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The Difference a Father Can Make

You may struggle with feelings of inadequacy regarding your fathering abilities, but you have a God-given role to protect and provide for your family. And you have great impact on developing character in your sons.

Fathering is at the heart of masculinity, of what it means to be a man. Godly fathers put others' needs before their own. If you're like me, you spend the majority of your conscious thought and effort on satisfying your own wants and needs. It's almost an unconscious response to life. But if we are to be authentic men and fathers, we need to rethink that attitude and consciously make sacrifices so others can benefit and prosper.

When fathers neglect this duty or are absent from the home, predators attack families. Young men, such as gang members, who are raised without the influence of older men often become marauding wolves themselves–predators preying on women and children for their own self-gratification. read more

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Seven Steps to 'Sex-cess'

Live in a sex-charged culture, without getting zapped!

Jim is in my office one Saturday morning crying over the lust, guilt and terrible sexual choices that are destroying his life. I don't know whether to empathize with his pain or kick his butt for going to sleep on his watch!

I remind him that the battle for sexual integrity demands constant vigilance. It's a wrestling match with Satan, and any time you let your guard down, you get body-slammed. read more

Integrity Is King

"Integrity" is a word that is widely used—and widely misunderstood. If you were to ask the average person for a definition of integrity you'd probably hear a lot of hemming and hawing. The origin of the word makes its meaning very clear. "Integrity" comes from the Latin adjective integer, which means "whole" or "complete." In mathematics, an integer is a positive or negative whole number or zero—a number without any fractional part.

A person of integrity is honest and upright. His soul is not divided or compartmentalized. read more

Keeping a Pure Mind

Question: Doug, I'm married and know that 1 Timothy 5:1-2 says, "Treat … older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (NIV). But I struggle with impure thoughts when I'm around women. What is the best way to keep my mind sexually pure?

Answer: I recommend a few strategies. One, wear a rubber band on your wrist and every time you lust at a woman, snap it. This will stop reinforcing this behavior. Two, memorize some Scriptures on purity so you can access them when in need. Three, do what 1 Timothy 5:1-2 suggests—view all women in the context of a relationship. read more

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Three Rules for Managing Money

John Wesley said, "Money is an excellent gift of God if it is used excellently, answering the noblest needs of humanity." To Wesley, you see, money was not the enemy. The enemy is my own sinful nature. Therefore, in order to arrive at a balanced view of money, I must ask myself frugality's simple questions:

1. What is money for? Money is for exchange. Money is for goods and services that may, without corrupting my spirit, add education, comfort and beauty to my life and to the lives of those I love. Furthermore, money is for the good of humanity and the expansion of the kingdom.

Money is never to be used for the purchase of status. Neither is it to be used for the demonstration of power. James, in his epistle, talks about the way we treat the wealthy in church. (See James 2:1?9.) Money often speaks in church, and it does not always say, "Praise the Lord."

2. Who's in charge here? Am I controlling money, or is it controlling me? When ethical decisions are based on the bottom line of finances, money is in control. Are we making our decisions according to God or mammon?

Man cannot serve two masters at one time. He will always love one and hate the other. Financial expediency corrupts faith like demonic rust and eats away at character, destroying submission to authority, humility, obedience, holiness and patience.

Money must never control us. We must control it. I do not believe there is some mystical, evil power inherent in the dollar bill. What I do believe is that there is a weakness in my own flesh. Therefore, I must humble myself under the hand of God. I must show mammon who is in charge here. It is the Lord Jesus Christ--not mammon.

3. Will I let character set the limits? Am I willing for God to limit aspects of my life through a commitment to frugal living? In other words, when there is not sufficient money for me to pursue a certain course of action, am I willing to believe that it is not God's will for me to do it now?

We easily confess that the positive abundance of funds can be used by God to affirm a course of action. If that is true, the contrary may also be true. From time to time God may pull tight the purse strings in order to stop me from a course that is not in His will. Therefore, lack of funds may be a way that God can use my commitment to frugal, modest living to keep me from continuing in a path that is wrong for me.

Frugality is the willingness to endure limits on myself. A grave danger inherent in the American credit system is that it allows me to consume at a level of superficial prosperity, which is not based on any real wealth. Sooner or later, of course, the piper must be paid. Bankruptcy in America comes dressed in a tuxedo, not in rags. Fooled by their own mirage of wealth, Americans are amazed when financial disaster hits them.

We must again master the primeval art of waiting on things until we can pay for them. Credit can be a good thing, but its misuse destroys character. It creates a mirage of prosperity, becoming a self-made sword of Damocles.

Cars, houses, furniture and clothing dangle dangerously above the heads of the indebted. If they have no real wealth, sooner or later the whole bundle will fall.

The Place of Prosperity

If I live a frugal life with a balanced view of money, what about prosperity in my life? I think the church has often failed to communicate a balanced view of prosperity.

On the one hand there are the hyperspiritual who say money is altogether evil. Get it away from you. Give it away. Do not have anything to do with it. It is nasty, dirty and filthy, and it has a spirit in it that will get you.

Then let there come a need to pay for something in the church, and they will ask folks to give money. You see, having told them how bad it is, they now ask God to give the congregation enough of it to support the church.

On the other hand, others say that God is a God of riches. God wants to bless you, they reason, and if you are right with God, you are going to be rich. Therefore, if you are not rich, it must be because you are not right with God.

Stranded in between these two extremes is the great body of people who are living day-to-day on the money that they can earn, while trying to provide for their families and improve their lives. What can we say to them?

There is nothing inherently evil about needing or having the finances to get by in this life. John Wesley had a magnificent equation for this. He said to earn all you can. Earn it righteously. Earn it in a way that brings no shame to people and no shame to God. Earn all you can.

Second, save all you can. Now, saving all the money you can does not mean hoarding it. It means setting limits on my lifestyle in order that more might be made available to the kingdom of God and not go up in the smoke of mere consumerism. Saving all you can is crucial to frugality.

Earn all you can. Save all you can. Then Wesley adds the missing element: Give all you can. Frugality saves to give. Greed gives to get. Frugality plots and plans, schemes and denies self, and sacrifices in order to give more next year than this year.

I want to suggest that you have a family meeting. Ask yourselves: "What can we do to give more than we gave last year? Is there any way we can live a more modest life, something we can do without, some excess we can lay aside in order that we may make a greater investment in the kingdom of God than we have ever made?"

Frugality is the strength of character that will set us free from the terrible grip of mammon.

The prosperity of God is a great blessing--dangerous, but great. If greatly used, prosperity can do much good. Hoarded or squandered, it corrupts character and destroys families.

Work hard, serve folks joyfully, save frugally and give generously.


Mark Rutland is the president of Southeastern College in Lakeland, Florida, and the founder and president of Global Servants (globalservants.org), a missions ministry to national pastors and leaders. He is an international conference speaker and evangelist, and the author of many books.


This article was adapted from Mark Rutland's book, Character Matters. Find more articles for men at newmanmag.com. read more

What Am I Doing Wrong?

What Am I Doing Wrong?
by Dr. Doug Rosenau
 

Dear Dr. Doug, My wife is an inanimate sex partner who occasionally allows me to use her body out of duty. I feel like I am slowly being strangled. I long for intimacy and hate her label of "sex maniac." I did not get married to practice celibacy. I have prayed and fasted, been patient, tried to jump through many hoops, gotten angry, even threatened divorce, and nothing has changed.

A Hopelessly Frustrated Husband

 

Dear Hopeless:

I don't think wives are often aware that we don't want sex just for release.

Husbands hate "duty" and "pity" sex. Men's souls connect through sex in ways that our wives have difficulty even understanding.

But I have to be honest with you. You are your own worst enemy right now. You're hopeless, angry, stuck, fearful and probably haunted by lust. These are not very Christlike traits.

You must start to be proactive or your self-pity, wayward sexual thoughts and resentment will completely destroy your marriage. Please take these action steps and start making changes:

1. Be an empathetic detective and think outside the box. You say that you have tried every solution possible. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not how hard you try but how smart you try that can change your sexual situation.

Why do you think your wife is so afraid of sex that she would jeopardize your marriage rather than work on this issue? She isn't shutting you off because she doesn't want you happy. Something is broken and shut down for her.

You may be too simplistic in assuming that your wife hates sex and has no desire. Is she tired? Could there be physical pain or some hormonal imbalance? Read the book Secrets of Eve (Hart, Weber, & Taylor, 1998), and find out more about your wife.

Take time to discuss the following question: If there were miracles and the changes took place that you each wanted, what would your marriage and sex life look like then?

Become a detective and force yourself to risk conflict and discussions.

2. Become a servant-leader and change yourself. Right now your wife's deficiencies have you so absorbed, you aren't looking at yourself.

I know you have felt like every time you jumped through a hoop, she chose another one and raised it higher. But, what do you think are the accelerators and brakes in your sexual relationship that you control?

Women need to feel emotionally connected before feeling romantic. Are you doing the little things that help her feel in love with you? Making those phone calls, sharing your feelings, giving gifts, getting more involved with the children and sitting close to her on the couch?

Wives need to experience romance and to feel special. How could you do this better?

What chores could you do to help with her fatigue? What could you lighten up on sexually that would help her feel less pressured? Is there some activity that she thinks you associate with sexual passion and you need to quit bugging her?

3. Practice tough love and assertively pursue God's ideal of passionate intimacy. Practicing tough love is never threatening divorce. Christians don't threaten but try to align themselves with God's truth.

Guys, there are some hills that are not worth dying on. But pursuing God's gift of sexual intimacy is one on which you must make a humble, loving stand. Do not threaten divorce but gently and persistently insist on God's realistic expectation of a fulfilling sex life in your marriage. Help her understand that this objective is not selfish but intended for mutual pleasure and loving closeness.

It is not easy to be a leader and a catalyst for change. Do not quit this time. Conflict and painful discussions are a part of any great marriage and sex life.

You will probably need professional help. Get medical assistance in checking out hormonal and physical problems. Find a marital therapist if sex is a symptom of deeper relational issues. Search out a sex therapist and get sexual counseling (see my Web site).

Courageously pursue God's gift of an intimate marriage.

Doug Rosenau is a certified sex therapist in Atlanta, and is the author of A Celebration of Sex. You can visit his Web site at sexualwholeness.com.  read more

The Question Every Woman Asks

Let me just tell you right from the beginning, I know that you've tried. And you know that you've tried.

Lord knows that you have scratched your head in wonder and profound confusion when it comes to the woman that you love. You've tried to hear and understand. You want to give and respond.

Ten fabulous dates. Seven promises. Five love languages. Three counselors. Anything. Everything. But whatever you do, it's never enough. The target of her desire moves and you can't seem to hit the bull's-eye.

You've tried; we both know it. But the truth is that you can't. read more

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