The Red Lizard

By Dr. Ed Young

Author C. S. Lewis spins a remarkable story about a little red lizard that a certain ghost carried on his shoulder. The lizard twitched its tail and whispered continually to the ghost, who urged him all the while to be quiet.

When a bright and shining presence appeared and offered to rid the ghost of his troublesome “baggage,” the ghost refused. He understood that to quiet the lizard, it would be necessary to kill it, and that seemed too harsh. Maybe the lizard need not die, but could be trained, he reasoned. The presence responded that training would not work; it must be all or nothing.

Finally, with the ghost’s permission, the presence twisted the lizard away from him, breaking its back as he flung it to the ground. Then an amazing thing happened. The ghost became a perfect man, and the lizard became a beautiful silver and gold stallion, full of power and grace. The man leaped astride the great horse, and they rode into the morning as one.

Lewis ends the story with these words: “What is a lizard compared with a stallion? Lust is a poor, weak, whimpering, whispering thing compared with that richness and energy of desire which will arise when lust has been killed.”

Pastor John Piper, in his excellent book Future Grace, says that to successfully conquer lust, we must fight fire with fire: “If we try to fight the fire of lust with prohibitions and threats alone—even the terrible warnings of Jesus—we will fail. We must fight it with a massive promise of superior happiness. We must swallow up the little flicker of lust’s pleasure in the conflagration of holy satisfaction. Our aim is not merely to avoid something erotic, but to gain something excellent.”

MEMORY VERSE
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust (Romans 13:14)

READ THROUGH THE BIBLE
Exodus 10-11; Romans 4

Win with a New Focus

By Bill Gothard

When Jesus saw a woman, He did not lust after her. We know this because He “was tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). What then did Jesus “see” when He looked at a woman? He looked past her outward appearance and into her heart. This is consistent with the nature of God:

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Based on the responses that Jesus had in His contacts with women, we can draw the following applications to the needs we should focus on when we see a woman, especially a woman with immodest dress or appearance:

  1. Think of her father, who has a God-given responsibility to train and protect her. How can we help him fulfill this responsibility? (Matthew 9:18)
  2. Imagine the concerned mother who will grieve over a daughter who is not protecting her purity and will feel a special sense of guilt and rejection. (Matthew 15:22)
  3. Realize the deep and destructive sense of guilt and shame that comes from past immorality, often accompanied by a corresponding bitterness toward all men for their part in causing it. (Luke 7:37-38)
  4. Be sensitive to a multitude of personal pressures and anxieties that women often bring upon themselves because of self-imposed goals or lists of things to do. (Luke 10:38-40)
  5. Understand the deep need in every woman to be trained in God’s truths that will satisfy her inward longing for a personal relationship with her Creator. (Luke 10:39)
  6. Discern the underlying needs for love and acceptance, and look for ways to give rather than to get. (John 4:7)

Job had a powerful answer for lust: “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)

God boasted to Satan about Job, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and eschew evil?” (Job 1:8). The covenant Job made with his eyes not to lust after women was a key factor in his moral integrity.

Let’s make a similar covenant with our eyes right now. Then, when we see a woman and are tempted to lust, we can immediately pray for God to protect her and carry out His will in her life, so that she can become the Godly woman He designed her to be.

Father of Provision

By Os Hillman

Son, I am your Father of provision. I always care for your needs. This does not mean you will not experience lean times. You may have to trust me for “manna” in your deserts. But it does mean that provision is rooted in obedience rather than sweat and toil (Ps 127). There will be times when you will receive very little for your efforts. But there will be other times when you will receive much more than you deserve. That is my grace in operation. Learn to walk with me and do your work unto me. As you worship me in your work, I will be the provider of all you will need. When my sons and daughters came into the Promised Land, they were successful because of their obedience, not their skill. So, too, will your success come because of your love and obedience to me.

I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant (Joshua 24:13).

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God (2 Corinthians 9:10-11).

How to Love Your Wife

 

by Ed Young
A man should know his wife as well as he knows his own body.

How to Love Your Wife

A man who loves his wife sacrificially loves her in a satisfying way. If husband and wife are “one flesh” in marriage, then to hurt her is to hurt himself, and to do good to her is to do good to himself. Husbands are to know what is satisfying to their wives, and to seek to give those things. So husbands, do you know those things?

To determine whether or not I knew the things that were satisfying to my wife, I gave myself a little test. Let me encourage you to try it, too. I wrote down on a piece of paper three things I believed my wife enjoyed. Then I gave her the paper, and asked her to “grade” it. I was one for three. It’s funny—no woman, or very few, could live with a man for long and not score 100 percent on such a test. But we men are not so observant.

Paul understood this gender difference and encouraged men to love their wives as they loved their own bodies. Men know their bodies. They know how much they weigh, and what they like to eat, and how many cups of coffee will keep them awake at night. They know how many miles they can jog before their knees begin to ache, and whether a nagging pain can be ignored or needs a doctor’s attention. They listen to their bodies.

Imagine how many marriages would improve if a man attempted to know his wife as well as he knew his own body, and to treat her with as much care as his own flesh! Husbands…that’s how to love your wife!

MEMORY VERSE
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.
READ THROUGH THE BIBLE
Deuteronomy 7-8; Matthew 4

Fathers… Open Mouth… Insert Foot Here

 

by Brad Mathias
Men, we have to take the humility road if we want to gain the trust, love, and respect of our daughters, wives, and moms. When we’re wrong, we need to own it.

Fathers

Okay, I know that men are widely criticized as being verbally challenged when compared with our female counterparts. We’re constantly being reminded by women, that females speak like a zillion words a day and we use 500 to make our point. That ladies are more capable of communicating with people in general and that men are emotionally unable to express their feelings and all that.

It’s all fun and games until one day you start to realize… maybe those are not just stereotypes against the masculine gender, what if what they say about us is actually true?

It may well be…

You would think I might know better, I work in the Christian ministry and media world every day. I have four women in my life. My wife, my mom and two high school daughters all contributing to my emotional growth and well-being every day

Like most dads, I live in a world with women around me everywhere, all feeling their extra powerful life emotions and sharing them freely with me. Emotions on overdrive, like anger, frustration, irritation, despair, bad hair, etc…  you would think I might have grown a bit more sensitive to their plight and upped my game a bit. You know, try a bit harder to expand my vocabulary, slow down my “solve every problem” reflex that seems so logical to me.

Doesn’t seem I’m gaining much on that to date and it’s clear I am still a work in progress when it comes to understanding and appreciating the complex emotions and issues the women in my life have.

Solution, listen a bit more, solve problems in my mind a bit less, and speak with my mouth not at all. I know that’s not exactly expanding my vocabulary, but it does reduce my frequency of inserting my foot in my mouth when talking.  It’s crazy how much we can be misunderstood ( we = men/dads/husbands) by those we are so close to. Seriously, give us a chance to reformulate our thoughts a bit before you judge us as being simpletons, or “Dolts”.

Example #1 …daughter is sharing something important with me this morning before school, I am half listening, but tired from a church event the night before, I respond with my typical blunt–simple reaction to how we can’t help everyone, etc… when I realize with my dented frontal lobe, that she’s talking about her friend, and how it’s a genuine concern and I’m eight steps behind her and a mile off base. So my comment/solution is now an offense rather than a simple verbal comment. See, we are verbally challenged. I rushed after her to explain how sorry I am for being stupid. Not sure she even heard me. So it goes, as I take my verbal foot and I slowly inch it up and into my proverbial mouth.

Example #2 …my other daughter is not feeling well, she asks me to pray for her, I respond by encouraging her to eat more during her day at school, knowing she gets low blood sugar. Reminding her that when she’s anxious she often won’t eat, and reinforcing to her how important it is to have a good high protein diet. Arrrgh. She just wanted me to pray for her and I’m dispensing advice, and solutions, even putting additional pressure on her already over-pressurized day. So, once again I’ve inserted foot into mouth… and repeat.

Conclusion: Although men don’t talk enough, or tune in emotionally with any consistency, we have a larger issue to solve. That of learning to Listen well.

Ladies, if no one has told you yet… As dudes, we are flawed, slow-moving, sloth-like, emotionally-backwards creatures, but we love you. Please be patient. We’re doing our darndest to figure it out. As we move with the sensitivity of a sledgehammer through our days, remember we have no real idea of what we’re doing wrong.

Daughters, forgive me/us dads as we stumble along through life desperate to get it right and not fail you. I can’t seem to find the parent manual my parents hid from me when I got married… if you find it, please send to my email inbox ASAP!

Wives, Daughters and Moms, Please help us men pull our feet back out of our mouths and give us the grace to have a sec to unravel the last mentally obtuse comment we just inadvertently made to you. Chances are high, we just got our words jumbled in the process of trying to tell you we LOVE YOU.

Men, we will have to take the humility road here if we want to gain the trust, love and respect of our daughters, wives and moms. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Take it like a man and own it. It will be O.K. I Promise.

Honoring and Encouraging Our Wives

 

by Family Life
First Peter 3:7 tells me to live with my wife “in an understanding way” and to “grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.”

Honoring and Encouraging Our Wives

My wife Merry recently was with a group of young mothers, and she was struck by how many did not feel valued. They were in the daily grind of parenting, dealing with all the challenges of raising young children. Yes, they often felt fulfilled, but they also felt dry and stretched and frazzled. They wondered if their efforts would pay off.

Merry said one of the big problems was, “They were receiving hardly any encouragement from their husbands.” They felt their husbands didn’t understand what they were doing, and they felt unappreciated.

Our culture doesn’t offer a lot of encouragement to mothers. In contrast, I recently found the transcript of a wonderful 1905 speech by President Theodore Roosevelt. Speaking to the National Congress of Mothers, he said:

No piled-up wealth, no splendor of material growth, no brilliance of artistic development, will permanently avail any people unless its home life is healthy …

No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night …

The woman who is a good wife, a good mother, is entitled to our respect as is no one else …

As I read Roosevelt’s remarks, I wondered, When was the last time a President said something like this? If our culture doesn’t uphold wives and mothers with words like these, then it’s up to us husbands.

1 Peter 3:7 tells me to live with my wife “in an understanding way” and to “grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.” As I’ve applied this verse to my life, I have realized I need to understand Merry’s world—the pressures and problems she is facing, her successes and her struggles. And I need to honor her for what she is doing well as a wife and mom.

One way I honored Merry was writing an article as a tribute to her when our daughters, Bethany and Missy, were 7 and 4. I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her, and I wanted to remind her of how God was using her. So I thought I’d share part of what I wrote because these are the things we need to be telling our wives:

Like any other mother, it’s easy for Merry to grow discouraged during the day-to-day grind of fixing meals and settling arguments and playing games and reading stories and running errands. So often I’ve heard her say, “I’m tired of being a mother,” or, “I feel like I’ve been yelling at these kids all day long!”

But the reality is that she’s not just meeting physical needs. Even when she doesn’t realize it, she’s spending her days building character. She’s raising two little girls who, I hope, will grow up to be much like her.

From Merry, our daughters learn that there is a right and wrong, and that those who do wrong are punished.

They learn that God is real, that He is a personal God with whom we can communicate.

They learn that the Bible is truly the Word of God, able to speak to us today.

When she makes a mistake and blames them for something they didn’t do, and realizes it, they learn that a mother can be humble enough to ask their forgiveness.

When she takes them to the library to check out some books, and then returns home to read to them, they discover the excitement and importance of reading.

When they see Merry give me a hug and kiss as I walk into the house at the end of a work day, they see how a wife loves and honors her husband.

They watch as Merry reaches out to neighbors and friends. They go with her when Merry takes food to a sick friend. They learn about mercy and compassion.

When Merry gives them responsibilities around the house, they (grudgingly and slowly) learn about perseverance and doing a job right.

Bethany and Missy learn to tell the truth, because their mother doesn’t lie to them or tolerate lies from them.

They learn that many of the things the world says are important (such as acquiring money and possessions, and gaining power) are actually temporal and meaningless.

Of course, our two girls don’t realize that their mom is teaching them all these things. They are two human beings who will eventually make their own choices about their lives. But our hope is in the truth revealed in Proverbs 22:6, that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Chances are that Bethany and Missy will have much of Merry in them when they go off to college and find jobs and raise their own families. If that’s true, then I think that Merry will have succeeded in the most important job she’ll ever have.

Boy, reading these words reminds me that I married pretty well! I think I need to encourage and honor her like this more often.

Written by Dave Boehi

What Breed of Man Are You?

 

by Dennis Rainey
The time has come for a new breed of Christian husbands and fathers.

What Breed of Man Are You?

A motto I heard recently goes like this: Winners concentrate on winning, while losers concentrate on just getting by.

If that statement were carved into the granite at the front of a Fortune 500 company, you would nod your head in agreement. Inwardly you might say, Now that’s the way to run a business. I would imagine that company is really a company of excellence. They know how to do things right!

Yet when it comes to the family, it’s interesting that most homes today would have to be characterized as losers. Too many marriages have become marred by mediocrity. Children are seen, at best, as a status symbol—a way to achieve something through them that we, ourselves, weren’t able to achieve when we were their age.

Too many marriages today are concentrating on “just getting by.” With “squeaking by” as the goal, it is no wonder so many marriages don’t amount to much.

In his best-seller, The Seeds of Greatness, Denis Waitley tells the story of his grandmother whom he idolized. She crossed an apricot and a plum tree. Grandmother Waitley called it a plumcot. This delicious fruit was perfected by the gentle, wise old lady after careful and tedious pruning and grafting of the two fruit-bearing trees.

As a boy, Denis learned a valuable lesson from his grandmother. She harvested a plumcot because that was what she planted.

What you plant is what you get

Marriage is a lot like that—we never get out of a marriage what we do not put into it.

One man confessed, “At work I concentrate on winning, and as a result, I am a winner. At home, however, I concentrate on just getting by.”

It’s no wonder he is losing.

As Americans, we think of ourselves as winners … we are used to winning, but too many times in the wrong places. As a result, we end up losing in the important places … at home.

Vance Havner has said, “Americans know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”

If a business goes bankrupt, it is the president or the chairman of the board who is to blame. Similarly, if the home fails, the man is to blame. You and I, as husbands and fathers of our family, must master the ageless art of leadership and apply it to our families. If we ever hope to win at home, then we must focus on winning.

Spinning plates

Too many of us, as the leaders of our families, are like the man who used to come on the Ed Sullivan Show years ago and spin the plates. This man would start at one end of a long table by placing a stick perpendicular to the table and spinning a plate on the stick. In consecutive order the plates would be placed … two, three, four, five, six plates. As the first plate slowed down, it would begin to wobble. I can remember denying the urge to want to jump through the TV and run to help the man by grabbing the plate before it fell off the stick and shattered into tiny slivers of porcelain pieces.

Now with the first plate wobbling in a near-fatal orbit, the man would rush back and expertly spin that plate again as the audience breathed a sigh of relief. On he would go … seven, eight, nine. By that time, plates two, three, and four were now beginning to wobble. And just before you knew the man could not keep a dozen or so plates spinning, he would quickly scoop them up in his professional hands like he was carrying them to the cupboard and bow to the smiling applause of the audience.

Similarly, the roles we assume in life—husband, a father, a businessman, a civic leader, a church leader, a golfer, a fisherman—all represent different plates in our lives. We begin spinning them early in our married life with plate number one being our marriage. Giving focused attention to that one place, the plate spins along merrily and does well. With the addition of plates number two (business) and three (children), efforts to focus become more difficult. Carefully we keep adding our plates until we finally step back from the table to see two or three of the first plates beginning to wobble badly. We have to make choices. Decisions. Decisions based upon priorities. Our family has needs, but we mistakenly choose to meet hose “material” needs by applying our efforts primarily to our business. The result: Focus is lost.

However, most businessmen are not worried about starving. Most of us are concerned about status, significance, accumulation of more, and how we can feed the materialistic monster that lives within us. A good friend recently said, “Materialism is not what you have, it is what has you.”

Too many husbands and fathers have become dizzy by the many spinning plates we have set up. We give our family an occasional spin just to keep things at status quo. We focus on just getting by. The results? More plates begin to fall off the table. Children become strangers—children who are crying out for attention. Mothers plead for help. Meanwhile, being the visionary leaders that we are, we ignore fallen plates and add additional plates. Yet the Psalmist warns, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

There is no question why so many marriages and families are functioning poorly. Nothing—a business, a school, a basketball team, or a family—can function without leadership, energy, time, and most importantly, focused attention. Without these, the plates will begin to fall.

Being somewhat of a selfish man myself, I struggled to keep my family plates spinning over the dozen ego-stroking plates I could have focused my attention and energy to keep spinning when our kids were growing up. However, I was constantly forced by the person of Jesus Christ to come to grips with my limits. I have been wrestled to the ground by Him on more than one occasion to be forced to answer the question, “How many plates can you keep spinning and still win?”

Another question which redirects me is, “Where do I want to win so badly that I am unequivocally unwilling to lose?”

“Which of those plates would I be willing to lose for the sake of my family, if need be?”

A new breed

Today some tough questions face Christian businessmen and leaders. We have become a cult of Christian celebrities. We worship successful businessmen and pro athletes who can perform in the office or on the field. We pay little regard for whether they are a success in their personal and private lives. The time has come for a new breed of Christian husbands and fathers.

We need a new breed who will say “no” to more bucks when it means sacrificing our families. A new breed who will place family between us and every decision we make. A new breed who will ask the question, “How will this affect my family?” A new breed who will determine how much is enough. We need a breed of men who will seek to establish relationships with our families before seeking fame in our culture. A new breed who will recognize that we need to leave something to posterity that will outlive us: proven character in our children. A new breed of leaders who realize that to succeed in the eyes of men, but fail in the eyes of God, is the ultimate waste.

One man has said, “It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”

One last question: Will you take upon yourself the challenge that Albert Einstein gave a group of young scientists? While addressing this highly motivated group of young men, he pointed to them and said, “Gentlemen, try not to become men of success. But rather, try to become men of value.”