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Friday, March 27, 2009

Bring Worship Home

Peter Beck
Assistant Professor of Religion, Charleston Southern University

It happens all the time. You've read a passage before, maybe many
times. Then, out of the blue, those assumed familiar words jump off
the page, grab you by the ears, and scream, "Look at me!" That
happened to me again recently as I was reading through 1 Chronicles.
Chapter 16 ends with these incredibly subtle but marvelously rich

"Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home
to bless his household."

The context of verse 43 is the bringing of the ark up to Jerusalem.
David and others had worshipped God and his covenantal faithfulness
corporately. Now, David is on his way home and seeking to see the
overflow of that worship touch his family as well.

There are several strong reminders for us in this little verse:

1 - Worship does not end at noon. What we do on Sunday morning is the
beginning of a weeklong period of worship, meant to go with us beyond
the church doors into every area of our lives.

2 - True worship buoys our entire being. When we really worship,
putting God first, we cannot but help to be lifted up. It is at this
point the Westminster admonitions to glorify God and enjoy him forever
come together. When we truly glorify God, it changes our outlook and
raises our spirits. By worshipping God, we enjoy God, and we want more
of God.

3 - Family worship is a natural extension of corporate worship. David
wasn't merely content to head home whistling the tune to his favorite
hymn. He wanted to see them enjoy the blessings of worshiping God as
well. He wanted to bring them alongside himself in his abundance of

4 - This text (well actually its sister text in 2 Samuel 16) reminds
us that the cares of the world, if we allow them to intrude, can
destroy our spirit of worship and take away the joy of our
relationship with God. In David's case, his wife Michal, a daughter of
his predecessor Saul, immediately confronted him over his public acts
of worship. She stole his joy. He went from intending to bless his
family to defending himself. We must be ever vigilant to protect and
preserve the attitude of worship.

The next time you go to church, see if you find yourself in David's
shoes, jubilant and full of the desire to share that joy with others.
If so, do so. Tell others about your worship experience. Invite them
in to your joy. Add other voices to the choir of God. If not, why not?
Did you not truly worship? Or, do the cares of this world obscure your
view of the one to come?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Five guiding principles for pastors’ wives

Five guiding principles for pastors' wives
by Geri Scazzero with Pete Scazzero

I had to come to grips with the reality that I was a separate human being – with different feelings, desires, loves, passions,
and interests.

Geri Scazzero

I spent my first eight years as a senior pastor's spouse feeling like I was in the back of a runaway car going down a steep, winding mountain road at 65 mph. Although I rarely admitted it to God or myself, I was unhappy, depressed, exhausted, and angry.
Finally, after eight years of seeking to be a "good and submissive wife as to the Lord," I realized that the brakes on our car were not functioning. The pressures of leadership in the church had driven my husband out of the driver's seat. He, like the car, was out of control.
During that stressful time, I wondered what happened to the 27-year-old, passionate, enthusiastic, joyful follower of Jesus that was so excited to serve in church leadership. I was basically functioning as a single mother, and I was married to a husband who was not listening. I loved Pete very much, but his desire for the church to succeed had drowned out our marriage and family life.
Finally I quit – not the marriage, but the church. I refused to participate in the unhealthy cycle Pete was living and perpetuating. I got out of the back seat and exerted my power as a human being made in the image of God.
I do not blame Pete for what happened to me. I had died to the wrong things and lost focus on what was really important. This one act of getting out of the back seat of the car to awaken to the life God had given me unleashed a revolution in me personally, our marriage, and, ultimately, our church.
The last 16 years have been the best of my life!
As I speak with the spouses of pastors, elders, deacons, and leaders – regardless of race, ethnicity, denomination, or age – most feel the same way. They love their spouses and love Jesus. The problem is that they are unhappy and stressed. There is little time left over for loving themselves, their spouses, or others. Many secretly would love to be out of the ministry but are afraid to admit it.
So if you are married to a pastor, leader, elder, or deacon, I invite you to a new way of serving in leadership that better reflects the way of Jesus. The following are five principles that have guided me the past 16 years.
  1. Get off the roller coaster. This takes great courage! Consider the fruit of the Spirit in you and your marriage. Are you experiencing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If not, consider taking a hard look at the root issues. The apostle Paul made it clear in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 that the ministry of the leader in the church is to flow out of the quality of marriage and family life. Pastoral couples are first called to invest time, energy, and resources in their own marriage and family. When we fulfill that marital vow, we send a more powerful message to our church than any sermon or seminar.


  1. Pay attention to how God uniquely made you. I had suppressed parts of myself that God had given me. For example, I love the outdoors, outings with my extended family, creativity, leadership, and fun. Our rigid gender roles, however, had me at home with the children while Pete was out building the church. I had died to things God never asked me to die to – such as my need for silence and solitude, along with my personal growth. Take some time alone with God and ask him what parts of you may be dead or dormant that he desires to awaken.


  1. Be honest with yourself and your spouse about expectations. I love Pete. I always have. Part of the problem in our marriage, however, was that I did not have the courage to tell him the truth about how I felt or what I really wanted. The technical word used in 12-step groups would be "enmeshed" or "codependent." I had to come to grips with the reality that I was a separate human being – with different feelings, desires, loves, passions, and interests. I did not want to be alone most nights with a husband working 70 hours a week. I wanted a life outside of New Life church! At least in our marriage, Pete did not change until I took this step. This forced Pete to confront his lifestyle and inconsistencies.


  1. Learn to stop over-functioning.  Do you move in quickly to advise, rescue, and take over when stress hits? Are you always reliable and "put together"? Then you are probably an overfunctioner. If so, you need to let go of burdens God never meant for you to carry so that your spouse and children can become who God wants them to be. As I learned to progressively let Pete bear consequences for his decisions, he matured and changed. I also came much more alive and loving.


  1. Do your own work of following Jesus. What does it mean to take up your cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)? We want to die to sins such as defensiveness, the need to be right, a critical spirit, and fear of what others think. But remember, God never asked you to die to a great marriage that reflects Christ and his bride. Unfortunately, I did not know what I was missing the first eight years of our marriage. It takes time, lots of it, to grow and nurture a mature, intimate, mutually satisfying marriage. Get some outside help and training. Talk to a mature leader or counselor.  The "deadness" in you and your marriage is "oil light" on your spiritual formation dashboard from God.  Don't be afraid. Our good God is on the throne!


If you believe in the Holy Spirit and the power of God, then start living the way he created you to live. Have the courage to feel and be honest – to yourself, to God, and to your spouse. "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). 

Pete and Geri's story can be seen on a 12-minute DVD at

Geri Scazzero directs large group events and the marriage ministry at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, N.Y. She is a certified Pairs trainer and speaks, along with her husband Pete, to pastors, leaders and their spouses across North America on integrating the groundbreaking principles found in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006).

Copyright © 2009 Geri Scazzero

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

resource: Change Your Thoughts to Change Your Marriage

Whitney Hopler

bible study/lesson resource

The following is a report on the practical applications of Mitch Temple's book, The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently about Your Relationship Can Change Everything, (Moody Publishers, 2009).  


Do you think your marriage should be making you happy?  Are you trying to change your spouse?  You may be carrying around a lot of marriage myths like these in your mind without even realizing it. 


Our culture is full of commonly held false assumptions about marriage.  If you believe them without examining them, they'll affect your marriage in ways that can be dangerous.  But if you change your false beliefs about marriage to reflect biblical truth, you'll change your marriage for the better. 


Here are some of the marriage myths you can overcome:



"The grass is greener on the other side of the fence." Although other men may seem better than your husband or other women may seem more appealing than your wife, everyone is human. Any other person you may choose to leave your marriage for will end up being just as flawed as your spouse. You're far better off using your time and energy to work on your existing marriage than leaving – causing yourself and others deep pain the process – only to see new problems spring up in a new relationship.




"Attitudes don't really count." Your attitudes determine your feelings and behaviors, so they actually affect your marriage profoundly. If you think negatively, you're likely to feel badly about your marriage and act in bad ways toward your spouse. But if you think positively, you'll often feel good about your marriage and choose good actions that will benefit your relationship. If your attitudes are on the right track, then the rest of your life – including your marriage – will be, too. So choose a hopeful attitude about your spouse and your marriage, every day. That will motivate you to make the positive choices that will improve your marriage.




"I need to change my spouse." No matter how much you'd like to change your spouse, you don't have the power to change another person. So instead of wasting your time and energy trying to change your spouse, ask God to help you understand, accept, and appreciate your spouse more. Get to know your spouse's unique personality better. When you're frustrated by one of your spouse's behaviors, pray about it and trust God – the only One who can change your spouse – to work in your spouse's life. If you want to change your marriage, focus on making changes in your own behavior, which will then change the dynamic of your relationship for the better and possibly inspire your spouse to change his or her own behavior.


Keep in mind that there are some aspects of your spouse that will remain the same, such as: gender, different communication styles, genetic influences, life history, and personality. Do all you can to show your mate that you accept him or her. Your unconditional love may motivate your spouse to change for the better (in ways that he or she can) at the right time and in the right ways.




"I didn't marry my soul mate." Marriage isn't a matter of finding the only person in the entire world you should marry or despairing that you've missed out if you haven't found that magical person. The truth is that you could have married any number of people and had your marriage would out just fine. Rather than worrying about finding a soul mate, focus on becoming one. Over time in your marriage, you and your spouse can become each other's soul mates by growing closer to God and each other.


An important part of building a soul mate relationship is simply showing up – physically and emotionally – no matter how hurt or hopeless you might happen to feel at a particular time. Also remember to keep your expectations of each other realistic. Your spouse is a real person who can't possibly measure up to a mythical idea of an ideal soul mate. Focus on your spouse as he or she actually is, and make up your mind to discover your soul mate – and become one.




"My needs come first." You know you have a consumer attitude toward your marriage when you catch yourself thinking or saying things like,

  • "What am I getting out of this marriage, anyway?"
  • "I deserve better" or
  • "What's in this for me?"


But the more you focus on getting your own needs met in your marriage, the less likely that is to happen because your attitude will undermine your relationship with your spouse and make him or her less likely to want to meet your needs.


Research has shown that the marriages that work best are those in which both spouses decide every day to make sacrifices for the good of the other. Ask God to help you overcome your selfish nature and develop a desire to serve your spouse daily. Pray for the compassion and empathy you need for your spouse. Be willing to help your mate whenever he or she needs it – no matter how inconvenient it will be for you to help. Remember that, ultimately, it's God who meets your needs.  Sometimes He just uses your spouse to do so. Whenever you're concerned that one of your needs isn't being met, pray about it and trust God to help you.




"Happiness is everything." There's simply no such thing as a happy pill you can take for your marriage. Sometimes you and your spouse will go through circumstances that make you feel happy, but sometimes you'll encounter challenges that will make you feel unhappy. Just as your circumstances will constantly change, so will your feelings. So decide to base your marriage decisions on something much more reliable than your feelings – base them on timeless biblical truth. If you live by God's truths revealed in the Bible, you'll discover that right living – doing the right thing, even when it doesn't make you happy – will actually lead to more happiness in the long run because you'll be making decisions that protect you from lots of unnecessary pain.



So instead of spending your energy pursuing things that create happiness, direct your energy toward pursuing God above all else, and happiness will naturally come into your life. Rather than expecting your spouse to make you happy (which is futile), focus on serving your spouse, and enjoy the improvements that will bring to your marriage.


Be sure to forgive your spouse every time he or she hurts or offends you. Withholding forgiveness will prevent you from experiencing happiness in your life. Rely on God's help throughout the forgiveness process. When you decide to follow His call to forgive despite your negative feelings toward your spouse, God will give you His peace that you never could have experienced otherwise.




"It's okay to be rude – we're married!" Although you may feel so comfortable around your spouse that you think anything goes in your relationship, being rude will only harm your marriage. Marriage doesn't give you a license to mistreat each other. Take your little annoying habits seriously because they may be big deal to your spouse. Ask God to help you stop whatever habits bother your spouse, from putting your feet on the furniture at home to making sarcastic comments about him or her in public.


Be patient while your spouse tries to change his or her own annoying habits. Recognize the significant effect that rude behavior in your marriage has not just on the two of you, but also on others in your lives, like your children. Do all you can to treat your spouse the way you would like your spouse to treat you.




"I shouldn't have to ask." Your spouse can't read your mind, so he or she doesn't automatically know what you need.  If you need something from your spouse, you usually do have to ask for it – and sometimes you have to ask several times until your spouse fully listens and understands. 


Pray about your need first; then ask your spouse. Make suggestions instead of demands. Be flexible and don't push for a decision until he or she is ready.


When your spouse brings a request to you, don't get irritated or defensive. Instead, be thankful that your spouse cares enough to work on your relationship. Listen carefully, giving your spouse your full attention and refraining from making judgments or drawing conclusions until he or she is finished speaking. Seriously consider what your spouse is asking. Think and pray about it. Ask questions to clarify what your spouse needs. Remember that God calls you to put other's needs above your own.




"Conflict is bad." Conflict can be disruptive and scary, but like a good thunderstorm, it can clear the air. If you and your spouse use conflict constructively, it can help you each solve problems in your marriage and grow as people in the process. The key to effective conflict is learning when to engage and when to walk away.


Avoid destructive types of conflict, like criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling, and blaming. Use conflict to help clear contaminants out of your marriage and move you both in a positive direction. Follow these guidelines for fighting fair: Start the argument with a positive, respectful approach rather than with loud words, harsh statements, or judgmental accusations. Don't deny problems. Choose your battles, letting minor issues go. Schedule important discussions for the right times and places.


Avoid trying to do deal with issues during times of great stress or grief, and create an environment where you can be calm and not disturbed. Listen well. Don't use sex as a weapon in your arguments with your spouse. Never threaten divorce. Control your anger. Call a time out if either you or your spouse is becoming too angry, but be sure to come back later to discuss the issue again.




"A crisis means we're over." Every marriage experiences problems. Whenever you and your spouse encounter a crisis, it doesn't mean that your marriage is over. In fact, a crisis can actually strengthen your marriage if you trust God through it and learn from it. Pray for the help you need during a crisis. Commit to doing whatever it takes to work through the problem at hand.


Establish mutually agreed upon rules of interaction, such as no shouting or blaming. Cut off relationships with other people who have a negative influence on your marriage. Ask God to give you the discernment to know what to say and what not to say, when to speak, and how to say what you need to say.




"All pain in our marriage is bad." Pain is never pleasant to go through, but it can actually be a gift because it directs your attention to problems that need to be solved. When your spouse is in physical or emotional pain, never underestimate how much he or she may be struggling. Support your spouse without judging him or her; understand that your spouse won't be able to respond to you normally when in pain. Pray for your spouse. When you're in pain yourself, let your pain drive you to rely more closely on God and discover His grace.



"Marriage is just too hard." While marriage is definitely hard sometimes, it doesn't ever need to be too hard. Start making small, consistent investments in your marriage every day to make your marriage easier. You and your spouse can make deposits into each other's emotional bank accounts by doing or saying loving things for each other. Do what you can to cut down on the withdrawals you each make from each other's emotional bank accounts (ways you hurt each other).



Spend time doing simple activities together that you both enjoy, like walking or writing letters. Invest the time and energy necessary to keep romance alive in your marriage. Pray together and for each other often. Instead of relying on your own limited strength to maintain a close marriage, rely on God's unlimited power to guide and help you every day.

Adapted from The Marriage Turnaround: How Thinking Differently about Your Relationship Can Change Everything, copyright 2009 by Mitch Temple. Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill.,

Mitch Temple serves as the director over marriage programs at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He represents Focus at national events, seminars, media interviews, and radio programs. Mitch is a published author in various professional journals, and co-author of two marriage books. He served for 23 years as pulpit and counseling pastor, specializing in crisis, business, and marriage and family-related issues. He and his wife of more than 25 years have three children and live in Colorado.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The War over Worry

Adrian Rogers
source: Crosswalk

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matt 6:25-26)

Somebody did a study about what the average person worries about. They found that forty percent of what people worry about never happens. And thirty percent of what people worry about have already happened and you can't do anything about it. Twelve percent of what the average person worries about is what others say about you, which most of the time is untrue. Finally, according to this survey, ten percent of worry deals with your health and worrying will only make that worse!

That leaves about eight percent of the things that are considered to be real problems... and worry will not do any good with these either! Why is it that we worry about a lot of things that are not going to happen or already have happened? It's like the little lady said one time, "Don't tell me that worry doesn't do any good. Most of the things I worry about never happen."

Let me share with you four ways you can win the war over worry:

Trust in the Lord
God wants to prove Himself to you. Let me ask you, "How do you know that the Lord is the joy of your life?" You don't know, until He takes away your automobile or your health or your home or your family. When you say, "Jesus is all I need" make sure you can prove it. You'll never know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.

Do Good
One of the signs that you're not trusting God is that you drop out of your usual activities. They get down. You say, "I lost my job!" Well, what are you doing about it? "Well, I'm just sitting around the house!" Well, quit it! Get out there and do something because you're trusting God to provide!

Delight Yourself in the Lord
Do you want to have a life of joy? Then, put your faith in something, or should I say Someone, who cannot be touched -- the Lord! God isn't finished with you until you find your greatest joy in Him alone. Now take the sentence very slowly -- God is going to keep giving you this test until you pass it. He doesn't flunk anybody out. And so, if you don't pass this time, He'll just run you through again.

Commit Your Way to the Lord
"Commit" literally means "to roll." It means to roll your burden on the Lord. Whatever that burden is, you are to give it to God. His shoulders are broad enough. Matthew 11:30 says, "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Is someone critical of you today? Give it to Jesus. Has someone hurt you? Give it to Jesus. Are you unsure about your future? Give it to Jesus.

Rest In The Lord
This word "rest" means "to be silent." We want our answers yesterday. And God is saying, "Hush! Rest in Me!" Friend, God isn't interested in time. He's interested in timing. He's never in a hurry. And He's never late. Waiting on the Lord is like waiting for the sun to rise. You can't hurry it. And you can't stop it.

Trust. Do Good. Delight. Commit. Rest. What is the key to all of this? Jesus. When He is your focus, you can win the war over worry.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

lesson resource for the men in church

5 Ways to Be the Husband God Wants You to Be
Stormie Omartian
In the Bible, God commands, "All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be ten­derhearted, be courteous" (1 Peter 3:8). Paying heed to these ?ve directives can change your life and your marriage and make you the man and husband God wants you to be. It's de?nitely something well worth praying about.

1. Be of One Mind
It's horrible to have strife in a marriage. It makes us mis­erable. It affects every area of our lives. And it's probably the closest thing to hell we'll ever know on earth. If it goes on long enough, it can destroy everything. Jesus said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desola­tion, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand" (Matthew 12:25). Those are frightening predictions. But prayer is the key by which unity in the marriage rela­tionship can be maintained.

A man and wife cannot live entirely independently of one another without paying a steep price for it. It makes them incomplete. "Neither is a man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11). But because men and women are different, it's quite easy for them to get off onto completely separate paths. Even in the closest of marriages, the two partners are still not joined at the hip. You and your wife may have separate work, interests, and activities, but if you are praying with and for one another regularly, it will keep you in tune and on the same path. Without this unity of mind and spirit that prayer provides, it's too easy to get used to the other one not being there. And if resentment about that creeps into the heart of either one of you, you can begin to hold yourself apart from one another mentally, physically, or emotionally, without even realizing it.

It is especially important to be of the same faith and beliefs. In fact, this is a good place to begin praying. Your entire relationship is compromised if you are not on the same page in this area. For example, going to separate churches, or going to a church where one of you is not happy, or one of you going to church while the other one consistently does not, all promote a lack of unity.

If you can think of other issues such as this that have caused division between you and your wife, pray speci?cally about them. Ask God to change your heart where necessary to bring you into unity with your wife. Where your wife's attitude and perspective need to change, pray for her to be able to change them. Your marriage will be a strong force for good if the two of you are of one mind. 

2. Be Compassionate
Have you ever seen your wife suffering, but you don't know what to do about it? Some men become impatient with that. Others feel so at a loss or overwhelmed by it that it causes them to withdraw. If you recognize that happening to you, ask God to give you a heart of compassion. To be compassionate toward your wife is to have a deep sympathy for any area in which she suffers and to have a strong desire to alleviate that suffering.

Part of being compassionate has to do with simply lis­tening. That means being able to listen without having that faraway look in your eyes that says, "I have more important things to do. Let's get this over with quickly." Your wife is not expecting you to ?x everything. She just needs to know that you hear her heart and care about how she feels.

In the past my husband would stand still and listen to me for no more than three seconds (I timed this) before he would walk out of the room. If I wanted him to hear a com­plete sentence, I either had to run after him or ?nish the sentence the next time I saw him. Even when I did get him to actually sit down and look at me while I was speaking, I still had to ask him to give me some indication that he com­prehended what I was saying. Usually I said something like "Blink if you can hear me." When he blinked, it meant so much to know he had heard my voice. Now he has a heart for my struggles, and he listens with care. Those moments of listening and indicating compassion have been healing to our relationship. 

Pray that God will give you a heart of compassion toward your wife and the patience to listen to her when she needs you to do so. It's a ?ne art worth cultivating. It can get you places with her where you've dreamed of being.

3. Be Loving
Jesus loves us with ?delity, purity, constancy, and passion no matter how imperfect we are. If a man doesn't love his wife in that same way, he will abuse his authority and his headship and as a result will abuse her. Because you are one with your wife, you must treat her the way you would your own body. You wouldn't do anything to deliberately hurt or destroy it. You love it and care for it. "Let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself" (Ephe­sians 5:33).

Jack Hayford, our pastor for 23 years, always said he could tell when a woman was truly loved by her husband, because she grew more beautiful as the years went on. He recognized an inner beauty that doesn't fade, but rather increases with time when a woman is loved.

You have no idea how much your love means to your wife. Don't withhold it from her, or one way or another you will lose her. The Bible says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so" (Proverbs 3:27). Ask God to increase your love for your wife and enable you to show it in a way that makes her beautiful. 

4. Be Tenderhearted
Is there anything about your wife that bothers you? Is there something that she does or says, or doesn't do or say, that irritates you? Do you ?nd yourself wanting to change something about her? What happens when you try to make those changes occur? How does she respond when you show your irritation? Have you ever just given up and said, "It's no use. She's never going to be any different"?
The truth is, we all have a hard time changing. Try as we may, we can't change ourselves in any signi?cant way. Only God can make changes in us that last. Only His power can transform us. That's why prayer is a more tender and more certain way to see changes happen in your wife.

For example, does your wife always run late, while you like to be on time? She's probably not doing it on purpose. She may either be a poor judge of time or else she is trying to do too much. Pray that God will help her to organize things better or not take on more than she can handle, or that she will gain a clearer concept of time. Above all, don't let anger, harshness, or demeaning attitudes creep in. Crit­icism intended to make your wife change doesn't work. It will never give you the results you want. The only thing that works is prayer.

So rather than be impatient with your wife's weaknesses, ask God to give you a tender heart so you can pray for her about them. Ask Him to show you how they are a comple­ment to your strengths. And remember that, though the ways you and your wife are the same can unite you, the ways you are different can keep things interesting. 

5. Be Courteous  
Do you ever talk to your wife in a way that would be con­sidered rude if you were speaking to a friend or business associate? Are you kind to everyone all day at work, but then you take out your frustration, exhaustion, and anger on your wife when you get home? Do you ever allow criti­cism of your wife to come out of your mouth in front of other people? If so, as a sister in the Lord who deeply cares about both you and your wife, allow me to give you your ?rst serious assignment in this book:

Marriage is hard enough without one of the parties being rude, cruel, or inconsiderate. Nothing makes a mar­riage feel more like hell on earth. Nothing is more upset­ting, defeating, tormenting, suffocating, or emotion-provoking, nothing does more to bring out the worst in us, than a marriage where one of the partners is lacking in common courtesy. I have heard of more marriages dis­solving because the wife had been treated rudely for so long that she felt herself becoming resentful, angry, bitter, and hopeless. In other words, she was turning into the kind of person she never wanted to be. We have to care enough about our mates to stop doing things that hurt or upset them.

There is nothing more wonderful than the male voice. It is strong and deep and rich. And the sound of male voices singing together is one of the most beautiful sounds on earth. But the male voice can also be terrifying, espe­cially to women and children. Most men have no idea about the power of their voice. When a man speaks, his words have the power to create and the power to destroy. His words can be like a sharp knife that wounds and kills, or a soothing balm that heals and brings life.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't talk honestly and openly with your wife about the issues in your lives. By all means, put your thoughts and feelings on the table. But don't let your words turn into weapons of criticism that destroy what you want to preserve. Even when we don't mean to, our impatience or exhaustion can make our words seem less than courteous. Remember that "the kingdom of God is not in word but in power" (1 Corin­thians 4:20). It's not the words you speak, it's the power of God behind them that will make the difference. Praying ?rst, before you talk about a sensitive subject, will give your words power and ensure that you speak them from a right heart.

Your wife was created as a gift from God to complete you. "Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man" (1 Corinthians 11:9). But she must be treated as the gift from God that she is, in order for that complete blessing to happen in your life. Your wife will prove to be your greatest asset if you value and honor her. The Bible tells us that "whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22). Pray for God to help you speak to your wife in a courteous way that is pleasing in His sight, and to convict your heart when you do not.

Praying about these ?ve simple biblical directives will transform your life and your marriage. And no matter how great your marriage is, God wants it to be better. Since God tells us to "be transformed," that must mean there is always room for improvement (Romans 12:2). Therefore it stands to reason that, as we improve individually, our marriages will also improve. Next to your love for her, the greatest gift you can give your wife is your own wholeness. Her most fervent desire for you is that you become the man God cre­ated you to be. It must be your desire also. God has given you strength, brilliance, power, authority, and the won­derful and admirable traits that come with being a man. Ask God to help you use them well and to His glory. Ask God to make you everything He created you to be so you and your wife will always be a winning team.

Published March 5, 2009
Adapted from The Power of a Praying Husband
Stormie Omartian is the bestselling author of The Power of a Praying(r) series (more than 11 million copies sold worldwide), which includes The Power of a Praying(r) Wife, Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On, The Prayer That Changes Everything(r), and The Power of a Praying(r) Woman Bible. Stormie and her husband, Michael, have been married more than 35 years and have three grown children.