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Capture Her Heart
Becoming the Godly Husband Your Wife Desires
By Lysa TerKeurst
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2002 Lysa TerKeurst
All rights reserved.
BECOMING A SPIRITUAL LEADER
God designed marriage as a beautiful picture of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church. Just as Jesus is the spiritual leader of His bride, so should you be with your wife. In the surveys I collected from women, desiring the husband to be the spiritual leader of the home was one of the most common responses. When a man leads his home under God's direction, He becomes like Jesus to his family. He's not a larger-than-life dictator but rather a gentle, loving, wise leader. When a husband becomes a leader who models Jesus' character, a woman's heart feels safe enough to submit to that leadership. In this God-designed picture the husband and wife mutually complete one another, giving a beautiful picture of the oneness God intended for marriage.
Learning to love one another and meet each other's needs is important, because it strengthens a couple's relationship and allows them to remain true to their commitment. More important than strengthening the relationship with one another is keeping the covenant they made before God. As the husband and wife grow closer to God as individuals, God will more closely knit their hearts together. They will learn to love unconditionally and serve sacrificially as Jesus modeled in giving His life for His bride.
Never have I seen a more beautiful picture of this than in a letter I read written by Dr. Robert McQuilken. This letter served as his resignation from his position of president of Columbia Bible College. He wrote:
My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about eight years. So far I have been able to carry both her ever-growing needs and my leadership responsibilities at CBC. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and almost none of the time I am away from her. It is not just "discontent." She is filled with fear—even terror—that she has lost me and goes in search for me when I leave home. So it is clear to me that she needs me now, full time.
Perhaps it would help you to understand if I shared with you what I shared at the time of my resignation in chapel. The decision was made, in a way, forty-two years ago when I promised to care for Muriel "in sickness and health ... till death do us part." So, as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity had something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her the next forty years I would not be out of debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But there is more; I love Muriel. She is a delight to me—her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I do not have to care for her; I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person.
You may never have to care for the physical well-being of your wife as Dr. McQuilken described, but your wife needs to know that if you had to, you would do it with the same joy and integrity described above. More than caring for her physically, your wife needs to see you caring for your family's spiritual needs, as well. When a woman sees her husband daily submitting to God, reading his Bible, praying, and walking in a close personal relationship with Jesus, it is much easier for her to give him the respect he needs.
What I love about Dr. McQuilken's letter is it's written by a man who walks closely with Jesus and seeks to model his Master's character. When Muriel reached out for her husband's hand in times of terror and confusion, he became Jesus to her. His hands were tender, his words compassionate, his eyes full of love, and his heart full of joy. When your wife reaches out to take your hand, what does she feel in your touch? What does she hear from your lips? What does she see in your eyes? What does she know is in your heart? How can you be Jesus to her?
The amazing thing about being your wife's spiritual leader is not what you get from this position but what you have the privilege to give. Your wife needs your prayers, your wise counsel, your strength, and your courage. Penny from Decatur explained in her survey response: "Every husband needs to know that he is his family's spiritual umbrella, and that his wife and children are safest when they are underneath it."
Her comment reflects a biblical concept. Psalm 1:1–3 says, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Imagine your role as spiritual leader like that tree. You provide shelter during the storms of life. You are firmly planted so your wife can lean on you when she gets weary. You yield the fruits of the Spirit because you draw your nourishment from God's Word. You are steadfast and your leaves do not wither. Best of all you stand tall for God, and when your wife looks at you, it makes her desire to walk even closer in her own relationship with Jesus.
My husband, Art, has become a wonderful spiritual leader for our home. He faithfully prays for us, spends time with God, and has a contagious joyful spirit. One of the best things he does every night on his way home from work is to make a mental stop at his treasure tree. It's not a real tree but rather a point along the way home where he hangs all the troubles from his day. After dropping off his frustrations, setbacks, and stresses, he takes time to receive an extra dose of the fruits of the Spirit. Soon he's overflowing with these treasures and ready for home. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are, after all, what every wife longs for in her spiritual leader.
Home Improvement—1. On your way home from work tonight, find a treasure tree spot where you can exchange the frustrations from your day for an extra dose of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. 2. Make visiting this tree part of your daily routine.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY—The most important thing a husband can do for his wife is to seek the Lord with his whole heart and being. If he puts God first, God will give him the strength and desire to be an awesome husband.
—AMY [DUNLOP]CHAPTER 2
PRAYING FOR YOUR WIFE
I still remember thinking his hands were magnificent, despite the fact that age had wrinkled and weakened them. I thought about all the amazing things these hands had done. They'd worked the farm and tended the fields. They'd faithfully provided for his wife and six children. They'd been brave and steadfast as he fought in wars protecting our country's freedom. They'd tenderly loved his wife and proudly welcomed each of his children into the world. These same hands wiped tears from his eyes as he watched his beloved wife pass on. Yes, I remember these hands well.
They belonged to my grandfather, with whom I had the privilege of living when I was in junior high. It was a rough time in my family. My father and mother were divorcing. Emotions were high and finances low. I thought the divorce was my fault and carried a burden of guilt and remorse. I'd been abused by another grandfather figure and had a hard time trusting anyone. I felt alone and vulnerable. But I always knew Grandpa was there for me. Quirky as his old age made him at times, he was there. More times than not you'd see him in his favorite chair by his bed pouring over the pages of his well-worn Bible.
Sometimes in the afternoon when I'd get home from school, I'd feel especially low so I'd go see Grandpa. Though I was too big to fit comfortably on his lap, he'd use his aged hands to welcome me and hold me. Conversations were strained because his hearing was failing but his hands said everything I needed to hear, I love you and you are welcome here with me.
The most amazing thing I ever saw those wonderful hands do was to fold together in prayer. Grandpa was a praying man. He loved Jesus like few I've ever known, and he prayed for extended periods of time. In humble submission he'd fold his hands, bow his head, and lift his heart cries to a Savior he knew well.
Many years after Grandpa passed away, I was going through other struggles. I was angry about all the turmoil I'd had to endure as a child and jealous of my friends who'd grown up with more normal childhoods. I'd hear Christian friends talking about dads who'd prayed for them their whole lives and wondered if my dad had even prayed for me once. Chances are he had not. Then God gave me a precious memory that had gotten lost over the years ... He reminded me of Grandpa's hands.
I wonder if your wife has ever had someone praying over her like my grandpa did for me. Let your hands leave a lasting legacy. More than just working hard and fighting daily battles, let them fold together in prayer. A PRAYER FOR YOUR WIFE:
Thank You for my wife and the unique person she is. Thank You for putting her into my life. Lord, I love her and accept her as she is just now, and release her to become the person You have designed in Your perfect will.
You have a plan and a calling upon her life; may she fulfill it to bring You glory.
I agree with the promises in Your Word. By the spiritual authority You have given to us as believers, I pray Your wonderful blessing for my wife.
You have set marriage to be a picture of Christ and His beloved. I want to model that kind of sacrifice, love, and dedication to You. May she find purpose and satisfaction in the shelter of our marriage.
Bless my wife anew with the reality of how much You love her. Give her a greater awareness of Your presence. You alone can meet her deepest needs.
Help me stand by her, both of us growing in love and faithfulness. When I believe she needs my direction or correction, let us both be honest in communication and open to Your wisdom and help.
Bless her with an increase of good health and energy. Bindexcessive tiredness and illness off of her. Bind confusion and discouragement off of her. Release her to the joy, peace, and contentment of Jesus. Release Your Holy Spirit's power into her life. Guide her to take a strong stand against the devil's deceptions; teach her to overcome by Your Word.
Each day we live shows us how much we need You. The world demands impossible things of us. Your Word gives us impossible things to do in our own strength. We are totally dependent on You and truly grateful to You. You do not ask us to do anything without making it possible. Yes, Father, how good You are!
We trust You for everything.
You will never leave us or forsake us, and You will take us to live with You forever. We are eternally grateful. Amen.
Finally, there is no more powerful way to pray for your sweetheart than using scriptural prayers. Below I've listed some possibilities. The most important thing is that you commit to praying for her. If you aren't praying for her daily, who is?
Here are some suggested scriptural prayers:
* That Christ may dwell in her heart through faith and that her life would be rooted and grounded in Christ's love (Ephesians 3:17).
* That she would love you, her husband, as you need to be loved (Ephesians 5:33).
* That she would rely on Christ to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all she asks or thinks, according to Christ's power in her (Ephesians 3:20).
* That the Lord would establish the work of her hands (Psalm 90:17).
* That she would not grow weary in doing good, for in due season she will reap a reward if she does not lose heart (Galatians 6:9).
* That she would walk not in the flesh but according to the Spirit. That the fruits of the Spirit would become more and more evident in her life (Galatians 5:22–23).
* That she would take on the full armor of God and be able to stand firm against the schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:10–18).
* That she would not be deceived by the lusts and sins of the world. That she would put aside all filthiness and all wickedness and in humility receive the Word of God. Then may she be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only (James 1:14–16, 21–23).
* That she would be a good mother who correctly disciplines, wisely trains, and gently loves her children (Proverbs 3:12; Proverbs 23:24; Proverbs 29:17).
* That she would call on the name of the Lord to be her deliverer, her strength, the One in whom she trusts, her shield, and her salvation (Psalm 18:2–3).
* That God would perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish her to be the woman He created her to be (1 Peter 5:10).
Home Improvement—Ask your wife how you can pray specifically for her today. Hold her hand and pray aloud for her. Let her know that your hands will fold in prayer for her often.
Thought for the Day—The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.—[JAMES 5:16]CHAPTER 3
YOUR WIFE IS NOT THE ENEMY
It was a perfect vacation. The mountains were breathtaking. The ski conditions perfect. The food was fabulous and the evenings by the fire romantic. We acted like two sweethearts, holding hands, laughing at private jokes, and stealing kisses on the ski lift. I'll love this man forever, I thought as I thanked God for giving me such an amazing husband.
It started out as a great vacation. A house on the beach with our closest friends. Our kids were having a blast. We'd brought sitters along and were excited about adults' nights out at nice restaurants. The weather was perfect and before long we were all sporting golden tans. Then a misunderstanding between Art and me ended in hurt feelings and cold silence. Summer romance was down the tube, and Art was down the hall sleeping away from me. Why is he so insensitive and mean? I cried myself to sleep asking God what I did to deserve this kind of marriage.
Will the real TerKeurst marriage please come forward?
I'll love him forever or Why is he so insensitive and mean ... Which story best exemplifies our marriage? Both. We've experienced times of oneness where we seem to understand what makes one another tick and other times of isolation where all we seem to do is tick one another off.
The most important lesson we've learned in our years of marriage is that we are not each other's enemies. At times we've hurt one another deeply, because I saw him as my enemy and he saw me as his, but we were deceived. Understanding this deception and discovering the real enemy has helped transform our marriage.
Ephesians 6:10–12 says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Satan's attacks cause the troubles we face in our relationships, not each other. But if we are willing to plug into God's power source, we will be able to stand against Satan's attacks.
It is vital to be "strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." To experience His "mighty power" (that makes Satan tuck tail and run), we must allow God to control our lives. We must take time to read our Bible and get serious about praying and listening to God. I heard a quote once that helped tie these principles together, "Reading the Bible gives you the vocabulary to understand what the Holy Spirit wants to tell you." John 14:26 affirms this: "The Holy Spirit ... will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
What does this mean for our marriages? We don't have to have all the answers; we just have to stay in touch with the One who does. He will teach, guide, and convict us. He'll help us forgive and show us how to love.
Second, we must put on the full armor of God. This is something that should get your warrior blood pumping. God made your heart for adventure and battle so let's make sure we dress to kill.
WE ARE TO PUT ON THE BELT OF TRUTH
The truth is that you and your wife are beloved children of the Most High King. The truth is that what causes conflict in your marriage is that Satan hates anything God loves. He is scheming with your weaknesses in mind to cause division in your marriage. The truth is though we are weak, God is strong. The truth is that God loves you, God loves her, and He desires for you to love one another.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS PROTECTS OUR HEARTS
To be righteous means to act in a morally correct way. We need to keep our hearts pure and obedient. What's the best way to check our heart's condition? Listen to what is coming out of our mouths. Luke 6:45 says, "The good man brings good out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Listen to what you are saying to your loved ones. Are the words encouraging, edifying, and loving? If not, seek to repair this chink in your armor.
Excerpted from Capture Her Heart by Lysa TerKeurst. Copyright © 2002 Lysa TerKeurst. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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