Matters of the Heart: Character

Good EggGod, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me.  Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.  See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,  and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—the path that brings me back to you.  —Psalm 139:23-24  (The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.)

#Character issues disqualify us from promotion by God far more often than lack of talent, geographic advantage, education, or even resources. Can God trust me….you….us? God wants to use us to fulfill His purposes in the earth. Some of those purposes are big, some are small. In either case, we need to be reliable and trustworthy to the One who created us, just as much so as if He were calling on us to be the next Billy Graham! Even if we perceive ourselves as little fish in a big pond, our character still matters very much to God!

We can choose to be assets or liabilities. How? By honest self-examination and surrender to God. David did this. He invited the Lord to search him, to try his heart, to uncover any wickedness. We know David had a fall, from which he recovered…but his fall was not an ongoing character issue that became his identity. He remained humble and repentant before God, and God honored that. We need to ask ourselves, in the neighborhood, the church, our family, our school/workplace…what are we known for? The reputation that precedes us, yes, can be tarnished by the lies/misconception of others…but how often is the origin for our tarnished reputations our own words and actions (or inactions)? I don’t want people to say of me, “You’d better steer clear of Lisa…she will stab you in the back, she’s lazy and unreliable, you have to walk on eggshells around her because she’s so easily offended, you can’t believe a word she says, don’t say anything in front of her that you don’t want spread all over the place, she won’t finish what she starts…” On and on.

If in our dramatic laments about why things aren’t going right for us, it’s always the other person’s fault, it’s probably not.😉 If we hear rumors about ourselves that are unsavory, it’s a great time to evaluate what we need to change and then go to God for help. Those character flaws CAN be healed if we will own up to them and work on them. Left undealt with, we are driving through life with bad brakes and it eventually will catch up with us.

Lord, help us to be very honest with You and ourselves. You know our weaknesses and You also know our willfulness. Your strength is made perfect in our weakness when we lean on You to help us. Our will, however, is sure to get us in trouble if we rebel from aligning with Your will. Jesus, over and over, submitted His will to Yours; and He was the example for us to follow.

Reveal to us, Holy Spirit, when there is an ugly nature in us that needs dealt with. Whether it’s lust, infidelity, pride, unforgiveness, spite, cruelty, intimidation, prejudice, a lying spirit, dishonesty and cheating, a talebearer, a betrayer, a spirit of laziness, rebellion, hatred, insecurity, negativity, undisciplinedness, grumbling, jealousy, or fear—we lay our entire selves on the altar and ask You to sanctify us and purge us of anything unholy that would cull us from kingdom usability and trustworthiness. We renounce and reject any spirit that would attach itself to us and defile the pure gifts You have given us. We will not make excuses or blame others or be offended over Your attempts to prune away what disqualifies us. When we represent You in the earth, may we represent You well. Help us never to bring reproach on Your name, Your family, Your kingdom!

May it be said of us, even by those who don’t necessarily like our personality quirks or the way we look, “Blessed is he/she who comes in the name of the Lord!” Conform us to the image of Your Son. Fill us with a refreshing overflow that lifts the atmosphere in every room we enter. Make us fit for the kingdom—assets and not liabilities! And Lord, help us to reverse undesirable reputations whether or not we earned them. Make us willing to prove ourselves and to submit to those You would place in our lives as mentors and leaders. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Release and Renew: Prayers for Those with Heartbreaking Jobs

”I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13 NAS1977)

Be deliberate today in your pursuit of the goodness of God. I speak especially to those in careers where you daily see the ugliest side of humanity, or perhaps the most hopeless-appearing situations. Soldiers, law enforcement, social workers, oncology nurses/doctors, ministers, teachers, counselors, and others–at the end of your day you must find a way to disconnect from the despair, lest you become a casualty instead of a catalyst for healing and hope. You can find that in prayer. At the beginning of your day you have to coat yourself in the hope of the Word to shield yourself from what you’re going to encounter. You might say, “why aren’t you suggesting I pray for the people I encounter instead of myself? This feels so selfish. What about their problems?” I’m writing this today to help keep you strong enough to do the hard work you do. You can’t help others if you wind up taken out by despair. It’s time to gear up because we NEED you doing what you do. Please, stay strong! Take care of your spirit!

Our world is sad. It’s bad out there. There’s so much despair and so many wicked activities taking place. There’s so much sickness and tragedy and cruelty. So many children, elderly, weak, innocent who are preyed upon. So many people operating under demonic influence inflicting pain and suffering on themselves and others. So much ADDICTION.

I’ll be honest. I went through my Twitter feed earlier this morning and the bad news was exhausting. I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head. I honestly thought, “Death’s not such a bad thing…it’ll be a relief to leave this world and go on to heaven!” But then I remembered what Paul said about it being more expedient (needful) that he remain behind to help others instead of going on to be with the Lord. I want heaven. I want to go and be with the Lord and be away from all the madness for all eternity…eventually. But what I really want to do first is effectively hold back the worst of evil by collectively offering up effectual fervent prayer. I want to point others to Jesus and be someone who hammers signposts in the ground of life that show a lost world the direction in which to run to find hope. THE ONLY way I can remain objective is to have God’s Word tattooed on my heart and mind, and to stay close enough to Him to hear His voice. Otherwise I just disappear into the sludge of despair with everyone else who’s given up and is waiting to die.

So for all of you who are so bravely doing the jobs I could not do (or rather, don’t necessarily WANT to do), I just encourage you this morning to cover yourself. Even if you’re already well into your shift, there’s no time like the present to start. Pray with me:

“God, thank You for helping me survive all the situations I encountered yesterday. Your Word says Your mercies are new every morning. Today I receive Your new mercy. Clothe me with salvation, with humility, with strength. Just like the “whole armor of God,” I put on my tactical gear. My head’s covered with salvation. My heart’s covered with righteousness. My tactical belt is truth…I can attach every tool I need to do my job to this truth. My feet are covered with peace. My shield is faith. My defense weaponry is Your Word and Your Spirit! That said, Lord, I’m getting ready to walk into the unknown today. I will encounter messed-up lives. I will meet hurting people. My heart will break over what’s not fair. Use me to make a difference, to be Your light bearer in a dark place. Help me to respond not out of anger, but with great wisdom.

Help me to do my best while I’m on the job and then help me to LET IT GO at the end of the day. Lord, help me not to carry these problems home to my family. I need my family and they need me. Help me to appreciate and be ministered to by the innocence of the home I’ve worked so hard to build and protect.

Keep me safe today, guard me against burnout; help me to strategize with the mind of Christ about how I can use my gifts to bless others and my strengths to help those who are in the place of need. Help me not to lose my sense of compassion nor my sense of duty to minister to the disparaged. I don’t want to be callous or insensitive when someone is needing treated gently. Help me to be just and fair with all people, even those who aren’t just and fair with me. Remind me that I represent YOU and can’t afford to let my words and actions go contrary to Yours. Help me not to think as the world thinks, but as YOU think about situations. Keep me from being jaded. Keep my heart tender even as you keep it from breaking in two at the things which also grieve YOU. In Jesus’ name.”

And at night (or the end of your workday, whenever that is 😉 ):

“Father, thank You for helping me to make it to the conclusion of another day. These burdens I bore all day long, these suffering people I worked with, the situations I can’t necessarily fix with an easy button…these worries and cares all want to come home with me. The memories want to invade my ability to wind down, to hear my spouse and children’s conversations, to keep me from the place of prayer and the much needed place of recharging and sleep.

But just like a set of coveralls, I choose to unzip the activities of the day and I step out of them. What I couldn’t fix today, I will deal with tomorrow, but for now I let it go. I’m not God–You are. I trust You to put things on hold, to keep the people I can’t help 24/7, to send others alongside to help, and to keep this world spinning on its axis for another day. In Jesus’ name I reject the effects of constant exposure to negative forces. I will not cope with frustration and sorrow by engaging in substance abuse or destructive relationships. I will seek out things that keep my heart pure and guileless, I will freely laugh at every possible opportunity, and I will give mindful thanks for the simple blessings You afford me, like a beautiful sunrise or the giggles of a small child.

I boldly declare that the helmet of salvation will keep my mind and protect me from becoming a walking case of PTSD. You are strengthening me, You are renewing my mind, You are restoring my innocence, and You ARE my joy, my strength. I will run to You and not be so “tough.” You’re the One I run to when I’m out of my league. It’s ok for me to be vulnerable in Your presence because You heal me and help me. I plead the blood of Jesus now to wash me clean, to cleanse the portals of my mind from what I need to let go of. Thanks now for blessing my family time, my worship time, my downtime and strengthening me to fight another day. I love You and trust You. Amen”

Repentance: Don’t Hide–HEAL

Don’t let the enemy guilt you out of your #destiny. If you have sinned or otherwise failed or fallen short, repent. Yes, I know there’s seemingly nothing profound in that advice, but it’s still true. I didn’t say resign; I said #repent.

#Repentance isn’t just being sorry for something you’ve done (or in some cases, haven’t done), it’s evaluating where you went wrong and making the necessary corrections to keep it from happening again: a change of heart and action. Maybe you’ve done something or allowed something and it’s wrinkled the fender of your reputation and distanced you from God. Maybe you’re just disappointed in yourself and it’s easier to bail than to humbly start all over. The first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned was to HIDE. And may I even say, the more we are respected and admired, the harder it feels to get back up when we stumble because the accuser wants our shame to be very public.

Yeah, Satan’s goal is to take us out and damage as many people as he can in the process…but friends, when we’ve taken a faceplant, the world needs to SEE us recover, even if a few folks (and particularly some who are supposed to be on our “side”) hurl a few insult-and-accusation stones as we are picking ourselves up. Sometimes we privately recover, but truthfully, sometimes what we resolve to just do in private enables us to wallow a little longer in the mess–and kept hidden, sometimes we fix it, but sometimes we just choose to stay broken. Don’t stay in that place. It’s a rat’s nest.

There may be shame in failure but there’s no shame in turning to God to fix us when we have failed. Last night before I went to sleep, this verse went through my mind and I just meditated on it as I drifted off: “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free from the law that brings sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2 NCV) The KJV says there’s “therefore now no condemnation.”

Because of our trust in the redemptive power of the cross, we can machete our way through the choking, dense growth of sin’s effect on our lives and emerge back onto the right path intact. Paul realized the possibility of preaching to others but himself becoming a castaway–so he held himself accountable. So should we.

It’s just where we are. Sharing the good news is relatively easy. Being the “living epistle read of every man” part, not so much. The best thing to do is to keep ourselves holy, on guard, prayed-up, free from bondages. It’s a lot easier to maintain than to break down and repair. But if you are reading this from the cave where you went to hide after your embarrassing fall, please know there is HOPE for you. Sure, there’ll be a few who would remind you of your inadequacy, but there is a whole host of witnesses crying out just beyond your earshot, “Get up! Try! Finish! Keep going! You’re almost home!” There’s a Father checking out the window, pacing in the roadway, wanting to put a ring on your stinky, stained hand and restore you with full privilege instead of demoting you from sonship to servitude.

I remember once when I was still in school, one of my schoolmates wound up getting badly burned when he threw gasoline on a bonfire. The kid was ashamed/afraid to tell his parents because it was a foolish act of disobedience, messing with fire and flammables; and because he hid the terrible burn under his clothing without getting help, the burn got badly infected and became a serious, dangerous problem much worse than a parent’s chastisement for disobeying. No doubt the scars are still on that leg, decades later. We hide our burns too, sometimes, don’t we?

Peter had to repent when he fell. Yep, one of “the three amigos” whom Jesus kept privy to His most important missions actually betrayed Him in a most contemptible way when things got too dangerous. But Jesus WANTED him back. He even said to him, “when you’re restored, strengthen the others.” See, your recovery is never just about you. Jesus didn’t choose to just gloss it over and strengthen them Himself in Peter’s absence; He in essence told Peter, “YOU do it.” There’s going to be a visible restoration of the part of you that needs healed, friend, and the people who’ve been let down by your absence are also going to be strengthened…by YOU. It is this action that will bring you full circle and it will keep you accountable in the future because of its humbling quality.

As much as it feels to the contrary, you aren’t expendable. God needs you on that front line. Replacing you is not His ultimate will — redeeming you, however, IS! He saw in ages past where a you-shaped piece of the puzzle needed to go, and He created you to fit exactly right there in the big picture. He doesn’t have a bunch of spare you’s just lying around in case you malfunction! Repentance says you are willing to let Him rebuild you to keep doing what He created you to do. And sometimes, we need rebuilt not only because of our sins, but also even from just being battle-weary, worn-out, and hyperextended. Let Him.

Lay aside what’s holding you back. Phooey on what anyone might say or think, don’t you wallow in condemnation one more day. Your destiny is right where you left it, and Jesus can recalibrate the driving directions from WHEREVER this moment finds you…to make sure you arrive safely. Come home.

Mirror, Mirror

It is so critical that we put our attitudes and hidden heart issues on the altar, and become so immersed in the Word that we aren’t blind to undealt-with sin and/or weights. We can have every potential to do great things—even have had prophetic words spoken over us about our gifts elevating us to leadership or notoriety—and negate the prophetic word through pride, narcissism, jealousy, or fear. Instead of being angry at those we perceive to hold us back, and instead of being envious of others who possess our same potential, we must deal with that pesky hidden man of the heart. If there are unforgiveness issues stemming back even to our childhood, or healing that needs to happen when we release those who’ve hurt us, we must do the work. If we fail to do so, we will taxi the runway back and forth but never gain the momentum to get off the ground. Still more tragic, we risk imprinting our character flaws on our children by forcefully living vicariously through them, by repeating abuses on them that we experienced, or by failing to desire success for them that exceeds our own. Even very good people can be trapped in a holding pattern, mind you…disqualified over things that could be fixed!

Father, help us not to be our own worst enemy. You are fully-aware of even what we don’t see about ourselves–those damaged, flawed, or underdeveloped matters of character that we haven’t yet recognized or owned-up to. We will stop blaming others for our lack of success and begin to look inwardly, with humility and a quick-to-repent heart, for what needs purged from our character. Even if we don’t aspire to promotion of some kind, coddling wrong attitudes and negative emotions is a behavior not pleasing to You; and as badly as we want not to feel like a failure in our destiny, we want to find favor in Your sight even more. As David prayed after his hidden sin bubbled to the surface, likewise create in us a clean heart and renewed right spirit. See if there be (expose) any wicked way in us; and after the diseased element in our hearts is purged, restore the joy of our salvation. May we bear good fruit—30, 60, 100-fold, unhindered by toxic emotions, attitudes, and behavior.

You discipline those whom You love…and we know You love us too much to leave us messed-up. We don’t want to be those Your Word speaks of whose neck becomes hardened from having to be chastised often. Help us get it right, to learn and be willing to change. Remove the blinders, and after we’ve seen ourselves without the wax coating, make us whole—perfect and entire, lacking nothing. Give us courage to allow ourselves to be overhauled from the inside out. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

That Your Prayers Be Not Hindered

praying handsWives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own 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. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.   Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For,“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.  They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  — 1 Peter 3:1-12

 

I want to interject early on, that there is a difference between medical conditions which trigger certain behaviors, and spiritual conditions.  When someone is (or should be) under medical treatment and/or medications for such conditions, I would never advise you to stop treatment or counseling.  In fact, I beg of you to get checked out if you suspect you’re dealing with bipolar, depression, PTSD, or any other mental health issue that might make it easy for you to mistreat others.  The difference is, medication can help with a physical/mental condition–there is no shame in needing it–but if your problem is spiritual, you cannot medicate away a spiritual problem!  May all of us transparent with ourselves enough to know when sin is the root cause of our bad behavior–and may we aggressively do the work to get it out of our lives.

I also want to note that, this article can’t possibly take into account every single home’s unique issues.  I do want to, however, talk about just a few of them.  If these don’t touch on the particular problems, causes, and conditions in your own home, just know that I’m trying to touch a small area in a very broad issue.  Please, if you’re having problems, don’t just take my small blog post as an all-inclusive approach to dealing with them.  Consult with a qualified marriage counselor, pastor, mental health advisor, someone who can get into the finer points of your particular crisis.

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It’s not often that I start a devotional out with such a long passage of Scripture, but to condense this very important passage would not do any justice to the teaching topic I’m addressing this morning:  cruelty in the home, most notably, spousal abuse.

There aren’t many instances in Scripture where spousal abuse is recorded; yet, treating one’s family well–including (and especially) the husband or wife–is a recurring theme throughout the Scriptures.  It’s important to God. Being kind to one’s mate should be a given, right?  Yes, it should be.  There are some things God shouldn’t have to come right out and get elementary about, and yet…  He had to spell out that we not have sex with animals, with our parents/kids/near kin, etc.  If you think that mankind is inherently good, well, think again.  The human heart, without God shaping it and molding it, is desperately wicked.  When mapping out a plan for godly living, yes, He got very specific.  He knew there would be a few delinquents in the bunch who might come back later and say, “Well, no one ever told ME that a person’s not supposed to do that!”

A Double Life

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.  James 1:8, 19-20

You cannot be cruel in your home and it not affect your life outside your home.  I knew of a man once whom everyone in the general public loved.  He was very charismatic, very accommodating to others.  He was the “open doors, help little old ladies across the street” kind of guy.  He was well respected in the business world and in the political realm; yet there was an elephant in the room.  When he went home at night, he left the nice-man suit in his car in the garage, and put on the monster costume.  He was a verbal abuser to his entire family, but especially to his wife.  It would eventually come out that on occasions he got physical with her, too.  She remained with him until her children were grown, reasoning within herself that it was ok, so long as he didn’t physically harm the kids.  Then, one day she and his children were well out of harm’s way, and everyone was shocked.  They couldn’t figure out what on earth would break up such a happy home.  Then, slowly, the stories begin to emerge about what was actually going on in that home.  The wife would confide, the kids would confide; eventually, what was such a carefully-guarded secret was all over the place.

If that weren’t a sad enough note to end this little story on, the man didn’t just go back to business-as-usual in his outside life.  With no one at home to take his frustrations out on, the monster costume was occasionally worn to work and out in the community under his clothes.  His stellar reputation went south, and though he was a man of means, he lost everything of true value.  Eventually even his financial prosperity proved to be tainted by the cruelty in his heart.

Abuse Isn’t Always Covert

Flip the situation and I’ll tell you of another.  I used to know a married couple that I absolutely hated running into.  They were friends of ours, and I didn’t dislike them, per se.  I was just always left deeply uncomfortable by the way the wife continually, and in every conversation, insulted her husband to us…right in front of him!  She would go on and on about foolish choices he made, and how if he’d only have listened to her, he wouldn’t have done them…or how he always did this wrong, or always failed in that area.  Her whole discussion would always seem to center on how superior she was to him in every way.  I could tell this man was resentful and deeply ashamed of what she was doing, and yet, the climate never seemed to change.  They had a rocky, on-again, off-again relationship.  It always felt good whenever we were able to finagle ourselves away from them!  Was that spousal abuse?  It absolutely was!

No Place for Abuse in a Christian Home!

Why am I sharing this in a devotional?  Because I see it, shamefully so, in Christian homes and not just in the homes of nonbelievers.  And yes, those stories abound as well of women who are abusers in the home.  Their outcomes are no better than this man’s.  And this situation I’ve shared with you is a secular story.  You’re seeing ones like it on the news nearly daily now.  There are countless big-time athletes and actors and celebrities who’ve lost their status because their abusive characters outside the workplace cause their employers to view them as a public relations risk.  No one wants to be associated with a bully or a thug, or even a jerk!  Even some of the best-looking actors in Hollywood have completely lost their heartthrob status when it came out that they were abusers of their spouses and families.

I wonder–knowing what an outspoken man Peter was–how and when he eventually came to the place in his walk with God where these teachings had lodged within his own heart!  Peter–the same man who wrote the above passage is the same hot-head who cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He’s the same fellow who denied Jesus three times, and other major debacles of character.  Yet, he apparently at least eventually got the revelation that God values self-control in a man (and a woman).  Jesus even showed up at his house at one point to heal Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, and she rose up afterwards and ministered to them.  A man who has relationship issues wouldn’t call Jesus to his home to heal one of his in-laws!  He’d probably do anything that he could to keep Jesus from entering his home, for fear that Jesus would sense a spirit of offense there.  Peter’s writings here would indicate that, at least in time, he understood the necessity of one’s horizontal relationships’ being in harmony to positively open up the VERTICAL relationship with God.

I’m not writing this devotional to try to shame men into becoming walked-on wimps, and I’m not writing it to tell women that they have no voice and should just be door mats to their husbands.  I’m writing it to urge you to get your houses in order…because how you treat your family matters to God.  You will be judged for it.  The fruitfulness of your hopes, dreams, and prayers depends on it, too.  If you don’t particularly like being successful, being thought well of, being blessed, being whole in mind and body, then just ignore everything I’ve said…BUT!  If you do want to have a blessed, prosperous life where everything doesn’t go to pieces, then you need to respect the conditions for blessing that God has set forth in His Word.

Common Excuses We Use Not to Change

  1.  It’s just the way I am.  I inherited this temper.  So lame!  This is the laziest excuse to let one’s emotions run the show.  You are right about one thing…without God’s help, you really can’t change.  And if you inherited a short fuse, stop bragging about it!  It’s not something to be proud of.  If you have anger issues or a personality trait that is endangering the welfare of your family, be man or woman enough to admit it before God and before a qualified marriage counselor.  Don’t wait until the damage is beyond repair.  You may not feel that bad about it now, but at some point in time, you will reap some painful things for the pain you inflict on others.
  2. It’s his/her fault that I lose it.  My spouse sets me off with that mouth!  While it’s true, our spouses can lend to the overall problem, it is still up to you to control your own spirit!  Temporarily distance yourself if you have to, rather than engaging so heatedly into discussions that you wind up saying and doing regretful things.  Back off.  Take a walk.  Better yet, pray and get into God’s Word.  Take the initiative to arrange for pastoral and qualified family counseling if you have these types of issues.  Whatever you do, don’t let that volcano of hate and anger spew into your home!
  3. He/she knows I really don’t mean it.  We always cool off eventually.  I can promise you this:  when you say hurtful things to your children or spouse, they play over and over like a broken record long after the argument is over.  Don’t be the cause of your family having to deal with the sin of unforgiveness through repeated abuse on your part!  Nothing good can come of you causing your spouse and kids to develop hard, callous hearts.  It will tell on you, eventually.
  4. As long as no one at work, church, school, or our community knows we have these problems, it should all work out ok.  You see, that’s the lie Satan plants to keep us satisfied that we still have it all under control.  Remember, God’s opinion ultimately is the most important, and if you are disobeying His guidelines for the way you treat others, you are sinning, PERIOD.  Just because no one else seems to be observing the problem, doesn’t mean that they aren’t already picking up on the bad vibes.  People aren’t that stupid, friend!  Your spouse and children have body language and many other non-verbal means of communicating to the world that you are not treating them well, even when they are trying to hide their embarrassing secret.
  5. I came from an abusive background and I didn’t turn out so bad. I’m not nearly as bad as my dad/mom.  Are you kidding?  The very fact that your own family is repeating the same nightmare in another generation is a serious problem.  What if your children’s relationships turn out to be even worse than your parents’, just because you failed to deal with it in your own life?  Yes, it’s serious.  Don’t grade yourself on a curve against others who you perceive are/were worse than you are.  Examine your life against God’s standard in His Word, and make whatever changes you need to make to live a life pleasing to Him!  Proverbs says that when a person’s ways please the the Lord, He makes even that person’s enemies to be at peace with him/her.  Righteousness and a truly right heart will positively, even miraculously, affect your ability to get along well with others.  It is truth.
  6. I don’t feel well.  My health issues make me moody and my family knows it.  Yes, they certainly do know it, and they resent being the brunt of your frustration.  And if you want their prayers, love, understanding, and support, you will try harder not to let your personal pain affect your treatment of them.  The best way to have someone actually on your side is not to turn him or her into an enemy by being an ogre!
  7. I’m just talking mean to him/her.  Since I’m not name-calling or using foul language, it’s not really verbal/emotional abuse.  Baloney, friend.  You are not that deceived!  If the way you are speaking and behaving is causing abnormal fears, manipulation, torment, sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts, resentment, self-hatred, depreciation, insults, you are not behaving like Jesus!  Yes, sometimes we have to address issues in our homes.  Things need discussed, resolved, debated, corrected, at times changed for the better of everyone involved.  Sometimes we must be iron sharpening iron…you may be instrumental in discipline in your home, but you are not called to be a verbal axe-wielder in your home.  You can have even serious, somber, firm discussions with others without stepping into a spirit of strife.  Weigh every action and word against how Jesus would handle what you’re handling, and if you are emotionally scarring another person, you need to stop it, NOW.

Initiating Change Through Prayer and Honest Self-Examination

There’s no way I can possibly cram all the helpful elements to enhancing our spousal relationships into this little blog post, but what I will do is this:  I have included a couple of prayers for spouses whose anger issues are jeopardizing their marriages.  I am proposing not anger management, but anger crucifixion!  It’s time to take these issues to the cross, once and for all.

I do want to say this, as we end on a positive note:  today is a new day.  We can repent and apologize for the sins of our past, and start from this day forward to make better choices. I so respect Larry and Tiz Huch, television ministers, for their very transparent testimony of how God restored their marriage after years of abusive behavior.  We need to see more testimonies like theirs of couples who’ve overcome the past, forgiven, and gone on to have happy marriages.  I want you to know that there is hope for you too–but you must be willing to fight the real enemy, the devil, for it!  God is ready to meet you right where you are, and His grace is sufficient.

Husbands“Heavenly Father, I feel the pressure on every side to be in charge.  The hardest time I have holding it together is when I come home, because that’s where I want most to be able to be myself.  But Lord, I don’t like the man I see myself become when I’m around my family.  Forgive me for the horrible way I have let my anger leech into my homelife.  As the spiritual leader of our home, it says that I have spiritual issues of my own which need dealt with.  Lord, I don’t want to damage my children for future relationships!  I don’t want my wife to secretly despise me.  The truth is, I don’t know how to change and without Your help, I can’t change.  I ask You, in Jesus’ name, to break off any generational curses of parental and spousal abuse from my bloodline now.  Sever all negative ties between my family history and my own immediate family now.  If there is abuse in our lineage, let my family be the generation in which it is stopped.  Lord, shine the light of Your Word into my spirit man.  Chase the wickedness out of the corners of my soul where it loves to hide.  Father, if there is an indwelling of any unclean spirit in me or on me which influences me to verbally, emotionally, or physically abuse my wife and children, I resist it now.  I submit myself to You because Your Word says that if I will humble myself, submit to you, and resist the devil, he MUST flee from me!  Drive out every evil spirit that influences me to harm others and to harm myself.  Fill me up to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit and help me to recognize all open doors to evil in my life.  I go behind Your revelation of these things and I shut them, one by one.  In Jesus’ name, may every legal access the devil has to our home be deadbolted shut now and forevermore.  Father, as I repent and submit myself to Your Word, I will also repent to and before my family for the wrong things I have said and done to them.  Your Word says that anger rests in the bosom of fools.  I don’t want to be a fool.  I want to love my family the way You do, and to protect my spouse the way Christ shields and covers His Church.  If I cannot see substantial changes coming, I will be man enough to initiate marital counseling.  I will not hide our problems behind the guise of a Christian home, but I will get help and I will stop the abuse from perpetuating to another generation.  Help me to love like You love.  Thank You for forgiving me and extending Your grace and mercy over our situation now.”

Wives –  “Heavenly Father, You have heard my silent cries for help, and I know that it is not Your plan for my family to be harboring this ugly secret.  Verbal and physical abuse are not attributes of the Spirit-filled!  These ugly manifestations have no place in our home.  I look to You for wisdom to be able to be the thermostat of our home.  While it is not right for my husband to abuse me, I know that I need to recognize “triggers” that provoke outbursts.  I can’t always prevent bad moods and temper flares from occurring, but You can enable me to divert certain situations before they even occur.  Lord, forgive me for times when I nag or boss or belittle my husband.  Forgive me for sometimes not resisting the urge to push his buttons by inserting a little dig or subtle insult into discussions.  While it is wrong for him to mistreat me, it is equally wrong for me to dare him to do so.  I will set a watch upon the words of my mouth.  I will learn to give soft answers that turn away wrath, and I will set in motion a spiritual mood change in our home through praise and worship, thanksgiving, prayer, reading and speaking Your Word aloud, and through the cleansing of evil spirits from my household in intercession!  Help me to proactive in this area.  Help me to build up my husband’s spirit man and not to tear him down.  I repent of every time I have emasculated him through open insults, rebellion, and belittling him in front of others–especially our children.  Help me to have new-found respect for him, and help me to forgive.  Oh, Lord, how I need Your help there!  Cause my moods to come into harmony in ways that affect his moods more positively.  Your Word says that my lifestyle has the power to win him over to You just by the witness I live before him!  No amount of preachiness or nagging could ever influence him like seeing Your love pour out of me.  Help me to identify characteristics in my personality which might cause arguments (complaining, griping, negative words, insults, sarcasm, bossiness), and to put these things on the altar for good!  Make me that kind of woman, Father, so full of Your Holy Spirit that he cannot resist the pull toward You.  I will apologize to him for my shortcomings, and I will take the high road to reconcile whenever we have disagreements.  I will not assume that he can read my mind!  If I have concerns, I will speak gently to him about them and allow Your Holy Spirit to convict him in those areas.  Lord, I ask You in Jesus’ name to break generational curses that come into our family from my side of the bloodline.  Whether emotional disorders, addictions, abuse or being enslaved by those who abuse, or any other trap of Satan to perpetuate damage into our children, I stop it now by submitting our heritage to You!    Doors that You have made me responsible to shut, I will close.  I will set no wicked thing before my eyes, and I will not entertain the foolish advice of a broken world on how to conduct my household affairs!  I look to You, O God, and I pray that, should our marriage require counseling, that You will pair my husband and me with the right counselor(s) who can help us to heal and move forward.  And please, if remaining in our home is endangering the safety and well-being of myself and our children–if You see that my spouse is unwilling to be helped and will go on harming us–give me the discernment and courage to know when and where to flee for protection.  In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen!”