The State of YOUR Union

The Bible is clear that our most important relationship is with God. It teaches that to place anything, or anyone above this relationship is idolatry. It is also clear that our next priority should be the relationship with our spouse. In spite of this it can be easy for our attention to stray to other relationships, leaving our marriage to run on cruise control. This will damage our relationship and keep it from being all that it can be.

Our parents are important. One of the relationships that can detract from our marriage is that with our parents. I love my parents and still have a great relationship with them. In fact one of my favorite things is to have coffee with them on Saturday mornings. Jesus even modeled the importance of our relationship with our parents while hanging on the cross. In John 19:25-27 Jesus instructed John to care for his mother. He did this after being beaten and nailed to a cross and with a crown of thorns on his head. Clearly Jesus loved his mother.

Our kids are important. Many would agree that kids are a gift from God. As such we should care for them. In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus shows the importance of children as he REBUKES the disciples for running the children off. I know he is not talking about parenting in this passage, but it was parents that were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing and he received them with open arms.

Leaving mom and dad. The first reference to marriage in the Bible is in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…” This is in reference to the relationship between Adam and Eve. For the sake of the relationship with his wife a man will LEAVE his parents. As I pointed out earlier this is not to say that we are to end the relationship with our parents, but it does mean that our spouse now takes a higher priority. While this passage only mentions a man leaving his parents, it also applies to the woman.

Becoming one flesh. Genesis 2:24 goes on to say, “…and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” I’m not gonna discuss what it means to become one flesh. However, I think that it is important that we acknowledge the significance of this passage. If husband and wife are now ONE FLESH, then what does that mean for our relationship? Consider what it means that your arm and hand are “one flesh”. Consider what would happen if you arm could decide to stop sending blood flow to the hand. Suppose one arm decided that the other arm was more valuable than the hand. Eventually if the hand did not receive the blood flow and nourishment that it needed, it would die. If husband and wife are one flesh, then the same thing will happen if one or the other allows some other relationship to become more important than your spouse.

Where your treasure is. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is true of our relationship with our spouse. Do you invest more money is your hobbies than in your spouse? This same principle applies to how we spend our time. Do you have a regular golf date with your buddies? What about a regular, scheduled date with your wife? Do you get all dressed up to go out with your girl friends, but put little effort into getting ready to go out with your husband?

Think about it. Each year the United States President does a speech titled “The State of the Union.” I think that we need to regularly take inventory of the State of OUR Union. Take time to REALLY consider the condition of your marriage. Talk to your spouse. As them how THEY feel about the condition of your marriage. Take a weekend away with just you and your spouse. Use this time to reconnect and to evaluate the state of your union, together.

Regardless of what you do, the bottom line is not to neglect your marriage. A healthy marriage will not just happen. It requires work and the results are worth the effort.

Matt Norman

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Husbands, Be Men WORTHY of Respect

Yesterday I spoke to wives about how the Bible says they should respect their husbands. I told wives that how they behave toward us men is not about US, it is about THEM. If you are a reading this and you have not read the previous posts that I have written to husbands and wives this week, I encourage you to go back and do so. There are links at the bottom of this post to all 3 of the previous posts.

Now, Husbands. The Bible is clear that no matter how WE behave our wives are to respect us and follow us. However, this is not a free pass for us to behave however we want. I have often heard it said that men don’t grow up they just get bigger toys. I have even, half jokingly, said that this was my goal. BUT, here’s the deal; if we want our wives to follow us, we have to grow up a little. The Bible says that our wives are to follow us and respect us, regardless of how we behave or what we do. BUT, we can make it easier on them. We can be men worthy of respect.

From spiritual to financial to fitness/health and more, in each area of your life you need to be the leader for your wife and kids. This is not to say that you have to be a spiritual giant to lead your family in spiritual matters. This doesn’t mean that you have to start training for the Iron Man Triathlon to lead your family in fitness and health. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a millionaire to lead your family financially. Maybe you struggle with a daily quiet time, or with regular prayer. Maybe you struggle with your weight or other health issues. Maybe you are not good at managing money. The idea is to begin to take steps in the right direction, be consistent, and make gradual, continuous improvements. One thing that I have learned in ministry is that gradual, continuous improvements have a much greater impact than occasional big improvements. These big changes are fun and are valuable, but the smaller things will get us further down the road quicker in my experience.

Maybe you have failed spiritually and made choices that have taken you further from God.

Maybe you have failed financially and are struggling under the weight of past bad financial decisions.

Maybe you are over weight and out of shape, suffering from the results of years of bad health/fitness decisions.

Regardless of how you may have failed in the past today you can turn from those old ways. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and new things have come.”(1) It also says,”Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.”(2) Our past bad decisions are just that, passed. The enemy will continually remind us of our past failures as we try to turn from them and overcome the consequences they create. But, we must ignore his lies and look forward. Imagine the danger that would come in driving your car only looking at the rear view mirror. You would never see the dangers that you are approaching or the progress that you are making. You would never be able to make a wise choice regarding the path you should take. We would never operate our cars this way, but we often live our lives this way.

Stop looking in the rearview mirror of life and move forward. Be the man your wife wants you to be. Be the man YOU want to be. Be a husband worthy of respect.

Husbands, You Gotta LOVE Your Wives.
Wives, Be Easy to Love.
Wives, Please Do Not Give Your Husbands the Respect They Deserve.

1: 2 Corinthians 5:17
2: Romans 8:1

Matt Norman

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Wives, Please Don’t Give Your Husbands the Respect They DESERVE.

Ephesians 5:22-24

Earlier this week, I spoke to Husbands about how they should love their wives. You can read that post HERE. Today I want to talk to wives about respecting their husbands.

Let’s face it ladies, men are not perfect. This includes your husband. Sometimes I am lazy. When it comes to my wife and kids I tend to speak before I think. I tend to get caught up in my own projects and miss things that probably are more important. I truly don’t notice that the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes. AND the only time I think about laundry is when I am getting ready for work and don’t have a clean uniform. There are a lot of reasons NOT to respect your husband, BUT if you are a Christian woman, this is not an option.

Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

I know that this is not a very popular verse these days, especially in America.  Ladies, before you start to attack me, please read the entire post. This verse is not about equal rights. This is not an antifeminist post. This is simply a post about what the Bible says about how wives should behave towards their husbands. As I mentioned above, men are not perfect. If, somehow, you have married a perfect man and do not struggle at all with this verse, then you are free to go. You can stop reading right now. However, if you, like all the other women out there, have an imperfect husband, then I would ask that you continue reading.

First let me make some things clear. This verse does no say that your husband is “the boss”. It does not say that you are his slave. What is says is that you are to follow him. You see as husband and wife you are a team. Even with the best of teams, someone has to take the lead. Now, if that leader is smart he will work closely with those that follow him so that the entire team prospers. The truth is the vast majority of the time decisions need to be made jointly. BUT, there will occasionally be times when the two of you simply can’t come to an agreement. On these rare occasions, as the head of the family, it is the husbands duty to make these decisions. Is he going to make some bad decisions? Yes. Is he going to make the wrong choice sometimes? Yes. Is he going to make decisions that you would not make? I can almost guarantee it. As a Christian woman your job is to let him make these decisions and not to punish him if he makes the wrong one, or the one you don’t like. He will make bad choices, but he will learn from them and will make better decisions as he is given more opportunities.

Trust me when I say that your husband feels the pressure to lead your family. He feels the pressure to provide for your family. He feels the pressure of past mistakes and bad decisions made my himself and the family in general. With a few exceptions, your husband WANTS to lead your family and he wants to do it well. No matter how much he wants to lead your family, or how much potential he may have to do this well; he can not lead if you will not follow.

I have worked with women long enough to know what many of you are already thinking, “But you don’t know my husband.” I may not personally know all of your husbands, buy I AM a husband and I know how men think. When I spoke to husbands about loving you, I told them that it wasn’t about how you behaved or what you did. Likewise, respecting your husband is not about HIM or how HE behaves. Your job is to respect him and follow him. And don’t worry, I have some words for husbands about their role in this as well.

Matt Norman

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Husbands, You Gotta LOVE Your Wives!

There is a story that my pastor used to tell. It is of a local preacher who chose to take the message to the streets, literally. He set up a PA system on the side of the road and would preach to anyone that might be able to hear him. The one message that he was known for preaching came from Ephesians 5:25. In the NIV it says;

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

The only thing that my pastor remembered about this guy was that he would, with much enthusiasm, yell “Husbands, you gotta LOVE your wives.” This is the bottom line of this particular passage, but it does not end there.

Most husbands would say that they love their wives. They would say that they got this passage down. IF it stopped with a simple command to love your wife, then they might be right. BUT, it goes on to tell us how we should love them;

“As Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her”

So this leads us to the question, “how did Jesus give himself up for the church.”

  • He left the glory of heaven: He walked away from splendor unlike anything that we can ever imagine. He left a world where pain, sorrow, hunger, thirst, betrayal and tears did not exist. He did this knowing that he would personally experience ALL of these things, even death.
  • He allowed himself to be beaten: He could have called a legion of angels to come and rescue him, but he allowed himself to be beaten and mocked, and then hung on a cross until he died.

This is the example that has been set before us as to how we, as husbands, should love our wives. This example is one of self sacrifice. This example is one of setting your own needs and desires aside for the sake of your wife. That is what it means to “love your wife as Chist loved the church.” It means to be willing to set aside what you want of her sake. It means being willing to suffer, for her sake. You may never have to face death for her sake, but it means being willing to.

What does this have to do with Children’s Ministry?

Well, I firmly believe that children’s ministry starts in the home. Whether you are a children’s ministry leader, another leader in the church, a church member, or don’t even attend church. Regardless, the first and best ministry potential in YOUR child’s life happens in YOUR house. In the Bible being a husband comes before being a father. If you want to be the best father possible, start by being the best husband possible.

As a father one of the best gifts you can give your children is to love their mother.

You see, your son will learn from YOU how a woman should be treated. If you want your son to be a great husband, show him how. If you want your son to respect women, show him how. If you I want your son to respect his mother, show him how.

Likewise, your daughter will learn from YOU how a man should treat her. If you want your daughter to end up with a husband that treasures her as much, or more, than you do show her what that looks like. If you want your daughter to accept nothing less than the type of love that Christ showed the church, show her what that looks like.

I understand that this is not easy. It goes against our nature as sinful creatures. Not to mention that sometimes our wives don’t make it easy. (Don’t tell my wife I said that.) I didn’t mean you honey.

Anyway, this verse is not about our wives, it is about us. Paul is not speaking to our wives here, he is speaking to us. There is no loop hole that says if our wife is mean, if she likes to nag, or if she doesn’t cook well that we don’t have to love her SACRIFICIALLY.   This verse is not about our wives or how they should behave ( I’ll talk to them tomorrow), this is about us. We can not use them as an excuse. When we face God he will not accept, “but she…” as a reason that you didn’t love your wife. So,

Husbands, you gotta LOVE your wives.

Matt Norman

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