Recently I preached a messaged titled "Refueling My Marriage." That sermon has generated comments and discussions that have been encouraging to me and I pray encouraging to other couples as well. I wanted to write a blog, actually two blogs (the second will be forthcoming), to help provide some practical applications to the sermon.
One of the points from my sermon was that God has called husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25–26). Paul describes this love as both sacrificial and sanctifying. One of the questions raised is how do I love my wife well? How do I express my love toward my wife? There are lots of excellent resources available on this topic. I want to share what I believe are 3 ways a husband can love his wife well. Yes, I know there's more, but I know we husbands can't absorb a lot at one time!
1. Listen more, talk less!
I know this can be hard for guys! When our wives come to us with problems, pains, or concerns they are not always looking for an answer or for guidance, although we are always ready to give it! Guys, sometimes they just want us to listen! I remember early in our marriage Lindsey coming to me with something that was happening on her job. As a pastor, and a seminary graduate with a degree in biblical counseling, I was ready to help her and give her my suggestion on how to handle the situation. She finally looked at me and politely, yet directly, said, "Kelly, I don't need a sermon right now, I just need you to listen!" I'll never forget those words. I quickly learned that my wife just wanted me to listen. I sincerely thought she wanted an answer, a solution, a fix. No, that's what guys want, but that's not always what our wives want. So, how do we know when it's okay to offer our advice? Here's what I did--I asked Lindsey to tell me when she wanted my opinion. I would also begin asking her, "Honey, are you wanting me to just listen or do you want my help on working toward a resolution?" This approach has been so beneficial to our relationship. So, listen more, guys, and talk less!
2. Speak your wife's love language!
One of the best selling marriage books has been Gary Chapman, "The 5 Live Languages." This book has sold millions of copies, been translated into many languages, and helped thousands of marriages! In his book, Chapman explains that every person has a love language. Our job as husbands and wives is to speak the language of our spouse. The 5 love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Chapman does well to explain each of these languages, giving examples of how these play our in our lives and marriages. However, here's the bottom line, problems can come into a marriage we we aren't speaking our spouses love language. Guys, if you think that giving gifts is your wives love language, and she isn't responding to all of the gifts that you lavish upon her, chances are you're speaking the wrong language. Her love language might be acts of service. What might be more expressive of love toward your spouse is to wash the dishes or fold the laundry, instead of buying her roses or a manicure gift certificate. Guys (and gals), you'll do your marriages a favor to read this book!I know guys don't like to read, so purchase an audio book and listen to it! No excuses!
3. Offer words of affirmation!
We've established the fact that we need to listen more and talk less. But when we do speak, be wise with what we say! Guys, our wives are constantly comparing themselves to each other and to women they don't even know. The media, and Hollywood, paints an image of the "perfect" woman. But our wives forget that those "perfect" women have had countless plastic surgeries and are covered in 10 lbs of makeup! Guys, we need to help our wives understand that we love them just the way they are! Our words should be affirmative and encouraging.
My wife and I were recently at an event with several other couples. I could not help but to keep staring at my wife--she looked so beautiful. I can still see her that day... she had on white capris and a yellow, sleeveless blouse. She wore a modest neckless and silver earrings. I can even smell her perfume! She looked perfect! When we left, I simply made the statement to her, "Babe, you were the pretties woman out there today! You looked so nice and just stood out above everyone else!" She really did! Later that night after we put our son to bed, Lindsey walked up to me and said, "Hey! You don't know how much it meant to me today when you told me how nice I looked! It was random and unexpected, but it meant the world to me!"
There are other ways that husbands can express their love toward their wives, but I hope this is a helpful start.
A few weeks ago I began a 3-part blog series looking at our mission statement at Temple Baptist Church. Our purpose is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Who Think, Act, and Live Like Him.” During this blog series I have been looking at what it means to “think,” “act,” and now, “live” like Jesus. If you haven’t read the other posts, I hope you’ll do so, before reading on.
What does it mean to live like Jesus? As we read the New Testament there is a word that appears over and over, especially in some of Paul’s letters – it’s the word “walk.” Most often when we see this word it can be read as “live.” For example, in Ephesians 4:1, Paul writes, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk (live) in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called….” So, the natural question arises – how do we live?
In this same passage, Ephesians 4:1, Paul answers that question – “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Here, Paul lists several trials that can be found in his lists of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, where he writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” When reading this list one will observe that each of these traits where personally lived out by Jesus Christ. If we are to live like Jesus a great place to start is by displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
In his book, Think, Act, Believe Like Jesus: Becoming a New Person in Christ, Randy Frazee ask these helpful questions when choosing to live like Jesus:
How would my life improve and my relationships be strengthened if I…
Last week I started a 3-part blog series on our mission of “making disciples of Jesus who think, act, and live like Him.” It is my prayer that this will become our passion and heartbeat at Temple! It is my prayer that as a disciple of Jesus YOU will mature to such place that YOU think, act, and live like Him every day of your life! In last weeks post we considered what it means to “think” like Jesus. This week we ask the question of what it means to “act” like Jesus.
When I think of acting like Jesus I think of following in His steps. In 1896 Charles Sheldon first published his famous work, In His Steps. Since then Sheldon’s work has sold over 30 million copies. Yes! 30 million! The book has been, and continues to be, widely popular because it centers around a simple question–what would Jesus do? You remember, WWJD? I recall as a teenager WWJD being not much more that kitsch art that made somebody a lot of money. We had wristbands, t-shirts, posters, etc – WWJD? Everyone wore the shirt, but not many lived the life. As disciples of Jesus we should not relegate our will to act like Jesus to a simple catch phrase. While it may be helpful in your own sanctification to ask WWJD?, acting like Jesus is much more than just choosing in the moment to respond like Jesus.
Acting like Jesus must be a conscious decision of the will. Acting like Jesus is not being reactive, but proactive. Maybe a better question than WWJD? is WDJD? (What did Jesus do?). We must remember that being a disciple means we are a pupil/student/learner/follower of the master–namely Jesus. As a disciple of Christ I am to imitate His life–walk in His steps. My life should so mirror His life that my natural tendency should not only be to think like Him, but to act like Him.
While there are many ways in which we should act like Christ, here are two ways in which we are called to act like Jesus. I’ll spend most of my time on the second…
Earlier in 2015 our church embarqued on a journey to “Make Disciples of Jesus Who Think, Act, and Live Like Him!” As we think about this mission and mandate, which is grounded in the Great Commission, I can’t help but ask the question – how do we accomplish this? How do we think like Christ? How to we act like Christ? How do we live like Christ? For the next three weeks I am going to take each of these and search the scriptures to see what God’s word has to say. I hope you’ll follow along and grow as a disciple of Jesus!
Thinking like Jesus is rooted in the reality that as children of God we have the mind of Christ. I don’t know about you, but this blows my mind! In 1 Corinthians 2:16, the Apostle Paul said, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that He will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” To apply this verse it is very important to understand what Paul did mean and what he did not mean. Let’s start with the later.
In this verse Paul was quoting from Isaiah 40:13. Paul was not making the assumption that in having the mind of Christ we are infallible or that we can start playing God. When reading this passage in its context, you’ll discover that just a few verses earlier, Paul asserted, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God” ( 1 Cor. 2:11). Paul is saying that there are some things in the mind of God, which we will never know. God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, said, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord, ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8). There are some things that are reserved for only the mind of God and we must be okay with that. The truth is there are some things we just don’t need to know! But, by the grace of God we have been given all that we need in the mind of Christ. Peter, writing to the scattered and persecuted church said, “…His [God’s] divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). Peter’s words bring encouragement to us in knowing that God has given us everything we need to grow in godliness and to live for Him in this life–including the mind of Christ.
To have the mind of Christ means that as a child of God we have the capability to think and respond, like Christ, to the situations and circumstance of life. This is possible because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us as believers (Rom. 8:11). Warren Wiersbe says, “To ‘have the mind of Christ’ means to look at life from the Saviour’s point of view, having His values and desires in mind. It means to think God’s thoughts and not think as the world thinks.”(1)
So, in what ways today, or this week, do you need to think like Jesus? Do you have an important decision to make? Have you prayed and sought the wisdom of God? Have you searched His word for guidance. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” That means that God’s word has the power to guide you and show you the direction that you should take. Together, with the word of God and the Spirit of God, you can’t go wrong! The question is–will you choose to think like Jesus?
(1)Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 577.
Central to disciple-making is the disciple-making relationship. At Temple we have begun several d-groups (discipleship groups) to facilitate these relationships. In fact, including those who are currently in d-groups, we have over 30 people in discipling relationships. While we are still in the infancy stages of d-group formations, I am very excited to see how the Lord has already been working through these groups to make disciples who think, act, and live like Jesus!
Here are some common questions about d-groups…
What is a d-group?
A d-group is a gender-exclusive group of three to five believers who meet, at a minimum of, every two weeks. While there are various components to d-groups the purpose should always center around prayer, accountability, encouragement, and Bible study. D-groups should meet for 12-18 months.
What happens when a d-group meets?
I’ll simply share what happens when my d-group meets. We usually meet at a local restaurant where we can sit together and they don’t mind us staying for a longer period of time (usually 1.5 to 2 hrs). After breakfast and a time of fellowship we open with prayer. The first thing we do is discuss our Bible reading for the week. Our group has chosen to use the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. We share insights and lessons we have learned our Scripture reading. As the group leader, sometimes I will pull out something from our reading to teach on for a few minutes, however, my goal is to get our d-group participants to talk about the Word and what the Lord is teaching them. It is important that we start with our Scripture reading because we want that to be the focus of our d-group. While there are great resources that we can, and do, use in our d-group, there is nothing outside the Bible that is more important than the Bible.
After we spend some time going through the Scripture, we turn to an excellent resource on disciple-making that we are reading through together–“Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples” by Robby Gallaty. I was first exposed to this book about three years ago and I haven’t been able to put it down. Yes, it’s a simple read, but it had a tremendous impact upon my life. Most importantly it provided me an excellent resource to use, along with the Bible, to disciple others. We read one chapter a week, if we meet weekly, or two chapters, if we meet bi-weekly. We usually work through the chapters discussing various points of interests and statements from Gallaty. After discussing Gallaty’s work we turn our attention to to applications of the truth we have learned and close with a time of prayer and surrender to the Lord.
This is what a d-group can look like. There are other models and structures that serve well. If you are a member or attender of Temple Baptist Church and would like to know more information about being in a d-group, please email me at Kelly@templebaptistfay.com and I’ll be happy to discuss this in more detail with you.
At Temple our mission is to “make disciples of Jesus who think, act, and live like Him.” In Matthew 28: 18-20 we find the marching orders of the church, what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission. These orders are straight forward–make disciples! One thing I have learned in ministry, and as a pastor, is that it’s one thing to know what we’re supposed to do, but it’s an altogether different thing to do what we’re supposed to do. So, this begs the question–what is disciple-making and how are we to make disciples?
One passage that helps us understand disciple-making is 2 Timothy 2:1-2… “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” These words of Paul to Timothy serve as a classic text on disciple-making. We are most familiar with this relationship of spiritual fatherhood and sonship between Paul and Timothy. However, a close examination of this text reveals that there are at least 4 generations of disciple-making relationships represented. Paul (generation 1) taught Timothy (generation 2) who taught faithful men (generation 3), who taught others (generation 4). Can you imagine what would have happened if Paul failed to disciple Timothy, and if Timothy failed to disciple a group of faithful men, and if those men failed to disciple others?
Consider the twelve disciples. When Jesus called these men to follow Him He did so to make them “fishers of men.” This is most clear in His call to to Peter and Andrew in Mark 1:17 as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. This personal invitation from Jesus is extended to everyone, and for all who receive it the call to become fishers of men is a call to “join Jesus on his mission to love and reach a lost and hurting world” (p. 49, DiscipleShift by Jim Putman). Can you imagine how different history would look if the disciples would have said, “thanks, but no thanks!” One could wonder if we would be here today!
The truth is as disciples of Jesus we are the means by which God accomplishes His purpose of redemption on the earth. God chooses to use us, as disciples of Jesus, to lead people to faith in Christ and then help them grow up in maturity in Him. God’s plan is that of disciples making disciples who make disciples! It’s like connected links in a disciple-making chain!
For too long the church has confused “disciple-making” with “discipleship.” Yes, there is a difference! Discipleship is often thought of as the next Bible study or class. While there is nothing wrong with studies and classes, this is not what Jesus had in mind when He issued the Great Commission. In his book, The Complete Book of Discipleship, Bill Hull writes “The most common mistake made by well-intended leaders, particularly acute in the Global North, is turning discipleship into a curriculum that a serious disciple completes and then graduates from” (p. 36). There is most definately a place for curriculum and studies; however, disciple-making looks entirely different.
Disciple-making is the process whereby we help people come to faith in Christ, grow to maturity in their relationship with Jesus (learning how to think, act, and live like Him), and then lead others to do the same. In short, disciple-making begins with a transformation of the heart (regeneration & justification), is worked out in daily transformational living (sanctification), and is in the context of relationships.
I believe disciple-making is most effectively accomplished through what is often called “d-groups” (discipling groups). In his book, Growing Up, Robby Gallaty explains – “A d-group creates an atmosphere for fellowship, encouragement, and accountability, and it is an environment where God can work. A healthy d-group has three purposes: to help you grow in your relationship with Christ, give a defense for your faith, and guide others in their relationship with Christ” (pg. xxii).
Why d-groups? What do they look like? When do they meet? What do they do? These are a few questions I will answer in my next blog. Stay tuned…
This morning I was reading in one of my favorite devotional books, New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp. As a pastor I often counsel folks who are walking through various stages of grief and pain, and yes, I sometimes find myself experiencing my own seasons of grief. I always tell folks that when they grieve they face two choices–their grief will make them bitter or better. I don't know who originally coined that phrase, but I believe there is much truth in those words. The heading for today's devotion from Tripp reads...
"Grief is good when it mourns what God hates, but it's dangerous when it questions God's goodness and love."
The Bible never tells us that grief is a sinful emotion. In fact, I believe grief is proper emotion, given from God, that should be worked through in times of pain, difficulty, or sorrow. However, we must be careful to not allow our grief to lead us to a place of bitterness or resentment towards God. The truth is God hates sin–any sin and all sin! When we sin, or when we see a brother or sister in sin, grief is a proper response. Sin grieves the heart of God (Gen. 6:5-6) and sin should grieve our heart as well (James 4:9).
In his devotion today, Tripp examines Psalm 73 and the words of Asaph during his season of grief:
Asaph is mourning, all right, but it’s all the wrong kind of mourning. He is filled with grief, but it is a dangerous, angry, and accusatory grief. I’ve been there. I’ve felt Asaph’s feelings. I’ve said similar words. In a fallen world, you have reasons to grieve. You should mourn your struggle with sin. You should mourn the sorry, broken condition of the fallen world that is your home address. You should mourn corruption, injustice, poverty, pollution, and disease. It is right to mourn these things, but you had better guard your mourning. Your mourning is never neutral; you are either mourning with God, who weeps for the condition of the world he made, or you’re mourning against God, questioning his goodness, wisdom, and love. It’s tempting to do this because you hit moments when the contrast between what you are facing as a child of God and what the person next to you— a person who ignores God— is facing is almost too much to take. It seems that the good guys are being hammered and the bad guys have it easy. In the face of this reality, Asaph essentially says, “I’ve obeyed, and this is what I get?” It’s an angry charge against the goodness of God. When you don’t understand what’s going on, run to God’s goodness rather than questioning whether it exists. Say with Asaph, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (v. 26). Tripp, Paul David (2014-10-31). New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (p. 175). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
When we think of grief, my prayer is that it will lead us to a place of worship. What is worship? Worship is a proper response to God in any circumstance of life. Worship is ascribing worth to God, the One who is worthy of all of our love, honor, glory, praise, and affections. So, in the midst of grief, may we find opportunities to worship and give glory to God. May we join Asaph in declaring, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God, YOU are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!"