Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cool water

"Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
Proverbs 25:25

You parched for some good news? Yeah, me, too. So why don't you bring it?

If you don't bring it, the bad will creep back in. Give it a month. Before the calendar flips to October, my guess is that 50% of you will have heard about some couple that you know who junked their vows. I hope I'm wrong, but I've heard about one every two months where one or both has pitched out of the union. Brothers, there's TONS of bad news out there.

But you know what? There's TONS of good news. Marriages are succeeding. Marriages are thriving.

If my addition is correct, my dad and mom cleared 44 years together before Dad went home to be with the Lord.

My last grandma, Rosina Runnoe, just died. She was 96. Her husband, Vincent, died eight years ago. He was 91. Her first and only husband.

My bride and I met Lou and Evelyne back in 1993. Dear friends. Ev just posted on Facebook with a delighted heart, "Happy Anniversary to my best friend and love - 18 years today. The Lord has truly blessed me with a wonderful man." When I read that, my heart soared!

Jeff and Mary Anne are on the fat side of 27 years!

Justin married Heather. They divorced amid the selfishness of their youth. Shortly after, God convicted them and rekindled what they had snuffed out. Their marriage continues to flourish in their love for one another and in their love for their Messiah.

It thrills my heart to know, to really know, that Brian loves Kim, Kevin loves Kathy, the other Keith loves Teresa, Lukus loves Liesl, Jeremy loves Tiffany, Drew loves Alicia, Rob loves Ginny, Terry loves Patti, Jeff loves Maureen, Thom loves Liz, Roy loves Bonnie, Milt loves Michelle, Ross loves Nancy, Adam loves Robyn, David loves Kristi, Dwayne loves Karen, Alan loves Carolyn, Albert loves Anna, Steve loves Beth, John loves Christi, Dave loves Dawn, Tommy loves Jennifer, Brady loves Karen, Jess loves Lisa, Neal loves Trish, Tim loves Sarah, and Houston loves Tami. No slights or omissions intended. Blessed to know so many of you who love your wife, not perfectly, but in a manner that honors God and well pleases him.

Do you love your wife? Has God truly blessed you with your woman? Brother, share your joy with a friend. There is no better news along the front than to hear about victories in other sectors. When carnage abounds and casualties litter the battlefield, it's like a cup of cool water to hear that a brother loves his woman.

A couple thoughts:
  • Facebook. Yeah, FB is kind of cheesy, but when you clear a milestone with your girl, tell the world! Don't be ashamed, neither be boastful, but rejoice in what God has done in, through, and for you.
  • Talk. Many women think that we are monosyllabic in our speech to one another. Some women don't think men speak to other men at all apart from bumps, grunts, or "dude." That's fine. Should you work your way beyond the Rangers comeback against the Angels, if God has nourished your relationship with your woman, share the good news of what God has done. You might even get into the how's and why's. It might really be a boon to a struggling brother.
  • Pray. You cannot pray enough for your bros in their relationship with their woman. When you have done such a thing and you cross paths with that bro, tell him you've been praying for him and Estelle (or "his woman" if you can't remember her name).
It's been a tough couple years on the marital front as we have seen Satan win victory after victory. It's time to start spreading the good news about what God's doing in marriages.

It's time for us to see the good thing that God is doing in our marriages that we might turn it back to thanksgiving to God. That is, after all, his will for our lives (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pray with her

Show of hands.  When's the last time you knelt down with your woman and had focused prayer with her? Okay, maybe you didn't kneel.  Maybe you just sat beside her. Dispense with the format and focus on the heart of the question.

I stand convicted by my own query.

There was a time when my bride and I prayed together nightly. Did we purpose in our hearts to stop praying together? Certainly not. The dark side has a great way of distracting our minds and our purposes to neglect the things of highest importance. Really, can you think of anything greater that you can do for your family than to pray with your woman to Almighty God for them?

You will feel foolish. You will feel foolish because you know you should have been doing this long ago but haven't. You will feel foolish because you fear what she will think of you. You will feel foolish because you think your prayers sound stupid. It matters not what you think or feel. God commands you, brother, to be the head of your wife, and that means that you must lead her spiritually, you must lead her before the throne of God's good grace.

You want to see what the Bible has to say about prayer?  Go to Biblegateway, hit the tab on the side that says "Keyword Search," type in "pray," and start studying.

What things can you pray about with your woman?
  • Worshiping God
  • Praising him for his attributes
  • Thanking him for his blessings. Name them one by one. No general "thank you God for your blessings."
  • The salvation of your children
  • The wisdom to train them in the way they should go
  • That as your children seek their independence they might run headlong into another person who will continue to plow the word into their lives
  • Pray for their spouse even if your child is just conceived!
  • Pray for your wife
  • Pray that Christ would be foremost in her life
  • Pray that she would minister God's good grace to other women in the church and to the lost she might encounter day in and day out
  • That God would protect your marriage
  • That God would continue to knit you and your woman together with greater and greater bonds
  • That God would help you be a servant to your family
  • That God would help you to minister the word to your family
You get the idea? It's not an exhaustive list. How long could you be praying with your wife? Hours, really. And there may come a time for that in your family. Right now, just get started. Worship God together. Give him thanks for each other and your relationship and his work in your lives and marriage. Petition him for a child.  Tomorrow, lather, rinse, repeat.

Husband, love your wife! 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Treasure II

Few in our day value their wives too highly. Most treat them as common or worse. The family pet often gets more attention and affection. Few wives experience husbands who show them honor or who dwell with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).  Few wives ever know the blessedness of being loved of their husband as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25) or being loved of their husband as he loves his own body (5:28).

As with most things, the opposite extreme poses perilous problems of a magnitude at least as great.  What do I mean? For some, their bride has become an idol.

Make no mistake, God commands husbands to have the highest concern, the highest love, the highest passion for their woman. But there is one thing higher still, the love he is to have for God.  Consider,
  • It is the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-29) with the loving of one's neighbor running second (v. 30).
  • Jesus warned of the supreme danger in placing anything before our thirst for him to include our wife (Luke 14:25-27).
My love for my woman must flow from my love for God. If it flows independent of my love for God, that affection has taken a higher priority in my life than my affection for God. Because I passionately love and submit myself to Almighty God I am able to love my wife with the love God demands while not allowing it to become idolatrous.

How's that flesh out.  Here are some thoughts.

God will never call me to love her ahead of him. Because I love him and seek to honor him with my life, I must live Ephesians 5:25 and 1 Peter 3:7.  These are the glorious works that flow from my faith (Ephesians 2:10, James 2:17-18). If God has given me a particular task and my concern for my bride derails me from that appointed task, she has become an idol to me in the same fashion that money tripped up the rich young ruler when Jesus asked him to go and sell all he had (Matthew 19:21-22).

Perhaps God has called you to the mission field and for whatever reason, you have a passion for the bleak steppes of Mongolia. Your bride has been a city girl all her life and has made it plain that she could never become a missionary. In the past few days, you have learned of a man who would be willing to support fully a couple who would be willing to go and minister to the people of outer Mongolia. He'll even throw in a yurt. What do you do?

Perhaps God has burdened your heart to become a doctor and due to GI Bills and such, now seems like the perfect time to change careers.  Such a shift would require belt-tightening and cost-counting, something that has always made your bride squeamish. Everytime you've tried to get the family on a budget she's bucked and thrashed like a rodeo Brahma.  What do you do?

Perhaps you feel called to military service and have always felt that is where God would have you be. Near the end of your enlistment you get hand-picked for a two-year unaccompanied remote tour to Sobleakistan, an assignment on the cutting edge of your career field and right up your alley. Not only that, but the assignment upon your return is beyond your wildest dreams. The hitch? You feel like your wife depends upon you, that if you were to leave, she couldn't handle the house, the kids, the bills, etc.  What do you do?

Each of those scenarios has you at a crossroads between God's call and your affections for your wife.  Really, there should be a tension.  If you care nothing for your wife, the decision will not be a hard one. If you are deaf to the call of God in your life, you'll have no decision to make.

Gents, I'm not advocating dismissing your wife when it comes to family decisions or even your career decisions, but if appeasing your wife takes precedence over God's leading, there is a problem.

This, like all things, can be taken to an extreme. A man must never excuse workaholism and familial neglect under the guise of "doing God's work." A very real danger for steadfast laborers in the Church both pastorate and laity.

When it comes to idolatry, though, many husbands do not trust God to do his good work in their family through the absence or hardships that come with a purposed decision, and many wives do not trust God to bring blessing through that obedience despite anticipated challenges. You have probably heard, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." If we live trying to neutralize that threat, then God ain't happy, and truly, that's when nobody will be happy.

Husbands, love Almighty God. Trust him when he leads. When you do, you will be loving your wives.