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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

good resource: Gary Chapman Shares Ways Ministers' Wives can 'Love a Leader'

Shannon Baker
Baptist Press

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, addressed a sell-out crowd of 1,500 at the 53rd annual Ministers' Wives' Luncheon June 10 during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Chapman is the senior associate pastor responsible for adult discipleship, marriage counseling and pastoral care at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Liz Traylor, president of this year's luncheon, said she chose the theme, "How to Love a Leader," because it was the call of her heart to learn how she could love her leader husband more efficiently, lovingly and like Jesus would. Traylor's husband Ted is pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.

Before the keynote address, Janet Hunt, wife of Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., honored the memory of minister's wife Tammy Litton, who was killed in a car accident Aug. 16, 2007. On behalf of the ministers' wives, she presented Litton's husband Ed, pastor of First Baptist Church of North Mobile, Saraland, Ala., and their family a framed copy of the day's program and printed tribute. Also, $500 was given in Litton's name to the Ministers' Wives' endowment fund.

Joy Cullen, a pastor's wife, Sunday School teacher, adjunct professor and former International Mission Board missionary in Asia, was honored with the 2008 Willie Turner Dawson Award, which recognizes ministers' wives who have made a distinct denominational contribution.

Chapman offered seven things ministers' wives must know to truly love their leader husbands:

Praise is always better than criticism.

Many pastors are praised within their churches and communities, but when they come home they are criticized by their wives, even if the criticism is well-intended, Chapman said.

He suggested a better approach, likening it to the praise given to a toddler learning to walk for the first time. When the child falls, the parent applauds his effort and encourages him back up again.

"When you give him praise, he will keep trying to do better," Chapman said.


Requests are more productive than demands.

"None of us like to be controlled," Chapman said, urging wives to make requests instead of demands. "Don't say, 'You don't spend enough time with the kids.'" Instead, ask him if he can do specific things with the kids. Likewise, he told wives to ask for what they want.

"That's what God asks us to do. Why wouldn't we do that with our husbands?" he said.


Unconditional love is the only true love.

"Any woman can love a husband who loves her, but as Christians we're called to love our enemies," Chapman said. "But what makes you feel loved isn't necessarily how your husband feels loved."

He explained the five love languages, the key ways people feel loved: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch.

Chapman also explained that while every person has a primary love language, rarely do a husband and wife have the same love language.

"In our nature, we do what our love language is. The problem is that we are not speaking our husband's language," he said.


Learn from his defensiveness.

Chapman noted there are certain things wives say and certain ways they say them that cause men to be defensive. When that happens, men's self-esteem is threatened, and they feel that wives are trying to control them, he said.

He urged the wives to write down their husband's reactions. Later, when things are calmer, ask them why their words stimulated the defensiveness. Talk about what to do when that situation happens again.


Understanding male sexuality is essential.

Noting that men have a physical need for sex, Chapman encouraged wives to be understanding when their husbands seek intimacy with them.


Learn to apologize.

"Ever wondered why you haven't been able to forgive your husband? It could be that he hasn't apologized to you in your apology language," he said, pointing to his new book, "The Five Languages of Apology," which explains the different ways people have been taught, and therefore expect, apologies.


Don't expect perfection.

Acknowledging that all humans fail, Chapman said couples should help each other in areas where they are weak.

Chapman encouraged wives to ask the same questions that turned around his once-struggling marriage: What can I do to help you? How can I make your life easier? How can I be a better [spouse] to you?

"I believe that God did not ordain marriage to be miserable," he said, adding that when Christian couples do marriage God's way, other couples will be drawn to learn from them.

Officers for the 2009 luncheon in Louisville, Ky., with the theme "Presentation Is Everything," are Diane Strack of Orlando, Fla., president; Mary Mohler of Louisville, vice president; Liliana Lewis of Austin, Texas, recording secretary-treasurer; and Karen Crowe of Colorado Springs, Colo., correspondence secretary.



Shannon Baker is the national correspondent for BaptistLIFE (, newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

(c) 2008 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

10 Rules for Respect

10 Rules for Respect
One way to build trust.

When I came to this church five years ago, many of my board members had grandchildren older than I was. Most of the rest had children my age. At age 23, I was their pastor. That was intimidating.
I was told by a mentor that I would have to have some rules of the road for communicating with my congregation. How would I get people so much older than I to talk to me rather than among themselves?
The list I drew up has evolved into ten principles that have transformed the way our church communicates. They now form a covenant signed each year by all the leaders, including me.
  • If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).

  • If I have a problem with you, I'll come to you (privately).

  • If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I'll do the same for you.)

  • If someone consistently will not come to me, say, "Let's go to the pastor together. I am sure he will see us about this." (I will do the same for you.)

  • Be careful how you interpret me—I'd rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.

  • I will be careful how I interpret you.

  • If it's confidential, don't tell. (This especially applies to board meetings.) If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won't tell unless (a) the person is going to harm himself/herself, (b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, (c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.

  • I do not read unsigned letters or notes.

  • I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others try to manipulate me through you. I will not preach "at" you on Sunday mornings. I will leave conviction to the Holy Spirit (he does it better anyway).

  • When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don't get asked. We are a family here and we care about each other, so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led) speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something or breaking a confidence, I will.

While they have not eliminated every problem, the principles have provided a strong foundation for loving, Christlike communication.
Recently two members asked a longtime leader to "tell the pastor" about some idea that was not working. At first, this leader agreed to speak with me. Then, she called the two members back and said, "I've thought about what you asked me to do. I know that the pastor would appreciate it if you told him yourself. He always wants to hear what church members think. If he does not respond, then call me and you and I will go together."
That afternoon, the members sat with me in my office, and we worked through their problem. I did not know about their request of the person who sent them to me.
"I'm so glad you came to me personally," I closed our conversation. "Around here, all of our leaders believe in open communication, even about difficult matters."
Later, when I learned the rest of the story, I knew our adherence to the road rules had given that leader an opportunity to communicate her confidence in me. And I was allowed to cement two other relationships that might have presented roadblocks later on.

Charles W. Christian is minister at
Canby Chapel
Church of the Nazarene
2323 N.E. Territorial
Canby OR 97013

Tuning In to Your Husband’s Needs

Written by Kenneth Sanderfer
source: LifeWay
David grabs a quick lunch. Although he's off the clock, his mind is still working. What if I don't finish that project on time? I know the boss is edgy.
I really need to talk to Suzanne, but I don't have time. It bugs her when I cut the conversation short or she senses I'm distracted.
The weatherman's predicting rain tonight. The kids' soccer game will be cancelled. I need to call Suzanne and see how that changes our evening.
I promised to help with the new outreach program at the church tomorrow night. How am I going to do that and get everything else done?
Work. Marriage. Family. Ministry. David fears he'll never get any of it right.
The Heart of the Matter
Is it possible for you to understand what your husband is feeling and to support him as he fights to balance work, marriage, family, and ministry? The answer is yes, and it may not be as complicated as you think. Look no further than your own heart.
Sure, men and women are different, but after many years of counseling married couples, I believe husbands and wives are more alike than not. This is especially true when it comes to relational needs.
Scripture sheds light on this. Jesus never let culture, gender, or race get in the way of meeting the needs of those He encountered. He never allowed outside stuff to distract Him from the divine reality that, at the center of our being, we all are alike. Jesus always spoke directly to the common place, the heart. And He always spoke to the heart in love.
Jesus exemplifies a term used in counseling called empathic attunement. It's the act of leaving the comfort of one's existence with the purpose of entering the experience of another. Envision someone's hand turning a radio knob so it moves from its resting place through the static to another station. To be empathically attuned to your husband, you must momentarily leave the music of your choice to tune in to the music of his choice.
The sole purpose is to understand what life is like for him. It's not about what you would be experiencing if you were juggling work, marriage, family, and ministry. It's about what your husband is experiencing at work, in your marriage, in your family, and in ministry. When Suzanne turns to David and lets him know she's tuned in to the music of his day and validates his struggle, he will feel understood and authenticated. This is speaking directly to the heart of the matter.
Medicine for His Soul
Words of validation and affirmation aren't really hard to come up with: "I was thinking today about how difficult it must be for you to balance all you do. I really appreciate the sacrifices you make for me and the children." This statement likely will reach your husband's heart. The clear message of understanding translates into "I care." Marriage is all about being emotionally available to each other.
Words of affirmation not only calm the static in his life, they connect you to each other. Are these words really all that different from what you, as a wife, would like to hear?
A Bond of Strength
Long-term studies about why marriages succeed or fail indicate what successful marriages share: a strong emotional bond. Emotional bonds develop in relationships that provide a safe haven — a place where a husband and a wife know they are a priority, where there is contact and connection, and where both partners can turn to each other in a vulnerable way. Sounds surprisingly similar to the relational model Jesus exemplified, doesn't it?
If it's true that, at the heart level, husbands and wives need the same things, then how do you cross through layers of outside differences that can impede the journey to your husband's heart? How do you meet his needs? Consider the following.
Acquire 20/20 vision. Many times spouses develop an eye for the negative. You can see negatives clearly from 20 feet away. The challenge is to acquire an eye for the positive. You might have to strain at first, but with practice, you may be surprised by how fast positive 20/20 vision can change your view of your husband — and, in turn, how he views you.
Improve your hearing. Acquire an ear for information that will lead directly to your husband's heart. Think about it. What are some subtle messages you receive from him on a routine basis? What requests has he made in the past but now has given up on?
Tuning in to your husband's spoken (and unspoken) needs — and then meeting them — is living your love out loud.
Amplify your voice. This may sound contradictory, but if you want to meet your husband's needs, it's imperative that you clearly and loudly express your needs — and shoot straight. There's nothing more satisfying than when both spouses actively meet each other's needs.
Are you tuned in to your husband's needs? If not, today is a great day to turn the knob and listen to the music of his heart.

Kenneth Sanderfer is a marriage and family therapist in Nashville, Tenn.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Invitation to join a short inspirational (13 hours from this post)

Have you received an email with the title, "The Paradox of Our Time"?

Origins:   In May 1998, Jeff Dickson posted the 'Paradox of Our Time' essay to his Hacks-R-Us online forum, loosing it upon the Internet. The essay has since been attributed to comedian George Carlin, an unnamed Columbine High School student, and that most prolific of scribes, Anonymous.

The true author of the piece is neither George Carlin nor Jeff Dickson, nor is he anonymous. Credit belongs with Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle's Overlake Christian Church. (He retired in 1998 after 29 years in that post). The essay appeared under the title "The Paradox of Our Age" in Words Aptly Spoken, Dr. Moorehead's 1995 collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcast...
Though not free from serious controversy himself, still, Dr. Moorehead's meditation on the sad state of the human race today really hits home. If you haven't read this article or if you hadn't had the chance to really think on the content,at the end is the article for you to ponder on. We invite you to join us for a short time of fellowship and mutual encouragement 13 hours from now at our resource site chat room. (, if the room does not load, you need a quick download of Java at, you may IM at yahoo msgr if you have problems, my ID is lyka927 )
We will be talking about ways, we as children of the heavenly father, can live out the life and purpose He desires of us. We will talk on how we as wives and mothers can lead and influence lives positively for the glory of God.
"I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
John 10:10 NKJV
Let's not let this paradox be our life's description.... 

The Paradox of Our Age

 We have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less; we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, yet less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgement; more experts, yet more problems; we have more gadgets but less satisfaction; more medicine, yet less wellness; we take more vitamins but see fewer results. We drink too much; smoke too much; spend too recklessly; laugh too little; drive too fast; get too angry quickly; stay up too late; get up too tired; read too seldom; watch TV too much and pray too seldom.


We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values; we fly in faster planes to arrive there quicker, to do less and return sooner; we sign more contracts only to realize fewer profits; we talk too much; love too seldom and lie too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things; we've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice; we write more, but learn less; plan more, but accomplish less; we make faster planes, but longer lines; we learned to rush, but not to wait; we have more weapons, but less peace; higher incomes, but lower morals; more parties, but less fun; more food, but less appeasement; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort, but less success. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; drive smaller cars that have bigger problems; build larger factories that produce less. We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.


These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, but short character; steep in profits, but shallow relationships. These are times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure and less fun; higher postage, but slower mail; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. These are days of two incomes, but more divorces; these are times of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, cartridge living, thow-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies and pills that do everything from cheer, to prevent, quiet or kill. It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stock room. Indeed, these are the times!

The Worship Christ Seeks

Dr. John Barnett
Discover the Book

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [material possessions]." —Matthew 6:24, emphasis added

The church at Ephesus had been loyal to God and His Word in spite of being surrounded by strong materialism in their city. Because of the nearly universal worship of Diana, no one would dare to rob her; thus, behind the altar was the World Bank. One might say that Ephesus was the New York City of the ancient world. Perhaps the evil influence of this materialistic environment may have gradually weakened the first love of some of the Ephesian Christians. For lusting after money and possessions is certain to cool a believer's love for Christ.

How did the devoted Christians at Ephesus resist Satan's stronghold of materialism? As Paul said in Colossians 3, they set their affections on things above, not on things on the earth. As specific biblical principles were followed, they broke free of the lust for money and possessions. These same principles apply to us today as well.

Live for your new inheritance reserved in heaven: In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

Rejoice in your secure inheritance: [The Holy Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:14). God is safeguarding our inheritance! After the Resurrection, Jesus went back to prepare a place for us. In light of the fact that it took Jesus only six days to make the whole universe, the heavenly mansions He is preparing must be spectacular (John 14:2).

Rejoice in your magnificent inheritance: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (Ephesians 1:18). What Christ has in store for us is far greater than we could possibly ever imagine, for His riches are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8)!

Rejoice that your wealth in Christ is more than can be counted: In the ages to come He [will] show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7). The only way to get victory over the lust of materialism is to rejoice wholeheartedly in Jesus himself—and the richness of what Christ has in store for you. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Our greatest treasure is to be Jesus—whom we are to worship with our whole heart, mind, and soul. In contrast, the full worship of Diana involved silver "letters" (the images made and sold there), which led to very alluring, sordid, and ecstatic worship. How did the Ephesian Christians keep from getting caught up in such false worship? They saw that their access in Christ was instant and universal through prayer, and not localized to a pagan temple. They understood that true worship is spiritual: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24; see also Ephesians 5:18-21). Diana's temple fell into ruins, but Christ's church can never be destroyed: The whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord"(Ephesians 2:21).

Now then, what seems to be the root cause behind the Ephesians' loss of their first love? Although materialism may have cooled the passion of some for Christ, I believe the root cause is that they stopped worshiping because they were so busy. Regardless of what competes for our affections to rob us of our first love—even service for Christ himself—we need to repent and return to the way things were at first with the Lord (Revelation 2:5).

Jesus says, "Worship before You serve Me! You can't worship Me 'in spirit and in truth' if you have left your first love! And see to it that you maintain your passion to be with My people every time they meet!"

Do you have "an ear to hear" His voice speaking to you? I pray so! 

Monday, July 28, 2008

Markers of Effective Leaders

Written by Richard E. Dodge
source: LifeWay
Leadership is work, pure and simple. To be a good leader means you set the pace and take people to higher levels. Your leadership may be the difference between a class or committee that stagnates and accomplishes little or a group that grows people to become all that God intended.


But how do you rate yourself? Can you determine whether you are a good leader? Most good leaders have or develop the ability to evaluate themselves and reflect in what is happening in and through the people around them. Many times that still small voice that whispers in our ears lets us know whether we are good leaders or merely filling positions. Rate yourself in each of the following areas. Rate from 1 as low to 4 as high. 


 1  2  3  4  1. When situations change or something is not going as planned, I am flexible enough to make changes.

Flexibility is an essential of leadership. Good leaders recognize when plans - even good ones - are not working. If something needs to be changed, good leaders make the change. Even when conflict arises in the group, good leaders can resolve conflict in win-win ways.
 1  2  3  4  2. When opportunities present themselves, I can identify them and recognize ways to take advantage of them.
The information age presents us with new challenges regarding information. When opportunities present themselves, leaders not only recognize them but also know how to respond. When new information comes to light, you consider the information and determine how this information influences your situation and decisions. Then you respond and make necessary changes.
 1  2  3  4  3. When information seems confusing or contradictory, you can sort through the confusion to find effective, sound solutions.
Good leaders can see through the mass of information and material to identify solutions and options that will please everyone - or at least most of the people most of the time.
 1  2  3  4  4. When problems need solutions, I can see the whole as well as the parts and help identify ways to solve the problems.
Good leaders not only identify when a problem starts to grow, they also act promptly and decisively, and also can deal with issues and solutions. They know how to differentiate problems from people and solutions from taking sides.
 1  2  3  4  5. When too many alternatives are presented, I can see the pros and cons of each alternative and help come to good solutions.
Everyone has an opinion. Someone has said that if you got two Baptists in a room, you are likely to have three different opinions on anything they discuss. Good leaders know how to make everyone feel good about the solutions. Sometimes there is no way to avoid someone not having their idea or options chosen, but good leaders help people feel that they were not rejected even though their ideas were.
 1  2  3  4  6. When new alternatives are presented, I can sort through what needs to be added from the new and what needs to be retained from the old.
Sometimes our situations require changing the old with something that is new. Change itself is neither bad nor good. How we approach change and whether something actually needs complete or partial change can be what encourages everyone involved or splits a class or even a church. Good leaders can identify elements of the past that can support, affirm, or even enhance what is new.
 1  2  3  4  7. When new ideas are needed, I can generate new ideas or adapt ideas presented by others.
Good leaders don't always have to be the right person; they just have to see what actions need to be taken and how they must act when action is required. Good leaders listen for good ideas, occasionally taking two or three good ideas and combining them for outstanding solutions. Good leaders also affirm others for their ideas and always give credit where credit is due.
How did you score? If you scored less than 14, you need to seek help from someone who can guide and mentor you to become more people-centered and creative. If you scored more than 18 you are among the better leaders. If you scored more than 23, you should be looking for someone who scored less than 14 and offer to help them discover how to become a more effective leader.

Teachers Who Impact Lives

Written by Wayne Poling

Recently, waiting in an airport for my next flight, I met a man who in the course of a few minutes became a huge blessing to my life. As we visited with great excitement he shared about his pilgrimage with the Lord and the Lord's blessings on his life. With special joy he shared about a teacher who had not only taught him, but in his own words also discipled him. The teacher had taken a special interest in him both inside and outside the classroom.


The man went on to tell about the influence that teacher had on his whole life. This teacher had caught the true meaning of teaching: to see lives transformed. He went beyond merely relaying information and facts. His desire was for those he taught to integrate into their minds and hearts biblical truths that set the course for living. He had discovered the importance of not only communicating Bible truths but also living them.

Are you merely communicating information and facts, or are you truly investing in the lives of your members both in and out of class? Take a look at these characteristics of teachers who teach to transform and see if they are reflected in your own life.
  • They teach with the awareness that God's calling to teach.
  • They love and affirm the people they teach.
  • They are aware of the needs of those they teach and are concerned about their spiritual growth.
  • They believe in the transforming power of the Word of God and the importance of every teaching session.
  • They seek the best ways to communicate the truths of God's Word.
  • They teach in a variety of ways and use those approaches that best suit their students.
  • They are experiencing the truths of God's Word in their own lives and teach from that personal experience.
  • They are committed to personal preparation, which includes preparing their own hearts and minds to teach and preparing to lead each teaching session.
  • Their lives "teach the lesson" by example.
  • They realize that regardless of how skilled they are, their true power comes from the Holy Spirit.
  • They believe that Bible teaching is not an end in itself and must lead those they teach to continue learning and living the truth beyond the classroom.
Don't settle for merely getting through your lesson each Sunday. Instead, resolve that you will teach in a way that impacts people for eternity. Make the necessary investments. Someday, one of your students will sit in an airport telling a new friend about a teacher that changed his life.
Wayne Poling is Sunday School/FAITH ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Unless the Lord Builds the House...

by Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D.
Two Becoming One
source: CW


One sign of a growing economy is the increase of building projects. And in the divine economy, the same is true. However else we may measure spiritual growth and development, especially in our marriages and families, one thing is for sure: "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." That is the way the wise King Solomon put it in Psalm 127.

He knew what we need to constantly bear in mind: We are totally dependent on God to build our marriages and families. Without such a total reliance upon Him, all of our marriage seminars, biblical principles, and church activities are doomed to failure. So what does this kind of total dependency on God look like? If we are to keep from "laboring in vain" in our marriages and families, how can we trust Him in all aspects of our lives? In Psalm 127, King Solomon gives us the divine blueprint for marriage and family faith. This building blueprint comprises three spiritual bricks that we must lay in building our marriage and family life of faith.

1. Faith Building Brick #1: The realization that we are inadequate on our own to build our marriages and families (Psalm 127:1)

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand in guard in vain."

Most of us think that if we can just go to more marriage seminars or learn more biblical principles, our marriages and families will thrive. But although these kinds of things are necessary, without a conscious dependence on the Lord of heaven and earth, all of our good efforts will be futile and our homes will ultimately collapse into ruins, as many current Christian marriages are now experiencing.

Along with the truths of God for marriage and family, we need to seek the Lord in dependent worship and prayer on a regular basis. For He alone can "build" and "watch over" our marriages and families. The only way that we can truly reflect God's image in our marriages is to develop a faith relationship with Him and with each other.


2. Faith Building Brick #2: The refusal to get caught up in the typical rat race and workaholic syndrome (Psalm 127:2):

"In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for He grants sleep to those He loves."

It is so easy to get caught up in the worldly rat race to keep getting more and more stuff: working 12-hour plus days or husbands and wives both dashing off to jobs that will keep them in a lifestyle that matches the neighbors or that will get them more things to keep the happy veneer intact.

But the awful reality is that none of these workaholic pursuits will ever give us the sustaining joy and fulfillment that God desires to freely give us. Not only does He provide for proper seasons of rest, He also provides for us while we are resting: gifts like physical and emotional recovery; spiritual renewal and vision; new and wonderful surprises for the dawning day. Is it any wonder that so many Christians are collapsing under the weight of such an enslaving lifestyle? If we are going to rein in spiritual warfare in our marriages, for the glory of God, then we are going to have to put the brakes on our rat race lifestyle and trust God to provide all that we will ever need.


3. Faith Building Brick #3: The recognition that children, when God grants them, are His gifts (Psalm 127:3-5):

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate."

God is committed to glorifying Himself generation after generation. And when He grants us the gift of children, He will also empower us to reproduce a godly heritage for His sake. Not only are children a gift and a blessing from God to us, they are also His special disciples for the coming years, shot out like arrows against His enemies.

In light of God's total commitment to building your marriage and family, prayerfully consider the following questions:

1. Who are you trusting to build your marriage and family? Your parents? Your mate? Your job? Your savings or investments? Your church? Etc.? Or the Lord?

2. How much of your typical day is given over to work? To play? To rest? Where do you need to adjust your priorities and schedule in order to escape from the typical rat race?

3. If God has given you children, how do you view them? As a pain in the neck? As a nuisance? Or as God's gifts and blessings to be launched out for Him to make an impact for the kingdom and glory of God?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Seven Lessons from Summer Camp

resource from Shawn McEvoy
source: CrossWalk


It's been fifteen years since I last assumed the pseudonym of "Frostbite" for three months in the piney woods of East Texas . From 1991 through 1993, I summered at Pine Cove Ranch, a Christian camp for 6th-12th graders near Tyler. Every week, a new batch of campers would arrive, and along with my colleagues Bushwacker, Backfire, Fezzik and the rest, we'd herd them in for six days of water sports, horses, biking, Bible study, sermons, and silliness.


Fifteen years, but the experiences of those three collegiate summers have left me with a plethora of lessons that stand the test of time. Some of those lessons were - how shall I put it - more socially educational. However, I was able to distill the wealth of spiritually-beneficial wisdom into the following seven categories:

God doesn't call the qualified; He qualifies the called (1 Corinthians 7:17; Romans 8:28). This phrase was standard fare from the mouth of Ambush, our camp director. The truth in the statement extends back to Moses, Abraham, Joseph, David... just about everyone used by God for big things who, on physical examination, didn't have the degrees, stature, or qualification for the jobs that needed to be done. You've never spoken in public, acted in a skit, or led a Bible study? You may be right where the Lord wants you, so get ready for Him to bestow His qualification upon you.

It also works in reverse -- you think you're qualified for one thing, God has a different purpose. As a youth ministry major who loved water sports, surely His place for me was with the 12th-grade guys and the waterfront. So why was I assigned to 6th-graders, tennis, and archery? Somebody messed up! Turns out it was me, for getting insulted. I was in precisely the place where I could be of most use to the kingdom, and sixth-graders were much better at buying into my off-the-wall behavior than the too-cool seniors.


If you want to learn something, teach it (Colossians 2:2; Philippians 4:13). Surely there had been another mistake. I'd never handled a gun in my life. Were they actually assigning me to teach skeet shooting to junior high boys? I hoped the camp had good insurance. Actually, they had good assurance -- the blessed kind. I became an expert in shotgun safety and numerous other activities. The Lord gives you what you need via your willing heart. Incidentally, teaching what you don't know very well can even have great rewards: nothing I've seen before or since transforms a kid into a beacon of confidence like teaching him or her to execute an Eskimo roll in a kayak.


The kid with the toughest exterior on Sunday is the one who'll be hugging you the hardest come Saturday (Matthew 19:14; Romans 12:9-10). "Get with your kids." That's what you'd hear from a director if it was free time and you were caught chatting with your peers. "Love on those kids; don't indoctrinate them." That was the answer if a counselor had an issue with a controversial subject. "Put your hands around these kids, put their hands around the Bible." That was the goal. All of the above boiled down to time. Youth of any age watch how you spend your time. They learn quickly how important they are to you. They all have their issues but they all know when they're being loved and they all respond to it... in time. So give them that.


Life and Christianity are so much more than Do's and Don'ts (Romans 2:9-24; Galatians 5:13). I had come out of a fantastic youth group a few years earlier, but even I was bored with the tired standard youth sermon that had also plagued the young people I counseled at camp: "Don't drink, don't do drugs, don't have sex." Undoubtedly good advice, but why not? There were already plenty of them who weren't practicing these "greater sins." What, instead, could we show them about, say, rebellion, disobedience, covetousness, envy, and poor self-image? It seemed to me that when I encountered those who were involved with alcohol, drugs, or sex, they were using the temporary gratification of those activities to fill holes caused by, well, rebellion, disobedience, covetousness, envy, and poor self-image.

Living out your faith without inhibitions in front of young people is about as bold, yet genuine, as you can be. Modeling the truth of the Word eliminates the need for do's and don'ts, removes the need to ask, "Why live this way?" It's obvious when your joy requires no illegal substances, and when your love is unattached from lust.



It's good to be alive (Romans 8:6; John 10:10) I made $1,000 for an entire summer, got only 24 hours off each week, lived round the clock in sweltering heat with a dozen boys, had hundreds of responsibilities, lost track of movies and the baseball standings, went three months without a soda... and I never felt better, was never more fulfilled. Life isn't about building to a place where we can do what we want all the time -- that goal ends in becoming our own little gods. Life happens outdoors, with other people, in God's presence, for God's purposes. It's a gift.


We are the body (1 Corinthians 12:12). It wasn't difficult to understand the frustrations that our non-counseling staff often had about whether or not they were being used by God. After all, you interview to work at a youth camp because you have a heart for youth, only to find out you're a cook, a nurse, a work crew director. Out of the limelight. Away from the kids and the fun. Thankless jobs. But none of the great things that happened at Pine Cove would have been possible without every part of the body working together for the greater mission.

The body also has its imperfections, and there was no better illustration than Jiggs Gaffney, a mentally-handicapped man from Tyler who spent the whole summer with us -- not as a camper, not as paid staff, but just as himself. Jiggs loved Pine Cove, loved playing basketball and Commando, loved everyone. The place would not have been the same without him. It truly takes all kinds.


There's biblical application everywhere (Romans 1:20). Mealtime was an opportunity for selflessness. The ropes course illustrated trust and security. The whole system was based on service, sharing, and community. But the best application I took away was this one, which I penned for my girlfriend (now my wife) as she was moving away from me for graduate school ten years ago:


I used to teach archery at camp in Texas. It's the kind of sport where it's not hard to find a few life metaphors -- hitting the target, nailing the bull's-eye, missing the mark... But in the arrow itself, I found a wealth of lessons. It's such a simple, effective, and elegant weapon, with its sleek shaft and colorful feathers, but it can't function without help. It needs the bow in order to reach its potential, to drive it forward, or it is worthless.

The arrow also has been prevalent in my doodles for as long as I can remember, probably due to its symbolic significance in direction and guidance. But take another look at the feathers -- do you notice how one, the one facing outward, is a different color? That's called the cock feather. It's unique in that it must face away from the bow, or outward, in order to fly straight when shot. As Christians, too often we cover up what's different about ourselves, and we wind up missing the mark, or sinning. But when our unique side faces outward for the world to see, we fly straight and true, exploding towards the target in a glorious burst of color.

What is unique and different about you? Your faith, poise, depth, and grace, to name a few. Keep those true colors facing boldly outward; trust the Lord's aim as He pulls back the string; fly straight. Let Him choose the targets, and you can't miss.

Safeguard Against Workplace Temptations

resource from Nancy C. Anderson
source: CW
If you work with a Flirty Frank or Tempting Tina, there are some ways you can stand strong against temptation.
Coworkers often are required to work on projects or solve problems together, and the resulting closeness can build teamwork — but it can also build a feeling of intimacy. Be honest with yourself. If you're dressing to please someone at work or lingering in the parking lot hoping that person will ask you to lunch, stop now, before you've gone too far.


If you're in doubt as to what conduct is inappropriate, ask yourself, Would I do this in front of my spouse? And if you're still not sure, ask yourself, Would I do it in front of the Lord? (You are, you know.) Here is a simple rule to keep you on the straight and narrow: If you'd have to lie about it – don't do it!


If you feel an attraction to someone in your office and have romantic or sexual thoughts about them, consider a transfer to a different department, a different site, or maybe you should quit. No job is more valuable than your marriage


I wish I would have followed that advice. Because I didn't resist the temptation 25 years ago, I had an affair with a coworker. My relationship with Jake started innocently. I noticed that he laughed at the same things I laughed at, and he noticed that we both liked similar music, so we started to sit together in the lunchroom. We were just friends. . . until we weren't.


I remember the first time we went out of the friendship zone and into the danger zone. We were sitting next to each other at a sales meeting when his leg brushed up against mine. I felt a spark at the contact point and was a bit disappointed when he moved it. A few minutes later, he shifted slightly in his chair and his leg, from knee to thigh, pressed gently against mine. I liked it, and didn't pull away.


I should have. I sent him a signal that I was unguarded. If I'd moved my leg and not responded to his flirtations, I'd have avoided the biggest regret of my life.


After a few months, I "came to my senses" and confessed my adultery to God. I knew that I could not continue to work with Jake without being tempted, so I quit my job.  My husband forgave me and we rebuilt our marriage. However, the damage was devastating, and our recovery took several years.

Many Christian companies have codes of conduct that are safeguards against the temptations of emotional or physical affairs with coworkers. Here are some examples: 

1. People of the opposite sex should not ride in a car together without a third party present.

2. Don't make personal (non-work related) phone calls to a coworker of the opposite sex.

3. Don't have lunch with the same person every day. Move around the lunchroom or break-room and if you go out to a restaurant, go in a group.

4. Make sure that your e-mails and other correspondence are not suggestive, inappropriate, or flirtatious.

5. Talk about your spouse in positive terms, making it clear that you're married and intend to stay that way.

6. Be careful not to make any lingering eye contact.

7. The only appropriate touch between business associates of the opposite sex is a handshake.

And here are a few guarding hedges to plant around your business travel:

1. If your job requires traveling with another employee of the opposite sex, do not get adjoining hotel rooms. If possible, request a room on a different floor.

2. If you have to meet with that person, offer to get together in the coffee shop or the lobby.

3. Call your spouse every night at a designated time and give him or her full permission to call your cell phone — anytime.

4. Ask the hotel clerk to block out all adult TV channels.

Discuss these lists with your spouse and add any other things you feel are necessary. Then, give your mate permission to correct you if you go out-of-bounds. Also, know that the best defense against an office affair is a healthy marriage. Be aware of other ways your workplace or career could be a stumbling point for the general health of your marriage and then resolve to address those potential areas of weakness.

According to an Orange County Register article titled "Workplace a Hazard to Marriage" (11/24/03) working with people of the opposite sex can be hazardous to your marriage.  If you, as a woman, worked with all women, your chances for a divorce would be much lower than if you worked with mostly men. If, however, you're a married woman and you work with mostly single or newly divorced females, your divorce risk is much higher than if your coworkers were married.



If you're in a workplace that's a landmine of temptation or if many of your coworkers are swingin' singles, be on guard.


Many years ago, my husband worked for a company that was rife with temptations. The owner hired receptionists and secretaries who were usually beautiful, young, and single; consequently, it was not a healthy environment for married men. In addition, some of Ron's male coworkers ate lunch at a "gentlemen's club"—a fancy term for a topless bar.


They often asked Ron to go with them, and even though he was tempted, he never went. They'd try to entice him by saying, "We won't tell your wife. What she doesn't know won't hurt her." He would politely decline and say, "No thanks, I have a deal with my wife. I don't go to female strip clubs and she doesn't go to male strip clubs. They're dangerous places." These co-workers all knew that Ron was a Christian, and if he'd gone, they may have discounted his faith and labeled him as a hypocrite. I know that several men admired Ron's commitment to me, because they privately asked him for advice about their marriages.

Your relationship could be an excellent example to other married coworkers if you stand strong. So be bold and fearless when you're defending your marriage at your workplace. Resist and flee temptation before it overtakes you.

1 Cor. 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Adapted from Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage  (Kregel Publications 2004)

Author Nancy C. Anderson ( and her husband, Ron, recently celebrated their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. Together they conduct couples' retreats and marriage seminars to help others to predict, prevent or pardon infidelity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World

Note by Whitney Hopler: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jill Rigby's new book, Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World, (Howard Books, 2008).
Many parents hope they can raise healthy kids by building their children's self-esteem and focusing on their happiness as much as possible. But the result is the opposite of what they hope to achieve: self-absorbed kids who grow up into unhealthy adults -- unable to find satisfaction, get along with others, or contribute well to society.
By giving children the message that their lives are all about their own fulfillment, parents are actually preventing them from discovering true fulfillment. Parents who are bold enough to raise their kids to be givers rather than takers, however, help their kids find God's best for them in the process.
Here's how you can raise unselfish children in a self-absorbed world:
Replace a mirror with a window. Help your kids see beyond themselves to other people. If you don't take the mirror of self-centeredness out of your children's hands, they'll become intolerable to live with when they grow up and someone else will shatter the mirror for them, hurting them with its broken pieces. Aim to raise your kids to become selfless adults who function well in the world because they have self-respect, rather than self-absorbed adults who can't function well because they feel entitled.
Take a hard look at yourself. You're an important role model for your children. Honestly evaluate in what ways your own lifestyle is either selfish or selfless. Are your good deeds mostly about advancing your own agenda, or about the people you serve? Do you rationalize thoughtless decisions? Do you make excuses for cruel choices? Do you blame others while forgiving yourself? Do you buy things in order to feel better? Do you discipline yourself to live simply and with contentment, or are you constantly pursuing more yet are never satisfied? Ask God to reveal your selfish attitudes and actions. Then ask Him to empty your heart of selfish desires. Do whatever you can to model selflessness for your kids, such as by: not allowing difficult circumstances to make you bitter, trusting God with your children, giving without expecting something in return, making sacrifices, displaying courage, and loving your spouse if you're married.
Accept responsibility and make a plan. Take full responsibility for your parenting so far -- and how that has affected your kids -- instead of blaming others like your children's friends, teachers, or neighbors; the media; or society. Decide that from now on, you'll change the way you've been raising your kids in order to change their perspectives on life, no matter how difficult they may be. Make a commitment to God to raise your children to be others-centered rather than self-centered. Make a commitment to your spouse to live with less in order to enjoy more. Make a commitment to faithfully and joyfully tithe. Make a commitment not to buy the latest products for yourself or your children unless you truly need something. Make a commitment to spend time together as a family regularly. Invite God to transform you into the person and parent He wants you to become. Study the Bible often so you'll be able to teach your kids God's ways. Live with integrity so your children can respect you when you reprimand them. Trade your pride in for humility so you can effectively discipline your kids, showing them that you're their authority because God is your authority. Follow your own advice, doing what you say, so you'll be able to successfully guide your children.
Take charge of your kids. Realize that children need parents who make decisions for them until they're mature enough to make decisions for themselves. Don't go to unhealthy extremes, either: deflecting your responsibility to take charge of your parenting duties and forcing your kids to be in charge before they're ready, or giving too much or too little (without regard for your children's needs) while depriving them of the ability to the mature and take charge of their own lives one day. Instead, build your kids' critical thinking skills in age-appropriate ways by allowing them to make the decisions that they're capable of making at each stage of their development.
Meet all of your children's needs, but not all of their desires. Refuse to overindulge your kids in ways like: doing for your kids what they can do for themselves, buying them too much stuff, not expecting them to do chores, not having clear rules, giving them things or experiences that aren't appropriate for their age or interests, giving them things to meet your own needs (such as looking good to others) rather than their needs, giving too much while expecting too little, and neglecting to teach your kids the life skills they need to survive in the world beyond your home. Teach your children the difference between a need and a want. Then make them work for what they want but don't need, such as by doing extra household chores to save money for a certain video game. Help them develop patience. Give them opportunities to learn responsibility by assigning them age-appropriate duties to perform regularly. Make sure that you not only explain how to carry out their duties, but show them how to do so, as well.
Encourage your kids to place their confidence in God rather than in themselves. Help your kids know who they are and Whose they are, learn not to think more highly of themselves than they should, choose to be obedient to God regardless of what it costs them, accept their calls from God, learn to listen to God's voice (such as by reading and memorizing Scripture, and listening to God during prayer), recognize evidence of God at work in the circumstances of their lives, serve God by serving other people (through opportunities you give them), and use their natural talents and spiritual gifts to contribute to others around them and help fulfill God's purposes for their lives.
Cultivate compassion in your children. Fill your kids' hearts with love so that, secure in the knowledge that they are loved themselves, they'll be able to love other people. Choose some of the many different blessings from the Bible and pray them over your children. Aim to show your kids how much you love them through your actions and words every day. Model compassion for them by letting them see you act compassionately toward yourself, them, and others such as your family members and friends. Teach them to get to know people to understand them, and to empathize with their feelings. Help your children learn to look at situations from other people's viewpoints. Teach them to love others. Practice hospitality, such as by inviting people over to your home for meals, opening your home up for youth group meetings, or welcoming houseguests. Do some service projects with your kids, working together to meet a need in your community (such as doing yard work for an elderly neighbor).
Build family togetherness. Strengthen your family's relationships to help your kids increase their sense of security, which will give them the confidence to reach out to others in love. Let them learn from their experiences in your family -- through good and bad -- that love is choice rather than just a feeling. Eat meals together as often as possible. Work on family projects together throughout the year, from making a time capsule together in January and planting a garden in March to going on a neighborhood treasure hunt in June and thanking important people in your lives in November. Help your kids see how each of their parts in your shared projects contributes to the good of the whole.
Help your kids learn how to forgive. Teach your children how to show remorse, repent, and apologize to others they've wronged. Forgive your kids when they do wrong. Forgive others when they offend you. Ask your kids for forgiveness when you wrong them.
Cultivate generosity and gratitude. Help your kids learn how to live with open hands and open hearts by giving them plenty of opportunities to give to others. Nurture gratitude in your children in ways like giving them less stuff, unplugging their electronics on certain days and doing simple activities together instead, encouraging them to pray prayers of thanksgiving often, and requiring them to write thank-you notes for gifts they receive.
Give your children opportunities to serve their community. Incorporate community service into your lifestyle on a regular basis. Consider participating in projects like: hosting a neighborhood Bible club, collecting and delivering needed items for a homeless shelter, visiting elderly people in your area who have difficulty getting out (both those who still live at home, as well as those in facilities like nursing homes), volunteering to teach a class in something that makes use of one of your children's talents, going Christmas caroling through your neighborhood, and thanking employees at your kids' schools through notes and gifts.
Help your kids make a positive difference in the world. Give your children tangible ways they can contribute to the world beyond their local community, such as: working on a political campaign, writing letters to the editors of newspapers about topics in which they're interested, contacting their elected officials about issues about which they care, and supporting global humanitarian efforts through charities working to help those in need around the world.
Parent with eternity in view. Remember that it's not your job to make your kids happy, but it is your job to point them to the One who can make them holy. Make it a top priority to help your kids keep growing closer to Christ. Nurture their faith so that when they're confronted with situations in which they must decide to respond either selfishly or selflessly, they'll choose to trust God and respond with the selfless love that will bless all concerned.
Adapted from Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World, copyright 2008 by Jill Rigby. Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, West Monroe, La.,   
Jill Rigby is an accomplished speaker, columnist, television personality, family advocate, and founder of Manners of the Heart Community Fund, a nonprofit organization bringing a return of civility and respect to our society. Whether equipping parents to raise responsible children, encouraging the education of the heart, or training executives in effective communication skills, Jill's definition of manners remains the same -- an attitude of the heart that is self-giving, not self-serving.  She is the proud mother of twin sons.

Friday, July 18, 2008

3 Steps to Finding YOUR God-given Mission

a resource from Rebekah Montgomery

Ever watch a water bug? It dithers all over the surface of the pond but never goes anywhere or accomplishes anything except feeding itself.

That is about what many ministries accomplish. They feed themselves and consider that success. That's not success unless God has called you to lead water bugs.

Your function as a leader is to:
paint a picture of a goal which inspires people to follow you
build teams to accomplish the goal
inspire and motivate the teams
lead change
establish core values
allocate resources
find out what's not going well and fix it
develop emerging leaders

You must have a God-given mission because your vision is the most potent weapon in your arsenal as a leader. So how do you determine what God is calling you to accomplish?
Step One – ONE CAUSE

Remember the water bug? Many things distract it.

Leaders can be distracted, too. But this is key: You need ONE CAUSE that drives you, ONE CAUSE that grabs you by the throat and won't let you go.

Here's some examples:
Paul was driven to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Dorcas was driven to clothe the needy.
King Josiah was driven to purge out idolatry.
David was driven to united Israel.

To lead, you must be driven. Find that one thing that you must do. Pray about it. Ask God to light a fire in your soul.

Don't give up if your mission is not immediately obvious. Keep exposing your heart to needs and solutions. Visit ministries. Volunteer at a suicide prevention hot line or an AIDS clinic. Get to know some single mothers. Keep on looking and be open. Paul found his mission in a dream when the man from Macedonia pleaded with him. Peter had a vision on a rooftop. Dorcas looked at her own neighborhood while Josiah discovered his while housecleaning. You just never know how God will open your eyes to the harvest.
Step Three – STAY CLOSE

When you find it, don't run from your mission but stay close to it. You will find that you have a tendency to run from your mission in frustration because you will see all that needs to be done and all you want to do and how little you can accomplish on your own. And that is just what God wants you to see. You cannot accomplish it on your own. Feed your sense of inadequacy. Stay close to your weaknesses. It will help you recognize the One who empowers you to complete the mission to which He has called you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

NEWS: Zondervan faces $60M federal lawsuit over Bible, homosexuality

Zondervan faces $60M federal lawsuit over Bible, homosexuality

Religion News Blog, Amsterdam, Netherlands
July 10, 2008 News Summary

Christian publisher Zondervan is facing a $60 million federal lawsuit filed by a man who claims he and other homosexuals have suffered based on what the suit claims is a misinterpretation of the Bible.

But a company spokeswoman says Zondervan doesn't translate the Bible or own the copyright for any of the translations. Instead, she said in a statement, the company relies on the "scholarly judgment of credible translation committees."
That is to say, setting aside whether the federal civil rights lawsuit is credible, the company says Bradley Fowler sued the wrong group.
His suit centers on one passage in scripture — 1 Corinthians 6:9 — and how it reads in Bibles published by Zondervan.
Fowler says Zondervan Bibles published in 1982 and 1987 use the word homosexuals among a list of those who are "wicked" or "unrighteous" and won't inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Fowler says his family's pastor used that Zondervan Bible, and because of it his family considered him a sinner and he suffered.
Fowler says he came across the discrepancy while researching a book. He says Zondervan Bibles published in the 1980s use the word homosexuals in the Corinthian passage in question, but earlier and later ones don't.
24 Hour News 8 went to a library to do some research of our own, and found Zondervan Bibles published both in the 80s and post-2000 use the word homosexuals in the passage.
Some translations, like the New American Standard, use the word. Others don't.
The (regular) American Standard version uses the phrase "abusers of themselves with men." The King James says "abusers of themselves with mankind." Still others, like the New American Bible, use the word "sodomites."
Fowler says the idea that those phrases are another way of saying homosexuals is a misinterpretation as well.
- Source: Tony Tagliavia, Zondervan faces $60M federal lawsuit over Bible, homosexuality, WOOD TV, MI, USA — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What Kind of Encouragement Does Your Spouse Need?

Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg
America's Family Coaches
source: CWalk

Here's a nugget of truth for you: Your spouse needs your encouragement. You may be saying, "Yeah, Gary and Barb, I knew that," but are you doing something about it? Are you encouraging your spouse daily? Are you the one your spouse knows he or she can come to for encouragement in tough times?


Do you know what can happen if you don't encourage your mate? Wives: If your husband doesn't hear you cheering him on, he'll feel continually discouraged and defeated – and then he'll seek the applause somewhere else. Husbands: If you don't appreciate and encourage your wife, she will turn elsewhere to get her needs met. If encouragement isn't a steady part of your wife's diet, she's starving for it.


Here's the reality:


For wives:

-- Men need the strong support of other Christian men – but the voice of affirmation they long to hear the most is that of their wife.

-- Many men feel neglected and in need of their wife's attention, affirmation and encouragement.


For husbands:

-- A woman has a larger than life need for her husband to whisper, declare, and shout to the world that she is the most important person in his life.

-- It's not enough to appreciate your wife – you have to tell her!

-- Understanding your wife's personality and character will help you tailor encouragement specifically to her.

So what does encouragement look like for your spouse? It's different for every person, but generally husbands and wives see encouragement differently. If you want to grow in your ability to encourage your spouse, practice several of these suggestions:


How to Encourage Your Husband

Encourage him to hear the applause. For the Christian man, the applause from heaven – God's approval – is essential. But heavenly applause is sometimes tough to hear. We need to train our ears to hear the voice of Jesus. You can encourage your husband to do that. God has strategically placed you in your husband's life to be his live-in encourager.


Encourage him by reminding him of God's work in his life. When you see your husband take a stand for what is right, affirm him by telling him you see God's character in him. Bless your husband with encouragement from God's Word when he is discouraged. Affirm your husband's expression of the gifts of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) when you see him act in any of these ways.


Encourage him to be accountable. You, as your husband's wife, must be his main encourager in making God-focused changes in his life, but godly men can also be a strong support for him in the process. Strong Christian friends will encourage your husband to be accountable. Encourage your husband to step close to other godly guys. He needs this kind of connection in his life.


Encourage him to connect with his children. A father needs his children as much as they need him. When your husband gets preoccupied, be there to encourage him to spend him with his children. Remind him to make the most of his time because your kids won't be under your roof forever.


Encourage him to reach out and grow. Be tuned in to your husband's need to continue to develop as a man. Encourage him to participate in events that will stretch him or help him grow. It's true that you can't force, whine, or nag your husband to be spiritually and relationally thirsty (and you shouldn't try). But you must make a conscious, daily choice to root for your man. He is thirsty for your encouragement.


How to Encourage your Wife

Understand her wiring. The next time you see two women talking, watch them and listen to them. Notice how connected they sound. For a woman, this kind of connected conversation acts as a stress reliever and even a kind of therapeutic release. While your wife's friends are important to her, it is absolutely vital that your wife gets this kind of support from you – her husband and best friend. At the end of a long day she wants to be able to share you feelings with you. She's not looking for solutions. She wants to share her intimate thoughts so that her burdens can be lifted and her emotional ties to you strengthened.


Give her first place. When your wife isn't first place in your life, she feels overlooked and unimportant. Sometimes what you give first place to may seem so important that you don't even recognize what you're doing. It doesn't matter how you justify it, nothing is more important than your wife or your family. Would you ever think of starving your wife of the food she needs to sustain her physical body? No! But you could be starving her of the very encouragement she needs to survive.


Point out her potential. Affirm the truth about your wife's abilities. We see with human eyes, of course, but all of us can remind each other of our God-given potential. Do this for your wife. Focus on her strengths, not her weaknesses. Try to see her the way Jesus would see her.


Appreciate her contribution. Take advantage of moments to brag about your wife. In both private and public ways, you need to let your wife know how much she is appreciated. Nothing will encourage your wife more than for you to recognize her sacrifices and affirm her love and devotion to your family. Praise your wife for who she is.


We want to challenge you to find out what encourages your mate – whether it's a kiss and hug at the end of the day, a word of appreciation when they've done something well, or just a note that says 'I love you.' Then take what you learn and encourage your spouse frequently, positively and authentically. Your mate needs to hear the voice of God leading and sustaining him or her and your mate also needs to hear you encouraging and believing in him or her!

Portions of this article were adapted from "The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women," Copyright 2000 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved.  Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,  To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit or call 1-888-608-COACH. 

 Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cultivating Real Intimacy between a Man and a Woman

Paul and Sandy Coughlin
source: CW


Intimacy is the action fuel that turns new love into deep love. It provides a level of closeness that love's infatuations alone can't deliver.

We often misconceive of intimacy by thinking of it as a single, isolated act, like a memorable conversation in a romantic restaurant or a pleasurable sexual experience in an attractive hotel room. But those are just stages on which intimacy might unfold. Intimacy isn't an event--it's what happens during these events: two people actively pursuing the other person's deepest being. It is speaking the language of the other person's soul.

Intimacy's fruit is produced when intimacy is cultivated. If we don't connect and share who we are with another, it's a counterfeit. And, as many married couples who have obtained it will tell you, intimacy is deeper, more profound, and more life-changing than they could have imagined when they earnestly said "I do."

Of the four paths to intimacy--talking, thinking (jointly), touching, and togetherness--two are particularly attractive to most guys: touch and (believe it or not) togetherness.  (The way he defines togetherness revolves primarily around shared activities, many of which are physical in nature.) The other two paths to intimacy--talking and thinking together--represent a more substantial challenge and even greater opportunity.

On average, women derive more satisfaction than men from intimate conversations.  Even if you didn't marry a guy who struggles with passivity, being intimate through talking is usually going to be easier for you than for him.

The Strong and the Weak 

Here's a general marriage principle: The stronger one in any given area should take into consideration the weaknesses of the other. This is a practical way in which our differences can grow us and strengthen us collectively and build intimacy between us. Regarding conversation, you desire intimacy; a good path to building it, if you are more skilled in this sphere, is taking into account his disadvantages.

Most men are reluctant to reveal themselves in the very sphere where most women are most comfortable with: self-revelation. This can create a tendency for you to rush him along or convey expectations that feel heavy to him. Pushing and pressure both squelch the growth of intimacy, which cannot be coerced.

We had a similar scenario with singing in public. Sandy, who grew up in a musical home, sings well and plays the piano and flute; I can play the stereo, but I can't sing. For years Sandy wanted me to share her desire to sing in small-group gatherings, so she put on some not-so-subtle pressure. This just made me more reluctant and increasingly frustrated.

I finally explained that asking me to sing in public is like my asking people to take out a notepad and write a quick story, then collecting the sheets and reading them out loud. For most non-writers, this would be a mortifying experience. What's a person to do if he's expected to be what he isn't?

When your man does reveal himself through words, really and truly listen, seeking to hear him without judging him. And be realistic. Don't mandate marathon conversations. Intimacy will likely be short at first. You can begin to turn small talk into intimate talk if he feels listened to, respected, cared about, and understood. Most important, he needs to trust you with his real, genuine feelings. The importance of this need cannot be overstated.

Trust and "Fixing"  

The word trust is related to the Middle English word troth, which means "truth," "loyalty," "faithfulness," "a person's pledged word."

Christian writer and counselor Dan Allender was dismayed to find out why, after nineteen years of marriage, his wife told him a painful story from childhood that she'd never before shared. She said, "I trust you now in a way I didn't a year ago." When he asked what brought this about, she answered, "I don't know, but I do know you are more open to hurt for me rather than try to fix me."  This is a man who counsels people regarding trust.

Wives also tend to desire to fix their husbands. Some theologians teach that this desire wasn't originally there, that it's a result of the Fall.  In Genesis 3:16, God, speaking of sin's consequences, says that wives will "desire" or have a "longing" for their husbands, and the word "for" may imply an antagonism. This pivotal text could be rendered, "Your desire shall be against your husband, and he shall rule over you."

Tuned-in couples know there is an inherent power struggle in the marriage relationship. Men often have extreme reactions to power:  either passivity or domination. Women often have a desire to gain and maintain control. However, sin's corruption of the intended marital harmony is where God's grace can shine through. He tells us we can restore it through mutual submission and a willing acceptance of love's truth (Ephesians 5:21-33).

The desire to control and to "fix" men is dangerous, and it extends deep into Christian circles. "Fixing" men frequently means taming them, and a tame man usually isn't a good man--he's likely dropped his sword, surrendered his will, and turned from his own nature and identity. Odd how our noted strengths can become our greatest weaknesses! In this case, a woman's ability to love her passive man with words can so quickly turn into a shaming assault.

By contrast, a healthy conversation between husband and wife is open, curious, and sometimes playful. It's neither a must-win debate nor a statistical droning on of information-providing. "In some ways," says Allender, an intimate conversation "is like brainstorming."  Emotions must be present for intimate conversation; you can help him keep his emotions present by treating him well as you communicate.

The Cancer of Contempt  

The great killer of trust and emotional revelation is contempt, the belief that the other person is worthless and deserves scorn. Studies at the University of Washington's "love lab" have found that contempt is the best predictor of whether a marriage will make it. The greater contempt's presence, the higher divorce's probability.

Contempt is an effort to make you big and someone else small. It will appear in your tone, eyes, words, body language--contempt can be conveyed in myriad ways, and whenever it shows up, it cripples intimacy. Contempt is so lethal that it can be harmful to proceed with attempts at intimacy before the issue is faced. Contempt must be named and transformed before even conversation has any hope of intimacy.

Furthermore, contempt is the modus operandi of evil; the name Satan means "accuser." Accusations are generally not invitations or explorations; they are intended to humiliate, disempower, and make others vulnerable to manipulation. Contempt's goal is to discredit and steal dignity so the victor can remain in control, unfazed by any differing view or idea.

In learning to connect with your guy, make sure it doesn't seem like a demand. It should feel to him like an open door to enrich your lives together.

Pause to Consider 

One final matter: you probably need to evaluate what's going through your head about your guy. Chances are some of your thoughts are inaccurate. For instance, maybe you have said to yourself or to a friend, "It doesn't make sense why he behaves the way he does." Not true. It makes a ton of sense. There are reasons he has learned to live small and behave passively; fear and hiding are not the right responses to struggle or trauma, but they are not inexplicable or pointless, and thinking or suggesting that they are can lead you into contempt and indifference.

He doesn't know what intimacy really is; you must be willing to help him learn. If you have been using an intense and critical demeanor, you will need to alter it into a listening and constructive approach. You'll know that what you are doing is working because you'll sense him leaning into you (not away from you) emotionally.

Though the misconceptions and related obstacles on the paths toward intimacy are real, and though some are more substantial than others, they are not set in stone. A wise woman of goodwill, who uses her innate influence to love and to heal in facilitating emotional closeness, is a source of magnificent power.

Taken from Married But Not Engaged by Paul and Sandy Coughlin. Copyright © 2006 by Paul and Sandy Coughlin (Bethany House).  

Paul Coughlin is the founder of Coughlin Ministries, which helps people discover the more rugged, protective, substantial and more vibrant side of the Christian faith, enabling people throughout the world to live a more powerful faith and express a more substantial love toward God and others. Visit Paul's website at:

Sandy Coughlin is a wife and mother of 3. She loves her family and loves blessing other people's lives by entertaining in her home. Sandy's husband, Paul, (who used to be the reluctant entertainer) has come on board, and they often offer hospitality together. Visit Sandy's regularly updated blog at:

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