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Husbands

Heart4Marriage Retreats 2013

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RETREATS IN A NUTSHELLScreen Shot 2012-08-28 at 3.21.21 PM

  • Intentional: Facilitated by a mentor couple (requirement: without all their ducks in a row, but looking to God to conform them to the image of Christ)
  • Focused: Plus two attending couples
  • Convenient: Scheduled various weekends (see Schedule: Spring/Summer 2013 retreats below)
  • Purpose: Strengthen marriages, deepen friendships, gain hope and vision
  • Locations: Selected from around the state at bed & breakfasts, lodges, cabins, etc.
  • Varied Schedule: One-day (begins with dinner Friday, ends with dinner Saturday); Two-day retreats (begins with dinner Friday, ends Sunday afternoon)
  • Scholarships: For up to half the cost
  • Fun: Includes unscheduled time on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the retreat locale
  • Ongoing: Resources such as books and websites to continue investment in your marriage

HOW TO BE A PART

First, check the Heritage website or app, or check posters or schedule cards to identify a date, mentor couple and location. Then contact the church office at 405-720-1449 or email Rocky Hails at rockin@delightinGod.org; costs and scholarships for each site will be sent to you. Last, let us know your selection and the mentor couple will contact you with details.

SPRING/SUMMER 2013 CURRICULUM

“In a man-centered view, we will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met. In a God-centered view, we preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.”

from Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

ON RAMP: Glory of God & Commitment

Even with the proliferation of smartphones, GPS and other technical aids, for now, we are still dependent on road signs to get us to the destination. In marriage, God has provided us with road signs and gifted guides to help us see through the tangled limbs and around the corners of blind curves that speak of our busy lives.  In the Spring/Summer 2013 Heart4Marriage Retreats we will look at signs that cause us to consider the big picture of what directs and  defines our marriage. On this trip we will lean heavily on two such guys taking turns riding “shotgun” and helping alert us to the road ahead. These are Gary Thomas and material from his book, Sacred Marriage; and John Piper and his book This Momentary Marriage. Buckle up, adjust the mirror, turn off the radio, and let’s give full attention to the first signs up ahead.

ONE WAY: Love Despite Response 

Our first sign looks at the specific kind of love that a marriage of genuine fulfillment requires. You may be surprised that it is the kind of love that is probably different from what your marriage started with, but needs in order to finish well.

SCENIC OVERLOOK: Holy or Happy? 

Our next sign looks at a view of God’s purpose for marriage and the role that your spouse needs to be granted in order for you to thrive and flourish. Though expansive and truly “big picture,” this purpose has real practical beliefs and actions with which you can “hit the road,” rather than “hit the wall.”

LANE CHANGE: Forgive on Purpose 

Our fourth sign indicates a change, not so much in direction, but in alignment. We’ll travel the lanes of “when to forgive” and what this toll road requires. We’ll check our mirrors to see if we need to forbear an offense or change ourselves in conforming to Christ.

YIELD: Transforming Correction 

Just like learning to drive with attention to rushing, intersecting traffic, our marriage needs to develop the same recognition. Recognizing when to speed up, slow down, or give way to one another is a learned skill that requires training and power to do what’s needed. This weekend will point to ways to avoid the consequences of a “failure to yield.” When do we change and die to ourself, and when do we lovingly confront when our spouse is missing the mark.

 

Schedule: Spring/Summer 2013

  Date                   Mentor Couple    Location

April 12-13 Rich & Kathy Smith

Crow’s Rest/Tulsa

 

April 12-13 Gary & Peggy Winters

Lindley House/Duncan

 

April 12-13 David & Sandra Holmes

Tulsa

 

April 12-13 Mike & Leann McGee

Lindley House/Duncan

 

May 17-18 Dennis & Lisa McGee

Lindley House/Duncan

 

May 31-June 1 Eric & Ann Schrock

Location:TBA

 

June 7-9 Clyde & Linda Ross

Oak Ridge Cabins/Broken Bow

 

June 14-15 Don & Judy Dancy

Lindley House/Duncan

 

June 28-29 Benjie & Marsha Wechsler

Lindley House/Duncan

 

Partial scholarships are available. Retreats vary as 1 or 2 nights. Contact church office for more info and updates at (405) 720-1449 or Rocky at rockin@delightinGod.org.

 

10 Things to Pray for Your Wife

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Our hunger for God will not be confined to our closets. As we know him and delight in all that he is for us in Jesus, our joy in him reaches beyond personal experience on a quest to be reproduced in others. One of the simplest ways we realize this is by taking serious how we pray — by wanting and asking for others the same things we want and ask for ourselves.

It is a beautiful thing — a miracle — when we become as invested in the sanctification of others as we are in our own. And, of course, the best place to start is with our spouses.

So men, here are ten things to want from God (and ask from him) for your wife:

  1. God, be her God — her all-satisfying treasure and all. Make her jealous for your exclusive supremacy over all her affections (Psalm 73:24–25).
  2. Increase her faith — give her a rock-solid confidence that your incomparable power is only always wielded for her absolute good in Christ (Romans 8:28–30).
  3. Intensify her joy — a joy in you that abandons all to the riches of your grace in Jesus and that says firmly, clearly, gladly: “I’ll go anywhere and do anything if you are there” (Exodus 33:14–15).
  4. Soften her heart — rescue her from cynicism and make her tender to your presence in the most complicated details of dirty diapers and a multitude of other needs you’ve called her to meet (Hebrews 1:3).
  5. Make her cherish your church — build relationships into her life that challenge and encourage her to walk in step with the truth of the gospel, and cause her to love corporate gatherings, the Lord’s Table, and the everyday life of the body (Mark 3:35).
  6. Give her wisdom — make her see dimensions of reality that I would overlook and accompany her vision with a gentle, quiet spirit that feels safe and celebrated (1 Peter 3:4).
  7. Sustain her health — continue to speak your gift of health and keep us from presumption; it is by blood-bought grace (Psalm 139:14).
  8. Multiply her influence — encourage and deepen the impact she has on our children. Give her sweet glimpses of it. Pour her out in love for our neighbors and spark creative ways to engage them for Jesus’s sake (John 12:24).
  9. Make her hear your voice — to read the Bible and accept it as it really is, your word… your very word to her where she lives, full of grace and power and everything she needs pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
  10. Overcome her with Jesus — that she is united to him, that she is a new creature in him, that she is your daughter in him. . . No longer in Adam and dead to sin; now in Christ and alive to you, forever (Romans 6:11).

And then a thousand other things. Amen.

[Download a new print-version (PDF) of “10 Things to Pray for Your Wife.” You can also get lock-screen versions for your iPhone4 or iPhone5.]

The following post was written by Jonathan Parnell 

Husbands: A Tip that Could Save Your Marriage

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With a title like this there is little room for dilly-dallying along the way to the answer. So without much introduction, here is the tip that could save your marriage: Get a part-time job.

There. That’s it. Husbands, if you want to save or strengthen your marriage, get a part-time job.

I should say right off the bat that I am not talking about a literal job that will pull you away from the home for more hours. Instead I’m arguing for the husband to approach his time at home with his family with the same thoughtful intentionality and engagement that he would if he were to go to work.

Far too many marriages are suffering because the husband comes home mentally, physically and emotionally zapped from his work day. He has done well as the provider for the home and now he is going to come home and collapse into a lazy-boy (aptly named) or in front of a computer or some other process of decompression and relaxation from a tough day at work. This type of thing may be ok occasionally but if practiced regularly it will lead to major problems.

Years ago after starting a new job I came home mentally and emotionally drained several days in a row. Laying on the floor “resting” became my default posture. One day my wife walked over and said, “Hey, we don’t want your left-overs. Don’t give everyone else your best only to serve us left-overs.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. My wife and family were grateful that I was providing, but they were not content with a mere provider. They wanted a dad and a husband. In other words, there is more to the job of being a husband than just making money. He needs to be thoughtfully, intentionally, and continually engaged in the home.

This is why the illustration of having a second job in the evenings works so well. As husbands we must come home with at least, if not more engagement than we would have at work. Husbands come home to lovingly lead their families. They need to be serving their wives by listening, learning, nourishing, and shepherding them. We can’t do that when we are “recovering” from work or checking out for some much needed “me” time. The job description for a husband entails thoughtful intentionality. We have got to be in the game and doing our job.

It would not be a stretch to say that over 90% of the marital counseling I have done as a pastor involves the husband sleeping at his post in one way or another. He hangs his hat on being the provider while neglecting his role as shepherd-leader of the home. Fixing this will not solve everything but it will drastically improve a lot of things.

So husbands, let me challenge you to come home from work like you are going to work at a job you love in a place you love. Come alongside your wife to talk, listen, and learn her. Play with the kids. Do some chores. Make some jokes. Read the Bible. Pray together. Play a game. Make some dessert. Fix something that broke. Flirt with your wife. Sit and talk. Whatever you do, do it heartily and intentionally like a guy who is there, engaged with his family not escaping from his family.

This post wwas written by Erik Raymond at www.ordinarypastor.com.

A Wife’s Inner Beauty: Convicting and Compelling

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Years ago, I wrote a newsletter called Every Husband Feels Like a Jerk and Every Wife Agrees. It was meant to explain a common phenomenon that kept emerging in the course of my marriage counseling practice. No matter what else they brought to the table, couples seemed to agree on one thing: No one believed the husbands demonstrated loyal love in their marriages.

In fact, whenever I began to talk about the quality of love in the marital relationship, most husbands began to act ashamed. They were like Isaiah when he saw the Lord sitting on his throne, “high and lifted up” (Isa. 6:1). It seemed like their wives were so good at love.

It’s true. In almost every case, a wife approaches marriage with a deeper understanding of and passion for loyal love. I consider this a God-given gift, one way she reflects the image of God (Gen. 1:27). I began to identify this as an aspect of a wife’s inner beauty.

This inner beauty exposes areas where a husband is lacking. Just as Isaiah encountered the Lord’s beauty, I heard husbands echo his response: “My destruction is sealed, for I am a sinful man and a member of sinful race” (Isa. 6:5).

But unlike Isaiah, who was reduced to humble contrition in the presence of such loveliness, husbands tend to fight back. “My wife wants too much from me,” they declare. The wives counter with a long list of their husbands’ failures. This tension increases because neither the husband nor the wife responds well to her gift of inner beauty.

Couple Implications

If inner beauty is God’s gift to a woman, then it stands to reason that it’s a gift that can be employed in the service of building redemptive marriages. I want to suggest a couple of implications for each couple.

To grow in loyal love, a husband must not be afraid for his sin to be exposed in his wife’s presence. This requires humility. He must stop telling his wife she wants too much and instead look to the Lord for his help. Typically, a husband wants to be a knight in shining armor. Instead, he needs to be willing to humbly see the ways he hides and casts blame. As a husband opens up to this exposure and learns to look to the Lord for forgiveness and care, he has more to give his wife. A wife’s inner beauty matters because a husband can let it expose his deep need for God’s grace and mercy. A wife’s inner beauty is meant to turn a husband toward the Lord, not drive him to intimidation, control, or defensiveness.

To use her gift to enhance loyal love, a wife must remember that her husband experiences shame in her presence. He experiences this whether or not she says or does anything. Her gift of inner beauty can be that powerful. When a wife trusts this, she can relate to her husband with more kindness and rest instead of feeling compelled to help her husband recognize where he is lacking. When Peter encourages wives to let their “adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,” (1 Peter 3:4), he is telling wives to rest as their husbands learn how to make room for the ongoing conviction of sin that comes with marriage. Peter wanted women to stop expending so much effort. A husband’s struggle to love well should turn a wife toward more faith and less activity as she waits for him to grow into God’s love.

In fact, as a wife rests and shows kindness in the midst of her husband’s frustration, she can have a powerful effect. After Isaiah witnesses God’s beauty and expresses humility, a seraph touches his lips with a coal and says, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (Isa. 6:7). Later, we find Isaiah willingly responding to the Lord’s direction. Beauty and kindness together inspired courage in Isaiah. He is moved to stand up and follow the Lord.

It works the same way in marriage. When a husband responds well to his wife’s inner beauty, and when a wife mixes it with kindness, she becomes a compelling force in her husband’s life.

 

Gordon C. Bals founded Daymark Pastoral Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama, a ministry committed to restoring people to God and to one another. Anyone interested in reading further about this topic and/or related marital themes can find them in his recently published book, Common Ground: God’s Gift of a Restored Marriage, available on Amazon or on his website, www.daymarkcounseling.com.

The Best Sermon I’ve Ever Heard on Marriage

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Denny Burk preached the best sermon I’ve ever heard on marriage at Kenwood Baptist Church this morning. It was prophetic, powerful, piercing, and poetic.

Denny’s introduction was prophetic:

We all found out last month what the President of the United States thinks about marriage. He sat down for an interview with ABC News and announced to the world [in his own words],

“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married…”

He went on,

“[Michelle and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated…”

My reaction to what the President said probably wasn’t that different from yours. I thought that what he said was outrageous. I thought that citing Jesus as if He were in support of sexual immorality was blasphemous. But I also thought, there’s really nothing new here.

The president is a sign of our times not the cause of our times. If you think that the President has caused the massive revolution in our culture on marriage, you are just wrong. The changes have accelerated in the last few years, but the seeds were sown many decades before.

Our culture long ago embraced…

-The sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s …

-The idolatry of sex and the diminishing of marriage…

-The ubiquity of the birth control pill and the severing of human sexuality from its connection to children and family.

-No-fault divorce and the idea that we can change spouses like we change sox.

-That there’s no difference between men and women, gender is just a social construct that we learn from culture, not something given to us by God at creation.

-And closely related to this, the idea that gender shouldn’t matter when it comes to human sexuality. And so we have a whole generation of young people who see nothing at all wrong with homosexuality.

No, our culture’s devolution didn’t begin last month with an announcement from the President. This slide has been a long time coming.

Denny’s exposition of Ephesians 5:21–33 that followed this introduction was powerful and piercing, and funny too–you’ll probably hear me belly laughing when you listen to this.

And Denny’s conclusion was poetic. He had me and many others in tears with these words:

I wrote a poem for Susan on our third anniversary that was a bit of a vision of how I was hoping and praying we might end up. It’s a story that ends with a short prayer.

The old man took her tired hand
to hold for one last time.
The years had fin’lly pressed her to
her final breaths of life.

Their wrinkled hands in warm embrace
brought back the long-gone years,
The memories of their happy times,
and those dissolved in tears.

The old man saw in her ill frame
the girl that stole his heart.
He saw in her that gracious gaze
that filled their home with warmth.

His mind turned back to lighter days
when she did make her mark,
The children her love reared for them,
Her single heart for God.

He also felt the weight of grace
that marked her many years,
How she had borne him patiently
when he did cause the tears.

The old man said, “My love, the time
was cruelly short to me.
I cannot say goodbye to you
and let your passing be.”

“How can I ever say farewell
or ever let you part?
You are my only precious thing,
the joy of my old heart.”

And as his eyes began to well,
she reached to touch his face.
And then her quivering voice began
to give one final grace.

“This is the day the Lord has made,
The one He’s brought to pass.
This day was written in His book
before my first was past.”

“The Lord has granted us to spend
together all these years.
He’s also granted all the joy
and even all our tears.”

“And though this is a bitter day,
we owe Him so much thanks.
Dear, we made it! By Him we did!
Yes, we made it! By grace!”

________________________

Oh Father, grant that we may see
our days as at their end.
Oh let us know the weight of grace
in every year we spend.

We make this prayer unto You,

for there is no one higher.
This testimony of Your grace
we desperately desire!

This sermon is not to be missed. Listen here: Denny Burk, Ephesians 5:21–33, Husbands, Wives, and the Glory of God

 

This post was written by Jim Hamilton and can be found here

Is Your Marriage (Or Other Relationships) A Place Of Trust?

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Are you building relationships of trust? Take time to look at yourself, your marriage and other relationships in the mirror of these questions.

A TRUST QUESTIONNAIRE

1) Is there more unity, understanding, and love in your marriage now than there has ever been?
2) Do you both do what you promise in the time that you have promised?
3) Are you attentive to what your spouse sees as important?
4) Do you make excuses for failures to do what you’ve promised, or are you ready to confess?
5) Do you listen well to your spouse and act on what you’ve heard?
6) Do you follow through with mutually agreed-upon plans?
7) Do you work together on planning and scheduling priorities, or do you demand that the other do it your way?
8) Do you share with your spouse your thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, and concerns, or is it easier for you to be quiet or to share with someone else?
9) Is there any evidence that you’ve withdrawn from the other in protective distance?
10) Would your spouse say that you’re good for your word and faithful to your promises?
11) Do you carry wrongs around with you, or do you trust one another to confront and confess?
12) Do you ever wonder what the other is doing when not with you?
13) Are you conscious of editing your words and withholding your feelings because you can’t trust your spouse to deal with them properly?
14) Is your marriage partner the best friend in your life or has your dream of this kind of companionship evaporated?
15) Is your sexual relationship mutually satisfying, or is it hard for you to give yourself physically to your spouse?
16) Do you say things to other people about your spouse that you’ve not communicated to him or her?
17) Do you look forward to sharing times together, and when you have these times are they peaceful and enjoyable?
18) Are there problems between you that remain unsolved because you don’t have the bond of trust necessary to work together on a solution?
19) Are you comfortable with the vulnerability that a good marriage involves?
20) Do you ever wonder if you made a mistake in marrying the person who is your spouse?
21) Do you ever fear that you’re being manipulated or taken advantage of in any way?
22) Do you ever wonder if your spouse cares for him- or herself more than for you?

So, look over your answers. What do you think? Is trust solid in your marriage? Is it growing in your other relationships? As you commit yourself to build a sturdy bond of trust, remember you don’t do that work alone or in your own strength. The One, who defines what trust is and does, is with you and offers you every grace you need to build relationships that picture his grace and point to his glory.

 

This post was written by Paul Tripp and can be found on his blog, here.

What Would She Say?

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Written by Chad P.

With everything going on around us it is easy to lose sight of the goal, to be distracted by the pressing, and to trade the precious in your life for something less than permanent. Not having confidence in our ability to evaluate ourselves, I want to ask your wives. What do you think they would say?

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If you return home every night to your family you are immediately more faithful than a good percentage of people in this country, but that is not our standard. We are told to love our wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:23;28). So just making it home is not the goal. When you get home are you “still working”? Are you able to leave your job at the garage door? Do you long for your “man cave” or to spend time with your family? What would your wife say?

All of us have THE LIST. You know the one… That list of things to get done. If you are even moderately successful at getting through your list, you are doing better than me. It really doesn’t matter if it is yours, your wife’s list for you, or your boss’s. the issue is that it is there. There is always something competing for our time and there will never be enough time. So what’s getting your attention? Loving your wife as Christ loved/s His Church is an enormous task. It will require us to pay attention, which is probably one of the reasons we are told to “fix our eyes on Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 12:2). Are we focused on Christ by knowing and loving our families or are we buried in our iPhones and fixated on football? What would your wife say?

Do you remember when she walked that aisle towards you? When those doors were opened and there she was? Do you remember the feeling when you said “I do”? No one had to convince you she was precious… I’m now a few years into marriage. I am no expert, but I am past those first steps. We are to the “warts and all” part, the “for better or for worse” stuff. I definitely know my wife much better today than I did when she first came through those doors. But knowing the “not polished parts” and going though the difficulties has only made her more precious. That being said, I can be distracted by the weeds in my grass (stop judging me for my less than perfect lawn). The Thunder game (even in December against the Bobcats) can suck an entire evening of my attention. And then there is always something hilarious on Twitter begging for a response (@DeathStarPR gets me every time with stuff like this).

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I’m telling you what my wife would say… She would tell you, “Yes, Chad thinks I am precious, but he often forgets”. What would your wife say? Proverbs 5:28 says, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth…”

 

Kill Anger Before It Kills You or Your Marriage

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In marriage, anger rivals lust as a killer. My guess is that anger is a worse enemy than lust. It also destroys other kinds of camaraderie. Some people have more anger than they think, because it has disguises. When willpower hinders rage, anger smolders beneath the surface, and the teeth of the soul grind with frustration. It can come out in tears that look more like hurt. But the heart has learned that this may be the only way to hurt back. It may come out as silence because we have resolved not to fight. It may show up in picky criticism and relentless correction. It may strike out at persons that have nothing to do with its origin. It will often feel warranted by the wrongness of the cause. After all, Jesus got angry (Mark 3:5), and Paul says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).

 However, good anger among fallen people is rare. That’s why James says, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). And Paul says, “Men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). “Let all bitterness and wrath and angerand clamor and slander be put away from you” (Ephesians 4:31).

Therefore, one of the greatest battles of life is the battle to “put away anger,” not just control its expressions. To help you fight this battle, here are nine biblical weapons.

1. Ponder the rights of Christ to be angry, but how he endured the cross, as an example of long-suffering.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)

2. Ponder how much you have been forgiven, and how much mercy you have been shown.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

3. Ponder your own sinfulness and take the beam out of your own eye.

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

4. Think about how you do not want to give place to the devil, because harbored anger is the one thing the Bible explicitly says opens a door and invites him in.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

5. Ponder the folly of your own self-immolation, that is, numerous detrimental effects of anger to the one who is angry – some spiritual, some mental, some physical, and some relational.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)

6. Confess your sin of anger to some trusted friend as well and as possible with the offender. This is a great healing act.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

7. Let your anger be the key to unlock the dungeons of pride and self-pity in your heart and replace them with love.

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; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

8. Remember that God is going to work it all for your good as you trust in his future grace. Your offender is even doing you good, if you will respond with love.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

9. Remember that God will vindicate your just cause and settle all accounts better than you could. Either your offender will pay in hell, or Christ has paid for him. Your payback would be double jeopardy or an offence to the cross.

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)

When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting [his cause] to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

Fighting for joy and love with you,

Pastor John

©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission. 

 

Boys, Bragging, and Brides

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Men like to brag, but why don’t they brag about their wives more?

What might be wrong with this message?

I’ve heard men brag about sports they play or sports they watch. I’ve heard them praise the teams they love. They praise cars and scars. Sometimes they even boast about the girl they’re dating. But when it comes to their wives I notice a strange silence.

I don’t doubt that most Christian men sincerely value their wives, and esteem them deeply. I hope so. But the struggle Christians (in general) face daily, whether we realize it or not, is this: to praise what we prize most. For some reason we spend a lot of time in many small conversations praising what we prize little. We have a thousand micro-interactions, praising movies and music, TV shows and parks, weather and games, youtube videos and books. We “like” many things on Facebook. These little conversations accumulate to the point of dominating most of our time and energy.

But if someone asked us, What do you value supremely? We would say, without hesitation, “Jesus Christ.” So why don’t we spend much time spontaneously recommending and praising Him to others?  Why don’t we brag about Him?

This is one of ways you know that you are a sinner: when you fail to brag about what is supremely worth bragging about in the universe.

Most Christian men value their wives as their supreme earthly blessing. Right after Jesus Christ, husbands love their wives most, and rightly so. That’s why they married them. But the problem is similar—in my experience, husbands rarely brag about their wives.

There are many reasons for this, but there are two main roots. The first is lack of intentionality.  Christians must live, speak, and act intentionally for the glory of Christ and the honor of marriage, or they will stay in the rut of the world. The second root is: taking their wives for granted. Christians do the same with God all the time. We tend to assumethat Christ is the supreme value, so we don’t talk about Him too much. Likewise, husbands get together and assume that everyone loves, cherishes, and prizes their wife. So they skip talking about that and focus on the “exciting” events at work.

You praise what you love. And you don’t just direct it to the object of your love. The wife in the Song of Songs gives a good example of this. The “Others” ask her, “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?” (5:9).

She brags hard, My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem. (Song 5:10-16)

The husband also brags a bit.

As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women (Songs 2:2).

My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother, pure to her who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her. “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?” (Songs 6:9-10)

When is the last time you spoke words like that to others about your spouse? I’m speaking to men here, but the example of the wife in the Song is striking. She waxes eloquent about his body to this group of people.  She doesn’t just say, “He’s a hunk”; she elaborates. May God give us the grace to be husbands who are praiseworthy like this, both physically and spiritually, and who lead by praiseworthy praise.

There is a time for everything, including bragging about your wife. My prayer is that God would grant us wisdom as we seek to deliberately acclaim what we admire most both on earth and in heaven.

 

This post was written by Andrew Case and originally posted here.

A Possible Marriage Saver in Nine Steps

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The grace of God is patient and works both instantaneously and over time. A mistake we sometimes make is thinking too idealistically, as though if we blow our first apology, there is no chance for a second.

The way to think about this marriage saver biblically is that it is an effort to see Colossians 3:13 fleshed out in real life: “Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgive each other.” There is both “bearing with” and there is “forgiving.” How do they mingle in marriage?

Here’s one way I have in mind. I will describe nine steps to reconciliation with your wife (or husband, or friend, or colleague). Something like this is needed when you are too sinful to apologize sincerely the first time. This is real experience more often than I would like to admit, and, in another sense, not often enough. (Wives and husbands, hear these steps with yourself in both roles.)

Step 1. Your wife points out something you said or did that is wrong or that she doesn’t like.

 

Step 2. You get angry. (For five or six reasons that seem good to you at the moment).

 

Step 3. You have the grace to know in your head that this anger is ungodly and that a heartfelt apology, both for what she pointed out and for the anger, is in order.

 

Step 4. You are able to say the words of apology but not able to feel sorry because the anger has made your heart hard toward her. You don’t feel tender, you don’t feel broken, you don’t feel sorry. But you know you should, so you say, “I’m sorry.” This is better than silence. It is a partial grace.

 

Step 5. She feels that you are angry and is, understandably, not satisfied with words that do not carry heartfelt contrition.

 

Step 6. Time goes by. Twenty-four hours? Two days? The Holy Spirit, ever patient, and relentlessly holy, will not let you go. He works against the anger (James 1:19–20). He stirs up gospel truths (Ephesians 4:32). He softens the heart (Ezekiel 36:26). This may be through Bible reading, the word of a friend, reading a book, attending a worship service. Meanwhile she is waiting, wondering, praying, hoping.

 

Step 7. Anger subsides. Sweetness rises. Tenderness is awakened. Sorrow for sin grows.

 

Step 8. You take her aside and you tell her that the first apology was the best you could do at the time because of your sin. You admit it was insufficient. You tell her with tenderness how you feel toward her, and you apologize with heart, and ask for forgiveness.

 

Step 9. In mercy, she forgives and things are better.

What I hope you do with this is talk it over with your spouse to see if it fits your experience. One of the values of building this possible pattern into your set of expectations is that you can cut each other some slack (called mercy), so that step 6 doesn’t feel hopeless for either partner.

(This post was written by Pastor John Piper and orginally published on the Desiring God blog.)

The Story of Ian and Larissa

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Recently, Pastor Rocky showed me this video. It has wrecked us, so it was clear we needed to pass it along to you. How are we serving our spouses?

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Let all of us love our spouses more because of this example.

What’s the Last Thing You’ve Done to Surprise Your Wife?

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Knowing how high a priority C.J. Mahaney places on surprising his wife Carolyn, Southern Seminary’s interviewer asked him this question in an interview published in the new issue of the Seminary’s magazine, Towers (April 11, 2011; page 16).

Before answering the question with specific examples, C.J. set the context:

Let me say that I have a wife whom I don’t deserve. No one has influenced me more than she has. There’s no one I respect more than her. There’s no one I love more than her. I am devoted to building as many romantic memories with her and spending as much time with her as possible. And I want Carolyn to live aware that I am always planning or working on a new surprise as an expression of my love for her.

Then he talked specifics:

The most recent surprise was a trip to sunny and warm Florida in the midst of a very cold winter at home.

Normally trips will be planned well in advance to coordinate schedules. By planning in advance you can build anticipation and in some ways something planned in the future has a way of serving your soul in the present. But the trip to Florida didn’t receive a great deal of planning and this spontaneous trip was great fun. And the largest snowstorm of the year hit the D.C. area while we were in Florida so that made it even sweeter.

Before that, in December, I surprised her with an overnight trip to the W Hotel in downtown D.C. At any given time, there are actual multiple surprises in the planning stage ranging from the small expressions to more significant ones. Surprises don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Something as simple as bringing home her favorite candy at the end of the day is another way to say, “I love you.”

Why all the surprises? If you met her, you’d understand why. I have been the object of her affection and support for 36 years now. I want to do all that I can to communicate my gratefulness. I don’t deserve my wife.

As C.J. writes elsewhere, meaningful surprises are normally the result of thoughtful and diligent study and planning by the husband. But many husbands are thickheaded and don’t study their wives or plan surprises very well. So where can we start?

To find specific help and suggestions on how to study your wife and her particular interests (with the goal of eventually surprising her), C.J. has written a few resources that may prove helpful for husbands. First, see his free ebook Biblical Productivitywhere he further explains how his role as husband motivates him to study, serve, and surprise Carolyn. And also consider reading “Learning, Leading, and Loving,” chapter three in his book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know (Crossway, 2004). “As a romancer of my wife, I know that my essential role is that of a student and a planner,” he writes (32). Behind the meaningful surprises for a wife is this intentional study and careful planning of a thoughtful husband.

April 26, 2011 by Tony Reinke