2 Top Common Marriage Complaints!

complaintsChristians wives have two top complaints in marriage. And both concern the lack of male leadership in the home. See guest writer Julie Ganschow’s page here on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permission. (Edited for lenth. –LAM)

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Common Complaints!

Common complaints from Christian wives include the following:

Many of these wives share the same qualities. They are Bible literate, faithful church attendees, and clearly love the Lord. Some are willing to be honest with themselves and recognize their culpability in their marital problems.

But the majority believe the husband is mostly at fault. These women focus on all the things the husband does wrong. And they find it very hard to examine themselves on a deep enough level for a biblical conviction to be produced over their own sin.

Isn’t it far too easy for us to rationalize and justify our own sinful responses toward our husbands? Especially when we let our feelings lead us?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Why Husbands Fail

Poor, or lacking, male leadership happens for a couple of reasons:

1) He doesn’t know how to lead, or

2) He’s given up.

Both are problematic, and both are fixable.

Top Complaint #1: My Husband Won’t Lead

Possibly he doesn’t know HOW to lead.

Men are by nature leaders. They are wired to take charge, protect, supervise, and lead. Our current culture does not encourage men to develop these skills. In fact, our culture seems determined to emasculate men. An unfortunate reality is there are more than eight million boys being raised without fathers. Their moms love them and do their best. However, a boy will not learn how to be a man from his mom, as much as she tries to instill those qualities in her son.

We biblical counselors routinely find men that don’t know how to lead and are embarrassed to admit it. The good news is a man can learn how to develop biblical leadership skills and habits through individual discipleship with another man. This kind of relationship will help equip him in the areas of being a godly man and husband.

Top Complaint #2: My Husband Has Given Up

The second complaint is more damaging than the first complaint. It grows from the wife undermining or getting in the way of her husband’s leadership.

Ladies, here is where you need to get honest with yourselves!

Are you undercutting or disagreeing with nearly every decision he makes? Have you stepped in to be the leader because “someone has to lead this family”? Have you given him the message that he doesn’t lead “right”? Do you disagree with the direction he wants to take you and the family? Have you delivered the message that you do not trust him or his leadership?

Husbands are easily discouraged by wives who won’t follow or who question their leadership. They quickly learn that they are not allowed to make decisions for the family by themselves. In these circumstances, often the man says his wife is undermining him and that she criticizes him when she doesn’t agree with his decisions. He says his wife belittles him and always has plenty of reasons why his ideas and plans are insufficient or won’t work.

This reveals an enormous failing in submission on the part of the woman. Submitting is not to be demanded by the husband, nor is it to be done grudgingly or with fear.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:13

In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1-2

Finding a Solution

When a woman fails in submission, the husband eventually gives up attempting to lead.

To correct this pattern, the wife must first be convicted that she is guilty of these things. Then she would confess to God and her husband that she has usurped his authority and disobeyed God’s Word regarding submission in marriage (Ephesians 5:21-331 Peter 1:3-7Titus 2:5).

She also must cease her attempts to lead her husband. This is tough when she has little confidence in his decisions or when he is a weak leader. However, she must remember that it to God she ultimately submits and it is God who is leading her family.

A faithful wife will let her husband know she has input to offer in a situation and ask him if he wants to hear it. A wise man will accept his wife’s counsel, and take it into consideration when making a decision. When he does not, she must entrust herself to God and believe our sovereign God has the situation in His hand.

On a Personal Note

I have learned these lessons the hard way. When I determined to do things my way, I disrespected my husband by my actions and my attitudes. A lack of unity resulted. I learned two important things: men will not tolerate being emasculated by their wives, and you cannot expect to usurp his authority without consequences.

Truth: “It is better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:19

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

ADDICTION Book: How NOT to Raise an Addict!

addictionAddiction? Is your kid at risk? In Mark Shaw’s booklet How Not to Raise an Addict, you learn the 5 mentalities that makes a kid susceptible to addiction. Reviewed by Ellen Castillo, whose profile is listed here on Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Ellen’s review appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Your Parenting Matters

Mark Shaw has written a booklet that is excerpted from his more in-depth book Addiction Proof Parenting: Biblical Prevention Strategies. In this booklet, Mark gives us an overview of the five basic mentalities of “addictive” thinking. He believes that when children develop these mentalities, it can lead to addictive choices and behaviors later in life.

Mark presents a challenge to parents as they disciple their children. By walking them through the five mentalities, he gives us a roadmap for determining if our parenting encourages unbiblical thinking that could lead to addictive behavior down the line.

He begins with an important discussion of the need for mind-renewal (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23). Mark states,

We are all in need of transformed thinking so that we can discern the acceptable and perfect will of God. In other words, transformed thinking enables us to know what pleases God and benefits us when we actually put these things into practice (p. 2).

The Five Mentalities

The bulk of the booklet gives us a brief but fairly in-depth view of these five mentalities:

  1. Entitlement mentality (thinking everything is deserved)
  2. Consumer mentality (acquiring what he perceives is deserved)
  3. Victim mentality (when he thinks his entitlement and consumer needs are not being met, he feels he is a victim of unfairness so he blames others)
  4. Perishing mentality (a victim feels self-pity and “learned helplessness” that leads to rebellion)
  5. Rebellious mentality (“why should I try” attitude, leading to foolishness and a desire to be his own boss)

These mentalities all build upon each other, according to Mark’s understanding of addictive thinking (p.1).

Mark offers us the biblical antidotes for the mentalities he presents. He unpacks these for us, which is helpful and insightful. He teaches us that cultural parenting is counterproductive if we want to raise biblical thinkers.

As you read this booklet, you may recognize yourself in some of these mentalities (as I did). The booklet gives us tools to examine our own hearts as parents and counselors. This way we can recognize unbiblical thinking in our children and in our counselees and their parents. He also lays out a path for how to instill biblical concepts in order to counter the culture our children experience.

Mark walks us through much Scripture, which is what I appreciated most about this booklet. He shows us that the Bible is truly sufficient to inform our thinking as well as our parenting. He not only offers instruction for us, but he also offers encouragement and reminders of God’s grace.

Also he tells the reader that “Scripture teaches that God is sovereign, but man is also responsible” (p. 35). This encourages parents to be faithful in their child’s discipleship, but to understand that the outcomes are not up to them, as the child grows to make their own choices. The principles he encourages us to teach our children are biblical and that is what parents are called to be faithful to.

A Guide for Biblical Thinking

addictionMark gives us a brief overview of his biblical view of addiction. Addictions do not give us an escape from personal responsibility, and calling addiction a “disease” does not change this (p.35). His teaching has impacted me personally (as well as my counseling ministry) as I have been challenged to view addiction biblically. If you have not taken an in-depth look at a biblical view of addiction, I encourage you to read Mark’s books on addiction. He has become my go-to resource when I encounter addictive behavior in my counselees of all ages.

This booklet is a helpful guide for counselors who are working with parents as they disciple their children to think and live biblically. Parents would benefit from utilizing the booklet as a guide towards changing their approach in their parenting. The purpose of the book states that it is to help avoid raising someone with addictive thinking, but I believe that the mentalities described in it could help avoid other kinds of unbiblical choices and behaviors as well. This is an excellent discipleship tool, and it leads me to want to dig in to Mark’s other parenting book as well.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Laughter Heals Your Heart!

laughterLaughter heals! In this uplifting post, which appeared first here, Dr Donna Hart, PhD, shares how having fun and laughing are not only good for you but also pleases God. Donna is listed on our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

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At a family gathering over the holidays, I enjoyed good food, good friends, and. . .laughter. In a conversation with the family matriarch, affectionately called “Memaw” by her grandchildren, she commented about the embroidered decorations on her sweatshirt and the effects of their strategic placement.

We started to laugh about the private joke between us. And we couldn’t stop laughing. The tears streamed down my face as others around us to start to laugh with us. I cannot remember the last time I laughed that hard. Something about that laughter gave my heart such joy and companionableness.

Are You Too Serious?

Christians have a long-standing reputation for being serious-minded people who are not prone to humor, laughter, or play. In early church history in America, the Puritans did much to cement this reputation of serious piety. They spent long hours in church and rigorous hours in daily Bible study and prayer. They are also known for their restrictions against music, dancing, and bright colors. Holiness seemed to be likened to judgment, suffering, and severity.

But John Wesley recognized the danger of taking this serious attitude to the extreme when he said: “Sour Godliness is the devil’s religion.” And Martin Luther is quoted in Is There Fun After Paul?: A Theology of Clowning:

If you’re not allowed to laugh in heaven, then I don’t want to go there.

Even though we eagerly bring joy, laughter, and good humor into our family lives, often we hesitate to bring the same qualities into our relationship with God. Are we worried that God does not have a sense of humor? If we want to bring laughter and play into our relationship with God, will we need to expand our view of His attributes to include laughter and fun?

Seeing Comedy in Life

To move in this direction, let’s define what a “sense of humor” means. It is a perspective on life that has the ability to see thlaughtere comic in creation, humanity, and the ability to laugh at ourselves. Human relationships do not survive well without the ability to have a sense of humor.

We are all too familiar with how struggles and communication barriers block our ability to know and be known to each other. When we can step back and see the humor in our predicaments, it softens our hearts to move forward toward each other.

The same principle applies to our relationship with God. If all of our prayers are solemn, serious, and focused only on weighty matters of importance, we will miss opportunities for light and playful prayers.

Tears and laughter are often linked in the Bible. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time to weep and a time to laugh (3:4). Luke 6:21 offers the promise of laughter when he writes “…Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” It is difficult not to love someone when you are laughing with them. Have you experienced the love that comes from shared laughter?

Laugh Well, Live Better

When we laugh together, we build relationships; we build sympathy for each other, and we become kindred spirits. Good humor and laughter depend on solid trusting relationships. We cannot command laughter nor can we dictate trust.

But we can be willing to seize the funny moments to laugh out loud when least expected, find humor in our own situations. We can share laughter with others and discover love. And we can delight in God and experience God’s unconditional love for us.

If we believe that God will laugh at us if we share our joys and excitements, then we will remain silent for fear of being ridiculed. However, if we can learn the joy of laughter that comes from the love of laughing with someone finding humor in human experiences, we will then learn to laugh with God.

Help for Your Laughter

If you have been hurt by laughter in the past, and this prevents you from laughing now, write a prayer to God about your specific need. As you write your prayer, detail the hurt you have experienced and how the memories still hurt. Be willing to ask God for what you need to heal these hurts. (You might want to try this journal.–Ed.)

Also think about the places in life where you would love to receive the gift of laughter. Pour out your heart and longings to God, for He will not scorn, mock, or belittle you. You can rest in confidence God will not laugh at you.

Counseling Hearts to Hope,

 

Uh-oh! Patience? What Now?!

patiencePatience. Who wants to wait for it, right? In this down-to-earth post, devotion blogger and my friend Lynn Mosher shares her word for 2018. Her article appeared first here on her blog and is used with permission.

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 Patience. I’m almost afraid to post this.

I get the feeling this may be my word for 2018. I just know some event, circumstance, or pain will pop up and require patience. Though it would be nice to have patience to wait for something good, wouldn’t it?

Whatever the disagreeable situation confronting us, we always want patience right now, don’t we?

Everyone wants the end product of patience but no one wants to work at getting it.

But what is it?

What Have Others Said…

  • “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • “We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” ~Helen Keller
  • “Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.” ~Peter Marshall
  • “God’s way of answering the Christian’s prayer for more patience, experience, hope and love often is to put him into the furnace of affliction.” ~Richard Cecil
  • “There is nothing which so certifies the genuineness of a man’s faith as his patience and his patient endurance, his keeping on steadily in spite of everything.” ~Martyn Lloyd-Jones

What Are the Definitions?

I love old dictionaries. They say it best. From Johnson’s and Walker’s Dictionaries of 1830:

The power of suffering, calm endurance of pain or labour. The quality of expecting long without rage or discontent…The quality of bearing offences without revenge or anger…not easily provoked, calmly diligent, without rage under pain or affliction.

Isn’t that a great description? And I love “the power of suffering.” The power! Think about that. Let that soak in. Awesome!

What about the Greek?

Patienthupomeno, meaning to stay under (behind), remain, to undergo, bear (trials), have fortitude, tarry behind, abide. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon also says it is to persevere absolutely and emphatically, under misfortunes and trials, to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ, and to endure, bear bravely and calmly.

Patiencehupomone means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy, a patient steadfast waiting for, a patient enduring.

What Does the Bible Say?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is…longsuffering.” (Gal. 5:22-23 NKJV) Another word for patience.

Peter said, “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.” (1 Peter 2:20 NKJV)

And James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3 NKJV) Patience under trial. Oops! That’s where it grows.

Paul tells us to be “patient in tribulation” (Rom. 12:12 NKJV) and “be patient with all.” (1 Thess. 5:14 NKJV) For God is “the God of patience.” (Rom. 15:5 NKJV) Therefore, we are to “pursue…patience.” (1 Tim. 6:11NKJV)

Though we cannot see what God is doing in our maddening situation, it does not mean He is doing nothing. His watch doesn’t work like ours does; it has bigger hands! And “His way is perfect.” (2 Sam. 22:31a NKJV)

May Your Patience Overflow

Do our lives fit the definitions and the Scriptures? Hmmm…I wonder.

Whatever trial or heartache you may experience this year, I wish you power in your suffering, that patience may overflow. As does your faith.

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Friend, if you’re facing a maddening trial now, why not ask God for help? He promises to help you. If you need counseling, I encourage you to speak with a pastor or a spiritual friend, or if you’d like, contact me, and we can set up a 15-minute chat. Or, contact one of the counselors listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory. All are biblical/pastoral counselors and have been vetted by me and my staff. They are listed by speciality and state. Almost all of them offer Skype counseling as well as in-person counseling.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

 

Reaching a Child’s Heart for Christ

heartReaching a child’s heart for Christ is something every Christian mom and grandma desires, right? This honest post by guest writer Barbara Reaoch appeared first here and is used by permission.

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When I was asked to lead the Children’s Division at Bible Study Fellowship, I knew it was a great privilege. But how naïve and prideful I was to think my experience qualified me for the job. Teaching the Bible to women was good preparation, for sure, but I was unaware of the pitfalls in teaching the Bible to children.

Sadly, I was not clear about the difference between moralistic behaviorism and gospel-centered application. It seemed easy to say, “Stop sinning and start obeying.” Discipline issues were equally simplistic: “Stop acting like that and start behaving.” Kids need to learn obedience, right? And we need kids to obey for our own sanity. I was inclined to twist the beauty of the gospel of grace into a subtle deception called moralism. I needed to learn three things:

1. Moralism cannot reach a child’s heart.

It’s not hard to use Bible characters to teach a moral lesson. With the Bible character as the subject of the lesson, we can teach kids that they need to be righteous like Noah, faithful like Moses, and obedient like Abraham. Kids figure that if they live like these heroes of the faith they will earn God’s love.

But when we try to make kids into good rule-keepers, they decide one of two things. Either with pride in their hearts, they believe they have earned God’s favor. Or they see they will never be able to keep the rules and conclude there’s no use trying.

Truth: Moralism can only produce pride and fear in the heart of a child.

Moralism ends up making children think their relationship with God depends on them. If they are good enough, they win. If they blow it, they lose. Moralistic teaching breaks down when we read that Noah gets drunk, Moses gets angry, and Abraham lies. We may try to hide the fact that each of these guys struggled with sin, but the Bible doesn’t. God never says that good behavior is a prerequisite for His love.

2. Manipulation cannot reach a child’s heart.

If we simply want kids to obey, manipulation usually works. Kids respond to, “I can’t believe you would do that after what we just learned about Jesus.”

Or “You should be ashamed of the way you are acting.”

Or “Look at those people—you know the ones who ________ (insert the sin of your choice).” As if to say, “You better never be like them.”

Even worse, we use God to manipulate. “God is not pleased with you when you do that.” “It makes Jesus sad when you act like that.” “If you want God to be pleased with you, you will read the Bible, go to church, and obey your parents.”

We can easily manipulate kids because God has wired them to want to please us. Their behavior may change temporarily, but we are damaging their hearts. The only lasting and effective life changes happen from the inside.

Truth: Manipulation can only produce guilt, shame, or anger in a child’s heart.

No matter how hard kids work to keep clean on the surface, as they see their sin, they will think God can’t possibly love them. We twist the gospel when we imply that God’s favor depends on their behavior. Life changes are real when they come from the heart.

3. We reach a child’s heart for Christ through the gospel.

The gospel is the most important truth for us to teach a child. Paul emphasizes this in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

Gospel-centered teaching says our behavior can never be good enough to make us right with God. Before we deserve it, God reaches out to us in grace and mercy. He forgives those who turn from sin and trust in Jesus. We receive His mercy instead of punishment for sin because God’s justice was met through the death of His dearly loved Son on the cross.

Jesus lived FOR us. Jesus died FOR us. And Jesus was raised FOR us.

Jesus’ resurrection power gives us a new heart, a new mind, and new desires to live for God.

Gospel-centered teaching says God uses people who are weak and broken. Bible characters are imperfect. God did not choose Noah, Moses, and Abraham because of their character but because of His grace. God knows who we are. His love for us doesn’t change when we fail. His plan and His promises prevail in spite of our imperfections.

Truth: God reaches a child’s heart with the truth of the gospel.

Moralism and manipulation harden a child’s heart. But the gospel is God’s message of love and grace that transforms the heart of a child. Gospel-centered teaching wasn’t just for the Bible Study Fellowship children’s program. Something happened in my own heart as I became more amazed with the truth of God’s love and grace.

Joy and freedom are found in the discovery that God uses our weakness for His glory. He uses our brokenness to reveal His grace. This is a message of hope, not only for our children but for us all. As messed up as your life may be, there is hope. The gospel tells us this is true. To teach the truth of the gospel is to reach a child’s heart for Christ.

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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