How Boaz Loved Ruth

Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!”  And they answered him, “The Lord bless you!”  (Ruth 2:4 NKJV)

As I consider the words in this picture, they are words I would say to my daughter.  They are words that I would want Sara to say about me when she is talking to others.  They are words that I would want to demonstrate to my sisters in Christ.  They are words I would want my mom or sister, neither Christians, to see and believe in me.

I love my daughter.  I prayed hard to God that I would one day have a daughter and He has blessed me with my Libby.  I want Libby to be loved all of her life.  One day she will leave my home and seek the love of a man to be her husband.  I want that for her…I want her to be loved and cherished all the days of her life.  With that in mind, I find one of my greatest responsibilities to her is to love her mom in a Godly way…the way I want a man to one day love her.  Of course, if I do that, Sara will be loved in the way her Heavenly Father wants her to be loved.  Loving the women in my life is a tremendous responsibility that starts in my home but reaches into the church, into my earthly family, and into the world as I come into contact with others each day.

In thinking about the love of a man for a woman, the kind of love God calls us to, I was drawn to the book of Ruth.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and read the book today.  It is four short chapters and will not take you much time.

As you read Ruth, consider Boaz and how he loved Ruth.  Think about the “what” he did and “how” and the “why”.  We see that Boaz was generous with compassion (2:8-9), generous with compliments (2:11-12), generous with courtesy (2:14), generous with what he had (2:15-16), generous with his credibility (3:11-15), and generous with his commitment (4:9-10).  Take some time and think about what Boaz did for Ruth and consider how that looks in your life with the women and girls you care about or come into contact with.

Then consider the “why”.  Why did Boaz behave this way?  I believe we find the answer in the verse above which are the first recorded words of Boaz.  “The LORD bless you!”  For Boaz, what he thought, said and did started and ended with God.  We see from the book that Boaz’s intentions (obedience to God) matched his behaviors (what he did).  Boaz treated Ruth and others in a generous and kind way because of his obedience to God.  Boaz understood and received the love of God for himself which enabled him to freely give love to others.  This manifests itself fully in his relationship with Ruth and echoes through eternity in the life of Jesus.

Consider Boaz today in your own life and in your relationships with the ladies in your life.  Love them!  Love them by accepting your place as a dearly loved child of God (Eph 5:1-2), consider how you have been forgiven (Eph 4:32), think of the way Christ put you first (Phil 2:6), drink from the longsuffering of God (2 Pet 3:9), consider how generous God has been to you (Rom 5:8), and remember how God puts up with you when you are ungrateful, cranky, or a disappointment (Lu 6:35).  Make your “why” obedience to God in your relationships and the “what” and “how” will come and will glorify God.

Today, every day, remember that in Jesus Christ you are COMPLETE.  Jesus loves you and for that you are free to truly love the ladies in your life.  He loves you with an unfailing love that does not disappoint.  In that you are free to love even when promises to you are broken, someone you care about has failed you, something is done to disappoint you.  God has promised you love and succeeded in delivering over and over again…even when you don’t deserve it.  His love, if you will let it, will fill you and leave you with a love worth giving.

Uncovering the Underlying Causes

The above picture is of my girls’ bedroom yesterday as my wife Anna, her sister, and several others worked to pull up carpet in our house. Yesterday’s focus for Anna was the kids’ bedrooms. We have been trying to figure out the reasons lately why I’ve had so many breathing problems.

We began uncovering the underlying causes.

The air was tested, and we found mold. The duct-work was cleaned yesterday, and the technicians found layer after layer of years of filth and dirt (including a dead bat). Anna’s brother found that all of our laundry and dishwater was going out of the house and going right over to the sump line (which was broken) and all that water was sitting on the SE corner of the house creating a haven for mold in our basement. Of course in order to discover this, he and my son Joseph had to do a TON of digging to uncover the underlying causes. That picture above was taken after Anna and her sister pulled out the carpet and found evidence of mouse nests and all other kinds of yummy stuff!

Now, I really could write for years on end in praise of my God-loving, servant-minded and tenacious wife, who is desperately trying to do everything in her power to help me (and all of us) breathe better air. When I read Proverbs 31:10-31 about the virtuous wife, and my wife Anna’s name could be inserted there, and for that I cannot thank God enough. But that is not what I really want to focus on for these few moments today.

When we are having relationship issues (it really doesn’t matter which relationship we are talking about) so often we go after symptoms rather than uncovering the underlying causes. We try to deal with how people are behaving instead of getting down to “why” they are behaving that way. Now, I’m not saying that we have to be psychologists and start psychoanalyzing everyone around us including ourselves. But, friends we need sometimes in our relationships to have the tenacity and courage to rip up the carpet and take off the trim that conceals the real root of the problem.

Look at this verse from James 4:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel (James 4:1-2)

James is ripping up the carpet here and pulling back the trim to expose what is really going on in our relationships. What is the “source” of quarrels? Lust. Envy. It is ugly, and it will completely destroy your relationship health until you uncover it, admit it and get it out of your life.

Here is another passage from James that gets to the root of the problem:

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing (James 3:18).

Why is there disorder and every evil thing in our relationships? Well look down in the duct-work, and you will see that the air flowing around in the house is full of the mold, filth and dead bats that James calls “jealousy and selfish ambition.”

The Hebrew writer also speaks of the “root of bitterness” that can spring up and cause many around us to be defiled (Hebrews 12:14-17). But until we are willing to stop dealing with symptoms and call out the real root of the problem, we will never improve the health of our relationships.

You can’t cover this problem with a nice coat of paint and fancy curtains.

Begin uncovering the underlying causes. Your spiritual health and the health of your relationship depends upon it.

Intimacy

We as guys often get sex and intimacy confused. Sometimes guys want the physical relationship, but we forget the importance of all the things we say and do throughout the day. A lot of guys can turn on the sex switch instantaneously, and do not keep in mind that our wives may take a lot of time to “warm up.”

Typical scenario: Here is how the day has gone for a lot of guys. The women in our lives went through this day, too.

You wake up asking her to do things for you. Breakfast. “Where’s my socks?” “Why aren’t the jeans washed?” “Are we really out of bread again?”

Maybe through the day, whether you are at home or talking to her on the phone from work, you find yourself:

  • Putting her down and teasing her about things.
  • Being her teacher instead of her peer.
  • Being her father instead of her friend and companion.
  • Correcting her grammar and choice of words.
  • Complaining about the food she makes.
  • Talking about how the great qualities of other women.
  • Picking on her about what she likes, her family, what she does with her time, etc.
  • After all of that, you do not apologize for how you have mistreated her, instead you just expect her to move along and forget it.

Now, evening comes and you want her to be “intimate” with you? What you mean is, you want her to have sex with you. You want her to “perform” for you. But, where was your “intimacy” earlier in the day?

You want her to be on fire for you, but you have thrown water on her all day long.

What, most likely, is she thinking while you want her to be your partner in love in the bedroom? “You made fun of me for this…and now you want that?” “You were looking at those women…now you want me to believe you think I’m beautiful?” “You treated me like a dummy in front of your friends…and now you want me to be your lover?” “I wanted to spend $20 on X and you said, ‘No,’ but you spent $1,000 on Y.” “Do you really value me?” “Do you really hold me as special?” “Am I your friend and your sweetheart, or am I just useful to meet your needs?”

God has blessed the wives in our lives with a long memory. What will they remember? Better yet, what should they be remembering? Shouldn’t they remember that we honored and valued them? Shouldn’t they see through the day that we see them as our sweethearts, and not just at night when we want something?

Remember intimacy. Show her that she is precious to you at all times. God calls you to honor her, to cherish her, to praise her, to hold her up as special. That’s how Jesus sees her. That is intimacy.

You Were Called to This

“Knowing that you were called to this…” (1 Peter 3:9)

Today’s MDB is dedicated to our calling. Folks often talk about their calling, saying things like “I was called to this ministry,” or “I feel called to this line of work.” People mean a lot of different things when they say that, but what I want to discuss is what God has called us to do through His word. We will apply those things specifically today to our relationships with the women in our lives.

Let’s focus on the short letter of 1 Peter to consider our calling. 1 Peter is not all about how men treat women, but the relationship principles in this letter can be applied to how we see women and how we behave towards them.

God is holy and He has called us to be holy in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15). In order for us to see the women in our lives as God sees them, we must have pure hearts and holy eyes. If our hearts and eyes have been corrupted by the world, especially through things like pornography, then we will not see our wives (or daughters, or girlfriends, or any female for that matter) as created in the image of God. The world turns women into objects to be used to appease the lusts of men, but God created women in His image for His glory and He expects us to view them as precious in His sight (1 Peter 3:7).

What has God called us to do? God has called us to purify our hearts and eyes, so that we can with a sincere heart love the women around us with purity (1 Peter 1:22). God has “called” you out of darkness into light, and He wants you for His own special people (1 Peter 2:9). He also sees women that way; He is calling them out of darkness to be His own special people. We are all “called” by God to His eternal glory (1 Peter 5:10). May all men begin to see women as God sees them.

God has called us to follow the example of Jesus Christ in how He treated others (1 Peter 2:19-25). How do we respond when the women in our lives mistreat us? Well, we all know how NOT to do it, I’m sure, because we have all responded the wrong way to harsh treatment. By the way, how does that work out for us when we return insult for insult, shout for shout, and threat for threat? Yep, not very well. We are called to a higher way of thinking and living. We are called to imitate the example of Jesus.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1 Peter 2:21).

What did Jesus do when He was insulted? He did not insult in return. When Jesus suffered because of the harsh treatment of others, He did not threaten, in fact, He prayed for their forgiveness. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross. He died that we might live. He offered blessings when others offered Him mocking and insults. That is our standard as men for how we are to treat the women in our lives.

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

This is your calling. Honor women. Bless them. Treat them as valuable in the sight of God. Be pure in your thinking about them and be holy in how you behave toward them. Answer the call.

Love is from God

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son the propitiation of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
I John 4:7-12

God is love. God demonstrated His love for us through sacrifice, giving His precious Son so that we could live. God initiated love towards us, He loved us first. His love was not a response to some good we had done. These truths about God and His love are at the core of who we are and how we were created. Every single one of us longs to be loved, we long to feel valued, important, significant.

We search for love in all our human relationships. We start out in this world dependent on a mother and/or father seeking their love and approval. We develop friendships and attempt to feel a sense of love and belonging. We search for a spouse that we hope will love us for who we really are.

But what happens when those people let us down? What happens when there is conflict and disagreement and disappointment? Some reading this may have been born to parents who failed to show love or seemed incapable of doing so. Most of us have had friends that used us or betrayed our trust. Some know the terrible pain of a cheating, unfaithful spouse.

How do we continue to develop a heart of love for others when we have so many broken relationships in our lives? How can I be vulnerable and sacrifice myself for Kristine when I know that her love for me could fail? How can I invest in people and risk so much in this broken world? The answer is that God loves me. Seems too simple, right? The reality is that I must first fill myself with the reality of God’s love for me before I can express true love for anyone else. As long as I seek fulfillment and love from human relationships, I will be disappointed. But when I seek fulfillment and love from God, I will never be disappointed. Everything I need is in God through Christ and I must grab hold of that before I can consistently show sacrificial love to others.

So what does this look like in real life? When Kristine is having a bad day and she is criticizing me about the mess I left in the kitchen or the dirty clothes in my closet I can respond in multiple ways. If I’m seeking fulfillment through her love I will be hurt and I might lash out with harsh words or shut down and sulk, giving her the silent treatment. If I realize that I’m fully loved by my Father I can take a step back. I can see the struggle she is having, humble myself, sacrifice and put my arms around her. In the comfort of God’s love, we are free to risk everything and demonstrate true love to those around us.

The success of every human relationship begins with our relationship with God, secure in His love exemplified in the sacrifice of Jesus. Our stability and foundation in this life is the love of God and when we stand on that foundation we can perfect His love by loving others.

A Lesson from Monty Williams

Today’s Men’s Daily Briefing will not be an article. It will be a YouTube link to a eulogy delivered by Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams. Coach Williams delivered this eulogy for his wife who was killed in a car crash.

There is nothing more powerful we can say today about marriage and faith than what Monty Williams said at his wife’s funeral.

Powerful Eulogy by Monty Williams for his wife, Ingrid

 

What David Didn’t See from His Rooftop

From his rooftop one night, King David saw a beautiful woman bathing. He also saw an opportunity to have this beautiful woman named Bathsheba come to his house. His vision was laser focused on getting in bed with Bathsheba. What David didn’t see from his rooftop at that time was a series of catastrophic decisions that would plague his family for generations.

Below are seven things I found that David did not see from his rooftop, and I hope that these will serve as a warning and a wake up call to all men to consider where lust leads and what sexual sin does to you and everyone around you. If you are married, you are in a covenant relationship with God and your wife, and you are called to honor her, cherish her, and forsake all others until death. If you are unmarried, your covenant with God is to be holy and sexually pure until marriage. When our minds, emotions and bodies begin to wander, then hopefully we can take a Biblical cold shower by considering what David brought upon himself.

Here is what David did not see from his rooftop:

  1. David did not see how much his sins hurt God (Psalm 51).
  2. David did not see the inner turmoil he would suffer because of his behavior (Psalm 32).
  3. David did not see the multiple families and individuals that would be carpet-bombed by his choices.
  4. David did not see the tidal wave of trouble that would sweep over his own family for generations to come.
  5. David did not see that several of his sons would die.
  6. David did not see that his position as a king would be weakened.
  7. David did not see that his influence as a parent would be greatly compromised.

Yes indeed, David was forgiven by God for his sins, and praise God for His immeasurable grace, but David felt the searing heat of God’s wrath in the wake of the consequences of his sins. The same loving and merciful God who said He forgave David, is the same God who pronounced the sentence for David’s punishment. If our affections begin to wander, may we be sobered up by pondering these effects of selfish choices.

In order for us to be the men God calls us to be, we are required to be wholly committed to our wives in mind, emotions, soul and body.  If you are struggling with this, then do not struggle alone. First of all, talk with the Lord and pour your heart out to Him. Then seek out a wise, godly man who has the strength to lead you and demonstrate to you how to love your wife like Jesus loves her.

Most Like Jesus Most Unlike Me

“Be yourself” is the advice we sometimes hear, and in some cases that is absolutely right. We need to embrace our unique personality traits and the special talents God has given us. We can’t live someone else’s life; we have to live our own. So, in that sense, “be yourself” is sound counsel.

On the other hand, there are character traits, behavior patterns, and ways of speaking that have become natural to me. When in certain situations, I typically react in this way or say certain things. That’s “who I am.” So, if those things that I usually say (or don’t say) are hurting my wife, then being “myself” is not the right advice.

Sometimes, that kind of statement is used as a justification for our behavior. We may say, “Well, that’s just who I am,” or,”I’m just being myself.” Somehow, that makes it okay then to be rude, sarcastic or insensitive to the feelings of others, particularly those of our wives.

Please understand that the things that Jesus is asking us to say and do and be are usually the farthest thing from our character. What is most like Jesus is most unlike us. In fact, the Scriptures teach repeatedly from beginning to end that we must be transformed. “Being ourselves” is what got this world in the mess it is in now. “Being ourselves” is what has hurt our wives repeatedly. We have to become someone else. That someone else is Jesus.

God’s plan is for us to be “transformed” into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is God’s new creation…a new man created in His image to act, talk and think like Jesus (Ephesians 2:10; 4:20-24). That transformation process takes place through the Holy Spirit working in our hearts through His word, as we look into that holy and perfect mirror and see Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:22-25).

For example:

  • My natural response may be to try and “figure out and fix” everything while my wife is talking, but Jesus wants me to become a better listener and to seek to understand what she is saying and how she feels about it.
  • “Being myself” might result in a sarcastic comeback that I personally thought was pretty hilarious, but my wife didn’t share the same opinion. Being like Jesus would have led to a more loving and tender response.
  • Acting like me means that I will hold on to that grudge and let past hurts affect my present and future. Being like Jesus will lead me to deal with those hurts in a godly manner and then release them.

This transformation process is not overnight, as I’m sure you know. It takes years, and sometimes it is downright ugly, but the end result is that our thinking, words and deeds flow from a heart that is governed by Jesus and not self.

My wife, Anna, has a Post-It note on her desk with these words, “I’m not where I need to be, but I’m not where I used to be.” For today, may you take one step closer to Jesus as you seek to be just like Him.

You Can’t Press Replay

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). This Psalm was written by Moses approximately 3,400 years ago and yet it is still as appropriate today in our modern age. To put Moses’ wisdom in other words…you can’t press replay.

This thought came to my mind this past weekend when considering how life seems to be racing by at light speed, and specifically that every day with my loved ones should be considered precious. The truth is, a lot of us don’t grasp this in our earlier years, and it takes us getting to the point where our kids are graduating from school and the parents we once viewed as ageless are in fact mortal. We then seem to get very reflective about things, maybe even a little mopey, but hopefully we sober up about the brevity of life and the irreplaceable moments we have with our dear family.

Oftentimes we get caught up in the pursuit of careers, hobbies, church activities, taking care of the wife and kids and fulfilling all our “responsibilities,” that we might forget to pay attention to the dear mothers that sacrificed so much to bring us to where we are today.

Mothers, especially mothers who are followers of Jesus, are gifts from God that we often don’t appreciate as we should. I just don’t think we can hug them enough or acknowledge them enough not only for all they did for us, but just simply for who they are as people.

Here are a few Proverbs I wanted share with you:

  • Pay attention to your father, and don’t neglect your mother when she grows old (Proverbs 23:22, CEV). Some moms as they grow older begin to feel useless and not needed, because we are going about in our lives and we have everything under control and all is well. But she is still a mom, and will always be a mom. She is hard-wired that way. Always seek to make her part of your life and make her feel valued.
  • Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice (Proverbs 23:25). My mom rejoices just to hear the phone ring and hear, “Hi, Mom!” Yes, she rejoices because her sons are followers of Jesus, but I am trying to think about the little things I can do daily to make my mom “rejoice” (even if she is 6 hours away).
  • There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother (Proverbs 30:11). We do not want to be part of that generation, do we? Do you “bless” your mother? Do you call her on the phone, or stop by and visit, or send a card (not just on Mother’s Day) to simply say how much she means to you? I believe “Honor your father and mother” means much more than picking up our dirty socks when we were kids.

You can’t press replay. Make this day count. Tell your mom today how special she is to you.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:28-31).

Where is Jesus?

So, if your wife is a Christian, ask yourself, “Where is Jesus right now?” You might respond to me with, “What do you mean?”

Since Jesus promised that He would come and make His home with us (John 14:23), that means He has made His home in my wife’s life as well.

There have been many a time in our marriage when my wife, Anna, was stressed and having a difficult time “getting it together.” Of course, considering all that Anna as a homeschooling mother of six deals with on a daily basis, it should be understood that she would have times when being calm is just not going to happen. This does not define her as a person, this is just what happens to all of us (men included) during our “moments.”

I remember that through many of those times Anna was stressed and having a hard time with her emotions, that I was not the help she needed. Whether I simply thought it in my mind, or just came right out and said it to her, it was clear that I thought she was being ridiculous and needed to get a grip. Guess how that turned out? Yeah, not well.

What she needed was my acceptance and understanding, which is what Jesus was giving her at that moment. Jesus calls me to give her genuine acceptance and understanding when she is really having a bad day. She doesn’t need a daddy correcting her, she needs a husband who loves her like Jesus does.

“Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

So, where is Jesus when Anna is having one of those “moments”? And that’s what they are…just moments. My Bible says He is right there with her, loving her through it and being her shoulder to cry on and her friend with a listening ear (Hebrews 4:14-16).

So, if Jesus is right there beside her with His arms around her, where do I need to be?

By the way, where do I want Jesus to be when I’ve having one of my own moments?