Monday, March 17, 2014

The Family Shepherd

When I say the words husband and father to you, what kind of things do you associate with them? The provider. The protector. The disciplinarian.

Where have these things gone in our society today? Why has the definition and value of these roles diminished greatly or even disappeared from the scope of the modern man?

First of all, God created men and women with specific roles. This is very clear in the Bible from the beginning. The biblically established roles of men and women are equally important, and equally God-honoring. Just because God established the husband as the leader and head in the relationship doesn't mean that the submission of the wife should be a demeaning thing, or a lesser thing. God had a plan in the workings of a marriage. It is one of the greatest pictures in action of His relationship with the church found in the Bible. Ephesians 5:22-27 tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; and tells wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. These are two equally challenging things that should humble both people. I think God created men and women to naturally struggle with their roles so they would have to rely on Him and trust in His word. You should read my wife's blog about the role of women in the household

Most of the weight of a husband nowadays is put on the monetary provision of the household; the food on the table, and the roof over the head. I'm not saying that this isn't a necessary part of the role. The Word clearly states that if a man doesn't provide for his household, he is worse than an unbeliever - 1 Timothy 5:8. But what does this word "provide" entail? Does it only involve making sure your family has a house and food, or does it include a much broader span of things?

What about the provision of the Word? What about giving of yourself and sacrificing for your wife? What about being patient with your children and pointing them to the Lord instead of punishing in your anger?

The most important thing you can do for your household provisionally is lead them spiritually. I've learned that you actually do this whether you are actively pursuing it or not. If you are passive in it, you just teach your family to be passive in the things of God. The Bible puts so much weight on the role of the father. He is to train his children in the ways of the Lord. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 states that “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up." It is primarily the father's role to make sure that his children know and love the word of God.

Ephesians 5:26 tells you to wash your wife with the water of the word. You have a massive impact on the sanctifying of your wife, husbands. Even if they know more of the bible than you do and have been more diligent in their studies, they need you to lead them because it is your God-ordained role.

Give your time and energy to giving your wife the things she needs. So many other things can wait. The time you spend on this will impact everything else. Obviously your relationship with God is at the root of everything, but if there is too much damage at the trunk of the tree, none of the nutrients will reach the branches. This is worth your time.

I don't know anything firsthand about disciplining children yet, since my first child is only 8 months old; but There is a lot about it in the Bible. Proverbs 13:24 says "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." and Ephesians 6:4 says "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." My wife and I just finished reading Voddie Baucham's book "Family Shepherds" which I highly recommend. In it he says “Discipling our children is not about teaching them to behave in a way that won’t embarrass us. We’re working toward something much more important than that. We’re actually raising our children with a view toward leading them to trust and to follow Christ.” If we hope to have obedient children that love God, we can't expect to do that by punishing them in our anger and selfishness or expecting to train them like we would a dog. We must let them know why what they did was wrong according to God and discipline them not because we're so angry about what they did, but to point them towards something more important than being well behaved; a desire to glorify God.

I have a lot to learn in these areas as far as experience goes, still being early in my marriage and in fatherhood, but I just want to stress how important it is to look to the bible when gauging the responsibilities of the husband and father. The lines are becoming so blurred in society nowadays. It's perfectly acceptable for men and women to do whatever they want and conduct their households how they see fit. But there is a reason divorce is the highest it's ever been, if people get married at all. Gender roles are becoming a thing of the past, as gender in general is becoming a choice. Please don't miss out on the blessings that come with a household that is built on the sufficiency of what God has spoken; the way he has ordained things to be.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leaving The Old Man To Die

This is definitely the hardest thing I've ever publicly posted online, and may be the hardest thing I ever will post, but I feel it is a necessary thing to do for myself and hopefully a beneficial thing for some of you. I don't do this for a pat on the back, but for the possibility of helping people who are struggling with the same thing I have struggled with, and for people affected by it.

Since I was about 13 I have struggled with pornography. It wasn't always a constant thing. Sometimes I went weeks and even months without it, but the urges always returned, lulling me into a world of comfort, deception and selfishness. I tried many times on my own to overcome it. A few times I thought I had victory over it; praying many times that God would just take the temptation away, but to no avail, I would sink back into it again, sometimes worse than before.

This continued until this past October, when I finally decided that hopes of a private victory were impossible. My young marriage was sickly, my wife knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what. The poison was seeping into every part of our relationship. The thing that I thought would for sure take care of my struggles, marriage, had only intimately involved someone else in my problem, and doubled the devastation. My daughter arrived in June, and I had started coming to the sobering realization that if this continued much longer, it was going to taint the legacy I left with my children. So I then confessed everything to my wife, beginning more hardships, but also beginning healing.

I know many of you probably wonder why I would want to make this publicly known. The truth is, my flesh definitely doesn't. I've had to continually fight off the urge to just keep it to myself and my wife. It would definitely be easier, but easier isn't better. This is such a big problem in the society today, specifically, in the church. I could just silently have victory over this sin; I could just move on after 15 years and still just walk into church on Sunday with a church face on like I always do with nobody knowing the difference; or I could try to use this evil for somebody else's good.

For those of you struggling in this area: you can't handle this problem alone.

Married men, you need to confess to your wives. It will be one of the hardest things you will ever do; but expecting to handle this problem apart from your wife, even if you have other accountability won't work. There has to be healing between you and your wife, and unless you come completely clean to her, there won't be healing from all the damage that has already been done. And believe me, there has been plenty of damage done.

Unmarried men. Run. Get as far away from this stuff as you can. Apart from being a sin, it will damage your mind. It will affect how you see women. It will damage your relationship with your future wife. In essence you are cheating on her before you even meet her.

Repent. Fall on your face before Jesus Christ and you will find him to be a perfect savior. Don't expect God to just take away your temptations and desires if you ask Him. He wants to build your character in the process. He has made his word sufficient for us. If you search the scriptures you find in James 5:16 that if you confess your sins to one another and pray for one another you may be healed. You must tell somebody. You must tell your wife. Also, you can't expect to clean up this area of your life and expect it to stay pure without filling it with something good. Luke 11:25 says "And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. "Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first." You must immerse yourself in the word. You must pray and devote every day to honoring the Lord. You must also completely give yourself to the service and headship of your wife.

Please remember that sexual sin is a perversion of the gospel. Husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loves the church. And when husbands are giving into things like that, what does that say about the love that Christ has? Obviously we can never perfectly represent it, but keep in mind that this is the biggest witness we have to the outside world; how we sacrifice for and lead our wives.

This is obviously a heart issue. More than just changing or suppressing a behavior, we should desire a changed heart that desires things of God. Be encouraged that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ" Philippians 1:6. He will use His Word and the church and your spouse to sanctify you and give you victory. You should definitely put some kind of safeguard on your internet devices. Covenant Eyes and X3 are trusted companies that send your viewing history to an accountability partner.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or prayer needs. I want to do all I can to help end this. I love you, and want to see you all living in the fullness of what God has for you.