God's Blueprint for Marriage
By Family Life South Africa
If you are ready to invest in your marriage and intentionally move towards oneness, we invite you to take part in this weekly devotional.
With this podcast, we help you understand God’s blueprint for marriage so you can create a legacy of greatness.
God's Blueprint for MarriageOct 21, 2021
Life after Divorce - Part 4
Good day again, My name is Gerda Snyman and I am talking about life after divorce.
The previous time I talked about forgiveness and today I want to talk about finding contentment – how to live a full and fulfilling life again.
As I continued my single life, I made peace with the fact that I don’t have what couples have – intimacy with a spouse, children and grandchildren. I had to accept the voids of what I see others are enjoying. It was painful in the beginning and sometime still is when I see my friends bragging about their grandchildren. But I have more time to reach out to others and be there for those who are lonely and struggling. I have more time for Bible study and being with God. I have a peaceful life and found my fulfilment and contentment in those things – being useful in God’s Kingdom.I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. - PHIL 4:11
A book I once studied was The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs.
Burroughs quoted Paul from Phil 4:11 “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”.
Burroughs wrote, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit…..in every condition.” And Paul said it was something he had to learn.
Most lessons of contentment I have learnt are from these two men. I had to learn to have that quiet frame of spirit and silence the murmuring spirit within me. That came after time when submitting and spending time in God’s Word and in prayer – daily. Then I was able to be of service to others, get involved again with ministry and with action groups at my church. It is striking that John the Baptist, Jesus himself and the apostle Paul were unmarried and they viewed singleness as a legitimate and positive vocation. Paul even said that it is a gift from God.
The most important thing is to have God as the centre of my universe – not myself or anybody else.
If you would like to talk to someone, please contact Family Life South Africa.
Life after Divorce - Part 3
Good day, My name is Gerda Snyman and I am talking about life after divorce. Last time I talked about putting my focus on God and trusting Him to work everything out for the good.
Today I will talk about forgiveness. One of the most difficult things to do, especially if you are trying to do that on your own. It was only when I put my focus on God, that I could start the process of forgiving. I had to forgive myself for breaking God’s law and making so many mistakes. I didn’t like the person that I became. Then I had to forgive my husband for his part and also some friends that didn’t support me through this difficult time. I wrote them all letters where I could pour out my heart and emotions – I didn’t send them of course, but I could exactly say what I felt. I talked to God about what I wrote – He already knew.It was only when I put my focus on God, that I could start the process of forgiving. I had to forgive myself for breaking God’s law and making so many mistakes. I didn’t like the person that I became.
I was reminded of the parable in Matthew 18 where the forgiven servant threw his debtor in prison. It helped me to see things in perspective and to forgive as I am forgiven. Most of the time I struggled to pray, so I just read the letters to God and told Him, that is how I feel. Other times I read through the Psalms and prayed them back to God asking Him to help me overcome my sadness, emptiness, loneliness and to honestly forgive. He was faithful and helped me. I could forgive and the healing could start.
I realised that forgiveness is not a once off event but a process of willingness to let go and be free. To not hold on to grievances or fall into self-pity. Forgiveness is not instantaneous but takes courage and perseverance in faith and trust that God will lead us through. Now after more than ten years, I sometimes get angry and have to forgive again. By God’s grace and help I am able to forgive and live a full life again.
Next time I will talk about how to live a full life again as a single person.
Life after Divorce - Part 2
Hello Again! My name is Gerda Snyman and I am talking about life after divorce. Today I will talk about how I dealt with the pain and rejection by focusing on God and his promises.
I was listening to a sermon about the life of Leah and Jacob. Leah felt rejected and was having children in an effort that her husband would see her and love her. It is described in Genesis 29:31-35. When giving birth, she said, “Surely my husband will love me now.” Then “Now my husband will become attached to me”. But after giving birth to Judah, she said “This time I will praise the Lord. Then she stopped having children.” Only when she focused her eyes on the Lord, did she have peace. She didn’t know that Jesus, our Saviour, was to be born from the tribe of Judah. God will work out everything for the good of those who love Him, according to Romans 8:28.ROMANS 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.
His promise is still true today and that was what I focused on. I had to trust Him to lead me through the rejection, pain and hurt that I thought would never end. I had to find peace in Him and in his Word. I had to trust God that He will work this out for my good. I couldn’t see it at the time either. I couldn’t see a future for myself in ministry or how I should proceed with my life. The rejection, shame and stigma of being divorced was overbearing and the gossiping I heard did not help at all. But God showed me that I was loved by Him. He took my pain and shame upon Himself on the cross. It took some time, but I rested in that.
Only after some years, could I see how He worked it out for the good. I came closer to Him over time and trusted Him more to fend for me like a husband would. I know He is all and in all.
Next time I will talk about the process of forgiveness and healing.
Life after Divorce - Part 1
Good Day, My name is Gerda Snyman. Some time ago I shared my story with you on how I received Christ as my Saviour.
I talked about how I took control of my life and for many years was caught up in a lifestyle of unfulfilling love relationships. I was trying to find my worth in being with the “in” crowd and in being engaged or married…belonging to someone. Until I met Jesus Christ.
Today I will talk about the lessons I learnt as the first in a four part series of how I survived a divorce and grew closer to God.Become friends, pay attention to the warning signs and red flags like being argumentative, controlling, selfish, pressing for sex etc.
After about 10 years of being single and celibate, living a very contented life, I met someone at church. He joined our small group and we started dating. He seemed to be a mature Christian and a true follower of Christ. Someone even said “he really seems to be sorted out”. But we didn’t get to know each other and we got married about four months after we met.
In hind sight, we were too hasty to get married. We were both in our forty’s and didn’t want to wait too long. But I really didn’t know the person I married. I wasn’t being realistic about the relationship. We were spiritualising everything – how we met, how God brought us together, how our lives connected, that we are meant for each other etc.
The lessons I have learnt for marriage, is to get to know each other really well. Become friends, pay attention to the warning signs and red flags like being argumentative, controlling, selfish, pressing for sex etc. Introduce the person to your friends and family and listen to their comments. Be careful to spiritualise things and to justify feelings and events from the Bible. Use your common sense. Although as Christians we need to trust God for a partner, we should be sober and clear headed in our choices. Being in love blinds us and it is difficult to see the facts.
Next time I will talk about how God lead me through the pain of divorce and starting the forgiveness process.
Stepfamily Living – Part 6
This is our sixth and final podcast on stepfamilies. We have barely touched the surface, but hopefully we have raised awareness of the need to prepare. I will bullet point a few final thoughts and maybe we will revisit some of these points in future podcasts.
- Maintaining marital unity is primary.
- Lower expectations so they are realistic.
- Stepsiblings are not biologically related. It is important to maintain standards of modesty in the home so there are no temptations. Be aware of possible attraction with stepchildren and expect them to behave appropriately.
- As much as possible, make changes slowly. Try to allow everyone to adjust to a few changes before introducing new ones.
- Sometimes not only birth order changes but also roles of children change. It impacts children even if they are not aware of it. Children miss the role they played with their biological parent before the remarriage.
- As much as possible maintain a cordial relationship with an ex so children don’t have to take sides.
- Don’t badmouth your ex or their new partner and allow your children to like the stepparent married to your ex so they don’t struggle with loyalties.
- Always extend grace, even when life isn’t fair. Focus on what’s best for the children rather than on trying to achieve fairness for yourself.
- Seek to grow in your stepfamily. Read books, attend courses and look for a mentor stepfamily couple to encourage and guide you in your family.
For more resources check out familylifeblended.com
Stepfamily Living - Part 5
In the early days we recommend that the biological parent is the primary one to correct and discipline children. The stepparent hasn’t really earned the right to that position yet. It’s important for the parents to privately discuss discipline in the home, just like nuclear parents must. They need to agree on what is appropriate behaviour and age-appropriate discipline. Parents must present a united front, so children are not able to manipulate and divide the parents. Once you agree as a couple, the primary discipline is administered by the biological parent. This authority may change slowly over time but should never be assumed by a stepparent.The goal is not a power struggle between stepparent and stepchild, but rather focusing on building a relationship of trust. Don’t be impatient because building trust can take years.
The exception is if the bio parent is not present. Then, just as a teacher in school has authority for children in their class, the stepparent can step in and correct the stepchild. The stepparent’s authority in this situation should be communicated by the biological parent in advance and reinforced when necessary. This is not an opportunity for the stepparent to be harsh and finally have control. A stepparent’s discipline should rather err on the side of restraint, exercising just enough authority to maintain respect or safety of other children. Disrespect should never be accepted.
Children are more likely to respond to a stepparent’s authority if they feel they can trust the stepparent has their best interest at heart. An important way to build this trust is to show interest in something the child is interested in and actively listen when the child is speaking.
The goal is not a power struggle between stepparent and stepchild, but rather focusing on building a relationship of trust. Don’t be impatient because building trust can take years.
Stepfamily Living - Part 4
I want to begin today’s podcast with a word of caution – don’t expect to have an ‘instant family’. All the couples with whom we have met expect their children to be just as excited about the new relationship as they are. Parents move faster than the children and we find that couples in love assume the children will automatically be in love with their partner and embrace them as a new parent. They are surprised when this doesn’t happen. Statistics show that stepfamilies can take up to seven years to ‘gel’ so adjust your expectations of everyone involved. Sometimes children can be excited BEFORE the marriage, but they can lose some enthusiasm afterwards, when the newness wears off, and they experience daily living with this new parent and possible stepsiblings. Be prepared for this to happen.For most children the remarriage was not THEIR choice. It may be a secondary loss if their biological parent is still alive because they usually have hopes that their bio parents will remarry.
For most children the remarriage was not THEIR choice. It may be a secondary loss if their biological parent is still alive because they usually have hopes that their bio parents will remarry. The stepparent represents the death of that dream and the children may begin to see the stepparent as the enemy.
Recognise that sometimes a child’s anger is really an expression of grief and loss. Allow them time to process that loss and adjust to the new relationship.PROACTIVELY PLAN FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Don’t demand children call the stepparent mom or dad and don’t even force them to spend time together if they don’t want to. But you should expect them to respect the stepparent even if they don’t want to spend time with them. Proactively plan family activities, whether it is a game and pizza night, or a picnic – whatever suits your family – where they can spend fun time with the stepparent in an environment without pressure and expectations.
Our advice is to slow down and let the children set the pace. A wise parent will even delay a remarriage until the children are more amenable to the relationship. It will save a lot of heartache and stress in the long run.
Stepfamily Living - Part 3
In my husband Ken’ experience, his dad died when he and his sister were already living independently. Ken’s mom remarried a widower 1 ½ years later and her new husband, Tom, had 3 independent children.
Tom moved in with Ken’s mom into her home, so his children lost their family home and they never felt her house was home. Holidays became very strained when all the adult children were together and they had to spend time with stepsiblings, practicing new traditions, when all they really wanted was to spend time with their biological family and follow long established family traditions. Eventually, Tom’s children quit coming for holidays and seldom came ‘home’.
When it came to assets, Ken’s mom and Tom were specific with items in their wills, but even so, when Tom died there was misunderstanding and bitterness about a few assets he had acquired after he married Ken’s mom.Whether a parent remarries when children are still in the home, or if they are adults, issues of traditions and inheritance need to be addressed. If the children are old enough, bring them into the discussions. Emotions may be less heightened if this is done before marriage.
In my case, my uncle was a widower and remarried a widow when he was in his early 80’s. His girlfriend was dependent on her late husband’s pension. The moment she remarried, she would lose that income. She was younger than my uncle so he knew it was probable she would outlive him. I can remember him sharing how he couldn’t ask her to marry him unless he made sure she would be taken care of financially after his death, but that meant his children and grandchildren would lose some of their inheritance. He consulted his adult children about that before he would even propose.SOME QUICK SUGGESTIONS
Make changes slowly. It’s ok early in the relationship to celebrate holidays as separate families with your own traditions. Over time you may find you can bring families together and even creatively observe each family’s traditions.
Whether a parent remarries when children are still in the home, or if they are adults, issues of traditions and inheritance need to be addressed. If the children are old enough, bring them into the discussions. Emotions may be less heightened if this is done before marriage.
In his book, The Smart Stepfamily, Ron Deal has a brilliant section he co-authored with a financial expert that covers many aspects of assets and inheritance. Our advice is that you consult a Certified Financial Planner, who specialises in families, to be sure you have considered all the aspects of inheritance and money matters – preferably before marriage.
Stepfamily Living - Part 2
Today I will address some of the complexities that exist in stepfamilies and future podcasts will address solutions.COMPLEXITIES
One of the complexities of stepfamily living is the number of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even stepsiblings that a child now has in their life. These numbers will vary depending on how many times their parents have been married.
If children are being brought into the family from both parents, then at least one child is going to lose their position as first born. Other children must fit into a different birth order structure as well and something as ‘simple’ as a new birth order can create tension and conflict.
At least one of the families in the new relationship will have to move houses, or even towns. This means children may have to leave their friends and support network behind and they may have to adjust to a new school. Children usually face different routines and rules when they move between homes.One of the complexities of stepfamily living is the number of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and even stepsiblings that a child now has in their life.
Biological parents lose control over what their children are exposed to in the other home. There may be bullying from stepsiblings, or even rejection from the stepparent and not being treated as an equal with the stepparent’s biological children. There is a lot more coordination that is required regarding schedules of the children. There can be hostile communication with an ex-spouse and sometimes the child is used as a pawn to get revenge on a biological parent.
We mostly focus on families with young children in the home, but even when children are adults, living independently, stepfamilies have challenges. I will share two personal stories in a future podcast.
This all sounds rather bleak, but there is hope. Just being aware that these complexities exist can help parents to be proactive and plan to minimise the difficulties.
Our next podcast will start to address solutions to the complexities that exist.
Stepfamily Living - Part 1
Welcome to our podcast on stepfamily living. If you are listening to this podcast you are either in a stepfamily, planning to enter a stepfamily or you know of a stepfamily. So, it’s important to understand that stepfamilies have unique challenges and complications that are not part of the culture of nuclear families. My husband and I have found that new stepparents seem to be totally unprepared and surprised when they begin to encounter these complexities.Stepfamilies are built on brokenness and loss – either through death or divorce. Every couple has their own unique story.
STEPFAMILIES ARE BUILT ON BROKENNESS AND LOSS
Stepfamilies are built on brokenness and loss – either through death or divorce. Every couple has their own unique story. Once biological parents remarry, it’s a secondary loss for the children and sometimes they can become resistant. Resistant children can sabotage the new relationship.
So, if you are in a dating relationship that will blend families, just a word of caution – SLOW DOWN. It’s easier on the children if you stay single while they are young.
Sadly, statistics show that secondary marriages have a much higher risk of divorce than first marriages. One way to minimise that risk is to be informed and invest time and energy to learn how to make your stepfamily a success story.
In the next few podcasts, we will look at some of the complexities and how you can navigate them.
I want to acknowledge the resources from Ron Deal who is a worldwide leader in stepfamilies. He conducts extensive research and has counselled stepfamilies for almost 30 years. He is the author, and co-author, of many books, and he regularly hosts seminars with stepfamilies and other experts in the field. For more resources you can check out FamilyLife Blended.
Leaving a Legacy - Part 4
Building a legacy of destiny requires reaching out to the world and results in bringing about changes in the world.
The family was meant to be a redemptive vehicle. God blesses us to be a blessing to others.
One of God’s primary purposes for your family is to make Christ known and to help fulfil the Great Commission.
In Matthew 28:19, 20 we find the greatest commission ever given by the greatest Person who ever lived. Jesus’ last instruction to His disciples and to the entire body of believers through the ages up to now still is:Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,... ,teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.
This is the command given to every Christian and every family.
The reality of Christ in your life and your family gives credibility to your witness.
As you teach your children and others, your legacy will spread throughout the world.
We have choices about many things in life, but not about whether we will die or not and also not about whether to leave a legacy or not.
The only question is, what kind of legacy is it going to be?
The three commitments we discussed, namely to grow in Christ, to build a godly family and to help fulfill the Great Commission will require time. I can well imagine that all of us have at some time or another used the phrase or at least thought: ‘I don’t have time’ for this or that. But that phrase is never a statement of fact. It is always a declaration of priorities.
Please plan to intentionally be involved in all three the commitments we discussed.
We want to encourage you not to be satisfied with a saved soul and a wasted life.
Thank you and God bless you and your family as you participate in the fulfilling of the Great Commission!
Leaving a Legacy - Part 3
Building a God honoring and future impacting legacy of destiny also requires developing a godly family.
After church little Johnny sobbed all the way home. His father and mother asked him what was wrong, but he would not say. Eventually he came out with what it was. He said that the pastor said that he wanted the children to grow up in godly homes, but Johnny said, ‘I want to stay with you guys!’
Well, do your children know for a fact that they are being brought up in a home where Christian values are being taught and modelled?The family is God’s smallest battle formation. It is not supposed to be a holy huddle, but rather a safe place to retreat to, to be refreshed and built up from where to go out from and be salt and light in a mixed up and desperate world.
God’s plan for a fulfilling marriage and strategic family is in opposition to the world’s plan. The world’s plan focusses on self-gratification and self-promotion where spouses inevitably drift apart and ultimately find themselves in the very disillusioned position of isolation.
God’s plan for marriage focusses on glorifying God and building oneness through the power of the Holy Spirit. The result is peace and harmony and growing ONENESS. Children are trained to face a dangerous world out there.
Remember: Your family influences future generations!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “The righteous man lives for the next generations.”
Henry Drummond said: “The Christian family is the supreme conductor of Christianity.”
A happy family is not an end in itself!
Let us adopt this transcendent view when it comes to the family.
Leave your family an honorable legacy, not merely an inheritance.
At our last session we will look at the greatest commission ever given by the greatest Person who ever lived.
Leaving a Legacy - Part 2
Building a legacy of destiny, in the first place, requires pursuing personal growth in Christ.
To raise a godly family, starts with my being a godly husband and father or a godly wife and mother.
Spiritual maturity does not come naturally. It takes a decision of the will to want to grow and then a lot of consistent dedication.
Teachability is crucial! A person’s teachability determines his capacity to learn!
A God honoring character should be our aim. D L Moody said: If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself!ROMANS 12:1, 2 (NIV)Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In Rom 12:1 and 2 we are encouraged to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in order to know what God’s good and perfect will is. We have to read and study God’s Word!
As we pursue growing towards Christlikeness, we should be prepared to face a variety of obstacles and challenges.
You must be prepared to persist through discouragement when there is a lack of appreciation in spite of your efforts to do what is right. There is no worthwhile alternative for doing the right thing. There are always alternatives, but they come at an unacceptable price.
Remember, we don’t get the marriage we wish for. We get the marriage we work for!
Also remember, God will honor your faithfulness.
“His master said to him: ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” – Matthew 25:23.
Faithfulness is a sign of good character – Godly character.
Next time we will consider the commitment to love one another.
Leaving a Legacy - Part 1
At the end of this very short introduction to the Weekend to Remember, we would like you to think about the kind of legacy that you will leave behind when one day you step out of this world to be with God.
We would like to help you grasp a vision and encourage you to dream and plan a legacy of destiny. A legacy that would count for God.A legacy that would build and strengthen the only kingdom that will outlast time, God’s kingdom.
Look ahead, down the road of time, and consider who you are influencing with your life and how you are influencing them.
Don’t focus on the past, on everything you lacked and all that was wrong. None of us comes from a perfect past.
The legacy you will leave behind is of much greater importance than the one you received, and this legacy you leave behind is the only one you are responsible for.
Building a legacy of destiny requires three levels of commitment:
Firstly, a commitment to personal growth in Christ.
No one drifts towards spiritual maturity. A life lived intentionally under the control of the Holy Spirit, results in growing spiritual maturity.
Secondly, a commitment to love one another.
Without a disposition of love towards others, especially your spouse, you have no credible testimony, especially not towards your children whom you want to influence for the rest of their lives!
Thirdly, a commitment to help reach the world.
In Mt 28:19 and 20 we find Jesus’ Great Commission, our marching orders to go make disciples of all nations.
So, at our next meeting we will consider the first of these three commitments, our responsibility to grow in Christ.
Return a blessing for an insult - Part 4
In closing the sessions on Returning a Blessing for an Insult let us return to the Bible verses with which we started this series.“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. DO NOT REPAY evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, BLESS, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” - 1 PETER 3:8-9
I Peter 3 starts with the word ‘likewise’ which refers to 1 Peter 2:21, 22: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When He was reviled, he did not revile in return; when He suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to Him who judges justly.”
Marriage affords us ample opportunities to react either with an insult for insult or a blessing for an insult. To choose consistently to give a blessing instead of an insult we need to have Christ in control of our lives. The longer we have Christ directing our lives and marriages through the power of the Holy Spirit, the easier it will become to choose Christ’s way.
You could pray with me now, if you so desire, to ask Christ to take control of your life:"Dear Father, I need you. I acknowledge that I have sinned against you by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled and as You promised in your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. I now thank you for filling me with the Holy Spirit and directing my life.” Amen
This is a prayer we could pray every time we act contrary to Christ’s example, which can mean several times daily.
For more information on this subject contact contact email@example.com
Return a blessing for an insult - Part 3
To be able to return a blessing for an insult there needs to be forgiveness. An unforgiving and hardened heart cannot give a blessing for an insult.
We cannot talk about forgiveness without going to Jesus on the Cross. God accepted the Cross to make forgiveness possible and to model forgiving to an unforgiving world. The Christ of the Cross is our great example. Do you know Him? Have you experienced His forgiveness?“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. DO NOT REPAY evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, BLESS, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” - 1 PETER 3:8-9
We can only forgive others who have hurt or injured us by word or deed when we forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Forgiveness is only finally complete when the severed friendship has been mended and returning a blessing for an insult can be an important step on the road to reconciliation.
We are powerless to change another person, but by giving a blessing for an insult we can influence one towards a softening of heart which can ultimately lead to reconciliation.
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the One who died for your sins to be forgiven so that you can forgive, please pray the following prayer with me:“Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be in a personal relationship with You. Thank you for forgiving my sins by dying on the Cross for me. Please come into my life and make me the person you would like me to be. Empower me to forgive others like you have forgiven me. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."
For more information on this subject contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Return a blessing for an insult - Part 2
Good day. Last week’s session was rather negative, but today we are all about building up one another by giving a blessing for an insult.WHAT DOES A BLESSING-FOR-INSULT RELATIONSHIP LOOK LIKE?
A good example I can think of concerns a friend of mine, let us call her Sally.
Sally went through a painful divorce during 2020. Because of circumstances she and her ex-husband still share the same large home they own. Sally decided to give a blessing for an insult. The insults that came her way were many and painful, yet she acted with a blessing for an insult.
Her husband was on medical treatment that had an extremely negative effect on him, so much so that he was in very bad shape especially the day after the treatment. Sally would get up at night, put cold cloths on his forehead and would even sleep on the carpet next to his bed to be close when he needed help.“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. DO NOT REPAY evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, BLESS, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” - 1 PETER 3:8-9
Because Sally felt things were now supposed to move to a conclusion, she asked her ex when he thought they should sell their home so each could go their own way. To her surprise he said to her he thinks he made too hasty a decision. Sally gave blessings for insults.
Certainly the very best example of a blessing for an insult is that of our Lord Jesus, who, when He hung on the cross could say“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
In part 3 we will discuss why forgiveness is necessary and how it is possible to forgive pain and insults. May God bless you during the week.
Return a blessing for an insult - Part 1
Greetings to you. This is the 4th chapter on Resolving Conflict. In the next three weeks, we will discuss what we mean by ‘returning a blessing for an insult’ and how we can apply it. We will concentrate on cultivating a new attitude with our husband or wife.WHAT DOES AN INSULT-FOR-INSULT RELATIONSHIP LOOK LIKE?
An example of an insult-for-insult relationship is the classic relationship between British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, and Lady Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament. They were both known for their quick tongues and their dislike for one another. Lady Astor on one occasion said to Churchill, ‘Sir Winston if I were married to you, I would put arsenic in your tea!” To which Churchill replied, “Lady Astor, if I was married to you, I would drink it.”
One can only imagine what a marriage relationship would look like when two people speak to one another in this vein, and this insult-for-insult relationship happens far too often in many homes.1 PETER 3:8-9 - “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. DO NOT REPAY evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, BLESS, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”
I am sure you will agree that life and marriage will be special and fulfilling if we could have this attitude in our marriage relationship.
Next week we will discuss how we can have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind in our marriage relationship. Giving a blessing for an insult.
Sexual Intimacy - Part 4
Today we end our talks on sexual intimacy by sharing the secret to satisfying sex. And no, there is no 10 steps or 5 to do’s that will change your sex life but, there is a liberating truth; ‘if we pursue a satisfying marriage relationship, we will enjoy a satisfying sex life!’There is no 10 steps or 5 to do's that will change your sex life but, there is a liberating truth; 'if we pursue a satisfying marriage relationship, we will enjoy a satisfying sex life!'
Marriage prospers when a couple’s focus is on good, and solid, and authentic values.
So, what do we value in our marriages?COMPANIONSHIP
Song of Songs simply states; ‘…he is my lover, my friend…’ – Song of Songs 5:16. It is about communication, sharing, and listening. It is about spending time together and enjoying the things you both love – as if it is the first date again. It is about tenderness, expressing affection, showing love without sex.
Be friends and then be lovers!COMMITMENT
Song of Songs says, ‘Place me like a seal over your heart … for love is as strong as death‘ – Song of Songs 8:6. Be faithful, constantly reaffirm your covenant, build trust, develop healthy attitudes towards your spouse and towards sex. It is about respect and forgiveness.
It is about choosing to live life together in the power of blessing!PASSION
Song of Songs says, ‘You have captured my heart … your love delights me, my treasure … your love is better than wine … your lips as sweet as nectar … honey and milk are under your tongue …!’ – Song of Songs 4:9-11.
Be fun, be explosive, be playful and be passionate!
Remember – companionship together with commitment and passion create an environment where your sexual relationship can flourish.
Sexual Intimacy - Part 3
We are still talking about sexual intimacy.
Today’s focus is brilliantly described in the title of John Grey’s well-known book – ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’. In today’s world, a trend is to claim that men and women are the same, but this is not true – yes, we are equal but definitely not the same!
We constantly observe differences in men’s and women’s attitudes, needs and responses. This confirms the Scripture that declares that God created us ‘male’ and ‘female’. We are different and distinct, and this is also true when it comes to sex! Understanding these differences is foundational in developing a healthy, mutual satisfying sex life.So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
GENESIS 1:27 (NIV)
When it comes to sex, we commonly observe differences between men and women in various areas.
For example – our attitudes towards sex, for men sex is a high priority and it’s physical, for women other priorities are higher and therefore sex is relational.
Stimulation for men is body-centred (what they see, smell and do is important) but women are person-centred so they focus on touch, attitudes and words.
Men want to feel that they are needed physically but women want to feel that they are needed emotionally.
For men it is anytime, anywhere and orgasms are shorter and intense, while women need time, build-up and orgasms are longer, more in-depth.
It is important to take note of this – but these differences are not concrete facts, there is no ‘ought to be‘.
Use this knowledge in your marriage to understand each another better – but enjoy the fact that you are a unique couple, and you are God’s perfect gift to one another.
Sexual Intimacy - Part 2
Today we continue sharing about sexual intimacy in marriage. And let’s start with a question; is sex in marriage like a thermostat or a thermometer?
Well, we find thermostats in almost every cooling system – like car engines, aircons, fridges. The purpose is to regulate temperature and keep the system from over heating or cooling. So if sex in our marriage regulates our relationship – we are in deep trouble. Just think about it, sex good – marriage great, sex bad – marriage down the drain. Ok that can’t be it!In a healthy marriage, sex reinforces the relational bond. It is the most intimate and private act that couples share, a celebration of their unity and oneness.
A thermometer on the other hand, as we have learnt during Covid, indicates that something could be wrong!
Likewise, in a healthy marriage, sex reinforces the relational bond. It is the most intimate and private act that couples share, a celebration of their unity and oneness. In this regard our sex life can be an indication of the well-being and health of our relationship.
Sex involves the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual and therefore reflects our well-being in these areas. Therefore, a lack of interest or rejection or withdrawal, may be because of something physical like fatigue, a pregnancy, a diet or the children. Mentally it could be due to stress. Or emotionally as result of guilt, conflict, anger or abuse.
So be mindful of these things and communicate it with one another.
But remember the bottom line – relax and take pleasure in the absolute uniqueness of your sexual intimacy as a married couple – it is, after all, a gift from God for you to enjoy!
Sexual Intimacy - Part 1
Today we start by sharing about communication in marriage and specifically about sexual intimacy.
So, let’s kick off with a question; “Whose idea is sex anyway?” Well, that may be a difficult one – we live in times where the media is saturated with promoting certain ideas about sex. Sex is just a Google search away. We see it in movies and TV shows. Pornographic websites are rampant, and thousands of articles and video clips suggest the 3 secrets or the 10 things that will change sexual fantasy into reality. Finding the truth is very confusing!Sex has become a cultural obsession; society paints sexual intimacy as a cheap counterfeit and a perversion of its original design! - DENNIS RAINEY
Dennis Rainey (from Preparing for Marriage, a publication of FamilyLife - Campus Crusade for Christ) says that sex has become a cultural obsession; society paints sexual intimacy as a cheap counterfeit and a perversion of its original design! It is like a surgeon’s knife – designed for good but in the wrong hands it can do
The Bible tells us that God created man and women (Genesis 1:27), and God said that a man will leave his parents and unite with his wife and they will become one (Genesis 2:24). So, in short – sex is God’s divine idea. As Rainey says – God created a process of intimate communication, of which sex is a significant part.
It is a powerful, emotional, bonding experience designed to strengthen a marriage – much as metal rods reinforce concrete. God designed sex as part of communication in a marriage and as a way to really ‘know’ each other.
The bottom line – sex is not an end, it is a means to an end! And we will talk more about this next time.
Authentic Communication Part 4
Asking for and granting forgiveness is difficult because usually our pride is involved. This process becomes easier when we have established the ‘goodwill’ bank account we discussed in session two.
The offending party needs to take the initiative to ask for forgiveness. This involves:
- Clearly stating the offensive action or attitude.
- Admitting you were wrong and not justifying the offense with an “I was wrong but….” or, “IF, I was wrong…”
- We need to ask forgiveness and wait for a response.
Determine what, how and when something should be said.FORGIVENESS IS A SUPERNATURAL RESPONSE
Asking for forgiveness might look something like this. “Yesterday, I said you always spend too much. I was wrong to accuse you, especially when I used the word ‘always’. Will you forgive me?” Then keep quiet and wait for your partner’s reply.
The person who was wronged is responsible to forgive – even if the partner never asks forgiveness. In granting forgiveness, we make a choice to give up our right to punish the other person. Forgiveness is a supernatural response. We can call on the power of the Holy Spirit to empower us to forgive, even when we don’t feel like it. After all we also want to be forgiven when we fail.
Sometimes we agree to disagree. In light of eternity, some issues really aren’t worth our energy to fight about. Don’t make a conflict where there doesn’t need to be one.
The late Dr Gary Smalley had a brilliant video series called ‘Anger to Intimacy’. In it he tells the story of a friend whose wife was continually leaving drawers and doors open. She didn’t do it intentionally; she just didn’t see it. The husband tried every conceivable way to change her, but he failed. In the end, he just decided to be a ‘drawer closer.’ Sometimes we need to overlook the offense and be a ‘drawer closer’ – end of conflict.
Finally, it’s important to remember that it is rarely just one person in the relationship who causes the conflict. Even if your partner is 97% wrong and you only contributed 3%, it’s important that you acknowledge your 3% and also seek forgiveness.
The issue is not who wins or loses but restoring harmony and ‘oneness’ in the relationship.
Authentic Communication Part 3
In our last session we talked about avoiding, or minimising, conflict by building goodwill in the relationship. But let’s say you have an explosive conflict. What do you do then?Learning the skills to successfully negotiate conflict is a lifelong, growing process, but it is well worth the investment.
Determine what, how and when something should be said.THE WHAT AND THE HOW
- Pray – Ask God to go before you to help resolve the conflict.
- Make ‘I’ statements vs ‘you’ statements. – ‘I’ statements lower the temperature of a conflict by stating the behaviour without blaming the person. It states how you feel about the behaviour and how it affects you. “I feel very anxious because we may not have enough money at the end of the month to make our car payment. Can we sit together and discuss our budget?” versus, “You always overspend and now we won’t have enough money to make our car payment.” When ‘I’ statements are used, it identifies the issue as the issue without making the other person defensive so together you can work to solve the problem (behaviour) without the emotions of blame and guilt.
- Ask clarifying questions before making assumptions. This is huge! “What I hear you saying is ________. Is that correct?” Asking clarifying questions helps us be sure we have the correct information and not just interpreting what the other has said or done through our own worldview. It saves us reacting to something that wasn’t really said or meant.
- H.A.L.T. Avoid times when either party is Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
- Check that you are approaching the conflict with a heart to reconcile.
- Look for a creative alternative – that win/win solution.
- Be proactive. Use non-conflict time to discuss how you will handle conflict when it happens.
Learning the skills to successfully negotiate conflict is a lifelong, growing process, but it is well worth the investment.
Authentic Communication Part 2
A key principle to successful conflict resolution is to proactively create an environment of love, trust and refuge. I like to think of it as a ‘goodwill’ bank account that is available to draw on in times of conflict. As you invest in the relationship, you will reap the rewards when you need those deep reserves of goodwill.
We begin to build goodwill when we demonstrate appreciation for our partner. Instead of nagging, scolding and belittling be lavish with a thank you, praise and words of affirmation.Go away someplace for a day or a weekend where you can connect and talk about topics other than work, current conflicts or even children.
Find ways to spend time together, without other distractions. Have fun. Go for walks, hikes, coffee, dinner out – all without the children. Or go away someplace for a day or a weekend where you can connect and talk about topics other than work, current conflicts or even children. Be creative with what fits you and your personalities.
My husband Ken and I try to take 15-20 minutes every day to play a backgammon match – but no gambling! We are very competitive, but we laugh a lot and the relaxed environment allows us to occasionally speak about more serious issues at the same time.
Another thing Ken and I have done for most of our 36 years is to read books together. We usually go out for coffee to eliminate the distractions of our home, and read a portion of the book, then discuss the contents. It has generated great discussions that sometimes go on for days. It has helped us see into each other’s hearts and has drawn us closer together.
Building into the relationship takes time but will prevent many conflicts from even happening.
Whatever you do, be proactive and plan how you will create an environment that builds oneness and allows the relationship to flourish.
Authentic Communication Part 1
In previous sessions we have covered many aspects of the marriage relationship. One theme that should have been central to all these areas is that we want to build ‘oneness’ in our marriages. The opposite of oneness is isolation. Building oneness requires good communication skills, especially when addressing conflict.
When couples marry, it’s like two mini cultures colliding to create a new culture. This process of changing and adapting to one another inevitably leads to conflict. If conflict is approached correctly, it is healthy because it enables the individuals to mature and grow and draws the couple closer together. That’s the exciting potential of conflictIf conflict is approached correctly, it is healthy because it enables the individuals to mature and grow and draws the couple closer together.
The not so exciting side of conflict is change, and sometimes there is pain with the change.
Just like any life skill, we all need help learning how to constructively engage in conflict. Some of these skills are:
- Looking for win/win solutions. If your partner loses, you also lose, so seek for solutions where you both win.
- Assume the best of your partner. Sometimes past pain and failure in relationships causes us to make incorrect assumptions and assign inaccurate motives to our partner’s words and actions. If we assume the best, we are unlikely to create a conflict where none exists.
- Focus on facts, not judgements.
- Make the problem the problem, not the person. When we disconnect behaviour from character, it allows us freedom to work as a team to tackle the problem.
- Sometimes conflict exposes underlying issues or attitudes that also need to be addressed. The couple should acknowledge there are problems and, without blaming, find solutions together.
Unresolved conflict can intensify the emotions of future conflicts, so we want to work hard at settling conflicts before they create bitterness and isolation in the relationship.
Gods perspective of motherhood Part 5
Finally we look at mother as a teacher and mentor of her children. Proverbs 31:26 says: “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
A mom teaches by communicating her values and priorities and by being a model that her children can pattern themselves by.PROVERBS 22:6"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
A mother is the primary teacher of the next generation. Proverbs 1:8 says: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
A mother teaches her daughter about being a godly woman. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30
A mother models to her daughter the significant impact of her role as a wife and mother in God’s design of the family.
She models to her son the kind of woman he should marry. Proverbs 31:1 talks about an oracle taught by a mother to her son. She also teaches her son how to honour and appreciate a woman’s responsibilities of being a wife and mom.MOM AS MENTOR TITUS 2:3-5"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
Mentoring occurs when a woman is available to teach other women how to love God, love their husbands and love their children.IN CONCLUSION
A successful mother must be committed to God and His Word and not the world.
- She must spend time reading God’s Word.
- She must pray diligently for her husband and children.
- This requires faith, courage and perseverance.
- To be a successful mother requires the power of God’s Spirit to carry out the immense responsibilities of loving and nurturing children.
What kind of legacy will you, as a mother, leave?
Gods perspective of motherhood Part 4
God places great importance on a mother’s love for her children. The Bible says older women should train the younger women to love their husbands and children. Titus 2:4TITUS 2:4"These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children,..."
Love is lived. Children hear, see and feel it. Mother demonstrates love by loving God, her family, herself and others. Mother does not show acts of love to other people at the expense of her children. She is careful not to create resentment in her growing children while teaching the principles of sharing. For God so loved the world that He gave!A MOTHER’S LOVE IS NURTURING
Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 – “But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.”
Nurturing children cultivates their ability to give and receive love. It takes a godly, prayerful and sensitive mother to love children in a balanced manner. Gentle and tough at the same time. Creating healthy boundaries so that with love children learn to respect others. Creating boundaries can facilitate security when done consistently and lovingly.
Nurturing children requires mother to be personally, emotionally and spiritually involved.A MOTHER’S LOVE INVOLVES TIME AND ATTENTION
Children need to be a valued priority in a mother’s heart.
Children need significant amounts of time and attention to be healthy and well adjusted.A MOTHER’S LOVE INCLUDES TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION
Proverbs 29:15b, 17 says: “…but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”
God honours and BLESSES a mother’s love for her children.
Her children will be blessed. Psalm 112:2b says: “…the generation of the upright will be blessed.”
As we see in Proverbs 31:28a “…she herself will be blessed. Her children arise and call her blessed.”
Will your children call you blessed?
God's perspective on motherhood Part 3
In session 3 we Consider mother’s involvement outside the home
Building a home also requires that a couple depends upon the wisdom of God.PROVERBS 24:3, 4"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures."
A couple should prayerfully consider, then agree upon their motives and priorities, before mom becomes involved in too many activities outside the home. Questions to consider include:
- Will additional activities outside the home compete with the child’s need for nurturing and care?
- Will her husband receive the love and support he needs to succeed?
- Is she emphasising personal fulfilment through a career or outside activities instead of through her relationship with God and her family?
- If the activity provides income, is the extra income to meet essential needs or desired wants?
There are times in a family when mom’s activities outside the home may be more appropriate and suitable than other times.
- Before there are children in the home.
- If there are Financial hardships due to circumstances beyond control OR
- After children have left home (empty nest)
There are times when a family’s needs could be undetermined by mom’s distraction with too many outside activities. This can be, when there are young children in the home, during teenage years of the children and when the husband does not get the support he needs.
The attitude a couple has about mom’s importance in the family will directly influence how the children value their mom and her role.
Having said all that, we should not be silent about working mothers. The most ideal situation would be for women to consider taking a break during child birth years and during the teen ages of the children. These are crucial years for bringing up children and supporting them. We realise however, that working mothers engage the help of domestic workers and institutions like pre-schools and kindergartens.
In this case mother should make up for time lost during weekends and in the evenings. Mother should develop a relationship with her children such that they will discuss matters openly so that she picks up quickly where her children are being taught differently and correct that as soon as possible
Are your activities reasonably balanced?
God's perspective on motherhood Part 2
Motherhood is often devalued by society. Sometimes women say “I am only a mother” as if that does not mean much. Motherhood is often belittled in the light of academic careers and other things regarded by society as important.
Yet motherhood is the most important full time job. It is a high and holy calling of God. God sees mother as a home builder!! “She builds her house, with her own hands” ( Proverbs 14:1); “…she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27).PROVERBS 31:27"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."
We should go with what God says not what culture says. In Acts 4:19 the apostles say: “Judge for yourselves if it is better for us to listen to you or to God”. God’s ideas have eternal value.
The home is a mother’s primary sphere of influence and teaching Godly values. Mother’s home reflects her values.
Security and self-worth of the children are firstly formed by the relationship they have with their mother and secondly, by the relationship their mother has with their father.A WOMAN’S UPBRINGING SHAPES HER VALUE OF MOTHERHOOD.
How has your mother influenced your feelings and values concerning family and children? Your view of motherhood does not have to be negative because of past experiences.
God is able to make a new thing with you. If you had a positive experience, God can make it even better for you and your own children. Effective motherhood is possible.
Motherhood skills, attitudes and perspectives can be developed by seeking godly, older women as role models (Titus 2:3, 4); reading helpful books, as well as seeking godly professional counselling.
Much of children’s future is shaped by experiences in the home.
What are your fears about being a mom? Take them to the Lord in prayer, as we read in Philippians 4:6.
God's perspective on motherhood Part 1
In this section we are going to look at God’s perspective of motherhood.
The Bible shows us that God regards motherhood or womanhood as a very important role. In Genesis 2: 18, God says: It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him. God was declaring that a man couldn’t complete his responsibilities efficiently without a woman."It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him." - GENESIS 2: 18
A man can provide a house, but it is the mother who builds a homely environment for all to thrive, especially the children.
The character of a mother is therefore important because it has a lasting influence on her children.
We have just seen that a mother is a helper. She is also a comforter! When Jesus is about to leave His disciples He promises them a Helper and a Comforter in the Person of the Holy Spirit. In Isaiah 66:13 God tells Israel that “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.”
In Luke 2:51 we see that Mary treasured up some observations about the young Jesus in her heart. Perhaps it was because of that that she could ask him to intervene at the wedding when the host ran out of wine. She remembered that Jesus was not an ordinary man and tapped into that.
Mother seeks only the best for her children. She prays and hears from God about each child. She holds on God’s promises even when it is difficult. In 2 Kings 4:30 the Shunamite woman insisted on only the best for her son. And her son lived again.
So, mom has a powerful influence. She is not replaceable in the home.
What characteristics do you have that could work against you being a good mother? Which ones do you have which could support your motherhood?
The Wife’s Responsibility in Marriage Part 4
THE WIFE IS RESPONSIBLE TO SUBMIT TO HER HUSBAND IN MARRIAGE
When our kids were growing up we had ‘S’ words that they weren’t allowed to use. They couldn’t call people ‘stupid’ or tell someone to ‘shut up,’ along with a few other ‘S’ words. For some women, submission is one of those ‘S’ words.
There is a lot of misunderstanding with submission, with both men and women.
Biblically, the same passage in which women are commanded to submit, the man is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Christ gave his life for the church. If a man truly follows this mandate, his assignment is just as difficult as ours.
Submission does not mean to be inferior, to lose one’s identity and become a non-person, to feel used, to be passive or allow your husband to violate the law or become abusive. Biblically it never encourages a woman to enable sin.
Submission does mean to free your husband to lead by showing a willingness to follow his leadership. Submission empowers your husband to lead by encouraging his initiative.
I like to think of the illustration of an umbrella. The man acts as an umbrella to protect the family. If we step out from under the umbrella of his headship, we remove ourselves from his protection and God’s. Remember, he will answer to God for the choices he makes in leading his family; the wife will answer for how she followed the leader God put over her.
One definition of submission is: “The wife ducking so God can reach her husband.”
As we maintain God’s perspective on submission, we find it is not a limitation, but a doorway to a stronger relationship.
The Wifes Responsibility in Marriage Part 3
THE WIFE MUST RESPECT HER HUSBAND
And the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33b
That same verse in the Amplified Bible says,
…and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband – that she notices him, regards him, honours him, prefers him, venerates and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly.
Wow, that’s really amplified! We receive and respect our husbands, not because of their performance, but because God has given them to us as a gift and as such, they are people of worth.
For many years our children attended art classes that included a section on pottery. The first day they came home, they excitingly giving me the items they had made in class. When I looked at their creations, it was difficult to know what they were but I loved their pottery because of the love they expressed in giving them to me. Even now, 20 years later, I keep our son’s pottery on my desk in a place of honour to remind me of his love. Though imperfect, our husbands are a gift from a loving God and therefore, they deserve our honour and respect.
After all as women we want to be loved unconditionally, so our respect for our husbands needs to be just as unconditional.
We need to recognise and respect our husbands because they carry a huge responsibility in leading the family and they will answer to God for the way they lead.
“The one being carried doesn’t appreciate the distance of the road.” (Anonymous quote on the wall in Windhoek airport)
How does submission relate to respect? Next episode, we will explore the complementary attitude of submission.
The Wife’s Responsibility in Marriage Part 2
GOD HAS DESIGNATED THE WIFE AS HELPER IN THE RELATIONSHIP
The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
God has designated the wife as helper in the marriage relationship. This is her role.
When we hear the word ‘helper’ applied to us as wives it is easy to think of ourselves as just domestic ‘helpers’ to whom instructions are given and obeyed. But at the time Moses wrote these words, he was actually lifting up the dignity of women. The word Moses used to describe the wife as a ‘helper’ is the exact same word God uses to describe Himself.
Psalm 54:4 “Behold, God is my ‘helper.’ The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.”
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present ‘help’ in trouble.”
John 14:16 And I will ask God and He will give you another ‘helper’ (Christ referring to the Holy Spirit).
None of us can do anything without God’s help. In the same way, our husbands can’t do without our help. If we are not fulfilling our role as helper, then we are fighting as a competitor. Competitors do the opposite of filling gaps and supporting weaknesses. They exploit those weaknesses to gain the upper hand. Our husbands experience a lot of competition in the work place and if he feels he is coming home to more competition, he may be reluctant to come home.
Being the helper in the marriage relationship is far from being passive or inferior and if we are a ‘helper’, it implies that our husbands need help - our help – that’s powerful.
The Wife’s Responsibility in Marriage Part 1
THE WIFE IS RESPONSIBLE TO ACCEPT GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGE
Stop and think for a minute. If I describe a woman’s responsibility in the home as a helper who is submissive and respectful of her husband, what images pop into your mind? Do you think of a strong, competent woman with lots of influence? Or did you automatically think mousey and passive, having no thoughts of her own and just simply waiting to be bossed around?
Would it surprise you to know that God had the strong, competent woman in mind when He created woman and her position in the home?
Our culture, and, unfortunately, even our Christian culture, has distorted many of these terms to abuse and misuse women. In the next few podcasts we will take a closer look at these aspects of woman’s responsibility in the home, so we can thrive and embrace our responsibilities with joy.
Let’s jump right in with man as the head.
MAN IS THE HEAD
God has designated the husband as the head of the relationship. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.”
This is purely an organisational, not value driven, command. You can’t have two bosses; there has to be someone who has the final say. In the home, this responsibility has been given to the husband but just as any wise CEO consults with his department heads before making decisions, a wise husband will always consult with his wife and even delegate final decisions to her in her areas of strength. She is his equal in terms of the value she brings to the relationship.
The man’s responsibility is to lead, love and serve, as a servant-leader, not a dictator. Christ gave us an example of leadership in the home when as head of the church, he washed the disciples’ feet and gave his life for the church.
Christ is the husband’s role model. The wife’s response to her servant-leader husband is respect and submission.
The Husband's Responsibility in Marriage Part 4
1. We started this series by paying attention on the Devine Order within marriage.
2. We then had a look at two major responsibilities, viz.: Loving and Leadership
As we conclude this series I wish to highlight the following important aspects:
1. Marriage was designed and created by God.
2. It is God who has assigned these responsibilities to the husband for His purposes.
3. To be successful in carying out these responsibilities husbands need God’s guidance, leadership and power.
- God’s guidance is contained in His word. God’s word is “profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience” (2 Timothy 3:16)
- God’s leadership: In Ephesians 5:25 we read “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her”. Christ sets the standard for husbands on how they should love their wives. That is the standard that we ought to follow.
- Power: In Philippians 4:13a we read “I have all strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me...” Christ empowers us to carry out our God-given responsibilities as husbands.
In conclusion I wish to draw your attention to 1 Peter 3:7: in this Scripture you are urged to “live considerately with your wives...in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off”. It is of critical importance for you as a husband to realize that God will answer or not answer your prayers based on how you live with and treat your wife.
May God Bless you
The Husband's Responsibility in Marriage Part 3
God has given the husband the responsibility of being the head or leader within the marriage relationship. This is one area I believe God’s children have to exercise extreme care in ensuring that they are in complete grasp of what this responsibility means.
The world’s view of leadership is misaligned with that of God’s view of leadership. In Matthew 20:25 & 26 Christ talks about the contrast between the world’s view of leadership and His perspective of leadership.
Christ says the following about the world’s view of leadership in verse 25“...the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men hold them in subjection [tyrannizing over them]”. In verse 26 he says: “Not so shall it be among you...”. In verse 28 Christ states the following: “Just as the Son of Man came not to be waited on but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”.
Christ’s view of leadership is contrary or opposite to the world’s understanding of leadership. The world’s view of being a leader is characterized by being bossy and domineering, while Christ’s view of leadership is characterised by servanthood.
Here are key elements of this responsibility that we should always bear in mind:
a) This responsibility is not performance based, but it is a divine placement
b) Leadership in marriage is based on Christ’s example. It is not aligned to the world’s view of leadership. It should therefore be practiced in line with the Scriptures and in obedience to God.
The Husband’s Responsibility in Marriage Part 2
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. We find this instruction in Ephesians 5:25. Again I wish to emphasise that we should view this responsibility from God’s perspective not from human perspective. As you may be aware the Greek language has about 5 terms to refer to “love”. For instance “PHILIA” refers to deep frienship love, “EROS” refers to sexual love. The Greek word used in this verse for “love” is AGAPE. “AGAPE” refers to selfless love.
This “AGAPE” is the same word Christ used in Matthew 22:37 in the answer He gave to Nicodemus, when he said “you shall love God with all your heart...”. AGAPE is also used in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world...”. It is common today to hear men jusitfying having an extra-marital affair even devorcing their wives because they no longer “have feelings for them”. God is instructing us to LOVE our wives. He is not suggesting that we should have feelings of love for them.
The foundation of the feelings that we have for our wives should be AGAPE. Feelings of love that are not anchored on AGAPE Love are shallow and short-lived. God is instructing husbands to LOVE (AGAPE) their wives in the same way as Christ loved the Church. I wish to highlight the following aspects about this responsibility:
- AGAPE Love is given in obedience to Christ, not in response to your wife’s performance
- It is based on an act of the will, not feelings. Feelings are short-lived.
- AGAPE is love that seeks God’s best for your wife.
- It is the kind of Love that sometimes demands a sacrificial action. It is not based ongood intentions.
A husband that is obedient to God and puts into practice the AGAPE love is a husband that, among others, nourishes his wife by encouraging and enabling her to grow and develop her gifts and God-given abilities.
The Husband’s Responsibility in Marriage Part 1
The Divine Order
It is important that we base our understanding of the husband’s responsibility in marriage on God’s perspective instead of the, earthly or cultural perspective. Mankind – both male and female were designed by God in His image – in His likeness Gen 1:26.
God gave to both the male and female two mandates, (a) that of having dominion and authority over all of God’s creation - Gen 1:26 and (b) that of being fruitful - Gen 1:28. From God’s perspective therefore neither the man nor the female is inferior or superior to the other. Yes, they have different roles but, most importantly, they are both created in the Image of God.
When it comes to the marriage relationship God gave the husband the role and the responsibility of being the head. God gave the wife the role and responsibility of being the helper. According to God’s perspective these roles are different but they are equally important. These roles are to be carried out in the context of interdependence - God sees both husband and wife as being dependent on each other. In 1 Corinthians 11:11 we read
“In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.”
Both Husband and wife are created in the Image of God, they have been assigned different but equally important roles, and they are interdependent.
Communication I – Understanding Episode 4
We spoke about the role of listening in communication, but we also need to know how to talk so that we can be understood.
Couples communicate differently. Some are more factual, and they have difficulty expressing emotions, on the other side of the spectrum, we have the emotional people who can hardly confine their emotions. Put two people who are on the opposite side of the spectrum together and misunderstanding is bound to happen.
Several issues could cause communication problems. For example - men could have been taught “cowboys don’t cry” growing up. A lady might have a poor self-concept which causes her to experience unintended rejection.
Revealing yourself to your partner through the expression of your feelings holds the potential of being emotionally intimate.
Emotional intimacy involves sharing your feelings, emotions and needs with someone who is committed to you. If it is difficult for you, begin with entrusting yourself to God and share your emotions and feelings with Him because He understands. Practice this by being totally honest with God – use David’s Psalms.
There are three steps towards expressing oneself – determine what you want to say, how you want to say it and when you want to say it.
Let us look at WHAT – my assumptions, beliefs, desires, dreams, and needs.
HOW – Use “I” messages. I feel neglected, I believe in Jesus, my dreams are for us to be happily married.
WHEN – when you are relaxed, not before going to sleep. Plan a time.
God’s power is available to you when you risk being vulnerable.
Communication I - Understanding Episode 3
Now that we have covered the importance of transparency, we move on to the importance of listening in understanding one another. In James 1:19 we read ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.’
Many people want nothing more than someone to care enough to listen to them.
To be listened to and understood is important to one’s well-being. Dr Paul Tournier writes: ‘It is impossible to overemphasize the immense need humans have to be really listened to, to be taken seriously, to be understood. No one can develop freely in this world without being understood by at least one other person.’
A poor listener exhibits habits that suppress communication and create misunderstanding.
We can fake listening. A friend of ours caught her husband out when she noticed that he was faking while ‘listening’ to her. She suddenly threw in a statement like “and then I told her that I was going to leave you and run off with another man”, it took quite a while for him to register…
We can be selective in listening. In the song The Boxer, Paul Simon has a line that says, ‘a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest’. This could be true for both men and women.
A good listener will manifest an attitude of acceptance that will encourage communication, like giving focussed attention which says to your partner ‘you are my top priority’.
A good listener will also listen with an attitude of acceptance and willingness to understand. Next week we’ll talk about how to talk so that we can be understood.
Communication I - Understanding Episode 2
To summarize last week’s episode: we said that there are mainly 3 barriers to good communication and understanding – TIME, TRUST and TRANSPARENCY.
To reach transparency we need commitment and trust. One of our deepest fears is the fear of rejection. 1 John 4:18 reads – ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.’
Understanding increases with deeper levels of communication. Let us look at John Powell’s 5 levels of communication.
The first level is the CLICHÉ level. ‘Hi, how are you?’ ‘Fine thanks!’ We speak but do not share anything about ourselves. The result is that we remain isolated and alone.
Then we come to the FACT level. ‘A great day isn’t it?’ We share facts but expose nothing about self. Couples living in isolation will communicate mainly on this level.
Thirdly we have the OPINION level. We share ideas and opinions, but nothing of our feelings. ‘The Cheetahs is the best rugby team!’
We then come to the EMOTION level. This is ‘gut level’ communication where I share my feelings, desires, hopes, etc.
Lastly, we reach the TRANSPARENCY stage. Here we share our hearts, the real me! ‘I need you’, ‘I feel so alone’, ‘I am afraid I might lose my job’. This level requires a deep degree of trust and commitment. GOOD MARRIAGES THRIVE IN LEVELS 4 & 5. John Powell believes that about 70% of couples seldom move beyond levels 1,2 and 3. Open your hearts and minds to one another, it is worth more than you can imagine!
Communication I - Understanding Episode 1
“You don’t understand me!”
Have you ever said these words, or heard someone else say it?
Today we’ll begin looking at an important ingredient of a fulfilling marriage – UNDERSTANDING.
Good communication in marriage requires that a couple seeks to understand and to be understood.
The couple who seeks to understand each other will value at least 3 important T’s :
- TIME which is a rare commodity these days. To reach a point of understanding one another, we need to set aside time to communicate with each other in such a way that understanding can take place. Plan a special time each week, which is non-negotiable, during which you can share your feelings and not just facts.
- The second T stands for TRUST. Without trust, we will not get to the point of understanding one another. John Powell wrote a little book called “Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?” He answers that question in the book – “I am afraid to tell you who I am, because you might not like who I am and that is all I’ve got.” We need commitment to be able to trust.
- The third T is TRANSPARENCY. It means sharing complete emotional and personal truthfulness and this leads to intimacy in marriage. For transparency to become a reality the first two T’s – TIME and TRUST – should be in place.
Transparency with one another doesn’t come naturally – next week we’ll talk some more on this subject.
Holy Spirit Power for Oneness
Seperation between God and us
Unfortunately, we sometimes, so to speak, push the Holy Spirit off the throne of our lives and live according to our own thinking and habits, which are not in line with Christlike behaviour.
When this happens in our lives, Isaiah 59:1,2 tells us that our sins cause a separation between God and us, so that He does not hear us when we pray and we suffer from a lack of fellowship and intimacy with Him.
This is when the life-changing concept of spiritual breathing should be practised.
If you become aware of an area of your life (an attitude or an action) that is displeasing to the Lord, even though you are walking with Him and sincerely desiring to serve Him, simply thank God that He has forgiven your sins – past, present and future – based on Christ’s death on the cross. Appropriate His love and forgiveness by faith and continue to have fellowship with Him.
If you retake the throne of your life through sin – a definite act of disobedience – breathe spiritually. Spiritual breathing (exhaling the impure and inhaling the pure) is an exercise in faith that enables you to experience God’s love and forgiveness.
- Exhale: Confess your sin – agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1-25. Confession involves repentance – a change in attitude and action.
- Inhale: Surrender the control of your life to Christ and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Trust that He now directs and empowers you, according to the command of Eph 5:18 and the promise of 1 John 5:14,15.
Enjoy the adventure of marriage and the Christian life made possible by the Holy Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ!
The Holy Spirit, Power for Oneness - How to walk in the spirit
How to walk in the spirit, or to live under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Faith, that is trust in God and His promises, is the only way a Christian can live the Spirit-directed life.
As you continue to trust Christ moment by moment you will increasingly be transformed into His image.
In particular, you will discover the following:
- Your life will demonstrate more and more of the fruit of the Spirit and you will be more and more conformed to the image of Christ.
- Your prayer life and study of God’s Word will become more meaningful.
- You will experience His power in witnessing.
- You will be prepared for spiritual conflict against our three enemies, the world, the flesh and Satan.
- You will experience His power to resist temptation and sin.
You will increasingly experience a victorious Christian life and how to be the godly husband or wife you really want to be!
To continue to walk in the Spirit, that is to live moment by moment under the control of the Holy Spirit, is the life-long challenge of every Christian.
Unfortunately, however, we sometimes ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit, push Him off the throne of our lives and retake the throne of our lives. The result is feelings of guilt and a loss of peace.
Next time we will consider how to correct this very unsatisfactory condition.
The Holy Spirit, Power for Oneness - How are we filled with the Holy Spirit?
In Eph.5:18 we find God’s command: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.” (Which is wild, reckless living). Then the verse continues with the command: “Instead, be filled with the Spirit”.
So, it is God’s clear instruction to all Christians to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
In I John 5:14,15 there is this promise: “that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have what we asked of Him”.
This means that if we ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit according to His command, we can know that according to His promise, He hears us and fills us with His Holy Spirit.
We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone. True prayer is one way of expressing our faith. The following is a suggested prayer:
Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I pray this in the name of Jesus. As an expression of my faith, I now thank You for filling me and directing my life through the Holy Spirit.
You can use this prayer, which is in the outline, to ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit.
At our next meeting we will look at the results of living under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, Power for Oneness - Living the Christian life
The Christian life isn’t difficult, it is impossible to live it in our own strength!
We just can not be the husband or wife we really want to be, in our own strength.
God knows we cannot, so He made provision for us to enable us to be obedient Christians.
Jesus had taught His disciples for three years and in spite of that He knew they would still not be able to do His work. So He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit who would equip them to live like Christians, and who would enable them to be his disciples to the ends of the earth.
As Christians we need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to be able to live the Christian life.
The Holy Spirit is not there to help us improve our acting ability, but to change us from the inside out!
The Spirit controlled life is the Christ controlled life when Christ lives His life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Gal. 5:22 tells us what characteristics would become evident in our lives when we live under the control of the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
We are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith; then we can experience the abundant and fruitful life Christ promised.
In order to be filled and controlled by God the Holy Spirit, we have to be clean vessels. We should confess all known sin. By faith confess that He has forgiven all your sins – past present and future – because Christ died for you.
Prepare yourself during this week for the filling with God’s Holy Spirit by confessing all known sin and cleansing yourself.
Next time we will discuss how to be actually filled with the Holy Spirit.
5 Threats to Oneness - Extramarital Affairs
Extramarital affairs threaten Oneness
An extramarital affair is an escape from reality or a search for fulfilment outside the marriage.
We are seduced by our culture into believing that we deserve complete fulfilment and perfect happiness. Is this not what we see in the movies? The result of this is that we are led to having an improper perception of reality. We start comparing our expectations and fantasies with real life, and then rather question the reality and not our fantasies. This can lead to extramarital affairs.
Extramarital affairs can take on many different forms:
A Love affair is certainly the most destructive of the different affairs,
followed closely by a fantasy affair which includes pornography or an obsession with love stories..
We can have an affair with our Career – we become so busy building a career that our partners and children must take the back seat. A Materialism affair is closely related to the Career affair – we start chasing money instead of relationships. When we spend too much time on hobbies or community projects, even good things like Church meetings and Bible studies, but our partners and children are neglected we have an Activities affair. There is even a Family affair – that is when our extended family place undue pressure on us to spend time with them.
The escape to extramarital affairs, no matter which one we escape into, is doomed to lead to isolation.
5 Threats to Oneness - Selfishness and Inevitable Difficulties
A failure to work through inevitable difficulties and trials threatens oneness.
It isn’t a question of if we will face difficulties, it is when we face difficulties.
- When difficulties arise one or the other can happen: we either fail to anticipate the certainty of difficulties, or there is a failure to respond in the correct way when difficulties arise.
- God will allow difficulties in our lives for many reasons. In James 1:2-4 we read “Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” So, we can either become better or bitter. Proverbs 27:17 says’ Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’
- Difficulties do not mean there is something wrong with our marriage, it is only wrong when we fail to respond in a proper manner.
- Difficulties will either drive us apart or bind us together - we can choose how we will respond.
When problems arise, we can try to deny it, or we can take the escape route which is a long-term solution to a short-term problem. It is important that we have a plan for how to move through these periods without blaming, rejecting, or withdrawing from our partners.
So, a failure to grasp God’s perspective together on these problems will result in ISOLATION.
5 Threats to Oneness - The World’s Plan for Marriage
When we enter marriage with the idea; you give 50% and I will give 50%; our oneness will be threatened. This plan is how the world operates, and the following will happen:
Acceptance of one another is based upon performance – you do your part and I’ll do mine.
We will only give affection and love when we feel our partner deserves it.
The world’s plan is destined to lead to conflict and dissatisfaction because we have unreal expectations of one another.
It is impossible to know when I am, or my partner is giving their 50%. How do you estimate 50%? We begin focusing on our partner’s weaknesses which leads to disappointment and there will be less and less motivation to make the relationship work. Isolation is the end result.
We are born with a natural tendency to be selfish
If we fail to anticipate that both of us are selfish our oneness will be threatened. We are born with a natural tendency to be selfish.
Our culture today encourages this selfishness through the promotion of self-sufficiency and self-assertiveness. This robs our relationship of intimacy because in our selfishness we focus on our partner’s weaknesses and this leads to disappointment and disapproval. Receiving such negative messages makes us feel rejected and discouraged. Our selfish nature would even seek to justify our rejection of our partner.
The devastating result of our selfishness is ISOLATION.