Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Thoughts

Our thoughts are the center of our being. They ultimately determine the path we will take in our lives. They determine our success in work, family, and relationships. They can also affect our emotional and physical health.

Taking our thoughts captive is a difficult process we must learn in order to live a peaceful life in obedience to Christ. We only need to read the newspaper, the Internet, or turn on the television to see the effect of wrong thinking.

Sometimes, wrong thinking may seem right to us. For example, maybe your family taught you to speak your mind, or they may have taught you to hold everything inside. Either way could be so engraved into your thinking that you believe it is right. It isn’t until you face a crisis that you realize there may be a better way.

We humans tend to resist making change until we reach a critical pain level caused by the behavior in need of change. As my husband always says, sometimes we need to be hit over the head with a two-by-four in order to turn our attention to God. Many of us hit rock bottom before we decide it’s time to make some changes. Most Christians came to God after a rock bottom experience.

Many spouses who jeopardize their marriages with unacceptable behavior do nothing to change it until they are threatened with losing their families. It often takes the other spouse actually leaving or filing for divorce before they make those necessary changes.

We are creatures of habit and stay comfortable where we are, regardless if it is right or wrong. Making a change is difficult, and many people remain blinded to wrong thoughts and behavior.

We need to work constantly at taking our thoughts captive. Learn what works best for you. The hardest part may be in recognizing that a thought needs to be discarded. We can dwell on negative thoughts for too long and not even realize it.

Ask for God’s help in changing your thinking. Over time, you will learn to distinguish between those thoughts that are obedient to God’s word, and those thoughts that come from your flesh or the mind of Satan.

If our thoughts are the center of our being, they need to be obedient to Christ to have Him as the center of our lives. His will should be our desire and our thoughts should revolve around His plan for us.

It is not much different for our marriage relationships. Our thoughts should be edifying and conducive to positive behavior towards our spouse. Their well-being should be our desire and our thoughts should revolve around putting them ahead of our own self.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quiet My Mind

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my thoughts can be my own worst enemy.  They take me places I shouldn’t go.  They hold on to offense and magnify it to consuming hurt.  They mislead my desires to worldly paths that take me nowhere.  They muffle the words that God intends for me to hear.

Women usually struggle more with quieting their thoughts than men do.  One thought leads to another and then another and then another.  Men seem to be able to take an undesirable thought and lock it in a room until they are ready to deal with it. 

In my quiet time this past week, one of the devotionals spoke distinctly to me.

July 9, 2014 – Jesus Calling”
“Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.  I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being.  Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion.  As My thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry.  Thus, My voice is muffled, and you hear only white noise.

Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think My thoughts.  This ability is an awesome benefit of being My child, patterned after My own image.  Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking.  Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Sit quietly in My Presence, letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking.”

“Those sticky webs of worry.”  Boy, do I have a lot of webs in my mind.  I look at my husband who goes confidently along in life with complete assurance of his choices and ideas.  Not me.  I’m going to analyze, contemplate and deliberate on every idea that crosses my path before I can make a rational decision.  Even then, I may back-pedal a few times into a second guessing gear.  Worry about the correct decision is a given.  In fact, if there is any way I can fit worrying into my agenda, I will.

I know that fear and worrying are putting your faith in the devil.  Of course I don’t want to do that!  It’s a major battle we face, especially as women.  It affects our relationships with our spouse and with our children. 

In reading this devotional from Jesus Calling, it occurred to me that Satan intentionally throws doubt and fear at us to muffle the thoughts that God gives us.  “Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.”

How many times have I missed God’s plan for me because I was busy worrying about some menial issue that had no effect on my life?  Or maybe I was caught up in offense by a harmless word my husband may have said with no intention of hurting me.

If I could only slow down my mind.  “Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.”  Hmm.  It grieves me that I may be guilty of missing His voice.  My biggest desire is to have an intimate relationship with God that I would know His plan for my every moment.

My new prayer will be, “Quiet my mind, Lord, so I can hear your voice.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

This Marriage Thing - Part 2

This marriage thing should be very simple.  In a healthy marriage, each spouse puts the other’s needs ahead of their own.  If both partners do this, there will be nothing but harmony and peace in the marriage.  Unfortunately we have that human element that gets in the way – selfishness.  We have a flesh that carries its own agenda.
We live in a world that encourages feeding our fleshly desires, and our society seems to be growing more selfish than ever.  Is it any wonder that there is so much divorce?  You can’t have a healthy relationship with any human being when you are so wound up in yourself, much less an intimate marriage with someone where you are supposedly joined as one.  That ‘oneness’ is basically impossible when selfish agendas get in the way.
Spiritually, the husband should take the lead or start the cycle of fulfilling their spouse’s needs.  (Ephesians 5:25-29)  Most women automatically reciprocate.  Women are naturally givers where men can be takers, so when a husband begins to focus on giving, the wife responds with even more giving.  When men realize how little effort it takes to please a woman, giving becomes easier to them because their return is then multiplied.
What if you have a spouse who doesn’t really know God?  I Peter 3: 1-2 tells us, “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” (Being submissive is nothing more than putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own.  We are all called to do that.  Eph. 5:21)
This can be a daunting task for many women whose husbands aren’t the spiritual leaders.  I promise you though, waiving the Bible in someone’s face and quoting scripture to them in reprimand will not win them over to God’s side.  This will not create a Godly husband.  It is our loving, Godly behavior that will win them over, not our words. 
Matthew 20:28 says, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”  That should be our attitude.  If we desire for our spouse to be a Godly, servant leader like Jesus, we have to be an example by serving them even when they don’t seem quite deserving of it.
The words in the Bible can look so simple and logical but applying them is a different story.  Is it easy to put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own?  NO!!!  It’s hard work!  You have to swallow some pride and often times do things you really don’t want to do, usually sacrificing your own desires.  But isn’t that how our life goes?  We don’t live in a perfect world that revolves around our wants and needs; we have to step out into areas that are uncomfortable and undesirable to us.  But when we step out into these areas, it’s usually for some gain.  It is the same way in our marriage relationship.  In a healthy marriage, when we are willing to give, our needs will then be met by our spouse.  It’s a win-win situation. 
Matthew 22:37-40 tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That pretty much says it all.  These are the two greatest commandments spoken by Jesus.  We put God first in our life and then come other people (neighbors).  Not careers, not houses, not money, not selfish desires, but other people.  Our spouse should be at the top of that list.
We are placed here on Earth for those other people, not for our own selves.  Jesus sets the example as a servant leader and expects us to follow.  We need to treat our spouse above our self and then, a healthy marriage will naturally fall in place along with many blessings from God for our obedience.
If we don’t stay interested in meeting our spouse’s needs and desires, the relationship will gradually divide into two separate entities that eventually will go their own ways. 
Maybe you should start by finding out what your spouse’s top needs are - which takes me back to the solution of the original dilemma in this article.  When both spouses’ needs are being met by each other, there will be no problem with who’s taking care of the house and kids and with who’s sitting on the couch.