• Journaling Bibles

Family Christian

  • Willing to Accept

    Boyd

    And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Matthew 11:14

    Hard words, hard people, and hard situations are hard to accept. Do you or someone you know feel like you are between a rock and a hard place? Do your options seem like they have dried up? Is your energy to press forward depleted? Perhaps it is time to accept the cold, hard facts of where you find yourself. Reality has a way of catching up with our denial.

    It is okay to be optimistic, but not to the peril of ignoring your predicament. Are emotional reactions driving your decisions, or do you prayerfully process the facts clearly and objectively with wise input from others you trust? Do you need to give up something—your house, your car, your career, your travel, or your expectations? What is the Lord asking you to give up so that you can gain Him and His peace? Acceptance requires action.

    Furthermore, there are people who require additional patience and grace to accept. Have others wronged you to the point that your resentment is blocking your acceptance of them? You may justify your rejection of them because of their rejection of you. For example, children and parents can let us down and even devastate us, but Christians do not have the option of not accepting them for who they are. Love accepts even unworthy recipients.

    Do you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel accepted—a new job, in-laws, a new school, a new city, a new relationship? You can stew in self-pity, or you can take the initiative to reach out to your rejecters. Kindness reaches out and rejects rejection. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24 nkjv).

    Above all, are you willing to accept God’s call on your life? When His will is uncomfortable and uncertain, will you still go there in trust? Start by accepting Christ by faith as your Savior and Lord, and then continue to accept His commands as evidence that you are His disciple. Acceptance of the Lord allows you to love Him and other people. Acceptance cannot continue alone but is accelerated and accompanied by the Almighty’s grace and love.

    Prayer: Do I wholeheartedly accept God’s plan for my life? Whom do I need to accept in love?

    Related Readings: Genesis 4:7; Ecclesiastics 5:19; Romans 11:15; 1 Timothy 1:15

    Taken from the March 15th reading in Boyd’s 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God vol. 2”

    Post/Tweet today: Kindness reaches out and rejects rejection. #willingtoaccept

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Honor Mom

    Boyd

    When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” John 2:3

    Jesus honored His mom though He had the power and prerogative to delay her request. She saw His newly recruited disciples and realized her little boy was now a man of God. She reflected on her Holy Spirit conception and the joy of bringing her son and Savior into the world. So, she asked her Lord for a miracle for the sake of someone else. He honored her by allowing the wedding celebration to continue without the disruption of running out of refreshments. Love is honorable.

    Our moms are needy and they need us. They cared for our needs for many years. As an infant they fed us, comforted us, and woke up in the middle of the night to calm our cries. As a child they taught us, disciplined us and laughed at and with us. As a teenager, if they prayed, they prayed even more for our protection from ourselves. As an adult they want us to pray for them, keep up with them and honor them. Mothers filled with God remind us of His unselfish love.

    “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

    Has your mother made a direct or indirect request of you? Has she implied a need, but not come right out and verbalized it? Perhaps the Lord is calling you to honor her by helping her, or by helping someone she is concerned about. Some moms have the admirable quality of always looking out for others, even if it requires giving up something themselves. When your mom senses your undivided attention and authentic concern, she’ll open up about her cares. Honor listens.

    If your wife is a mom, how can you support her dreams and desires? How can you better partner with her in parenting? It honors your wife when you pray with her for your children. It honors her when you listen to her fears and support her in her stress. Being a mom is oh so fulfilling, but it is hard. You honor her by being with her to laugh and cry over the children. You honor her when you offer emotional support. Yes, you honor your mom most, when you live honorably before God.

    “May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful” (Proverbs 23:25)!

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, show me how to better honor my mom and the mother of our children.

    Related Readings: Deuteronomy 5:16; Psalm 35:14; Mathew 12:46; John 19:26-27

    Post/Tweet today: We honor our mom most, when we live honorably before God. #honormom

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Lord, I Want to Know You from Kay Arthur

    Kay

    Chapter One

    THE NAMES OF THE LORD

    – DAY ONE –

    The muffled, distant sound had broken the quiet reverie of his walk across the meadow. The sharp barking of a dog almost irritated him. It was abrasive in that tranquil setting. As the barking grew louder, his eyes scanned the meadow, looking for the culprit. Suddenly a small doe broke through the edge of the woods. Now he understood. Leaning against the fence post, the man watched with compassion as the doe cut across the broad expanse of meadow. She was running straight toward him. He stood motionless, not wanting to add the fear of man to the animal’s frustration. As the frightened fawn leaped the fence, she staggered. The chase had taken its toll. Her wet coat gleaming in the sun, the doe stopped, took a few steps in one direction, then, ears held high, looked back toward the sound of the barking. The dog had broken through the woods.

    Eyes wide with fright, confused, worn out, panting wildly, the doe surveyed her surroundings, quickly discovering the man standing beside the fence. Glancing back for an instant at the dog in hot pursuit, then viewing the expanse of open field before her, she turned weakly and wobbled straight toward the man. She approached him without fear and buried her head in his tummy. Compassion flooded his heart and filled his eyes. She had found a protector.

    Beloved, where do you run in time of need? When the hounds of trouble, worry, and fear pursue you; when the dogs of temptation, corruption, and evil seek to overtake you; when your energy is spent; when weakness saps you; when you feel you cannot run any longer, where do you turn?

    Do you turn to your protector, the One who stands with arms opened wide, waiting for you to come and bury yourself in the security of all He is?

    “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

    For these forty-two days we are going to study the names of the Lord so that you will know where to run to find help in time of need. The Father longs for you to know more of who He is, that you might more fully “trust in the name of the LORD and rely on [your] God” (Isaiah 50:10). Remember Jesus’ prayer on our behalf just before He went to Calvary: “that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The goal of Paul’s life was “that I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10). How I pray it will become the goal of your life!

    If someone were to ask you to describe God, what would you say? Write down the words that come to your mind when you think of God.

    – DAY TWO –

    “Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God” (Psalm 20:7).

    Where do you run for help? When you are in trouble, what is your first instinct? Do you run to others or to God? Is it usually the counsel of another rather than the counsel found in waiting upon God in prayer? Why is this the way it is? Why do we run to man before we run to God?

    In Old Testament days chariots and horses were means of protection and escape. Today our “chariots and horses” come with different labels, shapes, and forms. Even so they are still a visible means of help, escape, or protection. Yet are these really a source of safety? No. “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31, KJV).

    What’s the problem? Why don’t we run to the arms of our all-sufficient God? I think it’s because most of us don’t really know our God. Why do many collapse in the day of trouble and testing? Why are they immobilized? Why don’t they take an aggressive stand in the face of fear? Because Christians, for the most part, can’t boast in the name of their God.

    What do I mean when I say, “boast in the name of our God”? In the Hebrew language the phrase to boast in means “to have confidence in, to trust in.”1 Therefore, to boast in God’s name means to have confidence in His name. In biblical times a name represented a person’s character. God’s name represents His character, His attributes, His nature. To know His name is to know Him. To boast in His name is to have confidence in who He is!

    We find several different names of God in the Bible. You are about to embark on an exciting study of these names!

    In the day of trouble or need, we are to run to our God, to put our trust in Him. That is why He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15, KJV).

    Is your heart troubled? Is fear lurking in the shadows of your consciousness? Do you feel insecure about anything at all? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, list your fears, insecurities, and troubles below. Then ask God to show you one of His names that will meet your need. When He shows you, tell Him that you will boast in that name.

    – DAY THREE –

    Let’s begin with a day of meditating on Psalm 20. As you look at this psalm, consider what we have talked about these past two days. At the end of the psalm you will find a brief assignment. I urge you to participate fully in this study. Don’t just read this book. Do the assignments. Write out your answers. This exercise will help cultivate the seeds of truth sown in your reading. The harvest can be bountiful, and you will grow!

    PSALM 20 1May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! 2May He send you help from the sanctuary, And support you from Zion! 3May He remember all your meal offerings, And find your burnt offering acceptable! 4May He grant you your heart’s desire, And fulfill all your counsel! 5We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions. 6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven, With the saving strength of His right hand. 7 Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stood upright. 9 Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call.

    1. Go through this psalm and put a around every word that has something to do with trouble, need, or help.* 2. What are the Lord’s promises in this psalm? 3. Are there any conditions that need to be met in order for the promises to be fulfilled? 4. According to this psalm, what sets a person securely on high or in a place of security above the circumstances of a situation? 5. On what basis can we set up banners of victory? 6. What does the answer to question 5 tell you about the name of God? 7. Why are they boasting in the name of the Lord?

    Turn your heart’s desire into a prayer. Tell your Father what you need. Thank Him that He wants to be known by you in greater depth!

    MEMORY VERSE The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. PROVERBS 1 8 : 1 0

    SMALL-GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    1. Before the study of these first three days, how did you picture God in your mind? 2. What was so significant about a name in biblical times? 3. Why is it important that we know the name of our God? 4. In Psalm 20, God talks about men who boast in chariots and horses and men who boast in the name of the Lord. Did you see a contrast between these two types of people? What is the contrast? 5. What does trusting in horses and chariots mean? How does that apply to today? 6. Can you remember a time when you trusted in “horses and chariots”? What was the result in your life? 7. Can you remember a time when you boasted in the name of the Lord? What was the result?

    Chapter 2

    THE CREATOR

    – DAY FOUR –

    One of the names of God in the Old Testament is Elohim. This name designates God as God. Deuteronomy 10:17 says, “The LORD your God [Elohim] is the God of gods.…” El means “mighty” or “strong” and is used for any reference to gods, including Almighty God. Elohim is the primary Hebrew word translated “God” in the Old Testament. (Sometimes Jehovah is translated “God” rather than “LORD.”) The him ending of Elohim is very significant. In the Hebrew language it is a plural ending indicating more than one. Elohim is the name for God as Creator. It is used in Genesis 1:1 and could be translated, “In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth.”

    Does the construction of the Hebrew word mean that there is more than one God? No! “The LORD [Jehovah] is our God [Elohim], the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit–the blessed Trinity–created the heavens and the earth. One in essence, in character, yet three persons united as one.

    As you read various scriptures, you can see references to the different persons of the Godhead participating in the work of creation. In Genesis 1:2-3 we read, “The Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God…” (Hebrews 11:3). God spoke and the Spirit moved. Then Colossians 1:16 tells us that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth.” Thus, we see that each person of the triune Godhead had a part in creation.

    Even in the creation of man we see the Godhead working. In Genesis 1:26 we read, “Then God [Elohim] said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image.’ ” The Us refers to more than one!

    But of what practical significance is this name to us? How can the name Elohim serve as a strong tower to us?

    If God is the Creator of all things, who has given us life? Elohim, of course! And why were we created? For Him! You are a unique creation of God, one of a kind, created for His glory. He “didst form my inward parts.” He “didst weave me in my mother’s womb.… I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14). Have you ever thought of yourself as being fearfully and wonderfully made? Or do you look at yourself and despise what Elohim has created?

    I have a friend who is probably not more than three feet tall. Her head is of normal size, but her body is dwarfed. To me she is lovely. Julie spends all her days in a sling, much like a baby’s walker. In order to move anywhere, her legs must propel the rolling frame. Julie is radiant, a delight to all who meet her. She knows her Elohim, and she realizes that He created her just the way she is for a purpose. Now please don’t tell me God had nothing to do with her physical condition. If I were to believe that, I’d have to deny His sovereignty, His Word, and His name.

    Remember when “Moses said to the LORD, ‘Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue’ ” (Exodus 4:10)?

    What was the Lord’s reply? “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11).

    But why would God create people who are different from His normal pattern of creation? Why would He ever permit a sperm to penetrate an egg when it would produce what seems to be a genetic disaster?

    Remember when the disciples saw a man blind from birth, “and His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’” (John 9:2)? How did Jesus answer? “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).

    Oh, Beloved, if you are unhappy with yourself, with your child, or with a loved one, run into the strong tower of the name of your Elohim (Proverbs 18:10). You may not understand how your situation could ever bring Him glory, but you can trust in the name of your Lord. “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God” (Isaiah 50:10).

    “I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High” (Psalm 7:17). “For the LORD [Jehovah] your God [Elohim] is the God [Elohim] of gods [Elohim] and the Lord [Jehovah] of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God…” (Deuteronomy 10:17). Write out a prayer of worship to your creator. Sing praise to your God and Father as Elohim.

    “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

    – DAY FIVE –

    You have heard the song. The words go, “Why was I born? Why am I living?” They are more than words to a song, aren’t they? They are the heart’s cry of every human being who seeks to know the reason for his existence. Why were you born? Why did Elohim create you? Why did He form your inward parts and weave you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)? Search out the answer to these questions, and you will know the purpose for your life.

    In Isaiah 43 we read, “Thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel.… I am the LORD your God [Elohim].… you are precious in My sight.… everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made” (Isaiah 43:1,3-4,7).

    According to Isaiah 43, Elohim, the one who made man (male and female, Genesis 1:27) in His image, created you for His glory. One day I was studying what God’s Word says about the husbandwife relationship. I decided that since “woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:7), I should look up the meaning of the word glory. In the Hebrew language it means “to give the correct opinion or estimate of.” I saw that as a woman I am to treat my husband in such a way as to give a correct opinion or estimate of him as a man.

    Can you see how awesome it is to know that you have been created for God’s glory? That you are to live in such a way as to give all of creation a correct opinion or estimate of who God is? What does that mean to you, O child of God, who is called by His name? Think about it. How would you live if you were to live for His glory? Give yourself time to meditate on this truth, and then record below those things that God brings to your mind.

    Let’s look at one other scripture that tells you why you were born. “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11). According to this scripture, you were created for His will. The King James Version says “pleasure.” In essence, they are the same. If I live for His will, that is His pleasure, or if I bring Him pleasure, it is because I have done His will.

    His name is Elohim, the Almighty God, your Creator. You have looked at two scriptures that have answered the questions, “Why was I born? Why am I living?” You have seen that you have been created for His glory, for His pleasure. Your life is to be lived in such a way as to reflect Him, to show the world the character of God–His love, His peace, His mercy, His gentleness. You are to live for Him, to accomplish His will. To miss this purpose is to miss fulfillment. It is to have existed rather than to have lived.

    Go before your God and evaluate the course of your life. What do you need to do? Will you? Answer these questions honestly in the presence of your Elohim.

    Are you fulfilling the purpose of your creation? What is keeping you from being or doing what you were created for?

    What do you need to change? Now write out a prayer of commitment.

    MEMORY VERSE

    Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created. REVELATION 4 : 1 1

    SMALL-GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    1. Elohim identifies God as Creator. From your study, why do you think it is important to know Him as Creator? 2. What did God create? 3. How does Elohim as Creator show us the triune God? 4. What role has God had in your life? 5. What is your responsibility to Him as your Creator? How are you fulfilling that responsibility? 6. How have the insights into God as Elohim helped to clear up your thinking regarding children born with Down syndrome or those born without a limb, etc.? 7. What is currently happening in your life or circumstances that is easier to deal with now that you know God as your Elohim?


    Excerpted from Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur Copyright © 2000 by Kay Arthur. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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  • Why Shopping Will Never Satisfy

    Leah

    "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)

    We only had ten days to get everything packed and ready for the movers. Shipping boxes, wrapping paper and rolls of tape were everywhere. Every room called for attention, and I didn't know which direction to go first.

    With a squeezing economy and company cutbacks, our family made the hard decision to sell our home and do some major downsizing. Deep inside I knew it was the right choice, but the process was hard. Although I tried to put on a happy face, my heart was aching.

    Dragging myself from room to room, the amount of accumulated stuff overwhelmed me. Clothes, furniture, linens, accessories and enough kitchen appliances to open a diner filled every room.

    As I viewed all the things left to pack, I thought about my past shopping sprees where I'd picked up so many of the items. The early-bird door busters and all those neon yellow clearance stickers lured me in. The endless rows of shiny metal racks, boasting 50-percent-off treasures sealed the deal.

    I had prided myself thinking of all the money I saved buying everything on sale. Who was I kidding?

    The truth was our checking account balance was shrinking, yet I kept wanting new things and buying more. All the while, insisting these were purchases we "needed."

    But now, all of these bargains had to be boxed up, moved and put into storage. My "treasures" had become burdens. As I looked around at all the clutter, I wondered if it was my heart, not my home, needing to be de-cluttered.

    It was time to make some major adjustments in my thought life and begin living out today's verse in Hebrews 13:5, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

    God spoke to me that day with gentle conviction that it was time to stop making excuses for buying so much and be content with less.

    Kneeling in my storage room, I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I told Him I wanted to change but I needed His help. The process wasn't easy, but it was necessary.

    Ten days later when the movers arrived, everything was boxed and ready to go. Instead of heading to a storage facility, we delivered many of those boxes to a local children's home in desperate need of household items and clothing.

    It felt freeing to give away more and keep less. To experience the Giver instead holding onto the material gifts. To trust the Provider and stop worrying about having enough. To simply be content.

    Maybe you struggle sometimes with contentment too. Do you ever find yourself buying something you really don't need? I know, it was probably on sale.

    Perhaps God is asking you to keep less and give away more. To be content with what He's given you and not feel like you have to buy more to be more.

    Friend, don't fall for the lies I did. Trust that God will provide what you need when you need it. If you have extra items, consider giving them away to someone in need and experience the freedom of being content with less.

    Dear Lord, You know me better than I know myself. Help me to be content with what You've given me. Take away my cravings for always wanting more. Teach me to desire You above all else. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: In what areas are you least content? Write them down in your journal along with the two Scripture verses below. Pray and ask God to help you become content with what you have as you trust Him to provide all you need.

    Get a box or kitchen trash bag and go through your closets. Place at least one item from each closet into the box or bag and take to a local charity.

    Power Verses: 1 Timothy 6:6-8, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content." (ESV)

    Matthew 6:33, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (NLT)

    © 2014 by Leah DiPascal. All rights reserved.

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

  • Believing Is Seeing

    Boyd

    Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” John 1:50

    Believing sees with eyes of faith. Faith looks into the face of God to face the unknown. What may not be apparent to logic and reason is revealed by looking beyond the material to the spiritual. Belief in God opens up a vista of breathtaking spiritual formations. We see the mountains of His majesty and the fertile valley of His faithfulness. Belief in Jesus allows us to behold the sun of His salvation and the heavens of His hope. Believing sees what God sees.

    Furthermore, our initial belief in Christ as our Savior cracked open the door into His house of wisdom and understanding. By faith through grace, we will spend a lifetime exploring the eternal truths decorated throughout the Lord’s spiritual residence. Our continued faith opens doors to God’s will. We walk down a hallway of hope and discover a prayer closet with Christ’s comfort. Up the stairs takes more effort, but we walk with Jesus in trust and He reveals His life changing truths. Our adventurous journey with Jesus is fostered by faith. Believing sees the ways of God.

    “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you” (Ephesians 1:18).

    Moreover, believing may allow us to see God do greater things. We believe God for our child’s heart to turn back to Him, so in His time they grow tired of their ways and return to God’s ways. We believe God to heal our friend’s body with greater stamina. We believe God to open a financial door with His great provision. We believe God to get the gospel to thousands with His great power, resulting in new churches. We believe God for a great revival, so He changes us, our family, church, city, state, nation, and the world. Faith can facilitate God’s greater works.

    Older faith can become stale faith if not revitalized by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, avoid spiritual coasting, just getting by on past blessings. We can anticipate the better days to come and not be complacent with the good old days of the past. What greater work does God want to do in your life? Double, triple, quadruple your giving? Plant a church? Sell your business? Write a book? Have a child? Attempt great things only your great God can accomplish. Believe Him and watch Him work!

    “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the eyes of faith to believe You for greater works to come.

    Related Readings: Job 42:5; Matthew 21:212; Luke 10:17; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 11:1

    Post/Tweet today: Believing sees with eyes of faith. Faith looks into the face of God to face the unknown. #believingisseeing

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • For Men Only (Revised and Updated Edition) from Shaunti Feldhahn

    Shaunti

    Rethinking Random

    Why you need a new map of the female universe.

    Like some guys I know, you might be tempted to skip this introduction and jump right to the sex chapter. And if you’re chuckling right now, it probably means you already did it. Or were about to. It’s not a bad choice, actually. Just a little self-defeating. If you’ve been in a committed relationship with a woman for more than, say, a day, you know that going just for what you want isn’t actually going to get you what you want for very long.

    A week, maybe?

    But let’s be honest—one of the main reasons you’re looking at this book is because you are trying to get something you want. Not sex (well, not just sex), but a more fulfilling, harmonious relationship with your wife, one that isn’t quite so hard or confusing. And the back cover gave you the wild idea that understanding her might actually be possible.

    Either that or for some reason the woman in question just handed you this book.

    Hmm.

    Well, either way, take a look at the revelations we’ve uncovered. We think you’ll be convinced. Each chapter explains things about the woman you love that may have often left you feeling helpless, confused, or just plain angry. Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions. The only genius required is that you make a decision up-front that you’re willing to think differently. This is a short book, but if you read it cover to cover, you’ll walk away with your eyes opened to things you may have never before understood about your wife or girlfriend.

    Each chapter points out simple, doable solutions.

    That’s what happened with me—Jeff. And I’m just your average, semi-confused guy. (Actually, sometimes totally confused is more accurate.) And since we average, semi-confused guys have to stick together, that’s why, even though Shaunti and I are both authoring this book, I’ll be the one doing the talking.

    First, Some Background

    In 2004 Shaunti published For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men, which quickly became a bestseller. Based on nationally representative surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, and other research with thousands of men, it opened women’s eyes to things that most of us guys had always wished our wife or girlfriend knew. Things like most of us need to feel respected even more than loved. Or that men, besides just getting enough sex, also have a huge need to feel sexually desired by their wives.

    I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked. And by the flood of letters from around the country—from both women and their grateful husbands—Shaunti and I have seen how much good can come when the opposite sex finally has their eyes opened to things they simply didn’t understand about us guys before.

    In this book, the shock is on the other foot. Now it’s their turn to exclaim to us, “I can’t believe you didn’t already know that!”

    When Shaunti’s publisher first approached us about doing a companion book to For Women Only to help men understand women, I had two major concerns. First, I didn’t think guys would read a “relationship” book. For most of us, the last relationship book we read was in premarital counseling—and only because we were forced to. But more to the point, I doubted that women could ever be understood. Compared to other complex matters—like the tides, say, or how to figure a baseball pitcher’s ERA—women seemed unknowable. Random even.

    I’m not sure exactly why, but women everywhere were shocked by how men thought.

    I explained my skepticism to one early focus group of women:

    Jeff: Guys tend to think that women are random. We think, I pulled this lever last week and got a certain reaction. But when I pulled that same lever this week, I got a totally different reaction. That’s random!

    Woman in group: But we aren’t random! If you pull the lever and get a different reaction, either you’re pulling a different lever or you’re pulling it in a different way.

    Shaunti: What men need is a sort of map to their wives or girlfriends. Because we can be mapped. We can be known and understood—firm ground.

    Jeff: Uh, no. See, guys think of a woman as a swamp. You can’t see where you’re stepping, and sooner or later you just know you’re going to get stuck in quicksand. And the more you struggle to get free, the deeper you get sucked in. So every guy on the planet knows that the best thing to do is just shut down and not struggle and hope somebody comes along to rescue you.

    When I came to, Shaunti and the other women in the focus group assured me—and I have since seen for myself—that guys don’t have to live in a swamp. That realization led us to the eventual subtitle of this book: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.

    We have been astounded and humbled at the reaction to these simple, eyeopening truths. In fact, the book you are holding is actually the second edition of this book—which is needed because there was clearly a desire for this ongoing research.

    Both For Women Only and For Men Only sparked a huge wave of encouragement and hope among ordinary men and women just like me and Shaunti, selling more than 1.5 million copies in twenty-two languages. We were flooded with e-mails and comments from men and women at our marriage conferences, saying things like “This saved my marriage” and “After ten years together, I finally know how to make my wife happy” and even “Jeff, I owe you one, buddy.”

    But since we’ve continued to learn new things, we also wanted to keep the book current. For this new edition, we have included some fascinating new findings, including the brain science behind why women sometimes think as they do. Plus we’ve added a new chapter—“She’s Not Making Sense”—that decodes those unpredictable reactions that she thinks of as, uh, normal. After seeing the impact of this research, I realize that we really did uncover life-changing insights. Surprising truths that average guys like me need to hear from an average guy and be encouraged that if someone like me can learn it and do it, they can too.


    Excerpted from For Men Only, Revised and Updated Edition by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn Copyright © 2013 by Shaunti Feldhahn. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Three Questions You Must Ask Before Reacting

    Lysa

    "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

    My heart raced when I saw the number pop up on my phone. Nothing in me wanted to have this conversation. I was beyond aggravated. Hurt. Angry. And tired of being misunderstood.

    I answered the call with two goals in mind — to prove how right I was and how wrong the other person was.

    How do you think that conversation went?

    Not well.

    This conflict happened over five years ago so the rush of emotion has dissipated, and I can see more clearly how wrong my approach was.

    I learned from that conflict. Hopefully, I learn something from every conflict — especially how to have better reactions. I'm so far from being in a place where I can shine my halo.

    But I'm getting better.

    While my initial thoughts when a conflict arises are usually those same old "I'll show you" thoughts, I've progressed by not letting those leak into my reactions.

    How?

    By asking myself three questions:

    1. What part of this issue can I own and apologize for?

    There are always two sides to every issue. And no side is perfectly right or all the way wrong.

    If I make peace with the part I need to own and apologize for before the conversation, there's a greater chance I'll stay calm in the conversation. Our key verse, Proverbs 15:1, is a verse I've memorized and recall often, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

    2. How can I soften my heart toward this person so I honor them despite how they react?

    This one is hard. Really hard. But I know hurt people hurt people.

    Usually the person with whom I'm having a conflict has some kind of past or current hurt in their life feeding this issue. Chances are that hurt doesn't have anything to do with me but is adding to their emotional response in this conflict.

    Softening my heart is easier if I can sympathize with the hurt I can't see. If I can duck below my pride, honor will be my reward. Proverbs 29:23 reminds us, "Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor" (NIV).

    3. If I knew this conversation was being recorded and then shared with people I greatly respect, how would this change my reaction?

    What if I showed up to church this week and my pastor directed everyone to watch the screen for an example of a bad reaction? And then my face appeared. Have. Mercy. I. Would. Surely. Faint.

    While it is highly unlikely that our conversation would be recorded and viewed, it is very likely others are watching our reaction. Children. Co-workers. Friends. But here's the one that really grabs my heart – my Jesus is very much present. Philippians 4:5 reminds us, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near" (NIV).

    Every conflict has variables that must be considered. Some conflicts have escalated to the point where professionals must be asked to help. Be mindful and prayerful about this.

    But for the everyday conflicts we all have, these questions are good to consider. If we control our reactions in the short-term, we don't have to live with "reaction regret" in the long-term!

    Dear Lord, I'm inviting You into my reactions today as I realign my perspective. Help me to use words and choose actions that honor You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Reflect and Respond: Which of Lysa's three questions resonates with you the most?

    Write down the accompanying Bible verse Lysa provided. Then, write three action steps you can take the next time you are faced with conflict that will implement the teaching in this verse.

    Power Verses: Proverbs 18:21, "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit — you choose." (MSG)

    James 1:19-20, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (NIV)

    © 2014 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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

  • Doubter to Disciple

    Boyd

    “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip... Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel. John 1:46, 49

    Nathanael was without deceit, he spoke his mind. Not taking Jesus at face value, he questioned His origin. Nathanael doubted a person of importance could hail from a small, insignificant village. He hesitated. He judged Jesus as unfit, since He did not fit into Nathanael’s profile of a prophet, much less Messiah. In similar fashion, some people today don’t take Jesus seriously. Christ’s credentials don’t meet the standards of their cultural bias. They doubt His credibility.

    However, Jesus did not defend the quality of His origin. His hometown was not the focus of their discussion. Instead, He complimented His critic as being a good man, one without guile. Because Jesus knew his heart, Nathanael’s heart was drawn to Jesus. Thus, when someone seeks first to know Jesus, they quickly realize, they are known by Jesus. Sometimes a serendipitous spiritual moment happens when we are honest with God. Yes, a guileless heart easily reaches God in faith.

    “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2, NKJV).

    Furthermore, our role as disciples of Jesus is simply to present Jesus. “Come and see Christ for yourself,” should often be our first step in apologetics. Seekers of God can weary over arguments for God. It’s not our flawless logic that finally converts them to Christ, but the Spirit’s wooing. God’s love is what’s irresistible. Perhaps instead, we challenge them to rest in the Lord’s presence and quietly read His words in the Bible. The Holy Spirit will draw them to Himself.

    Therefore, we move from doubter to disciple when we take Jesus at His word. Wherever He leads, we follow. Whatever He says, we do. We obey His commands, because we love Him. Anyone can find reasons to doubt, but few choose to unconditionally follow Christ. Since we believe in the resurrection of Jesus, we can trust in Jesus. Where do you struggle to trust Him? Your future career? Your present problem with a child? Your past divorce or addiction? Trust. Stay in a prayerful process, as you process pain. Be a trusting Nathanael, not a doubting Thomas.

    “Jesus said, ‘You [Nathanael] believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that’” (John 1:50).

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, calm my fears. Replace my doubts with trust. I place my faith in You.

    Related Readings: Genesis 28:12; Psalm 17:1, 26:4; Matthew 4:3; John 12:13, 14:12

    Post/Tweet today: Stay in a prayerful process, as you process pain. #doubtertodisciple

    © 2014 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry info@mail.wisdomhunters.com /www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Every Young Man's Battle from Stephen Arterburn

    Stephen

    Introduction

    There’s a time-honored code that almost every male I’ve known has followed. I’m positive that my father and my brothers followed what I call the “Sexual Code of Silence.” The code states that it’s okay to joke about sex or even lie about it, but other than that, it’s your solemn duty—as a male—to keep silent whenever a serious discussion about sex takes place.

    Since everyone is determined not to talk about this, or maybe is embarrassed to do so, you probably don’t have a clear picture of what healthy sex is all about. In fact, you’re probably thinking that some very wonderful things are not normal and that some very normal things are pretty weird. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to write this book for you. We wanted you to have accurate information about a wonderful subject that’s prone to misinformation and ignorance. You’re a sexual being and deserve to know what’s right and true about your sexuality so you can have the greatest chance possible for a fantastic sexual relationship with the person you marry.

    It’s sad that in the Christian community, where we have access to God’s truth, we operate with so many lies and myths about sex. Some teens and young men with a low sex drive think they’re not real men, when in reality they may have a chemical or hormonal variance that lowers the drive. Some teens and young men with a strong sex drive may view themselves as slightly crazy and in need of major help to squelch their urges.

    You may be vacillating between those two extremes, especially if you’re in the middle of your adolescent years. Because your body is in a constant state of growth, you feel driven one minute and almost asexual the next. Don’t let this concern you. You’re right on schedule, and everything you’re experiencing is normal.

    One of the most difficult assignments you’ll ever have is to integrate your sexuality with the emotional, spiritual, social, and relational person you want to be. Many have the tendency to see their sexuality as something shamefully separate and distinct from themselves, but that shouldn’t be the case at all.

    Let me illustrate by using a good old hypocrite as an example. You probably know some people who are very religious when they go to church on Sunday, but you’d never know they were Christians by the way they act during the rest of the week. Sure, they say all the right words and go through the right motions on Sunday, but that part of their lives is reserved for Sunday. Come Monday morning, they sound more like they went to hell on Sunday rather than church. Those people haven’t fully integrated their spiritual life with the rest of their lives.

    The same could happen to you in the area of sexuality. This is an area you want to fully integrate with your Christian walk. When you do, you’ll have a much healthier outlook regarding relationships with the opposite sex, premarital sex, and even what your marital relationship will be like in bed.

    I have a friend whose son turned twelve a couple of years ago. He’s a great dad, and he has a great kid. When the boy turned twelve, it’s as if the spigot labeled Hormones was turned wide open. Stuff was happening inside his body, but he didn’t understand why he was experiencing certain feelings. All he knew was that he had some urges that were difficult to control. The young boy then did a very courageous thing. He approached his father and said, “Dad, I just feel like taking off my clothes and standing in front of a girl naked.”

    That was an honest expression of feelings and an accurate description of what it felt like to be a twelve-year-old boy. The fact that he could comfortably talk with his father about his feelings indicated that he wanted some answers to what was happening to him. All of us would benefit from a similar attitude.

    In fact, attitude is everything when it comes to winning the battle for sexual integrity. If there’s a single Bible verse that captures God’s standard for sexual purity, this is it: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3).

    For teens and young adults, this is a scary verse that prompts more questions. What does a “hint” mean? How far can I go with a girl when we’re alone? How far can I go with myself when I’m alone? Is masturbation okay?

    These are great questions, and we’ll answer them straight up. That’s why you’re going to find Every Young Man’s Battle to be the most honest and forthright resource on teen and young adult sexuality out there. Ready to get started? So are we. We’re going to begin by letting Fred tell you his story and, as we say in Texas, it’s a humdinger.

    Chapter One

    When Football Was King

    FROM FRED: THE START OF MY STORY Growing up amid the Iowan cornfields, I made football my god. The sport dominated everything about me, and I happily played and practiced year round. I even liked two-a-days in hot, muggy August. Football was such a big part of my life that I let the noble sport dictate what I did off the field. After the games, I never joined my teammates at Lake McBride for the kegger parties. Drinking beer, I believed, would weaken my focus and soften my drive. As for girlfriends, I viewed them as high-maintenance commitments that would distract me from my goal—becoming an all-state quarterback.

    Like any red-blooded football player, however, I had more than a passing interest in sex. I’d been hooked on Playboy centerfolds ever since I found a stack of the magazines beneath my dad’s bed when I was in first grade. I also discovered copies of From Sex to Sexty, a publication filled with naughty jokes and sexy comic strips.

    When Dad divorced Mom, he moved to his bachelor pad, where he hung a giant velvet nude in his living room. I couldn’t help but glance at this mural-like painting whenever we played cards during my Sunday afternoon visits. On other occasions, Dad gave me a list of chores whenever I dropped by to see him. Once, while emptying the trash can in his bedroom, I came across a nude photo of his mistress. All this caused sexual feelings to churn deep inside me.

    Hollywood movies filled me with lustful curiosity and burning passion. In one film, Diana Ross poured a bucket of ice on her boss’s belly just as he orgasmed, which seemed to intensify the experience. My mouth dropped open. What’s up with this? I pondered such scenes in my mind for days upon days. On those rare occasions that I went out on a date during the off-season, these deep churnings often stirred and bubbled over. Too often, I’d push a girl’s boundaries while I tried to get a hand under her bra.

    Still, my passion for football kept my sexual yearnings in check. I performed well on the gridiron and was named “Athlete of the Year” at Thomas Jefferson High School—a 4-A powerhouse in Cedar Rapids. I received full ride scholarship offers from the Air Force Academy and Yale University.

    I had bigger dreams, however—PAC-10 football, even if it meant trying out for the team as a walk-on. I wouldn’t settle for anything less. Soon I stood before my locker at Stanford University, staring in awe at the familiar white helmet with the red S and the name Stoeker taped across the front. Strapping on my helmet and chin strap, I proudly raced onto the field in my attempt to win a spot on the team. Before long everyone in the country would know my name when I tossed long rainbow passes into the end zone. I was living my dream.

    In one afternoon, that dream shattered into a thousand pieces. I was one of eight quarterbacks warming up that day. From the corner of my eye, I saw Turk Shonert, a blue-chip recruit from Southern California, throwing thirty-five-yard bullets! Three other quarterbacks zipped the ball through the air as if it were on a string. These QBs were so good that all four would later start at Stanford and play in the NFL.

    I, along with Corky Bradford, an all-state quarterback from Wyoming, and my dormmate at Wilbur Hall, stared in disbelief. There was no way either of us had the skill level to compete with these blue-chippers. When my football dreams died that afternoon, I turned my attention to…women. Pictures of naked women.

    As I settled into normal college life without sports or dreams, my churning sexuality broke through every dike, and I was soon awash in pornography. I actually memorized the date when my favorite soft-core magazine, Gallery, arrived at the local drugstore. I’d be standing at the front door at opening time, even if I had to skip class to do it. I loved the “Girls Next Door” section in Gallery, which featured pictures of nude girls taken by their boyfriends and submitted to the magazine for publication.

    While I waded into porn waters up to my neckline, I somehow kept sexual intercourse on some higher moral dry ground. From where I stood, making love was something special for when you were married. I still felt that way after I returned to Iowa following my freshman year. I got a summer job on a roofing crew to make some quick, big cash, and I began dating an old friend named Melissa, entering a relationship that quickly mushroomed into a heavy love affair. When I wasn’t pounding nails on someone’s roof, Melissa and I spent endless hours together. Just before I got set to return to Stanford for my sophomore year, we decided to spend a secluded weekend together at Dad’s property on Shield’s Lake in southern Minnesota.

    Beneath a bright, full moon on a crystal-clear night, we lay down to sleep with a cool breeze blowing gently over us. The setting was romantic, and I was getting more excited by the minute. I quietly reached for Melissa, and she knew exactly where I was headed. Melissa looked up at me with a deep sadness in her big brown eyes, the moonlight framing her innocent face. “You know that I’m saving myself for marriage—hopefully ours,” she said. “If you push forward with this, I want you to know that I won’t stop you. But I will never be able to respect you as much as I do right now, and that would make me very sad for a very long time.”

    Laying her virginity on the line, she had delivered the ultimate pop quiz. How would I answer? Who did I love most—her or me? My head spun. My desire and passion pounded away as I gazed into that sweet face glowing softly at me. We became silent for a long time. Finally, I smiled. Snuggling in next to her, I dozed off to sleep, passing her test with flying colors. Little did I know that it was the last test I’d pass for many years.

    When I left Melissa behind on my drive back to Stanford University, a deep loneliness settled in. Far from home and with few Christian under-pinnings, I wandered aimlessly through my days, feeling sorry for myself. Then one day during an intramural football game, my eyes caught sight of a female referee. She looked like a grown-up version of my childhood sweetheart, Melody Knight, who had moved to Canada when we were in the third grade.

    I was in love! Since there was nothing holding us back, it wasn’t too long before we were in bed making love. I justified it because I was having sex with the girl I knew I would marry. It seemed like such a small step away from my values. Sadly, the flame of our relationship burned out as quickly as it began, but sadder still: This small step led to many more steps down the hill.

    The next time I made love, it was with a girl I thought I would marry.

    The time after that, it was with a good friend that I thought I could love and maybe marry. Then came the pleasant coed I barely knew who simply wanted to experience sex before she left college.

    Within twelve short months, I’d gone from being able to say no in a secluded camper on a moonlit night to being able to say yes in any bed on any night. Just one year out of college in California, I found myself with four “steady” girlfriends simultaneously. I was sleeping with three of them and was essentially engaged to marry two of them. None knew of the others.

    Why do I share all this?

    First, so you’ll know that I understand the fiery draw of premarital sex. I know where you’re living. Second, if you’re already sleeping around but know that you shouldn’t, I bring you hope. As you’ll soon see, God changed my whole mind-set about having sex before marriage.


    Excerpted from Every Young Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey Copyright © 2009 by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker with Mike Yorkey. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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