Marriage and the Husband’s Role

Marriage is bigger than life-long love and commitment to your spouse. Marriage is a picture of the gospel. As a husband loves and honors his wife he makes visible to the world around him how Jesus loved the church.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7, ESV

It is interesting that there are six verses for women and one verse for men. Is it that men can only handle one verse? Is it that men need it said simply? We may never know. Admittedly, it isn’t a short verse. And from this verse we see two indispensable things every woman needs from her husband: understanding and honor.

Seek to understand your wife.

This means a husband is to consider his wife, consider her point of view, listen to her, and aim to do what is best for her.

Men and women are very different (duh?). Some men would say it is impossible to understand women, however, this verse says there is no excuse. We are are to live with them in an understanding way. Here are three simple ways how:

First, study her. Husbands are to get an education in their wives. As you study you will know best how to love and honor her. Second, spend time with her. Peter says, “live with her.” In other words, do life with your wife. It is not possible to understand your wife if you’re not intentionally spending time with her.

Third, sympathize with her. Peter says it is sin to bully another person, even if you are stronger and the other person is weaker. Sometimes men sin terribly by pushing around their wives or children. That isn’t strength, it’s sin. A husband is to protect his wife and be her attorney. Women are like a thermometer that can be sensitive to slight changes and they may not bounce back from hurt as quickly as men. This is why the text refers to women as “weaker vessel.” This isn’t negative nor does it mean women are lesser, but God made them more delicate and thankfully so.

Show honor to your wife.

This means that a husband should not be rude to his wife, speak in a mean way to her, threaten her or make her scared, abuse her or hurt her in any way publicly or privately. By honoring her you show respect to her thoughts, ideas and feelings. Treat her like a princess.

Why honor her? She is an “heir of grace.” She is a daughter of the King. Together you benefit from the grace of God. Although as a husband and wife you may be very different from one another, you are equal on terms of grace. God shares with us every good thing.

There is a grave consequence for a husband who is doesn’t seek to understand or honor his wife to his wife. According to this verse, Peter says that a husband who is mean to his wife will not have his prayers answered by God. This means that a husband who do not lovingly serve his wife will not be lovingly served by God until stops sinning against her. God is concerned how we treat one another and how we treat one another affects how we talk to God.

Begin by praying for understanding. God will give it. Honor God and you will show honor to your wife. Your wife will blossom and the world will see Jesus brightly in you.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • How does a husband understand his wife? If you are a husband, where do you need to grow in understanding your wife? How are you spending time with your wife?
  • What are the responsibilities of a husband toward his wife? What does it look like to show honor to your wife? How does a man’s attitude effect his ministry? How does your behavior preach the gospel to your wife and others? How does the way you treat your wife reveal your relationship with Jesus?
  • What does it mean that a woman is a “weaker vessel”? What doesn’t it mean?
  • What does it mean to be “heirs of the grace of life”? What does it look like to treat your spouse as an heir of grace? How does this passage support that men and women are equal but different?
  • How does your relationship with your spouse affect your relationship with God? How does it affect your prayers?
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Marriage and the Wife’s Role

Is the Bible’s idea of marriage roles really archaic or is it wisdom for today too? Going all the way back to the creation of the first man and woman, God created them equal in his image. Although man and woman are equal in value and purpose, God created them to fulfill unique roles.

We will begin by talking about women’s role in marriage because Peter begins with women (1 Peter 3:1-6). Men don’t tune out here because this is just as much for you. Now, the women Peter writes to are Christian, but their husbands are not. Likely they became Christians after they married. These women are living in marriages where faith and values clash. This doesn’t make for an easy marriage. So how is a woman to live with her husband in this kind of marriage?

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” – 1 Peter 3:1-6, ESV

A woman can influence her husband most effectively by her way-of-life (vs.1-2).

Women have tremendous influence in the home and with her husband. This does not mean that she can change either of them for no one can force change upon another person. But a woman who respects her husband, even if he doesn’t love God or show her at times, will have his ear and eyes and heart. Consider the character of the wife towards her husband for it can preach the good news.

The word the Bible gives for respect is submit. Some may confuse this by thinking that the wife has lesser or inferior role and that the husband has a higher or infallible role. Women can find themselves in two extremes when it comes to submission: putting up with abuse from her husband or demanding to rule over her husband. These are dangerous misunderstandings of roles and the teaching of the Bible.

A woman’s true beauty is internal, not external.

This does not mean a woman shouldn’t buy a new dress or put on make up or be in style. What it means is that those things are secondary. The primary area of beautification is the heart (vs.3-4). An inner beauty of gentleness and faith is precious in the eyes of God and man. True beauty comes from a woman being like Christ and obeying Christ.

Internal beauty is illustrated in the Scripture by Sarah, the wife of Abraham (vs.5-6; cf. Genesis 18; 21:7). Sarah and Abraham were in their golden years. They were without children, but God promised them an heir. What was humanly impossible with God the odds were possible. After a quick laugh she trusted God (cf. Hebrews 11:11). Sarah’s actions actually called her husband to submit to God too.

A wrong idea of roles can cause tension in marriage, but God intended roles for harmony. When a husband and wife understand their God-given roles they will see true joy and harmony in their marriage. Although there is an “i” in marriage, marriage is really about a mutual living within one’s roles to serve one another.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • Why does “submission” stir up so much controversy today? How is submission distorted and perverted? What is the purpose of submission in marriage? What is the goal of a wife submitting to her husband?
  • How are foolish husbands “won” by their wife’s righteousness? What kinds of things are disrespectful for a wife to do? What kinds of things are respectful to do? How does respect make a relationship better?
  • What is the difference between internal and external adornment? What is a gentle and quiet spirit? How are these characteristics viewed as countercultural today? How does a woman’s character make her beautiful? How is submission more internal than external? Where do you spend your time more: on the internal or external?
  • How is the example of Sarah and Abraham good and fitting? What would have been frightening to Sarah? How is fear subdued by obeying God or heightened by disobedience? Who are some other godly women of the OT?

walking purely

I remember like it yesterday. The doors in the back of the church swung open wide and there walked in my bride. She was bright eyed and blazing in her white gown. It was, is and will be one of the most beautiful and purest images in my mind. There is no wonder God refers to the church as his bride.

Purity in the Church—the Bride of Christ—is just as important as purity for the individual. Continuing in the thread of Hebrews 13:1-3 the authors shares four rapid-fire characteristics for believers and the church to walk purely.

“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.” – Hebrews 13:3-9, ESV

First, honor your marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Today less than 50% of couples get married and the majority of couples are cohabiting rather than marrying. It is more common to test-driving marriage than to actually marry. This has led to a lower level of relational commitment and a greater distancing from moral purity. Yet this is just one aspect of purity. As purity is not just an idea before marriage but within marriage too. God expects the marriage bed to be pure from any form of casual or illicit immorality. In the mind of God, marriage pictures something big—Jesus’ love for the church. When marriages disintegrate so does the testimony of the church, but when marriages fight hard for purity so flourishes the church.

Second, love not money (v.5a). The only sure way to keep your heart pure from a love of money is by being content with what you have, especially in seasons of uncertainty (v.6). Why? Attached to this call for contentment is a mammoth promise—God will never abandon you (v.5b). Allow that truth penetrate your soul deeply. If you divorce yourself from this truth it lead to a lust for money, possessions, and discontentment. Ultimately everything, including money, career, health, security, comes from God.

Third, remember your spiritual leaders (v.7; cf. vs.17, 24). Leaders are to live pure and exemplary lives, and we are to imitate their faith and study their way of life. An issue can arises when we put too much faith in a spiritual leader to meet our spiritual needs. When a spiritual leader has failure or falls we can become disappointed and disillusioned. A good leader will point people to Jesus who never fails and will forever remain (v.8).

Fourth, guard your heart from strange teachings (v.9). Our hearts are easily distracted towards teachings what tickle our ears or stroke our ego. In the process we can commit adultery of the mind as we align ourselves with unbiblical teachings. It is important to weight all teachings against the Word and walk away from teachings contrary to it. If we build on this sturdy and stable ground we will walk purely.

Purity may seem old fashion, yet modern people would not think twice about drinking pure water, eating pure foods, or breathing pure air. When purity in marriage, money, spiritual leadership, or biblical teachings are abandoned the results are as grave on the soul as breathing smog, drinking poison and eating toxins. While purity is a gift from God that we cannot get back once given, it can be forgiven and made anew again.

Are you committed to walking purely? Then “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:9-10) No matter where you are start today by walking in the light.

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What is the biblical picture of marriage? How does the word tarnish and diminish this image? How does Jesus and the church redeem the image? How can we help one another keep marriage pure?
  • What is something that you don’t have that you wish you did have? Are you content without it? What makes us want what we want when we want it? How is money a huge culprit to a lack of contentment?
  • How does God’s never abandoning promise encourage you? How is God your Helper? What are things we want God to help us with that he doesn’t promise to help with?
  • Who is a spiritual leader you look up to? How do they mimic Christ? How can you follow their lead?
  • What kind of teachings tickle peoples ears and stroke their egos? Why is it good to weigh all words you hear in church against the Word of God? How can you do this without being extremely critical of teachers and pastors?
  • Is there an area of impurity in marriage, finances, leadership or teaching that you need to ask God’s forgiveness? Which area of purity is your greatest struggle? How will you allow the church to help or encourage you?

6 lessons learned from 6 years of marriage

Sarah & Justin

A lot has happened in 6 years!  We’ve added 3 girls to our quiver, moved to a different country, and have lived half of our marriage in the bush of Africa. Our world is radically different from that day 2,190 days ago in Battle Ground, Indiana.

Marriage is school. It never stops. My subject of study is my wife Sarah (1 Peter 3:7). Here are some lessons I’ve learned the past 6-years with her.

1. My wife gets more beautiful each year.  I have rarely seen Sarah put on make-up.  She doesn’t need it. She is a natural beauty.  This is so mushy, but I simply like looking at her.

2. My wife has become my bestie.  I have had many good good friends, but Sarah is the best best friend I have. She knows my junk.  She is patient and loving with me.  She helps me become a better man.

3. Compliment the food even if it wasn’t a home run.  This has taken me a few years to learn.  My wife is a great cook.  In Chad, she doesn’t have a lot to work with, yet she finds a way to knock most out of the park.

4. It is loving to listen.

5. Praying together grows intimacy. Enough said.

6. It’s worth the wait. I was 29 years old when I married. I would wait another 29 if I knew it would be for a woman like Sarah.

Lessons Learned from my fourth year of Marriage

Sarah & Justin-46
Make time for Jesus. This is the first priority. Sarah is my second.

My wife likes the little things. She does a dynamite job caring for our home, even though at this moment our home is in transition. Managing a home is a lot of work filled with many little tasks and no pay. By doing the dishes, changing the laundry, or vacuuming for Sarah can be a huge help to Sarah.

Ask the hard questions. I can read Sarah. She wears her feelings freely on her face. As her husband, I want to go deeper than asking, “How are you doing?” or “What’s up?” That usually goes nowhere. She likes when I asks her questions. She wants to answer.

Listen well. Asking questions is good, but like most dudes I have a natural tendency to listen in order to fix, but often Sarah isn’t looking for a quick fix. She wants me to listen. That in itself is helpful.

We are more alike than we are different. Sarah is not from Venus and I am not from Mars. We are earthlings, moreover, we are children of God made in His image. In God’s eyes, Sarah is a princess and her value is priceless.

We are distinctly different thinkers. Sarah is a verbal processor, while I am a ponderer. The beauty of marriage is discovering how these compliment rather than conflict.

Encourage friendships. Sarah has great friends. When Sarah comes back from a cup of coffee or prayer gathering with the ladies she is re-juiced. It is worth carving out the time to kick Sarah out of the house so she can spend time with her companions.

Snuggle. Sarah likes it when I sit next to her. I mean butted up next to her. Touch is a big thing to her. As a couple, it is good to be intimate often. Touch her heart before you touch her body.

Expect to be sanctified. My sin is so obvious to Sarah. Living with another person, especially a spouse exposes how self-centered I am. God uses Sarah to chisel at my core and I am becoming more selfless. It hurts, but it’s good.

Pray for wisdom. I cannot be the man Sarah needs me to be alone. I need God.

See entries from years past:
1st anniversary
2nd anniversary
3rd anniversary

lessons learned from my third year of marriage

one of our first dates on South Street downtown Philly

Marriage is a good thing (cf. 1 Corinthians 7). I can still remember what it was like to be a single guy. It wasn’t that long ago. I liked being single. And I was single for a while. The longer I am married the more I realize what a wonderful thing it is. Sarah is God-sent.

Marriage is work. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking anything otherwise. Marriage is hard work. It is a field that needs to be cultivated and a storehouse that needs to be stocked. If not, your field will become weeded and shelves become empty. The best work we’ve done for our marriage is to pray together and point each other to Christ. He is our purest example of selfless sacrifice and unconditional love.

Marriage is the mending of best friends forever. Since August, I stepped down from my position as an assistant pastor and we have taken a course direction to plant churches overseas. Immediately our family loaded into our car and began traveling throughout the Midwest. You really learn about someone on a road trip. Sarah and I have been on a 9-month road trip! We’ve both survived and are enjoying getting to know one another better together in our tiny Honda Element. I love living with my best friend.

Marriage is beautiful. If Sarah were president she would be Babe-raham Lincoln! After 1.5 children my wife just gets more beautiful. Sarah is entering her 6th month of pregnancy and is more tired this time than when she was pregnant with Justus. Honestly, she still is the most attractive woman I know, inside and out.

Marriage has softened me. I am not soft in a fluffy or girly way. Although marriage has been healthy for me. Sarah is one good cook! Marriage has softened me like sandpaper to shaves rough edges. I have many insensitive slivers that Sarah has graciously sanded down. It hurts a little, but I think she has a better husband for it. I suppose that’s why God has given me a house full of girls. He is so humorous.

Marriage keeps you honest. It is easy to fib or lie to the one I love (Didn’t think this would be confessional time, eh?), but the longer I am with Sarah the harder it is to get away with dishonesty. Sarah knows me. And I am not a good liar, but Sarah is a good lie detector. Thankfully. It’s best just to be honest from the beginning. It saves marriage from messes.

Marriage is still sanctifying. Living with another person, especially a spouse reveals how selfish you really are. I am quite selfish, even after three years. However, I would like to think I am become more selfless because of the tender helpfulness of my wife. She counsels me to the core.

See entries from years past:
1st anniversary
2nd anniversary

I need a job

Q: My job offers are falling through. So I might have to move my wife and kids in order to get a job. What should I do?

Here is my encouragement to you as the man, husband, and father of your home:

First, lead your family to a season of fasting and prayer. Maybe set aside a meal, a day, a game-time, a TV show or movie, or evening to do nothing but seek God’s face. Preferably together. Nothing pulls a family closer together and close to God than prayer.

God wants you more than He wants you in a career or a better place.

Second, make a career choice and own it. Even if you or your wife do not like it at the moment. Live by the principle: love God and do what you want. [Emphasis is on loving God first. I can explain that in detail more if you would like.] There are probably a half-dozen excellent choices for you to pursue. Pick one and own it. If it’s not working pick something else and own it too.

God wants you serving for His namesake and you can do that anywhere whether plumbing or preaching.

Third, put your marriage and family above personal ambitions. Even when you don’t have a job you got them. They need you. Your kids need a God-fearing dad. And your wife needs a Jesus-styled-husband. Whatever you do, don’t sacrifice your family at the altar of personal ambitions.

God wants you to pour yourself into your most important job, your woman and your chitlins.

Fourth, when you get a job, praise God and work your keaster off as if God is your boss. In reality, He’s your undercover boss. Thank God for His grace and goodness. Worship Him. He is the giver of all good gifts, even your work. In turn as an act of worship work hard for Him. And know that as you work for Him you will shine.

God wants you not to work to please man, but Himself, which takes a lot of stress out of the job.

thumb licks [2.9.12]

Ways to build spiritual conversation.

8 profitable ways to read your Bible.

C.S. Lewis and the power of Story.

Don’t take it from me: reasons you should not marry an unbeliever.

How to disagree online without being a total jerk.

Atheism: lessons learned from Christopher Hitchens.

Free Run: I wish I could run like this.

 

thumb licks [1.27.11]

5 Ways Wives Can Encourage Their Husbands.

An Open Letter to Christian Wives with Unbelieving Husbands.

20 Things a Husband Could Say to Defuse an Argument with His Wife.

Don’t Know How To Act When Someone Corrects You? Your Worries Are Over!

How to Honor your wife. Treating your woman like a queen.

Parenting Wisdom 101. Straight from Proverbs.

What Does God Want From Me? Some Important Thoughts For Children.

Why pray? Learning from the lips of Jesus.

Tom Hanks and Toddlers & Tiara’s:

Marriage: Is More than 5 to 9

The last 60-days, since traveling from the Midwest to the East Coast to Europe and back, I have been with Sarah around the clock. Never before in our marriage have we been around this each other this much. I love it! Pray for her as she has to be with me so much! No, really. I am so grateful to be around both my wife and daughter throughout the day. You see, before we hit the road to raise partners for the mission I could go to the office but be a phone call away. On the road there is no office; no break from my family.

Pray that I will create godly habits as a husband. That I will shepherd my wife with a listening ear and loving spirit. Pray that I will be a 1 Peter 3:7 man that “lives with his wife in an understanding way.” I want to get my PhD in Sarah-ology. Most people I talk to tell me that is a lifelong degree because marriage is not 5 to 9 and work is 9 to 5. Marriage is all day everyday.

thumb licks [8.16.11]

Can We Be Good without God?

Yes, of course.  But can you explain what morality is and where it comes from without God? That’s the key problem for an atheist worldview.  Craig Hazen explains in this Biola Magazine article.  Here’s the conclusion…

How the Gospel Makes Us Generous and Content with Our Money

I’m afraid the framing of this discussion leads us to ask the wrong questions. Like the junior high boy who wonders how “far is too far” with his girlfriend, we are quickly caught up in questions about how rich is too rich, how poor is too poor, and the like. Where is the line?

Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager

Four years ago a teenager church wrote pastor Piper for advice about life in general, and identity in particular. Here is what he wrote, with a big dose of autobiography for illustration…

Marriage: The Happy, Holy, Beautiful Mess

Ever hear the old adage: “Marriage isn’t primarily intended for your happiness, but for your holiness?” Well, it’s true and it’s a glorious thing.The growing in holiness part doesn’t always seem blissful. But it means that God isn’t finished with you yet, either. The purpose and hope in marriage isn’t defined by you or your spouse, but by God.

Paul’s Downward Trajectory

Paul refers to himself numerous times as worth “imitating” when it comes to spiritual growth and maturity (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17, 4:19; 1 Thess. 1:6; and 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). What do we see when we look to Paul as an example? He makes three significant statements about himself throughout his years in ministry that are helpful insights into his view of spiritual growth.

Spiritual Depression [D. Martyn Lloyd Jones]

Jacob’s Journey—from recluse to reconciliation [part 1]

Jacob is not the poster child for godly examples to emulate. He is 70 years old, single, jobless, a total momma’s boy, and is now homeless on the run from his brother because he ripped off his birthright and father’s deathbed blessing. Jacob is literally between a rock and a hard place, but mostly from his own trickster tactics. The only glimmer of hope is a dream he is given from God on his first night alone away from the comforts of home. In the dream, God passes the torch of covenant promises given to Abraham and Isaac to Jacob and also promises to be with him until he comes back to the Promised Land.

Today we are going to walk in Jacob’s sandals and see how he moves from being a recluse to reconciling with his brother. Jacob’s journey is Hollywood script or screenplay material. His story is full of adventure, romance, drama, and with twists and turns has sort of a happy ending. We begin immediately following Jacob’s dream as he enters the land of Laban, his uncle [Rebekah’s brother].

Sowing and Reaping: Jacob—the trickster—gets tricked into marrying two sisters [Genesis 29:1-20]

As Jacob arrives at Laban’s sheep farm, he gets a glimpse of the beautiful bombshell, named Rachel [which just so happens to be Jacob’s first cousin]. Immediate Jacob gets to work to impress this gal. Since, Jacob comes to Laban empty handed he is asked to work. In exchange, Jacob bargains for a bride—the beautiful Rachel [meaning lamb/ewe].

Now Rachel had an older sister, named Leah [meaning wild-cow]. She had a crazy lazy eye. Both girls were unmarried probably because Leah was not much of a looker. And Jacob, like all the other guys in town, wanted to marry red-hot Rachel. Laban made Jacob work for seven years to earn the right to marry Rachel. And in one of the most romantic verses of Scripture, “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” Isn’t that so sweet and sappy?

Ironically, Jacob reaps what he sows [cf. Galatians 6:7-8]. After tricking his brother Esau he seems to think his life is prospering: he has escaped the hand of his brother, God promises to bless him, and he is about to marry the woman of his dreams. The big day arrives and Laban throws a wedding feast. Obviously, Jacob has a few too many glasses of wine at the wedding to notice that Laban pulled a switcheroo and gives away Leah rather than Rachel. The next morning when Jacob rolls over in bed he stares into the wandering eyes of his new wife Leah. I can only imagine Leah smiling at Jacob with a crooked buck-toothed grin.

Jacob confronts Laban deceptive plan, but Laban gives a lame yet legitimate reason, “It is customary for the oldest child to be provided for before the younger.” Though true, it is still a low blow. Jacob, the persevering romantic, loved Rachel so much that he was will to work seven more years for Laban. God is using Laban to chisel at Jacob’s character. When Jacob finally works fourteen years to marry Rachel he expresses his love for her over Leah. This begins another sad story of favoritism that will rip apart this family.

A Family Fiasco: 12-Tribes of Israel are Born [Genesis 29:31-30:24]

Jacob gets what he wants—Rachel, but as soon as he marries her God closes her womb. Like Jacob’s mother and grandmother, Rachel is barren. Since, Rachel is barren, Leah sees this as her gateway to Jacob heart. Leah gets pregnant, all the while hoping, Jacob would finally love her because she would make her hubby a daddy. It did not quite work out as she planned. Three baby boys later she was sure Jacob would fall for her. Yet Jacob had no love for Leah. She has four-and-no-more until she gives praise to God. It took four pregnancies for God to finally get a hold of Leah’s heart.

Rachel, like any sibling wants babies too. She sees her sister and becomes jealous. So in an overdramatic outburst she demands Jacob, “Give me children or I shall die.”[1] Jacob responds in anger that it is God whom controls her womb. Could Jacob be growing in his faith? I think not! For immediately, like Sarah giving her servant Hagar to bear child, Rachel gives her servant Bilhah to Jacob. It does not look like Jacob is trusting God as his father Isaac did by turning to God in prayer. Rachel also takes matters into her own hands and Jacob did nothing about it. In fact, he went along with the adulterous sin. Rachel’s servant Bilhah gives birth to two boys, Dan [meaning judge] and Naphtali [meaning wrestle]. Their names are fit to Rachel’s sibling jealousy and lack of trust in God.

Not to be outwitted, outplayed or outsinned Leah in turn gives Jacob her servant Zilpah to sleep with. Leah brags about it when Zilbah who gives birth two boys and names them Gad [meaning luck] and Asher [meaning happy]. Leah, like Rachel, forgets to see that the blessing of children is from God. Doesn’t this family seem a little redneck? They would more accurately be dubbed, rebellious. The story gets stranger as Jacob’s firstborn son Reuben finds some mandrakes [an herbal aphrodisiac]. He gives them to his mother Leah. Rachel is a freak for mandrakes and she trades bedtime with Jacob to Leah—paying her as like a prostitute. Jacob-the-pimp doesn’t question the ethics of his wives and sleeps with Leah. She gives birth to two more sons, Issachar [meaning hire/wages] and Zebulun [meaning honor].

Somehow Leah resorts back to having babies out of jealousy—always a bad idea. And somewhere Rachel prays to God, He graciously answers, opens her dead womb, and gives her a son. They name him Joseph [meaning may he add]. Joseph was the youngest boy until Rachel later had Benjamin [cf. 35:18]. Add up all the boys from four momma’s and Jacob is the proud papa to a bakers dozen—12 boys + 1 girl, Dinah.

Through this dysfunctional, jealousy-ridden, polygamist family, God would safeguard His covenant in Jacob’s sons. This family would become the initial branches of the twelve tribes of Israel through whom Jesus would be born and heal the human sin problem, which was so evident in Jacob’s family. By God’s grace alone He saves this family from themselves. Revelation 21:1-14 reveals how these twelve sons who came from the four conniving women in Genesis will mark the gates of heaven where Jesus is awaiting those He has also saved by His grace.

It Never Fails: God keeps His promises [Genesis 30:25-31:55]

According to Jacob, it was about time to move out on his own. He is 90 years old, has two wives, and twelve children from four different women. What his mother thought might be a few day flee from Esau ended up being twenty years working for free for Laban [his father-in-law]. He built for Laban a sizeable ranch that pulled in some fat-cash.

Through demonic divination Laban learns that he has been blessed with wealth and power because Jacob has the covenant blessing of God upon him. Jacob desires to return home to the Promised Land to his father Isaac, however, Laban like a crooked used car salesman seeks to keep Jacob around the ranch by offering to finally pay him a reasonable salary. Jacob, like his father [Isaac] and grandfather [Abraham] rejects the gift and entrusts himself to God in faith. God honors Jacob’s faith and makes him a very wealthy man. Though it may seem like Jacob is taking advantage of Laban the truth is God is making right a wrong by giving Jacob what he earned during twenty years of faithful and fruitful labor for Laban.

God is big on keeping His promises. He has promised to be with Jacob and get him back to the Promised Land. God calls, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” [31:3; cf. 12:1] Jacob responds immediately in faith. His wives also respond in faith [note: Rachel steals the household idol]. Jacob loads up the kids in the camel caravan and leave Laban’s home in secret while he is out giving the sheep a haircut. They leave undercover possibly out of fear that Laban would come up with a sly way to keep Jacob working around the ranch.

When Laban finally found out that his daughters and grandchildren were gone he and his relatives pursued Jacob for seven days until they caught up with him. Ironically, the same Laban who tricked Jacob into marrying both of his daughters became rich because of God’s blessing upon Jacob. He cheated Jacob by changing his wages ten times and complained that Jacob had been deceptive with him. However, God protected Jacob by appearing to Laban in a dream and commanding him not to harm Jacob in any way. Laban only accuses Jacob of stealing his household idol, but he was unaware that his wife Rachel stole them and was sitting on them.

Jacob honors God by praising Him for all blessing he and Laban have received [31:42]. Then Jacob and Laban shake hands and agree Jacob will take no more wives. They built a monument to remember the covenant. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and the men part—Laban went back home and Jacob to his old home in the Promised Land. This set the stage for a story for Jacob to meet his brother Esau for the first time in twenty years [come back next week to find out what happens].


[1] These words would later proved to be prophetic and tragic; Genesis 35:16-19.

a bride for Isaac

Genesis 24:67 “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

Genesis now begins to focus not just on the God of Abraham, but also the God of Isaac and Jacob as Jesus taught in Matthew 22:32. Genesis 24 tells us that Abraham was old and had been blessed by God in every way as God had promised. And to ensure that his son Isaac would marry a woman who would worship his God by faith Abraham sent his servant back to his home to find a wife for his son. Abraham did this trusting that the God who had blessed him would be faithful to now provide for Isaac by sending an angel ahead to arrange the details.

Abraham’s faithful servant did as he was told and went to the region of Abraham’s brother Nahor. Stopping at a spring the servant prayed for God to provide. Before he had finished his prayer God had already answered it, sending the lovely virgin Rebekah to the spring. Rebekah drew water for Nahor and his animals. When the servant inquired of her family she said her father was Nahor and that he was welcome to stay at their home. The servant was so overjoyed at God’s perfect provision that he bowed down and worshiped the Lord for answering his prayer.

Rebekah agreed to go with Abraham’s servant to be Isaac’s wife. Upon arriving at Abraham’s household Rebekah was brought into the former tent of Isaac’s mother Sarah and married her. Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage ends with the beautiful words that “he loved her” and she was such a fitting bride that he was comforted by her love after the death of his mother.

We learn a great deal about God from the Genesis 24 narrative. God does not speak, but is silent in the narrative. However, God’s unseen hand of providence moves the story along showing Himself to be faithful to Abraham and Isaac. God also answers prayer and can be trusted to provide even when he has not spoken but has been spoken to in prayer.

There are some great applications from the story of Genesis 24 that are truths to take home. I will praise God for his faithfulness and steadfast love [24:12, 27]. I will remember my future is in God’s hands. I will encourage young men to pray and wait for a godly brides and encourage them to listen to their parents wisdom. I will pray to God with sincerity believing He does provide and keep His promises. I will trust God even when life does not make sense. I will serve God and others with expedience and efficiency.

I remember when I was a single man praying for God to provide a godly wife. What a joy it is to wait for His timing and to pursue His will. The wait was long and hard, but it was well worth the wait!

Keys to Genesis 24: bless [1, 27, 31, 35, 48, 60], prosper the way [12, 21, 27, 42, 56]

thumb licks [6.23.11]

My Problem with Love

Recently, I read a Christian commentator, who had fallen heads and heels in love, trying to draw a connection between romantic love and divine love. The parallels are tempting to make, but are fundamentally erroneous. The main reason is that the modern/post-modern notion of romantic love as manifested in contemporary western culture is a far cry from the love that Christ taught about and that God has for humanity. Here are a few of the important distinctions.

6 difficulties atheists encounter

Atheists often like to give the impression that they hold the rights to rational living because they reject the existence of God. Don’t be fooled by this. Atheism is an irrational conclusion on many levels. Consider 6 difficulties atheists encounter.

Gospel-Driven Effort

Growing in godliness is a fight of faith–a fight to believe the truth about our justification, our adoption, a fight to believe all that God says about us by virtue of our union with Christ. But growing in godliness is more than trusting; it is also trusting enough to obey. The New Testament gives us commands, and these commands involve more than remembering, revisiting, and rediscovering the reality of our justification. We must also put on, put off, put to death, strive, and make every effort.

Reminders Are More Effective Than Rebukes

Are you tired of being told that if you’re really serious about God, you must be in an “accountability group?” You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where you and a small group of “friends” arrange for a time each week to get together and pick each other apart–uncovering layer after layer after layer of sin? The ones where all parties involved believe that the guiltier we feel the more holy we are? The ones where you confess your sin to your friends but it’s never enough? No matter what you unveil, they’re always looking for you to uncover something deeper, darker, and more embarrassing than what you’ve fessed up to. It’s usually done with such persistent invasion that you get the feeling they’re desperately looking for something in you that will make them feel better about themselves.

Great Questions for Married Couples

What are some questions a wife can ask her husband to know how to encourage him?

What questions can a husband ask his wife to encourage needed discussions?

My Favorite Sesame Street Classic!

a brief guide to biblical manhood

Happy Father’s Day! Today’s message is a manly message. It’s for fathers, future fathers, and for men of all ages. Women, don’t tune out or take this Sunday off, this message is for you too. It’s for women [daughters, wife’s, future wives, singles, etc.] who love to support the men in their life. God takes pleasure in talking to men in the Bible. First He created Adam to be the leader and lover of his wife. When Eve took the temptation, God came to Adam. Later God established patriarchs to lead their homes, teach their children, and be responsible for peoples and nations. Also God’s Spirit spoke through inspired men who penned our Scripture. It is not that God has a low view of women or is sexist-ogre as some would like to believe. He desires men to be godly-leaders.

Two years ago my gramps passed away from cancer. Before he passed he said to me, “Justin, I am looking forward to being with my Savior!” then gave me two imperatives, “Take care of your beautiful wife. Keep following your God.” Those are two things I will never forget. Last words are important. Today we will look as some last word in the first letter to the church at Corinth.

Let’s do a short Corinthians Quiz: First, who wrote 1 Corinthians? Paul wrote with his own hand [16:21]. Second, what do you know about the church at Corinth? Most would say it was divided, had disunities, and was quite dysfunctional. All true. What church isn’t? Third, why did Paul write this church? Paul, like a father bending his boy over his knee sought to correct the congregation. The first 14 chapters of Paul’s letter to Corinth were a rebuke towards errant behaviors—even beloved chapter 13 was a rebuke towards lovelessness—and chapter 15 was a rebuke towards errant theology. Paul [a man] rebukes out of deep love for this church; just like Jesus’ [the God-Man] love for His church [cf. Hebrews 12:6].

Paul ends his letter with a list of five short, succinct, to-the-point imperatives. They are not simple suggestions; rather it’s as if he’s saying, “Do this, enough said!” Each imperative is a review of Paul’s entire letter to the Corinthians. As a pastor, like Paul, I will prod the men of our church to own these five imperatives of biblical manhood. My outline should be easy for the men in our audience, since each point is plagiarized from the two verses we will pick apart today, [start: 16:10] “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” [1 Corinthians 16:13-14]

If you haven’t noticed Paul likes to talk in military terms. It helps his men-hearers understand. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 is a charge to the troops! Like 1 Kings 1:2-3, “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God.” [cf. Joshua 1:6-7] Women, I know us pastors give a lot of male illustrations from sports, hunting, or warfare. It’s because we are men. We do not intend to leave out the ladies, but we have a hard time relating to tea parties, dolling-up, or other things ladies like. It’s good to embrace and encourage the ruggedness of your men and their love for guns or getting dirty [that’s the reason why my wife loves my big beard!]. Okay, here are five imperatives you are best to encourage in your men…

1. “Be on the alert.”

Like a commander calling to his men he says, “Attention! Stay alert. Eyes open. Watch out. Keep awake.” You get the picture of a castle tower guard scanning the scene for enemies anticipating an ambush or attack. The Corinthian’s needed an awakening. They were Christians in a moral and spiritual stupor. They had fallen asleep on duty. They substituted God’s Word with their wisdom [1:18-2:16], they were divisive [1:10-17; 3:9], they were immoral [5:1-13], they confused and perverted marriage, divorce, and singleness [7], they were self-serving [10], they misused their spiritual gifts [12-14], and they were unloving [13]. They were not alert at all. Instead they were off duty and were teaming up with the enemy.

I am a man who loves sports. On Tuesday’s some of the men of our church play slow pitch softball. It’s a fun sport. This week I played centerfield. Usually it’s a position with a lot of running, however that night nothing was even hit near my domain. I said to some of the guys, “It sure is a lazy day in the outfield.” Sure enough with a 7-run lead I let my guard down and became the lazy outfielder smelling the clovers and swatting mosquitoes. When the final inning came around it was our game to lose. Would you know it, the other team started cranking balls my way. It wasn’t pretty, but we did pull away with a W!

The phrase “be alert” or “be watchful” appears 22 times in the NT. Jesus uses the phrase when to remind His followers to be on alert for His Second Coming, since He could come back any moment.[1] However, there are four more ways the phrase is used in the NT. What are we to watch out for?

First, be alert against Satan. “Be sober-minded, be on the alert, your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith.” [1 Peter 5:8-9] Satan is not all knowing, like God, he only knows your weakness by watching you. Like a sneaky lion he waits to pounce on an unsuspecting foe. His plan is to exploit and devour you, period [cf. 1 John 2:16]. See his fiery arrows coming before they see you!

Second, be alert against temptation. Jesus said, “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation.” [Mark 14:38]  Have you noticed the temptations ramp up when you are tired, exhausted, or coming off a rough week? When our spiritual eyes are sleepy or shut, it is easy to fall into temptation. You know where you are most vulnerable. It could be your pride, your purity, or your priorities. When you are tired it is easy to put down the guard, when you are traveling it is easy to justify giving in since you are outside your realm of accountability, and when you are under trial the pull is to find an easy way out.

I have 5 moral fences I put up to guard my heart: 1) never drive alone with another woman other than my wife, 2) never counsel a women alone or in a closed office, 3) when I travel I try to bring my wife or a friend with me, 4) I speak openly, often and affectionately of my wife, and 5) when with other women I seek to compliment their character not their appearance. I also seek to keep evenings open for my family and take my wife out for a date once a month. When single I committed not to be alone with a woman unless someone knew. What kind of moral fences have you built to protect your heart from falling into sin?

Third, be alert against apathy. To be apathetic means you chose to ignore what once fired you up. Jesus says to the church at Sardis, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which are about to die…therefore, what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” [Revelation 3:2-3] An attitude of repentance and brokenness is the antidote for apathy.

Fourth, be alert against false teachers. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” [2 Timothy 4:3-5; cf. 2 Peter 2:1]

Men, be alert. Be aware of the condition of your heart, your life, your family, and your church. Everyday you are being hunted by your adversary and your temptations are nagging for absolute attention and affection. Men, be alert.

2. “Stand firm in the faith.”

When I hear this phrase I think of the movie, Braveheart or The Patriot. Men are holding the frontline and their leader yells out, “Hold! Don’t waver! Never retreat!” To be firm means you stand with confidence, heads up, fists ready, and body anticipating the blows. Paul is calling men to plant their feet firm in the faith.

Be firm in your spiritual and moral convictions. Be firm in what is true and theological [cf. 15:1 “Now I would remind you, brother, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand”].[2] No one can take your saving faith away from you, but they can trounce on the contents of your faith [1:18-21; 3:18-19; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:15]. You can be influenced to believe that human wisdom and reasoning are more reasonable than the Word of God. Christians today are too easily swayed by the opinions of others rather than standing firm in their faith. Too many men wilt under pressure.

Before you got married you might had the conviction, “I’m going to be sexually pure, I’m going to wait until the day I get married, I will to treat my woman with dignity and respect, and I’m going keep my hands to myself. I will stand firm.” Then the world says, “Come on? Why wait? It’s okay trying things out to see if you compatible.” Foolish! Relationships are not like going to the used car lot. Honor Christ, get married, love that woman with your whole life and be faithful to her, serve her, and be like Jesus to her. People will make fun of you for that because faithfulness is not popular. What if I am not marriage yet? Finish your degree, pursue your career, pay your bills and taxes, love the Word of God, and be committed to His church. If you meet a nice gal who loves Jesus, go after her. Some of you guys are like, “I don’t know if she knows I exist or will like a guy like me.” There is only one way to find out!? Make the first move.

Many Christians have a hard time standing firm because they are weak in the Word, they are not secure in their understanding of the Word, and they ignore what training or studying they have done. God wrote a book, read it. Use the Word of God as your grid for truth and understanding. If you know the Bible, and you know what is true, and you know what is good, and you know what is right, and you know what the Father in Heaven expects of his sons, “stand firm in the faith.”

3. “Act like men.”

This is the phrase that smacks men right in the keester. It’s a bar mitzvah, coming-of-age statement. It’s like saying, “Grow up. Be mature. Take responsibility. Don’t be like a kid or coward. Stop the silliness.” Paul is not saying “Man up!” like our culture would say [Insert grunt noises here]. Nor is he saying, “You da’ man!” He is saying, “If you’re a Christian man, then act like it!”

Paul says, “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I act like a child, I spoke like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” [cf. 14:20; 3:1-2] Maybe today is it good day for you to go from childhood to adulthood. How does a man grow strong spiritual bones and muscles? He daily eating God’s Word, chews it, digesting it, and exercises it [1 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Timothy 3:16-17]. How do you exercise the Word? Live it! Speaks it! Own it!

Men we are called to act like men. Sure you might be a boy at heart, but sooner or later you got to grow up and be a man. I know some men who are 40-50-60 years old—even in the faith—who still act like spiritually immature boys. We need older men, like Paul, who will have the boyhood to manhood talk with younger men [likewise older women with younger women]. Paul encouraged Titus to cultivate this in his church, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness…urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” [Titus 2:2-8]

I remember being asked to lunch by an older man who was very godly. I was in my early 20’s. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Justin, you have incredible potential for God. Yet you act like young man. You waste a lot of time playing games, chasing girls, and joking around. It is time you grow up and begin acting like a man. The time is now to follow Christ.” I never forgot that conversation. He still pours wisdom into my life. Like Paul training young Timothy we need men training men.

Fathers and future fathers, get your children ready to engage the forces of evil, temptations, and sinful struggles of adulthood before they thrown out to learn on their own without any theological framework to guide their practice. Give your children opportunities to fail under your roof so that they are ready to fight for truth under their own roof. Teach your boys about sexual temptations at a young age, and encourage your girls to be modest for the right motivations. Talk about what God is doing in your life. That’s what it means to “raise up your children in discipline and instruction of the LORD.” [cf. Ephesians 6:1-4]. Life is like the Roman Coliseum and it chews up Christians for breakfast. Men, act like men. Women, empower your men to be men.

4. “Be strong.”

We live in a culture that denigrates men and weakens masculinity. Watch a prime-time sitcom. The average sitcom husband is an idiot. He messes everything up. He’s the butt of every joke. He’s the big, fat, lazy idiot that everybody laughs at. You watch the average kid’s cartoon. The cartoon kid is a genius, his crazy-little-monkey-alien-friend can reason and teach the kid, but his dad is pictured as an incompetent imbecile. Our society sees men as everything but strong.

The verb strong (Grk. krataioo) means to “be strengthened.” Strength is not inherent to humans. The point is: strength only comes from God, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” [Isaiah 40:28-31]. When I read that my response is, “I need God because He is my strength.”[3]

From a young age men want to be strong. That’s why boys love superheroes, stuntmen, and sports stars. However, the strongest guys are often pictured as bullies, thugs, and jerks. And to that we say, “I don’t want to be strong. Those guys are mean.” Truth is we need men to be stronger than those dudes. Somebody’s got to stand up to them. You’ve got to be strong enough when you see a guy—even in this church—if he’s not being nice to his wife or his kids; he’s not working hard; he’s not being honorable; you need to have courage, you need to have strength, you need to have boldness. You need to be able to put your finger in that guy’s chest and say, “Listen. You’re a Christian. You go to Battle Ground Bible Church. You’re a man. You don’t treat your wife like that. You don’t treat your kids like that. You don’t work your job like that. That’s not how we do things. That’s not how God’s men are.”

At our church we believe that God made male and female, very good, equal in the image of God, distinct in roles, for the glory of God. We believe that both men and women are to be respected, and instructed, and exhorted toward holiness. I know some men did not grow up knowing Jesus. Some of you did not have a dad. Some have a dad that was not a godly or good man or a man you wouldn’t want to be like. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says something very important. He says men are the glory of what? God. Men are image and glory of God. Let’s lift up our men. Empower our men with God’s strength [i.e. Stephanas, 16:12-18]. God encourages godly leadership.

5. “Let all you do be done in love.”

You can do all the above without love [watch, firm, act, strong], but without love it is meaningless [cf. 16:22-24; love chapter 13; 1:9-10]. The absence of love would mean that these are just duties without delight. Love is not just the attitude of a follower of Christ it is the atmosphere of a followers life. The most attractive and effective element of your manliness is your love.

Men are to be gentlemen, not angry men; not violent men; not rude men; not crusty men; but bold men; courageous men; loving men like Jesus. Jesus—the conquering King—had a humble, gentle, loving strength that wove through the fabric of everything He did and said [John 13:34-35; Ephesians 5:1].

My daughter is only 7-months old. I love that little girl. But I tell you what, parenting is so sanctifying. I cannot imagine what it will be like 13 or 16 years from now!? Pray for me, all right. Children teach parents a lot about God. I remember holding my newborn girl who was crying unstoppably in the middle of the night. As frustrated as I was it reminded me of how utterly dependent she is on us, and how utterly dependent I am on God. Today my love for her and her mama is soaring.

In conclusion, in this brief guide to biblical manhood, I have a few applications for everyone to take home. First, to fathers when you struggle to live these five imperatives, look to Jesus because each are seen in His life and ministry, even on the cross. Second, to single men, God’s strategy is for men is to act rather than react. Plan now to put into practice these imperative before you have a woman or kiddos. This is part of biblical leadership. Third, to women married or single, encourage and empower your men to adhere to these imperatives. Pray for them, respect them; treat them as the glory of God. Fourth, to our church, what our church is looking for is a few good men who will walk with Christ, stand with Christ, and lead like Christ!

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” [1 Corinthians 16:13-14]

Father God, we thank you for being our Father. Lord Jesus, we thank you for being our Savior. Holy Spirit, we thank you for indwelling us, instructing us, convicting us, leading us, guiding us, empowering us and transforming us. I thank you for inspiring Paul’s last words about loving like Jesus. I pray that you would convict men to follow Jesus and lead others toward Him. I pray that our men would be like Jesus committing to His church, reading the Bible about Jesus, confessing sins to Jesus, imitating Jesus, worshiping Jesus until one day, we get to see you Lord Jesus!


[1] Cf. Matthew 24:42ff; 25:13; Mark 13:34ff; 2 Peter 3:10-12

[2] Cf. Jude 3; 1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 4:12

[3] cf. 2:3-5; 3:6-7, 18; 4:10; 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:4, 7, 9; Ephesians 3:16; 6:10; Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:12; Psalm 27:14