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”.