60 Seconds for Husbands (and Wives, and Anyone Else)


This is just a little counsel for husbands, from one who has borne the scars of doing the opposite.  

Don’t take so much personally.  Don’t take every aggravated comment or slightly less affectionate touch or instance of the family trip not going like you planned as a slight to your worth and your stature.  The less you take personally, the better.  I have never had an evening with my wife made better or Godlier or more fun by taking a small comment or action from her as an insult.  Never.  Not once.  

Your wife doesn’t hug you when you come in the door.  You expected her to.  You hoped she would.  At this point you have a few options.  One of these options is to let it go.  Another is to calmly talk to her about it.  But then there are insulted options.  The personal affront options.  The ones that are poison to the evening.  You can sulk about it only to lash out later.  You can yell at her.  You can say something snarky as you breeze past her.  It goes without saying that each of these are harmful and sinful, but they’re also foolish.  And they don’t do anything to help you, her, or the two of you as a couple.  

Instead, have a sense of humor.  Laugh it off.  Take yourself a tad less seriously.  Find your worth in the love of Jesus, and the fact that He chose you, silly and stupid and stumbling you.  Don’t wrap your identity in the small gestures and words of another frail human being.  Don’t be so thin-skinned and brittle that any mishap verbal slip-up by your wife can offend you.  If you are Christ’s, then you are free to think less of yourself, and to think of yourself less.  And if you are not Christ’s, cast yourself on Him in faith.  He can make you a better man.  He does it for all of His disciples, day by day, slowly and certainly.  

Now let me go home now and put this into practice.  

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You Won’t Get It With Feminism


Our culture does not encourage men to marry, have lots of children, and then lead those families in sacrificial love.  Because of that, our society is filled with men who are not pressured to control their sinful sexual impulses and instead enjoy romance and sex with one woman in faithful marriage for their entire lives.  Our society is filled with men who are not praised for marriage, faithfulness, hard work, teaching their children, and submitting to Godly authority themselves.  Our culture admires rebellion and sexual deviance and then is shocked to find rebels and sexual deviants in its midst.  

And what is currently called “feminism” is a part of that foolish cultural curriculum.  

To be clear, I am not rebuking the belief that men and women are equal, which is God-given truth.  That I gladly hold as gloriously true as much as I do the personhood of men, of the unborn, of those with Down Syndrome, and of every single son or daughter of Adam and Eve.  No, modern Western feminism teaches much more than simply that.  It teaches that women should be able to murder other women simply because the latter are currently in the former’s womb.  It teaches that motherhood is a lesser achievement than a large salary.  But at the moment I have in mind simply its teaching (I think on the syllabus under “patriarchy”) that men should not want to marry and then sacrificially lead their wives.  

Modern “feminism” helps to create the very thing it detests.  It (appropriately) detests slovenly, uncontrolled, evil men who prey upon those weaker than them.  Unfortunately, it helps to create such men by fighting against society’s demanding of men to be what God calls them to be:  Loving leaders of families they are given by God.  It tells men not to use their strength for what they are supposed to use it for, and then detests what evil things they do use it for.  

Make no mistake:  These men will, if they do not repent and call on Christ to bear God’s wrath for all of their sins, spend eternity in Hell in His just wrath (along with everyone else who will not turn to Christ in this life).  But modern Western feminism is a part of this maelstrom of sexual violence and confusion.  It is not the solution.  It says that nothing is solid, anything goes.  And as it has gained influence, men (and women) are acting like nothing is solid and anything goes.  I’m sure most feminists would react furiously to that contention, but I think it’s fairly obvious, and so I contend it.  

Despite what feminism says, God has made men physically stronger than women and has commanded that they use that strength, as well as the rest of what makes them men, to sacrificially lead a wife and children (as well as to defend those generally weaker than they are).  A society that praises such men and denounces those who do the opposite, as well as teaches men how to be such men, will generally have more of them.  It will have more men who marry one woman, have children with her, work hard to provide for them, stay sexually and romantically faithfully to that wife for life, guard that family from physical and (if they are Christian) spiritual danger, and teach the children how to be good and capable human beings.  

Do you want that kind of society?  I do.  And I believe that God does.  

A society and its culture cannot convert men, but it can restrain them.  God lays out this principal in places like Romans 13, when Paul teaches that God has given humanity the governing authorities to at least restrain those who will not be truly changed into saints by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Let’s wrap it up.  I’m going to take my two oldest outside.  My exhortation to my society is this:  Abandon what we call “feminism” and drop, even faster, your normalization of pornography, adultery, unmarital sex, homosexual behavior, and attempted gender bending.  In place of these, uphold the beauty of femininity and the wonder of masculinity.  

God made both masculinity and femininity, just as He made us male and female.  There is wonder and majesty in this, in the grand story God is telling about Himself through men being brave and strong and loving and gentle and hard as rock for things, in women being beautiful and courageous and soft and childbearing and nurturing and loving and obedient and life-giving.  It is wondrous and, like all things He created, good.  

I want my society to fight against what men are being with the truth of what they should be.  

Modern “feminism” is fighting against an evil with a lie.  

Evil is much more effectively put down with truth.  

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’  Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:15-25

Some Personal Proverbs


The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:  To know wisdom and instruction,to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth — Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 

Proverbs 1:1-6

I’ve been thinking about Proverbs lately.  About God’s book of general statements of wisdom.  I’m grateful for the book of Proverbs, because it’s helped me to think through some very practical matters.  What’s the right way to parent?  What’s the right way to work?  What’s the right way to speak? 

I’m not old, and there are many ways in which I’m still foolish (I still often prize people’s opinion of me more than God’s, for instance).  But I think the following observations I’m making are faithful to the witness of God’s Word.  They’re in no way inspired, in that they are not breathed out by God, as the real book of Proverbs is.  

But I offer them for what they’re worth.  
A few personal proverbs, if I may:

  • Young, married men and women: Have children. I’ve never met a Godly older man or woman who wishes they’d had less children, but I’ve known more than a few who wish they’d had more.  
  • If I have a really long list of people that I can’t stand, it’s worth asking whether the issue might be me.  
  • There is nothing I’ve personally encountered that better illustrates the folly of the human heart than the movement to support the right to abortion.  “It’s not a life.  No, we don’t want to look at ultrasounds, I said it’s not a life!  And even if it is a life, a woman should have the right to end it.  No, she shouldn’t have the right to end other lives, just this one.  I’m not crazy, man, come on.  She should just have a right to end this life.  I mean if it’s a life.  And we celebrate that in this country.  Even though we want these things to be safe and legal and rare.  We celebrate it!  But no, seriously, I don’t want to look at an ultrasound!”
  • Forgiveness will be as hard as your heart is. 
  • The fundamental problem with ISIS is theological, not economic or social.  At root, they have a wrong understanding of the character and values of God.  Everything else flows from those headwaters.  
  • Where the world is a system of people moving further and further apart because of annoyances and unforgiven wrongs and technological isolation, the church should model people moving ever and ever closer in intimacy because of a shared love as big as the Gospel.  
  • Bitterness requires entitlement as it’s fuel.  You have to believe you were owed something that you didn’t get.  Remove the fuel and the spark won’t catch.  Replace the lie that you were owed something good you didn’t get with the truth that the only thing we were each owed is Hell, and bitterness won’t have any gas to keep blazing on.  
  • If you want to know how much a Christian man believes the Gospel, one way to find out is to watch how he treats his children.   
  • Remember, “father” is both a noun and a verb.  And appropriately so.   

Happy Wednesday, all!

    His Good Authority

      
    It’s surprisingly easy to fall in to what Proverbs calls “folly.”  Foolishness.  A lack of wisdom.  Incorrect thinking and feeling and behavior.  The heart and the flesh love folly, and I know from experience that my own flesh is no different from anyone else’s in that respect.  

    One of the marks of folly is to mock good things while defending twisted ones.  Unbelievers do it all the time, and even Spirit-wrought Christians can fall into it.

    For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you.

    1 Peter 4:3-4

    O foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 
    Galatians 3:1

    Last night I saw something on Facebook.  

    I know, I know, how many positive things start with that sentence?  Subtle rebuke taken.  

    But nonetheless, here’s what it was:  A graphic from some supposed Christians (I can only take them at their word) mocking what they perceived as the Bible’s inconsistencies on the teaching of marriage.  They apparently believe that while they are “Christian,” they are not obliged to follow the Bible’s teaching on marriage because it is, in their minds, hopelessly inconsistent.  To them, the Bible is written by people making their best efforts to talk about God, not by men as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (which is what I believe, because it’s what Peter tells us in the New Testament).  They laid down this slick, well-made, intended-to-be-witty graphic/chart in the context of an interchange about the sinfulness of homosexual activity.  They, as Christians, were defending the goodness of same sex activity and same sex “marriage,” and thought the graphic playfully exposed the Bible as a slightly  misguided book just like any old slightly misguided book.  
    I’ve seen that sort of approach before, and you might’ve seen it, too.  I’ve seen it from unbelievers and, sadly, I’ve seen it from those who claim faith in Christ:  Playfully ribbing the Bible in the defense of some thing the God of the Bible calls sinful.  

    It’s a mark of spiritual blindness.  It is a sign of a prideful and foolish heart.  

    And in this context, in the conversation about same-sex intercourse and romance, I want to be as clear as I can be:  The Word of God is a sure hope of truth and salvation, while sodomy kills souls, wounds hearts, and damages bodies.  Christ gives life, sexual immorality brings death.  Mocking the Bible to defend homosexuality is like mocking a doctor to defend pancreatic cancer.  

    We have only one certain authority to rest morality on.  If we doubt or disdain God’s Word, we have nothing higher to appeal to.   Nothing stronger than human reason or speech to ground our ethics in.  Person A says God told him homosexual activity is good and permissible, Person B says God told him it is sinful and deadly.  Who’s right?  Does majority vote decide morality?  If so, how can we say Nazi Germany or the Antebellum South were sinful?  The majority vote in both cases was in, and Jewish persecution and African slavery were deemed ethically acceptable.  If we say the Word of Christ isn’t the moral appeal court, how do we say those cultures and governments were doing anything objectively evil?  We could say we don’t like what we did, but how do we authoritatively stand in judgment against it?  How do stand your intellectually consistent ground against any evil if you’ve said the final definer of “evil” is human judgment?  The guy you’re trying to stand against will just tell you his judgment landed him in a different spot than yours.  So out of the way, please.  He has a TV to steal.  And God told him it was OK.  

    But the truth is that there is an objective reality to good and evil.  Some things are truly beautiful and good and others are truly detestable and harmful.  And they are defined by the One through whom all things were created:  Jesus.  He has revealed them in the Old Testament He quoted and called Scripture and in the New Testament that records His words and those of His chosen apostles.  Those words, all of them, are theopneustos, or “God-breathed,” according to the Apostle Paul. They tell us who God is, what He blesses, what He loves, and what He wants for us.  

    The Bible is God’s good authority given to a world made to reflect His beauty and glory.  

    We mock it, and so mock Him, at our own peril.

    After all, He tells us woe to those who call good “evil” and evil “good” for a reason. 

    He’s told us what they are.   

    The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.  And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.  So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.’

    Numbers 15:37-40

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

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God,  for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

    Isaiah 55:6-11

    15 Seconds On Sin Killing Things

      
    Death entered the world when Satan made sin look promising.  And death enters a life, a marriage, a home, a mind when we believe him again.  

    Don’t be enticed by pornography.  Don’t be enticed by the idea of divorce.  Don’t be seduced by or attracted to the prospects of gossip, deceit, or greed.  Sin promises life but always delivers death.  Those clothed in it face God’s eternal wrath, and those who know God but tolerate it face its murderous powers in their lives.  Envy kills friendships, lust kills marriages, greed kills companies, bitterness kills families, and unrepentant sin of all kinds kills souls.  

    Sin brings death.  Always has, always will, until God casts it away from His presence forever and ever, that is.  But boy, does it look good while it’s hanging on the tree and the father of lies starts whispering.  

    You’d almost never know he was peddling poison.  

    60 Seconds On Men and Women

      
    You honor neither women nor their Maker by treating them as if they are identical to men.  Men and women are both made in the image of God, both reflect His beauty and glory, and (if believers in Jesus) are both co-heirs of eternal life.  

    But they are not identical.  

    A husband is called to honor his wife as the weaker vessel.  He is called to love her as her head as Christ loved the church, for whom He is head.  He is to manage the household of which she is a (vital) part.

    He is called to these things.  

    And he will not do them, will not even understand them, if he has been deceived into thinking his wife is exactly the same as he is, and that she is called to exactly the same purposes.  

    I think the cultural confusion and deceit on what men and women are has spun out in a few different ways.  For instance, a man who knows (and loves) the truth about what he is and should be and what a woman is and should be is a man more likely to hold the door for a woman and a man more likely to lead his wife and daughters in prayer.  But a man who does not know (or hates) those truths is a man who has made himself primed and ready to watch strange women be debased on the  internet or to passively observe the disintegration of his marriage.  “Women are the same as men, remember?” Satan can whisper.  “No need to protect them and no need to step up to the plate at home.”  

    Gender lies are not the only cause of the rampant pornography use in American men or of American divorce (obviously), but I think that they are, for many, a cause.  Our culture should call men to be men, hold them accountable to it, and then hold them in honor when they behave as men should.  But at the moment it seems to have a problem at that very first level:  It doesn’t really know (or want to admit) what men are to be.  

    Men and women are not identical.  It does not honor a porcelain vase to call it a dining room table and then take a handsaw to it.  

    Men and women are designed, and their designs reflect the good purposes of a great God.  

    Here’s hoping (and praying) our culture recovers a sense of wonder at just how good.  

    60 Seconds of Thanks

      
    I am thankful that Jesus Christ is a real Savior, the only Son of a real God, who sustains every person who believes in Him with real grace.  

    We do not worship a theory.  We are not watched over and cared for and held by an idea.  If you have called upon the name of Jesus in faith, have trusted in Him and follow Him in life-altering belief, then you are being led by a Shepherd, a Messiah, who is unfathomably, unshakeable real.  

    I am thankful that while looking for a house, wrestling with sadness, working and playing and trying to raise children and live out a God-pleasing marriage, I am not alone.  

    My faith is not in fiction, but in the ever-present, soon-returning King who cherishes His people beyond all measure.  

    My Jesus is real, and therefore so are my thanks.  

    Happy Thanksgiving!