paul Tournier once said there are two things one cannot do alone – be married and be a Christian.

The essence of being a Christian is not an extended set of correct doctrinal beliefs or even well-formed personal character. To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ in such a unique and special way that all other relationships are defined by that union. The perfect triune fellowship of God as Father, Son, and Spirit from eternity past has been opened to me by the blood of Jesus at Calvary. But I cannot experience their fellowship in isolation from all others who have been called into it.

Having others around is not a nuisance but a necessity for families. These interactions shape us. We sing and read, stand and bow, laugh and cry. And, yes, we certainly eat and drink together. But we do all these things as a network of friends. A gathering of family members. A church whose identity is not contained in itself but is found in the God who has formed it.

We are the community of the children of God! We carry his spiritual DNA. We bear his name. We have a great inheritance. Awareness of these things makes a difference in how we see ourselves and function in this world.

Perhaps if more of us saw ourselves as children of God rather than members of the church, we would claim a nobler inheritance. If we understood church as persons in relationship rather than names on the roll, we would function differently as the church. If we saw sin as the breaking of relationships rather than the breaking of rules, we would both live better and deal with one another more gracefully.

If we really love God the Father, we will create churches that are communities of love, accountability, and nurture where gradual spiritual transformation takes place over time. We will live gently with one another. Listen to one another’s stories. Teach and learn from one another.

A PRAYER FOR THE CHILDREN

     We pray for the children who …… sneak popsicles before supper… erase holes in their math workbooks and can never find their shoes.

    We pray for the children who …… don’t know how to run down the street in a new pair of sneakers… are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead… and, have never been to the circus.

    We pray for the children who …… bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions… hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

    We pray for the children who …… never get dessert or have a “safe” blanket to drag behind them… watch their parents watch them die… can’t find bread to steal… don’t have any rooms to clean up… don’t have pictures on anybody’s dresser and… whose monsters are real.

    We pray for the children who …… spend all their allowance before Tuesday… throw tantrums in the store and pick at their food… like ghost stories and shove dirty clothes under the bed… never rinse out the tub and get visits from the tooth fairy, and… whose tears we sometimes laugh at and smiles can make us cry.

    We pray for the children who …… whose nightmares come in the daytime… will eat anything and have never seen a dentist… aren’t spoiled by anybody, and… go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep.

     We pray for the children who …… want to be carried and for those who must, and… we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

    We pray for the children who …… we smother with love and affection and… will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 
 
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