Women With Wise Words part 1

Some women struggle with their tongue. So here is practical advice for wives and mothers and for others who end up creating trouble through their words. The point is to stop contending and start sharing. Let me explain.

The Unruly Tongue

The Apostle James, Jesus’ younger brother, warned that the human tongue is impossible to tame. Everyone says the wrong thing at times, and those who rule their tongue have mastered their whole life.

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3:2

“But no man can tame the tongue; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8

Only God can empower us to tame our tongue. So we need God’s wisdom and His grace and power to succeed in this important challenge.

The Argumentative Woman

bossyIt is significant that the Bible makes several references to an argumentative woman. On three occasions King Solomon advised that you are better off living on the rooftop or the wilderness rather than with a woman who wants to argue with you.

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Proverbs 21:9

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Proverbs 21:19

“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” Proverbs 25:24

We know that men, women and children can all be argumentative, so the points made in this lesson can be put to use by us all. But the argumentative woman is clearly bad news and a common enough reality for repeated mention in the Bible.

Contending

Let’s look at the dynamics that occur in contention and argument. Contending is a form of fighting. Two people become adversaries when they contend with each other. One or both are trying to gain some victory over the other. Or one is trying to defend against the demands of another.

For some reason women have a propensity to become contentious. This means they will contend with their husband and their children. Possibly as younger women they will contend with their parents. And they probably contend with others, outside the family, as well.

Many husbands comment on how their wife “nags” them and how she will not let up on some point or other that she is trying to press upon them. Solomon even refers to this.

“A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 19:13

The Roots of Contention

Contention springs from pride. King Solomon points out that contention only comes when pride is involved.

Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10

The pride that produces contention is linked to a person’s desire to rule others or to judge them. We know that from the Hebrew word for contention, ‘midyawn’, which comes from a Hebrew root word meaning to rule and to judge.

When a person is given to contending with others they are most likely motivated by pride in their own opinions or their own importance, and will feel they have the right to rule others and to judge them.

A contentious person can often operate as “judge, jury and executioner”. They take rulership over others and execute judgement upon them. They will do this purely on their own account, according to their own opinions and evaluation of a situation.

Powerless Women

I suspect that one of the motivations for some women to become argumentative and contentious is that they feel powerless. They feel the need to gain control over their husband and children, so they are not so vulnerable.

The godly challenge for women, however, is to submit to their husband. So women need to find security in God, not in their powers of argument. Since it is God who asks them to submit, they can appeal to God to protect and bless them, even if they have grave concerns about their husband’s leadership abilities.

When women become secure in God’s care for them, they will not need to “rule” or “judge” others. They will be content and happy to get on with the life God gave them.

Contending on Autopilot

I have noticed that contentious people are quick to scoff, rebut, react and create arguments.

I recall an example from my time in New Zealand. While preaching, I asked a builder in the church for an on-the-spot estimate of the length of the building. I was showing how people develop good estimation skills. He scanned the building, then said, “Fifty Feet”. Immediately an older woman in the congregation gave a loud scoffing, “Hoh!” She clearly thought the estimate was ridiculous.

There was so much emotion in her mocking reaction that the builder later grabbed his tape-measure and confirmed that the building was within inches of the fifty feet he had estimated.

That lady had a problem. Without any ability to come up with an answer herself, she instantly and loudly contended with the very accurate information offered by someone who knew what he was talking about.

I am afraid many people who give in to contention are similarly ruled by it. They feel impelled to buy into things they are not qualified to speak about. They contend as if it was their automatic setting, whether they have anything to offer or not.

Getting Personal

Argumentative people also seem hard to instruct. When someone shows that they know what they are talking about the contender is likely to say something like, “You think you’re SO smart, don’t you?” They are unlikely to say, “Thank You. I’m glad you explained that to me.” Pride and the desire to dominate and judge others are at the heart of contention, so the contender will be too aroused to be humble and teachable.

Note too that if people feel threatened they will resort to personal attacks, rather than argue the issue at hand. Accusations, dredging up past failures, mockery, personal taunts and the like often find their way into arguments.

A Better Way

There is a much better way to communicate than to argue. Even if the other person is wrong there are better options than argument and contention. And it’s that better way that I really want to share with you. Now that I’ve taken so long with these background remarks, I’ll save the “better way” for Women With Wise Words part 2, which I’ll post in a couple of days.

Rejection 2 Love Receptors

Since Rejection was such a big problem for me I often reflected on why it should be such a serious issue for people. How could something as invisible and insidious as rejection be so devastating for so many people?

My reflections on the subject led me to a simple observation, which I can attest to from the Bible. So that’s the starting point in my pictorial series on the subject of Rejection.

Our Design

Mankind was made by God, for fellowship with God. And that’s a Bible truth. God made man, right back there on Day 6 of creation. And God is “Love”.

“He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.” 1John 4:8

“And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.” 1John 4:16

Putting those two Bible facts together enables us to recognise something about our design. Just as a radio is designed to tune in to radio signals and a television is designed to tune in to television signals, man is designed to tune in to God.

Love Receptor

If man is made to tune in to God, then man is designed as a “Love Receptor”. Somehow, among all our faculties, we have the capacity to tune in to and resonate with God. And, since God is love, that means we must be able to tune in to love.

We must have within us the capacity to fully interpret, receive and respond to the waves of God’s love which are broadcast from Him. If we could not sense love, then we could never have real fellowship with a God who is love.

You are I are ‘love receptors’. Apart from our sight, hearing, touch, taste and other senses, we have the innate ability to sense God’s most wonderful quality.

God and Man

As a love receptor we deeply desire to receive God’s love and the love and affection of our fellow man. We expect to find love from our parents, siblings and family. We expect people to be friendly to us and to be interested in us. We look for loving interaction from all we meet.

This is especially so when we are children and have not yet felt the amount of rejection and disinterest which we are likely to face in later years.

We are designed to live in the luxury of close fellowship with God and with family, friends and society. However, many people experience no sense of God’s love and also experience the feeling that they are rejected, neglected, abandoned and abused by fellow man.

Look at Life

Have you not noticed how powerful love is? People who sense love are keen to be near those who supply it. Children respond to the love shown them by others. We all love to be loved.

Some people spend their whole life looking for love. It fascinates us and impacts us like few other things do.

We celebrate our addiction to love in stories, song, poetry and lifestyle. People’s whole personalities can be transformed by the addition of a loving person into their life.

All this testifies to the fact that God has designed us as love receptors. Those who defy the need for love often do so out of their hurt. They are trying to shut down a faculty which has become a source of pain for them. But that only goes to prove the point. If they were not love receptors by design, then the absence of love, or pain through expectations of love, would not affect them.

Substitutes for Love

Craig Hill, in his Family Foundations course, points out that people who are not loved by their parents can go headlong into sexual relationships, in a quest for the love they sense they are missing. A girl who is denied her father’s love is more likely to end up in a cheap, sexual fling with a man, than a girl who is secure in the love of her dad. Similarly, a boy who feels rejected by his mum will tend to seek the affections of another woman, to fill what seems to be a void within him.

The lack of love never justifies sin. I am not suggesting that the parents are to blame for their children’s wrong choices. We must each give account for our sins. God doesn’t use psychologist couches. He has books with written records of our sins instead.

Other substitutes for love can include attention, notoriety (as with the trouble maker), fame, success, cheap popularity or sexual attraction. If people are not shown love they may well immerse themselves in a substitute, to at least get some compensation for how they feel.

Love Completes Us

Because we are love receptors, then love completes us. We are designed to be in intimate fellowship with our creator, the God of the entire universe. His love is meant to be “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).

We are meant to receive such a revelation of God’s love that God’s ‘perfect love’ casts out all the fear we are feeling, including the fear of rejection.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.” 1John 4:18

As you follow through this series I will eventually have more to say about God’s awesome love. By the end I trust that you are experiencing and enjoying God’s perfect love in much richer dimension and that you are wonderfully set free.

It’s All about ME

A Makeup artist to a world famous celebrity interrupted a photo session with a nation’s President to ask if anyone had a blender (food processor) for mixing her special health mix. She then went on to ask every dignitary she met if he or she could find a blender for her. I won’t tell you who or where, but I know people who witnessed this ridiculous and self-indulgent process.
These antics are laughable, but reveal a level of arrogance and self-absorption that goes along with Western culture. It is summarised in the phrase “It’s All About Me!”

It’s All About Me!

Most people who live by the “It’s all about Me!” philosophy would probably deny that they live that way. Most selfish, self-absorbed people cannot see their behaviour through other people’s eyes.
This post is an attempt to prompt you to look again at what you do and what you say, to see if you are guilty of the “all about me” mindset.
Westerners mostly act on impulse to satisfy inner promptings which are their reactions to various stimuli. Rather than living with restraint, learned responses, consideration for others, submission and the like, Westerners are taught to view life through their own lens. Westerners are likely to say what they think, without thinking. They will speak their mind first, and possibly never consider the inappropriateness of what they said, or the selfishness of their perspective.

It’s All About Selfishness

The “all about me” mindset is actually selfishness at work. It is pride, arrogance, self-focus and self-indulgence. Those are evil things, morally. Mankind was not created to live selfishly. When we live with our own interests, thoughts, plans, intentions, will and self-expression as our focus we are living in pride. We are living in sin; since we created to live for God not self.
Using “It’s all about me” as a reference point we can get a clearer picture of selfishness at work.

“Me” the Destroyer

Millions of friendships and marriages are destroyed because of the “It’s all about Me” mindset. “Me” is a destroyer. Relationships involve two people in agreement. When one of those people is centred on their own self then agreement is hard to achieve. The only way two can be in close agreement in such a case is for one person to idolise and become slave to the other.
When a relationship is anchored in one of the parties it is not a relationship at all. Being a “Me” person denies others any real relationship with you. It also stops you from opening yourself to them.

“Me” Talk

“I’m annoyed with you” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset. “How dare you treat me like that” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset. “You make me so angry” is a statement of the ‘Me’ mindset.
Every time someone looks at life from their own perspective the “It’s all about me” mindset is revealed. They may never say “It’s all about me”, but their focus and statements clearly betray that they see everything from their own perspective.
Some people don’t actually ‘talk’ their “Me” focus. They let it be heard in their body language. Sub-vocalisations (grunts, sighs, etc) are often used to express exasperation, disgust, disapproval, disagreement, and so on. Body language such as frowning, scowling, turning away, shaking the head, and so on, may be used to “voice” the “Me” focus.

“Me” Gets Personal

When a person has a “Me” focus they are already very ‘personal’ about things. They impose their own personal perspective on the issues at hand, and so they will invariably attach their feelings to their dealings with other people. It will all get very ‘personal’.
Everything is already ‘personal’ for them. They start out personal and that’s where it all bogs down. If a “Me” person is offended or upset they will be offended or upset with another person. This is extremely damaging to relationships, because the “Me” person will berate, scold, or otherwise deal harshly with the person they see as having upset their “Me” perspective.

No Me At All

Another way to unearth the “Me” focus is to see what life and conversations would be like if there was no “Me” in the picture at all. Imagine a situation where one spouse has forgotten to do what they promised to do.
In a “Me” situation frustration, exasperation, disappointment or sore feelings would likely steer the words or tone of response to express how the “Me” person felt about the other’s failure. The person who failed would be seen as and be treated as the “problem” in the situation.
Words of rebuke, scorn, anger, frustration or the like would be dumped on the person who failed to do what they promised to do.
If there was no “Me” in the picture, the only response would be to solve or deal with the problem created by the forgetfulness. The problem would be the problem, not the person. The issue would be assessed and fixed. The relationship would continue undamaged. It would not get ‘personal’.
If forgetfulness in the other person was a problem then forgetfulness would be dealt with as a problem. Forgetfulness would be the problem. The forgetful person would not be the problem. It would not get ‘personal’.

Looking for “Me”

I’ve said enough here to get you thinking and hopefully make you aware of the “Me” elements in your life. I challenge you to start looking for “Me” in your thinking, attitudes and relationships.
If you are Western you have a “Me” problem.
Even if you are life’s victim and never get to raise your voice at anyone, you will have a “Me” problem, probably something like “Pity poor me”. There is no escaping “Me” in our selfish Western culture, unless we have “died to self”, “crucified our flesh” and are now living by the power of Christ within us.
But that’s not an escape clause for you. You have no alternative but to be like Christ. And that means you have to stop being a “Me” person. It’s not all about you. It’s about Christ being formed within and God’s Kingdom coming on the earth.
I pray that God open your eyes to see yourself as He sees you – so you will be transformed to be the way He wants you to be.

The Spirit of a Marriage

Have you damaged the spirit of your marriage? Do you know the current health of your marriage? What is the ‘spirit of the marriage’ and how can it be damaged or healed?

These are the questions I will open for you, so you will be attentive to some things that may have escaped your attention up until now.

Hidden Person in Your Spouse

The Bible tells us that each woman has a “hidden man of the heart” which is a source of true beauty for them. Peter advised women not to be distracted by their external beauty tricks, of tizzing up their hair or wearing jewellery. Instead, he advocated that the woman allow her inner beauty, the “hidden man of the heart” to come forth.

“Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation (example) of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.” 1Peter 3:1-6

Hidden Things in Your Marriage

Each person has a hidden, inner life. We do not readily expose our inner self to others, and in fact our inner self is at its most special when shared between husband and wife. The wife is encouraged to reveal to her husband the hidden person within her heart.

Many people never see the hidden person in their spouse. But worse still, many people damage their marriage by offending the inner person in their spouse.

Hidden Damage

Marriage creates the most intimate level of relationship possible on earth. Two people receive a divine status as one physical entity, enabling them to share intimacy in the sanctity of God’s own morality. This unique relationship should be the place where two people are able to share their most hidden thoughts and feelings with each other in complete confidence and security.

However, when husbands and wives offend each other they cause the other to lock away their most secret thoughts and their hidden person, so that they never show the other the “hidden man of the heart”. This becomes a hidden damage in the marriage.

On the surface the couple may be happy, cooperative and exemplary. Yet one or both will have closed off their inner person from the other.

They may enjoy frequent and fun-filled physical intimacy but the intimacy of the soul is rarely if ever enjoyed by them.

Hidden Man Intimacy

Every marriage holds the potential for a level of interpersonal fellowship and sharing where both husband and wife trust their most secret and sacred self to the other. That is a profound level of intimacy

When a couple has intimacy at the level of the hidden man they are reaping richness from their marriage which others simply do not know exists.

The Spirit of the Marriage

The spirit of the marriage is that wonderful potential which your marriage can enjoy if only you both love each other with the level of commitment and openness that enables both to readily reveal the hidden man of the heart to the other.

This spirit of the marriage is damaged when the couple hurts and offends each other. When a husband or wife feels that their spouse does not respect, love, cherish and trust them the spirit of the marriage is damaged.

If, for example, the wife feels dismissed by her husband, and that he does not care for her inner thoughts and feelings, just that she make him happy, then she will shut down part of herself and that will damage the spirit of the marriage.

Auditing Your Marriage

Your marriage may be a happy and delightful relationship where the two of you get along with great companionship. That’s great. But even so it is possible for you both to be missing the richness of the spirit of your marriage. This will be because one or both of you have damaged the inner man of the other and caused them to close off their ‘hidden man’ from the other.

So how is your marriage going? How is the spirit of your marriage? If you have damaged your relationship and your spouse is not opening to you the depths of his or her heart and soul then you are the poorer for it.

Don’t settle for less than a rich and wonderful depth to the spirit of your marriage, where the hidden man of both of you is trusted in the hands of the other. I pray that your experience be that of a blessed spirit of the marriage.

The Domestic Bride

I have met some lovely young brides over the years and been delighted by the heart-felt desire of each one to please her husband. The home and its domestic challenges is an area where many brides long to excel and through which they plan to bless their husband.

Yet the domestic role of a bride is also an area where some misunderstanding and unclear concepts can lead the couple into strife. So this post is for the domestic bride.

Beautiful Bride with a Beautiful Heart

I know that not all young brides are as wonderful as others, but I want to pause for a moment and commend the many amazing and sweet young ladies I have met over the years who earnestly long to delight their husband. Some of those lucky men have been ignorant of how blessed they are. Some of them have gone on to bruise the tender heart of their darling bride.

So, to you amazing and gorgeous young ladies, I commend you for your eager and delightful intention to bless your young man. Mankind is blessed to have the undeserved devotion that you give. I pray that God bless each of you with the rewards of His grace, even if your wonderfully blessed husband does not realise how privileged he is.

Tender Hearts Get Bruised

I am sorry that it is so, but tender hearts do get bruised. Insensitive young men and starry-eyed young brides end up with the pain of disappointment, hurts and misunderstanding. Sometimes the bruises are so sore that the marriage never regains the innocence and tenderness of its initial hopes and dreams.

With the progress of time many marriages completely lose their wonder and delight. Both bride and groom draw back from their innocent hopes and their willing abandonment. Many a cranky older couple started out as two tender hearts longing for things they could never find. I will look at this subject from another angle at some time, with reference to the ‘spirit of the marriage’.

Understand the Problems

Entering into marriage and this wonderful new level of relationship with some understanding may help you. So allow me to cover some points that should help you understand the problem.

In simple terms the main problem stems from the bride’s longing to serve and bless, and the husband’s ignorance of what he wants and how things should be administered. It is hard to effectively serve and bless someone when that service is ill defined.

The Dangerous Assumptions

In marriage, the easy assumptions to make include such things as the idea that you are both wonderfully compatible. Another assumption is that it will just work out fine, all by itself. Then there is the assumption by the man that the woman will somehow instinctively do what pleases him, and the assumption by the woman that the man will instinctively be delighted by what she gives him.

All of these assumptions are dangerous, because all of them are most likely not true. They set the couple up for surprises, disappointment, argument, misunderstanding and hurts.

It is unlikely that the husband has ever clearly catalogued what he likes and what he wants. He has most likely been a passenger in life’s journey, floating along with the things his mother did for him. What ever she did will be what he sees as ‘normal’, even if she is the only person on the planet who does things that way.

If a young husband was asked to explain the domestic management of a home very few would have much depth of understanding. Most husbands are happy to leave things up to their bride. However this creates several problems.

Integration Problems

Since two separate domestic worlds are brought together by the newly-weds they will have to work through the integration issues. If they have never done such a thing before then they will be surprised how many issues arise.

There are often no right and wrong ways to do things. But we each have a sense for what is familiar to us. That familiar process is the one that will “seem right” to us, even if it is the most inefficient process ever imagined. If the bride and groom have different ideas of what is ‘right’ they will end up stumbling over each other’s perceptions. It will be easy to use words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, bringing a sense of condemnation into the relationship. If emotions are aroused, then insults and hurtful words can spill into the situation.

Tender and fragile emotions can be damaged in such an unexpected exchange.

Many a young man has rebuked his wife for not being able to cook meals the way his mother cooked it. His tastes and expectations have been moulded by his family experience and he may not realise that there is such great diversity in food and its preparation.

The Wrong Response

When a person does not have a clear idea of what they want or how to communicate it they can leave the other person directionless. Most young husbands will tend to leave their bride to do her best, not quite sure what she is going to do and how well she is going to do it.

These husbands can’t give positive guidance in such situations so the only guidance they can give is to point out what they think to be wrong. This I call the ‘wrong’ response. And the ‘wrong’ response is the wrong response!

When a husband can only tell his bride what is wrong he is set up to bludgeon her tender hopes into a calloused heart that gives up the hope of pleasing him. Or that gives him what he wants, but without any delight on her part any more.

Negative responses produce negative responses. A husband who guides his bride by disapproval is wounding her heart.

Is There a Simple Solution?

In matters of relationship there is usually no simple solution. I will offer a few simple suggestions, but I doubt that many people will heed them. I fear that many more lovely and tender young brides are going to head down the road to hardened and hurt older wives, despite what I present here. But for the sake of the one or two who may be saved from pain by my thoughts I will venture my simple solution.

Brides should be taught to expect that everything they bring into the marriage will have to be modified. They should be encouraged to go on a two-year journey of discovery of what works best in their home. They should be told that they will face some difficult challenges in this process but that they can succeed and create the most amazing new domestic formula for them both to enjoy.

The reason I put this on the bride is because she is the one who will otherwise be hurt. Her insensitive hero is less likely to be damaged in the sort-out of domestic process than the wife is. So my simple solution aims at shielding the most vulnerable party – that beautiful young woman.

If brides enter marriage with an expectation of their need to change, and a long-term time-line for getting things sorted out, there will be less pain in finding that the couple are less compatible than she hoped. There is time for the two of them to talk and explore their options. There is no silly idealism about it working perfectly from day one.

All of that helps the tender one to be more resilient in the inevitable sorting out process.

Other Helpful Steps

Obviously it is valuable for the young husband to understand the situation and how easily he can and will offend his darling bride. Men should be challenged to expect a long season of exploration and discovery. They should expect food to taste different and things to be done differently, because they are a new family, with new horizons and new possibilities.

I recommend that the couple set up an expectation – possibly suggested to them in the pre-marriage preparation process – that the husband review the bride’s processes and program at regular intervals.

While that might sound very sexist and man-serving at first glance, allow me to show why that is valuable.

The bride is built to please her man. How can she do that if she does not become attentive to what he needs or wants? If she makes her own assumptions and assessments independently of him she may spend her whole life doing things he does not want her to do in ways he does not want her to employ. This undermines her whole design and motivation.

I have also observed that two heads are better than one. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the first to observe that fact. When any person acts for their whole life without the benefit of additional input and review they are in danger of doing the wrong things the wrong way for a long time. The most valuable and understanding contributor to the wife’s situation should be her husband. So having him give input in a regulated and consistent fashion is logical and appropriate.

And I also recommend that young men be given at least some understanding of how to protect the tender heart of their beloved. The pushing of the feminist notion that men and women are equal and almost identical has robbed men of appreciation for the woman’s needs and denied women the loving care that they are due.