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
It all started at a church near Ft. Hood, Texas. We were meeting with the church-sponsored “Heroes” group—Army families who are either experiencing deployment, or redeployment and reintegration. It was a great night, with lots of good food and discussion. I asked the question, “During your last deployment, what would have helped?” A young wife named Tammy looked right at me and said, “An online devotional—that would have helped. . .one designed for military.” At that moment, when her eyes met mine, Excellent or Praiseworthy was born.
And so it launched on September 11, 2007. We did not plan for it to begin on 9/11—that’s just when all of the necessary pieces came together. Seems symbolic and appropriate, however, considering the impact that 9/11 has had on all of our lives in this great nation, especially our military families. On this September 11th our nation remembers the tremendous sacrifice made by those who died in the face of the enemy named terrorism. We shall never forget such heroism and courage displayed that day and the days since as you defend and protect our country. And with these devotions we seek to serve you as you so faithfully serve us.
The name for this website came from Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Those in the military who are assigned the duty of defending our nation and liberating foreign nations have sacrificed much. We believe our calling in this online devotional is to offer a chance for couples to think on things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable in order to keep them spiritually connected and growing during their time of separation.
In the past ten years, we have posted 1,073 devotions—every Monday night and Thursday night. The hope is that in the interval time between Tuesday and Friday couples will have the opportunity to read and discuss the “questions to share” over email or telephone. And many, many have. We know the site has been accessed approximately 284,000 times—from literally all over the world (192 countries–including Vanuatu?). And we know those readers are merely a subset of the total readership. Many “hits” are not recorded in our analytical data because the location of the internet servers is invisible to us for security reasons.
This large readership has been heartwarming and encouraging. Our goal has been to provide a reading which will give a couple something to read and share, prompting them to communicate at the “heart level” through Scripture, a story, and the “Questions to Share”. If a commitment to marriage is a commitment to communication, then couples who can communicate what they think and feel, without becoming defensive or feeling threatened by rejection, are couples who can weather a tough situation together. Whether by phone, letter, email, webcam, or texting, a couple needs to be creative and intentional—and willing to share at the heart level—in order to finish the deployment strong.
One reader commented: “One of the challenges my husband and I faced this past year was remaining spiritually connected when separated by miles. Once I came across the ‘Excellent or Praiseworthy’ card the military ministry leader at church had given me and got on the website, we wanted to use the ‘EorP’ devotional as a springboard to spiritual conversations, with both of us reading it prior to our phone calls. My husband and I jumped on that bandwagon late in his deployment, but I would love to equip the families who are facing pending deployments with that tool. It is a very effective ‘spiritual glue’ for separated couples.”
We have had 38 writers join this collaborative effort—providing spiritual lessons from their unique deployment stories. We are so grateful for these writers, and continue to look for more. In 2008 we added “categories.” You will notice that the devotions are in one (or more) of five categories: Prayer, Marriage and Family, Lessons from History, Spiritual Training, and National Guard/Reserves. Obviously there is overlap in these, so we encourage you to explore the entire website for helpful devotional material categorized by topic. Through the ten years we have also added photos, and even videos. We continue to look for ways to serve you better.
A popular feature has been “The Deployment Dare”. All forty days from the popular book The Love Dare have been re-considered to meet the challenges of “doing the Love Dare” while geographically separated by deployment. If you haven’t already, check it out!
We have observed, met and heard stories about couples who are growing closer together in their marriage relationship during deployment. Some of these stories form the basis of EorP devotions. We have also observed, met and heard stories of individuals who are growing closer to the Lord during deployment—and we believe that the two are linked. Growing closer to the Lord will result in a closer marital bond—as God is the source of all oneness in marriage.
The legacy for the family of a couple who is intentional about their spiritual development—even in the face of the difficulties and challenges of deployment during war time—will impact generations to come for the Lord. After all, He is the one that holds couples together. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). He is the One whom we serve, the One whom we love, the One whom we follow. . . .and our desire is to be like Him. Thank you for your devotion to our Lord and Savior, and may God richly bless you as you serve our country!
“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” — Ephesians 3:16-21
Questions to Share:
1. In what ways do we, as a couple, desire to grow closer to each other during this deployment?
2. In what ways do I, as an individual, desire to grow closer to the Lord during this deployment?
3. How are these two desires connected?