Daniel – They, their children, and their wives

Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.
(Daniel 6:23-24)

Today’s passage from Daniel is a sobering reminder of the consequences of our actions as men and how it affects our children and our wives.

These men had “maliciously accused Daniel.” They wanted him out of the way and even if that meant he was killed, the ends justified the means. Because of their hatred for Daniel, they even went to great lengths to manipulate the king into making a law that would be adverse to Daniel’s faith. They set the king up and used him like a pawn so they could dispense with Daniel. Once the king was wise to all of this, he was full of righteous wrath and threw every one of these men and their families into the den of lions.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
(Proverbs 26:27)

It is a serious warning for us today that our envy, pride, anger, lust and hatred can wreak serious havoc on our families. That was a horrible day for all of those families. Imagine how awful the sight would have been to see those wives and little kids being thrown into the very mouths of lions. And this was all because hubby/daddy had a malicious heart that craved power.

I got a Christmas card in the mail this week. It made me so sad for that family. Here is another woman now without her husband having Christmas pictures taken with her kids. Where’s daddy? He’s not there anymore because other things/ladies took his heart away from them.

Take your role seriously, guys. Where you lead as men will either take your family to green pastures or to the lion’s den. It’s your choice.

Getting your house in order

Today is a everyday practical application on how to love and honor our wives. It’s about getting our houses in order.

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.'”
(2 Kings 20:1)

Anna and I went to a marriage retreat recently in Branson, and we really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it. Among the many relationship lessons we learned, there was a session about getting our house in order. It was led by a brother in Christ who serves as a shepherd in a congregation. He also works as an attorney. This brother really hammered home the urgency of getting your financials and legal stuff in place. I certainly got my toes stepped on and I wanted to share a few thoughts with you all.

What happens if you die today? What is in place to make sure that your wife and kids have financial security? Maybe you and your family already have everything like wills and life insurance put in place, and that’s awesome, but I’m pretty sure that is not true for every home. After listening to this attorney and hearing of all the horror stories he deals with on a daily basis of those families who were not prepared…it’s pretty obvious that a lot of folks aren’t ready for what God says will happen to every one of us. We will die. A link below to caring.com will show you that 6 in 10 adults in America do not have a will!

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Do you have life insurance? And is that life insurance policy sufficient to cover your wife and kids?
  • Do you have a will and other legal matters in place? What will happen to your kids if both you and your spouse pass away?
  • Does your family know your expectations of things like funerals, burials/cremations, end-of-life decisions, etc.?

It’s something to take seriously and to make an urgent matter. Even if Christmas presents have to be a little light this year because we have to get a few financial/legal things in place, that is one of the best gifts we could provide for our families.

Here is a link to Dave Ramsey’s website where you find guidance on getting life insurance and other matters in order for your home.

The Importance of Making a Will by Dave Ramsey

5 Life Insurance Mistakes by Dave Ramsey

Estate Planning by the Numbers – Caring.com

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
(Proverbs 6:6-11)

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
(Proverbs 13:22)

Are you praying with your wife?

Here are a few thoughts today about praying with your wife.

Praying with your sister in Christ.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16).

Think of all the passages in Scripture that encourage and teach about God’s people coming together to pray. Don’t just apply that to what goes on at the church building! Those same passages can be applied to you and your wife. We get kind of compartmentalized in our application of Scripture sometimes and miss the obvious.

Laboring in prayers

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12).

A brother named Epaphras was mentioned in Colossians by Paul. What I find very interesting is that Paul wrote that Epaphras was laboring, struggling or wrestling in prayer (depending on which version you read). The early Christians had to “devote” themselves to prayer (Acts 2:42). This is a spiritual war in which we are facing the Devil (Ephesians 6:10-18). He does everything to oppose God and His people, including our efforts to pray together. You try to pray consistently with your wife and see what happens. There is amazing good that happens, because God is at work. But be on guard because the Devil will do everything in his power to keep you and your wife from praying together. It is war. You are wrestling with Satan and his forces of darkness. But with Jesus you will overcome (Revelation 12:11)! Don’t give up!

Arrow prayers. 

At a practical level, one thing that most likely will discourage you from having regular prayer time is the unrealistic expectation that you have to have a marathon prayer session every time you pray. This is a trap that I believe men fall into even at the church building. We feel like we have to cover every base every time we pray. Please don’t try to cover the whole “prayer list” every time you sit down to pray. Pick one or two specific things each day and pray about that. Rotate it around. Don’t make a rigid schedule. Be flexible and merciful to yourselves if you miss a day or two. Keep trying, don’t give up!

Do not be harsh

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
(Colossians 3:19)

Here is a note on that word “harsh” from Robertson’s Word Pictures on Colossians 3:19: “Stop being bitter” or “do not have the habit of being bitter.” This is the sin of husbands.

The natural condition of man if left to himself is found in Romans 3:10-19, part of which is “their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” In the book of Acts, we see an example of a new Christian, Simon the Sorcerer, who was full of bitterness. Peter told him, “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). If you have ever processed your own meat and accidentally sliced the wrong organs, you will know what Peter means. This green liquid gets all over the meat, staining it with its nasty bitterness. If you sliced Simon the Sorcerer, all you would get is green nasty bitterness that stained everything and everyone around him. In order for Simon to be right with God, he would need repentance and prayer!

Bitterness and harshness affects not only ourselves, but all our relationships, especially the marriage relationship. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (Hebrews 12:15). That is why Paul spoke to men about not being harsh and embittered toward their wives.

God expects His people, especially those leading others, to be gentle, not harsh and bitter.

First of all, God himself is gentle. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). You can’t find rest in bitterness. Because Jesus is gentle and lowly in heart, not bitter, we can find rest, assurance, peace and comfort in His arms. That is the picture and the model of what we are to be as husbands. Can our wives find rest, peace and gentleness (not weakness) in our arms? Here’s a simple question, why do many wives not want to talk to their husbands? Because they have learned by experience that they probably won’t find acceptance, understanding and gentleness. Again, what kind of leader is Jesus? Isaiah wrote, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).

Those leading His people are to be gentle. The apostle Paul was a gentle-man. “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). One who serves as an overseer in the church has to have this qualities: “…not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome” (1 Timothy 3:3).

The priest was to be able to deal gently with others because he himself had his own weaknesses (Hebrews 5:2). Before we get harsh and call down judgment upon our wives we had better take a very good look in the mirror with God. Our merciful Lord, full of lovingkindness, has forgiven us all our sins and deals with us gently. When we deal harshly and bitterly toward our spouses, we forsake the mercy of the Almighty. “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). Remember that our prayers and our relationship with the Lord is directly tied to how we behave towards our precious wives (1 Peter 3:7).

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:29-32).

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18).

Lessons from Leah

My daughter, Lindsay, went to a young ladies camp this past summer, DOV Camp (Daughters of Virtue). She heard a lesson by a sister named Emma about the life of Leah. The points Lindsay brought up from that class really helped me a lot, and I had never thought about Leah like that. So, thanks to sister Emma and the Lord for this lesson!

A Woman Who Didn’t Measure Up

Leah was not as pretty as her younger sister, Rachel (Gen. 29:17). Even though she was the older sister, Jacob came into town and swooned over Rachel. Jacob worked seven hard years in order to be married to Rachel. On Jacob and Rachel’s wedding night, Leah’s father (Laban) used Leah like a pawn to trick Jacob (Gen. 29:20-27). Think of the position she was put in! From the very moment she woke up with Jacob, she was a disappointment to her. She was bound to a man who did not love her, cherish her or accept her (Gen. 29:31).  Her father used her, her sister was always better, and her husband didn’t want her.

Yet Leah’s heart and faith shines even through this!

When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.” She conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also.” And she called his name Simeon. Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore his name was called Levi. And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing. (Gen 29:31-35)

Leah’s faith is seen in several ways.

  • In her desire for her husband (like Gen. 3:16 – “your desire shall be for your husband”). Look at the first three sons and what she says about Jacob. She desperately wants him to love her, accept her and be attached to her. Even in a horrible situation like this, she wanted to have a loving relationship with her husband. That’s an incredible heart!
  • In the naming of her children. See the focus on God and on her heart for her husband. By the time Judah came, the 4th son, she seems to stop asking for Jacob to love her, and she completely focuses on praising God. Several children have been born to her, several years go by, and still Jacob’s heart toward her has not really changed. So, her focus is on praising and drawing near to God, even when what should be hers (love, acceptance and affection) is not there. What do you do when your situation does not change, even after years of praying for it to change?
  • In her focus on, trust in and praise of God. It’s already been stated, but her heart was first on God. That’s what got her through this mess of a family relationship.

And God saw (see Exodus 2:25):

“When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren” (Gen. 29:31).

Just like the Israelites when they were being killed and enslaved in Egypt, God saw (Exodus 2:25). God knows what Leah is going through, and He is going to bless her richly even though Jacob will not accept her or love her.

  • God gave her at least 7 children (6 sons and 1 daughter) before Rachel had one herself.
  • God gave her Levi – The priestly line would come through Levi (Moses, Aaron).
  • God gave her Judah – The kingly, royal line would come through Judah (David).
  • God gave her the Messiah – Jesus would come through Judah, son of Leah (Matthew 1). God often chooses to exalt what men have rejected (1 Sam. 16:6–13; Acts 4:11; James 4:10). Jesus came through the rejected and unloved wife, not the favored and accepted wife!
  • Leah, not Rachel, was buried next to Jacob (Genesis 49:31). Maybe, just maybe, by the end of his life, Jacob realized the awesome blessing he had in Leah.
  • Together, she and Rachel, built the house of Israel (Ruth 4:11).

Think about the kind of woman that lived bound to a man who did not accept her or love her. His eyes were always on another woman. Yet her heart was to please him, be loyal to him, do good for him. And this woman’s mindset was squarely focused on her trust of God and her faith in Him. Even when she did not get what she should have out of a marriage, she still praised God. This is a powerful and piercing lesson in so many ways for us.

A “Help” Created for the Man

We just finished up a great weekend! On Saturday, we had about 20 guys gather together to have discussions, studies and prayers on how to grow as a husband. Steve Bockmiller led us in these studies, and we are very thankful for the time he shared with us.

This week we are going to focus on the marriage relationship.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
(Genesis 2:18-23)

God fashioned a woman out of man’s side in order to come to his side as a helper suitable for him. That miracle happened in the Garden of Eden as part of God’s love for mankind. It also was because of God’s knowledge of man – God knew man needed a helper.

Man and woman were both created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and yet we are very different. Generally speaking, we are emotionally different, physically different, hormone-ally different. Every cell of a man’s body is different from every cell of a female’s body. Yet, God created a woman to complement the man. Like I said, she is also created in the image of God, and her emotions, value, perspectives, wisdom, talents and abilities come directly from God.

What does it mean to be a helper? I heard some lessons recently from Mark Broyles and Ralph Walker that talk about this word “helper.” It doesn’t mean slave, or the person to do your bidding. The word used in Genesis 2:18 for help is the Hebrew word, ezer. Look up how that word is used in the rest of the Old Testament. It is used for God. God is our help.

Here are a few examples:

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! (Psalm 20:1-2)

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

The Greek version of this word is used in John chapters 14 through 16 when Jesus talks about the “Helper” or “Comforter” who is the Holy Spirit (parakletos). He literally “comes to the side” to our aid. This very image of God coming to your side to help you is the image of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God created a woman like Him to stand by the side of Adam and help Adam.

That to me is a powerful image to behold. Husbands, do you see your wives that way? If every husband who has a godly wife would see that, he would fall to his knees and thank the Lord Jesus for this incredible gift. She is not the dishwasher and dinner-maker, she was fashioned by the Lord to come to your side as His helper for you.

Husbands, if we see this, we will see everything differently. We will see our advice from our wives in a totally new light. If God gives you advice, you certainly would take it without arguing, right? Well, what about when God sends you advice through His helper, your wife? We will see the work around the house in a new light. This isn’t her job, it’s our job. God put her on the earth for something far more valuable than vacuuming carpets. We will see other women differently. To lust after and flirt with other women is to thrust a knife into the very side of God. You will see communication with your wife in a brand new way. Would you talk to God as your Helper in the way you talk to your wife who was given by God to you as your helper? You see, this changes the whole ballgame.

Avoiding the Chore War

Hey guys,

Here is a daily broadcast from Focus on the Family about “Avoiding the Chore War.” It features Greg and Erin Smalley.

Definitely worth listening to today.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:1-8)

Beatitudes of Marriage

In Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon first talks about the uselessness of selfish toil and then the vanity of it.  He then talks about the value of a friend in verses 9-12:

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?  12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.  And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; NKJV).

A threefold cord…like in our marriages…where there is husband, wife, and God.  If that describes our marriage, then we are truly blessed and secure.

With this in mind, read through this list I came across in my notes.  It is titled “Beatitudes for Marriage”.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who continue to be affectionate and considerate, loving after the wedding bells have ceased ringing.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who are as polite and courteous to one another as they are to their friends.

BLESSED are they who have a sense of humor, for this attribute will be a handy shock absorber.

BLESSED are they who love their mates more than any other person in the world and who joyfully fulfill their marriage vows of lifetime of fidelity and mutual helpfulness to one another.

BLESSED are they who attain parenthood, for children are a heritage of the Lord.

BLESSED are they who remember to thank God for their food before they partake of it, and who set apart some time each day for the reading of the Bible and for prayer.

BLESSED are those mates who never speak loudly to one another and who make their home a place where seldom is heard a discouraging word.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who faithfully attend the worship service of the church and who work together in the church for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who can work out problems of adjustments without interference from relatives.

BLESSED is the couple who has a complete understanding about financial matters and who has worked out a perfect partnership with all money under the control of both.

BLESSED are the husband and wife who humbly dedicate their lives and their home to Christ and who practice the teachings of Christ in the home by being unselfish, loyal, and loving.

This might not be your list, so I encourage you to think about the blessings you have in your marriage.  Don’t let it stop there and share your blessings with others as an encouragement and a testimony to God’s awesome power in our lives, our relationships and our homes.

Be Patient

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
(James 5:7-11)

Take some time today to look at this section of James and apply it to the marriage relationship.

Be patient. Be patient with each other. Be patient in trials and adversity. Be patient with yourselves. Be patient knowing that growth in relationships takes time and growth will always happen as long as we’re alive. Be patient knowing that God is always there for us.

Think of God’s purpose and His character. We see how it was displayed in the lives of the prophets and in the life of Job. God blesses those who endure. God is merciful and compassionate. God has a purpose and a plan and He works within our lives and in our marriages for His glory and for our good. We can use this to “establish” our hearts and our marriages!

God is coming. The Judge is standing at the door! Notice how James connects this to our relationships. You know we always seem to follow the speed limit when we see a police officer, and we always want to show off our best work while the boss is looking! James reminds us that the Judge (Jesus) is standing at the door, and that He is always watching, and one day our date with eternity will be set. All the more reason not to grumble against each other, especially in marriage. We grumble against each other because sometimes we lack the compassion and mercy that God shows to us. May we be reminded that when God comes, we will want mercy and compassion, so let’s show that mercy and compassion to others today.

Article About Recognizing Controlling Behavior

Here is a good article for your consideration about recognizing controlling behavior in relationships.

20 Signs Your Partner is Controlling

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
(Galatians 5:13-15)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
(Mark 10:42-45)