Seven Ways to Make the Devil Flee

Seven Ways to Make the Devil Flee

God has promised us that He will cause our enemies who rise against us to be defeated before our faces. But we can get in the way of our blessing and leave room for the enemy to stand in our faces rather than fleeing seven ways. With that in mind, here are seven tactics to make the devil flee seven ways.

1. Diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God

2. Repent before you engage in battle

3. Know that God is on your side

4. War from a position of victory

5. Praise your way through

6. Take up your armor

7. Pray always and be watchful

Breaking the power of vicious circles is often a matter of making better choices, but when it’s a demonic cycle you need to identify the imaginations and wrong thought patterns that are allowing wicked spirits to wreak havoc on your life.

Go forth, spiritual warrior, with praise in your heart and prayer on your lips, dressed for battle. The battle belongs to the Lord, and the devil will flee seven ways. He has no choice when you submit yourself to God and resist him. No demon in hell is stronger than a will aligned with the Word of God. God’s grace floods the soul that seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

“The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven! “The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. “If you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways, the Lord will establish you as his holy people as he swore he would do.
Deuteronomy 28:7‭-‬9 NLT


10 Things You Didn’t Know about Billy Graham

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Billy Graham




As we mourn the loss of the beloved Rev. Billy Graham, we think about the great impact he made for the Gospel and the wonderful man he was:

What comes to mind when you hear the name of this evangelistic legend? For me, it’s the memory of attending a Billy Graham Crusade held in a massive stadium filled with people.

After hearing Graham powerfully preach the gospel, I knew he was being used by God to call sinners to salvation. Thousands flocked forward as the choir sang, Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me…

Years later in San Antonio, Texas, my husband and I took our youth group to hear Billy Graham during one of his final Crusades. I was in awe as Graham shared simply and clearly the call to repentance and surrender to Christ. I thought, who is this man who speaks with such authority? How did God bring him to this place?

I recently did a little research on Billy Graham’s story, and I’m excited to share with you:

10 Things You Didn’t Know about Billy Graham.




1. He Learned Responsibility at a Young Age

Billy Frank (his name as a boy) was raised on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the oldest of three children, so many of the farming chores landed on his shoulders. Seven days a week, morning and evening, it was Billy’s job to milk the cows, which meant waking at 2:30 each morning.

For two hours, Billy would milk twenty cows, and then shovel away the manure. Once he completed those tasks and fed the cows fresh hay, it was time for Billy Frank to head back to the house for his own breakfast.

Can you imagine how tired this young boy must have been? There were times he could barely keep his eyes open at school, but a good game of baseball on his lunch break always revived Billy for the rest of the afternoon’s classes.




2. His Mother’s Godly Influence

Billy Graham’s mother was a devout Christian. For the early part of his upbringing it was apparent to Billy that his mother, not his father, was the one most concerned with training the children in religious matters.

For example, his mom was the one who insisted the family regularly attend church each Sunday. And if for some reason they could not attend, she would gather all three of her children around after dinner to read them a Bible story.

Because his mother understood the importance of placing God’s Word in her children’s hearts, each day she assigned a Bible verse to the children that they were to memorize while walking to and from school. Wow––right? Think of the countless souls saved because of this godly mom’s influence in the life of her son. If you’re a mom, please ponder her example. Are you doing all you can to give your kids a godly foundation? (For help, my book: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men is a great resource.)



3. He was a Wiggle-Worm

As a five-year-old boy, Billy’s parents brought him to hear the famous evangelist, Billy Sunday. Sunday had once played center field for the Chicago Whitestockings baseball team. Although Billy loved baseball, all he remembers about that day was how long Billy Sunday preached, how extremely hot it was, and how much he wiggled throughout the whole sermon. Billy’s father had warned him to stop wiggling or the evangelist would call out his name from the pulpit. Even still, it was all Billy could do not to fidget in his seat.

Billy’s mom called him a “mover” and had once even taken him to the doctor to try and discern what was the matter with Billy that he had such a hard time sitting still. The doctor assured Mrs. Graham that her son was perfectly normal, and encouraged her not to worry because “It’s just the way he’s built.” (So if you’re the mom of a wiggle-worm, don’t lose heart. God can use kids who fidget to do amazing things for the Kingdom!)



4. Witnessing His Grandmother’s Death Had a Profound Influence on Him

When Billy was only 13 years old, his father’s ranch hand came in the middle of the day to pick  he and his sister up from school. Since this never happened, Billy knew something was terribly wrong at home.

Billy was sad to learn his grandmother was ill to the point of death. Billy liked Grandma Coffee and enjoyed when she would tell him stories about the American Civil War. Her husband, Billy’s grandfather who died before he was born, had fought in that war, losing both a leg and an eye in battle.

His little sister, Catherine, reminded Billy that their grandmother would soon be going to heaven to be with Jesus. As the family sat around Grandma’s bedside, she bolted up in her bed declaring that she could see Jesus with his arms outstretched toward her. And with Him was her husband––completely whole with both eyes and legs! With that final declaration, Grandma Coffee breathed her last breath.



5. He was Deeply Affected by His Father’s Transformation

Witnessing the transformation in his father after a near death experience was a pivotal point in Billy’s own pursuit of spiritual matters. Soon after his grandmother died, Billy’s father’s face and jaw were crushed and disfigured from an accident on the farm. The family did not expect him to live.

As time went on and his father’s health did not improve, Billy worried he would have to quit school to help take care of the family farm; however, Billy’s dad did recover. His face would forever be deformed by the accident, but Billy couldn’t help but notice that his dad’s spiritual condition was transformed as well.

Soon, Billy’s parents were holding prayer rallies at their farm. Billy was always quick to find an excuse not to attend the meeting. One night, he overheard his dad telling his mother how a man named Vernon Patterson had prayed for God to raise someone of Charlotte, North Carolina who would preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Billy was skeptical that God could answer such a request.


6. He Thought He’d Heard All about Spiritual Matters

Billy thought he had heard it all before regarding spiritual matters, as he’d grown up going to church. By age 10, his mother made him learn the Westminster Catechism––which consisted of 107 questions and answers regarding foundations of faith.

To this point, attending church was more of a drudgery to Billy. He felt the pastor spoke in a monotone, uninteresting manner, and the songs were more like dirges. He often pondered ways they might make church more interesting.

When Billy would lay in bed at night,  he couldn’t shake the image of his grandmother seeing both Jesus and his grandfather. His grandmother’s comments on her death bed made Billy really believe that there was a heaven, which he’d been unsure about up to that point.


7. He Went to a Revival Meeting for the Wrong Reasons

When Billy’s parents invited him to attend a revival meeting, he agreed to go because he had heard there would be a clash between protesters and the evangelist.

At the revival there were no protestors, only thousands of people streaming into the tabernacle to hear the evangelist’s message. Night after night, Billy snuck into the back of the tent to listen to the powerful and convicting sermons––something stirred in him that made him sorry for his sin.

After many nights of meetings, Billy finally walked forward to turn from his sin to follow Jesus as his Lord and Savior. As he walked forward he wondered, Do I really want to hand over my dreams and my future to God? But the gospel was irresistible and Billy repented of his sins and surrendered to Christ. He could never have known what amazing plans God had for his future!

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8. He Never Turned Back

Once Billy Frank accepted Christ, his resolve to follow Jesus was transforming. He studied the Bible and carried it with him to school. To mark his conversion, he even changed his name to just, “Billy.”

Of course, Billy’s school friends teased him about his newfound faith and name change. Soon, they began calling him “Preacher boy.” Billy didn’t care. And he was delighted when two other friends who had also accepted Christ at the reveal meetings became his close friends, and they all helped each other to grow their faith in Christ.


9. He Grew Up to be a Powerful Evangelist

In his lifetime,  he has led countless people to Christ. When he was 30 years old, a group called ‘Christ for Greater Los Angeles’ invited him to preach at their revival where thousands of people would attend the five-week long revival. With heavy news coverage, Billy Graham instantly became a national figure.

Reverend  Graham has also served as advisor to many presidents. In 1983, he was awarded the Presidents Medal of Freedom––the nation’s highest civilian award. He has appeared 57 times on the Gallup organization’s list of the most admired men and women.

Graham was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the order of the British Empire for his 60 years of international contribution to civic and religious life. He is regarded by those who know him as witty, non-judgmental, genuine, innocent and patient. But Billy Graham’s greatest accomplishment will be revealed one day in eternity when The Lord shows him the harvest of souls from his ministry on earth. Talk about a life well lived!


10. He Became the Answer to Their Prayers

Think about it: the people in Billy’s small farming community came together to regularly ask God to raise someone up out of their midst who would preach the gospel to the whole world. Billy had no idea he would be that man. He was just a normal boy who loved baseball, dressing well, and many of the other things any young man his age would have enjoyed. But when God got a hold of Billy’s heart, there was no stopping this man’s zeal for proclaiming the gospel!

If God uses ordinary men to do extraordinary things––can you believe He will accomplish His plan and purposes through your life, too? What might God do through your children if you commit to pray and guide them like Billy’s parents did? When Billy went forward at revival to surrender to Christ, he was nervous about what wholehearted devotion would mean for his future. In the same way, only God knows what He has planned to do through your life before the foundations of this world (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Will you surrender? I am confident that if you do, you will one day look back at a life well lived––and you will have no regrets.

Becoming A Husband of No Reputation (Part Three of Three) 

screenshot_20180219-0623542087071888.jpgBecoming A Husband of No Reputation (Part Three of Three) 


[Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:7-8, NKJV

Sometimes out of fear and pride, I obsess over my reputation as a husband. Do I meet all my wife’s expectations? What if my small group of friends think I am an unfit husband or I am not sensitive to Rita’s every need? Do my children respect me as their mom’s husband or do they quietly wish I would be a better listener, emotionally engaged and not so selfish? I am learning these are not the right questions, because I cannot control my image of being a flawless husband. Only when I am a man who desperately needs my Savior’s love and grace can I become a husband of no reputation. Only as I abide in Christ, am I able to serve my wife as she needs to be served and loved. In time, I can acquire new skills and a mindset that surrenders my reputation.

“Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:8).

Channel Anger Into A Deeper Understanding

“In the same way, husbands, as you live with your wives, understand the situations women face as the weaker vessel. Each of you should respect your wife and value her as an equal heir in the gracious gift of life. Do this so nothing will get in the way of your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7, The Voice).

I get mad on occasion, not for good reasons. Mad at myself for not responding in an understanding way to my wife, instead I react defensively and playing the “I feel disrespected card”. Disruption in my soul surfaces when I lose the perspective of seeing my sweetie as the Lord’s “heavenly sandpaper”, smoothing off my rough edges of unrighteousness and making me more like Jesus. When I first seek to understand what is behind her questions, I see her heart of love, which thinks the best of me and wants what’s best for me. And when she misunderstands or is misinformed, prayerfully, I can patiently clarify and assume the best of her intentions.

Sometimes she will discover unaware, she hurt me. For example, her public criticism instead of private confrontation, is an occasion to lovingly remind her. I seek to forgive first and fast, and keep no record of wrongs, but I make sure to share my “sads” as well as my “glads”. Yes “sads”, likeNehemiah, downcast in face of the injustice his family suffered in a foreign country. Instead of bottling up anger that later erupts  in an ugly display, I channel those negative emotions into my desperate need for God’s grace expressed in seeking to understand and honor Rita. Calm, constructive conversation dispels my anger and repairs my relationship with my wife.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV).

Love My Wife As Christ Gave Himself Up For The Church

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

What does it mean to love my wife as Christ gave Himself up for the church? Jesus ultimately died for the church. He gave His life, so others could find life in Christ. So a better question for me may be, “How can I die to myself and give life to my wife?” I can start by being an engaged listener to what’s important to her: her day, her fears, her happiness and her concerns about me. When I die to crafting the conversation around me, I can better understand what my wife needs. Also, I can die to the expedience of making decisions on my own, and instead take the time to involve Rita in my thinking process. Processing together takes longer and can be clunky, but she provides a valuable voice and brings better ideas. When I give myself up, I gain a grateful wife.

“Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right” (Proverbs 8:6).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow me into a husband of no reputation, so my only concern is to please Christ and love my wife well, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: What are ways I can give myself up for my wife?

Related Readings: Proverbs 12:15, 15:1, 18:13; James 1:20

7 Simple Ways to Reignite the Passion in Your Marriage


7 Simple Ways to Reignite the Passion in Your Marriage

Do you remember how it felt to be in love? You had a spring in your step, a smile on your face, and no one could get you down. You were walking on air, feeling great, and losing weight!

Then what happened?

In nearly every marriage, complacency sets in. Circumstances over the years (and fresh wounds especially) can make a couple forget how they once felt for each other. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking our spouse for granted. Other times it amounts to seeing him at his worst and knowing he’s seen you at your worst, too.

Yes, marriage is about unconditional love, sacrificial love, and enduring love. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the passion again, too. Even in rocky seasons of a marriage, you must admit that there was a spark – or many – at one time. There was a desperation on the part of you and your husband to be with each other. What once caused a fire of passion and determination among you both to do what it takes to be with one another is still simmering somewhere underneath the surface of your hearts. That spark in your husband’s heart – and yours – just needs to be unearthed, rekindled, and fanned into a flame to burn freely once again. In my newest book, 12 Ways to Experience More with Your Husband, I offer seven simple ways to reignite the passion in your marriage. Are you ready to give it a try?


1. Switch it Up

Is each day at your home together the same old routine? You each have a load on your minds, one of you grumbles something to the other about dinner, and the two of you exist together, rather than extend toward one another? Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

While some people crave familiarity and routine, the “same old, same old” may be killing your hearts. Switch it up by doing something different.

Be unpredictable by giving your spouse a warm hug and a tender kiss (not a rushed peck on the cheek) as one of you enters the door. Set the table with a lit candle and serve him his favorite dish. Make him wonder what’s up as you switch up the routine to bring some spark back into the marriage. Switching it up means you – and your life – is suddenly not so predictable.


2. Reach Out and Touch

When your life and schedule is full of so many things, it’s easy to forget what you used to do with your hands. You most likely used to touch your husband a lot more than you do now. So, bring back some passion by reinstituting the art of touch.
Reach out with a tender touch before getting out of bed. Kiss and hug each other every morning before one or both of you leave the house. Reach across the table or the couch to hold your spouse’s hand, even if only for a few moments. Reach over to rub his shoulder if he’s disgruntled, distant, or could just use a backrub.
Not only is touch a powerful act of connection, but research shows that married couples who practice this simple daily discipline of affectionate touch are much healthier than those who don’t. And couples who enjoy a passionate relationship are all about touch.

3. Light Him Up

Admit it. You love your husband’s smile. Even if you don’t like much else about him right now, his smile once endeared him to your heart. So, make him smile by lighting him up through your words.

Husbands love to be affirmed and admired. In Scripture, a young bride endeared herself to her husband by telling him, among other things, “you are beautiful, my beloved, truly delightful…” (Song 1:16 ESV).

Don’t underestimate the power of your words. If you haven’t told your husband in awhile what he means to you, how handsome he is, and how much you desire him, then do it. And often. It may meet a need in him he might not have realized he had. And it may spark some passion in both of you, too. Light him up through your words, your praise, your smiles, and that look in your eyes.


4. Make Him Think

Men love mysteries. And chances are by now your husband might think he knows all there is to know about you. But stop wearing your heart on your sleeve and talking about everything on your mind. Try being a mystery to him instead.

Try being a different woman – a quieter woman, a woman with a secret, a mysterious woman – when he gets up in the morning or walks through the door at the end of the day. Find ways to nonverbally remind your husband that there is unexplored territory of your mind, heart, and emotions that would be well worth his time to investigate. Does he know what makes you tick? Make him think about it. The only way you will become intriguing to your husband is if you don’t put it all out there so that he has no more guesswork. Try smiling coyly when he asks how your day went, and don’t be so quick to answer. Reach out and touch his face lovingly when he is sure you were going to correct him or give him a task. It’s another way of switching it up and presenting yourself as a challenge once again.


5. Request His List

Your husband is familiar with your “honey-do list.” (Honey, can you do these things for me?) But what if you requested his “honey-do list.” I’m not talking about a list of tasks to lighten his schedule (like picking up his dry cleaning or ordering something for him online). We’re talking about revving up the passion, here, remember? How about requesting what he wants and needs most from you, intimately?

Ask your husband what his “Top 3” preferences are when it comes to your shared sexual intimacy. Does he want more visibility, spontaneity, creativity? Men are wired visually so it might help his passion level to leave the lights on once in awhile. Or maybe he likes the idea of a spur-of-the-moment rendezvous when the children aren’t around. (It’s okay if you plan it out ahead of time, as long as he thinks it’s spur-of-the-moment.) Maybe he’s a man who simply wants you to be more verbal during intimacy by telling him what you’d prefer or what brings you pleasure. Take the risk. Request his list. And be willingly to lovingly comply. It’s a tangible way to reconnect with him and let him know that the desires of his heart are important to you. (This goes both ways too.)


6. Release Your Inhibitions

I know this might sound risky, maybe even a little scary. But investing in your marriage is worth risk and sacrifice, isn’t it? As I mentioned earlier, most men are visually stimulated, and although it may be more difficult for some wives to embrace a positive image about their body, be regularly generous and demonstrative in your physical love for your husband.

A girlfriend of mine who is a godly woman and has been happily married 35 years (and still enjoys that newlywed passion), offered this: “Be brave and committed to sharing your body freely with your husband – even if or when it feels awkward. This may even include talking more during your intimate times, or talking about what gives each of you pleasure or enjoyment. And remember, confidence is the best aphrodisiac.”


7. Reminisce about the Early Days

Our hearts are connected to tender moments, passionate memories, and recollections of romance. Start talking about things your husband once did… or that you once did, that really made a difference in the passion level of your relationship. But don’t do it in a way that implies regret or accusation, or puts him on the defensive. Instead, talk about it as if you are divulging a secret. Smile a lot. Be playful. Flirt with him as you recall the things the two of you used to do to express your passion for one another.

Reminisce those early days by recreating them as well. Maybe you can’t return to the location of your honeymoon, but you repeat some of the same words you said to him on your wedding night. Or, watch your wedding video as you snuggle up with one another on the couch and tell him you still feel the same about him today as you did the day you married. Or, dine at a restaurant that reminds the two of you of a place you loved visiting when you first fell in love. Reminisce the moment, recreate the memory, and then recommit to one another. Passion won’t be too far behind.

Be A Blessing


Be a Blessing 

So he [Jacob] went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him.    Genesis 27:27

What is a blessing? It represents God’s goodwill. Furthermore, He uses people as a channel for His blessing. They invoke divine favor, conferring well-being and prosperity to others. We all long for blessing. We desire blessing from God and blessing from those we love and respect. This high level of approval and support comes in a variety of forms.

It can be words of admonishment and instruction. Words may paint a larger context of God’s overall will and purpose for your life. Blessings not only represent God’s favor and direction but also sanction support from other servants of Christ. So where does this longing to be blessed lead? It means you first receive the blessing of God and others, so you in turn can be a blessing.

Think how you can be a blessing to another today. How can you give people a divine context so they recognize and enjoy God’s purpose in their lives? Perhaps it is a quiet, private prayer for them. Or the Lord may lead you to publicly lay hands on someone, while asking for His blessing to reside on that person’s life and work.

Your bold blessing may be just what others need as they continue in their faithfulness to their family and faith. It can be a simple word of encouragement or a letter of gratitude. Your blessing to others can be formal or informal. Think of creative ways to formally bless your children as they transition into adulthood, or how you can informally bless a friend launching a new career.

In Christ we bless others; without Christ we easily curse others. If we do nothing, people are prone to fill in the blanks with negative thoughts and feelings. What power you have through the power of a blessing. Use it prayerfully and happily. Have you been blessed so you can bless?

The Bible says, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your blessings, so I can be a blessing to others, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Application: Whom can I bless today who may not feel worthy of blessing?

Related Readings: Genesis 5:2; 2 Samuel 6:20; 1 Peter 3:9; Revelation 1:3

Becoming A Husband of No Reputation (Part Two of Three)


Becoming A Husband of No Reputation (Part Two of Three)

[Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:7-8, NKJV

Sometimes out of fear and pride, I obsess over my reputation as a husband. Do I meet all my wife’s expectations? What if my small group of friends think I am an unfit, bad husband or I am not sensitive to Rita’s every need? Do my children respect me as their mom’s husband or do they quietly wish I would be a better listener, emotionally engaged and not so selfish? I am learning these are not the right questions, because I cannot control my image of being a flawless husband. Only when I am a man who desperately needs my Savior’s love and grace can I become a husband of no reputation. Only as I abide in Christ, am I able to serve my wife as she needs to be served and loved. In time, I can acquire new skills and a mindset that surrenders my reputation.

“Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:8).

Serve Selflessly Not Expecting To Be Served

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Reciprocal service is nice, but not necessary for the “husband of no reputation”. Quietly and strategically he serves: sets the table, clears the table, washes the dishes and yes, cooks! Or, he knows what his bride likes, so within the budget of course, he may support her with acts of service: take the children to school, pick them up and give baths before bedtime. Surprise his exhausted spouse with a spa day or breakfast in bed. Red roses on occasion, a candlelight dinner, take out the garbage, be responsible for the yard and house maintenance, and yes, the air filters. Be a servant leader in planning regular conversations around the calendar and finances. As David told his son Solomon: 1) Be strong, 2) Act like a man, 3) Observe what the Lord God requires (1 Kings 2:2-3). Serving without expecting to be served will serve your marriage well!

Emotional Engagement Not False Harmony

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other to be healed” (James 5:16).

I like harmony, even false harmony, if I can avoid conflict. Honesty can be hard. But my wife and every wife craves deep heart connection. Not more stuff but more husband. To know him and to be known by him. As a new husband emotional engagement was a foreign language to me, and I am still not fluent in communicating my heart. I stumble, I stutter and I otherwise get frustrated in trying to share what I feel to my best friend. It shouldn’t be this way, right? I feel safe, I just don’t know what to say. Fearful. Fearful of looking weak or not being understood.

Fortunately there is good news. Emotional engagement with my wife is much more a learned skill than a spiritual discipline. Yes, I must trust the Spirit’s discernment, but the skill of expressing my true feelings is a prerequisite to intimacy. Understanding my heart requires honest feedback from a community of friends as I process my hurts, my desires and my disappointments. A “husband of no reputation” is not afraid to be vulnerable with his honey about his hang ups. He remains vulnerable, does his best and learns. He laughs at himself.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:2-3, NKJV).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me learn the skill of sharing my heart with my wife, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: At dinner share my highs, lows and interestings from the day’s activities.

Related Readings: 2 Corinthians 11:27-30, 12:9-10; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10

Becoming A Husband Of No Reputation (Part One Of Three)


Becoming A Husband Of No Reputation (Part One Of Three)

[Jesus] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.Philippians 2:7-8, NKJV

Sometimes out of fear and pride, I obsess over my reputation as a husband. Do I meet all my wife’s expectations? What if my small group of friends think I am an unfit husband or I am not sensitive to Rita’s every need? Do my children respect me as their mom’s husband or do they quietly wish I would be a better listener, emotionally engaged and not so selfish? I am learning these are not the right questions, because I cannot control my image of being a flawless husband. Only when I am a man who desperately needs my Savior’s love and grace can I become a husband of no reputation. Only as I abide in Christ, am I able to serve my wife as she needs to be served and loved. In time, I can acquire new skills and a mindset that surrenders my reputation.

“Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:8).

Inward Trust Not Outward Control

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

I can make the excuse that a volatile, chaotic childhood drove me to obsess over controlling my environment into one of stability and certainty. Fear of being in an unpredictable situation may be a reason for my unhealthy obsession for control, but it is not a pass for my self-reliance. If I seek money for my security, I have replaced my total trust in the Almighty with an idol that requires regular sacrifices at the altar of selfish ambition. I can say the reason I work hard and sacrifice time away from the family is for the family, but I alone play the fool, since my family needs me now, not later when they won’t even know me. Inward trust creates peace and calm.

My Savior’s Approval First, My Sweetie’s Second

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:17-18).

I get this backwards. I strive for Rita’s approval, but when I intuit disapproval, I feel angry and like a failure. Similar to a panting dog, with his purple tongue flapping, I wait for a pat on the head and a treat for bringing the newspaper. But I quickly discover what she really wanted was for me to be still and be with her, so my sense of disapproval grew, because I didn’t pay attention to what she wanted. This is not my wife’s issue—it’s mine. I have to own my approval addiction and grow beyond my prideful attitude for my wife’s unconditional approval. She can’t and she shouldn’t. She can’t because 100% acceptance is reserved for Jesus and she shouldn’t hide her feelings to feed my ego. Only in seeking Christ’s acceptance first will I feel accepted. The beauty of seeking God’s approval first is that her approval will in many cases follow the Lord’s.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).


Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the humility and courage to die to my need to manage my image as a husband and to totally trust You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Application: Write a sentence or two of gratitude to God for your sweetie and share it with her.

Related Readings: Judges 18:6; Psalm 101:3; Proverbs 22:1; John 6:27; Revelation 3:1

Moving Forward in the Face of Criticism 



Moving Forward in the Face of Criticism


For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  Galatians 1:10

Before I became an author, I realized I’d been waiting for someone to encourage me to write a book. I thought if another, more successful writer validated me, then I could start moving toward the dream that God had placed in my heart. Deep down I didn’t want to look foolish and I feared the criticism of others.

One day as I browsed the bookstore for inspiration from an accomplished writer, I sensed that still quiet voice I had heard so many times speak to my heart: “Why are you looking for a leader outside yourself? Write what I have given you.”

No matter who you are, or what you want to accomplish, the only leader you need to move toward your purpose is the Holy Spirit.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Even Jesus knew when to ignore naysayers who wanted to prevent Him from accomplishing God’s plan for His life. In Luke 4:30, those in His hometown became furious when He said He was sent by God. To destroy Him, they drove Him out of town to the top of a hill so they could throw Him over a cliff. What did Jesus do? He walked through the crowd and went on His way.

Because He knew who He was and who His Father was, He decided He would fulfill His purpose, even if no one but His Father agreed.

Sometimes the best way to move on to God’s plan for you is to ignore negative evaluations and comments and, just like Jesus, go merrily on our way.

Can you imagine what Christ’s life on earth would have been like if He had been self-protective and feared criticism?

He would have kept His mouth shut when He was falsely accused. He would have defended Himself. When His enemies spit in His face, He would have retaliated. When they called Him names, He would have called down a legion of angels to defend Him. When they marched Him to Golgatha, He would have run. And rather than laying down His life to give His all to those He loved, the redemption of the human race would have been lost in His misguided passion of self-protection and the fear of criticism.

When we fear criticism and are overly self-protective, we can miss out on being a gift to others. You see, what God wants you to accomplish is not just about you; it’s about many people that God wants to influence and help through you. Ask the Lord to give you the strength you need to move forward in faith in the face of criticism. And remember, you are living your life for the approval of just One.

“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29).

Prayer: Lord, thank you that you will enable me to do what you have called me to and that I don’t need to fear the criticism of others. Amen.

Application: Write one phrase that stood out to you from today’s devotional and place it somewhere you can focus on it each day this week.

Related Readings: Daniel 3:18; Exodus 1:17; 1 Timothy 2:3

Here are 8 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying

Here are 8 Ways to Protect Your Children from Cyberbullying

It’s a sad reality that children today are being innocent victims of the anger and frustration of other kids their age. The Internet, and new smartphones apps, have become new platforms for bullies to abuse and harass others, and it’s no surprise, due to the anonymity of many applications, that many bullies are never identified. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is almost invisible to parents, as no form of physical abuse is displayed. Regardless, the effects it can have on a child’s mental health can be devastating.

In most cases, children who are not prepared to confront such behavior feel threatened and helpless by a bully’s malicious behavior, especially when they protect themselves with the anonymity of the Internet. Help your children combat cyberbullying and its dramatic effects by teaching them easy safety measures and tactics.

1. Don’t pay attention.

Even though your kids may not understand this at first, explain to them that often it is best to do nothing when a cyberbully attacks. Online bullies, or ‘trolls,’ like the attention they receive from their target, and in many cases the bully only wants to create pain and conflict, no matter what the responses are. Close the conversation before it increases the troll’s attention.

2. Build a barrier.

Bullies can be very persistent, depending on their objective. While a single message can be ignored, multiple unpleasant texts can’t. Social media sites and cellphones all have block options that can be activated in a few seconds. The Bully is never notified that they have been blocked. If a bully creates multiple accounts to fight this, it is still faster to block accounts than to create a new one.

3. Save the messages.

Unfortunately, many bullying cases start small and then become worse over time. It is important that you keep records of all offending content in case the abuse becomes worse and you want authorities to get involved. When malicious behavior is demonstrated with evidence, it is easier for authorities to respond.

4. Play with passwords.

There is one type of cyberbullying that involves stealing your child’s account passwords and posting embarrassing content with their identity. You can fight this together with your child by periodically changing the passwords of their accounts, deleting any offending content, and posting in the hacked account an explanation of what happened in case that others were offended.

Please note that a bully may have altered the contact information in the account, including the email address where a new password can be reset. Be very careful when helping your child protect their personal information to avoid repeated hackings.

5. Report the event.

When the bully has already changed the password and you have no way of recovering access to the account, you can report the incidentdirectly to the website and they will disable it or restore your child’s access. Many social sites are putting up a fight against cyberbullying and have easy tools and links to help you do this.

6. Follow them.

You are responsible for your child’s safety. Being as informed as possible of your child’s online activity can prevent many unfortunate events. If you are ‘friends’ with their accounts, you can follow their posts and see what others post to their site. If you see something unpleasant, contain your impulse to address the bully, as this can make the situation worse for your kid. Talk to your child about the situation privately and in a calm matter.

7. Don’t blame them.

Never blame your child for other’s behavior, regardless of how the situation originated. It is vital that your child feels safe at home from these attacks. Make it clear to your child that everything that is happening has to do with the bully’s issues, not with theirs. Try to make this attacks a positive experience for your relationship with your children.

8. Talk about it.

Communication is key. Create a system, or structure, for how to handle an uncomfortable bullying situation. Every child handles problems differently, be aware of how your child may react to different situations and know when they will ask for help and when you should offer it. Be aware of changes in behavior and increased anxiety. With cases of cyberbullying and internet usage increasing, it is important that you know the signs of cyberbullying, so you can be prepared to step in and protect your child, should the need ever arise.

A God Hug 


A God Hug


Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. Isaiah 49:13


A God hug is a timely gift. His hugs soothe, comfort and calm. He is never late in offering His affection or too busy to stand still and embrace His human creation. The Spirit gently caresses burdened shoulders and rubs out raw pain in the backs of believers. His compassion has never failed. His mercy is fresh every day. Like a cool cream alleviates an itchy skin rash, so His balm of grace relieves a rash of worries. A God hug holds on until healing occurs. He holds on tight.


Furthermore, a God hug does not happen on the run, but while we stand still. ‘Slow down my child,’ He says, ‘Hush, I have this,’ ‘Be still, let Me hold you.’ ‘Rest in My arms.’ So we learn to stay stationary by faith and trust the right activities will get done in the right time. When we schedule appointments to be loved by the Lord, we receive strength for the journey. Otherwise we exhaust our ability to encourage without the infusion of Christ’s courage. His hugs hearten.


“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 receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).


Affection from the Almighty makes us attractive to those who need our compassion and care. Our hugs from Jesus compel us to hug others with unconditional love. For example, we may receive an unexpected financial blessing, so we are able to show generosity to another’s cash challenge. An insight from Scripture or a kind word from a friend could be passed on to a person who needs our encouragement. God comforts us, so we can comfort others.


Shout for joy in praise to your Creator for His comfort and compassion. Brag on His name and extol Him for His divine affection. Like the father of the prodigal son who came home, your Father in Heaven can’t wait to embrace you in your shame, stress or success. He runs to greet you with warm acceptance, so throw yourself into His arms. Cast your cares on Christ and abandon your life to the Lord. Invite His affections to become your affections. Yes, enjoy His sweet embrace!


“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).


Prayer: Heavenly Father, I receive your love and affection. Thanks for your comforting hugs just when I need them.


Application: What comfort have I received from Christ that I can comfort another hurting soul with?


Related Readings: Psalm 23:4; Jeremiah 8:18; Zechariah 10:2; Nahum 1:7; Ephesians 1:3