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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!

How does one honor Mother’s Day in a blog that focuses on negative thinking?

 

Well, I’ve been thinking about that and it can be done.  But it will require a journey back in time, a time in my early twenties. (I am 64 now so that’s 40 something years ago.  Can anyone really remember back that far?)

Like many 20 year olds I was straining at the bit to discover what I was to be doing with my life.  I had my own ideas about what I wanted to do and often those ideas were in direct conflict with my parent’s ideas.  But look, I was in my 20’s and I didn’t necessarily have to agree with my parent’s ideas, right?  I had the right to speak my mind for I was an adult, (that was my thinking).

It was during this ‘testing of my wings’ time that I began to experience conflict with my mother.  For she had ways that I was quite judgmental of, so now and then I would confront her about those.  (For they were quite irritating to me, you see)  As you might expect, those confrontations usually ended in tears and hurtful words.  Slowly, through my own misguided attempts to point out to my mom areas where I thought she needed to make some changes, a wall began to form.

Then at age 21 I had an encounter with God that dramatically transformed my thinking–especially about the conflict between my mother and me.

As I grew in my devotion to God, He helped me to understand and see my mother in a clearer light.  He pointed out to me that to honor Him I would need to honor my mother.  And one of the ways I could do that was to stop trying to conform her into an image of my own making.

I felt very strongly that God was pointing out to me back then to accept my mother just the way she was.  I was to resist any attempt to point out changes I felt she needed to make.  Slowly that wall that I had constructed between us began to crumble.

So what’s the connection between fiery darts and what took place in my life  over 40 years ago?

I now know that my thinking back then was characteristic of a fiery dart attack.  All those common sense thoughts that convinced me my mother needed to be corrected were fiery darts aimed at damaging the relationship between she and I.

But when I allowed God’s Word to influence my thinking then my actions and attitudes towards my mother became more accepting.  So much so that those things which use to irritate me simply didn’t bother me anymore.

Even though I wasn’t wise to the particulars of Satan’s scheme to attack me with fiery darts, God was.  And because I was so saturated with God’s Truths, I was able to benefit from the wisdom of those Truths as I applied them to the struggling relationship I had with my mother.

As I listened and learned from God how to honor and show respect for my mother, our relationship steadily improved.  Now that I’m 64 and my mother is 90, I find that my admiration for her continues to increase.  I’m convinced that the relationship we have enjoyed through the years since that time in my 20’s is the by-product of a mother who was faithful to love (and forgive) and a daughter who chose to cooperate with God as He taught her how to honor and respect her mother.

Years later, as I absorbed less and less of God’s Word, I unknowingly allowed Satan to set me on a path of destruction.  But the unfailing love of God intervened and well you can read all about my rescue in Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice.

The Fiery Darts of Parenting Series – Negative Teasing!

Because my book only contains two areas of application (marriage and adolescence) where fiery darts are concerned, I am being impressed to include a series of posts having to do with the application of how to fight the fiery darts encountered in parenting!  Up until now, the theme of my blogs have been a bit random.  Well, maybe not a bit but a whole lot random.  It was suggested to me way back when I began blogging to do something like I am now attempting, but it just never happened.  So, here goes people.  As always, I welcome and appreciate your feedback.

NEGATIVE TEASING!

Oh, mom, I was only teasing!  You know I don’t really mean that!  Lighten up, we were only having fun.  

Are you kidding me? !  Since when has it been okay to put someone down or say all manner of false things about them as long as you say it in a kidding way?  Since our day, that’s when.  And may I be more specific here–since our kids (and us adults) have been exposed to a steady diet of negative teasing disguised as humor on almost any sitcom you care to watch.  TV and movies are masters (and I emphasize the word, ‘masters’) at this type of negative humor and the power of their influence can be seen and felt whenever a group of people are hanging out together. (It makes me sad to write that!) 

Given the fallen nature of man, we shouldn’t be surprised that we have succumbed to thinking that humor is a lot more funny if the words we use are negative!  And while I’m not surprised that people who reject Christ and His teachings have embraced this type of humor, it bothers me DEEPLY that Christians have bought into this LIE! (I’m just calling it like I see it folks)  Actually, it’s one of the most popular and successful fiery darts in use today! Um!

I was disturbed about this when my own children were small.  So much so that I became very selective about what they watched on tv and videos (no dvd’s back then) and I limited their amount of exposure to both.  That’s when the family rule, NO NEGATIVE TEASING, came to be established.

Here’s an example of it’s early beginnings.  When anger is being expressed, it’s only natural to verbally express that anger.  Right?  And you can’t use just any words!  It has to be words that pack a punch!  So, whenever my children expressed anger in the midst of some conflict they were having with each other, out would come those words that had been sitting there in their minds just waiting for the opportunity to be released!  It would be at times such as these that they would hear me say something like the following:

  “Your sister (or brother) has a perfectly good name.  You will use that name when addressing each other.”

My children figured out that they could get away with using hurtful or negative words as long as they cloaked it in humor.  (Do you suppose the idea originated with Mary Poppins?  You know, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down! There goes that fallen nature again, taking a good idea and perverting it!)

Well, just like Barney Fife, I nipped that negative teasing in the bud!  Whenever, I heard negative teasing disrupting the peace of our home, I countered with what became a very familiar phrase around our house,

“That’s negative teasing!”

It worked pretty good, I’m pleased to say.  And you can be sure that as my children grew older and wiser, they wouldn’t hesitate to call their father or I down when they heard either one of us violate the family rule!  (Parent’s struggle with that ole fallen nature too, you know! Not an excuse; just stating a fact:(  My children held my feet to the fire on that WHENEVER they had the opportunity.  (Don’t you just love the accountability factor that can prevail in a family!)

Actually, it’s all about making memories (which I’ll cover in another post).  I was keenly aware that my children would be making all sorts of memories as they grew up in our home.  I was determined and deliberate that most of those memories would be positive.  Therefore, negative teasing had no place in our home.  And apparently, God agreed!  Note the following verse:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Taking this verse to heart then we will examine the words that are coming out of our mouths either in anger or in jest and if those words don’t build up those who are listening to us according to their needs, then we need to zip it! And keep it zipped until we have determined what our hearers need to hear and thereafter, fashion our words accordingly.  Good idea?

 

Watch Your Mouth!

The more I learn about fiery darts, the more my awareness of their deadly work increases.  In this post, I would like to point out how things we say can set up another to have a major struggle with fiery darts.  At this point I haven’t quite figured out how to resolve this dilemma but here’s what I have noticed.

As an example, let’s say someone says something to you of a critical nature.  You receive their words and  the floodgate is opened to a variety of fiery darts.  The struggle is on, while you try to thwart each attack with Isaiah 54:17,

“No weapon that is formed against you will prevail.”

 You try to not overreact and try to respond reasonably, yet you cannot deny that your feelings have been hurt. Obviously, their criticism is unjust and now your struggle is weighted down by trying to figured out how you can respond without accepting blame you do not deserve but at the same time be open to see their side of it.  The onslaught of attacks are only intensified at this point, for  your resolve to stand strong against the fiery darts and their critical words begins to wear on you.

But you keep going back to the Truth of the particular situation and with a great deal of help from God, you find your footing.

THEN

you find out they were only teasing and even though they know you didn’t ‘get it’, they remain insensitive to the pain inflicted by their negative teasing. So now, you’ve got a new phase of fiery darts to deal with, ugh!  It’s not as easy to laugh at yourself as it is for the person who criticized you in jest, but you try. What do you do with that real pain you struggled with?  Does it never end?

Well, you move on, determined to not allow this to negatively affect the relationship but wondering if you should have a frank conversation with this person about the carelessness and insensitivity of their little joke.  But wait, if you do, will they take you seriously or will they just say you’re making a mountain out of a molehill?  The last thing you want is to make an honest appeal to them concerning your feelings only to have them be lightly or casually dismissed.

In this example, can you see how we set each other up to be attacked by fiery darts?  I think situations like this can be remedied by making sure that our intentions or meanings to what we say are clearly received by others.  And if we aren’t sure about the intention of something said to us, then we should ask a simple question like, “Are you saying …….?”  Then too, keeping the following verse in mind, could help a lot–especially when we are in teasing mode:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

Just a thought.  What do you think?