I could not be more excited to have my amazing friend Tricia Goyer be my first official guest on my new podcast. Tricia is one of the most inspiring people I know. I find myself sharing parts of her story (anonymously) with others all the time. You know those conversations like, “I have this friend who…” People are always so blown away by her story and how she and her husband have said, “Yes!” to God in some ways that not many would be up for. I can’t wait for you to hear it!
We all have “baggage.” You know, those things in our past that we wish hadn’t happened. Past pain and hurt that left a scar on our heart or a wedge in a relationship. There we are all the same. However, how we deal with that pain is often dramatically different.
Some ignore it and try to stuff it down deep inside where they hope it won’t bother them again. Some hide it and pray that no one will ever find out about it. Some choose to forgive and find peace with their past.
Then there’s Tricia…
This is where Tricia’s story is so amazing. I can’t wait for you to hear all about how Tricia allowed God to weave together her story in such an impactful way — both for others and within her own family.
I love talking to my guests about ways they add simplicity and joy to their lives. Well, Tricia is also one of those people you stand back and think, “How does she do it all?” She is a mom to ten…did you catch that…10 kids! Yep! Plus, she’s a very accomplished author!! She’s written over 60 books! I can’t wait for you to hear that segment of the podcast.
In this episode, you are going to be blown away by Tricia’s story. She will encourage you to “press forward” toward what God is doing in your life.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,.” — Philippians 3:13 (ESV)
She also shares some of the advice that she received from her life coach that has helped her to find more balance and joy.
— We talked about the importance of taking every thought captive.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take everythought captive to obey Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:5
Here are a few fun quotes from this episode. Please feel free to share the images on social media. Tricia always has so many wonderful words of wisdom. Here’s a few that stood out to me. I’d love to hear from you in the comments about what stood out to you in this podcast.
“God can use what we feel ashamed of to make a difference in others lives.” — Kristi Clover
“God showed me that my story can help people so they don’t don’t have to go through the same pain.” — Tricia Goyer
“We always want our kids to grow up, follow their dreams, and do great things for God…but then we are afraid to do that ourselves. It’s a great example for our kids to see ‘if Mom does it and can do great things for God, I can too.’” — Tricia Goyer
“That is my hope for all my kids, that they find that thing that makes them feel like “I was created to do this.” And for them to be able to pursue it and really enjoy it. Even though it is hard and there is work, there is joy in it, too.” — Tricia Goyer
“Whatever negatives thoughts are running in my mind, capturing those thoughts and thinking in positive ways, has brought so much joy.” — Tricia Goyer
“A lot of circumstances haven’t changed, there is still laundry and messes, but my attitude towards them has changed. I don’t rehearse those negative thoughts over in my head and that has brought me joy…” — Tricia Goyer
— Be sure to grab your FREE copy of my book, Sanity Savers for Moms, by joining our Simply Joyful community. It’s a great way to keep in touch…and get subscriber only freebies like my book. Click HERE to get the book and join!
(This podcast is by Kristi Clover. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.
The purpose of the Simply Joyful Podcast is to encourage and inspire you to find simple ways to bring more joy into your day. Whether you are looking for a little encouragement in your faith, family, home, homeschooling (if you do) — or just in life — then this is the podcast for you! Let’s get real and talk about the challenges that we face as women in our day-to-day lives. My guests and I will discuss practical tips and “hacks” about how to find harmony in relationships, order in your home, and how to add a little good ol’ fun to your week. My prayer is that this podcast will bless you and add a smile to your face (even if it causes a few new wrinkles) — and to hopefully help you “Live Simply” and “Be Joyful.”
This podcast has been a long time in the making. I’ve spent so much time researching and praying about this podcast. The last couple of months I’ve been busy recording interviews with some extraordinary guests — yes, in my closet. I’m a closet podcaster. As silly as it sounds though, the sound quality is great in there. Plus, I can lock the door of my bedroom so I don’t have little visitors pop in while I’m recording.
In this episode I share about my vision for the Simply Joyful podcast and a little behind the scenes on why it took so long for the podcast to get off the ground. (It was originally going to launch in spring of 2016). I want to take this opportunity on my very first episode to let you know what to expect in each episode, as well as let you get to know me and my family a bit better. I actually share the story about how my husband and I met and a little bit about each of my kids. I also talked about how God uses topics that I speak about as opportunities to refine me. Speaking on family unity years ago and now on joy have come with some crazy struggles.
I hope you will be encouraged with every episode of this podcast…starting with this one!
— Every podcast episode will have all the highlights and links from each episode (just like this) on my website. So, come on over to the blog to find the show notes.
(This podcast is by Kristi Clover. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
My buddy Mike Goodwin calls into the show this week – a man on the mend.
Recently, Mike thought he was Michael Jordan instead of Michael Goodwin. Then, suddenly, unsolicitedly and unpredictably, Mike’s Achilles tendon reminded him who he was. And, according to Mike’s doctors, at a certain age, they don’t even repair Achilles injuries anymore.
“Sorry, sir. If you were younger, you’d be worth doing surgery on. But, since you’re so old, you’re just going to have to limp around for the rest of your days… however few they may be.”
Apparently basketball is the Achilles heel of the Achilles heel.
Then, to add insult to injury… or injury to injury… or insult to insult…
Mike had his downtime while surrounded with his extended family through Christmas. And, as he puts it,
“If we were having a family draft, some of these people wouldn’t be on anyone’s team. You’d at least trade them away for some other people. But, unfortunately, that’s not how families work. So, you’re pretty much stuck with the team that was there when you showed up. You got there and that’s who you’re with… for the rest of your life.”
And, some people aren’t even aware of the crazy in their family. More specifically, they’re not aware that they ARE the crazy in their family. Because every family has at least one crazy in it. And, if you can’t identify who it is in your family… look carefully in the mirror.
For example, Mike has a cousin who is a drama queen – the whole world is her stage. During the holidays, the whole family went out to a restaurant and their waiter upset her in some way. As she sat there and fumed, she uttered the words, “You just wait until he comes back. I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!”
NOW, WAIT A MINUTE! Thought Mike… she needs to be careful. This is one woman who can’t afford to be giving away a piece of her mind. As a matter of fact, she should go around gathering up all pieces that she has given out and put her mind back together like Humpty Dumpty. She simply has given out too many pieces. We all need to have a mind to operate with, and she is running dangerously low.
“Love is not a feeling, love is a decision that we make.”
Justin and Jana Cofield found themselves on a roller coaster of emotions when they decided to pursue adoption through foster care. As God continues to write their family’s story, the Cofields trust His faithfulness and cling to Jesus as their hope.
Justin Cofield : Jana and I were married in our mid-twenties. After being married for about three years, we decided to start trying to have children. We tried for about eight months before conceiving Jackson, and we were really excited. But also, in those eight months, we got our first glimpse of life not being how we had imagined it to be.
After we were blessed with Jackson, we have now been trying to have another child now for about four years. Even after four years, we are still trying, still expecting, still believing and asking God to give us another blessing… all in the midst of fostering and trying to adopt as well.
When Jana and I were just dating and starting to talk about raising a family, adoption was one of the things we discussed early on, and I was on the fence. I knew that adoption was something that we wanted to do, but I was nervous and hesitant at the same time. I remember going out of town at one point to lead worship at another church and when I came home, Jana met me at the doorstep saying, “The Lord spoke to me this weekend about adoption. He told me that it’s never wrong to choose to love someone.”
Jana Cofield: I got involved with a ministry called Christian Women’s Job Corps, which mentors women trapped in the cycle of poverty, abuse and alienation. While there, I met a woman that I started hanging out with. Her teenage daughter had a little girl and they were struggling.
Justin and I were about to leave for a missions trip to Romania, and when we returned home, the grandma called and said that Child Protective Services was about to take the little girl away. She wanted to know if we could take care of her.
Justin: We thought that it might not begin until three or four days later. But, the next morning, Jana received a text message saying, “I’m heading to court right now. Can you meet me there?”
We headed straight for the courthouse. I dropped Jana off out front and as I drove around, praying, Jana called me: “Okay, I’m coming out… and I have this little girl with me.”
So, I pulled my car in front of the courthouse and there was this nine-month-old little girl in a stroller being pushed by her 16-year-old birth mother. So, mom and the baby’s grandmother together put her into her car seat in the backseat of our car… and that was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever seen – a birth mom having to say goodbye to her baby and not knowing when or if she would ever get her back.
At first, it was really easy to pour out love over her because she was just a baby and so sweet. We would bathe her, and hold her, and feed her… it was just very easy to love on her. Then, as she grew older, it’s different to love a nine-month-old than to love a two-year-old. A toddler has certain things that she wants to test you with.
But, as you invest in someone, you begin to love them no matter what.
So, sometimes it’s actually a struggle to love her knowing that someday she may go back. It’s hard to completely give myself over to that, knowing that one day we may wake up and she’ll be in her bed at someone else’s house.
Some of the challenges in dealing with the birth mom have been things we didn’t really expect.
Jana: At one point in the last couple of months, I was really struggling to love the birth mom. I kinda didn’t want to. I just wanted it all to go away. I actually just wanted us to be able to adopt our foster daughter and for it all to be over. But, I knew that God wanted me to love her. This was the first time that I ever had to be for someone at such a great personal expense. To invest in the birth mom means that I want to help her her to be healthy, help her be a good mom, and help her get her baby back.
The truth is that this is what Jesus did for me.
Jesus loved me even when I was hard to love. And it cost Him everything to love me, even His very life. He chose that. For me.
So, I want to walk obediently in His footsteps and love this birth mom… even when it is excruciatingly painful.
And, as the case is nearing its end, it looks as if our foster daughter is going to go back to her birth mom. So, there are all these questions looming about what’s going to happen to our family next.
I’ve been studying God’s character and attributes, and it’s been so good for me to understand and truly believe that God is true, faithful, just, and He loves our foster daughter more than we can ever imagine.
He is gonna write her story in a beautiful way, whether she is with her birth mom or she is with us.
And, I believe that He is still in the midst of writing our family’s story, and I trust His faithfulness and His goodness.
The Austin Stone Story Team is a community of artists who tell stories of gospel transformation. We are photographers, writers, editors, filmmakers, and musicians on a common mission to use our gifts for His glory.
(By The Austin Stone Story Team. Discovered by e2 media network and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not e2 media network, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)
Warning: Some of the topics discussed may contain accounts of real life violence, strong language, and other topics not suitable for minors. This podcast has remained unedited out of respect of those individuals who feel led by the Lord to share their testimonies.
We begin today’s show with Vince sharing an important story about a new direction his life is taking:
I got married back in 2011. My wife’s dream has always been to be a mother. Around the time I got married, I was five months away from deployment to Afghanistan and three and half years left in the Marine Corps. So, we made the decision to wait until I got out of the Marine Corps., because I wanted to be a father that was actually there and I didn’t want her to be a single mother in case something happened to me.
So, after I got out of the Marine Corps., we kept trying and trying for a year and a half and there was no luck. All of her friends had gotten pregnant. My heart’s prayer became that my wife got pregnant, even though I didn’t feel ready for a kid, because I could see her brokenheartedness. So, we made an appointment recently, to go see a doctor about it. Right when we made the appointment, we prayed one more time. When I come home the very next day, Megan is crying. I asked what was going on, and with shaky hands, she handed me a pregnancy test. It was positive. At that point my heart sunk into my socks. I was thankful, and it was great to see her so happy. She was glowing.
So, we thought about how we would tell my parents. We decided to buy a onesie, with a little saying, “Here Comes Trouble,” which is what my Dad always says whenever I visit, inside a little heart. Below the heart is the expected month and year. We order it online, and it’s adorable. We packaged and wrapped it up, and when Good Friday came, my wife and I took off to visit my parents. On the way there, I was thinking about what this baby means to my parents and as much as may be uncomfortable for me to have another mouth to feed and not be as flexible to dream, I knew my life was about my family.
I have a sister and a brother. My sister is a great woman who loves the Lord wholeheartedly, but there was a time in her life where she wasn’t living her life coherent with Christianity. She ended up dating this guy who was kind of a druggie and a loser. She got married him right after high school, since she had gotten pregnant her senior year. My parents fought with her and tried to give her wisdom, but nothing would work. So, she ended up having the kid and getting divorced six months later. She couldn’t take care of the kid and had made some more bad dating decisions, so she decided to give my nephew, Andrew, when he was nine years old, to my parents. At that point, he was running into some issues and was starting to run away from home.
My parents ended up taking him in, and my sister decided to skip town without keeping in contact with her son. He was living with his grandparents and they put him into a Christian school where he did really well academically. He was a great kid with a loving heart. However, he had been dealing with depression without any of us knowing about it.
At the time, I was in college, and when I graduated in 2006, I ended up commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. I was heading home and was super excited to start my new life. I had about six month to wait before I was sent off to the basic school in Quantico, Virginia. So, I had a lot of time to spent with my nephew. We had planned to spend a lot of time together. On July 5th, 2006, I was out shopping with my cousin who had just arrived from Australia, and while we were out I got a frantic call from brother. He told me that I needed to get home immediately and that he heard from my aunt that my nephew had shot himself. That didn’t make any sense to me, because I was with him literally ten minutes ago.
I called my mom, who was of course really distressed and telling me to come home immediately. So, I got my cousin and we headed back as quickly as possible, booking it at literally 100 mph in 25 mph speed zones. I turn a corner onto my street, and I can see that my house is surrounded by basically the entire police department, yellow tape, ambulances, and everything. So I slam the brakes, park the car in the middle of the road, and just run out. A cop grabbed me before I ran into the house, but I was able to see the that the coroner’s van was nearby. I remember that the cop was crying. I asked if my nephew was going to be okay. He said that he didn’t know and that he didn’t think so.
So, I go into the house, where my mom was. I remember hugging her and seeing the coroner with a gurney and a body bag on it. They wheeled my nephew out to the van and they put him inside. At that point, I had no idea how we’d ever make it through this. I remember praying for strength at that situation, and God really met me at that point.
My nephew ended up passing away. I was still supposed to go to the basic school and I began questioning what I was going to do my life. I remember talking to the coroner, a very nice lady, who confirmed that it was suicide and that he had shot himself with my dad’s gun. He was 12-years-old. We buried my nephew, and I had to basically spoon feed my parents for about four months. When I had to go to the basic school, they were back on their feet. Ten years later, my dad had lost the will to live. He took full responsibility for what had happened. It was his grandson and his gun, so he shouldered the whole burden. His health went down the drain, and it was terrible to see.
This was all going through my head as I was driving back home to tell my parents about their grandkid. That’s when it hit me that this pregnancy was a gift from God and was not about me. This child is not about me. It’s not about a legacy that me or my wife is going to leave. This is not about someone who is going to take care of me when I’m older. This is about other people. This child is going to be a warrior for Christ and save people in Jesus’ name. He or she (I’m hoping it’s a girl) is going to change the lives of people starting now when they’re in my wife’s womb. This a chance at redemption for my parents. This is what is going to keep my dad alive and change everything. I had faith and a peace about me that was from the Lord. So, we get there, and I sit down with my dad. I led him through this whole rat race, telling him about how we’re not interested in having kids, right before giving him the gift.
Then, when I give him the gift, I tell him that it’s pretty small, and if it didn’t fit, we could take it back. He opened it slowly, and when he saw it, he just started crying. He had this look in his eyes as if God had just forgiven him. I think that my dad felt that after my nephew passed away, his name was cursed. He thought he was punished for not walking with God at the time and that God would never bless his children with children. My dad is a new man, now. In those three days, he had different look in his eyes and a pep in his step. It was great.
Next, Justin shares an important message on God’s will and timing:
I am horribly guilty of questioning God, his timing, and his overall plan. When I was in Afghanistan during 2011, my best friend, my roommate during flight school FRS, didn’t come home. He went East Coast, I went West Coast, and that was the last time I ever saw him. I remember talking to his mother on the phone, and her saying, “Don’t be sad. He’s with God know.” I thought to myself, “That’s so stupid. He’s dead. He’s gone. How could you possibly think that?” Then I spent the next two years basically peeing on his grave, by using his death to justify my chronic alcoholism. I was angry with God for what he took from me, when in reality, that wasn’t mine.
Years later, I’d come across this verse from the story of the Job:
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.
“What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heaven when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? (Job 38:1-30
Whenever I read this, it makes me feel like any idiot for ever questioning anything. It’s scary to see how God puts Job in his place. I am thankful for grace everyday, especially when I hear stuff like this.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
We have plans we have plans, goals, and dreams, but whatever happens, it’s what God wants. God gives us dreams and passions for a reason and uses them so that we can glorify him in that. Sometimes though, you may plan something a God will send you in a completely different direction.
Here are a few more verses on God’s sovereign will:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalms 115:3)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
(The following was originally published at www.CareyGreen.com.)
Because what you believe is what makes up your mindset. This governs and radically effects the way you live in every aspect of life.
So, the key is taking control of your mindset.
Think of it like the software you’ve installed to help you make sense of yourself, the world, God, and circumstances.
But just because you’ve installed it doesn’t mean it’s true. You may believe things about those and many other topics that are untrue, which will give you a “wrong” mindset (yes, I do believe in right and wrong).
Imagine the type of guy who believes that he is “God’s gift to women” (but is actually far from it). He’s boastful, a player, delusional… there’s something that we can easily see that isn’t connecting in his mind that prevents him from seeing himself accurately.
Now imagine someone who believes that he is Napoleon… not having a Napoleon Complex, but truly believes he is the French leader incarnate. If you saw someone like this, walking around in 18th century French military garb with his hand stuffed into his coat, you’d think he’s crazy!
These are a couple of examples of how what someone believes affects how they live. The player thinks that he is smooth, when in actuality all his social interactions are awkward at best. The “Napoleon-wannabe” has simply checked out of real life and has stopped connecting with reality.
As we can see, it’s vital that what we believe – what our mindsets are centered around – is true! If you base your mindset on truth, then your life will be consistent with reality. This truth needs to span across what we think about God, ourselves, other people, and the world we live in.
If our mindset is centered around something that is not true, we are doomed to a life of struggle, frustration, and ultimately misery.
You can, as I do, turn to the Bible to discover the most accurate truth. It’s powerful. Effective. It penetrates to our heart to reveal our motives, as well as establishing a proper mindset.
My daughter recently revealed what it means to keep a Biblical mindset, even when faced with plenty opportunities to go the other way. While diving off a cliff this summer, she broke one of the vertebrae in her back. This required extensive surgery with rods and pins inserted in her spine. It was incredibly tragic and painful for her. Yet, instead of wallowing in self-pity and despair, she turned to the truth written within the pages of God’s word. God’s truth helped her maintain her proper mindset.
One day, she even smiled and told us:
“I’m glad that God allowed me to break my back because I know that He is doing something good, even through this!”
It blew me away!
Talk about a proper way to look at life! She knows that God is good all the time, in all that He does… even when it doesn’t make sense or feel good at the moment. Even when it might cost me greatly, He is still working things for good!
So, here’s my question for you:
Keep in mind that I’m not talking about making up something, or wishful thinking that will make you feel better for a moment. I’m talking about truth.
As you discover these answers to base your mindset on, write them down and apply them to developing a proper mindset each and every day!
Join me Monday-Friday on Periscope at 8AM mountain time for more encouraging discussions!
(Author’s note: This post originally appeared in January 2013. It was part of a series about the huge changes that are rocking Western society – and their impact on men and the church. I am not advocating these changes; I’m simply trying to explain why they’re happening, to help believers respond with greater understanding to those they may disagree with.)
During the 2012 presidential campaign, a Democratic activist was quoted on NPR saying, “When it comes to sex, the Republican Party wants to set the clock back 100 years.” And she was right. Republicans and their fellow travelers (among them, many evangelicals) are indeed trying to restore the sexual mores that prevailed a century ago.
What she didn’t say is that, when it comes to sex, the Democratic Party is trying to set the clock back 5,000 years.
We tend to see the “sexual revolution” as something new. It is not. We are merely reverting to the loose and varied sexual practices that prevailed for millennia in preliterate societies. Sexually speaking, we are returning to the stone age.
Thousands of years ago sex was much less controlled by society. That’s because the world was under populated. Humans were relatively scarce in most places on the globe. Populations were small. Diseases had no cures. Skirmishes between rival bands killed people all the time. Starvation was common.
The only way to ensure the survival of a tribe was to have lots of children. And the only way to get lots of children was for adults of childbearing age to have lots of sex. Copulation = population.
In many preliterate societies marriage as we know it today did not exist. Family structures varied greatly from tribe to tribe. Coupling was fluid. Girls started having sex as soon as they became fertile. Once word got around that a girl had her period, the elder men of the tribe would approach her for sex. Today we would consider an older man having sex with a 13-year-old girl predatory, but in ancient times it was a matter of survival. It was a way for the dominant males to pass their genes onto the next generation. And every woman was expected to bear 10 or more children in her lifetime, so girls started having sex early – with multiple partners. When these children bore children it was no big deal – the tribe took responsibility for their upbringing.
You also must understand how prehistoric tribes handled food and property. Food was shared. If the hunters returned with game, everyone ate from the kill. There was very little private property since nomadic peoples could own only what they could carry with them. The extreme disparities in wealth that exist today were unknown in prehistoric times.
But when the agricultural revolution began sweeping the globe, humans began to settle down on plots of land. For the first time there was private property – fields, homes, farm implements, flocks, household goods, etc. Food was no longer shared; it belonged to the farmer who grew it (and the king who taxed it). Thus, paternity became very important – fathers had to know who their sons were so those sons could inherit the farmland. Every family unit had to produce its own food – or it would starve.
In this context, uncontrolled sex became a social menace. It confused bloodlines and threatened inheritances. It spread disease. And it created fatherless children and unwed mothers, who had no way to feed themselves.
Since sex created so many problems, agrarian societies began placing it behind a series of locked gates. They said, “Want to have sex? Fine, you have to pass through our gates. And we hold the keys. Play by our rules and you can have all the sex you want. Violate our rules and we will punish you.”
The most prominent of these gates was legal marriage. The union of a woman to a man for life was codified and elevated as society’s ideal, enforced by every religious institution. Marriage betrothed a woman and her children to one man who agreed to protect and provide for them. It stabilized families and formalized inheritances.
Next, society built additional gates to keep people from having sex outside marriage. Adultery and fornication became criminal offenses, punishable by death in many societies. (Adultery is still illegal in about a third of U.S. states, although these laws are rarely enforced today.) As polygamy fell out of favor, bigamy became illegal. Religious codes prescribed total sexual abstinence outside of legal marriage.
During the Victorian Era ever-higher gates were built to help men resist temptation. Women covered their arms and legs in public, even when swimming. Pornography and prostitution were made illegal. Dates were chaperoned. Many Victorian men never saw a woman’s thigh until their wedding nights.
Societies came up with stories and fables to help men resist the powerful allure of women. The legend of the sirens (mermaids) reminded sailors that the beauty and song of a female could lure a man to his death. One of the most common characters in literature and film is the femme fatale, an attractive woman who leads an unsuspecting man to destruction.
The gates survived into the 1950s. Only married people could rent a hotel room. Condoms were kept behind the drug store counter. Movies upheld high standards of virtue. TV couples like Rob and Laura Petrie slept in separate twin beds.
But beginning in the 1960s, the Western world underwent a transformation known as The Sexual Revolution. In a single generation, thousands of years of accumulated sexual mores, rules, and expectations went out the window.
All the gates were opened at once. Why? Oral birth control and abortion-on-demand all but eliminated the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Moreover, Western nations guaranteed the survival of illegitimate children through newly minted welfare programs. Condoms became cheap and widely available, promising to slow the spread of disease. And as we left the farm and material prosperity grew in the West, issues of inheritance and paternity became less important. (When paternity really matters, DNA testing is available and highly accurate).
Society looked at the gates we’d placed in front of sex and asked, “Why are these here? The risk is gone. An unexpected pregnancy is no longer a death sentence. We can plan parenthood now. And if a baby is born out of wedlock, we’re wealthy and compassionate enough to care for that child through our social welfare programs (i.e., sharing the kill).”
So society began relaxing the rules that had kept sex under wraps. One by one, the gates swung open. Now, just as in prehistoric times, relationships are fluid, girls are having sex early (with multiple partners), bloodlines matter little and the tribe takes responsibility for raising children.
These changes left Christians to defend agrarian morals in a post-agrarian age. This is why “biblical morality” seems so backward to postmoderns. They ask, “Why restrict a practice that’s natural, healthy and enjoyable? No harm will come of it.” The abortion clinic can clean up any mess it might create. If a child does survive to birth, the government will pay for it – and score political points for showing compassion toward single mothers.
Once again, Christians find themselves standing on a shrinking island. Many of the obvious negative effects of loose sex are gone – or covered up. We still have a few secular arguments on our side: the emotional toll of promiscuity, the disruption of family and the societal costs of abortion and out-of-wedlock births. Even some secularists are beginning to recognize the damage fifty years of sexual license has wrought. But who cares about the long-term costs of sex when your hormones are screaming at you? We live in a day when wisdom whispers while pleasure shouts.
I believe the sexual revolution is one of the main reasons men are giving up on marriage. The desire for sex used to drive men to the altar, but why make such a frightening lifelong commitment when the main benefit is so widely available at a lower cost? As the old saying goes, “Why buy the cow when the milk is free?” (And if you can’t find a real sex partner, an online simulation will do.)
On the other end, the decoupling of sex from marriage means millions of boys are being raised by women, without a male role model of any kind. We’re only now assessing the damage this has caused. Some have suggested father estrangement played a role in the recent spate of young male suicides and gun massacres, all of which have been perpetrated by men.
I recently read a heartbreaking post on Facebook. It was from a young lady I’ve known for decades. She has two children but no husband. Her significant other recently left her after 12 years. She wrote: “Our world has never had more sex and less love.” At the age of 36 she’s longing for that agrarian model of love that was once so common – a man and a woman, united ‘til death. A couple that stays together through thick and thin, not because of feeling but because of commitment. It’s a kind of love that was common a century ago, but which is passing away in our generation.
The modern self-esteem movement is celebrating its 50th birthday. In 1965, sociologist Morris Rosenberg invented “The Self-Esteem Scale” — the first academic tool that assessed a person’s view of himself. In 1969 Psychologist Nathaniel Branden took that data and released “The Psychology of Self-Esteem,” which became the bible of the modern self-esteem movement.
Over the next two decades higher self-esteem came to be seen as the antidote to crime, drug abuse, teen pregnancy and student underachievement. Parents were taught to lavish praise on their children. Schools eliminated failing grades. Sports leagues gave everyone a trophy.
The results are in – and all this self-esteem boosting has done little to stanch crime, drug abuse, etc. In fact, many critics believe the movement has actually harmed young adults, by causing them to shy away from any experience that makes them anxious or uncomfortable. Some Millennials, unaccustomed to even mild feelings of rejection or social alienation, are walking away from institutions and relationships at the first sign of difficulty.
Where does this leave the church? A generation bathed in self-esteem is having a hard time integrating into institutional Christianity for a number of reasons:
Now, I’m not saying all young adults are this touchy. But increasing numbers are approaching institutions with a growing wariness and cynicism.
Our grandparents weren’t schooled with self-esteem. In fact, they were institutionally shamed (dunce caps), whipped with razor straps and ranked by ability (go to the head of the class). These methods would be considered abusive today, but made sense in a time when life was much tougher. Our grandparents developed a thick skin that enabled them to keep calm and carry on through less than ideal circumstances. The “greatest generation” stuck with sour marriages, less-than-fulfilling jobs and irritating churches because they were trained to persevere through pain.
Then came my generation – the Baby Boomers. We grew up in relative wealth, peace and abundance. We had choices our grandparents never dreamed of – and we learned to shop around for experiences. We were the first generation of “church hoppers” – moving from congregation to congregation to meet our needs. We re-created the church in our own image, throwing centuries of tradition overboard and turning worship into a rock concert.
Our children watched us shopping for spiritual fulfillment and took our consumerism to the next level – rejecting institutional church altogether and cobbling together a spiritual life apart from any ecclesiastical standard. Instead of joining with established churches, many young adults choose to captain their own religious ships. They’ve taken Cafeteria Christianity to its logical end – choosing only the most palatable morsels of faith, leaving everything else behind.
Erin Lane is a millennial Christian who has forgotten how to belong to the church:
Sometimes, to borrow a phrase, we long to be in the church but not of it. We love Christ, but the church is full of people—and problems—we’d rather avoid.
Church has always been a messy, multi-generational institution where you are absolutely guaranteed to be rejected or uncomfortable at some point. You’re going to hear a sermon you disagree with – or a song that drives you nuts. You’ll get crossways with another believer. You’ll sit next to a tone-deaf person who sings at the top of her lungs. You’ll have a great idea – and the church leadership will bury it.
Any time people come together in community there’s the possibility of comfort and joy – alongside frustration and betrayal. I fear the upcoming generation of adults does not understand this dual reality.
At Church for Men, we fight this battle every day. Our goal is to help churches be more welcoming to men and boys – but we’re seeing a real reluctance among young Christian men to commit to anything – a woman, a career, or a church.
In the meantime, I pray the influence of the self-esteem movement will continue to wane. Life is tough – a lesson kids need to learn early. We are not all little vessels of light.
What can churches do? Reform starts with the new members’ class. We tend to tell newbies how wonderful life will be as a Christian. We focus on all the great programs and opportunities the church has to offer. Rarely do we mention how difficult it is to be a churchgoer – and how normal it is to feel betrayed. We don’t need to make people paranoid – but they do need to be prepared.
We’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 30 years, especially when it comes to American families, and most of these changes have not been real good. We now see over 1,250,000 divorces each year, and since 1997, about half of those people claim to be Believers in God. So, the divorce rate within the Church is about equal to the divorce rate in non-religious couples. The primary reason for this is the ignorance of what God’s will is for marriage. We haven’t been trained, discipled, or taught what the Bible has to say about marriage.
We’ve also witnessed a 400% increase of unmarried couples living together. We’ve seen the advent of same-sex marriages. We’ve seen women getting pregnant outside of marriage with the sole intention of becoming a single parent. Today, 40% of families in the U.S. are single-parent families. Just shy of 39% of today’s families are blended families. Just under 3% of today’s American families are centered around grandparents raising the children instead of their parents.
All this adds up to less than 20% of American families falling under the description of “traditional, nuclear families”. We’ve seen the family, as God originally designed it, under a lot of attacks and going through an incredible amount of changes. And a lot of these changes are affecting the body of Christ as a whole.
In 1944, Webster’s dictionary defined marriage as this:
1) A state of being married, being united to a person of the opposite sex, as husband or wife. 2) Mutual relationships of husband or wife for the purpose of founding or maintaining a family.
However, in 1996, this definition has been changed to:
1) The state of being married; 2) Wedlocked; 3) The act of marrying or a ceremony of being married; 4) Close union.
Now, what has changed?
Firstly, the phrase “being united” has been taken out. This means “being made one”, which comes straight out of the Word of God.
24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. (Genesis 2:24)
The word marriage and the meaning of marriage has been diluted over time because of our culture.
Yet, God is the Creator of marriage. And His will and purpose for marriage had never changed. And, as you learn His will for marriage and as you apply His principles, marriage – no matter how tough it may seem – gets sweeter!
And that’s what God wants. As our marriages grow stronger by His design, He is glorified.
Still, most Christians today have never taken the time to learn God’s purposes for marriage, and this is the cause for many unhappy and unfulfilled marriages; as well as the cause for many divorces within the Christian community.
When I first got married, my expectations for marriage were not even close to what God’s were.
One of the misconceptions I had was that “she was lucky to have me”. I thought I was a catch – man, was I wrong. SHE was the catch! I also thought that weekends were mine. At the time, I had a boat, I was into diving, I loved fishing and hunting and many other activities; and I told her before we got married that we could do things on weekends when I didn’t have anything planned. But otherwise, the weekends were mine to do the activities that I wanted to do.
I actually told her that.
And she still married me!
I also believed that it would be appropriate to spend my money any which way that I wanted to without any involvement from her. I also wanted her to stay young and beautiful and meet all my physical needs. Additionally, taking care of the kids was to be her department, as well as keeping the house clean.
This all sounded fair to me.
Those were just a few of my expectations that I had for married life. I didn’t know anything else. I wasn’t taught how to be a husband. I basically just watched how my parents did marriage and followed their lead.
But that’s not how God wants us to operate.
For the first two years of our marriage, my wife worked every day to change me. She kept pointing out all my weaknesses and tried to convince me to change from who I was into who she wanted me to be. This irritated the heck out of me! I had made myself crystal clear before we got married in regards to my expectations, so why was she trying to change me?
22 years ago, we finally went on our first marriage retreat. When our church first announced that it was coming up, I was on board immediately! Finally, my wife was going to hear all the things that she’s been doing wrong!! Because I knew that the Bible didn’t tell wives to continually try to change their husbands… at leas I thought that was in the Bible.
What I didn’t know was that my wife was also thinking the same thoughts about me.
What we learned that weekend didn’t come from our own understandings of marriage. It didn’t even come from what the speakers understood. The lessons we learned came straight from the Bible. And it blew our minds! We had no idea how much God has to say about what it means to be a husband and a wife.
I knew right away that I needed help.
So, I started meeting with a guy from our church on a regular basis for a year-and-a-half; and I humbly allowed him to teach me about what the Bible has to say about marriage. I knew that my own thoughts and expectations were so far away from what God’s will was that I needed much more than a single weekend retreat.
I say this because many men are like me – they attend a weekend conference and they think they’ve got God’s design for marriage down. But how much do you actually apply to your daily life?
Over the next several months, God miraculously transformed my wife and I in such a way that we then were able to teach and disciple other people who were struggling in their marriages. Going into ministry had never even crossed my mind, but here we are today… all because we chose to follow God’s direction instead of our own.