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Tag Archives: Marriage

  • Skillet. The Rock Band That Doesn't Quit

    Posted on May 14, 2013 by John van der Veen


    Skillet recently made headlines when their last album, Awake, became one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, forming an improbable triumvirate with the Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. The news that Skillet had sold more than a million albums in the U.S. came as a shock to all but the band’s wildly diverse horde of fans, male and female, young and old—known as Panheads—whose still-swelling ranks now officially number in the seven-digit range. This remarkable achievement was announced just as Skillet was putting the finishing touches on their eagerly awaited follow-up album, Rise (Atlantic/Word).

    As soon as the master was turned in to the studio to finish post production on the new album, I sat down with John Cooper

    John

    (lead singer) to talk through what was behind Rise. As you will see, while reading this, John is a passionate man. He is passionate about his music. His wife. His family. About Christ.

    John: I’m wondering if you could share a little bit with us about the new record, Rise. What’s the story behind this?

    John C.: It’s a story about a typical, American teenage kid coming into adulthood and being faced with how brutal the world is. There are shocking things in the outside world, like school shootings, war and all the things you see on the news everyday.

    This album is about how those things affect the life of a teenager. And it’s not just about the big problems from outside, but also about problems from within. That is, living in a single family house with an abusive dad, fighting at home, school bullying, just not being happy with who you are as a person and about trying to find faith. The whole record is about finding faith in a dark world. Rising up out of your circumstances. It all leads to a climax of the character realizing he is never going to be good enough. He is never going to do enough, and is born to let himself down. Even if the outside world doesn’t let him down. Even if his friends don’t let him down. He is going to let himself down because he needs to be redeemed. He reaches out to God and basically just says, “I need to be saved. I need something bigger than myself. I want a change and I want to be new.” That is the climax of the album during the song “Salvation,” in which he cried out for Salvation. All of the sudden, he is safe and able to rise up out of his circumstance.

    John: John, throughout your discography, you guys have always had one or two songs that have dealt with that person who is being pressured by the elements of this world, by the things of this world. You’ve really kind of encouraged people to rise above it and move past that. This certainly has been part of your call as an artist and as a songwriter through the years. Is this a personal story in a sense, John C.? Do you know this person?

    John C.: Right, well there certainly are aspects of me in this person. It’s not a mural. It’s not every little thing that happens. But, yes, absolutely. In fact, I dare say, there are elements of all of us in this person. I think that’s why this record is coming off well.

    So far, people are experiencing it personally. I think it’s because most of us can relate to that feeling of worthlessness, or maybe we let ourselves down and we just realize that it’s amazing that someone else would love us, especially God. A holy God, for that matter! That He would like us is real shocking. There are personal things in my life, of course, that contributed to this, certainly.

    My mom died when I was young. I was 14. My dad and I didn’t get along for a long time. There were times growing up that I felt afraid and wondered if God was there. When I cried out to Him to help me through those hard times. My story is embedded within this record, definitely.

    Good to be Alive
    Written by John L. Cooper, Zach Malloy, Tom Douglas

    Verse 1
    When all you've got are broken dreams
    Just need a second chance
    And everything you want to be
    Gets taken from your hands

    We hold on to each other
    All we have is all we need
    Cause one way or another
    We always make it, you and me

    This life can almost kill you
    When you're trying to survive
    It's good to be here with you

    CHORUS
    It's good to be alive
    It’s good to be alive
    I was lost and I was gone
    I was almost dead inside
    You and me against the world
    It’s a beautiful night
    It’s good to be alive

    Verse 2
    Driving down this highway
    Soaking up the sun
    Got miles to go before we get home
    And the journey's just begun

    We hold on to each other
    You are everything I need
    You feel like forever
    You're a second chance for me

    Bridge
    It's a beautiful night
    Yeah, it's alright
    It's good to be alive

    John: Your last three records have allowed you guys to walk into various ideologies or arenas of thought where you've been able to speak a very significant message. What has that been like? How has that experience been for maybe you, your wife and for you guys as a band over the last couple of years?

    John C.: It has been thrilling, because evangelism has always been kind of what my life is about. Ever since I became a Christian when I was five, it was a natural gifting and leaning towards sharing my faith with people. That longing and zeal has never changed for me. The only thing I think that has changed is the way I do it and the way that we go about it.

    To answer that question, yeah, I think Skillet has begun to write songs, as you said, songs we could all relate to, not just Christian people. I kind of look at it like the way that Jesus told his parables. That is—and I’m just going to be honest here, but I hope nobody takes it bad—I’ve been a Christian since I was five, and still when I read Jesus’ words I still sometimes go, “Man, I just wonder why he wasn’t more clear about what he was talking about.” It’s a little elliptical you know? You have to dig in and watch it rise and see what he was pointing at. The only answer I have come up with is that the Bible said if you seek God, you will find Him. I started thinking, you know what? That’s how I’m going to write my songs. I’m going to leave them open to interpretation of things that we can all relate to, and then when people go to the website or they come to the show and they hear me doing an interview, they will begin to hear what the songs are about. I hope to point them toward Jesus in that way. The songs are kind of grouped by a message that people can relate to. That is kind of how Skillet has written our songs.

    To answer your other question, it has been thrilling because I love evangelism. They tell of people that have gotten saved from music. Could be the unreachable type, the unreachables of the world and that is where I feel I have a lot to share.

    When our last record came out, there was a guy who basically sent me an email saying he heard our song on NFL. “Hero” was playing and he liked it. He said he went to their website and found out who the band was, and bought the song. He said he loved the song and came to a show. One thing led to another, and basically this guy and his wife were both in the pornography industry. They both were filmmakers. The guy got saved and ended up leading his wife to it too. So they were saved now and got out of that industry and have gotten into church. And it was all from hearing our song on NFL. Stories like that are amazing! It’s something only God can do. And we are so honored He is using our music to do it.

    What I Believe
    Written by John L. Cooper and Korey Cooper

    Verse 1
    The world around me
    Is lost in misery
    The only good I've got in my life is you
    No meaning, no other reason
    When everything feels wrong I feel right with you
    So madly, desperate, deeply, obsessed your love is better than life to me
    Can I have this moment forever?
    Take me to the beginning

    CHORUS
    You are what I believe
    I'll live and die for you
    This is all that I need
    When nothing is real you are my truth
    In the darkness you shine
    Can you keep me safe tonight?
    When I’m down on my knees
    You are what I believe

    Verse 2
    When we started, wholehearted
    I never needed anything or anyone else
    I was broken, you made me whole again
    The only one I trusted more than myself

    So madly, desperate, deeply, I will live for you completely
    Can I have this moment forever?
    Take me to the beginning

    Bridge:
    Believe in your love
    Believe in your life
    Believe that you can put me back together on the inside
    Chase all the fear away
    Every time I speak your name

    Take me
    You are what I believe

    CHORUS
    You are what I believe
    I'll live and die for you
    This is all that I need
    When nothing is real you are my truth
    In the darkness you shine
    Can you keep me safe tonight?
    When I'm down on my knees
    You are what I believe

    John: That is absolutely amazing, John. And I appreciate you sharing that.

    Let’s shift gears now and talk a little bit about the new record. How does a concept record get played live? What is the live show going to look like for Rise?

    John C.: Well, at the moment, we are just going to keep showing our shows as we do them. The really cool thing about this record is that I think the songs live on their own outside of the concept period. It’s really cool because with concept records, sometimes individual songs aren’t as strong on their own outside of the full story. We wrote these songs not intending to make it a concept album. The songs themselves do live on their own, and yet the story seems quite clear per song.

    That’s why I think this record is kind of unique. It’s a concept record full of songs that stand alone with impact, we hope. At the moment, we are going to keep playing the songs as-is, but in the back of our minds, we hope this album garners enough excitement, respect and sales that we could go out and do a tour. The whole show is basically like theater, not a theater performance, but more like cinema rock. Like a movie all the way through. That would be really great. You can’t really plan on that kind of success. You have to hope for it and wait and see what happens.

    John: It’s all about cinema rock, isn’t it? Is there still going to be fire?

    John C.: I sure hope so. I love that. Again, going back to Skillet, in the past a lot of people have told me, “When I’m listening to your music or I see the show, it kind of feels like I’m watching a movie.” People have said that quite a lot. I like the theater aspects and the fire. We were adding some stuff this summer that we’ve never done before. I won’t give it away right now, but we’re beginning to add other effects to our show that I think are bringing even more to that sort of theater/movie experience. We’re going to keep adding surprise elements. I hope that fire is always one of them for the rest of my life.

    John: I do too, man. I keep voting for fire.

    John C.: I agree. It was my birthday [a while ago] and I got these new shoes that I’m really excited about. I put them on and I said to my son, “So, what do you think? Do you like my new shoes?” He said, “Yeah, but I think they would be cooler if there was a skeleton on the side and his skull was on fire.”

    John: I love it.

    John C., with that in mind, either in a live setting or even on your records, we will hear hints of 80s glam rock.

    John C.: Right.

    John: I know you were born in the mid 70s. Are you in love with 80s glam rock as much as I am?

    John C.: Absolutely. You definitely can hear it. In fact, it’s funny because some people ask in interviews, “Who is your biggest influence?” This is awful to say, but I think that in Skillet’s music you hear decades of influence. You definitely have that 80s glam thing. You see it in the show with the fire and the guitar solos. Everything is a little bit over the top.

    Also, I am a really big fan of 70s rock, like the stuff Journey, Kansas, Yes and Fleetwood Mac put out. You can really hear that in the music, too. Even some Meatloaf. It’s got this kind of Queen opera rock thing to it that feels a little dramatic. I think with the strings, it feels a little romantic as well. You can definitely hear all of those. But my voice, I don’t sing like an 80s guy. I sing more like a 90s guy. That is, when I started really singing in rock bands, it was 1992–93, and you had Nirvana, Pearl Jam and all those kinds of bands on the scene. So we definitely have a variety of decades of influence and skill with our music and sound.

    John: Cinema rock.

    John C.: Yeah.

    John: So you are a husband, a father, a songwriter, singer and follower of Jesus. Help the ordinary man—whether in high school, college or married—who has followed your career for the last few years. As someone who is reading this blog who struggles to follow Christ on a daily basis, how do you work that up? How do you follow Jesus on a daily basis and how could you encourage others in their walk?

    John C.: That is a great question. The problem is there is not a great answer, like click your heels together twice and take this pill. I wish there were because it would be easier. I think especially what I’m seeing with young people, young people’s attention spans are just so short these days because of the amount of information available. It is constant bombardment with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. There is so much stuff happening that I think we get drawn into fads. We go, “Man, I’m all about this new TV show, or twit picks. Or the new iPhone.” It’s constant bombardment. Within all of those things, there may be a time for a lot of Christians that they are all about Jesus but then they move onto something else because it’s just constantly moving.

    I tell people, “You have to make a decision in your life now, what your entire life is going to be about.” It’s kind of like when I chose to marry my wife. I made a decision and I knew for the rest of my life until I died or she dies, we are going to be married and that is just the way it is. Nothing is going to change that. I have a kid. Nothing is going to change it. You are going to be a father. Nothing in the world can stop that anymore. Even more importantly, that is what it means to follow Jesus. I am making the decision today that my whole life is going to be about Him, and I will do what He says and I just won’t falter from that. I think a lot of it just comes down to making a decision and sticking to it rather than jumping on and off fads.

    For me, I made that decision years ago and I surrounded myself with other people who made that decision. My pastor, my friends, and my wife. We all have made that decision together and then when things are hard and the new fad comes in, and I go, “Man, maybe I want to give working out more time than I give Jesus,” I have my wife and pastor and friends chime in, and we all pursue Him together.

    I think a lot of Christians don’t make that decision. I always tell people it’s not going to be easier to live for Jesus but you have to make the decision and it can be done. It becomes easier to live for Jesus once you have just made that commitment because that is what your life is about. Instead of finding things that seem more fun, find the most fulfilling thing and that is living for God. Knowing His love, speaking to Him every day and talking to Him. It’s absolutely more fulfilling to your soul than all of these other “fun things.” Anyway, that is what I do. Of course, I read my Bible and I pray, but a lot of it comes down to what our lives are going to be about, and it is Him.

    MY RELIGION

    Music and words: John L. Cooper and Korey Cooper

    Verse 1
    Who's gonna save my soul
    Nothing and nobody but you
    Who's gonna make me whole
    Nothing and nobody but you

    Can't change me, sway me
    Don't know what to make of me
    You've got my devotion fanatical though it may be
    I love you mind, heart, body and soul
    You're the only sanctuary that i know

    CHORUS
    I don't need to stare at stained glass and a steeple
    I don't need to dress to impress all of the people
    Don't need no priest
    Don't need no pew
    You are my religion my religion is you

    I don't need no other purpose
    You give me a reason
    Ain’t their business what I wanna believe in
    You are my priest
    You are my truth
    You are my religion, my religion is you

    Verse 2
    Who's gonna heal my pain
    Nothing makes me feel like you do
    Who can drive my demons away
    Nothing makes me heal like you do
    I love you mind, heart, body and soul
    You're the only sanctuary that I know

    CHORUS
    I don't need to stare at stained glass and a steeple
    I don't need to dress to impress all of the people
    Don't need no priest
    Don't need no pew
    You are my religion my religion is you

    I don't need no other purpose
    You give me a reason
    It ain’t their business what I wanna believe in
    You are my priest
    You are my truth
    You are my religion, my religion is you

    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me

    Bridge
    Mind, heart, soul and strength
    Belong to you, belong to me
    Got my devotion I will follow where you lead
    I won't be told what to feel and how to show
    My love can't be stopped
    Love you any way I want

    John: I love it John, and I really appreciate your honestly there. That is really good to hear. One last question before we leave?

    John C.: Hit me.

    John: Red Bull, Mountain Dew or coffee.

    John C.: Oh gosh, you know what? I’m not in love with any of them to tell you the truth. These days I drink coffee, not a lot, but I do drink coffee. I haven’t been drinking sugar or caffeinated drinks. I got off that. I am over six months Dr. Pepper-free. Dr. Pepper was my drug of choice.

    John: That’s right, I forgot about that. I’m sorry I should not have offended you by saying Mountain Dew. I should have said Dr. Pepper, Red Bull or coffee.

    John C.: It would be Dr. Pepper but I am recovering.

    John: You are recovering.

    John C.: That is one of those things that I could never touch it again because I’m like a Dr. Pepper-a-holic. I haven’t told anybody that in interviews. You are the first person to hear me say that I’m six months Dr. Pepper-free.

    John: Can I ask why you gave it up?

    John C.: It was just bad for me. Diabetes runs in my family. I’m like, you know what? I love this drink too much and it’s not good for me so I quit it. I think even more important than that, is they refused to promote Skillet and put anything behind it. So they haven’t put me in a Dr. Pepper commercial. If they did, then I wouldn’t mind drinking it (laughs). I would give them my Dr. Pepper anonymous card, and I would take it up again if they would put me in a commercial.

    John: There you go. All right, Dr. Pepper, it’s on the line. It’s all up to them now.

    John C.: Yes.

    John: John, thank you, Man. You’ve made me laugh. You encouraged me in my walk with Christ today. I appreciate you. I appreciate your band and your ministry and your art. I’m excited about this new record.

    John C.: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it. It was good to talk to you.

  • The Best Marriage Advice

    Posted on April 26, 2013 by Van Walton

    Van

    "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 (NAS)

    A joyful wedding party celebrated the new couple on an evening wrapped in good cheer and candlelight.

    The bride and her father danced, followed by the groom and his mother. Adoring eyes framed the room.

    Finally, couples young and old hit the dance floor. After a few musical notes, the DJ announced, "All couples married a year or less, step off the dance floor." Then he asked those married five years or less to take their leave. And so the invitation, to make room for couples married 10, 20, 30 years, continued.

    While dancing with my husband, I noticed how few people remained.

    "40 years!" The DJ broadcast to us last three couples dancing.

    When the song ended, our friends, their children - now young adults - and our son, reached out with high-fives, pats on the back, and "Congratulations!"

    Many asked, "How romantic ... what's your secret to staying together?"

    The question came as no surprise and their idealic vision of marriage made me smile.

    Romantic? Not so much. I would describe our years together as lots of tears shed over misunderstandings. Selfishness. Loneliness. Hard and difficult times, pushing through emotions I didn't understand.

    Painful words. Challenging moments. Loads of opportunities to compromise. We were stubborn - both of us! As I look over my shoulder on the past 42 years, I know the real glue that has kept us together has been God and the power of His Word.

    When I wanted to criticize my husband for offenses real and imagined, I read that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

    When I felt lonely, I read that God was with me (Zephaniah 3:17).

    When I thought I was right and my husband was wrong, I read that I shouldn't think too highly of myself (Romans 12:2-4).

    When the daily grind of work, chores, errands drained me and my wild heart longed for more, I read that when I leaned on the Lord, through Him, I could get through anything (Philippians 4:13)

    Marriage is like a triangle. Want to grow close to your man? Grow closer to God. As both of you reach upward you'll not only come close to God, you'll grow closer to each other. And if you are in a marriage where your husband doesn't want to draw near to the Lord, you keep on anyhow. In Him, you'll find the support, love and hope your heart desires.

    A long time ago I was a young bride, asking older married women for advice. I heard a lot of things like keep the fun and adventure in your marriage. "Life is a gift," my mother taught me. "Don't let the sun go down on your anger," Daddy shared with me. "Know your husband" a friend encouraged me. Understanding my man's personality and love language taught me about conflict and acceptance.

    I wouldn't hesitate to share any of these wise words to newlyweds. But the very BEST advice I learned along the way? The greatest marriage counselor and guide is God and His Word.

    Marriage can be hard, but it's easier when we spend more time focusing on God's encouraging truths and less time concentrating on our husband's faults. Today, let's start a practice of turning to the Bible for answers about our marriage, thanking God for our husband and the Lord for His wisdom.

    Father God, You alone are perfect. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I know that no one is an easy forever-partner. Remind me daily to curb my critical spirit. Teach me to see my husband through Your eyes. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you looking at your husband through Jesus' accepting and grace-filled eyes or do you see him through needs you expect him to meet?

    Before today is over, pick 2 verses to pray for your husband and 2 verses to recall that will give you wisdom for your marriage.

    Power Verses:
    Mark 10:6-9, "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Van Walton. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • When Trust in a Marriage is Violated

    Posted on April 3, 2013 by Stephanie Clayton

     

    Stephanie

    "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

    Hide it! This was my first instinct. I was certain if my husband found out, he would leave me. So I rushed home at lunch every day to remove another credit card statement from our mailbox. My payments were late; fees were stacking up. I was sinking deeper and deeper into a financial and emotional abyss.

    My husband was clueless about my debt ... now our debt. He never would have condoned my spending habits, as he is wiser with finances. So the spending was my secret.

    Soon, it wasn't just letters in the mail, the phone calls began. I was either going to have to fess up or continue to try and hide it. But at that point, hiding was next to impossible.

    I wondered things like, if I tell him, will he divorce me? Will he ever trust me again? Things are already bad, will this make them worse? They are just credit cards, right?

    The regrets are many as I look back at this time. We pay high interest rates because of my choices. But even more, I regret violating my husband's trust. I created trust issues in our marriage that run deep and have required much time, effort, and grace to mend. What started out as just small pieces of plastic, ended up creating a gigantic rift in our marriage.

    Trust issues in marriage can come in one form or another. There are the things that can knock us down quickly such as lying, committing adultery, and falling captive to an addiction such as alcohol or pornography. And then there are the things that chip away at trust over time like constantly showing up late, paying more attention to a phone or electronic device, cancelling date night repetitively, and refusing intimacy more often than not.

    Most of us experience some combination of both major and minor trust-violating incidents unique to our marriage, resulting in trust gaps, and ultimately feelings of abandonment, anger, and rejection.

    So how do we mend trust in a relationship as delicate as a marriage? Especially when we are the offender? A great place to start is looking at Philippians 2:3-4. In these verses, Christ calls us to imitate His humility. To do nothing out of selfishness, but value others above ourselves.

    Imagine how your marriage would change if you and your spouse both chose to follow these principles. And even if your spouse is not on board, imagine how your life would change if you decided to consider his needs above your own?

    This certainly is not a suggestion to be a doormat or endure an abusive situation. Healthy boundaries should be set if there is abuse of any kind. But what I am condoning is healthy humble behavior. Be cognizant of the words you speak to and the tone you use with your spouse. Do not disrespect him verbally. Encourage him every chance you get. Choose to consult him regarding the decisions you make, even the small ones.

    Marriage is a partnership. Communicate the value and importance of your husband's opinions. The miracle of humility and respect is when we present it to others, it tends to come back to us in greater amounts.

    My marriage is on the mend. I have submitted our finances to my husband. Not because he is a dictator or longs to be in control, but because he is wise in this area and leads in a way of spending and saving that looks out for the interests of our family.

    Moving forward, let's choose to test our actions against Philippians 2:3-4 and try to look out for the interests of our husband, not just ourselves. A great first step is to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, be honest with our husband, and move forward together, learning from each other's trust-violating habits. Trust in a marriage is a beautiful, and attainable, thing.

    Dear Lord, forgive me for hiding in the dark what should be in the light. Please prepare my husband's heart to hear what I need to confess, and give us the wisdom on how to move forward, together ... with You are our guide. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    For over 17 years, Proverbs 31 Ministries has been a trusted friend, offering biblical perspective on marriage, parenting, friendships and more. This wisdom has been recorded in 366 devotions that unpack Scripture and are interspersed in the new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. Click here for your copy!

    Reflect and Respond:
    Are you violating the trust in your marriage right now? If so, make a plan to tell you husband. If you are nervous, pray about having a third party there to help mediate.

    Power Verse:
    Ephesians 5:21, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (NIV)

    © 2013 by Stephanie Clayton. All rights reserved.

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

  • Building Up Your Marriage

    Posted on March 8, 2013 by Tracie Miles

    Tracie

    "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33 (NIV)

    When I married my husband over 23 years ago, I fully intended to unconditionally love, respect and admire him. I had great intentions of being the perfect wife, offering kind words, a romantic kiss and dinner on the table every evening.

    But then careers took off, bills increased, children were born, laundry piles grew, and life became chaotic. Along the way I subconsciously created a measuring stick of expectations for whether my husband actually deserved my love and respect.

    When marriage didn't meet the unrealistic expectations I had before the wedding, and real life kicked in, it became easy to fall into the habit of tearing down my husband and marriage.

    It seemed the longer we were together, the easier it was to see each other's flaws, and mercilessly criticize them. This eventually led to short tempers, less tolerance, and a lack of marital bliss. Not what I dreamed my marriage would be when I said "I do."

    Maybe you can relate? Have you noticed too that as a result of these frustrations, the gifts of unconditional love, respect and admiration that we fully intended to offer become gifts we withhold?

    A few years ago I picked up a book written for wives. I was hoping to rekindle some passion in my marriage. Little did I know God would use truths shared in that book to get my attention and help me make some inward changes.

    As I read, God convicted my heart about things I had said to my husband just days earlier. Critical comments that rolled off my tongue so easily, I now regretted deeply. Although I had fully intended to be my husband's biggest encourager, I had become one of his worst critics.

    God helped me see the powerful influence I have on my husband and marriage when choosing words that build up. Words that encourage instead of discourage. Words that heal, not wound.

    As women, we can build up or tear down our husbands every day, merely by the respect we give, the words we choose, and the amount of faith in him we convey.

    Respect and admiration are two of the most powerful tools a wife has to influence her husband. Realizing I had fallen short in giving those two precious gifts to my man, I asked God to help me control my tongue. I asked Him to fill my heart and mouth with words that would make my husband feel admired, respected and loved, regardless of whether I felt he deserved it.

    I knew I'd need God's help to follow through on my renewed intentions, so I asked for a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit when critical thoughts crept into my mind. God helped me avoid the temptation to say them out loud.

    Within just a few weeks, I saw a change — in me, in my husband's demeanor, and in our relationship. A change that rekindled unconditional love, respect and admiration within my heart, thoughts and actions toward my husband. A change that reflected what I set out to give him all along.

    Through our words of respect, and admiration, we can help our husbands become the great men God created them to be, and in turn, have we can have the marriages we fully intended to build. It will take patience, humbleness and grace, but it'll produce love, happiness and togetherness.

    Dear Lord, help tame my tongue and focus on building up my man. Help me break free of the habit to criticize, even when warranted. Open my eyes to the positive, not the negative. Draw us closer, and help us both nurture a strong and loving marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Tracie Miles' new book Stressed Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World can help you have a less stressed marriage.

    Capture His Heart and Capture Her Heart by Lysa TerKeurst are great wedding presents for the newlyweds in your life! Or purchase a set for you and your husband.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Think about how important your husband's love is to you and consider how much your respect means to him.

    If your marriage seems strained right now, think about conversations with your husband lately. Have your comments been encouraging and uplifting, or discouraging and destructive?

    Power Verses:
    Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (NIV 1984)

    James 3:5b-6a, "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body." (NIV 1984)

    © 2013 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Love Rejects Envy

    Posted on February 8, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love does not envy. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Envy is insecure. It is unsure of and uncomfortable in its identity. However, love is without envy, agape love understands and embraces its identity in Christ. Love feels the comforting fingerprints of faith wrapped around its feelings. There’s a sense of security with a soul whose sole focus is faith in Christ. Jealousy is jettisoned where love for Jesus is the motivation for words and deeds. Love sees someone’s success as cause for celebration, not competition. Envy frowns, love smiles.

    Moreover, let love lead you to serve, instead of striving for envy’s elusive status. Follow love's line of reasoning and your mind will be challenged to excellence when a colleague experiences significant accomplishments. Love avoids obsessing over how to surpass a friend’s good fortune. Do you embrace and celebrate your spouse’s successes? Or do you silently steam for lack of attention? A healthy husband and wife are secure in their individuality. Their identity is in Christ.

    A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30

    Jealousy is cruel, love is compassionate. Jealousy is shortsighted, love looks longterm. Jealousy is threatened, love is empowered. Jealousy jockeys for position, love trusts God for promotion. Therefore, look for ways to love loved ones who may be lured  by the seductive sirens of success. Remind those uniquely gifted of the Giver of their gifts (Almighty God) and how far faith in Jesus has brought them. Love is secure in calling out fools for its confidence is in Christ.

     

    Finally the way to find yourself is not to focus on yourself. Focus instead on love for Christ and be content with who you are in Him. You can love well because your Lord loves you well. You are a forgiven child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and full of potential for Him. You are loved unconditionally by your Heavenly Father, you are saved from sin by His Son Jesus and you are sealed securely by His Holy Spirit. Your contentment in Christ is cause to love and not envy.

     

    For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:16

    Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray for a healthy heart motivated by love, not driven by envy.

     

    Related Readings: Job 5:2; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Galatians 5:26; 1 Timothy 6:4

     

    Post/Tweet today: The way to find yourself is not to focus on yourself, but on Christ. #focus

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Love Kindly

    Posted on February 7, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love is kind. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Kind love is the kind of love that shows up to serve. It always looks for ways to move beyond feeling generous to being generous. Kindness transitions empathy into action and sympathy into service. Kind love is not stuck on itself, rather it relishes  reaching out to the needs of others. It wears a smile, gives a hug, kisses a head, pats an arm, lifts a burden, prays a prayer and writes a check. Love is kind, because Christ is kind and He is love. So, love kindly and be like Jesus.

    How does it feel when you have a kind encounter with someone? Probably a mixture of respect, joy and inspiration to name a few positive emotions. Unsolicited loving kindness that comes to you when least expected, provides the most encouragement. Your kind love is the kind of support your spouse needs to get through the day and not be overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations. Your warm eyes communicate compassion to those you see with sensitivity. Kindness loves well.

    I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

    Jeremiah 31:3

    Indeed, your kind love is attractive to all with whom you have influence. Unkindness is a repulsive smell, but kindness is a sweet aroma that fills the air it occupies. Like honey to a bee, a scratch to a dog or a caresses to a cat, your loving kindness is tasty for hungry hearts. It is security for souls that itch for intimacy. When you love kindly, you experience its fruit: peace, joy, patience, gratitude, respect and friendship. Kindness facilitates all kinds of good deeds.

     

    Lastly it is the Lord’s loving kindness that causes us to be kind. His kindness draws us to Himself and leads us to repentance. Because of our heavenly Father’s great kindness, we want to be the kind of children that He is pleased to call His own. Therefore, from our grateful hearts we are honored to honor Christ by loving our loved ones in kind ways. Yes, we pray for our home to have a relational climate of kindness. Our kind actions speak the language of our Lord’s love!

     

    I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Hosea 11:4

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into a kind person by Your loving kindness.

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 39:21; Joshua 2:12; Luke 6:35; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Colossians 3:12

     

    Post/Tweet today: Our warm eyes communicate compassion to those we see with sensitivity. #kindness

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

     

  • Love Patiently

    Posted on February 6, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    Love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4

    Patience is a natural expression of love, as people who are loved are shown patience. However, some relationships are harder  to patiently love. An unprovoked patience requires  a small capacity for love, but a provoked patience requires  a greater grace. A common love handles effortlessly being treated well, but love requires an uncommon patience when treated unjustly. Authentic love is willing to suffer long for the sake of the one being served. So, love patiently all people.

    Are your circumstances trying your patience? Has someone gotten on your last nerve and exhausted your patience? If so, join the company of those who need a fresh perspective of God’s patient love toward us. Yes, while we were still sinners, the Lord patiently allowed His son Jesus to suffer, so we could be set free from the shackles of sin. Christ loves patiently to the point of bearing our burdens with us. We are not discarded, but loved, in spite of our inconsistencies.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

    Therefore, by God’s grace we demonstrate patient love towards those who do not demonstrate patient love toward us. Our frustrated friends could be stuck in their own crazy cycle of sin, still in need of a Savior. They are not capable of loving patiently, because they have yet to receive the genuine love of their Heavenly Father. Indeed, those of us who commune with the Prince of Peace know better, but those lacking peace struggle with patience. Love is patient with impatience.

    Moreover, see your marriage as a laboratory of learning how to love patiently the love of your life. Take the high ground of grace when you are hurt. Explain with loving patience to your husband or wife the pain you feel you carry alone. Let them in on your fears, dreams and angry feelings. When you express your emotions with patient love, you give permission for your spouse to do the same. Your love may suffer for a season, but your patience is a portrait of God’s grace.

    Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. Isaiah 38:17

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for loving me patiently, so I can love others patiently.

     

    Related Readings: Genesis 19:16; Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 1:4, 4:2; 1 Peter 3:8, 18

     

    Post/Tweet today: Take the high ground of grace when you are hurt. #grace

     

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Committed Love

    Posted on February 5, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

    Committed love is the high bar of behavior in marriage. It is not a convenient love that only remains loyal if it has feelings of love. Indeed, a devoted wife and husband love each other deeply. It is a depth of love not shaken by financial setbacks or a child who breaks their heart. Like western pioneers, a married couple committed to love circles their wagons in wholehearted dedication and stay faithful. Committed love finds a way to forgive and move forward by faith.

    Are you looking for a way out of your covenant with God or have you both shut the door on divorce? Your first commitment is to Christ and His commands. His heart’s desire is for you to cover the sins of your spouse with forgiveness and fidelity to your relationship. Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. You know you have committed love for your spouse if your motivation is to heal their hurting heart. Your love flows from Jesus’ love.

    “Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John [Peter], do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

    Peter knew first hand the depth of Christ’s love that forgave him of his multiple sins of betrayal. Indeed, it is out of our incredible sense of being forgiven much that we love much. The reality of the depth of our sin heightens as we mature in the faith. Yes, it is the Lord’s precious forgiveness that constrains us to love deeply our dear wife or husband. Our committed love to each other is built upon Christ’s committed love to us. Marriage focused on Jesus loves one another like Jesus.

    What are some ways you can go deeper in your love for your spouse? You love deeply when you share with them the depth of gratitude you have for their love for you. You love deeply when you defend them in front of complaining children and when you show respect by not publicly criticizing them. You are capable oflovingyour spouse deeply when Christ has loved you deeply. Yes, your committed love is a compelling example of Jesus to your children and to their children.

    “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:47, NKJV

     

    Prayer: Heavenly Father thank you for deeply loving me, so I in turn can deeply love my spouse.

     

    Related Readings: Proverbs 10:12; John 10:11; 1 Peter 1:22; James 5:20

     

    Post/Tweet today: Love does not pay back by inflicting harm, but  gives back by believing the best. #love

     

    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.

    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry

    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • Marriage Intentionality

    Posted on February 4, 2013 by Boyd Bailey

    Boyd

    “Marriage should be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4
    Successful marriages require intentionality. Indeed, most marriages that please the Lord do not happen by accident. There is a prayerful pattern of planning and wise choices that come with a meaningful marriage. The husband and wife honor one another by aspiring to each other’s interests. They connect at deeper emotional levels because they take the time to communicate their feelings. By God’s grace they understand each other's needs and help satisfy those needs.
    How can we be intentional with our spouse? Our acts of service are an example of how we can show them tangible ways we care. If we are the recipient of a deliciously prepared meal, we can insist on clearing the table and cleaning up the kitchen. If our car requires maintenance or repair, we can take the lead taking care of the need. Perhaps we collaborate over a grocery list and then quietly make a trip to the market and purchase the items. Intentional service shows love.
    “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

     

    Moreover, intentional marriages set goals to get better. You may decide as a couple to dialogue daily, date weekly and depart quarterly. Daily dialogue is a sure fire way to keep the fire of your relationship burning brightly. Consistent emotional connection between husband and wife is necessary to feel loved. Weekly date nights give you an opportunity to romance one another and have fun. Intimacy takes intentionality. Make a marriage plan so life doesn’t make plans for you.

    Above all else, have spiritual intentionality in your marriage. Take the time for prayer walks and initiate talks about spiritual matters. Volunteer together at church and/or in your community. Keep your individual quiet times a priority and then share with one another what the Lord is teaching you. Perhaps you serve on a mission trip together at home and/or overseas. Marriage intentionality honors the Lord and honors you and your spouse. So, be prayerfully intentional!

    “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

    Prayer: Dear Lord give us wisdom in our marriage to model Your intentional love and care.

    Related Readings: Psalm 133:1; Philippians 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22
    Post/Tweet today: Intentional marriages set goals to get better: dialogue daily, date weekly, depart quarterly. #marriage
    © 2012 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
    Wisdom Hunters Resources / A registered 501 c3 ministry
    info@mail.wisdomhuntersdevotional.com / www.wisdomhunters.com

  • The Honeymoon Life

    Posted on January 1, 2013 by Sharon Glasgow

    Sharon

    "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." Proverbs 31:25 (KJV)

    My heart sank as she told me the tragic end to her love story. When she and her husband married, they couldn't afford a nice honeymoon. Kids came and the money to do something special together just never seemed to be there. Her husband worked all the time, so for years she dreamed and planned for the trip she longed for with him—the perfect honeymoon.

    When their last child was leaving for college, they finally set up their honeymoon trip. But something awful happened right before they were ready to leave. Her husband was tragically killed in a car accident. Her dreams were shattered.

    With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I stood by her feeling helpless to offer the right words. All I could say was, "I'm so sorry."

    Her story affected me deeply. Although my husband was still alive, I didn't have the honeymoon of my dreams either. On our wedding night we stayed at a state park. For years I too dreamed of the day I would have a "real" honeymoon. After hearing her story, I changed my thinking and made a new plan.

    I didn't want to pin my hopes on a fancy trip. On that day I decided to live every day as if it were my honeymoon.

    Rather than a honeymoon trip, I wanted a honeymoon life.

    Hearing her story made me worry. What if my husband died too? What if I didn't have the chance to show him how important he was to me every day?

    I went before the Lord and committed, "My husband is Yours. I don't know how long my days will be with him. But, I trust You to teach me how to spend our time wisely. I trust You that when our days are done, I will have no regrets. Teach me now how to be a lover of You first. And by loving You, I will know how to love my husband fully every day, especially when the days are hard, the storms rage, and the sun sets at the close of our life."

    On that day the Lord gave me a peace that flooded my entire being. A scripture from the Bible came to my mind after I prayed. It was Proverbs 31:25, "Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come."

    I knew God was telling me to not be afraid of what tomorrow might bring. He would give me the strength to live the honeymoon life successfully. That truth helped me rejoice at my future knowing that I would live married life to the fullest.

    Just a few weeks later my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. We couldn't afford a special trip, but that didn't discourage me. This was the start of a new way of looking at my marriage ... of celebrating a honeymoon life every day. I packed a simple picnic of his favorite foods and the two of us enjoyed it, and each other, in the middle of our field.

    No trip around the world, no lavish hotel, nor any gourmet dish could have competed with that field, the picnic dinner, and the way God changed my perspective.

    From that day on, I chose the honeymoon life. Not just dreaming of it but living it every day. I've set my heart to cherish the simple things, like making my husband's favorite foods and eating together by candlelight, going to bed at the same time, reading and praying together. Even mundane trips to the store together.

    We've been living the honeymoon life for 16 years now and have been married for 31. With God's help, I've been able to see every day as an opportunity to love my husband in a special way. We may never go on that honeymoon trip, but I'll take a picnic in a field with the one I love any day.

    Dear Lord, give me the ability to live the honeymoon life with my husband. Help me to stop focusing on the what if's of the future and to start focusing on loving to the fullest today. Help me not to have any regrets of how I've lived out my married life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Capture His Heart by Lysa TerKeurst

    What a Husband Needs from His Wife by Melanie Chitwood

    Reflect and Respond:
    It isn't anniversary trips, diamonds or flowers that make our marriage. It's how we live married life every day that makes it romantic and priceless.

    What are some things you could do for your husband that would jumpstart the honeymoon life today?

    Power Verses:
    Proverbs 31:10-11, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain." (NKJV)

    Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works." (NKJV)

    © 2012 by Sharon Glasgow. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

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