About Matt Norman

I am a Christian, husband, father, pastor, church planter, nurse, and freelance writer.

Men: Being the Spiritual Leader of Your Family – You Gotta LOVE Your Wife

This is the second in my series on helping men become the spiritual leaders of their family. You can find the first post and links to remaining posts as they become available HERE.

I remember a story that the pastor at a church I used to attend and then served as children’s pastor told from time to time. The story was of a street preacher. You know the ones standing on a random street shouting at people as they walk or drive by. Sometimes they have a megaphone or even a speaker system. This particular street preacher used to regularly shout, “Husbands, you gotta LOVE your wife.” If you want to be the spiritual leader of your family this is one of the first things you gotta do.

You gotta LOVE your wife. Street preachers like the one in my pastor’s story can be easy to ignore. They’re kinda wild and sometimes downright obnoxious. But, in this particular case, the street preacher makes a good point. You’ve gotta LOVE your wife. It is unfair for you to expect your wife to follow you, if you don’t love her. Not only do you need to love her, she needs to know that you love her. More about that in a little bit, but for now let’s just say that you need to love your wife. If you don’t then we shouldn’t go any further.

Take time right now, and every day, to pray for God to help you love your wife more and better.

She’s number 1, well number 2, but also number one. There is a mistake I often see in families today. Things are pretty good until kids come around. Then, suddenly, the husband or wife get’s pushed to the side. Suddenly, one or the other begins to feel like a second-class citizen. I get it. the kids NEED you. They require more attention. Still, we HAVE to remember that your wife MUST remain your number one. There should be no human relationship that outranks that with your wife.

There is one relationship that must outrank your wife. That is your relationship with God. You must focus on that. I’ll talk more about that in a later post. For now let’s just say that God is number 1, but your wife comes in at a close number 2.

The best witness for your kids. As dads we often think about ways to witness to our kids. We think about how to be a good example to our kids. We want to show our sons what it means to be a Godly man. We want our daughters to see what a Godly man looks like to help them choose a Godly husband. The best way that you can witness to your kids is to love their mother. Your sons will learn that this is how you treat a woman, especially their wife. Your daughters will learn that this is how a woman should be treated, especially by her husband. Hopefully this will help our sons be better husbands and our daughters to choose better husbands.

More than words. It’s easy to tell people we love them. However, it requires WORK to show them. I’m not taking about flowers or chocolates, that’s too easy. I’m talking about doing things that show your wife that you love her. There are probably things you already that show your love for your wife. From making sure the cars are in top running condition, or that the yard is well maintained her not having to worry about these things is HUGE. But, when you do things that maybe she normally does, that’s a game changer. When was the last time you send her away and cleaned the house? Or maybe prepared dinner? Or maybe do the dishes. I’m certainly not saying that these things are HER job. But, you might be amazed at how much she appreciates you doing them.

She’s YOUR wife, not mine. Ultimately, she’s your wife, not mine. I’ve spent the last 27 years getting to know my wife. I know what it takes to make her feel loved, even if I’m not always good at doing it. You need to take the time to learn your wife. Look for the things that cause her stress. She’ll when you work to reduce that stress. Find out what she enjoys, do those things with her and help give her opportunities to do these.

Tag, you’re it. Now, it’s your turn. I’ve given you some things to think about. Now, you have to go out and do them. You’re wife will never follow you as the spiritual leader of your family if she doesn’t feel loved by you. So, first step. Learn you wife. If you don’t do that, then nothing else you do will help you become the spiritual leader of your family that you want to be.

Matt Norman

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This is What Love Looks Like

So, today is Valentines Day. I was planning to post the second in my series helping men learn how to the spiritual leaders of their families. Then life threw me a curveball. You see this past Sunday, some really unexpected things happened. Through that I got a really good idea of what true love looks like, and it looks a lot like my wife.

It ain’t about flowers or candy. These are common gifts often given on Valentines Day. Heck, there is currently a box of chocolates sitting on my dinning room table that my son intends to give to his girlfriend. But, that’s not love. Anybody can do that. Countless millions of dollars will be spent on candy and flowers this week. Sadly, many of those couples will not spend another Valentines Fay together. You can certainly get candy or flowers for the one you love and, if they are into that, then you should. BUT, that’s not the best way to show your love.

It ain’t about words either. In our society love has become nearly meaningless. We love pizza. We love cars. We love super hero movies. We love our kids. We love our spouses. When we use this one word to describe our feelings for so many different things, how can it possibly express how we feel for the most important person on Earth. That’s why expressing out love has to be so much more than simply saying, “I love you.” You should say it. You should say it often. I think you should never end a phone call or leave your spouse without saying it. BUT, it can’t end there.

So, what happened on Sunday? Well, it started like any other Sunday. We moved in all the equipment, set everything up, and started service. We sang some songs and I got up to preach. I felt perfectly fine during the message. But, as soon as I finished and walked off I started feeling bad. I started having some abdominal pain and nausea. I walked over and told Kim that I wasn’t feeling well. I was able to pray to end the service. But, that was about as far as I got.

Just a couple minutes later, as everyone else started tearing down, I looked at Kim and told her that I needed to sit down. I was having severe abdominal pain and nausea. I was pouring sweat and Kim told me I was very pale. She told me just to leave, to go home. I tried to protest because somebody had to drive the truck with the trailer. She firmly told me to leave and that she would take care of the trailer. Finally, I conceded and left.

This was just the beginning. As soon as she got home, I went to bed. She brought me socks for my cold feet. She drove me to the ER, insisting on taking me to the door and then parking. She stayed with me in the ER and waited while I went to surgery. She missed dinner in the process. She stayed with me in my hospital room as long as they would let her. She tried to make sure I drank something, but I was too doped to even try. I just wanted to sleep.

The next morning she got the kids off to school and then rejoined me at the hospital. She helped me up to the restroom. She kept me company and helped me reposition when needed. She helped me with my breakfast and lunch. She brought me some clean clothes and helped me get dressed. Man, it felt good to get some regular clothes on, instead of just the hospital gown with… everything hanging out. When it was time to leave she gathered up all our stuff. She walked with me as the nurse pushed me, in a wheelchair out of the hospital. She then rushed out to the car, driving it up to the sidewalk so I could get in. She helped me get in and then drove slowly home… perhaps the biggest sacrifice she made the whole time.

When we got home she, and out son, went above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed and that I was comfortable. When it became time for bed she helped me get into the bed… then to get out. This was quite an ordeal. She demonstrated great patience waiting on me to decide how I wanted to sleep, where, and then how to get out of the bed. When I decided I couldn’t sleep in the bed, Kim and our son rearranged furniture in order to allow me to sleep in the recliner in the living room.

The next day she cooked me breakfast and brought it to me. She then took the kids to school and came back to make sure I had everything I needed. She helped me shower. What a simple and great thing. And it just went on and on from there.

What’s love got to do it? You might look at all of this and think, what’s love got to do with it. Some may say she was just doing what any wife or husband would do. Sadly, we know that this is simply not true. There are a great many husbands and wives that would not take such good care of their spouse. They should, but some wouldn’t. That’s love. We have been together for nearly three decades. At times we REALLY get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes were do things that are simply unloving. But, when it comes down to it, we love each other and when I needed her, she REALLY stepped up.

Matt Norman

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Men: How to Be The Spiritual Leader of Your Family: Part 1

It might not be popular these days, but I truly believe that the Bible calls men to be the spiritual leaders of their family. This is not to say that men are somehow better than women. This is not say that as a man, husband, father that I out rank my wife. This is not to say that I am the boss. Rather this puts a responsibility on men to LEAD their families. But, how do we do that? What does that look like? This is part on in a series that will look at just that: How to Be The Spiritual Leader of Your Family.

This is tough. In an era when society is constantly attacking what it means to be a man, it becomes harder and hard to be the “man of the family.” I’m certainly not suggesting that we go back to a time when most women wore cute dresses and aprons and spent most of their time cleaning and other chores. I’m not saying that women need to get back into the kitchen “where they belong”. Frankly, I don’t think I could be married to June Cleaver, or Carol Brady. I LOVE that woman today are encouraged to be strong. But, what does that mean for us men? Where does that leave us? How do we lead without pushing women down?

I don’t have all the answers. I’m not even going to begin to say that I know all the answers. What I intend to offer here are some things that can move you towards being the spiritual leader of your family. I am certainly open to discussing specific questions or issues you may have. While I don’t have all the answers, I do believe that together we can discover them.

You’re NOT the boss. Again, this is not about being the boss. If you’re looking to be the boss, you probably need to read these posts, but you may need to do some soul searching first. Identify your TRUE motives and then come back and read this from a perspective of leading your family, not trying to be the boss. If, however, you are not looking to become the boss, but have a true desire to lead your family well, then keep reading cause these posts are for you.

Here is a preview of the upcoming posts in this series. As the posts become available. These will also become links to this posts.

  • You Gotta LOVE Your Wife
  • Prayer Matters
  • You Gotta Grow
  • Church Attendance Matters
  • Be Kind
  • Be the leader, not the boss
  • Don’t go it alone

Check back often to read the rest of the posts in this series.

Use the SUBSCRIPTION box to the right to make sure you don’t miss any posts.

Matt Norman

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If You Hate My Wife, We Can’t Be Friends

There is a statement that I have told my kids many times over the years. In fact, I have told them so much that they can both quote it. Here it is:

“This is my wife. I love you, but I love her more. She was my wife before you came around, and she will be my wife after you have grown up and moved on.”

I’m certainly not trying to tell my kids that I don’t love them. I always make sure, when I say this, that they know I love them. But, what I want them to know is that I love my wife. On this earth there is no person more important that my wife, for me. In fact, there is only one relationship more important that the relationship with my wife. That relationship is with Jesus.

I say all this to say, I LOVE MY WIFE. I’m not always good at showing it, and I probably don’t say it often enough. But, I love her. I love each of you reading this, but I love my wife more. If fact, I love my wife so much that if you don’t like her we simply can’t be friends. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that my relationship with her is that much more important than my friendship with you.

Frankly, my wife is such a part of me, of who I am, that if you don’t like her, you probably won’t like me either.

You can TRULY say you love me, if you don’t also love my wife.

The funny thing is that people do this exact same thing to Jesus. It’s common to hear people say, “I love Jesus. I just don’t like the church.” The Bible calls the church the Bride of Christ. So, this statement is telling me that you love me, but hate my wife. If you hate my wife, we simply can’t be friends. So, I struggle to believe that Jesus is ok with you saying that you hate HIS bride.

What kind of relationship would that be? Imagine for a minute that you and I tried to build a friendship. We hung out some, and had some come together. Then, you met my wife. Shortly after meeting her you start talking about everything that is wrong with her. You start posting to your social media about every bad habit that my wife might have. You talk about how ugly she is. Let me be completely clear.

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. If you did this to my wife, not only could you not be my friend, but you are going to find yourself dealing with me. I’m a nice guy. I can put up with a lot. BUT, that’s my wife and I WILL fight for her. I WILL protect her. I WILL come after you if you attack her.

Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am generally a pretty kind person. In fact I try very hard to be. Sadly, some people have mistaken that kindness for weakness. Many have learned that my kindness does have a limit. When that limit is reached, I can become a worthy adversary. Before you condemn me for this, or warn me against such threats, consider this. The gentle shepherd who played soothing music for a troubled king is the same person who attacked a giant with nothing but a sling and a few stones. Then, he cut the giant’s head off. You may know this shepherd as David and the giant as Goliath.

The point is, I LOVE MY WIFE. Was imperfect I as I am, I love my wife. I am willing and eager to protect her, to stand up for her, even to fight for her. If I, with all my imperfections, would love my wife in this way, how much more would Jesus, in his perfection, love HIS Bride? The Bible says that Jesus’ Bride is the church.

If you hate the church… If you’re among those people that would say they love Jesus, but hate the church I would encourage you to consider what I have written here. The church is the Bride of Christ. As such, I struggle to see how you can honestly say that you love Jesus, but hate his bride. I know that the church is flawed. The unfortunate truth is that the church is filled with people. Anytime you have all those people, there are going to be problems. I don’t say this to excuse how many of them behave. I’ll get to them in a minute. But, I would encourage you to give the church a chance. If you try one local church and it’s not a good fit for you, try another, then another, then another.

There are many different churches. While I wouldn’t encourage you to search for a church based solely on your personal preferences, I would say that if one church is not a good fit for you, there are many others. Don’t give up on the bride of Jesus so easily. I have seen how ugly church can be. I’ve experienced it. One of my goals as I started a church was to work to make it a place where there was less of the ugly stuff that I have seen. Still, some of it will probably happen.

If you are a church member or leader… If you are part of a local church you MUST remember that you are the bride of Christ. You represent Jesus. Does the way you behave reflect how Jesus would have us behave? Does how you treat people, especially people who act, look, or think different than you reflect how Jesus treated people? Do the things you say on social media reflect Jesus? Does the way you behave in public reflect Jesus? Does how you act at work reflect Jesus? I think you get the idea. You are the bride of Christ. Maybe if we remember this and behaved as if we believed it, then fewer people would think it was ok to say they love Jesus, but hate the church.

Matt Norman

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This SH– is Awesome

Some may look at this title and say that’s just click bait. Just stick with me for a little bit, you’ll understand.

As you may know I spent a lot of years as a pastor to children. This mean planning events, programs, and worship services for kids. In all of these things something I felt was very important what FUN. No, fun was not the ultimate goal, but it was important. The ultimate goal was to reach kids and families with the Gospel of Jesus and help them grow in that relationship. Still, fun was important aspect. I wanted kids to WANT to come to church. I wanted them to want to bring their friends. I wanted kids dragging their parents into church each week. At the very least I wanted kids not to give their parents a hard time when it came time to get ready for church. I wanted this sh….. stuff to be awesome.

“This SH— is Awesome”: The title of this post is actually a quote. I can’t remember who told me about this, but it’s a true story that happened in a friend’s church. The person who told me this was a fellow children’s pastor. During a service or event of some sort, there was a new kid. We love to have new kids, but it can be really hard for that new kid. It can be a little difficult for us as well. We want the kid to feel welcomed, but sometimes we are so busy just making things happen that we don’t have time, or don’t think we do, to help this new kid feel welcome.

I couldn’t tell you exactly what sort of event this was. Maybe a worship service. Maybe a special event. I just don’t remember. What I do remember is that part way through the program things were going really well. Then, in the middle of everything that is a typical children’s worship service, or event, this new kids yells, “This sh— is awesome.” Clearly this new kids was enjoying himself. How often would a non-church person TRULY enjoy being in church? Sadly, it’s not that often. But, this kids was enjoying it.

Jesus hung out with lost people. The Bible makes it clear that people who do not know Jesus are lost. It also makes it clear that we ALL started out that way. Another thing that is clear, if you read the first four books of the New Testament, is that Jesus hung out with sinners. He attended a wedding where LOTS of drinking was taking place. Then, when the wine ran out, He turned water into wine. So, AFTER people were drunk, He gave them more wine.

In another instance, Jesus attended a big party at the house of a man named Levy, or Matthew, as most people know him. The good church people saw this and asked why Jesus would hang out with “people like that” or with “those people”.  When they asked Jesus’ disciples about this, Jesus answered, “It’s not the righteous that need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus CHOSE to hang out with lost people because He knew that they needed Him. We should work to bring lost people into the presence of Jesus.

Stop expecting lost people to act “right” in church. A very wise man I once knew often said, “Lost people do lost things.” I remember the first time I heard him say that. It was like a slap in the face. So many “church people” expect people who do not have a relationship with Jesus to behave as if they did. These same “church people” also forget that when they were lost they acted the same way.

We need to learn to welcome lost people into our churches and stop expecting them to act like us. Heck, I’ve know some great “church people”, but I’ve known some that I would NOT want lost people to emulate.

This SHHH…. Stuff should be awesome. Go into some churches and you might think that they forgot that we were created in the image of the one who created everything beautiful. You’d think that they forgot that the one they claim to worship is the same one who created everything beautiful. Sure, some churches have beautiful buildings, but the things they do with it are not so. I’m not saying that we should plan our services or events in such a way that they appeal to lost people. Some churches have done that with success. If God has called you to do that, then do it. However, what I’m saying is that, regardless of our “style”, we should do everything we do as well as we possibly can.

I’m also not saying that we try to take the place of the Holy Spirit. Certainly it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to move people. But, we should be committed to doing all we do with excellence. A pastor I once served with defined excellence as “Doing the best you can with what you have.” It doesn’t mean copying the church down the road and wishing you had all the stuff they had. It means taking the things you DO have and using them to the best of your ability.

How we respond matters. I don’t know how the friend that told me that story responded to this kid. However, it matters how we respond. We often say that “all are welcome” or “come as you are”. When what we really mean is “all are welcome” so long as you act like us, or “come as you are” so long as you look or dress like us. We need to be open to people that act different, look different, and even think different than we do. Then we need to be very careful how we respond when they “don’t know how to behave in church.”

People will notice your side-glances. They will see how you look at them. They will notice the groups that talk with one another, but ignore them. And they will CERTAINLY notice how you respond to their “wrong behavior” or to their awkwardness. Let’s remember that for them this may be a new experience. Let’s remember that they may not know Jesus, and thus don’t have the Holy Spirit. Let’s remember that Jesus hung out with sinners. Let’s remember that it’s a good thing that Jesus did love sinners, cause we wouldn’t stand a chance without Him.

I hope my SHHH… Stuff is awesome.  Now that I have started a church and moved from the role of children’ pastor into that of senior pastor/church planter I hope that people think my church is awesome. We don’t have a fancy set up. We don’t put on a great “show”. We don’t have fancy lights, huge screens, or fog machines. I’m not saying that those things are bad, just that we don’t have them and we have to take care not to make such things the focus. Still, I hope that when people come to the church I pastor, I hope they leave thinking it’s awesome. It is my hope, and prayer, that they will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and will be moved.

What are you doing to make your SHHH… stuff awesome for new people?

Matt Norman

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