Marriage

John Piper on Forbearance, Marriage, and Cow Pies

Wise words and an aromatic metaphor from John Piper

The Compost Pilecows

So what about the compost pile? Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved.

Posted Here.

Qualities of a Godly Elder and Man

Family PrayerJason Helopoulos has a great article on qualities of a great elder.

Could we say qualities of a great man? Young men are you listening? Young ladies are these in your prayer journal? Moms and Dads, you might consider printing down and sharing with your children. Or praying over this list.

Theological, but Fiercely Practical: He will know the scriptures and revel in the doctrine and theology of God’s holy Word. And at the same time, he will know how to apply those truths of Scripture to the lives he is privileged to serve.

Leader, but a Willing Follower:  He doesn’t wear a sign that announces he is a leader. He isn’t loud and demands that people follow, they just do.

Dignified, but Wonderfully Approachable:  He is serious about the Christian faith. He knows that life is short and he does not waste it.

Listener, but Wisely Vocal: He is slow to speak and quick to listen. But when he speaks, men listen.

Courageous, but Pastorally Winsome:  He does not shy away from the hard discussions, the difficult conflicts, or the trying personalities of the church. He isn’t looking for conflict, but he also won’t run from it.

Dogmatic, but Flexible: He is a rock on the non-negotiables. He will not be moved from the teaching of the Scriptures. However, he is flexible and able to concede points to others when he is proven wrong or the issue is not of extreme importance.

Gifted, but Knowingly Humble:  He is aware of how the Lord has gifted him for service in the church. In turn, he is also keenly aware of the gifts which he does not possess.

Officer, but Servant First:  He has a mantle upon his shoulders. There is responsibility and privilege.

Churchly, but a Lover of Men: He loves the church as a body and he loves men.

Loyal, but a Thoughtful Exhorter:  He is not a fault finder. However, when it is necessary, he is willing to challenge his pastors and fellow elders appropriately. He does not follow blindly.

May God raise up young men like this for our churches!

How The Gospel Should Change You in Marriage

Wow is this article on target!

In it, the author argues that marriage should change us:

1. From Selfishness to Service

2. From Laziness to Engagement

3. From Pride to Humility

Has marriage caused you to see your selfishness more and actively serve? Has the gospel caused you to move from laziness to engagement? As you see your sin, have you become more humble and seen your need of the gospel more? Marriage is intended to make us more like Jesus. But we have to see those trials as from him!

Read the short article here.

A Secret Your Husband Needs You to Know

“He needs your moral support…in fact…he needs you to be his biggest fan…”

Read the whole short article here. And then read a few of the comments.

Do you need to repent of not respecting him?

He is called to love you unconditionally even when you are not lovely. You are called to respect him even when………(see Ephesians 5:33).

What can you say to him that shows you are his biggest fan?

It’s Not About the Nail

Dedicated to husbands everywhere who are trying to love their wives! HT Denny Burk.

Wisdom for Parents with Young Children by Steve McKoy

I love this list by Steve McCoy. We were blessed with some great teaching and followed almost all of these (or tried to follow).  Thankfully there was agreement on these in our church. Though  you cannot point to a chapter and verse of the Bible for many of these, there is great wisdom here.

  1. Believe Kids Are A Blessing
  2. Read The Jesus Storybook Bible To Them
  3. Pray With Your Kids Concerning Taking Risks
  4. Teach *First Time Obedience*
  5. Give Rules For Respectful Disagreement
  6. Give Rules For Respectful Interruption
  7. Give Rules For Being Respectful in Public
  8. The Five Minute Rule (Warning)
  9. Pre-Event Preparation/Conversation
  10. Titles of Respect for Adults
  11. Use Timers
  12. Sharing Is Not Requested, It’s Essential
  13. Boys Treat Girls Differently Than Boys .
  14. Play Rough & Teach Kids To Get Over It
  15. Kids Sit With You In Church
  16. Ask Your Kids To Forgive You
  17. Kiss Your Spouse In Front Of Them
  18. Talking Back To Mom Is Talking Back To My Wife
  19. Hugs & Kisses To Friends
  20. Disagree In Front Of Your Kids
  21. Keep/Give Away
  22. Teach Your Kids To Sing
  23. Teach Your Kids God Loves Them More Than You
  24. Get In The Pool

Still working on the Get in the Pool thing. But heh, no one’s perfect – right?

Read the whole thing. It’s really good. And talk about it in your Sunday School class.

The Real Effects of an Affair

Hollywood portrays affairs as exciting. God’s word forbids adultery. But Jesus said that he his commands give abundant life. It is the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Who is right? Though our teens may want to believe Jesus, Hollywood sure makes it sound glamorous. I have argued in my booklet, The Power of Apologetics, that we need to show our children the goodness of Christianity. God’s commands lead to blessing.

This article shows the real effects of breaking God’s commands.

The writer comments:

What you don’t know, or perhaps what you don’t allow yourself to think about, is that your life will become an unbearable mix of yearning and regret because of it. It will be difficult if not impossible to be in any one place with contentment…

Sooner or later your illicit, once-beloved object of affection will become tawdry, wearying. You will come to long for simple, honest pleasures like making dinner with your sons or going out to the movies without having to look over your shoulder.

On the other side, your spouse’s philandering will cease to torment you and instead the whole episode will leave you disgusted and bored and desirous to get out. You will just want to be with someone who does what he says he is going to do, goes where he says he is going to go, and can be found any time you need him because he is not hiding.

Read the whole thing and then forward it to your older teens and young adults.

For Thoughtful Wives by a Thoughtful Wife

Trillia Newbell hits at an area many pastors are afraid to touch, the self-righteous wife. If self-righteousness is a danger for everyone (and it is), then it certainly applies to the area of marriage.

Trillia observes:

After the honeymoon we returned to our home eager to start our new lives together as one. But soon the fairytale ended and real life began. It didn’t look quite like I had imagined. There were no glaring problems. No deep-rooted sin issues. Yet I was extremely aware of my husbands’ shortcomings, and I wasn’t holding back on sharing my thoughts.

I was quick to point out sin and eager to share “observations” about how he could change or grow as a leader, all under the pretense of being his helpmeet. I judged my husband harshly our first year of marriage. I was quite self-righteous. I thought I was right, and I played the role of his “holy spirit.” Like I said, I masked it as being his helpmeet. Wrong!

I have met with different couples where a key problem is the critical self-righteousness of a spouse – usually the wife. There is a place for correction in marriage. But there also is a large place for acceptance (Romans 15:7). My father-in-law’s wise proverb is needed here: She’s not perfect but she’s perfect for me.

Our children are observing the love we display in our marriage. Does it reflect the acceptance we have in Christ? Does it show off forbearance? or Fault-finding?

Read the whole thing and then ask the Holy Spirit and your husband for his feedback.

Gospel Focused Exhortations to Sexual Purity

From my last Sunday’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 Paul argues for their sexual purity in a surprising way. His gospel oriented approach starts with indicatives (indicators of what God has done) and then moves to imperatives (commands of what we are to do).

1. Articulating and Deconstructing the Lies. (vv. 12-13)
a. “All things are lawful” – Said by Corinthians to justify their sin. Often said by Christians as they are being tempted to sin. “God will forgive me.”
b. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food.” – Also said by Corinthians to justify their sin. The underlying philosophy of the world today. In other words, sex is an appetite just like food. Sex is to be satisfied just like when I am thirsty or hungry. This is just a normal biological appetite.

2. God’s View of the Body – Part 1. (vv. 13-17)
a. It is made for the Lord. – Paul start with the ownership and design issue. We are made for the Lord Jesus.
b. Our body will be raised just like our Lord’s. Jesus did not just save my soul, he also will save my body. Revelation 21:8 Behold I am making all things new!
c. My body is a part of Christ. Somehow my body is already a part of Christ’s body. It is not just my soul that is united with Christ, but also my body!?!
d. My soul is united with Christ. See also John 17:20-23.

3. God’s View of the Body – Part 2. (vv. 19-20)
a. Your body is a vessel of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit actually takes up residence in your body. We walk around as the presence of Christ on earth.
b. You are not your own. You were bought at a price. The issue of ownership runs throughout this passage. Who owns you? If I really understand salvation, I understand that I am owned by another.

4. God’s View of Sexuality. (v. 16, v. 18)
a. Sex is more than an appetite. It is the joining together of two people and two souls.
b. Sexual sin harms in a way other sins don’t. Not your physical body although that is included, but it harms your whole self. Why? See 4a.

5. Primary Applications – Therefore
a. Shall I take what is joined to Christ and join it to a prostitute? (Or sin in any way this way?) Never. It is unthinkable!
b. Flee sexual immorality – Like Joseph, don’t stand and fight but make a strategic, active retreat.
c. Honor God with your body. Positively, as a blood bought vessel of the Holy Spirit who is joined with Christ in body and spirit, honor God with your body. Take care of it. Don’t join it in a dishonorable way. All of you is to honor God, not just your soul but your body as well.

It seems to me that as we seek to fight sin ourselves and as we seek to persuade our young people to stand against a tidal wave of impurity, what God has already done for us is a great help in the fight for sexual purity. May we live out of the gospel accomplishments.

The Negative Effects of Cohabitation – Continued

Once again, people are discovering that there are negative effects of cohabitating before you marry.

Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million.

The common belief?

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

The truth?

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.

God’s way is the best way. Jesus came to give abundant life. If you are not a Christian, this should encourage you think that our Creator knows what is best for us. If you are a Christian, trust that God’s way is best.