My precious sisters in Christ, I have so enjoyed getting to know many of you – hundreds and hundreds of you – by email and here on the blog over the past 2 years. I now count many of you as close friends. What I am going to share with you today is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard for me to share! It brings me to tears, actually. I SO DO NOT WANT TO GIVE UP MY EMAIL MINISTRY, because it is one of my favorite parts of this ministry God has given to me. It is where the real nitty gritty disciple-making process often happens.
Unfortunately, I cannot continue to spend 3-6 hours per day responding to emails. 🙁 That doesn’t count the other time spent on my blogs or writing a book. This is creating way too much imbalance in my own life and I have got to take steps to make sure I am spending the time with God and my own family that I need to and that my life isn’t completely consumed by emails. I WANT SO MUCH to help every woman personally and individually – but I just am not able to. It’s probably way past time for me to acknowledge my limitations here. Even though I don’t want to have to do this, I know that I need to – but it makes me SO SAD!!!!!!
- It’s TOTALLY fine for you to leave comments, updates (I LOVE those!) and questions on the blog and on the FB page. PLEASE DO!!!!!! I am thrilled to hear from you! I also love it when wives encourage and share with each other and form a supportive community together. 🙂 Y’all are GREAT at doing that! THANK YOU!
(If you have been emailing me recently, you may reply to my recent emails and we will finish the conversations we started. :))
The needs are very great. I don’t want to let any women slip through the cracks and not get help they need. And yet, I just cannot personally counsel every wife. So – I have been praying and seeking God’s face and wisdom about this issue fervently.
HERE IS SOMETHING I BELIEVE GOD DESIRES ME TO DO:
Let’s all walk together through a typical conversation I would have when wives have emailed me in the past. I have seen God heal hundreds of women through the email ministry and the blogs. But, the most important thing is that women need Christ Jesus, not me. They need His wisdom, His power, His Spirit, His truth – not me. There is no room for any pride in my heart about this. Jesus must greatly INCREASE and I must greatly decrease. I am just the pipe through which the power of God flows. Our greatest need – for all of us – is Jesus, Himself. I am concerned that sometimes, the more I counsel wives, the more they may depend on me instead of God. That is not good. And, I am also concerned that maybe I might tend to give too much “advice” when I should be doing more pointing to Christ and the Biblical Principles of His Word. I still have TONS of things to learn here, myself! I have a lot of room to grow as a believer in Christ, as a wife, as a mentor… Please pray that God would empower us all to be faithful to Him and for His greatest glory in all of our lives, as well!
When I first “meet” a wife, I listen to her story, sympathize deeply with her pain and struggles (I have certainly been there, too!) and then I usually ask a series of questions, something like this:
1. What is your relationship like with Jesus?
2. Does your husband have a relationship with Jesus?
3. What was your parents’ marriage like?
4. What was your husband’s parents’ marriage like?
5. What is it that you believe you must have to be happy?
6. What are your greatest fears?
7. What sins, if any, are you cherishing in your heart that may be more important to you than Jesus?
8. Are there goals and priorities in your life that come above Christ?
The wife sends me her responses. Here is my thought process that I walk through with each wife:
1. If her relationship with Jesus is nonexistent or extremely weak, I know that this is the problem. I know this is where her focus has got to be. This journey to become godly wives and women is ALL about our walk with Christ. It has almost nothing to do with our husbands. Here are the two primary commandments God gives to all of us. If we don’t have these things at the top of our priorities and concerns, we are not going to have anything right with God or other people in our lives.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
2. If her husband is far from God (whether he claims to be a believer or not) – God’s command for this wife in this situation is very clear:
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. I Peter 3:1-6
Talking with WORDS about spiritual things, sin, God and what a husband “should do” is not going to be an effective approach for a godly wife. It is not our words that will lead our husbands to Christ and to ourselves, in fact, lots of words about these things to a husband who is far from God will actually REPEL him from us and from God. The key is for us to verbally get out of God’s way and stop talking about these things and stop trying to verbally drag our husbands to God. This leaves room for our husbands to hear God’s voice. It gets us out of God’s way. In the meantime, our job is to live in the power of God’s Spirit and to show honor and real respect to our husbands. THIS is how we influence our husbands to come towards Christ and towards us. Ultimately, God must open our husbands’ eyes. But we can cooperate with God and walk in faith and obedience and the power of His Spirit. That is how God desires us to “win our husbands without a word.”
3./4. The answers to these questions tell me what each spouse believes is “normal.” This tells me how the husband and wife were “programmed” to believe marriage should be when they were growing up. The farther their parents’ relationship was from God’s design, wisdom, truth and power – the more correction will need to be done now.
All parents are imperfect, wretched sinners. All people on the planet are, according to God’s Word. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. There are some things that parents have done, all parents, that were not godly examples to their children. And, of course, we have also been greatly influenced by the ungodly and worldly culture around us, as well, even in the church. So, it is time to evaluate our marriages by the standard of God’s Word instead of clinging to the imperfect examples of our parents. We must all throw out anything in our understanding of God, ourselves, life, masculinity, femininity, family and marriage that does not match up with Scripture. So we dig all the way down till we get to Christ in our hearts, the Rock. And we build our understanding from scratch on God’s Word for all of these things.
If there are SERIOUS problems in the marriage – real abuse (current or in the past), infidelity, uncontrolled mental disorders or active addictions, I refer people to find experienced, godly, biblical spiritual help and sometimes also medical help or any help that they may need in their situation. I am not qualified to counsel on these severe issues. God’s Word is always true and God is able to heal. But people may need more resources than I can personally offer about these issues.
Some of the commands God gives us in His Word for how we are to build our lives and marriages are found here:
Ephesians 4 and 5
I Thessalonians 5
I Corinthians 13:4-8
I Corinthians 11:3
The Bible and Divorce (at the bottom of this post are ALL of the scriptures there are in the Bible about marriage and divorce)
5.-8. These question helps to reveal idols. We ALL have idols. Unless we have consciously dug them out and torn them out by the roots, “the human heart is an idol factory,” and there are things that we believe we MUST have to be happy that are not Jesus. But God will never allow us to find contentment in anything but Himself. So, as long as we are pursuing idols, and putting other things above Jesus, we are going to continue being miserable, afraid, worried, discontent and lonely. Our greatest fears are often the opposite of whatever our idols are.
If we are trying to find our happiness in being in control, SELF, our husbands, marriage, money, health, beauty, career, children… those things cannot satisfy us. They cannot fill the gaping hole that only Jesus can fill in our hearts. We have got to be willing to part with and crucify all the sin in our lives in order to come to Christ. He is more than willing and able to forgive us of our sins. But first, we must confess our sins and agree that what we are doing is sin, then He is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
The main sins I see over and over are (and these were my own sins, too!):
- UNBELIEF – I don’t think God is trustworthy. I don’t think He is who He says He is in the Bible. I don’t think I can stop trusting myself and trust Him instead. I’m afraid He will take away my family and all the things that matter most to me if I were to trust Him. I think He is actually “bad” and that He doesn’t REALLY have loving motives and good motives towards me. I can’t let go of control. If I do, my world will fall apart. I live as if I am sovereign, not God. I live as if everything depends on me, not God. I am completely consumed by fear. I don’t know God. I don’t know His love. I don’t believe His Word. I may think I believe His Word, but I don’t live like I believe His Word because my actions show my true priorities and where my ultimate trust is – and it is in myself.
– I depend on other things or my husband or myself to find contentment in life. My greatest goal is my own happiness. If I am not happy, I am justified to sin in any way I want to in order to find happiness. I will be happy no matter what it costs me or anyone else. I expect my husband to be responsible for my happiness. I do not take responsibility for my own happiness. If I am unhappy, he needs to fix it. I don’t look to Christ to find contentment, peace and joy. I expect my husband to meet needs that only Jesus can meet in my soul.
– I depend on myself to find contentment. If I can just be in control and be in charge of everything, it will all work out “right.” I live as if I am sovereign, not God. I trust myself, not God. I may say I trust God. I may think I trust Christ. But my life is full of worry, defeat, fear, anxiety and a desperate struggle to try to MAKE everything happen the way I think it should. I don’t realize that trying to have control is actually an illusion. I don’t control very much at all. And I don’t realize that trusting God is so much better than trusting myself. He actually IS God and He IS sovereign. I am not God. And I am not sovereign. And if I try to live as if I am God and I am sovereign, I will be one miserable person. God will NEVER let me find contentment in trusting SELF.
– There are many other idols, too: children, beauty, health, money, power, fame, the media, attention, youth, our husband’s love, our husband’s behavior, our husband’s salvation, our husband’s pure thought life… we can make almost anything into an idol that we cherish above God.
- BITTERNESS/RESENTMENT/UNFORGIVENESS – These are HUGE sins. I have to choose. I can have bitterness or I can have Jesus. But I cannot have both. Bitterness is actually the idol of unforgiveness. Jesus commands us in Matthew 6 to forgive others or God will not forgive us.
- PRIDE, PRIDE, PRIDE – This is the foundational sin for almost every other sin. I believe I know best. I know better than my husband. I know better than the Bible. I know better than God.
- REBELLION/DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD – We have a very pervasive spirit of rebellion against God’s Word today, even in the church. When God gives us commands, we are to obey Him. Always. He is LORD! Even when we don’t agree. Even if what He asks us to do is not politically correct. If I am unwilling to obey something that God’s Word commands me to do, I am living in rebellion against God.
- WORLDLINESS – I have absorbed the ungodly thinking, mindsets, attitudes, priorities and beliefs of the world instead of being transformed by the power of God and regenerated by His Spirit to be more and more like Jesus.
- SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS – I believe I am “better than” my husband, spiritually more mature, spiritually superior, closer to God. I may believe my sins are “not as bad as” my husband’s sins or the sins of others.
Because we are cherishing sin in our hearts, we are not full of the Holy Spirit. This is often why we don’t have God’s peace, joy and power in our lives!
Here is a test to see, are we full of God’s Spirit or not? Do I have ANY of the qualities in verses 19-21 in my life? If so, I am cherishing sin in my heart and living in the power of the sinful nature, not the power of God’s Spirit. If God’s Spirit lives in me, I will crucify the sinful nature and it will be buried with Christ and I will put on my new nature in Christ and have the fruit of His Spirit (verses 22-23) in my life in increasing measure. I may stumble every once in awhile, but I immediately get up and repent and return to Christ. I cannot bear to continue on in sin. If I am living in sin and I am happy living in sin, I have a MAJOR problem.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:19-25
My prayer is that we would all repent of every trace of sin and submit our lives fully to Christ as our Savior AND our LORD. I ask every wife to focus on HERSELF, not her husband. This is ALL about her relationship with Jesus. Here is something amazing I have learned:
My degree of respect and biblical submission to my husband is a tangible indicator of my degree of reverence for and submission to Christ.
Jesus clearly says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey Me…. anyone who does not obey Me does not love Me.” John 14:22,24
The only motives God wants to see in our hearts are:
1. We love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and want to please and obey Him.
2. We want to love and bless others with no thought for getting anything in return.
God will use our marriages to refine our motives until our faith becomes beautiful and pure and we become holy in His sight!
I pray that this post might help give you a boost if you need it to seek Christ with all your heart and to begin down the narrow path that leads to Jesus and His Life, peace and joy. You are welcome to leave comments! 🙂
Stages of This Journey
The Biggest Problem in Our Marriages and in Our Spiritual Lives – idolatry
How to Stop Idolatry and Truly Live for Christ
Contentment Comes from Having Jesus as Lord
Things that Fuel a Spirit of Discontentment in Me
Roots of Insecurity
My Security is in Christ. He is my identity!
How to Make Your Husband an Idol
I’ll MAKE Him Love me!
But I’m Right!
FAQs – why do I have to change first?
What is Respect to Husbands?
Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected
Spiritual Authority – Building a Firm Foundation
A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage
Are Women Spiritually and Morally Superior to Men?
Biblical Submission Does Not = A Husband Is Always Right
Biblical Submission is a Huge Key to Peace
The Place We Must Start – being willing to consecrate our lives to Jesus
Praying for My Husband So That God Will Hear
Praying with Humility
Praying from an Obedient Life
Dying to Self
I Want to Feel Loved!
Breaking the Romance Addiction (idolatry of romance)
The Fantasy of Romance (idolatry of romance)
Expectations – idolatry of our own expectations
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:1-7