A devotional to help military families stay connected during deployments

Counter-Fear Tactics

Written by Jocelyn. Filed Under Marriage & Family, Spiritual Training

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”Psalm 91:4-6

As Sonja held down the fort while her husband Jason was deployed, she quickly saw the need to go on the offensive against spirits of fear, worry, resentment, anger and bitterness. Instead of waiting for discouragement to invade and occupy her home, she countered it at every turn by wielding the Sword of Truth: God’s Word.

Her tactic was simple: she printed Scripture verses off her computer and stuck them all around her house with Scotch tape so God’s Word would constantly be before her eyes and the eyes of her children.

Taped next to her bathroom mirror: Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might (Psalm 21:13).

Taped inside her kitchen cupboard: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me (Psalm 23:4).

Taped above her dresser: He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7).

Taped in her living room: But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (Psalm 73:28).

The result was powerful. Instead of dwelling on the unknown of the future, Sonja chose to dwell on what she did know—that God is good, and God is in control. Even after Jason returned from deployment the following year, Sonja left those verses hanging around their home.

Without God, I couldn’t have made it,” she said. “I needed comfort and peace, and He gave it to me. That is just amazing. Jason and I prayed with each other through email. We would speak to each other about God and Scriptures to lift our spirits. God’s presence was really strong.”

Sonja was able to ward off attacks from the Enemy by claiming God’s truths. Meditating on Scripture cleared her mind and heart of the swirling negative thoughts that threatened to consume her. We can do the same.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Prayer: “Lord, give me the discipline I need to study and memorize your Word.”

Questions to Share:

1. Which Scripture verses would you like to put around your home or quarters?

2. Pray these verses (Numbers 6:24-26) for your spouse, “May the Lord bless ___ and keep ____. May the Lord make His face to shine upon ____ and be gracious to ____; may the Lord lift up His countenance upon ____ and give _____peace.” Then personalize this prayer for yourself by putting “me” in the blanks.

Jocelyn Green is the co- author (with Jane Hampton Cook and John Croushorn) of Battlefields and Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq and Afghanistan from which this devotional is excerpted, with permission. Jocelyn is also the author of Faith Deployed and the website www.faithdeployed.com.

PTSD Prayers of King David

Written by Linda. Filed Under Lessons from History, Prayer

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.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.  —  Lamentations 3:40

Bob and Cheryl Moeller do a great job of ministering and training singles—in the disciplines of the faith, in their spiritual walk as singles, and in their lives of dating and preparation for marriage.

Recently on their website, ForKeepsMinistries.com, Bob included his list of “Ten Things I Did Right, Ten Things I Did Wrong” from his own season of singleness, with the Scriptures which inspired his reflections:

Ten Things I Did Right

Right Thing #1—I decided God’s will for my life was more important than my own dreams for marriage.

“He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42,43).

Right Thing #2—I chose to develop my gifts and calling rather than spending my life on pursuing pleasure.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6,7).

Right Thing #3—I decided if God closed a door in a relationship I would not try and kick it in.

“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas” (Acts 16:6-8).

Right Thing #4—I learned from the mistakes of those closest to me and developed a healthy fear of sin.

“A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD” (Proverbs 19:3).

Right Thing #5—I looked for a person willing to risk it all on Jesus and give Him a blank check on their life.

“However, I consider my life worthy nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Right Thing #6—I learned lessons from each relationship even when it ended in supposed failure.

“ . . . for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16).

Right Thing #7—I found someone who shared my basic values and convictions in life.

“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”  (Amos 3:3)

Right Thing #8—I looked for someone whose mind and heart attracted me as much as their looks.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30)

Right Thing #9—I listened to the advice of others who loved and cared about me.

“If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends’” (Zechariah 13:6).

Right Thing #10—I decided that if I got married it would be for better, for worse, and for keeps.

“’Haven’t you read,’ he 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 men not separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Ten Things I Did Wrong

Wrong Thing #1—While dating, I worked too long and too hard to make some relationships work that were never going to work.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven . . . a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away . . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4-6)

Wrong Thing #2—I let myself become too discouraged and too depressed when relationships turned out differently than what I had wanted.

“I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together . . . The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:1-3,18)

Wrong Thing #3—I spent too much time looking on in envy at those who were already in relationships.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).

Wrong Thing #4—I confused intense infatuation with true love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres . . . When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me” (I Corinthians 13:4-7,11).

Wrong Thing #5—I failed to appreciate the impact my damaged heart had on my relationships.

“Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning’” (Matthew 19:8).

Wrong Thing #6—I was often less than honest in telling the other person when I knew the relationship was over.

“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25).

Wrong Thing #7—I believed the other person could and should fill the hole in my heart. Only God can do that.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Wrong Thing #8—I became way too judgmental, unkind and unforgiving when I discovered the hidden faults and shortcomings of the other person I was dating.

“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1).

Wrong Thing #9—I ignored obvious warning signs in the other person’s past behavior, emotional make-up and family system believing love would conquer all.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3).

Wrong Thing #10—I let my own self-focus take over my thinking, emotions and behavior.

“An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1).

Perhaps these lists could summarize your life experience, but Bob captured your reflections much better than you could. Perhaps you are examining your dating relationships and there is guidance in these lists which you can use—or perhaps pass on to others.

If you want more on this topic of dating and singleness, there is a new book out which we highly recommend. By well-known author of Sacred Marriage, it is Sacred Search by Gary Thomas.

Even though this posting does not directly cover matters of a military marriage, especially dealing with deployment, we trust God will use it to challenge your thinking about relationships . . . and perhaps to pass it along to encourage someone within your sphere of influence who is dealing with these issues.

Questions to Share:

1.  When you think back to your dating days, what do you believe you did right and did wrong?

2.  Based on the “Things I Did Right” list, choose one that you and your spouse did right and discuss how you could see God working in your relationship even during those early days.

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” Philippians 2:1,2

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. –Proverbs 16:9

Where’s our next assignment? Where do we go next—or do we get out?

Ever asked those questions?  Of course . . . it’s part of being in the military. We seem to routinely assess our current assignments, and then decide what the options are for our next move.

Of course filling out a “dream sheet” can bring out negativity in all of us—with the cynical attitude that we will NOT get what we put down as first, or even last, choice! After all, we have come to know that the needs of the military always come first, right? Knowing that to be true challenges our desire to have some control over our lives and brings us reluctantly to humble ourselves before authority.

I recently heard a sermon from Dr. Stephen Davey of Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina, in which he quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the attitude of humility. Bonhoeffer, the great author and theologian martyred by the Nazis for his faithful stand during World War II, referred to the “discipline of humility” in this way:  “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our path and canceling our plans; Christians [may not] want their lives crossed or [interrupted]. But it is part of the discipline of humility; we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God.”

Accepting God’s sovereignty means facing assignments at inopportune times to dangerous or unfamiliar places. Recognizing complicating factors, we are often called on to go to places we absolutely do not want to go.

Fifteen years ago I took notes on a sermon preached at an ordination service for a young pastor. In it, the “older” pastor charged this younger pastor to go four places. I find this sermon relevant today—because the role of leadership as a Christian, in whatever arena of life (civilian or military), calls us to go these same four places.

So if the question for our next assignment—or for life—is “where do I go?”, then these four locations, from an older mentor, are for you:

1) “Go to the Upper Room, where Jesus shows a servant’s heart.”

“ . . . so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, ‘Lord, are You going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ . . . ‘Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:4-9,14-15).

2) “Go to Gethsemene, where Jesus shows a surrendered heart to do the will of God.”

“The Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.’ Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with Me for one hour?’ He asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.’ When He came back, He again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So He left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing” (Matthew 26:36-44).

3) Go to the Cross, where Jesus shows a sacrificial heart.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).

4) Go to the Tomb, where the power of His resurrection shows a supernatural heart.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” (John 20:1-8).

Do you wonder where you will go next? As my husband always tells Christian service members awaiting assignments, “Your orders are cut at a much higher level than your service’s military personnel center!” While you humbly wait, go to the Upper Room and serve like Jesus. Go to Gethsemane and obey like Jesus. Go to the cross, and live sacrificially as Jesus died sacrificially.

And go to the tomb, where we experience God doing the impossible.

Questions to Share:

  1. What was your favorite military assignment? What did God teach you during that time?
  2. What was your least favorite military assignment? What did God teach you during that time?
  3. Share your thoughts with one another. Pray together for your next move to bring you closer to God.


Written by Al. Filed Under Marriage & Family

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one.” — Genesis 2:24

“As the Scripture says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’” — Ephesians 5:31

These are familiar verses that pretty much sum up God’s design for marriage. God set the standard for the marriage relationship way back when Adam and Eve first got together, and then made sure that New Testament Christians also got the message about how it works when He had it repeated in the book of Ephesians. Basically, we become independent of our parents and become one entity together. I like how the King James version describes it–it says that we “cleave” to each other. The Hebrew word that “unite” or “cleave” is translated from is ודבק (daw-bak), which describes clinging to one another, joined like we have been glued together or following each other so closely that we might seem to be trying to overtake each other – I guess this is the Hebrew word for “tailgating.”

I like that picture—my wife and I are traveling through life as two people but united in our goals, in our destination. We don’t want to get separated along the way, so we “tailgate” each other—not to harass the other, but to make sure that no one or nothing gets between us. It’s not that we always have to do everything with each other, but we do want to keep a very careful watch on our relationship.

When I was in Afghanistan I served in Kabul. Those who have been to Afghanistan and in the city of Kabul itself will understand the need to tailgate in convoy. The city is bustling and you never know who is around you and what their intentions are. One day I escorted a government official who was a guest of the Afghan government. He rode in a government car and I followed to be there if something went wrong. The driver of the car knew Kabul like the back of his hand and did not wait for me—I had to glue myself to his tail lights for a hair-raising race through the city. At one point we went around a traffic circle near a market and were swamped by women in burkas, children, donkey carts, bread sellers and all manner of other people I couldn’t identify. I remember being hunched over the steering wheel, closing the gap between our vehicles so tightly that none of the pedestrians could squeeze between us. I was sweating.

Anyone who has driven in convoy through potentially dangerous places will understand the intensity that takes over as you focus on sticking to the vehicle in front. We do it to ensure that we do not allow anything to separate us because we know the risks greatly increase when we are isolated. This is how we should view our relationship with our spouses. We need to feel that intensity as we cling to each other knowing that it is dangerous to leave any gap between us.

Most of us need to sweat more about this rather than let work, friends, time-consuming habits, self-pride, or anything else that puts a wedge in our marriages get between us. It’s not that these things are necessarily bad (except for self-pride), but if they begin to become a higher priority than our spouse, then we are falling back and need to “tailgate” better.

Physical presence is very important and we should be with our spouse as much as we can, reinforcing that they are our priority. During these times we build the trust and emotional connection that sustain us when we are apart. Emotional “tailgating” is what glues us together when we are deployed and this is achieved through good communication. If we can’t physically be together, then we should be constantly reminding each other of our mutual commitment through letters, emails, phone calls, gifts and anything else that says, “I’m committed to sticking to you.”

The world needs more “tailgaters”!

Questions to Share:

1. What people/things are trying to squeeze between you and your spouse?

2. What can you both do to close the gap between you so that nothing can wedge itself in?

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you regularly to check that you are doing a good job of “tailgating.”

Chap’s Story

Written by Chaps. Filed Under Marriage & Family

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on the human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than Christ. — Colossians 2:8

Good Day Shipmates!

I’ve been married longer than many have been alive aboard this ship. At the risk of really dating myself, it’s been twenty-six years. My wife and I met in Chesterfield, near Richmond, as two idealistic “kids” with big plans. At 18 and 19 years old, we were convinced we were going to take the world by storm.

Life was simple back then. We dated six months and got married—bitten and blinded by the “love bug”; and on our way to RAF Lakenheath on E-1 pay. Our immaturity quickly reared its hideous head pushing our dreams and romanticism to the back burner. The only word fitting to describe the harsh erosion of our marriage was “train-wreck.”

I wounded my wife daily with razor-sharp words and emotional revenge. It’s no surprise she responded, firing back a volley of hurt and resentment. We quickly became isolated and discouraged . . . two married people living emotionally separate lives. To make matters worse, we had no “real” friends or people we could trust with such private matters. Secretly, we were ashamed how rapidly our marriage declined. I blamed her and she blamed me. Dreams of a healthy marriage were gone; our relationship had become toxic. In a few short months, the one I loved and wanted to spend the rest of my life with had become the adversary. We were consumed by pain, embittered and emotionally defeated.

Looking back, we can see that we believed four fundamental lies: 1) we were the only ones struggling like this; 2) we couldn’t tell anybody; 3) my spouse was the problem, not me; 4) we were beyond help. Each of these lies plays a deadly role in marriage relationships, shoving heads low in shame. The result of shame is demoralizing—shame leads to isolation while stealing you blind of a precious marriage commodity—hope . We tried to “fake it” and let others think that we were fine, but inside we were screaming, “Help!”

Although young, inexperienced and sinking in hopelessness, we were bright enough to know changes had to be made—immediately. Through our recovery process (more on that to come), I learned three important truths to share with you:

In a few days we will pull into port. Some of you have taken advantage of time away during this deployment to evaluate and reflect in a healthy way. Ever so quietly, in the privacy of your own heart, you’ve taken account of what’s truly important in life. You’ve thought long and hard about making much needed changes or adjustments. If truth be told, you’re not happy. Actually it’s worse than that—you secretly suffer from the disease of discontent; you suffer silently from discouragement and are emotionally tired; you seek refuge. Something’s gotta change!

Allow me to offer some thoughts:

First, change always starts from within; recovery begins with YOU. Firmly fix your gaze into the mirror of honesty; don’t quickly walk away and forget what you look like. Avoid the pull of believing the problem is “her” or “him.” It’s not—it’s you and it’s me. Start there.

Second . . . I’ve seen lots of people talk about change and even attempt change. Few find it. They’re genuine—they try harder, adjust jobs, substitute spouses, reorder finances, and make genuine attempts at change. However, true change only occurs exclusively within the framework of faith. You must seriously connect with God in repentance and surrender. Without God’s foundation, you’ll endure a long uphill battle of failed attempts. Swallow your pride—let Him produce a new you!

Third, change is a process. Don’t try to make change an event, like “whew . . . glad I got that over with. I’m different now!” Genuine change that lasts doesn’t work that way. It’s in the process you meet new people with similar goals, reach fresh objectives and connect with Creator-God in momentous, life-changing ways.

Fourth, find healthy people. You’ll only find these people in one place: CHURCH. They can be found . . . trust me. In forty-six years I’ve only found one place where people change and mature—in the church.

Fifth, stick to the plan. Resolve yourself to the process. Genuine change is hard work that only occurs within the context of relationship with God. Spend time in prayer and in His word, the Bible. That is where truth is found—in His Son, Jesus Christ.

There are better days ahead for you. I know.

Questions to Share:

1. Have you been taken captive by a deceptive philosophy that is built upon lies? How have those lies profoundly affected your thinking, words, attitudes, and behavior towards your spouse? How will you respond now?

2. Where do you subtly blame your spouse for the condition of your marriage, while minimizing your role? What will you do in response?

“Eloquent Silence”

Written by Linda. Filed Under Spiritual Training

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” — 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Sometimes . . . when someone has experienced a tragedy, it’s best to sit with them in silence. Not always, but sometimes. Alistair Begg, senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, calls that “Eloquent Silence.”

I remember one of our local chaplains telling us about a visit he made to a Navy family in the housing area whose baby had died. When he arrived, he sat with the couple on the front porch. Just sat with them. Later the couple told him that was the most helpful thing he could have done at the time. He acted according to Romans 12:15, “. . . mourn with those who mourn.”

The book of Job gives us insight into this matter of comforting others in tough times. When Job loses everything—children, possessions, health—there are three friends who come to check on him: “When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. . . . When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” (Job 2:11-13).

But then they started critiquing Job’s situation—analyzing why they believed God had allowed him to suffer so horribly. In Job 13:5 we read Job’s assessment of their “help”: “As for you, you smear me with lies. As physicians, you are worthless quacks. If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do.”

Instead of offering their own advice, what if they had encouraged Job with God’s truth? What if they had prayed with Job, which they never did? We have no record of any of his friends praying with him, or helping to care for his wife during her time of confusion and grief.

Perhaps you have done comforting things for others who are suffering—you have spent time with them; you have wept with them; you have encouraged them with Scripture; you have prayed; you have provided meals/done laundry/offered transportation or finances. You have looked into your heart and thought how you would want to be comforted, or remembered how you have been graciously comforted by God and others during your own crisis times—and you offered real encouragement. Indeed, you have shown compassion: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

In a strange twist at the end of the story of Job, the Lord tells his three friends to go to Job and seek forgiveness. Their words to Job, recorded at length in the book, had angered God: “So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:8).

Mike Mason, in his classic book on Job entitled The Gospel According to Job: An Honest Look at Pain and Doubt from the Life of One Who Lost Everything, writes a further explanation of this: “Perhaps more than any other Old Testament character, Job through his unmerited suffering becomes a reflection of Jesus, a Christ-figure. For it is not simply through sacrifice and prayer that Job’s friends gain their forgiveness, but rather through the entire mystery of Job’s suffering which, by sending its relentless roots deep into their hard hearts, has been invisibly breaking ground for the living God. Thus those who had considered Job ‘stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted’ in the end receive healing through his wounds. Healing for what? Healing for wounds less visible than Job’s, wounds they did not even know they had: the wounds of lovelessness. When the powerful come to the powerless for help, there the door to the Kingdom of God swings open.” (p. 434)

Through the years I have learned better than to say, “I understand what you’re going through”—when I really don’t. I know better than to tell my own story that’s similar, but not exactly. I now know that a gentle touch, a sympathizing tear, and an offer to help go a long ways. Not trying to fix the situation, or to “fix” the friends, but standing by them through the crisis.

To love like Christ loves . . . with grace . . . that is the goal.

Jesus says in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Work Cited:

Mason, Mike, The Gospel According to Job: An Honest Look at Pain and Doubt from the Life of One Who Lost Everything (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994).

Questions to Share:

1. When you have experienced a crisis, how has someone helped you then that you truly appreciated?

2. Have you ever gone to encourage someone going through a hard time, and they ended up encouraging you? That is a remarkable grace which God gives to those going through extreme circumstances. Have you ever experienced that kind of grace?

3.  Have you had a time during this deployment when you sat with someone during their time of loss and comforted them?  Tell each other about that time.

The Proverbs 31 Husband

Written by Linda. Filed Under Marriage & Family

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. . . . .Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. — Proverbs 31:11-12, 28

I don’t know about you, but the “Proverbs 31 Wife” has been such a high (unreachable?) goal for me that I have often read this perfect description and have repeated verse one, “who can find?” Who can find such a woman, who provides exquisitely for her family, works tirelessly, gives generously, is wise, respected, industrious, competent, and praiseworthy—all in a lifetime of work?? Amazing! She must have been a military wife!

Less written about, or spoken of, seems to be this remarkable woman’s husband—the Proverbs 31 Husband. What do we know of him? If there is one thing I have learned about marriage it is that one spouse can greatly influence the other (for good or for bad). Just as it is true that “behind every good man is a good woman” I believe that “behind every good woman is a good man.” So how did this man support his wife, and vice versa? What do we know of their marriage?

I see at least three things in Proverbs 31 which speak of their marriage:

Trust—Verses 11 and 12 state, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm all the days of her life.” (NIV) In the New Kings James Version, verse 11 reads, “The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain.” This couple operated in an atmosphere of trust. I doubt that this wife could have made purchases and investments, given to the poor or supervised a staff without the support of her husband—a trust based upon her dignified countenance and God-given wisdom. Mutual trust in a marriage is a beautiful thing, and her stability certainly speaks of her husband’s confidence in her abilities.

Teamwork—Verse 23 states, “Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” This verse is followed by verse 31 which also mentions the influence of this couple in terms of their respect in the community, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” We know that the “city gate” in those days was where official business was conducted—much like our “city hall” or “courthouse” today. This husband was a respected leader, which would not have been true had not his home life been in order. And this is recognized in that final verse when we see that his wife is also respected in the community. They were a team—one’s reputation bringing honor to the other.

Tenderness—My favorite verses are 28 and 29, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” The Proverbs 31 Husband appreciated his wife, and verbally praised her. The affect of this treatment was that their children learned to respect their mother and emulate their father’s praise. My observation has been that if a husband insults his wife, their children will do the same. That makes for strife in a home, not harmony (among other things). But if he looks for ways to praise her and is not reticent in expressing his love and appreciation, the benefits can be found in loving relationships for generations to come.

The book of Proverbs begins with a call to wisdom. In Proverbs 9:10 we read, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” At the end of Proverbs, in 31:30, we see this having been lived out in a woman’s life: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” The fear of the LORD is the spiritual foundation on which this Proverbs 31 wife has built her home and her legacy. Because of her knowledge and understanding of the LORD’s faithful and sovereign ways, it says that she “has no fear for her household” and “can laugh at the days to come.” We do not know if her husband has that same wisdom—it is not written. But my thought is that this Proverbs 31 Husband knew and lived Deuteronomy 10:12— “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

And how does a married couple today, in the midst of military deployments, live out the call to trust, teamwork, and tenderness? I believe that relationships have not changed that much through the millennia, and that good communication (stay connected with what is going on in each other’s lives as much as possible), loving care (unselfish actions even when separated), and strong commitment (the “d” word should not even be in your vocabulary) to the marriage worked now and worked then. I believe that we should refer to Proverbs 31 as a picture of a husband and wife in marriage, and how it is true that “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” — Psalm 127:1

Questions to Share:

1. Can you see the benefit in praising each other? In what ways do you praise one another during the separation of deployments?

2. In what ways can you praise your spouse for the ways that you trust them and for the ways that you can see yourselves working together as a team for the good of your family.

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

Psalm 78, the second longest psalm next to Psalm 119, is considered an historical psalm, an instructive psalm, and a relevant psalm. This psalm is not just for the children of Israel. This psalm is for parents and the church today.

In referring to the Old Testament we find this verse in the New Testament: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4).

So what are we to learn from Psalm 78? What is the priority given to us? We are to raise our children to have hope, trust, and confidence in God.

How are we doing with that as the mandate? How are we—how are you—helping to raise your own children and the children of your church to become confident and hopeful in God?

From Psalm 78 we see two things that parents and the church owe their children:

1. We owe them the truth about God.

“. . .we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done” (Psalm 78:4).

If our children are going to hope and trust in God we must be willing to talk about God in our homes and in our church—His preeminence and centrality. We must tell them that there is One ultimate, unchanging reality in life and that is God. He is the center, the creator, and the conductor of our lives.

We should not shy away from telling them that life is hard, but God is good. Life is unjust, but God is fair. And that God can be trusted.

We also need to tell them that Christ is the great heart-satisfier. Our children, and the children in our church, need to hear us say that our satisfaction is not bound up in the car we drive, the house we live in, the type of status we have in the community, or the clothes we wear. Our greatest satisfaction comes from contentment in Christ and Christ alone.

But this is important—remember that in order for us to talk about God—we must first walk with God. Our conduct should match our conversation. Our personal lives must match our public proclamation.

He is not just a god of Sunday but the God of everyday.

He is the God who exists in times of crisis and in times of joy.

He is the God who makes a difference in the way Mom and Dad live their lives.

He is the God who makes a difference in what we watch on television and what we talk about at the dinner table.

He is the God whom we get excited about and to whom we cry.

He is the God who is the source and goal of all our acts.

He is the God who leads and guards us during times of deployment and times at home.

Therefore—how do we accomplish our #1 task? At home, we walk with God and talk about God. At church, we talk about God in the presence of children. And even when times are difficult during wartime, we talk to our children about God’s faithfulness and God’s goodness.

When leads us to Psalm 78:5:

2.  We owe them faithfulness to God’s Word.

“He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children . . .” (Psalm 78:5)

The “law” here is the teaching of Scripture. And we are commanded to teach the testimony of God to our children.

In our homes and in our church, we will teach our children to have confidence in God when we teach them to have confidence in the Word of God, the Bible. It will not just be one book among many books—the Bible will be the central book. All other knowledge and other books will be read in the light of this book and will establish their worldview.

What the Bible says about sin—we will say about sin.

What the Bible says about mercy and grace—we will say about mercy and grace.

What the Bible says about marriage and singleness and sex—we will say about marriage and singleness and sex.

What the Bible says about forgiveness—we will say about forgiveness.

What the Bible says about right and wrong—we will say about right and wrong.

What the Bible says about love and compassion—we will say about love and compassion.

What will be the outcome of the application of these two principles?

  1. A legacy is created. From Psalm 78:6: “. . .so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”
  2. A confidence is embraced. From Psalm 78:7: “Then they would put their trust in God. . . “
  3. An obedience is desired. Also from Psalm 78:7: “and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.”
  4. A spiritual catastrophe is avoided. From Psalm 78:8: “They would not be like their forefathers—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

Before you deploy, make sure your family is plugged into a local, Bible-believing and Bible-preaching church where love and grace are lived out. Make sure you have a routine established of regular Bible reading in your home—with a chance to reinforce that and encourage that even though geographically separated.

Why this partnership between the church and the home?

Parents need help in keeping a God-centered vision of parenting alive.

Parents need motivation to persevere year in and year out.

Parents need encouragement when everything seems to go wrong.

Parents need relief from time to time from the strain of parenting.

Parents need help in boiling down the Book of God into essential truths.

Parents need help in teaching subjects and skills where they lack expertise and time.

Parents need covenant community reinforcement of truth and moral standards.

Parents need solutions to touch problems raised by children.

Parents need camaraderie for the sharing of accumulated wisdom.

Parents need correction when others can see that something is wrong and they can’t.

Parents need worship.

Parents need prayer.

In the end, the church family will be:

The breeding ground for children who are confident in God.

The training school for teaching what is true and false in the world.

The boot camp for fitting young soldiers of Christ for the greatest combat of the world.

The fortress of protection in a world that has lost belief in absolute truth.

The hospital of healing for children and young people who have felt the pain and effects of sin.

The supply depot for replenishing the young troops who have been challenged each week.

The retreat center for spiritual renewal and rest.

The launching pad for future missionaries aimed at the unreached peoples of the world.

Let us bring up our children to hope in God, even when there is loneliness and turmoil in their lives.

Let us bring up our children to find their place in God’s plan.

Let us bring up our children who see everything in relation to God—even deployment.

Questions to Share:

1. What steps can you make to make sure that your family is grounded in their belief in God, a local church, and regular times of devotion before deployment?

2. What have you talked about this week in terms of God’s creation or God’s work in your lives?

3. Have you asked each other, “How can I pray for you this week?”

Fervent Prayers

Written by Linda. Filed Under Prayer, Spiritual Training

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. — James 5:16b

Perhaps you desire to pray for our military members and their families, but just don’t know how. Or maybe you have prayed many times—daily, maybe even hourly, for years—and need encouragement to keep on praying. You are not alone.

I belong to a prayer group of parents who “gather in prayer” weekly by email. We pray for our sons & daughters, our friends, our neighbors—anyone with whom we are connected who is serving on the frontlines or home-front. Our leader is a prayer-warrior whose family has sent many members off to war, and knows the price. Because these prayers are so beautiful and Spirit-filled, I wanted to share a few of them with you—along with Scripture. May you be blessed in your time of prayer for our military and nation. There is nothing more powerful you can do.

As Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.”

From 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17—May Our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Gracious Heavenly Father,

We thank and Praise You, O Lord Our King, Our Savior, for hearing and answering our prayers, for blessing us with health, with encouragement, with hope as we rely on You. We pray for our soldiers downrange, all of them, to be encouraged, to see the fruits of their labor and to be strengthened for the work that lies ahead of them.  

We pray that they continue to be protected, that You would go before them each and every day, that they would stay healthy, body, soul and spirit. Those who are discouraged, O Lord, that they would get encouragement and be renewed in hope. May they be encouraged to practice kindness, and be forgiving. We pray for the leaders downrange, that they be dedicated to their soldiers, that they rely and call out to You, O Lord, and submit to Your leadership. We also pray for our national leadership, Lord, during these perilous times.

We Praise You, Father, and magnify Your Name. In the powerful and mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

From 2 Corinthians: 4:17,18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  

Many of our soldiers we pray for are in their second, third, fourth or more deployments. As they persevere in their missions, let us continue to persevere in prayer for them and their families.

Gracious Heavenly Father,

Your Word is truth and You are truth, thank You Lord for Your Truth, that we fix our eyes on the eternal, remembering our home here is temporary when we know Your Son, Jesus Christ as Our Lord and Savior. You say our troubles are momentary, but sometimes they feel like forever, so in that light we lift up our loved ones serving our country and those heroes at home.

We pray that our soldiers would see their duty downrange as temporary. That You, O Lord, will help them, encourage them, speak to their hearts as they work day in and day out. Help them to depend on You and Your Truth. Fix their eyes on You, the author and perfecter of our faith. Increase our faith and trust in You, dear Lord. We want to glorify You in all we do, and we want to remember what we see is temporary. Help us all in our daily living. We pray for the families back home, that You, O Lord, would pour out Your grace and peace on them. We pray especially for the children that they would stay encouraged, full of hope and living everyday life in great expectation of seeing their mom or dad soon.

We love and honor You O Lord. In the powerful and mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.

From Isaiah 40:28-31—Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Gracious and Mighty Heavenly Father,

We Praise You O Lord, our King. We give You glory, O Lord, for You are from everlasting to everlasting, You are Creator and we honor You and Praise You, once again, for who You are. We come before You this day to bring our loved ones to You once again.  

We pray that You, O King, will strengthen them for the work at hand, increase their strength as they call out to You, renew them in hope, and give them a strong conviction of their faith in You. Show them Your power in their everyday lives. We thank You, Lord, for protecting them each and every moment. Be with their families at home as they wait for their return. When they are tired, renew their strength: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You are good, O Lord, and Your steadfast love endures forever. Thank You for Your love, Your unconditional love which sustains us all.

In Your Holy, powerful name, the name above all names, Jesus, we pray, Amen

Questions to Share:

1. Pray for others, but don’t forget to pray for yourself as you serve on the frontlines or home-front. Pray for perseverance, perspective, and continuing love for each other as a married couple serving today under trying circumstances.

2. Ask your spouse how you can pray for them today. Then pray for them right then—sharing your words by phone, text or email.

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