Saturday, May 30, 2009

Living Happily Ever After

People have always loved fairy tales. Most fairy tales begin with, "Once upon a time," and usually end with, "and they lived happily ever after." We like that. We wish it were us. For the plot line, there is usually some variation of the tried and true tale of a beautiful maiden. She is truly an enchantress with flowing hair and eyes so deep you could get lost in them with rosy lips and a sculpted figure and a heart that is true and pure. But this beautiful maiden is unattainable for she is the prisoner of some evil power. She is locked away in a castle guarded by trolls, dragons, armies, secret spells, or whatever. Only a champion can win her, and only through mortal combat. Blood will be shed before this battle is over, but our hero will triumph. He defeats the foe, wins the beauty, and they "live happily ever after."

We love those stories. The most beloved tales in our history have been romantic fairy tales: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Helen of Troy, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Arthur and Guinevere. Every young girl dreams of being that beautiful maiden waiting to be rescued. And every boy dreams of being that conquering hero who rescues her. God has placed those desires within each of us. This desire is what brings couples together. This is what causes the boy to pursue the girl - to fight for his beloved. And it causes the girl to want to be captured, all with the dream of living "happily ever after."

Ah, what a dream. So they stand at the altar and say their vows. And they promise to love and cherish one another through thick and thin, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do them part.

Why is it then that ten years later, that same couple is wondering why they ever got married in the first place? Why does divorce start to look like a really good option? Why do most of us get lost somewhere between, "Once upon a time," and, "They lived happily ever after?" Isn't it true that most passionate romances seem to fade into spending evenings in front of the TV, or into some low level combat for control of the family finances?

What went wrong? Don Henley says, "We've been poisoned by the fairy tales," because, as he says, they are merely myths. He claims they present a false idea of life. Is that true? I suppose there is some basis for his comments in that life is not all romance. That's why we can't rely only on romantic love to get us through. Indeed, Gary Thomas writes, "Romantic love has no elasticity. It can never be stretched. It simply shatters." That's why we have spent time talking about the need for agape love - a love that is sacrificial - to get us through.

But I think Mr. Henley is wrong also about fairy tales. I tend to agree with John Eldridge, who says, "No, we have not been poisoned by fairy tales and they are not merely myths. Far from it. The truth is, we have not taken them seriously enough." What is he talking about? The point he is making is that husbands have forgotten the part about that dragon that guards the castle. We have forgotten that the battle for our wives doesn't end at the altar when we say, "I do," but that the battle continues throughout our lives. We have forgotten that in this life, the dragon is always there for us to battle. Yet so many husbands have stopped fighting for their beauty. They've laid down their swords.

That dragon, of course, is Satan. Revelation 12, which presents a short history of that great, cosmic battle raging between God and Satan, shows Satan being cast out of heaven taking a third of the angels with him and waiting to devout a male child (Jesus) that God sends to the woman (Israel), and failing to destroy Jesus, his fury is vented upon the woman. But that same fury is also vented on every other woman on earth. That dragon is identified in Revelation 12:9 this way, "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."

Yes, Satan, the serpent of old, is the dragon. The one who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden is that same one who wants to destroy your marriage with his deceptive lines. He will use them to poison your relationship. "Your marriage isn't fulfilling enough," he will whisper. "Your differences are irreconcilable." "You could be happier with someone else." Those are all Satan's lies - lies intended to get you to lay down your sword and to stop fighting for your beloved. Yet people believe them all the time.

Most men don't even realize the battle is still going on. They think that once they've won their beauty, the fight is over. Yet, Satan works non-stop to destroy their relationship and to destroy their home. No wonder he wins so many battles and no wonder so many homes lie in ruin. As husbands, we must keep our sword sharp and unsheathed. We must continue the fight for our wives - yes, until the day we die. Are you willing to continue the fight for your wife?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Creation Museum

This past week, our family and two other families from church traveled to Covington, Kentucky, to the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum. It would be hard to find words to express just how impressed we were. Not only was it accurate and faithful to the Biblical account of creation from the book of Genesis, but the sheer quality of the exhibits was beyond compare.

The museum was set up around the seven "Cs" of history - creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation. The walk through the Garden of Eden was fabulous. The dinosaurs were lifelike. The cross section of Noah's ark showed the immense size of this ship. The planetarium showed the vastness of God's created universe. The grounds were a virtual garden paradise. And the petting zoo was a hit with the kids.

Without reservation, we highly recommend the creation museum for anyone, both saved and unsaved. If you are anywhere in the vicinity, it would be worth the side trip to make a visit. Even if you made this your main destination, it is worth the drive. A solid understanding of creation is the bedrock of our faith. You can find information about the Creation Museum at

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cherish Your Wife

We've talked for awhile about the requirement for a husband to nourish his wife. But the same verse that calls him to do that also calls him to cherish his wife. Ephesians 5:29 says, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." We must cherish our wives.

What does it mean to cherish? Surprisingly, that word is used only one other place in the New Testament. It is found in 1st Thessalonians 2:7, where Paul writes, "But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children." The word "cherish" has the idea of tenderly caring for something. The word literally means to warm or heat, like a mother hen would warm her eggs by sitting on them or warm her chicks by hovering over her brood and covering them with her wings and nestling them into the soft feathers of her breast.

A mother hen does that, and a husband must do that for his wife. He protects and cares for her, realizing the value of his wife. We know that comes easy for a mom as she cares for her babies. It should come easy for a husband to care for this special one he loves - his wife. As mom mothers her children, dad must mother their mom.

Added insight comes from the verse we looked at previously. 1st Peter 3:7 taught us about our wives, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." Giving honor is a form of cherishing. That agrees with the dictionary definition of cherishing which is holding dear, or of clinging to fondly. As men, this is what we are commanded to do. We hold our wives as dear to us. We honor them.

This isn't a feeling. This isn't something we do for our wives if they are worth our honor. This is what we are commanded to do. We honor our wife for the same reason you cherish her. She is the weaker vessel. She needs you. She needs your care. This alone should stir up something inside your belly. This should get your masculine juices flowing. You have a woman you love that needs you. She needs your care. You, as her protector, provider, and priest, are needed.

The word has the idea of providing a warm, safe, secure, and soft place for her. A place with no danger. She must feel safe with you. She must feel that she is a precious treasure to you. She must feel like you are putting her on a pedestal to be admired by you. Women have this as one of their basic needs - the need to be cherished and honored. Only you, husband, can meet that need. Make sure you do.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Priority of Nourishing and Cherishing Your Wife

Husbands, this is for you. Tom Peters, the Author of, In Search of Excellence, and other best sellers on business success writes this:
"We are frequently asked if it is possible to 'have it all' - a full and satisfying personal life and a full and satisfying, hard working professional one. Our answer is: No. The price of excellence is time, energy, attention and focus, at the very same time that energy, attention, and focus could have gone toward enjoying your daughter's soccer game. Excellence is a high cost item."
Let me assure you, he is right. You can't have it all. Where he is wrong is in where he puts the priority. His advise is that you must make the sacrifice of your family to achieve excellence at work. But that is WRONG! If you don't spend the needed time with your wife and children, you will lose them They will drift away from you and eventually leave - leaving you alone and a lonely man.

But aren't your wife and children more important than any business success? Aren't they? Certainly the bible upholds hard work and doing your best. And you are commanded to work to support your family. But never to the extreme of sacrificing what is really most important - and that is your wife and your children. If you have provided for their needs in food, clothing, and a house to live in; also make sure your provide for their even greater need - the need of your time and attention. They don't need the biggest house and the newest car, but they do need you.

When it comes to your marriage, you will never know your wife, her deepest thoughts and needs, unless you devote the time and energy to study her. It takes time! And she will never reveal her heart to you unless she knows she can trust you - unless she knows you won't take her secrets, her feelings, and her scars and use them against her.

Again Christ is the example. In Hebrews 4:16, we are invited: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." We can be totally open and honest before God knowing that we will always receive mercy. We will always receive grace. God will always be ready to help in our time of need. After all, He knows everything there is to know about us, and He loves us anyway. He will always be tender toward us providing just what we need.

We must be that way with our wives - always gracious and merciful, always ready to provide for her needs. Does that describe you, husband?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To Nourish Your wife

Last time, we looked at the command to a husband requiring him to nourish and cherish his wife from Ephesians 5:29. But let's look at this word, "nourish," a little closer. It means so much more than just to meet your wife's physical needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Yes, when we nourish our tomatoes with plant food they grow. When we feed our kids with Wheaties, they grow. But also, when I provide emotional food to satisfy my wife's soul hunger, she grows as a person.

At the deepest level, nourish means to bring out, as you would do when you reached into a bunch of flowers to draw one out so you could display it to the best advantage. A man who nourishes his wife draws out the very best that is hidden within her so she will develop a character ever more like Christ's own. You nourish those inner qualities to allow them to develop.

The word is used in reference to raising children. Ephesians 6:4 is an example: "And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord." That phrase, "bring them up," is translated from the same word translated as nourish. Here, the word means to mature them. A father is to do all he can to assure that his children become all they can be. Husbands must do that same thing for their wives. The goal is to help them become all that God wants them to be.

To do this, the husband must look beyond her mere physical needs, as in providing a house, food, and clothing, and also look to her emotional and spiritual needs. When she needs strength, you must be strong for her. when she needs encouragement, you must encourage her. When she needs affection, you must give her a hug. When she needs assurance, you must prove your undying commitment to her. She must know she will never, ever lose you. This is all part of caring for her needs. This is all part of the requirement to nourish your wife.

Again, Jesus is our example. Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." That means more than a meal on the table or a roof over our head. Jesus takes care of our most intimate needs in every area. His love is a caring love. Our job, husbands, our duty as provider, protector, and sustainer of our wives, is to supply all - ALL - of our wife's needs.

But how does a husband know what his wife's needs are? the answer is found in 1st Peter 3:7, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered." To dwell with them means so much more than just sharing an address or eating at the same table or even sleeping in the same bed. It has the idea of a deep, intimate relationship. This is not just sharing things, but sharing our lives together. And we are to do that with understanding.

Do you see this? In order to nourish your wife, you need to know your wife. You need to know things about her that no one else knows. You need to know her deepest feelings, her dreams and her disappointments. You need to know her scars and her fears. You need to know her love language and speak it. You need to know what turns her on - how she likes to spend an evening. You need to know everything about her. And that takes time. And that takes effort. And that takes trust. There is no other way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

To Nourish and Cherish

Husbands are told in Ephesians 5:29 another way they are to love their wives. It says, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." But what does it really mean to nourish and cherish our wives? Let's think about it.

To nourish, in its simplest form, just means to feed. Nourishment comes from eating, right? This obviously refers to the husbands role as the breadwinner. He brings home the bacon, or goes out to the back yard and raises it. We know that modern America, indoctrinated by radical feminism, has put down that role of the husband, but it was part of God's plan at creation. The husband is to be the provider for his home.

You can see God's plan at creation by looking at the curse in Genesis 3, especially the curse on Adam as the man. God cursed both of them, both Adam and Eve, in the area of their primary responsibility. We saw previously that Eve was cursed in her primary roles of mother and wife. How was Adam cursed? He was cursed in his primary role as provider. Genesis 3:17-19 says,
"Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you saying, you shall not eat of it; cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.'"
Adam was cursed in his primary role as breadwinner. It was his responsibility to make sure his family's physical needs were cared for. He was responsible to make sure they had enough to eat, a place to live, and that they were protected from danger. But because of the curse, this would no longer be easy. It would now take back breaking labor. Thorns and thistles would interfere. Weeds and pests would fight him. He will have to toil and sweat until the day he dies to take care of his family.

But it is still his responsibility. 1st 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." Certainly there is nothing in Scripture to preclude the wife from also being an economic blessing to the family, but that's not her primary responsibility. she was created for a different purpose. She will never stand before God to give an account for why her family didn't have enough to eat. But the husband will. That is what he was created for. It is his responsibility.

But remember the analogy that this passage is taken from. The husband and the wife are one flesh. We learned that in Genesis 2:23-24. You would never starve or neglect your own body, would you? Neither should you ever neglect your wife's physical needs. Caring for her is as important as caring for your own body.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Loving Your Wife as Your Own Body

In the last entry, we talked about the need for a husband's love to be a caring love. This was taught in Ephesians 5:28, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself." As we said, this assumes we love ourselves.

"Now wait a minute," some of you will say. "I sure don't love my body. I don't even like my body. I'm too short. I'm too tall. I'm not handsome enough. I'm out of shape and too fat, or too skinny. I'm getting too old and my body has lots of aches and pains. How can you say I love my body?"

No! No! No! I didn't say you were satisfied with your body; few ever are. I said you loved it. Psychologists tell us that even self-pity is really a form of self-love. You only say, Woe is me!" because you really love yourself. Otherwise, it wouldn't matter. What this is saying is that you won't intentionally hurt yourself or do harm to yourself. Exercise till it hurts? O, sure! No gain without pain. Allow a surgeon to cut into you? Sure! Because you know that the end result will be beneficial. Following the pain of surgery, you will be better.

But nobody deliberately pinches, punches, or cuts themselves for no reason. Nor will they starve themselves or sit out in the cold and the rain without shelter. Not if they are sane they won't. To cause yourself pain hurts you, and nobody wants to hurt.

Now throw in what we know about marriage from Ephesians 5:31, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his own wife, and the two shall become one flesh." That, of course, is quoting from Genesis 2:24 - from the story of Adam and Eve. It is telling us about the joining in marriage of that first man and woman.

The point is, at marriage the husband and wife are joined together so closely that God considers them one flesh - one body, not two separate individuals - just as at salvation we are joined together with Christ as His body. In 1st Corinthians 6:17, it says, "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him." As believers, we have a unity with Christ similar to the unity we have in marriage.

So the logic is, if your wife is as much a part of your body as your arm or your leg, or maybe your eye or your heart, you sure as shooting don't want to hurt her, do you? And men, if you do, I assure you that you will hurt. I'm not just talking, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" There's no doubt that it is true, but this is getting at that third way in which Christ loves. His love for us is a caring love.

Look at Ephesians 4:29-30, "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones." How is a man to care for his wife? The same way as he cares for his own body. He nourishes it and cherishes it. So that is how he must love his wife.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Caring Love

Along with being a sacrificial love and a purifying love, Christ's love for His bride, the church, is a caring love. Therefore a husband, to love his wife just as Christ loved the church, must also love his wife with a caring love. We are finding these truths in the book of Ephesians chapter five, and this specifically comes from verses 29-30,
"For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones."
To show this truth, Paul has switched analogies. He now begins talking about a man and his care for his own body. But this still fits the symbolism of Christ and the church. Christ is portrayed in the Scriptures as the head of the body, and His spiritual body is the church.

This is what Paul taught in Ephesians 1:22-23,
"And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."
God the Father put Jesus in charge of the church as her head. Do you see this? The church is the body of Christ. This passage from Ephesians 5:29-30 is still all about how Jesus relates to the church - in this case, symbolically as His body. Remember what we said? Ephesians 5:32 tells us, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church." That's been the topic of this long passage on the husband and the wife. Paul was just using them as a springboard to talk about Christ and the church. The husband and the wife are earthly pictures to the world in which the husband pictures Christ and the wife pictures the church.

So now apply this to these next few verses in Ephesians 5. When we read Ephesians 5:28, "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself," we are still using Christ as our example. He is the example in the way he loves His own body, the church. Husbands, therefore, still must treat their wives with the same kind of love just as Christ loves His own body, the church. That is the requirement for every husband.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Being a Spiritual Leader

We've talked about the need for the husband to be the spiritual leader of the home - that as the priest of the home, the husbands needs to lead his wife and his children into the Word of God. But what really does that mean? I think you could figure this out. It isn't rocket science. Ephesians 5:26 tells us that Jesus sanctifies the church "with the washing of water by the Word." If the Word of God brings about sanctification and purification, the husband needs to lead his family into the Word. That's where spiritual growth and change comes from. A husband's priority, therefore, would include leading his family in daily devotions where they read and discuss the Bible, plus regular church attendance where the Word of God is taught and preached.

Look at Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart, You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."
Training your family about God is your responsibility, men. It isn't the pastor's or the Sunday School teacher's responsibility, it is yours. If you don't know how, learn! There are lots of ways. The method isn't important, but whether or not you do it is. You might just read a passage from the Bible and discuss it. You might want to get a good daily devotional to use. There are lots of excellent ones geared for children. We used Keys for Kids from Uncle Charlie at Box 1, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Remember, the method isn't important. Just do it!

And certainly, this will include making sure your family is in church and Sunday School each week so they can sit under the teaching of the Word of God. Yes, that is your job, Dad. It shouldn't be up to your wife to suggest that you go to church each week. She shouldn't have to nag you and drag you each week. It should be your mandate for your family.

"We will be in church on Sunday!"

"But, Dad, can't I stay home and . . . "

"NO! Our family will be in church!"

We don't want to be legalistic about this. Everyone has to miss on occasion, but the occasions should be extremely rare. They shouldn't include an every Sunday morning little league game. All that teaches your kids is that baseball is more important than God. Oh, God is OK, and we'll try to fit Him in when we get some free time. But the little league games are scheduled for Sunday morning. Men, that is not being the spiritual leader of your home. You are responsible for the spiritual life of your wife and children. You, not your wife, will be held accountable by God. You alone!

But isn't the spiritual well being of your family more important than all the other things you could be doing on a Sunday morning? Isn't it more important than . . . . fill in the blank with your personal excuse. Training your family in the Word of God will only happen if it becomes a priority with you, husband. Until you set your heart upon the Word, you will never be able to lead your family there. You can't lead them where you have never been yourself. If you want your wife and children to flourish spiritually, if you want them to live responsible, moral lives, you must get them into the Word.