Category Archives: Relationships

Praying Biblical Prayers for Your Spouse & Children

Praying Biblical Prayers for Those You Love

There is no discipline more important than prayer. Here’s a great guide for praying biblical prayers for your spouse (or future spouse), and/or brothers and sisters in Christ. There’s also a great guide for praying for your children. Andrew Case has done an incredible job of modeling how to use Scripture to inform the way that we pray for those most important to us. I recommend that you either pick up the books, or download the free pdf, kindle, or nook versions here: His Magnificence Prayer Guides.

Prayer Guide for Husbands:

Water of the Word: Intercession for Her

 

“Andrew Case has provided an ingenious and glorious tool for Christian husbands, one that has the potential of binding husbands and wives ever closer together while these prayers seek more intimate relationship between their wives and their God. By employing themes, principles, promises, and pleas from Scripture itself, Case has crafted hundreds of rich and meaningful prayers that any and every Christian husband can pray for his own wife.” -BRUCE A. WARE Professor of Christian Theology (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

 

Prayer Guide for Wives:

Prayers of An Excellent Wife: Intercession for Him 

“God sees when women kneel in prayer for their husbands, and Prayers of an Excellent Wife provides the reader with all the scriptural principles and language needed to cover a man with powerful intercession—prayers so effective, they’ll resonate throughout his life.”  -JONI EARECKSON TADA (Joni and Friends International Disability Center)

Prayer Guide for Parents:

Setting Their Hope in God: Intercession for Your Children

This book, drawn mostly right from Holy Scripture, can be a spur to your family to get off the couch and away from the television and on your knees praying for the salvation and welfare of your children.” -RUSSEL D. MOORE (Author of Adopted for Life; Senior Vice President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

“Andrew Case has provided parents with a powerful tool: the Word of God turned to prayer–specifically for their children…. this book will encourage, inspire, and strengthen anyone who wants to learn to grow in dependence on God, or–in other words–prayer.” SALLY LLOYD-JONES (Bestselling author of The Jesus Storybook Bible)

Being the servant that he is, Andrew Case has made the books available at a significant discount–as well as free pdf, kindle, or nook downloads. You can access them here: www.HisMagnificence.com.

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Biblical Manhood, Womanhood, & Parenting

Gospel-Centered Families: Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Parenting Conference

Here are the audio files from a conference that Christ’s Covenant Church hosted with Dr. Bruce Ware (SBTS) and his wife Jodi.

1. “Biblical Roles of Men and Women in the Home and in Ministry”  (Audio)

2. “What Can We Learn About Marriage From the Trinity?” (Audio)

3. “God as Father: Model for Human Parenting” (Audio)

4. “Participatory Parenting: God Through Us Raising His/Our Children” (Audio)

5. “Men: Principles for Fathers Raising Their Children” (Audio)

6. “Women: Principles for Mothers in Raising Children” (Audio)

7. “Teaching Kids to Know and Love God by Knowing and Loving Theology” (Audio)

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Rappin’ Up Love While You Wait

I found this amusing, and convicting. It’s funny and serious in its portrayal of relationships. It speaks of a woman tired of mediocre relationships who is now waiting for a Christlike man. It’s worth 8 minutes of your time:

Related Articles:

“Five Reasons Why God Calls Us to Wait” by Paul David Tripp

“God’s Will for You While You Wait” by Paul David Tripp

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Covenantal Love: Sustaining Love in Marriage

Thoughts from John Piper, D.A. Carson, and Tim Keller on the covenant of marriage and how to sustain such love:

“What sustains the marital bond and affections over the long haul? Three men with a combined 116 years of marriage reflect on what they’ve learned from God’s Word and others along with their experience.

“Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer insight on falling in love again and again and the ground of covenant in which the flower of love grows. In marriage, man and woman change but their promise does not, sustained by the God who enacted his covenant between Christ and the church.”

HT: Justin Taylor

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A Smattering of Thoughts…

Lately, I’ve been reading a number of interesting things, most of which I have not the time to share. However, a couple of the articles seemed compelling enough to re-post with brief comments. Enjoy…

 

Parenting for the Glory of God

In the following article, Robert Plummer provides an engaging view of parenting from the biblical storyline of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. He highlights the eternal ramifications of faithful parenting and the need of God’s grace to fulfill this charge. In essence, parenting is a stewardship of young souls who need the realities of the gospel to flood their hearts and transform their lives. Parenting is proclaiming and modeling these realities as a display of Christ’s delegated authority–how children respond to parents will often reflect their response to Christ’s lordship. Therefore, parents should embody the gospel message through a loving relationship built on commitment, instruction, grace, and discipline for the good of their children and the glory of God: “Bring Them Up In the Discipline and Instruction of the Lord”.

 

Pastoral Singleness for the Glory of God

Steve DeWitt, pastor of Bethel Church in Crown Point, Indiana offers insight into the beauty and difficulty of being single while loving and leading the church. As an unmarried man serving in a pastoral role myself, I found the article particularly beneficial. While DeWitt has long-desired and hopes to be married at some point, there is something sweet and mysterious about having “the bride of Christ” as your only bride in this world. Obviously, that is not said to minimize the profound difficulty of such providence, but to say that God purposes for some to be set aside for that difficult blessing. And, as we know, He always redeems hardships for His glory and our (the church’s) good. That may be hard to stomach for those with unfulfilled relational desires, but we find in both Paul and Jesus a reminder that God’s provision of grace empowers us to joyfully and effectively fulfill whatever He has called us to enjoy and endure. In fact, we are called to a glorious joy and Spirit-given satisfaction in God–even in the midst of singleness–that is riveting, sanctifying, and altogether gracious as a gift from God. As I have been wrestling with fleeting measures of both contentment and unfulfilled desire, I have found great joy in praying for Pastor DeWitt and God’s provision of a wife for him. I have also found great joy in thanking God for my singleness and embracing it until God changes my circumstances or the Great Bridegroom returns. Lately, more than ever, I’ve been longing for the second.

As far as my own circumstance, I have honestly found it intriguing to consider how I should respond were God to bless me with DeWitt’s circumstance–even though such blessing would not seem ideal. In many ways, I’ve thought that being single for as long as DeWitt has been would mean that you grew to desire singleness and understood yourself to be called to that circumstance. That’s not really true in every circumstance–just as those who suffer do not necessarily feel called to suffer except that God’s providence ordains it and they joyfully embrace it, even while hoping for relief. Every good and perfect gift, even those wrapped in disappointment, are more gracious than we deserve and have been perfectly ordained by a loving and gracious God. So, while I currently desire marriage, my greater desire is to embrace the Lord’s will in whatever circumstance He provides. There’s an unusual, Spirit-given excitement that comes simply at the thought of serving Him. The context hardly matters–whether in a lifetime of singleness or a lifetime of marriage, it seems my relationship status grows less and less important all the time. Obviously, my desires have not changed, and yet the importance of them most assuredly has. Obviously, the challenges of singleness can be wearying, and yet the blessings can be rather life-giving. Both circumstances have their unique advantages and disadvantages–and require God’s grace to be faithful in them. As for me, the Lord has been gracious to renew my heart as I entrust it to Him, today, as well as each and every other day. No matter what each one holds, I know that I have been blessed with another opportunity to experience my need of grace and to increasingly reflect the One who gave Himself for me. After all, Christ lives in us and is our Hope of Glory.

You can read Pastor DeWitt’s article here at the Gospel Coalition blog, for a glimpse of his experience as a single man in love with the bride of Christ.

 

The Spirit of Christ Saving the Nations


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Piper: Love Her More and Love Her Less

Love Her More and Love Her Less

The God whom we have loved, and in
Whom we have lived, and who has been
Our Rock these twenty-two good years
With you, now bids us, with sweet tears,
To let you go: “A man shall leave
His father and his mother, cleave
Henceforth unto his wife, and be
One unashaméd flesh and free.”
This is the word of God today,
And we are happy to obey.
For God has given you a bride
Who answers every prayer we’ve cried
For over twenty years, our claim
For you, before we knew her name.

And now you ask that I should write
A poem – a risky thing, in light
Of what you know: that I am more
The preacher than the poet or
The artist. I am honored by
Your bravery, and I comply.
I do not grudge these sweet confines
Of rhyming pairs and metered lines.
They are old friends. They like it when
I bid them help me once again
To gather feelings into form
And keep them durable and warm.

And so we met in recent days,
And made the flood of love and praise
And counsel from a father’s heart
To flow within the banks of art.
Here is a portion of the stream,
My son: a sermon poem. It’s theme:
A double rule of love that shocks;
A doctrine in a paradox:

If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.

If in the coming years, by some
Strange providence of God, you come
To have the riches of this age,
And, painless, stride across the stage
Beside your wife, be sure in health
To love her, love her more than wealth.

And if your life is woven in
A hundred friendships, and you spin
A festal fabric out of all
Your sweet affections, great and small,
Be sure, no matter how it rends,
To love her, love her more than friends.

And if there comes a point when you
Are tired, and pity whispers, “Do
Yourself a favor. Come, be free;
Embrace the comforts here with me.”
Know this! Your wife surpasses these:
So love her, love her, more than ease.

And when your marriage bed is pure,
And there is not the slightest lure
Of lust for any but your wife,
And all is ecstasy in life,
A secret all of this protects:
Go love her, love her, more than sex.

And if your taste becomes refined,
And you are moved by what the mind
Of man can make, and dazzled by
His craft, remember that the “why”
Of all this work is in the heart;
So love her, love her more than art.

And if your own should someday be
The craft that critics all agree
Is worthy of a great esteem,
And sales exceed your wildest dream,
Beware the dangers of a name.
And love her, love her more than fame.

And if, to your surprise, not mine,
God calls you by some strange design
To risk your life for some great cause,
Let neither fear nor love give pause,
And when you face the gate of death,
Then love her, love her more than breath.

Yes, love her, love her, more than life;
O, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.

Beyond this venture not. But, lest
Your love become a fool’s facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.

It is not wise or kind to call
An idol by sweet names, and fall,
As in humility, before
A likeness of your God. Adore
Above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
That your great love is also grace,
And that your high affections now
Are flowing freely from a vow
Beneath these promises, first made
To you by God. Nor will they fade
For being rooted by the stream
Of Heaven’s Joy, which you esteem
And cherish more than breath and life,
That you may give it to your wife.

The greatest gift you give your wife
Is loving God above her life.
And thus I bid you now to bless:
Go love her more by loving less.

For Karsten Luke Piper At His Wedding to
Rochelle Ann Orvis May 29, 1995

HT: Desiring God

© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

 

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Expressing Gospel Love in Marriage

God’s love toward us is expressed in His grace that saves, sanctifies, and provides security to us. In part, marriage is an extension of God’s grace toward another sinner, an imperfect human being created in His image and hopefully, saved by His grace. Mark Driscoll, in his own rugged-style, preached a sermon on biblical manhood in reference to marriage and dating. Here’s a brief overview that’s worth reading: How to Honor Your Wife. This particular quote from Driscoll’s article stood out to me: “Gentlemen, it is a terrifying thing for a woman to trust a sinful man.”  What a reminder for the need of God’s grace in our relationships since everyone involved is a sinner. Paul David Tripp in his book What Did You Expect: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage provides a similar, though not as raw, encouragement to live out the gospel in human relationships.  Here’s a helpful list that captures the essence of biblical love as expressed in the context of marriage: What is Biblical Love? These two “articles” are worth reading for any who are married, hope to be married, or simply desire to reflect God’s grace in their various relationships.

 

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What is Love?

A few days ago, Justin Taylor posted this section from Paul Tripp’s book on marriage.  Whether you’re married or not, it seems worth meditating upon.

From chapter 12 of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).

1. What is love?

Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.

2. What does love look like in marriage?

  1. Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.
  2. Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
  3. Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
  4. Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
  5. Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
  6. Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
  7. Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
  8. Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
  9. Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.
  10. Love means being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the problems that you face as a couple, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
  11. Love is always being willing to ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
  12. Love is recognizing the high value of trust in a marriage and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
  13. Love is speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack your spouse’s character or assault his or her intelligence.
  14. Love is being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt your spouse into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
  15. Love is being unwilling to ask your spouse to be the source of your identity, meaning and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of his or hers.
  16. Love is the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a husband or a wife.
  17. Love is a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your marriage.
  18. Love is staying faithful to your commitment to treat your spouse with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when he or she doesn’t seem to deserve it or is unwilling to reciprocate.
  19. Love is the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of your marriage without asking anything in return or using your sacrifices to place your spouse in your debt.
  20. Love is being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm your marriage, hurt your husband or wife, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
  21. Love is refusing to be self-focused or demanding but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
  22. Love is daily admitting to yourself, your spouse, and God that you are not able to love this way without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.
  23. Love is a specific commitment of the heart to a specific person that causes you to give yourself to a specific lifestyle of care that requires you to be willing to make sacrifices that have that person’s good in view.

3. What should this description of love do to us?

This realization should give you pause and then spur you to action: it is impossible for any of us to love as has been described. The bar is simply too high. The requirements are simply too great. None of us has what it takes to reach this standard. This description of love in action has left me humbled and grieved. It has faced me once again with my tendency to name as love things that are not love. It has forced me to admit how self-focused and self-absorbed I actually am. It has reminded me that when it comes to love, I am not an expert. No, I am poor, weak, and needy.

Jesus died not only so that we would have forgiveness for not loving as we should, but also so that we would have the desire, wisdom, and power to love as we should.

Jesus suffered in love so that in your struggle to love you would never, ever be alone. As you give yourself to love, he showers you with his love, so that you would never be without what you need to love.

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In Matters of the Heart

About two months ago I read a great book on relationships entitled, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart.  It is written by John Ensor who has worked for decades to battle abortion, as well as to minister to single mothers and rape victims in a gospel-centered way.

Here’s my brief analysis of the book:

Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart by John Ensor

Doing Things Right provides a compelling case for male-female relationships that glorify God and serve the good of those involved.  Ensor paints an attractive picture of how the complementary roles of men and women are rooted in the gospel and bear the fruit of mutually-satisfying relationships.  This picture is contrasted with the self-centered, often heart-breaking, image that the world seductively sells.  His writing is sometimes “raw, frank, and frustrated,” but it is seasoned with sanctified salt.  His insight provides clarity and direction for those who are dating, pursuing marriage, or those who seek to prepare for that blessing.  The book gives guidance regarding male-female responsibilities from the beginning of a relationship–as it unfolds when a young man and woman find themselves attracted to one another—to the full blossom of that attraction as found in the covenant of marriage.  The gospel is clear and is presented as the necessary foundation for all relationships, especially those of a romantic nature.

The first part of the book describes biblical manhood and womanhood.  The second half of the book describes how men and women are to relate to one another in complementary ways.  Here are chapter titles from the second half of the book:

He Initiaties…She Responds

He Leads…She Guides

He Works…She Waits

He Protects…She Welcomes Protection

He Abstains to Protect…She, to Test

His Unmet Desire Drives Him toward Marriage…Hers Is Rewarded with Marriage

He Displays Integrity…She, Inner Beauty

He Loves by Sacrificing…She, by Submitting

He Seeks His Happiness in Hers…She Seeks Hers in His

He Is the Primary Provider for the Family…She, the Primary Nurturer

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The More Excellent Way

Many of us claim to understand love, but we so often fail to demonstrate it.  When things get difficult, we abandon “the more excellent way” in order to protect our own self-interests.  Instead of dying to ourselves for the sake of others, we preserve our own comfort and desires.  The following list is daunting and difficult.  Yet, those who are in Christ have been called to a higher standard… the more excellent way.  Might we prayerfully examine our hearts to see what ways we are most in need of God’s grace to reflect such divine love.  While we were yet sinners, God demonstrated his own love toward us so that we too might demonstrate His love towards others.   Some people are difficult to love.  While others are easy to love, we often take them for granted.  We must be intentional about cultivating a heart and lifestyle of love.  While love often produces affections for others, it does not require them as a prerequisite.  We are called to love others even when they don’t deserve it, as well as when we don’t feel like it.  Divine love was a deliberate, predetermined love  expressed through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  It was not contingent upon our behavior or God’s emotion toward us.  Such determination ought to be characteristic of our love.  Let us choose the more excellent way as we consider how each description of love listed below is found in the person of Christ.

LOVE IS:

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Not Envious
  • Not Boastful
  • Not Arrogant
  • Not Rude
  • Not Selfish
  • Not Easily Angered
  • Not Resentful
  • Not Joyful Over Doing Wrong
  • Rejoices With the Truth
  • Bears All Things
  • Believes All Things
  • Hopes All Things
  • Endures All Things

1 Corinthians 13: Christ-like Love

God’s love for us never fluctuates.  It is grounded in the Cross of Christ, and once given it is never withdrawn.  It seeks our best interest despite the paradox of its call for us to “die to self” and put our faith in the more excellent Way, Jesus Christ.  The death of Christ seemed like the greatest tragedy, and yet the Father intended it for the greatest good.   Our death to self and the cultivation of love will result in the glory and grace of God  overflowing from our hearts into the lives of others.  May we ask God to fortify within our hearts such a deliberate, selfless, relentless, and redeeming love.  The beauty of love is found in the loss of self… for that is where the depth of divine love was most clearly demonstrated.

Blessings in Christ, Gabriel

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Loving Leadership

Paul had a deep love for those under his care, and he was an exceptional model of living out loving leadership.  He was never afraid to express the depth of his affections for his brothers and sisters in Christ, because he understood the necessity and power of words.  His love was passionate, selfless, and Christ-centered.   Those blessed by Paul never had to doubt whether or not Paul loved them, because he continually expressed his affections for them.  He wanted God to use it to help them to grow and be encouraged by it.   He knew how much they needed to know of his love and gratitude for them.  I wonder if we have a similar love for those whom the Lord has placed under our leadership and in our lives.  If so, I wonder how often they know that we love them.  It is essential that we take the time and energy to express it.  Love must express itself; it cannot remain silent or ever be assumed.[1]

Affections Of May Poster

“I rejoice over you” (Rom. 16:19)

“I hold you in my heart.” (Phil. 1:7)

“I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:8)

“My brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown.” (Phil. 4:1)

“Being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”  (1 Thess. 2:8)

“My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, I wish I could be present with you now.” (Gal. 4:19-20)

“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 16:24)

“I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears… to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.” (2 Cor. 2:4)

“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.” (2 Cor. 6:11)

“You are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.” (2 Cor. 7:3)

“Because I do not love you?  God knows I do!” (2 Cor. 11:11)

“I seek not what is yours but you.” (2 Cor. 12:14)

“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.  If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” (2 Cor. 12:15)

“And may the Lord make you increase… in love for one another… as we do for you.” (1 Thess. 3:12)

“I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.” (Philemon 12)

[1] Alexander Strauch has written an excellent book entitled Leading with Love that is worth checking out.  It’s an expanded exposition of the characteristics of divine love expressed in 1 Corinthians 13.

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Purity, Marriage, and Relationships

The following articles have been well-worth the time spent reading them.  I hope that you’ll find them helpful.  Happy reading...

Maintaining Moral Purity in Ministry

This article provides some helpful guidelines in how men, especially those in roles of spiritual leadership, should conduct themselves in order to be blameless and above reproach in their interactions with women.  It’s not exhaustive of every situation and danger, but seems to focus on the need for discernment and caution when serving  others.

Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well

This feature article from Boundless webzine is both insightful and honest.  Whether or not you agree with it, it gives some helpful things for consideration.  It will serve you ladies well as you think about relationships and disciple other women to be wise and godly in their own.

Guy’s Guide to Marrying Well

This feature article from Boundless webzine is blunt and informative.  It will serve us men well in thinking through how we ought to approach relationships, and prepare ourselves for spiritual leadership in dating, marriage, and family life.

Women: Other Boundless articles…

Men: Other Boundless articles…

Blessings in Christ, Gabe

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