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Listening with the intent to understand!

    I think guys, especially husbands, are convinced that it is impossible for them to understand their wives. (I know you know what I would call that!!!!) Therefore, husbands throw up their hands at the thought of trying to understand their wives, because the enemy has convinced them it’s impossible. 

     Ah, but God, has something quite different to say to husbands about understanding their wives in 1 Peter 3:7,

In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner, as with a most delicate partner. . . ISV

     I am quite sure that the reason this fiery dart has infiltrated the thinking of husbands is because our Enemy, Satan, knows full well the blessed effect this will have on the relationship between a husband and wife. So, he cuts them off from these blessings by lying to husbands and convincing them that understanding their wives is all but impossible. 

A personal testimony to the power of understanding

I can remember vividly a time when my son was about to leave to serve as a missionary in South America! We were driving around doing some shopping to prepare for his hiking of the AT and the night before he revealed to me his plan to go to South America.

I was overwhelmed! With great effort I had finally come to the point where I could release him to solo hike the AT and the night before, he had sprung this news on me! I remember privately crying out to God, “Really, God, couldn’t this news have waited a bit? I’m not at all sure I can do this!” 

As we drove around the next day, I labored under the burden of deep sadness, trying all the while to keep it from my son! Then my son said this, “Mom, I understand that this is going to be harder on you than anyone else.” Well, the floodgates opened and the tears flowed like a river. But they were not tears of heartbreak that my son was leaving me! No, indeed, they were tears of relief because he understood my pain. From those precious words of understanding, I drew the strength that would empower me to do this hard thing. It was all I needed to move forward.

     Now, I realize this isn’t a husband/wife scenario but it is a scenario that husbands can draw from to grasp the power of understanding your wife.

     Everyone, especially wives, have a deep desire to be understood by at least one person and the person of preference is their husbands. Their husband’s understanding is the source of their strength to deal with hard things. If they don’t feel they have their husband’s understanding they become all the more vulnerable to Satan’s fiery darts of self loathing, depression, taking personally all the negative things that you and others say about them, and wounding their hearts more deeply than you can imagine.

     Husbands, don’t allow the enemy to convince you that you can’t understand your wife. The Truth Thought is that God has mandated that you do. And when you commit to this, then God will show you how it’s done. Therefore, listen to your wife with the intent to understand, not to judge or criticize! The rest of verse 7 points out why understanding your wife is so important. 

Honor them as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing may interfere with your prayers.

After writing this post, I had a thought I want to share. It’s a good thing husband’s to praise your wives, but timing is everything. During a difficult or stressful moment an understanding word may be what’s required rather than praises! For your praises will ring hollow if they feel you lack understanding of their need during that moment. 

God Alone is Enough!

   Fiery darts can be defeated. If you have followed my blog, you know this to be True. Yet, some attacks take longer to defeat than others. And if you’ve noticed, the fiery darts that attack us within the realm of personal relationships, are the deadliest–especially if you have struggled with these attacks for years on end.

   Fiery dart attacks that we are still wrestling with after years of seeming defeat, push us to the brink of despair, frustration, and hopelessness. During such an ongoing battle we are tempted to loose our focus and like Peter we can feel ourselves sinking beneath the waves of the storm. But even as we feel ourselves sinking, like Peter, we must remember to cry out, “Lord, save me!”

And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”… Matthew 14:29-30

   These ongoing attacks require a strong & singular faith. A faith that is based on God and God alone; even when our prayers have proven fruitless. In these situations, when things don’t turn out  as we had planned and don’t look like they ever will, God has to be enough. Even in the midst of seeming defeat, God assures us that we can know victory!

Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights! Habakkuk 3:17-19

   Just remember, the enemy’s plan is to control our focus and lock it onto the things we think we lack instead of the all consuming presence of God where we discover we lack nothing! For in this state we wake up to the Truth that when we have God in Christ we have everything we need! 

 

 

Questions for Parents!

   It troubles my heart as I observe Christian single individuals choosing a path (a path influenced by a world that has rejected Christ) but one they hope will led them to happiness, only to find disappointment and heartache, instead. I wonder, what were the fiery darts Satan used to manipulate these individuals? Perhaps this excerpt from my book, exposes some of Satan’s deception:

Reconsider the effect of the Adamic Curse. Society tells us that we need to search, that means by dating, for someone who will complete us, someone that will make us happy. If we buy into this thought, then Satan has no trouble fashioning a most deceptive fiery dart that will convince us that as individuals we are incomplete and we need the love of another person to make us whole. This fiery dart assumes we do not realize that it is the love of God that completes us and makes us whole, not a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex. FD, p. 55-56

   In my book I expose Satan’s intent when it come to planting thoughts into our mind that eventually leads to the heartache and disappointment to which many fall victim!

Scriptures are obvious in describing Satan’s plan in John 10:10a, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;…” (NIV) So what is it that the Enemy desires to steal, kill, and destroy? The answer is obvious – anything God has planned for us!

  I have observed a dramatic difference in the lives of Christian single individuals who have discovered that a relationship with Christ goes beyond salvation! They have discovered that a deep relationship with Christ is what makes them whole and complete (even if, and especially if, they come from homes that failed to teach them this Truth). For these individuals Christ has become the deepest desire of their hearts. I have noticed that when they experience disappointment, that disappointment doesn’t rule them or ruin them. Instead, they trust Christ with all their heart and resist the temptation to try and figure out what went wrong on their own. Because the deepest desire of their heart is Christ, they trust Him to direct their path and lead them forward in His strength. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Therefore, Parents, here are a couple of questions I want to pose to you.

Are you raising your children to desire Jesus above all else?

Is Jesus the deepest desire of your heart?

Who’s Messing With Your Self Worth?

The Cognitive Triangle

The Cognitive Triangle

First we entertain a thought. That thought will cause certain related feelings. Thus, behavior is based on our thoughts and feelings.  p.16, FD

     Several years ago and over a two year period of time, I suffered from a serious bout of depression. I remember battling suicidal thoughts and deep sadness to the point that my prayers became a desperate cry for God to hold on to me because I had no strength left to hold on to Him.  I survived that dark time in my life but that’s about it. It wouldn’t be until several years later as God initiated my training in fiery dart recognition that I would be able to recognize the bondage that defined my existence during those two years. 

Here’s what happened to me and I see this same overused but deadly effective tactic of Satan’s still being used today!

     Refer to the diagram above. In my case I was a people pleaser. If I felt significant people in my life approved of me, then life was good and I felt good about myself. On the other hand, if there was strife or conflict in these relationships life was not good and I became convinced I had little reason to feel good about myself. Self approval you see was strongly connected to what others thought of me. (Or what I thought they thought!)

Do you see the pattern?

     First this negative thought (fiery dart remember) would plant itself into my head producing some very negative feelings or emotions. Never mind that these negative thoughts had no basis in Truth! The poison of these fiery darts seeped into my thinking producing destructive attitudes and behavior. 

     The purpose of these fiery darts, you see, was to diminish any sense of self worth that I might still possess. I was an easy target because it was way too important for me to have the good opinion of those significant people in my life. As relationships with these people deteriorated, so did my self worth.

I wonder if I have touched a nerve? 

     Are you sad seemingly all the time? Are you convinced you don’t measure up and that significant persons in your life don’t approve of you? Does the dangerous thought that your family would be better off without you ever sneak into your mind? Please hold on, for I have glorious news for you in my next post. In the meantime hold on to the following verse,

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Just read the Book!

     Recently, I came across a Facebook post of a young woman that troubled my heart. Her words revealed that fiery darts had completely obliterated her understanding of genuine love. Her words spoke of a relationship that was deceptive, inflicted pain, played games, desired what was not theirs! A relationship much like her divorced parents. What troubles me? Both the young woman and her divorced parents are products of the Christian church.

     Sadly, too many Christians have succumbed to the fiery dart (the temptation) to spend less and less time in prayer and Bible study. Much of the pain and trouble we have come to know in our marriages can be traced back to this fiery dart.  The more time we spend away from God the more disconnected we become and the more cloudy becomes our understanding of how to live life! 

. . .Again I must emphasize the necessity to persevere in prayer and Bible study!. . .What we teach our children, how we define true love, how we view our marriage, how we deal with difficulties, etc., will all be influenced by what we learn from God’s Word and prayer. FD, p. 76

     Is it any wonder that when we push the map (God’s Word) aside, we loose sight of how to get to where we need to go? The Bible, for instance, gives us precise instruction as to the purpose of marriage in Ephesians 5:25-26. But if we don’t avail ourselves to this wisdom, then we have the bloody mess (sorry, but I’m feeling this pretty strongly)  we find ourselves in today! 

. . .They don’t see how fiery darts have so dulled their sensitivity toward the things of God, that they honestly think they have no alternative other than divorce. Because, you see, that marriage was all about them; they just couldn’t see that it was an instrument of God’s to conform them into the image of His Son and draw an unbelieving world to Himself! FD, p. 75

    Did you realize that most people are clueless about why God designed marriage. Though we are without excuse, many of us in the church are as well! Please consider reading my book and in particular chapters 7 & 8, for more insight into love and marriage and God’s design for both.  

Just Resist!

     As some of you may know, I write another blog about being a parent of a foreign missionary, giving a transparent view of what that’s like. This post gives some insight as to what I’ve learned about fiery darts as it applies to being the mom of a missionary. 

All 9 of my treasures!

All 9 of my treasures!

 

     Every time I see a picture of my 20 month old grandson or hear his voice when his daddy calls me, I get blasted with a huge onslaught of fiery darts such as:

-my grandson doesn’t know me

-the memories I am making with my grandchildren here always exclude him

-he has no memory of our time together (when he was 3 & 4 months)

-I miss out on the milestones of his development; first steps, crawling, first words, first tooth

-I can’t hug him, or hold him, or play with him, or rock him to sleep

-etc.

 

How on earth do I find a way to get through my days burdened with these thoughts?

The main thing I do is to RESIST these thoughts. Yes, they are true but what good does it do to dwell on them? I don’t particularly enjoy being miserable but if I allow these fiery dart thoughts to rule my thinking then miserable I would be.

What do I do instead?

I recognize them for the fiery darts they are.

I reject them. (I don’t allow myself to dwell on such thoughts)

I replace these thoughts with truth thoughts.

Such as:

-Thanking God for the time I got to visit him where I held him, sang to him, and lavished as much attention on him as I could.

-Looking forward to future visits with him for he will be 2+ and might even be able to remember me some.

-Resting in the peace that God will give us a special attachment for each other.

-Being content to share in his life though packages from home, and whatever media source God provides.

-Thanking God for the relationship I have with his parents knowing they will be deliberate about making sure my grandson will know me.

     But the main thing is to accept and be at peace with the call of God on his parent’s life, and giving them all the love and support they deserve. Philippines 4:6-7 is my stabilizing force in all of this:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.-

God does not want you to be unhappy or to suffer.

The title of this post contains two powerful fiery darts that when working in tandem produce a force so powerful that few can withstand it.  Sadly even Christians, (especially those who have been desensitized to God’s Truth), fall prey to the deceptive destruction of this wicked duo!

Folks, I’m convinced, the world (and desensitized Christians), have a misconception of suffering.  I think I can figure out why the world doesn’t understand suffering but why Christians?

Here’s my explanation!

Before Satan can be successful with the use of fiery darts, he must do a little groundwork.  As I mentioned in the latter part of Chapter Two, in order for us to be desensitized toward the lies of fiery darts, we must have our understanding of the Truths of Scripture diminished.  By tempting us to spend little time in God’s Word, our ability to recognize the lies of fiery darts is equally diminished if we give in to that temptation.  In the place of God’s Truth, the world’s concept of truth begins to define our thinking. p. 23, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

Okay, in a nutshell!

Christians don’t read and study their Bibles enough!

And because they don’t read and study their Bibles enough, they can be more easily persuaded that their goal in life is to be happy (with as little suffering as possible).  But no one lives this life without experiencing suffering–no one.  So where did we get the idea that we aren’t suppose to suffer?

When the world’s concept of truth trumps God’s Word in people’s minds (and I’m talking about church going people) then their minds become a target for fiery dart thinking. Thinking that keeps us from understanding that it’s not the suffering that’s the problem.  It’s how we react to suffering that is the problem!

When we begin to grow unhappy in a relationship, say a marriage, then fiery dart thinking will tempt us to justifying leaving the marriage.  For instance, the following thoughts are typical of the line of reasoning your thoughts might take:

“God doesn’t want me to be miserable.  Staying in this marriage makes me miserable, and that’s not good for my children.  If I could be happier with someone else then my children would be better off.”

Our world today tells us that if you aren’t happy in your relationship then the most logical and best solution is to break it off.  And since that is what most want to hear, it’s embraced as Truth.  But you know what the Truth is here?  Read this:

There is a way that seems right to a man,But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

I’m pretty sure that the root of our problem lies on p. 67 of Fiery Dart: Satan’s Weapon of Choice.

Because of the Adamic Curse everything in this world serves our flesh.  Therefore, relationships will exist to serve our wants and needs.  This is why the fiery dart that “marriage exists to make us happy” is so powerful.

BUT HOLD ON, THAT’S JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG,

READ ON: (As Mr. Bennett says)

Something basic to living life as a Christian must be nailed down here before we can successfully move forward.  The purpose for which we exist is to be conformed into the image of Christ. Colossians 3:9-10: “Do not lie to one another, for you have taken off the old self with its habits and have put on the new self. This is the new being which God, its Creator, is constantly renewing in his own image, in order to bring you to a full knowledge of himself.” (Good News Bible)

That means that everything and every relationship in our experience exists to serve the purpose of conforming us into God’s image in order to bring us into a full knowledge of Himself.  As we become more like Christ, we are going to grow into a fuller knowledge of God.

         So, how does the purpose for which we are to exist relate to the purpose of marriage?  In the book entitled, Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas, an intriguing question is asked, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” pp. 67-68, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice

READ ON:

Therefore, if marriage is designed to make us holy, then that involves conforming us into the image of Christ.  But how is that accomplished?  Scripture answers this question by pointing out that marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Church.  Ephesians 5:25-26, p. 68, Fiery Darts

READ ON:

The husband, then, is to love his wife using the way in which Christ loved the church as his blueprint and the wife is to respect her husband using the church’s submission to Christ as her blueprint.  The sanctification process, that is the process of making us holy, is the motivation for the husband to love his wife and the wife to respect her husband. When you see yourself and your spouse as objects of sanctification then how you treat each other will be defined by that understanding. p. 69, Fiery Darts

There’s a lot more in my book on this subject but honestly when I read Gary Thomas’s book, I confess the concept of the purpose of marriage to make us holy was news to me! ! ! ! !  But folks, it makes sense.  A lot of sense.

Have you ever thought, “I’m not happy anymore in this marriage (relationship),” and began contemplating ending the relationship?  Perhaps, you should read the rest of my book!