Author and speaker Steve Farrar discusses the importance of a husband's commitment to Jesus Christ, his role as the family leader and his responsibility to love and cherish his wife. (Part 1 of 2)
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John Fuller: When you got married, did you make a vow that included this kind of phrasing, "For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?" Well, if you did, well, listen on to today's "Focus on the Family," because we have encouragement especially for men who are keeping that promise.
Dr. Steve Farrar: Anybody can be committed when it's better, but the test of commitment is when it's worse, worse than you ever thought it would be. Anybody can be committed when it's richer, but it's the test of commitment is when you lost your job or when the money's not there. Anybody can be committed when there's health, but the test of commitment is when there's sickness.
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John: That's popular speaker, Steve Farrar and we have a message from him today on "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, today's message will be a great one for men, but I want to tell women to stay with us, 'cause I think you're gonna enjoy our guest, as well. In fact, the last time we aired this show, a wife wrote in to say, "Thank you for airing this message from Steve Farrar. My hubby has been making huge changes and doing all he can to implement these ideas. I'm so grateful that I stepped aside and let God work in his heart." Ah, man, wow, that is perfect.
John: That's a great story and what an important point she makes about allowing God to work in (Laughter) her husband's heart.
Jim: It's so right, John. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you have access to the Holy Spirit and He can create in the heart of either of you. And that's a great source of hope to hold onto. So, if your marriage is maybe worse than better, don't despair. Focus on the Family is here for you and we want to encourage you. We have resources, tools, counseling and in-depth marriage intensives if that's what you need. We'll talk about that at the end of the program today.
John: And Steve Farrar, as we continue here, is the founder and chairman of Men's Leadership Ministries. He was a pastor for 15 years, but now devotes all of his time to leading men deeper in their walk with Christ and with their families. He's written a number of books over the years and what we'll hear today is from his best-seller, Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family. Here now, Steve Farrar, speaking to over 50,000 men at a Promise Keeper's event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Dr. Steve Farrar: A young polar bear was out fishing one morning with his dad. Not a lot was happening. And as they were waiting for a bite, the young polar bear said, "Dad, can I ask you a question?" His father said, "Well sure, son, what is it?" He said, "Dad, am I a 100-percent polar bear?" His dad said, "Well, sure, you're 100-percent polar bear. I'm 100-percent polar bear, my folks, 100-percent polar bear, my grandparents. All the way up the line, you're a 100-percent. Your mother, she's 100 percent polar bear, her folks, her grandparents, both sides, son, you're 100-percent polar bear." Then he thought for a minute, and he said, "Son, why would you ask if you're 100-percent polar bear?" The little guy looked at his dad, and he said, "Dad, I'm freezin' out here." (Laughter)
Hey, how many of you guys are 100-percent married? Let me see your hands. (Cheers) All right, that's great. You know, sometimes even though we're 100-percent married, we don't always feel married. I heard about a guy recently in Dallas, where I live, and he had had a horrible week. On Monday, he found out a deal he'd been working on for several months and he'd been counting on, fell through. He wasn't gonna get the commission. On Tuesday, he missed a major deadline because of some things beyond his control. His boss got on him. By Wednesday, all he wanted to do was just survive till Friday. Things just kept gettin' worse, and all he wanted to do, as he sat in his office Wednesday afternoon, he said, "I just want to make it to Friday. I want to get home, have some dinner, and watch the ball game."
Well, he finally made it to Friday. Things did get worse. He's in traffic goin' home. It's gridlock. It's like he's comin' to Promise Keepers. It's unbelievable. (Laughter) He walks in the door, finally gets home, walks in the door, and there's his wife standing there and she's all dressed up, obviously ready to go, and she can tell by his face, he doesn't have a clue.
And she said, "Sweetheart, you obviously forgot we're having dinner with the Wilsons. He said, "Oh, no." He said, "I don't wanna." She said, "Sweetheart, we've cancelled twice. We have to go." He said, "Okay, let me just get a quick shower and a shave. Why don't you pull the car around front and we'll go." She said, "Fine."
He gets in the shower, shaves. He walks out, and his wife is standing by the car, next to it, and the car is running. She's got a strange look on her face, and she says, "Sweetheart, I'm sorry. I locked the keys in the car." Well, you know what? That was it; the guy just lost it.
You guys ever heard of something called "displaced anger"? All the anger from what had happened at the office that week just came out on his wife, and he looked at her, and he said, "You know?" He said, "Honey, I don't know how God could make someone so beautiful, yet so cotton-pickin' stupid." A harsh thing to say, but she knew this guy and she knew he was under pressure, and she said, "Well, sweetheart, I'm sure it's for our benefit." (Laughter)
And he looked at her, and she said, "You know, I believe God made me beautiful, so you could love me, and he made me stupid, so I could love you." (Laughter and Applause) I couldn't believe it when Mary said that to me. (Laughter)
You know, gentlemen, this is great to see all these guys here in Charlotte, North Carolina. It's great to see what God is doing, and gentlemen, we all need to understand something, that as we gather here, if you're a guy who loves your wife, if you're a guy who loves your kids, you need to understand that as you follow Christ, you need to understand, my friend, that we're at war.
The Scriptures have told us in Ephesians chapter 6, the church has always been at war. But it seems over the last few decades, that the enemy has trained his full assault forces on the Christian family. There is an enemy out there who is very, very real. And there's an enemy, gentlemen, who has, I believe, a twofold strategy for every Christian guy that's in this racetrack this morning. He has a twofold strategy for you. He has a twofold strategy for me.
And just quickly, let me tell you what the twofold strategy is. No. 1, he wants to alienate, and eventually sever the relationship that you enjoy with your wife. It used to be our laws kept families from divorcing, but then we changed our laws and we've made it easy for men and women to leave their commitments. The Scripture says this: "For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one." That's God's plan. You and your wife are one flesh. If you love Jesus Christ, there's an enemy who hates your guts.
Campus Crusade has a little booklet. It's been used to lead people to Christ all over the world. It'd called "The Four Spiritual Laws." Law one says, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," and that's true, but if you love Jesus Christ, you have an enemy, and let me tell you what his plan [is]. He hates your guts, and he wants to bring your marriage down. God says the two shall become one. The enemy wants to take the two who have become one, and make 'em two again.
He wants divorce to hit your home. Now we've got divorced guys here, and I want to tell you something, I'm glad you're here. Some of the most teachable guys I've ever met in my life are guys that have been through the heartbreak of a divorce. We're glad you're here, but those of us who are married, those of us who are remarried, we don't want that to happen. We want to be aware of what the enemy is up to in our lives. We're at war, guys.
John: Speaking with great conviction and passion, that is Steve Farrar on today's "Focus on the Family" and in a few moments he'll explain how no-fault divorce has impacted our culture's view of marriage. Get a CD of this program or Steve's book, Point Man, when you call 800-A-FAMILY: 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or you'll get the book and the audio download at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's go ahead and return now to Steve Farrar on "Focus on the Family."
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Steve: I was in the shower one morning. I wish I was in the shower right now to be honest with you. (Laughter), a cold shower. I was in the shower one morning and I was thinking about the fact of the families at war, and how many families are going down, and I thought about the fact that if you're a husband and father, you know, a lot of you guys were in the military. Some of you guys were of my generation. Some of you guys were over in Vietnam, and some of you guys know what it is, on a particular day, to be chosen and you're gonna lead on that day a small patrol. Maybe it's a reconnaissance mission, but you're the point man. You're walkin' the point, and your leadership is critical to the survival of your men.
Well, we're at war in this nation over the family, and if you're a husband and father, you're the point man. You're not leading a bunch of guys. You're leading your wife and kids through the moral chaos of a nation that's lost its moral compass, and the enemy is trying to bring us down, gentlemen. That's the fact of the matter.
You know, I'm just curious. This would be interesting to know. How many guys here served our nation over in Vietnam? Let's see your hands. Why don't you guys stand up for a minute?
Audience: (Cheers and Applause)
Steve: Yeah. (Cheers and Applause) That's right. (Applause) Now, that's what should have happened when you guys came home. We appreciate what you did. (Applause) That's right, let's thank those guys.
Audience: (Cheers and Applause and Whistles)
Steve: We appreciate you guys so much. (Applause) Now, you know, you just didn't have to be in Viet[nam]. Hey, you know what? There have been other wars. There have been other conflicts. Maybe you were in Operation Desert Storm. You walked the point over there. Maybe you were in World War II. Maybe you were in the Korean conflict. I see a gentleman over here who was in the Civil War. (Laughter)
We're glad you're here, sir. We're glad you're breathing. (Laughter) Guys, the point is, we're at war. And here's what the enemy wants to do to every Christian guy in this room. He wants to neutralize me. He wants to keep me from leading. Our issue, right now, is on the marriage relationship, gentlemen. We used to have laws in this nation that made it hard to divorce.
We were watching an old movie from the '40s not too long ago, and the whole plot of the movie, the guy was a businessman and had a nice family, several kids, you know, beautiful wife. He got involved with his secretary at the office, decided he was in love with her and wanted to divorce his wife and marry his secretary. But the movie was set in 1948. The whole plot of the movie was, his wife wouldn't grant him a divorce, because in 1948, if a guy wanted to leave his wife on a whim, the law prevented him from doing that. And you couldn't do it in 1958, but in the '60's and '70's, things started changing in this nation, and we came up with something called "no-fault divorce."
About a year ago, my wife called me. I picked up the phone, and as soon as I heard her voice, I knew something was wrong, and she said, "Steve, I've had an accident." When I heard that my wife had been involved in an automobile accident, I had two questions. Question No. 1, you know what it was: "Are you all right?" She assured me she was fine. Okay, we established that. Gentlemen, what was my second question?
Audience: Whose fault?
Steve: I knew there were godly men in this room. (Laughter) Yeah, my second question was, "Mary, whose fault was it?" And you know what she told me. She said, "Steve, I'm driving down LBJ in north Dallas on the freeway about 55. This guy's next to me and all of a sudden, just all of a sudden, these two cars metaphysically, on their own, decided to come together of their own volition. It was nobody's fault, Steve." I said, "Makes sense to me." (Laughter)
I didn't say that. No, when she told me she was stopped, and that someone hit her from behind, it was clear whose fault [it] was. You know what, gentlemen? We can't make our spouses do what's right. We need to be concerned about ... about ourselves doing what's right. You know, gentlemen, I love what Swindoll said a couple of years ago. He said, "This thing is not called Promise Makers; it's called Promise Keepers." That's what distinguishes this from the world.
You see, guys, when we walked down that aisle, and we made that vow to our wife, we said something like this: we said that we would be committed for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. You know, gentlemen, anybody can be committed. Anybody can be committed when it's better, but the test of commitment is when it's worse--worse than you ever thought it would be. Anybody can be committed when it's richer, but the test of commitment is when you lost your job, or when the money's not there. Anybody can be committed when there's health, but the test of commitment is when there's sickness.
We need some men in this nation who are men who will follow through with their commitments. We need to see a revival in this nation and this is why God is filling stadiums around this nation. He's looking for some guys to follow through and to finish strong for him in their marriages. (Applause)
John: We're listening to Steve Farrar on today's "Focus on the Family" and you can get a CD or audio download of this entire presentation and Steve's book, Point Man when you get in touch. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you'll find these and other resources at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . All right, let's go ahead and continue listening to Steve Farrar on "Focus on the Family."
End of Program Note
Steve: I have the privilege every year of speaking to three or four NFL teams. Every NFL team, five hours before kickoff, has a chapel service, and actually last year in the fall, I was up in Wisconsin, so I did a chapel service for the Packers. And I was at Lambo Field, and you know, that's a great old stadium. I don't think they'll ever build a new stadium in Green Bay. There's just too much atmosphere there. But across the street, the Packers have built a beautiful multi-million dollar facility, indoor fields, Astroturf. It's state of the art. One of the things you will find there is that they have some small theaters.
People that don't know a lot about football have a misconception. They think football coaches and football players spend the majority of their time outside. Especially in the NFL, that's not true. Football players and coaches spend the majority of their time inside in the dark. Why? They're watching film. The average NFL team, I've been told, will watch their upcoming opponent. They'll watch the last three or four games, and they won't watch it just once. They'll watch it two and three times. One of those coaches will be in that film room at 1 in the morning watching that film for the sixth time.
And all of a sudden, he'll say, "Hey, look. Look at No. 66. Look at that guard. Every time that guy runs that sweep, look at his stance. Every time he runs that sweep, he sets his stance. Look at his left foot; he sets up six inches back with his left foot. Run it again. He doesn't do that on the other [foot], see," and so, he tells his linebacker, "You key off 66, watch his left foot. When he sets his left foot back, that's your tip. He's gonna run that sweep." Why do they watch so much film? I'm gonna tell you why, guys. They want to know their opponent, and they want to know his habits. They want to know his tendencies. They want to know his weaknesses.
Let me tell you guys somethin'. Satan watches your game films, and he watches mine, and he knows my habits. He knows my tendencies. He knows my weaknesses. He knows that when I get tired, I get irritable. He knows that I can be impatient. He knows that it's very easy for me just to fly [off] and say a harsh word without thinking to my wife. I did that earlier this week. I spoke in Atlanta four weeks ago and the same thing happened to me. Every time, before I come to speak on one of these things about marriage, I screw up. I do. (Laughter) I'm just being honest with you. And let me say something about that. Gentlemen, the easiest thing in the world is to stand up here and teach this stuff. The hardest thing in the world is to go home and live it out, but that's what we're called to do. (Applause)
Hey, I'm gonna tell you something. The guys standing up here speaking, we're just guys. We deal with things like you deal with things. That's why the focus here is not on any individual except the Lord, Jesus Christ. He's the perfect One. He's the One we focus on here at Promise Keepers. (Applause)
How is it possible? The enemy is doing everything he can do. He knows my habits, my tendencies, my weaknesses. He knows how to drive a wedge between me and my wife. How is it that guys who start strong, how is it that they don't finish strong? It's because the enemy gets them off in their marriages. Hey, you know what? I want to hit the finish line married to the same woman that I'm married to today, and you do, too. And again, you may say, "Steve, I've already been picked off. I've already been through a divorce. I've been through two divorces. I've been through three divorces, and I'm on marriage No. 4." Well, let me say this to you, my friend, by the power of the living Spirit of Jesus Christ within you, you make this marriage work. You implement the principles. Let's finish strong with our commitments where we are right today. We can't go back to the past. All we can do is go forward. You see, we're talking about keeping commitments.
In 1519, Hernando Cortez undertook a tremendous responsibility, loaded 11 ships, hundreds of men, and went to Mexico. He didn't know what was awaiting him, but he felt like there was treasure. He felt like there was some conquest possibilities. They landed in Vera Cruz, and then the men unloaded their stuff, and as they were going up the cliffs, and making their way and they didn't know if they were gonna live. They didn't know if they were gonna be attacked. They didn't know if there were gonna be diseases, but as they are going up that mountainside, as one of the guys yelled and suddenly, they looked back down in the bay, hundreds and hundreds of feet down, where they saw their 11 ships. And their 11 ships were all going up in flames. All 11 ships were burning, and there was not a thing they could do. What happened? How did the ships catch fire? Cortez set the ships on fire, because what he did, he cut off, he burned the escape route. He made sure those guys were committed. They had to finish, because there was no escape. Gentlemen, we need to burn our ships. Divorce isn't even in our vocabulary. It doesn't even exist.
John: What a great response from more than 50,000 men at a Promise Keepers event in North Carolina a few years back and that was Steve Farrar sharing a very moving, passionate and heartfelt message about the importance for men to show leadership in their marriages.
Jim: John, I just loved this message from Steve Farrar, especially since it flies in the face of what we hear from our culture today. You know, the world says, if your marriage doesn't work out, just get a divorce and move on. You deserve to be happy. But as we've seen over the years, especially since no-fault divorce became the law of the land, people are not happier after they break up. In fact, the divorce rates are even higher in second and third marriages. So, divorce is not the answer. Let's just burn that ship, as Steve Farrar said and let's see what we can do to make our marriage better, the one we are in.
And by the way, happiness is not our goal as a Christian. I know we got a lot of books that talk about being happy, but it's godliness. That should be our goal and godliness is something that you can pursue right now in your marriage. In fact, it's an excellent place to start. But guess what? It starts with your own heart. Show your spouse you love them by doing an act of service--something kind like when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.
You know, I don't always get this right, but I think I did one correctly not long ago and Jean and I have had foster kids in and it's been tough, because they're little. They're 3- and 4-years-old. And we had a women's retreat at Focus coming up and she said, "Is it okay to go? Or what do you want to do?" And I said, "No, I think you need those two nights away and I'll take the kids."
Well, don't get me wrong. I was panicking inside. I was very calm on the outside (Laughing), but man, I'm panicking, going how am I gonna do this over the long weekend? But you know what? We got through it. We found a way to manage it. I changed a lot of diapers over the weekend, but it gave her that break. And I think that is an example of at least my attempt to wash her feet.
John: It's interesting, isn't it, Jim? By the way, kudos for that (Laughter). That is an act of service.
John: That will speak to a lot of moms in the audience. They're probably saying, "Oh, good. I have an idea that I can take to my husband."
Jim: (Laughing) Sorry, guys.
John: Isn't it interesting, though? You've been married for a while, me, too and those things don't just happen easily even though we've been married so long.
Jim: You gotta think about it.
John: Yeah and I think it's easy for me to forget how Dena need me to love her. For her, it's, to use Gary Chapman's love languages, quality time. And so, if she says, "I'm going for a walk," my proper response is, "Let's go together." And I do want to do that sometimes, but I have a to-do list at home and I never get things done here, so I go home and I don't get things done there. It's just hard. There's that natural friction and tension and if you don't turn your attention to the relationship, it's not gonna make it.
Jim: Yeah, you have to be intentional and you know, when we talk about those love languages, I mean, you know, women, I think all of us as human beings, we want all five of 'em at some point, but Jean really responds to words of affirmation. I think that's her well, you know. It's hard to fill that in many, many people and particularly spouses that, you know, they need to be affirmed, 'cause every day they're struggling with kids and diapers and (Chuckling) everything else. And I think they're doing the greatest work for the next generation obviously.
Maybe your marriage, the issues you're facing go beyond a simple fix of using the love languages to better understand each other. And maybe you feel like your marriage is in dire straits. And let me remind you of the Hope Restored marriage intensive here at the Focus on the Family Marriage Institute. We have an incredible success rate. It's almost 85 percent of the couples that complete the program post two years say they are doing well and are much happier. And these are couples who were on the brink of divorce. Maybe they had even filed for divorce and they came to the intensive course to work out their communication issues in a deeper and more profound way.
Here's a note from Carol, who came to the institute in 2014. She said, "I arrived feeling very hopeless and skeptical. My wounds were too fresh. My husband revealed his affair just three weeks ago. I was terrified of airing our dirty laundry in front of a group of strangers. I was completely out of my comfort zone. But from the very beginning, I felt God's love in this place. I was able to open my heart to our group and I understood my husband's heart for the first time. We were able to connect in a way I never thought possible. We have a long road ahead, but I believe we have the tools to make the journey."
John: Well, that--
John: --is so powerful and it's a typical letter really, the kind of feedback we receive about the Hope Restored marriage intensives so often. And it's great to see how God is working through the Focus on the family Marriage Institute.
Jim: It's so true, John and we have hundreds of letters just like this one. So, if you're in that spot, don't give up hope. If you feel like your marriage is hanging by a thread, don't hesitate to contact us. Don't be embarrassed. Call us today. Don't wait until it's too late. And if I can just add, right now in the culture, we need your marriage as a Christian couple to survive. We have got to reduce our divorce rate in the Christian community.
And if you'd like to partner with us in helping these marriages not only thrive, but certainly survive, please make a generous donation to Focus on the Family. We'll doin' all we can to strengthen marriages and in fact, we helped save 130,000 marriages last year alone, but we can't do it just by ourselves. We need your financial support and your prayers. So, please get in touch with us by phone or online. And if you could do that today, that would be helpful. And when you give, we want to say thank you by sending you a copy of the CD of today's message from Steve Farrar, along with what we'll hear tomorrow.
John: Yeah and we'd be happy to send that out to you for a donation of any amount when you join our support team. Give us a call. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you'll find us at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. You can also drop a check in the mail. Our address is 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80920.
Now as we mentioned, this content from Steve Farrar is related to his book, Point Man and we'd invite you to learn how to get a copy when you get in touch.
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow, as we hear more from Steve Farrar, as he describes what it takes to be a man of integrity.
Dr. Steve Farrar: Reputation is what people think you are. Character is what you are when no one else is around. We need to be men of godly character. (Applause)
End of Excerpt
John: More encouragement tomorrow, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Steve FarrarView Bio
Steve Farrar is a popular speaker and a best-selling author of numerous books including Point Man, Manna, True Courage and Battle Ready. He is also the founder and chairman of Men's Leadership Ministries and has conducted more than 600 men's conferences across North America. Steve holds a doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches a weekly men's bible study in Dallas that's attended by several hundred men. He and his wife, Mary, have three grown children. Learn more about Steve by visiting his website, www.stevefarrar.com.