But I Don’t Understand Her!

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

In 1956 a Broadway play debuted which was later made into a motion picture by the name of “My Fair Lady”. The story was set around Henry Higgins a phonetics instructor in London, and Eliza Doolittle, an uncouth, lower class British woman taking speech lessons from Him. As can be expected, over the course of the drama, the two find themselves in a romantic relationship.

As their relationship buds and they grow to know each other a little better, Dr. Higgins finds himself perplexed and bewildered by the stark differences between him as a man, and she as a woman. This sparks him to sing a cleaver and humorous little ditty appropriately entitled: “Why  a woman, be more like a man!” a few lines are as follows:

“Why does every one do what the others do?

Can’t a woman learn to use her head?

Why do they do everything their mothers do?

Why don’t they grow up, well, like their father instead?”

While we might find this little song somewhat amusing, Henry Higgins is verbalizing a struggle that many are still struggling to wrap their minds around: the truth that men and women think and act in completely different ways!

In my last post, we focused on how Peter prescribes for a woman who is married to a difficult husband to live out her faith in such a challenging situation. However, as we are about to discover, Peter does not only address the wives, he also speaks to husbands as well. 1Peter 3:7 says:

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

The fact that Peter commands men to dwell with their wives in an understanding way indicates that there will be times when you don’t understand her! A husband might say: “She is telling me her problems but she doesn’t want me to give solutions? I’m a guy! I fix things! that’s what we do!” May times when a woman is sharing a problem in her life with her husband, she simply wants him to listen, to know that he cares about her. Meanwhile in the guys mind, he is showing that he care by offering solutions.” This is just one of many examples of how men and women think in completely different ways!

While the difference between how men and women think might be a common reason for a husband to not understand his wife, it is not the only reason. If the wife is the one who is being disobedient to the Word, this too might be a reason for him not understanding her. Regardless of why you don’t understand her, Peter gives several clear principles of how to dwell with her in an understanding way:

1. She is Weaker

Peter reminds us men here that women are indeed weaker. This is not in any way a statement of inferiority. Peter is reminding us of a difference in the way God designed us. Men Typically tend to be stronger both physically and emotionally. A man can greet another man with a rough shove or hard slap on the back, and it doesn’t phase us. However, if the same physical roughness applied to a woman, he runs a much greater risk of hurting her physically. In the same way, a man can tell another man to “buck up” or “get over it” and it will probably do far less emotional damage than if those words were applied to a woman.

2. She is a fellow Heir!

It is true, God in His divine wisdom has placed the man as the head of the home. Unfortunately, because of our fallen nature, if we are not careful we men can start thinking that we are somehow more valuable. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Just because God has created us for different functions, does not mean that either one is better than the other! We are BOTH equally heirs of the grace of God! We have BOTH been redeemed from the curse of sin! We have BOTH been bought with the precious blood of Christ! We are BOTH justified before God based only upon Christ’s righteousness! Therefore, we MUST show our wives honor, which we can do by dwelling with them in an understanding way!

3. We risk loosing communication with God!

Peter tells us that we are to dwell with her in an understanding way, with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that our prayers may not be hindered! WOW if this isn’t a strong statement, I don’t know what is! Peter makes it very clear that our responsibility as men to be gentle with our wives unconditionally is so critical, that God wont even listen to our prayers if we don’t! This is because he has given us the weighty responsibility of being the authority within the home, and t whom much is given, much is required.

4. Christ is our example

Peter begins verse 7 just like he begins verse 1 when he addresses wives, with the phrase: “in the same way”. This indicates that he is comparing verse 7 and verse 1-6 with something he has previously stated. Peter is linking this passage back to 1Peter 2:21-25 where he gives the example of Christ, who while he was blameless, opened not his mouth. when he was reviled, he  did not revile in return. Rather, he trusted his soul to the Father who judges righteously! Likewise, we husbands must do the same! no matter how much we don’t understand our wives! This is so critical for men to grasp, because God tells in Eph 5:25-33 that Marriage is a picture of Christ and his church! Thus we men our to love (and be understanding with) our  wives unconditionally just as Christ does the church. It is vital that we men lead well! (for more on marital leadership, click here)

While we can read this passage of scripture again and again, it can be so difficult to live out. That’s why we need to ask God for grace daily to help us to do just that! Men, what are some things that you have found to be helpful while trying to live out these principles? please feel free to leave a comment sharing with us!

Are You Married to a Difficult Husband?

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

Be honest, at some point before you got married, you probably had this grand idea of what marriage was going to be like. All the excitement! The anticipation! The dream of finding that “special someone” and spending the rest of your life wrapped in his arms. True, you had heard from many people who are older and wiser than you, that marriage isnt easy. It requires a lot of work. And yet, while they told you that marriage would show you just how much of a sinner you really are, although you somewhat believed it, there was still a part of you that said: “yeah I know that…but we will work through all of that almost effortlessly and then live happily ever after!”

Are you married to a difficult husband?

Image courtesy of [imagerymajestic] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After you tied the proverbial knot, after the initial excitement wore off, you found yourself living with a man who was just as much of a sinner as you are! Perhaps when the truth set in that everything those older, wiser married folks said about marriage was indeed true, the painful reality that marriage was going to be a whole lot harder than you could have imagined left you feeling jaded and disillusioned.

While this is the reality for most married couples at one time or another, there are many women out there who would attest that they are not merely married to a fellow sinner saved by grace, but rather to a man who is continually disobedient to God’s Word. Someone who is not very interested in applying the Biblical principles of scripture to either his life, or his marriage.

What then? What does Scripture say that you are to do in such a case? Perhaps you are wondering what I, (a young man who has never been married) could possibly have to say about  such a topic! True, I do not have any first hand experience with being in a marriage, much less being married to someone like who I just described. However, I have seen in scripture some incredible passages which deal with just that! 1Peter 3:1-6 says:

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.”

 

So, What kind of husband is this passage talking about? A believing husband? Or and unbelieving one? Actually, it could be either! Verse 1 identifies him as one that is disobedient to the Word! Unbelieving husbands are by their very nature disobedient to the Word, but it is certainly possible for believing husbands to be as well. While we don’t have tome to deal with every aspect of this passage, lets take a look at just a few principles found here.

Submission

This is  always a tough one. Ever since the fall, we have been desperately trying to abolish God’s divinely created authority structure within the home. Submission to a husband’s headship can be an incredible thing when He is submitted to Christ. But what if he’s not? it’s certainly not easy at that point. But this passage still mandates it. But why? because when he sees that attitude in you, it may convict him, thus helping him turn back to the Word!

Pure

The Word “Chaste” here in verse 2 is typically thought of in the context of sexual purity. While it certainly does have that meaning, its implications are much farther reaching than that. In this context, it has the idea of above reproach, or giving no reason to accuse.

Respectful

Belittling a man, or usurping his authority gets nowhere. If a man feels as if his significant other does not respect him, he will be more likely to withdraw or run farther from you and God, rather than come back into obedience  of the Word.

Inner Beauty

Verse 3 shows two types of beauty: Outer beauty and inner beauty. Sadly this verse has been misinterpreted by some to mean that women are to disregard outer beauty altogether. However, the idea here is that while a woman should pay attention to her outer beauty, she should focus even more so on her inner beauty because that is far more important than outer beauty. Peter defines inner beauty here as  a meek and quiet spirit.

A Meek and Quiet Spirit

When a wife see’s her husband being disobedient to God’s Word,  the natural tendency is to nag him back into obedience. However, nagging often has the opposite than the desired effect. In fact, it might even drive him to climbing up onto the roof and setting up camp there! (Prov 21:19). Instead, the attitude which is most likely to help him come back to the Word is that of a meek and quiet spirit.

Example 1: Sarah

In verse 6 Peter cites Sarah as an example for women to follow in this situation. Wait a minute! you mean Abraham was disobedient to the Word? Take a look at Genesis 12 and Genesis 20…Both times Abraham Lied (To Pharaoh  in ch 12 and Abimelech in ch 20) telling them that Sarah was his wife, thus giving them the impression to take Sarah into their respective hirams! What did Sarah do in the midst of this absolute treachery by her husband? She submitted…trusting that God would protect her…and He did! God sent plaques to Pharaoh, and visited Abimelech in a dream and therefore they sent both Sarah and Abraham out of their lands…with more possessions than before!

Example 2: Christ

You may say wait a minute! Where  does this passage mention Christ? Take a look at the beginning of 1 Peter 3:1, Peter says: “In the same way, you wives, be subject to your husbands…” Why does Peter begin this passage in that way? It’s because he is linking it to what he just said in chapter 2. At the end of the previous chapter Peter tells us to follow the example of Christ who when he was reviled, he did not revile in return, but rather trusted his soul to the Father. Wow! Even when a husband is disobedient to God’s Word, she  should continue to follow these principles in this passage, while trusting that God will protect every step of the way.

At this point you might be wondering “Chris, why are you focusing so much on wives? doesn’t verse 7 talk about husbands?” Yes! and next month I will deal with what scripture says about them.

In the mean time, please feel free to leave a comment sharing how you might have been able to apply these principles in your on marriage over the years. I’m sure there are some young women reading who would love to hear advice from someone who has been there!

Preparing to be a husband…BEFORE you are one

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

5 ways to prepare to be a husband!

“I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!” This is a phrase which all of us have said many times before. There are times in our lives when the stage where God has us seems to require so much focus and energy, that thinking about preparing for something else just seems to overwhelming.

While there are many “bridges” in life which we can indeed cross when we get to them, there are some areas however where it is very wise to begin developing a strategy to cross before we actually arrive there. Lets take a look at Proverbs 6:6-8:

“Go to the Ant o Sluggard, consider her ways and be wise, which having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest.”

 

Solomon shows us in this passage that God gives us the ant as an example from which we can learn a great deal. First, the ant has discipline in that she has no ruler, yet she still is diligent nonetheless. Also, even though there is food in abundance during the summer and harvest, she still prepares for a future time…winter, when there will be no food.

5 Ways to Prepare to be a Husband

Just as in many other areas in life, it is so important for a young man to prepare himself to be a godly husband. While this cannot happen without God being the one to shape us and mold us into the husband that we ought to be, still, it will not happen without a decided effort on our part. Here are just a few areas which we can prepare in.

1. Character

When it comes to becoming a godly husband or father, it is absolutely critical that we as men develop character and integrity in our lives. But this seems so broad! I mean, where on earth do we begin? Is there a passage or 2 which deal with developing character as a man?

Actually there is! in fact we might even call it the “Proverbs 31″ for men! To read more about this passage, you can click “here”.

2. Leadership

When it comes to leadership within that home, scripture clearly shows that it is the man’s responsibility to lead his family spiritually. So how can a single man work on this if he is not married? Well, if a man wants to lead own family, he must learn how to lead himself.

You can read more about this here. Becoming a godly man who is rooted and grounded in God’s Word and in prayer is vital to being a godly leader within the home. A single man can also be looking for leadership opportunities in various areas which can help him to grow in leadership overall.

3. Responsibility

With marriage and family there comes a whole new level of responsibility which a man needs to take on which he does not have on his shoulders before. Unfortunately many times this new level of responsibility can be very overwhelming for a young man because in our culture, the many young men live lives filled with countless hours of TV, video games, sports and other hobbles rather than work, and other responsibilities.

Hobbies in themselves are not wrong, but they should be in moderation. One way in which a young man can prepare himself for the increased responsibility of marriage is to take on more responsibilities before hand. Work, mentoring, local church ministry, are just some of the many responsibilities that a young man can take upon himself even before he is married.

4.Finances

Here is a big one. Scripture makes it clear that it is the husband’s responsibility to provide financially for his family. 1 Timothy 5:8 says:

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Wow! One who does not provide for his own household is denying the faith by his actions!

This is why it is so important that a man have a good understanding of how to handle money. Financial decisions made prior to marriage can and many times do have a negative lasting effect throughout the marriage. Making purchases on a credit card because you can’t afford to buy them with cash, racking up college debt, making car payments instead of purchasing a used car with cash, impulse buying, not budgeting, not saving, and going into other forms of debt are all signs of financial irresponsibility which all have the potential to create tremendous strain on a marriage.

So as an unmarried man, learn how to give, make a written budget for every paycheck. Learn how to distinguish between wants and needs. Pay cash for a used car in stead of going into debt on a nicer car. Save up an emergency fund for when emergencies happen. Avoid debt as much as possible. Start saving into a retirement account. These are all ways in which we as men can grow to be financially responsible before we are married.

5. Mentoring

Finally, it is absolutely critical that we as younger men learn from older, godly men about how to become good husbands and fathers. Scripture is clear on how important mentoring is in the Christian life. 2 Timothy 2:2, Psalm 145:4, Proverbs 9:9 and the first part of Titus 2 all attest to this.

When it comes to marriage, other men have been there before. They have dealt with un-met expectations, they have learned to work through conflict, and they have gained a broader theological and practical understanding of what it means to love their wives as Christ Loved the Church. If you see a godly husband who you want to emulate, spend time with him –  learn from him!

While this post deals more so with preparing to be a husband, obviously the same is true for young ladies who are single. Preparing for marriage should never begin at engagement or the alter. It should begin long before that. While I did cover most of the main areas in which it is important to prepare for marriage beforehand, obviously this is not an exhaustive list.

What are some additional ways in which we single men can better prepare for marriage? Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your thoughts!

Singleness…A Gift Or A Curse?

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

On a blog about marriage, I believe it is fair to ask the question: “Is marriage better than singleness?” Why does this question even come to mind? Well, as a single man, myself along with many other single friends are faced (on a fairly regular basis) with questions from well-meaning friends and family such as “are you married yet?” or “Don’t worry, God’s got someone for you” or even the occasional well-meaning offer to “help” us find someone.

As well-meaning as these people are, there are subtle implications which slip into the mind of singles upon hearing such things. Many times, because of a strong emphasis on marriage (and rightfully so…to some degree), singles might begin to feel like “second class citizens” because we have not yet had the opportunity to enter the glorious covenant relationship between a man and a woman designed to give us a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.

It is also very easy to get the impression as a single person that life doesn’t begin until marriage does, or that we can never be as effective in ministering to the Body of Christ as singles, as we could if we were married. As a single person, one who is desirous of marriage and family, it is easy to slip into the mindset that singleness is a curse. This then only tends to lead to discontentment.

But is this really true? Is singleness a curse?…or could it be a blessing? Should we as singles focus on finding a spouse? Or should we be focused on something else? God brought these questions to me a few weeks ago through a very familiar passage of scripture…

1 Cor 7:27 says “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.”

 

What exactly is Paul saying here? Is He saying that singles should not marry at all? No…in the next verse he says that it is no sin if a  person marries. Also, the incredible discourse which Paul gives in Ephesians 5 clearly indicates that Paul is not saying “don’t ever marry” in this passage.

So what is Paul saying? I believe what Paul is saying here is that for those of us who are single, we should not make the “goal”  of pursuing marriage what drives us in life. There are unique ways in which a single person can minister to the body of Christ, which might be more difficult for the person who has the responsibility of marriage. Here are just a few of many examples:

  • A single person can give far more financially to the church and to others in need because he or she doesn’t have the financial obligations that come with having a family.
  • A single person can devote far more time to mentoring a boy or girl who does not have responsible parents in his or her life.
  • A single person can much more easily take care of the children of a couple, to allow them to have a much-needed date night.
  • A single person does not have the time obligations of a family, and can therefore minister to others with much more spontaneity.
  • A single person can travel to any part of the country, or even the world to preach the gospel at a moment’s notice without having to think through how such a drastic move might affect their spouse and children.
  • A single person can be imprisoned, yea even martyred for Christ without having to think about leaving behind a widow/widower or leaving young children as orphans. (The Apostle Paul was a great example of this).

So is singleness really a curse? Or a gift? While marriage is a wonderful thing, and there is nothing wrong with desiring it…and looking forward to it, marriage shouldn’t be the driving force in our lives. Instead, we should be looking forward to those opportunities to minister which are made easier by not having the responsibility of a family…and allow God to lead us into the glorious institution of marriage…when HE is ready.

I understand that most of those who are reading this are probably married, so here is how this can apply to you. You can be used of the Lord to encourage singles that you know to  be content in the state in which they are in…using it as an incredible opportunity to minister in ways which the responsibilities might limit them in the future!

When He Won’t Lead… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 2}

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

(Read Part 1 of this series: When Roles Get Reversed… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 1})

Women! YOU can encourage your husband to lead your family!

Photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

Last month we looked at the vital leadership role which God has designed for men to carry out within marriage. But what if he won’t lead? I have been asked before to share from a man’s perspective what is the best way for a wife to bring this problem to the attention of her husband in such a way that will encourage him to step up and lead. More important than my own personal thoughts, though, is what God’s Word says about the matter. I will try to go about answering this both from a guy’s perspective and a biblical perspective.

1 Peter 3:1-2 says:

Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

 

Here, Peter doesn’t elaborate as to whether these “husbands who disobey the word” are believers or not. Therefore I believe that this can apply to either situation.

For a husband, if it seems to him that his wife is spiritually more mature than he is, this can be very intimidating to him. I can think of two possible responses that a guy may have in this situation:

1. Passive: He may feel so intimidated that he steps back and does nothing, thus forcing the burden of leadership upon her or

2. Active: He recognizes his need for spiritual growth which then spurs him into overdrive…making up for lost time to become the spiritual leader that he is called to be.

Obviously the latter is the one you want to foster in your husband if he won’t step up and lead. But how? here are just a few things to keep in mind:

Prayer

Praying for him is very important. You are not your husband’s personal Holy Spirit. Only God can change his heart, so it is vital that you continually lift your husband up in prayer to the only one who can change him.

Point out strengths instead of faults

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.”

 

Constantly pointing out areas where he needs to grow “you need to do this!” “you need to do that!” will more than likely drive him away from what it is that you are requesting of him. However, if you take the time to notice the areas in which he is growing (no matter how small) and encourage him for it, it very well might motivate him to desire to grow in the larger areas.

Help him to catch a vision for the end goal

So what does this even look like? Let me use a totally unrelated example from Dave Ramsey to explain. Imagine a couple who is deeply in debt: $30,000 in credit card debt, $50,000 in student loans, upside down on the house, and the husband just bought a $45,000 red Corvette (his baby) a few months ago. Finally the wife comes to her senses and has had enough. She is done being a slave to the bank…so she goes to her husband with one of two responses:

1.  Honey we NEED to get out of debt! We are in so much financial trouble that we have creditors calling 20 times a day! And you went and bought that Corvette a few months ago! You need to sell that car so we can start getting out of debt

2. Honey our life is so stressful. Imagine a life with no payments! No money fights! If we got out of debt, imagine how much we could give, and how much we could save! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

If the wife in the example starts out with the proposition to “sell the car”, he will think she is nuts! “She wants me to sell my vette? She must be crazy!” Rather, if she comes to him with approach number 2, he will be much more likely to do the work (sell the car) if the end goal becomes his. The same is true with spiritual growth. He will be much more likely to do the work necessary to become a godly spiritual leader if you help him catch a glimpse of that goal, instead of nagging him about what he needs to do to get there.

Encourage him towards growth

Look for ways to encourage him that with God’s help he can indeed become the godly spiritual leader that his family needs. I know this one seems a little vague, but I guess it requires a specific knowledge of your husband as well as wisdom as to how best to apply it to your situation.

Remember, change takes time

Spiritual growth is no different. Remember, sanctification is a process which happens over time. Think back on your own journey in Christian growth, think back 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. I always find it encouraging to look back and see how much the Lord  has grown me over the years. Just because change seems painfully slow doesn’t mean that progress is not being made. Who knows what seeds are being sewn in his heart now that you can’t see?

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What are some things that you have found helpful as it relates to encouraging your husband towards spiritual growth? Please feel free to leave a comment and share with us!

When Roles Get Reversed… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 1}

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

Imagine a world  in which there is no authority. Students in a 5th grade classroom have the same authority as their teacher. Children have the same authority as their parents. A world where a murderer has the same authority as the judge and jury. Imagine if we as created beings had the same authority as our creator. What would it be like if the law breaking citizen had the same authority as the law enforcement officer?

Men! Stand up and lead your family!

Photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

A world like this would be even more chaotic that the world in which we live. Anarchy would be the law of the land. In fact, we get a glimpse of what such a world might look like in the book of Judges. Because there was no King in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes, we see heinous acts of murder, rape, mutilation, homosexuality, and much more taking place in Israel.

Therefore God has designed authority in many different areas of life including: Government Rom 13; The Parent child relationship Eph 4 & Col 3; The workplace Eph 4 & Col 3. The first part of 1Cor 11 even shows that there is an authority structure within the Godhead!

But What about marriage? it is no different. God designed for the Husband to be the leader in a marriage relationship. 1 Cor 11:3, 8-9 shows that this is based upon God’s created order, and was in effect before the fall. Eph 5:22-33 shows us that this leadership is to imitate Christ’s relationship with the church. Therefore the Husband is to lead in a loving, tender self sacrificial way.

But what happens when roles get reversed? Sadly today we see many Christian men who either (A) step aside and allow their wives to dominate the home, or (B) are so passive that they leave their wives feeling as if they have no choice but to step in and lead for the wellbeing of the family. This is not new by any stretch of the imagination. in fact, it has been going on since the beginning of the human race. While there are many such examples given in scripture, let us just take a look at two of them:

1. Adam: (Gen 3:1-6)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: “indeed has God said, ‘you shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat of it, or touch it, or you will die.'” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!” for God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; she gave also to her husband with her and he ate.

  • Eve took God’s Word, and added to it. In Gen 2:17 God told Adam (before he had created eve) that if he ate of the tree, he would die. In her dealing with the serpent, Eve then added to that command “or touch it”. Whenever we add to God’s Word, it becomes much easier for us to be deceived when someone raises questions about it.
  • So where was Adam in all of this? was he off tending the garden? no! the end of verse 6 shows that he was right there with her! Adam should have led his wife by lovingly saying “no honey, God told us not to eat of this fruit…we must obey Him over anyone else.” Rather Adam followed the lead of his wife, ate of the fruit, and thus plunging the whole human race into sin.

2. Abraham (Gen 16:1-4)

“Now Sarai, Abraham’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So, Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold the Lord has prevented me from baring children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.”

  • God had promised Abraham offspring in the covenant which he made with him in chapter 15. However, 10 years had passed and now Sarah was getting impatient.
  • Sarah blames God for her barrenness.
  • Sarah tries to convince Abraham to use the world’s methods to fulfill God’s promise (it was common in that day for a barren woman to give her maid to her husband to bear children in her stead)
  • Sarah doubted God’s promise
  • Abraham should have reassured her of God’s faithfulness…leading her out of doubt.
  • In stead, Abraham followed Sarah’s lead
  • Therefore, there was strife in the household
  • Through Abraham and Hagar came Ishmael, the father of the Arab race

These are just two of many biblical examples of men stepping aside and following the lead of their wives. Both cases have lasting consequences which are dramatically felt worldwide today. In one case, the whole human race is thrust under the curse of sin. In the other case, a people group out of which would come the most hostile religion to Jews and Christians.

As men, we are called to step up and lead in our families, or risk severe consequences when we dodge that responsibility. There are many Things which can distract a man from leading his household, some of which you can read more about by clicking here. However there is too much at stake for us to get distracted from our God-given duty of leading our households. Let us step up men! and rise to the calling of lovingly leading our wives as Christ does the church!

(Read Part 2 of this series: When He Won’t Lead… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 2})

A Beautiful Love Story – Unconditional Love

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

When you hear the term “love story” what comes to mind? Perhaps a story of two people who experience “love at first sight?” Maybe you think of a Disney fairy tale-like story involving “Prince Charming” and “true love’s kiss”? Perhaps a Jane Austen novel? Whatever comes to mind, I’m sure it involves a good bit of romance. While romance is an important, even vital part of a healthy marriage, a real love story goes so much deeper.

Several years ago I had the privilege of observing one such story first hand. In 2004 I found myself moving from the warm tropical climate of my home in the Bahamas up to North Carolina to study Missionary Aviation at a Bible college there. That was quite an adjustment for this island boy.

Being so far from home made it nearly impossible to go home during breaks. Being in a tight-knit group such as the aviation program, it was only natural that one of my buddies invited me to spend Easter break with him down in upstate Georgia. His dad owned an aircraft maintenance shop which he managed at the local airport, so we planned to  help him out there. We also planned on doing some other fun stuff like riding ATVs, flying his dad’s airplane, and fishing.

Finally the big day came. Just as our last class of the day was wrapping up, my friend’s dad arrived in town. After class, another friend took my buddy and I to the airport, where we met his dad who had flown his airplane in. We loaded our bags into the back of the airplane and off we went down to Georgia.

On the plane ride up, my friend asked his dad, “How’s Grandma doing?” “She’s hanging in there.” his dad replied. He then explained to me that several months ago, his grandmother had a serious stroke which left her unable to communicate and in constant need of care. “We can stop by and see her first thing on the way back from the airport if you would like.” “I’d love that, dad!” my buddy exclaimed.

A Beautiful Love Story ~ Unconditional Love

A few short hours later, our flight concluded with a near perfect landing at the busy little county airport where my friend’s dad had his maintenance shop. We piled our things into the SUV, fired it up and pulled out of the airport parking lot and started down the quiet back country road towards town. On the way to my buddy’s grandparent’s house his dad exclaimed “Grandpa’s a real trooper. He has never left her side since she had the stroke. He has dropped everything else in his life to tend to her every need. That’s real love if you ask me.”

About 15 minutes later we pulled into the driveway. We got out of the vehicle and walked up the sidewalk to the front door. The door opened and we were greeted by a kind, older man with the most cheerful disposition. “Grandpa!” my buddy exclaimed as he threw his arms around the old man. After exchanging greetings, we were led into the living room where an older lady was sitting, staring at us, mouth slightly open and a confused look on her face. “Hi Grandma!” my buddy exclaimed. Her eyes drifted over to my friend, but there was no response beyond that.

The old man pulled up a chair on the other side of her and sat down. He placed her hand into one of his hands and began to gently stroke her head with his other hand. “We had a good day today didn’t we honey?” to which she silently gazed toward him. “You look so beautiful” he said as he continued to stroke her head.

A Beautiful Love Story ~ Unconditional Love

Photo by SaraiRachel

As the week went on, we did work in the shop, rode four-wheelers, flew his dad’s airplane, went fishing, and did a host of other things. But you know what? Nothing stuck out to me more than the incredible example of love – TRUE love – that I was able to witness from my friend’s grandfather. I had the opportunity to visit them later that year for Thanksgiving. His grandmother has improved some, but she was still not communicating. Do you know where her husband was? Right by her side, tending to her every need. It was just as obvious then as it was several months earlier that this wasn’t viewed as a difficulty by him, but rather he considered it an honor to spend his life serving her.

While we tend to think of love as romance, or being “in love” and having “romantic” feelings, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 makes it clear that real love is much more about unselfish, dedicated devotion than it is about romance. Marriage isn’t always a bed of roses. There are miscommunications, misunderstandings, hurt, selfishness, sickness, financial struggles, and sometimes the responsibility to care for a spouse who cannot take care of themselves. Real love takes incredible dedication, but reaps incredible rewards.

Watching my friend’s grandfather tenderly care for the love of his life gave me an incredible practical example of what true love looks like. Love like this is something that we should all ask God to shape us and mold us to be able to emulate in our own marriages.

Have you ever witnessed an example of true love in your own life? What was it that set it apart for you?

It’s Time To Talk: Communicating Biblically

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

It's Time to Talk ~ Communicating Biblically

Photo by  Tobyotter

We have all been there. Someone we love says or does something that bothers us. Now we are faced with a decision: do we bring it up to them? Or do we just ignore it? This leads to a host of other questions that pop into our minds. “Is it worth bringing up?” “What did she mean when she said that?” What did he mean by doing that?” and the list goes on.

I think its safe to say that each one of us has been on BOTH ends of this scenario. We have either been the person who says or does something hurtful, or we have been the one who is bothered. So when our spouse says or does something that bothers us, what should we do?

For many of us, our natural response is to choose to “let it go” and think that if we ignore whatever it is that bothered us, it will go away. While there are times when we might be being too sensitive about something and should deal with it ourselves, more often than not, we should bring up whatever it is that is bothering us so that it can be worked through.

Eph 4:26-27 says: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil

 

Ok, so this verse is talking about when we are angry…but the principles also apply when we are bothered as well.

Verse 26 says: “Do not let the sun go down upon your anger” but what does that mean? It means that when we are upset about something, it is important that we deal with it right away. But why? Why not just let it go, or at least wait a while to bring it up? Here are two reasons why it is important to deal with what is bothering you right away.

1. It can lead us to drawing wrong conclusions about the other person

When we don’t bring up what is bothering us right away, it leaves us asking ourselves: “What did he mean by doing that?” or “What did she mean when she said that?” The longer we try to figure out the answers to these by ourselves without talking directly to the other person to get the full picture, we greatly increase the possibility of misunderstanding where the person is coming from.

2. Not bringing it up can lead to bitterness

When we do not bring up what is bothering us right away and misunderstand what the other person meant, we give the devil an opportunity to tempt us toward becoming bitter towards them. Here’s what the author of Hebrews has to say about bitterness: Heb 12:15b see that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled

So what should we do in order to  prevent gaining a false perception on what the other person meant, between the time we are hurt and the time that we bring it up? Phil 4:8 holds the answer to that question which says: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever in honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.

Whenever the thought: “Maybe he/she meant__by that” pops into our minds, we must reflect on this verse and remind ourselves: “Do I know for sure that he/she meant__? No, because I haven’t asked them yet. Therefore I should think about what I KNOW to be true.”

Then as soon as possible, we should go directly to our spouse (in a private, humble, tactful way) and share with them whatever it is that they did or said  that hurt us. Then find out directly from them what was meant…so that Satan has no more opportunity to speak untruths about the other person into our minds.

Getting things right before the sun goes down can cut down on so many miscommunications as well as faulty perceptions that crop up and hurt our marriage relationships. What are some ways which you have found to be helpful in sharing your hurt with your spouse?

What Can Joseph Teach Us About Being A Godly Husband?

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

Image courtesy of [dan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During The Christmas Season there are many things grabbing our attention and distracting us from the true meaning of Christmas. Whether its Santa Clause, Christmas Shopping, decorating, or cooking Christmas feasts, there are a myriad of things which can redirect our attention from celebrating the birth of our Savior.

When our focus does finally get directed back to the biblical reason for the season, we typically focus on the birth of Christ, as well as his person and work which he came to accomplish…and rightly so!

But you know what? While we should focus much on this gift from the heavenly Father, there is a lot that we can learn from Jesus’ earthly father as well! While we do not have an extensive biography on the lives and marriage of Mary and Joseph given to us in scripture, the few short passages which share about them are packed with principles! The following are just 5 out of the many lessons which we can learn from Joseph:

Photo Credit: http://www.visualbiblealive.com/

1. Developing character should begin BEFORE marriage

Matthew 1:18-19a “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they had come together she was found to be with child. by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man…”

From this text it is clear that Joseph was a man of character, since he is called a righteous man. This is not something that came about overnight. Chances are that he had been cultivating a life of righteousness before the Lord long before he and Mary were married.

2. Joseph treated his wife with dignity

Matt 1:19And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”

At this point Joseph had every reason to believe that Mary had been unfaithful to him. He knew that he had not been intimate with her…so therefore there must be another man in the picture. In that time period, as people living under the Mosaic Law, Mary could have been publicly shamed, and even put to death for such an offense. However, Joseph did not want to bring disgrace to her. Joseph wanted to treat her with the utmost respect…even through in his mind, she had been unfaithful to him.

3. Joseph was a spiritual leader, led by God

Matt 1:24 “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,”

After God made it clear to Joseph what he wanted him to do, Joseph did not make excuses or try to run from his God-ordained task. Rather he stepped up to the plate and led his family in the direction that God had revealed for him to lead them.

4. Joseph was a man of self-control

Matt 1:24-25 “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son; and he called His name Jesus.”

Verse 25 is amazing! Joseph waited until after Jesus was born to become physically intimate with his wife. While Joseph took Mary to be his wife long before she gave birth to Jesus, he did not let his passions control him, rather he put the needs of his wife before his own. He considered God’s plan to be more important than fulfilling the natural desires which God has placed in each one of us.

5. Joseph was the protector of his family

Matt 2:13-15 “Now when they had gone, behold, and angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and too the Child and his mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

As a man who was lead by God, Joseph took very seriously his obligation to protect his family. As soon as he heard that his son’s life was in danger, he quickly moved them to Egypt…the place where God had revealed to him was safe.

So as you read through the nativity story, while reflecting on the real reason for the season, don’t miss the many other lessons that we can learn from the events surrounding the Birth of our savior. What are some of the other principles you have learned from the passages about Jesus’ birth?

This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.

Are You “Ready” For Christmas Shopping?

 

PayPal provides an excellent service which I have used for years. All you have to do is  put in your name, debit/credit card information, and then create a PayPal account. This then allows you to enjoy the ease of online shopping without having to tediously enter all that information into every single website you purchase from.

The other day however, I received an email advertisement from PayPal promoting their new “bill me later” feature. The email went like this: “The holidays are coming! Be ready with bill me later!” As I read this advertisement  this thought came to mind: “Is having to “bill me later” really being “prepared” for Christmas shopping?” The answer to this question is clearly no.

Unfortunately however, many people operate with this mindset. Last Christmas season, I received a different advertisement saying: “Need fast cash for the holidays? Take out a title loan!” Again, if you need to put your car up as collateral for a loan in order to buy Christmas gifts, you are not prepared for Christmas shopping.

Christmas shopping has the potential to be a very stressful event. Here are some ways to minimize the stress as a couple while shopping for loved ones this Christmas season.

1. Don’t get into debt!

There is nothing that will make Christmas shopping more stressful than to having to pay off debt after the gifts are given. In addition to the many biblical principles advising against getting into debt, it has been the cause of many marital fights, as well as the stated reason for why many marriages end in divorce.

Using credit cards is like playing with fire if you don’t know what you are doing. If you cannot make a purchase otherwise, you cannot afford it. They should ONLY be used if you KNOW that you will be able to pay them off at the end of the month.

2. Budget for it!

Instead of getting into debt for Christmas gifts, figure out about how much you will need well in advance, and then set aside a little more than that. When you go shopping, make sure you stick to the budget.

3. Plan how you will meet the budget

After figuring out how much you will need, ($1,000 for example) figure out how much you will need to set aside out of each paycheck in order to have the money in hand when you are ready to start shopping. For example, if you need $1,000 in 2 months, you will need to set aside $250 out of each paycheck if you get paid on a biweekly basis.

4. Make decisions together

Just as in EVERY area of marriage, it is so important that couples make decisions about Christmas shopping together (i.e. how much to spend, who to buy for, what to buy, etc.). This will reduce the level of stress because it minimizes the opportunity for one spouse to go behind the other’s back. This also helps to build teamwork.

5. Learn to differentiate between wants and needs

Because of the high cultural expectations place upon the exchange of Christmas gifts, it is easy to feel obligated to buy gifts for people even when you cannot afford it. Christmas gifts are wants, not needs. Even though there are high expectations, if a couple is going through a tight financial time, it may be wise to either go really simple this year, or find a creative alternative. We certainly don’t want to offend or hurt our loved ones, but if using debt is the only way to buy gifts, it may be a good idea to sit this year out.

6. Let the spouse who enjoys shopping handle it

Typically in a marriage, one spouse enjoys shopping more than the other, and is better at finding bargains. While it is usually the wife who is more of a shopper, there are exceptions to this rule. Once the budget has been decided on, the decisions have been made together about who to buy for, and the money has been saved, then it is a good idea to let the spouse who actually enjoys shopping take care of it.

Christmas shopping has the potential to be a stressful ordeal. However, as we have seen, by following a few simple principles, the stress can be drastically reduced. But you know what? Christmas shopping isn’t the only area where financial wisdom applies. It is so important to learn how to live within your means in every area. You can read more about this in a four part series I wrote on that very topic by clicking here.

What are some ways which you have found to be helpful in reducing the stress of Christmas shopping? Please feel free to leave a comment sharing with us!

This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.