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Family Christian

  • What Do I Have to Prove?

    Posted on February 18, 2015 by Family Christian

    Glynnis Whitwer FEBRUARY 18, 2015

    What Do I Have to Prove?
    GLYNNIS WHITWER

    "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice." Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)

    A new city, new neighborhood and new school for my children had me feeling very new, too. And insecure. And lonely. And wondering, How would I ever fit in and feel a part of this new community?

    So when my children brought home a flyer for the PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization) meeting, I stuck it to the refrigerator, marked the date on the calendar and decided this was the perfect first step to meet other moms like myself. But that wasn’t all, I also wanted to use my experience and talents somehow.

    The meeting night came, and after a few wrong turns on the unfamiliar campus, I saw a light glowing through the library door. I rushed across the breezeway and walked in with seconds to spare. I’d hoped to meet a few people before the meeting started, but every table was filled with smiling, laughing, we-are-already-friends women. So instead I found a back table, and sat next to a father who seemed as out-of-place as I felt.

    Discussion centered around teacher mini-grants, playground equipment, trees and the annual t-shirt sale. The organization was very well run, and at first it seemed they had no need for me. Until the Spring Fun Fest conversation began.

    Then it became apparent they needed someone to organize the snack bar. The room was silent when they asked for volunteers. Of course, I should have asked what was involved, but I’d been organizing projects since I led my childhood friends into starting clubs, putting on plays and hosting backyard fundraising carnivals. So I raised my hand, and found myself in charge of running all the food service for the event.

    You know that feeling when you are in your sweet spot? That’s how I felt organizing the snack bar. This was something I could do easily. I got myself a new pocket folder to keep my notes, added some crisp lined paper and started making lists. People to call, things to buy, supplies we’d need. They were going to be amazed at how well this was organized! Maybe it would even be the best snack bar EVER!

    Everything was going great, and then the next PTO meeting arrived. One of the other moms, a veteran PTO gal, walked up to me with a huge smile and said, "I found a great sale on soda, so I picked up some for the snack bar. Let me show you where I stored it."

    Rather than appreciating a kind gesture from someone who knew how much work the snack bar really was, I immediately felt defensive. Did she think I wasn’t capable of buying soda for a snack bar?

    I followed her to a storage room and saw stacks of soda — every variety. At that moment, I should have been grateful. I should have oozed thankfulness. But I didn’t. She sensed something was wrong, but didn’t quite know what, and the moment got very awkward.

    My insecurities came from a deep desire to prove myself worthy. To show I have what it takes. When my abilities were questioned (at least in my eyes), I felt like a porcupine with its quills standing at attention. And my potential new friend felt the sting of the barbs.

    Rather than walking into that situation with humility, I walked in with pride. Rather than asking for advice and help, I tried to prove something by doing it alone. My approach hindered what my heart really wanted to do: make friends.

    God later convicted me of my prideful attitude, and used that situation to teach me an important lesson that has stayed with me:

    I need to walk into every new situation with something to learn, not something to prove.

    Being a know-it-all isn’t God’s way nor is it the wise way. In fact, the book of Proverbs is clear that wisdom comes from humility. Our key verse says, "The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice" (Proverbs 12:15).

    As I’ve practiced this approach over the years, I’ve learned it’s much easier to make friends. Plus, I’ve learned I really don’t know the best way for everything. God still has new things for me to learn every day, and He usually uses people to teach me. Even when I’m in my sweet spot.

    Father, thank You for teaching me Your ways are always best. Help me approach every new situation with a heart that is open and gentle, ready to learn whatever new things You have for me that day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Ecclesiastes 4:13, "It is better to be a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king who refuses all advice." (NLT)

    Proverbs 19:20, "Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer can help you manage the emotional and practical sides of being overwhelmed.

    Visit Glynnis on her blog today for more encouragement on dealing with defensiveness.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Maybe you’ve experienced a time when wanting to prove yourself caused a conflict. What lesson(s) could God want you to uncover from a past mistake?

    What needs to change in your heart to walk into the next new situation ready to learn?

    © 2015 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Remember Whose You Are

    Posted on February 17, 2015 by Family Christian

    Tracie Miles FEBRUARY 17, 2015

    Remember Whose You Are
    TRACIE MILES

    "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (NLT)

    Because of mistakes in my past, I spent a lot of years not liking the woman who stared back at me in the mirror.

    Maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe you’ve even played the "wonder" game, like I did, for far too long.

    Wondering who you really were. Wondering if you were forgivable. Wondering if you were worthy. Wondering if you were loved by God and others. Wondering if you were lovable. Wondering if you were beyond repair. Wondering if what someone did to hurt you stole your value. Wondering if you were a good enough person, wife, mom, employee, boss, sister, daughter, friend, servant. Wondering if you measured up in any area of life.

    Maybe you still wonder if your life counts for something beyond your responsibilities and obligations, or if you were just meant to march through your daily routines with no real purpose or direction. Maybe you wonder if the lies you hear in your head are true: that not only does your life not matter to God, but that you probably don’t matter either.

    Today’s key verse is a reminder that these whispers from the enemy are nothing but lies. We are each royal heirs to God’s kingdom, but sometimes life gets in the way of that truth. We think we are either too sinful or too messed up to be loved by a Savior, or that our past voids our chances of being loved by God, much less useful to Him.

    Whether we are the sinner or the victim of a sinner, shame can slither in and shape the way we see ourselves. Then it becomes easy for the enemy’s deceptive and damaging schemes to weave a web of lies deep into our hearts and minds. Gradually, we lose sight of who we are in Christ, which is exactly what the devil wants us to do.

    Satan’s ultimate goal is to get us to believe the lies, and live them out in our everyday lives, apart from God. But it is up to us whether he reaches that goal or not. We can thwart his plans by claiming God’s sovereignty over our hearts once and for all.

    It’s possible you have been living in the shadow of the enemy’s lies, either because of your own mistakes or because of someone else’s choices to sin against you. I wasted many years believing the enemy’s lies were absolute truths. When I finally began to believe I did matter to God, I thwarted the enemy’s plans and began to follow God’s instead.

    If you have been living the lie, too discouraged to allow yourself to believe how much God loves you, or too ashamed of your past to accept God’s gift of grace and mercy, let today become the day you begin seeing yourself in a new light with a new reflection looking back at you. Be proud of who you see in the mirror, not because of who you are, but because of Whose you are.

    Today’s key verse reminds us that we are, without question, beloved children of God. As Beth Moore once said, "If you are not royalty, He is not King." We are rightful heirs to God’s kingdom — and His love and acceptance. You are a royal and dearly loved daughter, and He is the King of all kings!

    Oh Lord, how I want to break free from the pain and shame of my past and embrace who I am in You. Cleanse my heart and mind of the lies I have believed, and transform the reflection I see in the mirror into a dearly loved child of God. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Psalm 139:14, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it." (NLT)

    Matthew 10:31, "So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows." (NLT)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you long to begin seeing yourself in a different light, accept how valuable you are to Christ, and discover a divine purpose for your life, not despite your past, but because of it? Sign up for Tracie’s free online Bible study of Your Life Still Counts, which begins March 16th! Click here for all the information.

    Tracie is giving away three Your Life Still Counts gift packs valued at $35 each. Visit her blog for more information and find out how to enter!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What occurred in your past that has caused you to believe the lie that God may not love you? How might accepting His truths change your life today?

    Write the lie or lies you have believed for far too long — those thoughts about yourself that God does not agree with. Surrender them to God today and ask Him to help you begin seeing yourself through His eyes, instead of your own.

    © 2015 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The God Who Holds the Stars, Holds You

    Posted on February 16, 2015 by Family Christian

    Sally Clarkson FEBRUARY 16, 2015

    The God Who Holds the Stars, Holds You
    Sally Clarkson

    "Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You." Psalm 139:12 (NASB)

    "Mama, the world seems like a very scary place, and it makes me feel insecure and powerless. I’m afraid I’ll be so lonely without friends and family to face the difficulties ahead."

    Joy, my daughter, a senior in college, was leaving the next day for a semester of study in Oxford, England. Yet the day we were packing, ISIS had just killed the second of two American journalists. Friends sent messages to Joy wondering if she had seen the news.

    "England will be the next target, and that might start war while you are there," one of her friends texted. With devastating, disastrous world news including earthquakes, war, immorality amongst Christian leaders … as a young woman, Joy understandably felt overwhelmed.

    Late into the night, we zipped her last suitcase. We were both exhausted from the adrenalin of getting all the details in place for her flight the next day, but she pleaded "Can we have one last time together out on the grass, under the stars? I need some peace before I go to bed."

    I knew her fears were still there, so I whispered, "Yes, my sweets! We will make one more memory together before you go."

    As was our habit, we took some soft, old blankets out to our front yard, under the tall pines, and lay next to each other shoulder to shoulder on the grass. The cold Colorado mountain air blew gently across our faces, and the aspen leaves in the distance swished and danced. A dog barked in the distance, but otherwise, the night whispered clear and quiet.

    We gazed into the sky and silently shared the moment. Stars filled the navy blue landscape and sparkled as though just for us. We breathed out life’s clutter and fears of the day and inhaled the peacefulness of the grandeur above.

    "Mama, when I look at what God has done, and keep my eyes on Him, it seems like my fears are melting away," she whispered and snuggled closer.

    God’s own voice seemed to speak to my heart as I answered:

    "Joy, this vast display of stars has been held in place by the sure, strong hands of God for thousands of years, through wars, tragedies, sadness and disasters of every kind. Not one year of our history has shaken the power or control of God."

    "As I lived through years of sleepless nights when you were gasping for breath with asthma, through car wrecks, financial disasters, the tragedies of our friends, I can look back and see the constant faithfulness of God, every day, every year.

    "Our God who created this beauty for us to behold, who has shown His power through the calm night skies is the one who will be with you every step of your journey ahead.

    "He will fill you with the Spirit who threw the night sky into place, so that you will know His companionship, love, beauty and wisdom each step in your journey. Remember what He told Joshua when he was afraid: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go’ (Joshua 1:9, NASB).

    "Joy, God prepared a story of faith for you to live. Many in Oxford long to know His love that you will bring. Others who look for meaning will need the messages of His truth that are stored in your soul. Beauty will be strewn across your path so you can observe His fingerprints.

    "Your hope and faith are needed by those who are filled with despair in these dark times. If you embrace the days ahead that He has prepared for you, your time in Oxford will be a purposeful time, no matter what the days hold. Wherever you go, you will bring His light and love.

    "But remember, Joy, you will always have a choice to make.

    "If you look at the darkness and fear of the news of the day, you will grow dark in your soul.

    "Look to God. Choose to trust Him with your days. Live in His reality.

    "Don’t look at fear, just keep the memory of this night, His power and beauty always in your thoughts — and you will find courage and hope that you need every day. The God who holds the stars holds you."

    Heavenly Father, let us keep our gaze upon You and rest in Your ability to carry us through all of our fears, through all of our days. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (NASB)

    Isaiah 41:10, "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (NASB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you want to live a life of impact? In her book, Own Your Life, Sally Clarkson shows you how to build an intentional life.

    Visit Sally’s blog for more encouragement.

    Enter to WIN a copy of Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson. In celebration of this book, Sally’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, February 23.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Consider the ways you have seen God’s faithful guidance to you this year.

    What fears do you need to lay into His hands?

    © 2015 by Sally Clarkson. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Tyndale House Publishers for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

    Click here to view our policy on 3rd party links.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Shape of True Love

    Posted on February 13, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort FEBRUARY 13, 2015

    The Shape of True Love
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:9b-10 (VOICE)

    The first time I danced with my husband my nose came up to his armpit. We were swaying straight-armed beneath the disco ball at our eighth grade graduation party, and I joked about how I hoped he’d used plenty of deodorant that day. His face turned crimson, the red rising from his neck, as he solemnly promised that he was protected with a double-dose.

    I’d stood on my tiptoes in an effort to shrink the gap, but even with my hair ratted and sprayed as high as an ‘80s girl could manage, that boy loomed tall above me.

    Of course, I had no idea I was dancing with my future husband that night in the junior high gym. I never would have guessed that six years later we’d trade the sheen of a disco ball for the gleam of rings and pledge to love one another ‘til death do us part.

    Though we were no longer gangly teens on our wedding day, my groom still towered 10 inches above me. But I wasn’t bothered by my armpit view on that special day; I’d set my sights on the heights of love.

    I’d given my husband a hand-written letter just hours before I’d walked down the aisle, the words scrawled across the page capturing my hopes for the future: "No matter what life sends our way, our love will always stand tall …"

    It was a poetic line, not unlike one you might find on a Valentine’s card this month. But after 21 years of marriage, I’ve come to believe my sentiments were wrong.

    Love is, indeed, a sacred and lofty gift, but two decades of loving and learning has taught me that the mark of true love isn’t height, it’s humility. True love doesn’t stand tall; it bends low.

    As we see in today’s key verse, God sent Jesus to demonstrate how true love is sacrificial at its core.

    True love stoops to pick up the trash bag sitting near the kitchen door and crouches to look a sullen child in the eye.

    True love bows to change diapers and to shovel snow, to deliver goodnight kisses and offer hugs.

    True love bends over the dishwasher and over the sick child. True love hovers over the hurting and kneels quietly in prayer.

    True love chooses to be righteous instead of right, servant instead of master, humble instead of haughty.

    Let’s be honest, true love isn’t headline news. It’s not greeting card verse. It’s not blockbuster buzz. True love is Heaven’s hope, as we see in 1 John 4:10: "This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

    God didn’t declare His love for us with a bouquet of red roses. He didn’t wrap up a box of fine chocolates or a flowery card. Instead, God wrapped His only Son in wrinkled flesh and proclaimed His undying love on Calvary’s cross.

    It’s crazy when you think about it, the way the truest love of all stooped the lowest — so we might know the summit of His glorious love.

    I didn’t realize it as a starry-eyed bride, but the heights of love can only be discovered in the depths of surrender. It sounds unnatural, doesn’t it? Impossible … on our own.

    But 1 John 4:14-17 tells us that when we confess Christ as our Lord, He perfects His love in us. And as the stooping Savior makes Himself at home in our hearts, our lives proclaim the truth that the whole world longs to hear:

    The shape of true love isn’t a diamond. It’s a cross.

    Dear Jesus, Thank You for loving me with a true and unshakeable love. Grow in me a humble heart so that Your perfect love can shine through my imperfect life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 John 4:11-12, "My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us — perfect love!" (MSG)

    I John 4:17, "God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us …" (MSG)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Lynn Cowell’s Devotions for a Revolutionary Year can help you or a young woman in your life begin each day with a reminder of Christ’s true love.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort’s blog today for more encouragement and for your chance to win a true-love giveaway!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is one way you can "bend low in love" today?

    Send a friendly text or write a thank-you note this week to someone who has "stooped low in love" for you.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • 3 Ways to Find Life-Giving Relationships

    Posted on February 12, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 12, 2015

    3 Ways to Find Life-Giving Relationships
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works." Hebrews 10:24 (ESV)

    I pressed my forehead against my front door window while tears quietly slipped down my cheeks. I watched my husband pull out of the driveway and head off to another day at work. I then turned to look at what my day would hold — a crying baby, a messy house and an overwhelming feeling of dread. How could this be?

    I finally had everything I ever thought would make me happy, fulfilled, significant and satisfied, yet I was more miserable and lonely than I’d ever been. Finally realizing a great husband, healthy baby and a comfortable house with a flowerbed planted out front, weren’t the answers to ultimate happiness in life, rattled my soul to the core.

    There are deep places within our soul that God hand-designed and reserved only for Him to fill.

    But my whole life had been focused on getting these other things that I thought would fill me up. So when they fell short, I slid to the ground and cried, "God, I can’t do this. Where do I go from here? How do I find You? Help me!"

    A few weeks later, my husband called and said there was a woman in his restaurant who wanted to meet me. I glanced down at my spit-covered sweatpants, ran my hands through my greasy hair, and willed my mind to override the desire to pass on meeting her that day.

    I couldn’t handle the relationships I had in my life, I certainly couldn’t make time for more. Plus, if I got too close to women who appeared to have their lives together, they’d judge me for the pitiful way mine was falling apart. I just didn’t have the whitespace for anything but my family.

    But that was exactly the problem. I was giving everything I had to my family with nothing to fill me back up, no one to encourage me past the hard spots, and no one to share practical advice because she’d been there, done that.

    So, I crammed my diaper bag full and headed out the door.

    Over the years, I’ve thought about that pivotal decision to pursue and embrace the necessity of friendships. Not only have they helped me personally, my friendships have been crucial to my success (and sometimes survival) in my roles as wife and mom as well. They’ve made our key verse, Hebrews 10:24, come to life for me.

    What I once thought would take away from my family, has proven to add a richness I couldn’t have gotten any other way.

    If you can relate to the season I was in, here are 3 practical ways to find life-giving friendships:

    1) Find a friend who does something well that you wish you were better at.

    It may be managing paper piles, cooking, organizing kids’ rooms, creatively loving her husband, effectively disciplining her kids or a hundred other things. Whatever it is, ask her if you could spend time observing how she does what she does so well. Women love to talk about things they do well.

    2) Choose a friend with whom you feel comfortable to pray.

    There is no better gift we can give our families than to be wives and moms who pray. Praying with a friend about our families will not only knit our hearts closer to the ones we love, but to that friend as well.

    3) Pursue a friendship with someone who is one stage behind where you are in life.

    Offer them practical help in their area of stress and weave in the wisdom you gained as you went through that same stage.

    Why not spend some time today praying for the friends you have and the friends you’ve yet to meet? God loves to answer those friendship prayers! And trust me on this — go ahead and wash your hair, just in case you get a call like I did all those years ago.

    Dear Lord, You know the friendships I need in this season of my life. So I’m praying today for the friends I have right now and ones I have yet to meet. Help me be a God-honoring friend who always points them back to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:16, "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Relationships help nourish us in ways nothing else can! Learn how to be intentional in your most treasured relationships with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. Purchase your copy here.

    Gather your closest friends and hold The Best Yes Bible study in your home! Click here to get started.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Consider the three friendship points Lysa talked about today. Choose one and pursue it this week!

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • The Day I Couldn’t Shut Up

    Posted on February 11, 2015 by Family Christian

    Karen Ehman FEBRUARY 11, 2015

    The Day I Couldn’t Shut Up
    KAREN EHMAN

    "Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20 (HCSB)

    Has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble — yes, even made you sin — all because you talked too much?

    It’s certainly happened to me.

    Years ago while visiting with a friend at a high school basketball game we discussed a budding new relationship between our 17-year-olds — her son and my daughter. It was nothing official, but we knew they liked each other, and we were pleased.

    I rattled on about how my husband and I worked hard to teach our kids to choose whom to date, or even marry, based on more than just their looks. We’d often joke that looks shouldn’t matter since we’re all headed toward ugly anyway. (Then my daughter would chime in, "That’s all the more reason to pick someone with a great starting point!")

    In trying to express how happy we were that our daughter listened to us and not only chose someone who was good-looking, but also displayed godly traits and had a wonderful personality, somehow my friend thought I was saying we were glad our daughter chose on character because — boy, was her son homely!

    It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized I had conveyed the wrong message. I received a letter from my friend stating how hurt she was by my backhanded compliment about her son’s character, implying he was unattractive.

    I was floored.

    And devastated. And misunderstood. And now I had a fractured friendship with someone I’d really hoped to get to know better. All because of my words.

    Immediately, I called to apologize and shared what I meant to say before my rambling thoughts came out as misspoken words — that then led to misunderstanding, conflict and offense.

    Thankfully my friend accepted my apology and six years later we are still friends!

    If we want to avoid offending our friends — or committing any number of verbal sins — we need to learn to control our lips. When we sense a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit that signals a downward spiral, we can simply say, "I’m sorry. I’m talking too much." And then? As my dad used to say (much like the character Festus from Gunsmoke), we can "shut our tater trap!"

    Speaking too soon. Before we really understand all the facts. Before we’ve listened fully to the other side. And most importantly, before we’ve had time to pray and process what we’ve heard with the Lord. When we do any one or even a combination of those things, we are foolish.

    Scripture has many things to say about fools. Our key verse today is just one: "Do you see a man who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him" (Proverbs 29:20).

    In order not to speak too soon, we need to cultivate two habits:

    Perfect the art of the pause. Pausing creates white space in a conversation that enables us to sort out our thoughts before we let out our words. Counting to 10 before responding provides just enough wiggle room to really think through what we are about to say.

    Ponder what the other person said, and perhaps go on a fact-finding mission. It’s easy to jump to conclusions when we don’t have all the facts. Holding our tongues, and our opinions, for a while often gives us time to assess the situation clearly before pronouncing judgment. I have found that many times what I was going to say was not in the end what I wanted to express. Giving thoughts time to settle and soak in Scripture is a wonderful habit that will keep us from answering too soon and looking foolish.

    So pause. Gather the facts. Think before you answer, and don’t speak too soon.

    Father, I want to reflect Your love and grace each time I open my mouth to speak. Help me to slow my tongue before I say something hurtful that can have lasting consequences. And when I fall short, help me be quick to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 13:3, "The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin." (HCSB)

    Proverbs 10:19, "When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise." (HCSB)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her new book, Keep It Shut, Karen Ehman teaches what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all.

    For more on honoring God with our words, head over to Karen’s blog today where she’s offering a free resource called 5 Days to Sweet & Salty Speech. She’s also giving away a Bible study bundle of her latest Keep It Shut project.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What are one or two things you can say or do the next time you find yourself going down the slippery slope of speaking too much?

    Choose one of the Scripture verses in today’s devotion and work to memorize it. When a growth opportunity comes along, recite it to yourself, and commit to let God’s Word take you along the right path.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day

    Posted on February 10, 2015 by Family Christian

    Chrystal Evans Hurst FEBRUARY 10, 2015

    How to Rise Above the Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day
    CHRYSTAL EVANS HURST

    "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." James 1:2-4 (NLT)

    It was his birthday.

    We had a flight to catch.

    Even though it was a working trip for me, I planned to make our trip a quasi birthday celebration for him. We were still about to leave the house without our kids. That always spells me-and-you time, honey.

    We were supposed to wake up and look at each other with "goo-goo" eyes, remembering how much we actually like each other, because there were no distractions.

    We were supposed to travel leisurely to the airport and stop somewhere for lunch on the way.

    We were supposed to have a meaningful conversation on the plane about deep, important and beautiful things while we were soaring above the clouds.

    Instead …

    We woke up to plumbing problems, broken suitcases and a rainy day. We rushed to the airport and searched for a parking space while listening to each other’s bellies rumble. We missed our flight and had to run to catch another one that would get us to our destination on time.

    Then we sat next to each other … in complete silence … and it was his birthday.

    Part of my sullen attitude was because it really was a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day.

    Part of my bad attitude was frustration that this yucky day was my husband’s birthday, and I felt so badly about it not being special for him at all.

    Most of my gloomy attitude was because things weren’t going as I had planned, and I was pouting.

    The cramped ride on the itty-bitty plane came to an end. He helped me get my luggage out of the overhead bin, looked over at me and smiled. He walked through the airport, pulling my suitcase and his.

    It was raining in our arrival city too, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get too wet as we got our things into the car. On the way to our destination, he started a pleasant conversation and kept it going until we arrived.

    Somewhere between the frustration of the morning and the smile in the afternoon, my husband made a decision. He made a decision to rise above that terrible-no-good-very-bad-day and find something to smile about. He made a decision to choose joy.

    And while it never stopped raining, the longer-than-expected-drive-time gave us more time to chat. And stopping at the drive-thru became a romantic birthday dinner for two.

    I don’t know about you, but I have lots of days that just don’t go quite the way I want. Even when I’ve done everything I can to ensure my plans don’t go awry, they still do.

    Sometimes it still rains and I’m tempted to pout.

    I’m tempted to throw all efforts at rising above my situation to the wind and sit and sulk in a quiet corner, lamenting the difficult parts of my day or life. And of course, some problems are a whole lot worse than rain or a delayed flight.

    But watching my husband reminded me of something.

    I don’t have to let the events of a terrible-no-good-very-bad-day determine my actions and attitude. Like our key verse suggests, we can choose to consider trouble as "an opportunity for great joy" (James 1:2b). Life’s challenges allow faith to be tested and endurance to grow.

    Some days are just difficult. Life can be hard. And many of those difficulties happen at the most inopportune time.

    However, let’s not forget that it’s in the most difficult places where we derive our deepest life lessons. Even from hard spots beautiful things grow.

    We can plan, prepare and put our best foot forward, but sometimes life just happens.

    Thankfully, bad days don’t have to dictate our response or the ultimate outcome.

    We get to choose.

    So my friend, choose joy!

    Father God, Help me rise above my circumstances, choose joy and find something to smile about. Even in the midst of a difficult day, Lord, help me have a joyful heart while the experiences You allow build character in my heart and produce beauty in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Do you long to be a woman whose responses aren’t dictated by circumstances? Kingdom Woman by Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst can help set your heart and mind on things above.

    Stop by Chrystal Hurst’s blog for more encouragement today.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What small step can you take today to find joy in the midst of your terrible-no-good-very-bad-day(s)?

    Are there people in your life who set a good example of choosing joy despite their difficulties? Ask them what they do to rise above their circumstances.

    © 2015 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • I Want to Quit

    Posted on February 9, 2015 by Family Christian

    Leah DiPascal FEBRUARY 9, 2015

    I Want to Quit
    LEAH DIPASCAL

    "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

    I pulled the blankets up over my shoulders, rolled over in bed and just stared at the bright red numbers on my alarm clock. I was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep.

    An endless stream of thoughts rushed through my mind — one question cascaded over another. Before I knew it, another hour had passed and I was no closer to dreamland than before.

    I don’t want to go to work tomorrow. Maybe I can call in sick. I wonder if I can get anyone to fill in for me? My job is hard and I feel unappreciated.

    But calling in sick was not an option because my job was motherhood, and the "clients" who would be waiting for me early the next morning were my 4-year-old and 6-month-old boys.

    My husband and I were married nine years before our first son was born. I waited a long time to be a member of the Mommy Club. Finally, my dream came true and I was determined to be the best mommy ever!

    Nothing brought me greater joy than to see their sweet smiles and bed-head hair every morning. But can I be honest? It was also very challenging raising those little guys.

    Despite reading every parenting magazine I could, I still struggled with the day-to-day demands. It seemed my real-life parenting skills didn’t measure up to those moms who wrote the magazine articles.

    I quickly discovered motherhood wasn’t for wimps.

    Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks a year. I was on duty. And there was no paycheck waiting for me on Friday afternoons.

    I was a chef, doctor, storyteller, and when disagreements erupted I’d pull out my referee hat.

    I changed poopy diapers, refilled sippy cups and washed dirty clothes. All. The. Time. In moments of weariness, I’d whisper to myself, I want to quit. Then mommy-guilt would flood my heart as I’d settle into a deeper level of discouragement.

    Why don’t I feel joy doing something I’ve dreamed about for so many years?

    Maybe you’ve experienced those moments when the demands of parenting collide with your stretched emotions and fragile feelings, causing your heart to become weary.

    If you’re like me, you realize motherhood is a high calling. You see your children as treasured gifts from God and your home as a gathering place where loved ones are nurtured and blessings abound.

    But, there are those days when demands run high, patience runs thin and weariness creeps in. That is when we can hold on to the hope of today’s key verse, Galatians 6:9: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

    Raising children is like growing a spiritual crop with the potential of a priceless, abundant harvest. As moms, we need to care for, watch over and tenderly love our children every day, just as a farmer tends to his valuable crops.

    Raising children well requires a daily dose of love, commitment and perseverance. As moms, we can approach each challenge knowing we’re not alone. The Lord is with us and we can call on Him in times of weariness. He is always ready to extend the grace, guidance and strength we need.

    As we celebrate the giggles and messy moments of our children, let us remember the great harvest God has waiting for us if we persevere. We may not see immediate results, but if we continue doing good and trust God with the rest, in due time we will reap a harvest of blessings!

    Father God, thank You for the priceless gift of my child/children. Help me raise them according to Your will and not my own. When I become weary, fill me with Your strength so that I can persevere in parenting well. Thank You for the promise of a harvest if I don’t give up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    In her book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks, Lysa TerKeurst shares how mothers can release mommy-guilt when the bouts of stress come from managing life and home.

    Stop by Leah DiPascal’s blog today and discover 5 Ways To Persevere When Parenting Young Children. You can also sign up for a RefresHER giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What is your greatest struggle as a mom? Write down one action step you can take today that will help you move forward as you seek God’s will in this area of challenge.

    Is there someone you know who is going through a difficult time in raising her own children? What is one thing you can do today to help encourage and cheer her on in the midst of her own parenting struggles?

    © 2015 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Your Story is Still Being Written

    Posted on February 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    T. Suzanne Eller FEBRUARY 6, 2015

    Your Story is Still Being Written
    SUZIE ELLER

    "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25 (NIV)

    Two women approached me. They could almost pass for twins, except for the scars borne by one.

    "She rescued me," the younger one said. "She drove through the night, even after I told her to stay away."

    Her older sister had braved the darkness to save her from a man who fractured not just her bones, but her spirit. Though she had been safe for months, years of hurt, doubt and pain were deeply ingrained.

    "Can I pray for you?" I asked.

    She knelt eagerly, pressing her forehead into my knees. She wrapped her arms around my legs before I could kneel beside her. Loss, pain and a chasm so wide she feared there was no way back, soaked through her tears.

    It’s moments like these I realize how human I am, and how little I truly have to offer.

    But God!

    As we prayed, I asked for what felt impossible in the natural. I cannot explain the presence I felt in that small space. It was tangible, an almost overwhelming compassion of a Savior for his beautiful daughter.

    A new chapter was being written. Not just in her life, but in the countless pages of the broken made whole by Jesus.

    For some, brokenness is easy to see, like this beautiful younger sister whose scars were obvious. But for most of us, our hearts bear the marks.

    The damage can be the result of unhealthy doctrine — like when you love Jesus, but people tell you that you can never be good enough. It can be a mark left by great loss. It might be what takes place when your life is turned upside down by unfulfilled promises or events you didn’t see coming.

    Every story is unique and each story — including yours — is important to God. And this is our promise: Brokenness does not have to be the final chapter.

    He rewrites.

    Begin to imagine what you will look like in the hands of your Savior. This opens the door to hope. It places the pen in God’s hand, instead of the past, a person or a feeling.

    It changes your question from, "What’s wrong with me?" to "What miracle does God want to perform in me?"

    We receive.

    He came for you. That’s the good news found in Luke 4:18-19: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord"s favor" (NIV).

    Jesus is not afraid of our brokenness. It was on His heart the day He transitioned from deity to walk the earth on our behalf. Hold out your hands. Throw open the doors that so carefully guard your pain.

    We all rejoice.

    Healing won’t take place overnight. Instead it’s an exquisite process where God peels away layer by layer. But as you heal, something profound begins to take place.

    You become an integral part of the good news described in John 21:25, our key verse. Your story spills into the pages eternally describing the power of Jesus to mend a broken heart.

    And for that, we all rejoice.

    Dear Jesus, thank You that newness is pouring into my life. I open my heart, my thoughts, my past and my broken places to Your touch. Thank You that You are writing a new chapter in my story beginning today. I praise You because the power of the cross is not in what I’ve done, but in what’s already been done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 53:5, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." (NIV)

    Matthew 4:23, "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Would you like to bring Suzie Eller to your church? Click here to find out more about considering Suzie as your next retreat / keynote speaker.

    Visit Suzie Eller’s blog for a giveaway of The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places and to learn more about The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Today, ask God to heal the first layer. Don’t worry about the end goal. Ask God to step gently into your broken places and begin His work in you right where you are.

    © 2015 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Your Husband Has Given Up

    Posted on February 5, 2015 by Family Christian

    Lysa TerKeurst FEBRUARY 5, 2015

    When Your Husband Has Given Up
    LYSA TERKEURST

    "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

    I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling.

    The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt.

    The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.

    My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. Many of us have been there.

    But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship.

    A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?

    Decide today that you are worthy.

    Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God who cares for you. Who loves you. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings.

    You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.

    Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.

    And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.

    Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: You are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are.

    Then you can act worthy.

    And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some levelheaded decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you, provide godly counsel and will walk this tough journey with you.

    Draw some boundaries with your husband, if some are needed.

    Pray like crazy for clear discernment. Because Jesus is the best source of help.

    Honest cries for help, lifted up to Jesus, will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

    Remember, you can’t control how your husband acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.

    Reclaim who you are.

    I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.

    Dear Lord, my marriage is struggling. I’m struggling. Help me please. I need to hold on to Your truths that I am worthy. And God, please show me what steps to take to support my marriage. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Isaiah 54:10, "‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who has compassion on you." (NIV)

    Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    If you’re facing a hard season but want to make God-honoring decisions every step of the way, Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, The Best Yes, can help. Get your copy here.

    Determine to pray more words over your marriage than you speak about your marriage with the 5 Scriptures Lysa is sharing on her blog. Click here to begin speaking God’s truth over your relationship with your husband!

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Write our key verse down on a sticky note or index card and put it in a place where you know you’ll see it each day. When a negative thought starts to cross your mind, say out loud, "God says I am worthy."

    © 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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