Help To Be A Better Husband

My wife and I just recently celebrated our one year anniversary. It has been the best year of my life. Although I feel I am completely unqualified to do so, I wanted to mention a few tips on how husbands should act to best love their wives. I believed these before I was ever in a relationship. They are simple principles that I learned by reading the Bible and watching the successes and mistakes of others. This past year of marriage has helped me apply them and prove their wisdom.

Die to your selfishness and serve your wife

As a husband, I love reading Ephesians 5 cause it reminds me quickly of what my responsibilities are as a husband.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…. (Eph 5:25-29)

My responsibility as a husband is to follow Christ and lay down my life to better love and serve her so that she is free and pure. My standard on how well I am loving my wife is measured by how Jesus loves us. In fact, Ephesians 5:31 states that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. That should imply to us how high and serious God takes marriage and how we serve in it.

Looking back on my past year of marriage I realized that out of all our fights: 5% were because of good arguments (God’s will, theology, illuminating/breaking personal strongholds, etc), 10% were because of in-laws, and 85% were because of selfishness! The Bible is clear: when there is a argument because both parties are being selfish (whether it’s well-meaning or not), the husband is to die to his rights and desires and serve his wife as long as it does not violate Scripture or the husband’s spiritual discernment regarding God’s will and direction.

There have been many arguments avoided cause I have died my own desires and helped my wife have hers. Men, it is not worth the fights to have your own way when it comes to how to squeeze the toothpaste or how to load the dishwasher. The only time I risk the fight is to better purify and refine her. Serving my wife means braving the times when I am called to smooth some of her rough edges. She braves the harder task of doing the same to me.

Praise her publicly and privately.

All humans love affirmation. God has blessed the marriage covenant in that each spouse can greatly influence how the other sees themselves based on what’s spoken over them. Speak over your wife blessings instead of curses, praises instead of criticisms. Proverbs 31 says:

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:28-31)

This portion of scripture says several things regarding husbands praising their wives:

  1. It says that husbands should praise their wives.
  2. It says that husbands should praise their wife more than any other woman.
  3. It says that the praise isn’t just about beauty or doing a good job, but also about her spiritual life and growth.
  4. It says that this praise should also be shouted in public in the midst of people.

I encourage all husbands to take those four points regarding praising your wife to heart and start practicing them every chance you get. Show your wife you’re  more pleased and happy with her than any other woman. Tell her how beautiful she is. Tell her how amazing she is when she’s working. Above all, praise her for her spiritual life, devotion, giftings, growth and passion. Praise her at home and praise her among friends and strangers.

Praising your wife like this will do wonders for her self-esteem as well as continue to open her heart to further receive the same love and affirmation from Jesus.

Cover her

Like publicly praising your wife, covering your wife is important. To cover your wife means to not speak of her faults for your or another’s gain. The Bible says:

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9)

A wife should be a husband’s closest friend. Yet when we bring up past failures in order to get the upper hand in a argument or when we bring up a past mistake or failure about our wives in a conversation with other people around (friends or strangers) to make a joke or point, it causes deep pain in our wives.

When we first got together, my wife and I realized that as we were hanging with friends, we would make jokes at the expense of each other. Many tears and long conversations afterwards led us to commit to only speak of each other with grace-filled words and a covering love. In fact, if we want to joke about a situation that’s personal, we will talk about ourselves and not each other. Don’t embarrass and uncover your wife for a joke. Love her enough to make yourself the joke if you have to. Also don’t bring up her past failures in the heat of an argument. Jesus doesn’t do that to us and He has the right to. Remember, we are to follow His example.

Pray for her

This should go without saying but I find it amazing how it is the last thing I often do. As the husbands and the priests of the home, we ought to visibly show our wives and families that we are the leaders of the spiritual life and growth within our households. We should be leading the way in prayer times, devotional times and studying the Word.

Yet we shouldn’t be just praying for our personal growth, but also directly praying into the challenges and needs we have inside our house. Prayer builds faith and faith helps us combat fear. There have been multiple times where my wife and I have been troubled and fearful about finances or health or safety (etc). Whenever those times arise, I hold her and pray out loud to God about the situation, helping her put her trust in God by showing her that I’m doing the same. Without fail, her nerves calm and she feel less burdened. That’s how you use prayer to lead your house.

Remove “divorce” from your vocabulary

Leaving is always the easy way out. Refuse to do it. Refuse to ever have the word “divorce” come up in your marriage. Don’t even let it be an option on the table. Don’t use it as a threat or to gain the upper hand in an argument. In Malachi, God states:

And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Malachi 2:13-16)

Jesus also states:

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

God hates divorce. I believe we have done a disgrace to the Bible by, in the name of love and grace, condoned divorce in the church. Divorce is a serious matter if our Forgiver says we’re guilty of adultery if we do it. Although God offers forgiveness and cleansing for past mistakes, we must not take this mercy and grace as a licensed to sin. The Bible has some choice words for those people who “trample the grace of God.” (See Hebrews 10:26-31)

Choose to live in this marriage for better or worse and you will start making decisions to help make the marriage better instead of worse. Also be cautious of storming away and leaving the house in the midst of an argument. Refuse to even hint at walking away from your wife, even if it’s just an argument. If allowed, it’s a little fox that will spoil the vine of love over time.

Now I understand that there are times that we as husbands need a “Bethel” time to get away and think by themselves to sort things out. This is fine. Just reassure your wife before doing so. The book “For Men Only” states (based on a poll) that most women feel more secure if before leaving in the midst of an argument, he says to her “I need some time real quick to sort some things out and think about things…but I want you to know that we’re ok and I love you. We can finish this when I cool down and think about this by myself. Is that ok?” I can attest that this works. Most women know that men work things out differently then women. Men are the ones who usually forget that. So feel free to take a break in the midst of arguing, just reassure her first and make sure you come back and finish the conversation, cause that’s how she works things out.

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Hell: For Enemies Only

There has been much talking and debating about hell these past few months, mostly due to the release of “Love Wins”, a book about hell and eternal judgment by Rob Bell. While I am reading the book right now, this post is not about that book. This post is to help show truth against a wrong view of God.

In all the arguing about hell, the most popular question asked is “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” Often the best answer that is given to this question is “God doesn’t send people to hell. People choose to go based on their own decision to deny His love.” This statement is generally true, but it usually accompanies much talk about how sensitive God’s heart is and that He could never send people to eternal suffering. They make it seem like hell is a big loophole that God can do nothing about but offer an escape by Jesus.

This view is not Biblical.

Firstly, there is no loophole with God. This suggests that He is less than what He is – perfect. Secondly, due to the me-centered culture and thinking, we have lost the understanding of what sin and a sinner truly is. Culture would try to have us think of the saved and the unsaved as “children/friends of God” and “could of been children/friends of God”, but that’s not how God fully sees it. To God, anyone who is not a friend is an enemy.

Now God doesn’t delight in seeing sinners perish:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ezekiel 18:23 ESV)

(Sidenote: I would highly advise reading this in context. The Lord is saying that the righteous will live and the sinful will die, and He rather all people turn to righteousness instead of sin. Our God loves life.)

However, God does delight in the judgment of the unrighteous:

Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. (Ezekiel 5:13)

Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you. (Proverbs 1:25–26)

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)

And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. (Deuteronomy 28:63 ESV)

John Piper sums up these paradoxal verses and shows us how God can delight and not delight in the same thing:

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory. When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.

Exactly. No one is able to gloat that they have robbed God of any pleasure and neither can they say they robbed God of any justice.

Now concerning how Jesus/God view the saved and unsaved, let’s look at a few scriptures. First, regarding the saved (children/friends of God):

You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:14-15 ESV)

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13 ESV)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1 ESV)

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:21-23 ESV)

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV)For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10 ESV)

Now let’s look at how God feels about the unsaved (enemies of God):

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV)

God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. (Psalm 7:11-13 ESV)

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12 ESV)

The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. (Psalm 11:5-6 ESV)

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:5 ESV)

(Jesus speaking) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)

When we accept God’s salvation, He doesn’t just forgive us or wink at us. He transforms us from being a enemy of God to being a child and a friend of His. Those who reject “this great salvation” are continuing to stay under the wrath of God which will be poured out in fullness in the age to come. The end of the Bible (in Revelation) states:

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15 ESV)

The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:7-8 ESV)

But nothing unclean will ever enter it (the city of God), nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27 ESV)

God has no problem judging sin/sinners (since He is fully in-the-right to do so), yet He desires them to choose Him over their sin and themselves. He desires them to be friends and children of God. If they choose to reject Him, they get what they (and we all) deserve – the fullness of His wrath. The lake of fire (hell) is not a loophole that God meant for the devil and the devil somehow got mankind into as well. God created the lake of fire (hell) to punish and torment all those who are wicked and reject God, whether humans or demons. At the end of time, there won’t be any good people in hell. Hell will only be filled with the enemies of God. Many times the gospel we preach is “God loves you and has a plan for your life” which is true, but we must also preach the whole gospel: “God loves you and has a plan for your life and a place for you after you die, heaven or the lake of fire, based on who you live for.”

This realization about hell and enemies shouldn’t lessen our resolve to evangelize and neither should it make us judgmental about people who die apart from God. It should ignite our passion to see people understand the weight of their sin and what it means to their future all the time speaking to them of a God who wants them in His family and Jesus who wants them as a lover. This should cause us also to look at our own hearts constantly to make sure we are “still in the faith” remembering James’ words in James 4:4 and the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples:

If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:6)

Elihu: Declaring The Sovereignty of God

Person: “Blah blah blah…I’m right.”
Person’s friends: “Blah, blah, blah…we’re right.”
Person: “Blah, blah, blah…this is what God is like….blah, blah…that’s why I’m right.”
Person’s friends: “Blah, blah, blah…no, this is what God is like….blah, blah…that’s why we’re right.”
Person: “Whatever.”
Person’s friends: “Yeah, whatever.”

Have you ever heard this before? I have. But guess what? I just summed up 30 or so chapters of Job.

To recap the book of Job, God (for His glory and for the display of His worth) allows the devil to strike Job with every disaster, calamity, heartache and sickness he could. Job lost his family, possesions and health all in a reasonably short time, yet the Bible states that Job’s first reponses to these disasters were righteous. Then for the next 30 chapters, Job and his friends argue theology on why all of this happened. Job’s friends believe that it’s judgment for his sin and Job declares himself righteous and that God had no reason/right to do all that was done to him. Finally, many speeches later, the Bible says:

The words of Job are ended. So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.  (Job 31:40 – 32:1)

I have seen these sentences over and over again in real life. There are people who God decides to refine and while they respond rightly at first, they slowly over time become offended with God, questioning His ways and His rights. Then you have the people and friends who judge that offended person stating that they deserved it or something. All of this does nothing to glorify God. In the name of “comforting people” or “exposing the truth” we are taking the focus off of God.

The problem is that many of the people arguing about what God is like don’t know what God is like. They think He is like them while He is totally other than.

That’s why I love Job 32-39. After Job and his friends stop speaking, a young man named Elihu speaks up. According to his opening words, he’s been there the entire time. In all the debating he decided to let the older ones speak first since their age can mean they may be more wise, but when he realizes that no one has answered rightly nor spoke of God rightly, he became righteously angry.

Then Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job because he justified himself rather than God. He burned with anger also at Job’s three friends because they had found no answer, although they had declared Job to be in the wrong. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger. (Job 32:2-5)

Elihu then goes on a long speech describing what God is really like. At the end of his sermon, he gives us this truth about God:

Behold, God is great, and we know him not. (Job 36:26)

He then launches many questions at Job challenging his knowledge and understanding of who God is. Elihu asks Job things like:

Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancingst of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge, you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind? Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror? (Job 37:14-18)

After Elihu finishes his speech declaring the sovereignty of God, this is what the Bible says:

Then (!!!) the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

During the whole book of Job while Job and his friends are arguing, God is shown to never say a word. But once someone steps up and defends who God is rightly, He shows up and settles everything. At the end of the book, God calls Job on his arrogance and his friends on not speaking right of Him…but He never calls out Elihu. Some say that Elihu was so wrong that God just ignored him since he was young, but God has no problem correcting people, regardless of their age. I believe the only one who spoke rightly of God in the book of Job was Elihu. This is confirmed since many of the things Elihu says are directly repeated by God Himself. I think that’s a pretty good sign that you’re speaking rightly of God.

I long for the spirit of Elihu to rise up in our churches especially among young people; a spirit that knows God but above all realizes that He is God. I see it happening more and more with the Reformed/New Calvinism movement that’s sweeping this nation. I desire people to stand in the face of tribulation and disaster and claim to the masses that “our God is in heaven and He does all that He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

In this age of enlightment and postmodernism, there is a tendency in the church to explain and understand everything. Yet the Lord cannot be explained or fully understood. He says in Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Even Paul, when asked if God was unjust in predestining people to hell says:

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:19-20)

We must reclaim a higher/right view of God. I am reminded by what Beth Moore once stated at a college conference:

If ever in your pursuit of higher knowledge God gets smaller in your mind, you are being deceived.

I am praying that God would stir many to start speaking of God rightly in situations and conversations. I believe, like in the story of Job and Elihu, that when one starts speaking rightly of God, it invites God to come and speak the final word. God loves and is drawn when people speak rightly of Him. Sometimes we must look at people, troubles and even ourselves and say “God is sovereign. We gotta deal with it.” God isn’t pleased when we put Him on trial, but the Lord delights when, in the midst of suffering, we declare that He is good and right in doing all that He has done.

To My Mother

P496

Time.

Time changes everything.

Time changes perception.

Time showed me how foolish I was.

I remember times where I looked up to other mothers and women, thinking they were the greatest overcomers I knew.

I remember thinking that other mothers love their children more than mine own.

I remember thinking “if only I could live with them, things would be different.”

And I remember the day I dropped all those ignorant childish notions and saw you for who you are, who God made and refine you to be.

Time gave me things I now know, not just things I feel.

I know that I have never seen a more devoted woman to her family than you.

I know that few people have been through half of what you been through and lived to speak of it with joy and victory.

I know that even in my stubbornness and stupidity, you loved me.

I know you move me to be the very best spouse and parent I can be and you have given me a unbelievable example to be so.

I know that your legacy will be generations long.

I know that (outside of Jesus) there is no person I’m more thankful to for my life. You raised me, guided me and helped me become the person I am today.

I know that God blessed me by giving me a mother like you.

Time continues to show me God’s goodness in and because of you.

And time will allow me to better show my love to you in word and deed.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.