Last night at our Parent/Child Dedication Service I had the opportunity to share three words of wisdom to young parents as they start out this incredible journey of parenthood. I thought I’d share those same three thoughts with you:
1. The best gift you can give your children is a healthy marriage. More than a good education, more than strong athletic opportunities, more than exposure to the arts, the best gift you can give your children is a healthy and vibrant marriage. Study after study has shown that kids raised in healthy homes have a much better chance to be successful at almost everything in life. Put God first, then your spouse, then your kids. Those priorities are the best gift you could ever give your children.
2. The best way to ensure your children have a vibrant relationship with Jesus when they move out of the house is to have one of your own. As a youth pastor for ten years, I was constantly asked how to ensure that kids still followed Jesus when they went off to college. More than having them in church, more than simply teaching them Bible knowledge, the key is to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus yourself. You can’t fake it. An authentic relationship with Jesus is more caught then taught.
3. The most potent weapon you have in your arsenal is time. Time makes everything that matters matter more. Parents have years and years to give small doses of the most important things to their children over time. Love over time gives a child a sense of worth. Words over time gives a child a sense of direction. Stories over time gives a child a sense of perspective. Fun over time gives a child a sense of deep connection. Community over time gives a child a sense of belonging.
If you have young children in the house, you have time, years and years that parents of older children wish they could get back. Make the most of it!
Yesterday I shared how husbands can show love to their wives. Today is the second part from the book Love and Respect, on how wives can show respect to their husbands.
Conquest – Appreciate his desire to work and achieve. Your husband will feel you appreciate his desire to work and achieve when . . .
- You tell him verbally or in writing that you value his work efforts.
- You express your faith in him related to his chosen field.
- You listen to his work stories as closely as you expect him to listen to your accounts of what happens in the family.
- You see yourself as his helpmate and counterpart and talk with him about this whenever possible.
- You allow him to dream as you did when you were courting.
- You don’t dishonor or subtly criticize his work “in the field” to get him to show more love “in the family.”
Hierarchy – Appreciate his desire to protect and provide. Your husband will feel you appreciate his desire to protect and provide when . . .
- You verbalize your admiration of him for protecting you and being willing to die for you.
- You praise his commitment to provide for and protect you and the family (he needs to know you don’t take this for granted).
- You empathize when he reveals his male mind-set about position, status, rank, or being one-up or one-down, particularly at work.
- You never mock the idea of “looking up to him” as your protector to prevent him from “looking down on you.”
- You never, in word or body language, put down his job or how much he makes.
- You are always ready to figuratively “light the candles,” as E.V. Hill’s wife did when they couldn’t afford to pay the light bill.
- You quietly and respectfully voice concerns about finances and try to offer solutions on where you might be able to cut spending.
Authority – Appreciate his desire to serve and to lead. He will feel you appreciate his authority and leadership when . . .
- You tell him you are thankful for his strength and enjoy being able to lean on him at times.
- You support his self-image as a leader.
- You never say, “You’re responsible but we’re still equal, so don’t make a decision I don’t agree with.”
- You praise his good decisions.
- You are gracious if he makes a bad decision.
- You disagree with him only in private and honor his authority in front of the kids.
- You give your reasons for disagreeing quietly and reasonably, but you never attack his right to lead.
- You do not play “head games” with him to make him back down and be a “loving peacemaker.”
Insight – Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel. Your husband will feel you appreciate his insight and counsel when . . .
- You tell him upfront you just need his ear; don’t complain to him later that he always tries to “fix” you.
- You thank him for his advice without acting insulted or like he doesn’t care about your feelings.
- You recognize his problem-solving approach as his male brand of empathy.
- You realize your vulnerabilities, especially among males, and value his protection.
- You counsel him respectfully when you differ with his idea (you can be right but present your views in a wrong way).
- You sometimes let him “fix things” and applaud his solutions.
- You let him know that you believe God has made us male and female for a purpose and that we need each other.
- You admit that you make mistakes and thank him for his perception and godly counsel.
Relationship – Appreciate his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship. Your husband will feel you value his shoulder-to-shoulder friendship when . . .
- You tell him you like him and you show it (he knows you love him, but he often wonders if you really like him).
- You respond to his invitation to engage in recreational activities together or you come along to watch him (you don’t have to go every time, but just now and then will energize him more than you realize).
- You enable him to open up and talk to you as you do things shoulder to shoulder.
- You encourage him to spend time alone, which energizes him to reconnect with you later.
- You don’t denounce his shoulder-to-shoulder activities with his male friends to get him to spend face-to-face time with you. Respect his friendships, and he will be more likely to want you to join him shoulder to shoulder at other times.
Sexuality – Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy. He will feel you appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy when . . .
- You respond to him sexually more often and initiate sex periodically.
- You understand he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release.
- You let him acknowledge his sexual temptations without fearing he’ll be unfaithful and without shaming him.
- You don’t try and make him open up to you verbally by depriving him of sex.
Ephesians 5:33 says, “However, each one of you [husband] also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
In his book Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs shares practical ways that husbands can show love to their wives. Buy his book for more ideas, but here are the highlights:
Closeness. She wants you to be close. Your wife feels close to you when . . .
- You hold her hand.
- You hug her.
- You are affectionate without sexual intentions.
- You are with her alone so you can focus on each other and laugh together.
- You go for a walk or jog . . . or anything that results in togetherness.
- You seek her out . . . set up a date night . . . eat by candlelight.
- You go out of your way to do something for her, like run an errand.
- You make it a priority to spend time with her.
- You are aware of her as a person with a mind and opinions . . . let her know you enjoy discussing things with her and getting her insights.
- You suggest the unexpected . . . get takeout and each on the beach . . . take a walk to see the full moon . . . park on the bluff and watch the sunset.
- You pillow talk after making love . . . lie close with your arm around her and share feelings and intimate ideas . . . and never turn on SportsCenter or Nightline.
Openness – She wants you to open up to her. Your wife feels you are open to her when . . .
- You share your feelings, telling about your day and difficulties.
- You say, “Let’s talk,” ask her what she’s feeling, and ask for her opinions.
- Your face shows you want to talk – relaxed body language, good eye contact.
- You take her for a walk to talk and reminisce about how you met or perhaps you talk about the kids and problems she may be having with them.
- You pray with her.
- You give her your full attention . . . no grunting responses while trying to watch tv, read the newspaper, or write e-mails.
- You discuss financial concerns, possible job changes, or ideas for your future.
Understanding – Don’t try to “fix” her; just listen. She’ll feel you’re trying to understand her when . . .
- You listen and can repeat back what she said.
- You don’t try to “fix her problems” unless she specifically asks for a solution.
- You try to identify her feelings.
- You never dismiss her feelings, no matter how illogical they may seem to you.
- You say, “I appreciate you sharing that with me.”
- You don’t interrupt her when she’s trying to tell you how she feels.
- You apologize and admit when you were wrong.
- You cut her some slack during her monthly cycle.
- You see something that needs to be done and you do it without a lot of hassle.
- You express appreciation for all she does: “Honey, I could never do your job.”
- You pray with her and for her.
Peacemaking – She wants you to say, “I’m sorry.” She’ll feel at peace with you when . . .
- You let her vent her frustrations and hurts and don’t get angry and close her off.
- You admit you are wrong and apologize by saying, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”
- You understand her natural desires to negotiate, compromise, and defer, and you meet her halfway.
- You try to keep your relationship “up-to-date,” resolving the unresolved and never saying, “Forget it.”
- You forgive her for any wrongs she confesses.
- You never nurse bitterness and always reassure her of your love.
- You pray with her after a hurtful time.
Loyalty – She needs to know you’re committed. She is assured of your loyalty when . . .
- You speak highly of her in front of others.
- You are involved in things important to her.
- You help her make decisions, such as ones regarding the children.
- You don’t correct her in front of the children.
- You don’t look lustfully at other women.
- You make her and your marriage a priority.
- You are never critical of her or your children in front of others.
- You include her in social gatherings when others may leave their spouses home.
- You tell the kids, “Don’t speak to your mother that way!”
- You call and let her know your plans.
- You keep commitments.
- You speak positively of her and the children at all times.
Esteem – She wants you to honor and cherish her. Your wife will feel esteemed when . . .
- You say, “I’m so proud the way you handled that.”
- You speak highly of her in front of others.
- You open the door for her.
- You try something new with her.
- You give her encouragement or praise with kindness and enthusiasm.
- You notice something different about her hair or clothes.
- You are physically affectionate with her in public.
- You teach the children to show her and others respect.
- You value her opinion in the gray areas as not wrong but just different – and valid.
- You choose family outings over “guy things.”
- You make her feel first in importance.
- You are proud of her and all she does.
Tomorrow I’ll share practical ways that wives can show respect to their husbands.
After six years of an increasingly unpopular president, the nation decided to vote the opposition party into power in both houses of Congress as a statement of dissatisfaction with the brokenness of Washington. That happened in 2006 when Democrats took control of Congress in George W. Bush’s final two years in office. To prove the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is ‘nothing new under the sun,’ the same thing happened yesterday as America gave control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans as a statement of its dissatisfaction with the direction of the country under the leadership of Barack Obama.
And yet this victory for the Republicans doesn’t come without danger. For the past six years, Republicans have been the minority party united by one thing: opposition to Barack Obama. Their whole platform has been the simple strategy of being anti-Obama. People put the GOP in power not because they necessarily believe in the Republican brand as much as they’re disenchanted with the Democrats. So as the talking heads are wisely spouting today, the big question now is: can Republicans lead? Can they be pro-solution as much as they’ve been anti-problem? We don’t need a party to simply point out the problems. We need leaders that can offer and implement solutions.
And here’s where the church comes in. In many ways, the evangelical church has mirrored the strategy of the Republican party for the past six years. The church is seen as anti-world and anti-culture. We paint ourselves as victims of a never-ending onslaught of depravity, heavy-handed government and the ‘nefarious’ gay rights movement. The church is known primarily for what it’s against.
And yet in spite of all that, guests and visitors are still flocking to churches today, not so much because they believe in God as much as they’re disenchanted with the world and desperately searching for answers. So, like the Republican party, the same question is before churches today: will we be anti-problem or pro-solution? Will we continue to rail against the sin of the world as our only platform, or will we be about solutions, about hope, about the gospel? People are coming to our churches looking for us to lead. They already know the problems out there. They’re looking for answers. The ball is in our court. What will we do?
If you missed this past Sunday, here is my latest message from the Married People series on Respect and Love:
If you’re a Bible reader, the Old Testament presents a bit of a quandary. There are some amazing stories in the Old Testament, but also pages and pages filled with prophecies, genealogies and laws that don’t apply to New Testament Christians any more. By sheer volume (nearly 75% of the Bible), the Old Testament demands relevance. But as New Testament Christians on this side of the cross, a fair question is: what purpose does the Old Testament serve today?
Paul himself answered that question in his first century letter to Roman Christians when he wrote, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). I absolutely love Paul’s words here because in one short statement he gives us an incredible lens through which to view the Old Testament. First, Paul tells us that the Old Testament was written to teach us. It still has meaning today.
Secondly, Paul gives us the two main lessons we should derive from the Old Testament: endurance and encouragement. Reading the Old Testament, you see story after story of God interacting with, caring for, redeeming and providing for his people. Even in judgment, God was faithful to the promises and warnings he had given his people over generations. Reading the Old Testament, you’ll see this recurring theme: God is faithful. God can be trusted. God cares for his people. This relentless, pursuing, enduring love should give encouragement today because the nature of God doesn’t change.
Finally, the result of the Old Testament in our lives today should be hope. Hope is an amazing place to land because it is so desperately needed today. We need hope in a reality bigger and better than our own. We need hope in a loving God in control of the chaos around us. We need hope for a better life after this existence. When we read the Old Testament with story after story of God’s divine nature, supernatural control over the earth and absolute love for his people, we should overflow with hope. The God of the Old Testament is alive and well today. He still reigns supreme, he still loves his people, and he offers us salvation through the fulfillment of the Old Testament: Jesus.
Here is the second sermon in our Married People series:
Happy Halloween (or Reformation Day)! Here are five links to keep you learning through the weekend:
What I Wish I Hadn’t Learned in Sunday School – very insightful on the dangers of growing up in church.
7 Characeristics Pastors Can Learn from Peyton Manning – applies to all of us, not just pastors. Omaha!
Don’t Miss This One Great Thing for Your Marriage – solid word, easy to implement.
Unchurched Americans Most Resistant to Evangelism Outreach in 20 years – not good!
Christian College to Offer Free Education to Victims of Sex Trafficking – very cool story of a college in CA giving back to those in need.
Affairs are devastating, we all know that. But for most of us, it doesn’t apply. Or are we having an affair without knowing it? Sometimes you can have an affair not with a someone, but with a something.
Husbands, it may not be a woman you’re having an affair with. Maybe it’s your career. Maybe you find all the fulfillment, all the happiness, all the purpose that you’re supposed to find in your wife through your career. Maybe you’re cheating on your wife, but it’s with your job. When you give your best to your job and give the leftovers to your wife, that’s a form of adultery.
Here’s what wives tend to struggle with: it may be your kids. You married your husband to love him, to do life with him, to cherish him, but when the kids came along, you decided, “They take priority.” So you started making the kids first, not your husband. But you’re called to be a wife first, then a mom. If you give your best to your kids and give the leftovers to your husband, that’s a form of adultery.
Now listen, I’m not saying neglect your kids. Here’s what I’m saying: the best gift you can ever give your kids is a healthy marriage. Study after study has shown that a healthy marriage helps kids have a better shot at life. Don’t let the kids become more important than the marriage. So, affairs don’t have to be with someone. It can be with something. It can be a career, a hobby, an addiction, your friends, your kids. We’re all tempted with some form of adultery. Don’t let adultery ruin your marriage!
In our Married People series, I recently talked about what married people do. Thankfully I embrace awkwardness, so it didn’t phase me! Here’s the video: