Monday, May 30, 2011

Curb Cutting Remarks

Proverbs 10:18-21; 32- 18) Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. 19) In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. 20) The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. 21) The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of wisdom.... 32) The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable, But the mouth of the wicked is perverse.

You would think we would learn early in life to measure our words before we say them; to listen to them twice in our mind before we say them once. The results can be catastrophic if we don’t. Words cut to the core of who we are, and a lot of damage can be created in a hurry when our tongue runs at a high RPM.

Here are some guidelines for measuring your words:

- Don’t be hasty. Think about what’s necessary. We’re taught never to turn a power tool on unless we know exactly what it is going to do when the blade starts turning. Consider the effect of what you’re about to say.

- Don’t exaggerate. Using the words “always” and “never” are good examples-save yourself some grief with your spouse before you say, “You always do this” or “You never do that.”

- Check your volume. Screaming and yelling to make your point may make you feel better in the short run, but it also gives you more to be sorry for later and causes damage that another may never get over.

- Always ask yourself: Do my words give life and edify, or do they tear others down?

By: Hugh Poland in The Master Carpenter

Which of the above guidelines might help me during a difficult discussion? I know we can all relate to these guidelines. We have the opportunity to practice them everyday in marriage, with our children, family, and friends. And yes, it takes practice. This does not always come natural. Especially when we have been hurt by the other person. I know I have blown it on many occasions, but I am putting to practice these guidelines. I can already see the difference with my spouse and with my children. So remember to stop and think before we speak. For some of us it may take a little more effort than others to start putting these guidelines into everyday practice with our family. But don’t give up, admit it when you have blown it. And continue to keep on trying. It will be well worth what you and your family will receive from it. Speak life, not death.

Mark Soto

Monday, May 23, 2011

50 Ideas to Inspire Your Husband

A wife has the unique ability to help her husband feel the freedom to reach his fullest potential as the man God has created him to be.
Janel Breitenstein

There’s an old joke about one of our presidents walking with his wife, who sees one of her old boyfriends in a less-than-glorious occupation. The president looks at the old boyfriend and remarks, “If you hadn’t married me, you might be married to that guy.”

The first lady answers calmly, “If I had married him, he’d be president.”

Now, occupation is not the measure of a man. But as a wife, you do possess a unique power to inspire your husband. Your loving vision of the man he’s becoming propels him toward greatness—not necessarily by the world’s yardstick of success, or even your own, but of God’s.

When you believe in him, he is secure. He can take the leaps of faith required to surmount fear. He can bear up under pressure, pioneer new territory.

An inspired husband feels the freedom to reach the fullest potential of the man God has created him to be. He’s not merely encouraged. He’s a man who’s empowered; a conqueror. If you want to give your man some “wind beneath his wings”… start here.

  1. Send him an e-mail. Example: “Praying for you today. Thanks for being so courageous in ___.”
  2. Give him one night on a regular basis to do something he loves.
  3. Consistently mention ways you see him growing to be more like Christ.
  4. Initiate great sex.
  5. Ask him about his “bucket list”—the top list of things he’d like to do in his lifetime.
  6. Give him a book or audio CD to learn about something he loves doing.
  7. Ask him about some dreams he has—and pray about them together, evaluating them. Then ask how you can help him go after them.
  8. Text him on a stressful day. Example: “REMINDER: I BELIEVE IN U.”
  9. Make sure he feels respected by you.
  10. Leave sticky notes in his lunch, on his steering wheel, in his briefcase, etc. “So proud of all you’ve been doing with ___”. “You are so great with our kids.” “You are my dream come true.” “You are an incredible lover.”
  11. Suggest that he take some time to go pursue a hobby.
  12. Leave a message on his voicemail: “Thanks for going to work every day to take care of our family. You are so good at what you do.”
  13. Ask him how you can pray for him at work. Later on in the week, get an update from him on what you’ve prayed for.
  14. Be proactive about doing something together that he really enjoys. Make a date, get him excited, and share his enthusiasm!
  15. Tell him areas he’s gifted in. Don’t stretch the truth: Be honest so he can trust you.
  16. Pray for him.
  17. Initiate great sex.
  18. Start and keep a “Dreams” binder with him. Include some travel brochures or whatever gets you both energized. In the back, make sure you have a “Dreams turned reality!” file.
  19. Talk with your husband about setting aside a small part of the budget to pursue the unique ways God has designed him (including his gifts, abilities, and passions)—through education or through sheer enjoyment.
  20. Post on his Facebook wall: “I love being your wife! See me tonight regarding this.”
  21. Gently communicate with him about what you like in bed, and respond encouragingly to his attempts.
  22. Remember a dream that he had a long time ago. Talk with him about whether it’s still a dream—and still a possibility.
  23. Ask God to open your eyes to the ways He has made your husband unique, and to give you wisdom about how to maximize that workmanship.
  24. Have your children write him notes or letters about what they love about him as a dad.
  25. Initiate great sex.
  26. Ban yourself from nagging, which is the Great Life-Sucker.
  27. Ask, “If I could do one thing that would really empower you and inspire you, what would it be?” Then listen, resist being defensive (the hard part), and follow through.
  28. Remind him of specific times when he’s made an impact on other people’s lives. “Hey, I was thinking the other day about all the time you invested in that Cub Scout troop. Wonder what those boys are doing now. It was so cool to watch them grow with you as their leader.” “Our son has grown so much in encouraging people lately. He gets that from you; you are such a good example for him in that.”
  29. Buy him something small to stoke the fires: A journal for a writer, some carpentry pencils for a woodworker, some grilling tools for the master chef. Add a sweet note: “Just because I love the way you’re made.”
  30. Do something fun and unexpected together. A few ideas to try: paintball; laser tag; on a spring day, have a picnic, blow bubbles, and bring the books you’re reading; swing; play a pickup game of a sport together; go to a drive-in movie, bring popcorn, and instigate a make-out session.
  31. Think about a way you’ve been hurting him, annoying him. Or there may be ways you’re not “seeing” him—not stepping into his world to understand what it’s like to be him, with all of the things he cares about. Apologize, and work hard at showing true change.
  32. Initiate great sex.
  33. Go to a home improvement store to plan a small, doable project that energizes both of you, even if it’s just painting a room or fixing up some landscaping. (Hint: Be positive that it’s something by which he won’t feel burdened.)
  34. With quality, complete something from his to-do list for him—something that he’d rather have you do anyway.
  35. Find a mutually enjoyable activity you like doing together on a regular basis, even if it’s as simple as playing the Wii together after the kids are in bed.
  36. Create a cheerful atmosphere when he comes home.
  37. Design a date night that will help him to de-stress and have fun.
  38. Discover his “love language,” and become fluent in it.
  39. Pray about and pursue at least one dream of your own, talking with him about it. An inspired wife breeds inspiration.
  40. What’s difficult about his life right now? Pray for his endurance, and encourage him specifically. Galatians 6:9 is a great start for both. Think, What can I do to ease the load he’s carrying?
  41. Organize or clean something in your home that you know he finds messy.
  42. Send a snail-mail love note to him at the office, affirming him in his work.
  43. Think of something on his honey-do list at home that he finds overwhelming or for which he doesn’t have much time. Talk with him (respectfully and gently) about the possibility of hiring someone to do it. Communicate clearly that it’s not because you find him incompetent, but that you want to free him up from a burden.
  44. Initiate great sex.
  45. Be a student of your husband. Does he feel inspired if he has all his ducks in a row? If he has a creative space to think? If he feels verbally affirmed?
  46. If your man is into dressing nice, go with him to shop for clothes in which he feels confident.
  47. Let him overhear you speaking well of him on the phone, among friends, or in public places. And to your mother.
  48. In his area of weakness, pray about how to subtly, gently step in and help him.
  49. Tell him what a great dad he is. Be specific.
  50. If and when he messes up, respond with the kind of grace, compassion, and mercy that God gives you. Respond in a way that communicates, You’re safe with me—and I’m not going to rehash your failures. This is a secure place for you to grow … and I love the journey with you.

This article originally appeared on MomLife Today, FamilyLife's blog for moms of all ages and stages of life

Friday, May 20, 2011

Let Someone In

Let someone in? Hey guys, we need to let other godly men into our lives. We need accountability. We need encouragement from other men. We need friendships. But does that come natural or do we need to make an effort to let someone in to our lives. We need to make a better effort as men to build friendships. I recently started a small group for men called Covenant Keepers. It’s to allow us as men to create an atmosphere to be open and transparent. A place where trust is established and we can be real. No shame, no guilt, a place where men can learn from each other, and a place to realize how much we have in common with our everyday struggles. I always think of Nathan, when he spoke into David’s life in Samuel 12. But also how David humbly realized what he did was wrong. Without another man speaking to David, would he of realized his wrongs or try to keep them hidden? Proverbs 27:5 says, “Better is open rebuke, than hidden love.” But when we establish true friendships with other men, and allow ourselves to be accountable to each other, God will speak through them so we can see our ways. Not to condemn, but to break us free from our sins. I have learned to be humble and allow friends to lovingly rebuke me. I have also learned to hear my wife, my kids, when they have something to say towards me or about my character. It is not always easy to hear the truth, but it will definitely make us better sons to big Poppa, better husbands, better father’s, better friends, and better men. Remember what stays in secret, gives the enemy authority over that sin. Once that is confessed, spoken out loud (especially to another brother) the enemy has no authority and allows God to wipe it away. We grow more mature, and become more like our Creator. We represent that to the world, to our wives, and to our children. We begin to lead by example; we begin to become spiritual leaders of our homes. So men, I urge to get connected with other godly men. Establish friendships that can be trusted. Allow yourself to be transparent. If we don’t keep it real, we don’t allow people to truthfully speak into our lives.

Mark Soto

Monday, May 16, 2011

Change Your Mind, Change Your Marriage

Thoughts and attitudes are like the engine of a train and our emotions and behavior are like the caboose.

Thoughts help form and determine your attitudes toward marriage. They determine how you feel about your mate as well as how you feel about being married in general. Thoughts can inspire hope – or take it away. Changing the way you think is like a locomotive that switches tracks and heads in a new direction, taking the rest of the train – behavior, actions, and habits – right along with it.

Paul obviously didn't have a train in mind when he offered his heart-felt instructions to the Christians in Rome – but it's still a useful metaphor. Pleading with the Romans to change their thoughts and actions, he said, "I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. . . . Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . . . Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment" (Romans 12:1–3).

The apostle is speaking about a major mind shift here. The word transform comes from the same basic root for the English word metamorphosis. As larvae go through a radical change to become butterflies, so must we sometimes radically change our minds in order to have a healthy faith and marriage.

When we do make this change, we will not think of ourselves higher than we should (v. 3), and our judgments (perceptions, beliefs, conclu­sions, attitudes) will be sober, clear, and accurate. Transforming our thinking can lead us to the right behaviors (vv. 9–21). The right behavior will then lead to the outcomes we want such as peace, intimacy, and oneness. The more we understand this principle, the more positive impact it will have on our relationships.

One of my good friends, Dr. Gary Rosberg, is one of the most spiritual men I know. When I grow up I want to be just like him. Whenever we're together, talk on the phone, correspond by e-mail, or chat after I finish a radio interview on his show, the last thing he always says to me is, "Hey Mitch, guard your heart, brother." This is another way of saying, "Be very careful to protect your mind from the wrong stuff. Put the right things in your mind. Protect it. Shield it from the bad influences." Just recently, after the birth of my first grandchild, Gary's message to me was: "Mitch, guard your heart, brother. The stakes just got higher."

I know Gary means for me to guard my heart in every area of life, including my relationship with Rhonda. Like a computer, if I put the right things into my mind, the right things will likely come out. Gary understands this. He knows that if my thinking is on track, then the rest of my life will be too.

Our Creator commands spouses – particularly husbands – to guard their hearts and thinking so that they do not forsake the wife of their youth (Malachi 2:14–16). God is serious about how we think and behave in our marriage. We should be too.

Sure, our actions may be due to "unthinking" habits we've fallen into. You may leave the bathroom messy every day without even thinking about it. Just part of the routine, right?

But if you really reflect on that habit, you may discover that there was a particular thought, belief, value, or idea that led you to the action – or at minimum maintained it. Maybe you thought at some time previously, I did this before I was married, so I should be able to keep on doing it. Or, What's the big deal? I'll clean up later, but now I'm in a hurry.

Sometimes, though, our distorted thinking can lead to consequences much more severe than squabbles about bathrooms.

By Mitch Temple

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Own My Reaction!

When your spouse negatively reacts towards you, what is your reaction towards your spouse?

Our spouse is not responsible for our reaction. We are responsible for the way we react towards our spouse, our children, family, friends, and whoever else.

The Apostle Peter tells us to dwell with our wife with understanding, or you can say to dwell with each other with understanding. It takes work and a true dependency on God to understand our spouse. But instead of responding in a negative way when you feel your spouse did first. Try extending grace, extending love, and try to understand why your spouse responded in a negative way. Even if you feel that you did nothing wrong at that moment or didn’t deserve that kind of response. When the time is right, let your spouse know how that made you feel. Don’t come in a finger pointing way, but tell them how you felt at that moment. Or you may already know why your spouse responded negatively. Take ownership to your part. First look to yourself before you look at your spouses issues.

Proverbs 24:3-4- Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

So next time you are offended by your spouse:

Control your words.


Extend grace, love, and forgiveness.

Try to understand the reasoning’s behind it.

When the time is right, express how that made

You feel.

Listen, hear your spouses heart.

Remember, don’t hold back on Grace, Love, and Forgiveness, it has not been withheld from you.

Mark Soto