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

Sex in Marriage

Scripture: “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. Read more

Marriage Transformation

Scripture: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Romans 1:21-23
Thought: After seventeen years of marriage, Beth had learned to settle for second place in her marriage. Between careers, children, social engagements and in-law demands, Rod and Beth often neglect their relationship. She was too exhausted to take an interest in her health and appearance like she had for the first ten years. Rod became a workaholic and this affair with his job created a crisis in their marriage. The two eventually became disengaged, and their fantasy of marriage dissolved to a mediocre life growing further apart through the years. Because of their value system and belief in God, Rod and Beth resigned to hanging in with an increasingly lifeless marriage. This was not a simple matter for them or their children. The very fact that their ideas about love were based on assumptions meant that they never thought through true love in the first place; they just accepted the distance and stereotyped their marriage as many of their friends, “they just didn’t have magic in their love any longer because of life changes.” Rod and Beth’s belief system reflected their reality in their marriage. Rod and Beth did not glorify their marriage as God designed; instead they entered into a vow of fantasy and did not have grateful attitudes for the two hearts He joined together. In Romans 1: 21 – The heathens neither thanked God for His benefits, nor glorified Him for His divine perfection. But they became useless; like the idols Rod and Beth worshiped their, careers, children, social engagements and in-law demands. For the true God, they substituted other idols. Is your marriage oriented vertically with God relationship at the head or are your priorities horizontal in a world’s value system?
Action: A family that prays together stays together. Bring back the “AWE” in your marriage, show affection, be warm and encourage one another. Allow God to transform your marriage union into a connection of love, respect, romance, and spiritual oneness. Nurture your spiritual growth by praying for your spouse and your relationship daily, engage in bible studies together, flirt and laugh with one another. Think about renewing your marriage vows. Vow renewal ceremonies are often more meaningful than the wedding. Renewing your vows will move you toward spiritual intimacy and transform your marriage.
Prayer: Father, I am thankful for the husband/wife you’ve given me. I’ve allowed my life to evolve around the worldly system becoming ungodly to you and my spouse. Help me to mirror your love in my heart with affection, warmth and encouragement. My desire is to have a second chance to renew our marriage vows with the understanding of your true love.

Keys4-Unity Put God First

Scripture: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of ministries, but the same Lord. There are varieties of results, but it is the same God who produces all the results in everyone. To each person has been given the ability to manifest the Spirit for the common good.” (ISV) 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Thought: Recently, I assisted at a conference for the unity of marriages. During this time I exerted a lot of energy and my husband was concerned that my sleepless days would bear on my health. I tried in my best effort to explain that I was preparing a banquet for Jesus and He deserved my very best. God provided me with the strength of energy, other members of the body, and the ability to get His job done. Now, there was a time I thought God passed me up when He was passing out talents. I wanted to be like others that I admired and saw that they were blessed with a spiritual gift. But now I can see that I wouldn’t want to have the burden of continually using that particular gift faithfully. However, God did bless me with the gifted ability to serve others. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:29, “If you use wisely what you have, you will be given more.” The Bible makes it clear that what God has given to each of us, if used faithfully, will accomplish great things. God takes joy in using the gifts the world may see as my inability to lack a certain talent, but He purposely uses my gift to accomplish His plan.

Action: What is keeping you from using your talented gift to serve in the unity of Christ? Is it your own lack of discipline or circumstances beyond your control? If it is truly circumstances beyond your control, then take comfort in the fact that God still loves you and perhaps the suffering that is keeping you from reaching out in physical service, is a blessing and God has given you a gift of praying for others. Unity creates a more beautiful worship experience. Set your mind on discovering the gifts and abilities that God specifically had in mind when He created you.

Prayer: Lord, I ask not what You can do for me, but what can I do for You? The purpose of my life is not about me, it’s about serving You for Your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Show me this day Father, Your gift, Your strength and my ability to serve You in unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bless Your Spouse

Scripture: Read Romans 14:19 “So then, let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”

Thought: Blessing your spouse is to speak well of him or her. You can speak well of your spouse to others and you can speak well to your spouse through compliments, words of encouragement, and the small courtesies of life, (which tend to fade after the days of courtship). Blessing your spouse also involves building each other up. Here are a few suggestions from the late Dr. Ed Wheat in his book Love Life.
1. Make a conscious decision never to be critical of your spouse in thought, word, or deed. This should be a decision backed up by action until it becomes a habit that you would not change even if you could.
2. Spend time connecting with your spouse so you can develop sensitivity to the area in which your spouse may feel they lack. Discover creative ways to build your spouse up in those weak areas.
3. Spend time thinking daily of positive qualities and behavior patterns you admire and appreciate in your spouse. Make a list and thank God for these.
4. Consistently verbalize praise and appreciation, and do this in a specific and generous manner.
5. Recognize what your spouse does, but also who your spouse is. Let him or her know that you respect them for what they have accomplished.

Action: How do you bless your spouse and build each other up? Which of Dr. Wheat’s suggestions are presently true in your marriage? Which ones need to be implemented? Take some time today to share a positive quality you see in your spouse. Then with a gratitude attitude, thank the Lord for your spouse.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. You brought _________ into my life to be my spouse. Please remind me not to take him/her for granted, but help me to take captive the thoughts You would have me see and hear to be a blessing to my spouse today.

Safety Zone

Scripture: Read James 1:19 “Dear friends, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight”.

Thought: This weekend the check engine light came on in our car. I assumed big bucks to get it repaired, my husband concluded that we only had one vehicle and couldn’t afford to release the car for repair until we found another vehicle to use. Almost immediately we both turned into monsters instead of realizing that we actually had the same goal; the car needed to be fixed! Our communication involved sending and receiving a message of resolution but we failed to evaluate (listen) and discuss (speak) the options. Our choice of communication was not effective and grew into an unsafe zone of fear and anger, creating us both to be defensive. After the storm calmed down, we were able to stand with each other and forgive whatever grievance we had against one another. Our desiring virtues to be humble, to be kind, to be patient, to put on love, connected our situation in perfect unity. We prayed and asked God for forgiveness while sinning in our fear and anger, then asked Him to help us find an affordable mechanic. In deed, we asked God for a great thing and He delivered.

Action: Is your marriage a safe haven? Can you and your spouse be yourselves? Are you free to share and express your dreams, concerns, jokes, disappointment or anything else that makes you who you are? Or do you hide and keep silent for fear of anger, judgment or criticism? Talk about your reactions when the two of you had a disagreement. How did it make you feel and how did it effect the situation? If the two of you connected in communication, how did the situation place you in a safe zone?

Prayer: Lord, I so often jump to a conclusion when I am afraid. My fear can turn to anger and my anger turns to defense. Lord, you tell me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. I ask you now Father, help me seek to be humble and not to pass judgment, to knock and search for your peace so my conversations with my spouse are right in your sight and together we are safe in perfect harmony when making decisions.

Impressive Love

Scripture: Read 1 Peter 3:7 “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life”.
Thought: When having dinner with my son and daughter-in-law this weekend, my husband and I were discussing our different love languages. Amber, my daughter-in-law, made a statement that brought a proud, loving tear to my heart; “I don’t need flowers or jewelry. My husband filled my gas tank for me and that makes me feel so loved.” It was my son’s act of service that told his wife, he loves her.

God calls husbands to oversee their homes and this includes protecting their wives from emotional and physical burnout. Women are wired to nurture and give of themselves, but a random act of kindness from the man she loves speaks volumes to her. Your wife is probably pretty good at juggling a million things at once, but when she gets overwhelmed, it’s nice to have a little help; even if she doesn’t admit or realize she needs the rest. It’s easy to get focused on work, parenting, and various forms of entertainment, and forget about your wife’s needs. Does she look frazzled or even frantic at times? Is she less patient or snapping at you for small things? Try serving your wife; this reflects God’s love when you shoulder burdens with her. It’s not demeaning or beneath you, it’s bringing God glory, and creating a closer bond with your spouse.
You know her better than anyone knows her, so stay on your toes and keep her on your radar. If she runs herself ragged nonstop, how will she have anything left to offer anyone else? If she seems cold and uninterested towards you, it could be exhaustion. Lend a helping hand, or start a hot bubble bath for just “her alone time”.
Action: Step back and ask yourself how you can serve your wife, given the unique talents and strengths God gave you. Are you happy to clean up after dinner? Can you help kids with math homework? Can you take over the bedtime routine? Then go brush some little teeth. Help her, help you. Shower her with the type of love that will spill over to you, your children, and others in your lives. Be intentional about protecting her well-being and you will reap great rewards.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for the attitude I carried home tonight to my family. Help me to leave work at work. I am grateful for having a loving home, to come and rest. And for a wife that serves you out of love. Open my eyes to see You. Help me to see Your reflection in our home. Guide my heart to let go of the day and to serve you the way my wife serves me. Show me your way and strengthen me to treat her with understanding. Lord, in everything I give you thanks. Amen

Marriage Interview

Scripture: “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. This great mystery is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5: 31-33
Thought: A few years ago on a radio talk show, I heard a pastor ask a young engaged couple what the definition of marriage was to them. I wondered if they could give a clear and concise response? The couple replied with the traditional wedding pledge, “do you take ________ to be your wedded husband/wife, to live together in marriage? Do you promise to love, comfort, honor and keep him/her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to each other, for as long as we both shall live?” It sounded to me, like they knew what they were committing to. I of course, thought of the wedding vows I took in the holy sacrament of matrimony. I made a promise to George; there would be no holding back of anything. My marriage was a pledge of mutual fidelity; it is a partnership of mutual submission with Jesus Christ in the center. Through the good times and bad I would stand beside George in support. Together with God in the center of our marriage, we would work things out.

Sure, all of us experience events which have the potential to reshape us as individuals or as couples. Some of these possible events are called disappointment, crises or tragedies. There are certain key words that are important to discuss as a couple. We must leave our parents authority and not cling to their views. We must cleave to our spouse, united as one and start our own lives together as just the two of us were created to be one in unity. As we experience together the events that hurt, we will learn to weave a life together as a family with Christ in the center.

Action: Consider what your definition would be. What does commitment mean to you? What is a pledge? What does mutual submission mean to you? How can marriage free you instead of restrict you? Has your marriage freed you to this point? What has happened in the life time of your marriage that God has used to reshape you? Enjoy your discussion today.
Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing else than to have my marriage Re-Centered in Your Love. I ask for you to provide time with George and I tonight to reflect and discuss our love, our pledge, our growth during marriage, and reflect on the mutual submission that we made through the bad times. May we gain greater direction concerning our marriage through Your process and grow with love and respect to one another. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Pride Destroys

Scripture: Read 2 Timothy 3: 2-5 “(2) For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. (3)They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. (4)They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. (5)They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.”
Thought: Pride can destroy relationships. It can make a person unloving and unforgiving. People can betray their friends, family and even spouses to enjoy their own pleasure. Yes, there is a positive, healthy side to pride; being proud of your children or your spouse, or taking pride in your work. But looking at the destructive side of pride can have such great power to damaging our relationship with others and with God. Pride is destructive when it involves wanting too much recognition, taking too much credit, wanting your own way, thinking your way is best. Thinking too highly of oneself causes us to face the world from a selfish point of view, blinding us to our faults, which leads us to finding fault, blame, jealousy, envy and a judgmental attitude towards others. Pride is like a cancer of the soul. Beginning with a few cells of self congratulations and pats on the back; boasting or vanity, soon it grows unchecked into arrogance and conceit. Then there is no room left for the healthy cells that worship God and pursue healthy purposes. As with cancer, the key to eliminating pride is to surrender it to the surgeon’s scalpel before it has a chance to grow out of control.
Action: How about you? BE BRUTALLY HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Has pride brought conflict in your marriage? Do you perceive that you’re safer, smarter, and richer than you really are? Has pride kept you from receiving help lately? Has pride kept you from receiving your spouse’s love and God’s love? Has pride kept you from forgiving someone in your life because of a judgmental attitude? Through repentance, invite God to cleanse your heart of pride. Ask Father God to help you not to take pride in yourself, but in what Our Father wants to do in you through Jesus. Focusing on God’s life in you is a good deterrent of arrogance.
Prayer: My Father God, right now I want to confess the self importance I have placed on myself. You know more why I do these things than I do, but I don’t want to be filled with false pride, I want You to be alive in me. Please CHANGE ME LORD, so that I may focus on living the kind of life you have called me to and to share the blessings you have bestowed upon me. I surrender my pride to you today and ask for you to teach me to be humble. In Jesus Name, I pray with THANKSGIVING, Amen.