She shall be called “Eve”

Recently God has been speaking to my spirit, wrestling with me, deep in my heart.  It began with the review of a new book called Eve.  I am very suspicious of the author because though he writes with such flowing emotion the reader passes by the stop signs of his deception.  I have read some of the trusted reviewers such as Tim Challies.  His review of Eve is not a good one.  (http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/eve)  Challies frankly dis-recommends the book, as a net loss.  It’s intellectual integrity is that poor.

However in the course of review Challies writes:

“…God, in his creative work, assigned separate roles to men and women. In God’s world no role is better or greater or higher than another, but each is critical to the story he is telling.   God tells us that God created men to take positions of leadership within the church and family, and for women to joyfully submit themselves to this leadership. In this way God provides a much fuller display of who he is and what he is like. His image is shown not in uniformity but in complementarity. After all, the relationships within the Trinity display this very same pattern of leadership and submission. What is ultimately at stake here is not the relationship of man to woman, but our understanding of God as he displays himself in our relationships.

This phrase struck me.  Hard, loud, unexpected.   With the cross reference of Ephesians 5.33 ringing in my marriage counseling heart.

“FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.  This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.  Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”

For some time I have been fascinated by the history of Adam and Eve.  Their Hebrew names are actually Ish and Ishaw.  I have been so deeply impressed with this knowledge that in creation Ishaw was pulled from Ish.  She was not created from mud, she was shaped from flesh.  Negev Ezer, Father calls her.  A completing rescuer.  Yes Jerry MaGuire you were right, “You complete me.”  A woman is given a sense of beauty by Father’s Hands, a sense of beauty that draws the heart and the eyes of man to her.  One flesh refers to their unity, sexually, emotionally, physically.  Father created them to be one.

In their origin they were complementary.  They functioned as a team, together, with precision synchronicity, decisions were made, actions were undertaken, goals were achieved.  There was no conflict.  They were like Father and Son and Spirit.  It must have been just magic to watch them caring for each other’s needs, helping each others tasks.  She was his rescuer, his compliment.  He was strength and agility.  She was beauty and feeling.

The discussions they may have had,  “Oh I didn’t see that Ishaw, thank you”.  “I couldn’t have done that my Ish”.  So they named the animals, they tended Father’s Garden.  And they walk and talked with Father’s Presence.

Until it happened.  Yes we know about the fall, the sin.  But what has begun to shout so loudly at me is not the obvious consequences of this fall.

  • For the first time they knew fear.  “I heard you and I was afraid”
  • For the first time they knew shame.  “for I was naked”
  • For the first time they saw an animal killed in front of them.  “The Lord God clothed them in skins”
  • For the first time they played the blame game.  “The woman… YOU gave me”  “The serpent deceived…”
  • For the first time they were now at war.  “I will place an enimity between…”

But a deeper look.  A more tearing injury, not just in skin, but in the flesh of the relationship.  Man carried the curse of the decision as God said the ground was cursed.  No matter what a man may do, for most of us anyway, it just never really works out all that well.  The labor of our hands is cursed.

But the woman.  “I will greatly multiply, your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  She is the key to the relational magnet.  She was from the beginning and she still is.  But now there is desire.  She always wants relationship.  She knows deep inside relationships are important.  They are eternal.  Man is busy trying to figure out thorns and weeds and ground.  She gives LIFE.

But before the complimentary hearts working synchronically is gone,  she deceives him and he blames her.  For the first time in this God reflecting unity there is something never felt before.  Betrayal.

Ish and Ishaw.  That’s what they used to be called.  Then something happens.  We skip right over it.  We are so accustomed to it.  The Man changes her name.  “you shall be called Eve because you are the mother of all living”.  Really?  We see it as a simple name but it is not.  For this man has reduced this woman to an animal.  HE NAMES HER.  I couldn’t believe it.  There it was.  What arrogance.

Two huge lessons here.  1) Ish was called to love and serve and protect and nurture and present her in beauty as the holy and blameless gift she was, back to God.  She was his precious gift.  Now she is just another thing.  Man now leads by power and control, by strength, by overpowering.  Yeah, it’s called abuse.  Men, allow God to call you back to Eden.  See the truth in the original blueprint.  Walk that out with your wife.  It doesn’t matter if you are angry, irritated, frustrated…. yes here is the word: resentment.

Ladies.  Become Ishaw again.  Now in this world you are taught to dis-regard, dis-respect, dis-approve.  “I’m gonna kick him to the curb”.  “I’m tired of trying”, “I can’t put up with this any longer”.  You aren’t called to that.  You are his negev ezer.  You complete him and you rescue him.

Why is it important?  “Because the mystery is great, I am speaking of Christ and the Church”   What is ultimately at stake here is not the relationship of man to woman, but our understanding of God as he displays himself in our relationships.

God is seen in our marriages.  point blank.  But as a counselor, I just see such a sadness.  Father’s Great Sadness.  That which was created in beauty has been reduced to chaos.

So here’s the lesson.  Do it different.  Do it according to design.  YOU BE DIFFERENT.  Make your marriage different.  Live like Ish or Ishaw.  Stop pointing fingers.

  1. PRAY for each other.
  2. PLAY your positions, find value in your role.
  3. PAY the price of success.  It isn’t easy.  Reject the Chaos and pay the price of success.  It’ll cost you…your ego.  Ask Father for help.  Get a mentor.  Work together.  Let Father show you your self agenda.  Become the complimentary team you were meant to be.  Get rid of the hardened heart.  Embrace hope.  You may be two people in wheel chairs emotionally but learn to help each other from the chair.

Be a Man of Excitement and Mystery

Scripture: “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” 1 Corinthians 7:3-4

Thought: Boredom in the bedroom is bad for the marriage. Sex is a lot more than just sharing your body—it’s a journey of intimacy. Figuring out boundaries together gives you great opportunities to seek the Lord’s wisdom, and to learn how to love each other more deeply. God created sex to be fulfilling for both men and women on many different levels. I believe God gave us the incredible experience of sexual pleasure so that married couples can experience what it means to feel like “the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover” (Song of Solomon 7:13) Guys, sex begins in the kitchen, not the bedroom. Be a man of excitement and mystery!
1. Don’t take each other for granted, compliment your spouse. Be specific, instead of saying “You look nice,” say something like “I love the way that dress shows off your curves.”
2. Use physical touch every day. Kiss each other goodbye in the morning, embrace when you meet again, and give each other massages to unwind from a long day.
3. Make small changes to spice up your sex life. Ladies, buy some lacy lingerie that makes you feel attractive and that you know your man will like. Men, light some candles to make your bedroom into a more sex-friendly environment.
4. Send a naughty text. Tell your partner how excited you are to see him or her, reminisce on the last time you spent a night together, or send a sexy selfie. Messages like these can really get your partner fired up!
5. Make each other laugh. Being able to laugh and have a sense of humor can help you cope with the inevitable ups and downs of sharing life together. Tickle each other, wrestle playfully, get tickets to a live comedy show, host a game night with friends, or cozy up in front of a good comedy film.
6. Manage stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but chronic stress causes a spike in hormone that can reduce the desire for physical intimacy. This can cause damage to your relationship. Spend more time doing things that you enjoy. Life can’t be all work and no play; devote at least one day each week to doing what you love.

Action: Sometimes the best thing for a relationship is to stop analyzing the imperfections and simply let go and enjoy one another. Remember that every person, and every relationship, has its flaws. What is important is how your spouse makes you feel and that he or she treats you with respect. Lighten up and just enjoy the ride! Have some adventurous sex!

Prayer: Father, I want to put you first in every area of my marriage and this means first in our sexual intimacy with one another. Lord, it’s not about me, it’s about pleasing my spouse, teach me to be adventurous, open, accepting and putting a smile on your face.

Are You Protecting Your Marriage?

Scripture: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 AND
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Thought: I will never forget when, many years ago, I traveled once a month to market the business I was working for. I would leave my husband for a week, and be on the road, away from home, while meeting new people, attending business meetings and dinner engagements with prospective buyers. There were ALWAYS temptations because of the worldly pressure, wealth and fame. Adultery is not normal in my world and unacceptable in my marriage. Nevertheless, my boss invited me to participate in deceit. I was told, I could” move to “the top of the company, if I slept my way to the top.” No one would know the truth but the man, God and myself.

When we are loyal, we reflect our faithfulness to God. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of Satan. We live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. I boldly, yet simply with confidence replied, “If I have to sleep my way to the top and not earn it by my own merit, than I don’t need to be at the top with this company.” We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and gifts faster than an affair.

My husband and I have policies in place to avoid danger and to protect our marriage:
 Pray together. We are invested in the relationship we have and we pray together before we leave the house. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, praying and crying together.
 Using old-fashioned, common sense. We set boundaries; Do not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex; Do not travel anywhere alone with someone of the opposite sex, not to the library, a museum, or a business meeting. Do not flirt with someone of the opposite sex. Speak often and lovingly of each other, when out in public and around others.
 Consider what is at stake. Put the temptation in perspective. If Jesus walked in, would I be proud or embarrassed with my decision? How do I want others to remember me? What last impression do I want to leave as a legacy?

Action: Marriage is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.
I truly believe with God all things are possible. Marriages that have not allowed God to be apart of the equation are truly missing out. He’s your biggest fan, and if anyone wants you to succeed and be happy, it is God! So don’t make your life even harder, allow Him to help! Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our Father God is counting on us to use the Holy Spirit as our discernment. I believe God will rescue me from anything I ask for. I believe in Him for great things. Are you protecting your marriage?

If your marriage has fallen short or failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 3.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. My desire is to fight for my marriage in all situations. I pray for your intervention at all times, so I may remain loyal to You and my husband. If we have a fight, please replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. Please restore peace to our relationship. It can happen. Give us rest knowing that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.

5 Languages that Communicate “I Love You”

Scripture: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Thought: Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a famous book on The Five Love Languages. Based on his book, here are the five languages that communicate love, actions, and things to avoid.
1. Words of Affirmation: Communicate with encouragement, affirm actions, appreciate efforts, empathize with compassion, and listen responsively. Actions to take: Send an unexpected note, text, or card, and encourage often with sincerity. Avoid non-constructive criticism, not recognizing and appreciating.
2. Physical Touch: Communicate through body language and touch to emphasize love; hug, kiss, hold hands, show physical affection regularly, make intimacy a thoughtful priority. Avoid physical neglect and long periods without intimacy. Avoid receiving love coldly.
3. Receiving Gifts: Communicate with thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, make your spouse a priority, and speak intentionally. Actions to take: Give thoughtful gifts and gestures, small things matter in a big way; flowers, dinner out, favorite candy or meal, video game or DVD movie, and express gratitude when receiving gift. Avoid forgetting special occasions, avoid being un-enthusiastic about receiving gift.
4. Quality Time: Communicate without interruptions and focus on conversation. Spend one-on-one time by way of date nights, quiet time after kids have gone to bed, sitting outside and observing the stars, take a walk together. Create those special moments and do small things together. Avoid distractions when spending time together; avoid long interludes without alone, quiet time together.
5. Acts of Service: Communicate that you are united with them as a partner and you want them to know that your are present to help serve; use action phrases, like, “I’ll help do this….” Do chores together or some other project improvement, make breakfast in bed, water plants, wash the car, fill the gas tank, go shopping for groceries or kids school supplies. Act anyway to alleviate the daily load. Avoid making the request of others a higher priority, avoid not following through or completing the task to the end, whether big or small tasks.

Action: Take this languages of love quiz together. Then re-center in Fathers Love and begin your date night with one another’s love language. For quiz go to http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=whats-your-love-langugae

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing. I know that when I love you and use the special gift You have bestowed upon me that I can fill my spouse’s love tank. My desire is to do Your Will and I know and believe that you will fill my love tank in return. Teach me to communicate in the same way you so lovingly communicate with you. Please give me the motivation and commitment to take action and not just speak it or think about it. I need You, I want You, and I desire to center my love around You. Amen.

What’s Your Story?

I was pregnant with my third child, when I was baptized. I had given my life to the Lord in 1982. Prior to asking Jesus in my heart, and after 3 yrs of marriage, I wanted a divorce. Do you have a story about your marriage to share? [mk_contact_form style=”modern” skin=”dark” email=”#”]
My husband worked too many hours and was never home. When he was home, he wanted his beer and t.v. He was old fashion. He brought home the money and was king of his home. He expected me to do all the rest. I don’t need to describe my long list of duties as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. I’ll just say, I worked long hours too. I wanted more from my marriage and thought I could find something better. I wanted freedom.
Three key principles were missing from my marriage: Boundaries,
Forgiveness, Commitment. Before stepping into the wilderness of darkness God gave me hope with a promise from His word. Galatians 3:20.
Whats your story about when Jesus walked with you? Your story will encourage us. Leave us a comment at www.drjamesgjohnson.org.

Betrayal: When Will The Trust Return?

Scripture: “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thought: One night Greg didn’t come home after work. Four o’clock in the morning, Charlotte received a knock on the door. As she opened the door, her heart dropped and she felt like she was going to get sick. A police officer was there to report they had just arrested her husband for breaking and entering with attempted assault. “Oh, my gosh, what has he done”, she thought. Her husband was an alcoholic. There were many nights that she stayed awake waiting for him to come home when she knew he was out on a binge. She worried, “Will he take a cab and make it home safe?” But, breaking an entering with attempted assault, she never imagined he had another woman or would try to hurt someone. When he was sober, he was a quiet, gentle man, who worked hard everyday to support his family. This particular night, he made it home safely in a cab, but after he got out of the cab and started to walk towards the apartment, he fell on the sidewalk and passed out. When he awoke, he stumbled with his keys to open the door, he thought it was his door, but actually, it was a neighbor on the other side of the apartment complex. Greg had gotten lost. When the resident surprised him by swinging open the door to see who was trying to break into their house at three o’clock in the morning, Greg raised his fist to defend who he thought was the intruder in his house. The Bible tells us If you don’t have the gratitude attitude, you cannot possibly be in God’s will (no matter what other great things you are doing).

We are to give thanks because it is God’s will concerning us IN everything. He doesn’t say FOR everything. No, that’s not what we are asked to do. We are not expected to give thanks for what’s happening in the middle of every negative situation. However, we do thankfully acknowledge that our God is in control of our destinies. Greg was released from jail the next afternoon after a hefty fine and charged with a felony. Charlotte cried out to Our Father during her despair and thanked Him that His Will would be done. Within the week, Greg had entered into a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and has been sober for fifteen years. It took Greg falling to his knees before he would surrender. Charlotte gave God thanks IN her difficult time and she forgave Greg for his weakness, pain, and burden he caused the family. God restored her trust, and delivered her with a transformed husband.

Action: Is there something in your marriage where you have been disappointed from a failed promise, or betrayed by your beloved? IN the challenging time, be the mature one, pray and forgive, then give thanks to Our Father who knows it all and will not betray you.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. I confess the anger and resentment I have carried towards _____  for __________________ . I am weak and heavy burdened, my trust has been betrayed and I don’t know if I can trust again. I surrender all to you and pray that my heart will not be hardened, but that our marriage may be restored. In Jesus Name, Amen.

It’s Not Be Right, But Find Right – Criticism

Scripture: “Let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones!” John 8:7; “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1; “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and other people will approve of you too.” Romans 14:18

Thought: Infamy, there was a time I use to belittle my husband and children with disapproval. Criticism I felt it was “my job” to draw to their attention the mistake they were making because it wasn’t the choice I would make or think it would be God’s way. I learned that I was only hurting myself and pushing them away because they didn’t feel they could measure up. There is a time and place for healthy criticism, when another person is living in open sin or engaging in a life style that is not right. It is then that criticism can be healing or redemptive, if it is truly constructive criticism. But for the most part, criticism demeans, degrades or humiliates another, often to make the other critical person look better. Depreciating another to make a point or make ourselves look better is sinful, particularly when the devaluing robs the other of a sense of self worth. Constructive criticism should always be a welcome and wholesome gift if given in a spirit of love. But we have no right to give hurting criticism of another, because this is trying to be a judge over that person, and God alone is our judge. Remember you are not God and should not try to do His work for Him. It’s not about being right, its about finding what’s right, good and uplifting for Father God. Believe God for the great answers to prayer.

Action: Before criticizing your spouse, take an inventory of your own sins and shortcomings so that you can approach each other with understanding and humility. And likewise, if you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. Take time to pray before you speak.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. I ask for Your help to be constructive with love if You are calling me to act for your glory. I seek Your wisdom when I speak so I may choose Your words, and I knock on your door to show me what is rightfully Your will. Show me Father if my motives are pure before I speak. Amen

Marriage Death Threat: The Love that Faded

Scripture: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered”  1Peter 3:7 And
“Likewise, older women are to show their reverence for God by their behavior. They are not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of goodness. They should encourage the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible and pure, to manage their households, to be kind, and to submit themselves to their husbands. Otherwise, the word of God may be discredited.” Titus 2:3-5

Thought: When my husband and I first got married, I always ran to greet him with a kiss and smile when he walked through the door. I had his dinner ready, his laundry clean, and we spent hours laughing and sharing our days. We were inseparable friends and we did everything together. In the seventh year of our marriage the shift began to change subtly. Our river of life ran dry. One day I was so depressed and realized “I didn’t really know who my husband was anymore.” How did our marriage drift and our love fade? I decided we needed some marital counseling. He was too embarrassed to seek help, even though he openly admitted he was feeling the same distance between us. We found a professional, Christian counselor who helped us to get in touch with who we are as individuals and as a couple how we related to each other. New knowledge taught us to understand one another’s love language and we learned the needs that each of us desired from one another. I thought and felt we were facing a Marriage Death Threat, but during counseling, we discovered our river of love had gone dry and baggage was weighing us down but our marriage was just bent and needed a revival. We were provided the keys to a Godly marriage by talking regularly, setting mutual goals for our marriage, planning the future together, playing together, cultivating shared interests and fanning the flame of romance.

Action: Plan a weekend away together and build your emotional closeness. The better you get along with each other, the better your sex will be and the less tempting other people and activities will be. Confide in your spouse rather than an opposite-sex friend. Guard your thoughts. Don’t risk fantasizing about other romantic attachments. Your actions will tend to follow your thoughts. Keep romance alive. Long-term marriage doesn’t have to become dull and boring, re-center your marriage in Father’s love. Keeping romance alive takes a conscious effort. It’s your choice to maintain the excitement and enchantment. Make a fresh start and commit to pray together daily.

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing. I don‘t want to play mother, counselor, spiritual advisor or Holy Spirit in my husbands life. Help me not to take on this controlling behavior. I look forward to watching you God take our prayers and answer them beyond anything we could hope for or imagine. Amen

A Parents Job

Scripture: “You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commandments I am giving you. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home, and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down, and when you are getting up again.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thought: I took my job seriously as a mom and I taught basic spiritual principles to my children. I wanted them to learn that their actions revealed their value system and God’s commandments. What they do will show what they really believe. “A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Luke 6:45. It was my job to parent my children in the way God commanded me to when he entrusted His children to be mine to raise. A couple of stories that my adult children recently shared with me as a memory that left a legacy in their life was one day we were grocery shopping and my son found $20 on the floor. We really could have used that money and easily walked away without drawing attention. BUT, my children were observing with thoughts of intent questions. After explaining our choices, we did the right thing and took the money to customer service. Shortly after we got home, we received a call from the lady that dropped the money, thanking us for being honest people. That was her grocery money for the week from social security. I felt proud; it’s my job to set an example for my children. “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, your purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12. Another rule in our house was, no sibling fights and “tattle tails”. When it happened they knew right away that they would both be disciplined; sit next to each other until one was ready to make the first move to apologize, but first they had to wear the “Get Along” t-shirt.

Action: Don’t tell your children, “Do as I say, not as I do”. Instead, teach your children to do what you do. Are you setting a good example for your children and grand-children? It is impossible to give away what you don’t have. Live by spiritual principles and leave a legacy of your life for your children that will honor God. Put God First, it’s about our children. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3

Prayer: Lord, it’s not about me, it’s about being obedient to you. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Ps. 119:105) Please help me to be disciplined as a role model to your children that you’ve entrusted to me. Amen

Encourage with a Smile

Scripture: “When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them.” Job 29:24 (NLT)

Thought: I like to catch my husband’s attention and then give him a BIG smile for many reasons. This is my way of showing him encouragement, approval, and a love message. Recently, he received “not so happy” news from his doctor; he needed to change his eating habits or else…. He quickly became quite discouraged when he realized how much he had to give up. There were no words of comfort during this time; we both knew what steps needed to be taken. I threw him one of my zzzsmiles that everything was going to be okay and I was in the race with him.

When strength fails and we grow weary and discouraged, we need someone to come alongside us, show understanding, cheer us up, and inspire us to have hope and the strength and commitment to move on. Encouragers bring a beautiful gift and often a spiritual gift when they bring renewal through encouragement.

Action: God created every human to need and seek encouragement. Lori Ferguson from Encourage your Spouse shares that an Encourager Inspires with HOPE, Fortifies with FAITH, Fosters with LOVE, Uplifts with PRAYER, and Supports with ACTION. Marriage is preserved by God’s grace and we need to learn to pass it on. Prayer is the best encouragement tool and actions build encouragement. If you could ask your spouse to encourage you in any area of your life, what would it be?

Prayer: Lord, I ask, for encouragement to seek and believe in YOU for great things. I stand and knock at your door and ask for help to daily encourage my spouse, build him/her up, and stand strong beside him/her in good times and bad. Grant me the courage to act, even if with just “service with a smile”.