Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/30


SEPTEMBER 30

Behind Closed Doors

Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. PROVERBS 5:19

One night, one of our teenagers came into our bedroom and said to us, “You know, it really bugs me that you shut the door to your room at 10:00 or 10:30 every night. I feel like you’re shutting us out of your lives.”

We replied that this was by design! Being alone with each other gives us a chance to talk and to know each other better. Of course, neither of us explained how we might be “knowing” each other on any given night, but Barbara and I understand that we need the opportunity for intimacy—not just spiritually and relationally, but also sexually.

God intended for us to become one flesh, to be drawn together toward each other. Adam and Eve didn’t just shake hands when they met each other in the garden and began their lives together. They had sexual intercourse with each other, and God blessed their union. Sex is not all there is to marriage, of course, but it is a vital dimension that we shouldn’t always sacrifice to the pressures of life or even the incessant demands of our children.

God is not down on sexual pleasure in marriage. The verse above is not from Playboy 5:19 but from Proverbs 5:19—right there with all the more well-known nuggets of scriptural truth about fearing God and being kind to your neighbors and not spending money you don’t have. God even inspired an entire book of the Bible—Song of Solomon—that talks about little other than sexual love in marriage.

No matter how our culture twists and perverts the idea of sex, and no matter how squeezed we may feel by our children’s and others’ expectations, we need to keep our sexual relationship central and celebrated. That’s the way God designed it.

DISCUSS

In light of the demands of children, discuss what you must both do to protect this important area of your marriage.

PRAY

Pray that God will give you wisdom to know how best to meet one another’s needs in this area.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/29

 

SEPTEMBER 29

The Secret of Success

What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? MICAH 6:8

A friend sent me an email posting from Ruth McGinnis, a Nashville recording artist and author, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In the midst of her ordeal, God began reframing the definition of success in her life: One of the most powerful insights I’ve had as a result of this unexpected detour in my well-planned life is truly understanding that the value of my work—the books I’ve written, my instrumental recordings, the speaking and performing I’ve done for countless years—has nothing to do with commercial success. I always thought that to be “successful,” I would have to register in the marketplace with some measurable impact, like making the New York Times best-sellers list. As a result, even though I’ve enjoyed a rewarding career as a creative person, I’ve always felt that somehow I’d never quite arrived—that my life was incomplete.

Having cancer has forever changed this. The cards, letters, gifts, phone calls, and emails I’ve received from people I know—and many I’ve never met—have revealed to me that the reach of my work and the value of my simply being here is greater than I ever could have imagined.

I am convinced this is true for each one of us. That we all tend to be hard on ourselves and measure our achievements against harsh standards.

We fail to appreciate our own contributions, and we forget to acknowledge the gifts, beauty and efforts of others.

I will never think of success, fulfillment and contentment the way I used to. Cancer has swept the veil away from my eyes—has given me a new way of looking at life and rethinking everything. It is an unexpected gift.

Your life will be measured, not by the amount of money or power or fame you gain, but by the way you allow God to touch others through you.

DISCUSS

How would you define “success” in your life? In your family? Talk about Ruth McGinnis’s perspective.

PRAY

Pray that you will be content just being who God has called you to be.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/28

 

SEPTEMBER 28

Mom Alarm

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you. GALATIANS 4:19

Sharon’s 15-year-old daughter, Kristin, went to the movies with friends, but then she sent her mom a text message saying they couldn’t find anything to watch and were going over to Dory’s house.

“Dory? Who’s Dory?” Sharon asked.

“She’s in my biology class, Mom,” Kristin texted back. “It’ll be great.”

But something on Mom’s radar told her it wasn’t great. She suspected there were no parents at Dory’s house. She knew she needed to  go find Kristin—no matter what her daughter might think about it. But Kristin wasn’t answering her phone, and Sharon didn’t know where Dory lived. However, through a combination of caller ID and an Internet mapping site, she located directions to Dory’s house.

Sharon had to ring the doorbell twice when she arrived. An older boy holding a can of beer looked out a window and yelled, “Oh no, it’s somebody’s mother!” She rang again. Finally, someone came to the door. “Would you please tell Kristin Hersh that her mother is here for her?”

After a minute, Kristin appeared, an ashen look on her face. Sharon feared they were in for a long ride home. But as they walked to the car, Kristin asked, “Mom, how did you know? How did you know I needed you?”

It turned out that some guys from a different school had arrived at the party, talking trash and getting aggressive. It looked like there might be a fight.

Even when your children are resisting your efforts at care and protection, they still need you more than ever. When they get stubborn, keep coming.

When they become unlovable, keep loving.

Don’t let them push you out. Don’t cave in or capitulate to their culture. Be there for them.

DISCUSS

Did you push your parents out of your life when you were a teenager? Discuss how you will handle the lack of popularity with your teen. 

PRAY

Pray for God to help you and provide a full-screen spiritual radar to discern what is happening in the lives of your children. And pray for the courage and wisdom to use your data well.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/27


SEPTEMBER 27

Bad Apples

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 CORINTHIANS 15:33

One of my favorite object lessons in the sixth-grade Sunday School class I taught for many years was the “bad apples” demonstration. During a class at the beginning of the year, I brought some apples with me into the room—a beautiful, shiny red one that I called a “good apple” and a couple of others that looked nice but had at least one bruise.

“These two apples with the bruises represent a couple of buddies you really shouldn’t spend time with in junior high,” I would say. “They have a dark side to them—a compromised area of their lives. This good apple represents you, a nice Christian teenager but one who doesn’t see any problem with bruised apples. ‘These are my buddies,’ the good apple says.

“So these three apples are going to hang out together for a few months. We’ll check on them at the end of the year and see what happens.” Then I would put the apples together in a plastic bag and place them in the closet. Several of the students would become curious over the next few months about what had happened to our little “buddies,” but I wouldn’t return the bag until the last class of the year. Then I’d read the verse we’re focusing on today—about bad company and its impact on good morals.

It never failed, of course. Nine months of hang time always took a toll on the good apple. The identity of all three apples had long been lost. All that was left was sort of a gross, discolored, mushy apple soup.

The buddies our children spend time with will inevitably influence them, either for good or for bad. That’s why parents need to be fruit inspectors, helping their kids spot the bad apples and encouraging their kids to build friendships with the good ones.

DISCUSS

Do your children have some bad buddies? Discuss how you can take steps to wean them away from the wrong crowd and encourage them to spend time with some “good apples.”

PRAY

Ask for discernment to spot problems ahead of time and for wisdom and courage to go about correcting them.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/26

 

SEPTEMBER 26

You’re Still the One

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 PETER 4:8

I can’t attribute this story to its source, but a number of years ago I read a story about Babe Ruth. At the end of his legendary baseball career, the Babe had become obviously overweight. During one of his final contests, he bungled several fly balls in the outfield and struck out weakly with every plate appearance.

Fans who had seen or heard about his once-proud exploits were now quick with catcalls, mocking this man who had hit twice as many home runs as anyone else in baseball.

But as the jeering got louder and louder, a little boy leaped over the railing and onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his face, he ran to the Babe and threw his arms around the legs of the fading athlete. Babe Ruth reached down, picked up the boy and hugged him tight. Then setting him down and patting him on the head, they walked hand in hand toward the dugout, while the jeers turned to cheers. Hardly an eye remained dry in the whole place.

The crowd had been correct in their assessment, of course. The Babe had let much of his athletic prowess go to seed. Yet a little boy had remembered him for who he was . . . and had covered over his errors with love.

This is not unlike what marriage was established to be—two people saying to each other, “I know you’ve failed me and disappointed me at times (as I have you), but I’m still going to put my arm around you and tell you, ‘I love you.’ I’m on this journey with you one way or the other.”

I believe the angels burst into praise when they hear that, because this is the visitation of God’s love on two imperfect people.

DISCUSS

How are you two doing right now? Are you standing by one another in the midst of life’s turbulence? Perhaps you need to just look one another in the eyes and smile at one another.

PRAY

Thank God for His love that has already covered a multitude of your sins.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/25

 

SEPTEMBER 25

Listen Up

But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. JAMES 1:19

I was reading the paper one day and came across an excerpt from a book called The Mistress’ Survival Manual, written by the founder of Mistresses Anonymous. (Now, I didn’t read this book. Honest. I simply read an article that mentioned it.) One of the quotes in the excerpt spoke volumes about a great need in today’s marriages. The author, who had spent her whole adult life engaged in adultery,
said, “Many people think a mistress is a shapely young woman who wears flimsy negligees and lounges on satin sheets. But more likely than not, she’s just an extremely good listener.”

How many affairs have begun when one hurting person turned to another, sharing his or her disappointments with someone who was eager and motivated to listen to his or her problems? A woman wrote to us recently, telling how she had merely been talking with a young single man at church about a girl he was interested in dating. When the conversation turned to her marriage, she knew she shouldn’t go there—she shouldn’t tell him how unhappy she was. But pretty soon they were spending more time together, talking on the phone, wishing they could be together even when they weren’t.

“Every time I meet someone new who takes the time to listen and spend time with me,” she says, “I find myself drawn to him. Maybe I’ll get out of this one friendship on time, but what about the next person who comes around? Please pray for me.”

One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the promise to be a good listener—tearing ourselves away from all our distractions and preoccupations, just to listen. To listen and understand. I can almost guarantee that your spouse needs you to be “an extremely good listener.”

DISCUSS

Talk honestly about the way you listen (or don’t listen) to each other. Share ways you both can encourage and sharpen your listening skills.

PRAY

Pray for your ability to listen and really hear what your spouse is saying.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/24

SEPTEMBER 24

Love-Hate Relationship
by Barbara Rainey

You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue. PSALM 52:4, NIV

I had been a mom for about six years when I first began to experience significant anger. And as the pressures of parenthood increased and our older children moved into adolescence, I started getting angry more severely and more often. It was inappropriate, and it was really becoming a problem.

One Thanksgiving weekend, my 13-year-old son and I got into a raging argument about . . . something. I don’t even remember what. I just remember I couldn’t control him, and I couldn’t control me. For years, I had justified my anger by saying I was so tired and worn out every day. Now, for the first time, I realized it had gotten bigger than I was. I could justify my behavior no longer.

Dennis was a part of the solution. As we talked it over, we agreed that it would be healthy for me to go through a period of counseling. As I sought help, the Lord sensitized my heart one summer day to the words of Psalm 52.

As I was reading the fourth verse—the one above—my eyes filled with tears. Suddenly I knew that in all my years of struggling, the only thing I really hated about my anger was that I couldn’t control it. Yet in those few moments of holy conviction, I realized I needed to hate my anger simply because it was sin. Before, I had only hated what I did with it. Now, I hated it for what it was.

Perhaps you’re still rationalizing a certain harmful behavior of yours by claiming your right to it. Perhaps, if you dug a little deeper, you might even discover, like I did, that you enjoy the power and control it gives you. If this is you, don’t you think it’s time to confess (agree with God about it) and deal with it?

DISCUSS

In what ways might you love your sins, even the ones that grieve you the most?

PRAY

Ask God to give you the courage to confront those things about yourself that need to be dealt with.  

 

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/23

SEPTEMBER 23

A Few Good Men

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. PROVERBS 18:24 

Tim Kimmel, who along with his wife, Darcy, is a frequent speaker at our Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, remembers the two of them going out to eat sometime around his fortieth birthday. As they were waiting for their meal to arrive, he began doodling a crude picture of a casket on his paper napkin.

Turning it around to face his wife, he asked, “Darcy, how many people does it take to carry one of these things?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “Six. Or eight.”

“Okay, if I were to die tonight,” he asked, “who would you call to be my pallbearers?” She began giving him a name or two, followed by the names of his brothers.

“No, not my brothers. They don’t count. They’d be required to be there anyway. I want you to think of people who wouldn’t feel like they had to come but who would drop whatever they were doing if you called them.” Unfortunately, those names didn’t fire so quickly to mind. And that’s when Tim realized that he couldn’t be sure he had enough real friends to answer his roll call for casket carriers.

That bothered him. He realized that, like so many other men, he had not really worked on building friendships. And that bothered him.

Since that night, Tim has been spending time with men, pouring his life into them. He is choosing to invest himself in people rather than fritter his time away on trivial, temporary matters.

You have a lot of choices in front of you—all kinds of ways you could spend your time and energy in the remaining years of your life. Will you use them to draw you closer to others or more deeply within yourself?

DISCUSS

Who would your six or eight pallbearers probably be?

PRAY

Ask the Lord to show you the value of other people . . . and the mirage of most everything else.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/22

SEPTEMBER 22

Loving Your Man
by Barbara Rainey

The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. PROVERBS 14:1

I often give three pieces of advice to young women before their wedding day. But because these remain just as important as we go through marriage and because they are fashioned by the Scriptures and proven by experience, I share them with you today—at whatever stage you find yourself in marriage:

1. Believe in your husband. This is the most valuable gift Dennis says I’ve given him. You know your husband better than anyone. To see his faults and weaknesses and yet to believe in your husband’s God-given potential as a man and his leadership of your home does more than you can imagine for his spiritual growth.

2. Be willing to confront your husband in love. Too many wives mistakenly believe they are following the biblical pattern of submission by ignoring or denying deficits in their husband’s life. But being submissive does not mean being silent. It simply means being wise and loving in how you approach him, treating him with kindness and respect. Say to your husband, “Could I talk to you about something?” Asking permission to broach a difficult subject may make it easier to get your message across. He is far less threatened and insecure this way.

3. Pursue intimacy with him on every level. Most men consider physical intimacy the most important part of marriage. I’ve come to learn that it is central to my husband’s manhood. It’s the way God made him, and it is good. So rather than resenting it, learn to appreciate this aspect of your marriage as God’s design. And be willing to learn and grow, becoming God’s woman for your man. It’s not always easy, but with God, nothing is impossible.

DISCUSS

Both of you should answer this one: Which one of these principles is most in need of your attention right now? Wives, what can you do to begin practicing love for your husbands in this area?

PRAY

Wives, thank the Lord for your man. And husbands, thank the Lord for your woman. Hold each other’s hand and specifically thank God for things about one another.  

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Moments with You Couples Devotional 9/21

SEPTEMBER 21

Carrying Charge

Live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman. 1 PETER 3:7

Each fall, a ski resort in Maine hosts an event that is little known to the rest of the nation: the North American Wife Carrying Championship. To compete, husbands transport their wives through a hilly, 278-yard obstacle course that includes a 20-foot trough of water and 2 log hurdles. They can carry their wives in whatever way suits their running style—piggyback, fireman’s carry or the more popular “Estonian” method, with the wife upside down across his back, legs crossed around his neck, arms held around his waist. The only enforceable rule is that she not touch the ground.

Ex-Olympians are sometimes among the contestants, while others are probably just there hoping for the first prize: the wife’s weight in beer, plus five times her weight in cash and a thousand-dollar voucher toward a trip to the World Wife-Carrying Championship in Finland. (I’m serious.)

Admittedly, this event sounds a bit crude and primitive. But there is nothing archaic about a wife needing her husband to carry her sometimes—to be her strength during a tough stretch of circumstances, to stand with her in prayer, to be the broad shoulders she leans on when life gets heavy.

Yes, I’ve “dropped” Barbara a few times over the years. But I’ve had the privilege of shouldering her load in life-and-death health issues, a teenager’s rebellion and dozens of those pesky parenting issues that can wear a mom down.

We have our own race to run and it’s an honor to carry her.

Husbands, be there for your wife. Listen. Care. And if need be, carry her. And, wives, don’t try to do it all by yourself. Lean on your husband. Let him help you. God will give him the strength. We need to be there for each other.

DISCUSS

Husbands, do you “carry” your wife well? What is one area of life right now where you need to be doing a better job of bearing her load?

PRAY

Pray that you will learn appropriate dependence on each other.  

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