Becoming God’s Man
About the Guest
When was the last time you and your missus had a date? If your answer is, "Before we got married," then you're way past due! Pastor Justin Buzzard calls men to pursue their wives and love them like Christ loves the church. Justin tells a story about his father, a savvy businessman, who neglected to actively pursue his wife until he almost lost her to cancer. The thought of losing her prompted him to love her in a whole new way.
Justin BuzzardJustin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church, a new church plant in Silicon Valley. Buzzard has been dating his wife for nine years and is the father of three young sons. He speaks widely, writes at JustinBuzzard.net, earned an MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, and is the author of Consider Jesus.
When was the last time you and your missus had a date?
Becoming God’s Man
Bob: Justin Buzzard believes that men need to take dating seriously, both before marriage and after marriage. His conviction in this area came when he was in college and frustrated by how dating was occurring on his college campus.
Justin: We were on a run, my buddy, Andy and I. By mile two of the run, we had gotten so frustrated, talking about the conditions of things at our campus, that we said, “Hey, let’s start ‘The Dating Revolution’ at our campus. It starts with us.” This is what we’re going to do: We’re going to start asking girls on dates. We came up with a motto that we chose; and we would believe this motto, whether it was true or not. Our motto was, “Women want to be with us.”
That day, started asking—we went to the dining commons at our school, asked two ladies out—did a double date. Then, it kind of picked up in our campus. There are people married today, as a result of that.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, June 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Justin Buzzard’s passion for dating well is something that has carried over into his relationship with his wife. We’ll talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just curious as you think about dates you and Barbara have been on over the years of marriage—almost 40 years of marriage now; right?
Bob: Have most of those dates been spectacular and glorious, or have most of those dates been “okay”, or have some of them been not so great? [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes. Yes.
Bob: I mean kind of—give me the percentages.
Dennis: Yes, yes, and yes.
Bob: But give me the percentage. What percentage—
Dennis: Oh, I can’t—I can’t do that because that means I’d have to review all of them.
Bob: In a general sense—“spectacular”—is that 50 percent of your dates were spectacular?
Dennis: No, no, no. Spectacular is 5 to 10 percent.
Bob: How many have been, “That was okay”?
Dennis: Well, I wouldn’t put them in the “okay” range. I wouldn’t drop down from “spectacular” to “okay”.
Bob: Okay, spectacular—
Dennis: So, you’re moving from an “A” to a “C”.
Bob: Okay, we’ll go to a “B”.
Dennis: Go to a “B”—
Bob: “That was pretty good. That was nice.”
Dennis: Forty percent.
Bob: Forty percent were nice.
Bob: How many were the, “That was okay”?
Dennis: Probably, 20 percent. Then, the rest would be in the lower range. There would be 5 to 10 percent that didn’t turn out because we got into something mildly disagreeing or perhaps, well, vigorously—shall we say vigorously. It was usually around our children—raising the children—and issues surrounding them.
Bob: But this was a pattern that you pursued—and still pursue—spending time with Barbara, intentionally—taking her out on dates—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —something you’ve done—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —all 40 of those years.
Dennis: What one of the spectacular dates for Barbara is the two of us leaving our cell phones and going for a ride. We drive out in the country and just enjoy our conversation, the beauty of the hillside. We may get out—take a walk. We may stop at a roadside park, sit, and chat for a while. There may be silence. There may be all kinds of conversation; but it’s getting away from the distractions that surround our homes, our family, and that distract us from our relationship. That’s been the big winner for her.
I think that’s also a big winner for our guest on the broadcast today, Justin Buzzard, who joins us again. Justin, welcome back.
Justin: Thank you, guys. Good to be here.
Dennis: He’s written a book called Date Your Wife. He is a pastor of a brand-new church in the San José area called Garden City Church. It’s located in downtown San José.
Dennis: Is that right?
Dennis: So, you’re right in the middle of where they’re inventing all of those chips and—
Dennis: —all that’s taking place.
Justin: We’re right there in the heart of Silicon Valley. The people in our church are working for Google®, and Apple®, and all the places you hear about all the time. It’s fun.
Dennis: Well, he and Taylor just stepped out in faith to do that not too many months ago. They’ve been married for seven years, have three sons. You’re all about calling men to pursue their wives—not only to get a wife—but after they’re married, to pursue them relationally, spiritually, emotionally. Go after your wife—never stop dating them.
Justin: Yes, that’s a call that God places on a husband. I think that most men think that the mission sort of stopped once they secured their wife, once they got married. I want men to know that the real adventure begins once you’re married and once you continue forward.
Bob: You said you wrote this book because you were angry.
Bob: As you look at the condition of marriages, your assessment is that, “If there is something wrong in the marriage, we’ve got to talk to the guy.”
Justin: Yes, yes. I think that if you want to change a marriage, you need to change the man. I think that the man is either the worst thing that’s ever happened to his marriage or the best thing that’s ever happened to his marriage. I think that the secret to seeing change happen in marriages—this isn’t to say there aren’t major things that need to take place in a wife’s life—but I think God’s put the man in the position to lead the marriage, to be responsible for what’s going on in the marriage, before God.
Bob: Okay, now, look, I read the mail that comes in here. I know what’s coming because of what you just said. “Here’s another one of those shows where they’re bashing men.” “It’s another man-bashing show. Why do you guys always say it’s the guy? I mean, I’m a godly guy. I’m trying to do my job; and my wife—you just don’t know my wife.”
Justin: Yes. Well, that’s—here’s the deal. With Date Your Wife, the worst thing that could happen is a guy reads this book and says, “Okay, I’m just going to try harder—date my wife; and then, everything is going to work out. If it doesn’t work out, this book didn’t work.” That’s not the message of Date Your Wife, and anyone who really reads the book will see that.
I don’t want men just to try hard. That’s—most guys are struggling in dating their wives, and they think the answer is, “Just try harder.” The answer is, “Jesus”. The answer is that a man needs to come to a fresh awareness of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. What Jesus does is Jesus makes men new. Jesus makes husbands new. He makes married men new. Because marriage—again, it exposes the best and worst about us.
As you move through a marriage and as you learn more about—nothing has shown me my sin like marriage. As I’ve been married to Taylor, now for eight years, I have come—I used to think I was a pretty good guy. Then, I got married and realized, “Man, I’m a jerk.”
Bob: You’ve got some work to do.
Justin: “I’m a big jerk.”
Dennis: Then, you had children—
Justin: Then, I have kids.
Dennis: —and that really—
Justin: Yes. Then, the third kid came, and I realized, “I’m a big jerk.” So, I’ve realized how selfish I am. I’ve seen the idols in my life like never before, the sin in my life like never before; and Jesus has become bigger to me, like never before in marriage.
I think guys always get talked to about responsibility. Men are always getting talked to about responsibility. Everyone knows we have a major manhood problem in our country, and what’s always talked about is responsibility. Men are not manning-up. Men are not taking responsibility. I think the issue is—I think it’s a power issue.
Men think that their calling, as men—they think they’re supposed to do it in their own power. They think they’re supposed to do it in their own strength, and that’s never what we were meant to do. When God created the first husband in the Garden, he was meant to love, and lead, and care for his wife through the power that God provides. Most men are trying to do this, disconnected from the power of Jesus, disconnected from the power of forgiveness, disconnected from the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
So, what I want Jesus to do is—I want Jesus to use this book to make men new so that a whole new trajectory begins to happen in marriages. Men begin to lay down their lives, they begin to exercise servant-leadership in their marriages, and they see that dating their wife as something that Jesus will empower them to do, in a whole new way.
Dennis: Before you and I came into the studio, we were chatting for a few moments. I told you I had read your book and that it really was the Christian life, disguised as a dating manual—
Justin: Yes, exactly.
Dennis: —for men.
Dennis: What you’ve got in here is a fresh approach to how a man can be God’s man.
Dennis: And the power issue, as you put it, is yielding to the Holy Spirit, Who is to be our power. In Acts, Chapter 1, verse 8, Jesus said, “When you receive the Holy Spirit”—when the Holy Ghost—“has come upon you, you will be my witnesses.” He talked about, not only locally, but the surrounding area, and to the uttermost parts of the world. What God came to do was change men—
Dennis: —and fill them with the Holy Spirit.
Dennis: So, yes, they can proclaim the Gospel around the world; but I think, first, loving their wives as Christ loved the church, raising their children and not provoking them to anger. How else do you do that but by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit and being obedient to the Scriptures?
Bob: But I’m back to the guy, who is listening to this, and he’s saying, “Okay, I’m trying to be the good guy. My wife just hooked up with another guy.”
Bob: “So, you’re telling me I’m the problem?”
Justin: Yes. I would say—I mean, you want to take everything on a case-by-case basis, and know the context, and know the story; but I would say that that man has not yet seen the full extent of his sin, of his role in the marriage, and of his responsibility, before God, to care for his wife.
I tell the story, in the book, of a friend of mine who called me late one night and told me all about this affair that had just taken place in his marriage. He’d just found out that his wife had been having an affair with someone who was fairly close to them, and he was devastated. He asked, “Hey, can I come and just spend the weekend with you?” He drove over and spent the weekend with me.
I watched a miracle take place in that man’s life. Here’s a guy that’d been married ten years, had three kids. He’s just found out that his wife, for the past five months, has been sleeping with another man. His heart had just been ripped out of his chest. I sat with him as he just wept and wept that weekend; but as we talked about the story of their marriage, as we talked about the Scriptures, as we talked about Jesus and the power of forgiveness, I watched transformation happen in that guy.
He became—this wasn’t anything I did. This was something God did in his heart—he became convicted over how he had been operating in his marriage for the past ten years. He was still horribly grieved over his wife’s sin, and it was her sin. She’s responsible, before God, for that and has since repented of that; but he became aware of the true story of his marriage.
He saw that his story really was Adam’s story, in the Garden, where Eve was sinning there in the Garden; but Adam was right there, and Adam didn’t step in, and Adam didn’t do anything. He saw that, for ten years in his marriage, he’d been away at work, had not been home, had not been loving his wife. He thought he was doing a good job because he had kept his vows. He saw his vows as, “Well, I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed here. I’ve remained committed. I’m a faithful husband;” but he hadn’t been loving his wife. He hadn’t been caring well for his wife.
Dennis: To that point, you talk about a man’s responsibility is to cultivate—
Dennis: —and guard his wife.
Dennis: You actually used a story about your dad—
Dennis: That is really a great story. Back to your point, Bob—I’ve read the book—he doesn’t bash men in here. He calls them up. He puts his arm around them; and Justin says, “You know what? You, as God’s man, were made, for this moment, to love your wife.” He doesn’t absolve a woman who’s in adultery or who has done something wrong from her responsibility. He’s just calling men to be men.
Bob: Finish the story for me. What happened with your buddy when he got convicted?
Justin: Well, he got convicted, and he went home. Things began to change—really hard work, really hard work; but he began to repent before God and before his wife of how he had been a bad leader in his marriage. He began to repent of how he hadn’t been the husband that God had called him to be, and things began to change. They were separated at that time; but after a few months of the two of them talking and working through things, they came back together.
I have a Christmas card, in our house, that we’ve saved from the most recent Christmas—that shows him, and his wife, and their kids back together, after being back together now for a year. The tagline on the Christmas card is, “It’s good to be together.” This marriage that was headed for a divorce—he had so many people in his life tell him, “Hey, you have grounds for divorce. You should head towards divorce,” but we just saw the power of the Gospel work in his heart and in his wife’s heart.
Bob: It’s a tough place for a guy to come to a point where he would say, “Here’s what my wife did, but I own some of that.”
Bob: I mean it’s kind of like, “Okay, I may own some of it; but my part has got to be little because she did the big sin. I’ve just done some little stuff.”
Justin: Yes. Well, I think the Gospel is what can free up a man to do that because when a man really begins to understand what Jesus has accomplished there at the Cross—that we were so lost, so broken, so sinful that Jesus had to come and die for us—yet, so loved that Jesus came—the Son of God, came to die for us. When that reality starts to really work in a man’s heart, in a man’s brain, in his worldview, I think, all of a sudden, he can begin to take on responsibility for sin in a fresh new way.
Because in most marriages, we know how it works—a man wants to take as little credit as possible for sin—for the wrong doing—but when the Gospel begins to really take over a man’s heart, he sees, “Man, I’m so bad Jesus had to die for me. There’s a lot more that I can own in my marriage. There’s a lot more I can take responsibility for.”
Dennis: Sometimes, God will use circumstances like an affair to get your attention—
Dennis: —as a man. On other occasions, He may use illness. You tell a story about your dad—
Dennis: —and how he went through a similar process, even though he was a good man—
Dennis: —good father—
Dennis: —good husband.
Dennis: He really had lost sight of the goal of being God’s man.
Justin: He had—I mean, my dad and mom met—they met on a blind date. They went out for pizza and, then, they went dancing. Then, two months later, my dad proposed. Then, two months after that, they were married.
Justin: That was fast. Well, my dad—
Bob: This kind of runs in the Buzzard family; doesn’t it? (Laughter)
Justin: Yes, I think that’s where I get it. My dad was—he was Mr. Romance. My mom still tells stories about those dates, during that quick four-month period; but they got married. Pretty soon into the marriage, they had me; then, they had my younger brother. My dad started a business.
My dad was a truck driver at a trucking company. Our home was robbed when I was little—when I was two—and my dad was mad. So, he started learning about security systems, and how to install alarm systems, and started up his own alarm company in the area; but what happened in starting a business and taking on kids, my dad just got really focused on his work. That kind of became big in his life.
Now, my dad was always there. He was in the home. He was a good provider, but he wasn’t dating his wife. He wasn’t actively pursuing his wife, chasing her, cultivating the relationship, cultivating the romance. It was as though that mission had sort of been accomplished and, “Now, I’m moving on to mission number two, my work.”
About ten years ago, out of the blue, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer—very advanced breast cancer. I saw my dad transform. That’s where I would trace my dad’s conversion to. I saw transformation start to happen in him. He started taking mom out dancing again. I mean, things changed. He started pursuing her, leading her, spending time with her, in a whole different way. My brother and I saw that. It was incredible.
So, yes, sometimes, God uses these hard circumstances in our life to do something that we could have never expected. That was probably an answer to a prayer requests my mom had been praying for years; but through her own cancer, their marriage took off in new ways.
Dennis: He came to faith in Christ—
Justin: Yes, came to faith in Christ.
Dennis: —even though he’d been in church—
Justin: Yes. Yes.
Dennis: What did it take? Was it that he came to grips with the reality he truly was broken—
Justin: Yes. I think—
Dennis: —and he needed a Redeemer?
Justin: Yes, I think circumstances in his life that were outside of his control and that were scary came to bear on his life. I trace his conversion there. He and I haven’t talked about that. He and I haven’t talked in detail about that, but I would trace it there.
Dennis: Well, he’s probably going to be listening to this broadcast.
Justin: Hi, Dad.
Dennis: How would you say your dad has changed in these past ten years as a man—maybe as a husband, and as a father, but as God’s man?
Justin: Jesus is at the center of his life. He understands grace, understands that his sins are forgiven. He’s a man whose life is led by grace. He’s laying down his life for others in a whole new way. Always had been an incredible provider—He is not just providing for his family now—he’s pastoring his family now, which is a whole new dynamic.
Bob: I think it’s important to say there are a lot of guys who are in churches, and are faithful, and are doing the thing; but you’re saying your dad was there, but it hadn’t sunk in yet.
Justin: Hadn’t sunk in, yes.
Bob: So, the guy who’s listening—and I don’t know how many of those guys are flipping over to listen to Christian radio—
Bob: —but the guy who’s listening to this station right now, how does he know the difference between somebody who is going through the motions and somebody who’s really caught the disease?
Justin: Yes, tell him to ask his wife, ask his kids, ask those around him; but—
Dennis: Ask them what?
Justin: Ask them, “What do you think about me as a man? How am I doing as a husband? What do you think about my relationship with Jesus? Is it alive?” So, have them get feedback from those around him, but this isn’t anything a man can force. I don’t think a man can force these changes in his life. Being born again is a miracle that only God does.
I think even guys who maybe have been in the church for a long time, have been going through a lot of the Christian motions for a long time—there are a lot of men like that who aren’t saved, who haven’t been transformed. I think that sometimes God just brings circumstances into their life, that are totally outside of their control, that blindsides them, and humbles them radically, and that makes them see their need for a Savior.
Bob: It could even be listening to somebody on a radio program talk about his dad that could be the eye-opening experience; couldn’t it?
Justin: Yes, it could be; and death comes before life. The cross comes before resurrection. Sometimes, when you think, men—sometimes, when you think God is killing you because all these horrible circumstances are coming, he’s actually saving you. He’s putting to death certain things in your life. He might be putting to death the “old you” in order to bring to life the “new you” because that’s what Jesus does. Jesus makes men new. He doesn’t just come and make men better and do a little bit of moral improvement in their life. He wants to put to death the “old man” and bring to life the “new man”.
Dennis: So, to that man who’s listening to you right now going, “That’s me”—
Dennis: “What must I do to come to know Jesus Christ the way you’re talking about?”
Justin: Yes. Well, that’s what the Philippian jailer asks in Acts, Chapter 16. He says, “What must I do to be saved?” He asked the Apostle Paul that question. What he says is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you’ll be saved.”
That’s what you must do. You must see your sin, and that you’re a sinner, and that you stand under the wrath of a Holy God. You must repent of your sin, and you must place your faith in Jesus, Who lived for you, died for you, rose again for you, and forgives you for all your sin—Who makes you perfectly righteous, in the sight of God, Who gives you a whole new identity, Who fills you with the Holy Spirit and makes you into a new man.
In short, repent of your sin, believe in Jesus Christ, and believe in the Gospel. Get some good people around you, connect to a local church that preaches the Gospel, get some older men in your life, who you respect, to begin discipling you. If you are a married man, start loving your wife with the love of Jesus Christ.
Bob: There’s a difference between believing in God and believing in Jesus, intellectually, and going, “Yes, I agree with all of that”—affirming that—and believing it, experientially, where you go, “I know that’s true about me.”
Bob: “I know this is”—it’s not just, “Well, yes, I’m a sinner. I believe that,” in the head. It is going, “No, I see it. I feel it. I know it;” right?
Justin: Exactly. Yes, where I am, in Silicon Valley, there are like four Christians. So, this is the message we’re getting out there, and it’s not been heard in a big way. So, we’re seeing Jesus really transform lives out there, really transform men.
Dennis: This belief we’re talking about is a commitment and surrender.
Dennis: It says to Jesus Christ, “You be the King of my life, my Master. I will become your slave. You make me the kind of man you want me to be.” Obviously, you’re talking about redemption, forgiveness of sin. I’ll tell you what—the Bible is full of all kinds of promises to that person who’s made that commitment to Jesus Christ. What I would encourage the person who’s listening to us today—whether male or female—take Jesus Christ at His Word.
Dennis: If you answer His knock, He will come in. He will have a relationship with you. He’ll forgive you. He’ll write your name in the Book of Life. You’ll be forgiven. You’ll be called a child of God. Again, there are all these benefits that we have as followers of Christ that you need to know about because you have a new identity. You are a new creation. It really is back to what you talk about in your book. If you want to change a marriage, change a man.
Dennis: You don’t say it, but you can also change a woman.
Justin: Yes, absolutely.
Dennis: That’ll happen, too.
Bob: There is a link we have on our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, called “Two Ways to Live”. I think it maps out pretty clearly what the options are for us. We’re either going to live a self-directed life or a God-centered life. The question is, “Which road are you on? Which path are you walking?” This link helps you figure that out and helps you understand how you get on the right path, if you’re on the wrong path.
We think there is a right path and a wrong path. It’s not like two options, and it doesn’t matter which one you’re on. There’s a wrong road to be on; there’s a right road to be on. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on that link and ask yourself the question, “Am I on the right path?” “Which way am I living?” “Am I living the right way?”
Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “Two Ways to Live”, for more information; and look for information about Justin Buzzard’s book, Date Your Wife. We’ve got that in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center, as well—great book. You can order a copy from us, online, or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329.
Then, don’t forget we have an event coming up on Saturday, August 4th. It’s the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast. It takes place in Chicago, but it’s actually taking place in churches, all across the country—originates in Chicago, and it’s being simulcast in a lot of locations. There is still time for you to sign up for your church to be a location.
If you’d like more information about how to do that, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link for the Stepping Up National Men’s Simulcast. It’d be great to have your church, as a location, hosting this event on Saturday, August 4th. It’s a rally cry for men in your community and in our nation to step up and be men. Dennis Rainey is going to be speaking—Robert Lewis, Crawford Loritts, Pastor James MacDonald. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information; or call, toll-free, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
Of course, for those of you who have not yet received a copy of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up—or maybe you’ve received a copy, but you’ve thought, “I need to get a copy of this for my son, or for my dad, or for another man you know.” This week, we’re making copies of this book available to anyone who helps support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with a donation.
When you go to FamilyLifeToday.com—click on the link that says, “I CARE”, make an online donation—we’ll automatically send you a copy of Dennis Rainey’s book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. If you make your donation by phone, at 1-800-FL-TODAY, just ask for a copy of the book when you call. Let me just say how important it is for us to hear from you.
We’re listener-supported. The cost for producing and syndicating this program is covered by listeners, like you. So, if you appreciate what we’re all about here, at FamilyLife, as we seek to make every home a godly home, we’d love to have you join with us and partner as a financial contributor. Make your donation, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”.
Be sure to join us again tomorrow. Justin Buzzard is going to be back here with us. We’re going to be talking about how when a man thinks about Jesus—about Who He is and about what He’s done—how that has an impact on his marriage relationship. Justin will explain why that is and how that works, tomorrow. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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