A devotional to help military families stay connected during deployments

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.”  — Proverbs 15:15

Sometimes the most obvious is overlooked. . . . A sense of humor is vital to a healthy marriage! Do we need to say that again? A sense of humor is vital to a healthy marriage! The ops tempo of military life is such that we can often overlook this VERY important truth!

Given the importance of laughter and humor in any relationship, it was refreshing to read Bob and Cheryl Moeller’s Marriage Minutes. With their permission, we are sharing this:

“Many spouses see laughter as a frivolous use of time. Yes, it feels good to laugh but nothing important gets accomplished. Other spouses see it as a denial of reality. With so much sorrow and sadness in the world how can we ignore the suffering in our lives and laugh? Still others have become cynical or embittered in their marriage. They find nothing to laugh about given all the pain their spouse or marriage is causing them.

Yet the Scriptures take a different opinion. Solomon, perhaps the wisest man ever to write a book, says that laughter is good medicine and that a merry heart has a continual feast.

Why should couples look for the humor in life and enjoy laughter with one another on a regular basis?

  1. Laughter is a form of humility—It means we don’t take ourselves too seriously. That’s a very effective way to combat pride or self-focus which can do much damage to our own spiritual and emotional health.
  2. Laughter is a form of rest—It allows us to take a much needed break from the stress and serious business of marriage and relax for a moment. The Bible clearly teaches our lives are to have a rhythm to them of work and rest, work and rest, work and rest.
  3. Laughter is a form of worship—Joy, merriment, and laughter all find their roots in the image of God. In other words God created them and gave them to us to enjoy. When we are filled with joy, merriment, and laughter we are acknowledging and enjoying one aspect of our Creator God—and that can become worship.
  4. Laughter is a form of love—When we give our spouse the gift of joy or laughter we are nourishing their hearts, lifting their spirits, and encouraging them to press on. Whenever we build our spouse up in this way we are showing love toward them.”

So during deployment how do you enjoy humor? It won’t be the same way as when you’re together, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek to share this aspect of looking at life with some light-hearted moments over email, skype, text, or letter. Try it. . . .you might like it!

Questions to Share:

  1. Was a sense of humor something that attracted you to your spouse when you were dating?
  2. Share with each other a time when laughter got you through a particularly tough time in your relationship.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our family has a tradition of gathering around the Thanksgiving table and beginning our time together by sharing one thing that we’re grateful for that year. And so it goes— around the table with everyone adding their deep thoughts or silly remembrances from the past 12 months. Through the years I remember such blessings being voiced as new babies, surviving moves, finding new jobs, getting over illnesses, new marriages, interesting vacations, finishing up educational goals, new cars, new pets, etc.

Recently we were with a large group of military couples—all ranks and branches— where every couple in the room offered one thing for which they were grateful. It’s not hard to imagine what was shared: “I’m grateful to be home.” “I’m grateful to be alive.” “I am thankful for my spouse who kept everything going at home while I was gone.” “I’m thankful that we, as a couple, survived the deployment.” When we are with a group like that my husband and I know that we are standing on hallowed ground. There is a deep sense of wonder at how God has provided and protected. . . .and there were a few tears by the time we were done sharing our many blessings.

It doesn’t matter where we are, or which military group we are with, the proclamations of gratitude are profound and powerful—and deeply felt. I read a devotional recently, however, that reminded me to be a little more specific in my thanks-giving. You see, what we are really asked to do in Scripture is to give thanks—and more specifically, to give thanks to God. So the next time I am asked what I am thankful for, I am going to say, “I am thankful to God for _______.” No doubt this is always implied by our families and our groups as they are sharing their deep gratitude—but I think it’s a good reminder that everything, everything is from God—every breath that we take, every moment of every day, everything around us in creation—everything.

I was also raised with a weekly singing of the Doxology at our church. I remember a time or two around our Thanksgiving table when we closed out our time of thankful sharing (before the food got too cold) with the singing of this centuries old chorus:

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above all heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

Jill Carratini, a favorite devotional writer for Ravi Zacharias’ A Slice of Infinity, on November 24, 2008, wrote:

“Being thankful is therefore always more than a glib note of gratitude or a warm sentiment in general; it requires something far more personal. It not only chooses to recognize the gifts before us, but recognizes that there must also be a giver. There is someone to thank. There is one from whom all blessings flow.”

The second reminder that struck me this year was from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Perhaps this year, more than other years, you are questioning what God’s will is for your life. And in this Scripture verse it is so clearly stated, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Margaret Manning, also a great writer for A Slice of Infinity, shared her thoughts on this verse as a definitive proclamation for God’s will in our lives:

“Thanksgiving is God’s will for God’s people because when we give thanks for who God is and what God has done in our lives, there is no room for jealousy of what others’ have, no room for complaining about what we lack. Even in times of deepest sorrow, there is a joy that rises up on the heart when praise comes even with tears. Thanksgiving makes the heart full of gladness which overflows from our lives and spills out into acts of kindness and generosity. When we are grateful, we cannot help but share our gratitude. And this is the will of God for our lives. I am grateful for a day set apart to focus on thanksgiving, but I am challenged to live into God’s will for my life by giving thanks in everything, every day of the year.”  (November 25, 2008)

There are many times in my life when we have wondered what God’s will was for us as a military family. Questions arose such as “Which assignment do we put in for?” “Should we take the assignment at the base in the States, or try for an overseas one?” “Which training track does God want me to go into?” “Is the timing right for an unaccompanied tour, or should we wait until after the next assignment?” “Should we buy a house, rent, or live on base?” “Should the family stay near the base during this deployment, or move home with the folks?” “Do we stay in the service or get out?” Decisions were oftentimes made on the basis of open doors vs. closed doors, or maybe a list of pros and a list of cons. Prayers were spoken and decisions were made with thanks for His guidance.

Yet God’s Word is very clear—in all things we are to give thanks. That is His will for us. Easier said than done at times that are challenging (like deployments that keep families separated during the holidays), but His promises are always for our good. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16) It is indeed through Jesus Christ that we can offer our praises to God for the freedom we have in forgiveness and in the knowledge of eternal life with Him.

Finally, and we shouldn’t need a reminder for this, we thank God for each one of you who are serving our country so faithfully (that includes the families!), all over the world. As Paul says in his letter to the Philippians (chapter 1, verse 3), “I thank my God every time I remember you.” We at Cru Military appreciate so much your sacrifices and give thanks to God for your gifts to all of us so that we, and others in this world, can live in freedom.

Questions to Share:

1. Name two things for which you are thankful to God this year.

2. Tell your spouse two things for which you are thankful to God for them this year.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”— Psalm 46:10

Because of my job assignment, I travel a lot—mostly airline travel. Consequently, I spend much time in airport terminals. This allows (forces) me to have time to meditate, to read, to ponder—and to wait. When I look around at the other passengers gathered at the gate this morning, I wonder if they experience the same things I do. You know—things like the kids at home are sick, money is running very low, conflict with your spouse just isn’t getting resolved, misunderstandings with relatives, car and household maintenance always to do, political elections with ads that run on and on, an inspection coming up, danger awaiting on this assignment, and another deployment about to be announced. . . . . .yea, there’s a lot to think about while waiting at the gate. Too much to think about.

The feeling can come over all of us that we’ve lost control. . . that we’ve reached our limit. We cry out to God and wonder—is there no relief?? “Well, God, I’m WAITING!!” . . . He says, “Really??”

And in that still small voice, truth penetrates my morning frenzy, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). And this one, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

What if we could take ourselves away from our stress. . . imagine being with Jesus when “He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 5:1-10).

It’s sinking in. I’m starting to feel comforted as the words in my open Bible work their way past the turmoil in my mind. I wish everyone in the gate could experience this. I decide to read on:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).

Amazing! He tells us how we can actually be blessed in spite of the trials and the evils that come upon us. And even more—He goes on to say that I have a part in all of this. “You are the salt of the earth. . .You are the light of the world. . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13,14,16).

What a joy, what an encouragement that my Father not only created this earth, but He says that I have a purpose beyond the here and the now, with all of its unknowns and anxiety. His Spirit is speaking to my spirit. I know Who is in control. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). I bow my head in prayer, giving thanks. How could I forget?

My pain is almost gone now, but there’s an insidious danger sneaking up . . . I fear that the pain will return. So I start looking around for its source. My military mind wants to set up a defense against the enemy that can inflict such damage. The enemy’s tactic is infiltration . . . of my mind.

But I know what to do with thisit’s in Ephesians 6: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s scheme.” vs. 10-11

I know a good bit about armor, so I can, in my mind, put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. It’s all there for me.

I think I’m ready. They make the announcement that the plane is ready to board. I’ve gone from anxiety to peace. It’s been quite a journey, and I haven’t even left the gate. I pick up my bag, and my heart relaxes with a refreshed joy in my mind, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Questions to Share:

1.When your mind tends to wander in the direction of worry, do you have some Scripture memorized to call you back to truth? Could you start with any of the verses that are in today’s devotion?

2.Pray that you and your spouse will make it a priority to “be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7)

3.Tell each other how you have gone from anxiety to peace because of the presence of the Lord in His Word.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Editor’s Note: I asked Diana Juergens, author of Wife of a Soldier, A Journey of Faith, to share with me her thoughts on parenting during deployment. Rich and Diana are the parents of eight daughters and had completed their sixth (or was it seventh?) deployment.  This devotion has been so popular that we are delighted to re-post it.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  —John 7:38

Parenting well during a deployment begins with our faith—which begins with belief in the truth of Scripture. Being “plugged in” to our source of faith, the Lord Jesus, allows us to be full of “living water” (the Holy Spirit) which will then flow through us to our children. To put it another way—as Jesus tells us in John 15:5—we are to “abide in the vine.” “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” God is making it very clear when He describes Himself as the vine and His people as the branches that the branches must abide (remain in, stay) in the vine to bear fruit. Without the vine, the branch is nothing. Both of these verses quoted point to the most important source for parenting—Jesus Christ. He is the provider of our strength, joy, wisdom, and discernment (the fruit of abiding) to care for and train up our children while our husbands are gone.

Our family just experienced a 15 month separation. As I look back, I can point to seven truths to share about parenting during deployment:

1. Your relationship with God must be a priority.

I made my time with God the first thing I did every morning. Even if I went to bed late, I chose to rise before my children in order to have time with God. I knew that extra hour of sleep would not make up for the kind of strength I would need as a geographical single parent.

2. Remember that you are setting an example for your children.

I was humbled when my oldest daughter told me, “Watching you respond through difficult times, knowing your heart was hurting, has demonstrated to me that your source of peace is God. By your example, I know Him to be my only source, too.” Sometimes I think that our children learn more by watching than they do by listening! Here are some questions to ask yourself: Do your children see you reading your Bible and praying? Are you being their example of faith to draw near to God (James 4:8), to allow God to be your refuge (Psalm 141:8), and to allow Him to be your source of joy (Habakkuk 3:18) in spite of your circumstances? Your Godly example will impact their journey of faith and their everyday life.

3. Make sure that you teach your children about the sovereignty of God.

The verse I read with my children is Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Knowing that God has chosen this time apart can give you the assurance that it is what is absolutely best for your lives. God loves us, and His Word confirms that He is good (Nahum 1:7). He uses all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). This deployment separation is a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how to trust God by embracing the new work which he wants to do in and through your family.

4. Pray.

As parents, we are to be shepherding our children according to God’s heart and with His knowledge and understanding (Jeremiah 3:15). The children and I begin the day in prayer and devotional time together—the keys to parenting during a long separation include daily prayer and time in God’s Word as a family. And during our times separated as a family, due to the calling placed on our soldier, we have learned to run to God when our hearts are hurting, afraid and overwhelmed. We stop what we are doing and let the tears fall as we cry out to God for His comfort and peace. He has intervened every time and provided exactly what we have needed. God has used these painful times to draw us each closer to Him. Each deployment has provided the circumstances that have taught our family life lessons of faith. We also use our devotional time as an opportunity to pray for the safety of our soldier and his unit, our nation’s president and those in leadership, and for the people within the nation to which my husband is deployed.

5. Discuss God’s purpose for this deployment.

We must encourage our children with examples from God’s Word, to believe that God knows exactly what He is doing. His goal is to always use our circumstances to increase our faith and trust in Him, while using us to touch other’s lives with His love. Memorizing Deuteronomy 32:4a (“He is the Rock, His work is perfect.”) will help you stay focused on the call placed on your lives, to be separated as a family for such a time as this (Esther 4:14b). You can make this even more real by locating the country to which your husband is deployed in an atlas and learning all you can about it and its people. Find an organization, like Voice of the Martyrs that will help you send care packages to the hurting people within that nation. You can also give your children a vision for the time apart by teaching them to serve others who are experiencing deployment and need help. Look for ways to use the gifts and talents within your family to reach out and be a blessing to others. There is no room for a sorrowful heart when you are serving and encouraging others. Many years ago my wise husband designated Matthew 5:16 as our family verse, and we seek to let our “light shine” to the glory of God.

6. Journal what God is doing in your family’s life.

Our family (including my husband while he is away) keeps a record of all God is doing in us and through us by journaling. An inspiration for this was Jeremiah 30:2. It has been a wonderful encouragement to our family as we read our entries and reread ones already written. Each entry is a new testimony of God’s plan and faithfulness.

7. Actually this one should be first—prepare your hearts in prayer before the deployment.

There is much to do to prepare for deployment, but don’t forget to pray that God will prepare your hearts, as a family, for what He will do while you are separated. Begin to pray for new opportunities to arise which will allow your family light to shine, to bring glory to God. Remember, He who has called you to this time apart is faithful. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

Questions to Share:

1. How can you implement the seven points above with your family during deployment?

2. Pray for God’s guidance to teach, lead, and love your children with grace and compassion—and wisdom—during this time of separation.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:13

Chuck Swindoll, one of our favorite preachers, loves to tell stories of when he was a Marine on active duty. These stories offer multiple illustrations for his sermons. So it was not a surprise that on Veterans Day he posted a special prayer on his ministry website—and also gave his thanks to all of you who serve so faithfully. We want to share his prayer with you today, in honor of your sacrificial service to our dear country:

Thank You, Father, for Your good hand upon our nation during times when we stood strong. And even when we have been weak and lacked the moral fiber that makes a nation great, You have still poured out Your protection and grace upon us. Thank You for Your favor.

How we thank You for those who have defended the freedom of our country—those who have spent their years believing in a cause that transcended their own safety . . . who surrendered the pleasure and comfort of home and family . . . who fought fierce and lengthy battles, carrying heavy weapons . . . and who stood firm in dark and difficult times when the conflict was dangerous and the enemy was near.

We thank You also for those who serve today, some of them in places where war has come up close and personal. Watch over them. Take care of them. We pray for their safe return. Comfort their family and loved ones whose arms ache for them. We also intercede for those who make difficult decisions by commanding our troops. We pray You would give them wisdom and integrity, keep them safe, use their strategy and intelligence for the betterment of this country and for the greater good of generations to come.

Our Father, we also acknowledge that You are a God of grace who has watched over us at all times. When we began as a country, You were there. When we fought amongst ourselves in that bloody Civil War, You were there. When we defended ourselves from enemies on both sides, You were there. You have been our Shepherd, and because of that, we lacked nothing. Thank You for being our shield and our defender, for the enduring promise of Your presence.

We commit to You the future of our land. We ask You to guide us and help us serve You faithfully. We pray that Your name will be honored in our future even more than in our past. May Your righteousness and glory continue to be exalted in this great nation.

All of this we ask in the name of Christ, our Savior. Amen.

And we say, “Thank you, Pastor Swindoll, for your great service to our country and to our Lord. May the Lord allow you to continue to serve well, both at your church in Frisco, Texas, and around the world through your writings and radio. In Jesus’ strong name. Amen.”

Work Cited:

Listen to Chuck Swindoll’s Veterans Day Prayer on www.Insight.org.
Learn more about Chuck Swindoll’s experience in the Marine Corps in the article, My Determined Purpose.

Questions to Share:

1. Who also served in the military in your family that you can remember in prayer today?

2. Read this prayer out loud to each other, if possible, or to someone with whom you serve.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. — I Timothy 3:14-16

Our beloved pastor preached one particular Sunday on the Church. I will share only a brief outline, followed by best practices which any church can apply in their own way to serve the military in their midst. But if you want to hear the entire sermon, click here.

The Apostle Paul gave Timothy encouragement and direction in how to lead his church, most likely in ancient Ephesus. The instruction is valid today, and worthy of examination.

A. From I Timothy 3:15a we Remember what the church is:

  1. It is a family. Paul describes the church as the house, or household, of God, depending on the translation. Paul’s metaphor here is not that of a building—but of a family. Believers are members of a unique and special family, and this same truth is emphasized in Ephesians 2:19: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” Also in Galatians 6:10 we read, “Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
  2. It is the assembly of the living God. It is God’s church, His family. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that the church is “God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:14). Because God dwells in us, when we come together we come as “the church of the living God.” “And in Him you too are being built up together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)

B. Pastor John’s second point is that in I Timothy 3:15b we Recognize what the church does:

  1. The church is the defender of truth. In other words it guards and protects the precious truths of God’s word. The church has the sacred stewardship of the Scriptures. It is the church and the church alone which has been tasked with providing the solid bedrock of truth as found in God’s word.
  2. The church is light shining in darkness. Every church should stand against the prevailing tide of a sinful culture.
  3. The church is stability to the individual believer. We are in accountable relationships, for the good of each other. There should be within the body of Christ a willingness to be held accountable and a willingness to hold others accountable.
  4. The church is the avenue by which we serve and encourage one another. In Hebrews 10:24 we read: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
  5. The church is the agent by which the Great Commission is carried out. Paul writes in I Thessalonians 1:8: “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out . . . “

C. His last sermon point was: From I Timothy 3:16 we Recommit to Whom the church belongs:

After explaining what the church is and does, Paul goes into a praise chorus focused upon the person of Jesus. Why? The more you focus upon Jesus—the more you love Jesus—the more you will love the church and be committed to it. The church will be effective and productive and healthy and useful when glorifying, exalting, and lifting up Christ remains the central theme of all that we do.

The church is the family of God—the assembly of the living God. The church is the defender of truth—the light shining in darkness—the place of accountability and encouragement—the place to serve—and place that helps us to go on. And above all else—the church is led by Jesus—and therefore we say “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21)

We can take what Pastor John has laid out before us as an exposition of God’s word and apply it in our churches and chapels in order to serve those who serve our country so faithfully. Remember, if you believe in the sovereignty of God, military members come to your church or chapel for a reason—but they will only be there for a season.

So our question is, how will you Respond in order to minister to military members and families during that season so that they go on to their next assignment or deployment at a higher level of spiritual maturity?

Here are some best practices which my husband and I have observed and recorded (we use the word “church” to refer to both churches and chapels):

  1. Prayer. If your church has a prayer meeting, a prayer team, or a prayer list, make sure your military members and families are on it, at their request. They need your prayers!
  2. Hospitality. Practice hospitality. Military members and families are delighted to be included in meal times at members’ homes—after church or during the week.
  3. Small Group. Consider offering a small group Bible study or “life group” for your military members, both as in-reach to provide fellowship with a common bond and as an outreach to bring in other military members searching for spiritual growth.
  4. Ask Good Questions. A church needs to approach a military member or family and ask good questions: “How can we serve you during your time here?” “How can we pray for you?” “What can we do to get you to the next level of spiritual training before sending you to your next assignment?”
  5. Marriage Enrichment. Form a Marriage Enrichment Team in your church to serve your married couples with small group and seminar training. Military couples (singles, too) particularly need training in their relationships because of the unique challenges they encounter.
  6. Special Days. Special emphases (or banquets) on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and 4th of July are always appropriate times to honor our military. Suggest that the military wear their uniforms on one of these days—even the veterans!
  7. “Commissioning”. Before military members and families PCS, invite them to the front of the church during or at the close of worship for a special time of prayer. This can be considered a “commissioning” as you send them off to minister/serve at their new duty station.
  8. Staff Training. Provide periodic education to your pastoral staff to ensure they remain keenly aware and appreciative of the unique challenges of military life. Hopefully they will be supportive, encouraging, and open to new ideas for helping.
  9. Childcare. Anytime a study is formed or group is organized with military members and families include a plan for childcare, if possible.
  10. Support Groups and Bible Studies. Consider offering a support group/Bible study group for those with combat trauma, or those who have a loved one with combat trauma. The books The Combat Trauma Healing Manual and When War Comes Home are excellent resources for these groups. A Bridges to Healing seminar might pave the way for this group to begin in your church.
  11. Establish a Reputation. Sign on to the Military Missions Network (MMN) as a “military friendly” or a “military focused” church. Acquaint your Missions Team with MMN’s “The 4th Missionary Journey” and the new web portal MilitaryBeliever.com!! www.militarymissionsnetwork.com.
  12. Relocation Services. Before they PCS, make sure that your military member and families are pointed to a like-minded church from your denomination or the Military Missions Network at their new duty station. This helps them to take steps to get connected immediately upon arrival.
  13. People of calling. Be aware that the calling of First Responders is very similar to the military calling. Your church may desire to incorporate First Responders into ministry to military.

During the deployment cycle your church can also actively participate:

  1.  Before Deployment. Schedule a time for the military member and spouse to spend with the pastoral staff, Sunday school teacher, or deacons. This is a time to set up accountability, to encourage, and to make sure that the needs of the family at home are discussed and assigned to appropriate church members.
  2. Before Deployment. Call the service member and family up to the front of the church for a special time of prayer.
  3. During Deployment. Assign someone to email daily or weekly prayers, devotions and/or sermons to the deployed service members as a group. Our church uses Oswald Chambers’ daily prayers to email to our deployed group.
  4. During Deployment. Remember the Holidays! The Sunday School classes can send each deployed member care packages and holiday greeting cards. Don’t forget to honor the family at home with special giftings.
  5. During Deployment. Support those at home. Consider offering a support group for the wives/husbands of those deployed. It might be a good opportunity to do a Bible study like Loving Your Military Man.
  6. During Deployment. If the military member agrees, make their addresses available to the church body either in the bulletin or on the A-V screen for further communication and as a prayer reminder.
  7. After Deployment. Recognize the service member and family for their sacrificial service after the deployment. You may want to give them an opportunity to speak, to thank the church for support, and/or to give their testimony of how God worked in their lives during their time of deployment.

In summary, the church is a precious gift from God and we should never take it for granted. To God be the Glory!

Hebrews 10:25—“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Questions to Share:

1.  What church “best practices” can you identify as particularly helpful to you and your spouse during deployments?

2.  If you are not an active member of a local church, pray that the Lord would lead you to one.  If you are a member, consider how you can pray for your pastor and the church.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. . . . But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love. — Psalm 31:9,10,14-16

The Combat Trauma Healing Manual: Christ-centered Solutions for Combat Trauma is filled with truth that helps and heals. My copy of this life-valuable book has underlines, highlights, stars and check marks in the margins, brackets, and notes—page after page. But one of my favorite parts is in the back—in the Appendix. The appendices are filled with important information—from how to know God personally to symptoms of PTSD to Scripture for use in spiritual warfare. Then there is Appendix D, with the interesting title of “Prayer Life of a PTSD Victor: King David.”

There are three sections of prayers in this six page appendix—“Prayers of a Wounded Warrior,” “Promises to a Wounded Warrior,” and “Praises from a Wounded Warrior.” I will give a sample of each, but first we must ask the question “Who was King David?” and “Why do we believe he was a PTSD sufferer?”

The Bible refers to King David as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) because of David’s tremendous obedience and love for the LORD as voiced in the book of Psalms. David grew up tending his father’s sheep in the hills around Bethlehem before being anointed by the prophet Samuel (I Samuel 16) to succeed Saul, Israel’s first king. We then read the great Old Testament story of David and Goliath (I Samuel 17), and witness years of running from the murderous King Saul.  The story continues with David’s eventual ascension to the throne, his leadership of Israel in numerous military victories, and then his disastrous adultery with Bathsheba followed by the painful consequences of that sinful act.

What would lead the author of The Combat Trauma Healing Manual to believe that King David was victorious in his battle with PTSD? The author, Rev. Chris Adsit, writes: “Because David recognized that God was his Healer, his only hope of escape from his distress. When you read many of David’s Psalms, you are reading the writings of a man in process. He fought with depression, guilt, fear, anger, despair—probably many of the same emotions you (the reader) fight with. But in practically every one of his Psalms, you will see him lifting his eyes and his hopes to God.” (p. 165)

From the book of Psalms here is an example of “Prayers of a Wounded Warrior”:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You. My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me, ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life.” — Psalm 42:1-3,5,8

“Since I am afflicted and needy, let the LORD be mindful of me. You are my help and deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” — Psalm 40:17

David’s confidence in the faithfulness of God is expressed in the section “Promises to a Wounded Warrior”:

“The LORD will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” — Psalm 9:9,10

“You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” — Psalm 16:11

Make David’s praises to God in “Praises from a Wounded Warrior” to be your heart-felt praises:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.” — Psalm 40:1-3

“If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, ‘My foot has slipped,’ Your lovingkindness will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” — Psalm 94:17-19

Rev. Adsit closes his words in this appendix with this, “We hope that you will identify with this man who, despite his courage, skills and accomplishments, was only a man. He was a man who recognized his need for a Savior, and his need for God’s help. He’s a good man for us to imitate as we grow through our dark days.” (p. 165)

Our prayer is that the knowledge of King David’s PTSD struggle and victory will be an encouragement to you who share this struggle.

Work Cited:

Adsit, Rev. Chris, The Combat Trauma Healing Manual: Christ-Centered Solutions for Combat Trauma (Newport News: Military Ministry Press, 2007)

Questions to Share:

1. Do you identify with any of the feelings David expressed in the prayers, promises and praises quoted above?

2. David proclaims his despair and then his dependence on God. Take a moment to express your concerns to God and then thank Him for His faithfulness to help and heal.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16

I received an email from a friend today—deployed and with limited internet connectivity. She grabbed the cyber-opportunity to let me know how she was doing physically/mentally/spiritually and added: “ . . . went last night to my first women’s Bible study session here. It’s a small group that just got started a few weeks ago and we don’t have a formal study yet, but the fellowship will be invaluable.”

I cheered! The fellowship of believers in a small group is absolutely invaluable—priceless! To know that there is a core gathering of like-minded souls who will listen, pray for her, encourage her and whom she can encourage, understand and extend grace, teach and counsel, and hold her accountable—well, it warmed my heart. She’s living in 125 degree heat, but my heart was equally warmed by her news.

This was a good time for me to review some of the principles of small group study found in the classic The Ultimate Road Trip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups. Granted, we don’t know who will be leading my friend’s group, but the value of their gathering brings to mind that there are experiences on the battle front and on the home front which may cause a small group to have to be uniquely flexible (understatement).

So here are a few elements, just for reminders:

God never intended us to live the Christian life alone. . . God created us to use our strengths and abilities to build each other up. In small groups, different members of the body of Christ work together to encourage each other and build up the entire body of Christ. (p. 20)

People are God’s ultimate concern. . . When God became man, He said His purpose was to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He was talking about people. (p. 30)

All small group leaders need to be in the process of developing certain qualities: godly character, compassion, competence, and commitment. (p. 25)

On the Front (battle or home), the one who is the leader, or facilitator, of a small group may vary from week to week. Some weeks your group may be led to just share and pray. . . .other weeks you may have the opportunity to delve into Scripture for an extended time. Some weeks you may not even be able to meet, but you (somehow) want to stay “connected” and intentional about checking up on each other.

These four leadership qualities: godly character, compassion, competence, and commitment are spelled out in Scripture for us. None of us is perfect, nor is the leader required to be. But we are to learn and grow together. Stepping out in faith and spending time together learning about the Lord and growing in His grace is what this small group adventure is all about.

I. Godly Character—found in Colossians 3:1-17:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The need to be in the Bible, to confess your sins, and to seek to honor God in and through your life are steps to growth in godly character.

II. Compassion—found in Matthew 9:35-38:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Loving concern for those in your group will grow as you meet together and share needs, challenges, and victories.

III. Competence—found in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6:

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Humility and faithfulness are two qualities which group leaders and members appreciate in each other. As you depend on the Lord, He will develop your abilities.

IV. Commitment—found in I Corinthians 15:58:

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Trust in the Lord to grow your group spiritually in His ways and in His time.

“My brethren. . .let us plainly and freely tell one another what God has done for our souls. To this end you would do well, as others have done, to form yourselves into little companies of four or five each and meet once a week to tell each other what is in your hearts that you may pray for and comfort one another as need may require. None but they who have experienced it can tell the unspeakable advantage of such communion of souls. None, I think, that truly loves his own soul and his brethren as himself will be shy of opening his heart in order to have their advice, reproof, admonition and prayer as occasions require. A sincere person will esteem it one of the greatest blessings.” (p. 5) from George Whitefield, 18th century evangelist in America

Work Cited:

Campus Crusade for Christ authors, The Ultimate Road Trip: A Guide to Leading Small Groups (Orlando: CruPress, Third Edition/2008).

Questions to Share:

1. Is there an opportunity for you to join a small group of Christians in prayer or Bible study during this deployment? If not, would you consider starting such a group?
2. How would you like to see God grow you spiritually during this deployment? (in trust? in prayer? in Scripture memory? in sharing your faith?)  How would being part of a small group help to make that happen?

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. —Colossians 3:13

If I’ve done something wrong, I’m sorry.”

“. . . . and I’ll try not to do it again, but I can’t guarantee anything.”

“I was wrong to _____, but it was really your fault.”

Have you ever heard statements like these, or maybe even said them yourself? Clumsy apologies—if you can even call them apologies. And in marriage a bad apology, or lack of an apology, can begin to cost you the whole relationship.

My favorite book on apologies is by the same author of the marriage classic, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman. His experience in counseling has led him to conclude that just as people have five ways in which they feel loved, there are also five ways in which we can express an apology. That’s a simplistic way of explaining this profound observation, but hopefully you’ll get the point. The name of the book is The Five Languages of Apology, and Dr. Chapman was joined in the authorship by psychologist and counselor Dr. Jennifer Thomas.

To some, an apology cannot stop with a simple “I’m sorry.” That just doesn’t cut it. The steps which may need to follow are “I was wrong”; “What can I do to make it right?”; “I’ll try not to do that again”; and “Will you please forgive me?” Chapter-by-chapter, Drs. Chapman and Thomas take us through the importance of each of these statements, starting with chapter one on “Why Apologize?” and ending with the last chapter entitled, “What If We All Learned to Apologize Effectively?”

I’ve heard people say, “I’m just not good at apologizing.” Here is what the authors have to say in their conclusion about that:

“The art of apologizing is not easy, but it can be learned, and it is worth the effort. Apologizing opens up a whole new world of emotional and spiritual health. Having apologized, we are able to look ourselves in the mirror, look people in the eyes, and worship God ‘in spirit and in truth.’ It is those who truly apologize who are most likely to be truly forgiven. . . . If apologizing were a way of life, no walls would be built. Relationships would be authentic. Certainly people would fail, but the failures would be dealt with in an open and honest manner. Regret would be expressed; responsibility would be accepted. Restitution would be made. Genuine repentance would be our intention. . . .” p. 234

Perhaps you would ask, are apologies in the Bible? Look at the first twelve verses of Psalm 51, David’s great confession to God of war-time adultery with Bathsheba:

Verses 1 and 2:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;
According to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

Does this sound like “I am sorry”?

Verses 3 and 4:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are proved right when You speak and justified when You judge.”

Does this sound like “I was wrong”?

Verses 5 and 6:

“Surely I have been a sinner from birth,
Sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely You desire truth in the inner parts;
You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”

Does this sound like “What can I do to make it right?”

Verses 7-10:

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness;
Let the bones You have crushed rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Does this sound like “I’ll try not to do that again”?

Verses 11 and 12:

“Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Does this sound like “Will you please forgive me?”

Verses 13 and 14 take us to the result of God’s forgiveness of our sins. . . . and we can see how that forgiveness would then allow us to forgive others:

“Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.”

And because God forgives, David declares exactly that in Psalm 103, “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.”  (vs. 3,4)  In the New Testament, the Apostle John makes a great statement of faith and forgiveness when he writes, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:8,9)  God is the great forgiver, and when we forgive we are demonstrating His grace in our lives.

The result of forgiveness, ours and others, is peace—and praise. And during deployment there are plenty of opportunities for misunderstandings—which can lead to guilt, resentment, stubbornness, and bitterness if not properly dealt with by apologies and forgiveness.

Contrary to the line from the 1970s movie Love Story, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”, the truth is that love means often having to say you’re sorry—and extending forgiveness just as many times. No ifs, ands, or buts about it!

Work cited:

Chapman, Gary, and Thomas, Jennifer, The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2006)

Questions to Share:

1. Have you learned to take responsibility for mistakes? When or where did you learn this?

2. Have you learned to grant forgiveness to those who have hurt you? When or where did you learn this?

3. Is there someone whom you need to apologize to? Is there someone you need to forgive? Spend time in prayer seeking God’s guidance and strength for this.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Editor’s Note: There are fifty-two good quotes here about married life. That’s one for every week of the year. Enjoy!

“Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”—Matthew 19:4-6

“In the ultimate sense, your marriage has nothing to do with your spouse. It has everything to do with your relationship to Jesus Christ.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in Love and Respect

“My marriage has been gloriously hard at times. I say gloriously, because if it had not been hard I wouldn’t have sought God to help me make it through the hard. The hard is a mighty tool in the Maker’s hand. The hard has caused me to allow Him to chisel away at the selfish parts of me.” Tracey Eyster in “After 25 Years, Am I Part of a ‘Dying Breed?’”

“Prayer guarantees that I am seeing my role as father for what it really is—a spiritual calling, the most important assignment God will ever give me.” Paul Lewis in Secrets of a Winning Dad

“Our marriage is a reflection of what happens in our relationship with God. The more time we spend with Him, the more we know Him, the more we become like Him.” Bea Fishback in Loving Your Military Man

“In a Christian marriage, conflict—with its demands for confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation—is a means God employs to teach humility.” D. H. Small

“(Marriage is) an unrelenting guerilla warfare against selfishness.” Mike Mason in The Mystery of Marriage

“Whatever else may be said about the home, it is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out. It is the place where life’s bills come due, the single most influential force in our earthly existence . . .It is at home, among family members, that we come to terms with circumstances. It is here life makes up its mind.” Chuck Swindoll

“So when you are working on your family you are working on the good of this nation and on the good of the Kingdom of God around the world.” Dr. Gary Chapman

“The greatest gift my parents & grandparents gave me was the realization that I was not the most important person in their lives, neither was my brother, neither were they to each other. No one was more important to them than God. I learned that everyone’s life is a story whose point is discovered only when that story is lifted up into the larger story of God. We are not the point—none of us. God is, and until we see our story as a subplot in His eternal drama we will never see the meaning of life. I learned that lesson from my father as he taught me the value of God.” Ken Gire in Thanks, Dad

“The longer I live, the more convinced I am that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Chuck Swindoll

“That I cannot change my spouse is an often recited truth, but that I can and do influence my spouse is a truth often overlooked. . .” Dr. Gary Chapman in Loving Solutions

“Of all the leadership decisions I have made by the grace of God, the very best one has been leading my wife and family into our local church . . .We are a part of it. It is a part of us and our entire family. For us, life, marriage, and raising children apart from the local church is literally unimaginable. Friends, this should be the norm, not the exception, for every Christian. And regardless of the cultural whirlwind around us, it is the local church—Christians living a shared life biblically before God and one another—that will ultimately secure the place and role of marriage and family from generation to generation.” Gary & Betsy Ricucci in Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace

“Relationships move at the speed of trust.” Unknown

“The Bible begins with a wedding and it ends with a wedding; the greatest love song in human literature is in the center, and Christ’s first miracle sanctifies a wedding . . . my conviction is that 90 percent of the problems in marriage result directly from sin, and that obedience to the plain teaching of Scripture would of itself, in most cases, produce the kind of marriage God intends.” Robertson McQuilkin in An Introduction to Biblical Ethics

“God’s primary call on our lives is not to activity but to a relationship with Him . . . Once people have their relationships with God made right, their other relationships are inevitably affected.” Henry & Richard Blackaby in Fresh Encounter

“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Letters and Papers from Prison

“Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for his family.” John Piper in “Desiring God”

“No one can be responsible for success unless he is willing to accept responsibility for failure as well. True in business, marriage, and all life.” Edwin Louis Cole in Maximized Manhood

“Decision making for the Christian couple should not be reduced to an issue of who is right and who is wrong, or who is in charge and who is following. Instead, a husband and wife should seek to discover God’s will on a daily basis by talking things out together with an attitude that trusts God, committed to doing what He leads them to do.” Dennis & Barbara Rainey in Staying Close

“Prayer sanctifies trouble to our highest good.” E.M. Bounds in Prayer

Married life is a marathon, not a sprint. It is not enough to make a great start toward long-term marriage. You will need the determination to keep plugging on, even when every fiber of your body longs to quit.” Dr. James Dobson in Love for a Lifetime

“Since the husband’s love for his wife pictures Christ’s love for the church, it must also be the kind of love that outlasts every trial and overcomes every obstacle.” John MacArthur in The Fulfilled Family

“A safe home is a place where people always think the best of each other.” Robert Wolgemuth in The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One

“She’s got Gaps. . . I got Gaps . . . Together we fill Gaps.”  Rocky

“The more we create channels through which His love can flow into our love, the greater our love will be.” Charlie Shedd in Letters to Karen

“We thought we were doing the dishes. But we were doing what families have been doing for centuries: working together, laughing together, and learning to love each other in the process. And this was all happening in the kitchen—the most important place inside the most important place!” Robert Wolgemuth in The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One

“She deeply needs to know that you understand how she’s feeling.” Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn in For Men Only

“Just as we love to hear ‘I love you,’ a man’s heart is powerfully touched by a few simple words: ‘I’m so proud of you.’” Shaunti Feldhahn in For Women Only

“A good marriage takes two good forgivers.” Credited to Ruth Bell Graham

“Remember that the original design for marriage is oneness.” Bob & Cheryl Moeller in The Marriage Miracle

“Did you realize that your marriage affects God’s reputation on this planet?” Dennis & Barbara Rainey in Staying Close

“ . . . I wish somebody had told me for my first years as a husband: 1. Never point in derision to something she can’t change; 2. Never criticize her in public; 3. Never compare her unfavorably with other women; 4. Never drop a delayed bomb; 5. Never go away when she is crying; 6. Never lay a hand on her except in love.” Charlie Shedd in Letters to Philip

“People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If we understand that, it may help us process their criticism in a more productive manner.” Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages

“An attitude of ‘Thank you’ is pure magic at your house.” Robert Wolgemuth in The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One

“The biblical understanding of sexual roles is essential to the survival and success of the Christian family.” Dennis Rainey in One Home at a Time

“Where sin abounds in a marriage, the grace of God can transform that marriage so that, in the end, grace is greater than all of the sin.” Jay E. Adams in Solving Marriage Problems

“Marriages fail because one or both spouses harden their hearts. . . If two hardened hearts will destroy a marriage, then two softened hearts will heal a marriage.” Bob & Cheryl Moeller in The Marriage Miracle

“Every marriage saved affects hundreds of other couples.” Dr. Gary Chapman in Covenant Marriage

“One of my favorite verses in the Bible to use in premarital counseling is not one you would probably call to mind quickly: ‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain’ (Exodus 20:7). The reason for this verse? This verse relates not to cursing, as many people seem to think, but to the seriousness of vows that we make in the name of the Lord. “ Tommy Nelson in The Book of Romance

“It is true that you marry the family.” Jay E. Adams in Solving Marriage Problems

“If you’re trying to find your primary refuge in your husband, if you’ve centered your hope on him, if your security depends on his approval, and if you will do almost anything to gain his acceptance—then you’ve just given to a man what rightfully belongs to God alone.” Gary Thomas in Sacred Influence

“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Martin Luther

“Anger management doesn’t make any more sense than hate management or lust management. You don’t manage sin, you get rid of it.” Bob & Cheryl Moeller in The Marriage Miracle

“Hold hands everywhere. . . When you hold hands, you are telling the world: you are in love; God was right in bringing you two together; you are fulfilling God’s plan by filling each others’ gaps; you want to honor God by your commitment to each other.” Jim & Barbara Grunseth in Remember the Rowboats: Anchor Your Marriage to Christ

“When a couple learns to share on the emotional level and can understand and experience each others’ feelings, they are well on their way to achieving true intimacy.” H. Norman Wright in Communication: Key to Your Marriage

“Romance dies when couples forget the preciousness of their mates. Spouses too often come to take each other for granted, and they lose sight of just how special they are to each other. Romance requires intention, care, and focus.” Tommy Nelson in The Book of Romance

“So, according to Paul, where should we start when we find ourselves in a hurting marriage that has left us hopeless, weak, and defeated? We focus on God, that’s number one. And, of course, we do this through prayer.” George Kenworthy in Before the Last Resort: 3 Simple Questions to Rescue Your Marriage

“We are ‘daily’ people, not life-time people, but God wants us to be eternal people. How I wish someone had asked me to visualize my funeral at the beginning of my marriage.” Linda Dillow in What’s It Like to be Married to Me?

“Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment.” Dr. Gary Chapman in The Five Love Languages

“Keeping first things first makes second things better. Staying in love isn’t the first task of marriage. It is a happy overflow of covenant-keeping for Christ’s sake.” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage

“A God-honoring marriage is not created by finding a flawless spouse but by allowing God’s perfect love and acceptance to flow through an imperfect person (you) toward another imperfect person (your spouse).” Dennis & Barbara Rainey in Building Your Marriage to Last

“I see the Family as a divinely appointed tool, an instrument to impact a hungry and thirsty society with the reality of Jesus Christ in human experience.”  Dr. Howard Hendricks

Questions to Share:

1. Which of the quotes above is your favorite? Why?

2. Which of the quotes above is your least favorite? Why?

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