A few years ago I learned the important lesson that marriage is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. Katie and I faced the biggest crisis of our marriage. I started pastoring Woodland Christian Church when it was fairly small. Within three years the congregation had tripled in size. I admit that before I became a pastor, I was completely unaware of how much work is actually involved in shepherding a church of even a few hundred people. I had been an Army officer, a supervisor at a distribution center for Target, and an elementary school teacher. But none of those occupations approached the amount of mental and emotional energy and sheer hard work pastoring entails!
We had no secretary or associate pastor at the time. Almost all of my waking hours were packed with studying, teaching, counseling, making phone calls, sending e-mails, meeting with people, addressing administrative responsibilities, and tending to benevolence issues. When I was home, I should have been an engaged father and husband. Unfortunately, I did not have much left for my family emotionally, mentally, or physically.
Although I was failing as a husband and father, I was able to convince myself I was still pleasing the Lord. I compartmentalized my life by saying, “I am a Christian first, a spouse second, a parent third, and an employee fourth.” Instead, I should have said, “I am a Christian spouse, a Christian parent, a Christian employee.” The danger of seeing ourselves as a Christian first and a spouse second is we can find ourselves believing the lie I bought into at the time: “If I can be a good pastor, I can please God even though I am not the best husband.” The truth is that I was a poor husband, and I should have recognized that meant I was not pleasing the Lord.Continue reading Marriage is a reflection of our relationship with Christ
There are thousands of marriage books, so why another one? Here are the three reasons I wrote Marriage God’s Way!
Marriage God’s Way isn’t about people trusting me
I recognize this isn’t a “reason” I wrote Marriage God’s Way, but it does answer an important question—why should you trust me to write a marriage book? I would never encourage people to trust what I have to say about marriage. Marriage God’s Way isn’t a collection of my thoughts about God’s first institution. Rather, I’m trying to get readers to trust what God says about marriage. He’s the author of it. He designed the roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives. He knows what a couple needs to have “a healthy, joyful, Christ-centered relationship.” And He provided a recipe for that in His Word. My desire was to present that recipe clearly and biblically.
First, I wrote Marriage God’sWay, becauseI’m passionate about marriage
I’m passionate about this area of Scripture and life. God designed the family as the primary unit for every other segment in society, including the church. And marriage is the heart of the family. As marriages disintegrate, families disintegrates. When families disintegrate, churches disintegrate. As churches disintegrate, society disintegrates.
When marriages are strong, however, families are strong. When families are strong, churches can be strong because strong churches are made up of strong families. As a pastor, I have seen many struggling marriages, but I have also seen couples find the solutions to their problems in Scripture. The truth of God’s Word has the power to heal and strengthen any marriage. Continue reading The 3 reasons I wrote Marriage God’s Way
A common way husbands mistreat their wives is by responding insensitively when they’re hurting. Elkanah’s response to Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 is a good example showing three common mistakes husbands make.
Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing this or read the transcript below…
Elkanah had two wives—Hannah and Peninnah. This was part of the problem! Polygamy in the Old Testament is descriptive, not prescriptive, portraying the reality of the era but it’s not allowed for Christians today. This is why God never condoned polygamy, and whenever it took place in the Old Testament, it always caused problems. No biblical examples of polygamy are characterized by peace and harmony. Instead polygamy is always filled with turmoil and strife. Peninnah and Hannah’s marriage is a perfect example.
Peninnah could have children, but Hannah could not. Making Hannah’s situation even worse was Peninnah’s cruelty toward her. First Samuel 1:6–7 records:
[Hannah’s] rival (Peninnah) provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that [Peninnah] provoked her; therefore [Hannah] wept and did not eat.
Consider Elkanah’s response in 1 Samuel 1:8:
Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?’”
Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves based on Ephesians 5:26–27:
That [Christ] might sanctify and cleanse [the church] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
This is discussing what Christ does with His, Bride, the Church. Since the context is marriage, it’s also explaining what husbands should do with their wives. Christ “sanctifies and cleanses” His bride, so husbands should sanctify and cleanse their brides. This makes a husband at least partially responsible for his wife’s sanctification.
Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Just as Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself, so husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves
There is a tremendous truth contained in these words. Christ does what He does in verse 26—sanctifying and cleansing the church—so that He can obtain for Himself the glorious church, or bride, described in verse 27 that “has no spot or wrinkle but is holy and without blemish.” The simplest way to say it is: Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself.Continue reading Husbands get the wives they prepare for themselves
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:
God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.
Why the confusion regarding generational curses?
Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…
Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:
You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.
Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:
Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”
“Why are wives commanded to submit to their husbands?”
This is an understandable question when people first learn Scripture commands wives to submit to their husbands. Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Wives are commanded to submit because it’s necessary
We see the clear need for submission in all other areas of life. No organization can be successful without authority or headship:
Businesses have CEOs.
Sports teams have coaches.
Governments have presidents or prime ministers.
Just as we recognize the need for a leader, or a head, we also recognize that there cannot be two heads. We don’t see two head coaches, two presidents, two head pilots, or two head surgeons. Imagine how uncomfortable you would feel:
Flying on a plane with two head pilots arguing over the flight plan
Being operated on by two head surgeons quarreling over the proper procedure
“Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?”
This is a good question to understand, because many people don’t think there’s a difference between a wife loving her husband and respecting him. This leaves many women thinking they respect their husbands, while the husbands are not feeling respected. Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Can a wife love her husband without respecting him? Not only would I say it’s possible, I would say it’s common! Most women will say they love their husbands, and I believe they do. But many of these same wives might not respect their husbands. I’ve met men who have told me they feel loved by their wives but not respected.
In marriage counseling, when I hear wives expressing their frustrations about their husbands, it typically sounds like this: “I don’t feel that my husband loves me. I wish my husband loved me more. He never tells me he loves me.” But when husbands express frustration, it more often sounds like this: “I wish my wife respected me more. I wish my wife followed my lead. I wish my wife supported my decisions.”
In truth, it is much easier for a wife to say she loves her husband than to show it through respect. But it is through respect that a wife expresses her love for her husband. If a wife does not show respect, her husband will not feel loved. A good perspective for couples to keep in mind is that feeling unloved is as painful to a wife as feeling disrespected is to a husband.
An example from scripture of a wife loving her husband without respecting him
Instead of, “Know what you believe,” a more appropriate statement might be, “Know why you believe.” 1 Peter 3:15b says, “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
We’re supposed to be ready to explain why we believe what we believe. The words “make a defense” are one word in the Greek: apologia. It means, “verbal defense; a reasoned statement or argument.” Apologetics is the branch of theology concerned with defending Christianity, and we get this English word from apologia.
Not just knowing why you believe, but defending those beliefs humbly
People loosely quote 1 Peter 3:15 saying something like, “As a Christian you’ve got to ‘be able to give a defense of your faith.’” But they often leave off the last few words: “with gentleness and respect.” Peter first commands us to be ready to explain our beliefs, but he also tells us how we should do that—with gentleness and respect.
Katie wanted to discuss the art of apologizing well. She prepared six questions to ask me. Here’s the outline for the video and the transcript below it:
0–4:17—Have you always been good at apologizing?
4:17–6:54—What are wrong ways to apologize?
6:54–13:00—What are right ways to apologize?
13:00–19:35—What is your favorite story about apologizing?
19:35–24:04—Should we apologize to our kids?
24:04–27:39—How can apologizing or lack of apologizing affect marriages?
1. Have you always been good at apologizing? Elaborate on your “history” with apologizing and how you grew in it.
When I saw this question, my first thought was, “If I’ve learned too apologize well, it’s from making so many mistakes.”
As a pastor you’re going to learn to become comfortable apologizing, because it’s a necessity to have a healthy church body. I’d go so far as saying don’t become a pastor if you’re not comfortable apologizing. You’re going to have to apologize for your own actions and the actions of others. Nothing looks worse than shifting blame, even if the blame belongs elsewhere.
As far as when I learned to apologize, I’d have to give credit to LTC Richard Brewer, my commander in Army ROTC. He didn’t teach me to apologize. He forced me to apologize. I couldn’t make excuses or shift blame.
2. What are wrong ways to apologize?
When we should apologize our sinful nature wants to flare up, get angry, make excuses or blame others. Some people – whether intentionally or unintentionally – act like they’re apologizing, but their “apologies” are simply excuses disguised as apologies.
Every Christian has been confused by Scripture at times. Here’s part of a message I received from someone after a study I taught:
Last week, I took the entire chapter [from the study], copied it to Word, and then made spaces for notes. I thought I was prepared. But I wasn’t as prepared as I was hoping. I will just keep working on it.
I can tell the person was discouraged, and this is something I’ve encountered regularly. Here are two passages that should discourage us from being discouraged:
“Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand“(2 Peter 3:15-16). The Apostle Peter himself read Paul’s letters and found them difficult to understand at times.
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating” (1 Peter 1:10-11). The prophets were given the very words of God. Even they had to “inquire” and “search carefully” to understand the revelation in each other’s writings.
Why does God allow certain parts of Scripture to be confusing?