Always Have Great Sex!!

Hi Dr. Laura!

My husband is easy. He’s pretty much in the mood all the time. Whenever, wherever… we have sex at least once a day, sometimes two or three (and we’re in our 40’s). But because women are different, I found that it’s good to always stay “prepared”…

One way is, I NEVER go to bed with clothes on. The second is that I have a few things I rotate inside of my head about my husband throughout the day. Things I love about him, things that attracted me to him in the first place. I focus fully on one or two things and before I know it, I’m ready to go. And yes, even with a headache.

My mother taught me to never say no to my husband, but I realize that there is a difference between just being a willing participant and being right there in the moment with him. It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.

Julie

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I’ve talked on the blog before a few times, about how I listened to Dr. Laura on the radio fairly often when I was a little girl.  My mom always had her on (when she was on air), and wow was it insightful LOL!  The female callers complaining about their husbands were always the worst and most annoying people to behold.  They’d complain about their husband’S normal male-habits, or negative things like having a porn addiction, or that he didn’t clean the house the way she wished he would, or that he had no motivation to move up in his career or make more money, and on and on the complaints were.

She’d speak very harshly to them, although I enjoyed hearing her tell them those things, I always thought to myself that being that harsh with the women was not something I’d want to do.  But perhaps I was wrong… ?  Maybe those types of women truly do need a smack to the head or to be treated as harshly as they’re more than likely treating their husbands.  A lot of the stuff I heard that the men were going through (when the men would call in) sounded like emotional and psychological torture or abuse!  So maybe I was wrong to think they didn’t need some very harsh “slamming” of their own behaviors, perhaps that’s the only way to help them gain humility – by giving them a mirror to see themselves the way other people see them.

And how many women that were like that, were Christian women going to church?  You would think Christian women would set the bar high for being kind and gentle and extremely respectful of their husband and his “flaws,” guarding him and protecting him from strangers’ misjudgment.  I could always tell, even as a young girl, that these women were very sure they were “right” and “good” even though it was pretty obvious they were gossiping and slandering their husbands to strangers on the radio.

The good callers were the ones who were humble, and who listened to Dr. Laura’s advice and allowed her to call them out if what they were doing was wrong.  Like the woman who penned this letter above ❤  She’s taken Dr. Laura’s advice to have LOTS of sex with her husband, and to not only do it because of duty, but to do it enthusiastically and with a good heart towards him!

It’s my very favorite part of the life we share, and I think it’s his, too.”

Yes!  I’ve told my man this many times 😀

Let’s look at her tips for having a better sex life:

  • NEVER go to bed with clothes on (lol… yea that does work!)
  • Focus on good things about your husband throughout the day – things you like about him as a man, and things that made you attracted to him in the first place
  • Don’t just have sex  more, have MORE FUN SEX.  Don’t just give him “duty sex” (bleh) but actually enjoy giving him sex

I actually think there are different “kinds” of sex (no I’m not talking about sex positions – Eek!).  I mean there can be different motivations for having sex.  One of my favorite motivations to give my husband sex is being thankful for him and for everything he does for us as a family.

I call it “Gratitude Sex!”

It’s when you’re so thankful that your husband provides for you, is such a good father to your kids, and is so good in a myriad of little ways, that you just want to knock his socks off with really good (grateful) sex!

I think husbands are often taken for granted.  They’re expected to work hard and expected to do the dirty jobs around the house… but do we as wives really thank them enough?

Is it so bad to thank them with our bodies?

In my experience, it’s more than good 😀

Stephanie

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Sarah – She Did What Was Good & Did Not Give Way to Fear

I’m starting a new blog page where I will file posts on biblical women.  It should be fun and fascinating to delve into their different lives and really dig deep for what we can learn from them as women who love God.

They will be a little controversial though.  My short Abigail series took some readers by surprise, and revealed her story through a perspective that isn’t usually taken in our modern day.  Here’s a hint: Everyone likes to say she was the perfect example of the UN-submissive wife to a foolish husband, but I found God leading me to the exact opposite conclusion!  I encourage you to read it if you haven’t had a good look at why the way she treated her foolish husband Nabal made her stand out with respect and honor.  It may not be what you expect.

***

I’ve been thinking though, recently, about Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  God seems to have put her on my heart for a few months now, and I’ve been quietly studying her words, reactions, as well as what other people had to say about her across the Bible.

I didn’t know it, but she is actually the most mentioned woman character in the Bible – even more so than Mary, the mother of Jesus!

I had no idea she was so important.  And it’s been odd how often she has come to my mind in these past few months, along with parts of her story, and always her actions or reactions.  It’s been weird I’ll say that much.

What makes her so interesting to me?

It’s the way she obeyed her husband without fear,

and is honored repeatedly for it in God’s Word.

***

It’s taken me a long time to see her through this lens.  When I was a child growing up in a Christian school, we learned about the biblical men and women all the time.  I mostly viewed Sarah as the woman who dared to laugh at God and was shocked by her nerve.  I didn’t like, or relate, in any way to her attitude.  I understand her circumstances more now, and can see how human she was when hearing the response of her pregnancy in such old age.  To me she finds redemption in being mentioned in the New Testament as the model of the kind of woman who is beautiful in God’s eyes.  But again, it took me a long time to understand what all that meant.

Let’s look at the passage of Scripture I’m referring to specifically:

“Let your beauty not be external – the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so.” 1 PETER 3:3-6

I’m going to take this apart in the same way I did for the Proverbs 31 woman piece by piece (but for length’s sake – not delving into the Greek meaning of each word this time).  Here we go!

What kind of beauty is “precious in God’s sight?”

  • The beauty found in a woman’s heart – her character and inner beauty
  • The lasting beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit
  • Beautifying (adorning) yourself by being submissive to your husband, like the holy women of old, like Sarah who obeyed her husband and called him lord
  • When you submit (subject) yourself to your husband, and have no fear in trusting him (doing so), you achieve the beauty this passage is talking about

How amazing that this passage is directing us to be like Sarah, not only in the way of disregarding showy outward beauty, but also focusing on the character and actions we are to develop if we want to have a lasting beauty that is “precious in God’s sight.”

And the key to achieving this kind of lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet (peaceful) spirit, is to fully submit to obeying our husbands, and to respect and revere them.  Like Sarah did when she called her husband “lord,” we are directed to imitate her behavior, and “become her children” when we live these things out in our day to day lives.

This is all well and good, right?  But have you looked at Sarah’s life with Abraham?  Have you studied enough to understand what this passage in 1 Peter is implying?  When it says that she obeyed him, doing what was good (submitting to him), and without fear, that is no light and ordinary statement.

This woman obeyed her husband during some of the toughest circumstances imaginable. 

And with a good attitude.

And without fear.

Her love, faith, and trust in her husband and in God are so beautiful when we closely study her story.  She has inspired me by her faith SO MUCH in the past months, constantly popping into my head at the strangest times, that I had to write this down here, hoping that it would bring joy and inspiration to someone else. ❤ 🙂

In our modern age where Christian wives seem to be constantly looking for flaws in their husbands’ leadership style so that they don’t have to submit to him (and obey him), Sarah’s story is a huge wake-up call as to how we’re really supposed to be responding.

How God expects us to respond.

I can hear the screeching of the wheels on the pavement now…

But Sarah obeyed when it was not convenient!

Yes, she definitely did.  Many times!  This woman had so much trust in her husband and in God, that yes, she willingly obeyed even when it was not just annoying, but even when it was extremely difficult.

Just the other day I was spending time with God early in the morning before anyone else in the house was awake, and suddenly a map from the back of my Bible fell out and onto the floor in front of my foot.  I expected it to just be another journey showing the different routes Paul took on his mission trips, since those are pretty much the only maps I’ve seriously studied.  But when I looked closely at it in the dim morning light, I saw it was actually Abraham’s travels when God called him and Sarai to leave Ur!  I had never really appreciated how far they had to travel, and keep in mind they had no idea where God was wanting them to end up.  It hit me again (like it has for months now) just how amazing her trust and faith in her husband and in God were – to follow her husband like that.  Away from everything she had ever known, and over such a difficult journey, through dangerous foreign lands, and not even knowing where she would end up with him in the end.  Talk about trust and faith producing a beautiful obedience in the heart of a wife toward her husband!

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This is a picture of the page of my Bible that fell out when I was doing my morning talking to God and reading His Word.  When I look at this journey, I immediately think about how ridiculously hard that would have been for a woman to travel back then, in that kind of desert and arid weather, with their shoes, and just the plain, overall discomfort she’d have and the temptation to complain or whine or ask “Are we there yet?!”  Honestly, it makes our long family trips to New Mexico from south Texas seem like a breeze in our air-conditioned and roomy van!

As Christian wives, have we behaved as well as Sarah did when she followed Abraham on a truly difficult journey, not even knowing where they were going?  How many times have we whined about little inconveniences, wanting the easy way out?

Maybe our husbands need us to get up early and help with making lunches and getting breakfast on the table before the kids leave to school or before he has to go to work.  I know in our family, it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for my husband to spend critical time with our older son in the morning, since he works most evenings.  Even if the baby wakes up several times in the night, I still want to make sure it doesn’t affect their time together – it’s the only time during the day (most days at least) when my husband does a devotion with our son and leads him into understanding the deep meanings of Scripture.  He gives him advice, listens to his problems or concerns, and it’s a truly beautiful time that would not be possible if he was having to do all the work I usually handle for them in the morning as far as getting everything ready for them to leave.   The way I see it is that I can either have a bad attitude or demand I get my own sleep (a convenience for sure, but not necessary since I can nap later on in the day), or I can serve them with a happy heart and be grateful that he’s spending this time investing godly principles into our son’s heart.   I choose to be grateful!

You can apply this to anything your husband may want you to do, but doesn’t line up with your idea of easy or convenient for yourself.  Maybe he wants you to make good, healthy meals for the family, but you’re stuck on fast food on the go, or cafeteria food so you don’t have to wash the dishes?  Maybe he’d like you to make and pack him lunches everyday, but you don’t want to spend the time serving him like that because it cuts into your time in the morning for yourself to eat?

If our husbands need us to do something that is hard or difficult, do we carry an attitude of resentment toward our task or him for asking more of us?  Maybe your husband wants you to stay home to raise your young children, even though it means living on a lesser budget that makes life more difficult.  Are you doing it with the attitude described in 1 Peter 3?  Or perhaps he wants you to work and put your young children in a daycare – something that’s heartbreaking and hard for a mother to do?  Are you trusting him and God that He will provide safety and protection over them and ultimately redeem the situation in the end?  I know this sounds a lot easier than it actually is when carrying these things out, but it was never promised that living this Christian life would be easy or convenient by any means.  Our true test of our faith in God is when we do these things, and do them not out of just a sense of duty, but with a glad and happy heart!

Obviously the best response is to do what is needed, and practice more gratitude if we’re tempted to resentment over having to endure inconveniences that come with following.

I know this sounds hard, it’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever read before when it comes to marriage and how we’re supposed to act in regard to our husbands leading us.  But the Bible talks constantly about the value of doing the difficult tasks needed to be done.  And whatever we do, we are to do it as though we are doing it for God.  When we act like Sarah and “do what is good,” and “without fear,” we are honoring God with our choice to obey our husbands, even when it is inconvenient to do so.

*

But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham was making poor choices!

This is a hard one for Christian wives in this day and age.  If her husband is doing ANYTHING even the tiniest bit “wrong” in her eyes, his wife is usually quick to point it out to him and try to get him to be better in his leadership.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of this.  It’s common now to know or see Christian wives who refuse to fully submit to their husbands until his porn addiction is gone.  Or maybe it’s his bad eating habits that bother her that she tries to change.  Or his love of watching sports on Sundays, when she thinks he should be helping her fold the laundry.  Or his decision not to do family devotions or spend time reading God’s Word in the way she’d like to see.  There are so many things that wives want their husbands to be doing or not doing before they’ll even think of obeying and submitting to his leadership.

But that’s not the way God intended marriage to work.

A wife can’t demand her husband be perfect in her eyes and do everything the way she desires it to be before she’s supposed to actually submit to his leadership for their family!

If she’s demanding that he change, nagging him to go to counseling to fix his issues, or trying to get him to change in any way, she’s the one who is doing the leading in the marriage – and expecting him to submit to her wants, desires, and needs.

Even if a husband is leading in an imperfect way, we as wives are still called to obey.  His leadership is not contingent only on leading perfectly, and never making mistakes or bad choices.  Like Sarah, we become “her daughters” when we submit to our husbands’ leadership.

*

But Sarah obeyed even when Abraham led her (and other people) into sin and deception!

Yes, she did.  Again, it speaks to her faith and trust in her husband and in God that she was able to follow Abraham even when it was not the right thing for either of them to do.  The Bible is still clear that she did what was good by obeying him and subjecting herself to his leadership.

Let’s take a look at the scriptures where these incidents occurred:

10Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

14When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

17But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.18So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” 20Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.

And then it happened a couple of decades later, almost exactly the same as the first time.  Abraham’s faith was still not complete in this area, but did Sarah nag him?  Did she resent him for not having more faith to not place her in another ruler’s harem (again)?

20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident in Gerar, 2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 5 Did Abraham not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!” 6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her. 7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live. But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all who belong to you.”

8 Early in the morning Abimelech summoned all his servants. When he told them about all these things, they were terrified. 9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done!” 10 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?” 11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, ‘Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 What’s more, she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. 13 When God made me wander from my father’s house, I told her, ‘This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’” 14 So Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your ‘brother.’ This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you.” 17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. 18 For the Lord had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife. ©NET
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It’s hard to believe her amazing attitude in all of this!  Her husband expected her to show her loyalty to him by misleading (lying by omission that she really was his wife and not just his half-sister) other people!  Again, how does this compare to how we respond to our husbands’ failings or moments when he may have a lack of faith?  Do we keep our faith in him even when we see his doubts and fears, or do we demand he be better for us and lead us more to our liking?

The biblical response is to have faith in him and in our all-powerful God.  That even if our husbands make a mistake, or have their doubts, that ultimately God is still in control, and that we are safe in the palm of His hand.

Sometimes it is important to stop a man from sinning, like Abigail did, by using her gracious character and inner beauty to calm a King’s rage and murderous intent.  You can read my thoughts on Abigail’s beautiful actions here (PART 1), and here (PART 2).

But Sarah’s silence in these situations was wise and showed her heroic faith!  It wasn’t silence out of timidity or sinful “giving way to fear.”  The Bible is clear that she did not give way to fear, in fact the attitude she displayed “that of a peaceful and tranquil spirit,” is translated to controlled strength and tranquility that arises from deep within.  That kind of control, feminine strength of character, and peace in times of trouble, can only come from God and having a rock solid trust in Him.

When studying the context around these passages, I found that historically when a ruler saw a stranger’s wife that was beautiful and desirable, he was free to kill the stranger in order to take the woman for himself.  However, if she was traveling with a family member (kin) like a brother or a father, then the ruler would simply negotiate a price for taking her as his bride (or concubine), and the male family member would be spared (maybe even given a prestigious place in their society).

So Sarah and Abraham found themselves in life and death situations when they were traveling as a couple in these foreign lands.

Now stop and think about this for a minute.  Can you IMAGINE how a modern day Christian wife would handle something like that?!?!  Let’s go through some mental contrasting how wives in our age would respond to that scenario, compared with how Sarah responded and then is praised afterward for doing the right thing:

  • Modern day wives would give way to fear.  They’d panic when seeing their husband was making decisions that looked questionable, or if he was lying to ruler’s about who she really was.
  • Modern day wives would be upset that he “demand” or expect her loyalty to him to be shown in this way.
  • Modern day wives would be mad at their husbands for not “protecting” them from the ruler’s lust and desire to have sex with her because of her beauty.
  • They’d be upset that their husband didn’t stand up to the ruler and engage in a (likely deadly) fight, sacrificing his life for her honor!
  • They’d be livid that he allowed her to be placed in another man’s harem.
  • Or they’d take advantage of having the opportunity to have sex with a powerful ruler!  How many times have we heard wives admit on the radio that they’d cheat with a famous man if they had the chance?
  • Or they’d make it through like Sarah did, in one piece, but still hold on to the anger and resentment of being degraded like that.  When they got back to their Christian groups, they’d throw their husbands under a bus by complaining to other wives just what their husbands tried to do to them when they were on a trip!
  • Or MUCH WORSE in my opinion, they’d drag him to the leaders in their church to get them to “counsel” him (effectively AMOGing him or criticizing his leadership as “poor” and “ill-effective”) until he felt he had to follow her ideas and designs for their marriage.

We may be Christian wives trying to do the right thing, but we still have a sinful nature that leads us astray and into not honoring or submitting to our husbands if we aren’t careful to study these ancient texts and learn how to act in the ways God desires for us.  We want to display that kind of beauty that is so precious in God’s sight, right?  Then that means we have to take Sarah’s examples here, when she submitted to her husband’s leadership, seriously.

Go back over the bullet point list of ways modern wives would react to the situation Sarah found herself in.  Have you reacted in one of those ways in the past?  It’s never too late to repent and humble yourself, and to start honoring your husband.  Sarah doesn’t do ANY of those things!  She doesn’t even seem to hold on to any resentment, and the Bible is usually quick to point out when a man or woman has misgivings or ill-feelings.  If she was holding on to resentment or using his mistakes to hold over him later on, she wouldn’t be held up as the example we’re supposed to model in Peter 3.

No, it seems her actions are in line with how 1 Peter 3 describes her character as having inner beauty of the heart.  She loved him, she didn’t want him to die.  So she submitted to his plan to lie to the rulers of the land, and even be taken into their harems, so that she could keep her husband alive and trusted that God would make everything right.

Let’s look again at her qualities that made her character precious in God’s sight:

  • She had a peaceful and quite spirit – not a panicky, or nagging, or complaining, or bitter, or resentful spirit
  • She is called precious in God’s sight for obeying Abraham and for subjecting herself to him and his leadership.
  • She is honored for calling him “lord,” even though he subjected her to doing something that was wrong and deceptive and leading others into sin.

It cannot be understated that Sarah was honored for obeying Abraham – and not giving way to fear when she did – even though his leadership was less than perfect (1 Peter 3:5-6).

She not only was honored in the passage we have unpacked here, she is the first woman mentioned in the wonderful chapter that outlines all the “Heroes of Faith,” Hebrews chapter 11.  When I was 11 years old, our school had us memorize this entire chapter.  It was so beautiful to recite and memorize each person mentioned and honored for their courageous faith displayed in critical times of their life.  Their examples were glorified forever in God’s Holy Word because they decided to make the right choiceTo have faith even when it was extremely hard or inconvenient.  

Again, this is not something we as Christian wives can just gloss over and forget about.  Sarah, with all the mistakes or poor choices Abraham may have made in leading her, is named among the Heroes of Faith for choosing to obey him, follow him when it was hard, not complain or hold resentment against him, and even follow him into circumstances that caused others to sin!

Her heroic faith coupled with her beautiful character in choosing to obey Abraham, is an amazing testimony to her trust in God, that His will would prevail in those circumstances, and that she would be taken care of.

May we have faith like this, and seek to honor and respect our husbands with the kind of fierce commitment and obedience that Sarah had toward Abraham.

Stephanie

 

RELATED READING –

Sarah: A Woman Like Us

Sigma Frame’s Pygmalion Project vs Shared Enterprises

That Stepford Gal’s post Women Should Be Seen & Not Heard (using your beauty to influence and save people or entire countries!)

How to Stand Strong in Stressful Times

This is a great video.  I urge all you readers to watch it.  It’s SO. GOOD.

I found it about two or three months ago, and it’s just repeated wisdom of what I’ve heard all my life growing up in a strong, Christian school from age 4-15, having strong Christian parents, and then mentors who have poured into my life.

I feel so lucky (not sure “blessed” would be the right word here) – but seriously lucky to have had all those people in my life, to the point where this message is not new to me, but wonderful to have so much wisdom piled into such a short video.  We’re all at the mercy of where God places us – what kind of parents we will have is probably the biggest deciding factor on how our lives will turn out.  And yes, I have some “survivors guilt” I think from having such wise, wonderful people for parents.

Anyway… no matter what you’re going through, and this message seems to speak to many things, I hope you find comfort in this video.

Stephanie

 

Overcome Evil with Good & Romans 12:19

This will be another post on the things my husband and I talked about this weekend on our long drives.  Although it’s a not really a “feel good,” romantic post, I thought it was a good spiritual growth topic to cover here.

How do you overcome evil with good, especially when someone has done something truly evil against you or someone you love?

How do you deal with Christians like that – true believers who engage in character defamation, spreading slander about you or your family, or worse, who make false accusations against you or your family members, and then go on to feel zero guilt over it?  So disturbing right?  And rightfully angering.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s much better to trust that God will be your Defender against such people, that He will help “set the record straight” when the time is right for things to be exposed.  And I do believe things are always eventually exposed.  It may take a long time, but God is a just God, and He brings to light that which people would want to be kept in darkness.  You can be sure He doesn’t let evil doers get away with evil acts.  Even more so His own children (Christians), as the Bible warns He punishes those He loves… because it’s the right thing for Him to do.

It’s good to trust God knows what He’s doing.  I personally find so much peace in resting on that promise.  And if you’re going through persecution for speaking truth, you can also rest on the promise that you are suffering through something that will ultimately be a blessing to you.

 

      11“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 

12“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

To me, this is a beautiful promise… we have hope through persecution, and can trust that God will deal justly with those who do insult us, slander us, and falsely accuse us of all kinds of evil.

It’s God’s job, ultimately, and it’s our job to trust He does right by us.

When we run around and try to “correct” any and every person who is mocking or insulting or even spreading falsehoods about us (which I definitely tried to do in the past… unsuccessfully), we’re more concerned about “people-pleasing,” and protecting our reputation than in trusting God.  I don’t think it’s always wrong to try to confront someone falsely accusing you of something, but in trying to, you take on the risk of being more tempted to sin.  So in my opinion it’s best to stand back and allow God to deal with ALL of it, I’ve found it’s much easier to have peace that way – which is what He would want. 

I have found I am able to trust that not only will He provide protection (and He has, God is so faithful!), but He also gives us the promise that He repays and takes vengeance for us.  As unChristian as that sounds, it’s right there in the Bible for a reason (probably to scare people away from doing evil):

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written,

‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’

said the Lord.”

Romans 12:19

Some commentary from Barne’s Notes on this passage and verse:

“For it is written – Deuteronomy 32:35.

Vengeance is mine – That is, it belongs to me (God) to inflict revenge. This expression implies that it is “improper” for people to interfere with that which properly belongs to God. When we are angry, and attempt to avenge ourselves, we should remember, therefore, that we are infringing on the prerogatives of the Almighty.

I will repay … – This is said in substance, though not in so many words, in Deuteronomy 32:35-36. Its design is to assure us that those who deserve to be punished, shall be; and that, therefore, the business of revenge may be safely left in the hands of God. Though “we” should not do it, yet if it ought to be done, it will be done. This assurance will sustain us, not in the “desire” that our enemy shall be punished, but in the belief that “God” will take the matter into his own hands; that he can administer it better than we can; and that if our enemy “ought” to be punished, he will be. “We,” therefore, should leave it all with God. That God will vindicate his people, is clearly and abundantly proved in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10Revelation 6:9-11Deuteronomy 32:40-43.

The part that my husband assured me of this weekend was so comforting to know.  That if someone does need to be punished, God will do it in His own time (or maybe He already has and you just didn’t witness it).  We don’t need to worry about infecting our souls with the poison of bitterness or hatred – although is it ever tempting to feel those feelings when you see someone get away with evil against someone you love!
My husband said that when someone gives in with actions to those toxic emotions and desiring revenge on their enemies, it affects them and makes them stoop to the same level – even disqualifying their witness.  It’s ok to desire justice, even through a legal system if need be, but it’s not good to take pleasure in seeing someone suffer more than they deserve.  Which is why it’s best to leave vengeance up to God – only He can truly understand “how much” punishment is deserved for someone who has wronged you.  There’s no way we could make that call, although I think it’s totally human (and biblical – think David in Psalm 109 where he asks for God to destroy his enemies in the cruelest of ways possible) to have those feelings.

My husband had me read some verses this weekend along these lines while in the car, and it was so good to hear his opinion on my questions.

One of the passages was David asking God to make his enemies ashamed and disgraced for what they’d done to him.  It’s so comforting to know how human King David was 🙂  I totally relate to his passage of desiring to see enemies be disgraced and ashamed of their actions.  It’s nice to know that he felt those feelings toward his enemies, and yet He was called a man after God’s own heart.  God doesn’t seem to hold our humanity against us regarding our strong emotions, ❤ but He loves us too much to let us stay in those emotions to the point where they would destroy us (and others).

Which brings me to the second passage my husband had me read with him 🙂 which was Jesus’ thoughts on loving our enemies:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor(fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, [n]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. 46 For if you love[only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that?48 You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I seriously laughed at how these two passages seem so at odds with each other… and told my husband outright that I much preferred David’s response! 😀  I knew of both of them, but it’s always wonderful to hear my husband explain these things and talk it over him candidly. ❤

They do seem at odds… one calling for your enemies to be ashamed and disgraced for how they’ve treated you, and the next claiming that if you don’t also love them, you haven’t achieved spiritual maturity.  In reality, the second passage also lines up with overcoming evil with good in Romans 12:14-21.

14 Bless those who persecute you [who cause you harm or hardship]; bless and do not curse [them]. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty [conceited, self-important, exclusive], but associate with humble people [those with a realistic self-view]. Do not overestimate yourself. 17 Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for God’s wrath [and His judicial righteousness]; for it is written [in Scripture], “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for by doing this you will heap [e]burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome and conquered by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

It ALL makes sense when you view it through trusting God to be the ultimate Judge and Avenger of wrongs.

We are supposed to be able to overcome someone’s evil toward us that may have truly harmed us by not allowing their actions to destroy our peace and love in our own lives.  The only way to do that is to be able to FULLY rely on God that He will repay, that we can be kind to them (which heaps burning coals on their head), and understand they are in God’s hands and that we don’t have to concern ourselves with their punishment.

He is just, and like He said… He will repay.

Stephanie

 

Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Your Beauty Will Fade & That Will Be Beautiful

growing old together

I just caught up with Lori Alexander’s post on beauty fading from a Christian (Proverbs 31 wife) perspective.  You can find it here (it’s great)!

cute

I do think about aging quite a bit, to me it’s nice, but I’m also aware that maybe it hasn’t really “hit” me yet.  When I’m sleep deprived, which is more often than not these days 🙂 , I DO feel like the Crypt Keeper lol.  But when our baby girl actually goes the full night sleeping (very rare), I wake up and feel fresh again.

But I’m getting older, there’s no mistaking that.

To me, aging is a privilege.

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.”

Proverbs 16:31

elderly

Seeing my husband get older is actually quite sexy!  I love knowing we’re “growing old together.”  It’s very fulfilling in a way that’s hard to describe.

Seeing elderly couples who you know, are actually still in love, touches my heart!

elderly love

I think I’m lucky I married a man who is a dreamer ❤ and together we regularly talk about our plans for when we’re older.  The hopefulness of grandchildren, where we’ll take them, how much we’ll just enjoy having (hopefully) a lot of family around us during the holidays.  The real test of our parenting and relationship with our children will be when they’re finally adults and whether or not they want to spend time with us.  Our oldest son has brought up pretty often that he loves being with us and will be devastated when he moves out – I’m sure he won’t be as devastated when he becomes that age 🙂 , and I do assure him he’ll be “ready,” but at least right now, he tears up and says how much he loves living with us.  Everyone gets older whether they want to or not… as sad as it seems, at least it brings new chapters in life to explore as adventures.  I’d rather embrace these things than run away screaming from them.

asian

But even with saying all that, we still look pretty young – which is good and bad.

Just today a woman at the playground I was at with my children was talking to me, then suddenly actually asked me out of the blue, how old I was lol!  This does happen sometimes, and I don’t get it… it’s a little strange to ask a complete stranger how old they are in my book!  But I told her, and she was surprised and said how it was because I look so young and yet I have 3 kids.  She told me I don’t look older than 25.  A couple of months ago an elderly woman with her grand-daughter saw me grocery shopping alone, wearing my husband’s high school football shirt (where her grand-daughter just graduated), and thought I was probably from her graduating class!  When I told her how we’d been married 10 years, and had 3 kids, her mouth literally fell open.  Still shocked, she told me I looked 18.

I do sometimes wonder if the very cushy life I’ve lived, being married to a good man, having his babies and being able to stay home with them, has led to me still look younger than I would have if I had chosen a different path.  We definitely don’t have much stress aside from his job and some financial tightness of me not working.  But overall, we both feel very comfortable and happy – we have so many blessings we feel guilt over them at times.

But this is something I want my daughter to know and understand.  Even when you beauty does fade, and you start to really show your age (whenever that magically happens), I want her to enjoy it.

Part of enjoying it is enjoying (like Lori A. said in her post linked at the beginning) the relationships you’ve built up over the years with your husband and children.

I do think a large part of why I’m not afraid of growing older is because I feel so secure in the life we live together.  The Bible does say perfect love casts out fear.  My husband’s love for me, his enjoyment of growing older together with me, is probably the source of the happiness I can feel when I imagine being a grandmother myself.

It’s like the ultimate reward for a life well-lived.

Stephanie

Am I Tricking Men When I use Makeup? Is Makeup Unethical?

So…

the Makeapp …

LOL….

I’m going to try to write this post with a straight face…

….

ok!  I can’t 😉  😀

I’m laughing as I type ❤

Are we women tricking men with our makeup usage?

This is a lot like the constant harpy criticism that we’re all just teaching women to manipulate men… UN-ethically at that!  Oh my!!!

Recently, as you may have seen, an app came out called the Makeapp that allows men (or anyone really) to take a picture or upload a picture of a woman, and completely simulate what she probably looks like without makeup.

It’s not a perfect app, I’ve read up on it a bit and apparently some people actually look better without makeup than this app claims (it adds pimples and acne, so if you don’t have skin problems it won’t be completely accurate).  But overall, it’s pretty correct!

Is it tricking men to use makeup?

This topic has come up before in the world of male – female issues, in fact, I’ve actually written before on women covering their acne with makeup and men responding not so pleasantly to it.

Is makeup tricking men?  Well, to be completely honest, yes, it is, in a way.  But most reasonable people understand that makeup tends to make a woman look better, so they “get it.”  It evens out skin tone, it imitates the flushes and redder lips a woman gets when she’s in ovulation – making her extremely more sexually attractive.  It lengthens her eye-lashes, another thing proven to drive men subtly insane.  Is it manipulation of some kind of form?  I guess it is… when it’s used the way it’s intended (to make men more sexually attracted to you).

I decided to do it 😀

I used this picture… and in it (below) I actually don’t have very much makeup on.  Concealer, some foundation in areas but not all over “full-coverage,” mascara, and light pink lip gloss:

makeapp

LOL… So I guess I look like I have the flu 😀 ….

But ok… so is using makeup really unethical?

I think my other older post answers this question some.  If you’re deliberately hiding major flaws and such, yes, it’s effectively tricking a man into thinking you look VERY different from how you actually look.  You could make some kind of case that doing that was “unethical,” although most women who are doing that are doing it for their own self-esteem issues and not really trying to harm anyone.  But still, men don’t like feeling tricked… even if you’re covering acne for yourself so you can feel more confident 😦  They’ll still (as we saw in the other post) react badly to it if you put yourself out there like that one girl did.  It’s a no-win situation.

If you’re a teen and you’re worried how this app will affect the way guys see you, please try not to worry and just focus on important things.  If it DOES bother you, figure out ways to take care of your skin (toners, acne scrubs, prescription medicine if need be).  The thing that will give you the most confidence without makeup, will be having beautiful skin, and that’s just the truth.

Most men totally accept knowing you’ll look better with some makeup applied.  Heavy emphasis on the “some.”   Too much and it turns them off… usually.

*

But almost all men dream of a woman who looks good without makeup and doesn’t need it to be beautiful.  And that’s the truth.  

*

And that’s why this new Makeapp where men now have the magical ability to SEE what you look like underneath makeup really gets to women.  To be exposed for how you really look shouldn’t be an issue (a romantic interest will certainly find out anyway!), but for many it seems to be.  “It’s unfair!” some say.  “It’s SEXIST!” others say.

***

Is there any good “take away” from this new app in the hands of men? 😉

Yes!  If you have good, beautiful skin, you’ll look great even without makeup!  Does the app distort it?  Yea, it does, but if it makes men feel better lol…. *shrug*

And technically, this makeapp shouldn’t worry you if you’re using makeup correctly anyway.

On the other hand, the Makeapp can also ADD LOTS of makeup to your face LOL… this was only after adding “one application” of makeup!  LOL… more like cosemtic surgery haha!

WOW!!!

thumbnail_MakeApp-9284628

**Tear!!**  I don’t even recognize myself!!!  What an app!

Anyway… this app is really distracting!  If you’re a single woman, any man who is interested in you will already notice when you’re not wearing much makeup, and he’ll usually like it!  I’ve read many comments and emails where a girl says she couldn’t believe how the first time her boyfriend or husband told her she was “beautiful” was actually when they had been swimming or at a water park all day and all her makeup had washed off, or when they were hiking and it melted off -and guess what?  He still adored her.

If you have beautiful skin, you’ll still look great without all the makeup.  And that’s what men love.  I do believe most men do NOT want a woman who wears too much makeup.  It’s kind of obvious when someone does (unless they’re a brilliant makeup artist, which honestly men, most women aren’t).

But for women, even if you’re married – no, especially if you’re married – your husband wants to see you without any makeup on at appropriate times – first thing when you wake up, in his T-shirt or naked (however it is you prefer to sleep) – he wants to see his bare-faced Beauty and know you are his.

Stephanie

Aren’t You Just Teaching Women to Manipulate Men?

This isn’t just a question I’ve received before via email or in a comment, it’s a criticism that many people have pointed out whenever there’s a woman teaching (in real life or online) other women how to treat their husbands better in order to have a happy marriage.  I’ve seen it time and time again throughout the 4 years of blogging at this site.  And yes, I’ve been accused of selling “snake oil” to wives – manipulative feminine behaviors and techniques to get their husbands to give them what they want.  In reality, anything considered to be “snake oil,” would prove to be false over-time.  And I’ve many men and women tell me that these things are truth.  Manipulative techniques don’t actually work long-term in a marriage for producing good.  So no, I’m not selling “snake-oil” to wives.

This accusation always comes up though… always.  Even when I’ve come across women teaching others about simple femininity (not for wives but in general, how to be a woman), there’s always a few sour women who seem to scream from the sidelines, “MANIPULATION!!!!!! You’re just manipulating your husband into doing what you want him to do!!!”

***Side note***

Here is where a woman I love and admire, and have talked to privately in the past concerning what to do over these accusations (been meaning to email her again soon for daughter advice – if you’re reading this sweet Stingray, heads up for an incoming email), Stingray, has also confronted this accusation (albeit in a totally different way of accepting these tactics as manipulation)!  I’ve emailed with her a few times in the past, and respect her opinion greatly, so I’m adding it in to give you more insight into how like-minded women view this topic.  Click the link above if you want her specific take on this accusation that we’re teaching women to “manipulate” men.

I thought it would be good to go into this on my own blog, and go ahead and answer this question and criticism I’ve had off and on, because it IS important and women have a right to know an answer.

I hope this proves to be a thought-provoking post for you, no matter which side of the fence you sit on.

The Feminine wiles

Even by definition, the feminine wiles are described as clever talk or tricks, used to persuade someone to do what you want.  I’ve seen many women say behaving in a  feminine manner that brings out the best in men (your husband, but also your dad, brother, even sons are affected by this!), is just tricking him into behaving the way you want him to behave.  Using your femininity in order to inspire masculine virtues to come out in any man, is supposed to be a beautiful and good thing.

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But yes… to answer the critics… it CAN fall into manipulation IF the woman’s heart isn’t pure, and into it for the pure motivations of loving her husband.

*

Manipulation is ugly.  Manipulating men to get them to do what we want is horrible.

No.  I am not trying to teach women how to “manipulate men,” with what I write or offer up here.  I don’t believe it is even possible long-term, for a wife, or even a single girl, to keep up a manipulative act.  Eventually the act will fall away, and her real self – her terrible character – will come out and chase men (even her husband in a multitude of small ways) away.

This criticism is only looking at the ugly side, and ugly heart motives, when it comes to using these behaviors and actions.  So while yes, a woman CAN use my advice to manipulate a man into falling in love with her or marrying her even, it’s intended to help women who have a pure heart, who genuinely want to love their husbands better and build a beautiful marriage.

I can’t help a woman whose heart is bent on seeing things only through a filter of sinful thinking.  Only she can lift that veil with prayer and making the choice to ask God to give her a clean and pure heart toward her husband.  So since I can’t really help a harpy screaming from the sidelines “MANIPULATION!!!!!!” I’ve gotten used to this false accusation (like Stingray had as well back when she was blogging) that it’s all “snake oil” and “unethical.”  This used to bother me, but now that I’ve talked to more women and have had the chance to see (in real life) the difference in their attitudes when presented with this stuff, I “get it.”  It all comes down to whether or not their heart is pure in wanting to love and be good to their husbands.  The sad thing is that a lot of women really don’t have pure intentions.

I’ve also seen women try to implement these things when their husband is already divorcing them.  If they’ve treated him terribly for 20+ years, and then suddenly try to implement these behaviors and techniques, yea he’s going to have a hard time believing his wife is sincere.  Then I’ve seen the wife (after becoming divorced and getting very bitter) usually complain that applying these techniques only made things much worse for her.  These are often the ones screaming “MANIPULATION!!!” the loudest.  If it didn’t work for her, it can’t work for anyone else!  Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!  

Her husband’s strong negative reactions are actually explainable in a psychological way – it’s called “The Pandora’s Box.”  Sometimes it’s salvageable, but often it’s just not.  Usually there’s just been way too much nastiness there, and for decades long.  You can’t just easily undo that kind of trauma you’ve done to your husband, by acting kind and respectful now.  Even if you are sincere now, he has to work through MAJOR forgiveness issues, trust issues, etc. and a lot of men find it too painful.  A lot of men get angry that you’ve wasted so many years treating them horribly, and are only now just “waking up,” and taking responsibility for how you’ve damaged his soul.  It’s all very ugly and dark… but it’s reality when you reap what you’ve been sowing for decades in the heart of your husband.

I may write on that more (I do love to write!), but to me that is why these things are so crucial for women to know before they even start dating!  How many marriages would have been saved if women were only taught these crucial things about what men want when they were teens?  This is why I was motivated to start writing, and why I often target the younger crowd.

 

This is why your Character is important

Your character is talked about a lot on my blog.  Who you are – if you are truly all these things women teach about (including many posts on my blog) – others will understand and take note that you’re consistent.  This is best displayed in real life – with the real life men around you – whether it’s your father, husband, sons, etc, they will be the ones who ultimately know you and your character, especially over time.

I guarantee that your husband is already aware of who you truly are, and you’re either working to have a beautiful character and implementing these behaviors in your marriage to make it flourish, or you’ve let these things slide and you live with a somewhat happy marriage – but with no idea how great it actually could be.

Either way, your “real self” will always be exposed to the people you live with, especially your husband.  I’ve written before that who you are online, when no one is looking or holding you accountable – that’s who you really are.

Having a beautiful character is what will make these teachings work.  Having a pure heart is what will make your actions not seen as manipulative, but instead, sincere and they will inspire your husband’s love for you to grow immensely.

No matter how good you look on the outside (physically and in behavior like when practicing being kind or respectful to your husband), if you don’t have it together on the inside, if your heart isn’t in it, he will know, and he will hate it.

He will hate it because he will feel manipulated by you.  Hence why if I was really selling you “snake oil,” it just wouldn’t work for the long-haul of a marriage.

Your actions will always be manipulation on your part if it’s not coupled together with your heart intentions – in other words, if you aren’t loving him with purity and sincerity, you may as well not be loving him at all.

 

Peace in the Face of Death & Persecution

This is part of Lori Alexander’s most recent post, I thought it was an amazing testimony many of you would like to read and think about.  It was from a woman in her online chat room:

 

“Friends, I know that with the church shooting, many are experiencing fear and apprehension that such a thing could happen. Mentally, we know God is sovereign and in control, but we still experience worry for our families and ourselves. Could this happen to us? I wanted to tell you my story, not to sensationalize, but to testify to God’s faithfulness to his promises. (Warning, it may be upsetting to some.)

During my senior year of nursing school, I was sitting in class taking mid-terms when a classmate came in and began shooting. This was fifteen years ago when the only school shooting had been Columbine. No one knew what was happening and it took a while for us to realize. He shot one professor immediately. Our second professor was very vocal about her Christian faith. (She would always end her lectures telling us that she couldn’t talk about it in class, but if we ever wanted someone to talk to about where she found hope or someone to pray for us,to call or visit her any time after class.)

My classmate then turned, pointed the gun at her and asked, “Where is your God now?” She answered boldly, “Whether I live or die, does not change that God is right here, right now.” He then killed her and turned the gun on the class.

Countless times in scripture God tells us, “Do not be afraid.” I want to tell you that He is faithful to His promises. Hiding under the table that morning I knew I was going to die, but the most amazing thing happened, I felt no fear. There was only peace. I remember being sad about how upset my parents would be, but also at peace that God would take care of them.

The most real and authentic prayer of my life was also going to be my last. It was: (CLICK HERE TO READ THE END).

How Do You Deal with a Critical Christian?

This is another idea that is fascinating to me… that a Christian would continually give themselves over to being critical, nit-picky, or sarcastic (which means using humor to try to partially cover up the sting of their criticism).

A critical-spirit Christian, just like a “grouchy Christian,” is a walking oxymoron!

No Christian should allow themselves to be critical, sarcastic, or grouchy toward others, because by definition, those behaviors are behaviors of the flesh, and are no way representing Christ to the world.

But what about the benign Christians who are always critical and try to be humorous about it, and genuinely see nothing wrong with their hidden contempt?

What do you do with a woman who is intent on enjoying pointing out the flaws of her Christian brothers and sisters?  All the intricate ways they are “getting it wrong?”  What do you do with a Christian woman who loves to nit-pick, harp on her many pet peeves that annoy her, and allow these things to bother her so much that they get in the way of her enjoying Christian songs – things that should be enjoyed with a kind spirit?

I recently used an example to teach other women, of what a Critical Spirit looks like, where a woman was so annoyed by the lyrics of Christian worship song, she let it occupy her thoughts so much, that she felt she just had to share her annoyance publicly with others from her blog.  Not only was this woman a perfect example of tearing down another Christian’s work for the pleasure of humor, but also of letting her annoyances and “pet peeves” dictate a pretty big part of her mind and work for God (her writing).  It’s consistently become part of her blogging career bread-and-butter, this delighting (with humor!) in the ways other Christians are “getting it wrong.”  She saw nothing wrong about her actions, literally felt no prick in her conscience when confronted.

People like this perplex me, because while they’re SO critical of their Christian brothers and sisters, they often fail to see the giant plank in their own eye.  They literally have zero concept of their own sin in their behavior that makes them so critical or annoyed or “worried.”  LOL… they will forever be “worried” over all the Christians “doing it wrong,” only so that they never really focus on what God wants them to be learning or discovering about themselves!  To them, seeing other’s flaws is much more interesting!  And a very convenient distraction from growth.

No Christian should be dwelling so much on the ways other people annoy them.  Not only is it sinful thinking that will eventually find it’s ways into our words and actions, but because it will actually cause them to be that much more critical of someone or something basically good (not worth being so critical over), the next time they’re tempted to.  Giving in to constant criticism (that springs from an untamed Critical Spirit) is allowing themselves to continually sin in their hearts toward others.  It’s a pattern of behavior that if they see nothing wrong with it, they will continue to engage in without feeling guilty.  Obviously, sinning continually and never feeling guilty for it, is extremely dangerous.  No Christian should be focusing so much on their brothers and sisters failings that they make their blog or writing career based on pointing those things out, even if it is for humor’s sake.

For a woman who consistently behaves this way, always finding something new to be annoyed or “worried” about, always focusing on outward annoyances around her instead of inward where she can actually change something, is she truly living the Christian life the way she’s meant to be?  Is she really allowing her words and actions to impact the world for greater, or for worse?  I personally believe it’s for worse.  I think a Critical Spirit Christian tempts other men and women to become equally sinfully critical as well, and what’s worse, they learn to hide their sin underneath a facade of humor so that it’s more socially acceptable.  I also think it’s catching, and the fact that many of the people who have this sin tend to act more perfect or righteous (of course!  Because if they didn’t feel this way, they wouldn’t be so critical of other people!), and deny that they are sinning at all, makes it even harder for their community to be at peace with them.

How can you deal with someone so obviously living in sin against you and others, when they are adamant that they’re “right” and doing nothing wrong in harming the unity of the Body of Christ?  How do you make someone take their sin seriously, when they’ve so carefully hidden it in humor, that it almost looks socially acceptable?

Basically?  You can’t 😦 .

I believe, and am teaching other women, that for Christians like this, the best “tools” in your spiritual tool box is simply prayer and avoidance.

A hardened, yet saved heart that enjoys the sin of focusing on their annoyances about other Christians, can only find healing and help when they begin to see themselves in actual sin.

You can’t help them with this unless you’re an older, trusted adviser – an outsider will be brushed off quickly and without any prick to their conscience.

Since they already believe they are so much better, and “doing these things (that they are so annoyed or critical of others about) right,” it would be extremely hard to get through to them.  It would take a lot of humility on their part, which usually isn’t the case.

It’s just one of those situations where it’s explained perfectly in the Bible:

 

Philippians 4:8-9? “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, [for good] will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

From here: The Bible doesn’t promise peace to those who dwell on the faults of others! It says, “[The Lord] will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on [Him]! (Isa. 26:3).

 

Criticism & Being a Stumbling Block

stumbling block

A couple of years ago, one of my mentors told me that you’re never more tempted to sin, than when you’ve been sinned against.

I think it makes a good quote deserving of all caps…

 

YOU’RE NEVER MORE TEMPTED TO SIN,

THAN WHEN YOU’VE BEEN SINNED AGAINST

 

I went to her after I had gone through a time when I was being criticized by a woman running a gossip/slander blog that has now since become private.  Every post I made, this woman found a way to turn it into something to mock… right down to attacking my husband and children.  Other women, even Christian ones I looked up to previously, jumped in on the mocking and gossip, and it was weird to see that even the supposedly Christian ones were doing this.  It lasted for a good half a year before I confronted her at her blog source, only to have the confrontation end in more pain and frustration.  Talking about it being sin with other people was labeled as “gossip.”  It was a very interesting time as I tried to figure out how to handle slander (being called a whore, slut and a bitch by a Christian man) as well as this being tailed for half the year by this Christian woman.  What was even stranger were the other Christian women who regularly commented on these posts mocking what I was writing, yet they couldn’t see they were doing anything wrong.

It’s really sad that we humans operate this way, myself totally and thoroughly included.  It’s part of our “normal” sin nature, but it’s so ugly and harmful, I surprise even myself with how easily I can give in to this temptation.  And rest assured, I’m talking about myself here, having a sin nature is not fun.  It is kind of shocking how bad we can be when we’re not actively guarding our mouths and minds and spirits.  It reminds me of Paul in Romans 7:18-22, where he wanted so badly to do good, but would sometimes find himself backsliding into the flesh behaviors that he hated in himself.

18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

21I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

I think it’s crucial to be honest that everyone has these feelings and temptations from time to time, even a man as godly as Paul.  I believe that, ultimately, it’s how we choose to deal with the temptations that matters in the long-run.  We have to strive to be like Paul and avoid and flee temptation, repent when we do give in to sin, and then allow for enough grace for ourselves and others when or if we backslide.

Last week I was wondering why someone would focus so much energy on giving in to sinful temptations… specifically, the temptation to engage in destructive criticism about another person (aka: Gossip & Slander).  I did an experiment to try to get someone engaging in it to see what they looked like, and to understand it within myself.  I succeeded in making them understand how bad it looked, the experiment definitely worked.  Overall, it was enlightening… and scary at how once you start (even if you think you’re only going so far) it can quickly go down hill.

I think I’ve found the answer… the root of why criticism can lead to being a stumbling block, and it comes from this quote at the beginning of the post that was told to me by my mentor:  “You’re never more tempted to sin than when you’re sinned against.”

 

Being a Stumbling Block through Criticism

stumbling man cartoon illustration

Romans 14 has always fascinated me.  I’ve written on it before, here , but I wanted to look at it again from a different perspective.

There used to be a pretty benign young woman who commented fairly frequently here.  I always had a feeling that she was trying to get me to change my views on each post I made – she was always so full of constructive criticism and gave it out freely.  Everything about me was up for criticism from this young woman – from the way I dressed to my diet and breastfeeding.  A lot of it was good, and I’d take it and make necessary changes, or try to see if I was getting it truly wrong, but overtime, it started to feel more like purposeful fault-finding or destructive criticism, and I felt myself changing inside toward her as well.

It got to the point where I would find myself starting to see flaws in her posts and arguments, whereas I’d never argued with her before over her writing.  And instead of minding my own business (something I’ve written about before!), I’d feel rightful in pointing them out to her publicly – in a “constructive” way like she did though 😉 .  I knew it was probably not the right thing to do, even if I couched it in “constructive criticism“… it’s a little much to be “correcting” someone all the time so why was she doing this?  I justified my fault-finding habit at her blog by telling myself that well, SHE was doing it to me, so why can’t I do it back to her?  Let’s just say being criticized by her nearly every week affected me lol.  I actually still try not to go to her blog because all I see are the flaws and faults in her biblical arguments.  It’s amazing how the way we act toward others has so much power over the way they in turn feel tempted to deal with us.

Why are humans like this?

I think Romans 14 holds the key to this.  Criticism, especially over issues that don’t really matter that much, make us become stumbling blocks.

“Therefore let us stop criticizing one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”  (vs 13)

Why does the Bible warn us that criticism can be a “stumbling block” to other believers?  I think the answer is that when it’s not done in love, or even when it’s done over and over again in a constructive way, it’s actually sinning against the person you’re criticizing or leading them to exasperation with you.  So when you SIN against that person, you’re TEMPTING them to sin back.  Or if you’re trying to just constantly correct someone on their convictions (which Romans 14 tells us blatantly not to), you’re going to make them tempted to view you negatively.  This is especially true if you’ve been overly harsh or engaged in sinful destructive criticism, you’ve just become a stumbling block for that person, making it harder for them in their spiritual walk.

stumbling block2

Wow, right?  Pretty scary how criticism, even when we think it should be “constructive,” can be so hurtful and harmful to our Christian brothers and sisters in damaging their walks with God.

Pretty serious stuff.  Now that I carried out my own psyche experiment on this topic, I think I understand even more so just how important this post was in the past.

Instead of being a stumbling block, why not become a stepping stone to helping build others up on their spiritual journies?  I’m talking to my own inclinations here 😉

stumbling block3

Good food for thought.

Stephanie

 

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