Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/30


June 30

Kids and Music
by Barbara Rainey

Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, . . . dwell on these things. PHILIPPIANS 4:8

One of the thorniest issues to tackle when raising children is music. Many children become devoted to music while in grade school, and its influence upon their lives can be huge.

What types of music will you allow your children to listen to? The apostle Paul provides a great media filter in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, . . . if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

Parents should approach this issue shrewdly and wisely. As your children grow older, your ability to understand their taste in music—and how music affects their emotions—is critical.

It’s important to engage them in ongoing discussions. When one of our daughters was about 16, she began listening to a radio station that played Top 40 pop songs from the 1980s and the 1990s. As I paused to listen at different times, I was surprised by the suggestive lyrics in some of the songs. I would ask her, “Do you know what that is saying?”

“I turn it off when the bad stuff comes on,” she’d answer.

“So you’ve listened to it long enough to know the song well enough to know the bad parts so that you can turn it off? By then it is already in your head.”

We talked this through a number of times over a period of several months. Slowly she quit listening to that music. I never told her she couldn’t listen to it, but I did challenge her convictions with timely questions that made her think about what she was hearing and how it was affecting her decisions.

Never forget: You are the parent by divine decree. Use your appointment strategically.

DISCUSS

Take an inventory of your children’s music. What do you think of the music your children listen to? What’s your game plan to address this issue?

PRAY

Ask God to give you wisdom about how to establish boundaries and challenge your children to develop convictions regarding the media they watch and listen to. 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/29


June 29

When Prayer Listens

Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; and give heed to the voice of my supplications! PSALM 86:6

I heard a wife talking about how prayer had enhanced her relationship with her husband. “When we pray together,” she said, “we are communicating with God, but we are also communicating with each other and sharing our common love for our Savior.”

I hope this doesn’t sound either irreverent or intrusive to you. I hope it doesn’t make you feel threatened or bashful to know that part of what is happening when you’re praying together is this: Your spouse is listening to you and gaining a deeper understanding for what’s going on in your heart.

The truth is, when you actively listen to each other in prayer, you are able to empathize at the deepest, most honest level. You are putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes. Prayer becomes a much more significant experience when you are listening carefully to the burdens your spouse is repeatedly bringing to the Lord so that you can join him or her in praying for those same things, as well.

This can only happen, of course, when each of you is willing to honestly verbalize what’s on your heart, when prayer is not a routine exercise devoid of real-life substance and content, when prayer becomes your heart’s genuine cry before the Father. Only then can you go to the Lord God almighty together—with both humility and confidence—asking the Lord to encourage your wife when she feels like a failure as a mom or asking God to grant your husband increased wisdom when he struggles to be the leader of your family.

From our own experience, Barbara and I can assure you that your times of prayer together will be greatly enriched and more productive if you communicate openly and listen attentively.

DISCUSS

Talk about how praying together enriches your relationship. Share what you are facing today that could use your spouse’s prayers.

PRAY

Turn your prayer today to the needs of your spouse, interceding for him or her with the understanding gained from knowing each other so well.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/28


June 28

Call to Arms

Valiant men, men who bore shield and sword and shot with bow and were skillful in battle. 1 CHRONICLES 5:18

It’s hard starting out in marriage. Money is usually tight. You’re getting used to new responsibilities. Even though your love is young and energetic, you find yourself dealing with disagreements and expectations you didn’t really see coming.

As Barbara and I watched our children marry, we wondered what we should do to help. At the same time, we didn’t want to meddle.

As an older man, I wanted to encourage my sons and sons-in-law as they began to shoulder a husband’s responsibility. I decided to bless them and give them a man-to-man charge.

Before their weddings, I’ve given my sons and sons-in-law a copy of a poem that I titled “Be the Man.” I personalized each one, framed it and then read it to him as a verbal challenge and charge for him to step up to his responsibilities. I want each young man to know I believe in him and am standing alongside him as he sacrificially leads his family.

But there’s something else I’ve chosen to give these young men: a sword.

Not a toy sword or cheap imitation. These swords are sharp as razors, crafted of finely honed steel. Their weight and presence convey not just the gravity of the gift, but the significance I place on their calling to protect their wives and family.

Each of these men now have a sword hanging in his home as a statement of passage, a clear declaration that each has been charged with duty, service and purpose—to “Be the Man.” My prayer for each is that each time he looks at it, he remembers not only that he’s locked in battle, charged with the commission of protecting his wife and family, but also that he’s equipped with everything required to carry out his orders.

And that we believe in him.

DISCUSS

Think of something significant you could do to bless and encourage your children as they move through key passages in life.

PRAY

Ask God for wisdom to raise young men who will “Be the Man.”  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/27


June 27

I’m There

I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. PHILIPPIANS 2:20

Gary Thomas, author of such inspiring books as Sacred Marriage and Authentic Faith: The Power of a Fire-Tested Life, tells the story of two American soldiers who became fast friends during their preparations for combat in World War I.

Though they had known each other only a short time, the camaraderie of battle and their shared dreams of postwar life quickly cemented their relationship.

One day, these two buddies crawled from their foxhole with the rest of their unit in an attack on the German forces. After a valiant fight, the order was given to retreat. But only one of the two friends returned to the trench. The other had been hit by German gunfire and was lying about 50 yards out of reach.

Against his commanding officer’s orders, the other soldier crawled out of the ditch to go find his fallen comrade. Hugging the ground and dodging enemy bullets, he worked his way across the bloody, corpse-littered ground until he finally located the friend he sought. Finding him semi-conscious, they were left with only a few seconds together before he died.

When the man returned to the trench with the body of his soldier friend, the ranking officer flew into a rage for this flaunting of his order. “Was it worth it for you to risk your life?”

“Absolutely, sir. Because when I turned him over, he looked up at me and said, ‘I knew you’d come.'”

That’s the kind of loyalty we are called to in all our relationships—especially in our homes and families. Your spouse needs to know without a doubt that when you are needed, you will be there. Your children need to know they can count on you, not just in a pinch, but also in their most routine of expectations. When they need you, can they be sure you’ll come?

DISCUSS

How can your marriage and family practically demonstrate this kind of love for one another?

PRAY

Pray that the Lord will keep you sensitive to each other, anticipating when you’re needed most.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/26


June 26

Rocky Road 

by Barbara Rainey

We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ROMANS 8:28

Many couples experience a season of disappointed love in their marriage relationship. For our son Samuel and his wife, Stephanie, that season began the day after the wedding.

Watching these two get married was one of the greatest delights of my life. Their wedding day rivaled any fairy tale with their long-anticipated first kiss at the altar, the Star Wars theme recessional music, and a horse-drawn white-carriage ride around historic Franklin, Tennessee, in absolutely perfect weather.

And then began what they call the “honeymoon from hell”—missing their plane flight, a lost driver’s license, no heat in their romantic hideaway, and more. Over the next few months, they clashed over their expectations about married life, their assumptions about their roles, and many other issues.

Although most of these flash points were mistakes and misunderstandings, they still led to some raw feelings of grief and hurt. It was a long way from the horse-drawn carriage ride on their wedding day!

I share this to remind you that disappointed love can occur at any point in your marriage, even after times of peak romance and unusual oneness.

This season calls for a level of hard work that you never expected your marriage to actually require. This is when you discover that the love you’re looking for can’t be self-produced; it requires an understanding and compassion that can come from God alone and a courageous commitment from each spouse.

When love disappoints, as it does for all of us, don’t give up. God allows these times to bring us face to face with what we really value and to see that we can only love well when we are depending on Him. Disappointed love can be transformed by God into a deeper love that I call cherishing, committed love. And that kind of love is far better than fairy-tale love.

DISCUSS

Are you able to talk openly about your seasons of marital disappointment? Talk together about how you can share the burden of your disappointments.

PRAY

Pray for a courageous commitment to weather the inevitable hard times of disappointed love.  

 

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Dollars from Heaven – Moments with You


June 25

Dollars from Heaven

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. LUKE 6:38

Our children are better students of us than we are of them. They know—really know—more of what’s going on in your marriage than you think they do. This was certainly the case for a couple who were invited by the wife’s brother and sister-in-law to attend one of our Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. Times had been hard for this couple, from the typical stress of raising four teenage daughters to the strain of having one daughter preparing to graduate and another preparing to marry to the added pressure of temporarily providing a home for a friend and her two children. Truly, this was a couple in need of some refreshment.

But even with their relatives’ offer to pay for the airfare, they still didn’t feel as if they could handle the cost of the hotel, meals and conference fee. Disappointed, they said, “As much as we’d love to go, we just can’t afford it.” But when they returned home that same night, they were met by an incredible sight in their bedroom: 400 one-dollar bills—on the bed, on the floor, even taped to the walls—as well as a card that read: “We love you, Mom and Dad. Have a great time!” Their youngest daughters (ages 10 and 13), knowing what
was going on, had scraped together every cent they had saved to give their parents a gift and the trip of a lifetime.

Don’t ever forget that your children are like little radar units, locked on to the two most important people in their lives. They know how you are doing. That’s why it’s so important to invest regularly in your marriage by getting away.

DISCUSS

When was the last time you took time away to work on your marriage? Pull out a schedule and talk about finding two weekends in the coming year to invest in your marriage.

PRAY

Ask the Lord to help you be sensitive to how your children gain strength and stability from your relationship with one another.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/24


June 24

Pass It Down

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. PSALM 32:8

How can you tell if the spiritual-sounding words coming out of your children’s mouths are evidence of a true faith?

The fact is, you may not really know until they’re somewhat older, because most children are clever enough to say what they know Mom and Dad want to hear. It often takes some severe testing to determine the veracity of your children’s faith, and that doesn’t usually happen until they’re well along in their teen years, perhaps even college-age or older.

Our children began to have their faith tested in middle school. They started coming home with questions like, “What does the Bible say about evolution?” or “What does God think about being gay?” We had many lively discussions at the dinner table as I played devil’s advocate to help them think through their beliefs. That’s when they began to discover truth on their own from Scripture.

I don’t know how to emphasize enough the importance of this kind of training. Depending upon whose research numbers you believe, the rate of young adults who abandon the faith of their parents is somewhere in the 50-to 80-percent range. We’re talking about a major problem.

If we are to avoid the fate of many other nations where Christianity has dwindled into irrelevance, it must begin in homes like yours.

Your children can only hitchhike on your faith for so long. You must constantly be looking ahead to the day when you release them to take their own journey of Christian belief.

May we raise children to invade and infiltrate the twenty-first century, not with faith standards blindly adopted from their parents, but with biblical beliefs honed into convictions.

DISCUSS

What are the key messages and convictions from the Bible that you want to pass on to your children? Discuss how you can both do a better job of diligently teaching and training your children.

PRAY

Ask God for the passion to make biblical training a top priority in your home, as well as the peace not to worry about being a super-theologian—just to share what you’re experiencing and learning about God.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/23

June 23

Big Brothers and Sisters

Am I my brother’s keeper? GENESIS 4:9

We were having dinner recently with four couples. As the evening progressed, one of them shared her struggle with a sister, who at the age of 45 is chronically ill and likely a hypochondriac. This prompted another friend to share how his brother was in an unhealthy, codependent relationship with his 90-year-old mother. Around the table it went—each of them with their own story to tell
about strain with an adult sibling.

As Barbara and I drove home, the thought struck me: The problem with families is that all of us come from one! They can indeed be stormy at times, defying predictability, routinely disruptive—a lot like Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.

Perhaps one of you is estranged from a brother or sister. Perhaps many months or even years have gone by since you’ve talked with or seen each other. Perhaps you have a sibling who still doesn’t have his or her life together and continues taking advantage of your parents. Perhaps no matter what you or anyone else does to help, he or she cannot walk a straight line, keep a job or stay out of trouble.

I believe wisdom offers us three principles in trying to deal with this:

1. Realize you’re not alone. Sibling difficulty was an issue in the very first family—something between Cain and Abel, as I recall—and it continues to stain most families today as they age and expand. What you’re dealing with is unfortunately more normal than abnormal.

2. Stop trying to change them. If you have a tendency to be the 9-1-1 rescue responder, resign from that role. Put your trust in a big God, and turn the job over to Him. He’s good at it.

3. Forgive them. Resist resentment. Stop punishing them. Give them the grace and mercy you have received from the Lord, and choose to love them, even if it must be from a safe distance.

DISCUSS

Rather than recounting the troubles between you and your adult siblings (or your parents), take this time to discuss how you could apply these three principles to your situation.

PRAY

Pray for them. Never stop praying for them. Really praying.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/22


June 22

Dreaming Dreams

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. GALATIANS 6:10

I think one of the greatest needs in the Christian community is for individual laymen and laywomen to dream some dreams about how they can use their talents to impact people’s lives for Christ.

Let me tell you about a family that is making a difference. A small family ministry called Standing with Hope provides prosthetic limbs for below-the-knee amputees, not only in the United States, but also in Ghana, Africa. The process of adding “skin” covering to make a prosthetic look real can cost thousands of dollars—far too costly for an outreach whose goal is to help as many people as possible be able to walk again. That’s where the family’s 15-year-old son, Grayson Rosenberger, comes in. While noodling over an entry idea for a nationwide science contest, Grayson came across one of his mom’s old, discarded prosthetic legs. He found that by wrapping it in a very common household item, he could give the mechanical limb a realistic shape.

His inexpensive solution? Bubble wrap.

Total cost for application? About one dollar.

No, it doesn’t look like skin. But with the right hose or stockings, the prosthetic leg can be made to look real. And for poverty-stricken adults and children in Africa who are often ostracized and teased for the primitive, bare-bones appearance of a fake leg, this is a confidence-creating alternative.

Bubble wrap. Who’d have thought?

Could it be that there’s a right-under-your-nose opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives—right where you are? Could it be that, if you slowed down and set your mind on seeking God for a way you could really serve Him, He might lay out an idea that’s so simple, you’ll be shocked you didn’t think of it earlier?

Just think. Bubble wrap.

DISCUSS

Every person and every couple has an assignment from God—a ministry. What’s yours? If you can’t articulate your ministry, plan a time when you can begin to pray and think together.

PRAY

Express your availability to God, and ask Him to show you the best way to serve. 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 6/21


June 21

Bold Resistance

Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. MARK 9:50

I still remember hearing about the 1995 murder of three children in their Little Rock home. Riley Noel and three accomplices wheeled into the driveway of Mary Hussian’s house that night, high on drugs. They were certain that either Mary or one of her kids had been involved in a recent drive-by shooting that had taken the life of Noel’s brother.

Riley Noel ordered the three children in the home—ages 10, 12 and 17—to lie down on the living-room floor, where he shot them execution style. Their mother escaped after a struggle. But she spoke these chilling words at a news conference soon after the tragic event: “I stand here with the blood of my children still under my fingernails. My kids were all I had. I plead with the youth today—don’t send another woman to bed crying the way I’m going to cry tonight!”

Unfortunately, Barbara and I can’t write this book fast enough to keep up with the latest news story out of another major city, or even a secluded farmland, about a young person who has gunned down even more of our nation’s children. But no matter what the papers are reporting as you’re reading this today, I urge you to put an end to your fear and apathy.

I urge you to pray, as 600 or so of us did in a city-wide prayer service soon after the Hussian children’s deaths, confessing our sins and committing to action.

I urge you to confront immorality when you witness it within your home or in public settings.

I urge you not to be ashamed to call others to godly accountability, from governmental leaders to pastors to the people you work and associate with.

And I urge you to demand righteousness of yourself, because societal change always begins with one person, one home, one man or woman, one boy or girl, willing to make a difference.

DISCUSS

Be specific: What could you, your church or your neighborhood do to reclaim this nation for righteousness?

PRAY

Pray for the safety of our children, the courage of our people and the mercy of our God. 

 

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