True Friendship: A Bible Study on Friends
by Jack Wellman
The Bible says to have friends, we should show ourselves to be friendly. The proverbs contain much wisdom about both being a friend and how to find a friend. There are fewer things in life that are more valuable than a good friend and the Bible is full of stories of some of the greatest friendships in history.
To Find a Friend, Be a Friend
My oldest son once told me that he didn’t have any friends. Of course children are sometimes known to exaggerate but I told him that the Bible shows us how to make friends. As Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” There is a key to having loyal friends or making friends in the first place. You have to show yourself friendly.
The Trust of a Close Friend
A friend keeps a friend’s secrets to himself as Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.” That is, a friend doesn’t gossip about friends faults and is quick to forgive them. A friend who repeats a matter (or gossips) can separate “even close friends.” That is a key to true friendship. If you repeat something that a friend entrusted you with, that will likely be the end of that friendship or in the least, they will never come to you in confidence again.
Your true friends will not be afraid to tell you the truth even at the risk of hurting your feelings.
Friends Tell You the Truth
Your friends will tell you the truth even when it hurts. As Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”
It is better to hear it from a friend if you are doing something wrong because they truly care enough about you. A friend doesn’t want to see you hurt. The point is that the truth sometimes hurts, but flattery or patronizing someone in the end, usually does more harm than good.
Choose Your Friends Carefully
A person becomes more like those that they associate with. This is why it is critically important to choose your friends wisely. Proverbs 13:20 warns us that we should “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Just like we are told, “you are what you eat”, so too we are warned to “not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Prov 22:24-25). Bad company corrupts good morals almost every time. You not only become “ensnared” by them but “you may learn their ways.” If you associate with hot-tempered people, you’re going to become hot-tempered yourself. Most often, we become like those we associate with.
Godly Friends Beget Godly Behavior
David understood that Jonathan was a true and loyal friend. He was a worshiper of the true God. In Psalm 119:63 it says, “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.” Those who fear God (which is a reverence and high respect for God) are good companions and make excellent friends. You will soon discover that their godly values will rub off on you and these types of friends can be accountability partners to each other. “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Prov. 28:28).
Fair and Foul Weather Friends
Friends are those that stick with you during the hard times. Trials and adversity can usually separate true friends from those who are just fair-weather friends. Why? Because, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Prov 17:17). Jonathan and David had one of the greatest friendships ever known. So much so that, “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself” (I Sam. 18:3). When I married my wife, I married my best friend. In fact, it is recommend for betrothed or engaged couples to become friends first and foremost, before they get married. This type of friendship is an image of the relationship that Christ has for the church. A relationship where He literally died for His bride. In this same way, a friend loves his or her friend as they love themselves – through thick and thin, sickness and health, poverty and wealth.
A Biblical Model of Friendship
If you want to know what true friendship is, the greatest biblical model that I know of is that of David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of David’s enemy, King Saul. Saul was out to kill David because he was insanely jealous of him and knew that he would replace him on the throne of Israel. Saul’s son Jonathan knew this and was such a loyal friend of David that he alerted David of the danger and literally saved his life when he found out that Saul wanted to kill David. Jonathan told David that, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you” (I Sam 20:4). We can read just how loyal of a friend Jonathan was to David in I Samuel 20:16 “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.”
Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves and Jonathan loved David “as he loved himself” fulfilling this Royal Edict from Christ (Mark 12:31).
Jonathan was a loyal friend to David and made a plan to warn him whether he could come to King Saul’s table or whether Saul would kill him do he devised a signal for David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away” (I Sam 20:18-22).
Jonathan risked his life for David because, “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David” (I Sam 20:30-33). Jonathan understood that he would be next in line for the throne if David was taken out of the way and could have easily betrayed David and had the throne of Israel for himself, but Jonathan’s love and loyalty for his friend David was evident by his selfless act of saving David’s life. Jonathan was willing to risk his own life for his friend David and with the understanding that Jonathan would sacrifice his chance to rule Israel. David’s friendship was more important that the throne of Israel to Jonathan. Jonathan loved David more than a brother and he proved it by his actions in I Samuel 20.
So Jonathon sent a messenger boy to shoot arrows for the signal that it was not safe for David to return to King Saul’s presence for he would surely be killed. What a touching show of affection that Jonathan showed David because, “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town” (I Sam 20:41-42). David showed such respect to Jonathan that he “bowed down three times before Jonathan“, even though David knew that God had anointed him to be the eventual king. Here is the future King of Israel; the greatest earthly kind that Israel would ever have, bowing to the son of is enemy, King Saul. And “then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most” (v 42).
True Friendship Bible Study: Key Takeaway
The fact is that friends are indispensable in this life. The older a person gets the more valued their friendship becomes. Many friends are closer than brothers or sisters are to each other. There is something special about having a friend that you can confide in, tell your troubles too, and share your life with. It has been said that a sorrow shared is halved, but a joy shared is doubled. Proverbs 27:10a says, “Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family” because you may need that friend in a day of trouble. The value of friends is one of the most important things in a person’s life: Their worth are not diminished by time, not devalued by inflation, not worn out by use, but like a fine wine, they improve with time. So are friends to those who have them; like medicine to the soul or as Proverbs 27:9 says, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
A 10-Year-Old’s List Becomes A Daddy Wake-Up Call
by Carey Casey
Our kids’ childhood years go by very quickly. Let’s do all we can to be there for them.
Have you heard of Mohamed El-Erian? He’s a multimillionaire. Until May 2013, he was chief executive of the PIMCO investment fund, one of the largest in the world. His annual earnings were estimated to be more than $100 million.
Why did Mr. El-Erian step down from such a prestigious and lucrative position? Because he is also a dad.
When he first left the fund, there were all kinds of speculations about why. Then, earlier this year, he wrote a short article telling about his “wake-up call.” The biggest factor in his decision was his daughter, who was 10 at the time.
It started as a routine interaction at home. He asked her to brush her teeth, and she didn’t do it. He asked her several more times. Again, nothing.
That little girl was up to something, and as Mohamed grew more frustrated and began to confront her about her disobedience, eventually it came out. She excused herself, went to her room, and came back with a piece of paper.
It was a list of twenty-two items—important events in her life, all of which her dad had missed: her first day at school; her first soccer game; a parent-teacher meeting; a Halloween parade.
Mohamed felt bad of course, and at first he got defensive. He had legitimate reasons for missing all of those! Travel, important meetings, urgent phone calls, emergencies he had to take care of.
Eventually, this dad realized that he was “missing an infinitely more important point.” His work and family commitments were way out of balance, and it was seriously hampering his relationship with his daughter. He wasn’t making nearly enough time for her.
So he made the career change, took on work with fewer hours and travel responsibilities, and now he’s regularly making her breakfast, driving her to and from school, and taking more time off to be with family. He writes, “She and I are doing a lot of wonderful talking and sharing.” Sounds like he’s off to a great start.
Honestly, I would like this story a lot more if Mr. El-Erian were not pulling in eight or nine figures a year when he decided to make a change. It’s clearly a lot easier for millionaires to make these kinds of changes—and he acknowledges that.
But dad, I hope you still hear the heart’s cry of that 10-year-old daughter. What would your child put on a list of important events that you’ve missed because you’re busy with other things? And maybe a more difficult question is, How important are those other things?
Maybe you can’t totally change your career so you can be with your family. But are there smaller changes you can make?
We hear it all the time, but it’s so true: our kids’ childhood years go by very quickly. Let’s do all we can to be there for them.
Action Points for Dads on the Journey
1) Plan a block of time this weekend—at least an hour—to do whatever your child wants: reading a book, an outing
for ice cream or coffee, listening to his or her music, practicing a sport, etc.
2) Ask your child, “Have there been events I’ve missed that meant a lot to you?”
3) What’s the biggest barrier to you spending more time with your kids? Your work schedule? Your child’s mother?
Your other interests and hobbies? Think creatively and come up with a win-win-win solution … or make a difficult
change for the sake of your relationship with your kids.
A Dad’s Attention Should Be On His Wife
by John Rosemond
Spending more time with your kids than your wife can lead to a damaged marriage and a broken family (Eph.5:25-29).
A fellow recently told me he didn't want to be the sort of father his father had been.
"And what sort of father was that?" I asked.
"You know, " he said. "Remote. Distant."
"I'll bet he wasn't, " I said.
"You bet he wasn't?" he replied, as if I'd just asserted that the world was flat.
"Right. If my experience serves me well, you've just bought into the anti-traditional-male propaganda. I'll just bet that your dad was a responsible guy who worked hard, maybe at more than one job at a time, trying to provide well for his family, which was his first priority, and that when he came home he wanted nothing more than to spend time with your mom, his wife."
He stared at me for several seconds, and then said, "Well, I have to admit, you're absolutely right. That describes my dad to a 'T.' "
"Then you should honor your dad by emulating his example, " I proposed.
Forty-plus years ago, men (I am aware I'm speaking in general, but nonetheless accurate, terms) understood that one became a good father by devoting oneself to being the best husband one could be. Those men came home from work not to get down on the floor and play with their children, but to catch up with their wives.
Today's men (and I speak in general terms again) are trying so hard to be good dads that they've all but forgotten how to be husbands. In all fairness, however, today's typical wife is acting as if she took a vow on her wedding day that said "I take you to be my husband until children do us part."
Today's dad tells me that when he comes home, the first thing he does is play with his kids. His rationale is that he hasn't seen them all day. He doesn't stop to think that his wife hasn't seen him all day either. Neither does he realize that his kids, if they knew the difference, would prefer that Mom and Dad spent that time together. They would prefer to be pretty much ignored, left to do their own thing, while Mom and Dad renew their relationship. But they don't know the difference, so when Dad comes home they have their toys at the ready.
Mom says she appreciates that he takes the kids off her hands for a while, but she is suffering her own form of marital amnesia. She doesn't realize that (a) her primary need is for quality time with her husband and (b) the kids can be off both of their hands if they simply insist upon it, as in, "We're spending some Mom and Dad time here. It's called L-O-V-E love. You guys go find something else to do."
A Father's Gift
by Jefferson David Tant
Father’s are often clueless about gift-giving for their children. That’s Mom’s job. But when we think of gifts, we usually think of material gifts — toys for toddlers, clothes, games and sports equipment for teens. Or maybe the ultimate gift for a teen — a car!
Many who are reading these words are prosperous by the world’s standards. You may not rank with Bill Gates or Ted Turner, but you are blessed with material prosperity unheard of by most of the world, or even in our own nation a few generations ago. And what do we do with our prosperity? We buy things for our children as good parents do — TVs, computers, designer clothes.
May I suggest that there are far greater gifts that a father can give his children — a far greater legacy than lands and houses and things.
A Place of Refuge
“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).
As our heavenly Father gives us refuge, so should our earthly fathers.
Children look to their parents for safety and refuge when frightened or faced with uncertainty. But what greater refuge could a godly father give than safety from the assaults of Satan and the world?
That refuge comes from a father who has great respect for God, our heavenly Father. This respect is seen in daily living as well as in “Sunday-go-to-meetin’” clothes. A father who is indifferent, lukewarm or not even a believer can give little in the way of solid refuge.
Direction in Life
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
This training involves many aspects, including the way of righteousness. Too many times fathers are more concerned about careers and earning power than spiritual matters. Many years ago a young man came from Florida to enter Georgia Tech in Atlanta on a golfing scholarship. Although his parents were members of the church, Bill had never been baptized. After being with us for a time, Bill was baptized into Christ. It was then that his father wrote me expressing concern that his son’s being a Christian would detract him from more important things. Hmmm. Does getting a “hole-in-one” open the gateway to heaven?
Fathers, what is your focus for your children? To be great athletes; to be successful in business; to have treasures on earth? Or would it be to lay up treasures in heaven? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Many children feel they are on a performance basis. The cleaner the bedroom, the better the grades, the more they are loved. Even if they only “feel” this, they will never be secure.
This is really hard for some fathers, especially the sports minded. They may consciously, or subconsciously, give preference to the gifted child. With so many pressures and uncertainties our children face, they don’t need unnecessary pressures at home. Children should be encouraged to do their best, but love and acceptance should not be based on beauty, intelligence or ability.
Our Heavenly Father is our model for giving unfailing love. He loved Israel when Israel was unlovely. In the parable of the talents, the two talent man received the same praise as the five talent servant. When the prodigal son was gone, the father never stopped loving him. When the son returned, it is obvious that the father’s love was unfailing. This does not mean there are no consequences when a child disobeys, but what great security a child has when a mistake is made, yet is still loved.
This also has spiritual implications, for the concept small children have of their Heavenly Father is often drawn from their relationship with their earthly father.
“’FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:6-11).
God certainly understands the value of proper discipline, and gives the example of earthly fathers who discipline children for their good. Otherwise, it is as if the children were illegitimate, without a caring father. Too often, discipline is left to Mother, for Dad is too busy or too tired from work.
Dad, don’t be too busy for your children. We remember the example of a godly man named Eli, who neglected a vital part of parenting. “The LORD said to Samuel, ‘Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever’" (I Samuel 3:11-14).
Another example of a lack of discipline was the case of David’s son Adonijah. “Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king.’ So he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen with fifty men to run before him. His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done so?’ And he was also a very handsome man, and he was born after Absalom” (I Kings 1:5-6).
What great sorrow these fathers brought on themselves by failing as fathers. Consider the wise words of Solomon: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul” (Proverbs 29:17).
A study by Merton and Irene Strommen shows that “when parents are too passive in setting limits for their children, such permissiveness is interpreted by children as a form of rejection and often leads to hedonistic and antisocial behavior” (Five Cries of Parents, Harper & Rowe, 1985, pp. 89-90).
Love for Their Mother
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
One of the greatest gifts a father can give is to let his children see him loving their mother. Many teens have a fear of not being loved, and not being able to give love. Often this is because they have never seen love demonstrated. Love is more than a lab or lecture course. We recognize that love is really defined more by showing what love does, as in I Corinthians 13.
Children learn to love by seeing models, and the basic model is through seeing their father love their mother, and vice versa. Without this model, how does a daughter learn to evaluate the love some young man professes toward her, to distinguish between lust and love? “Well, if you truly love me, you will treat me like my father treats my mother.” And the son can see that love honors the woman, rather than treating her like a sex object.
One reason we have problems with dysfunctional children involved in sexual promiscuity, violence and drug abuse is that they come from dysfunctional families. When God told husbands to love their wives (a) as Christ loved the church and (b) as they love themselves, he was providing not only for their own relationship but also for the security of their children.
And to show he was serious about husbands honoring their wives, he emphasized the matter in I Peter 3:7: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” That should get a husband’s attention! God is so serious about this that he threatens to not hear the prayers of a man who will not honor his wife.
The Example of a Godly Man
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
In our culture, mothers often have greater spiritual influence in the home. It is not “macho” for men to be overly religious. Perhaps this is not unique to the 21st Century. Maybe Paul felt the need to address fathers in particular in the church at Ephesus. Did you ever wonder why this was addressed to “fathers” and not “fathers and mothers?” This is only speculation, but is it that God knew fathers needed special encouragement to fulfill the responsibility of being spiritual in the home?
Too often have I seen children follow the example of a father who is not spiritually minded. Even though the father may have been baptized, he may not be really committed to faithful attendance, or to active participation in the life of the church. “If Daddy doesn’t have to go to church, why do I have to go?”
In later years, the father looks back with sorrow and regret as he sees his grown children who have no interest in the Lord. I knew a fine, godly couple with five grown children. This couple was very faithful, but during the children’s formative years, the church was not a part of their family life. I cannot imagine the pain in their hearts as they saw their children and grandchildren who did not know the Lord. The children needed to see godly parents when they were young, not at age 40.
Knowledge of the Word of God
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
We certainly get the impression that God wants parents actively involved in teaching their children. Fathers, don’t leave this vital matter up to the preacher of the Bible class teachers. They do what they can, but they cannot take the place of a father or mother who daily emphasize God’s Word. Two or three hours a week should not be the whole instruction a child gets. Deuteronomy 6 teaches that Biblical instruction should be a part of everyday life.
We are careful to vaccinate our children against all sorts of diseases. Are we also concerned about protection against the disease of sin — an eternally fatal disease? “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalms 119:11).
A father would think himself derelict if he didn’t see that his children were protected against polio or smallpox. But fathers, it is of much greater importance that you do not neglect your children’s spiritual health. If your children are small, do you read Bible stories to them? If they are older, are Bible principles a topic of conversation at the dinner table, or as you ride together in the car? If not, you are missing some golden opportunities.
(Christ) “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed…” (Titus 2:14).
Christ gave himself completely for our eternal welfare, and set an example of giving for us. Children need fathers who are more than procreators. About 70% of juveniles and young adults who are in long-term correctional facilities did not live with both parents while growing up. Fatherlessness contributes to 75% of teen suicides and 80% of psychiatric admissions. More than 40% of births today are to unmarried women, and most of these children will never live with a father. About 50% of children in the U.S. will have parents who divorce. All of this is a great prescription for tragedy.
This is why children need fathers, and it seems that was in God’s original plan. Someone has said, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a father.” Dads, do you know how your children spell love? They spell it “t-i-m-e.” One study asked dads how much time they spent daily with their small children. They estimated it was 15 to 20 minutes a day. Actually, it was 37 seconds!
Fathers, your children need you!
Eight precious and valuable gifts. And all these gifts have the added value of never wearing out or going out of style. And they have the further advantage of having eternal consequences.
Fathers, these are all gifts that even the poorest father can give, and must give if you want to give your children the greatest gift of the hope of heaven.
If you have trouble remembering all eight of these gifts, you might combine them all into one — be a man of God, a committed Christian.
On one occasion, a lawyer asked a question of Jesus. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38).
What greater legacy or inheritance could a father leave his children?
Maturity & Marriage
by Bill Walton
When we talk about "maturity" there are different ways in which people can be mature and different ways in which they can be immature. It is possible for a physical giant to be an emotional dwarf. It is possible for a grown man to be as immature as a 13-year-old boy. It is possible for a beautiful woman to be an emotional child.
The connection this has with marriage is simply this: (1) marriage requires maturity, and (2) immaturity in marriage is the reason many marriages fail.
Immaturity In Children
I want you to ponder some examples of immaturity in children. Children often show their immaturity by:
Selfish attitudes and behavior:
Some children are so wrapped up in themselves that they care very little about others’ needs. For example, a child may be more concerned about his broken toy than his neighbor’s burned house.
Immature children often take for granted the things that others do for them. Ingratitude is an ugly, disgusting thing to see. But we’ve all seen children and teenagers who show no appreciation or gratitude for all the sacrifices and actions of their parents. They act like they fully deserve everything they get, that their parents owe it to them.
Demanding to have their own way:
Many children have the attitude, "If you don’t play my way, I’ll just pick up my marbles and go home."
No sense of responsibility and obligation:
Children often feel no obligation to take on any part of the work around the house. A child may feel it is his right to make any kind of mess he wants to, and let someone else clean it up.
Wrong reactions to conflicts and problems:
We have all seen children who are happy and contented until something goes wrong, and then they react with anger, temper, and frustration.
Children often lack the judgment to appreciate the true worth of things. They may treasure worthless things and despise priceless things.
Thinking that happiness comes without giving:
Children sometimes act like they are only interested in themselves, and care very little about the feelings and needs of others.
Immaturity In Marriage
Some adults never outgrow childhood immaturity, and they demonstrate it in their marriage.
It is possible for a husband to be so self-centered that he doesn’t care about the feelings of his wife (and that can be true of wives as well). It’s sad that many young women (when they’re dating) don’t realize that a young man who doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings but his own probably won’t care about her feelings either once they’re married.
It is possible for married adults to be as ungrateful as a small child. Many husbands and wives hardly know what it is to say, "Thank you." Often the words are absent because the feeling is absent.
It is possible for husbands and wives to be locked in a constant battle to see who gets his way. Such marriages usually have a constant cycle: manipulative tricks, dramatic actions and reactions, sulking, shouting, as each one maneuvers to get his way.
It is possible for married adults to have no sense of responsibility or obligation. A wife may be financially irresponsible. A husband may act like his only responsibility is to "make a living."
It is possible for married adults to react immaturely and irrationally to problems and conflicts that arise.
It is possible for husbands and wives to be characterized by childish standards of judgment. Husbands may be infatuated by what the world calls "glamour." Wives may be obsessed with the desire for their husbands to make more money.
It is possible for married adults to think that real happiness is found in getting more and more things.
It doesn’t take much insight to see that when one or both of the marriage partners behave with such immaturity, problems in the marriage are inevitable. The problems that are inevitably brought on by such immaturity will eventually come, no matter how handsome, beautiful, or sexy the man and/or woman may be.
Biblical Marks of Maturity
I want to turn to the positive side and talk about some of the marks of maturity that the Bible connects with a good marriage relationship.
The Bible teaches that when a man marries he is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-5; Ephesians 5:31). Rebekah is a good example of independence from parents for women - "And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go" (Genesis 24:58).
Some young married men and women are still psychologically dependent upon their parents - husbands who are still "Mama’s boys" who can’t cut the apron strings, and wives who are still "Daddy’s girls" who won’t build their own homes with their husbands. Some parents encourage this kind of dependence instead of preparing their children for independence and insisting that they be mature and independent. Some parents interfere in their children’s marriages, and young married couples sometimes allow their parents to interfere. This doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for young couples to respect their parents, or seek advice from their parents or from others. Grown children ought to love and respect their parents, and parents ought to live in such a way so they can be respected. It is wise to seek advice from those who are more experienced. But people shouldn’t enter into marriage when they can’t be independent, and they shouldn’t enter into marriage with the idea that their parents are still going to make their decisions for them. If a man is not mature enough to make decisions and assume responsibility and leadership, he is not emotionally mature enough for marriage. If a woman is not mature enough to "cut the apron strings" and build a new life with her husband wherever he leads, she is not emotionally ready for marriage.
Mature attitude toward sex:
The Bible teaches that God intends sex to be an enjoyable, satisfying part of marriage (I Corinthians 7:2-5; Proverbs 5:15-19). Instead of having mature, Bible-based attitudes toward sex in marriage, some have very immature attitudes.
Some think of sex merely as something to "get," instead of shared affection, mutual enjoyment and satisfaction. Some use sex in the marriage as a weapon to coerce the marriage partner, or as a manipulative tool to get their way about something. Some think that sex, even in marriage, is dirty and sordid.
In contrast to such immature attitudes, people with mature, Bible-based attitudes realize that sex in marriage is a part of expressing, building, and maintaining love (Hebrews 13:4).
The ability to seek your companion’s happiness as diligently as you seek your own:
I’m not just talking about the infatuation that typically exists before marriage but often doesn’t survive marriage. Some immature people can be considerate for a short time in order to get what they want, but they have never developed the capacity for real, sustained consideration that is a part of real love and real maturity. Marriage ought to a be relationship in which the husband is concerned for his wife’s happiness as much as his own happiness, and vice-versa. An old story is told about a young man who sold his pocket-watch to buy an expensive brush for his girl friend who had beautiful hair, not knowing that she had cut her hair and sold it in order to buy him a gold chain for his pocket-watch. That story illustrates the kind of attitude the Bible teaches husbands and wives should have in marriage. Ephesians 5:25, 28-29, 33 teaches husbands to love like that. Titus 2:4 and I Corinthians 13:5 teaches wives to love like that. One reason this kind of love is not demonstrated in many marriages is because many of the young men and women who enter into marriage have never developed the maturity that makes lasting love possible.
Capacity to live up to commitments:
We are living in a society that makes it easy not to develop this kind of maturity. The popular concept is: "If you make a commitment but you find out that something is not the way you thought it was, or something is not to your liking, or it’s too hard to fulfill your commitment, then get out of it." We frequently see famous athletes who renegotiate their contracts, refusing to live up to the contract they already have. Many children are seldom required to honor their commitments when fulfilling the commitment is found to be unexpectedly difficult.
In contrast to this modern attitude, God teaches us to keep our word even when keeping our word is causing us to hurt (Psalms 15:4). Marriage is a covenant that involves vows and requires a commitment between the husband, the wife, and God (Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:6). The fact that a marriage often encounters unexpected difficulties and requires unforeseen sacrifices doesn’t nullify the commitment. What is needed for marriage is the kind of maturity that enables a person to fulfill his commitments until the hardship is over, or even if it is never over (Psalms 15:4).
Ability to understand and accept authority:
There is a special need for this today because there is growing stress in many marriages over authority in the husband/wife relationship. Instead of having a mature attitude toward authority, some husbands think authority is a weapon to use on their wives. Instead of having a mature attitude toward authority, some wives think accepting authority and living under authority makes them inferior. Some young women are even omitting the bride’s traditional promise to "obey" from their wedding vows. What is needed is a maturity that is capable of understanding and accepting the true nature of authority. That means husbands who are mature enough to understand that having God-given responsibility is a solemn responsibility, not an ego trip. That means wives who are secure enough about their own worth to realize that accepting authority doesn’t make one inferior. So if someone is not emotionally mature enough to understand and accept authority, they really are not mature enough for marriage.
I want to explain some reasons why I have said all this:
1) To stress the fact that marriage is a relationship for the mature, and maturity means more than the desire to get
married, and more than the ability to conceive children, and more than the ability to earn enough money to live on;
2) Although some have entered marriage without this maturity and the marriage somehow survived until maturity
was developed, the best time to develop the maturity needed for marriage is before marriage, not after marriage;
3) The best guide for developing the kind of maturity needed for marriage is God’s word. If you are unmarried, and
you want to be mature when you marry, make the Bible your guidebook. If you are already married, and you
realize you still need to develop maturity, make the Bible the guide for your life.
A Challenge to Fathers...
Fighting 'Faith Apathy'
by Brad Mathias
It's time for fathers to step up and be the spiritual leader of the household and fulfill God's pattern for us to take the lead.
Most Parents are concerned about how well their “doing” with raising their kids. We worry about the future, and hope that with consistent and careful effort on our part, they will end up well-rounded, balanced and stable despite the mistakes of our past. As fathers we carry the extra concern of protecting and providing for our homes and their physical well-being, and that is as it should be.
But somewhere down the list of priorities for many dad’s is the role of leading spiritually. Many Christian homes suffer from a significant gap in the father—spiritual leader role for the family. The burden of teaching spiritual stuff is left to the wife , a nearby grandma or the dynamic and engaging new young preacher. Men are not proud to admit that in the whole, we’re just not naturally so good at such things. It’s obvious to us, other individuals seem so much more enthusiastic and better at it. It’s easier to slightly hang back a bit, just to see if those other adults in our kids lives will step up and do some basic spiritual instruction instead of us.
It’s not that men are generally lazy or uninterested, we just feel unprepared and ill-equipped to talk about our faith, our relationship with God to anyone, let alone our kids. When they become teenagers, forget about it. I’m sure there are many psychological and cultural reasons for this, the natural personality and temperament of a man is more reserved, less verbal. We males tend to be less emotionally sensitive than our female counterparts, we like to fix things, not listen. Our attention spans are reduced by the need to retreat from our work pressures and catch up on our favorite sports team or golfing buddies.
We've been trained by our culture that moms are better at disciplining and actually raising our kids anyway and we have little to offer (Ephesians 6:4). We only step in when we are asked to, or if we see some very significant rebellion in the home that might require a more forceful response than just a good “time-out”.
Father’s roles in the local Church setting seem to be similar, often it’s the ladies who step up first to volunteer and get things done. They make dinners for shut-in’s, pick up other people’s kids for church. Mom’s lead the charge to volunteer to help with kids spiritual education by teaching Sunday School classes. It’s a rare thing to see a man step past his comfort zone and be vulnerable spiritually at church or the home.
Why is that ?
I mean why would a man act like an insane verbally exuberant idiot on a Sunday afternoon live or in the local neighborhood man cave, watching his favorite team's football game on a HD flat screen, but go passive as if in a “neutered” and silent state on the same Sunday morning, mere hours before at church? It’s not as if we “can’t” get emotional, or passionate... it’s just not something very many of us “choose” to do or be when it comes to faith and family. It’s a rampant form of ”faith apathy” plain and simple, and it’s killing our families spiritually.
That bothers me, and it bothers mom’s a whole lot more.
Guys, it’s time we take a hard look at the role’s we’re playing in our families lives. I speak with frustrated and angry wives and mothers regularly who are desperate to see their husbands engage with their families emotionally and spiritually on a consistent basis. At least as much and as passionately as we do with our favorite sports teams or cars. Some wives are struggling to maintain their respect and admiration of us as men over this “little” concern. They are watching us passively ignore one of the greatest responsibilities we have in the world.
I believe being a faithful father involves being vulnerable with our families. Of having the courage to admit to our failures, our mistakes, and our passivity in leading them into a greater understanding of our faith and beliefs about God and life. When we step back and choose to let others do our job, we are in a biblical sense abandoning our God-given responsibility. It’s a unique form of mostly male selfishness and it’s destructive.
Dads, if your reading this... please hear me clearly and humbly on this subject. I’m not perfect, don’t have this fathering leadership role all sorted out and well-balanced in my own life yet. But I’m engaged in it and I’m trying. I challenge you to be the same. Take the risk of speaking with your pre-teens and teens about your own faith, about how you have learned and are learning to trust God for the mortgage, for your job, for your health, whatever your story is with God. Step up at Church and at home and be willing to get involved, lead.
You don’t have to create some theological sermon or deep truth/life principle to share with them, you don’t have to do a devotion or read a popular Christian living book every day. Instead, it’s super effective leadership, when you just let your kids know about you. Warts and all. Their understanding of God and His grace will be formed in part by your willingness to share openly and honestly of your triumphs and tragedies, of your faith and your failings. Of love and sadness, of success and failures in your past and present and of the role God plays in your decisions.
All essential and undeniably unique to you.
Your kids, your wife and this generation is counting on us fathers to just be the MEN we are. Nothing less and nothing more. It’s God’s pattern for us to lead and we've been convinced for far too long, that it’s just not a role we’re equipped to play.
Time to change that.
3 Tips for Understanding Your Wife
by National Center for Fathering
Children need to see what healthy, loving marriages look like. Your job is to learn to be complimentary instead of contradictory.
Do you fully appreciate the benefits your children's mother brings to their lives — and to yours? It's no revelation that women are different from men in many ways. Often, those differences can be sources of conflict, and those differences involve much more than how one squeezes the toothpaste. Having children really brings these differences to the surface, whether it's how you approach discipline, household tasks for the kids, or your time commitment to work and family.
It's important to learn to understand, accept and honor the differences between yourself and your wife (or children's mother). Your children need something that she is uniquely equipped to give; they benefit from her approach to parenting just like they benefit from yours. In many disagreements, the real issue isn't about who's right and who's wrong; it's a matter of understanding and appreciating differences. Your job is to learn to be complimentary instead of contradictory. Children need to see what healthy, loving marriages look like.
Here are three quick pointers to help you understand your wife or children's mother:
1. Learn to appreciate and meet her emotional needs. As a general rule, compared to you a woman connects more through conversation, she places higher value on thoughtful and romantic gestures, and her identity is more attached to her home.
2. Know her "love language." What makes her feel loved the most? Is it gifts? Time together? Acts of service? Physical affection? All of these are important, but too many husbands think they're showing love when they're actually "speaking the wrong language." You may be expressing love by bringing her gifts, but if her language is spoken words, then she isn't getting the message. She may even think you're trying to buy her love. Or, you may be doing good works for her to get out of the dog house, but what she really needs is for you to spend more time talking and listening to her.
3. Communicate about expectations. It's hard to have a strong marriage or be a great parenting team if you aren't working toward the same goal. Ask her, "What's your idea of a good marriage?" And answer the question yourself. Talk about your parents' marriages and qualities in other marriages you may want to emulate or avoid.
1. Ask your children what qualities they're looking for in a future mate. (Often their answers will reflect something about your marriage or your attitudes about marriage.)
2. Show respect to your kids' mom. Encourage them to honor her — even if you're their stepfather.
3. Without making a show of it, make a compromise that shows you appreciate how your wife is physically and/or
emotionally different from you.
4. Ask your wife, "What communicates love to you most clearly?" Then start focusing your efforts more in the area
of her "love language."
5. Schedule a time when you and your wife can get away alone and do something fun together.
by Phil Robertson
Is My Spiritual Diet Full of Junk Food?
Prior to the 1900’s, the average American ate about 5 pounds of sugar per year. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the average American in 1999 ate 158 pounds of sugar. In 1942, the average American consumed 60 12-ounce colas. However, in 1997, the average was 576 12-ounce servings of coke. In the 1950s, the average American ate 4 pound of French fries per year. In 2001, we ate an average of 30 pounds of fries. Today, less than 28% of Americans meet the USDA guidelines for daily fruit consumption. Only 32% meet the USDA guidelines for vegetable consumption. Seeing these statistics, it is no surprise that the U.S. is one of the most overweight nations in the world. Although we carry a lot of pounds, very little of it is from food that is good for us.
Unfortunately, our nation is seeking spiritual sustenance in much of the same way. As one author said, “We like our religion like we do our food - fast, easy, tasty, low on nutrients and sugar-coated.” We may be “going to church” but we are NOT feasting on what is good for us.
The prophet Amos warned the nation of Israel of spiritual malnutrition (Amos 8:11-12). “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” This does not mean that God was intentionally denying them of spiritual food. It was quite the contrary. He constantly offered food for their souls. But the people hated spiritual advice (5:10) and preachers who rebuked them (7:10-13). Therefore there was a famine of the Word in the land and God condemned the people for it (5:21-24).
In light of this story, it would good for us to ask ourselves a few questions:
• Is my religion a diet of junk food or the meat of the Word? (Heb 5:13-14)
• Do I “go to church” to be entertained or to seek a closer walk with God? (Psa 119:105)
• Do I treasure God’s commands or is my obedience optional? (Psa 19:10; Jn 14:15)
• Am I seeking truth or just social fellowship? (Jn 17:17)
• Do I crave sermons that challenge my character and faith or do I seek speakers who will tickle my ears? (2 Tim 4:2-4)
Look around and you will see that we definitely need to change our diets. We need to get rid of the junk food and return to a diet that will strengthen us spiritually. We need to return to the purity of God’s word and reject the artificial sweeteners that may enhance the taste but will never nourish the soul.
Once we return to the Word we will find it can be rather “sweet” (Psa 19:10). But please be advised, Jesus is the “living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51). And shunning His spiritual diet is to reject His provisions for eternal life (John 6:26-27).