I grew up on the water, on the coast of New England. If I wasn't swimming in it, I was sailing or boating on it, or just walking along the shore. After spending so much time in boats and near the water, one thing I came to realize was that the slightest change in heading while sailing would land you miles off course.Read More
Mom, do you know God gave you the children you have for a reason?
I’ve said many times that I think God gave them to me to make me a better mom. Isn’t it true that the way you act and behave in your worst moments in reaction to their behaviors put a spotlight on your weaknesses and vulnerabilities?
It’s certainly true for me, and gives me clear direction for what I need to work on! My behavior in response to my children seems to be a beacon from every direction, and I am so quick to be critical and beat myself up over not being the perfect mom, how I do everything wrong, and how much my kids must be disappointed in me.
A little girl, when asked where her home was, replied, “Where mother is.” ~Keith L Brooks
About 3 years ago, I rededicated my life to Christ and have been redeveloping my relationship with Him. I hadn’t been going to church for more than 10 years, had married, become a mom, divorced, remarried and became a stepmom, lived in Europe, travelled many places, became a mom again, but just couldn’t figure out my life! I found myself looking at my marriage from a very low place, when I decided to let God take back control and truly committed to growing in Him, becoming the prayer warrior for our home. Lots of good things happened, however, my critical nature didn’t improve, and my relationship with my middle son (aka my stepson…in real life, we don’t call anyone step-anything) sparked lots of confrontation and emotional reactions from everyone. I felt alone about my struggles, and started reading a book that changed my perspective on my abilities and purpose as a mom to my son.
Am I Messing Up My Kids?
When I started reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book “Am I Messing Up My Kids?....and Other Questions Every Mom Asks,” I felt many “AHA!” moments! The biggest moment I remember was taking a few moments to consider the fact that I am the mom that God knew my children needed! Yes, even stepchildren! I think many stepmoms feel happy about having an instant family, but there is still that underlying tension of that child really being someone else’s. I often felt he just put up with me, biding his time until I left and he could have his dad all to himself. I took it personally (and still do) when he disagrees with me, or doesn’t hold my opinion in the highest regard. I'm a work in progress!
God Created Me to be His Mom
I had never considered that God planned for me to be in HIS life! I had never taken the time to look at it from the perspective that this small boy needed ME! I had no idea what to do at first, and still struggle with feeling completely connected with him, but keeping this thought in mind that God KNEW I needed to be his mom, and he needed me makes me feel special, have a purpose and opened the door even wider to accept grace and forgiveness for my crazy mom moments!
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. ~Psalm 55:22
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. ~James 1:5-6
We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.
New year, new you, new marriage! Now it a great time to tune up your marriage at The Art of Marriage! We've got events at Sandy Plain OFWB in Pink Hill January 10-11 and 902 Church in Kinston January 17-18. Register for one of them today!
We're linking up with some AMAZING bloggers…check out the links at the bottom right of the page.
Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!
As I sat down to write about the topic of video game addiction I thought maybe I should do a search online to see if there had been other articles or blog posts written on the subject. I couldn't recall seeing anything that specifically addressed this issue. Almost immediately, I discovered that there is actually a huge amount of information available, mostly written by those more scholarly than I could ever hope to be.Read More
How much do you know about your spouse? Seems like a crazy question, since, you know, you're married and all. But you'd be surprised at how much more there is to know! After 20+ years of marriage, I feel like I might just have my Associate's Degree when it comes to knowing my lovely wife, my perfect gift from God, Sherry.Read More
Have you ever tried to push a rope? Frustrating, isn't it? They're simply not designed to be pushed. Rather, they are meant to be used to lift or pull something along. A wagon, a sled, a bucket in a well. Now picture trying to push the wagon with the rope or to push the bucket up out of the well: silly, right? A major part of loving my wife well is having the understanding that I can't push her along on her journey with God.Read More
Walking around Washington, DC during Memorial Day weekend is a powerful experience. The city is alive with people from all over the world, coming to a place which symbolizes freedom to the entire world, while honoring those who paid the ultimate price for it.
As we were walking along the mall, from one monument and memorial to the next, we saw so many people of all ages and from all walks of life. We saw so many veterans, returning to honor their fallen comrades, alongside whom they fought for freedom. Their freedom and ours.
I stopped looking at the jackets, hats, and other indicators of their affiliation with different military branches, clubs, and wars in which they had fought. I started to notice their faces and their hands. I wanted to sit down next to each person and ask them their own story. I wanted to ask them what they had experienced in their lives and what drew them to this honored place, on this very solemn weekend.
Every person has a story, a story of a great romance set amidst a great battle. In each story there is a very real enemy, who utilizes anyone, anything and any circumstance to leverage his ability to take you out. Sometimes the enemy will lie in wait, letting circumstances wear you down before pouncing on you. This enemy is relentless.
But our God is the greater relentlessness. He pursues our hearts and fights the battles in our lives for us, when we let Him. When we visit places like Washington, DC, to remember the wars fought and won, to remember and memorialize the sacrifice made by so many; we need to be intentional about remembering and recounting the wars and battles fought and won in our own lives. Every battle fought affects the generations that follow.
We share our story frequently- it reminds us of where we've been and how we got there, serving as a reminder to not tread that path of isolation again. Every person has a story of battles fought. Ask someone theirs. Or share yours....we'd love to hear it!
We're linking up with Yes They Are All Ours, Becoming His Eve, Marriage Mondays, Matrimonial Monday, Time Warp Wife, The Better Mom, Marriage Moment, Messy Marriage, Wifey Wednesday, and No Ordinary Blog Hop!
Intentionally Yours is a 501(c)3 (pending) organization committed to sharing God's truth, hope and vision for marriage until every home is a godly home. Will you partner with us in this mission? Thank you for your support!
Warfare. When we think about it, we usually think of a place “over there”: places like the middle east, Afghanistan, Iraq. In previous generations, those places had names like Vietnam, Korea, Europe, and the Philippines. When we talk about a spiritual battle, it is sometimes harder to envision, simply because the battle is primarily taking place in your mind.
The men and women who fight and have fought overseas in the battles for the freedom of our nation and allies went through rigorous preparation and training in order to be able to complete their missions effectively. The first step in this preparation and training was a 8 to 12 week program called “basic training” or “boot camp”. In order to prepare for our daily spiritual battle, we must go through a “basic training” of our own.
There are several steps to this basic spiritual training and those steps must be taken in a specific order. It would be foolish and dangerous to give all of the equipment and weapons a basic training graduate has been trained to use to a new recruit fresh off the bus. The recruit would hurt themselves and potentially the people around them simply because they wouldn’t know how to effectively use the tools and weapons at their disposal.
To effectively wage war against the enemy who plagues us all, take these first steps of “basic training”.
WARNING: Do not believe that you can read through these scriptures once and think you’re ready for battle. You must be lead by the Holy Spirit through this training. Notice the very first step is to learn to respect your commander. The very nature of respecting your commander requires you to be willing to follow Him. Submit to Him and His leadership. His leadership must become second nature to you. Do not move to the second and then the third step until your commander deems you fit to proceed.
Respect our Commander – James 4:7 I must submit to God’s authority and obey Him in all things. Until you’ve let God deal with you in the areas of submission in your life (at work and at home) you’re not submitted to God, and so you’re not respecting Him and His Word.
Recognize our Enemy – Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8-9 I must remember I am at war at all times. I must never surrender. Many do not know this, but the enemy can only take ground that you surrender to him. The armor of God discussed in Ephesians 6 does not account for armor on your back because with God there is no need for retreat! Do not surrender! Do not give up the fight! Also, we must be able recognize the enemy when he approaches. If you’re alone in a foxhole and disoriented, it’s going to be difficult to discern from which direction the enemy is attacking. You may even mistake an ally for an attacker! Make sure you’re not in the battle alone, so that the others around you can help you to recognize the enemy when you can’t.
Resist the devil- Ephesians 6:11 I must equip myself daily to resist the devil. You can’t run a mile once a month and expect to be in shape right? Then why would we expect to be prepared for the enemy’s attacks if we only take our Bible off the shelf once a week or once a month? You must stay grounded in the Word.
Belt of Truth- Ephesians 6:14a I must practice faithfulness and integrity. God is faithful to those who remain faithful to Him. (read also: Job) The fact that God is faithful does NOT mean that life will be easy. Remain faithful to God in the good and the hard times. Practice integrity. Keep your word to others and keep your word to God, even when no one is watching. Our character is measured by who we are when no one will see our actions.
Breastplate of Righteousness- Ephesians 6:14b I must practice righteousness and holiness. Without God at the center of your heart and life, we are incapable of righteousness or holiness. Look to your commander for His leadership and example.
Sandals of the Gospel of Peace- Ephesians 6:15 I must remember that my stability and peace come from the Gospel. Again, read the book of Job. There was nothing stable or peaceful about his life after calamity visited him. Yet in the end, he reached a place of peace that could only be provided by God.
Shield of Faith- Ephesians 6:16 I must trust in God’s promises. God’s promises are just that: promises to you. A promise is defined as something that has the
Helmet of Salvation- Ephesians 6:17a I must remember that my salvation is secured in Christ. The work of your salvation was completed on the cross. Jesus said “It is finished” because the job was done. Be secure in knowing who you are in Christ. The old man or woman is gone, you’re not that person anymore. You’ve been remade.
Sword of the Spirit- Ephesians 6:17b I must read, memorize and speak God’s Word into my life, my circumstances and against the enemy. God SPOKE the world into existence, He didn’t think it or snap it into existence. Know and speak God’s Word.
Prayer- Ephesians 6:18 I must be in constant contact with God for my protection and the protection of others. Graduates of basic training do not leave camp, never to speak to their leader again, all alone in the battle. They are in constant contact with their commander and with others in the battle around them. One of the main tactics of our enemy is to use isolation to take us out one by one. Do not allow yourself to be separated from God. We are also created to work together in the battle. If you haven’t found a church of believers where you belong, go out and do it today.
Remember that training takes time and perseverance. You cannot read through these scriptures once or twice and be ready. Training requires repetition and practice. Above all, remember the promise of Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Tell us about YOUR basic training...or how we can pray for you!
Who hasn't fallen into a rut? I know that about eleven years into our marriage (yeah, it took that long) I woke up one day realizing that we had fallen into the horrible cycle of disagreement, anger and discontent simmering into a full blow up argument, followed twelve hours later with "making up" and being extremely kind to each other until our human patience and kindness ran out. There had to be a better way to be married, right?
This was before I surrendered my life to Christ and made Him Lord. But it was THIS realization that there had to be a better way, there had to be something more that propelled me into His loving arms. I didn't know the story of the guy by the pool of Bethesda in John 5:1-9, but I knew I wanted to be well and the things I was trying wasn't working. How did he finally get well? Jesus asked him what he wanted, then told him what to do and he did it. There are lots of people in the bible who weren't well and wanted healing. My favorite is the woman with the issue of the blood. She knew just being near Jesus would make her well, so she pursued him at all costs- she was an outcast going into a crowd, unclean yet touched his garment, BELIEVING she would be well. And she was.
Do you want your marriage to be well? Do you want to be well?
Try this at home: A great place to start is Things to do Everyday as a Couple - a great list of simple, life changing things that couples with healthy marriages do every day. Read the list. Pray about it. Invite your spouse to join you. Start TODAY!!
Get help: Yep, if you are in the "irreconcilable differences" place we were in, seek BIBLICAL counsel. And when you do, take everything you hear back to the word. If it doesn't line up, find a different source of counsel. I knew when our first marriage counselor told me to "lighten up and drink a little", she wasn't the right counselor for us. Check your local church or visit www.nanc.org to find a biblical counselor. OH, and if you find a "free" counselor who encourages you well, show them your appreciation with a gift card or a check if they've invested in your life and marriage.
Do what the counselor instructs. Jesus told the man at the pool of Bethesda to pick up his mat and walk. The man did what Jesus told him to do. If the counselor gives you homework, DO IT. Don't worry about what your spouse is doing, do what you are called to do. Your Mission to be the man/husband/father or woman/wife/mother doesn't change based on what your spouse is or isn't doing. Just like if you want to run a marathon, you've got to follow a training plan, if you want change in your marriage, you've got to follow the training plan your counselor sets before you.
Go away. No, don't stop reading and leave the computer right now, find a marriage getaway and get away together.
- Weekend to Remember: We went to our first Weekend to Remember as a divorced couple, and it changed our lives and marriage. It gave us the tools to seek and grant generous forgiveness, then to build a new marriage together on the Word of God. We've read the responses from couples who have attended- this getaway changes marriages, healing broken ones, strengthening good marriages, and resurrecting dead marriages. We've got a discount code to save you some cash on registration, find one near you!
- The Art of Marriage: Not necessarily a get out of town getaway, but perhaps an oasis of truth in your own town. It's a dvd based event with the best bible and marriage teachers and pastors on the planet weighing in with truth, vignettes that will make you laugh and cry, and projects to get you and your spouse talking about the "elephant in the room" in your marriage. Find one near you!
- The Art of Marriage at Sea: We love The Art of Marriage so much, we're taking it on a cruise with us October 23-28, leaving from Charleston,SC. Will you join us?
- Love Like You Mean It Cruise: We'd love to have you join us on the only fully chartered Christian marriage cruise! February 10-14, 2014, we'll be headed to Grand Turk Island this year, with a couple of days at sea. It's going to be so much fun...so far the line up of speakers/entertainment includes: Gary Chapman, Dennis & Barbara Rainey, Laura Story, Chris August, Building 429, Nicole C. Mullen, FFH, Bone Hampton, and more to be announced!!
If you want different results than what you've got in your marriage, you've got to do something different. Get desperate like the woman with the blood issue, press into Jesus like your life and marriage depends on it, because it does.
We're linking up!
Although God doesn't want our attention focused on the rear view mirror, He does want us to glance at it to learn from where we've been and to celebrate what He's done in our lives. Wordpress provides to its bloggers a 2012 Year In Review, which we are using for the same thing! We're celebrating what God has done through Intentionally Yours and striving to learn from our first year with a website to make our second year even more effective in building godly families.
Here's an excerpt from the Intentionally Yours Annual Report:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 29,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals. In 2012, there were 95 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 104 posts. The busiest day of the year was October 2nd with864 views. The most popular post that day was But our marriage was a sin to begin with.
We pray about and faithfully share what God puts on our hearts, knowing that at one time it was something we needed to hear to change our lives, so surely someone else needs to hear it, too. These are the 12 most read posts from 2012:
- FRIDAY FIVE: Things to Do Everyday as a Couple
- But our marriage was a sin to begin with
- 10 Questions for Your Wife
- when your fairytale falls apart
- 5 steps to standing for your marriage
- why should I fight for my marriage?
- If the Grass Looks Greener On The Other Side…..
- sometimes it’s just not alright
- praying scripture to change your life
- when love requires grace
- Five Minutes, No Warning
- When Looking Foolish is a Good Thing
It was interesting to see the keywords that brought you from search engines to Intentionally Yours, too. Take a look:
- questions to ask your wife/spouse
- what do you know?
- will the weekend to remember save my marriage?
- standing for your marriage
- is the grass greener?
- how to reconnect with my spouse
- spiritual warfare
- how do I fight for my marriage?
- why is life not fair?
- is my husband intentionally making me suspicious?
- scott & sherry jennings
- beverly weeks
No big surprise, Facebook and Twitter is how many of you found your way here. But let's give a BIG shout out to the top twelve referring sites!
- Not Consumed
- Hot Holy & Humorous
- The Warrior Wives
- Time Warp Wife
- Women Living Well
- Jolene Engle
- We Are That Family
- Christian Woman Magazine
- The Generous Husband
- The Marriage Bed
- Loving When it Hurts
Reading through all this sparked a conversation the other day about Intentionally Yours and the wide variety of topics we've discussed here on our blog. It occurred to me however, that we've only just begun to scratch the surface. That's when the idea of a "Feedback Friday" popped into my head.
What if we asked YOU for YOUR thoughts and ideas for blog posts? With your vast array of situations, circumstances, experiences, we're excited to tackle some topics that otherwise would never have crossed our minds. Chances are if you are wondering about something, so is someone else.
So, with that being said, here are some ground rules:
- #1 There are no ground rules. We'll do our best to write about and reflect upon God's perspective on anything you submit focused on building godly families (that is our mission, after all). I can't promise we'll have answers, I can't promise we'll solve your problems, but I can promise that from God's perspective, there's nothing new under the sun. We'll research it and then write about it.
- #2 I promise we'll do our very best to respond with God's perspective, grace that only He can provide, and that we'll share the truth in love.
- #3 I can't promise we'll get it right every time. You already know this, but none of us on the IY team is God. We're just His servants.
- #4 I promise we won't hold anything back, sugar coat the message or refrain from saying the hard thing to spare your feelings. If you ask for God's truth, we're going to give it to you. (As best we can.)
- #5 We love you and only want God's best for you.
So, as we're looking through the windshield, down the road of 2013, here are several ways you can submit your questions or topic suggestions: you can leave a comment below, you can comment on our Facebook Page, or you can send an email to one of us:
Scott: scott@intentionallyyours Sherry: sherry@intentionallyyours Rick: rick@intentionallyyours Beverly: firstname.lastname@example.org
We're looking forward to hearing from you, praying and writing about some of the things YOU'D like to read about!
We love The Art of Marriage so much, we're taking it on vacation with us! Come with us!
At any time, one of the most important parts of communicating is listening well. There is No Price Too High in learning to communicate well! This is especially true during the holiday season, when family and friends come to visit and the joy of gathering together can cause tensions to run high in your marriage as you are Blending Christmas Traditions.
Here are five quick tips to listen well, now and throughout the year!
#1 Give focused attention. This means focusing on the person with whom you are communicating, not grunting over your shoulder as you play another round of Angry Birds. Look away from whatever screen has your attention and FOCUS! Sometimes, when I'm working in my office at home, I'll be right in the middle of writing and Sherry will need to talk to me. We have worked out our own "code" which works well for us: If I'm in the middle of a thought and need to finish my writing I will simply ask her to "please stand by". This lets her know that if I turn away from my work at that moment it may be lost forever as my train of thought derails. Work out your "code" beforehand to avoid conflict later!
...listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Proverbs 7:24
#2 Listen with acceptance and understanding. In Proverbs 4:7 Solomon tells us that "in all your getting, get understanding". It is impossible to work through conflict and better understand your spouse without listening to understand. What's really at issue here is the position of your heart. Are you listening just so you can respond? So that you can make your point? If you are simply trying to "win" the discussion or get only what you want, you are not really concerned about what your spouse has to say. Check your motivations and ask God to reposition your heart. Then, once you can hear to understand, be accepting of your spouse's ideas and opinions. You may discover that his/her ideas on how to handle a certain situation may even be better than yours!
#3 Ask clarifying questions; make summarizing statements. Ask questions like "Are you telling me that ____?" or "Can you tell me more about what you meant when you said ____?" so that you know you understand. I can't tell you the number of times in the past I have walked away from a conversation with Sherry thinking I knew what we were talking about. Only to find out later that I may as well have been a thousand miles away since our understanding was a thousand miles apart. It may seem a little silly or embarrassing at first, but your spouse (especially wives here) will be glad to know you want to be clear about their expectations.
By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established. Proverbs 24:3
#4 Focus on what is being said, not the way it is being said. The reality is that sometimes our discussions get heated. In our house, tones don't typically change, but our volume levels do. I tend to get louder as the discussion gets more heated, and Sherry tends to get quieter. It's important to remember that no matter the communication style of your spouse, your main goal is understanding so that in the end, you can grow closer. One of the greatest pieces of marital advice I have ever heard is to stop in the midst of a heated discussion and tell your spouse that what you're arguing about has nothing to do with your love for them. Your love is not in question, whatever you're discussing is. Make that point clear and the rest of the discussion will go more smoothly.
#5 Listening is caring. The majority of people want nothing more than for someone to care enough to listen to them and to truly hear them. Every one of us has a desire to be heard. Make it your goal to fulfill your spouse's and children's desire to be heard. The wisdom and understanding you'll gain are worth it!
...let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19
Which of these is difficult for you?
Set up opportunities to listen with great questions to Know Your Spouse.
My husband and son LOVE the movies where the operative receives the message that explains the job he's asked to complete. Once the situation/circumstance is described, he hears "Your mission, should you choose to accept it", followed by a summary of the mission. Then the method of conveying the message explodes and the operative is sent into action, working nonstop until the mission is complete. Kind of like a marriage, really.
Wedding vows come with two parts, typically. The part where you make your promise, accepting your mission to "love, honor and obey" or "love, honor and cherish", and the conditions of your mission "for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, from this day forward until death do us part." That's when we accept our mission and the conditions. Then we walk into the potentially, sporadically explosive situation called marriage, where two people, two sinners, spend the rest of their lives either choosing to become one with every decision they make, or they drift toward isolation.
The "better, richer, healthy" of marriage is described in Genesis 2:25, isn't it? Naked and unashamed sounds pretty good to me!
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. -Genesis 2:24-25
When married couples encounter what could be described as simply as "worse, poorer, sickness", the answer to the "what do you do now?" question remains the same- love, honor, cherish/obey. Worse, poorer, and sickness pretty comprehensively describes everything that may come against us as sinners living in a fallen world- I won't list them here, you can just fill in the following blank with your situation: Worse, poorer, sickness includes ________________________________. God describes "worse, poorer, sickness" in Genesis 3. I love the way it is shared in this clip from The Art of Marriage:
Your mission from God remains the same, regardless of your circumstances. God's Word does not hinge on your circumstance. When you were born, the first mission God has for you is to become Christlike, to be the man/woman He created you to be. Then, when you marry, you accept the next mission, to be the husband/wife God created you to be, fulfilling the purposes of marriage as described in What's This For? And then, when you have children, you accept the third mission, to be the father/mother God created you to be.
How do you fulfill this mission? One moment at a time, choosing to do what God calls you to do, regardless of your circumstances and how you feel about them. When God tells husbands in Ephesians 5 to "love your wife" He doesn't follow it up with any conditions, does He? No, because He knows that husbands need to choose to love and let the feelings follow. When God tells wives in Ephesians 5 to "submit to your husband", He doesn't follow it up with conditions there, either, because He knows that when wives choose to submit, the feelings will follow. Where is the practical "how to" of all this? Read through Ephesians 1-3, which tells you who you are in Christ, then read Ephesians 4-6, the practical how to walk out who you are in Christ. You've got to know who you are in Christ before you can walk out who He's created you to be.
Even if it doesn't feel like it, it's great news to know that your mission is not contingent upon whether your spouse is living at home, not living at home, steeped in adultery, an addiction, in prison or denial. Once upon a time, you said "I do", you accepted your mission to love, honor and cherish, despite your circumstances or situation. You promised to fulfill your mission until death do you part. Know that you have a very real enemy who does NOT want you to complete your mission and will use everything he can against you to stop you. How long do you continue your mission? Are you breathing?
Be encouraged, you have not completed your mission, there is still hope!
Note: There's no better time than now to grab the tools you need to become the husband/wife God created you to be. Check out the Marriage Toolbox, grab a tool, and build/repair your marriage by working with your Creator to make you more Christlike! Remember, as you change, God may get a hold of your spouse for a Change on Damascus Road!
"Many years ago, a woman touring in Europe cabled her husband the following message: "Have found wonderful bracelet. Price seventy-five thousand dollars. May I buy it?" Her husband immediately responded with the message: "No, price too high." However, the telegraph operator missed one small detail in his transmission — the signal for a comma after the word "No." The wife in Europe received the reply: "No price too high." Elated by the good news, she bought the bracelet. When she returned to the United States and showed the new bracelet to her shocked husband, he learned the value of a comma and communication." - Unknown
That's an extreme example of the value of good communication. At a recent Weekend to Remember getaway, the speaker shared "You cannot not communicate. The problem is the way we communicate." The way we communicate can cause friction at home, school, work, and church. God, in His divine design, has given us instruction in His Word to help us communicate in a way that pleases Him and builds and fortifies the relationships in your life. Let's go straight to Ephesians for the communication principles God laid out for us...
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. -Ephesians 4:25-32
In Ephesians 4:25-32, God gives us four principles to help us communicate well in every relationship. Ready?
#1 BE HONEST!
- In order to be HONEST, verse 25 tells us we must SPEAK. Yes, you've got to have that hard conversation. By not talking with your spouse about that hard thing you don't want them to know about, you are lying by omission, which got Jacob in trouble with his father in law, Laban, back in Genesis 31:20.
- In order to be HONEST, verse 25 also tells us we must speak TRUTH. You've got to share what is really going on, what you really feel, not some shade of the truth.
- In order to be HONEST, verse 25 tells us we must speak truth LOVINGLY. There are ways to share that cause greater hurt, so you must choose your words carefully, acting with the best of the other person in mind.
#2 KEEP CURRENT!
- God equipped us to discuss/resolve today's problems today. That's what He means in verses 26 and 27, for us not to let the sun go down while angry. Anger is energy to be used in solving problems, but when used unbiblically, it attacks yourself or others. Let your anger move you to pray first, then resolve the conflict of today. You don't have the grace today to drag up all the past wrongs in your relationship- if you've discussed and forgiven for those things, LEAVE THEM IN THE PAST!
- The dangers of not discussing/resolving today's problems today include opening the door to resentment, bitterness and growing anger, setting the stage for future problems to be distorted.
- Don't tear down. When we use unwholesome words (verse 29), we are attacking the character of the other person, which is NOT what God is calling us to do. In this, we're avoiding the real issue, the real problem at hand.
- Build up. God calls us to use words that build up, encourage, and call up your spouse into the person God has created them to be. When you build up your spouse in the midst of problem solving, you are encouraging him/her to work on the problem using the gifts he/she has through reminding him/her of those strengths.
- Stay focused on the problem- the thinking or behavior that is unbiblical. Seek to understand the motive behind the thought or behavior to address it with God's Word.
- DON'T REACT: Wow, doesn't verse 31 describe how we feel and respond when we feel wronged? Bitterness (refusing to treat your spouse as if he's never hurt you), rage (outburst of anger), anger (slow simmering or indignation), brawling (arguing) and slander (abusive speech), along with every form of malice (a desire to hurt your spouse).
- ACT: Thank God for verse 32, where God tells you how to act instead of react. He calls us to be kind (benevolent, gentle, gracious, loving), compassionate (charitable, tenderhearted, sympathetic, understanding), and forgiving (forbearing, gracious, indulgent, merciful, freeing offender from guilt).
Changing the way we communicate is tough, God knows that and empowers us to do that in Philippians 4:13. Write these principles down so that when you see the next conflict on the horizon, you've got what you need to communicate well, to speak to be understood and to listen to understand. Take five minutes when confronted with a situation to pray, pull out these four principles, and tackle the issue at hand the way God created you to! It's not easy, but it's worth it...
Which of these principles are the toughest for you?
We're so grateful for the NANC training we received- this information is from the awesome session on communication during Fundamentals of Biblical Counseling, Counseling and Discipleship Training. If you are interested in learning practically how to use God's Word to change the lives of others through counseling, we'd encourage you to check it out!
Military? Check out these military marriage communication posts from Excellent Or Praiseworthy:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything be excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
Today, we want to introduce you to Excellent or Praiseworthy, a devotional for military marriages. Written by Mike & Linda Montgomery of Military Ministry, it is their goal to minister to you and to help you think about things which will refresh and comfort you during this time of war. We want you to have hope! We know that there is a battle in the mind—a spiritual battle against discouragement and fear. But for those who persevere under trial there are great promises. Consider these:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” – Romans 5:3-5
Do you believe that suffering in itself produces perseverance? Or is it the rejoicing in suffering that will result in perseverance, then character, and then hope? Perhaps you are thinking that there is no way to rejoice in the challenges that you are enduring right now. As the days go by, Mike & Linda at Excellent or Praiseworthy will explore how the renewing of your mind can bring about joy and hope. So please stay with us and them as we bring to you the things of the LORD that are excellent or praiseworthy. A new devotional will be posted every Monday and Thursday on Excellent or Praiseworthy, and we'll share some of our favorites here at Intentionally Yours.
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4
Excellent or Praiseworthy is a publication of Campus Crusade for Christ—Military Ministry to encourage you in your marriage and your walk with the Lord.
The above is borrowed with permission from Excellent or Praiseworthy's "about this site" page and tweaked for us to share it well with you. We're excited to partner with Mike & Linda Montgomery to share God's truth, hope and vision for marriage. We hope you'll join us on Mondays as we bring truth for marriages with the military marriage in mind. We know marriage is tough, and the military is NOT marriage friendly, but God's truth, hope and vision reigns for military marriages, too. Will you join us in this journey?