The Lighthouse Family Life Helpline Ministry site is all about the family and how to make your life & marriage count in the Kingdom of God. The Love of God is the Bedrock of all Relationships.

Daily Archives: May 2, 2012

“We have to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give: perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession”.

Instead, we can learn to appreciate what God designed marriage to provide: partnership, spiritual intimacy and the ability to pursue God together. So, what is the most common misconception Christians have about marriage?

“Finding a ‘soul mate’ — someone who will complete us”.

The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, (spiritually speaking) it’s idolatry. We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in God . . . and if we expect our spouse to be ‘God’ to us, he or she will fail every day. No person can live up to such expectations.

Everyone has bad days, yells at his or her spouse, or is downright selfish. Despite these imperfections, God created the husband and wife to steer each other in His direction.

When my husband forgives me . . . and accepts me, I learn to receive God’s forgiveness and acceptance as well. In that moment, he is modeling God to me, revealing God’s mercy to me, and helping me to see with my own eyes a very real spiritual reality.”

While it’s easy to see why God designed an “other-centered” union for a “me-centered” world, living that way is a challenge.

So when bills pile up, communication breaks down and you’re just plain irritated with your husband or wife, these reminders are to help ease the tension:

 God created marriage as a loyal partnership between one man and one woman.

 Marriage is the firmest foundation for building a family.

 God designed sexual expression to help married couples build intimacy.

 Marriage mirrors God’s covenant relationship with His people.

We see this last parallel throughout the Bible. For instance, Jesus refers to Himself as the “bridegroom” and to the kingdom of heaven as a “wedding banquet.”

These points demonstrate that God’s purposes for marriage extend far beyond personal happiness. Let me quickly clarify that God isn’t against happiness per se, but that marriage promotes even higher values.

“God did not create marriage just to give us a pleasant means of repopulating the world and providing a steady societal institution to raise children. He planted marriage among humans as yet another signpost pointing to His own eternal, spiritual existence.”

Serving Our Spouse

“He spends the entire evening at the office again.”

“She spends money without entering it in the checkbook.”

“He goes golfing instead of spending time with the children”.

From irritating habits to weighty issues that seem impossible to resolve, loving one’s spouse through the tough times isn’t easy. But the same struggles that drive us apart also shed light on what we value in marriage.

If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane. If receiving love is our primary goal, we’ll dump our spouse as soon as they seem to be less attentive. But if we marry for the glory of God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to reveal His witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.

Couples who’ve survived a potentially marriage-ending situation, such as infidelity or a life-threatening disease, may continue to battle years of built-up resentment, anger or bitterness.

So, what are the ways to strengthen a struggling relationship or even encourage a healthy one?

Let’s look at these practical tips:

 Focus on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.

 Encourage rather than criticize.

 Pray for your spouse instead of gossiping about them.

 Learn and live what Christ teaches about relating to and loving others.

Young couples in particular can benefit from this advice. After all, many newlyweds aren’t adequately prepared to make the transition from seeing one another several times a week to suddenly sharing everything.

Definitely, annoying habits and less-than-appealing behaviors will surface. Yet as Christians, we are called to respect everyone including our spouse.

We need to learn how to ‘fall forward.’ That is, when we are frustrated or angry, instead of pulling back, we must still pursue our partner under God’s mercy and grace.

Lastly, we can pray this helpful prayer: Lord, how can I love my spouse today like he/she’s never been loved and will never be loved?

I can’t tell you how many times God has given me very practical advice. Its one prayer that I find gets answered just about every time.

While other marriage books may leave us feeling overwhelmed, spotlighting our shortcomings and providing pages of relationship homework, The Marriage Manual (The Bible) written by The Master Builder makes it clear that any couple can have a successful, happy and holy marriage.

With a Christ-centered relationship, an other-centered attitude and an unwavering commitment to making it work, your marriage can flourish — just as God designed.

To cherish your husband is not to treat him like “a breakable plate”, but to treat his successes, his secrets, his self-image, his thoughts, his opinions, and his heart like “a breakable plate” treasuring and caring for the details that make up his person.

Most of us married our husbands because there was something about them that we cherished and admired, but it’s easy for those feelings to fade. Yet, admiring your husband is no less important now than it was the day you got married. In her book Let Me Be a Woman, Elisabeth Elliot explains how wives can revive those feelings of esteem:

“Marriage is no house party; it’s not a college campus or a stimulating political row or an athletic contest, and the man is having been a spellbinding orator or a great halfback somehow does not seem terribly significant anymore. But you ought now and then to remember what he was, to ask yourself what it was, really, that caught your eye. Come now, you will say to yourself, you didn’t marry him because he was a great halfback, did you? No, you married this person. Whatever the inner qualities were that enabled him to do the things he did then are still a part of this person that you go to bed with and eat breakfast with and wrestle over the monthly budget with. He is a person with the same potentials he had when you married him. Your responsibility now is not merely to bat your eyelashes and tell him how wonderful he is (but breathes there a man with soul so dead as not to be cheered by a little of that?) but to appreciate, genuinely and deeply, what he is, to support and encourage and draw out of him those qualities that you originally saw and admired.”

You and I married someone who is more than just a man. He is a person with feelings and a heart that can be broken, with the ability to learn and develop and transform. He is a person who experiences life much deeper than what we can see on the outside. And our husbands are longing for us, as wives, to delve into their inner persons and find out the layers of their souls hiding underneath. As a wife, there is no greater gift I can give than to appreciate my husband, not just for what he does for me, but for who he is.

Learning to Cherish Him

Embracing the man God made your husband to be is not a matter of just tolerating his behavior, but truly valuing the makeup of his personality and the traits he has to offer. Although this skill takes practice and time, these three tips will help you communicate and display admiration for the man who desires to make an impression on you most.

First, stop nagging. In the book of Proverbs, the wisest man on earth, King Solomon, warns men about a nagging wife. Here are several Scriptures that show how draining a “contentious” woman can be: 

“The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping” (19:13b).

“It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman” (21:19).

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (21:9, 25:24).

“A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike” (27:15).

Get the picture? A nagging wife is hard to live with. While washing breakable plates, you wouldn’t spray it with a pressure washer would you? No, you would wash each piece by hand with a soft cloth and soapy water. Constant nagging is like putting a pressure washer to your husband’s self-worth. When a wife nags, it doesn’t matter what words are coming out of her mouth, most of the time a husband hears, “You’re not good enough. You don’t meet my needs. I would be better off with someone else.” That’s enough to make most men wonder, Why try?

Instead, if you have suggestions for your husband, have patience. Talk to him, but don’t get frustrated and fight. Make your requests and then respect his decisions. 1Pt 3:1-2 calls us wives to have chaste and respectful behavior toward our husbands, so that “even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives.”

Second, verbalize your appreciation. The book of James reminds us of the power of the tongue:

“If we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” (3:3-5)

The words you say do make a difference to your husband. Our spouses are easy targets for taking out frustration or being the butt of our jokes. You may think it’s all in good fun, but sometimes “good fun” hurts. Many husbands will shake off biting comments with a macho shrug, and others might take a verbal/physical punch back at you. Either way, you’ve possibly hurt him and didn’t even realize it.

Instead, use words that lift up and encourage. You will see a difference in your husband’s behavior if you do. Talk about him to others in a positive way. Ask him questions about his life, work, hobbies, and friends.

Tell him that you’re proud of him. When he’s honored at work, tell him how valuable he is as an employee, and take pictures. Learn about the work that he does. Let him teach you about the equipment he uses and the people he works with.

It reminds me of the song, “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers, which tells the story of a man who had great dreams and never accomplished any of them. But the focus of the song is not on his failure, but on the faith and support of his loving wife:

And she believes in me; I’ll never know just what she sees in me.
I told her someday if she was my girl, I could change the world with my little songs; I was wrong.
But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully.
And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right
I will find a way, while she waits … while she waits for me!

There is no promise that this man will ever accomplish his dreams, but the power of this woman’s support and encouragement is enough to give him hope.

Third, connect with him emotionally. Women have a tendency to connect emotionally through verbal communication, but men can get exhausted from talking. However, there are other ways to connect even when words are never spoken:

 Talk with your eyes. With just a look you can tell your husband how much you love him and that you’re proud of him.

 Support him with your presence. Be there when he’s honored at banquets and when he makes a home run on the neighborhood softball team.

 Make him feel important. Take pictures of that big fish he caught, frame letters and e-mails with kudos from the boss, clear off a shelf for his trophies.

 Laugh at his jokes (even when they’re not that funny). At least when he makes a flop, he knows he can count on you to appreciate the effort.

His Most Precious Possession

As a wife, you have been given the opportunity to see the deepest, most tender parts of your husband’s most precious possession—his heart. It’s not easy for a man to expose who he is underneath that tough exterior, but he’s willing to if he can trust you to take care of his heart and not take advantage of it.

An exposed heart is easy to pierce, so we wives must be careful to treat it gently and tenderly, so as not to cause damage. If he feels that he’s an easy target, he’ll shut you out, leaving you distant and alone in your relationship. But if he knows that his soul is safe with you, he’ll share his most intimate longings and desires.

Perhaps your husband has already shut down and closed himself off from you. Maybe you’ve unknowingly trod his tender heart.

The good news is that it’s not too late to open him back up. A wounded heart can heal. If you will start using these tools and have a little patience, eventually you will again have the pleasure of delving into those soulful places that only a wife is privileged to go.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World ...

Let me start by making some few definitions, for proper understanding of the topic of discussion.

Who is a Christian?

The Oxford dictionary defines a Christian as “a person who believes in the Christian religion“. The Wycliffe Bible dictionary defines a Christian as “one who belongs or is devoted to Christ”. Being a Christian is not just understanding certain doctrines and spiritual principles, but it is having our life in Christ Jesus. It is walking in the Spirit of Truth. The Truth here “is a property of that judgment which coincides with the mind of God”. So it will not be wrong to say that “a Christian is one whose walk is in agreement with the mind of Christ concerning every areas of his or her life 1Cor2:16. That means a Christian is one whose character and conduct reflects the character and conduct of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ”. If your walk is contrary to the Mind of Christ concerning your life; and your character and conduct does not reflect Christ, then you are not a Christian even if you claim to be one.

Who is a Lady?

The Oxford dictionary defines a lady as “a woman with dignity and good manners. So I will define a true Christian lady as a celebrated woman of rare and outstanding talent, a woman of class, integrity, honor and poise; a spiritually, emotionally and physically stable woman. A divinely set apart woman. (A diva) We have quite a number of such women in our midst. We have women like: Pst. (Mrs.) Faith Oyedepo, Pst. (Mrs.) Mary Abioye, Pst. (Mrs.) E. Aremu, Bishop Margaret Idahosa, Gloria Copeland, Elizabeth George, Joyce Meyer, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Cindy Trimm, Mrs. Diezani Allison Madueke Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili and Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala to mention a few. As a Christian Lady you represent your heavenly Father here on earth. Your life, marriage etc must reflect that you are the daughter of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Your life must bless people; you must not leave a place without leaving your mark behind. You must always leave a lasting impression of integrity, and poise in the hearts of those who interacts with you; because a deposit of the divine nature of God was planted in your spirit when He created you. You are set apart for a unique purpose, with divine credentials for living out your calling. An invisible stamp was placed on you the moment you became born again, which makes everyone that sees you to recognize that you are special. As a celebrated woman of class, your success in life is hinged on your close relationship with God, ability to hear His Voice, coupled with your submission to His direction. Having a kingdom view of life, should be our driving force in life. Matt6:33.

The Make-up of a True Christian Lady (a Diva).

There is a seed of divinity in every woman. That seed is the divine nature of God put inside every woman, when she was created by God. It is the Spirit of God. It is this divine nature in a true Christian lady that makes her to command attention without demanding it. This divine seed was lost at the fall of man, but on the Cross of Calvary Jesus restored that divine nature back to the woman. He gave us His divine mind, which is a major prerequisite for living a fulfilled life, filled with purposeful decision and security. The thing that sets a true Christian lady apart and makes her distinct from the rest women is the composite of her character. Her internal qualities which continually transforms her outer appearance and give her a royal bearing. She carries herself with a touch of royalty, irrespective of her status in life, whether she is doing menial jobs or she is an executive in a big organization. She is graceful and gracious; doing whatever she does in excellence without despising her femininity.

Her Spirituality.

A true Christian lady is spiritual. She has embraced her Savior and yielded to His Lordship, so under His instruction she is empowered to see her circumstances clearly, make wise choices and reap a victorious life. For you to be celebrated truly set apart woman, your attitude or view about who you are must change.

There are three (3) views that inform who you are in life.

A. Your personal view about yourself: this is limited by your emotions and what you have to go through in life. B. Other people’s views about you: This is based on their own experiences in life. C. God’s view about you: He is the only one who has a valid opinion about you. He knows, sees and understands everything about you. When we are in a relationship with our heavenly Father, we begin to see things through His eyes. A true Christian lady will not compromise her standards and she is completely sold out to her Lord, she is not moved by the opinion of other people concerning her. She is rooted and grounded in the love of God, so other people’s opinion no longer matter to her Song of Sol 2:16.

Her Appearance.

Every true Christian lady knows that in order to win friends and influential people, she must put her best face as well as foot forward. For a divinely set apart lady, her appearance is very important. First impression matters a lot in life, so she must be mindful of how she looks. Though God looks at the heart, people look at what is obvious to the eye. Her external appearance must complement the true beauty that comes from her inside. Someone once said that “the way you dress is the way you are addressed”. Dressing begins with the preparation of the body followed by the putting on of clothes etc. Apart from cleaning up physically, you must clean up spiritually. Rid yourself of all bitterness, vanity etc, no matter how fabulous the dress is, it cannot cover bitterness, vanity, rancor etc. What we eat has lasting effect on our health, as well as our beauty, diet affects our appearance. It affects our skin, figure, weight and even mental clarity. I agree that diet is a very personal choice, but let us take example from Daniel (Dan 1:3-21). Being tiny should not be your ultimate goal, but eating properly to stay healthy should be your goal. You must be honest with yourself, is your diet healing you or killing you? Remember, this is the only body you have, be kind to it and take care of it. Make it a life goal to eat healthily. Divinely set apart lady practice self control in all areas of her life, including diet. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; do not defy it with unnecessary calories and fat. As true Christian ladies, we must take time to rest our bodies. You cannot afford not to rest, if God took time to rest Gen2:2-3, then we must follow His example and rest if we are to appear in our best forms. God created us in His image, so we are designed to rest, in order to function properly. Rest must be achieved on all levels, spiritually, emotionally and physically. It is a total package. We must know our physical limitations and take time to rest. The divinely set apart lady have no problem asking for help when she needs it, and saying “no” when a “yes” will do nobody any good. Also, you are to endeavor to keep fit with some simple exercises. Decide which exercise is best for you and your state of health. Walking is one of the most wonderful ways of staying fit. Once in a while, park the car and take a walk. It helps to keep you mentally alert. So, get out and get the blood pumping, take a short walk round your neighborhood. Talking about fashion, divinely set apart classic ladies set fashion trends, they do not follow it. Classic, simple, decent and complementary are the key words to how a classic lady dresses. Always in good taste; a divine diva dresses in a way that causes others to look twice, though nothing they are wearing is screaming from attention. Choose your color, fabric and fit well, wear clothes that is befitting of a daughter of the King. It is not how expensive an outfit is, that makes it fabulous, but it is the way it fit and how much of your body it covers that makes it a beautiful outfit. Sisters, it doesn’t matter whether that dress was made in Paris, New York, Italy or sewn by your neighborhood tailor; what matters is the fitting, the modesty and the impression it creates about you in other people’s minds. Let’s say something about our face; if you must wear makeup, it should be an enhancer and not a mask. Avoid makeovers that make you look like a masquerade or a painted doll. Do not forget your hair, whether you go natural or add extensions (weave-on, braids etc), the rule is to keep it simple. No wild colorings and other excesses. Do not forget that keeping your hair unkempt and untidy will not give you a good image. Your hair should work for you and not against you. Find a good hairdresser you like and stick with the person. Remember, your hair is your glory, so wear it well 1Cor11:15. The scent of a woman should always be alluring and intriguing. I agree that not everybody likes to use perfume, but if you are a perfume person, choose a fragrance that is you. Warm and fresh. Never overdo your fragrance, but strive to always make a personal statement about who you are with your fragrance. There are some people I know by the fragrance they wear and whenever I come in contact with that particular smell I remember them. Your fragrance should draw people close to you, and when you leave it should softly linger, leaving a pleasant memory of you in the minds of others. Finally, treat your feet well; taking care of your feet is important. After all, they support the rest of your body. The choice of shoes is endless but choose wisely; lovely but comfortable. Buy shoes that does not throw your posture out of line and you can walk gracefully. Pick shoes that complement the line of your legs. Always dress from top of your head to the tip of your toes as one complete picture; everything should work in harmony and compliment themselves. That is the secret of a true diva.

Her Character and Conduct.

Your character and conduct say a whole lot about who you are. This entails your communication skills and manners. Communication includes the following: your words; thoughts and actions or body language. As a true diva you must have an enviable communication skills. First of all, your communication must express love. Words, whether spoken or written have a tremendous impact on all our lives Pro12:18. Learn to use your words for blessing, healing and building up, and not for cursing, wounding and tearing down. Paul speaking in Eph4:29 said “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk (ever) come out of your mouth, but only such (speech) as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it maybe a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it” (AMP). Watch your mouth! Matt12:36. Make a commitment to love others with your words. Every word you speak can be a brick to build or a bulldozer to destroy. Choose your words carefully. Remember words are seeds, they are containers of power. As a true diva avoid being labeled as “loud” or “rash”; it is not good for your image. Another area of communication is through our thoughts Pro23:7a says “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (AMP). Never make the mistake to think that your thoughts do not affect people. In fact, our thoughts not only affect others, they also affect us. If we think unkind thoughts, we become unkind. If we think loving thoughts, we become loving. If you let yourself dwell on negative thoughts, you will find yourself emitting bad energy to everybody around you. Of course, you will be avoided like a plague. Lastly, you communicate through your actions or body language. There is an adage that says “action speaks louder than voice”. As a true diva watch the type of body language you send out to people. Let your actions reflect the grace of God on your life. Watch the type of company you keep 1Cor15:33 admonished us that evil communication corrupts good manners. If your best friend and associates are ladies with foul language and questionable character; it is only a matter of time, and you will begin to talk and behave like them. May the Lord give us understanding!

Her Marriage.

A true diva is a virtuous wife, who knows how to turn her house into a home and enjoy a blissful marriage Pro31:10-31. A true diva knows her roles in the marriage and she carries them out religiously. Her marriage is in divine order. That is her spiritual marriage to her heavenly Husband Jesus Christ Isa54:5, and her physical marriage to her earthly husband. She has a good and to be envied relationship with the Spiritual Lover of her soul in the person of Jesus Christ. She is submissive and obedient to the dictates of her Savior, and this makes it easy for her to be submissive to the leadership of her earthly husband (she respects him, reverence, praise and honor him). She has a heart of a worshipper and her life is saturated with prayers and a childlike faith that trust God with every detail of her life and marriage. She does not have problems settling every issue of her life and marriage on her knees before her Lord. Also because she loves her Lord with all of her heart, soul and might; loving and giving affection to her husband is no problem for her. She warms his life with love. Above all, she is a true help meet and companion to her husband. She compliments him and she is not tempted to order him around.

Sisters, celebrate your unique qualities as a true diva and work them to the maximum.

It is all about Diva-tude. Attitude is everything. Remain blessed.