Bo is the Lead Pastor of New Community Church. He married Alexis in 1999 and they have three sons, Jackson, Judah and Asher. Bo and family moved from Boston, MA in 2006 to help establish a church in Tacoma, WA. He is most passionate about seeing people's lives supernaturally changed by God.
At the end of Ephesians 5 Paul tucks this challenging command in, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:33)
Men and respect are like magnets. Men will always lean into where they’re receiving respect. This is why a lot of men love to be at work and hate to be at home. At work, they are respected, they receive praise, at home they can’t seem to do anything right. Men see nagging as a form of disrespect. Many affairs begin with a seemingly innocent relationship where a woman shows respect to a man who may not be getting that kind of respect at home.
In the same way a woman longs to be loved. Not just with words, but with actions. She wants to be pursued, just as Jesus pursued us. Love is always an action in the scriptures, never just an emotion. Women get into affairs because a man is showing her attention, showing her love, pursuing her, telling her things that only a husband should tell a wife. She wants to be loved.
If I came home one night and said to my wife, I really respect all that you do with our kids, the house and your career, but I don’t love you. It would be like punching her in the gut. She would feel so deflated.
Likewise, if she came to me and said, I really love you, but I don’t respect you. That would deflate me. This is the model we see on TV. Husbands are lovable in a goofy kind of way, but hardly ever respected. It’s become the norm in our culture.
It’s not that women don’t need respect and men don’t need love. Paul understood that men and women are different and at their core are slightly different desires. If these are our core desires, then our role and desire as spouses’ should be to determine that we’d meet these needs in our spouse. We can never abdicate these responsibilities!
Let’s take a quick survey.
Wives, do your husbands clean the house the same way you do? Husbands, do your wives handle the kids the same way you do?
Fascinating research. Interesting conclusions. Men and women are different!
When Paul begins to address roles in marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33, he drags the reader all the way back to Genesis 1-3. His teaching is rooted in creative order, not on any cultural biases. Obviously he addresses cultural issues like head coverings and women speaking in church gatherings in other places, but in Ephesians 5:21-33 he is clearly using creative order to argue his point. In other words, Paul is arguing from how man and woman were created and existed before sin polluted the world, including the institution of marriage.
The Gospel isn’t just that Jesus died to save us from sin, but he also came to earth to usher in His kingdom and restore fallen people and this fallen world. This is true of gender roles. God is out to rescue and restore gender and we need not look any further than Jesus to find out what a man should look like.
Jesus was intentional, he was full of purpose, he defended, he set free, he taught, he healed, he comforted, he confronted, he loved the unlovable, he wept, and he served. There you go fellas, this is what you were predestined to be conformed to (Romans 8:29). As husbands, this is how we love our wives and train our kids. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2) For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (Ephesians 5:23) No higher calling, no small thing!
So when Paul gets to his instructions for wives to submit to their husbands, he is not asking them to be subordinate, nor is he commanding them to be anything less than who they are as those created in the image of God. Paul understands the church to be co-laborers and co-heirs with Christ. He understands marriage to be a reflection of Christ and His love for the church. Husband and Wife are a team, each playing their role in showing the world Jesus’ great love for his people.
We live in a culture and a time in history where there isn’t a lot of healthy conversation around gender roles and roles in marriage. And at first glance you can make the mistake of thinking that the Bible doesn’t have anything helpful to say to the modern man and woman, the modern husband and wife. We think, "Things have changed, we’ve evolved in our thinking, we’re empowered."
The truth is, the Bible has a lot to say about the ‘modern man and woman’ and without ears to hear we will be left wanting in our marriages. 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.' (Genesis 1:27)
Both male and female were created equally in God’s image. But did you notice that right off the bat we have clear distinction? One is male and one is female. It’s not just God created humans… He created two kinds of humans.
The question on the tables is, is there more than just physical differences in men and women? Is there more to maleness than the physical appearance? Is there more to femaleness than physical appearance?
If we look at the creation narrative we find that Adam was created in the image of God, he was created good, yet he was in need of a helper. Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' (Genesis 2:18)
What was this helper for? To cook for him? To clean for him? To make sure his fig leaves were ironed? Nope, he needed a helper to fulfill the mission that God called him too. More specifically, 'And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”' (Genesis 1:28)
God wanted the earth filled with image bearers, that would take a male and a female to do so. When we think of helper we can think of it in two ways:
1. Daddy’s little helper. Dad can I help you fix that cabinet? Sure little one, hold these screws for me, don’t drop them, that’s a good buddy.
2. A helper who has something you need. Dad can you help me with my homework? I can only do that if I know something they don’t. Or more appropriately, 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1). God is not ashamed to be called our helper.
A wife is a helper, but we must understand that this is not a second-class role. She helps her husband fulfill God’s call to each and every married couple, namely, display the love of Jesus for His church to all who come into contact with them.
In the next post I will attempt to tackle the marital roles laid out in Ephesians 5:21- 33.
In the previous post I ended with, “A secure love allows for blemishes to be brought to the forefront so they can be “washed” and worked on.” This can only happen when there is strength in the couple’s oneness. Let me unpack that a little more.
Ephesians 5:31 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The measuring stick of success in each marriage is oneness.
Emotional vulnerability leads to physical vulnerability, but in the same way, a lack of emotional vulnerability leads to a lack of physical vulnerability.
Being emotionally vulnerable is not easy for men. This is why porn is so successful, no emotions involved. But that’s a cheap, fleeting love, not to mention sinful.
Do you seek to understand, or do you jump right into the fixing part? Seeking to understand how your spouse feels let’s them know you care, it creates an environment for vulnerability. Seeking to quick fix dismisses your spouses emotions and gives the impression you really don’t want to walk through that with them.
“With great power comes great responsibility!”
Before marriage our parents have the greatest influence over us: good, bad, but never indifferent. But when we get married our spouse has the power to change that influence. If your parents said you were worthless and would never amount to anything, your spouse can reverse that by affirming who you are in Christ, pursuing you and speaking destiny into you.
Depending on how this power is used, oneness will grow or disintegrate. We must be intentional with this God given power and use it grow in oneness, which is necessary for a secure marriage.
One of the trends in marriage today is that people get married, live together, but live separate lives. Separate bank accounts, separate friends, separate guys/gals trips. From an outside perspective, they look single but married.
This prevents oneness. I’m not saying guys can’t have guys nights and gals can’t have the occasional gals weekend away, but they must move from ME to WE.
From decision making, to finances, to scheduling, to property, the two need to become one. This reflects the Gospel to our world. We are hidden in Christ and reconciled to each other, in other words, we are one in Christ.
Are you winning in marriage? What’s your measuring stick for success?
My guess is that there are a lot of Christians, including Christian leaders, who got married for the wrong reasons. We can all think of one main reason Christians get married; starts with an S and ends with an X. To be fair the Bible is not in opposition to the hurry up offense when it comes to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:9), but at some point, all Christian couples need to come to grips with the mission of Marriage or else a lifetime of disappointment awaits.
Most, if not all, of the marriages that fail do so due to unmet expectations. “I thought we were going to fall deeper in love everyday? We didn’t.” “I thought you would continue to pursue me and date me? You didn’t.” “I thought I would be the only one you would be sleeping with? I’m not.” In Ephesians 5:21-33, Paul gives us the clearest explanation of marriage in the New Testament. And in his writing we get one clear expectation, both spouses will be changed. The reality is, if you embrace Paul’s explanation of marriage, you will never have unmet expectations.
Paul likens marriage to Jesus’ relationship with the church. The church is not perfect, however, Jesus is working on it and through it to one day bring it to himself spotless. At the center of Jesus’ relationship with the church is covenant. His commitment to His bride is unparalleled.
The Hebrew word Ahava means “to give love, or a love of the will”. It’s not about emotion, it’s an action. It’s present when two people see each other clearly, good, bad, crazy, sane, rich, poor, and they choose to love each other no matter what. This is covenantal love. It says, I’m not going anywhere. This is how Jesus loves us: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
So what is the mission of marriage? Marriage exists to show the world how much a perfect God loves an imperfect people. So conflict is not a bad thing in marriage, it’s how the conflict is handled and resolved that matters. Butterflies are not a bad thing in marriage, but what speaks volumes is when the butterflies fly off and your commitment still stands. As people observe your marriage they get to see unconditional love, forgiveness and respect. This gives you a platform to say, Jesus has an even more perfect love for you.
I started dating my wife 15 years ago. I can still remember the first time we held hands. We were in a move theater and I thought I was going to explode! My heart was beating fast, I felt light headed, and my goal was to not throw up on her. But today, when we hold hands, I don’t have those feelings. What I do have though is a deeper, more robust love for her. We have thirteen years of marriage, three boys, lot’s of fights, lot’s of great times, lot’s of disappointment (for her mostly), and knowledge that we are more committed now to each other than we were back in that movie theater.
Christians, especially leaders, often think that a good marriage is one that lacks conflict and friction. Obviously a marriage full of romance and righteousness would be better, but let’s get real for a moment. Conflict and friction are opportunities for change and to show the world how Christ’ love works. Suppressing conflict and friction could be a sign of insecurity in the marriage. “If I confront them on this, they will leave me, or be cold toward me.” A secure love allows for blemishes to be brought to the forefront so they can be “washed” and worked on.
Who does what? When it comes to disciple making I find it extremely helpful to know who is supposed to do what? As an aside, I find this to be extremely helpful when it comes to preaching as well. I tend to ask these three questions in my preparation.
Always start here. Salvation and sanctification are the work of the Holy Spirit. We know that He loves to use us in the process, but it’s ultimately His work.
What is it that we need the Holy Spirit to do in this person’s life? Now, DO NOT try to do what the Holy Spirit is supposed to do. Trust that He will do what only He can do in this person’s life.
Asking this question and knowing the answer will prevent us from leading people into legalism, creating a co-dependent relationship, getting super frustrated, and blaming and shaming others.
As the discipler, what is it that you need to do? First and foremost it’s to keep bringing people back to the Gospel. Listen to their statements and questions and find out where they are not believing the Gospel. Remind them of who they are in Christ. Remind them to continuously be filled with the Holy Spirit. Remind them that they exist to serve and bless others. Be there for them, pray for them, reach out to them, knowing full well that you are not the fixer, healer or redeemer.
This is important and often needs to be stated clearly to those you are leading. They need to know that you expect them to be open to change and growth. They are alive in Christ and living things grow! They should be honest and open. They should ask questions. They should be open to input and show a level of maturity in receiving correction.
Knowing who does what in the discipleship process is fundamental. I’ve made many mistakes over the years, but have found that many of those mistakes were because there weren’t clear expectations of who was supposed to do what.
We have been exploring the need for discipleship in the context of community. You can view the previous posts by clicking here.
We train our Community Group leaders to listen to people’s responses to these questions. Much of disciple making is about listening. We need to know where people are in the process so we can, by God’s grace, help move them forward. Again, Jesus heard the disciples arguing over who was the greatest, and then he responded with an astonishing demonstration of foot washing. I love good expository preaching, but we need to be aware of the fact that it’s only a piece of the disciple making process.
Based on people’s responses we see them in certain stages.
1. Spiritually unborn – Unbelievers, question God’s existence, question whether they need forgiveness, etc…
2. Spiritual infant – Excited to be alive in Christ, terrible theology, selfish, rely heavily on others, etc…
3. Spiritual children – Excited to be alive in Christ too, starting to develop a good Theology, still make big messes, still selfish, etc…
4. Spiritual young adult – Developing a solid Theology, serving others, not necessarily reproducing on purpose.
5. Spiritual parents – Good Theology, serve others, reproduce on purpose.
Please hear this, we don’t outwardly label people. “Oh Jimmy, that’s because you’re a spiritual infant.” No, never! In fact, these aren’t labels at all. One person could be selfish with their finances, but generous with their time. Another could be excellent at serving others, but have a terrible theology. It’s very hard to put people in just one category, so we don’t. It’s just a simple tool, to remind disciple makers what the next step is.
I have often said it’s all about making disciples, but when it came right down to it, I was hoping it was happening in my church rather than being intentional about it happening in my church. What’s the plan? How do we bring people along in the discipleship process? "Uh, I don’t know, but it’s important!" Doesn’t make any sense does it? Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying we should buy a curriculum and have people fill in the workbook; I’m talking about being intentional about doing life on life.
My church does it through our Community Groups. We are a new church trying to implement this plan, it’s messy and we’re having to contend for it, but we are seeing the fruit. The first year of our groups consist of telling the story of redemptive history. Believers need to know God story, know their place in God’s story, know that it’s not a story about them, and know that God is saying something about himself through their lives. We ask simple questions at the end of each story. Who is God? What did God do? Who are we? What do we do? They are not always formed the same, but essentially that’s what the questions are getting at.
The second year we tell 32 stories from the life and ministry of Jesus. We ask questions like, what do we learn about Jesus?, what is Jesus teaching his disciples?, what is Jesus teaching you?, and how can you make disciples like Jesus did?
The third year is 30 stories from Acts. Again asking questions about what the Holy Spirit was doing, what the disciples did, and how can we be disciples who make disciples?
We didn’t invent any of this. One of our elders was trained by J.O. Terry and influenced by Avery Willis, both on the front line of what’s called Chronological Bible Storying, which is a strategy for making disciples who make disciples in oral cultures. If you want to learn more about CBS, you can read posts from Sam Poe by clicking here.
I don’t know of a church that is saying they are saturated with leaders. Every church I know of is saying they need more leaders! If we only had more leaders we could ___________! I don’t disagree with this desire, but I’m not sure we understand how this is going to happen.
I think that many church leaders are expecting Captain America to walk through their doors one Sunday and say, “How can I help?” I’ve certainly been guilty of this. But as Rick Pitino once said, “Larry Bird ain’t walking through those doors!” (Any Celtics fans out there?) In fact, those that seem to drop straight from heaven can actually hurt you more than they can help you. Here’s why I believe this is true, they are trying to lead before becoming disciples of Jesus.
Jesus set out to make disciples, people who bear his image. He dealt with this when James and John asked to sit at his left and right hand (Mark 10:35-45) and when the disciples argued over who would be the greatest (Luke 9:46-56). Jesus’ solution was to show them what discipleship looked like. Our failure can be to tell people what it looks like, or write about what it looks like. Jesus knew the heart. He knew that these men suffered from the age-old sin of pride and that if left to themselves they would miss the discipleship dinghy in hopes of jumping on the leadership cruise liner. First things first, don’t skip a step. Know why you are doing what you are doing. Next thing we know Jesus was in a posture of the lowest servant washing their feet! Ah, we get it now.
And then he let the disciples play in the game. For instance, when Jesus fed the 5,000. He gave the bread and fish to the disciples to distribute. You can imagine them pulling off tiny portions of bread to distribute, but when the bread continued to be plentiful, they pulled off huge chunks. Who saw the miracle up close? The servants. Those who were asked to serve food to those in need. Jesus was making a point, if you want to see the miracle, be a servant. He could have told them stories, and at times he did, but he got them off the bench and into the game.
I am convinced that many of our leadership needs can be met by the sorry looking souls sitting in the seats on Sunday. It just takes some work. I am allowed to be ‘Reformed’ and still use the word ‘work’, right? After all discipleship is a process; a process of creating opportunity to serve, to lead, to succeed, and most importantly, to fail. Like Jesus, we need to create safe environments for people to do the stuff.
As a church we recently gathered for a day of teaching and pursuing the Holy Spirit. As a relatively new church we have people from all kinds of backgrounds (Lutheran, several varieties of Baptist, Catholic and more), not to mention new believers who don’t know much at all about the Holy Spirit. It was not surprising that the most impactful time for people was the question and answer session. The questions were honest, raw, and at times very impassioned!
It wasn’t long at all until the question came, “I’ve been a Christian for years, are you telling me I don’t have the Holy Spirit?” Followed by statements like, “I’ve never spoken in tongues or prophesied, but I have felt God’s presence in a big way, have I been baptized in the Holy Spirit?” And then the inevitable, “Do I need to speak in tongues to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?” I bet you’d like for me to answer each of these, but I’m not going to here.
My friend and fellow elder Sam Poe immediately jumped in and slowed the conversation down with this statement, “It seems that many of you are being defensive about receiving the Holy Spirit.” He went on to challenge people by asking, “Why do people ask, do I have to be baptized in water to be saved, or do I have to belong to a church to be a Christian? We GET to do all these things!” (Rest assured that he did say faith in Jesus is all that is needed to be ‘saved’.)
Why is it that, despite Jesus’ declaration that Father is a good Father who gives good gifts, we are so reluctant to receive His gifts? Why is it that while Paul urges us to ‘earnestly desire spiritual gifts’, we say ‘do I have to have THAT ONE?’ Why do we just want the bare minimum when if comes to being a Christian? As long as we have the fire insurance that will get us into heaven, we are happy. But Jesus painted a different picture of salvation and His coming kingdom, a full life.
The rest of our time together was spent looking at John 7:37-39 and simply asking the question, “Are you thirsty?” This seemed to cause many of the questions to fade away. The timing of being baptized in the Holy Spirit wasn’t important, the gifts they have received or not received were no longer important, their past experiences with the Holy Spirit were not important. What took precedence was that people were thirsty, they wanted more. No matter how much they had had, they wanted more. As we began to invite the Holy Spirit to come and to minister to people, stuff happened. One man said it was like God grabbed his heart and squeezed it! He felt love like he had never felt before. Another man was so overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit’s nearness that he had a hard time explaining what was happening to him. People prophesied for the first time, people were healed of sinus infections and rashes, and people experienced the Spirit of adoption. They knew they were sons and daughters, but for the first time they were experiencing the love of the Father. The Holy Spirit made the truths of the scriptures tangible for these people.
Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches. Read more.
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