Our last principle in “The Way of Freedom in Marriage” is “Learning to Talk Right.” By way of quick review, following are the six principles that create The Way of Freedomin Marriage. These six principles all deal with changing a person’s life on the inside creating a new life from within the heart. The old life of addiction and bad habits will always change when a new life is created on the inside. Remember, The Way of Freedom is not so much about stopping unwanted behavior as much as it is starting right behavior. The stopping is accomplished by the starting of something better. The Six Principles that we have been developing over the last several weeks are: (1) Confess Your Need for Freedom… (2) Make a Stand for Freedom… (3) Learn to Believe Right… (4) Learn to Think Right… (5) Learn to See Right… and in this article (6) Learn to Talk Right.
Your marriage will never be greater than how you talk about your marriage. Your love for a person will never be greater than the praise you speak towards that person. If you talk and speak average about your spouse your love for your spouse will be average. This principle is a God-given gift to mankind. The power of blessing and cursing is in your tongue or your words. Every married couple got married because of desirable and pleasant words. It was words that created the marriage and words will grow it and maintain it or destroy it.
“Let me illustrate a very famous experiment on the power of words performed by Dr. Mararu Emoto using water over cooked rice. Dr. Emoto used three different containers with three different labels for each. He filled each container with cooked rice and then labeled them: “Thank You,” “You’re An Idiot,” and left one unlabeled. Every day for one solid month, Dr. Emoto would speak to the container based on the labels. He spoke pleasant, affirming words to the rice labeled, “Thank You.” He yelled harsh, demeaning words to the “You’re An Idiot” jar; and the third jar, he simply ignored altogether. After thirty days of consistent treatment, the “Thank You” rice began to ferment, look appealing and give off a strong, pleasant aroma. The “You’re An Idiot” rice turned mostly black and mushy giving off a sour milk aroma, and the neglected rice simply began to rot and mold turning a disgusting greenish-blue color. Since then, other scientists, college students and even homeschoolers have duplicated this experiment witnessing the same or similar results proving how powerful your words are in producing the outcome in your life. Words are carriers of life or death. If rice can be affected by positive and negative words as well as total neglect, then how much more can your circumstances be dramatically affected by the same? Words are vehicles taking you closer to or further from your dreams! My question for you is this: Are your words limiting you or are they promoting you? Are your words demoralizing and destructive or are they courageous and constructive?” (Taken from “Pep Talk” pg. 185 by Terri Savelle Foy)
You can talk yourself into a great marriage or out of a great marriage. Notice in the experiment that just to avoid speaking negative words yet failing to speak positive words still creates a negative outcome. Your words play a key role in your ability to love and be loved. Attempting to improve your life or marriage while talking the same is like trying to start a car with no gas in the tank. So often couples with challenges in their marriage focuses upon unwanted behavior issues from their spouse. But if couples would learn to guard their words as they guard their cell phones, much of the unwanted behavior would go away. What you cannot talk about with a positive mindset you cannot improve. As long as couples use negative words to address negative issues, the negative issues will live on. Unproductive conflict demands negative words either in self-talk and or verbal talk. Fighting and yelling and cussing each other out all demand or require a self-talk that is self-centered and self-focused.
Learning how to talk right is so much more than talking positive. Learning to talk right starts with learning to get your inner self-talk right and only then will the verbal talk get right. Negative talk always flows from a negative heart.
The Way of Freedom
in Marriage - Part 6
The marriage you see is the marriage you experience. Your heart and life follows your eyes. God created you this way. What you see as treasure, there your heart will be. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Your heart follows your eyes. How you see your spouse, is how you will love your spouse. Your affections and desires can always be found on what your eyes treasures. Learning to see right is important.
Learning to see right is our fifth principle in The Way of Freedom in Marriage. If you missed any of the other four principles, you can review them in Suwannee Valley Times website at Suwanneevalleytimes.com and click on Marriage Articles.
Be careful how you see. The focus of a man’s life depends upon how and what he sees as treasurable. As long as a man sees alcohol as enjoyable and delightful, he will be drawn to it with the intensity of how joyful he sees alcohol. As long as a man sees pornography with enjoyment and pleasure, his desire will be heavily pulled that way.
This principle of learning to see right can change your life. Seeing your spouse with compassion and mercy opens your heart to love your spouse as treasure. Seeing your spouse as a gift from God fuels emotions of thanksgiving and gratefulness for your spouse. You simply cannot see your spouse poorly and yet love your spouse intimately. The reason you do not crave for can dog food with any desire is that you do not see can dog food as tasteful and desirable food to eat. Your behavior and habits follows your eyes - that is, how you see.
A common reason why folks live with immature behavior, bad habits,and hang ups is that they see themselves through eyes that justify and excuse what they do and say. As long as you see poor behavior as explainable, you will keep your poor behavior. But when a man learns to see his poor behavior with eyes that reject and distain the poor behavior, the will and discipline to overcome the poor behavior is created.
We are a generation that widely sees ourselves defensively. We see ourselves deserving more than life is giving us because in our eyes we are entitled to more. Self-centered eyes breeds poor behavior and poor habits. Eyes that justify and excuses feeds addiction and bondage. When a man sees his wife and children as treasure and deserving better, the will to become better is awakened.
One of the first lessons of life we learn from the Bible is that man’s choices are connected to how he sees. A man’s choice always follows his eyes. Consider: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6 ESV) Adam and Eve’s choice to eat the forbidden fruit followed their eyes. Satan took their strength (the power of seeing) and used it against them. Satan do not out muscle Adam and Eve, he out smarted them by using their own eyes to see what was forbidden with desire.
Beware of Satan’s trick. He still seeks to use a man’s eyes to see his spouse and marriage in the most negative way. He is the “pointer out” of all the flaws and weaknesses of your mate. Satan will never attempt to point out your spouse’s strengths but only flaws and blemishes. Don’t allow the enemy of marriage to highjack your eyes to see poorly. Learn to see the best. Learn to see poor behavior and bad habits as a rattle snake in your bedroom that must be addressed and taken care of. Learn to see yourself as more than a conqueror over all addictions and poor behavior. Learn to see the beauty of freedom and love. Learn to see the grass greener on your side of the fence.
And one last thing. Give your spouse good reasons to see you with joy and pleasure. By your words and actions, let your spouse see the best in and out of you. You control how your spouse sees you and thus how they love you.
The Way of Freedom
in Marriage - Part 4
Over our last three articles, we have been discussing “The Way of Freedom in Marriage.” The foundation for The Way of Freedom in Marriage is found in Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)… “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
There are six principles that make up The Way of Freedom in Marriage and we have discussed the first two already which are: (1) “Confess Your Need for Freedom” and (2) “Make a Stand for Freedom.” In this article we will discuss (3) “Learn to Believe Right” and in our upcoming articles we will discuss (4) “Learn to Think Right,” (5) “Learn to See Right,” and (6) “Learn to Talk Right.”
“Learning to Believe Right.” There are many lies that married couples commonly accept that keep them from real freedom in marriage. One such lie is, “Every marriage experiences fighting and heated conflict.” This is a lie. For this to be true, love and the institution of marriage itself would have to be flawed. God did not create a flawed institution called “marriage.” Love is not flawed because God is Love and God is not flawed. It is man who refuses to make a stand and fight for personal growth and freedom who brings flaws into love and marriage. Society may indeed produce a sorry picture of what marriage is like, but the “sorry” is not marriage but people who choose not to follow hard after real love in marriage. Anger in marriage is not freedom. Hurtful and mean-spirited words are not freedom in marriage. The lack of communication is not freedom in marriage. If you can tolerate and excuse this kind of behavior in your marriage, you are indeed in bondage. Freedom is found in real love.
So let us allow the flawless One, God, to explain what real love is… “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV) God would be unjust and unfair to expect us to walk in this kind of love if it were impossible or unrealistic. The truth is, you can love this way. It is a lie that you cannot.
The Message Translation reads 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 this way… “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies …” This love is built upon believing right that you can love this way.
This kind of love can be within your marriage. But it takes fighting for it. It takes a made up mind and an established heart that refuses to love less than God’s way. This kind of love is a choice. After the choice is made to love this way, the feelings of this love can follow. Believing the lie that all marriages have fights and heated conflict is not only a lie, but it excuses such behavior as normal. Of course conflict itself is normal in relationships and can actually be healthily for the relationship, but the conflict we are speaking of is conflict where love as seen in 1 Corinthians 13 is ignored and trampled upon.
Making a stand for freedom in marriage includes fighting for and making a stand for unconditional love. If you believe it is not possible, it will be. Entering into marriage believing the lie that it is only normal for marriages to experience fighting and heated conflict only opens the door for such experiences. Learn to believe right!
The Way of Freedom
in Marriage - Part 3
The foundational verse for “The Way of Freedom in Marriage” is found in Proverbs 28:13 NIV, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Creating a new life of freedom in marriage is built upon the foundation of developing a new mindset where you learn to “renounce” that which you seek to be free of. Renouncing is a choice…a deliberate action of choosing to see and think differently about that which you confess you need and desire freedom from. To renounce poor behavior is an attitude with a strong refusal to be subject to and bound by the poor behavior. Renouncing goes beyond confession and begins to work at changing oneself from the inside out. Renouncing is the process of changing on the inside
To renounce means: To disown; to disclaim; to reject; to refuse to own or acknowledge as belonging to; to renounce, deny, reject and disclaim the pleasure, desire, and enjoyment for something; to renounce allegiance; to cast off or reject, as a connection or possession; and to forsake.
The choice to renounce is an important step in freedom from any poor behavior or habit. Learning to renounce can be one of the most powerful tools in programming the brain to create feelings and emotions that reject and resist unwanted behavior. Renouncing is like holding up a defensive shield helping to defend yourself from temptation. Defeat is certain where there is no active renouncing. Renouncing is a mental and emotional choice to reject, resist, and overcome that which you desire freedom in. There is no lasting and permanent freedom without pro-activeness in renouncing unwanted habits and behavior.
So just how do you renounce bad habits and behavior?
Renouncing involves: 1) speaking against whatever behavior you seek to get rid of, 2) learning to see the poor behavior with rejection and hatred, and 3) deliberate thinking towards the poor behavior that rejects and despises the behavior. Renouncing is thinking thoughts of authority and power over the habit or addiction. Rather than a victim attitude, renouncing speaks against the habit or addiction with boldness and strength. Renouncing is a process of talking yourself out of any joy or pleasure of the habit or addiction. Renouncing talks of the benefits of freedom. Renouncing sees or ponders the end of where the habit or addiction will take you as it sees the rewards and benefits of freedom. Renouncing is seeing yourself better and above the habit.
Many couples confess their weaknesses but never renounce them. In others words, they never make a quality choice to reject, resist, and renounce their weaknesses. Confession without renouncing produces no permanent change.
In Genesis 39:4-12, we find the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife tempting him to commit adultery with her.
The key lesson in Joseph’s life is not his choice in running away from Potiphar’s wife but what empowered his choice to run. One of the biggest mistakes folks make in dealing with temptation is that they focus far too much attention and energy on resisting temptation after it arises rather than daily working the principles to reject temptation before it comes with all its enticement.
Let’s consider how Joseph renounced the temptation from Potiphar’s wife. Following are the words of Joseph as he talked himself out of temptation:
(A)”Behold, because of me my master (Potiphar) has no concern about anything.”
(B) “He has put everything that he has in my charge.”
(C) “He is not greater in this house than I am.”
(D) “Nor has he kept back anything from me except you.”
(E) “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
Joseph’s attitude, his way of seeing the temptation, his thinking, his reasoning, all empowered Joseph to run. Joseph’s character and integrity was founded upon his thought life…not his religion.
The Way of Freedom in marriage is to become serious about change and personal growth. Most couples are not ignorant of their weaknesses and poor behavior that causes conflict and trouble within their relationship. Freedom is not out of your reach. You can learn to renounce any behavior for this authority you possess right now. Your authority over poor behavior is not in your will power but in your voice. You don’t have too settle with bad habits. Life is too short to live with poor behavior.
The Way of Freedom in Marriage (Part 2)
Overcoming Bad Habits and Unwanted Behavior
The battle to overcome bad habits and unwanted behavior is a battle over focus more than a battle of discipline. When you only focus on your weakness, your weakness will remain your your weakness. The struggle many experience is that they are so aware and focused upon their weakness that it keeps them from becoming motivated about change.
Your focus determines motivation. When all you see is your weakness along with emotions of condemnation, your motivation for change will be greatly hindered. However, focus on what and who you can become creates motivation to change. Whatever your weakness may label you, you are not that label. You have only become that label. And if you have become that label, then you can become another label. Because others may label you as an addict does not mean that you are an addict. You only became an addict and if you became an addict you can become a free person. Your label is not you. It is only who you have become and therefore you can become someone different.
This truth is important as we approach our first principle of The Way of Freedom. The first principle is… “Confess your need for freedom” as found in our foundational verse… “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” Proverbs 28:13 (NIV). True confession is not merely admitting your weakness or sin but acknowledging the weakness with the conviction that you do not have to be limited or controlled by the weakness. If confession does not have intent and hope of change, then confession is just admitting the weakness. Many admit they have weaknesses yet without any hope, intent, or evening a willingness to change.
Confession has no power without the willingness and intent to change. I know addicts that freely confess they are addicts. But they lack motivation to change because their focus upon their addiction and its shame. Their addiction is their identity. They fail to focus upon an identity free of addiction. The power of confession is that you acknowledge weakness for the purpose of confronting weakness for positive change.Students enter college because they confess weakness in being who they seek to become. This confession does not condemn them but empowers them to confront their weakness with study to become the person in the field they desire. In the same way everyone seeking to become someone better must confess their need with the intent to do something about it.
Married couples often go through life admitting their weaknesses but never confessing their weakness with the intent to change. There is no power in admitting you are not perfect. This false humility only strengthens imperfections. It is not uncommon to hear a spouse boast in referring to their weaknesses as if they deserve honor for admitting them. But until they confess their weakness with the intent to change, they will not. How many times have we heard of an abusive spouse that afterward the abuse poured on the apologies freely confessing their wrong but with no intent to change.
Confession is not true confession without the intent to seek help for change. Confession without the intent to change is an habitual game many play to smooth over the negative effects of their poor behavior. Confession without the intent to change can also be self-centeredness seeking to make self feel better. Feeling better is not the intent of true confession, rather becoming someone better.
So our first principle is the cornerstone for all the other principles to build upon. The day one stops confessing their need for growth and to become better in life is the day one dies to becoming better and continuing in positive growth. The confession of pride may acknowledge they are not perfect but quickly follows the admission with, “But no one is perfect.” Such seek to justify their own weaknesses by magnifying the weaknesses of others. Real freedom is rooted in a lifestyle of confession that acknowledges room for improvement with the intent to do something about improving one’s self.
The journey to freedom begins with confessing weaknesses, hang-ups and habits that must be, can be, and will be overcome. Next principle will be discussed in the next issue.
The Way of Freedom in Marriage (Part 1)
Freedom from anger is within your reach. Freedom from pornography is easier than you may think. Freedom from what limits and controls you is realistic and doable. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing and explaining “The Way of Freedom” from habits, hang-ups, and addiction. “The Way of Freedom” is not so much about stopping unwanted behavior, rather, it’s more about starting right behavior. What we focus our attention upon we empower and give life into. “The Way of Freedom” is about changing our focus upon developing right habits from within that empowers right outward behavior.
Marriage is the one place where bad habits, behavioral hang-ups, and addiction effect the most. Attempting to build a better marriage without building a better you is not only frustrating, but a sure set up for repeated failure. The steps to a better marriage cannot be walked out until the steps to a better you are practiced. When you change for the better, the marriage will automatically change for the better.
Real and lasting freedom is not found in merely stopping unwanted behavior. Self discipline may stop or keep in control a bad habit but it can never create a new life from the inside out. True freedom is not simply stopping a bad habit but creating a new life from the inside out where the desire for the bad habit is replace with better desires that motivates better habits. If you don’t create a new life on the inside, then all the factors that brought you to your unwanted behavior will eventually catch up with you again.
The more that you continue with your old life….that is your old way of thinking, seeing, and talking…the greater you will struggle, fail, and come short of true freedom. Example, just because a person overcomes slamming the door with anger does not mean they are free from anger. Just because a man gets rid of his iPad, iPhone, and computer doesn’t mean he is free from porn. Freedom starts from the inside out.
Often, a major life experience will jump start a person to turn his or her life around. “Hitting rock bottom” is such a life experience. Life experiences that help jump start change could be a tragedy, some personal crisis, or experiencing a true touch of God. It must be understood that no life experience that jump starts change will ever remove the necessity of creating a new life on the inside within the soul and mind.
The Way of Freedom is not designed just for sobriety, but for a new way of living from the inside out. The foundation that a new life is built upon is accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, because The Way of Freedom is built upon principles, they can work for anyone who is willing to practice the principles. Nevertheless, the power and benefits of a new life is not really possible without accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior because only He offers such a new life called being “Born Again.” I have had those who have walked away from The Way of Freedom because they wanted a new and better life while holding on to their old way of life.
Following are six principles that create The Way of Freedom. These six principles all deal with changing a person’s life on the inside creating a new life from within the soul. The old life of addiction and bad habits will always change when a new life is created on the inside. The Way of Freedom’s six principles, when practiced, creates a new life from the inside out. Remember, The Way of Freedom is not so much about stopping unwanted behavior as much as it is starting right behavior. The stopping is accomplished by the starting of something better.
The foundation for The Way of Freedom is found in Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)…
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
The Six Principles that we will be developing over the next several weeks are:
(1) Confess Your Need for Freedom.
(2) Make a Stand for Freedom.
(3) Learn to Believe Right.
(4) Learn to Think Right.
(5) Learn to See Right.
(6) Learn to Talk Right.
Learning and practicing these six principles can, will, and do change a persons life from the inside out.
Honoring Your Spouse
Giving your spouse honor and respect is not measured in times of peace but in times of conflict and disagreement. Showing honor towards another is rooted in how a man sees and thinks about another. How a man sees and thinks about his wife and marriage will determine the level of honor he gives his wife, especially during times of frustration in the relationship.
Honoring your spouse can be defined as esteeming the value and worth of your spouse. Honoring your spouse can also be defined as the expression of respect or high estimation by words or actions towards your spouse.
Conflict in marriage is not evil nor destructive. It is dishonoring choices in words and behavior made in times of conflict that hurt and destroy. Showing honor is not a personality trait; it is a character trait of the eyes. This is why a humble observation of how a man treats and speaks to the waiter at the restaurant when she messes up his order is a good picture of how he treats and speaks to his wife when she frustrates him at home. Showing honor is deeper than good manners. Showing honor is founded upon how a man sees and thinks about others. Seldom will you find a man that faithfully honors his wife yet dishonors his sister or mother. Why? Because such a man has learned to see and think about others through his feelings and emotions rather than unconditional love. Where there is love for others there will be honor toward others.
So how does a man develop greater honor towards his spouse? The Bible teaches man not to think of himself more highly than he ought to but to think soberly (Romans 12:3). When your opinion of yourself is higher the your opinion of your spouse, showing honor will be inconsistent at best. The man who thinks or sees himself as a “know it all” will struggle showing honor when his opinions or whys are challenged. Honor cannot be developed in pride and self arrogance. Showing honor towards others is built upon humility. If a man sees himself better than his wife, he is already dishonoring her. Of course, this is true of the wife as well. If a wife sees herself better than her husband, she will struggle to honor him especially in times of conflict.
To illustrate just how powerful it is to see your spouse right, let me ask this question. How would it change the way a man sees his wife if he saw her as a precious gift from God that God has entrusted him to care for and protect? How you see is how you protect and value. The respect you have for your spouse’s feelings will be the respect you will show. The only way a man will honor his wife as a queen is if he sees and thinks of her as being a queen.
Another foundational corner stone that showing honor is built upon is having empathy towards others. The word empathy can be defined as: “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” Empathy is showing honor to the clerk at the grocery store who may have been rude to you but because you understand that the clerk may have just been screamed at or cussed out by the previous customer you are empowered to maintain honor towards the clerk. Empathy is rooted in how one sees and thinks about another. Better marriages are built upon better seeing and better thinking towards each other. It can never be overstated… “As a spouse thinks in his/her heart, so is their marriage (Proverbs 23:7 KJV). Empathy empowers a spouse to show mercy and grace. Empathy makes it easier to be quick to forgive and forget. Empathy is a key in not allowing the offenses of others to destroy your joy and honor.
So many folks are walking landmines exploding every time their toes are stepped upon through some offense. With such people all you have to do is just look at them the wrong way and they explode in defensive reaction to you. What joy and happiness that is sucked out of such people all because they see and think without empathy. Quality of life is founded in showing honor to others. Learn the joy of giving unconditional honor.
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