Painful Love and Forgiveness

Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

Our families will never be perfect. We will sin against each other and be sinned against. Relationships invariably involve pain. That is the way of love. How we choose to react to that pain will depend on our perspective.

C. S. Lewis makes clear that the choice is between loving and having a hard heart.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

And when your heart is wrung out, to use his words, what are you to do? Forgive. In fact, part of the reason God put you in this marriage (or family) is so that you can learn forgiveness. Forgiveness is a skill we need to teach our children (and ourselves). Jean Vanier had this to say:

Too many people come into community to find something, to belong to a dynamic group, to find a life which approaches the ideal. If we come into community without knowing that the reason we come is to discover the mystery of forgiveness, we will soon be disappointed.”  ~~ Jean Vanier, Community and Growth

Put these thoughts together and you realize that to love is to open yourself up to pain. But to refuse to love is to harden your heart. And it is only when we are wounded that we can learn the grace of forgiveness. When we learn the grace of forgiveness, we have learned a little more of the costly love of God in Christ. And we have become a little more like Christ.

Are you hurting from loving someone? Do you realize that God is helping you discover the mystery of forgiveness?



This is About That

Hi Friends,

Attending a wedding today.
This 3 minute video will be shown at the beginning by our church leadership.
You can watch the whole thing in preview mode without buying it.

I highly recommend it for your family and to discuss.
Do we really understand the gospel in this way?
Do we really value marriage because of what it illustrates?



Qualities of a Godly Elder and Man

Family PrayerJason Helopoulos has a good 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.

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

Consider ordering The Disciple-Making Parent to learn how we can train young men to be like this for the church. In it, you will learn how to disciple your young men through example, the Word, taking ground for Christ, and much more!

Marriage, Parenting|

Dating Advice for Young Men

CBMW has my latest article up here.

I wrote it to encourage young men to take manful initiative and care in a dateless world.

Have Manful Motivation
1. Treat her as a sister with absolute purity.
2. Treat her as a sister with selfless love.

Take Manful Action
1. Spend some time in groups with guys and girls.
2. Have some modesty toward her.
3. Date with Jesus, not Cupid in mind.
4. Make a formal, in-person invitation.
5. Be ready for rejection. Y
6. Go somewhere.
7. Minister to her by asking her questions about herself.
8. Thank her for her time.
9. Keep your mouth shut around others.
10. If you want to pursue things further, then repeat 3-9.
11. Repeat 3-9, until she tells you to call her father.

My last line:
Men, you can do this! You can show manful care. Bring glory to Christ by being countercultural in your dateless, sex-saturated generation where men have the backbone of a jellyfish.

Read the whole thing.

Are You Praying Together Regularly? – Repost


For some reason, church-going couples have compartmentalized their religious life and their marriage life. The two may never meet. So if we are having marriage conflicts, often the last thought is, “Have we prayed about it together?”

But praying together is in fact a balm for many of our problems and an inoculation for many others. Many of the problems we are having may be the result of neglecting prayer together. Besides the effect on God, praying together has the mystical effect of binding hearts together. Something happens when two individuals go to the throne of grace together.

How to start? Be careful lest you become overly ambitious. Five minutes of regular prayer beats 30 minutes that starts and then stops. Ideally, prayer should be initiated by the priest of the household, the man. But there is nothing wrong with a wife’s gentle prodding, “Can we take a couple of minutes and pray together?”

How to pray? Let’s be careful here. It is easy to preach while praying. “Lord, help my husband become the man he should be,” is more preaching than praying. The prayers must be a real beseeching of God and not preaching to God or the other person in the form of prayer. “O God, make my husband/wife the person he/she should be,” is not an acceptable prayer to pray together.

Instead the focus of our prayer should be thanksgiving to the Lord, personal confession (again, don’t confess sin for the both of you), personal prayer for yourself and prayer for the both of you as you face this struggle together. Let’s look at each of these.

Thanksgiving: Prayer, like Paul’s prayers, should start out with thanksgiving. When Paul mentioned his prayers in his letters, they started with thanksgiving. The recipient of the letter, who was about to be corrected by Paul, saw in writing Paul’s genuinely thankful heart. There is something heart-changing in us about lifting prayers of thanksgiving to God for a person who is causing us pain. There is always something for which you can give thanks for them.

Personal Confession: Since you are holding yourself to a standard of perfection no matter what the other person does, there is probably sin that you can confess and renounce. Genuine confession in front of the other person is powerful. Do not confess the other parties’ sins or your mutual sins unless there has been previous agreement. Prayer is sacred communion with God and should be directed on gaining ground with him not with the other party.

Personal Supplication: Confession of your own failures leads naturally into prayer for personal transformation. There is a natural flow to asking God to ease the consequences of your sin. Again, the focus of prayer is upon changing you.

Mutual Supplication: Lastly, this is a time there can be prayer for the family decisions that have to be made that are causing disagreement. There can be genuine asking wisdom that God could show you what to do.  It is always good to echo Jesus’ high priestly prayer for protection from Satan, unity and holiness by the word (See John 17). And if we pray then we need to expect God to answer. Part of the expectation of faith filled prayer is listening to the Spirit and looking for answers.

Why don’t you pray together? Too old? It is never too old to do what is right. Too busy? You’re right you are too busy. He won’t take the lead? Nothing wrong with a wife’s gentle and humble suggestion. We dont know how. Ask another couple to mentor you.

Let’s keep our families well nurtured by praying in the Spirit on all occasions, especially as husband and wife.

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions, especially as husband and wife.

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.


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.