Friday, January 27, 2017

Family Life, p. 3

Malachi 4:5-6 – Ephesians 6:4 – Colossians 3:21

Family Life, p. 3

Malachi 4:5-6 - “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

A man in the supermarket was pushing a cart which contained, among other things, a screaming baby. As the man proceeded along the aisles, he kept repeating softly, "Keep calm, George. Don't get excited, George. It’s gonna be ok, George."

A lady watching with admiration said to the man, "You are certainly to be commended for your patience in trying to quiet little George."

"Lady," he declared, "I’M George!!!"

Raising children can be hard. The neediness. The constant complaining. Someone astutely observed, “The trouble with children is that when they're not being a lump in your throat, they're being a pain in your neck.”

And while it certainly CAN be hard – after having 5 of my own – I can honestly say that my girls are a treasure – and I am a better man because of them. --- Most days. --- Probably. --- Maybe. :)

Two things make parenting terribly hard: their world and their will. No matter how persistent and insightful a parent might be – when they walk to the bus stop every day, they enter a world where they hear – not just counter-points to your instruction, we could defend ourselves against those; no, an angry suspicion of our motives.

We can do our very best to provide a solid, Biblical foundation… but when they walk out those doors, we need to pray – hard – because the world and their own will – will systematically tear down everything we’ve labored to build.

As Anne Frank mused, “Parents can give their children good advice and set them on the right path, but the final forming of their character lies in their OWN hands.”

I’m thankful I have the Holy Spirit and the Church on my side, Amen? I’m glad there are others standing with me, because there is so much at stake. No matter how lost you feel at times, you are NOT alone.

At first blush, our passage from Malachi might seem an unusual passage to reference for a parenting message – I mean – it’s a prophecy… written over 2,500 years ago. It concerns the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.

But we cannot overlook the plain fact of the verse: How – through the coming of Christ, a godly love will return to the family unit. How parents will rise ABOVE the daily grind of life – to seize hold of their calling to raise a generation of children to be weapons for God. As David proclaimed in Psalm 127: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.”

You are NOT ALONE in this calling to raise up a mighty army of powerful servants of God. The BIBLE offers all the tools you need. The Church is laboring alongside you. The Spirit is guiding, shielding, protecting. So the question of the hour is:

What do children need from us? What gifts can we give them that will help mold them into servants of the Lord?

You will notice that Paul commands (in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3) ‘Fathers’ - because YOU – dad - are the key… the head of the home. As the father goes, so goes the family. You carry the responsibility of establishing the spiritual climate of the household – you set the course your family will run.

However, “Father” can be a “collective” word as if to say “Parents.” Either of these viewed works for what we trying to do.

So - What gifts can parents give their children? 4:

1. They need Illustration – Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “far more is CAUGHT than TAUGHT.” They are watching your life. They formulate the values that result in ACTIONS by watching your example. They NEED a good example. Amen? Not just parents who go to church and establish rules for the household. Children need parents who SHOW them how to live – through their own actions and attitudes. Examples. The ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ parent won’t cut it.

So, what kinds of things should kids CATCH from their parents?

They need parents whose relationship is described in Ephesians 5. Dads who are the sensitive, spiritual leaders of the home. Moms who are respectful and supportive of their husbands. They need parents who have a strong relationship with each other – who love each other, deeply, with a love that is visible. The very best gift you can give your kids, AFTER Jesus, is to love your spouse with all your heart.

Kids need healthy parents whose lives are balanced. Their priorities are straight. They walk with Jesus. They love God’s House. And they protect their time. They spend time in God’s Word and prayer – and they know how to say ‘NO!’

Kids need parents who refuse to argue in front of them. Parents who never undercut each other. A united front. When disagreements come, and they WILL come, the wise parent will handle those things behind closed doors. If there is ever a time when I think my wife has gone too far or not far enough with my kids, she and I will work that out at a later time. It is easier to apologize to my kids for being wrong about something, than it is dealing with the problems associated with undercutting my wife in front of them.

Kids need parents who will be parents instead of friends.

One of the dangers of our culture is the number of kids who are raising kids. And by the way, I’m not talking about AGE. I’m talking about MATURITY. There are a LOT of 40-year-old moms that need to get their act together. They need to QUIT acting like their teenager’s buddy and start being a mom. There are a lot of dads who are nothing but overgrown boys with game controllers affixed to their hands. They need to get off the couch and be MEN.

Kids need Illustrations – they need us to be proper examples. While I am certainly glad for the OTHER positive influences in my child’s life, nothing can take the place of Mom and Dad.

Are YOU the kind of example they need? When you react to problems? When you talk about people? When you serve at the church or talk to people about Jesus? They need illustration.

2. Children ALSO need Instruction – Whereas ILLUSTRATION is passive teaching, where, young people observe your life and learn what they ought to do through your example, INSTRUCTION requires hands-on, deliberate, methodical Teaching. Parents who teach the Word of God, Work ethic, responsibility, and common sense. Your kids need Instruction. Paul uses the words “nurture and admonition.” He is describing the Consistent, Considerate spiritual leadership that sets expectations high enough to stretch and shape their young person – but not so high that it frustrates or crushes them.

That is the picture Paul paints in this text… the picture of kids being discouraged and defeated by parents who are Inconsistent and Inconsiderate. If you want to defeat a kid, then be a moody, arbitrary parent with whom the rules, and the consequences for violating them, changes from day to day. One day you freak out, over-reacting to every little thing – the next day they could commit murder and you wouldn’t even notice. You want to frustrate them – do THAT.

You need to find a happy medium between requiring too much and requiring too little. You need to teach them to respect authority. If you are balling out their teachers for every perceived slight, you are gonna turn your child into a prima donna – a demanding, selfish brat who pouts or pitches fits whenever things don’t suit them.

You need to teach them what God expects. Teach them the word. Let them see you reading and praying… and then lead them to do the same. Encourage them to pursue excellence – to please GOD – but love them through their failures.

Long time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Howard Hendrix, used to say, “Your home is the number one influence in the life of your child. The average church has a child 1% of his time, the home has him 83% of his time and the school for the remaining 16%. This does not minimize the importance of churches and schools, but it establishes the fact your home is 83% of your child's world and you have only one time around to make it of maximum benefit.”

It’s too easy for us to fall into the trap of blaming our child’s environment for their wrong choices. And yes, peer pressure IS a problem. It is worse than when WE were in school. I got it. But God hasn’t changed – and neither has His methodology for building character.

It all starts with Illustration, being a good example; followed by Instruction, careful, diligent teaching, pouring truth into their lives. And third,

3. Children need Intimacy – Love and Encouragement. Support. Affection. Hope. Parents who are positive. They need your time. As has been said many times – “Children spell ‘love’ T-I-M-E.”

Former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders notes, “It is easier for many children to find drugs than it is for them to find hugs.” Every child needs someone who believes in him.

What are you doing to communicate your love to your child? We mistakenly think that providing a roof of their heads is enough. We feel good about the things we buy them – the opportunities we provide for them socially – playing ball – scouts - trips. And certainly = that is PART of demonstrating love. But children need other things too, like:

Listening to them without making them feel judged. Get them to talk to you – refuse to settle for silence. Get them to share their thoughts, dreams, plans. Get them talk about their friends and what’s going on at school. Learn how to ask questions in a way that doesn't sound like an accusation. The number 1 complaint I hear young people say about their parents is: ‘They don’t understand me.’ Communication is one way to show them your love.

You should also - Learn their bent and help them find their way. When Solomon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go,” he was talking about studying the way your child is wired and helping them find where they fit in life. While that certainly includes spiritual things, it isn’t limited to them. Get to know your children – take them on special outings – one-on-one. Make an appointment with them, take them to their favorite restaurant or shop, and spend time getting to know your child. Find out what makes them tick – the things they are interested in – passionate about. Then figure out how YOU can set them on a course to fulfill those passions.

And after listen and learning – LOVE them. Tell them you love them every day. Show them. Be affectionate. Forgive them when they disappoint you or hurt you. Encourage them when they filled with self-doubt or are afraid. Admonish – or correct them when they need a kick in the pants to motivate them. Prioritize them. In all these ways, your love is on display.

But after Illustration, Instruction, and Intimacy, your child needs:

4. Independence – Part of good parenting is giving your child the freedom, the room to make decisions. The older they get, the ‘looser’ must be your grip. You need to trust God that He will watch over and guide them; you need to trust the things you’ve taught them, and you need to trust THEM, and release them to learn.

This is gonna be the hardest thing you do. It requires patience and grace. It’s as Henry Ward Beecher wrote: “You cannot teach a child to take care of himself unless you will let him take care of himself. He will make mistakes, and out of these mistakes will come his wisdom.”

Some mamas and daddies hover, control, and restrict the life right out of their children. They can’t grow up – because mom won’t let them. You’ve got to begin releasing your child at some point. You can’t control or filter or protect them from everything. There’s going to come a time when they will be alone – and the only way they will be able to handle that freedom responsibly, is if you have given them a chance to practice making good decisions.

Teach them how to do their own laundry. Teach them how to cook. Teach your sons basic mechanic skills on the car or how to work with their hands… what TOOLS are for. Kids today know EVERYTHING about the WRONG THING. They are not prepared for life. They don’t know how to balance a checkbook or handle money. And from my perspective – THAT’S ON YOU.

I know a woman who was raised by fine Christian parents. They had her in church every time the doors were open. They prayed every day. They read the Bible in the home. They regulated what their children could watch on TV. They were calm and didn’t yell or argue. They were FINE people.

But they were ALSO people who never let their kids make decisions for themselves. Their youngest daughter is my age, and she can’t drive, or buy groceries or go shopping or to a restaurant. She is a hermit – a socially awkward, mentally dwarfed hermit - and were it not for the kindness of her church family, she and her mother wouldn’t survive.

You DWARF your child when you don’t give them responsibility. When you don’t give them space to make decisions. When you don’t let them learn how to function independently of you – you are – with your own loving hand – destroying that kid.

Will they disappoint you? Most certainly. Will they make a costly decision or two, or experience pain and regret? Without a doubt. But by giving them independence, you are teaching responsibility and you are helping them mature. Kids were born to grow up. Are you helping them… or hindering them?

These are the things kids need: Illustration, Instruction, Intimacy, and Independence. It sounds so easy. So why do we often feel like failures? Behind that confident mask there is self-doubt and worry over the ‘what-ifs.’ I know. That’s why you can’t do this alone. You need the Lord and His Word. You need a church who will stand with you and help you when you have questions.

And maybe right now – you need some help? Will you come pray about it? Will you grab a friend by the hand or come pray with your spouse and ask God to help you be the parent your child needs?

This time is for you.

Family Life, p. 2

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33

Family Life p.2

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

(v. 33) However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Men and women are soooo different. And that difference doesn’t simply pertain to men liking sports and women enjoying cooking shows… men being content to throw on mismatched clothes and run out the door with a cup of coffee 10 minutes after getting up, and women spending 2 hours to getting ready and STILL feeling like something isn’t exactly right.

No, there is a fundamental difference – something bigger than societal stereotypes. And no matter what feminists or transgenderists say, those differences begin in the womb and won’t end ‘til the tomb. God - made us - different.

Go to any nursery or preschool and you will see it. Little boys grabbing up cars and making “VROOM… VROOM” sounds… little girls picking up their doll and combing its hair, all-the-while carrying on a conversation as if the toy could actually communicate. Boys building skyscrapers only to blow them up… girls laboring at their play kitchens for their make-believe tea party.

There is something fundamentally different in God’s design for the sexes, and those differences grow as we go through puberty into adulthood.

Its those Differences that we often find so attractive in the early days of infatuation, but become problematic as time wears on. So problematic, in fact, that many men and women start to question their choice in a mate. Disillusionment sets in... “I thought things would be different… I thought he understood me??? I might be happier ALONE or WITH SOMEONE ELSE.”

Many marriages fail to last – and many more fail to be fulfilling – because we have not learned to ACCEPT and APPRECIATE the differences between us.

Dr. Gerald Klerman, one of the world’s foremost authorities on depression and schizophrenia, said, “Today's young women are MUCH more likely to become depressed than their mothers at this age. The reasons? Increased economic pressure to contribute to family income... changing roles in society... and an inability to meet their own expectations.”

If YOU are one of those caught in the throes of discouragement, at the risk of sounding trite, allow me to say – The answer for your loneliness, frustration, and feeling like a failure, won’t be found in the workplace or in an illicit relationship. It is right here – in this text.

Having pastored hundreds of people, having counseled hundreds of hours, seeing people at their very worst, I can honestly say that God has a plan to make your marriage more fulfilling than you EVER thought possible. But ⇒ you’ve got to do it HIS WAY!

When Paul spoke of the Lord’s relationship to the Church, he used marriage to illustrate God’s love and commitment… His willingness to sacrifice Himself - - FOR THE CHURCH. That speaks volumes… don't you think? Volumes about how great the marriage relationship CAN BE … about how HIGH a view God has, and WE ought to have, of the marriage covenant.

While those with fulfilling marriages understand the illustration, those whose marriages are crumbling or unfulfilling might find marriage a terrible analogy of the Lord's relationship with the church… at least they HOPE it isn’t anything like it! But Paul offers insight in this text that will radically transform any marriage into something beautiful and fulfilling. He offers wisdom that will enable us to find healthy balance in spite of our differences.

Last time we considered the MEN and what God would have US to be. Today we look to the women. Men need three things from their wives according to Paul:

1. Every man needs a wife who is REASONABLE. Paul explains, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Don’t do it for that knothead you married. Do it for Jesus… “as unto the Lord.”

Be reasonable... in your expectations… in your demands. It is common for people to enter relationships with preconceived ideas. Everyone does it. But because of the way little girls are wired, they spend their growing up years creating the perfect relationship fantasy… what he will LOOK like and HOW he will MAKE HER FEEL as if SHE'S all that matters… that he will be gentle and understanding - godly and yet edgy.

There's nothing wrong with that. The problem comes, when those expectations don't mature and change to something a bit more realistic with age. When you create such a fantasy in your mind of what a man should be and all that he SHOULD do for you - he won't EVER live up to that imaginary “Prince Charming.”

You will never experience contentment in your marriage, you will never be fulfilled UNTIL you are reasonable with your expectations. Stop telling yourself that you “deserve the fantasy.”

You must understand that only God can meet your needs - only HE can satisfy those deep, spiritual and emotional longings. But as long as you keep feeding the fantasy of a man being everything you need, you will not know joy or fulfillment.

Be reasonable with your expectations.

I’ve had to modify my expectations in MANY areas of my life. I didn't understand why I was always disappointed. Whether it was a relationship or a job… a church or a child. Because I was applying unreasonable standards to the thing, I was NEVER satisfied.

I’m not trying to be negative - but no man can do for you what only God can do. My joy, my fulfillment, my identity comes from Jesus, not some man or woman.

When you finally understand that - when you begin to pour your energies into your relationship with God, it will have the uncanny effect of improving other relationships. It will make you happy and content. It will help you be patient and forgiving. It will help you persevere through life’s difficult moments. Focus on your relationship with God. Be reasonable.

2. After Reasonable, this passage tells wives to be Respectful. Paul tells women to “respect” their husbands in v. 33. Interestingly, the Greek Word used here is a word that can be translated “FEAR.”

Paul is telling women to have a higher view of their husbands than what we typically see in the world. Turn on just about any sitcom, and it’s always the same - the men are buffoons and the women are Saints for putting up with them. The world is totally disrespectful and rejects any notion of a man being the leader of the family.

But it shouldn’t be that way for Christian families. And ONE OF THE WAYS a wife demonstrates that she respects her husband is through biblical submission - a voluntary yielding of herself to her husband.

That makes us say “Hmmmm.” The modernist is offended by that - naturally resenting any instruction that conjures images of degrading and devaluing women. But to read THIS instruction and jump to THAT assumption is to misunderstand the heart of God. The only reason people think that way is because the devil has convinced them that God is wrong… that His ideas are antiquated and WON’T WORK anymore. That we shouldn’t trust God to have OUR best interest at heart. Most of us don’t understand what “submission” means, and so we unfairly assume God wants women to be “doormats.”

As people of faith, we must believe God knows what is best for us… that AS Creator, He knows how life is BEST lived. Until we obey the Lord, we will not have the fulfilling marriage we long to have – period.

So WHAT does it mean to ‘submit?’ Let me give you a couple of ideas:

First, Submitting to your husband as the head of the home means that you stop trying to FIX him. Unhealthy habits start EARLY in relationships. The picking. The put-downs. You’ve GOT to get to a place where you allow the Holy Spirit to work on your husband - you’ve got to STOP trying to do God’s job.

Second, submitting to your husband as the head means YOU have to STOP trying to BE ‘the head.’ That’s HIS job. This is fundamental. This is the reason so many marriages end in divorce… and why so many women are frustrated. They’ve been warring with God for control of the man and warring with man for control of the home.

Ever since the fall, women have battled for the headship of the family… but God created women with the need for a head. That position wasn’t made for you. And though you might feel like you do a pretty good job of it, God made you in such a way that you cannot be your BEST while assuming the role God made for someone else.

THIS is what Dr. Klerman’s research found – but stopped short of coming out and saying. Women today struggle with depression and inadequacy and lack fulfillment, because they are trying to be something OTHER than what God made them to be. And until you surrender the leadership of the family to your husband, you will have this struggle, this conflict and dissatisfaction.

I’ve heard women say, “If my husband would only be the kind of man he SHOULD be, THEN I would have no problem submitting to him.” And YES, you have a legitimate point! You really do! BUT - we’ve must get to the place where we commit ourselves to doing what is right regardless what the other person does. That's called “being a grown-up.”

In the beginning, God said, “It is NOT GOOD for man to be alone… I will make a HELP-MEET for Him.” (Gen. 2:18) Wives are at their best when they COMPLETE their husbands, not COMPETE with their husbands. When a woman moves FROM controlling her man to completing him, he will feel RESPECTED.

No man wants a nagging wife. Even Solomon said, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” In another passage he compared a nagging wife to a constant dripping of water.

Don’t be that woman. The BEST marriages are those where EACH serves the other. But hear me now - EVEN IF a man initially refuses to be what his wife wishes he would be, SHE must be committed to HER ROLE. Let God handle this situation. You will see God work when you stop trying to do HIS WORK.

3. Then after being REASONABLE and RESPECTFUL, men need wives who are RESILIENT. The ability to spring back into shape after being pressed - that’s what that means. Don't let your circumstances… your challenges - the pressure turn you into someone you don't want to be.

Be Content. Be positive and patient. Why??? Because good marriages take WORK!

In the book Wobegon Boy, Garrison Keillor tells the fanciful tale of John Tollefson. John leaves his childhood home in Minnesota and moves to New York, where he makes a life and finds love.

Although the story is fiction, it contains several gems of insight. One such gem is seen when John calls home and tells his parents about something his girlfriend had said: "There is no such thing as a successful marriage,” she said. “There are marriages that give up - and marriages that keep on trying. That's the only difference.”

That’s good stuff! Marriage takes a lot of work. When you were a girl and you pretended you had found your ‘knight in shining armor,’ the two of you rode off into the sunset to live “happily ever after.” No one told you the truth about your childhood fantasy. Good marriages take hard work. They require:

1 - Dying to self. Every day you are faced with a decision – are you going to surrender your thoughts and desires to the Lord, OR are you going to build your life YOUR way? Are you going to humble yourself and ask God to love your spouse THROUGH you? OR are you going to continue to feed the fantasy that you would be happier with someone else?? The only way you are going to move from tolerating your relationships to having joy in them is by putting Christ first ⇒ in everything.

2 - You need a consistent prayer and devotional life. Stop trying to improve your mate… improve YOURSELF! The path to spiritual growth requires diligence. You have to daily seek the face of God. While you are praying, ask God to help you serve your family with joy. God loves you. HE will deal with your husband. And even if it seems there are no results, keep doing what is right. God will bless you for it!

3 - STOP criticizing your husband. All of us feel the need to vent. Sometimes we think our head will explode if we don’t. But I want to encourage you – if you are going to vent to anyone, let it be the Lord.

Words are powerful. They have a way of influencing our emotions. When you give in to anger, it will grow. Every little irritation will be magnified. Everything will seem bad and you will feel like there is nothing good and no way it will ever improve.

That’s ‘stinkin’ thinkin.’ And the more you talk to your friends, the more of it you will do.

Filter your words. When you are spending time with friends, don’t let the conversation devolve into a weekly gripe session about your husbands. Your words aren’t entirely true, and by giving vent to them, your heart will believe that your complaints are legitimate.

If you would spend more time in the Word of God than you do on Facebook finding out what Susan ate for breakfast, you might have a happier home.

If you spent more time building your husband up than ripping into him with negative put-downs, he might feel more convicted about being the man God would have him to be.

Successful marriages take work!

If I had to add one thing NOT IN YOUR NOTES, I would tell you to learn how to FORGIVE… early and often. Sometimes it’s the only way you will get through the bad times.

Maybe we should try THIS:

A couple married for 15 years began having more disagreements than usual . They wanted to make their marriage work and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month they planned to drop a note in a "Fault" box. Anything that the other did that got under their skin, they would put on paper and drop in the box.

The wife was diligent in her efforts to write down every irritation:

"leaving the top off the toothpaste"

"wet towels on the bathroom floor"

"dirty socks not in hamper"

on and on until the end of the month.

At the end of the month, they exchanged boxes. The husband reflected on ALLLLLL he had done wrong. Then the wife opened her box and began reading. There were SEVERAL slips of paper but they all said the same thing. The message on each slip was, "I love you!"

Listen - no one here is perfect. All of us can do a better job being supportive of our mates. But maybe God has used this message to speak to YOUR heart specifically? Maybe you recognize that God would have you make some changes? Why not come pray about it??

If doing what you’ve always done isn’t working, why not, in these closing moments, come to this altar and ask God to help YOU be what HE wants you to be… to help you love… to help you control your thoughts and words???

Family Life, p. 1

Ephesians 5:25-33

Family Life, p. 1

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, because we are members of his body.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we men are faced with the difficult task of showing love to our wives in a meaningful way. In the early days of marriage, it wasn’t that hard. But when you’ve gone through 25 or 30 Valentine’s Days together, trust me, it gets pretty tough to be original.

We hear commercials that tell us FLOWERS are the ticket. Then another says, ‘no, no, real love is spelled CHO-CO-LATE.’ The radio advises us to try a Pajama-Gram this year and we think we’ve done GOOD until the TV reminds us, “but HE went to Jerrod.” We can’t even go get a CARD without being overwhelmed by all the choices.

Things were so much easier back in 1st grade when we could scribble a little note – “Will you be my Valentine? Check ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Admit it, fellas, you really have no idea WHAT your wife wants???

Regardless what the commercials say - Real love isn’t communicated through the occasional ‘home-run’ gift. In fact, if the only day you make an effort to show your love is Valentine’s Day, you are in trouble.

I’m no expert on the subject of love. I don’t pretend to be. But God is. There is no greater authority on the subject of LOVE and how to show it, than God Himself. And God knows the Biblical Family is under assault.

Of all the problems facing the church, from sin to satanic attack, the greatest threat to the church is not poverty or illiteracy – it’s ‘the broken home.’

A person can overcome financial problems.  Though taxing, health issues aren’t insurmountable either.

But problems at home have a way of spilling over into everything we are. The one place that ought to be a refuge for us – when hostile or unfulfilling - casts a shadow over everything else.

How can a man ensure that his wife feels valued and cherished?? When he does these 4 things, according to Paul:

1. First, a man must LOVE his wife… not in word, but sacrificially – as verse 25 makes clear: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” The idea here is giving yourself up… your wants, your selfish desires… sacrifice yourself for her.

He's not talking about the occasional washing of the dishes or picking up your dirty socks. That’s not ‘sacrifice.’ That’s just part of living in a home with other people. But according to the Bible, real love is seen in SACRIFICE.

There are some things in life we don’t have a choice about – for instance, if you want to show love to God, you have to do it God's way. We don’t get to pick and choose the things we WANT TO do. We don’t get to treat the Bible like a spiritual buffet – “I’ll take a heaping amount of blessing, but I just don’t feel like giving or being faithful in church attendance today.” Jesus said, “IF you love me, KEEP my commandments.” The pattern of our lives should be obedience. We don’t get to choose how we show our love to God. It must be on HIS terms.

The same is true when it comes to your wife.

One man thought he would give his wife something SPECIAL for Christmas. He FELT it was practical, and yet expensive. He just KNEW it would be the best present he ever gave her.

It was a deer rifle.

Now for a few, rare creatures, that would be a meaningful gift. But for most women, it wouldn’t be. Most women would think – “yeah, you SAY it’s for ME but it is really just for YOU!”

You don’t get to pick and choose how you show someone love. It has to be something that speaks to their heart for it to have any meaning to THEM.

That’s why a man must sacrifice himself for his wife just as Jesus sacrificed Himself for US. What did He do??

He left heaven… that place where He was worshipped and served without reservation, to come to a place of such bitter poverty that he would be born in a filthy cattle stall.

He suffered selflessly.

He forgave without complaint.

He held nothing back – not even his life.

Paul said THAT’S how a woman knows that her man loves her… Sacrifice.

Before you start talking about “all that you do” and “how THAT should be enough to satisfy your wife,” understand, you’ve got it all wrong. Jesus didn’t go part way. Or even MOST of the way. He gave His ALL.

So, HOW can you sacrifice yourself for your wife in a way that is truly meaningful? Here’s a novel idea – put her needs above your own.

I see the fear in your eyes. “But…but…but Brother Mike!?!?! I won't ever hear the end of THIS!” And to you I would say, “True love requires sacrifice!”

There will be times when my wife wants the very things I want. Those times are easy. Those times don't require sacrifice. But true love doesn’t just show up in the easy times… no, it gives of itself even when it hurts.

2. But that’s not all - after LOVING their wives, a man must LEAD his wife. It is our job to provide a safe, loving atmosphere where our wives can become all that God wills them to be. We are to create an atmosphere where our wives can FLOURISH spiritually. In vv. 28 and 29 he says, “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:” There are two words here that need further explanation:

First is the word “nourishes.” It literally means to “nurture.” It is used again in the next chapter when Paul commands parents to “bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

As a father, I am to provide the framework, the leadership that will set my children on a path that pleases the Lord. Do I want my kids to enjoy their lives?? Absolutely – but it is not my obligation to make them happy. Do I want my kids to have nice things?? Of course I do. But I can never think that buying them the latest gadgets is fulfilling my role as a father. I am to “nurture” them. Through my example and instruction, I am to set them on a path of serving the Lord… of putting HIM first… of seeking His will above ALL else.

And I am to do the same for my wife.

I am to be the spiritual leader of my family. That doesn’t mean I get to sit in my easy chair and call the shots – like a King on his throne. It means that I must teach and provide the right example when it comes to spiritual things. Too many men are passive when it comes to spiritual leadership. They shirk their responsibility, their calling, and leave spiritual things to their wives.

You will be judged for that, men.

My wife ought never have to wonder if we are going to church. My wife ought never have to wonder if I pray for her. My wife ought never have to worry that I’m putting her in a position that would compromise the will of God for our family.

She should know, without question – that God comes first in our finances. She should know, without question, we are going to serve the Lord as a family. She should know that even though I am human and make mistakes, I am striving for a home where God is honored, where HE is the head – and that I am committed to doing things HIS way. THAT'S MY JOB!

But not only am I to nurture my wife, Paul says I am to CHERISH her. It literally means “to keep her warm.” It presents the idea of sheltering, of tender love, of gentleness. Paul used this SAME WORD in 1 Thessalonians 2:7, where he describes his ministry to them as being “gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children.”

Could there be a more tender picture than that of a mother nursing her newborn baby? The gentleness… the love… the putting everything else on hold to take care of this need.

The two things… nurturing and cherishing, leading and loving MUST go hand in hand.

Nurturing without cherishing makes you an overbearing tyrant.

Cherishing without nurturing makes you a whipped puppy.

That’s how YOU show love to your wife. It is your job to create an atmosphere where she can flourish ⇒ lead her.

3. Third, a man must LEAVE ALL for his wife. If a man would show love to his wife, she cannot be second to anyone or anything in his life, but God. Paul said in v. 31, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Would it surprise you to know that a lot of women feel second to their husband’s family? As a counselor you get to hear a lot about what goes on behind closed doors. You see a different side of people. You find out right quick that people are hurting and they face challenges you never knew existed. And one of the challenges women often face is feeling second to their husband’s other interests.

It might be some hobby he has.

It might be a group of friends he does things with.




Bowling league.

Car club.

4 wheeling.


Maybe it is his work

or his parents –

or EVEN his children from another relationship.

Whatever it is… Wives don’t do very well living on their husband’s leftovers.

A lot of mommas meddle in their children’s affairs. A lot of parents use guilt to drive wedges between their children and their spouses. If you are a controlling parent, let me say this in a way you will understand –


You should never make your child feel as though they have to choose between you and their spouse. And if you DO – I would tell your child to always choose his spouse UNLESS his spouse is leading him into sin.

And for you men battling to keep your priorities straight – the most important relationship you have is your relationship with God. The second most important is your wife. She will never feel like you love her until she knows that nothing and no one will EVER be more important to you than her.

Kids are wonderful – but they can’t be second.

Jobs, hobbies – they're all great, but there can only be ONE second.

4. But not only should a man LOVE, LEAD, and LEAVE ALL for his wife, he must also LEARN his wife. Know her… what makes her tick, what she needs, HOW she feels. Be Thoughtful of her. Paul says, “let each one of you love his wife as himself.” Love your wife the way you love yourself. That requires thoughtfulness.

Learn what she needs and commit yourself to meeting those needs. But if you are caught like a deer in the headlights right now, understand…

She needs your attention and time.

She needs you to make her feel appreciated and loved.

She needs you to tell her she is beautiful and that if you could do it all over again, you would.

She needs to know that her feelings matter…. That you care about the things SHE cares about.

She needs you to invest yourself in the lives of your children.

She needs your help and understanding around the house.

She needs time when the TV is off and you are tuned in to her thoughts and experiences from the day.

She needs to know that you WANT to spend time with her – that you enjoy her.

She wants to KNOW that you care about her day and the frustrations she’s faced.

She wants to know that if she shares her fears or concerns that you aren’t going to make her feel stupid.

She needs you to help out and not leave everything to her.

She needs KINDNESS - your words… be kind.

“Preacher, you sure are making it hard for me to like you right now…” I understand, bro. I really do. But your wife deserves MORE than just a paycheck and a filthy roommate. She needs your attention and affection.

Be careful though - if you do what God says – she might just fall in love with you (or have a heart-attack!)

It was Valentine’s Day and a certain man decided he would show his wife how much he loved her. He showered, shaved, and put on her favorite cologne. He went to the florist and bought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He went to the front door and knocked. His wife answered the door and exclaimed,

"Oh no! This has been a terrible day! THE WORST! First I had to take Billy to the emergency room and get stitches in his leg, then your mother called and said she's coming for 2 weeks, then the washing-machine broke, and to top it off ⇒ you’ve come home drunk!”

Are you the man God wants you to be? Listen to me fellas – you will NEVER BE the CHRISTIAN God has called you to be, you will never know blessing or build a family legacy WITHOUT being the man God wants you to be... for her.

How many men are saying to themselves, “I need to do a better job making my wife feel loved and appreciated?” “I have settled for average – and I know God expects more than that.” How many men here today will pray, “Lord, make me a better man, a better husband and father… help me be patient and self-sacrificing – help me put the needs of my family above my own?”

Will you pray that? Will you ask God to help you in your role as spiritual leader?

Being a better husband is definitely within your grasp. And it starts right here – right now.