Tag Archives: Marriage

Want a Better Marriage? The Answer Is Surprisingly Simple – Part 2

side-coupleRead Part 1 first.

Jesus loved the church first; Jesus loves even when His love is not reciprocated; He loves unconditionally; and He loves eternally.  There are also many characteristics of His love.  I’ve outlined a couple below, those that I believe are the most important for us, as Christian husbands, to remember.  Jesus’ love is a…

Calvary Love

You might be thinking “Ok, I’m good here.  Even my wife would admit that I would die for her.”  Sorry to burst the proverbial bubble, but there is so much more to Calvary than Christ’s death.  Calvary was the culmination of Christ’s life; it was the crescendo to a life of sacrifice.  Christ left Heaven to become a man; we must be willing to take on things we might believe are “below us.”  In the Garden, Christ submitted His will to that of His Father.  We must also fully submit to the Father’s will for us as husbands, even when it is outside our comfort zone.  The sacrifice associated with true Calvary love will result in humility, in willingness to serve, and ultimately in sacrifice.  Are you willing to give up your dreams, your career, and yourself to better your marriage?

Curing Love

Sometimes the answers to the world’s most-asked questions seem too simple.  If you want to be successful, work hard!  If you need to lose weight, eat less and exercise more.  If there are struggles in your marriage – whether they appear to be caused by you or your wife – exercise Biblical love.  There are long-standing problems that might have been festering for years, but the first step in strengthening your marriage is loving your wife like you have been commanded.  God created marriage; He understands you and your wife perfectly; and He has commanded husbands to set the tone in the marriage with love.  I am firmly convinced that the overwhelming majority of problems in Christian marriages could be solved if husbands really and truly would love their wives as they are commanded, as Jesus loves the church.

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Want a Better Marriage? The Answer Is Surprisingly Simple – Part 1

When our nation has a divorce rate that exceeds 50%, I think it is safe to say that many either are or should be asking how to have a better, stronger marriage.  I do believe people are looking for answers.  For example, a search of Half.com for books on “marriage” yields more than 23,000 hits!  These books were written to fill demand created by people searching for books on the topic.  But rather than filling out an online quiz, attending couples’ therapy, or reading a dozen books, I believe the answer to most problems in most marriages is quite simple.  It is time for Christian husbands to get back to Biblical basics.  It is time for us to understand and fulfill the role God has designed for us, as defined in Ephesians 5:25-31.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

couple-arguing

I am a relatively young man, still south of 30.  Though we do not pretend to have a perfect marriage, in our almost 9 years of marriage, my wife and I have attempted to fulfill the role of husband and wife as commanded in Ephesians chapter 5.  The most accurate description I have heard for the husband’s role is “loving dominion” and for the wife’s role is “influential submission.”  Almost every reader of this blog likely knows the word for love used in this passage is agape, or God-like love, yet many men fail at this basic task – loving like Christ.   His love is a…

Causing Love 

As I John 4:19 puts it, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  Similarly, when we display Christ-like love to our spouse, we create a desire within our spouse to reciprocate.  This is basic, but it is important.  And it is important because it places the burden on the husband to create an atmosphere of love in the home.  This also means that if there is a lack of love in our relationship it is squarely our fault!  But be careful not to love or care for your spouse in order to create a sense of indebtedness or obligation.  Rather, love in order to lay the proper foundation for your marriage.   Would your wife say that you create an atmosphere of love in your marriage?

Calming Love

In order to properly respond to problems your wife or marriage might experience, you must react in a spirit of love.  I John 4:8 says that “[t]here is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear[.]”  Whether it is a problem your wife is experiencing at work, an issue with the kids, or a financial difficulty that seems to be out of your control, confronting the problem with an attitude of love will be calming.  More than knowing that “you have all the answers,” you have a “plan,” or you have the money to pay that bill, your wife needs to know you love her unconditionally.  She must know that, despite how enormous the issue seems while you’re in the midst of the storm, you are there to help her get through it – and you always will be.  Do you approach each marital challenge you face with an attitude of love?

Article by Bryan Likins

@bmlesq

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Do You REALLY Care about Your Family?

Do you care about your spouse? Does it matter to you what your children will become? Not what they will do for work – but who they will be – what they will become.

What legacy you are leaving for your grandchildren?

Happy family preparing a healthy dinner at home.

In our parenting journey, Sarah and I have noted essentials for healthy families. Every family can do these!

Discover and pursue their dreams

If you are spending significant quality time with family members, then it’s likely that you are intimately familiar with their ambitions, passions, and dreams. And when you are, you can help them fulfill those dreams.

Nearly every day I do something or say something to help my wife and children take the next step in the pursuit of their passions.

This is important – these are not MY dreams for them. Rather I’m encouraging them to pursue the calling and the passion that lies within them.

Consequently, I must regularly assess my understanding of their dreams as they evolve. And I must evaluate my motivations for challenging them to move forward.

Independence

This area was particularly challenging for me because of my tendency to be too engaged in most everything.

I’m a problem-solver. So I naturally want to fix problems – some before they even occur.

But my problem-solving occasionally robs others of valuable life experiences. So I’ve had to learn to back off of problem-solving and allow others to grow through their experiences.

When Madison was very young I began allowing her more and more freedom to make healthy decisions – decisions about spending and saving, planning family trips, getting involved in athletics, doing chores.

This week she told Sarah and me about a product that she’d like to invent and how she plans to do it. Another evening she drafted a simple plan for a business she’d like to start.

In reality, she often falls short of her ambition. And that’s ok – because failing facilitates growth.

I want those closest to me to know that I believe in their dreams. And I want them to know that I will do everything possible to support them. More than anything, I want to challenge them to follow their calling with abandon.

Pursue spirituality

I’m not sure if it’s your style or not – but Sarah and I encourage Madison to pursue spirituality. As a result, she loves church. She loves to read Scripture. She loves to pray with us…

Over the past 2 months our family has experienced a significant transition which included moving 1300 miles to a new home and community. So our schedules got all out of whack.

Prior to our transition we’d been praying with Madison every night. (We pray at other times throughout the day too – but our bedtime prayers have become a special time for us.)

This week we’re finally getting back into a routine. So last night I laid down with Madison to pray. She went first – “God, I know we haven’t prayed in a while…” Whoops!

I love that she understands the importance of faith and that it plays a significant role in her life.

It’s a non-negotiable, a top priority for us.

This post is part of the series – Non-Negotiables For a Healthy Family
Part 1: Family – It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

Question: What non-negotiable would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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The Anniversary

My wife and oldest daughter are beginning a Bible study of the Proverbs 31 woman.  On the eve of our 13th anniversary, I realized I haven’t thought of Shannon as a Proverbs 31 woman.  But that was because I never had to.

Verse 11 and 12 says she is trustworthy and constant in her love.  I have trusted Shannon with all the things of my heart for thirteen years and I have never questioned or doubted her love for me or our children.

Verse 13 through 29 tells us this woman is among other things; industrious, thrifty, not idle, willing to do hard work, compassionate, prepared for the future, wise, kind, and not satisfied with the status quo.  I can tell you the life of a railroader is hard for his family.  I can also say I am the sole income for our family.  But that doesn’t paint the full picture.  You see, while I pay the mortgage on our house – Shannon makes it a home.  While I get aggravated when we spend money – she always manages to get what we need and leave something in the bank.  When I am away from home – our daughters are still home-schooled each day.  As I came home and want to rest or play with our children – she makes time to talk to her husband above the daily noises of a busy, chaotic household and still does the chores that my arrival interrupted.  She does without time for herself to make time for her family.

Verse 28 to the end says she is blessed by her family and a woman of God.  But I hope by now you see that she is not as blessed as we are.  I am to be the spiritual leader of my home, but the means by which I am able to do that is Shannon’s love of the Lord.  Our lives are centered around our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but I find our daily reminder of that in my wife, the mother of my children.  Is it any wonder King Lemuel’s mother said in verse 10, this kind of woman is rare?  Yet, I never gave the Proverbs 31 woman much thought because that is exactly the woman I married.

Anyone can make marriage vows when they are filled with “or”:  For richer or poorer, for better or worse, sickness or health.  It takes a special woman to keep those vows long after every “or” has been replaced with “and”.  And I’m telling you, if you’re married long enough, there won’t be an “or” anywhere in sight.  But the “ands” are where God shows you why He gave you each other.  God did not simply give me a partner, friend or wife.  As always, He provided what was missing to make me whole; He gave me “one flesh.”

Article by C.S. Depew

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Save the Males

God didn’t just create you to be male. He created you to be a man. And that’s not a given. Godly manhood is a role that we choose to embrace. God set men down on this planet and said, “Conquer it. Take ownership and leadership. Cultivate and build.” So, at no point, did God tell men, “Go, be gruff, rude, selfish, and step on people.” He has called men to servant leadership, following in the footsteps and example of Christ. So we’re to nurture, to build, and to initiate – in a humble manner – just like Christ does for us and for the church and for all His creation.

Series Notes & Audio Files:

1 – Know Your Role: Cultivate >> PDF  MP3
2 – Cultivate Your Wife >> PDF  MP3
3 – Cultivate Your Kids Pt1 >> PDF  MP3
4 – Cultivate Your Kids Pt2 >> PDF  MP3
5 – Make -Don’t Break- Your Kids >> PDF  MP3
6 – Men at Work >> PDF  MP3

Article by Brad Smith

@bradsmith7

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Father Hunger [Book Review]

Just how important is fatherhood anyway? Our culture has no answer as it can’t think of one good reason for fatherhood beyond the biological one. For that matter, many fathers can’t add any more items to the list. Shall we listen to our culture? I’m not sure what our listless age has to commend to itself to be our guide. God, as the Master Designer, is left out of our thinking and the consequences are horrific. That’s where one of the most incredible books on fathers I have ever read comes into play. “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson is profound and greatly impacted me. Every page was like the hard steel blades of the plow tilling through the soil of my heart.

What Mr. Wilson was able to accomplish in this volume is rarely done. When the subtitle proclaims “Why God calls men to love and lead their families”, the book actually delivers on the “why.” Few books can give us the big picture and get especially practical as well. As an avid reader, it’s my opinion that most authors can give us only one or the other. Mr. Wilson, with verve, skill, and a pastoral heart actually pulls it off.

With deftness he upholds the essential equality of men and women while showing that the Lord, again the Master Designer, has assigned men and women different roles. That will probably keep this book off the New York Times Bestseller List, but it will have the smile of Heaven for its Biblical faithfulness. God is Father, so do you imagine in His design fathers would have a non-essential role? Ladies, don’t panic—Mr. Wilson never gives men power to be selfish brats, just power to love and be unselfish and sacrifice himself for his family. Listen to this incredible statement on men taking responsibility: “… to take on a lifetime of sacrifice and hard work. A man who takes a woman to the altar is going there to die to himself. But that is all right because it is not good for man to be alone.”

He looks at our country and where it is today and sees the absent father as the biggest culprit for the mess we are in. From fathers who provide the seed for a child and vanish to the fathers who live at the same address and mostly do their own thing in life, we have a generation of absentee fathers. The Lord designed everyone to need a father. A father’s loving hand is needed in the life of every child. He says, “Your actual pursuits are a running scoreboard. They reveal what you actually prize.” Are you challenged here? I am.

He shows how feminism, or the dire warnings of overpopulation, or the design of the welfare system, or the plea for gay marriage are all direct attacks on fatherhood. It also a direct attack on what every one of us needs to thrive as God intended. Statistics on everything from crime to education are given. The jury is in and the verdict says that homes without fathers are destroying children today. Without a Dad they will much more likely be a school dropout or be in prison. Also, the worst we see out of men comes from not encouraging them to settle down, accept responsibility, and protect their family.   He shows how God is masculine (not male) and how masculinity (defined with care) is needed all around.

There’s so much more, but this review is getting ridiculously long. For the practical side, the chapter “Some Father Mechanics” is worth the price of the book alone. I saw my lack all over its pages. Thank you Mr. Wilson. If no one else needed your book, I did.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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Prioritizing Important Relationships

Think about this for a moment – All relationships are not important. If all relationships are important, no relationship will be important.
Developing and maintaining key relationships is a critical discipline if we are going to genuinely care for people, live out vision, and help others achieve their full potential.

Relationship development (especially with those closest to us) is not something you or I can simply check off of the to-do list. And it’s certainly not an exercise in convenience. Effective leaders genuinely value key relationships and make them top priority.

All about relationship

Sarah and I have scheduled a standing lunch date every Friday. Our lunch dates have become a time for us to push the pause button on the rest of the world and catch up with each other.

Last week we decided to eat a quick lunch and run a couple of errands together. From my perspective, this plan would require an abbreviated lunch to allow time for our errands.  So we selected a restaurant and I asked her if she’d like for me to call ahead with our order so it would be ready when we arrived. Good plan, huh?

If you said yes, Sarah didn’t agree with us.

She responded, If you’re going to call ahead we might as well go through a drive-thru.

Since I sincerely had her in mind when I suggested streamlining the process, I asked her why it mattered if I called ahead.  She reminded me that our Friday lunch dates are less about eating – and all about relationship. (So we went through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru – just kidding.)

Be all there

It took me several seconds to slow my thought process – and enter the moment with her. She is important to me – my most treasured relationship in the world. So why would I want to rush this one afternoon which we set aside to enjoy our time together?

Important relationships will not grow when we’re in a hurry. In fact, these relationships will become strained and fall apart if we approach them without intention. There are no shortcuts in relationships. So leave the phone in the car. Forget about emailFacebook, andTwitter. It’ll be there when you get back.

Listen. Laugh. Love. Wherever you are, be all there. – Jim Elliot

 Worth it

We chose a table out on the porch of one of our favorite cafes in Clemson. Sitting in the cool breeze, we laughed about our differing perspectives. While we talked, I scribbled down these thoughts on the back of my receipt. (I know, I was supposed to be in the moment with Sarah.)

It didn’t really matter that our order took extraordinarily long to make it to the table. Or that this restaurant cost a few more dollars than drive-thru alternative – it was worth it! Because I value her – and I value our relationship.

Prioritizing key relationships will cost you. Relationships require time when it’s inconvenient. They require more money when there’s not much. They keep you awake when you’re exhausted. And, they’re worth it!

Because those few relationships that you value most – whether family, friends, or colleagues – will become those which bring the greatest fulfillment in life.

So create more perfect moments with those who are most important – when time stands still and, at that moment, they realize that they are the most important person in the world.

How do you give make sure that you are giving your full attention to key relationships?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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A Christian Response to Gay Marriage

Run to the history books and write a new entry. No matter your perspective, when the President of the United States announced his support of marriage for two people of the same sex, we crossed into uncharted waters as a nation. While Bible believers cringe and face growing fear, others of a more socially liberal persuasion celebrate victory.

On the one hand, Christians speak in apocalyptic language on the issue. Can you blame us? You don’t have to agree with us, or believe every word of the Bible as we do, but it is fully disingenuous to say that the Bible doesn’t teach that homosexuality is sin before God. What other position could one hold while claiming to believe the Bible is fully the Word of God? So you can easily imagine what our conversations sound like.

On the other hand, my wife and I have occasion to know and care about people we’ve met primarily through the SCI world who would see it far differently. The latest statistics I’ve heard have this debate at around a 50-50 divide in our nation. I have two observations I’d like to make. Both have something to do with the waning influence of Christianity today. Of course, if the influence of Christianity wanes, it falls on Christians and not on Christ.

 I don’t believe there’s any homosexual in the world who isn’t loved by the Lord as much as me, nor one whom the grace of God can’t reach.

The most-used argument for homosexual marriage is something of the live-and-let-live variety. Don’t violate someone’s right to whatever he or she wants to do. Don’t violate someone’s right to privacy. Yes, everyone has a right to do morally right things, or even to do morally neutral things. It’s no one’s business either. But this argument doesn’t hold water otherwise. Would those who use this argument use it for spousal abuse or child abuse? Of course not! Why? Because they know it’s morally wrong. Somehow even if someone subscribes to moral relativism, they would never hold it in these categories. In so doing, they blow up the argument. It is a moral question, and though we may not agree on morality, on some level we all know there is something called morality and we live by it. Christians say morals must be defined by God as given in His Word. Christians seem to argue in the arena of ideas from a far weaker position than is necessary. Somehow spouting insults, which is the antithesis of Christianity, replaced a discussion of what decides right and wrong in a world where everyone somehow knows right and wrong exist.

That leads to my other observation. It is why the world so little listens to we Christians. In too many cases, we hate homosexuals. We don’t have a scriptural leg to stand on in so doing, yet we don’t seem to care. Perhaps we don’t go as far as the wacko Westboro Baptist bunch, who spout hatred of homosexuals with salivating glee and an element of perverted fascination, but we speak of them as if they were beyond the reach of God’s grace. I am aware of Romans 1:24-32 and its unequivocal condemnation of homosexuality, but I notice several other sins mentioned there as well. Why do we pick on the one sin at the exclusion of the others? It’s my right and yours to find this sin more personally repulsive, but does it carry a right to hate those who practice it? When was the last time you felt so strongly about, for example, “backbiters”? Or the “proud”?

It’s true as Christians that we should take our stand against the rising tide of public opinion and say homosexuality is wrong, wrong for our country, wrong for individuals. But it’s also time to love as Christ loves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe there’s any homosexual in the world who isn’t loved by the Lord as much as me, nor one whom the grace of God can’t reach. That’s the confidence I have in the cross of Christ, and as always, Jesus is the answer.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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How to Have an Affair

This is a satirical look at how to best destroy your life according to Proverbs 6:23-29, 32…

Begin by talking loosely about sensitive, private matters

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:” (1 Peter 3:10)
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26)
“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” (Proverbs 13:3)
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”(James 3:6)

• It’s easier to have an inappropriate conversation via txt or facebook – the walls are down!
• Work slowly into talking about body parts & sensual actions – don’t just jump right in, it might scare them off
• The faster you master words with sexual ‘double meanings’ – the quicker you will have an affair

Surround yourself with mediocre Christians

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)

• Remember, a friend who flatters is a whole lot more fun than a friend that is honest! This type of friend will help to hide your affair!  The last thing you want is somebody to make you feel guilty for having a little fun!

Good Example: David & Jonathan  //  Bad Example: Amnon & Jonadab
“But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.” (2 Samuel 13:3)

Schedule some free time alone

• Make time when you are accountable to no-one. If you never do this, you’ll never have ‘time’ for an affair.
• Browse the www long enough – you’ll find something you shouldn’t
• Watch TV late enough – you’ll watch something you shouldn’t
• Stay in the bookstore long enough – you’ll read something you shouldn’t
• Keep flipping through the stations – you’ll listen to something you shouldn’t

“An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.”

“And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1 Timothy 5:13)
“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)
“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11)

Learn how to separate your public & private lives

• Master the life of the hypocrite! Let’s act like one thing (what we do) – but then know that we’re living a lie (who we are). I’m sure you’ve heard of all the preachers who have had affairs while being so-called ‘spiritual leaders.’
• Don’t worry about lust. It’s really no big deal! It will take care of itself. Just keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing and everything will be OK.

“If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” (1 John 1:6)
“In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:” (Proverbs 7:9)
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
“And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19)
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”(James 1:14-15)

 

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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