Thursday, October 24, 2013

Husbands: How to Come Home

You've had a long day. You're on your way home. You're probably tired and hungry and want some food and peace and quiet. You might want to veg out in front of the TV and not have to think about or respond to or deal with anything. 


...If you're married, your wife probably wants to talk. She may have had a bad day, or she may have some concerns she needs to talk out, or she may "just" have a honey-do list and some attendant expectations. She may not have gotten to everything in the house and it's not the perfectly ordered kingdom you want it to (always) be.

...If you've got kids that are still in the home, they may want dad for one thing or and another. They may want to spit up on or climb on or play with or read with or throw the ball to or talk to you. They may want to show you their latest Lego creation or art project. Or, they may be a little older and want to be left alone in their room or in their earbuds. 

Should you come in and bark at the little ones nipping at your heels so that they will quietly heel at your heels? Should you ignore your wife, maybe covertly by saying "uh huh" periodically even though you haven't heard a word she's said? Should you retreat to the man cave or the bathroom or the garage? 

Husbands (and fathers), we will very naturally come home empty and spring-loaded to selfishness. How do we fight that selfish set of the sails? How do we tack into the wind of needs in our homes? How do we come home set to serve and help and lead and protect? And how to do we do it from the heart, not with a "I'm such a sacrificial martyr" and "you need to know how much this is costing me" huff and puff?

You want "peace" and comfort.
You should serve and help and lead and protect.

Let me suggest a simple two 'R's' strategy. In the moment of temptation to selfish, save-your-life retreat and avoidance:  

1. Recognize that Jesus IS your peace and comfort (not food or TV or newspaper or porn or whatever)

There's nothing wrong with being hungry and wanting food. It's a good gift from God. But it's not a good god or source of peace and comfort.

There's nothing wrong with watching some sports or the news (though most TV is a waste of life at best and more often like a steady drip of intravenous worldliness that anesthetizes your soul) or reading the newspaper. But it's not a good god or source of peace and comfort. It will actually make you more restless.

There's everything wrong with porn. If you don't recognize that Jesus IS your peace and comfort and your soul is groping for peace and comfort, you're going to be extremely vulnerable to the deceitful lies that our sensate culture sells. You'll sit lifeless in front of the TV, grunt something in response when your wife tells you she's going to bed, and then heap burning coals into your lap as you channel surf "out of curiosity" or surf the web, hoodwinking yourself into thinking that you're not trolling for some titillation.

None of these things will ever BE your peace and comfort. They simply can't. They aren't able to deliver. Only Jesus IS or can be your peace and comfort. You need to recognize that IN THE MOMENT OF TEMPTATION. 

2. Run to Jesus AS your peace and comfort (not to food or TV or newspaper or porn or whatever)

You ARE going to run to SOMETHING when you're troubled or restless or irritated or angry or frustrated or anxious or disappointed. What do you tend to run to? Alcohol? Food? TV? Your phone? Movies? Work? What you run to is what you believe will deliver peace and comfort. And none of the above ever will. You need to, you must!, run to Jesus AS your peace and comfort.

In the moment of temptation, when you turn FROM Jesus to other functional deliverers, you will also turn FROM those in your home that you are called to love and serve and lead and protect. When you run TO Jesus as your peace and comfort (and strength and joy, etc.), his grace will fill you and empower you to run TO those in your home that need your love and service and leadership and protection. And you'll be running in the strength He supplies (sans huffing and puffing).

Here's the summary: 
* Spring-loaded to selfishness.
* Strong winds of family need blowing.
* You want to sail away.
* Stop and recognize that Jesus is your comfort and peace. No fleeing. There is grace for this.
* Run to Jesus as your comfort and peace. Sometimes this is as simple as praying in the car on the way home. Sometimes it's as simple as throwing up brief prayers for grace as the needs come your way and you want to fight or flee.
* Start tacking into the wind of needs.
* The Spirit will blow and fill those sails.
* And the peace of Christ will begin to rule your heart...and begin to fill your home.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You Can't Please Everyone

It's been said a million times, "You can't please everyone." And yet many of us try, often over-committing and running ourselves into the ground, or compromising our integrity to keep people happy. Everyday the desire to please will drive you. How do you decide who to please, when you can't please everyone?

The Bible has a lot to say about the matter, but let me simply suggest two texts to hold onto - one for each hand - as you walk this treacherous road.

1) Galatians 1:10
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
2) 1 Corinthians 10:33
just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Ray Ortlund, Jr. wisely puts these two texts together like this (emphasis added):
[H]ere is now [the Apostle Paul] reconciled his desire to please people, on the one hand, with his deeper desire to please God, on the other. When Paul faced a choice between pleasing himself and pleasing others, he pleased others. When he faced a choice between pleasing others and pleasing God, he pleased God.
From his seminar given at the 2011 Gospel Coalition National Conference entitled, "Justification versus Self-justification."