Category Archives: Family

To Guard Your Marriage, Guard Your Tongue

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Thanks to Kristen Hogrefe for hosting this week’s blog on her site, KristenHogrefe.com! Be sure to check out her site for more godly encouragement.


 

As you may know, Kristen just tied the knot with a great guy (woo hoo!). Now, I know she’s overwhelmed with newlywed life, and she’s being bombarded with advice she probably didn’t ask for. Still, as the “big sister,” I feel the need to share the following bit of wisdom I’ve learned over the course of eight years of marital bliss:

To guard your marriage, guard your tongue.

Here are a few practical ways to bless your marriage through your speech.

 

1 – Don’t be Ugly

One day your hubby will spill his drink on your beautiful new couch, forget your anniversary, or run over your favorite rose bush with the lawn mower. In that moment, you’ll want to scream at him for being careless, forgetful, lazy, or just plain mean—but don’t do it! Instead, take a breath. If that’s not enough, take a hot shower, put on your comfy jammies, and blast the BeeGees.

Remember that this is your partner in life. You’re on the same team. Then sit him down, make sure you have his attention, and tell him how you feel. Even then, don’t yell or say anything ugly because you’ll regret it later.

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18 NAS).

 

2 – Don’t be Critical

Reality check: your hubby will never cook, clean, or take care of the kids the way you do. He is a man, after all, and men always approach these things a bit different than we do. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help around the house or that his quality of work should be less than yours. However, when you see him wipe up a disgusting mess on the floor with your dish towel, take a breath. (There’s a lot of breathing in marriage. Go ahead and practice counting to 10 now.)

Start by thanking your hubby for cleaning up the mess. After all, if he were still living alone, it would probably stay on the floor for a long, long time. Then say something like, “Hey, honey, I like to use those towels for the dishes, so it’s probably best not to use them on the floor. Let’s use paper towels next time, okay?”

If your hubby understands why you do things a certain way, he’ll be more apt to follow your lead. But be careful here! If you correct everything he does, you’ll become overly critical, and he’ll start to tune you out. No one wants to be a nag (or live with one), so pick your battles wisely.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (Proverbs 21:9 NAS).

 

3 – Keep His Secrets

As soon as you get married, you learn little things about your new hubby. Some might make you giggle—like his penchant for bubble baths after a rough week. Others may make you cringe—like when his frugality leads him to buy frozen steaks from the dollar store. You may feel the desire to share these little secrets with your mom or best friend, but don’t! Marriage is a sacred union of two, and when you share your hubby’s secrets with others, you let them into your marriage…and nothing good comes from that. Enjoy this time as you get to know your new hubby, and assure him that he can trust you with his heart as well as his little quirks.

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip” (Proverbs 20:19 NAS).

 

4 – Speak in Love

While it’s important to avoid negative speech with your hubby, it’s just  as important to fill your conversations with positive speech. Is he worried about work? Tell him that you’re proud of him and that you’re praying for peace and new opportunities. Did he spend all day planting new flowers for you? Tell him how much you appreciate his hard work and how great the yard looks (but avoid mentioning the fact that he ran over the last batch of flowers). This isn’t about platitudes but about finding something good, something sweet to say to the one you love.

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4 NAS).

 

Those are four different ways you can guard your tongue—but that’s easier said than done. The apostle James had this to say about it:

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8 NAS).

That’s less than encouraging, right? So what is the answer?

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives. Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:1-3 NAS).

The truth is that we can’t control our tongues through our own efforts, but if we submit ourselves—including our speech—to the Lord, He will give us the strength and desire to do so. Here’s a simple prayer you can repeat as often as needed:

“Lord, please guard my marriage by placing a guard over my tongue. Keep me from saying things that would hurt our relationship, and give me the humility to speak in love and kindness. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Set Apart: Understanding the Strange Commandment of Circumcision

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There are a lot of unusual commandments in the Bible, but none is stranger than that of circumcision. As new parents, Robby and I had to decide whether or not to circumcise our little boy. After digging into God’s Word a bit, this strange practice now makes a lot more sense.

In talking with other parents, though, I realized that many make this decision based on cultural norms or medical studies, but few understand the biblical basis for circumcision. Here it is in a nutshell.

First, what is circumcision?

The penis has extra skin on the tip called foreskin that retracts as the child develops. Circumcision is the surgical removal of this foreskin. The procedure can be performed on adults or infants.

When did it begin?

We first read of circumcision in the Old Testament when God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself and his children and for the practice to be passed down through his descendants:

“This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:10-11 NAS).

Interestingly, other groups also practiced circumcision, including the Egyptians and Moabites, so it was not unheard of. However, only Abraham and his descendants used circumcision to symbolize their covenant with God.

Are we required to practice circumcision today?

This was a question the First Century Church struggled with as the first Gentiles became believers.

“Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1 NAS).

Peter answered them:

“Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15:10-11 NAS).

The idea here is that if we treat circumcision as part of the Law, and we circumcise ourselves in order to adhere to the Law, then we must adhere to the entire Law…something no one can do.

Should we circumcise our sons today?

Although we aren’t required to circumcise our sons, the practice still holds a lot of value (as do so many of the Old Testament Commandments).

Sign of Faith – The removal of the foreskin is a symbol of separation from the world and unto God. We are a people set apart. What greater and more intimate way can a man declare his faith and obedience to God than through circumcision?

Choosing to circumcise your children is also an act of faith. Robby and I discovered this when we chose to circumcise our little boy. We didn’t want to put him through an unnecessary procedure with potential health complications, but we trusted that God would take care of him (and He did). As a mother, this was a much bigger act of faith than I had ever appreciated before.

Dedication – Although it is not required, a new believer may choose to undergo circumcision as a sign of faith and dedication to the Lord. However, most circumcisions today are performed on infants. While the procedure doesn’t secure the child’s salvation—he still has free will—it is a type of dedication unto the Lord. As my son grows up, he’ll have a constant reminder that God loves him and wants him to be counted among His children.

Health Benefits – Not surprising, doctors have determined that there are medical benefits to circumcision, including a reduced chance of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s also not surprising that doctors have confirmed the eighth day (the day God commanded) is the safest to perform the procedure as this is when the body’s blood-clotting substances are at an all-time high. When God first gave the commandment of circumcision to Abraham, He certainly knew what He was doing!

Whether you circumcise your children or not is a matter of personal choice. There are biblical and practical reasons to support it, but there are also risks associated with any medical procedure. Before you decide, research God’s Word and pray about the best course of action for your family.

As believers, we are called apart from the world. This week, I encourage you to “circumcise your heart,” or to submit your heart to the Lord. More important than any outward symbol, this inward submission is a true sign of your relationship with God.

“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6 NAS).


Click to Tweet: As believers, we are called apart from the world.


Update: A reader submitted a comment regarding Galatians 5:6:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6 NAS).

He said this verse proves that circumcision is now useless. I disagree.

In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to the church at Galatia. There, a number of Jews were essentially telling new Gentile believers that they had to become Jewish before they could become Christian—and a big requirement to being Jewish was to be circumcised. Paul responded to those who were “seeking to be justified by law” that they should not seek the law itself, or the “yoke of slavery,” but instead accept God’s grace that was freely given to them (Galatians 5:4 and 5:1 NAS).

As stated above, circumcision is NOT about salvation—it never was. However, just like the other commandments of the Old Testament, it can still hold value to us today if we seek God’s heart in it and avoid the trap of legalism.

I’d love to hear from you! Please leave your questions or comments below.

Our Controversial Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Robby and I have made a controversial decision: we’re not buying anything for each other. Nothing. No cards, no cutesy teddy bears, no plastic hearts filled with candy, no bouquets of flowers.

Why is this controversial? Because the media would have us believe that excess is best, that stuff leads to happiness, and the only way we can show our love is by buying gifts. But this year, Robby and I are saying NO to commercialism.

Here are a few reasons why.

1) Budget

Now that we have a little one in the house, we’re tightening our belt more than ever. Sharing gifts is nice, but it just doesn’t fit into our budget this year.

To help keep us on track, we’re using the app GoodBudget, which is like an electronic version of the envelope system. I definitely recommend this app if you’d like to monitor your spending and establish a budget this year.

2) Minimalism/ Simplicity

As I’ve shared before, Robby and I are trying to simplify our lives, and minimalism is a big part of that. We’ve come to realize that we have way more than we need, and we certainly don’t need to add more trinkets that we’ll need to store, dust, and organize forever.

If you’re interested in simplifying your life, I recommend the resources by Joshua Becker on his site www.becomingminimalist.com. (Read my review of Becker’s insightful book, The More of Less, on my goodreads page.)

3) Zero Waste

Something that’s recently come to my attention is the Zero Waste movement. The idea is simple: reduce the amount of waste we produce so we can leave a cleaner, better world for our kids. This starts by turning our shopping habits upside down, first by buying second-hand items or hand-making gifts. If it’s necessary to buy new products, then care should be taken to buy ethically-sourced items. For more info, check out the various Facebook groups dedicated to Zero Waste, such as this one.

What are we doing?

This Valentine’s Day, Robby and I will enjoy a nice dinner at home with the little one. We may also exchange handmade gifts, such as homemade cards and handwritten notes. I might try to make a nice dessert, and Robby can pick me a bouquet of flowers from our yard (hint, hint, honey!).

The media wants you believe that you have to spend money on stuff, even if you don’t want it or can’t afford it. But Robby and I are choosing a simpler way this year, even if that seems a bit weird or controversial, and I encourage you to do the same. Say no to the ad agencies and enjoy Valentine’s Day (and every day!) in a way that brings you joy and not debt. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out this article I wrote, “To Romance Your Wife, Consider Her Love Language.”


What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? How are you incorporating your ideals, such as sticking to a budget, minimalism, and zero waste? I’d love to hear your plans and DIY hacks!