Marriage Conference2021-05-06T13:27:34-04:00

Marital Conflicts…Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom Session Six – Septermber 12, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and I want to welcome you once again to the Monday Marriage Message. This will be the sixth installment in my series on Marital Conflicts between Worldly Wisdom vs. Wordly Wisdom.

When it comes to marriage, we do a lot of things differently than we did before we got married. We consider things we never did before. We choose differently than we did as a single person. When we interact with our spouse, most of us react to them differently than we might toward anyone else…at least on the outside. Why is this? On the surface that may seem to be a silly question, but in reality it is one of the more serious questions we can ask. People who enjoy highly successful marriages ask that question and recognize it requires an answer.

Worldly wisdom has many answers to the questions, “Why do we act differently after marrying than we did previously?” and, “Why do we react differently toward our spouse than with many other people”. More than a few men are likely to respond “Happy wife…Happy life.” Though they are attempting to be humorous, worldly wisdom, common sense has taught them there is a modicum of truth to that answer. If you ask many women why they respond differently toward their husbands, they might say, “To keep the peace” or “I’m just trying not to rock the boat”. These answers and most others to these questions reveal a deeper truth. When it comes to marriage worldly wisdom indicates that the motivation for acting differently as a married person ultimately is to keep your spouse happy.

So what’s the problem with that? Sounds like a pretty selfless thing to do. Shouldn’t we want to keep our spouse happy? Isn’t it right to try to give them what they want? Shouldn’t we interact with our spouse differently than we might with others? At first glance those responses might seem right and to make good sense, but probe a little deeper and a less than righteous motive begins to surface. Why do we want to keep our spouse happy? The answer to that question is as plain as day in the various answers people give to my original question. “Happy wife…Happy life”…is the goal more to have a happy wife…or the resulting happy life that can be enjoyed if she is happy? “Trying to avoid rocking the boat, or keeping the peace”…Who exactly is it you are hoping will enjoy some peace? The fact of the matter is, if we act differently after marrying, and we are following the common sense narrative that our goal ought to be to keep our spouse happy, we are deluding ourselves. Those thoughts are self-righteous cop-outs for our real motives. We want a happy life…we want a little peace and quiet, we want…we want…we want. All of the sudden it doesn’t seem to be such a selfless approach. Sounds like not much has changed actually. Before we get married, we do things to enjoy peace and happiness, after we marry, it seems we try to keep someone else placated, so we can we can continue to enjoy peace and happiness. Sorry to wake you from living the dream.

So, what is the difference between that attitude and Wordly Wisdom? Motive. When we look at what God has to say about how we should act toward our spouse after we marry, the key difference is motive. Today I want to share just a few of God’s instructions to married people. I am intentionally selecting specific ones that are difficult for people to accept. Why choose these? The fact of the matter is that if we can wrap our minds and hearts around the correct motivation for the most difficult of instructions, the remainder of them become much easier.

Eph 5:33 says, Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. This scripture gives two distinctly different marital directives, one to the husband the other to the wife. They are distinct because they are specific as to who must do what. The commands are different for the husband and the wife, and they are difficult on numerous levels. When we break it down there is a lot in this short verse.

Nevertheless, as in always…under any circumstances…never allowing for less than this…let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself. This means that every husband must meet their wife’s specific needs as an act of love. This scriptural instruction is given as an imperative. In other words, it is without caveat. There is no situation where this command is waived. Husbands must always love their wife by meeting her specific needs regardless of how loveable…or unlovable she might seem at any given time. To the wife, the command is shorter but no simpler. Let the wife see that…again, there is no alternative offered, the command is implied to be at all times, that…she respect her husband. Again, this means that every wife must respect her husband in every situation whether he is acting in respectable ways or not. The insistence that the husband love, and the wife respect, regardless…is what makes these two commands so difficult for people to accept.

I don’t know your situation, but I know that in my own marriage these commands can be problematic. I am not always respectable, but my wife is instructed clearly, that she must respect me, without fail. Though I would argue with her, she would say she is not always lovable, and yet I am commanded that regardless, I am to love her by meeting each and every one of her specific needs. So what makes it possible to obey these two very difficult commands? Motive. If I try to love Lynn all the time by meeting her individual needs, and I attempt to do that for her, I will fail. Why? Because my motives are all wrong. Sooner than later, likely much sooner, I will revert to the worldly motive of making her happy so I can be happy. If she tries to respect me at all times, for my sake, she will also eventually fail, and her motive will wrongly become to keep the peace…ultimately her own peace. The two of us must keep in mind that the command to love does not come from her, and the command to respect does not come from me. Both of those commands come from God himself through His word. With that understanding, our motives are corrected. When I am being loving toward Lynn…I am loving her for God, the One who asked me to. When Lynn is being respectful toward me…she is not doing that for me, she is doing it for her Lord who asked her to. We each get the benefit of the other’s obedience, but their obedience is an act of worship before the Lord. God’s word says this is how it should be. 1 Samuel 15:22 says …“What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams”.

Another scriptural instruction for married people that gives them great difficulty in our present day and age is 1 Cor. 7:4. That bit of Wordly Wisdom says this, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Talk about a scripture that flies in the face of our present culture’s belief system! Worldly wisdom dictates the mottos we hear shouted with conviction regularly these days like, “My body, my choice”, God’s word says…not so fast. As the founder of the “One Flesh” marital relationship, God recognizes that we cannot become one with another and yet retain personal autonomy. In a sense when Lynn and I chose to ask God to make us one, I gave my authority over my own body to Lynn and she gave authority over her body to me. We did not simply exchange authority over our bodies, that would simply reverse roles, leaving the question of autonomy intact and leaving us exposed to the other’s selfishness. In effect, I gave authority over my body to the oneness of our marriage of which Lynn is an equal voice, and she gave the authority over her body to that same marital entity of which I am an equal member. As a result, autonomy isn’t even a consideration. When this scripture is viewed correctly all of the arguments used against it fall away. If adhered to as intended, our personal autonomy doesn’t enter the equation, and as a result sinful action like abuse, manipulation, and any other misuse of this scripture to cause harm, become impossible.

Again, correct motivation is what makes this work. As in the example a few moments ago, the command for authority over the other’s body does not come from one another…it comes from God. If we give authority over our own bodies to the marriage, and we do it in response to God, our motivation is to please Him. With correct motivation, selfishness toward our spouse is abated and selflessness toward God takes its place. As before, our spouse enjoys the benefit, but it is not done for our spouse…it is done for our God.

The Apostle Paul summed up the question of correct motivation for us in Col 3:18-19,23-24. In the New Living Translation these verses read as follows: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly… Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for [one another]. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.

Questions to answer:

  • Do you recognize the selfish motivations behind ideas like “Happy wife, happy life” and “Just trying to keep the peace”?
  • When you think about it, do you find that your motivation for doing the right thing is sometimes wrong?
  • What differences do you think it would make if you and your spouse were to become intentional about doing the things the Bible says you should in regards to your marriage, and making a point to do them for your Lord?

Actions to take:

  • When you recognize that you are disappointed because your spouse did not respond to you the way you hoped, correct your motivation by reminding yourself that you did not do whatever it was you did for your spouse…you did it because God asked you to.
  • Ask God to help you maintain a correct selfless motivation of obedience to Him as you interact with your spouse even when they do not respond in kind.

So now, being obedient to God’s commands to you as a husband or as a wife…especially the difficult ones…Go be awesome!

Marital Conflicts – Session Five – August 29, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…Marital Conflicts – Session Five

Continuing with our series of marital conflicts between worldly wisdom and Word-ly wisdom, found in the Bible, today I want to speak about the potential of our marriages. Worldly wisdom or common sense dictates that its participants determine the potential of any marriage. How far that marriage will go, how long it will last, what it will look like and what it will leave as a legacy is all up to the two people who have entered into it. This understanding hinges on the premise that a marriage is made of two people who enter into an agreement to stick together and stick it out as long as there is continued value in doing so. The potential of their marriage is determined by the purposes they alone decide their marriage has and how much they are willing to do to see those fulfilled. This thinking allows that there is no standard to be maintained except that which is decided upon by that particular couple. No one else ought ever have any ability, authority or right to impose any guidelines or regulations onto their marriage. Whatever is ok for that couple is ok, after all whatever happens behind their closed doors is up to them…Right?

Why would this thought process seem reasonable? For starters, no one likes to be told what to do. As human beings we start life out with this mindset and most of us end it with little to no discernable change. We like to make our own rules so that we can adjust them whenever it suits us and we prefer not to be required to give answer for our changes. In our marriages, we conclude that we possess autonomy so that we are able to rest in the false belief that we cannot act in error. The problem with this thought process for marital longevity is that by definition, autonomy can’t really be shared…not even by as few as two people. Selfish desire will eventually cause conflict and disharmony highlighting the fallacy of the marital unity being experienced in that setting. Additionally, if a couple agrees that they alone are qualified to determine the standards for their marriage, they become the only ones who should decide that the marriage should dissolve if and when it no longer produces the desired outcome. They believe no one else has the authority to challenge that decision. Finally, in order to maintain a (quote-unquote)“successful marriage” the supposed autonomous couple will likely need to downgrade some of the formerly decided potential of their marriage commensurate with the disappointing outcomes they experience. If those involved in the marriage are not the ones deciding the purposes of their own marriage, this lowering of potential and expectations becomes impossible. For many couples, determining their own marriage’s purpose and potential is not only desirable, but must necessarily be kept fluid for their success to be assured.

When you say the quiet part out loud it sounds kind of shallow doesn’t it? So, what does Wordly wisdom have to say about the subject? What are God’s thoughts when it comes to the potential of our marriages? If we look at our marriages as something we have done, we set the parameters and decide the potential. However, if we view our marriages as something God has done, we must look to Him for the guidelines designed to ensure we arrive at the full potential He sees in every marriage as He joins a man and a woman together as one.

In Genesis 1:26 we find that the purpose of creating mankind was to reflect the image and likeness of God. In verse 27 we are told that the creation of mankind required both a male and a female. This fact is often viewed solely as a necessary component for the procreation of people and the survival of the human race. Though it is true that it takes a man and a woman to create another human being, regardless of current disinformation, that purpose is secondary (as noted in verse 28) following the primary purpose of reflecting the Creator (found in verse 26). We read in Genesis 2:21-23 that God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman as a married couple identified by Adam’s recognition that they were created by God “One Flesh”. Following Adam’s proclamation, (in verse 24) God proclaimed that every marriage going forward from that time would be a re-creation of the “One Flesh” condition experienced and enjoyed by Adam and Eve. As I have said before, the Apostle Paul reiterated that fact in Ephesians 5:31-32. Jesus Himself spoke of the oneness of marriage being something continually re-created by God and not by man, in Matthew 19:3-6 and Mark 10:2-9. God’s primary purpose for marriage was then and still is today,to create a singular entity of oneness that is reflective of His image and His likeness. Since He is the originator of the union we call marriage, and the purpose for marriage is also specifically noted as being His, then a perfect, infallible God would necessarily give the potential for every marriage to meet that intended purpose. Your marriage absolutely contains the potential to act as “One Flesh” and to reflect the image and likeness of God. Any other conclusion would be blasphemous.

In Luke 17:6 Jesus spoke of possessed potential. That verse says: So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you”. This verse has often been misunderstood to mean that if we had faith as big as a tiny seed, we could command incredible things to take place and they would happen just as we said. When the original Greek is examined however, we find that what Jesus was really saying was that a mustard seed though very small, does not question its potential to become a very large plant. It simply lives up to its potential. Jesus made this statement following His disciples asking for additional faith to do something He said they should do. Essentially, they were questioning the potential they had to accomplish His plans for them. Following Jesus’ words about the mustard seed simply fulfilling its potential, Jesus expounded further. In the following verses Jesus asked His disciples a question. He asked if a servant should expect that after a partial day of obedient service, the master would likely tell them to stop serving him, take it easy for a while, do whatever they wanted to do, and then later resume service to their master? Or, He asked them, should a servant expect that faithful obedience would be the requirement until the potential for the day had been reached and their purpose had been fulfilled? Jesus was expressing that the master determines the purpose and potential for the day. It is not for the servant to question the goal, but simply to obey, expecting the potential will be realized. Much like the mustard seed does not decide for itself what it should grow to be, but rather simply expects its God given potential will be achieved.

God has placed the Potential in your marriage to be reflective of Him. He has installed the ability to meet that potential through the development and growth of your “One Flesh” condition. According to Jesus, your job, my job, is simply to obediently do our best to realize our full potential allowing Him to enable us to do what we lack within ourselves. The potential is there, all we have to do is refrain from denying that potential exists and allow it to be developed by Him. A mustard seed does not deny its own potential but also cannot become the large plant it is purposed to be without the sun, rain and nutrient rich soil, all things added by God. Mark 9:23 speaks to this. It records that Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible for him who believes”. In other words, what God wants to see take place in our lives and in our marriages absolutely can be done if we are willing to allow Him to help us reach our full potential and see His purposes realized in our lives.

Psalm 19, one of my personal favorites, speaks of the perfect ways of God. It tells us that if we will acknowledge that His ways and plans for our lives (and marriages) are superior to anything we could imagine, the results will be sweet and desirable for Him and us as well.

Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

Questions to Answer:

  • In the past, what would you have said the purposes of your marriage were?
  • What would you have said the potential was for your marriage to see those purposes realized?
  • How much potential did your marriage have to reach both of your purposes for your marriage?
  • How much potential do you see in your marriage to fulfill the purpose God has for it?

Actions to Take:

  • Discuss why you answered the final question for today the way you did.
  • Talk about the steps of obedience the two of you could take to move your marriage toward reaching its God-given potential.
  • Pray and ask God to help you be obedient to Him in this regard and ask Him to give the two of you what you lack to fulfill His purposes for your marriage.

So now, allowing God to determine the purpose for your marriage, and simply agreeing with Him that the full potential can and will be achieved…Go Be Awesome!

Marital Conflicts – Session Four – August 22, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, and I want to welcome you to the Monday Marriage Message. In this edition, we are continuing to explore the series of marital conflicts found between worldly wisdom and the infallible God who created us, and who instituted the primary human relationship, marriage.

A few weeks ago, I spoke of the difference between the Bible’s understanding of marital oneness and the contrasting view of two individuals simply engaged in a mutual agreement. The latter is increasingly viewed by the world as an agreement that is less binding than many formal business contracts are. Most see marriage as something just as easily undone as it was entered into, if one or both of the individuals desire to do so. In this common sense view of marriage two individuals, any two individuals really, can be connected to one another ‘as long as desire to do so shall last’.

In the former…God’s plan, a man and a woman are joined together by Him, and they become “One Flesh”. (Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5) The Bible teaches marriage is a miraculous recreation of the oneness shared by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:7-8 and Ephesians 5:31-32). As I have shared with you in the past, the original Greek word Jesus chose to use when describing the “Oneness” of the marital union translates well into our vernacular as homogenized, or mixed too thoroughly to be separated again into its original components.

With that in mind, let’s explore a widely accepted common sense approach to honesty and marriage. If marriage is simply an agreement between two people to cohabitate by a set of guidelines they alone agree upon, then they are able to choose the level of honesty that will be exercised in their marriage. When worldly wisdom is employed, it is understood that there are likely certain things that a person should not, or does not need to divulge. That list of exclusions usually begins with anything that may upset one’s spouse. This can include many things. For example, if someone at work had been flirting or making comments that were inappropriate, that would probably be reserved. If someone of the opposite gender had been a little too personal on social media, that kind of information would likely be omitted as well. What about a spouse who has been struggling with temptations to engage in activities that would be hurtful to the marriage? What if your spouse is doing something that is bothersome to you? How about the amount of money that is being independently spent , or the things it is spent on? How about important past events in the lives of spouses prior to meeting one another? When we believe we can operate successfully within marriage as two people who remain autonomous individuals, many things are rationalized as better left unsaid.

When it comes to honesty vs. dishonesty there is an interesting contrast. There are two kinds of dishonesty…but there is only one form of truth. Dishonesty can be served in the form of a lie of commission; these are when we tell someone something that is simply not true. Moreover, and likely much more often, dishonesty is offered as a lie of omission. These are far more prevalent because we rationalize that if we have not told someone something that is patently untrue, we are not guilty of lying. The truth is, withholding information is often intended to deceive. When we try to mislead someone with a lack of information, we are attempting to help them gain an understanding that does mesh with the reality of the situation, which is a lie. As I said a moment ago, there are two kinds of lies…but there is only one form of the truth. Our justice system understands this and as a result has long employed the following oath when swearing in a witness in a court of law…”Do you solemnly swear to tell the truththe whole truth…and nothing but the truth?”

So, what does God’s word say about telling the truth in regards to marriage? What does the Bible have to say about being totally honest with your spouse? The Word of God indicates that a person we are “One” with should be able to expect that our dealings with them will be totally above board, fully honest and true. In Ephesians chapter four, Paul gave instruction to the Christians in Ephesus, and wrote that they should no longer live as they did before. He admonished them that the time for being dishonest had come to an end, and that they needed to treat those they were “One” with in Christ, fairly, completely honestly and in godly ways. In the Amplified Version Ephesians 4:25 says, Therefore, rejecting all falsehood [whether lying, defrauding, telling half-truths, spreading rumors, any such as these], speak truth each one with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one another [and we are all parts of the body of Christ]. When writing this Paul knew that the readers would understand the phrase “all parts of one another” because of the example of their own marriages. As we operate within our marriages the application of this scripture should be no less striking. God desires that we be truthful with everyone, but He also wants us to understand that as components of a “Oneness” relationship both you and your spouse ought to be able to have the highest expectation of truthfulness.

I often use the following illustration to show why this is so. I ask people if they can hold an item so tightly in their right hand that their left hand will be unaware of the contents hidden in the right? Of course, this I would be impossible due to the central nervous system which connects both hands. Those two hands are separate from one another, just as a husband and wife possess separate bodies. Though the right and left hand resemble one another they are also opposites, just as men and women are alike and yet opposites in many ways. One may have ability not possessed by the other. One may be stronger than the other. Regardless of these differences, there is no ability for secrecy between a person’s two hands because though they are separate and different, they are a part of the same body. According to the scripture I referenced a moment ago, there also should be no expectation that meaningful secrecy would ever exist between a husband and a wife.

In order for truth to have the pure outcome it should, it must never be misleading in any way as we read in the previous scripture, AND according to the following one, must be delivered with love as the sole motivation. Ephesians 4:15 says But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ (Amplified Version). Speaking the truth in love removes any opportunity for ulterior motives such as “Sugar-coating” or “Brutal honesty”. Those terms are used solely to justify further deceit or a harsh and unloving opinion, neither of which is truth or loving. My mother used to say “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” A well-meant sentiment, but scripturally unsound especially when it comes to marriage. Love and speaking the truth in Love will enable you to find something loving and true to say. The dangerous misinterpretation of this verse is…“IF you tell the truth, do so in love” However, the scripture clearly says “But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing Christ’s truth]. Speaking and in fact, living the truth is not optional, nor is expressing that truth with any other motive but love. According to these verses, learning to do this is what matures us in Christ as we follow His example. Physical maturity doesn’t happen overnight, nor does it take place without growing pains. Spiritual maturity is no different. Learning to be thoroughly honest with our spouse with the sole motivation of love (meaning the truth is always told with an intent to bless) is not necessarily easy. However, it is imperative that we learn to do it if we are to walk in the fullness of God’s design for the “Oneness” relationship of marriage. Keep in mind, if the right hand could actually keep the left from knowing what it possessed, it would indicate a serious mental illness. If one spouse regularly operates as if the other has no need to know what is a part of their life, words, actions, or thoughts, it is equally indicative of a serious marital illness.

1 Corinthians 3:6 sums up this concept well, [Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.

Questions to Answer:

  • What kinds of things do you and your spouse struggle to be totally honest with one another about?
  • Are you both comfortable with the level of honesty (or dishonesty) that your marriage operates at?
  • How could the two of you learn to be more honest with one another than you currently are? ***Full Disclosure***Answering this question honestly may reveal some areas where dishonesty has been allowed to abide in your marriage.

Actions to Take:

  • Talk about the reasons why the two of you may have avoided a complete level of honesty with one another to this point in your marriage.
  • Discuss the benefits of learning to be more honest with one another going forward.
  • Talk about fears you may have of operating your marriage in a state of total honesty.
  • Discuss what “Sugar-coating” the truth or the use of “Brutal honesty” has done to the openness the two of you share, and how both of them have hindered the development of your “Oneness”.

So now, learning to do everything in your marriage in truth and love…Go Be Awesome!

Marital Conflicts – Session Three – August 15, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken, Thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message. As we continue in our series of marital conflicts found between common sense aka worldly wisdom and the Word of God.

This week I want to look at how to get what we need out of our marriages. Essentially there are different things that men and women need from marriage. I have spoken of these in past episodes. Primarily, women need to know that they are loved for the things they say, think, do and believe if the relationships they engage in are to be in good standing. Men on the other hand are more interested in knowing that they are respected for what they think, say, do and believe. If they find that someone, anyone really, does not respect them for these things, a good relationship cannot ensue until this problem is remedied. Make no mistake, men need to be loved, just not to the same extent that they need respect. Likewise, women need respect, however, the love of others toward them is their primary concern. These two relational needs, love and respect, also translate well as the need for security and sufficiency. If a woman feels secure in a relationship all is well within that relationship. This truth is magnified when it pertains to the marital relationship. If a man feels as though he is seen as being sufficient to accomplish goals set for him, he will thrive in those relationships. Again, this truth is amplified in the marital relationship.

These relational needs, love and respect, security and sufficiency, are so important to us as women and men that they rank extremely high on our list of needs. In fact, if they are absent for more than a short period of time, a family tie, a friendship, or even an employment my not survive. Within the oneness relationship of marriage, they become critical. The duration of time that can be successfully managed if these needs are going unmet there is dramatically shorter than in any other relationship.

These needs simply have to be fulfilled. The intensity with which we will seek to have them met is almost unmatched. The marital conflict between natural thinking and God’s word is derived from how we get these all-important needs met.

Worldly wisdom tells us that there is a formula for having these needs met. When these primary needs are unmet, an intensifying level of stress occurs. As I said a moment ago, if the relationship is secondary, in other words it is with extended family, friends or an employer, the level of stress will be problematic, but if it occurs within the primary relationship of marriage, it is even more intense and escalates even more quickly. The reason for this is that married couples rightly believe that the person they are one with should recognize above all others what the needs of their spouse are and have an unencumbered desire to meet those needs. They see little to no difference between the importance of a husband or wife’s desire to meet their spouse’s needs and a mother’s desire to feed her children or a father’s desire to provide for his family.

When the stress associated with these primary needs being unmet escalates the natural inclination is to withhold the needs of the other. In other words if my need for respect is unmet by my wife or if I feel she sees me as insufficient to be successful in some way, my natural response to that will be to withhold love from her. It is important to note that this action is initially in no way intended to be mean or uncaring, but rather to cause her to see that I have a need that is not being met and the intensity with which the lack is affecting me. At this point in the process, my withholding of her need is simply to help her identify a problem exists. The problem is that as Dr Emerson Eggerichs identified in his book, Love and Respect, we have just entered the “Crazy Cycle” Dr. Eggerichs notes the “Crazy Cycle” as follows; Without her respect, he reacts without love, without his love, she reacts without respect. He calls this a cycle because until it will continue as long as it goes unchecked.

As a result, in my example above, when I withhold my love from my wife to help her see I have found her to be disrespectful, it actually provokes further disrespect instead of the correction I was hoping for. This sends the cycle spinning further, and I become increasingly unloving as she responds with increasing disrespect.

What is actually occurring is a power grab of sorts. I feel the need to be respected, she feels the need to be loved. I must be found sufficient in her eyes, she needs to feel secure in our relationship. Worldly wisdom dictates that if you truly need something and it is not being given to you, you must take it. So when a wife is feeling unloved, or a husband is feeling disrespected the inclination is to make their spouse give what is needed. The formula as I shared moments ago is this. If your spouse is being unkind by withholding what you need, then be more unkind to them to make them want to be kind to you…What?!? That’s crazy! Yes…yes it is. That strategy has been faithfully employed as best I can tell throughout human history with extremely limited success…and yet millions of people are still trying to make it work this very moment.

So what is the Bible’s answer to this very real problem? The common sense approach which I just noted really makes no sense at all, is selfishness. “I’m not getting what you are supposed to give me so I am going to withhold that which I am supposed to give you”. God’s word indicates that our problem is one of spelling. It is not S-E-L-F-I-S-H-N-E-S-S that we are supposed to employ to remedy this problem it is S-E-L-F-L-E-S-S-N-E-S-S. God’s word indicates that our response to having our greatest relational need withheld is not to selfishly withhold our spouses need but rather to give it to them…in bushels. Romans 12:10 says, “In love prefer one anotherPhilippians 2:3-4 says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 1 Corinthians 10:24 tells us, No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. The paradox is this. If I try to make my spouse meet my needs, she will be left wondering who will meet hers, and will feel as though she must first make sure her own needs are met before focusing any attention on mine. However, God’s word says that if instead, I focus all of my attention on meeting the needs my wife has, she will be freed to focus on mine because hers are already being met.

In his book, Dr. Eggerichs identified a second cycle he calls the “Energized Cycle”. This cycle states that when a husband treats his wife with love, she responds by treating him with respect. As he experiences her respect, he in turn responds to her with more love. This cycle reflects the correct response to an unmet need as noted in the scriptures above. However, without the correct motivation, attempts to move forward in this way will soon falter. So what is the motivation that will allow us to continue to meet the relational and other needs of our spouse, freeing them to meet ours?

The necessary motivational switch is found in correctly identifying where the command originates. The “Crazy Cycle” occurs because the command to meet the need is a selfish one and comes from the one who is in need. When I command my wife’s respect, she understands that I do not have the authority or ability to enforce such a command, and so she quite naturally resists the command from me. Let there be no mistake, I and other men also quite naturally resist the command from our wives to give them the love they need for the same reasons. As a result if the command is seen as coming from our spouse we will either choose to resist, or comply in the hopes that they will also meet our need. Both are examples of selfish thinking. However, if I acknowledge the command comes from God as I illustrated for you a few moments ago, then my response is toward Him and not my spouse. If I do this, I will love her as she needs me to, but I will have done it for my God who instructed me to. Dr Eggerichs identified this as the Rewarded Cycle”, His love given to his wife as unto Jesus Christ regardless of her respect toward him, Her respect given to her husband as unto Jesus Christ, regardless of her husband’s love toward her.

The concept behind the “Rewarded Cycle” is actually laid out quite clearly in scripture. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to Submit to one another (give the other what they need) out of reverence for Christ (because it is what God’s word tells us to do).

Questions to answer:

What is your natural response when your spouse does not meet your needs?

Is that response Selfish or selfless?

In what ways would you respond to them differently in the same situations if Jesus were in the room?

Actions to Take:

Ask God to help you to begin responding to your spouse in response to your love for Him.

Read Love and Respect by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs as a part of your marriage building strategy.

So now, focus on meeting your spouses needs freeing them to meet yours, and do it because your loving Heavenly Father asked you to…and go be awesome!

Marital Conflict #1 What is the purpose of marriage? – August 8, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me for the Monday Marriage Message. Last week I spoke about marital conflict from an unusual perspective. I wasn’t talking about the conflicts between spouses but rather the conflicting schools of thought about marriage. I spoke to the fact that worldly wisdom or common knowledge on the subject will provide answers, though often leading to greater marital problems, but that God, the initiator of the institution offers flawless information that will guide a couple into an awesome marriage.

God’s word includes many instructions intended to help a man and a woman enjoy the best marriage has to offer. Human beings have a propensity to develop their own answers to marital difficulties, most of which conflict with what the Bible tells us we should do in those very situations. I will spend the next several weeks identifying several marital difficulties, and the human common knowledge intended to “fix” the problem. I will also share with you the biblical concepts and scriptural references to God’s solutions to those same concerns. God is spiritual; therefore, marriage, created by God, endorsed by God, and given to us by God, for us to experience, is a spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences must be guided by spiritual principles. Bearing this foundational truth in mind, we need to know what the spiritual principles that govern marriage are, and how to employ them in our own marriages. Marital statistics abound, and the vast majority of them point out an important corresponding truth…Worldly wisdom, human understanding, common knowledge, whatever title you give it, is not serving us well when it comes to marriage.

As I said a moment ago, I will be highlighting several of these marital conflicts and the opposing disciplines they present when attempting to reconcile our marriages to their proper condition. In order to do that well, I believe we need to begin with the foundational marital conflict that must be corrected if any of the others can be viewed accurately. When a marksman goes to the range, the first task that must be completed is sighting in the scope. If the scope is not properly adjusted every shot fired will miss its intended target. Every other function the sharpshooter employs may be accomplished perfectly, but if the scope is off every attempt to hit the target will be as well. As couples if we do not have the scope of our marriages sighted in correctly, we will fail to attain the intended result. This primary marital conflict is one I have spoken of before, but it is so key to correctly assessing every other marital conflict that I believe it bears repeating.

Each time I attempt to prepare a couple for marriage through pre-marital counseling, I ask the following question within moments of beginning our first meeting. “Why did the two of you decide to get married?” I usually get various answers all of which would make for a wonderful greeting card, romantic novel or love song. I hear things like, “I just feel so loved whenever we are together” or, “He or she completes me”. They may tell me they are marrying to have unending companionship or, that they find happiness with each other. Over the years, I have received many different answers to my question, I even hear sometimes that they feel the Lord has led them together to be joined in marriage. I know that my wife Lynn and I certainly felt, and still feel that way to this day. Almost all of the answers I get to that question are from the school of worldly wisdom. Most of them come from the very sources of influence I named a moment ago. Many of those couples decided marriage was right for them because the way they feel in that moment, reflects their interpretation of what so many songs, books, and movies about love must be describing. Because they are experiencing such a deep “love” for their future spouse, they decide marriage must be intended to be the result of that love, and the target is to maintain that feeling toward that particular person for the rest of their lives.

Gary Thomas wrote an amazing book entitled The Joy of the Sacred Marriage. The entire book is dedicated to answering just one question that embodies this primary marital conflict. The question: Is your marriage intended to make you happy or to make you holy? It is a great question, and I encourage everyone to read his book. Common knowledge certainly makes the case that marriage is intended for our happiness. All one has to do is look at the stated reasons for divorce in our society to recognize that worldly wisdom dictates that when happiness is no longer the result of a marriage, divorce is the answer to that problem freeing the contestants to try again with a new partner. For these, marriage is akin to the lottery, some win, more lose, but if you don’t win this time…no worries, you can always try again tomorrow.

Lynn Anderson made famous a song entitled Rose Garden the song began with these lyrics…I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there’s gotta be a little rain sometime. While not a biblical song about marriage, it did come from a time when we exercised a little more patience with the institution than we do today. The fact of the matter is that God never made any ironclad guarantees that marriage would bring us happiness or any of the other outcomes people have in their sights when they marry.  The Bible does make the point that there is a specific outcome God intended, and the natural consequences of achieving that goal in our marriages are likely to be peace, joy and yes, a sense of happiness. It is imperative to recognize however, that those are the results of fulfilling the goal…not the goal itself.

So what is the stated goal of marriage found in God’s word? What is it that the Bible tells us we should be looking for from our marriages? If the answer to the question Gary Thomas poses is holiness, how does marriage do that? Genesis 1:26 & 27 references God’s decision to create human beings. 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. From this scripture we can easily see that when God decided to make mankind, that the intent was that we would be in His image and according to His likeness. Simply stated, the idea was that the creation (mankind) would be reflective of its creator (God). This scripture also points out another important fact. When God created beings that would reflect Him, He created two things that are similar in some ways, and yet completely different in others. He created both a male and a female, two beings to reflect one God. Genesis chapter two gives us further information concerning Adam and Eve’s creation. There we learn that Adam was created first. We also read in Genesis 2:18 that The Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him”. What this statement actually means when we look carefully at the original Hebrew is that God was saying Adam was not complete for the purpose for which he had been created. In other words Adam alone was not capable of comprehensively reflecting God, and so God said He would create a female to help the male fulfill their intended purpose and reflect God more completely. Verses 21-23 describe the creation of Eve. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” These verses are imperative because they reveal a subtle and important truth. When God presented Eve to him, Adam made a critical declaration. Adam noted that Eve was bone from his bones and flesh of his flesh. Essentially Adam said that He and Eve were “One flesh”. In making that statement, Adam acknowledged that he and Eve were married; they were created “One flesh”. In the next verse, God confirmed Adam’s observation. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. God was pointing out that it was not only this first union of a man and a woman that would be considered “One flesh” but that in fact because of the special ability their union gave them to be reflective of His image and likeness, every marriage between a man and a woman going forward would have the same purpose. In Ephesians chapter five Paul made the point that this miraculous or as he put it mysterious occurrence of recreated “One-fleshness” continues for the very same reason today. The intended purpose of marriage according to the word of God is to create “Oneness” between a man and a woman giving them exponentially greater capacity for reflecting God than they possess alone.

The purpose of your marriage is the same. You and your spouse were joined together by God for the intended purpose of reflecting His nature, His character, and His ways. When we begin to understand that and furthermore, accept that as our purpose, viewing marital difficulties and their corrective measures gains a whole new clarity. The more we operate our marriages with reflecting God being our primary concern, the more peace, joy, and yes…happiness will result. God understands the spiritual principle that glorifying Him fulfills our purpose, and when we accomplish that which we were created to do, contentment and all of the positive emotions it brings are ours.

Now that the scope is correctly sighted in, join me next week as I begin to target other marital conflicts, and the answers God provides.

Questions to Answer:

  • Why did you and your spouse choose to marry?
  • When you look back, do you see God’s hand in bringing you together?
  • Do you now believe that you were created “One flesh” for the purpose of reflecting God better than either of you could alone?
  • What do you think it means for a marriage to reflect God?

Actions to Take:

  • Discuss ways you see your marriage as an entity that can reflect God.
  • Talk about ways the two of you feel you do this well.
  • In a non-judgmental way, talk about ways you feel you could reflect God as a couple, better than you do now.
  • Talk about dreams the two of you have that could be realized that would be great at reflecting God.

So now, recognizing the true intended purpose for your marriage, choose to fulfill that purpose together…and Go Be Awesome

The Greatest Marital Conundrum – August 1, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken, Welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…thanks for joining me. Today I would like to talk with you about resolving marital conflict. One might think then that this podcast will be about how to address spousal arguments. Instead, I want to focus on a different kind of marital conflict. Make no mistake there will always problems to be solved in the marital arrangement. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:28 that if you get married you haven’t done anything wrong but you will have trouble in this world. This was not a tongue-in-cheek statement. Paul was being serious. That entire chapter is dedicated to marital advice from God. Marital conflict is going to happen, that is a forgone conclusion. There are many available strategies to resolve said conflicts, and we have looked at some of those in past episodes and I will undoubtedly do so again in the future. However, a good deal of those difficulties visit married couples because of a greater marital conflict. There are two conflicting schools of thought concerning the best ways to deal with problems that are part of every marriage. First and foremost, there is the counsel that comes from God, the creator of the institution, the proprietor of the oneness shared by a man married to a woman, and the second, derived from the human experience is worldly wisdom. These two disciplines often stand in direct opposition to one another. The greatest marital conundrum is this, who and what to trust to correct what goes awry in our marriages.

One might say that as Christians that should not be a problem for us. Right? One might think we are primed to simply believe, and act upon the instruction found in God’s word without question or reserve. As a pastoral marriage counselor, I wish that were so. As a husband, I wish I always made the correct choices in my own marriage. The difficulty we have enacting biblical counsel at every turn, may be understandable, however, it is thoroughly unprofitable for us and for our marriages.

Jesus said that Satan has three objectives at all times; to kill, steal, and destroy. Christ called Satan a thief, one who desires to take from us, and destroy what we have. Jesus went on to say that in contrast, He had come to give. To give us life and furthermore, a life abundant with His goodness. (John 10:10) Satan is crafty. I find He does not often try to snatch the abundant life of goodness away from us, far more often he cunningly seeks to get us to give him our peace, joy and contentment. Jesus also called Satan “The father of all lies”. (John 8:44) I like to say that our enemy is the perfector of the plausible lie. If his lies were not plausible we would likely not fall for them and hand over that which he desires us to allow him to steal, kill and destroy. Satan enjoys little more than to steal, kill, and destroy marriages. So how does he fool us into believing that his solutions for our marital problems are the best practice? He simply has to make the wrong conclusion seem right, long enough to convince us to act upon it. Throughout history, he has been using a variety of ways to accomplish this objective, and they continue to serve him well. To illustrate I will offer only a few examples here, but Satan has untold ways to make lies plausible in order that we might accept them as psudo-truth. He uses our experience and the experience of others to make us believe that the correct choice will only lead to our being used or abused. He uses the fondness of others toward us, to influence them to offer a “trusted source” of unintentional poor counsel. These people, who are our family and friends have no desire to give bad counsel, they simply don’t like seeing someone they care about hurting and so become unwitting participants in the enemies plans for our destruction. Sometimes Satan will even use the God-given traits instilled in us, such as our respective needs for love and respect, to encourage us respond in an ungodly way if we don’t get what we need. Suffice to say that your spiritual enemy has many ways to wage war on you and your marriage; therefore, we need to have an effective way to defend against his attacks.

The Apostle Paul wrote of such a defense system. In 2 Corinthians10:4-5 Paul wrote the following: We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ. (The New Century Version) Paul was saying this is a spiritual battle, but that we have access to the most powerful weapon and that power will always overcome the enemies advances against us. Paul was clearly saying that the power is not our own but rather comes directly from God. He went on to explain here that as we choose to take our strength from God, the contrasting arguments from others, all the quote-unquote “good advice” even from friends and family aka worldly wisdom will be seen for what they really are, and can be responded to correctly. Paul even tells us exactly what the correct response is; to capture every thought of worldly wisdom, subdue it, and instead respond as Christ would. Is it tempting to choose worldly wisdom instead of Godly guidance? Of course it is but the Bible tells us that No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

I love the following saying, “My response is my responsibility”. I like it because it gives me freedom. I do not have to fall for the temptation to injure my marriage further, I can choose to seek to heal rather than inflict more hurt…even when I am hurting. I don’t have to withhold love from my wife in response to my interpretation (which is often in error) that she is disrespecting me. I can choose to love in spite of how I feel in the moment. I don’t have to respond in kind in retaliation, I can respond with kindness in any situation, the choice is mine and cannot be taken away from me. “My response is my responsibility”.

Many of the battles can be won by understanding the tricks the enemy is employing to get us to react in a certain way. Some however, will be fought after we have been lured into the minefield. In my counseling practice, it never ceases to surprise me how many people admit to knowing they have made a misstep nearly immediately after doing so. They will tell me that they know their response was not godly. They need little to no prompting from me to concede that the way they reacted to their spouse was wrong, and yet they continued forward down a path they knew would produce even more pain for both of them. When I ask for an explanation for this, almost without variation they tell me they don’t know why they do it. So, why do human beings do this? Why do we continue in a direction that we know to be harmful instead of turning around? After all, we wouldn’t ever decisively continue to drive at highway speed in the wrong direction on an interstate just because we were making good time. So, what induces us determine to take additional missteps in the minefield after realizing we errantly stepped into it? PRIDE. None of us likes to admit we are wrong, especially if we are convinced someone else (our spouse in this case) is more wrong. Pride is never a good reason to get blown up in a minefield. The ONLY wise decision in a minefield is to thoughtfully and ever-so-carefully (so as not to cause further danger of destruction) back out of it! Trust me, your pride is not going to be a source of comfort when you lay broken and bruised from the battle, and you realize you also caused great injury to your spouse in the process.

When we are fighting against lies (no matter how plausible they may be) the only weapon that will prevail is truth. God is truth. God is wisdom. God knows what you should do…Always. The Bible tells us that if we know the truth, the truth will set us free. God created the heavens and the Earth. He knows how it operates best. God created people, He knows how they operate best. God created the highest form of human relationship…marriage, and He knows how it works best. His word tells us if we seek His kingdom (His ways) first, all these other needs we have, will be met. God’s ways concerning marriage fly in the face of worldly wisdom. His ways are in direct contrast to the worlds ways, because His are intended to give and to bless and the worlds ways, or the enemies ways are intended to kill, steal and destroy. So when it comes to marital conflict, I say “Choose this day who you will serve…As for me and my spouse, we will serve the Lord.”

Join me again next week as we look at some specific biblical truths intended to provide marital peace and joy and the counter falsehoods of worldly wisdom designed to kill, steal and destroy all that God desires for you.

Questions to answer:

  • Can you think of a recent time when you chose to respond to a marital difficulty utilizing worldly wisdom?
  • What was the result of that choice?
  • Can you think of a recent time when you chose to respond to a marital difficulty utilizing true wisdom from God’s own word?
  • What was the result of that decision?

Actions to take:

  • Talk about ways the two of you could increase the number of times you choose together to respond to one another in the ways God instructs in His word.
  • Pray and ask God to help you respond to one another, as He would have you to in every situation.

So now, recognizing that worldly wisdom is anything but, and that there is only One source of wisdom and truth that your marriage should act upon…Go Be Awesome!

Parenting 101 – Session Seven – July 25, 2022

Hi, this is pastor Ken with the seventh and final session in our series Parenting 101. Today I want to explore the subtle yet critical differences in parenting in a step or blended family.

I have had the privilege to be a step-dad to three wonderful daughters for the past twenty-two years. They are as much a source of pride and joy in my life as my own two biological children. As I mentioned in a past episode of this series we have been incredibly blessed in the blending of our two families. I mentioned that my view of our family is that it has been so completely blended that we have reached the stage of total homogenization. I often see traits and characteristics traded across bloodlines and it still amazes and pleases me when I recognize it. Our family’s journey has not been without its fair share of difficulties and challenges. Though I believe nearly all couples who begin a stepfamily, desire to begin day one with a blended family, that is not possible. I see them as stages, not synonyms. In my humble opinion, stepfamilies are made in microwaves; blended families are the results of crock-pots. A stepfamily can be formed in short order, but a blended family takes time as a family to finish. One of the most common missteps in stepfamilies is the misguided belief that the children (of any age) are as eager to alter the family structure as the newly formed couple is. Certainly in some situations they will be more receptive than others, but make no mistake, this underlying struggle will surface in some way at some time.

Last week, I mentioned the book, The Smart Step-Family by Ron Deal. This is an excellent source of information and wise counsel when it comes to facilitating the successful creation of a stepfamily that will one day be a beautiful blended one. We have spent much time over the past few weeks speaking of the six roles of parenting; Tending, Mending and Defending and Directing, Correcting, and Projecting. In those sessions I made the case the way God has created us differently as men and women has uniquely suited each of us to do differing parental jobs. I pointed out that the relational thinking mom who needs love to be the primary characteristic of all of her relationships is best equipped to perform the first three of the tasks listed a moment ago. I also showed how a compartmentalized thinking dad who seeks honor and respect above all else is primed for the three jobs of parenting that followed. In stepfamilies, these facts remain, but the step-family structure is not ready for them to be applied, some measure of blending has to occur first. As I mentioned moments ago, the parents in a stepfamily believe they are ready for a blended family, but this is one case where their children are probably wiser than their respective parents. What I mean is that in hindsight, the parents will even recognize they themselves were not ready for all a blended family means if they try to force it too quickly. Stepfamilies are made in microwaves; blended families are finished in a crock-pot.

In light of last week’s podcast on the difficulties of single parenting it is easy to see why parents who are transitioning from one status to the other are anxious for the help. They know and have known for some time they were not equipped for all of the roles a single parent must fill. If they have been relying heavily on God, it has been much easier but it is still their hands and feet that have had to carry it out. If they have not had an understanding of how God desires to stand in the gaps, it has been even more difficult, often to the point of daily physical, emotional…and likely spiritual exhaustion. When they finally meet that new person who desires to take them as they are, children and all…and seems to be eager to do so…they believe the cavalry has just ridden over the hill! Life is finally looking optimistic, and help has announced it is here to stay! With those thoughts and hopes of dreams about to be realized, these parents understandably are ready to hand off to their new spouse those parental tasks that have been difficult for them for so long. It only makes sense, right? This new person in their life has been created to do the very things that are for them so difficult. In a very few select circumstances, this is true. However, for the vast majority of stepfamilies being formed an immediate transference of parental tasks into their gendered positions will dramatically slow down if not halt altogether the blending process.

Parents need to remember a critical distinction. They have decided they love one another so much that they want to spend the entirety of their remaining lives as one. No matter what level of acceptance seems to be evident between the incoming stepparent and the children, that same level of familial commitment isn’t even possible. They will to some level become connected, but they will never be one…they aren’t intended to. Oneness (union of flesh and bone) is only possible parent to child through the miracle of birth (Genesis 1:28, and 4:1-2). Oneness between a husband and wife occurs through the miracle of marriage. (Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:32) The level of connectedness between a stepparent and their stepchildren is something that must develop over time within the framework of a family. It cannot be forced in either direction, and its extent will be determined independently by each of them as time passes. In our family this was evidenced by the fact that each of our five children connected with their respective stepparent to differing levels within differing timeframes. If and when this truth is accepted success in blending, and in fact, homogenization of the two former families will begin.

In his wise perspective, one of the ways Ron Deal suggests this process of blending is facilitated is to resist the urge to allow the stepparent to immediately fill their “Original Design” roles. Though it might be tempting for a mother who never found direction and correction to be her strong suits to let her new husband take on these roles with her children, Ron cautions this is not wise. The child has little to no trust level with their “new” parent and will resist, if not overtly, certainly internally, and the exercise will serve to push them farther apart rather than draw them closer. Furthermore, the child has learned to expect parenting roles to be filled by their mom and will distrust the intent behind them from any other source. In simple terms a step-father in this situation will likely be viewed by their step-child as mean, unaccepting and overbearing. These are not the only parental tasks that should not be handed off, each of the six parental roles should be continued to be administered by the natural parent until such time as true blending is recognized. Even as that becomes evident, a total successful hand-off of the baton is not possible. All these years later, though I am often permitted by my children I did not physically help create to offer direction, and counsel on how to self-correct, I have to approach those tasks with incredible care that my motives toward them are always for their blessing. I think it wise to say that if help with parenting is in your top ten reasons for marrying, it would be understandable…but it would not be wise. If it is in the top five, you will have a great deal of difficulty. If it is in the top three, the marriage will likely not survive.

One idea I do not want to promote is that a stepfamily cannot in many ways look and act like any other family. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You and your spouse can promote familial blending several ways. First, treat it like a family. There are many ways to do this without passing to your spouse all the parental tasks you found difficult as a single parent. From the very beginning, though my wife and I understood our new family was not “Original Design”, we did believe it to be “God Ordained”. This belief helped us treat our family like a family. We did not do it perfectly and we made mistakes along the way but to the extent we had the ability to encourage our children adopt that belief we did. For the most part, we worshipped together as a family. Where that did not occur, we now see it to have been a misstep of ours. We went places as a family and encouraged the children where possible in the inter-familial relationships they were developing. Though it was difficult we tried to allow “sibling struggles” to be worked out amongst themselves when possible, always keeping a hand on the wheel so to speak in case we needed to take control of the situation. We did not make room for any of our children to deny the new family construct. There were tense times in the beginning, but we tried to recognize that when they occurred they were indicative of two things…we might be pushing a little too hard, and growing pains. If we determined it to be the former, we tried to back off a little while still keeping the family in focus. If it was the latter, as a couple, we rejoiced together, growing pains can hurt, but they are indicative of growth…and growth in a family is always a good thing.

Another of the things we tried (quite successfully in my opinion) to do was remain a united front. We discussed a lot of things we were deciding together how to handle in our new family. Both of us had to shift some from our decisions as single parents to our new united position as a stepfamily. As a result, we met with some pushback from all of our children at times as they found some of their former expectations were forced to be adjusted. Even in the difficult times, we held fast to our united front and eventually the kids came alongside. Their recognition that our new oneness as a husband and wife was stronger than the connection they enjoyed with each of us was totally uncomfortable for all of us, but they have each told us as adults that one thing, perhaps above all else, indicated to them they were a part of a new family.

Ron Deal uses an analogy that I love because of the truth that it portrays. He likens the development of a stepfamily to the Israelites as they left Egypt and set out for the Promised Land. When they left Egypt, the people thought they were in for a short journey of perhaps a few months. They believed that very soon, they would be kicking back and enjoying all that God had promised would be theirs. In hindsight, we know it took forty years! Many people begin stepfamilies believing that very soon (if not instantaneously) their newly formed family will blend into Shangri la. They think that because they have decided the journey should take place that it will be easy. They may think they have prepared for it and they will meet with success based on their preparedness. Some may even believe that whatever the journey looks like, certainly it will have to be easier than the one they have been traveling. All of these thoughts are set-ups for unmet expectations, which can easily become a source of discouragement, disillusionment, and frustration, which will soon morph into ungratefulness for the journey. As was true for the Israelite people, obedience to God’s direction will shorten the journey, choosing to trust you to know best, will lengthen it.

For the Israelites, the Promised Land came at the end, for stepfamilies that is true as well. For those who endure, for those who persevere through all of the challenges the journey offers, those get to see their stepfamilies become blended families, and finally…homogenized families. As I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, it is a privilege to be a part of a stepfamily, it is a blessing to be part of a blended family, and it is a wondrous feeling to be a part of a homogenized family. There are few things that grab my attention and fill my heart like living in the blessing of our promised land. Though I know I am blessed beyond belief and am living a better life than I deserve, I also know I am not special. If you are a part of a new stepfamily or one in the process of blending…God wants to lead you into your promised land just as much as He enjoys seeing me in mine.

Questions to answer:

  • If you are part of a stepfamily, what challenges in parenting have you found most difficult?
  • In what ways do you treat your stepfamily as a family that have worked well for you?
  • What would be the best single piece of advice you would offer someone beginning a stepfamily?
  • Do you look at stepfamilies and blended families as the same thing or stages a stepfamily progresses through?

Actions to take:

  • If you a part of a newer stepfamily, decide what actions you should take to facilitate the blending process.
  • If you are a blended family, discuss ways you could facilitate a homogenized family.
  • If you are a part of a step, blended, or homogenized family, thank God for His blessing and ask for His guidance as you continue on your journey to your promised land.

So now, giving God all the thanks for the special family you are a part of whatever it looks like…Go Be Awesome

Parenting 101 – Session Six – July 18, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken I appreciate you joining me today for the Monday Marriage Message. We continue today with our series on Parenting 101. This is Session Six and today we will explore some of the nuances of single parenting and next week I will focus on parenting in a blended family.

As I shared with you a few weeks ago, I have filled the role of a parent in three different scenarios. First as a part of what would meet the criteria of what I call “Original Design”, later as a single parent, and finally as a step-parent. Having experience in each of these situations does not make me an expert in any of them, although I believe that as a counselor it has given me a valuable perspective. As a said a few weeks ago, I do not rely on my experience as the source of unchangeable truth, I have God’s word for that, and that is and will continue to be the basis for my counsel. My experience however, like that of anyone does offer me understanding of the particular struggles that I need God’s word for guidance on how to navigate if I am to be successful. Thankfully, there are some great books and other resources from trusted Christian authors and experts who have addressed some of these special parenting concerns. They have done some of the heavy lifting, and have addressed many single and step-parenting issues with the pertinent scriptural admonitions to help guide people through those often-difficult waters. I agree with much they have to say and encourage you to use those very resources…but not exclusively. Each of us need to discover what God’s word has to say about our unique lives. When we are taught something it has value, but when we discover a biblical truth for ourselves, we accept it for what it is. God’s word will guide you into successful parenting no matter the scenario or situation better than anyone else no matter how much of an “Expert” they may claim to be. As I said a moment ago, ancillary to God’s own word there are several good books on these subjects, and I would recommend beginning with Single Parenting That Works by Dr. Kevin Leman or The Smart Step-Family by Ron Deal.

For no other reason than it is often the first situation experienced by a parent not or no longer a part of “Original Design” I will begin by addressing single parenting. Some years ago, I was in conversation with a father who is a part of an “Original Design” family. I was explaining the three parenting tasks best accomplished by him, and the three his wife was more capable of. Our conversation was fruitful and he asked several questions and offered a few experiential observations that reinforced the things he was learning. As our conversation came to a close, he offered one more thought. He reminded me he had been raised by his mom who is a single parent, and made the following statement with a newfound empathetic understanding. He said “So this is why mom struggled so much raising my brother and I. She was trying to perform all six of these parenting tasks and was not designed to do that.” With an entirely new view of his childhood, he continued with a question for me. “Was it because of her attempt to fill all of these roles, that she was unable to excel at the ones she was designed to fill naturally?” That question opened my eyes to one of the biggest challenges single parents face. That young man was not being critical of his mother’s parenting skills. Quite possibly for the first time he was seeing the struggle she had dealt with all those years, and was giving her the latitude she had most certainly earned.

Single parenting is hard. Anyone of us who have had to practice in that arena, or are currently doing their best to, understand that description to be a colossal understatement. I believe single parents have numerous occasions when they just seem to know, even if they don’t know how, that they were not “Cut out” to parent alone. I believe most of them understand there are parts of parenting that come quite naturally to them, but because necessity dictates so often they must act in ways beyond what they are “God gifted” to do, they struggle…with all of it. Let me be clear, I know plenty of awesome single parents. I do not want to give the impression that single parents are not able to raise wonderful, children who grow to be productive, incredible, valuable adults. Nothing could be further from the truth. As I noted in an earlier episode in this series a full 25% of children live in a single parent home. Single parenting is a very real thing and can be done with amazing success if the challenges faced are addressed correctly. I only mean to point out what some of those challenges are, and what God’s word indicates are the appropriate responses to them.

God’s word is clear, He does not want you to single parent…alone. That statement might seem nonsensical or an oxymoron but it is actually true. God desires for single parents to look to him to stand in the gaps. Psalm 68:3-5 in the New Living Translation says, But let the godly rejoice.     Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord – rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows – this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God invites single parents to have some of expectations of Him. This scripture indicates that there is reason for the Christ following single parent to rejoice…even in their current circumstance. Why? For starters because He is present. According to these verses, God is with the single parent in a unique and special way. Obviously, the connotation here is that the widow who in Old Testament times had little ability to meet her own needs and her children who were seemingly even more helpless, could count on the goodness of God for their supply. I believe these verses to apply to many single parents today as well. Becoming a single parent happens in all kinds of ways. I became one as the result of divorce. Some become single parents because of a deceased spouse as this scripture is describing. Some become single parents because they have children, but never married the other parent. I believe beyond any doubt, and will use scripture to verify, that God cares equally for single parents in each of these situations. Any person, single parent or otherwise who loves God and seeks to be a Christ follower can count on God to be true to His word.

Let’s begin with widowed parents simply because that is the clearest interpretation from this particular scripture. The promise here is also found in Psalm 146:7-9; He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows. I like this scripture because it lists several people groups that God is indicating he keeps a special eye on and moves to meet the needs they have. The Lord loves godly people, or in other words people who look to Him to be their God and their supply. Among those listed here are those who are weighed down, certainly single parents feel that way often, but also specifically the orphans and widows. Those who have lost a spouse to death have by the very definition of marriage lost a part of their own existence. The measure of “aloneness” that follows “oneness with another” is immense. Jesus has experienced that condition of the heart and in His moment of being separated from the Father whom He was one with throughout eternity, could not help but scream out in anguish, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” If you are a widow or widower, Christ knows your pain. As a result, He is more capable to meet your needs, emotionally and spiritually than anyone else. Furthermore as the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10-11) your God is very rich. He claims that the entire earth and all of its contents are His. (Psalm 24:1) As the owner of it all who is Himself omniscient and omnipotent he knows what you need and has the power to get it to you, in other words His ability to meet your physical needs as well, is more than sufficient. Your part of the equation is to know Him, love Him and look to Him for your supply. As I mentioned, His eye is also especially on the orphan or as noted in the first scripture the fatherless. This means God understands that the widowed is often a single parent. He desires to be the one who stands in that particular gap. A side note to the church at large. God is also clear that the church has some very real responsibilities to these widows, widowers and their children. He wants to use His church to be an integral part of His supply for them. There is no excuse for a church that claims to be connected to God to avoid acting in concert with the written wishes He has to meet those specific needs. Churches need to be seeking out those specific scriptures and expediting plans to carry them out. No excuses!

Another way people find themselves single parents today is the way I entered that status, divorce. God says clearly in His word that He hates divorce, but He never says He hates divorcees…because He doesn’t…He loves them. In my ministry I work with divorced people every day. I know that there are a plethora of reasons people become divorced. Marriage is incredibly important to God, His word makes that abundantly clear. It is a part of the plan He has to teach us more about Himself and the relationship He desires to have with us. I won’t even use this time today to make a case for whether divorce is a sin or not, but it certainly isn’t the unpardonable sin. There are many ways, too many to name, that take us away from God’s best for us. Each and every one of those ways has a remedy…His name is Jesus! Jesus wants to make right all that we have made wrong in our lives. Divorce, no matter who filed, is no exception. Jesus said Himself that God did not send His Son (Jesus) into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17) Jesus desires above all else to be the one to make right our mistakes and missteps. How is He able to do that? He went on to say in the next verse “He (or she)who believes in Him (Jesus) is not condemned… So, if you are divorced, what differentiates you in God’s thinking toward you from a widow or widower who had no choice in their separation from their spouse? Nothing…if your heart is to follow Jesus and obey His voice as you move forward through the rest of your life. In Him, you have become righteous. Isaiah 61:10 says; I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. This means that as a result of following Christ with everything you have, you are viewed by God as righteous because He has given you His own clothes to wrap yourself up in. When we allow Him to adorn us with His righteousness, we look like someone He wants to join Himself with, and provide for our every need. In response to that love He has for us, divorced people who are seeking Him can look for Him to interact with us just as He has promised to interact with the widows.

Finally, to those who are single parents because they have children but have not married the other parent. The same words of affirmation for the divorced single parent belong to you. Jesus loves you immensely, intensely…and intentionally. Christ’s desire is not to make our sin the object of His attention but rather to help us make His ultimate sacrifice for our sin the object of ours. He understands that the focus has to be the cure and not the disease. He said himself that his heart is to heal the sick, to seek out and save that which has been lost. He is all about redemption, not retribution. So, if a single parent of any persuasion seeks to have Christ be their supply, spiritually, emotionally and physically, Jesus wants to meet those needs. More than that, He wants to fill the role of a spouse in our lives. He has no desire to see us single parent…alone.

Ephesians 5:30-32 is clear, Christ desires to be as close as a spouse. This is true of widows, divorced people, and those who have chosen not to marry another. It is true for all of us. These verses say directly of those who are willing to be in that kind of relationship with Him; For we are members of His Body, of His flesh and bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh” This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. When Paul wrote that He was speaking of Christ and the church he was saying that Jesus left His Father and came to make a way to cover our mistakes and missteps with His own blood, so that He could become one flesh with us…to marry us!

So what does all this mean for single parents? Jesus wants to help you. He wants to stand in the gap of the missing one. He wants desperately to empower us to be able to fill all of the roles of parenting with His assistance. What do we have to do to get that all important help? Be in relationship with Him. Trust Him expectantly to meet all of our needs…even our shortcomings as a parent. Choose to follow Him and not repeat the mistakes and missteps He has saved us from. He died for you, so live for Him and He will ensure you never have to single parent…alone…ever again.

Questions to answer:

  • Have you ever considered that Christ wants to help you in your single parenting so you don’t have to go-it-alone?
  • Can you think of times you have already seen Him doing this for you?

Actions to take:

  • Thank God for having a spousal heart toward you and ask Him to remind you as necessary to trust Him to help you where you need it as it pertains to being a single parent.

So now, looking expectantly to God to empower you as you trust Him in ways only a single parent understands…Go be Awesome!

Parenting 101 – Session Four July 4th, 2022

Hi this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining in for the Monday Marriage Message…Parenting 101 – Session Four.

Last week I shared with you many scripture references illustrating six parental roles that God perfectly accomplishes in the process of raising all of His children. God is our example and therefore, each of those noted tasks are transferable to us as parents as we interact in the lives of our children. As husbands and wives we work together to reflect the image and likeness of God. According to His own word, that is why He created men and women. (Genesis 1:26-27) By joining us as “One flesh” in marriage, it is His intention that we will allow Him to conjoin the abilities He gives us and cooperate with one another as we parent the children He has also gifted us with.

Last week I referenced scriptures noting God filling parental roles with the intention of offering validity to each of the tasks outlined. Some of them are uniquely suited to moms who are relational thinkers and have a primary need for love within their relationships. Others are purposed to be fulfilled by a compartmentalized thinking dad who must be respected if the relationships he engages in are to be in good standing.

I think it important to make mention that I understand that these concepts work most easily in the traditional family or what I call the “Original design”. These are the fortuitous families that are made up of a father, a mother and their biological children. If your family is structured this way, praise God! He is the strength that has enabled you to remain within the “Original design”. These families will be able to see the value in, and incorporate the concepts I have been speaking of with the most ease. These precepts are not my ideas, they are found in scripture. As such in traditional families there is an innate acceptance that things should operate as the Creator intended.

However, I want to be careful not to exclude everyone else. The statistics I offered a few weeks ago clearly indicate that 40% of families today are stepfamilies and a full 25% of American children have only one parent at home. With these numbers what they are, any serious discussion of parenting must include these familial structures as well. I understand each of these scenarios. I began raising my own two biological children in a home that fit the criteria for the “Original Design”. Just a few years later, I found myself in the role of a single parent for five years. I am eternally grateful that twenty-two years ago, God allowed me to marry my wonderful bride Lynn, and our union initiated a stepfamily joining not only the two of us but my son and daughter and her three daughters. We have been blessed beyond belief and have what I consider to be an amazing family that long ago dropped the “step” part. We are now blended to the point of total homogenization. It is difficult sometimes to tell where bloodlines begin and end. I don’t mention this to brag…ok maybe a little…they are worth boasting about. In all seriousness, I offer my story to be transparent and truthfully admit I have been a part of three different family structures. I have not experienced it all…but more than some. Thankfully, however, I have the opportunity to draw from the word of God for guidance on marriage, parenting and family and don’t have to resort to my personal experience. I also make this connection to make the point that we will in fact be taking one of the sessions of Parenting 101 to address these other family constructs as well and the nuances they involve when adopting these biblical precepts concerning parenting.

Today I want to focus on the three jobs of parenting referenced last week that moms are specifically created for. Women are relational thinkers, who require anyone who desires to be in a good relationship with them to love them for the things they say, think, do and believe. These God-reflective qualities predisposition their hearts and minds toward the importance to tend to the needs of, mend the brokenness of, and defend their children. We see these three roles or tasks validated other places as well. Moms are known as “Momma bears” indicating the ferocity with which they will defend their children against any perceived threat. They are universally understood to be much more suited than are dads to excel at nurturing their children far beyond their natural ability to provide nourishment and his complete inability to do so. Furthermore, though not celebrated by the current pop culture, these three parental tasks are performed by mothers for their children prior to birth. The human female body is in fact, designed specifically to this end.

While in-utero a baby is connected to the mother through the umbilical cord. This amazing apparatus allows her to tend to her baby’s needs. It contains two umbilical arteries that provide oxygen rich blood to the baby as well as nutritional needs. Additionally, they work together to regulate the baby’s blood pressure independent of the mother’s. The cord also contains one vein, used to remove the babies oxygen depleted blood and carry away waste to be filtered by mom’s kidneys and liver. During the final trimester a mother is already busied (even if subconsciously) mending her baby’s potential brokenness. In the last three months of pregnancy a mother delivers vital antibodies to her baby through the placenta known as passive immunity because the baby’s body has done nothing independently to develop them. Further antibodies delivered through the placenta in the moments directly after birth will continue to fight for the child and mend potential physical brokenness for the first several weeks of a baby’s life. This selfless act of offering a baby her immune system continues through breastfeeding, which also tends to vital nutritional needs. Additionally while in utero, babies are defended from the world around them. Enveloped in the mother’s womb a baby is safe from a plethora of various dangers. It is a wondrous consideration that a mother’s body is uniquely created to accommodate each of these three needs her child has…tending, mending, and defending. Her special capacity for these three parental tasks do not end there…in fact, they are just beginning.

I have a theory that every mom who holds her child for the first time has the following thought “I am going to be this baby’s mommy forever.” They innately feel that their role in their child’s life will never end. They fully trust they will be capable of tending to any need, mending any brokenness and defending their child until their dying day. I know that in all of my 56 years on this planet my mother has never ceased to find these three things her responsibility. She is an elderly lady now who isn’t in the best of health. She finds it difficult to get around and when she does get up and move about it is with pain. However, if I were to walk into her home today she would greet me with a short statement and a few questions. “Hi son! Can I get you something to drink? Are you hungry? Is there anything you need?” Her first interactions with me would be to assess any needs I might have. She will do this even though both of us know I am more than capable to meet those needs for myself. Almost before that process is completed, she would be scanning my posture and countenance to make sure there is no brokenness that needs mending, physically or emotionally. Heaven help you if you try to disparage me in any way in her presence. You might just as well put your tail between your legs and slink away now because it is going to be exactly what happens when she is finished with you!

My mom is special to me but she is not unique in her desires. God created her and billions like her. We call it mothering instinct, but it is more rightly described Godly imprint. God created my mom to be joined with my dad, to be my parents. When He married them, He gave certain of His characteristics to my mom and others to my dad for the express purpose of creating a marriage that would be reflective of Him (Genesis 1:26-27 & Genesis 2:24). Because of this, my mom has Godly coding written into her spirit to tend to my needs, mend my brokenness, and defend me, all at any cost to herself…Just like El-Shaddai does. This name of God means the breasted one who provides for our needs. That name comes from the Hebrew root word Shad which always refers to the breast of a woman. I am not making claim that God is a woman, according to the scriptures God is Spirit. I simply offer it to show that one of the names of God illustrates that the roles of a mom come directly from her Creator.

Questions to answer:

  • What are your thoughts about these three parental roles being specifically those of a mom’s?
  • Have you ever considered that those “Mom Jobs” are also things God is intently interested in providing for us?
  • What are some specific examples you both see of these three jobs being manifested in your family?

Actions to take:

  • Husbands: take some time now to thank your wife for the special and personal ways you see her filling her roles as a mom. If you have multiple children, give specific examples for each.

So now, celebrating moms and the God-like attributes that make them a crucial part of “Raising up a child in the way he or she should go” Give thanks to God for His amazing design and Go Be Awesome!

Parenting 101- Session Three – June 27, 2022

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, welcome to the Monday Marriage Message…Parenting 101 – Session Three.

Two weeks ago I started this series on parenting. In the first session I spoke to the statistics that indicate that as a whole we need to be better prepared to become awesome parents so we can raise awesome children. In that episode I said that there are at least six parental tasks illustrated for us in scripture. This past week I spent some time showing that I believe it is by God’s design that we parent differently as moms and dads. I shared with you how some of the other differences endowed to men and women at creation work congruently with the six tasks we will be exploring enabling a mother to be uniquely qualified to best perform three of those jobs while a father is gifted especially to accomplish the other three.

I went on to offer the analogy of a football team. Even though the offense and defense react very differently to the ball, both encourage one another in their respective tasks knowing it is the key to winning the game. In the same way, as parents, if we will learn to recognize that we are gifted by God to do differing things in terms of raising our children we can become better at encouraging each other in the process.

This session will be devoted to searching the scriptures for examples of God filling each of the six parenting roles for us. As I stated last week, He is able to fully execute each of these tasks with perfection. We will undoubtedly fall short of His ability. However, understanding the “Oneness” of our marriages should offer clarity that our differences are actually intended to bring strength not strife. He has intentionally made us “One” with another, who has different strengths and skillsets than we do. Understanding as parents we are the offense and defense within the overall team allows us to be grateful for our spouses differing talents and to celebrate them. Parenting differently than one another as moms and dads is not indicative of a problem. A lack of understanding why the differences exist…that often creates problems parenting cohesively.

Allow me to review the six jobs of parenting. Just to make you are aware, I will be using many scriptures to illustrate How God fills all of these roles of parenting, as He raises us up to be all we are intended to be. You may want to take some notes of the scriptures or download the text file of this episode so you can read each of them for yourselves in their full context.

God tends to our needs Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread” This scripture from the Lord’s prayer indicates God wants us to ask Him to meet our needs and in fact wants to be the one who does. It is His pleasure to meet your every need. In Matthew 6:25-33 Jesus reiterated God’s desire to tend to our needs. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. He went on to say just a few moments later in Matthew 7:9-11 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. Jesus was making a bold statement about God’s parental ability. He was saying that God knows what you need, and wants to tend to your needs. He was also saying that looking to God to tend to our needs should be our first thought because He loves us. Jesus then made a correlating statement. If we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness we will know God better, we will know His ways better and we will not be afraid that our needs will go untended. Good parents tend to their children’s needs…it’s what they do. God is a good, good parent…the best there is. God tends to our every need so He can enable us to reach our full potential in Him!

God mends our brokenness – 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares upon him for He cares about you”.  God wants us to know that He desires to mend our brokenness. He wants us to tell Him when we are hurting. He understands that the first step in mending brokenness is having whatever is broken brought to Him for Healing, so He tells us to cast our cares (or our brokenness) on Him because He cares about us. What bothers us, bothers Him. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” God mends our brokenness. God knows the difficulties we encounter in our lives and He does not ignore us or the wounds that have been inflicted upon us, on the contrary, He tells us to tell Him what is bothering us, He reassures us that we are not alone and He moves toward us to heal our wounds. Jesus spent His ministry mending the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds of countless people at the direction of the Father, as He continues to do today through the ministry of His Holy Spirit. God mends our brokenness to liberate us from what would hold us back from His best intention for our lives!

God defends us – Psalm 34:7 “For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” Psalm 54:1 “Come with great power, O God, and rescue me! Defend me with your might.” Matthew 6:13 “…deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” God defends us. We don’t only live in a physical world. The spiritual realm is all around us. I have often wondered if we have any clue just how many times, and to what extent God delivers us from the evil intentions of the enemy who’s only noted jobs are to “steal, kill and destroy”. I have also wondered from time to time if we will become aware of the scope of His protective measures over our lives when we are safely at home with Him in heaven. God defends us to preserve the ability to see us become everything He wants us to be!

God directs us – Proverbs 3:6 “In all your ways acknowledge Him; And He shall direct your paths.” Psalm 94:12 “Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, And teach out of Your law,” Psalm 48:14 “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide Even to death.” God’s word is very clear about the fact that He intends to direct, guide and teach us so that we can live our lives to the fullest. His direction is not to stifle us or to keep us from the things that are good for us, but rather to lovingly direct us so that we can enjoy his many blessings as we live lives of righteousness or in or in other words lives that happen as designed by a good, good, Father. God directs us in the best ways that will bring us the greatest blessing imaginable because He loves us so much!

God corrects us – Job 5:17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.” Proverbs 3:12 “For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” God loves us too much not to correct us. A parent who does not correct his child illustrates that the direction the child’s life takes does not matter to them. God says that because He delights in us, He corrects us. How does He do this? He corrects us through His written word, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and sometimes through the loving instruction of other trusted godly men and women in our lives. God corrects us because He loves us and it hurts Him to see us stray from His wonderful plan for our lives!

God projects (launches) us – Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;… Luke 10:1-3 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two-by-two before His face into every city and place where He himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold I send you out as lambs among the wolves”. Mark 16:15 “And He said unto them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”. God launches us out into the world to reflect Him and reveal His awesome nature to others. He knows that will make life difficult at times, even so, He launches us like an archer launches his arrows. We should also keep in mind that as Luke relayed, those who are sent out by God are sent out “before his face” in other words He watches over us as He sends us out. God projects or launches us and takes pleasure in our life’s success in Him.

These are six jobs of parenting; tending, mending, defending, directing, correcting, and projecting. God does all of them perfectly. My goal in illustrating that these tasks of parenting are scriptural, and that God does each of them for us, is to also show them to be right and necessary. As I mentioned last week, often time’s parents become displeased with one another when they observe the other taking action in the name of parenting that they do not understand. My aim here is to point out that each of you will likely find three of these roles things you are specifically suited to do, and three will be more difficult. No worries…God has equipped your spouse in ways He did not give you natural ability in, and vice-versa. If God sees fit to do each of these things as He raises us, who are we to say they are unnecessary or even adverse for our children.

Questions to answer:

  • Which of these six tasks seem natural to you?
  • Which do you find difficult to do and why do you think that is?
  • Do you find that one of you is likely better at three of these and less capable of the others?

Actions to take:

  • Discuss times you have seen God take up each of these six roles of parenting in your lives. Discuss the results of those interactions.
  • Discuss the value you each see for each of these parenting roles to be filled in your children’s lives.

So now, allowing the example of God in your life to be the guide of how to positively impact your children’s’ lives…Go Be Awesome!

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