Regaining Domestic Authority

How does a hen-pecked husband regain his rightful authority? If he is under his wife’s demands and rebuke, how does he restore his rightful place of headship in the home?

This a pretty challenging issue for many husbands, especially those who do not have their wife’s permission to be the head of the home.

The Wife’s Permission

Some Christian ministries handle this by suggesting that the wife’s ‘submission’ is a precursor to the husband’s headship. I object to such nonsense. They arrive at this case by noting that in Ephesians 5, where the Apostle Paul tells husbands and wives about their respective roles, the wife is advised about ‘submission’ before the husband is addressed about his need to love the wife.

The suggestion that a person can only have authority once their subordinate gives it to them is ludicrous on several accounts. Real authority comes from being under authority, so how can one who is a subordinate assign authority to their leader. The leader gets his or her authority from someone with more authority than them, not someone with less!

There is no place in society where true authority is determined by the response of those under authority. What happens in reality is that those who don’t wish to be under proper authority face consequences for that stance. They do not gain power over the authority but are dealt with by the authority.

Husbands are not dependent on their wife’s permission to hold their position of headship over the wife.

God’s Assignment

Husbands have headship over their wife. They have that headship whether they want it or not. They have it whether they use it well or not. They have it for as long as they have a wife. They have it whether they are smarter or stronger than their wife, or whether she outperforms them in every way. They have it because it is God’s assignment to them.

God assigns authority, as the principal authority figure in the universe. No-one has more authority than
God. No-one has the power to revoke God’s authority. No-one has a voice that has the right to speak against or challenge the authority of God. And that God, the Almighty God, our Creator and the sustainer of all things is the one who gives husbands headship in their home.

The attitude, opinion and actions of the wife are inconsequential to the fact. The man carries the responsibility of headship whether his wife likes it or not. He carries it whether his wife approves or not. He even carries it while his wife is vigorously rebelling against it. She has zero power over the man’s authority and headship.

The Wife’s Part

The wife is responsible for herself and her attitudes and actions. She will give account for her words, actions and attitudes to God. She has no authority over the husband’s role. She cannot veto it, negate it, overturn it, modify it or otherwise subvert it in any way. It is outside her power.

The wife did not assign the husband’s role, God did. The wife did not make the husband her head, God did. The wife did not elevate the man by her approval of him, but God placed a mantle of responsibility on him whether the man and woman knew about it or not.

Oh, and it doesn’t matter whether either of them or Christians or not. This is not the Christian order for marriage; it is God’s order for marriage. It applies across all cultures, all ages, all socio-economic situations, and all parts of the globe.

Restoring Order

The first step in restoring the godly order for the marriage is to know the order and how serious it is. It is not something the couple need to agree on in order for it to become real.

Once a husband realises that he stands accountable before God for the place of responsibility which God has given him he can then take the matter to God for divine wisdom about restoring that order in his home.

There are several practical insights that will apply in that process, but I’ll leave the subject for now, so you can absorb and mull over the implications of what I have outlined here. And my prayer in that God give you wisdom and grace to empower you to stand before Him, fully accountable for your actions and completely ready to honour Him ahead of all else.

Samuel Wilberforce Reforms the Role of Bishops

This is the day that … Samuel Wilberforce was born in Clapham, England, in 1805.

His father was William Wilberforce, famous parliamentarian who fought for the abolition of the slave trade – and won.

Raised in the evangelical tradition, young Samuel was “not particularly studious” during his education at Oxford, but set his sights on “holy orders” and was ordained to the Church of England priesthood in 1829.

He also “set his sights” on Emily Sargent, a vicar’s daughter (“she was 13 and I was 15 when I saw her first. And we never changed our minds!”) They married in 1828.

One biographer tells us how he “learned the Epistle to the Ephesians by heart” (19th Century Preachers, by J. Edwards, page 142).

As his ministry continued he came under the influence of John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey, leaders in what was called the “Oxford Movement” (not to be confused with the Oxford Group movement). This High Church teaching, with its Romeward emphasis, caused a major upheaval in 19th century Anglicanism.

Wilberforce remained loyal to the Church of England, even displaying “a passionate hatred of Rome” (Dictionary of English Church History, page 634), whilst many of his friends and direct relatives, including his son-in-law, seceded to the authority of the Pope.

His wife died in March, 1841.

He became Bishop of Oxford on 30 November, 1843, and “so began the most memorable episcopate of modern times” (ibid).

Controversies raged about him but “his eloquence and ready wit excelled in reconciling men of diverse opinions, hence his nickname of ‘Soapy Sam’” (Concise Universal Biography, page 1394).

Moreover he laboured to quicken the zeal of the clergy. The whole modern concept of a bishop constantly in touch with his diocese … instead of sitting silently by sipping unending cups of tea, or spending time fox hunting … begins with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

Dean Burgon called him “the remodeller of the Episcopate” – one who changed the face of the role of bishop in the Church of England.

He held firmly to the ‘doctrine’ of baptismal regeneration and of apostolic succession.

On 19 July, 1873, his life was suddenly cut short due to a fall from his horse.

His sons also attained significant posts within the church, continuing the family influence in English religion and politics.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Entering Heavenly Zones

Just as a top sportsperson controls their mental, emotional and personal faculties to stay ‘in the zone’, so too Christians can take responsibility for the heavenly zones God has made available to us. This post discusses how we enter those heavenly zones and go through the open doors God has created for us.

I mentioned in the last post on this topic that God has given us a number of doorways into heavenly realities. We are: seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6); under his wings (Psalm 91:4); accessible to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16); accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6); and able to run into the name of the Lord (Proverbs 18:10). There are more than that, and the most wonderful door we have is into God’s throne room.

King David taught that it is personally possible to choose to enter through the heavenly door into the ‘zone’ of God’s presence. He openly explained how it is done.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

We can choose to enter into God’s presence by thanksgiving and praise. We don’t have to stay in a place of fear or loneliness, when we can enter His gates and come into His courts.

David was so aware of our ability to take control of our inner state and thus to change the ‘zone’ we are in that he repeated a statement which shows how he did it.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? hope in God: for I will yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” Psalm 42:5,6

Allow me to paraphrase what David is saying here. He recognises that his soul is downcast. He is feeling low. He is not ‘in the zone’ to be a man of faith or to be a champion. He is struggling internally. But rather than let his natural feelings call the shots, he chooses to change zone. He chooses to move into a heavenly zone where he can overcome these depressive feelings. He reminds himself; in fact he demands of himself, that he trust in God. He also chooses to praise God, confident that God is the real help he needs. He then explains to God that he is feeling low and says, “That’s why I am reminding myself of who You are”.

David understood that our natural state does not have to rule the day. When we remember who God is we can encourage ourselves in faith and step into God’s presence, finding His grace in our situation.

The Apostle Paul had a similar idea when he gave instructions to Timothy, telling him to “stir up the gift” that was in him (2Timothy 1:6). Paul practiced the choice of his zone when he was thrown into the dungeon in Philippi. There, denied liberty and justice, Paul and Silas sang songs of praise. They were able to enter into God’s presence, despite their natural circumstances. What resulted was a divine visitation of a miracle earthquake that set them all free, without endangering any of them. Salvations resulted.

The point of the lesson is this. You can choose the ‘zone’ in which you are living right now. You can allow circumstances to make you downcast or keep you distracted. Alternatively you can take responsibility for which door you enter into. You can press in to God’s presence, access heavenly blessings, “be there” in divine glories, and overcome natural circumstances. You can build yourself up, stir up your gifts, encourage yourself in the Lord, keep yourself in the love of God, remember who God is, call on His name, access the throne of grace and much more.

Are you ‘in the zone’? If not, then why not? You can do something about it. You can choose where you will spend the rest of this day. You can choose to move in to your spiritual inheritance, or to remain in a prison while the door is wide open.

Let’s be a people who are ‘in the zone’ of God’s presence, enjoying His best for His glory, all the time. Amen.

Heavenly Zones

How would you like to be able to choose to be in God’s presence? How would you like to be able to step into heaven, even while you are buried in some heavy-duty workload, mess or upheaval? You can be “in the zone” of your own choosing, and that ‘zone’ can be the very throne-room of God.

We’ve discussed in previous posts on being “in the zone” how that we each have multiple zones to choose from. We have the ability, either by our own internal resolve, or by the use of external support measures, to switch from one zone to a better one.

It is as if we each live in a room with multiple doorways leading out of it. Most of the time we leave those doors closed and stay in the room that we find ourselves in. Our moods and the influences which sweep into our lives dictate what ‘zone’ we are in. Most of us are poor at the skill of changing our zone or pushing our way through different doorways out of where we are currently at.

Most of us have doors, even open doors in our life, which we never go through. Like having a ticket to the movies but never going. Like having an invitation to drop in to visit someone, but never making the effort. Like having family members we never take the time to talk and share with, because we are too preoccupied with our emotions, our challenges, our goals, or whatever. And isn’t that how it is for many people? Life slips past them, with gazillions of unexplored opportunities.

And that situation is just as real in terms of our spiritual experiences. There are ‘heavenly zones’ which we can enter into, some of them as doors which are wide open, yet which we never go through.

Salvation is one of those doors open to people. But many choose to press on in another zone, than in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. So they do just about anything but enter that life-transforming zone of becoming a new creature through faith.

For those who are Christians a bunch of new doors are open, which they may never ever access. They may be ignorant of the possibilities or fearful of going somewhere new. Whatever the reason, they can be locked away from God’s best for them.

Pentecostal Healing Evangelist Harry Greenwood, an English preacher gifted in playing the tambourine (a skill he reluctantly demonstrated from time to time), wrote a series of short booklets which he gave away, entitled, “Letters to the Imprisoned Saints”. Significant about these books was the cover artwork, a man in a prison cell looking wistfully through the window bars, while there, in the background, it was clear to see that the prison door was wide open. If only the man had turned around he would have discovered he was already free. So that was the purpose of the booklets, to lead people into the freedom already purchased for them. [I heard Harry Greenwood preach and play the tambourine in Sydney in about 1972, and I worked on a book stall about that time where Harry’s books were available. I have a couple of the booklets in a box somewhere.]

So, what are the ‘heavenly zones’ which Christians can enter into? Well, here are a few to take note of. We are “seated in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6). Somehow we are actually connected to the heavens through Christ, even though we are living our natural life on earth. We also have access to the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). We are able to come boldly before God and ask for grace when we need it. We have a wonderful place of complete acceptance “in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). We can run in to the “name of the Lord” as our strong tower and place of shelter (Proverbs 18:10). We are able to be safe under God’s wings (Psalm 91:4).

On this last point, I recall the testimony I heard in the early 1970’s of a young woman walking home from a church meeting late one night. She heard footsteps behind her and quickened her pace. The footsteps also quickened and she ended up running in fear. She ran into a subway, hoping to find people on the train platform who could help her, but it was empty. She ran along the platform until there was nowhere to go. At that point, remembering what she had been taught about God’s protection she turned to face those chasing her and announced, “I’m covered in feathers!” Her assailants turned and ran away.

She had gone through a door, as it were, and accessed the protection that was hers, only because of the dire circumstances she was in. Otherwise she might never have discovered the powerful reality of a ‘heavenly zone’ available to her.

I’m going to leave this post here and yet I have more to say. Next time I want to show you how godly men in the Bible activated the process of switching heavenly zones. It’s something we can all do and it’s part of the life more abundant that is yours to enjoy as a Christian.

Hurt Spirits Working

Some months ago I visited a family struggling to resolve marital issues. What I sensed there prompted me to explore a new approach to spiritual warfare for marriages and families.

In this case both husband and wife had claims and counter-claims against each other. The wife had various demands and her husband had various defences. He had evidence of her unreasonable behaviour, but she had justification for her actions. She had a case against him for his actions, while he had his own explanations for the situations.

I observed for a long time as this couple did verbal battle, both exasperated by the other. I silently prayed for wisdom and insight into how to best move their situation forward.

What came to my attention was that the couple had become pawns in a bigger game – and the key player was not the husband or the wife. The whole game was being controlled by a “Hurt Spirit”. Both husband and wife were drowning in their feelings of being hurt by the other. They then took aim at their spouse, as the source and cause of the hurt. The accusations and counter-claims only became bullets which created more hurt. The anger, frustration, accusations, justifications and so on, just kept adding fuel to the fire.

When I finally had opportunity to speak into the situation both husband and wife expected me to bring some clarity as to whose claims should be acceded to. Instead I had them join me in praying against the work of a hurt spirit. By that time the night was late and I did little more than take authority over the work of a hurt spirit in the marriage.

Within days I heard from the wife that the atmosphere in the home had been transformed from that very night. Both husband and wife have been growing in wisdom and grace since then and the relationship, while still challenged by many years of upset and hurt feelings, is stronger each week.

That has prompted me to wonder just how many marriages are being torn apart by a third party – not a person, but a hurt spirit. A hurt spirit, which is not anything defined as such in the Bible, but which I describe by that title because of its focus, aims to stir up feelings of offence in husband or wife. By arousing hurt feelings that spirit can goad a person to begin attacking their spouse, or acting toward them from a position of hurt.

Once that cycle has been started it can gain its own momentum, with the hurt spirit adding extra spin to the wheel from time to time. Eventually the couple can be completely at war with each other.

Now, consider Paul’s insight in such situations. He says that we are not wrestling and contending with each other, but with spirit forces at work around us. He says “we do not wrestle with flesh and blood (people) but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness (spirit beings)” Ephesians 6:12. So what I am describing to you about a hurt spirit is not as absurd as it might at first sound.

Join me in taking authority over the hurt spirits which have been messing with marriages and spoiling godly relationships. We have authority to bind them (Matthew 18:18). And if you have been messed with, make up your mind not to serve the hurt spirit any longer. Your marriage belongs to God and then to you and your spouse. It will never belong to a hurt spirit or any other kind of evil spirit. Resist the presence and influence of anything that is not fit to be in God’s presence.

“Hurt Spirits which are working in marriages, we bind you in Jesus’ powerful name and we command you to get your hands off husband and wives, hearts, minds and relationships. We resist you and your work in the lives of Christian marriages and we release healing and love to flow into each place where you have been doing your evil work. And we do this in the authority of the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”