What if My Husband Refuses to Be a Spiritual Leader?

What if my husband refused to be a spiritual leader? Sadly, it's a question I hear all to often. Many Christian wive's cry out in frustration and disappointment, longing for their husbands to do what God has called them. It amazes me how many professing Christian men struggle to bring the gospel to bear on their family life. For many men, spiritual things ooze of femininity, weakness, emotion—things men are typically opposed too. Somehow the church has failed to cast a vision for a strong, robust masculinity that sacrifices, denies the self, and serves others. As a result many men, though professed Christians, abandon their spiritual responsibility and pass off spiritual issues to their wives. 6359473191_84de9fbaf0_z

Yet, many wives long to see their husbands take more initiative in leading the family, particularly towards Christ. A man may go to church with his family, but he distances himself and checks out.  You can see it in his eyes; he'd rather be out on the golf course. Where is the godly man whose soul pulses with the strength of Christ and whose heart burns in gospel zeal? Churches, pastors, and ministry leaders must sound the alarm to the spiritual lethargy in so many christian homes, caused in large part by lazy and apathetic men.

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But what about the wife who longs for her husband to take leadership in this way? How can she encourage her husband to take spiritual leadership in a way that respects and affirms his leadership? That is the question I want to help answer today, but first a few disclaimers:

  • I'm assuming you and your husband both confess Christ. If your husband is not a Christian, that's a different situation requiring different counsel. For starters read 1 Corinthians 7 or 1 Peter 3:1-6.
  • I'm assuming you agree with male headship, and that the man should be the spiritual leader in the home. I won't take the time to defend that position in this brief blog post, but I believe the biblical position on gender is the position of complementarianism.

So, with the disclaimers out of the way, how can a Christian wife encourage your husband to take the spiritual leadership? Let me suggest five ways.

1. Pray for your Husband

Love your husband through prayer. Bring him before the Father daily, asking God to strengthen his faith and his walk. Pray that God would protect him from sin, and that his heart would be filled with love for God and his family. Pray for his spiritual maturity and his growth in Christ.

If your husband lacks the motivation or desire to lead you spiritually, God must give that desire to him. Therefore, fall on your face and petition the Lord to bring a work of awakening in your husband's life so that he can grow into the leader you need him to be and that he's called to be.

2. Talk to Your Husband about his Spiritual Leadership

Many people mistakingly think that submission means silence. That certainly is not the case. As a wife, striving to live out God's word in your roll, you can and should share your heart, emotions, and concerns with your husband. As a result, talk to your husband about his leadership, and ask him to take more of a lead.

However, a few words of counsel. Men can be incredibly prideful (I know because I am one!). If you approach your husband in anger, hostility, and bitterness your husband will only became defensive. Speak tough words to your husband with gentleness and kindness. Your aim is not to hurt your husband with passive aggressive guilt, rather your aim is to spur your husband to fulfill God's call.

Find a time when the kids are asleep, the night is calm, and emotions are cool, so you can approach your husband in a gentle and non-threatening way. It won't make your words any easier to hear, but if your husband humbles himself, he will listen to what you have to say. I can't help but hold my own wife Kaitlyn as an example. There are times when I have failed greatly in my own spiritual leadership in my family. Yet, Kaitlyn approaches me with respect, gentleness, and firmness. The words still sting, but my defenses are down and I'm more apt to hear her.

3. Get Involved in the Community of the Church

I hope you and your family already participate in a solid local church, but the community of the saints is essential for your families health, and your husbands spiritual leadership. Do not be spectators, but join in the community. Get to know other couples. Get involved in Bible studies. Learn and grow together as a family. Within the community of the church, your husband can learn from other men what it means to be a godly husband and father.

Now, what if your husband refuses to go to church? Well, that sort of mule-like stubbornness is all to common. Yet, I'm assuming your husband is a Christian, so a Christian who refuses to participate in a local church doesn't make a lot of sense of me. How can you be a member of Christ's body but never gather with his body? Talk with your husband about this, and your desire for him to attend. If he is a member of your church, get your pastors or elders involved in reaching out to him. Yet, if your husband demonstrates a consistent, antagonistic attitude towards the local church, I'd consider his profession of faith suspect. Perhaps your husband is not a Christian. Not that your church attendee saves you, but a refusal to go indicates an unregenerate heart.

4. Ask to be Mentored by a Wiser Couple

So if you and your family get involved in the local church, you will meet other couples who has marriages you respect. Now, no one has a perfect marriage, but many people have the experience and wisdom you lack. The joy of the Christian church means we can learn from one another and grow together. That's called discipleship.

As you meet other, older, wiser believers in your church, ask to be mentored by them. Get together for dinner and come with a list of questions. There your husband can build a relationship with another godly man who can help him learn what it means to love Jesus and love his family. In addition, you not only hear wise counsel, but you both can watch the marriage of the other couple.

Encourage your husband to surround himself with other godly men and let them to the training. Men tend to respond better to rebuke and correction from other men. Help your husband build those relationships with other men who love Jesus, so they can speak truth and confront when necessary. The church exists to equip the saints, training husbands to be spiritual leaders. Press into the body of Christ, so that you both can be equipped together.

5. Find Hope in Your True Husband

Sometimes this idea of "my husband as a spiritual leader" becomes a mythological fair-tale with unreasonable and unrealistic expectations. No matter how strong in his faith, your husband can never be Jesus to you. There is only one husband who never disappoints, and he died on the cross for your sin. We sinful, but redeemed husbands do our best to imitate the husband Jesus who lays down his life for the church, yet only Jesus is the real deal. Yes, love your husband and pray that God would help him become the spiritual leader, but at the same time even in your husband's failures, may your identity be so wrapped up in the love of God that your joy remains fixed on Christ.

The Gospel Changes Our Relationships

http://www.foresthillsbaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-Gospel-Changes-Our-Relationships.mp3  

Each Monday I’ll be putting up my sermon notes and audio file for the sermon series from Forest Hills Baptist Church “Christ Over All: A Study from Colossians”. This is an edited copy of my sermon notes, not a transcript of the sermon. You can listen to the sermon audio above or directly for at the church’s website

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 3:18–4:1, ESV)

A man in his family ride in to church on Sunday morning. They go off to their respective classes. The man in a SS teacher so he teaches his class then goes to the worship service where he serves as an usher. The man an his family is well respected in the church and they are on many committees and wield great influence. After church the man gets in the car and on the way back begins yelling at his children for not cleaning their rooms before church, mocking them, belittling them, and domineering over them. He gets home and isolates himself in a room ignoring his wife and his children as he gorges the afternoon with television.

That night he approaches his wife hostile and angry over the amount of money she’s spent on groceries that month and the two get into a huge fight over their finances. She gets angry at him for spending to much on hobbies while he gets angry at her for not making as much as she does. The two spend the rest of the evening not talking to one another. At work the next day after yelling at the kids some more because they weren’t ready on time he goes into work. His boss is on vacation this week so he spends the morning goofing off with his employees and just letting calls go to VM. During lunch he gathers around his co-workers as they tell stories about their boss to poke fun and demean him. They spend the remainder of the afternoon gossiping about some other employees then clock out. He goes back home. Gets angry at his wife again as she doesn’t have dinner on the table yet. He refuses to help with the dishes or get the kids into bed for the night. He goes to his room, shuts the door, and checks out. The next day, rinse and repeat.

Unfortunately this fictional story I just told is a far to common reality in our churches. We have men, women, and children, who are quite adapt at playing the Christian part while in the building, but when their faith comes to their private and personal relationships there is often a breakdown. We might be able to fool our pastor our SS class and our friends at church about our faith, but those who know us best - our spouse, our children, and our co-workers - can spot a hypocrite easily.

Paul today addresses that the Gospel impacts our most personal relationships. If the Gospel isn’t changing the way you think as a husband or wife, or a father or mother, or an employee or boss, then you either have some serious immaturity and blindspots in your life or you may not know Christ at all. The Gospel changes our most personal and daily relationships from family to work.

1. The Gospel in Marriage Relationships (3:18–19)

2. The Gospel in Parenting Relationships (3:20–21)

3. The Gospel in Work Relationships (3:22–4:1)

Redefining Love

There is nothing more beautiful than the love of God.  The love of God is essential to the Christian faith, yet how often we misunderstand this robust, multifaceted love.  DA Carson was right when he calls the doctrine of the love of God “difficult”.  The reason God’s love is so difficult is because it is actually offensive to most westerners who operate with a reductionistic understanding of love.  Love is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot.  We will within the same breath say we love our children and that we also love pizza.  Love is a word that gets tossed around so much that is has largely lost meaning.  The word “love” itself seems to be ambiguously and subjectively defined by the individual.  For someone love might mean a sacrifice, for another it may mean freedom, for others it may mean restrictions and boundaries, for others it may be an emotion or feeling.  Whatever our personal understanding of love, we tend to reduce love to fit our own personal wants and wishes. To make understanding the doctrine of the love of God even more difficult, we fail to recognize how much our cultural presuppositions influence the way we think about love.  Just as one drop of food coloring can transform the whole color of a bowl full of icing, so does our culture comprehensively influence all our thinking.  To be ignorant of the cultural influences that pressure us and surround us will always result in a convoluted mess.  Although we cannot remove all our cultural influences from our thinking, we must seek to remove the cloudy lens of our present day to see the Scriptures clearly.

One of the great challenges is defining terms.  Since love is such a junk drawer term, is it even possible to come up with a definition? Can there be an objective definition of what love is or is it a fluid word that simply adapts to our wishes? Well to give up the possibility of objective definitions is to simply dive into the chaotic emptiness of the postmodern predicament – meaninglessness.  Yet, though we may be confused about love, we know that love is a meaningful word.  It is an important word.  We should not give it up simply because it is complicated to disentangle bad definitions or to correct grievous misunderstandings.

Who defines love? Or perhaps the better question is this, who is the authority that establishes a definition of love? A scripture that is well known and often quoted is 1 John 2:8 “God is love”.  Although we need to understand what John means by “love”, we all know this, love is an essential characteristic and quality of who God is.  It is essential to his being.  So to provide a definition of love we must not look to our culture, but rather to the very character of God.  Yet, what we will find is that the love of God is actually offensive to our modern times.  The love of God, both at the same time, condemns us and redeems us.  It is a love that both forgives us and sanctifies us.

What is Love?

So what is love? What does the Scripture say about how God loves us and thus how we should love one another? Well to do that we must examine the Scriptures and what we will find is that God’s love is God centered.  It is a holy love, an offensive love.  Let’s examines some key Scriptures.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 3:23–24, ESV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV)

So it seems from these Scriptures that Salvation is solely an act of God’s grace, which it is.  However, it is easy to read these Scriptures and thinks that God merely just wipes the slate clean.  He merely just looks over our sin and just attaches salvation to us.  From our perspective this is what seems to happen, but from the perspective of God something much bigger (and better) is happening.  In order for God to love us, he must make us holy.

God cannot love sinners as they are an offense to his holiness.  So how does God solve this problem? Well enter Jesus.  The son enters into the world and buys our salvation, absorbing the penalty for sin on the cross.  This way sin is not only paid for, but we receive the righteousness of Christ.  Therefore God imputes the righteous beauty of Christ to his bride the church.  When God gifts us with salvation he is not only wiping our slate clean, but he makes us holy.

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.” (John 17:1–2, ESV)

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:” (Romans 3:21–22, ESV)

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,” (Hebrews 2:10–11, ESV)

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:8–10, ESV)

So what do we see from these verses? We see that salvation is given to unworthy recipients because of the worthiness of Christ.  God’s great love for his people is founded in His love for his son, Jesus Christ.  God loves those who are in Christ, because he loves the holy righteousness of himself.  As Jonathan Edwards says “All God’s love may be resolved into his love to himself and delight in himself….His love to the creature is only his inclination to glorify himself and communicate himself, and his delight in himself glorified and in himself communicated”.

A Holy, God-Centered Love

In other words, God’s love has a God-centered aim. God’s love has a purpose, an end to which it is trying to achieve.  He saves us and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ so that we might be like Christ.  God so loves the image of His son that he multiplies this in love to those who are saved.  So why does God save us and redeem us? He does so for His own glory.  So that the bride of Christ, the church, might praise him and make much of Him.  As the psalmist writes, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins for your name’s sake!” (Psalm 79:9). See God’s passion for his glory in Romans 15:8-9, “Christ became a servant ... in order that the nations might glorify God for his mercy”.

So the love that God has for us is a holy love, a love that is aimed at glorifying God.  It is divinely oriented and motivated.  The cross is the great display of God’s love towards us, but its chief aim is to make much of God.  The glory of God is the chief aim of all creation.

So if the love of God is a God-centered love, it is a holy love.  This means that God cannot love in a salvific way that which is unholy and tainted by sin. For the sinner is the enemy of God, continually attacking and marring the beauty of God’s glory.  But God, zealous to defend, redeem, and manifest His holiness sends Christ to save sinners to the praise of His glorious grace!

The cross then is the great intersection of God’s justice and love.  It is the vindication of his holiness and his gracious compassion on sinners.  For at the cross, God’s wrath is satisfied by the blood of his son, and the holiness of the son, which God so delights in, is given to sinners.  So God loves sinners because they are given the righteousness of the son.  Sinners are justified because they possess the righteousness of Christ.  Because the Father loves his holy, obedient son through Christ’s death he loves us who have received the beautiful holiness of Jesus as our own.

You can see how the love of God is surprisingly offensive. The object of God’s love must be holy.  So God’s love not only offers us the gift of salvation, but it states that something is seriously wrong with us.  In our sin we are by nature children of wrath, and it is only through Christ that we can be saved.  It is only those who are in Christ who become the object of God’s holy redemptive love.  If we are united in Christ by faith we receive the same love that God shares in his perfect son, therefore in order to be loved by God we must receive the righteousness of Christ by faith.  We must confess our sin and unworthiness and by faith receive the worthiness of Christ.

A Definition for Love

So what is a good definition of biblical love modeled from the biblical doctrine of the love of God.  I propose this:

True love delights in affection towards its object, giving of oneself for the other’s good in holiness.

To love is to delight in affection.  There is a rejoicing an delighting in the object.  There is strong emotions and a strong desire for the object of ones love. Yet true love not only delights in affection towards its object, but gives for the other’s good.  In this sense, love is altruistic denying the self for the other.  We see this so clearly in the Scriptures, most clearly in the life of Jesus himself who gave of himself on the cross for our salvation.  Jesus loved us and demonstrated that love by his death.  True love is not so much concerned with being loved but with loving, even at great expense to oneself. If you love someone only because you receive benefits from them, then that isn’t really love, is it? If you love your wife only because she cooks you a hot meal and does your laundry, that’s not love, its selfishness.  You are merely loving your wife because you are getting something out of the deal.  True love denies the self and gives to the good of the other.  True love is not a contract but an act of self denial.  All this is for the good of the recipient.

Now, up to this point in our definition few people would have any sort of problem with it.  However the question is this – what is the other persons ultimate good? Here is where the Christian definition of love takes a different turn from the worlds.  True love has at its aim the holiness of the other person.  To reflect God His glory in holiness is the greatest good we can do for one another.  True love does not seek its own good, but another’s. So to love one another means we seek to encourage each other towards holiness.

An Example from Marriage

We can see this in Paul’s teaching on marriage.  In Ephesians 5:25 he charges husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.  So he charges the husband to this affectionate altruistic love for the good of the wife.  So husbands are to love in a posture of self-denial seeking the ultimate good of his wife.  Now what is that good that true love seeks? Paul tells us in verse 26-27, “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”.

Did you catch it? True love seeks the good of the other which is holiness.  Seeking to sanctify the other is the greatest demonstration of love.  Just as Christ laid down his life on the cross, he did this so that he could present the church perfectly holy and without blemish.  The good true love seeks to accomplish in its object is beautification in holiness.  This not only applies to the relationship of marriage, but within the relationship of the church.

We are to be continually building each other up in maturity to holiness.  We love each other as God has loved us, by making one another holy.  You can see this as we begin to think about our relationship towards one another.  To love you as a member of this church does not mean that I allow you to be in sin and not say a word.  To be silent is not to be loving but to be selfish.  What keeps us from addressing one another in our sin with love? Do we find that we would rather just not handle the conflict and get our hands dirty?  Are we friend of damaging our reputation of or are we fearful that this person may hate us after speaking truth? Does our fear of man hinder our ability to truly love one another?

Redefining Love

When we derive our definition of love from the love that God has for us as revealed in the Scriptures, it is far more beautiful than our modern redefinitions of the word.  Love is more than tolerance and it is more than acceptance. Love is a zealously affectionate desire to sanctify, which is the greatest good we can do to another.  Understanding this way changes the way we think about social engagement, marriage and family, and even church membership.  May our understanding of love flow from the great fount of love, the heart of our redeeming God.

Have You Turned Your Spouse Into an Idol?

Marriage seems to be falling apart. We live in a society that is just plain confused about marriage. The high divorce rates are an indicator of the many unhealthy marriages and unhealthy homes in our society. Even many Christians have marriages that are seem to be toxic. Within marriages there can be adultery, anger, bitterness, porn addictions, verbal abuse, sexual denial, physical abuse, financial secrets, distrust, and the list can go on and on. Your own marriage might be filled with some of these same problems and issues. If so, you need to get some marriage counseling from a good biblical counselor or pastor. Yet, behind much of the great disharmony in marriages is the root of idolatry. More often then not, a man or woman has turned their spouse into their supreme idol of worship. The heart behind sin is idolatry. Idolatry is when we worship and serve created things rather than the creator God.(Rom 1:25) Although we might not literally bend our knee to these created things, we look for satisfaction, rest, and lasting joy from our idols rather than God. One of the most common idols people worship is romance. We have a passionate, desperate, and idolatrous longing for another human being to satisfy our roaming hearts. Not only does the idol manifest itself in the dating and hook up culture, but even within the sacred walls of marriage.

Marriage as Idolatry

Is your spouse your idol? Some questions to diagnose your heart:

  • Does your world revolve around your spouse?
  • When they disappoint you are you devastated?
  • If they fail you do you go into a full depression?
  • Do you place unrealistic expectations on your spouse?
  • Do you demand a certain lifestyle and luxuries that your spouse must provide?
  • Have you turned your spouse into an object of sexual pleasure? Do you become passive aggressive or bitter when you don't get your way?

Idols have grand promises, but never deliver. Spouse Idols make the same promises. They promise your marriage life will be as romantic as a Nicholas Spark's book or that your wife will be like June Cleaver with dinner on the table when you walk through the door. Idols make grand promises that cannot be delivered. They promise lasting joy with no sorrows and no hardships. Many newlyweds enter into marriage with these idolatrous expectations about their new marital bliss. Often times they live on that fleeting promise that spousal idolatry gives, until they get so frustrated and disappointed they just give up on their marriage and become another divorce statistic.

True Joy in Jesus

True joy and satisfaction cannot be found in your marriage but in Jesus. He delivers on the promises He makes. We must orient our worship towards the right object. We are not to worship creation, but the creator. We are not to worship our spouse but to worship Jesus Christ. In Jesus we receive lasting joy and lasting peace. Jesus as the son of God comes to the world as our savior, delivering us from the penalty of our sin through his death on the cross. As Jesus rose from the grave after three days, he guarantees his offer of life and life abundantly. He offers us life free from the shackles of the slave driver of idolatry. He frees us to find true joy and lasting peace in Him!

You see marriage is an absolutely wonderful thing. Marriage can be a source of incredible joy. God designed it for the good of humanity. Marriage is a great gift of God that pictures the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, sin can distort, twist, and destroy what God has created good. Marriage was not designed to complete us, but was designed for two souls to find their completion together in God.

Marriage as True Worship

Marriage was designed to be something much bigger than just a man and a woman being googly-eyed over one another. Marriage was designed as the foundational vehicle for bringing God glory. A man and woman must not turn inwardly to each other to find their purpose and joy. To turn our attention in our marriage inwardly is a quick path to idolatry. However, when we turn our attention outwardly towards God and his mission, marriage becomes a beautiful partnership of worship. Your marriage isn't about you and it isn't about your spouse, but it is about God and his glory. Your marriage has a purpose, and its not about your needs or getting your way. It is about bringing glory to God together as a couple. As you seek God's glory together as man and wife in worship, you will receive life and life abundantly through Christ.

A marriage focused on God is a marriage that will endure. Rather than seeking to use your spouse to serve your wants, you will serve your spouse so they can flourish in their worship of God. I'm convinced this great change of perspective is essential to developing healthy marriages within the church. When as a couple you are living for God's glory and advancing God's kingdom, it is amazing how much sweeter the intimacy can be with your spouse. As you both grow closer to your God you will find you've grown closer to each other. Together hand in hand you will spend your life fighting through hardships, discipling your children, serving your world, and proclaiming the Gospel all for the glory of God. This is worship and this makes marriage a glorious gift from God.

One of God's greatest gifts to me is my wife Kaitlyn. Not only has she given me so much joy, I'm thankful for my partner in ministry. I'm thankful that we can live our marriage to God's glory, and I praise God that he can take two rough sinners like us and by God's grace sharpen one another for the cause of Christ. Looking forward to as many years as God gives us to serve the Lord together as one.

A Case for Early Marriage: Why It's a Good Idea to Get Married Young

People don't get married anymore. If they do, then it is much later in life. In fact the age of marriage is continually going up in our culture to where it is pushing thirty. Not only has this been the trend in the culture, but I have seen this trend begin to take place in the church as well. It is my personal belief and conviction that this can be harmful to human flourishing and a great hinderance for godly families within the church. Early marriage has become taboo in our culture. Getting married at a young age of 20 or 21 will get you some strange comments from others, including other Christians (Trust me, I've experienced them). However, I think we need a revival of early marriage among Christians. I think there are several reasons younger Christians need to begin adopting this counter cultural practice by marrying early.

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1. Marriage is a Great Gift

The way many people talk about marriage, it seems like they were talking about a death sentence. As I was engaged to my beautiful wife Kaitlyn at twenty years old, here was some of the comments I received.

  • Enjoy life now because everything will be different (said in a depressive tone)
  • Already? But you're so young, you have so much life to live!
  • Get ready for that bail and chain

It is astonishing that Christians treat marriage as if it's the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you. Getting married is right underneath getting terminally diagnosed with cancer for some people. Young people are told to go "sow their wild oats" and live hedonistically before they settle down and get married. We must recapture the biblical definition of marriage as an incredible gift. Marriage is not a curse, but a wonderful privilege given by God. Marriage is not something to avoid, but something to be sought after by young people. Unfortunately the negative comments about marriage deter young people away from this precious gift. However these negative comments reveal nothing but the troubles of their own marriages.

2. Marriage Encourages People to Grow Up

It is not a strange sighting today to see 25 or 26-year-old men living at home with mom and dad, drinking red bull, and playing X-Box all day. The recently created teenager/adolescent culture seems to be a growing age group. Adolescence is no longer just during the teen years but continues into the 20s and early 30s. My own generation is a generation characterized by a lack of initiative failing to take responsibility for their own lives.

Marriage is God's gracious gift of forcing a man and a woman to grow up, particularly men. When a man gets married he becomes responsible for providing for his family, making sure the bills are paid, and protecting his wife. He must not only take responsibility for himself but for his wife and future children. Marriage pushes young men out of the nest to spread their wings and fly under the windy pressures of life. This is a good thing, but unfortunately rather than pushing these guys towards manhood we allow them to continue in a lengthy boyhood. This is a shame and Christian men need to grow up into their divine calling of marriage and family.

3. Marriage Protects From Sexual Immorality

We live in an overly sexualized culture. From nude scenes in Hollywood movies, risqué television shows, and erotic novels, young people are being bombarded with one message: Sex. There is an incredible amount of pressure on Christian young people to bend their knee to our cultures unbiblical view of loveless, carnal sex without consequences.

However, if Christians place the expectation on young believers to wait till their late twenties and early thirties for marriage, we are placing on them a weight that will cripple them. Young Christians seeking to be obedient to abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage will collapse under the weight of their optimal sex drive and the influence of an obseessivly sexualized culture.

It is unreasonable, foolish, and harmful to place this weight on young people. Sex is a good gift given to us by God, meant for our enjoyment in the way God has designed. Rather than encouraging young people to delay marriage and a sexual relationship with their spouse, we should encourage them to marry. This way they can enjoy God's gift of sex in a way that protects them from sexual immorality and glorifies and honors God.

Don't Make Early Marriage Taboo

Christian parents, grandparents, and teachers should encourage younger Christians to consider marrying early. Marriage is an incredible gift given by God to our sanctification and our enjoyment. Yes, early marriage is not necessarily an easy road. You may be poor, have to work twice as hard to make it through college, and be thought of as weird by a anti-marriage culture. However, if two Christians love each other, and most importantly love the Lord Jesus Christ, early marriage should not be a thing that is tabooed, but encouraged and celebrated.

Addiction to Performance

I am doing my best to get back into my blogging ministry.  Prayers are appreciated as I get used to life with a baby.  It has been a wonderful pass few weeks welcoming my son Jude Pierce Deeter into the world, but I'm still figuring out how to get back into the swing of things.  Starting today, I'll be picking back up my blogging ministry and will continue to post around three times a week.  As always thanks for reading! As the first post coming off of a paternity leave, I'd figure I'd share a video I found yesterday on Justin Taylor's Blog.  It is a powerful testimony of a pastor who got so caught up with the idolatry of performance that he nearly lost everything, including his marriage.  Since then, the Lord has restored him and has transformed his marriage and ministry.  As I watched this video I couldn't help but connect.  The idolatry of performance and people pleasing is a sin that lingers and so often deceives my heart.  Check out this video. Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

httpv://vimeo.com/45947083

6 Ways to Spiritually Lead Your Wife

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As Christians, we have the Biblical conviction that the husband is to be the leader of the home.  We believe that this is God's intention and healthy design for the family.  However, although many Christians strive to have a Biblical understanding of family, many men fail to be the spiritual leaders of their home.  When I first got married, one of the things I struggled with most, is leading my wife spiritually.  To be honest, many churches fail to train the men in their church to be godly husbands and dads.  As I've talked with other brothers, I've seen that many have had the same struggle that I've had.  How do we practically lead our wives spiritually?  It is a crucial question.  Although I am far from perfect in this area (as my wife told me last night!), by God's grace I have grown in this area over the past 2 1/2 years of my marriage.  Here are some real practical tips for how you can lead your wife spiritually. 

1. You Can't Give What You Don't Have

This should go without saying, but I'm startled by how many men fail to understand this principle.  How can you expect to lead your wife to the throne of grace if you are not daily going there yourself? If you hope to lead your wife spiritually, you must violently pursue Jesus Christ.  You cannot expect to encourage and disciple your wife if you are not growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This means that you must prioritize studying the Scriptures every day. Make prayer a habit that takes place throughout the day.  Find some good books to read that encourages you to grow and become the christian, husband, and dad that you need to be.  You can't give what you don't have, and you can't expect to lead your wife spiritually if you are not vigorously pursuing Christ yourself.  

2. Initiate Prayer with your Wife Daily

Husband, you need to make it a daily habit to pray together with your wife.  This is so easy to do, but for some reason so difficult for us to initiate.  Praying before meals doesn't count here.  Husband, you need to grab your wife by the hand, ask her how you can pray for her, then….. You do it!  Pray for her right then and there.  In my own marriage, Kaitlyn and I have found that this happens best at night.  We have been working on making prayer together a nightly ritual as a couple.  We finish our day by talking about what is going on in our lives, then I lead us in prayer.  This is so practical and easy to do, but so many of us struggle to just pray with our wife.  If your wife is craving for you to spiritually lead the home (as she should!) start today by just taking your wife's hands and praying with her.  

3. Read the Scriptures or a Devotion Together

Start reading a book of the Bible together.  Read a chapter a night, and talk about what the Lord is teaching your through it.  Discuss it and open up about what the Lord is teaching you.  Maybe find a good devotional book together.  For a while Kaitlyn and I were reading Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening together.  Again, this is obviously simple, but sometimes we are so stubborn to see it!  It might be awkward the first week or so, but make it a habit to read the word together and the Lord will use it to draw you closer to Himself and closer to each other. 

4. Counsel your Wife with the Gospel

Every husband should learn how to counsel his wife.  Indeed, every christians is to learn how to counsel other christians with the Word of God.  A husband should learn to do this for his wife.  A big part counseling her in the Word is actually listening, which is tough for us men.  In a day with smart phones, TV, and iPads we are so quickly distracted.  In order to counsel your wife, you need to listen to your wife. This means giving her your undivided attention and listening.  It also means learning to apply the Gospel to your wife's struggle.  Questions to ask are, What does God's Word say about this situation?  How does God's grace change the way I think about this problem? How can God use this situation for his glory and our good? Questions like this can shepherd your wife's heart.  Listen, be attentive, and apply the Gospel in your conversations.  

5. Be Involved in Biblical Community Together

Notice that this does not say "let your wife drag you to church and hurry home to catch the football game".  As a pastor I see so many men who get dragged to church by their wives and show no interest in being there.  There is no love for the things of God and there is no love for his bride, the church.  As a husband and the spiritually leader of the home, you should be the one that initiates belonging to the body of Christ.  This means that you make it a priority to go to church on Sunday morning, but Biblical community is much more than showing up for a service on Sunday.  This means that you make the initiative of getting involved in a Sunday School class or Small Group.  Rather than sitting on the sidelines, take the initiative and get your family involved in Biblical community.  

As a pastor, I've noticed a really bizarre and disturbing trend in some churches.  So often I see husbands and wives going to two different Sunday School classes.  I'm going to be honest, this doesn't make any sense to me.  Sure, sometimes we need accountability with the same sex, and that's a good thing.  But a husband and wife should be in community with the body of Christ together, learning and building relationships together.  

6.  Serve the Lord Together 

One of the great ways God has grown Kaitlyn and I together spiritually is through serving the church.  Kaitlyn and I have always done ministry together as man and wife. Whether she is helping me out on a youth event or I am helping out at the pregnancy center, we serve the Lord together.  We are a team. I think many couples would benefit from serving the Lord together.  Volunteer together at a ministry at the church.  Go invite your lost neighbors over for dinner and share the Gospel with them together.  Serve the Lord together as a couple.  Husband, take the initiative here and take your wife by the hand and joyfully serve the Lord together.

Husbands, I hope you are picking up on a common theme throughout this blog.  The key word here is INITIATE.  We need godly men who take the lead in the spiritual life of the home.  Husband, you have been given the biblical responsibility of pastoring your family.  You are to lead your wife like Christ led the church.  You are to lay down your life for her, just like Jesus did for you on the cross.  The Bible makes this clear:  

   “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,” (Ephesians 5:25–29, ESV)  

Husband, you are called by God to lay down your life for your bride.  You must give yourself up for her sanctification.  To be the spiritual leader of the home, means you are to be the disciple maker in the home.  You are to disciple your wife and your children in the word of God.  As you sacrificially give up your wants, God will use your leadership for your wives spiritual maturity.

So how are you doing in leading your wife spiritually?  We are faulty men who will struggle and fail often, but there is grace at the cross of Christ.  Today ask your wife this question, and be prepared for an honest answer; How am I leading you spiritually? Have you grown in spiritual maturity since I became your husband? More than ever we need husbands who will rise to the challenge to be the pastors of their homes and shepherd the soul of their wife and children for the glory of God!

How have you lead your wife spiritually? What tips would you add or have worked well in your marriage?  Why is leading our wives spiritually such a struggle? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Am I Ready to be a Father?

So my wife, Kaitlyn, and I made it public today that we will be having a baby!  The due date is on January 31st.  We are super excited, and in my personal journal I wrote this over the past week.  Thought I might share with you all the thoughts wrestling in my brain.  

Am I ready for the task of fatherhood?  Am I ready to image God as the gracious and loving Father?  In a day and age where Godly fathers are hard to find, will I be faithful?

The thought of being responsible for another person is intimidating.  I hope to be the perfect Dad, but I know my sinful flesh will keep that from happening.  I will fail.  I will sin.  I will fall short from perfect fatherhood.  As a result, my goal is not to be a perfect Father, but a radically Gospel-centered dad.  A dad who constantly confesses his own failure.  A dad who repents daily and finds his restoration at the cross. A dad drenched in the grace of God.

I know my task as a Father is to be a man who stands with his arm stretched pointing to the cross.  No matter how hard I try to be everything my children need, at the end of the day, they do not need me to be a perfect dad, they need perfect Jesus.  My role as father will only be to show them the radical love of God the Father who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. I will do my best to love my children, to protect them, to provide for them, and to disciple them.  But, no matter what my future failures, if I can just point them to Jesus I will hear the words from God, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

So I am praying for that little soul growing rapidly in my wife's womb, my own flesh and blood.  All the while being painfully aware that my job as Dad is to father this child and one day release them to be obedient to their true father, the most glorious and perfect God.  I pray  already that one day the spirit moves powerfully in my child and that by God's precious grace he would open his or her eyes to see the wickedness of their own sin and the beauty of God's gracious, sin-atoning work at the cross.

Precious son or daughter, I'm praying that you will one day walk hand in hand with your heavenly father, and that he shows you his glory and that He uses you powerfully for the sake of the Gospel.

To My Wife on Our 2nd Anniversary

To My Wife,

It is hard to believe that I have had the honor of being your husband for two years already.  These two years have been the best two years of my life.  I am so thankful that God blessed me with such an amazing Godly woman.  I am so glad that we are so like minded in the purpose of our marriage.  We both have the desire to glorify Jesus as a couple, and for that I rejoice.

It is my prayer that as man and wife we continue to image the love of Christ to the world.  As I love and serve you sacrificially, it is my prayer that the love and sacrifice of Jesus would be clearly seen.  Jesus is our supreme love, and the one who holds our marriage together.  He has laid down his life for us and paid the price for our sins.  He washes us and makes us holy and righteous through his blood.  He has given our marriage purpose and direction.  I pray that through out our marriage Christ would be seen by all, and that at the end of the day people think less of us and more of Jesus.

I am so thankful that I have a partner to help me in this pursuit.  I am so grateful that you are there to help me and support me as I seek to spread the good news about Jesus.  As your husband, it is my great joy and pleasure to love you and cherish you for the rest of my life.  So Kaitlyn, here is to our second anniversary, and to many more years to come serving King Jesus together.

Love,

Justin

Dating and Marriage Part 4: Some Practical Wisdom in Dating

Dating can be messy.  As Christians, we have learned that there are two viable states for a Christian, singleness or marriage.  What about those who exist in that awkward tension of singleness while looking for a spouse? To be honest, the Bible doesn't speak directly on how Christians should think about dating, but the Bible does indirectly speak to issues like dating.  The Bible is full of wisdom and it provides us with a worldview of how to examine and make decisions as a Christian.  As Christians, we are to be holy and set apart from the world as Jesus is.  This means that we need to think and date with a different focus than the rest of the world.  So the following is practical counsel from me to you as we think about dating relationships.  When it comes to dating, the tension isn't always between a right and wrong decision, but a wise and a foolish decision.  The following are things I advise to my students as a Youth Pastor that I've learned as I've studied the Bible and learned through experience, most of my experiences being my own failures and sins.

Maximize Your Singleness for God

We have talked extensively in a previous post about how singleness is an incredible gift.  Use your freedom to maximize your relationship with Christ.  Take the extra hours you have to study the Bible, spend nights in prayer, go on mission trips, and serving in the local church.  Don't sit around and cry over your loneliness, but use that extra time God has given you to make much of Jesus.  Besides, the best way to meet a nice Christian person to date is through the local church as you serve and work along side other single Christian people who are looking for a spouse, just like you!

Do Not Date a Non Christian

This one isn't just wise counsel, but commanded by the Scriptures.  Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"  As a Christian you have been born of the Spirit.  By God's grace He has saved you and made you pure because of what Jesus has done for you on the cross.  As a result, your beliefs, convictions, purpose, hopes, and dreams are going to be drastically different than someone who does not know Christ.  If the purpose of dating is to result in marriage, then why would you date someone who is going to hinder, rather than spur on your relationship with Christ? Do not fall for the lie of missionary dating, which is trying to date a non-Christian in hopes to convert them.  Most of the time it doesn't work and leads both parties into sin and heartbreak.  Hang out with lost people. Be friends with lost people, but do not open yourself to a person so that you are unequally yoked.

Do not Seriously Start Dating Someone until You are Ready for Marriage

This might be one many would disagree with me on, but I share it with you as some practical wisdom.  I suggest that you do not begin seriously dating someone until you are in that place in your life when you are ready to marry.  I say this because so many teenagers just end up in sexual sin in middle school and high school.  None of them are even thinking of marriage, they just want a pseudo marriage where they can treat some person like a fake spouse.  They get way too intimate, way too quickly, and way before they are ready for marriage.  They begin to connect on an emotional, physical, and a tragically sexual manner that when the inevitable break up happens it leaves both parties in utter chaos.

However is it realistic to begin dating young when we live in a couture that enters into marriage in their thirties? As Christians, I think we need to not be afraid to marry early.  If the bible teaches abstinence from sex before marriage and we are going to expect this from our young teenage and college followers of Jesus, is it realistic to abstain from sex until the age of 30?  So often we make our young Christians feel like it is a shameful thing to get married at the age of 20, 21, or 22.  In fact many older married people even discourage younger Christians from getting married young (It happened to me and my wife), most often because they themselves have terrible marriages and enviously long for their single life back.  We forget Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.  But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."  Many of our young christians are burning with sexual passion and rather than discouraging a young christian couple from marrying we should encourage it.  Instead of holding to the social faux pas we need to celebrate it.  For it is better for young Christians to enter into marriage than to burn in sexual passion and sin.

Don't find your identity in the person you are dating

As many people date, they create an idol out of the person they are dating.  In fact, many people begin finding their identity in that individual.  An unhealthy dependent relationship begins to develop.  Many people begin to want the intimacy of marriage in their relationship without the commitment.  However, as Christians we must be constantly on guard in case we begin finding our identity, hope, and satisfaction in anyone or anything other than Jesus.   Even in marriage, we must be careful of finding our hope in our spouse instead of Christ.  So many sinfully look for a romantic relationship to satisfy what is lacking in them.  However, in Christ we lack nothing, but have been given everything we need! No boy or girl will ever satisfy you, only Christ!  Guard your heart from idolatry as you date, and pay careful attention to your thoughts and emotions.  Keep the focus on Christ and in all things you do, whether you are single, dating, engaged, or married; do all for the glory of God and for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus!