7 Tips to Improve Communication in Your Marriage

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

The idea of treating others the way we want to be treated sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? And yet, nowhere in life is this more tested than in marriage. To the person we’ve entered into covenant with, the idea of loving, honoring and cherishing them with our words as well as our actions sometimes becomes challenging.

We struggle to control our tongues, and instead, we can succumb to the temptation to lash out when difficulties arise or life becomes hectic. One sharp response leads to another and then another. Before long, we’ve developed a habit that brings only anger, pain and sadness. If you want to improve your marriage so it reflects a more loving and kind communication style, then here are seven tips to get you started.

 

1. Respond in Love, Not Anger

The enemy loves to stir up strife, and one of the best ways to do that is to entice you to give in to anger. Proverbs 14:29 wisely tells us, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” Foolishness has no place in our marriages. That’s not to say that we can’t address issues that need addressing or speak our minds. In fact, it’s dangerous to the health of our marriages if we don’t, but when we address issues, we should do so in love, not in anger. Our goal should never be to punish or cause pain, but rather, to bridge our differences and bring about godly understanding.

 

2. Believe the Best

As spouses, we play unique roles in the life of our mates—as encouragers, truth-tellers and prayer warriors, just to name a few. Our spouses need us in their corner. They need us to believe that they are doing their best at work and at home. Their best may fall short of perfection, but everyone’s does, even our own. Instead of expecting the worst, anticipating their shortcomings, or worse, throwing their shortcomings up in their face, we can stand in faith believing that they are doing all they can to be the best possible spouses and parents. It’s one more way we can live out the Golden Rule.

 

3. Forgive… Completely

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Marriage will absolutely give us chances to practice walking in forgiveness. If we have truly forgiven our spouses of their shortcomings and mistakes, then we won’t return to former wounds when we have an argument. No, if we forgive, then we will put the incident in the past and refuse to dwell on it. And when that incident comes to our minds, instead of dwelling on it or giving the enemy a foothold in our marriage, we can proclaim, “I have forgiven that, and I refuse to dwell on it. I plead the blood of Jesus over that memory and that offense, and I make the quality decision by faith to put it behind me.”

4. Speak Kindly to Your Spouse

As believers, we know there is power in the words we speak. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that the words we speak “can bring death or life” (Proverbs 18:21). In relation to our spouses, our words can either build them up so that they can effectively accomplish God’s plan for their lives, or our words can tear them down. We must recognize that we wield an immense power in their lives. Therefore, we should speak kindly when we talk to them and refuse to give into flippant, hurtful, accusatory or even sarcastic words.

 

5. Speak Kindly About Your Spouse

Just as important as it is for us to speak kindly to our spouses, it’s equally important to speak kindly about them. How we speak about them will affect how we and others perceive them. If we want others to love and respect our spouses as much as we do, we must commit to speaking kindly and respectfully about them.

 

6. Communicate Openly and Honestly

Good communication is key in marriage, but it doesn’t always come naturally. If you need help learning how to communicate effectively—with kindness, openness and honesty—then you should find a marriage seminar through your local church, meet with a Spirit-led counselor to help you learn, or find a respected mentor to encourage you.

 

7. Disagree Honorably

Disagreements will happen in marriage. It’s simply part of two people living together for any length of time. However, those disagreements don’t have to become abusive or destructive. No, we can disagree honorably and openly by addressing our points of view without succumbing to destructive accusations. We can eliminate words like always and never from our communication. For instance, we can avoid saying things like, “You never spend time with my family,” “You never stick to our budget,” “You’re always late,” or “You’re always critical of the kids!” A good Spirit-led counselor can assist us in learning how to disagree honorably, thus strengthening our marriages instead of weakening them.

 

Good communication in marriage is a practiced art. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take years to master. As you work to improve, put these seven tips into practice in your marriage. And if you find that you need the additional help of a respected mentor or counselor, you can look to your local church for recommendations. If you have yet to find a strong faith-based church,visit KCM’s Partner Churches page for listings. May our marriages—like everything else in our lives—bring glory and honor to the Lord!

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YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE

The celebration of Independence Day by our nation each year ushers in a time of rest, enjoyment, great food and even greater displays of fireworks. All across the land you can witness the elaborate display of our independence. But in life, we have another kind of independence that carries with it even more blessings and rights than our national independence.

I call it spiritual independence.

If you have named the name of Christ as your only Lord and Savior, you have declared independence from the rule of sin and Satan over your life. You have been set free. As Colossians 1:13 tells us, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

Having declared spiritual independence from the rule of Satan, though, you may be wondering why you are still in a fight. You may be curious why it often feels you are still in a battle. Just like America didn’t secure her freedom simply by asking or declaring it to be so, Satan is not about to let you go without putting up his opposition.

Satan knows that when and if he lets you out from under his influence, you become too dangerous to his agenda. Instead of him telling you what to do,you will be telling him what you are going to do. That doesn’t sit well with Satan at all. Even though you have been legally set free from the reign of sin in your life, Satan does not want you to beexperientially set free.

It’s one thing to have a status of freedom; it’s another thing entirely to experience it.

My hope for you, dear friend, is that you will be brought into the full realization and experience ofYOUR spiritual freedom. Jesus Christ, through the apostle John, wrote a message to the seven churches of Asia Minor where He addresses your freedom in a number of ways. Now, before we dive in, I want to point out that throughout the book of Revelation, the number SEVEN comes up regularly. We read there are:

  • Seven churches (1:4, 11, 20)
  • Seven golden lampstands (1:12-13, 20; 2:1)
  • Seven stars (1:16, 20; 2:1; 3:1)
  • Seven spirits (1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6)
  • Seven lamps (4:5)
  • Seven seals (5:1, 5)
  • Seven horns (5:6)

These are just a few of the mentions of seven in Revelation. There are many more. The number seven in the Bible is the number of completeness and fullness. When the number SEVEN is used, it often means things have reached their full expression. It is also the number often used to signify perfection. When we see Jesus writing to these SEVEN churches, we can infer that He wants them to be complete, fulfilled and not lacking. Therefore, He gives each of the SEVEN churches specific areas in which to improve. In a sense, He is saying to them, “If you strive in each of these areas, you will have overcome completely.”

Even though each church has its own uniqueness, problems, pressures and burdens—the message is actually very much the same to all. This is why even though each of us comes to this study and teaching series with different needs and issues—some may be emotional, others physical, circumstantial, financial, career-based and more—the solution rests in the same concept.

While the specificity of everyone’s situation will need to be addressed differently, the overarching solution lies in one approach. We read it several times in these passages in Revelation:

  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:7)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:11)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:17)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:29)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (3:6)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (3:13)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (3:22)

SEVEN times Christ says the same exact thing, “He who has an ear, let him hear.” Every one of His messages—although each is to a different group of people who have a different set of problems—boils down to the same common solution.

This implies that it is possible to have an ear and not hear. It is possible to get the audio and watch the video and still not get the truth. He is saying that whoever has the capacity to receive the data ought to take heed to it. Because the hearing with the ear has as its goal the heeding of the truth.

All of us have things we need to overcome. These are challenges, circumstances, emotions, habits or situations that are holding us down. But guess what? God not only wants you to overcome life’s scenarios, He has provided the way for you to do just that. Isn’t it time you experienced your complete spiritual victory and freedom?

Man of Prayer 

In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. Psalm 109:4

 

A man of prayer prays. It is his first line of defense and his most effective offensive strategy. Prayer is not an afterthought for a man of prayer; it is not a last ditch engagement with the eternal but is the first thing to come to mind. Prayer is not just a demonstration of discipline and determination, but a desperate dependence on God. It is conversing with Christ,  not just asking God for goodies and guarantees. The man of prayer enters into intimacy with the Almighty. He realizes that God is in control and His wisdom is needed for life and work. Prayer precludes pain by providing patience. It forecasts disaster by giving warning. It discerns clumsy and destructive decisions by cultivating understanding and discernment.

 

A man of prayer avoids self-inflicted problems because he prays first. Prayer is medicine for the sick and refreshment for the soul. Prayer may be the best gift you can give someone. You may not have silver and gold to give, but you can give prayer (Acts 3:6). A man of prayer does not talk about praying, with a simple, “I’ll pray for you.” On the contrary, with a seriousness of purpose and responsibility, he stops what he is doing and lifts to heaven the concerns of the one requesting prayer. As you hear him pray, a peace and calm overcome you. It is encouragement from on high. His is not a stale prayer but fresh, because the man of prayer has been in prayer. A man of prayer prays for his spouse and for the spouses of his children. He leads his wife in prayer. He keeps his logical mind in check by checking in with Christ.

 

Start by getting on your knees for five minutes each morning. Prayerful posture is important to a man of prayer. His stature is humble and dependent. Therefore, humble yourself daily before your heavenly Father. Lay face down on the floor, if necessary. Then get up and consider making a prayer list. However, do not sell yourself short by feeling unqualified to be a man of prayer. This role is not reserved for the super righteous. It is for adulterers, liars, and murderers like David (Psalm 51). A man of prayer is still a man in recovery from sin. Sin does not cease to hound the man who prays, but it drives him to pray; then sin’s influence is stunted in the face of the man of prayer. It is hard to sin while you pray. There is accountability to God that bolsters the man of prayer in his everyday life.

 

Indeed, there is a direct correlation between prayer and purposeful living. “Man of Prayer” is not a title that comes with a badge to flaunt. Instead, it is a discreet lifestyle of continual prayer. It becomes a habit of life, like eating and sleeping. Prayer, for a man of prayer, is not an elective. It is a required course. It is core curriculum. Moreover, the man of prayer cannot be pigeonholed as to his behavior and speech. He comes in all shapes and sizes, depending on his God-given temperament. He is humorous and humble; He is loud and he is quiet; He is spontaneous and he is methodical; He is creative and he is concrete; He is eloquent and he is simple. However, there is one thing he is not: He is neither proud nor arrogant. People are his pleasure and heaven is his home, where he checks in often. Jesus is his “go-to man.” Worship, thanksgiving, praise, and adoration permeate the prayers of a man of prayer. A man of prayer prays.

 

“Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I humbly submit to You and seek Your face for wisdom to be a dad who loves my children in a way that makes them feel loved well, in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Application: What interests my child that I can show an interest in with them?

 

Related Readings: Nehemiah 2:4, 9:5-36; Jonah 2:2-9; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Timothy 2:8

Imperfect Fathers 

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. Luke 15:11-12 

 

All fathers are a work in process—none perfect, no not one. Boy, do I still feel this—even though my oldest child is 33 years old! I prayed Rebekah (our first child) would have extra patience since I was always practicing on her. Often trial and error (she might say terror!) was my approach to fatherhood. I often questioned myself, “Was I too strict?” “Did I balance firmness with fun?” Fortunately, God filled the gaps of my inadequacies. His grace became our family’s relational glue. My imperfection as a father keeps me dependent on my heavenly Father.

 

Jesus describes a man with two sons. So, we know from the outset this dad, like the rest of us, was a flawed father. No doubt he tried to do the best with what he had. But the pressure of raising two very different boys was real and raw. One day he faced the challenge of how to respond to the disrespectful demand of his youngest son. The dad decided to give both boys their inheritance, knowing they might not be ready. The younger squandered his stuff and the oldest grew self-righteous. What looked like a major parenting blunder—turned out to be a decision that brought the youngest back to God. Imperfect fathers trust the Lord to bring about His perfect plan.

 

“For a son dishonors his father… But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:6-7).

 

Do you feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities as a dad? The day in and day out energy it takes to love and lead your little ones takes much more out of you than you ever imagined. One thing is for certain: you can’t be your best without learning from the best. Alone you may be a better father than some, but with the help of others, you can become a better dad than most. So, invite three other dads for coffee and discuss booksand scripture about parenting. Set the tone by being vulnerable about your own insecurities. Imperfect fathers learn from imperfect fathers.

 

Above all, as imperfect earthly fathers, we lean into our perfect heavenly Father. He takes our best efforts and carries out His will. He takes our mistakes and teaches us humility. He takes our weaknesses and makes us strong in Him. Our imperfections are not an excuse to plateau as a parent. We keep learning. We ask forgiveness from our child. We pray with our child. We play with our child. When we are honest about our fears and struggles we create an environment of open communication. Fathers fail when they quit, but they succeed when they stay engaged with their child and with Christ. Fatherhood is not for the faint of heart, but it is for a heart of faith.

 

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me in the process of receiving your perfect love and grace.

 

Application: What dad is a few years ahead of me who I can learn from? Consider listening to Andy Stanley’s interview of Boyd Bailey on Relating to a Distant Dad.

 

Related Readings: Proverbs 23:24, 30:11; Luke 11:11; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 6:4

Praying in Faith

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Faith is the undercurrent of everything we do as followers of Jesus. Without faith we lose all that Christ died to give us while here on earth. It is by faith we access the peace, joy, guidance, love, and purpose that comes from restored relationship with our heavenly Father. As we seek an increase in faith in response to God’s faithfulness this week, may you experience a greater depth of intimacy with your living, Almighty, and loving heavenly Father.

“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:22-24

Prayer is our most powerful gift when done in faith. E. M. Bounds described the power of prayer in saying, “We can do nothing without prayer. All things can be done by importunate prayer. It surmounts or removes all obstacles, overcomes every resisting force and gains its ends in the face of invincible hindrances.” God loves to move when we pray. He is not a God who forces his will on his people, but in love waits for us to capture his heart and ask him to move and work in our lives and the lives of others. There is no more important task before us today than to learn what it is to pray in faith.
Mark 11:22-24, Jesus illustrates an important link between prayer and faith. When we have faith that God will move as he has told us he would and we pray in response to that faith, the impossible happens.

Conversely James 1:5-8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Where faith positions us to receive from God, doubt has the opposite effect. Scripture is clear that the prayers God responds to are prayers of faith. God has given us purpose here. He longs to co-labor with his people. Our job is to capture his heart by spending time in his presence and pray boldly in response to his faithfulness.

You and I have been given the incredible gift of conversation with a God who longs to move in response to our prayers. What obstacles stand in your way today? Where do you need a miracle? Who needs prayer around you? Spend time capturing the heart of your heavenly Father and praying with boldness. He waits to respond to your prayers and do the work only he can do.

1. Meditate on the power of prayer in faith. 

“Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:22-24

“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:21-22

2. Reflect on your life. What obstacles stand in your way? Where do you need God to work? Who around you needs the power of your prayer today?

3. Ask God what he thinks about the situations in which you desire to pray and then pray boldly according to his will. Seek out Scripture and pray in line with God’s word. Have faith that God will move according to his word in response to your prayer of faith.

Often we are turned off to the idea of praying boldly when we feel God hasn’t answered our prayers in the past. Don’t let past experience stand in the way of living your life in total alignment with the word of God. We will never fully understand all of God’s ways. All we can do is live as he has led us and trust in him. Scripture is clear that God cares for you and longs to help you. He desires to move and work in your midst on a daily basis. Have faith in your heavenly Father and pray to him boldly today.

Extended Reading: Mark 11

Living by Faith

Weekly Overview:

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Faith is the undercurrent of everything we do as followers of Jesus. Without faith we lose all that Christ died to give us while here on earth. It is by faith we access the peace, joy, guidance, love, and purpose that comes from restored relationship with our heavenly Father. As we seek an increase in faith in response to God’s faithfulness this week, may you experience a greater depth of intimacy with your living, Almighty, and loving heavenly Father.

Living by faith is the key that unlocks the door to the fullness of God’s promises. There is no doubt that God will always be faithful to his promises. Scripture is clear in 2 Timothy 2:13 that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” Faithfulness is within God’s nature. But, without faith we will not experience the fullness of what is available to us in God’s promises. God does not force emotion on us. He does not force us to receive the joy and peace that comes through trusting him. He does not force us into the fullness of relationship available to us in faith. And he does not force his purposes on us. Faith is the vehicle by which we experience all that God longs to give us. Specifically, faith is the avenue on which we experience the fullness of God’s promises for intimacy with him, purpose in this life, and freedom from sin.

Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” By faith we walk into God’s presence. In faith we believe God desires to be with us. Experiencing the fullness of restored relationship with our heavenly Father requires a heart full of faith and trust that God longs to tangibly be with us, his children. Without faith we will live solely for the pleasures this world has to offer and miss out on all the satisfaction of living this life for and with God above all else. In faith we can experience all the intimacy available to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Hebrews 11:32-34 says, “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”We’ve been sent out by Jesus to make disciples of all nations. We’ve been given a command to bring light into the darkness everywhere we go. You and I have been given a purpose of eternal value and of great importance to our Lord and King. And Hebrews 11 is clear that it is by faith that the works of God are done. When we live by faith we bring the kingdom of God into every dark corner around us. When we live by faith we invite the Holy Spirit to work in and through every situation to draw others to himself. It’s in faith that we find our purpose.

And finally, Ephesians 6:16 says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” It is through faith that we walk in the freedom from sin available to us by the promise of God. As children of God wrapped up in the finished work of Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of sin. By the power of Jesus’ death on the cross, you and I never have to sin again. But Paul teaches us in Ephesians that it is through faith that we extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one. If we don’t trust God at his word that we who were completely entangled to the schemes of the enemy by sin are now considered the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21), we will not walk in freedom. It is through faith that we renew our mind and experience the wonderful freedom from sin available to us.

We all need a greater measure of intimacy with God, purpose, and freedom from sin. Not one of us has experienced all that is available to us through faith. May you seek out all that God has in store for you if you will take him at his word and trust him in response to his faithfulness. Spend time in prayer receiving all that God longs to give you by faith.

1. Meditate on all that is available to you in the lifestyle of faith. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:32-34

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

2. Ask God to lead you to a greater measure of faith. Ask him to give you the faith to pursue intimacy with him, his purposes, and freedom from sin. Listen to all that he would say to you in these quiet moments. Let him give you a fresh perspective of what it is to live by faith.

3. Pursue all that is available to you today in the promises of God. What new levels of relationship does God long to lead you to? What new purposes does he have in store for you? What freedom does he long to bring you?
May you be filled with hunger for the deeper things of God today. And may you have the courage and tenacity to seek out everything God has in store for you. If you will pursue him with all your heart in faith you will discover all that your heart has been searching for. He has adventure, excitement, joy, fulfillment, and love for all who live by faith. Today is the day to live in the newness of life Jesus died for you to have.

Extended Reading: 2 Corinthians 5

What Is Your Part in God’s Story?

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if David had used Saul’s armor (see 1 Sam. 17:38-39)? What if David had tried to copy Israel’s champion, King Saul? If he had put on Saul’s armor and gone out to fight, he probably wouldn’t have been successful because his confidence would have been in the armor. Instead, David trusted God’s sovereignty and providence in his life, choosing to fight the way God had uniquely gifted him.

This reality hits home for most of us. While seeking to make an impact in our neighborhoods, we often go to conferences, read books, and try to mimic our evangelical-Christian champions. We look at great leaders and try to figure out what makes them successful so that we can copy their methods. But is this how God accomplishes His will “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:11)? Is this the process God is calling us to as He sends us out as sheep among wolves (see Matt. 10:16)? No, it’s not. God is writing a unique story in your life. And while biblical principles will hold true throughout all time, the application of these principles will vary with each person and each context.

Dr. Hannah, one of my professors in seminary, used to say, “If God calls you to be a farmer, don’t stoop so low as to become a king.” The question we have to ask ourselves is, What’s my part in God’s story? By seeking the answer to that question, we have the opportunity to discover God’s unique providence in our lives.

To discover our part in God’s story, we first have to do the work that’s necessary to understand God’s story—redemption that brings reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. We must also be intimately familiar with the details of our stories and God’s providence in our lives, for these are the experiences that form the burdens and passions in our hearts. If we don’t understand our personal stories, we’re in danger of being like David when he tried to wear Saul’s armor. Or like auto-racing drivers, we become a billboard for everyone else’s brand and lose God’s unique fingerprint in our lives. This is why we must be students of our lives and experiences. Understanding our own stories is part of recognizing God’s providence in our lives.

A Prayer to Live an Unfiltered Life

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4

We live in a filtered world.

A world that no longer accepts reality and instead demands that women master the charade.

Thanks to Snapchat, women no longer even have to post a picture of their actual selves. With a few swipes they can suddenly become a woodland fairy with butterflies nestled in their hair, don a crown of flowers, or turn their features into an adorable puppy.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with fairies and puppies. But why do you want to look like one? “It’s fun,” you said. “It’s silly. I’m just playing around.”

That’s fine too—if that’s true. But how many of women are telling the truth in those moments? I think deep down, if we really dig beneath the surface of the lighthearted “look at my silly post, I have polka-dotted ears and a button nose” we’ll realize that we’re hiding. We duck behind one mask after another, secretly wishing we could use these filters in real life and permanently hide.

The theme of 1 Peter 3:3-4 this verse is found in the phrase “your beauty should not come from”—meaning, don’t let your identity be your outward beauty. Don’t let those efforts or those items define you and your worth, and become more important than the condition of your heart.

Trust me—this isn’t an overnight fix, ladies. It’s hard to retrain our hearts and shut up the lies of the enemy. But the effort is worth it. So let’s stop hiding. Let’s put down the mask and the excessive use of products that hide instead of enhance. Let’s stop playing the comparison game that’s a guaranteed lose-lose.

Let’s live unfiltered.

Lord, help me live an authentic life. Help me see where my true beauty and worth lie – in being a child of the Most High God. Help me have the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit. Thank you for valuing me so much that you sent Jesus to die for me. Thank you that you take what is broken and ugly in me – my sin – and wash me white as snow. Help me live to glorify you, not myself. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Six Signs You’re Not Trusting in the Love of God

God loves you. Do you believe that? If you ever sat through Sunday school as a child, you probably believe that on a simple level. However, now that you’re an adult, ask yourself that question again, considering all your life experiences and religious training: Do you believe, truly believe, that God loves you? Do you trust the love of God when you get up in the morning and lay down at night? Do you know it when you’re at work and when you’re at home, when you’re surrounded by fellow believers and when you’re all alone?

 

This is important, because how you answer that question affects so much. It will change the way you interact with your heavenly Father, your family and even yourself. First John 4:7-10 explains the depth of God’s love this way:

 

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 

God’s love for you—and every other person—is the reason He sacrificed His Son for mankind. It is also why He sent the Holy Spirit as a gift to the Body of Christ. Need more proof? Just read 1 John 4:13-16: “And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.”

 

You can never get away from God’s love. No matter what you have or haven’t done in your life, His love is always with you. However, you can greatly hinder the effect of His love in your life by living and acting like you don’t trust in His love. Below are six telltale signs that you are not really trusting in the love of God.

 

  1. When You Blame God During Challenges

It’s easy to profess that God loves you when everything is going well, but what about when challenges come? That’s when you may find yourself turning on God and asking, “Why did You let this happen to me?”

 

That isn’t a new response. It’s the same one the disciples had when a storm threatened to topple their boat. “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” they asked (Mark 4:38).

 

If they had truly understood God’s love for them, they would have recognized that: 1) Jesus, the Messiah, was with them, and 2) The storm was no problem for Him to handle.

 

James 1:2-8 tells us to handle crises like this:

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

 

When challenges come, you don’t want to have divided loyalty, or as the King James Version puts it, be “double minded.” You want to trust in the love of God’to help you overcome every obstacle.

 

  1. When You Blame Your Lack of Faith on Your Humanity

You’ve heard believers say, “We’re only human.” What a false statement! You may have been “only human” before you were born again, but as a born-again believer in the Most High God, you are more than “only human.” Ephesians 2:10 calls you “God’s masterpiece…. created anew.” You are a new creation, and the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives in you.

 

Right before His death, Jesus prayed this for every believer:

 

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (John 17:20-24)

 

Never again consider yourself “only human.” You are a born-again human, and there’s a difference. God now lives in you with all of His power and glory, and that is anything but normal. It is a miracle!

 

 

  1. When You Allow Fear Into Your Life

Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8, NKJV). Think about that: God’s love for you—His provision for you, His care for you, His interest in you—never fails. However, if you allow fear into your life, then you are denying that love. And when you deny that love, you open the door for the enemy to wreak havoc. Fear can create the double-mindedness we talked about earlier. It’s the double-mindedness that says, “Sure, God loves me,” and then thinks, but maybe He wants me sick. It’s also the double-mindedness that says, “Yes, God loves me, but maybe He’s mad at me because I haven’t done (fill in the blank.).”

However, if you’ll turn away from fear and toward God and His Word, you won’t just manage fear (i.e., keep it at bay); you’ll expel it (1 John 4:18).

  1. When You Deny Your Right

You probably know Jesus as your Savior, but have you considered that He is your advocate, too? First John tells you that when you fall short—and everyone falls short—that you have an advocate with the Father. Jesus doesn’t fill that position grudgingly or resentfully. No, He paid the ultimate price to hold that position for you and every other believer. That’s the right—your right—that He made possible. So, when you need forgiveness, you can simply and earnestly ask for it in Jesus’ Name, and you will receive it. Praise God!

 

  1. When You Embrace Hate and Unforgiveness

First John 2:9-11 tells us just how important it is to walk in forgiveness: “If anyone claims, ‘I am living in the light,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.   But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.”

 

Jesus paid the price needed to free you from the enemy’s hold on your life, but there are instances when you can invite the enemy back into your life. We covered one way above—by embracing fear—but there is another way—by entertaining hate and unforgiveness. It’s only when we walk in love with others that we can enjoy the peace and security of the love of God.

  1. When You Give in to Reckless Words

Jesus implied just how important the words we speak are when He said, “The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me” (John 14:10b). He only spoke what the Father told Him to speak. Being fully God and fully human, He could have chosen to give in to human urgings and speak without faith, but He didn’t…and neither should you. Reckless words often lead to double-mindedness, fear, unforgiveness and turning against God.

 

If you find yourself doing anyone of these six things, take a moment to repent before God, and ask Him to give you a deeper revelation of His love for you. You must do more than simply will yourself not to give into these tendencies. You must first accept God’s unparalleled and all-encompassing love. He loves you. Period. As His child, He is on your side 100 percent of the time. By clinging to His Word, you can build your faith and change your life to reflect the love of God and be a beacon of light to a hurting and disillusioned world.