Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

 

God's Pattern for the Family

Turn with me to Ephesians 5:22-24.

The Word of the Lord says,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Mark Twain is still known, even though he has been dead for over 100 years, for his wit. He once related a story that a Mormon acquaintance had once pushed him into an argument on the issue of polygamy. After long and tedious expositions justifying the practice, the Mormon demanded that Twain cite any passage of Scripture expressly forbidding polygamy.

“Nothing easier,” Twain replied. “No man can serve two masters.”

You laugh… but there is more than an unfortunate truth to Twain’s reply.

It is the struggle for control… between a man and his wife.

We see this struggle for control start in the garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve, though God had established them in a perfect relationship with Himself and each other, had already chose to go their own way and do their own thing. What happens when two “individuals” chose to go “their own” way and do “their own” thing?  Calling “their own” shots?

Yes!  Absolutely!  There is natural conflict.  It is almost as if the couple is demonstrating Newton’s Third Law… “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”

This is the consequence of “going your own way” in spite of God’s design.  But, it was not this way in the beginning… the way that God designed the relationship between husband and wife. Listen and follow along with me.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him. 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Perfect relationship… God gave the man a job to do, to nurture, cultivate, make fruitful the creation God had placed him over, as God’s representative/viceroy.

It was a tall order, he needed help… oh… God knew he needed help.  Someone that would correspond to him, he need a woman to support, aid, help in fulfilling the calling… the job that God had given him to do.  Contrary to conventional wisdom… and, I might add, contrary to the Word of God… a dog is not man’s best friend.  Nor a horse, or cat, or any other animal.  There was none among the animal kingdom that was a suitable help for man… therefore, WOMAN!!!! Someone that corresponds to him, to support, aid, help in fulfilling the calling that God had given him to do. THAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP THAT GOD HAS CALLED MAN AND WIFE TO.  A man with a calling and a beautiful, intelligent, valuable, helper giving aid to him as he is obedient to the call God has placed on him.

But, then they chose, rather than trust God and His perfect, wonderful, fulfilling, powerful, productive design… they chose to do their own thing, go their own way, call their own shots… and there has been conflict ever since.  We know that things changed immediately for Adam and Eve… it was the spiritual death that God has warned them of if they were to choose their own way.  Conflict, struggle for control, desire for preeminence.

We came by it through Adam and Eve, and we continue very well on our own power… unless there is something miraculous that happens to interrupt that pattern of sinfulness.

Well, when confronted about the change in their demeanor by their loving Heavenly Father Adam and Eve began pointing fingers.  And God, in His love, mercy and justice began to speak to the consequences of man and woman’s choices.  I am particularly interested in the words that God spoke to Eve in Genesis 3:16

Genesis 3:16 (ESV)

16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

These words that God spoke to Eve indicate that there will be an ongoing struggle between the woman and the man for leadership in the marriage relationship. The leadership role of the husband and the complementary relationship between husband and wife that were ordained by God before the fall have now been deeply damaged and distorted by sin.

This especially takes the form of inordinate desire (on the part of the wife) and domineering rule (on the part of the husband). The Hebrew term here translated “desire” is rarely found in the OT. But it appears again in Genesis 4:7, in a statement that closely parallels Genesis 3:16—

Genesis 4:7 (ESV)

7 “…is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

…what God is saying to Cain is that sins desires to master Cain but, God says that Cain must “rule over it” (which he immediately fails to do, I might add, by murdering his brother).

So… the ongoing result or consequence of Adam and Eve’s original sin of rebellion against God will have disastrous consequences for their relationship:

(1) Eve will have the sinful “desire” to oppose Adam and to assert leadership over him, reversing God’s plan for Adam’s leadership in marriage. But…

(2) Adam will also abandon his God-given, pre-fall role of leading, guarding, and caring for his wife, replacing this with his own sinful, distorted desire to “rule” over Eve.

As a result, one of the most tragic results of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God is an ongoing, damaging conflict between husband and wife in marriage, driven by the sinful behavior of both in rebellion against their respective God-given roles and responsibilities in marriage.

Understanding that, we return to our passage that we will be spending the next several weeks in… Eph. 5:22–33 and, in contrast to what we see as a result of Genesis 3, we will see the NT pattern for marriage founded on the redemptive work of Christ.

The Matter of Submission (v. 22a)

Let’s look at verse 22.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

We will concentrate on just verse 22.  I want to draw your attention to three things in this verse that we, and by “we” I mean you “ladies”… and I do mean “ladies” not just wives… because there is something here for every female to do!!!! (And guys… don’t check out… and don’t lean back in your seat with your feet crossed and your hands behind your head… ‘cuz I’ve got some stuff to talk with you about this morning as well 😊)

The first thing I want to draw your attention to, in this verse, is the word “submit.”

This is the Greek word hoop-ot-as’-so.  It comes from two Greek words… “hoop-o’”… which means “under” and “tass-o’” which means “orders” or “arrangement.”

It is a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

Now, here’s something you will find if you so a little study of the passage.  The Greek word for “submit” (Gk., hupotasso) is not in the original text of verse 22 but is implied from its usage in verse 21.

I also think it is worth noting that Paul does not use the word obey in reference to the wife. The Greek word “Hupakouo”, which means “to answer,” “to attend,” or “to obey,” like he uses for children and slaves. I think it is worth noting for all of you… ladies you need to understand that God does not place you in the position of slave or servant. That is what sinful man has done to you.

Men, you need to hear this because a wife is not a slave, awaiting commands like: “Do this! Get that! Go over there! Fix me that! Is my so-and-so done?” She is not a slave. The relationship between a husband and wife is much more intimate, more personal, more inward, and more vital than that.

Kids, you need to hear this because you make this assumption often by the way you treat your mothers. She is not your slave… she is the helpmeet of your father… to mistreat her is to be (and men you should respond to it this way) an affront, an insult, an injury to not only your mother but to your father as well.

No, a woman is absolutely equal in essence to a man, BUT given a role by the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, functionally, as someone who displays a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying the burden of “helpmeet” to her husband’s GOD-GIVEN calling as a man.

So, that is the first thing I wanted to draw your attention to.  A wife is to submit… “hoop-o-tasso” …to arrange herself under her own husband for the purpose of cooperating, aiding, helping, bearing the burden of being the “Helper” along with her husband as he pursues the calling that God has placed on him.

The Matter of Possession (vs. 22b)

The second thing I want to draw your attention to is the phrase “your own husband.” There is a possessiveness here that assumes a wife would absolutely and willingly respond in submission to her own husband—one whom SHE possesses. The Greek word used here connotes ownership.  It is more that referring to the man who identifies as your husband.

Paul is very clear about this concept of mutual ownership in the husband/wife relationship in 1 Corinthians 7. Just listen to what Paul says.

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

You see, ladies (and guys you should hear this too), this call to submission to the man whom you possess as husband, is not a reference to inferiority; it’s simply a God-ordained distinction in function so that society can function like God desires.

For the sake of unity and work-ability, the woman is to be subject to the leadership of her husband—not as a slave but as one who is provided for, cared for, and secured by her husband.

And, gentlemen…. I might add that it does not have nearly as much to do with what she does for you as what you are responsible to do for her.

Leadership belongs to the man. God designed him to be stronger physically so that he would be able to work for, protect, provide for, and give security to his wife.

As I was talking with Ron Hainline yesterday about some of the nuances of this passage he made the remark that he thought that IF IT WERE NOT FOR God’s general design that men are typically bigger and stronger than women… women would rule the world 😊!!

So, that’s the second thing that I want you to see in this verse.  First, that wives are to submit …arrange themselves under their own husbands for the purpose of cooperating, aiding, helping, bearing the burden of being the “Helper” to their husband as they pursue the calling that God has placed on them.

And, second… that you understand that this is in reference to the husband whom you possess.  That there is mutual “ownership” within the marriage relationship. Women are not possessions, or just a hunk of meat, regardless of what our society believes and acts upon, and regardless of what the likes of Islam or Mormonism believes and teaches.

Before I move on to the last point I want to ask you wives a question.  How many of you have ever worked outside of the home for someone, a man, other than your husband?

Did you buck and fuss and throw a fit, or just flat out refuse when he told you to do something, or go someplace, or get something (even if it was coffee and donuts)?  Why not?  Oh, because he is in authority over you?  I see.  You know, I can’t think of anywhere in Scripture where a wife, in particular, is commanded to submit to the authority of a man other than her husband… yet many, many, many (perhaps even you) women respond with unfaltering submission to their employers, yet buck their husband’s leadership every step of the way… or at least, if not every step, regularly.

Ladies this should not be.  But, let’s be very clear… if you do work outside the home I am not calling you to rebel against your employer… I am calling you to be obedient to the role that the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE has placed you in.

The Matter of “as to the Lord” (Vs. 22c)

That brings me to the last thing I want to point out in this passage.  Let’s look at the verse again.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, AS TO THE LORD.

Wives you are called, in your God-given role, to submit… voluntarily align yourselves, under the leadership, calling, and headship of your own husbands, JUST AS YOU DO IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD!!!

Perhaps it is here that we really uncover the problem ladies (guys… you’ll get yours in verses 25-30)?  You can’t or won’t submit yourselves voluntarily under the leadership, calling, and headship of your husband because you can’t or won’t submit yourself, voluntarily to the Lord.

You’re still playing the role of Eve in the garden… calling your own shots, following your own “plan” or “calling” or “gifting” or “hobby” whatever you or the world we live in calls it, instead of fulfilling the role that GOD ALMIGHTY the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE has CREATED you for.

This is why I am able to say that this passage has something for every female to do. For those of you that are currently married… you’ve got two things to do that this passage requires of you… submit (align yourself voluntarily) to God and to the man that you possess as your husband, to his headship, to his leadership, to be a helper to him as he obediently (or even disobediently) pursues the calling that God has placed on him as a man.

If you are not currently married, meaning you are widowed, divorced, or have never been married… you are to submit yourself (align yourself voluntarily) to the Lord.  That ought to keep you exceedingly occupied 😊.  That means placing yourself under His authority and following His lead… doing WHAT he commands, WHERE he commands it, and WHEN he commands it, TO OR WITH WHOM He commands.

Now, I will close with a word to the guys…

In defense of the ladies who have worked outside the home for men other than their husbands and done exactly as they have been told let me make this observation relevant to you and your calling as a man.

How many business owners operate without a business plan?  How well do they do if they do not have one or do not stick to it?  Do you think it is easier to follow someone who is going somewhere or to follow someone who is just milling around like a herd of goats?

I think you can sense where I’m going with this.

Do you have a plan?  Do you know what your “calling” is?  Well, to begin with God has given every man a general calling or mandate.  It is found in Genesis 1:28…

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

That is the general calling or mandate of every man.  Now, what this looks like, or how this plays out in a man’s life specifically can be different for every man.  But, my point is…

DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE HEADED?

Do you know what God has called you to do as a man, as a husband, as a father, as an employer or an employee? You need to give your wife someone to follow.  Husbands, I want you to go home and before this day is finished I want you to sit down with your wife and develop a plan.  Where are you headed as a family?  How are you going to get there?  What do you want to be about?  What are your talents and spiritual gifts?  How do you want to serve the LORD? Then develop a plan.  Start simple.

Here are just a few ideas: family worship, state of the home (cleanliness, organization, function, essence), kids’ education, property shape and use, vehicles, etc. etc. etc.  Just begin to develop direction, a plan.

It doesn’t have to be earth shattering!  She needs to know where you’re headed… someplace other than to the Lazy Boy with your slippers, a Coke, and the remote.  Give her a leader that she can be a helper to.

And ladies… one last thing.  Does your home revolve around your “calling”, your desires, your hobbies, or that of your husbands?  Is that because you are in charge or because he won’t cast vision and direction?  Just some things to think about.

Anyhow, I implore you to go home, and before the day is through, sit down over a cup of coffee, tea and talk about these things.

Let’s pray!

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Ephesians 5:22-33

Let’s read the portion of Scripture that we’ll be spending a fair bit of time investigating and implementing over the next several weeks.  Ephesians 5:22-33.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

I want to start, this morning, considering marriage today… and the affect that it has or may have on the next generation. Look around you at all the children.  The way you live your life, the way you live with your husband or your wife has profound impact on your children and grandchildren.

Marriage’s Effect on the Next Generation

John MacArthur, in his book (written in 1981) “The Fulfilled Family” says,

I’m concerned about today’s marriages. Each year several million couples pledge themselves in marriage, vowing to love each other for better or worse. But many of those marriages will end in divorce. That contributes to the problem of unwanted children. There are as many abortions by married women as non-married. Couples often don’t want children. One-third of all couples in their child-bearing years have been sterilized. Why? Because children interfere with divorce. If you don’t have children, you can leave easier. Children get in the way.

We have a generation of children growing up in families that are in chaos. Many children are saying to themselves, The last thing I want to do is get married. I don’t want to repeat this mess. They’ve lived in chaotic and totally unfulfilled families, so they don’t want anything to do with marriage. But they want to fulfill their sex drives, so they go from person to person with no commitment. The next generation may never get married.[1]

How true.  Marriage is undoubtedly in trouble.  Even marriages that do hang together are often characterized by adultery, unfaithfulness, lying, cheating, loss of respect, loss of trust, pride, self-centeredness, materialism, laziness, and loneliness. Our nation is a mess, but the sad thing is that those characteristics have crept into the church. Believers are having marital problems, too. However, you’ve probably heard… and I think I’ve quoted things that I have read before, saying that divorce rates among Christians are the same or a bit higher than non-Christians.  Well, that needs some explaining… because it really depends on your definition of “Christian”, or more accurately… whether the persons calling themselves Christians are actually “in Christ.”  Do they take their faith seriously?  Do they regularly attend church services?  Do they study and apply the teaching of the Bible (all of it, not just where marriage is concerned)?  Here’s some truth coming from non-Christian sociologists. W. Bradford Wilcox, a leading sociologist at the University of Virginia and director of the National Marriage Project, finds from his own analysis that…

“Active conservative Protestants” who regularly attend church are 35 percent less likely to divorce compared to those who have no affiliation. Nominally attending conservative Protestants are 20 percent more likely to divorce, compared to secular Americans.”[2]

Did you get that?  If you “play” at doing church… if you “play” or “dabble” in walking with Christ… you are not seriously pursuing Jesus and His Word, than you are 20 times more likely to get a divorce than those who do not claim any sort of religious affiliation!!  That, church, should sober us up really fast!!

So, the answer is not more counselors, more marriage seminars, or more books on marriage; the answer, and it makes a complete sense when you think about it, is more GOD!!! Just as Paul has already said in Ephesians 5:18: “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”, which we’ve learned is giving more of yourself to Him, not you getting more of Him. So, when that is accomplished, when you give God more of you, God Himself will produce in you the virtues that make for a meaningful marriage. Oh yes, people are good at patching up symptoms, but we are not so good at dealing with reality. What we need to do is back up and look at God’s principles.

And that is what we are going to do, starting this morning.  Now, that we have taken a moment to consider marriage today we are going to consider what marriage was like back when Paul wrote this letter to the believers in and around Ephesus.  And then, second, we are going to look at a wonderful picture of marriage recorded for us in Scripture that is done like Paul talks about here in Ephesians 5:22-33.

The Condition of Marriage in Paul’s Day

I think that you will find it surprising how closely marriage in and around the time that Paul penned these words resembles marriage and society today.  Let me fill you in.

1.The Jews

The first thing we must understand is that the Jews had developed a low view of women.

To them, women were servants. In fact, when a Jewish man would get up in the morning, he would pray, “God, I thank You that I’m not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. Amen.” In Deuteronomy 24:1 Moses says that if a husband found “no favor” in his wife because of some “indecency”, he could divorce her.

Some rabbis interpreted “indecency” as adultery (because the word literally means “nakedness”) and said that was the only grounds for divorce. But others said that “indecency” could be anything from spoiling the dinner to not being as pretty as another woman. Basically, the two views among the rabbis about the proper grounds for divorce were: (1) adultery only; and (2) for any reason at all. When those two choices were offered to the people, which do you think they accepted? By the time of Jesus and Paul, the Jews were divorcing their wives on any given whim.

2.The Greeks

The Greeks were worse than the Jews. In the Greek world, there wasn’t a legal procedure for divorce, because it wasn’t necessary. Wives only cleaned the house and had legitimate children. Demosthenes, an Athenian orator and statesman, said,

“We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; and we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately and being faithful guardians for our household affairs.”

Because Greek men found their pleasures outside of marriage, fornication and prostitution were rampant. And according to historians, Athenian society was also dominated by homosexuality, lesbianism, and pedophilia (the sexual abuse of children).

3.The Romans

The Romans were even worse than the Greeks. Divorce was not the exception but the norm. Jerome, an ancient writer, tells of one Roman woman who married her twenty-third husband—and she was his twenty-first wife! Marriage in Rome became nothing more than legalized prostitution. In other words, you could get married when you found someone you wanted, stay until you got tired of her, dump her, and then marry someone else. Rome also had a rampant women’s liberation movement. Women didn’t want to have children because they thought it hurt their looks. Woman wanted to do everything men did, so there were women wrestlers and women fencers. According to Juvenal, the first- and second-century Roman satirical poet, women joined in men’s hunts “with spear in hand and breasts exposed, and took to pig-sticking.” Then he went on to write,

“What modesty can you expect in a woman who wears a helmet, abjures her own sex, and delights in the feats of strength?”[3]

That was the condition of marriage when Paul wrote:

Ephesians 5:22 (ESV)

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

We need to understand that Paul was not saying, “Now, I just want to remind you of what you already know.” He was actually calling them to a new standard of living. He was telling them to live in a way they knew nothing about.

The Song of Solomon: A Look at God-Designed Marriage

While Paul is talking about the functional roles of authority and submission in the marriage relationship, and that these things are to exist in the home, he is very clear that our relationships should be bathed in love so that they melt together with mutual love and respect. This is illustrated in the Song of Solomon, where we will see a beautiful picture of a right marriage relationship. It is a beautiful example of how leadership and submission is to work, even when things go awry 😊.

Let me first start by giving you a little perspective (you may want to jot down some of these references for discovery later):

In Song of Solomon 2:3–15, the woman acknowledges her husband as the head of the home. She saw him as her protector (v. 3), her provider (v. 4), her sustainer (v. 5), her security (v. 6), and her leader and initiator (vs. 10–15).

It would be good to note that there is no oppression or tyrannical spirit in this passage. She desired his leadership, and he took the role that God had given him. Now, even though authority and submission are present, verse 10 describes it beautifully: “My beloved is mine, and I am his”.

In 5:10–16, we see a marvelous portrait of the woman’s husband through her eyes of love. She saw him as handsome (v. 10) and bronzed (v. 11), with soft, tender, misty eyes (v. 12). There was color in his cheeks (v. 13), his lips were fragrant (v. 13), his hands were bronzed (v. 14), and his stomach and legs were muscular and strong (vv. 14–15). She saw him as a strong, handsome, rugged character.

In verse 16, when he opens his mouth, he isn’t crass or rude. Then at the end of verse 16 she says, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” She didn’t see him as a dictator; she saw him as a beloved friend. The mutuality and the spirit of love fits beautifully with authority and submission when love bathes the relationship.

I know what you’re thinking ladies… your thinking, “If my husband was like that, we’d never have a problem.” But, here’s the clincher… in chapter 5, we find that this couple did have a problem—the wife would not submit to her husband.

Let me just boil it down for you…

In verse 1 the husband comes home late at night… his wife is already in bed. He was full of love for her, and he knocked on the door, asking that she let him in (v. 2). Her response to him, however, was basically, “Don’t bother me now; I’m asleep. I’m not interested” (v. 3). But then, afterward… having heard his hand on the door, love welled up in her heart, and she felt sorry for her lack of submissiveness (v. 4). So, she got up, put her robe on, and opened the door (v. 5). But, unfortunately, it was too late—he had already gone (v. 6).

Note… both you husbands and wives… that he wasn’t demanding… he just made the request… he didn’t force himself on her. Well, as the story goes on… She panicked and ran all over the city trying to find him. Finally, she decided he was in the garden (v. 2) and found him there (v. 4). When she found him, he didn’t treat her with contempt because of her refusal.  He didn’t say, “Why didn’t you let me in?” And he didn’t get jealous of her being out and running all over the city late at night with a “Where have you been?”

No, instead, he said some of the same things he had said to her on their wedding night. In confirming his love for her, he told her that even though she had rejected him, he still loved her as much as he did the night he married her. The problem was solved, and they had a wonderful time renewing their relationship.

If I could define what we’ve been talking about here in a nutshell, I would put it this way: biblical authority or headship for a husband is:

Giving the best of all that he is to those under his care and authority.

And I would define submission in a complimentary manner:

Biblical submission for a wife is:

Giving the best of all that she is to the one that is in authority over her.

Several hundred years ago, Martin Luther described it this way:

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

The Bible has important things to say about having a meaningful relationship: and what we will be learning as we work our way through these verses is that functionally, we must have authority and submission. When we learn the meaning of those two dimensions of truth, our families will be what God wants them to be.

So, as we wrap this up this morning I want to leave you with some questions that you can take with you and consider over the course of the week.

Does your marriage reflect a man-designed marriage… are you doing it man’s way?  Or does your marriage reflect a God-designed marriage and you are seeking to do it God’s way?

What is your reaction to God’s teaching on authority and submission?  And, are you being honest with yourself about the answer that you just gave?

I would also ask, considering what we’ve learned about marriage success and the authentic practice of our faith, are you letting God have more of you so that you are “Filled with the Spirit” and then empowered to live in this way with your husband or wife?

Please, prayerfully consider these questions as we work our way through Paul’s teaching on authority and submission in our familial relationships.

Let’s pray!

[1] John F. MacArthur Jr., The Fulfilled Family (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981).

[2] W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Williamson, “The Cultural Contradictions of Mainline Family Ideology and Practice,” in American Religions and the Family, edited by Don S. Browning and David A. Clairmont (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) p. 50.

[3] Satires 1.22–23, 61–62; 6.246–64.

 

I read quite a bit.  Not as much as I should but more than most. Often I highlight and save things I read to my organizational wonder-brain, Evernote (click on the link to discover this wonderful tool.  Every once in a while I read something that really strikes home and deeply communicates with my soul. This article by Tim Challies, titled “The Greatest Burden of Leadership”  had that effect on me. It reflects what’s going on in my heart and the burden I feel in almost every area of my life: son, husband, father, friend, pastor, business owner, chaplain, bus driver. I feel the gravity of my responsibilities in every area of my life.  The burden feels great… I think, it is great and often I feel overwhelmed by the weight of it, and especially when I am not doing it well. I was encouraged by Tim Challies remedy to the realization of frequent failure in these areas… grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ… the essence of the Gospel!

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“Growth in personal holiness is largely determined by our progress in self-discipline. Without this foundational discipline, there can be no advancement in grace. Before other disciplines can be administered, whether in the home, business, or church, there first must be self-discipline.”

In the never ending battle of mortifying the flesh, this article by Pastor Steve Lawson puts in perspective where this “self-discipline” comes from.

I encourage you to check it out!

Self-Discipline by Steve Lawson