"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reflections from Christmastime

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)

Christmas ...

Children ...

Marriage ...

Family ...

I want to take a few moments to reflect on this Christmas.  Particularly the way our family dealt with the season and the holiday.

Highlights 

  • First, for a variety of reasons we didn't have any money this year.  It has happened before, but never to the extent that we were this year.  We did manage to scrape together enough loose change to fill up my small car so I could drive to work until December 21, which happened to be pay day, and the beginning of my 11 - day vacation.
  • The tree was artificial.  It was the one we bought last year when we were displaced from Tropical Storm Lee.  It didn't cost anything, and even though the kids wanted a live tree, they were thankful and happy to decorate and light the lights.
  • The gifts we bought were simple and inexpensive, for the most part.  We didn't do the usual "every-kid-has-to-have-an-equal-number-of-packages-to-open" thing that usually plagues our household at this time of year.  We bought gifts that our kids needed, regardless of the cost or size of package. 
  • We did worship differently this year.  Instead of the quiet, contemporary services our children are used to, we attended midnight mass at a large Episcopal cathedral in my old college town.  A million memories came flooding back as we sat, surrounded by a large pipe organ and strings, soloists, and the providential presence of a dear old friend whose Christmas was made a little merrier because we were able to catch up (our's too).
  • It is now a few days after Christmas, and our presents remain at home, unopened.  Our children have been raised up without the interference of Santa Claus, so they weren't expecting a tree-full of gifts on Christmas morning.  
  • We relaxed this week, not rushing from one place to another, not shopping for missing items to round out everyone's gift pile.
Of course there are things we didn't  do that we wanted to do, but all things considered Christmas was a success.

Stepping out of the routine makes a better holiday.

We decided early on that we would spend Christmas with my wife's family.  While the kids were a little upset about being away from home on Christmas Eve and morning, I'm glad I made the decision to get us away from home and the stress.  It was good for the kids to be with their cousins and grandparents.  It was good for my bride to be away from the stress of her homeschool curriculum and lesson plans.  It was good for us as a couple to be relatively stress-free, if only for a few days. 

What did you do this Christmas that worked well for you and your spouse?  Did you step out of your routine and do something different?  Did you simplify or complicate the holiday?  What worked?  What didn't work?  what would you do differently next year?

Make a plan, write it down, and save it for next year.  Then stick to the plan and see what happens.  You'll be blessed, for sure.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Last Leaf

I took this picture this morning in my front yard.  We have an 18-foot river birch tree that has lost all it's leaves except one stubborn paper thin piece of summer that remains at the tip-top of the tree. 

Long after all the other leaves have given in to the inevitability of autumn, this leaf is the last single holdout, choosing to hold on to a futile idea until the day when it finally lets go.

In many ways I am that leaf.  I hold on stubbornly to senseless ideas that cause me to waste precious time and resources, exhausting me and causing me pain, suffering, fear, and loneliness.

As a husband, I am charged with loving my wife as Christ loved the church, giving His life for it (Ephesians 5:25). 

Did Christ hold on obstinately to his own ideas?  Did He let everyone else fall while He held on for dear life?

No.  He obeyed His Father, and let go of all earthly things, surrendering Himself for the sake of His bride, the church.

I've been reminding myself of this fact recently, as I feel a pigheaded attraction to ideas that I should release once and for all.  I just love to dig in my heels for the sake of being right. That is the time to ask some difficult questions.

  • Is being right a good thing when it disrupts the peace in my household?  
  • Is winning an argument really a victory when people are hurt in the process?  Have I truly won?
  • How important is it to answer a zing with another zing?
  • Where is the line between peacemaker and warrior?  Doormat and leader? 
  • When is it time to stand my ground? 
  • Is a husband's entire existence based on sacrifice?  Is it ever okay to want something?

Will I ever receive answers to these questions?  Perhaps, but maybe not in this world.  As I continue to cling to my willfulness, I pray that God will catch me as I dig in my heels, and that He will turn me around.  I pray that I will find patience, love, and forgiveness, and that I will learn to let go and live in a more understanding way.



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Does God Like Nail Polish?

Slightly off topic today, but this is a subject I have to get off my chest. 


"Does God like nail polish?"

This was the question my daughter asked me recently. My answer came quickly and somewhat abruptly.

"No."

Upon further thought and prayer, however, I would now like to change my answer ... slightly.

Does God like nail polish?

Well, that depends on your motivation for wearing it.

The Bible doesn't specify whether makeup is good or bad, nor whether God is in favor of it. It's mentioned three times: 

2Kings 9:30
When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window.

 Jeremiah 4:30
And you, O desolate one, what will you do? Although you dress in scarlet, Although you decorate yourself with ornaments of gold, Although you enlarge your eyes with paint, In vain you make yourself beautiful. Your lovers despise you; They seek your life.

 Ezekiel 23:40
Furthermore, they have even sent for men who come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and lo, they came–for whom you bathed, painted your eyes and decorated yourselves with ornaments.


While each of these verses address the use of eye makeup, I believe nail polish fall squarely into the category of painting your body, and as you can see, the God does not speak against it, but merely mentions it.

They grey area for me is in the motivation.  

Why do you want to paint your nails?  For that matter, why do you wear foundation?  Eye liner and shadow?  Colored lipstick? (Chapstick is protective and often necessary - NOT talking about that.)  There are three likely reasons. 
  1.  It's a creative outlet.  It's fun to change the color of something, or to paint a little flower on your fingernail.  If this is your motivation, I say go for it.  Everyone needs an outlet for creativity.  No problem.
  2. It's a way to get attention.  This is where sin starts to creep in.  Makeup is often used as a way to make oneself more sexually attractive.  The Bible clearly states that beauty should come from within.                                                                                                                                                    (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. (1 Peter 3:3-4) 
  3. It's a way to correct flaws. This is by far the biggest problem with makeup, as I see it.  Many girls have a poor self-image and they try to compensate by painting themselves to "look pretty."  The Lord God personally crafted each of us.  By correcting "flaws" with makeup, many girls are in essence saying, "what God made isn't good enough."  They feel the need somehow to improve on what the Creator Himself created.   How sad.    


    As husbands and fathers (or potential fathers) we need to make sure the young ladies in our lives know they are beautiful just the way they are, and that no amount of stuff they cake onto themselves will improve on what God intended them to be.  We have to reassure them that they are wonderful and that makeup, while it's fun, is not an upgrade.

     Conclusion:


    In my humble opinion, makeup is okay if the goal aim is to have fun. It becomes a problem, however, when you avoid going anywhere until your face, hair, nails, etc. are "perfect."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Husband Is Reverent: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 13


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is the 13th and final day of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:



A Husband Is Reverent

Confession time.  Sometimes I need to be reminded to show more reverence.  Sometimes I do inappropriate things at inappropriate times.  Sometimes I'm downright irreverent.  

As a husband and father (and God-appointed spiritual leader), I need to work on the reverence thing.  I have to show appropriate respect to God at all times.

This means that I have to:

  • Guard my language.  The easiest way to be irreverent is to let bad language fly from my mouth. 
  • Attend church.  Don't try to get out of it, being a poor example for my family.  
  • Establish a more active prayer life.  Pray for and with my wife and family.  Instill in my children the right way to pray.  
  • Be vigil about my personal devotional time (as well as our couple devotional time).  By spending a set time with the Lord each day, I place my day in His hands.  I have more focus.
 Sometimes I don't get a gold star for being reverent.  Sometimes I get a giant raspberry.  The fact is that when I fall I need to get back up again, ask for forgiveness, and press on.  Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was a reverent husband.  Every day of my life is a better day than the previous one, and I continue to learn and study and pray every day. 

This husband is reverent.  Well, at least I'm working on it.



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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8  


A Husband Is Cheerful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 9

A Husband Is Thrifty: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 10

A Husband Is Brave: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 11

A Husband Is Clean: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 12

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Husband Is Clean: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 12


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 12 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:



A Husband Is Clean


Soap and water instantly come to mind when I think of the word "clean."  Soap and water make all the dirt
grime of the day slide off my skin into the drain.  Isn't that the the same way with the forgiveness of Jesus Christ?  He washes all the dirt and grime from my life and lets it drip down the drain.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1:9)

Christian husbands, we need to be clean.  Forgiven.  And we need to do our best to remain clean in between forgivenesses.


Clean of mind:
  • Thoughts - do not let evil thoughts linger in your mind.  
  • Words - Use uplifting words instead of destructive ones.
  • Actions - Do not go where you will be tempted.
Clean of body:
  • Wash your body - no wife likes a stinky husband.
  • Wear clean clothes - present yourself well in front of people.  Don't embarrass your wife.
  • Clean your environment - organize the tools, pick up your dirty socks.

To be forgiven by God, to be wiped clean, is the greatest gift I've been given.  I need to show that gift, by example, to my wife, my children, and the world.


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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8 

A Husband Is Cheerful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 9

A Husband Is Thrifty: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 10

A Husband Is Brave: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 11

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Husband Is Brave: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 11


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 11 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:



A Husband Is Brave

As a husband, bravery means:

  • Taking a so-so job to put some food on the table, even though it doesn't pay enough to get us by and trusting the Lord for the rest.
  • Moving away from family and friends, knowing it will be difficult, but also knowing it is the right thing to do.
  • Delivering the bad news when you lose your job.
  • Sacrificing things you want for things your wife wants.
  • Starting family devotions, even  though it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Calling creditors to work out payments, then finding a way to stick to those payments.
  • Cutting what needs to be cut, no matter how inconvenient.
  • Facing a destroyed house after a natural disaster.  
  • Getting up to check on the strange noise in the middle of the night.
  • Saying "no" when you want to say "yes."
  • Saying "yes" when you want to say "no."
Sometimes being brave involves doing difficult things.  Sometimes it involves doing uncomfortable things. Always it involves listening to the Holy Spirit's leading. 

As a Christian husband, I have found the most difficult part is when the Holy Spirit leads me in one direction and my wife and family pull in a different direction.  That is the time I need to be brave as I lead.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9) 

What are you thoughts on bravery? 

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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8 

A Husband Is Cheerful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 9

A Husband Is Thrifty: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 10

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Husband Is Thrifty: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 10


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 10 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:



A Husband IsThrifty
thrift·y
careful with money and resources: managing money and resources in a cautious and sensible way so as to waste as little as possible

"No" is a word I don't like to say, especially to my wife.  When she asks me if we can afford to purchase something, I cringe whenever I have to say "no."  But in many cases that is the correct answer.

You see, my wife and I are raising 5 children on a single public school teacher salary.  We don't have many extras and we definitely don't have much extra cash, except for the odd birthday money or the annual income tax refund.  So you can imagine that I find myself cringing a lot.

How do we do it?  How do we manage to scrape by on a single income when we live in the state with the highest per capita taxes in the country?  Thrift.

We simply don't spend more than we make.  Now, that might sound simple, but let me tell you there are seasons of the year when our budget crashes in a HUGE way.  That's when the husband (me) and Dad (also me) begins saying "no."

It isn't that we waste money other times, but there is a phenomenon known as summer, when many activities are planned and no money is coming in (FYI - All teachers do not get paid during the summer as you might think).  Here's what I do:

  • Recycle - those 5-cent cans and bottles can add up to a couple trips to our favorite ice cream joint.
  • Walk - When I go to the store for bread or milk, I hoof it.  It's healthier, and it saves gas.
  • Weekly menu planning - Of course, the menu isn't always followed to the letter, but at least we don't waste our resources due to poor planning.
  • Thrift stores are great for family clothes shopping.  Also, there is a charity shop a few blocks from our house.  Sometimes they have "dollar bag" sales.  
  • Libraries now have pretty good DVD collections.  They're free, and you get to keep them longer than rentals.
  • Repairs are at least attempted in-house before any professional is called.
These are just a few of the things I do to be a thrifty husband.  What do you do?


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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8 

A Husband Is Cheerful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 9

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Husband Is cheerful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 9


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 9 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:




A Husband Is Cheerful

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13)

Here are some ways to be a cheerful husband:

  • Use cheerful words.  Always find the silver lining in the cloud.  Be one of those people who uses all situations, good and bad, to encourage people.  
  • Do something for your wife that will make her life easier.  Cook a meal, clean the kitchen, get the kids dressed.  Fill the gas tank.  It doesn't have to be a big thing.
  • Small gifts are a very good way to spread cheer.  A cup of tea while she is reading will bless your wife's heart.  Even a special note on the fridge will brighten her day.
  • A well-timed hug or touch of a hand. Sometimes you just need a hug.  Physical touch is very important to husbands and wives alike.  Make sure she knows you love her, and that you don't expect the touch to lead anywhere.
These are only a few suggestions.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments!


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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8 



Monday, October 8, 2012

A Husband Is Obedient: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 8


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 8 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:


A Husband Is Obedient

"My food," Jesus said to them, "is to obey the will of the one who sent me and to finish the work he gave me to do." (John 4:34)

Jesus is my Savior and Lord.  I want to be like Him, to model my life after His example, and to live His commands in my daily life.

As a husband, I need to obey God first and foremost.  I believe He gives every husband a vision for his marriage and his family, then places him in a position of headship in the family.

Some men lead their families into missions, some stay put and brighten their own neighborhoods.  Some are more reserved than others, some are more physically strong.  Some are bent toward manual labor, while others are more artistic, and still others are logical or scientific.

What I'm trying to say is that all Christian husbands are created different, and each receives instruction from the Lord through prayer, through listening to His voice, and through heeding His call.  What that looks like depends on who the husband is.

Many women marry a men whom they expect to treat them the same way their fathers did.  They expect that their husbands will do what their fathers did and will like the same things their fathers liked.  They expect a younger version of dear old Dad.

Often what she gets is a surprise package.  Many times she gets someone who will not obey her.  He won't even obey her father (GASP)!!

But isn't it the husband's duty to make his wife happy?

Ummm ... how do I put this nicely?

No.

It's the husband's duty to obey God and love his wife as Christ loved the church.

Okay, soooo ... how did Christ love the church?  Did He always do what he could to make her happy?

Ummm ... nope.  Many times He said and did things that shocked the church.  He instructed them in the way He knew was the correct path.  He taught the church difficult lessons that they did not like.  Yet all the while He took his instructions directly from God the Father.

Did he love the church?  Of course He did.  He gave His life for it.

Was the church always happy? Of course not.

What can we take away from this?

First, I must obey God and heed His instructions.  I must pay attention to the proddings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Secondly, I must lead my wife and family in the direction I feel I'm being led.  My wife may or may not be happy.  She might go along with my leadership, or she may dig in her heels and resist my leadership.  regardless of her reaction, I must be obedient.

Finally, I must remember to live with my wife in an understanding manner (1 Peter 3:7).  when she is not happy with my decisions, I must be understanding of her feelings.  I must let her express her opinions and consider what she says.  In the end I must look at her opinions and advice through the lens of the Holy Spirit living within me, and I still must obey.

That is obedience. 

****************
Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7



Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Husband Is Kind: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 7

The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 7 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:

A Husband Is Kind.

Mat 9:13  Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: 'It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.


if it is to encourage others, we should do so. Whoever shares with others should do it generously; whoever has authority should work hard; whoever shows kindness to others should do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:8)


How many times have I said something to my wife, then cringed because it was unkind and hurtful?  Plenty, I can guarantee that.  Why do I do such things?  Why do I choose to be unkind instead of kind?

I'm thinking it's probably out of a selfish desire to feel superior. 

I've found when people are unkind to me it usually has something to do with trying to impress someone important (to them) by belittling me.  It rarely works out well for them.  More often it results in the person adding more enemies to their list of acquaintances.

In my marriage, I need to use kind words and actions, making sure never to be mean or rude.  I want to show her Christ's love, not make her feel inferior in any way.  That is not what God had in mind when He placed her in my care.

Husbands, how do you treat your wife?  Do you use kind words and actions?  If not, why not?  Are there ways you could improve?  What would she say if someone asked her about the way you treat her?


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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6 


  

A Husband Is Courteous: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 6

The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 6 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today is:

A Husband Is Courteous


So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

This verse tells me that I must treat others the way I want to be treated.  It's the golden rule. It's found in many places in the Bible, in one form or another.  It's also found in society, in our schools, our families, churches, municipal ordinances, state and federal laws.  The "golden rule" of courteousness is so pervasive throughout our lives, it must be somewhat important, don't you think?

I find it's generally best to be polite in most situations.  I say most situations, because if I'm honest I will acknowledge the necessity to be rude in extreme circumstances.  For example, it is okay to be rude in a bona fide bullying situation.  Most people I know wouldn't argue with that.

But I digress.

I Corinthians 13:5 reminds me that love isn't rude.  As a husband I must bear that in mind and always be polite to my wife.  When I married her I made a vow to love her, and the passage from 1 Corinthians provides God's definition of love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
 
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

(1 Corinthians 13, ESV)
 How should I show courteousness (politeness) to my wife?

  • Say please and thank you.
  • Keep nothing from her.  No secrets.
  • Hold the door open for her.
  • Before you go somewhere, ask if she needs anything.
  • If you're getting a drink, ask if she wants one too.
  • Don't spend an hour in the shower.
  • Say "excuse me."
 These are all things I learned when I was a child.  It isn't rocket science.

When I am consistently courteous toward my wife, our marriage is oh, so much better.  It is worth it to live this way.  Also, it's biblical, so we should all heed the advice given in the passage above.  As always, God speaks the truth through His Word.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5


  



 

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Husband Is Friendly: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 5



The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days. This is day 5 of the challenge. If you missed the previous posts in this series, follow the links at the end of this post.

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today's point is:





A Husband Is Friendly.

friend·ly  
  1. affectionate and trusting: characteristic of or suitable to a relationship between friends
  2. helpful: tending to be beneficial or favorable toward somebody or something
  3. on same side: not antagonistic toward or in conflict with another

A friendly person is someone who doesn't stir up trouble.  He treats others with favor, like friends. 


Am I a friendly husband?  Do I treat my wife in a friendly manner, or do I treat her more like an adversary, keeping her at a safe distance until I want something?


I often find myself saying and doing things that may seem unfriendly to her.  It isn't that I try to pick fights, but sometimes I say something in the wrong way or with a sour tone of voice, making my wife feel as though we are enemies.  I really wish it never happened that way, but let's face it, we all do it sometimes.

What we need to do, men, is is check our tone and our attitudes before we speak, so we are sure to be friendly, even when expressing a difference of opinion.

Another thing we must remember is to never consider taking revenge on our wives, no matter how we are treated by them.  I happen to be married to a very sweet wife who treats me extraordinarily well, and that makes it easy for me to be friendly.  But if she ever treated me badly, I would have to, like Jesus, be kind and loving toward her in spite of her behavior.  After all, it isn't my job to take revenge on anyone.


Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)


So remember, men:

  Our wives are our best friends.  We need to treat them that way.


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Check out the other posts in this series:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Husband Is Helpful: CMBA Blog Challenge Day 4



The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days.  This is day 4 of the challenge.  

Continuing my theme of the Boy Scout Law applied to Christian husbands, today's point is:

A Husband Is Helpful


Galations 6:9 says, And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 

Am I helpful to my wife?  Do I do things that assist her or hinder her?  Am I an encouragement or a stumbling block?   Am I still doing her good or have I grown weary of doing good?

Of course I could say that I help a lot around the house with things like shopping, cooking, child care, mowing, garbage duty, etc...

BUT

Is that enough?  Do these items really help my wife?  Does she feel the love coming from my helpful character or am I missing an important ingredient?  Do I really help her?

Let's analyze.

First, does she need help with the shopping?  If the answer is yes, and I take over some of the shopping, I am helping, right? 

Maybe.

You see, sometimes I stray from the shopping list when I see something that's on sale or something new that looks terrific.  While I mean well, it doesn't always help the family menu, the overall health of myself or my wife, or our finances.  Regardless of the great deal I got on cheese curls, if that money could / should have been spent on something we actually need, my little shopping spree isn't very helpful.

Likewise, I may think I'm being helpful when I get the children ready for bed.  However, if my wife actually needs me to hang a new shelf or fix a broken cupboard door instead, I am not being helpful.

What I need to do instead is PAY ATTENTION.

When I pay attention to the desires of my bride as well as her needs, I will be able to help more effectively.  When I do things for her that matter to her I am blessing her with my help rather than getting in her way. 

When I ask her what she needs, I am often surprised by the answer.  Sometimes she doesn't want me to bathe the kids.  Sometimes she wants me to clean out the car instead.   When I do the specific things on her list I am truly loving her as a husband should love his wife.

What about confrontation?  

Huh??? 


Oh, boy ... here's a tough subject. 

When my wife does something that harms me or neglects to do something that I need or desire, do I handle it in a helpful way?  Do I confront her with my needs or do I drop it?  Am I willing to give her constructive criticism in a kind, patient manner to help her grow and improve as a wife?

I have to admit that I usually take the path of least resistance.  I tend to like my life to be free of conflict, so most times I settle for less than what I desire in order to keep the peace.

Is that helpful?  If I settle for the status quo when God is telling me to strive for something more, I am not only being unhelpful, but disobedient to my Heavenly Father. 

So I need to pay more attention to my wife and her needs/desires.  Also, I need to pay closer attention to the Holy Spirit's promptings in my life, especially where my marriage is concerned.  I must listen and never grow weary of doing good, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable.

I want to challenge other husbands who read this post to do likewise. Listen to your wives and help her in ways that truly minister to her and address her needs.  Heed the Holy Spirit's voice.  Speak up when you have to, confront when you have to, and by all means, NEVER forget to snuggle when you have to. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Husband Is Loyal: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 3


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days.  This is day 3 of the challenge. 


A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.(Proverbs 18:24)
As a husband I am charged with representing Jesus Christ to my wife and children.  I am His representative in my marriage.  Jesus will never forsake those people who love Him.  He loved them and remained loyal to them until the end. 

In Joshua 1:5 God tells Joshua that He will never leave him nor forsake him.  NEVER.  That is loyalty.

 If I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church, then I, too, must remain loyal to the end.

In reality, what would that look like?  Two things come to mind.

  1. I support my wife and stand by her, even when I think she is wrong.  Please don't misunderstand, I do let her know (gently ... usually) when I believe she is wrong, but I stand by her no matter what.  She is my wife, the one God entrusted to me.  Why would I ever place my loyalty somewhere else?
  2. I choose her above all others.  That means that when my wife needs me, I'm there.  I do not get caught up in other things that take me away from her when she needs me.  I make sure I'm a husband first and a father and friend farther down the list.  When the kids try to pit us against each other, the kids lose. 
Loyalty is the stuff of strong marriages.  You and me against the world, know what I mean?  As a husband I need to be as loyal to my wife as Jesus is to me.  She deserves no less than the best.  After all she's a daughter of the King.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Husband Is Trustworthy: CMBA Blog Challenge, Day 2"


The Christian Marriage Bloggers Association has challenged bloggers to publish a new post every day for thirteen days.  This is day 2 of the challenge.
 

In yesterday’s post I explained how my son’s boy scout inspired me to think about my role as a husband.  When they stood and recited the Boy Scout Law during a recent ceremony, it caused me to thinks about the twelve points of the law and how they apply to husbands and to Christian marriage. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Boy Scout Law, it goes like this:

A scout is:
trustworthy,
loyal,
helpful,
friendly,
courteous,
kind,
obedient,
cheerful,
thrifty,
brave,
clean, and
reverent.

  1. A Husband Is … Trustworthy. 

Trustworthy. Adj. worthy of confidence : dependable

Being worthy of confidence means you can be depended on – you are reliable.  In other words, you do what you say you’ll do. 

Matthew 5:37 says, Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”(NIV).  If I apply this verse to my life, then I will always keep my word.  If my answer is “yes,” I will keep my word.  If my answer is “no,” I will not cower away from that answer.  I will simply stand by my word.

Applying this to marriage, if my wife asks for something she needs and I have agreed to provide it, whether it be a more reliable vehicle or just a little help around the house, then I have to follow through and keep my word.  Anything else is sin. 

Now think about this:

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:2-4)

 If I can’t be trusted to take care of the wife God has entrusted to my care, then God Himself will judge me for my sin.  That’s an awesome, humbling, frightening reality to ponder.  It doesn’t matter what other people say, whether they agree or disagree with how I handle my relationship with my wife.  The only thing that matters is that I strive to be a trustworthy servant who takes care of my beautiful bride.

That said, I am the chief of sinners in this area.  I do not always keep my word in my marriage.  There are plenty of times when I promise to do something, then I run out of time or energy, or I get called away on some “more important” business.    Sometimes I am just plain lazy.  Whatever the reason, it isn’t right. 

What, then, should a husband do when he falls short of being trustworthy?

First, pray for guidance.  Regaining trust is no easy task.  Husbands who have fallen in this area need to ask for help and support.  The Lord always helps me when I come to Him sincerely and with humility.  I only have to ask.

Secondly, confess and ask for forgiveness,  In my stubbornness, I often fail to see the log in my eye and therefore I do not ask for forgiveness.  When I am forgiven, I feel as though a weight is lifted from my shoulders, and I am free to start fresh without the need to hide behind my sin.

Thirdly, begin keeping your word.  Now that you have been given a fresh beginning, go forward and do what you say you'll do.  Be worthy of trust.  Be dependable.

Finally, be accountable to someone, whether it is a friend, a pastor, a neighbor, or a small group.  There is nothing quite as effective as a friend who will call you out on your sin.  Find someone who knows you - really knows you.

Christian husbands, by doing these things we will maintain trust in our marriages.  Our wives will feel loved and will be confident in our ability to be dependable leaders.  We will be good examples of the love of Christ and our marriages will be a witness to the rest of the world.


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Husband Is ... 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge - Day 1

I have accepted the challenge to participate in the 12 Marathon Blog Challenge by the Christian Marriage Bloggers Association.  I have to admit I didn't know what to write for thirteen days straight.  Then the Lord gave me an opportunity to watch a group of inspiring young men.  My son's scout troop.

My son joined the Boy Scouts of America a few weeks ago.  Ah, what great memories came flooding back to me as I sat watching him participate in his first meeting.  The Pledge of Allegiance, the Scout Oath, the Boy Scout Salute, and of course the Scout Law.

A scout is:
Trustworthy,
Loyal,
Helpful,
Friendly,
Courteous,
Kind,
Obedient,
Cheerful,
Thrifty,
Brave,
Clean, and
Reverent.

As I listened to these boys reciting the twelve points of the Scout Law, I was struck with the realization that these words are not only a vow to be a good scout, but also a vow to become a good man.  After all, wasn't scouting founded on the principles of manhood? Doesn't it exist to train boys to become responsible adults?  Good citizens?  Good fathers and husbands?

In fact, these characteristics are the mark of a good husband.  As a Christian husband, I could be (and should be) applying each of the above points to my family, my marriage, and my life.  I should be more disciplined about my life and how I conduct myself both in public and in private.  I should live my life as though I were the one reciting the Boy Scout Law.

Husbands, I would like to challenge you to do the same.  Join me every day from today until October 13th, as we explore each of these twelve points and make them part of our own lives and marriages.  We'll take a look at what the Bible says about each trait and how we can apply it every day to become better husbands. Will you take the challenge with me?

A husband is:
Trustworthy,
Loyal,
Helpful,
Friendly,
Courteous,
Kind,
Obedient,
Cheerful,
Thrifty,
Brave,
Clean, and
Reverent.
   


             

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Can This Lousy Husband Change?

I haven't posted in a while.  Truthfully, I'm in a bit of a funk.  I'm having an issue with laziness and leadership, and how the two go together, or don't. 

Every Bible scholar, every husband blog, every "expert," every commentary I read gives me the indication that I am a fairly lousy husband. 

What makes me think this?

I don't always fulfill my role as explained by Scripture.


Ephesians 5:25 says,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her







I don't always "give myself up" for her, at least not in ways that speak love to her (my bride's love language is "acts of service").  I am not an excellent fix-it guy, so the "honey-do" list of unaccomplished tasks has grown quite long this summer.  Why? 

  1. I'm basically lazy.  I freely admit that physical labor doesn't appeal to me.  
  2. I feel inadequate and ill-prepared to do many of the things on "the list."  Add to that the fact that most of my attempts to fix stuff end in dismal failure (outlets, kitchen drawers, bunk beds, just to name a few).  
  3. I have significant physical pain when I push myself too hard for too long.

So, I serve in other ways such as cooking meals, running errands, yard work (mowing, trimming, etc).  But is serving in this way showing her the love that she needs? 

Well ... no.

So, what should I do?

The obvious answer is, I should start working on the to-do list.  

But, what if I'm not talented in the areas required to do these things?  Then I need to find someone to help me, or find a way to earn extra money and hire someone to do the work that I can't do. 

I realize my prime time for working on things has passed, but I can still accomplish what I can until the list is complete (uh ... does that ever really happen?).  This way I can love my wife the way she need me to love her.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a garage to organize.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Struggling To Be A Better Husband

I'm struggling lately.  Struggling with leadership.  Struggling with children and discipline.  Struggling to make ends meet.  Struggling to be the husband God wants me to be.

I'm really having a problem with headship.  I understand that I am supposed to be the spiritual leader in my home, and that Christ is in charge of my life, and that my wife and children are under my leadership, but there are times when I wrestle with the inadequacy of my leadership.

A good spiritual leader would ...
  • lead his family in prayer every day.  I don't do that as often as I should.  
  • study the Bible with depth and commitment.  Most days I don't make time to do more than a short morning devotion.
  • look for ways to involve his family in ministry.  Right now our biggest ministry involves letting the neighborhood kids play in our backyard.
A good father would ...
  • raise obedient children.  Most days are passable at best, with other days going to one extreme or the other.
  • have children who are kind and patient to their siblings and others.  Sometimes our kids are downright cruel to each other. 
  • raise happy children instead of constant complainers.  Selfishness abounds in the hearts of children, and I'm afraid I haven't done a very good job of instilling a servant's heart in them.
A good husband would ...
  • love his wife as Christ loved the church.  I have some work to do.  If I loved her as a christian husband should, she would be much happier.
  • take the lead in our relationship and in our family.  I pass off way too many decisions to her.  I should be leading and getting her and the kids to follow, NOT the other way around. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37) 
  • study his wife and learn about her needs and desires.  I admit that I don't always take her needs and desires into account.  I have to serve her in a more selfless way.  She was given to me by God, and I need to take care of that precious gift.
  • teach his wife what he needs her to know about his needs.  Many times I allow my needs to be trampled or ignored in the name of harmony.  If I would be more assertive in my leadership my wife might be more willing to submit.  We both would be happier.    

Intimacy grows from selflessness, not selfishnessI'm a selfish creature, that much is true.  I want what I want.  I want a new car.  I want a larger paycheck.  I want electronics.  I want new clothing.  I want __________ (fill in the blank).  And when I don't get it, I don't always feel like playing the nice guy. 

However, some of my decisions are not born out of selfishness, but out of a desire to move my our marriage and our family toward a better relationship with God and greater intimacy with each other.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that intimacy is big on my list of godly stuff, and that I place a high priority on being known completely by my bride, and developing a more intimate relationship with her and with my Creator.  

That said, where do I go from here?  I have to get back to the basics - remember what God has called me to as a husband, and do it.  In order to do that, I must ...

Pray. My prayer is that God will show me the selfishness in my heart, and turn it around so that everything I do will be for His glory and for the benefit of my wife and our relationship, ultimately drawing us and our children closer to Him.

Learn.  I have to dive in and develop some new skills.  I need to find a good Paul and a good Barnabas to help me walk the walk.  I need to seek out help from someone who won't blast me for what I'm thinking or give me a bunch of high-brow advice that makes him feel superior but does very little to help.  I need an honest-to-goodness friend to hold me accountable.

Act. I need to start acting like a leader.  I need to let my yes be yes and my no be no.  I need to make decisions regarding our family, setting down boundaries and enforcing the rules.  I need to be more self-disciplined in this area and not let inconvenience or laziness stop me from doing my job. I have to learn to lead my wife in a way that draws us closer to each other.  I need to make her feel safe and happy about submitting to her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24).
   
Sometimes I lose sight of the vision and purpose God has given my for my marriage.  I need to regroup and re-establish that vision and never lose sight of it.


I need to be a better husband.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Temptation, Take 2

A reader wrote a comment to my post Temptation By The Sea that made me see the need for a follow up post on the subject.  In the original post I outlined some steps for a husband that will help when faced with sexual temptation, especially visual temptation (particularly girls in bikinis).  

An anonymous read wrote the following:

What if I channel all these thoughts and feelings toward my wife and she rejects me? What if she doesn't understand the whole help meet idea and thinks that I should just put up with it?




St. Peter wrote in his first letter,  
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1  Peter 3:7) 

When a husband is up against a wife who will not understand the overwhelming sexual needs of her husband, he must grow in patience and understanding.  In other words, he has to put up with it ... to a point. 

To truly respect you wife means to be not only patient, but honest with her as well.  To brush your feelings under the rug in the name of being patient is dishonest and not very considerate.  In the same way husbands often must be told (often it seems) to be more loving and understanding toward their wives, sometimes wives need to know when they are not meeting their husbands' sexual needs. 

What if he tells her and nothing changes?

That is where the patience and understanding come into play.  A husband in this situation will have to respect her decision to do nothing.  It is a decision.  She will have to decide whether or not to meet  her husbands needs.  Her decision will have natural consequences, either positive or negative.  Either the couple will grow in marital intimacy or they will grow apart.


I'm reminded of a science article I read quite a while ago.  A group of scientists experimented with the behavior of predator fish in a divided fish tank.  They placed the predator fish on one side of the glass divider and the prey on the other.  The predators would try to reach their prey by banging into the glass divider.  After  few days the predators stopped trying to catch any fish, preferring to get their food from another source (probably pellet food).  Finally the scientists removed the glass barrier to see what would happen. With the divider removed, the predator fish continued to ignore their prey and kept eating from another source. 

When husbands aren't being fulfilled, many will find a way to have their needs met by an alternate source such as pornography or something more destructive, like an affair.   

Am I saying husbands are justified in viewing pornography or having affairs?  Absolutely not.  What I'm saying is that sexual needs that are unfulfilled become an open door to temptation, and the more unfulfilled a husband is, the more likely he is to be drawn in by the promise of fulfillment in whatever form it (she) takes.

*Remember - being satisfied and being fulfilled are not the same thing. 


Husbands:

  • Pray.  Ask God to help you find fulfillment somewhere healthy.  Pray for your wife.  Ask for her eyes to be opened to the possibilities of greater intimacy with you.  Pray for your marriage.  Ask God to place a shield around your union so sexual temptation will not be greater than your will power. 
  • Seek accountability.  A while back I wrote a piece about finding mentors (see Waiting for Barnabas).  This is the time when you need to talk to someone who understands - really understands.  This is the guy you need to call when you are feeling tempted and want to give in.  
  • Love your wife unconditionally, even when she doesn't submit, even when she withholds sex, even when she rebels against your authority in the house.  
  • Communicate with your wife.  Make sure she knows that you need this sort of sexual fulfillment.  Make sure she knows the problems it causes when she withholds from you.  Make sure you let her know that you are making the best of it, but do not be falsely pleasant - say what you mean and mean what you say.  You aren't doing anyone a favor by pretending to be okay with the way things are.


Wives:  

  • Pray for your husband.  Pray that he will be patient as you work out  some issues.  Ask for a wall of strength around your husband so he can resist sexual temptation. Pray that your marriage will remain strong enough to withstand this test. 
  • Understand that sexual temptation will present itself to you husband.  He will be bombarded with it daily.  Understand that when he comes to you it's because he prefers you over the other stuff he has seen throughout the day. 
  • Educate yourself about your husband and his sexual needs.  Many websites and blogs encourage wives to just have sex a lot and their husbands will be fulfilled and happy.  Wives are supposed to be a helper for their own, particular husbands, and having a lot of sex just doesn't cut it for most husbands.  It's about intimacy, not sex.  Find out what his particular need are, and help him stay out of trouble.   
  • Find a mentor, a Titus 2 woman with whom you can talk about anything without embarrassment or shame - ANYTHING.  If you have any hesitation about talking to her, find someone else.  This is your marriage - not something to trifle with.

Final Word:


Temptation is everywhere. Husbands and wives make choices every day.  Choose wisely.



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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Temptation By The Sea

On the beach.  On the boardwalk.  At the store.  Whenever we go on vacation there is a veritable smorgasbord of temptation.

The girls young and old in itsy bitsy bikinis of all shapes and colors.  Some women look bad in them.  Some look ... um ... less than bad.  All of them open the door to sexual temptation.

Let's face it - guys are guys.  We are going to look at that stuff.  That's why many of them wear itsy bitsy swimwear.  Not to mention the other stuff that isn't swimwear - also tempting.

We are spending this week at the beach, and I can tell you that even though my wife and family are all around me, the temptation of lust that comes with looking at scantily clad females is overwhelming at times..  I can't help but look - they're right there in front of me.

Seeing the female body has an affect, both mentally and physically, on men, myself included.  We're wired that way.   

What's a husband to do when a little blond thingy bounces around right in front of him?

  • Pray.  Ask God to take away any arousal you might have when faced with sexual sin.  God has promised that we would not be tempted more than we could handle.  Pray to him for deliverance from sexual temptation.  
  • Funnel all the desire toward your wife.  That's why she's there.  Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. (Proverbs 5:15-19).  
  • Look the other way.  Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Make a covenant with your eyes.  I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman. (Job 31:1)
When I am faced with this kind of lustful temptation, I immediately turn that attention toward my wife who was given to me by God as a help-meet.   I also pray to the Lord for deliverance from my impure thoughts.  Many times it isn't possible to look the other way, covenant or no covenant.

With prayerful diligence you and I can overcome this intruder who sneaks into our homes and marriages. I ask for your prayer for myself and every husband out there who faces sexual temptation.