Saturday, October 26, 2013

Marriage Builder Series #5: He's God's Gift to You

Hey Girlfriends!  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little lives that we forget to appreciate our husbands. If really want to “bring back that lovin’ feeling”, though, we need to remember who they are. But first, let’s review what we’ve learned this week:

Rule #1:  He’s  A Good Guy…believe the best in him
Rule #2:  He’s Not Your Project…stop picking on him
Rule #3:  He’s Not Your Savior…let him off the hook
Rule #4:  He’s Not Always Wrong…choose to be his ally

Now, for your 5th and most important rule:

Rule #5: He’s God’s Gift To You…don’t take him for granted

Your precious husband is God’s gift to you.  I sometimes forget this, don’t you?  If we want to be godly wives and loving mates, we need to remember that we are blessed.  God has provided for us men who love, defend, and protect us.  They selflessly work (sometimes long hours, which we complain about) to give us food and housing and comfort (and they wish they could give us more). They toil daily at jobs (which they sometimes don’t even like) to be able to support a family who depends on them for everything. They are loyal to a sometimes-hormonal and unpredictable wife (whom they don’t always understand).  And they keep coming home to us every night even when they know a sullen and unappreciative wife may greet them. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders (for us) because they love us and they have chosen to be committed to the one whom they’ve married.

We wives don’t play fair sometimes.  We expect our husbands to love us well when we have done nothing to deserve this love, and when, in fact, we have been downright unloving.  We neglect and deny and relegate our guys to the lowest rung on our priority list, and then we expect them to serve us. Why do we suppose our lives are so much more important than theirs?  Why do we, over time, make the determination that they aren’t helping, or talking to, or benefitting us enough, so we are entitled to snub them?  Women! OUR HUSBANDS ARE GOD’S GIFTS TO US!  When we decide that they are not “good enough”, we are choosing a life of joylessness and self-pity.  It doesn’t have to be this way.

We can get up and thank God for them each day (even when they aren’t meeting our every need) and we can envision what our lives would be without them.  We can remember how they have served us in the past and all the ways they have made us feel loved.  We can rejoice in all the memories of “just the two of us” stored up in our heads and think of how those memories would be different if they weren’t in them.  We can look at others lives, those who have lost their husbands to death or to divorce or to other women, and remember that we are, indeed, very rich.  We can choose to be women of character who love because God commands it, and not just because we feel it.  We can remember who we married—a really wonderful guy.

Girlfriends, let’s choose it.  Let’s decide to really love our husbands.  They really, truly love us.  They do.  Let’s live every day knowing they could be taken from us in a moment.  And let’s thank God that he provided for us so well. 

God has smiled upon us.

Let’s act like it.

Challenge for the day:  Think of all the things that would be different about your life if your husband weren’t in it.  Find a babysitter, if needed, and go out on a date night just with him.  Then enjoy the night together and remember why you fell in love. 

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

2 Peter 1:1-7

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Marriage Builder Series #4: He's Not Always Wrong

Hey Girlfriends! We women can be really critical of our great guys.  Why do we do this?  Because our hearts are filled with judgment against our mates and we keep a tally of wrongs done to us.

As a result of this, our hearts become calloused and we don’t hesitate to point out all the faults (real of imagined) of our husbands.  We use every available opportunity to take them down a few notches…all the while forgetting that A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45).  We have evil stored up in our hearts against our guys, and we need to choose to forgive them and give them grace.

Here are the rules we have learned thus far:

Rule #1:  He’s  A Good Guy…believe the best in him
Rule #2:  He’s Not Your Project…stop picking on him
Rule #3:  He’s Not Your Savior…let him off the hook

Now we add one more…
Rule #4:  He’s Not Always Wrong…choose to be his ally

How do we do this?  Especially when we are in a pattern of faultfinding? We do it by choosing to be AGREEABLE.  Agreeability is the characteristic of choosing to look past another’s seeming ignorance or immaturity and allowing ourselves to see them as Christ sees them.  Agreeability is realizing that my opinion does not always have to be shared.  Agreeability chooses to listen to the person when the topic of conversation bores them.  Agreeability says “I love you just the way you are.” 

A woman who has chosen to be agreeable doesn’t need to compete with her husband.  If her guy notices that their favorite restaurant sports a new sign—even though the sign has been there for three weeks already and the wife has seen it numerous times—and he says, “Look Honey, they got a new sign!” an agreeable wife says, “Wow!  You’re right!” and not, “That’s been there for three weeks already.  I’ve seen it a million times.”

A woman who has chosen to be agreeable realizes that her husband is not her and he does not think like her or act like her.  And he may not even keep his closet clean or put down the toilet seat, but that that does not disqualify him from her love or honor.

A woman who has chosen to be agreeable realizes that she, also, probably has several things about her that irritate her mate, but he rarely mentions them to her.

A woman who has chosen to be agreeable understands that her husband actually needs to be built up so he can lead, not pulled down so he can follow her.

A woman who has chosen to be agreeable preaches the gospel to herself everyday and realizes that she, too, is a sinner saved by an amazing and grace-filled God, and she lets this rightly humble her and help her to forgive her husband when he hurts her. 

Let’s choose to be our husband’s allies by being sweet and agreeable to them.  They will respond well to our admiration and our opinion of them will change.  We will be storing up good things in our hearts when we do this.

They’re not always wrong.  God made our husbands just the way he wanted them and we need to appreciate them, not tear them down.

Challenge for the Day:  Do you find yourself correcting and criticizing your husband often?  Memorize 2 Corinthians 10:5 (below) and keep careful track of your thoughts toward your guy this week.  When you find yourself being critical, counter that thought by counting your blessings…being married to him is one of them!
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 14:1

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marriage Builder Series #3: He's Not Your Savior

Hey girlfriends!  It’s a bummer when we feel like our needs aren’t getting met through our mate.  But, here’s some truth for you:  We were never promised that…at least on this side of Heaven. 

Let’s review the first two rules we’ve established thus far:
Rule #1:  He’s  A Good Guy…believe the best in him
Rule #2:  He’s Not Your Project…stop picking on him

And now, our next step to a great marriage is this…
Rule #3:  He’s Not Your Savior…let him off the hook

God gave you your husband as your leader and best friend.  Often, we as wives forget this; we see our mates as the enemy because they are incapable of meeting all of our needs.  We want them to be our “Jesus with skin on”, but the fact is, they cannot.  Jesus is the only Perfect Savior.  Only He can meet all of our needs.

The fact that we have needs and desires is a given.  God created all of us with passions and longings—knowing only He could meet these.  We live in a fallen, sinful world where everyone is aching for wholeness.  The Bible speaks of it in this way, For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together…” Romans 8:22.  The pain, suffering, and disappointment that we suffer together as humanity evidences the fact that we live in a broken world—a world that cannot fulfill us (and just as with labor pains, something better is coming!)  But that doesn’t mean those feelings of neediness disappear. Longings themselves are not sin.  Sin enters our thinking when we expect our husbands to meet every desire of our heart.  If he could meet them, we wouldn’t need Jesus.  And anything that makes us need Jesus is a blessing.

Our society has bought into the philosophy that there is a remedy for every unfulfilled longing.  A quote from the book, Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh De Moss explains the problem; We are encouraged to identify our longings and do whatever is necessary to get those “needs” met. Therefore . . . if you’re hungry, eat. If you want something you can’t afford, charge it. If you crave romance, dress or act in a way that will get men to notice you. If you’re lonely, share your heart with that married man at work.”  This deception has caused heartache and bondage for many women. It is at the heart of much anxiety, resentment, and depression so rampant in our world today.   Don’t let it suck you in.

It’s wonderful when your husband works hard at making you feel loved, but that’s not always going to be the case.  And that’s ok because life is not all about you.  Your needs and desires don’t define you.  Your identity must rest in Jesus.  You can live a joyful life without complete fulfillment. Many people do—look at blind people and those in wheelchairs and people unable to have children.  Those people don’t understand why God gave them limitations, but they must live with the reality of them.  Even Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament begged God to take away his “thorn in the flesh”, but God said no.  Paul learned to live with unmet desires.  You can too.  It makes us all yearn for Heaven.

God said he is able to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19) and we need to choose to believe that.  Why do we doubt the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of our souls?  He is able and He is compassionate towards us; he sees every one of our hurts and slights and struggles.  He collects all of our tears. 

So we need to ask Him for what we desire, let Him choose our course, and trust Him with the outcome.  Then we can relax in His provision for us because it is always good. Here’s the application:  Sweetly let your husband know what loves you and then leave it up to him to try to meet that need.  He won’t always do it right and he may not do it regularly. Choose to love him anyway and let God do all the rest.

Challenge for the Day: On one side of a sheet of paper make a list of all the needs your husband doesn’t seem to be meeting.  Now on the other side, try to imagine a way in which God could meet that need—maybe not even through your husband’s efforts.  Sometimes, the “needs” we feel are actually just preferences for attention or affirmation that can be met through our girlfriends or through God’s very practical  Word.  Want to know how much God loves you?  Read through Isaiah 43:1-7 or Psalm 139.  You have a Father that adores you.  Believe it.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.

Psalm 56:8

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marriage Builder Series #2: He's Not Your Project

Hey girlfriends!  Real marriage is real hard.  There’s a reason we need rules to follow.  Rules provide boundaries for us.  These boundaries give us clear-cut guidelines of ways we can succeed.  They also keep us safe from spiritual attack from the enemy who hates marriage.  Let’s keep Satan at bay by choosing truth over feelings and unity over brokenness. 

Rule #1 reminded us that our husbands were good guys and we need to change our view of them.  Rule #2 follows that same vein.  Read on…

Rule #2.  He’s Not Your Project...stop picking on him

Guess what ladies?  Your husband is not your project.

He is, however, God’s project if the Holy Spirit lives in him.  If you are married to a Christ-follower, you can be assured that God is speaking to him, just like God speaks to you.  If you are constantly trying to change your husband into someone different or someone more godly, you are actually the one who should be changing your tune.  Your husband probably knows the areas in which he is weak.  He doesn’t need you to remind him. When we pronounce judgment upon others, it usually means we should really be looking inward at our own faults rather outward at others.  Only God can judge another’s heart.  Only God can inspire true change.  So, that means you need to stop picking and complaining and berating him for his maleness. And you need to start appreciating him.  He’s worth it.

Prayer can be a great way to deal with this dilemma.  Feel free to tell God all the things you would like to see changed in your husband.  God knows how to speak so he will listen.  When God speaks, your husband will be convicted of his shortcomings.  When you speak these same things, it will be seen as nagging.  So, let God do the talking in these instances and sit back and be sweet—confident that the Lord will do the shaping required to make your guy a great man.

Sometimes it helps if we turn the tables.  Would you like it if your husband were constantly trying to change you?  Would it make you feel affirmed and loved…or degraded and disrespected?  I think you know the answer to that.  Your husband has feelings too.  Please tread lightly on his fragile ego. 

And finally, no comparison-shopping!  Your husband is the man that God gave specially to you.  HE is your ideal.  HE is the one you compare all other men to.  HE is your measure of manliness.  HE is the one you have committed your life to.  Choose to focus your eyes on him and no one else.  You used to think he was a steal.  Remember?  Comparing your mate to others (whose “warts” you cannot see) is terribly dangerous and will make you discontented with the man God chose for you.  DON’T GO THERE.  Enough said.

Your husband is not, and will never be your savior.  He cannot meet each and every need you have.  Only God can do that; let Him.  And give your precious husband a pass on being perfect.  When you choose to accept your husband the way that God made him—idiosyncrasies and all—you allow him to function in confidence and freedom.  When your husband knows that you approve of him, he will feel warm towards you—it’s true. 

And you will like him so much more.

Challenge for the Day:  What is something you would like to change about your mate?  Write it down, but say nothing to your husband.  Then, commit yourself to praying for this request everyday and wait expectantly for God to speak.  As you sit at Jesus feet in prayer, you may find He changes you instead.

Better to live on the corner of a roof
than to share a house with a nagging wife

Proverbs 2:19

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Marriage Builder Series #1: He's A Good Guy

Hey girlfriends!  Want to improve your marriage and like your husband again?

This week, I will be posting a series of blog posts on re-directing your heart towards your mate.  Read them with an open mind, asking God to show you where you fall short, and complete the challenge at the end of each day.  Hopefully, with a lot of prayer and a little right thinking, you will be able to discover the joy of your marriage all over again.

Let’s start with the basics.

Having a good marriage takes two people who have chosen to think rightly about one another.  Thinking rightly requires choices that are driven by truth and not emotion.  Our emotions, especially in the heat of anger, will tell us lies about our mate; things like, “He doesn’t really love me” or “He’s intentionally trying to hurt me.”  These things can seem very rational when feelings have been engaged and hurtful words have been exchanged.  So, to prepare for the battles that may be ahead, it’s good to lay down some ground rules for your mind so your emotions can follow.  The first and best rule for wives is this:

1.  He’s A Good Guy... believe the best in Him.

Most of you reading this are actually married to great guys (some of you aren’t—you know who you are--and you need more than a blog post to get your marriage on the right track).  You knew they were great at one time, but stress, and kids, and hurt feelings have gotten in the way of that memory. Remember when you were dating him and you thought he was so clever and cute and thoughtful?  He is still all of those things, but you have forgotten, or you have shown him such disrespect that he has buried himself in his work or his hobbies.  Respect is huge for men, and if we, as women, decide that our husbands aren’t worthy of our respect, we will crush them and they will struggle to show us the love that they still feel.  Do you know that your husband desperately loves you?  He does, and he needs you to believe in him.  He isn’t always skilled at showing that love, but it’s there and it can be coaxed to the surface with honor and respect.  

Do you complain or check out when he discusses his dreams or accomplishments with you?  These actions show him that you have lost interest in what is important to him; and, in essence, you have lost interest in him.  God has given men a passion to provide and a drive to achieve.  When we belittle our husbands for wanting to work hard and run after their goals, we are setting ourselves up for failure in marriage.  We do these things because we are selfish and we want our husbands to be devoted only to our needs.  When we make unreasonable demands of our mate because of our own selfishness, we begin to create a caricature of them that is inaccurate.  This inaccurate view feeds our sense of superiority against them.  Because they have now become the “bad guy” in our minds, nothing they do will seem good enough.  

You know those times when everything your husband does irritates you?  You feel that way because, instead of focusing on yourself and the things you need to change, you are focusing on your husband and the skewed image you have of him in your head.  It doesn’t have to be this way, ladies. If you decide today that your husband is a good guy, and if you choose to have confidence in his love and care for you, and if you understand that he is human and can never be your savior, and if, in turn, you show honor for him instead of bestowing humiliation upon him, you will see him as he really is—a good guy—someone who is for you, a life-long friend and ally.  He is not out to hurt you.  He just wants to love you.


Challenge for the day:  Find a notebook or journal and write down all the things you love about your husband.  Then, think back to times when he was on your “A” list and recall all the things that drew you to him.  Share some of these things with him.  Ask God to endear your husband to you daily and continue to add things to your list.

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

Ephesians 5:33