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Dying to Self

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”   – Galatians 2:20-21

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 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. 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.  – Galatians 5:16-24

This process of learning to respect our husbands and honor their leadership is a VERY painful process – especially at first. It is the  process of dying to self and and being made more holy by God’s power.

There are no short cuts!!  

It is actually not about our husbands at all – but rather, it is all about our relationship with Christ. It is about our willingness to reverence and submit to Jesus. That is the entire crux of the matter!

This is not just some self-help “10 steps to controlling your husband and getting everything you want in your marriage by changing your words and tone of voice.”  My motives MATTER here!  If I am trying to obey God just to get the feelings I want or the response from my husband I want,  I have missed the entire point!

I have to have pure motives – desiring to obey God’s Word out of reverence for and love for Christ alone.

What I am advocating is to completely expose your deepest soul to God and allow Him to search the darkest recesses with the blazing light of His Word.  And then to allow God’s Spirit TOTAL access and grant Him complete Lordship and the ability to decide what stays and what goes.  And anything He finds offensive – well, it simply has to go. No question. God is Lord now, NOT ME!  This means facing your deepest fears, challenging your definition of God, your understanding of His sovereignty, your true beliefs that govern your decisions and priorities, seeing the mountains of sin that you may not have even known were there, and being willing to part with all of that humbly before our mighty God.  It means wrestling with God over those most painful issues and deciding whether you actually can trust Him or not.

Is He REALLY BIG enough?

This is DEEP, LIFE-CHANGING, PARADIGM SHIFTING stuff.

  • This is where you tear out everything from your heart but Christ and are willing to give up all that is dear to you – laying it on the altar to God.  You die to your dreams, your desires, your wants, your goals and your plans.  You embrace His will, His desires, His dreams, His goals, His plans and His life for you – even if that means not getting what you really wanted, and even if that means going through the “worst case scenario” in your mind.

You will have to personally wrestle with these questions and decide  – can you really trust God? Is He who He says He is? Is His Word true or not? Will you build your life on the Rock of  Christ,  His Word and His promises, or on the sinking sand of trusting SELF?

Let us be willing to die to ourselves!  Let us joyfully give up our rights, our goals of happy feelings, and all that we hold dear and cling only to Christ, out of thankfulness and profound gratitude for ALL He has done for us (paying our “billions of dollars worth of sin debt to God”), holding everything else very loosely in our hands!

The thing is, you can’t respect your husband and empower his leadership on your own.  You can’t just be quiet and smile and hold the raging ocean of  sinful thoughts, emotions and negativity inside while you pretend to be “nice” on the outside.  

This journey requires a total heart change – regeneration that is only possible through God’s Spirit. Eventually, we don’t even THINK the sinful thoughts. It is a total heart change. We nail the old sinful self to the cross and it is crucified and buried with Christ. Then we put on the new man in Christ. He gives us a new heart and transforms our thinking.

Lord, help us to lay down our desires and let us desire only what YOU desire in our lives and in this world. Let us desire NOTHING in heaven or earth besides You!

If we do NOT have His Spirit – it is IMPOSSIBLE to be the godly wives Jesus calls us to be. God’s Spirit alone is our power source!

Some wives think that I am saying THEY alone are fully responsible for all the problems in the marriage and that I am expecting them to take 100% of the blame.  This is NOT at all what I am saying.  Husbands are all sinners, and so are wives. Husbands have their own accountability and responsibility before God and will stand before Him one day – just as we will.  I am asking women to focus on their own responsibilities, their own sins and their side of the relationship.  We can’t control our husbands.  We have to trust God to deal with them.  And really, we can’t even change ourselves – but we can allow God the freedom and permission to change us and we can respond as He opens our spiritual eyes.  So that is where we have to put our focus.  That is where our power is!

When we are cherishing sin in our hearts – we grieve and alienate the Spirit of God.   We cannot have God’s power flowing full strength in us when we are embracing sin and getting cozy with it.  We have to choose between having sin or having Jesus.  We cannot have both!

QUOTES FROM E.M. Bounds – “The Necessity of Prayer”

  • If you desire to pray to God, you must first have a consuming desire to obey Him.
  • If you want free access to God in prayer, then every obstacle of sin or disobedience must be removed.
  • Those who have never wept concerning their sins, have never really prayed over their sins.
  • Until (the step of unquestioning obedience) is taken, prayer for blessing and continued sustenance will be of no use.
  • Nowhere does God approve sin or excuse disobedience.
  • The absence of an obedient life makes prayer an empty performance – something wrongly named.
  • A repentance that does not produce a change in character and conduct, is a mere sham that should deceive no one. Old things must pass away, all things must become new!
  • Praying that does not result in right thinking and right living, is a farce.
  • The change from badness to goodness is not brought about “by works of righteousness that we have done.” It is brought about according to God’s mercy, which saves us “by the washing of regeneration.” This marvelous change is brought to pass through earnest, persistent, faithful prayer. Any alleged form of Christianity that does not create this change in the hearts of people is a delusion and a snare.

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice – From the Archives

A REMINDER:

I write from the slant of a wife who was dominating, Type A personality, take-charge, controlling, overly responsible, overly “helpful” and prideful with a passive husband. If you tend to be too quiet or have a very dominant husband, my slant may not be the angle you need because you are going to have to correct from the opposite direction. If your husband is abusive, my blog will probably not be a good fit for you – the things I talk about with respect and biblical submission in a normal marriage may be triggers for abused women.  I don’t want to cause any wife harm! Please seek godly help if you are not safe or if you have severe issues in your marriage. Thanks!

————————

This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical.  Not only that – but our expectations can lead to grave sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families).  When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.

Let’s look at ways that many husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.

There is a good chance that your husband is trying to lead you (or used to try to lead) – but – are you listening?  Are you following?  Do you  acknowledge his attempts at leadership?

In real life, husbands tend to lead in “subtle” ways.  They don’t usually announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time.  Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months.  There will be  a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week.  You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”

I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor and preach or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.

I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they often DO try to lead their families in many ways, especially if they have a wife who is supportive, cooperative and full of real admiration and faith in them.

EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE

Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths.  Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures.  But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership.  Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even.  And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.

Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – HE HAS TO HAVE A GREAT FOLLOWER.  If you are trying to lead – you are not following.  If you are busy criticizing, you are not following.  It’s time for us to learn to be supportive, encouraging, godly, loyal and faithful followers! (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:5, I Timothy 3:5 – be sure to compare EVERYTHING I or anyone else says against God’s Word!)

MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP

This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now.  Your marriage WILL look different.  That’s ok.  Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths.  Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.

My husband leads first of all by example.  Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was often peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving.  Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be.  But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry –  putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart.  I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul.  And I didn’t even see it.  Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best.  Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.

My husband leads in more subtle ways that I used to miss:

  • He gives me direction and guidance.  Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate.  My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging.  I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.”  THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES!  Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today.  You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.”  I am wise when I listen to his suggestions.  The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
  • He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments.  He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
  • He disciplines our children.  My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am.  Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am.  But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family.   If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority.  My example is the standard upon which  they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
  • He desires physical intimacy with me (especially once he felt genuinely respected by me).  God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”).  And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  It helps to keep divisions away.  It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness.  This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage.  And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship.  It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other.  Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul.  Relationship and intimacy is much more important than my to-do list.
  • He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
  • He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
  • He tends to see the big picture.  My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
  • He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God.  He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays.  He seeks God’s will for his life and our family.  He prefers to pray privately – I support him and don’t try to force him to pray out loud with me like I used to.
  • He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do.  There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning.  My husband is my rock and is able to pull me up onto dry ground.  There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings.  I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days.  I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings.  I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding.  My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions.  My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
  • He takes responsibility and is accountable for the ultimate decisions.  It took time for this to happen – over the course of a few years as I let things go and allowed him to lead.  This is a HUGE relief for me!  I couldn’t carry all that weight.  It overwhelmed me before.  Now, I am so FREE!  I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests.  I can’t always see what is best.  When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me.  What a blessing!  I feel safe, protected and cherished.
  • He handles the finances now.    I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more.  And that was ok.  But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well.  I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore.  Here are the accounts and passwords.  Thank you for taking over.”  And then I left it with him and never touched it again.  He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about!  And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way.  So he makes very wise decisions.  Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him, “You can’t do that” anymore.  He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
  • He drives when we are together.
  • He gives me the better vehicle.
  • He encourages me to rest and relax – two things I am REALLY AWFUL AT DOING!
  • He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage.  He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
  • He takes time for himself to recharge.  Unlike a lot of us wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out.  I really admire this about men!  And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time.  That has been very healing for my soul!
  • He has fun with me and our children.  This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did.  He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
  • He stays calm and collected under pressure.  His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
  • He is my compass.  If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them.  His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
  • He makes the final decision.  I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way.  And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy.  But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue.  If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him.  I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good.  I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family.
  • He is the one I go to first.  Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things.  I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
  • He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog. 
  • When I am confused about something – I go to him.  He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
  • He listens to my desires and concerns but ultimately he decides what church we go to and when we go to church and what classes we attend and how involved we are.
  • He gives me quite a bit of freedom to make many of my own decisions. He doesn’t micromanage me.
  • He decides how to use his time.  He decides what house project he wants to work on and when.  He decides his own priorities.
  • He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.
  • He handles all of the gift buying for our children.
  • He says, “no” or “wait” to me when what I want to do looks like it will cause problems down the road.  That is a way that he protects me and our family. The times he has said, “no” – I have almost always been able to see in hindsight that what I wanted to do would have been a big mistake.  I’m so thankful he is willing to stand for his convictions even if I don’t agree at the time.

There are other ways, too.  But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.

1. What are some ways your husband leads you?  You are welcome to share!

2. Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families?  What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?

RELATED:

A Husband Answers – “Why Won’t My Husband Lead?”

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice – From the Archives

This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical.  Not only that – but our expectations can lead to grave sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families).  When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.

Let’s look at ways that husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.

There is a REALLY good chance that your husband is trying to lead you – but – are you listening?  Are you following?  Do you  acknowledge his attempts at leadership?

In real life, husbands tend to lead in subtle ways.  They don’t usually announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time.  Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months.  There will be  a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week.  You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”

I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor and preach or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.

I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they DO try to lead their families in many ways.

EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE

Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths.  Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures.  But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership.  Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even.  And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.

Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – HE HAS TO HAVE A FOLLOWER – YOU!  If you are trying to lead – you are not following.  If you are busy criticizing, you are not following.  It’s time for us to learn to be fantastic, supportive, encouraging, amazing followers!

MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP

This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now.  Your marriage may look different.  That’s ok.  Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths.  Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.

My husband leads first of all by example, I believe.  Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was often peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving.  Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be.  But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry –  putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart.  I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul.  And I didn’t even see it.  Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best.  Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.

My husband leads in subtle ways, ways I used to miss:

  • He gives me direction and guidance.  Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate.  My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging.  I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.”  THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES!  Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today.  You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.”  I am wise when I listen to his suggestions.  The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
  • He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments.  He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
  • He disciplines our children.  My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am.  Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am.  But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family.   If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority.  My example is the standard upon which  they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
  • He desires physical intimacy with me.  God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”).  And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom.  It helps to keep divisions away.  It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness.  This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage.  And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship.  It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other.  Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul.  The relationship and intimacy is much more important than the to-do list.
  • He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
  • He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
  • He tends to see the big picture.  My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do.  Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
  • He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God.  He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays.  He seeks God’s will for his life and our family.
  • He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do.  There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning.  My husband is my rock and is able to pull me up onto dry ground.  There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings.  I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days.  I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings.  I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding.  My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions.  My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
  • He takes the blame and is accountable for the ultimate decisions.  This is a HUGE relief for me!  I couldn’t carry all that weight.  It overwhelmed me before.  Now, I am so FREE!  I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests.  I can’t always see what is best.  When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me.  What a blessing!  I feel safe, protected and cherished.
  • He handles the finances now.    I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more.  And that was ok.  But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well.  I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore.  Here are the accounts and passwords.  Thank you for taking over.”  And then I left it with him and never touched it again.  He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about!  And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way.  So he makes very wise decisions.  Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him he can’t do that.  He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
  • He drives when we are together.
  • He gives me the better vehicle.
  • He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage.  He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
  • He takes time for himself to recharge.  Unlike wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out.  I really admire this about men!  And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time.  That has been very healing for my soul!
  • He has fun with me and our children.  This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did.  He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
  • He stays calm and collected under pressure.  His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
  • He is my compass.  If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them.  His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
  • He makes the final decision.  I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way.  And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy.  But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue.  If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him.  I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good.  I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family.
  • He is the one I go to first.  Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things.  I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
  • He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog.  He helps find an audience for me and finds guest writers for me.
  • When I am confused about something – I go to him.  He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
  • He decides how to use his time.  He decides what house project he wants to work on and when.  He decides his own priorities.
  • He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.

There are other ways, too.  But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.

What are some ways your husband leads you?  You are welcome to share!

Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families?  What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?

A Wife’s New “Problem”

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This is an email from a wife I have been corresponding with for many months.  God has changed her heart and her perspective dramatically – and He is healing this marriage.  What God is doing in this wife and husband and marriage is so beautiful, I asked her if she might let me share!
Please keep in mind that she has been working on respect and biblical submission for at least about 6 months or so.  And please remember that each wife, husband and marriage will have their own story and timeline.  The most important thing is that we stay close to God, feast on His Word and desire to submit ourselves completely to Christ.  He will handle the timing and results for His glory.
FROM A WIFE:
Things are so good between me and my husband lately … Since I have taken an interest in his business , taking walks with him and going to his basketball games – it’s like we are best friends now.

Now, I’m finding he wants to do EVERYTHING with me! hehehe

I NEVER had this ‘problem’ before- instead it felt like I was always asking him to do things with me and he didn’t really seems to want to. But now,  for example  I might just get back from gym and he would like me to go for a walk with him … Occasionally I say no because I’m so tired and he seems disappointed … Last night I went with him and realised that before when we went walking we would often just each listen to music or a sermon on our iPhones but the past 5-6 walks I realised we have the head phones in our ears but neither of us ends up playing anything on the iPhone as we were too busy talking the whole time.
Now he always asks me to come with him on errands and to anything he is doing (if I am home)
Maybe he asked me before too, but I only wanted to spend time together on MY TERMS…
  • “Why should I go walking with him, he is just trying to fit me into his routine , he can come to gym with me if he really wants to spend time together”
  • “Why should I help him with work ? He is just trying to get free labor out of me – if he wants to be workaholic that’s up to him – I’m having no part in it”
  • “Why should I go on errands with him? He doesn’t want to carve out time and take me on a date and he things dragging me along on an errand it going to cut it?”
  • “Why should I go and watch him play basketball?  It’s so boring! And besides its just a silly game why does he care so much about it? He could be spending that time with me!”
Those are the things I used to think – and add to that almost daily complaining and criticizing and I think I’m beginning to see why things are so different now. 
I NEVER realized the beauty and power of tapping into the things my husband loves and joining in where I can. I now LOVE his passion for basketball and feel so relieved he didn’t allow me to completely snuff it out!
With his business I have found ways to be involved that I enjoy like making the website and marketing.
The walks they have become such great times for conversation.
I read somewhere that to be attractive to a man a woman needs a perfect balance of 2 qualities. Playfulness and independence.
Independence meaning:
  • Not being clingy/needy
  • Being emotionally mature (From Peacefulwife – and I would add … spiritually mature – finding your joy, acceptance and purpose in Christ)
  • Not panicking if at moments you feel your husband is withdrawing or not responding exactly as you’d like every moment …
And at the same time remembering to be playful, light hearted and fun.
I have consciously been thinking of this and I think it makes me a happier person to be around as opposed to constant complaining and nagging.

Expectations – Part 4

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We have been looking at our expectations and how they get us into trouble in our marriages this week.  (Click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

I love the quote, “Expectations are premeditated resentment.” This is particularly true of unrealistic or unbiblical expectations.

The number of expectations I have had of my husband and my  marriage seem practically limitless.  I know I am only covering a fraction of them in this series!  But I pray God might open our eyes.

Let’s look at some more expectations we can easily have of our men that we might need to lay down.  Some of these things are not wrong for us to want – but if we make these things more important in our lives than Jesus – we can get into a lot of pain.

EXPECTATIONS:

  • My husband will only say glowing things about me to others
  • There will be no need for my husband to ever give me constructive criticism or a rebuke under any circumstances
  • My husband will use the same words/intensity/expressions that I use
  • My husband will ALWAYS put me squarely ahead of all other human relationships in his life
  • My husband will always think I am the most beautiful woman on the planet, even if I dress in sweats/jeans all the time and quit taking care of my appearance
  • I should be the leader in my marriage – I am “more qualified,” “more spiritual,” “more organized,” “more responsible” and “more intelligent”
  • My husband will only lead in the ways I want him to

REALITY

  • There will be times in life when my husband may hurt my feelings.  He may not intentionally mean to hurt me, but I will be hurt sometimes by what he says about me and to me. Sometimes my husband may mess up. Sometimes I may misunderstand. What a great chance for me to practice extending grace and forgiveness!  And I, unfortunately, will sometimes hurt him by my words, too.  We both still wrestle with our sinful natures at times, even if we are believers.
  • I am FAR from perfect. God is still working on me and helping me learn and grow. God can and will speak to me through my husband if I will listen and not defend myself.  Sometimes my husband can see my blind spots that I can’t see at all.  Here is my Youtube video about handling our husbands’ constructive criticism of us http://youtu.be/OEAis1auJRo
  • My husband is NOT ME!  He will not use the same words for the same feelings that I do.  He will not have the same emotional intensity about the same things that I do.  He is different from me, but that doesn’t make him wrong.  My phrase, “That would be GREAT!”  might mean the same thing that his phrase, “Ok, I assume that would be ok” might mean.  I get into a lot of trouble when I assume that he means the same thing I would mean if I said what he said.
  • My husband is human, and I cannot control him.  He might put his friends, extended family, coworkers, children/step-children ahead of me sometimes. (Yes, he SHOULD put me as his wife first among human relationships.  But I cannot force him to do this.  I can pray for him and influence him – but I cannot force him to do what I want, even if what I want is the right thing).  Reality is that the more I try to MAKE him put me first, the less likely it will be that he will want to put me first.  I can’t make him put me first.  I can influence him by my godly example or I can repel him with my neediness/clinginess/demands.  My power is not in trying to force and control him with my hands around his neck.  My power is in my smile, my praise of what he does well, my faith in him, my trust in him, my admiration, my pleasant tone of voice, my friendliness and the joy of Christ radiating through me.  My power is when I put Jesus SQUARELY FIRST in my heart and set my whole heart completely on Him, not my husband, not my being in control and not anything else.
  • Reality is that I am not the most physically beautiful woman on the planet. It would be wonderful if he compliments me and gushes over me – but that is not where my value and worth come from. I can accept that I can be beautiful in my own way, I don’t have to be voted “Ms. Universe.”  I long to be beautiful in God’s sight and have a gentle and peaceful spirit that does not give way to fear and is of great beauty in God’s eyes.  But I do want to put forth some effort into my physical appearance to show my husband I respect myself and him.  That means a lot to most husbands – for me to spend a little time fixing my hair/makeup and wearing some beautiful, feminine clothes sometimes.  I personally do this almost every day as a gift to my husband and a reminder to myself to cherish the gift of my femininity.  What my husband thinks about my appearance is not really under my control.  I don’t obsess about it at all.  But I do want to look attractive for him.
  • God gave husbands the position of leadership in marriage (I Cor 11:3 and Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:2-5).  We cannot take that away from them.  God says “the husband IS the head of the wife as Christ IS the head of the church.”  It’s not “He SHOULD be”  or “He COULD be the head.” As I learn to honor my husband’s God-given position and to support God’s wisdom (unless my husband is asking me to sin or condone sin or is clearly not in his right mind), God will honor me and bless our marriage.
  • Nope.  My husband will lead in ways I don’t agree with at times. Just like God leads me in ways I don’t agree with at times. But God can and will use my husband to lead me to His will and His glory in my life as I trust Him.  I can (and should – in my opinion) – tell my husband what I want and don’t want and what my feelings are – respectfully and politely. But then if he doesn’t agree, I trust that God will lead him and will use him to lead me even when I don’t understand and can’t see the ultimate plan. (When Would I Not Submit to My Husband?) And what a blessing it has been for me and my whole family when I do that!  God’s wisdom is way above my own.  And He has taken me to places that are so much better than the places I would have gone if we had done things MY way.  But even if my husband makes mistakes, I can trust that God is able to use all things for my ultimate good and His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  Check out my Youtube video about Biblical Submission here. 

"My Assumptions Created Problems in Our Marriage!"

1208847_35671158-1From a reader, THANK YOU for sharing!!!!  I SO totally relate to her mindset, and I did the EXACT same thing in the past!  I LOVE what this wife has learned and the way she shares it is so relatable.  I know this post will bless MANY, MANY other wives!  Great job!!!!!
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I have a story that I think you might appreciate.
One of the biggest problems in my marriage is me assuming that my husband is mad at me.  If I don’t understand his behavior, I assume it is about his disappointment in me.  He’s tired and quiet from work, I assume he’s upset because I didn’t make the kids clean up all their toys.  He accidentally forgot his phone, I assume he’s mad that I didn’t pay enough attention to him the day before and doesn’t want me to be able to get in touch with him.  It never ends with just the assumption that he’s upset.  Then I get upset that he’s upset and won’t talk to me about it and give me a chance to defend myself. 
If only he knew how hard I worked to get the house as clean as it is.  I wasn’t ignoring him, doesn’t he know that I have a lot on my plate?  And try as hard as I might, I can’t get everything done while he’s out.  Left arguing with myself for a while, I will suddenly remember that my husband isn’t perfect, and maybe I could be a better wife if he did X, Y, and Z better.  Then when I see him, and he asks what the matter with me is, I am ready with all my ammo to tell him what he needs to change to help me be a better wife to him.
Last year, I started reading your blog, and while my story isn’t exactly the same as yours, my eyes were opened to my extreme disrespect toward my husband.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED
First, my husband is an adult.
If he’s upset with me, he can tell me on his own.  I don’t need to think for him.  When I confessed to him what I was doing his reply was
“Wow, you give me credit for thinking a lot more than I do.”
Sometimes he really is just tired, just forgetful, or just quiet.  There is no ulterior motive.  It is disrespectful to not take him at face value.
Second, if I have to make excuses to myself, I know that I’m not treating him as I think he should be treated.  Instead of wasting time coming up with excuses, I could more constructively use that time to clean up the mess, or take care of stuff so that when he comes home I can spend time with him.
Last, if I feel that we must talk about my perceived issues, I should start saying “I know the house was a mess yesterday, did that bother you?” instead of “Maybe this house wouldn’t be such a mess if you pitched in more.” 
However, when I began seeing just how messed up I was, my husband was deployed, so I had some information but no chance to try it out.
A NEW BEGINNING
Last night I got my chance.  I had exciting news that I wanted to share.  My husband was building Legos with my son, so I thought I’d call my sister and share the excitement with her.  I thought I’d probably leave a message, and be back downstairs in less than fifteen minutes.  Fifty-two minutes later I hung up the phone.  Knowing I had spent almost an hour of precious Sunday time not paying attention to my husband I went to find him to see if he wanted to do something.
He was nowhere to be found.  In my head, he left without a word because he was feeling ignored.  And I stopped right there.  He did poke his head into the room while I was on the phone, maybe he wanted me to know where he was going, but he didn’t want to interrupt.  In fact, he did tell our son where he was going, it’s not his fault our son forgot that happened.
Then I remembered, we did have something that belonged to our neighbor that we no longer needed, he probably returned it and then began chatting.  His absence was just him living his life, not a direct result of being mad at me.  At least that was my new story until he told me different.
Then, instead of coming up with excuses and things that he’d done to take time away from us, I used the time that I had to get stuff done, so that we could have some time for just the two of us when he came home.
Instead of coming home to a fight, my husband came home to a wife that made sure we’d be able to have some time for each other.  Instead of a fight, I got quality time with my husband.
The difference is night and day.
RESOURCES and RELATED POSTS
Shuanti Feldhahn’s book “For Women Only” –  will help you understand how men think and how DIFFERENT they are from women!  (From a Christian perspective)

Giving Our Children the Gift of Peace

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Many parents are scrambling to find the BEST Christmas gifts for their children – spending hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on toys, electronics, clothes and jewelry.  It’s so normal now for Christmas to be all about STUFF.  We easily turn Christmas into a monument to materialism, selfishness, greed and things.  Santa and gifts and decorations can become idols to our children, even to adults – as we set our hearts on those things above our desire for Christ.  It is a struggle to focus on Jesus and His truth in our culture and not allow Christmas to become something ungodly.

But there is something even worse, in my view.

TURNING CHRISTMAS INTO WAR

Christmas is supposed to be to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the coming of the Messiah – the Prince of Peace.  But for many families where Christ is not Lord, celebrating His birth becomes another occasion for feuds, hatred, bitterness, contempt,  rage, screaming, cussing and even violence.

  • DIVORCE – What an ugly thing Christmas can be in this situation.  Each parent battles to have the children for themselves on Christmas.  Or they have to measure out the minutes and it has to be “exactly equal” or it is NOT FAIR because “he got the children one more hour than I did.”   It can become a competition to see who can buy bigger and better gifts sometimes so that the children will “love” the more generous parent more.  Some ex-spouses even use the celebration of the birth of the Son of God to create hostility in front of their children, screaming and calling the other parent the most dreadful things and saying, “I hate you!” in front of their children.
  • DIVIDED FAMILIES – Other families are not in a divorce situation, but there is incredible tension and division in the home between parents.  The celebration of Christmas becomes a battle ground of who gets to have control and power and make the decisions.  And the bickering, fighting, yelling, cursing, hatred and sometimes violence become the main event.

When we are living “in the flesh” we will have results like these.  It is a guarantee:

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control…

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Galatians 5:16-17,19-24

OUR CHILDREN

What does it do to a child to witness his parents tearing each other down, berating each other, hating each other, calling each other horrible names, accusing each other of terrible things, fighting over the children, trying to take revenge, trying to cause as much pain as possible to each other, using their children as weapons against each other, full of rage, bitterness and resentment – all in front of their children?

A child loses:

  • his sense of security and safety
  • his understanding of a loving God
  • his ability to have trust in relationships in the future
  • his ability to have peace himself
  • any joy that Christmas might bring

A child gains:

  • incredible anxiety and fear
  • a desire to try to control others to attempt to maintain his own safety
  • a sense of guilt – that the hatred is somehow his fault
  • grief over the dream of his family being a loving, joyful, beautiful place
  • a picture of God being as out of control and unloving as his parents
  • an inability to respect God-given authority and to submit to God and to God-given authority
  • health problems related to stress

This list is not exhaustive, certainly.

TO HATE A PERSON IS TO BE AS A MURDERER IN GOD’S EYES

Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.  I John 3:15

We love because He first loved us.  If anyone says: “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this commandment: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  I John 4:19-21

It is time to ask God to examine our hearts under the surgical light and instrument of His Word.  It hurts to lie still while He removes all the filth and rot and does open heart surgery on our souls.  But we NEED it!  If that root of bitterness and hatred does not come out, it will destroy us and our fellowship with God and we forfeit the power of God to work in our hearts and lives.  We cannot afford the luxury of hatred!  We need Jesus desperately!  And we need His power in us so that we can be the people He wants us to be.

THE GREATEST GIFT

What I desire for all of our children for Christmas this year is that they might see the peace and power of God modeled in their parents and that they might experience the peace of Christ in their families and homes.

For this gift to be a reality – it will take each of us submitting ourselves fully to Christ and His Word and His will.  We will have to give up our rights, our way, our desires, our wisdom, our plans, our will, our selfishness and be willing to embrace God’s will, His way, His wisdom and His glory.  It will mean looking out for what is best for our children, not just what I want.

It will mean my willingness to humble myself and return evil with good, to pray for those who misuse me and for those who mistreat me.  It will mean that I must be willing to sacrifice of myself for the good of others.  For example:

  • If I am divorced, I may decide God is calling me to be generous and allow my ex-husband to have the children all day on Christmas day, and I can make arrangements to celebrate with my children another day that week graciously and cooperatively.
  • Even if my husband or ex-husband is hateful towards me – I can choose to submit to Christ and to be filled with His Spirit’s power and to respond with gentleness, respect, godly love, peace and strength.
  • I can lay down my agenda and my way and my insistence on being “right” about how to celebrate or where to celebrate Christmas and cooperate with my husband and realize that the details of the celebration and the gifts are no where near as important as the gift of giving my children peace of mind, unity, love and respect between their parents.
  • I can respond to hatred with blessing.
  • I can respond to cursing with the power of prayer.
  • I can respond to mind games and power plays with generosity, kindness, cooperation and respect (unless I am being asked to sin).  THAT will bring glory to Jesus and might just cause my husband or ex-husband to go, “HUH?!?”  And start thinking that maybe this Jesus that I have is really a treasure.
  • I can refuse to yell and scream and cuss.  I can ask God to fill me with His Spirit and give me self-control so that my children don’t have to witness the horror of their mother being full of rage and out of control and scary.

When I genuinely have God’s peace in my own soul – God will empower me to have peace with other people AND I will also be in a position to share God’s peace with my children and teach them His ways.  There is no better gift than the Lordship of Christ and all the spiritual riches of heaven!

Lord,

How I pray that You might change OUR hearts today.  Convict us of our hatred, bitterness and wrong doing.  Show us the ungodliness in our souls.  Help us to have godly sorrow and to turn from our ways and our wisdom and to humbly turn to You – knowing we are wretched sinners who desperately need Jesus every moment!

Change us!  Make us the wives and moms and ex-wives You desire us to be.  Let Your Spirit rule in our hearts.  Let Your powerful love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control be the hallmarks of our lives!  Richly bless our children through us.  Pour out your Spirit on us and remove anything offensive to You and pour through us to our precious children.

Let our homes be sanctuaries of peace with God and peace with one another.  Let our homes be full of the joy and strength of Christ.  Let our homes be full of faith in the almighty God.  Let us make room in our hearts for You this Christmas and every day, Lord!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE AUDITORY LEARNERS, here’s a Youtube video on this topic!

http://youtu.be/7WjPhS7MHCo

Bitterness is Contagious and Toxic!

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Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.   Hebrews 12:14-15

WHAT IS IT ABOUT ONE PERSON’S BITTERNESS THAT DEFILES MANY?

In this passage – there is a TON of spiritual meat!

  • it is impossible to live in peace with others and be bitter
  • it is impossible to be holy and be bitter
  • it is impossible to see God without holiness
  • it is impossible to grasp the grace of God and be bitter
  • bitterness grows to cause trouble (in the church, in families, in businesses, in neighborhoods, ANYWHERE)
  • bitterness yields a toxic harvest that contaminates many people

1. My bitterness may lead others to become bitter towards the same person/thing I am bitter about

When I am bitter – I am seething with unforgiveness and a sense of justifiable anger.  I am fueled primarily by PRIDE – pride that I don’t deserve this treatment and that I am better than the person with whom I am bitter, that I ought to be sovereign instead of God, that I know best for myself and for others, that I should decide and dole out what the punishment for sin against me should be… LOTS OF PRIDE.

I cherish my grudge more than my relationship with God.  My bitterness leads me to more sin.  As the bitterness tree grows – it takes over my heart, my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions.  The tree begins to develop fruit.  Fruit like – hatred, avoidance, lack of love, lack of faith in God, deceit, lying, being divisive, gossip, possibly even violence or adultery – depending on my situation.  And the fruit drops into my life and the lives of those around me, rotting and allowing the small seeds of bitterness to spread and germinate in other places.

When I am bitter, I WANT to gossip about the person with whom I am bitter.  I WANT to run them down.  I WANT to hurt their reputation and try to build myself up by stomping them into the ground.  Gossip defiles my listeners.  And the people listening to me may become convinced to become angry, unforgiving or bitter towards the target of my bitterness, too.  Or, at the very least, they will lose respect and regard for the target of my bitterness or for me!  This happens at work, in extended families, in the church and especially in the home.

Children who have a parent who sets out to turn them against the other parent often develop great bitterness and unforgiveness themselves towards that other parent – not realizing until they are adults how much they have been defrauded by the bitter parent.  They can literally be robbed of the love of one parent and a relationship with that parent by having a bitter parent try to turn them against the other parent.

2. Others may become bitter towards me because it is HARD to love a bitter person.  My bitterness is so obnoxious, foul and toxic.

When I am bitter, I become more and more consumed with my anger, my justification of my own sin, my pride, my rights, my desire for revenge, my needs, my purposes, my will, MYSELF – that I can hardly see anything or anyone else around me eventually.

There is certainly no room for Christ to co-exist in my heart with a tree of bitterness.  Even a tiny seed or root of it offends His holiness.  I have to choose – Christ or bitterness.

It is HARD to love someone engulfed in bitterness.  They are sharp and prickly.  They practically develop a force field around them that love bounces off of.  It is exhausting to be around them.  They are depressing and draining.  They are an endless pit of need and negativity.  It is EASY to begin to develop bitterness towards a bitter person.  Of course, Jesus can give us to power to continue to love them  – but if we start reacting in our own flesh, we can be very tempted to be bitter with one who is bitter.

3. Bitterness can become my idol.

I can become completely entangled if bitterness continues to grow unchecked.  My very identity becomes BITTERNESS toward a person, an event or even God.  The tree of bitterness, and many generations of offspring trees that grow from the seeds of the fruit of the first tree – produces a FOREST of sin in my life that is inescapable.

If I am a very bitter person, I only want to talk about one thing – my bitterness.  (Bitterness grows in stages and is progressive, so it may start out only consuming a portion of my attention, but if given plenty of fuel and a  nourishing environment of continued anger, pride, rebellion against God and unforgiveness – it will completely take over my soul.)

It can become my IDOL.  I want to wallow in it and luxuriate in the mire of it.  I want to run the other person down – or run God down.  I wants the world to know what a victim I am and how powerless and wonderful and innocent I am and what justice I have been denied.

Bitterness blocks my view of God’s sovereignty.  When I am bitter, I cannot accept God’s grace for myself or for my offender.  I cannot receive grace.  I cannot give grace.  I cannot forgive.  So God will not forgive me.  It is a dark, depressing, lonely, cold, miserable prison.

If I am bitter with a person – I am ultimately also bitter at God.

For anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen, CANNOT love God, whom he has not seen.  And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God MUST also love his brother.  I John 4:20b-21

We don’t understand that God counts the way we treat other people as if we are treating Him that way.  The person to whom I show the least amount of love is the way I love God – that is how He judges me.

Whew!  What a scary thought that is!

The whole book of I John is an incredible study on NOT living in bitterness and hatred, but living in the love of God.

Idolatry destroys my fellowship with God and destroys every facet of my life – my soul, my relationships, my finances (eventually), my health, my emotions, my family…  Idolatry has a steep price – it causes discontentment, an insatiable desire for more that cannot satisfy, frustration, anxiety, worry, lack of joy, lack of peace, misery and sometimes even death.

4. Others may become bitter with God because of my bitterness

If I am bitter – I won’t forgive.  I won’t accept God’s grace for myself and I won’t extend God’s grace to others.  God says I am wicked if I refuse to forgive as I have been forgiven (Matthew 18).  I am a slave to sin and the flesh, and I can’t have God’s power or His Spirit or the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I don’t see the sovereignty of God to work through this situation for my good and His glory.

So – I cannot shine for Christ.

In fact, if I call myself a Christian but am holding on to bitterness, I convolute and distort the image of Christ that I am projecting and will REPEL others from the gospel and the truth of God.

Why would anyone want to come to Christ if living for Him looks like ME – living in bitterness?

Especially my spouse and children will be affected.  If they are not believers, my horrific “witness” will erect a massive stumbling block for them to come to Christ.  I am an awful billboard for Christianity and for Jesus when I live in disobedience to Him.  If they are believers, my poor example will influence them greatly towards ungodliness, too.

My sin will trip others and entangle them.  They may resent God and be bitter at Him, too.  Because my bitterness is contagious and because I can make it hard for them to see the sovereignty of God, the love of God, to accept the grace of God.  And, I make it REALLY hard to love me.  And if they don’t love me, they can’t love God.

THANK GOD HE HAS PROVIDED VICTORY FOR US IN JESUS!

If Jesus is not your Savior and Lord – you can pray and ask Him to be.  Check out the post on my home page about how to have a relationship with Christ!

For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord – here is what we can do when we are convicted of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  I John 1:8-9

PRAISE GOD!

The blood of Jesus is strong enough and more than sufficient to cover any sin we might commit.  We can ask for forgiveness.  We can agree with Him that what we are doing is sin.  We can turn from our sin and decide we want to walk on God’s narrow path that leads to life.  And then we need HIS power to be able to obey Him.  So that means, we allow Him to remove all the sin in every corner of our hearts.  We abide in Him – we stay in His Word often.  We pray continually through the day.  We seek His will, His wisdom and His glory and we lay down our own selfish desires and our wisdom .  We long to obey Him in everything.  We ask Him to fill us with His Spirit.  We are still and listen for His voice and read His Word with a deep hunger.  We want HIM more than ANYTHING in life.

Precious sisters in Jesus,

The bitterness has to go!  I am looking at myself first.  We cannot afford to hold on to this destructive sin anymore.  How I pray that God might speak to each of our hearts and tear out every trace of bitterness -replacing it with His Spirit, the fruit of His Spirit and His abundant life!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RELATED POSTS:

Exploring the Depths of Bitterness

Finding God’s Victory Over Bitterness

Be Still, My Bitter Heart

We Are Always Wretched Sinners on Our Own – We Never “Arrive”

A Peacefulwife VIDEO about nonverbal disrespect

Baby Steps

This is an email from a wife (with her permission) – I think it may be very encouraging to those of you who are beginning the journey to become a godly wife – to learn to submit to and respect your husband and most of all to ultimately learn to reverence and submit to Christ!
Thank you for asking….I think I am good…I continue to work on respecting my husband and being patient.  The respecting part really has been a pretty smooth transition for me…it is the patience and making sure that my prayers for my husband are not  intended for my own gain…(not for what I want him to change but) that I am actually praying for my husband’s leadership and growth.  This is the hardest part for me…
Some success stories from the past week:
1. We went to the local grocery store on Saturday morning…never would have been my choice but DH wanted to.…the place was a mad house to say the least…now in the past the trip very likely could have become stressful.
I held my tongue and allowed DH to choose things without my comments on the cost, brand or quantity.  As we went to checkout  DH chose the self-checkout…again not my first choice due to all the produce we had in the cart…not fun to enter all those individual codes. Typically I would have jumped in and took over…I am far the superior cashier:)  But instead I walked to the end of the lane and did not say a word besides helping to bag and contain our six year old. 
I was amazed to watch as my husband calmly went through the items in the cart, he actually figured it all out without my help:)  As we walked out of the store I complimented him on his check out skills…I swear I witnessed him almost stand taller…he smiled and laughed and said,  “I did well, didn’t I?”
Ok, so I know this is minor in the whole picture of things but the thing that stuck out in my mind is how this very minor incident set the tone for our whole dayDH walked away feeling good and it stayed with us all for hours.  Now in the past we would have not been in a full argument or anything but we both could have walked away feeling stressed and irritated with each other due to my need to try and take over the situation.
2. We live in a very small neighborhood and our neighbors are good friends.   DH and I try to do date night every couple of months but truthfully the cost of the babysitter can deter us from going out at times.  I started thinking last week – why do we all just keep sitting around on Saturday night in our separate houses attempting to entertain our children when we could pool our resources and give everyone a little break.  So I first asked DH if he was on board….typically I would have planned and then told him what I was up to….he agreed to my little plan.
I talked with the other wives in the neighborhood with small children and now we have scheduled date night for all couples for the next three months with free babysitting….here is how it works…we picked a Saturday in December that is free for all families…one family is designated as the stay home couple…the other two couples are free to spend a Saturday evening however they desire.  The stay home couple will provide dinner, entertainment (which truthfully with our kiddos is only supervision at this point they entertain each other), movie and snacks.  We picked numbers out of a hat….we picked the first night home.  DH comment when I told him, “You may just end up saving everyone’s marriage, this is one of your best ideas yet:)
3. I think the other thing that sticks out in my mind over the last couple of weeks is how many times in the past I have pressured and stressed about the time it was taking my husband to make a decision when truthfully he was just thinking it over in his own way.  I cannot tell you how many times I have asked my DH in the last few weeks a question, not a big decision ie, “What time do you want to leave for my parents on Thanksgiving.?”  My husband will respond, “I am not sure let me think about it.”  I have in the past gotten frustrated and impatient, really how hard is this.  Now I catch myself, remind myself that this is just how he is processes and let it go.  So much more peaceful on both of our ends…and the world has not even come to an end:)

Are We Deceived about How to Find God's Will?

This is a comment I received from a husband on a post I did about Finding God’s Will.  I think he is onto something really important.  And he graciously allowed me to share his comments with you.

Reading your post turned a lightbulb on for me. I think I now actually have a much better understanding of a key element of my wife’s long-term disrespect for me. Here’s what I think I’ve realized:

Knowing the will of God and/or how to know the will of God was actually a big reason for my wife’s pervasive disrespect in my marriage.

We had both been raised to believe that in every decision, and especially in every “big” decision (college, career, spouse, church, house, etc.), there was one and only one choice that was God’s will. All other choices would put you permanently in “Plan B” (and the next time you missed the will of God, you’d be in Plan C, and so forth).

It wasn’t until I was in graduate school that I figured out, thanks to Dr. Garry Friesen’s book “Decision Making and the Will of God,” that this “specific will” view of decision making was not biblical. Instead, as you’ve described above,

God’s concern is that we seek to glorify Him and, with that motive, that we make the wisest decision we can, taking into account whatever the Bible says about the subject, all the facts we can learn, wise counsel, etc. Then — the best news — He will take care of us. We’re free to fail, in the sense of making a bad (i.e., unwise) decision, because God in His sovereignty and love will “work together for good” even those things.

And we’re free to change course when things don’t work out as expected (for example, bailing out of a start-up business that doesn’t catch on or even a career choice that isn’t working) without berating ourselves for “missing God’s will” in the matter. All of this assumes that the range of choices we’re considering are all within the moral will of God set out clearly in the Bible.

Unfortunately, my wife never understood this alternative (and more biblical) approach to decision-making. As a result, for the remaining 28 years of our marriage, she had to worry that because I was using the “wrong” approach to decision-making I was likely missing God’s will for myself and for her (and the kids) on a regular basis.

Under this reasoning, virtually every major decision — and certainly every decision where we didn’t agree — became a significant spiritual event in which I was leading the family astray. And, by definition, if I was missing God’s will in the matter, we were going to suffer the adverse consequences (Plan B, Plan C, etc.) and there was nothing God could do about it. His sovereignty and His love for us were handcuffed by my failure to discern His specific will. AND, because every decision was fraught with spiritual significance, she had a quasi-biblical basis for resisting my leadership. After all, even the strongest advocates of submission and respect acknowledge that the wife doesn’t have to allow herself to be led into sin.

I wonder if any of your readers are facing a similar thought process that has wives deceived into disrespecting their husbands while believing that they are actually abiding by their duty not to submit to sin?

FROM PEACEFULWIFE (my response)

I LOVE your lightbulb moment.

YES.

Many wives subscribe to the ideas that you are talking about. I used to think like that, too. I thought that if it was God’s will, for instance, for me to be a missionary to Africa/a stay-at-home-mom/a homeschooler or whatever – that if I submitted to my husband, and my husband wasn’t tuned in to God – I would completely miss God’s will for me and it would be all my husband’s fault. How selfish of me, I wasn’t even thinking in terms of God’s calling on my husband! Just me. Sadly.

So I was terrified to submit to my sinful husband at first because I thought God was too small to direct my husband.  And I thought my husband’s faith was too weak for him to really follow God.  I thought I was responsible for causing God’s will to happen and for knowing what God’s will was.  I thought I could discern God’s will much better than my husband could.  Never mind that God didn’t give me the position of spiritual authority and responsibility in the marriage.  I knew I was better for the job and I was totally justified in taking over because my husband OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t/couldn’t lead.

I didn’t think my husband could hear God.  And you know something?  He was having a hard time hearing God’s voice.  The reason?  ME.  My voice was SO loud and obnoxious – my voice drowned out God’s voice for my husband.  I caused us to miss God’s will.  Not my husband. (And yet – God has used even MY sin and mistakes and rebellion for His glory now!  HOW AWESOME HE IS!)

That was my biggest struggle at the beginning of this journey – is God really big enough to lead me through my sinful husband?

I started out knowing that my answer SHOULD be “yes.”  The God I knew should be big enough.  But I didn’t feel like He was big enough.  I couldn’t see how big He was and how small I was. The more I understood about God and how HUGE He is and the more I understood about how wretched and spiritually poverty stricken and sick I was – the more I realized how ludicrous my fears were.

The scary thing is NOT for me to trust God to lead me through my husband. The scary thing is for me to trust MYSELF to take charge and try to be in control of God and my husband.

I grossly misplaced my fear. I trusted myself and doubted God. That was so backwards.  I am nothing and I know nothing beside the God of the universe.  My pride was astronomical.
Yes, I thought if I trusted my husband, he wouldn’t lead and we would sit in spiritual stagnation for the rest of our lives.  I was constantly trying to run ahead of my husband and trying to drag him towards God.  My husband wouldn’t let me do it.  I’m SO THANKFUL NOW!  I hated to wait.  I was extremely impatient.  I got ideas in my head and ran with them at 100 mph, assuming my ideas were of God.  They weren’t.

I didn’t understand that God was big enough to lead me through my husband. Turns out He IS PLENTY BIG ENOUGH. And, it turns out, that when I stopped all my disrespect and was quiet about things of God (like I Peter 3:1-2 commanded me to do if I really thought my husband was being disobedient to the Word) – my husband did begin to hear God’s voice and to lead.  He hadn’t had a lot of experience, due to my taking over for 15 years.  But he grew stronger and stronger in his faith and as a leader when I stepped out of the way and supported him.  Now I know that my Lord is SO sovereign that He will change my husband’s heart and mind to conform to His will whether my husband is close to Him or not.  Now I also know that God’s sovereignty is big enough to break my pride and humble me and open my blind eyes.  I PRAISE AND THANK HIM FOR THAT EVERY DAY!

Now I know that when I trust God to lead me through my husband and I am obeying HIm, walking in faith and full of His Spirit, He will cause miracles to happen and He will take me to a much better place than I could ever have taken myself. Now I also know that if I fight my husband’s decisions, I am likely fighting God. So I don’t fight anymore. I share what I want and desire with my husband and God, and then I trust them to lead me. Even if it looks “wrong” to me. Even if I don’t like the direction. That is ok.

I know that God has infinitely more wisdom than I do now.  So I trust Him. And I know that I CAN’T LOSE.

  • If my husband sins – my God is big enough to use that for His glory.
  • If my husband makes “mistakes” – my God is big enough to use that for His glory, too.  And God will use it to discipline us, train us and prepare us for things we can’t begin to imagine.  Even bankruptcy.  Even financial struggles.  Even big mistakes with family relationships or drama.  There is NOTHING beyond the reach of God!!!  Nothing is too difficult for Him.  Nothing paralyzes Him.  Nothing will stump Him and make Him scratch His head and decide that no good can come from that situation.
  • If my husband follows God, God is glorified and we are filled with joy.

I have no fear anymore because God is working all things for my good and for His glory – and I know that I don’t know how to get there, only He does.

I also know that God can take the things that caused me the deepest pain and my own years of sin and rebellion and turn them inot something that brings glory to Him and draws others to Christ.

The keys that I was missing were God’s sovereignty, power and wisdom and my weakness, foolishness and smallness .

Something else stood out to me that you mentioned.  You talked about your wife not wanting to follow you into sin.  Wives – a husband leading us in the direction he believes is God’s will towards a certain job, a certain house, a certain church, specific decisions IS NOT SIN.  If our husbands think differently from us or have a different idea of what God’s will is – THAT IS NOT SIN!  We are to give them our perspective, share our feelings, and cooperate with their decisions – trusting God’s sovereignty.

Your husband leading you into sin is something like:

  • He wants you to cheat on the taxes.
  • He wants you to steal.
  • He wants you to ignore his pornography addiction or worse, he wants you to participate with him or have a threesome or go to a strip club.
  • He wants you to gossip.
  • He wants you to lie.
  • He wants you to commit idolatry with him.
  • He wants you to do something illegal.
  • He wants you to kill someone or have an abortion.
  • He wants you to not forgive someone.
  • He wants you to not pray or study your Bible.
  • He wants you to go against God’s Word in a significant way (not just some minor little interpretational difference).

THEN – we need to respectfully but firmly resist our husbands.

But most of the time – they are NOT asking us to sin!  Most of the time, they are TRYING to lead us, but we won’t follow.  If your husband asks you to do one of the following, tell him your feelings and then please cooperate with him joyfully with your trust in God:

  • tithe or not tithe according to his definition (not tithing is not a sin – not from what I can tell in scripture.  But trying to force a man to give under compulsion is wrong according to the Bible.  He has to be free to make this decision – with your input – but then he makes the call.
  • take another job
  • go to a church of his preference (unless it is a cult)
  • not go to church on Wednesday nights because he wants the young children in bed on time (that is not sin!  Please respect his priorities.  Tell him what you want and then allow him to make the final call if you disagree)
  • move to another town
  • start a new business
  • have you home with the family more
  • start stricter discipline with the children
  • follow a tighter budget

The vast majority of decisions will fall into this category – he will have to determine what he believes God’s will is on things that have no clear direction in the Bible.  So he needs the freedom to be able to decide according what he believes God is calling him to do.

We label so many things our husbands do as SIN – and often, we are WRONG.  We easily make ourselves judges of our husbands.  We are in serious sin when we do this.  Not only is our judging them sinful – but then we rebel against our husband’s authority or try to usurp our husbands’ authority and THAT is also sin on our own heads.  It’s time for believing wives to repent and become the godly wives God desires us to be who will bring healing to our marriages and great glory to Christ and His gospel!

Thank you to this precious husband for sharing. I completely agree that the mindset you are describing contributes to great disrespect among wives for their husbands. I appreciate your wisdom and insights very much!

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