A successful marriage is a give and take relationship, with each person doing as follows:

90% giving and 10% taking = 100% success


Here are ten questions to ask yourself when testing your ability to give and take.


(1) Are you willing to give silence when your spouse needs a little quiet time

(Proverbs 5:1-2)?


(2) Are you willing to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt (Proverbs 2:2)?

(3) Are you willing to take a rebuke or correction and let it rest unchallenged

(Proverbs 3: 11-12)?


(4) Are you willing to take on the extra chores during a time when you know your

spouse if feeling stressed, sick, or tired (Ecc. 4:9)?


(5) Are you willing to give positive words of encouragement (I Thes. 5:11)?


(6) Are you willing to give time to spend with your spouse – alone, without interruptions

(Eph. 5:25)?


(7) Are you willing to give your spouse the courtesy of “please” and

“Thank-you” (I Cor. 13:5)?


(8) Are you willing to take a “time-out” when a disagreement appears to be overheating

(James 1:19)?


(9) Are you willing to give a compliment (Col. 4:6)?


(10) Are you willing to take criticism?

(A) Be careful starting a sentence with “you never” or “you always” (Prov. 25:11).

(B) If you give more – the take becomes easier.

(C) If you must criticize, do it lovingly.


Listen, if you could not answer yes to all of these questions, please take heart. Marriage is a growing process, a “marathon,” not a “sprint.” As each of you grow in your willingness to give and take, you will grow closer together. “Be gentle and ready to forgive, never hold grudges (Col. 3:13 TLB).


Pastors we need each other and our families need us to be strong.

Watch this short video and be encouraged!

How to TALK So My Spouse Will Listen
It is very important to seek God in prayer for wisdom. Proper timing and direction before
engaging in conversation is essential. Notice this scripture, Psalms 16:11-“I will show
you the path(s) of life. In my presence is fullness of joy; at my right hand there are
pleasures for evermore.” He has given all of us a powerful ministry. It is called the
ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). Let’s take an optical view of these guidelines.
 Go to the proper person with a good attitude
(Matt. 5:23-24, 18:15).
 Sit down in a quiet place with no distractions.
 Pray before engaging in conversation (Optional but important).
 Have dialogue conversation (Both people talk), which involves
talking and listening. One person should not dominate the
 No name-calling, no yelling, no foul language.
 Focus on the problem, not the person; stick to the issue.
 Avoid generalities. Examples: you never, you always.
 Use the “I” statement.
a. I have a problem ………………………………………………………………………
b. I need to know…………………………………………………………………………..
c. I feel frustrated about ………………………………………………………………
d. I feel disappointed ……………………………………………………………………
e. I feel hurt …………………………………………………………………………………
f. I want to bring some closure to our argument.
g. I am sorry that I ……………………………………………………………………….
 Show humility and empathy-James 5:16a -“Confess your faults one to
 If it still seems to be challenging to talk to the other person or your
mate, write him/her a letter, text, or email, then read and meditate
on Psalms 138:8 -“The Lord will perfect that which concerns you.”

(To identify with or to make him feel special)

  1. Don’t interrupt or correct him when he is telling a story.
  2. Compliment him in front of his children, your parents, his parents and friends.
  3. Let him have some time to relax when he arrives home from work.
  4. Develop a genuine interest in his work and hobbies.
  5. Admire him for his strength and significance.
  6. If he wants to take a lunch to work, pack it for him.
  7. Try to be home (and off the phone) when he gets home from work and be up

in the morning when he leaves.

  1. Help your kids be excited about Dad’s coming home.
  2. Understand when he wants to spend time enjoying sports or hobbies with his


  1. Keep his favorite snack on hand.
  2. Stick to your budget.
  3. Watch his favorite sporting events with him.

Family Focus Ministry (ffm@tampabay.rr.com)

Judges 9:53 NKJV “But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.”  Wow, some real drama and a historical victory for God’s children. However, one day as I read the account I related to it very personally.  In pastoral ministry I was often referred to as Carlotta or Ms. B. Both were pleasing to me; they were personal. Yet when being introduced in pastoral, missions and itinerary ministry I have been introduced innumerable times as, “Larry’s wife.”  I do like the sound of it because I love being his wife. But I am also an individual. Don’t misunderstand, I am not one of those ministers’ wives who goes around trying to establish a platform by declaring, “But what about me, I have something to offer too.”  However, I will admit that on one occasion when being introduced as merely Larry’s wife, by a pastor with whom we had been in close fellowship for years, I demonstrated some holy boldness – well, some kind of boldness – and declared, “You know I do have a name.”  Please recognize what I am saying. There are times when such an introduction is appropriate, but when the opportunity presents itself anyone can appreciate respect and personal acceptance.


I had often read this story of a “certain” woman but until this time had not researched and determined that the same reference is so frequently included in Scripture for other women and men.  It sounds like the introduction of more modern day stories reading, “Once upon a time….”


Now the lesson that I would like to present from the Judges 9 story is something that stirred my heart and continues to challenge me.  I won’t go into a lot of detail since you know the story and can further study at your convenience, but the main facts are as follows:


  1. The certain woman, along with her fellow citizens, had fled into the city’s strong tower because they were being pursued by the wicked king Abimelech who had killed his brothers, seventy sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon).  God had lifted His restraints because of his many cruel and evil deeds. At last the people revolted against the king’s ungodly rule.
  2. The king saw the vulnerability of the people, approached the tower himself and was attempting to set fire to the entrance.
  3. Mind you, the tower was crowded with all the citizens who had climb it in desperation but note –
  4. A certain woman saw opportunity, acted upon it, proved courageous and dropped a millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull.  This action caused him to beg to be killed by his men so it couldn’t be said that it was a woman who had destroyed him.

This woman is still an example of encouragement to us.  In fact, she reminds me of another woman in Judges, Jael.  They both saw opportunity and seized the moment. One is not named and one is. You may be made to feel at times that your name is “No Name.” The challenge is this – are you presenting yourself to be a certain woman or a certain man?  Regardless of whether your name is mentioned or is not.  The point is that you are you. You are vital, whether in vocational ministry, education, business, the medical field, the arts, stay-at-home parenting, even in a state of physical disability.  We hear the term marketplace frequently. The marketplace has always been the place of mingling, interaction. So may I say it this way? Your marketplace is anywhere and everywhere you take in oxygen and do life.  Be the person who sees need, sees opportunity, seizes the moment, takes action for God and man. You are God’s certain woman or God’s certain man.  You have His favor, His help, His anointing as soon as you put your hand/your mind/your voice to what is provided.  He is still saying “well done” to the woman in Judges 9 and he says “well-done” to your obedience.

(To identify with or to make her feel special)

1. Have good conversation when you’d rather read the paper or watch tv.
2. Give her a back rub with no expectation of physical intimacy.
3. Keep your home repaired and in good order. ***
4. Make sure the car has good tires and is in good running condition. ***
5. Hold her hand when you lead the family prayer.
6. Find a way to save something from every pay check.
7. Ask for her input before making decisions.
8. Hold her tenderly when she cries, and tell her it’s okay.
9. Ask her out and plan the entire date yourself, including making the
10. Call, if you are going to be more than fifteen minutes late.
11. Encourage her to take time out with her friends.
12. Remember to carry a clean handkerchief when you go to a romantic movie.
*** (These actions make her feel more secure) ***
Family Focus Ministry (ffm@tampabay.rr.com

Financial stress in a relationship is one of the major causes of divorce.
There are five main money personalities. Each personality has strengths
and weaknesses, with the need for temperance.
1. The Spenders can be generous with gifts on self or the people they
love; however, unmanaged spending can lead to much debt.
2. The Savers usually have little debt challenges, but can be labeled as
cheapskates or tightfisted.
3. The Security Seekers are great planners and know how to use money to
build a financial future, but they can be short-sighted and put off living
for today.
4. The Risk Takers are always looking for a money making adventure;
nevertheless, if they are not careful, may end up broke or bankrupt.
5. The Flyers are usually free from stress about money and passionate
about life and relationships, nevertheless can be headed for big
financial trouble because often times they give less attention to things
like bills, over-draft fees, over-the-limit notices and late fees.
In summary, there are pros and cons to each money personality; therefore,
it is extremely important to maintain balance and trust God for wisdom and
money moderation in handling finances. How you manage your money
personality is very important for a fruitful relationship.

Christmas should be a time of joy and a celebration of life, love and family. It should be about His presence in the earth and in our hearts.
To the retail world it’s about people spending money often on things they don’t need with money they don’t have.

I grew up in South Africa and we didn’t call him Santa but Father Christmas which I’m grateful for because as a child I saw a man with a beard, often my dad, with a red bag of gifts for the children and my memory through the eyes of a child was a father who wanted to bless his children and that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about the love our Heavenly Father has for his creation. If we want to bless our earthy children with gifts how much more does God want to shower blessing on us.

We do however need to learn to receive those gifts.
One gift we were given in the late 80’s was an understanding of the gift of Righteousness. Rom. 5:17 says, to as many as receive the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one Christ Jesus.
We receive this gift because of His love for us. We don’t deserve gifts at Christmas we get to give them and receive them. Well we did not deserve the gift of righteousness.
Jesus paid the price for our righteousness or right standing with God.
2 Cor.5:21
He became sin that we might become His righteousness.
Seems too simple ? We over complicate the Bible as though we need to go to bible college in order to be a witness in the world.

Once we understand who we are in Christ, our identity in Him, we cannot help but want to speak of what we have seen and heard concerning the Word of life.
1 John:1 .

The Gospel is a revelation of God’s righteousness. It’s the power of God in His Word to change a life, transform a heart bring hope into hopelessness.

Rom 1:16:17
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation first for the Jew then for the Greek. In it the ‘righteousness’ of God is ‘revealed’ from faith to faith.

Let us all become more like Children who simply trust their Father to provide.
Jesus said that we should become as little children then we would see the Kingdom. There are many that don’t see the Kingdom because they have yet to understand the simplicity and power of the cross. They are awaiting His second coming but not fully embraced His first.

Christmas is a time to become like a child and receive from our Father with child-like faith and trust so that we can go out and share the good news of the gospel with everyman in every place.
People need to see love in action so let us all be mindful of preferring one another, loving our neighbor and honoring our Savior because if we make room for Him, He will make room for us.


A Godly example for others is NOT AN OPTION in ministry, however many times we show anything other than a Godly impact on lives that are watching our every move.

Sometimes it is so easy to laugh at another’s sick joke, or criticize a man or woman of God because they do things differently than we do or we might complain often of our ailments or problems with our children and family. Are we the example that will enhance their lives or are we like the blind leading the blind?

What we may be showing others is “Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.”

What about ego? Are we always bragging, building ourselves up as we crave for attention?

Serve from Godly motives, not to feel good about yourself….or to be praised, accepted, or in control.

May each of us look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:4 ESV

Are we always considerate of others?

Do we strive to be on time….?

Do we answer phone calls and text promptly?

Do we answer messages with a pleasant message other than a yes or no?

The power of our example of the way we live either has a negative or positive influence on others.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Romans 12:10 ESV

What about sharing our interest in movies, TV or other media outlets? Do we show interest in TV shows that are knowingly secular, violent, witchcraft, promoting sexual perversion and other worldly interests or is it our ultimate goal to help others become imitators of Christ so not to open our eyes, mind and spirit to these evil pursuit’s ?

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 ESV

Do we show and live by example, that our spouse is our best friend (after Jesus Christ) .and that he or she comes before anyone in our congregation or otherwise?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

Improper communication could lead to conflict, however, you cannot
resolve conflict without proper communication (Eph. 4:29) Let no corrupt
communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the
use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

What is Conflict: A state of opposition between ideas or interests;
a clash or disagreement; a quarrel or a difference of opinion.

Three things that displeases a woman/wife that could
lead to conflict
* Constantly operating in “fix-it mode”
* Not balancing your hobbies and personal life well
* Please don’t compare her with other women

Three things that displeases a man/husband that could
lead to conflict
* Constantly criticizing or correcting him in public, and
especially in front of the children
* When you expect him to read your mind
* Please don’t compare him with other men

 Relationship resolution: Operating with contrition
* P.S. – Personal Surrender
P.E. – Personal Expression
* Confess your faults (James 5:16)
* Pray – “Father, thank you for showing us …….”
* Make praying together a lifestyle
(ASAP-Always Stop And Pray)
* Make Eph. 5:33 and 1Cor. 7:33-35a a life application

(Developing Message Discipline)
1. What is effective communication? It is sending and receiving information with
understanding. It involves talking and listening with one purpose and one
pleasure. It is the gift of yourself. A great marriage results from great
2. Three forms of communication:
A. Verbal – Spoken words/language
B. Non-verbal – Posture, body language, eye contact, etc.
C. Para-verbal – Tone and pitch of words; the attitude of words
3. Family Circle Survey of 100 Women: What makes marriage relationships last?
59% …………………………….. Good communication
36% …………………………….. Good times
5% ………………………………..Good sex.
Barriers of Effective Communication
1. Failure to listen – Ready to fix the problem. Effective communication is a
heart thing, not a head thing.
2. Making assumptions – Making a judgement without the facts
3. Lack of sensitivity to emotions
4. Distractions/Interruptions
5. Time pressure
6. Jumping from topic to topic
7. Not acknowledging a person’s feelings, emotions, and desires
Strategies of Effective Communication
1. Make eye contact
2. Stay on the topic
3. Focus on understanding the other person and not on winning the
4. Smile or nod
5. Don’t monopolize the conversation
6. Arrange for privacy
7. Show interest

The Word of God says in 2 Thes. 5:18, In everything give thanks, for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Rom. 4:17 says even God calls those
things that be not as though they were. You may not be there yet; however,
you must be determined to grow. In Job 22:28 it says, whatsoever you decree
and declare, it shall be established unto you.
Father, we extend most holy faith as we invite you to work in our marriage.
We thank you for improving our communication; we communicate well, we
listen well, and we are growing in empathy. Father, we thank you for
showing us how to handle conflict biblically and scripturally. When there is
conflict, we refuse to act immaturely. We refuse to sleep on the couch, we
refuse to sleep in the other room, and we refuse to leave the house, because
we are mature. We refuse to say hurtful words, we refuse to go out and
spend money unnecessarily, because we are mature and we talk things out.
Father, thank you for improving our money-managing skills. We are
cautious spenders, we are prudent, we are wise, we are savers, we are
investors, and we are givers, for when we give bountifully, we receive
bountifully. Thank you for developing discipline in our lives.
Father, thank you for showing us how to be intimate with one another, how
to please one another, and how to be sensitive to the needs of one another.
Father, thank you for delivering us from selfishness (which is the opposite
of love), for we know that selfishness takes, but love gives and never, never
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Family Focus Ministry
Pastors Jesse & Brenda McNeil
Every person is worth understanding!