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The Most Amazing Life!

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If you want to experience the greatest possible life – I’m going to share the secret with you…

100%  submission to Christ

Be willing to say to God:

I am FULLY Yours.

I hold back NOTHING from You.

I give You all that I have, all that I am, all of my possessions, all of my income, all of my career, all of my marriage, children, family and friends, my entire future.

I only want to know You more and to be full of Your Spirit.

I will find total contentment in You alone.  Nothing else can satisfy me.

Show me EVERY trace of sin in my life so I can repent and be made right with You.

I delight in obeying You and living by Your Word!

Give me ears to hear Your voice and let me be totally open to every Word of Life You have for me.

I want Your will, not my own will.  I sacrifice my will, my plans, my wisdom, my desires and my “rights” to You.

I wait patiently and expectantly before You.

If You want me to wait right here until I am 80 years old – I accept that.  If that will bring You glory – I am in 100%!

If You want me to move or change careers – I accept that.

If You want me to give up all I own and give to the poor – I accept that.

Any sacrifice You might ask me to make is nothing compared to the treasure of having You in my life.  I hold all things except for You very loosely in my hands.

I want only Your full and perfect will for my life.

Use me however You will.

I desire more than anything for my life to bring the greatest possible glory to You – no matter what the cost.

If I must suffer – I accept that from Your hand.  Only be beside me and allow me to abide in Your love and presence.

If I must be persecuted for my faith in You – I accept that and rejoice in it – that You might allow me to share in Your sufferings!

Thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me.

I want to hunger deeply for Your presence and Your Word.  I HAVE to make time for You!  I can’t live without You!  I NEED You, Lord!

I want to become exactly who You want me to be.  Change me!  Make me more and more like Jesus!

Use me – I am Your humble servant.

I can do nothing apart from You.

I depend completely upon Your power in my life.

You ARE my Life.  Nothing matters to me except for You.

Thank You for all You have done for me already.  I trust You with my future.  I can’t wait to see what You have in store for me!

Youtube Video:

Jesus Is the Love of My Life!  (7 minutes)

A Challenge for You, Ladies! :)

screaming woman

Let’s allow God to help us

turn this loud, obnoxious, angry, destructive tongue of ours

into an instrument of healing and blessing.

As women, we have HUGE verbal skills.  This is where we often hurt our husbands and children the most – with our words.  It is time to learn to use our words for good.

Here is a command of God in scripture for us that I believe is very critical for us to follow if we are to represent Christ well in the world and in our marriages.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life.

Philippians 2:14-16.

MY STORY

When God first showed me my MOUNTAIN of pride, disrespect, idolatry of being in control and rebellion against His Word – that I had been blind to for 15+ years… I was mortified.

I didn’t want to be around anyone – because I suddenly realized that at that point almost every word out of my mouth was sin of some variety or another.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  I knew that all that would spew out of my mouth was criticism, disrespect, arguments, gossip, scolding, complaints, bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, control… UGH.

I was afraid to open my mouth!  I had never learned discretion.  I would always just say every thought I had that popped into my head without filtering it.

PHASES

That first phase of this journey is sometimes called, The Silent Phase  or Quiet Phase.  I realized suddenly that I had been saying so many negative, hurtful things.  I didn’t want to use my words to destroy my husband or anyone any more.  That is when it hit me – OH NO!!!!!!

Apparently, I don’t say anything BUT negative, horrible things!

Here is a great post by Nina Roesner (author of The Respect Dare) about the usual progression and stages of this journey of becoming a more godly, respectful wife.

Don’t worry – IT DOES GET BETTER!  But that first month or first few months is REALLY DIFFICULT and PAINFUL as you learn discretion, dying to self, living completely submitted to Christ, and as you redefine your understanding of God, self, femininity, masculinity and marriage.  It’s a total reconstruction of your heart.  A renovation that deep takes time.  It is too much to absorb all at once!

The tongue has the power of life and death. Prov 18:21

Eventually, you do begin to learn to use your mouth for blessing as you allow Christ total freedom and access to remove every ungodly thing from your soul and to renew your heart and mind to love what He loves and hate what He hates.  But most women go a bit silent first as they try to figure out how to stop the negative stuff.

THE CHALLENGE

For those of you in the beginning of this journey – I would like to encourage you to take this challenge.  If you are very new at learning respect and learning to obey Christ – you may want to take this one day at a time.  If you have a little more experience under your belt, you may want to take this challenge for a week to start with, then maybe a month!

For today/this week – while asking God to fill me with His Spirit’s power to do this

– I am NOT going to argue with anyone about anything

– I am not going to complain about anything.

…EVEN WHEN I PRAY!  I am going to pray in a respectful way about the authority of my husband over me.  I am not going to argue with God or His Word, and I am not going to complain to God about my husband or question God’s sovereignty or wisdom. I will not grumble or murmur against Him.

I may:

– say what I want or don’t want in a kind and respectful way

– say what my emotions are (probably once) – sad, happy, afraid, scared, angry, upset, nervous, excited, etc.

– use wholesome speech to build others up

– say positive things

– say thankful things

– smile my beautiful smile at my friends, family and coworkers – especially at my husband.

– share important information (ie: if I am sick, if the kids are sick, if the house is on fire, if there is a problem that my husband needs to know about, if there is a need, if I am extremely sleep-deprived) – but I can share that respectfully, probably just once, and ask for any help I need in a polite, pleasant way.

EXAMPLE:

I don’t need to say that it is hot outside.  That would be complaining.

But, if I am about to be overcome by heat exhaustion – or need water quickly to avoid heat exhaustion –  I can share my need.  I can’t expect my husband to read my mind.  I must tell him when I am not ok or there is a significant problem.  But I don’t have to share every little tiny thing that annoys me.

Does that make sense?

A SECRET

If you are controlling towards other people, too, not just your husband, you may find that you need to take a few emotional steps back from other people while you cling to Christ and allow Him to work in you.

I would not share all of what God is doing in you with everyone.  Those of the world are not going to understand and will likely argue with you or think you are crazy for talking about respecting your husband.  And if you talk about biblical submission, they may throw tomatoes at your head.

Even just quietly refusing to bash your man while everyone else bashes theirs will make you “weird.”

Here’s a post to help you with this – Don’t Expect Outside Support!

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

If you take this challenge – I want to hear how it goes!

– what surprises were there?

– what was the hardest part?

– how did your interactions with others change?

– did anyone treat you differently?

– how do you think this helps us shine for Christ?

I pray that God might be greatly exalted in your life and speech, that you might bless everyone around you with your words and use of your tongue!

“I Thought I WAS Being Respectful! What Happened??”

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Here is an email from a wife  and my response.  My focus here is not on what the husband could or should have done differently (Yes, there is plenty of room for improvement on his side).  I am writing for women, so I am only going to address what the wife could have done differently.  If we are married to a sinful person, and we all are… we WILL be sinned against.  
It is pretty pointless to focus on what the other person “should” do.  We cannot control other people.  We can influence them, but we cannot force them to do what we want.  I spent almost 15 years of our marriage focusing on what my husband “should do” and didn’t see the forest of sin in my own eye.  That was not productive at all!   
I believe we can and should voice our feelings, desires and perspective – in a way that speaks respect and a cooperative spirit.  Our power is to focus on what we think, say and do and our own responsibility/sin/accountability in the relationship:
A WIFE’S EMAIL:
Last night I messed up a bit.  My husband had moved some furniture for me.  And I was surprised to see that he didn’t put everything where I thought it should go.   I was (I think) respectful about bringing it up later.  Asking why he’d done that and did he agree it seemed a bit imbalanced now.
He was offended and mad, his voice escalated and he said something that hurt me. In some ways it reminded me of the lessons you’ve mentioned learning yourself. He was yelling and then he said that I was bullying him to get what I wanted.
I was so hurt, surprised and mad that I told him he’d ruined the night and I stormed offI actually re-did his work and put things where I wanted.  That was a big mistake I know, but I was hurt and so furious that he’d started yelling at me after I was respectful and appreciative.
He continued with the Sunday night things we’d usually do together, by himself.  I was so hurt.  By the time he came up to bed I was really hurt & fuming.  I tried to forget it, when he put his hand on mine in bed but I wasn’t able to.
I asked if that’s how he wants to move forward in our marraige now.   Just ignoring each other, blah blah.  Dumb, disrespectful things, I said.
He yelled at me that he didn’t know why I was “manufacturing drama” and he’d decided he “didn’t want to live his life like that” and he’d let it go hours ago.
What did he mean?  We got into going back and forth about it for a long while, but I was very respectful!! Trying to say to him that unresolved conflict is really damaging for me and I want to fix our argument sooner.   He blamed me for storming off.  Fair enough.  I was so respectful.  I was frustrated at times but never raised my voice. I worked hard not to interrupt.
We did make up finally and speak for quite some time about his future work goals, and hug a lot in bed.
I actually wouldn’t have bothered you with an email…
But today, he has changed his facebook profile photo from one of us both at our wedding, to one of him alone – a pic that used to have me in it, but as a favor I cut myself out and photoshopped myself out it so he could use it on LinkedIn.  It really stings and I have a lot of fear that he must feel the honeymoon is over?  Is our marraige is ok?  What did he mean he didn’t want to live like that” … scary for me.
PEACEFULWIFE’S RESPONSE:
I can tell you that many men bristle at the word “why” no matter what the tone of voice their wife has – for lots of men, that word implies that he made a stupid decision.  He may believe that you are questioning his wisdom, competency and abilities.  That one little word can make the difference sometimes between a man feeling respected vs disrespected.  Men tend to be quite sensitive to disrespect.  We don’t usually mean to come across disrespectfully, but sometimes that is what our men hear.  This wasn’t about moving the furniture – it may have been about your approach. 
You could say, “I would like to have this chair over here, please.”  with a smile and pleasant tone of voice and that would probably have gotten you what you wanted without a fight.  Problem solved.
 
I know you thought you were respectful and appreciative – that is GOOD! But what matters most is if HE is hearing respect and appreciation.  When he turns on you in anger like that (or some men suddenly stonewall and shut down) – he is probably feeling disrespected – whether the disrespect was unintentional or intentional on your part.
Later, in bed, he was trying to apologize when he put his hand on yours.  That was his way of attempting to begin to reconcile.  But more disrespect made him stop trying to offer you peace and intimacy. 🙁
He forgave you earlier.  He dropped the issue.  Men don’t always have to talk through things to forgive and reconcile – they forgive in their own minds sometimes and then want to just move on.  
Women usually do need to talk through things.  I totally understand if you feel like you need to talk more about the situation.  Let’s talk about how tell your husband your feelings in a productive way.  Most men will hear our feelings best when we calmly express them purely and simply with vulnerability (Laura Doyle – The Surrendered Wife):
  • I feel sad
  • I feel hurt
  • I feel upset
  • I feel afraid
  • I feel angry
  • I feel confused
  • I feel nervous

Instead of blasting our men with blame and labeling them “the bad guy”  – which will make them shut down or defend themselves – we can simply ask for what we need and say how we feel in boiled down, basic terms with just a few sentences.  Flooding our husbands with an avalanche of negatively charged emotional words can overwhelm them!  If we can keep our message fairly brief, to the point and calm, we  give our men a chance to hear us better, be our hero and to delight us!

So, in this situation, in bed, you could have cuddled up to  him and said something like, “I feel hurt/sad about what happened this afternoon.  I was trying to be very respectful, but maybe I accidentally said or did something that came across disrespectfully?  Maybe that is why you sounded so angry at me?  I want you to feel very respected by me – I know I still have a lot to learn about respect.  Is there something I could do differently that would feel more respectful to you?  It hurts me when you yell at me.”

I’m really proud of you for doing many things respectfully and not raising your voice and not interrupting him.  GREAT JOB!
If you have not apologized for being disrespectful (if he says he felt disrespected) – then please BRIEFLY and humbly apologize for asking “why” he did what he did (and maybe there was non-verbal disrespect, too?  Tone of voice or body language or facial expressions?)  That one little word, “why” screams disrespect to some men.  Try to ask your questions without using why.  I like to say “I want this, please.”  “I would like this.”  “Would it be possible to do X?”  “I would rather not do Y.”  “What about X?”
The apology is probably only going to need to be about one or two sentences: “I understand now that if I ask ‘why,’ it sounds disrespectful to you. I am SO sorry that I came across as being disrespectful.  I will be careful not to do that again!”  And then DO NOT EXPLAIN or justify yourself!  End of apology. 🙂
My take on his FB pic is – don’t ask him about that right now.   It would be easy to say, “WHY did you change your FB pic?  You obviously don’t love me anymore!”    That may only exacerbate the whole situation!  I think it is best to just wait a few days, see what happens and focus on the things he actually does say to you instead of making assumptions about his motives and see what happens.  (Love always trusts, always expects the best – I Corinthians 13:4-8)  
If you absolutely must talk about the FB picture right away- my suggestion would be to say something like, “I noticed you changed your FB picture after our argument.  It makes me feel sad/scared/upset to see that you took the picture of us together down.”  But then let him decide what to do about it.  Bob Grant says “No one likes to be told what to do.  But men REALLY don’t like to be told what to do.”  The more you try to force your way – the less likely your husband is to do what you want.  But if you share your feelings and then let him think about what to do about them, most of the time, husbands really do want to make us happy.
My take is not the only way to handle situations respectfully.  I am just giving women some ideas of options that may be helpful.  
There will be misunderstandings like this in every marriage.  It doesn’t mean the marriage is in danger.  It means that there is more growing and maturing that needs to be done.  It means that you are both sinners.  God is using marriage to make you both more holy.  And it is a great opportunity to learn to practice extending forgiveness, grace and mercy.
Now, today is a new day – so ENJOY your husband.  Savor the moments you share.  Don’t hang on to the argument but more forward and ask God how you can most bless and honor your husband today!
FROM THIS WIFE LATER:
I placed the chair back where he had placed it. When he noticed, he was really pleased and I told him I would rather live with it than have him think anything was more important to me than him.  He told me “you’re so sweet.” And cuddled me.  I used the opportunity to give the apology you phrased.
Thank you,  April. That was a really bad one for us. I really feel blessed you replied!!!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
I LOVE how this wife handled the situation at the end.  GREAT JOB!!!!!!

Empowering My Husband's Spiritual Leadership about Church Stuff

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EVERY COUPLE WILL HAVE ITS OWN UNIQUE BRAND OF RESPECT/BIBLICAL SUBMISSION/LOVE

There is not one specific “right way” to respect your husband and to cooperate with his leadership.  Every couple will have their own style and methods of doing this.  I am going to give some examples just to give you a baseline to think and pray about.  And to possibly talk with your husband about – respectfully, of course!

DECIDING ON A CHURCH

Many couples do not agree about where to go to church.  The wife prefers one denomination or one worship style and the husband prefers another.  Or there is disagreement about what place of worship is the best fit for the children in the family or what kind of music or preaching everyone likes.   Sometimes a wife just goes off on her own and goes to the church she likes and refuses to go to church with her husband.  I don’t believe this is generally wise – especially if the husband is not ok with that arrangement.

I believe that a wife should share her feelings, opinions, ideas and desires about what she would like in a church home and where she wants to go and doesn’t want to go.   I think that husbands need their wives’ perspectives in order to make the best possible decisions for the family.  Husbands are called to be leaders, but they are not mind readers.  It is our responsibility to use our “influence authority” in marriage wisely to advise our husbands of what we believe is best.

But if the husband and wife do not agree, then I believe it is the husband’s God-given responsibility to decide which church the family will attend.  And I believe that a wife in that situation would show respect and submission by cooperating joyfully and willingly with her husband’s decision.  She does not have to agree with him.

But she can say something like, “I want to go to X church.  Here are the reasons why.  I don’t want to go to Y church.  Here are my reasons.  But I know that you will stand accountable to God one day for this decision, not me.  So I will support whatever decision you believe is best and I pray God will give you wisdom to lead us in His ways.”

Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:4-5

Please catch this!  When Christian wives do not cooperate with their husbands’ leadership (unless the husband is asking the wife to sin), the Word of God is maligned. This is MUCH bigger than just about me and my marriage.  This is about the reputation of God’s Word and Christ Himself.  My refusal to follow my husband’s God-given leadership hurts the gospel message and makes it unappealing to others.  That is HUGE!  And scary.

**  If your husband is asking you to go to a cult – then the authority of God’s Word trumps the authority of your husband.  But unless your husband is asking you to sin in his choice of church – then, I believe you honor God and honor your husband by joyfully going with him to the church he believes is best.

PARTICIPATING AT CHURCH

Lots of issues can come up that can cause strife in a marriage related to decisions at church

  • Your husband doesn’t want you to sing in the choir – and would rather you sit with him.
  • Your husband doesn’t like a certain Sunday School teacher and doesn’t want to go to that class.
  • Your husband wants to go to the early service and you are not an early morning person.
  • Your husband wants to be involved in a certain ministry and would like you to help him.
  • Your husband wants to sit in the back of the auditorium but you like to sit in the front.
  • Your husband likes contemporary music and you like traditional worship music.
  • Your husband wants you to keep the baby in the nursery but you would rather the baby stay with you in the service.
  • Your husband wants to change churches but you are happy where you are.

There is no limit to the number of situations that can cause division for a married couple at church.

I would like you to consider approaching these things prayerfully, humbly and trusting God’s sovereignty to lead you through your husband, that  you might say something like:

“I want to do X. But if this is really important to you, I will do what you prefer and I trust you to make the best decision for us.”

“I would like to do X.  But whatever you think is God’s best for us is ok with me.”

“I prefer to do X.  But I respect that you want to do Y.  So I will support your decision.”

“I really don’t want to do that.  But I will if you think it’s best.”

When your husband feels the weight of the whole decision – it inspires him to REALLY seek God’s voice and to try to make the best and most selfless decision he can for the family.  When he doesn’t hear your voice constantly telling him what to do – he is so much more able to tune in to God’s voice!

And then, usually, you probably won’t bring it up again (or only rarely), and you will cheerfully and joyfully honor your husband’s decision and see what God has in store for you and your family.  It’s funny how when a wife approaches things like this, God often works in mysterious ways.  Husbands minds sometimes change. Or sometimes, God had something much better in mind than the wife could ever have imagined.  And many times, it is in little things like this, where our faith is tested and we grow and mature and become more humble and servant-hearted and God uses these situations to mold us into the beautiful image of Christ.

HANDLING DISAPPOINTMENT WHEN YOU DON’T GET YOUR WAY

  • Pray and ask God for His will and His glory not your will to be done (follow Jesus’ example of submission, “Not My will, but Yours be done!”)
  • THANK GOD and thank your husband if he takes you to church.  Many husbands will not go to church with their wives and children at all.  (If your husband won’t go to church with you,  I Peter 3:1-6 is your assignment.  He can’t hear your words about God. But he will notice your respect and joy and faith in Jesus.  Thank him if he allows you to go to church.  Don’t try to force him to go with you.)
  • Focus on all the wonderful things there are about this church and situation you have to be grateful for.  Philippians 4:8
  • Thank God and your husband for your husband’s leadership.
  • Wait on God, give him the desires of your heart and trust Him to do what is ultimately best for you and to accomplish His purposes and His will.
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength.  Your heart attitude is more important than if you get to sing in the choir or have the kind of music you prefer or what denomination you attend.  Make sure you have your heart set completely on Christ and that nothing is more important to you than Him.  And make sure that  you don’t allow little issues to become more important to you than your marriage or your husband.

COMMENTS FROM A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND

As a husband, I think this is one of the most important aspects of any Christian marriage. it is foundational. Unfortunately, it is not viewed that way by many, including my wife of 20 years. From a male’s perspective, I will try to be as objective as I can in explaining my reasons for this.

1. Going to separate churches is just bad for the whole family, especially for the kids. It shows them disunity and paves the way for them to do the same in their marriages. Also, if there are major doctrinal differences between mom and dads churches there will be some degree of confusion in teaching the children.

2. Dads ability to be the spiritual leader will be greatly compromised in many areas. Children, for the most part, tend to gravitate to mom’s way of doing things if there is difference between the parents.

3. For men, going to church alone when it is known that you have a family is a source of great embarrassment and discomfort. People may not speak of it, but they will always wonder “well why is his wife or family not with him?” This is especially true if a man is in a leadership position in the church. many churches will not approve a man for ministry if his family is not with him.

4. temptation is a big issues for men in the workplace, at the mall, in the street, etc. it’s no different in church. I would dare to say that it is worse in church because in most churches women far out number men. So if a man is going to one church and his wife another, this opens up a tremendous amount of temptation for the man. This is real life and it happens.

I just wanted to provide a different perspective on this topic. Hopefully it will be thought provoking for those who read it.

With love, empathy and prayers for all who are dealing with this issue.

RELATED POSTS

Honoring our Husbands Prayers

My Husband Isn’t a Good Enough Spiritual Leader

I Want to Follow My Husband, How Can I Inspire His Leadership?

Is your Christian Ministry Destroying Your Marriage?

The Voice in His Head

Where Do Christian Husbands Go to be Trained to be Godly Leaders?

Ways Husbands Lead that Wives Often Don’t Notice

The Blessing of Having a Husband Who Won’t Pray with His Wife

How to Respect my Husband Who is Not a Believer

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PS – if you are new to my blog, here is a bit of background for you!

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Ephesians 5:23

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.  I Corinthians 11:3

GOD’S DESIGN

God designed a system and structure of order in families and society.  He gave authority for certain positions so that there would be proper protection, provision, safety, order and harmony.  God gave us governments, teachers, pastors, church leaders, police officers, judges, bosses/managers, parents and husbands.  Our culture has largely lost respect for God-given authority.  But God’s design is still in effect.  He commands believers to submit to God-given authority – to cooperate with our leaders – unless they ask us to violate His Word.  The authority of the Word of God trumps human authority.  That is why the disciples could not obey the government when they were commanded to stop preaching about Jesus.  They said, “We must obey God rather than men!”  But unless a God-given authority is asking me to sin or violate God’s Word, I honor God and submit to God by cooperating with the human God-given authority.  God can and will lead me through human God-given authority when I trust Him.

ABUSE

It is possible for humans with free will to abuse the position of authority they have.  That is NOT God’s will and God is grieved when people lord their authority over others or abuse those under their care.  God will bring about justice for these people either on earth with His vengeance or on judgment day in heaven. If you are suffering abuse or your husband has an addiction, a serious mental disorder that is not under control or is committing infidelity or there are major problems – please find a godly Christian counselor, pastor or godly, experienced source of help immediately!  Those kinds of situations are way beyond the scope of this post and this blog.

 

What Does Jesus Want Me to Do in My Marriage?

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Marriage is HARD.

Really – I would even say it is impossible – in human strength and effort alone.

Men and women are SO different.  We think and feel entirely differently.  We have different priorities and needs many times.  We approach things from completely opposite perspectives.  We have very different strengths and weaknesses.  Marriage is practically a recipe for torture – apart from Christ.

That is the key.  If we look to our husbands or to ourselves – we will destroy our marriage.  I must keep my eyes on Christ!  He is the only source of power that will enable our marriage to be what He designed it to be.  I must daily live for Him and abide in Him!

THE PURPOSE OF MARRIAGE

God designed people.  And God designed marriage.  He designed marriage for several purposes:

  • to be a living parable of the intimate spiritual relationship and the oneness of Christ and His church
  • to provide a stable, loving, nurturing, secure, safe, healthy place for children to be born and raised to know God and love Him and to learn how to love others and be prepared to be responsible, faithful, fruitful servants of Christ.
  • to form us more and more into the image of Christ – to make us holy (NOT primarily to make us happy!)
  • to teach children how to have a healthy, vibrant and flourishing marriage and how to be godly parents themselves
  • to provide a solid foundation and building block for healthy, secure, productive and godly societies.
  • to provide companionship and unity in the most intimate human relationship.
  • to provide a safe, loving, perfect place for sex and procreation
  • as a classroom to learn to love and forgive
  • because it is not good for man to  be alone – God designed a helpmeet suitable for him

This list is not exhaustive – but it provides a good glimpse into some of the biggest reasons why God chose to design and institute marriage.

WHEN MY HUSBAND SINS AGAINST ME

The problem with two sinners being married is – they WILL sin against each other and they WILL hurt each other.  There is no perfect marriage partner (except Jesus).  So it is our job to learn to be great forgivers and to tap into God’s power to be able to do this.  When I am putting Christ first and setting my heart on Him, His will, His Word and His glory, He will empower me to deal with anything my husband might do – and I can trust that He will use even my husband’s sin and mistakes ultimately for my good and His glory.

What would Jesus tell me to do when my husband is unkind, verbally abusive, arrogant, demeaning, mean, belittling, disrespectful, unloving, selfish, hateful, prideful, refusing to be intimate with me, trying to force me to be intimate with him, flirting with other women, lying, being irresponsible with money, not taking the best care of our children (in my view), not praying with me, not abiding in Christ, not reading his Bible, being materialistic, putting other things ahead of Christ or ahead of our marriage that are inappropriate…?

LET’S APPLY LUKE 6:20-49 TO OUR MARRIAGES

(I am going to alter the words a bit to fit to our marriages)

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when your husband/extended family members/coworkers/neighbors/others hate you, when they exclude you and insult  you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.  For that is how (people) treated the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when (everyone in your life) speaks well of you, for that is how (people) treated the false prophets.  (People pleasing does not please God!)

But I tell you who hear Me:

  • Love your husband when he acts like he is your enemy
  • do good to him if he hates you
  • bless him if he curses you
  • pray for him when he mistreats you.  
  • If your husband strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  (I would add, get some godly, wise, experienced help ASAP!)
  • If he takes your (coat), do not stop him from taking your (shirt/dress).  
  • Give to him when he asks you
  • if your husband takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
  • Do to your husband as you would have him do to you (meet his needs and be a godly wife, just like you want him to meet your needs and be a godly husband)
  • if you love him only when he loves you, what credit is that to you? Even (unbelievers) love those who love them. 
  • If you do good to him only when he is good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) do that.
  • If you lend to him (give something to him or do something for him) and expect repayment, what credit is that to you?  Even (unbelievers) lend to (unbelievers), expecting to be repaid in full.
  • love your husband when it feels like he is your enemy, do good to him, and lend to him (do kind, respectful things for him) without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be (daughters) of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 
  • Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
  • Do not judge your husband, and you will not be judged.  
  • Do not condemn your husband, and you will not be condemned.
  • Forgive your husband, and you will be forgiven.
  • Give to your husband, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Can a blind wife lead a blind husband?  Will they not both fall into a pit?  A student is not above his Teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his Teacher.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your husband’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you tell your husband, “Husband, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your husband’s eye.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognized by its own fruit… The good wife brings good things out of the good stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act good, the Spirit of God inside of her causes her to act good!), and the evil wife brings evil things out of the evil stored up in her heart (her husband doesn’t MAKE her act bad, her own sin and fleshly nature cause her to react in sin).  For out of the overflow of her heart, her mouth speaks.

Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say to do for your husband?

I will show you what she is like who who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice.  She is like a man building a house (a life, a marriage, a family), who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock  When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, for it was well  built.

But the wife who hears My words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house (a life, a marriage, a family) on the ground without a foundation.  The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete

Lord,

Give us ears to hear and hearts that are willing to obey.  Tear down any strongholds of the enemy in our souls.  Give us Your power to humble ourselves and submit to You and honor You in our marriages!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

OTHER SCRIPTURES

Ephesians 5 – God’s design for marriage

I Corinthians 11:2-13  –  God’s authority structure for marriage

I Corinthians 13:4-7  – God’s definition of love in marriage

Galatians 5:19-22 – a comparison of a life powered by self vs. a life powered by God’s Spirit

I John

Finding God’s Victory over Bitterness

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Yesterday, we looked at many of the causes, signs and consequences of bitterness – if you missed that post, you can find it here.

I have discovered that I have to dig down deeply and examine all of my angry thoughts, write down exactly why I am upset and then compare my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and trash the things I am thinking and believing that aren’t true. (But I need to throw away the list of wrongs I have suffered after I have examined them!)  I also need to identify all of my sinful reactions and repent of each individual sin towards each individual person and memory that contains the smallest root of bitterness.  I realize now that even old memories from long ago need to be uprooted and inspected for hidden traces of bitterness to get all of that before God and remove even the smallest particles – or it will fester.  I lay still before God on the operating table as He opens up my heart and examines every dark crevice. I need God to renew my mind by the power of His truth and His Word.  I must take each thought captive for Christ and allow Him to examine my heart and mind and extract every offensive way in me.  I desperately need time in His Word daily and time in confession of my own myriads of sins daily and time praising and thanking Him. I pray we will be sensitive to God’s Spirit and able to hear His voice:

  • pride – “I am better than so and so.”  “I would NEVER do what he/she did.”  “I am so much more spiritually mature than him.”  I have to ALWAYS be on the lookout for pride.  God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  James 4:6 Pride is a HUGE source of fuel for bitterness in my heart.  “I deserve better.”  “I know better than her what we should do.”  “I am not that sinful.”  “He doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.”  “I am above THAT sin.”  “He/she is SO spiritually weak to fall into THAT temptation.”  “That is unforgivable.  I will NOT forgive that!”
  • ungodly motives – I am VERY SINFUL and wicked on my own.  I am in desperate need of Jesus! I have to constantly check WHY I want to do things and allow God to expose sin, pride, desire for glory for myself, selfishness, and many other sins!  The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9  I can easily be blind to my own sinful motives.  I need God to show me my sin, and other believers and other people to tell me the sin they see in me.
  • unforgiveness – Jesus commands us to forgive so that God will forgive us.  Matthew 6:14-15  Unforgiveness is HUGE sin in the  sight of our holy God.
  • gossip – usually born from my pride and wanting to prove how much better I am than someone.  MORE PRIDE!  Gossip is part of the fruit of the flesh, it is NEVER of God!  What are my motives when I am sharing stories about others?  Am I looking out for their best and for God’s glory?  Or am I trying to make them look bad and make myself look wise,  am I trying to hurt the person and ruin his/her reputation and turn others against them or using their sins/errors for entertainment?
  • fear – I need to think about God’s Word and that perfect love drives out all fear, and that the only One I truly need to fear is God – “what can man do to me?”  If I have God’s power in me and His Spirit filling me, He will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to handle another person’s sin in His way for His glory.  I don’t have to be afraid of another person’s attempts to control me, their disapproval, their unkind words, their anger.  If I am paralyzed by fear, I am not trusting God.  I have a lack of faith in His sovereignty and power to work in my life.  Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6  I don’t have to be swayed by sinful attempts of others to control me.  I don’t have to get upset or react sinfully myself.  I am no longer a slave to sin!  Now I am a slave to Christ!  I may calmly respond in the power of the Holy Spirit and refuse to cooperate with sin and ask God to give me His love for them. (If someone is violent towards you or threatening you physical harm, please do not trust your safety to them.  You may need to get away, may need to involve the police.  Please find godly, local, experienced counsel if you are in physical danger!)  I can forgive, but I don’t have to trust until the person earns my trust back.  But I need to desire to work towards reconciliation as far as it depends on me and God working in me.
  • idolatry – wanting people’s approval, wanting to please people, wanting people to think I am perfect, expecting other people to make me be happy, demanding things of others, insisting on MY will, MY way, MY desires, MY goals, MY needs, MY feelings of being loved…  If I am giving other people power over my emotions and feelings and believing evil things they say, but ignoring what God’s Word says – I have a big problem!   It is what GOD says that matters – not what others say!  If their opinions and statements and condemnation don’t line up with scripture – I don’t hang onto their words! Just because someone says something about me, does not mean it is true.  It is up to me to take that statement to God and His Word and examine it.  There is no reason to blindly swallow poison from other people. If that person could act in spiritual maturity, love and wisdom – he/she would!  But right now that person may be held captive by sin or by the enemy – and may not be able to be the person God desires them to  be.  God may want to use me and His Spirit in me to show His love, mercy, kindness and grace to that person who is acting hatefully to draw him/her to Himself.  When others mistreat me – God is watching carefully!  There are many tests of my faith each day.  I pray we will hear God’s voice and honor Him!  My reaction to others’ sin reveals my character.  Other people cannot MAKE me fly into a rage.  God’s  Spirit is to be in control of me – not my sin nature!   If I am not seeking God’s will, His dreams, His goals, His presence, His righteousness, His Word, His power and His pleasure – I may be dealing with idolatry.
  • undealt with sin – if someone sinned against me, but I didn’t go to them in love and truth and tell them that they hurt me, I was wrong.  It is my responsibility to tell someone (calmly) if they wrong me.

Martha Pearce in The Excellent Wife has a chart  of Bitter Thoughts and Kind, Tender-hearted, Forgiving thoughts to replace the bitter thought.    This same concept can be applied to ANY relationship.  What a fantastic place to start!

She lists many of  the bitter thoughts wives think, and replaces it with a truth from scripture and with a kind thought.  What a  GREAT way to counter bitterness and find victory in Christ!

Verses she used for the godly thoughts:

Matthew 18:32-33, Matthew 19:6

Romans 8:28-29

I Corinthians 4:4-8, I Corinthians 6:11, I Corinthians 10:13

Colossians 3:2, 14

Ephesians 4

Philippians 2:3-4

I Peter 3:9

James 1:5

I John 1:9

SOME INSIGHTS FROM A FRIEND THIS WEEK:

I realized several things:

1. I am SO quick to get angry
2. My anger and bitterness toward them is not just about this one incident-this is just one more incident that can be added to the long list of wrongs that I’ve been keeping 🙁
3. The beauty of Christ cannot be seen in me if I’m pouting and angry
4. I need to forgive these people and treat them kindly
5. I have absolutely no desire in my flesh to do that right now
6. I desperately need the Lord to bring me to that place!
April, I think your right in saying bitterness is progressive, and just recently learned that forgiveness can also be progressive. In Tim Keller’s Galatians study, there’s chapter on forgiveness. This has been very helpful to me, and I think it can be applied to bitterness as well since they seem to go hand in hand. He states:
  “When someone has wronged you, it means they owe you; they have a debt with you. Forgiveness is to absorb the cost of the debt yourself. You pay the price yourself, and you refuse to exact the price out of the person in any way. Forgiveness means you free the person from penalty for a sin by paying the price yourself.
  
   Realize that forgiveness is granted (often for a long time) before it is felt. Forgiveness is not primarily a feeling, but a set of actions and disciplines. Forgiveness is a promise NOT to exact the price of the sin from the person who wronged you. This promise means a repeated set of ‘payments’ in which you relinquish revenge. It is hard, and (for a while) constant. If this promise is kept actively, eventually the feeling of anger subsides.”
 
   He goes on to quote Dan Hamilton from his book Forgiveness: “Forgiveness is to deal with our emotions by sending them away- by denying ourselves the dark pleasures of venting them or fondling them in our minds.”  “Once upon a time I was engaged to a young woman who changed her mind. I forgave her…but only in small sums over a year…They were made whenever I spoke to her and refrained from rehearsing the past, whenever I renounced  jealousy and self-pity, whenever I saw her with another man, whenever I praised her to others when I wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments- but she never saw them. And her own payment was unseen by me…but I do know that she forgave me…Forgiveness is more than a matter of refusing to hate someone. It is also a matter of choosing to demonstrate love and acceptance to the offender…Pain is the consequence of sin; there is no easy way to deal with it. Wood, nails, and pain are the currency of forgiveness, the love that heals.”
 
WOW! How powerful is that??? Sisters, I just wonder how quickly the bitterness we’re harboring would fade away if we would begin absorbing the costs ourselves. To refuse to dwell on past hurts, to take every thought captive the moment they pop into our head, to release the offender from our high expectations, to not find our satisfaction in the approval of men, to choose to show love to those that hurt us, to remember Christ absorbed the costs of our debts… There are so many ways to make payments…and it’s so HARD! But freedom awaits us on the other side of it! I pray that the Lord will soften my heart and bring me to the place where I am delighted to make the payments, where I LOOK for ways to do it, because I know there’s no way I can do it in my own power!
FROM PEACEFULWIFE:
We will explore more about forgiveness and victory over bitterness tomorrow!  I am SO excited to share God’s wisdom and His path to freedom, joy, peace and abundant life!

If You Are Getting Stuck

The times I have gotten stuck on my journey to obey God’s Word as a wife and to totally submit to Him in my entire life, including my marriage and to learn His design for me to respect and submit to my husband – there is usually one or more of the following going on:

  • bitterness – I am hanging on to resentment and unforgiveness.  When I do this, I forfeit God’s Holy Spirit abiding in me and empowering me.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a godly wife and to live in constant fellowship with Christ if I am cherishing ANY sin in my heart.  I MUST sincerely, humbly and deeply repent.
  • pride – I start thinking I know best.  I know better than God.  I know better than God’s Word.  I know better than my husband.  I should be the one in control.  I’d do a much better job than my husband at leading.  He’s messing everything up.
  • lack of faith in God or my husband – without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  And without faith in my husband, it is impossible for me to show respect to him in a way that will mean anything to him.
  • idolatry – I started looking to other things besides Christ for my fulfillment, contentment and happiness.  THIS IS VERY EASY TO DO!  I have to CONSTANTLY check my motives.  WHY am I doing what I am doing?  Am I really doing this to honor God?  Or am I doing it to try to control my husband and make him love me more?  Am I doing this to try to force my husband to make me feel loved?  Am I doing this because I love God with all my heart, want to know Him more and want to obey Him?  Or am I doing the respect thing because I want to try to CONTROL God?  Motive matter GREATLY to our husbands and to God.
  • self-righteousness – I start thinking I am better than my husband.  This is sin!

BROKENNESS

If I do not start from a place of total humility and brokenness – weeping over the magnitude of my own sin in God’s sight – I still have a lot more repenting to do.

It is only when I am utterly humble and contrite before God and tear down all my idols and all my false understanding of him and of myself that I can please Him.  I have to see how utterly spiritually poor, impoverished and critically ill I am to be in the right place.

I must be willing to lay everything down on the altar and sacrifice it to Jesus.  I have to die to myself – willingly.

If there is something that I am holding back from Him and afraid to trust Him about – I have an idol – and I have a lot more work to do.

His perfect love drives out all fear.  The one who fears has not been made perfect in love.

THEN…

The power of God will begin to move in my own heart in extremely powerful ways.

God’s power is fiercely strong in me when I look to Him to be the only source of my identity, the only source of my joy, the only source of my strength and the only purpose in my life.  I must want His will much more than my own – even if I don’t know exactly what His will might involve.  I trust Him.

My highest goal is to bring honor and glory to my Lord.

This is the secret of contentment, joy, peace and abundant life!

THE LITMUS TEST

If I am acting in my own strength and have sin in my heart, I will see multiple characteristics of the flesh predominantly in my heart on a daily basis – and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:19-21):

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • debauchery (excessive use of alcohol/drugs/sex)
  • idolatry
  • witchcraft
  • hatred
  • discord
  • jealousy
  • fits of rage
  • selfish ambition
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envy
  • drunkenness
  • orgies
  • and the like

If I have things in my heart from the above list, I have either not accepted the gift of Jesus Christ to pay for my sins and asked Him to be my Savior and Lord – or I am not living with Him as Lord.  I have grieved His Spirit and am clinging to sin more than to Jesus.

If His Spirit is in charge – I will see ALL of the fruit of the Spirit in my life daily and in increasing measure (Galatians 5:22):

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • gentleness
  • self-control
  • no envy
  • no boasting
  • no rudeness
  • no pride
  • no self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • keep no record of wrongs suffered
  • forgiveness  (unforgiveness = wickedness, the parable of the servant whose master forgave him a great debt, and then the servant wouldn’t forgive his fellow servant a small debt – the master called him, “You wicked servant!”)
  • no delight in evil  (ie: unforgiveness, idolatry, control, pride, selfishness, lust and gossip)
  • rejoice with the truth
  • I protect my husband
  • I trust my husband (or want to move towards being able to rebuild trust) and even more, I trust my Lord
  • I hope in my husband and my Lord
  • I always persevere in my marriage by God’s strength

When I am living in the power of God’s Spirit – these things on this list will be a daily reality and become normal.  God does this.  I cannot do these things AT ALL on my own.  I just have to be plugged in to His power source, spending time in His Word, surrendering my heart, yielding my life completely and without reservation, praying constantly, praising Him constantly, meditation on His Word all throughout the day.

This is what a “normal” Christian life is supposed to look like!

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