Faith in Marriage

The Good Wife: Bringing out the best in your husband

I am blessed. I must start there because of how I feel that God has laid out my own personal journey. I have experienced many highs and lows throughout my life, but when it comes to my marriage, I am completely blessed. I did not grow up in a Christian home, so I didn’t have a biblical basis for my upbringing. I did, however, have a wonderfully loving home and I have a great relationship with both of my parents, to which I am eternally grateful. When it comes to raising my own children, however, I want our focus to be on God and the Bible.

Writing this article for the Father’s day issue, I wanted to share my experience as a wife. Satan is so good at deceiving women so that we buy into the lie that we are worthless and have zero power. Although we read in the Bible how vital our role is as not only a women, but especially as a wife and a mother. I see what effect it has on my husband when I put my walk with Christ first & follow what He tells me I am supposed to do.

“The heart of her husband trust in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31: 11-12

Men have to put a great deal of trust in their wives when it comes to child rearing. Women have the distinct opportunity to help mold their children into the men and women that they are meant to be. Women need to support their husbands and live above reproach to be good examples to their children. Children are always looking to someone to model their lives after, and as Christ-followers we are called to point them to Him. If you don’t guide them, someone else will, intentionally or unintentionally.

“She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31: 26, 28-30

I have come to realize that when I am putting my walk with Christ first that everything else falls into place. When I take care of my responsibilities, it enables my husband to carry out his. It also allows him time to focus on building a relationship with our son. I understand that my role is vital in my son’s life, but his father’s is just as vital, if not more important. Children need a strong father figure in their lives, which is why we long for a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Men are called to be the head of the household and when we start making our own diagrams, rather than following Christ’s example, everything gets thrown off. When it comes to counseling, many of the issues children deal with begin with the lack of a father figure.

I am not here to say that I have it all together, or that kindness is always on my tongue. I am here to encourage you, along with myself, to put our Heavenly Father first, so that we can join together as women in encouraging our husbands. Men today are often ridiculed and criticized by women, rather than lifted up to be the men, fathers, husbands and leaders they are called to be. There is so much more out there for us than being the most beautiful or the greatest mom. Why don’t we start with fearing the Lord and encouraging our sisters in their walk. That’s my goal, I pray that you join me.

Christi Cox is the wife of Mark Cox, Youth Pastor at Indian Springs Baptist Church, Bryant, AR. She is a graduate of Liberty University and is currently an at home mother to her 2 year old son, with another son arriving in September.

 

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Following God: Becoming a slave and gaining freedom…

Freedom is, by definition, the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Slavery is, by definition, a relationship where one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty and fortune.

As a teenager I had been engulfed in a life of sin. I was captivated by its lure and enticed by its stronghold. I was a slave to sin, until freedom pursued me and I began to allow God to draw me to Him. As I entered adulthood, I aspired to be happy. I longed for all the normal things that everyone else around me seems to want; to go to church, to be happily married, to be successful in my career, to be financially stable, to have a nice house, to take vacations and to be a good mom. I think I have always been thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom to make these dreams come true through hard work, perseverance and persistence. Then real life hit and it hit hard. Like, Babe Ruth home run hard, or Mike Tyson punch to the gut hard. I began to realize that I was not “free indeed”, but had actually become a slave to the world. God was radically changing my picture of freedom.

By the time I was twenty-five I was divorced, not once, but twice. I was a business owner and a single mom of two precious children, and I never planned for life to be this way. I was hurting, lonely, mad, overwhelmed and frustrated at how all my hard work and efforts had not delivered the happiness and freedom I “deserved” and had planned my life around. Looking back, most of the happiness I longed for seemed good but, to be honest, it was all desires of the flesh. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, rather serve one another through love,” Galatians [5:13].

God began to teach me that I was not to be sucked into the game. God was (and is) teaching me to be counter-cultural, because we live in a “seek my own happiness/me first/I want more” society. What I am learning is that to truly embrace the freedom Christ offers, I must become a slave. I realize the irony of this statement. What God is teaching me is that until I lay my plans at the feet of Jesus, surrender to His will, and submit to His plans, I will never know freedom. Over and over in scripture the men who loved Christ called themselves slaves to Him. In Romans 1:1 and Philippians 1:1 Paul refers to himself as a slave for Christ; in Philemon 1:1 Paul even calls himself a prisoner for Christ; Peter calls himself a slave in 2 Peter 1:1; James 1:1 opens with James calling himself a slave as well. You see, these men got it.

God is teaching me that I am called to be a slave for Him. God is calling me to radical obedience, and until I surrender my definition of freedom and embrace submission, I will never live in the freedom He has planned for me. Submission is not the loss of my identity or personality. Submission is the act that grants me the freedom to discover who God intended me to be when He created me. Submission is learning to love myself enough to allow God to lead me. See, when I do things my way, I mess them all up. I was never meant to be in control. Until you and I give up the fight for control and the desire to plan out our happiness, we will miss out on a fantastic, lavish plan God wants to unfold in our lives. This IS FREEDOM. This IS SLAVERY. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,'” Jeremiah [29:11].

Do you feel it?! Do you see how God wants you and I to experience freedom and happiness? He wants us to become prisoners for Christ because He has something surprisingly and mind-blowingly awesome waiting on the other side of obedience. Dying to ourselves brings eternal life in Christ and this is God’s economy. We have to be counter-cultural. God is slowly unveiling His plans for my life. They are not to harm me, but they are to use me to glorify Him. That is my only purpose. His plans are for my life to be a redemption story.

God has redeemed my divorce by giving me a covenant marriage to my very best friend and God lover. A year ago, God told us to go to Kenya so He could show us a world beyond ourselves and I am ruined for Him now. Seven months ago God called us to adopt a beautiful baby girl with chocolate eyes and skin. Satan planned her for abortion, God planned her for redemption. In this act, God brought to life Romans [8:15]. Three months ago, my husband adopted my children from my first failed marriage. God provided a father to the fatherless and redeemed their future. God has given my family countless homeless friends who have nothing in the physical sense, but offer us richness in friendship. God is loving me enough to break my heart for the things that break His and He is calling me to have a heart that is a slave for the suffering of others. He is constantly reminding me to not “use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, rather serve one another with love”.

God is not finished with me because “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finished on the day Christ Jesus returns,” Philippians 1:6. But in order to be free I will have to die to myself daily and embrace slavery to God’s perfect will. Until then, I will never know what true freedom is.

Katie Clifton is a business owner and mother of three children, she currently resides with her husband and family in Benton, Arkansas.