Live, Live, Live…

In the context of Louie Giglio’s talk about “In the presence of my enemies, the Lord has prepared a table for me” and Andy Stanley’s “Guardrails” and then in the context of sex and temptation, please watch this very familiar film clip …

All the residents of heaven peering over the wall of the castle watching us here battle and struggle and the whole host of heaven, the cloud of witnesses are just cheering us on, just rooting for us, the coliseum just shouting “Live, Live, Live”.  They were rooting for his death moments ago.  There is some strength, some confidence that comes to us and we say – “You can call me whatever you want – stupid, idiot, seagull, failure – whatever that name was, whatever that message you were given.  You can put me in the crappiest circumstances but I KNOW who I am.” 

Men, if we forget that, or we’ve never heard it, or we lose it or we see so many signs that say “You can’t” or “You shouldn’t” or “Not you, maybe someone else, but not you”.  The wounds we have can just extend through the years and in face of those, how do you become that man?  You ask God.  You take all that you know and have read about your identity in Christ and all the truth about what God has done for you and you pound on the door and say, “Lord, take this and just embed it in my being.  Remove everything contra and counter that just shouts the truth down and assaults me.”

Maximus knew who he was.  He wasn’t afraid to face his enemy.  He stood in the face of tyranny and temptation and was a man who said, “No.  Not me.  I won’t give in.  There is a better way and I’m willing to die for what I believe in.”

It is same with you and me.  Temptation will come.  I must have my boundaries.  I must know who I am.  I must know what lines I will not cross.  Remember back to Louie – the enemy is always around.  He doesn’t sleep.  He doesn’t eat.  He’s awake 24/7 prowling around.  He reads your mail.  He knows where you are weak and he’ll try to exploit your weaknesses.

He’s looking for a crack.  A crevice.  A small opening.  Anything to try to get to you.  It can be a weakness in your character.  It can be a life experience – abuse, a dad who abandoned you, a failure of yours in business or a past relationship.

Or … it can be a door you open.  Get that.  You open it.  By opening the door, you invite it in.  An affair.  Porn.  You’re inviting a world of destruction upon you by peering into this.  PORN – by clicking on that link, you are literally inviting evil into your life.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  You’re inviting the destructive in to live among the Holy.

This is why Paul urges us with the command, “Flee from sexual immorality”.  Flee.  Run.  It couldn’t be clearer.  You honor God with your bodies – which are temples of the Holy Spirit.  The litmus test for us is “Is what I am about to do dishonoring God?”  If it dishonors God and his commands, flee.

We are calling one another UP to a higher standard.

So back to the image Craig shared with us,

When you’re contemplating flirting with that woman at work…

When you’re tempted to cruise her facebook page to peer at her pictures…

When you think about driving by her home…

When you’re tempted to surf some porn to try to find some relief …

When you’re contemplating compromising your beliefs …

Remember the whole host of heaven is peering over the wall looking down shouting the encouragement to you of “LIVE.  LIVE.  LIVE”.

 the-very-best-me

Advertisements

Your wife as your “lifesaver”

David Burnell gave a powerful testimony about his marriage and life this morning and he urged us on to the higher standard.  He challenged us to vulnerability with our wives.  He taught us about his guardrails, how he’s shared those with his wife and how he needs her help in accountability to those.  It was beautiful.  He share this from the RH daily reading…

Ezer Kenegdo | Ransomed Heart Ministries<!–
–>

Eve is given to Adam as his ezer kenegdoor as many translations have it, his “help meet” or “helper.”  Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It makes me think of Hamburger Helper.  But Robert Alter says this is “a notoriously difficult word to translate.”  It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means lifesaver.”  The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). 

Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally.  It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given.  It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.

Flee baby flee

Remember a guardrail is a system designed to keep us from drifting into dangerous or off limit areas.  There is a line out there for me that once I cross it, I violate my standards and realize there is a consequence that will hurt the people I love the most.

In every area of your life where there is desire, you need a guardrail.  With sexual intimacy, you need reinforced steel.

You can recover from other disasters.  Financial disaster, if given enough time and discipline, you can recover and prosper and it’s a lesson learned.  Education – you can flunk out but get back in school, go to summer school, graduate and then it’s just a funny story you tell your kids about.  Professional disaster – you can get fired, go bankrupt but you can recover.

But in sexuality, those are the stories no one laughs about now.  The damage done in this area stays with you.

Because intuitively, we know, that sex is not just physical.  It’s way deeper than that.  When we cross certain lines in physical intimacy, there are things we can carry with us the rest of our lives.  Culture says that sex is just physical and no one gets hurt but we know better.  The damage, the guilt and the memories follow us through our lives.

1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul gives us a strong but simple command, “Flee from sexual immorality.”

Flee.  Not “be careful”.  Not “watch out”.  Not get as close to the line as you can without going over.  No.  It says “flee”.  And let’s be honest, this is what you want your wife to do.  For goodness sakes, it’s what you want your daughter doing.  Don’t kid yourself, it’s what you should be doing.  But when it comes to “me”, I don’t flee.  I flirt.

Culture will bait you right up to the line and then mock you if you take the bait and cross the line.  So, guard yourself.  Have that line you will not cross.  Don’t play with this.

For Christians, there is an even greater incentive – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”  I Cor 6:19

“You are not your own: you were bought at a price”.  You have been purchased from sin.  You don’t have to give into your desires and appetites.  I am the master of my body because my body is now under the authority of God.

“Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  The litmus test – whenever you’re about to act, ask yourself “Is this dishonoring to God?”  Ask it.  The Holy Spirit indwells you.  Whatever you’re about to do, you’re bringing it in alongside the Spirit.  Ask Him.  Listen for that “voice clearing” He’ll warn you if you listen.  If it doesn’t honor God … don’t even think about it.  Don’t look at it.  Don’t ponder it.  Decide to honor God daily in all you do with your body.

You will not regret these guardrails.  They are not extreme at all in this culture.  They should be your standard operating procedure.  It’s more possible than you think – once you’ve made your mind up.

Married folks

  1.  Don’t travel alone with members of the opposite sex.
  2.  Don’t eat alone with members of the opposite sex. Every affair he’s dealt with, except one, began with a meal.
  3.  Don’t hire cute members of the opposite sex because you want to help them. Don’t deceive yourself.
  4.  Don’t confide in/counsel members of the opposite sex. “They need me”.    They need help.  They don’t need you.  When your emotional world gets entwined with her emotional world, you’re in trouble.  Intimacy begins with the emotional.  Watch out.
  5.  When you feel your heart/desire drifting to another woman, tell someone. Find a man you trust and tell him.  By speaking this out, you’re bringing it out of the darkness and into the light.  (hard to do but perhaps is your most powerful guardrail)

Your guardrails – your wife needs to know what they are and she needs to be comfortable with your guardrails and standards.

Single people

  1.  Same rules as the married people – except you are not to do these things with married people i.e. not travel with a married woman, not counsel a married woman, not eat a meal with a married woman.
  2.  No sleep overs.  Remember sex is not just a physical act.  It bonds you to that woman.  Even if it’s “just a date” or “just having fun”, you are bonding with her and very importantly, she is bonding with you.  You’re creating a soul tie.  Don’t kid yourself.  Women don’t hook up.  They bond.  Sex is like glue for them emotionally.  So while you might be “just hooking up”, she’s bonding to you and you’re responsible for the pain a future breakup might do to her.  Remember a guardrail is there to protect you from that thing you’ll regret the most.
  3.  Take a relationship break. Take a year off.  If “date” has become synonymous for “sex”, you need to stop dating.  Take a break.  Give God a year to renew your mind and heart.

I will promise you, you will not look back in five years and regret these guardrails.  Intimacy in marriage is fueled by exclusivity.  If your wife knows you only have eyes for her and if she can trust you completely, your intimacy will grow.  After all, it isn’t sex you want, it is intimacy.  You want to be known.  Intimacy starts with guardrails.  Learn to honor God with your body and He will reward you with a relationship of intimacy. 

Sex. The front line of the war for your soul…

Here we go, diving into the deep waters with an entry that might really irritate you but as “watchmen on the wall”, we need to go after this…

Right up front, all of us struggle with this.  Testosterone is a hugely powerful hormone.  The younger the man reading this, the more intense the battle.  Add to that a sex-drenched culture and the devastating effects of free pornography all over your smartphone, the TV and the internet and we just all need to admit, “this is a problem”.  It is everywhere.  To try to battle this with accountability or denial or by cutting off any possible temptation (no TV, no internet, not looking at any other woman as you go about your day) isn’t going to work.  You cannot “purify” your way past this.

There is something much deeper at work here.  To battle it, we have to dig deep into the soil and find the root.  What’s behind this?  Beneath it?  What is the “why?” behind all of it.

Let’s start with Proverbs 3: 5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”.

The main aim of this verse is for us to walk in a straight path.  As we were saying in yesterday’s post, at this stage of life, the others around you – your wife, your children, your co-workers, your friends, your parents … all the people that are counting on youneed you to live your life well right now.  We need you to walk in a straight path.  The church is under assault in America.  Expect more of this.  Our church has been under some attack as well.

We have a country club/consumption culture in America fueled by iPhones, Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, etc. giving us easy access to anything we want to see or do.  Our culture is soft.  Our kids are the “me generation”.  They’ve embraced relativism.  Things that should shock them and scare them … don’t.  We have transgender bathrooms at Target now.  If we offend anyone, we are outcast.  Listen to me, ALL of this is symptomatic of the all-out assault Satan has unleashed on the world.  It is a “me, me, me” world and it has invaded the church.  Think about it, if you were Satan wouldn’t you want to fuel an attitude of “Me.  It’s all about me”?  Think about Lucifer.  Why did the revolt happen in Heaven?  He was in love with himself.  He wanted to make it all about him.  God kicked him from Heaven and sent him to the earth and that “me spirit” has been unleashed on earth in a devastating way recently by the enemy.

We have a church culture that is creeping into this country club like atmosphere of “the church is here to provide for me, entertain me, give to me” and as a result, we’re having a hard time finding people willing to step up and serve.  We don’t have time to serve.  We’re too busy.  We come into church desperately needing to be refilled.  But we have little to give.  If we all embrace this attitude and don’t wake up and realize that isn’t how the church is supposed to operate, eventually the church will collapse for lack of any workers to “toil in the fields”.  And don’t you see, that is precisely Satan’s intent – permeate the culture with a “me” attitude and then sit back and watch it collapse upon itself – the culture and the church.  And you’re asking right now, “what does this have to do with sex?”  Stay with me…

We need you to live your life well right now.  The church faces a great challenge and it needs all of us to be at our best.  There is an enormous battle underway against the church and our culture right now.  Just watch an hour of Fox News at night and it is jaw dropping the nonsense that happens daily in America.  As warriors with Christ, we all have a role to play.   The “church” cannot survive if we remain in a childish “me” place.  It is time for the men of the church (at large) to manUP and put away childish things.  There are FAR greater battles underway,  FAR more at stake than how much sex you are getting weekly from your wife.  Ok, here we go…

The “why?” of this question is way deeper than any accountability group holding you accountable of “did you look at pornography this week?”  That isn’t going to come close to dealing with the issue.  THE issue is idolatry.  We have idolized sex.  Sex is our god…

“If I get sex two times a week from my wife, then I’m good”.  

“My wife won’t have sex with me.  I need a wife that will regularly love me and send me out daily affirming me as a man.  Imagine what mountains I could conquer if my wife did all she was supposed to do to affirm me as a man.”

“My wife hasn’t had sex with me in three weeks, I have needs that have to be met”

Please hear me, I am NOT condemning you as you read this.  All of these…I’ve said to myself more times than I can possibly count.  THIS is what we are dealing with.  This is the magnitude of this issue.  Sex has become our god.  If we get it, we’re all good.  As we said a few weeks ago in this post — https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/fathered-by-god-the-lover/  — we have fallen into the trap of “take, take, take” – that Eve is there for us to take from rather than being given to us to provide for.  We have come to look at our wives for what we can get from them.  That we can get our validation from her.  That she can make us a man.

That’s a dead-end street and I’ll tell you why.  If a married, Christian man falls into this trap of the quotes above, he is a sitting duck for pornography.  That set up, those demands we place on our women, they cannot be met.  There is never “enough sex”.  It cannot be satiated.  The more you feed your desire for sex, the more insatiable the appetite.  The more you think about sex and obsess over it, the more your hunger for it will grow.  Remember one of our foundational truths – “What you feed grows, what you starve dies”.   The trap the enemy has set for us is to feed us these lies of what we “could be” if we were getting enough sex.  It’s no different than “what my life could be like if I had more money.”  There is never enough money.  It’s a lie.  It’s a trap.  And we’ve fallen into it.  So we drink from this and take it in and she cannot meet those demands and we’re all torqued up with no place to go, and so… we turn to porn.  Some turn to other women thinking the grass surely must be greener on the other side.  It isn’t.

The “why” of this is deep.  It is the alter we have built to sex.  It is the belief that sex can fulfill every deep longing I have and equip me for the life I need to lead.  If I go without it, I feel as though I have no oxygen and I quickly find myself wandering into all sorts of trouble.  We have embraced the “me culture” and made sex “all about me”.  That’s a very small life.  That’s no way to love a woman.  It objectifies her, cheapens her and tears the fabric of her heart.  The message we send to our wives either outwardly with our spoken words — or — even more painfully in a silent, non-spoken rebuke of her is devastating to her heart and she’ll shut down.

If we come to our wife with requests (demands?) for weekly sex or 2-3x a week sex or if we go silent and turn to porn and masturbation we are almost childlike in our begging for our needs to be met.  We don’t have mastery over our body.  We are bringing no strength to our wives.  Our flesh is in control and desire burns.  Unfortunately, our weakness here carries consequences for the one who most depends and needs us to come through … our wives.

Let me wrap it up and try to tie it all together and drive home the point – Proverbs is driving us to “walking in the straight path”.  I don’t want you to… Keith doesn’t want you to… your Mama doesn’t want you to… God doesn’t want you to … veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor Him.  And men, I’ve got to say it and I hate writing this but getting drunk on sex, cruising into porn, getting yourself all torqued up and then masturbating is wasting your life.  Literally you are wasting your seed of life washing it down the sink.  It is childish and needy.  All because we worship at the alter of “I’ve gotta have a lot of sex”.

We need you to live your best life.  I need to live my best life.  A worthy life.  A life that is an inspiration to others.  As the great and now late, Craig McConnell said, “Do you live free?  Are you the man that has a strength and an intentionality and a movement to his life, towards God, towards others?  A man who rescues others, who lives well and loves well?”  That’s the man we need you to be.

We do that by trusting God with all our heart.  No, a sexless marriage isn’t what God intended but I trust Him.  I value Him more than I do sex.  Sex goes away at some point anyway.  God never does.  We trust in Him.  We bank on the promises of God, step by step of each day.  We draw upon the vine.  We trust in a good, Holy, loving, all providing God.  We don’t rely on our own understanding i.e. we don’t take matters into our own hands (literally).  “God I can’t understand why I am single now … but I trust you.  I’m not going out to find sex as a way to fill the ache in my soul.  My soul aches for You.”  We do not rely upon self.  If we trust in our own understanding it means we are being self-reliant = it’s up to me to make it happen.  So if I’m not getting sex, I’ll manufacture it.  Lastly, Proverbs encourages us to in all ways acknowledge Him.  That is to know Him.  To connect the branch to the Vine.  To draw upon his Zoe daily https://manliveup.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/best-of-manschool-branch-to-vine-1/.  To draw Him into everything, “Lord the sex thing is killing me, I give it over to You.  I trust You.  I need You.  Sustain me”.  Draw Him in to every situation, all day, every day.

And men, we need you to live your best life now because the church is under assault and our culture is burning around us.  Marriages are breaking up, kids are turning to porn, drugs, homosexuality … anything to find happiness.  Racial tensions are exploding.  People are being gunned down on our streets.  We are in a world at war and the church needs warriors who’ve mastered self by giving over self to God.  We need men who are living well, living with integrity, living strong, fighting for their wives instead of constantly demanding from them.  We need men of integrity who say “Enough.  No more” and repent of the worship of sex and when blessed with a time of intimacy with their wives they will stop and consecrate the time in prayer giving the intimacy over to God as a worship offering.  God created sex as a glorious gift to the married couple and we’ve perverted it.  Now, we take it back.  As we enter into it, stop and consecrate the event, consecrate the time, give God the glory and in so doing you take it as a gift and will trust in God for the next time He grants the gift.  By consecrating the time, you are giving the power of sex over to God, “Lord, we give this to you.  Thank you for this wonderful gift.  Thank you for my beautiful wife.  Help me love her well every day.  We give this act to you and we will enjoy it and then release it.  “It” has no power over us.  We repent of our worship of it or for how we’ve rejected it or denied it.  Let us enjoy this and then get about the business of serving you together as a couple.  Thank you Lord Jesus for this precious gift that is my wife.”

The point of this post was to drive us to straight path, the life well-lived, LivingUP to all our God has created us to be.  Wake up. Don’t waste your life…

What did this stir in you?  Did it make you mad?  Why?  How much time daily do you give to the thought of sex?  How important is it to you?  Can you ever get enough of it?  And then … how do all those questions relate to your relationship with God?  How important is He?  Can you ever get enough of Him?

lots of food for deep, deep thought…

great quote for you…

I just had the pleasure to speak with Bart Hanson at Ransomed Heart and he shared this quote from Chesterton to encourage all us …

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”

We fight for those standing behind us – our children, our wives, our co-workers, those men in our church or around us that aren’t engaged.  Fight the good fight!  Warrior on!  Lead from the front.  Never, never, never, never, never give up.

cropped-liveup-logo-final3.jpg

Our wives…

As we walk and learn what Christ has to say to us and as we learn from older and wiser men, we have presented this teaching on “Eve”, our women, our wives…

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”.  Jeremiah 6:16

Yes…the ancient roads which lead us to the rest for our souls.  Rich material.

David Platt was the Pastor at the Church at Brookhills in Birmingham.  He now leads the International Missions Board.  If you have not read his book, Radical, I encourage you to do so.  It truly is “radical” and it will alter you view of money, things, etc. in relation to the Kingdom.  As Platt traveled the world, he was struck by so-called “secret churches” in communist, Islamic and oppressed nations.  Basement churches where believers would come and soak up the Word for hours on end.  They were desperate for it.  Hungry for it.  And they knew it was nourishment for their soul and their very survival.  4-5-6 hours on end, they would come and devour the Word of God to learn of the King content to sit in a basement, sometimes lighted only by a single light hanging from the ceiling.  And he contrasted that with the American Church – the $23 million gym with the weight rooms, basketball courts, rock climbing walls and surround sound.  The sanctuaries with plush stadium seating and gigantic HD screens and members who got antsy if the sermon went past 12:00.  So their church started the “Secret Church” where they would gather on a Friday night from 6pm to midnight to tackle a subject like sex or marriage or money and literally pull every single Scripture to see what God had to say about the topic.  They’d publish 100 page study guides and immerse themselves in the Word.  Those are available online by the way.  Here is what David had to say about marriage

It’s not always easy.  As soon as I say – I know that as soon as I say, “Men, the priority in your life is to love your wife.  Love your wife”, I know that there are men that are saying, “You don’t know my wife”.  I know.  There are difficult situations represented across this room. You say, “Well there are a lot of reasons not to love my wife”.  This is where I want to remind you, men, that your love for your wife is not based on her worthiness to be loved.  It is based on God’s command in you to love them.  That is huge.

The world says your love for your wife is based on what you get back (go back and read last week’s post on “covenant or contract?”).  It’s based on how much they deserve it.  It’s based on what is most fair and right.  And if they don’t do something right, then they don’t deserve your love.  That is not what Scripture says.  Scripture says, “Husbands, love your wives.”  And this is why – this is why we need to see the connection between the Gospel and our families.  How can men who live with unlovable wives love them?

The only answer is the Gospel.  This is the picture of the Gospel.  The whole picture of the Gospel is a God, not who loves the lovable, but who loves the unlovable – who gives His life for us when we were the most undeserving.  How in the world can you love your wife?  By the love of God in you.  It is His grace in you.  It’s 1 John 4:19.  We love, why?  Because He first loved us.  This is a love that God alone can give in us.  This is why the Gospel and Grace is at the foundation of our families, because His Grace is the power to do this.

And you think about these tough marriages, tough wives, and you think, well how – how can God call me to love my wife in those situations?  And the answer is the Gospel – it’s the Cross.  It is you going to God (daily) and saying, “God, my wife is very unlovable right now.”  And God says, “Loving the unlovable is my specialty.”  And He gives the Grace – God never gives a command that He doesn’t empower us to carry out.  Say that one more time – God never gives us a command that He doesn’t empower us to carry out.  His Grace – this is why we need the Gospel, this is why we need Grace.

Culture says as soon as things are inconvenient in marriage, when things are not working out with your preferences – well, then you move on.  No, the Gospel says when things are inconvenient, when things are not working out in preferences … then you love your wife.  You love your wife.  Love your wife.  Love your wife.  This is the priority, that you love your wife.”

Let me end with this thought – when things get tough, we tend to think the grass is greener on the other side.  That surely there is a woman out there besides my wife that will love me as I need to be loved.  As I deserve to be loved.  Let us be reminded that your grass, it would be green … if you watered it.  If you fed it.  If you nourished it.  If you take, take, take from it, it will brown up and die.  What you feed grows and what you starve dies.  May your wife be a lush, green, nourished, rich lawn.  May she be radiant to reflect the fact that you are loving her well…

gree-lawn

Is she a covenant … or a contract? Eve (pt 3)

(This one is long but it is perhaps the best material yet on the practical applications on Eve)

We come home from work and we just know.  We feel it.  Something isn’t right.  She’s off.  I know I should engage but 99% of the time, I completely avoid the situation.  I go to bed and lay there and think “I hope she doesn’t want to talk”Ever been there?

What she needs in this moment is for me to move towards her and engage but I’m afraid she’s going to present something that I just don’t know how to deal with or what I’d have to offer.  So… in shame … I disengage.  Like Adam, I go passive.  I turn to my phone, my emails from work, engage with the “noble” work of helping with the kids, whatever, but anything other than go towards her.

I hide in an addiction to technology like business email or facebook – things I can handle because they don’t respond in real time and they don’t require anything from me.

I move away from the thing I can’t manage (her) to the thing I think I can.  I disengage from the need right in front of me.  “If I avoid this, maybe it will go away.”

Men, this is our challenge.  This is where valor appears.  This is where we live “Excurvatus ex se” a life beyond self.

Covenant or Contract?  Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.  A contract is all about me negotiating terms that benefit me.  In its very nature, it is selfish.  Real estate deals are contracts.  Selling a business is a contract.  Both are all about me getting all I can from the deal.  A covenant is about me giving myself to you for your well-being.  A covenant is a protective covering.  It is a promise.  Every covenant has a head.  The one that’s ultimately responsible for the oversight, management and well-being of the protected.  The husband is the “head” in the model of Jesus being the head of the church.  It is servanthood.  A contract is about my benefit.  A covenant is about her benefit.  “I want a divorce to start over.  You know, God wants me happy.”  That’s contract thinking, not covenant thinking.  What they are saying there is “ME”.  Me to be happy.  Me to get what I want.  Me to get what I need.  Covenant is about what is best for her.  We’re talking about the difference between selfishness and servanthood.

“You don’t understand.  I’ve got this incredibly difficult wife.”   Not as difficult as Jesus’ wife, right?

“But my wife, she’s undependable and unthankful and doesn’t meet my needs.”  Oh that’s nothing like Jesus’ wife right?  She’s a real piece of work!

The church of Jesus is not always this beautiful, radiant, glorious bride.  She is needy, she falls into sin, folly, rebellion, selfishness but Jesus loves His bride, His church, and He pursues without getting exhausted.

We read Ephesians 5 and words like “love” and “washing with the Word of God” and “making her holy” and “nourishing her, cherishing her” and becoming “one with her”.  That is covenantal language.  Here’s the bottom line men – your wife is your garden.  If you don’t like the way the garden looks, you’re the gardener.  You can’t just stand back and yell at her, or give demands to her, or pass judgments on her.  You are to love her as Christ loved the church.  You need to pursue her.  Invest in her.  Care for her.  Cherish her.  Nurture her.  Protect her.  Fight for her.  So how are you doing?  Adam, where are you?  Are you providing for her?  Not financial provision though that is part of it but rather emotional provision?  Spiritual provision?  All this provision so that she may flourish?  Nourish so that she may flourish!

So there is this deep, rich, fertile soil that can be marriage.  It is the promise.  When I took the hand of my girlfriend and asked her to marry me, I invited her into the promise.  I looked her father in the eye and confirmed the promise.  I stood before God and others and sealed the promise…I will never leave you nor forsake you.  And in so doing, I stepped into Shannon’s deepest longing.

John Eldredge says, “The deep cry of every little girl’s heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears the image of God…  Will you pursue me?  Do you delight in me?  Will you fight for me?”

And so I say to you – this is the promise to our wives after 10, 15, 20, 30 years of marriage.  After 26 years of marriage, Shannon still needs to hear “I choose you. I will continue to fight for you. I will continue to pursue you. I delight in you. You captivate me. You intoxicate me. You are lovely.”  Her need for this is really insatiable.  She can’t hear it or feel it enough.  It NEVER goes away.

Women are extraordinarily complicated animals.  The world comes at our women very hard.  They want to be pretty.  They want to be skinny.  At 45 they want the bodies of a 20 year old.  They want their children to be popular and included but they also don’t want them to be popular.  When my oldest went off to college, it was very hard on Mom.  In the months leading up to our daughter leaving home, my wife was on a huge emotional rollercoaster.  It was tough.  But here is where she needed me most.  She was emotional.  She was angry.  She was scared to death of the change.  She pushed me away one moment and was clingy the next.  How easy it would have been to “move away from the thing I fear I cannot manage and instead focus on something I could manage like email.”

In that moment, what she really needed from me is just one simple thing – no matter how “crazy” she might have been through this, she just needed the quiet strength, comfort and security of the promise.  She needed to rest under the “oak of righteousness”.  She needed to rest in that I will never leave nor forsake you.  I’m not going anywhere.  This is my place in the battle.  This is the hill I will die on.  This is my Braveheart or Gladiator moment – Strength & Honor.  It is no longer about my winning or losing.  She might respond to me – or – she might not.  That is really no longer the issue.

Her question is simply, “Will you keep pursuing me?” “Will you keep fighting for me?”  And I take it to God and express my frustration, my hurting, my lack of patience and He lovingly says, “I know son, I know.  Now go back.  Keep pursuing.”

I will leave you with this.  Morgan Snyder was relaying a story of a friend.  He was actively pursuing his kids.  He took on the responsibility of morning carpool so he could engage with them and launch them daily into their world.  He helped get them up and get them going in the morning.  He was intentional.  It was sweet, rich time.  Then he took it deeper.  He started praying over them, personally every day before they headed to the car.  He fought for them.  He prayed down the Kingdom of Heaven upon them.  He bound up the spirits that would attack.  He placed the Cross of Christ between them and the evil one.  It was great!  One day, his wife was outside talking to another mom and came into the front door as he was praying over his kids and she bowed and listened to the prayers.  When it was done, he looked up and she had tears streaming down her cheeks and all she could say was, “What about me?  What about me?  I need those same prayers from you.  I need you fighting for me.”

Eve.  There she is.  She is yours.  She was a child of God long before you made a covenant for her.  Adam, where are you?