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7 Questions Every Husband Should Be Asking Himself

March 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Why do we men have an easier time talking about our favorite teams than our marriages? Is it because we don’t care? No. Is it because we care more about sports or politics than our marriages? Definitely not.

I suspect that for most of us, there’s insecurity and uncertainty. Reflecting upon our performance as husbands feels threatening. Our first thought might be: What am I doing wrong? And who wants to talk about that? (I realize there may be exceptions, and I ask those self-assured husbands to intercede for the rest of us.)

I might venture to say that we keep up with our marriages in similar fashion as those of us who live in New England—but who aren’t football fans—keep up with the Patriots: just enough to nod intelligently while the true fan goes on and on about Brady and Belichick. This strategy works when Christian men talk to other Christian men. The trouble comes when the truest fan of marriage, your wife, asks, “How do you think you’re doing as a Christian husband?”

After 26 years of marriage and hundreds of hours sitting with other men as we process our relational failures and occasional successes, we might want to consider how our reluctance to engage with our friends on this topic might end up blocking us from our desired goal. In the hope of fostering dialogue, here are seven starters to ask each other.

  1. How’s your prayer life?  Do you pray when no one is looking? When our interchanges with the Lord are self-initiated rather than dependent upon our wives, pastors, or small group leaders, we have more objectivity in the face of our failures. We don’t have to be perennially ashamed and generically guilty. We can build on the foundation of the Lord’s forgiveness and make better choices that are likely to stick. We can pray for our wife to be blessed beyond measure, even through us.
  2. How well are you listening to your wife? When she asks you to put down your phone or close your computer for the tenth time, does her disappointment register or do you simply feel annoyed? She didn’t just want to talk: she wanted you to listen. And to care. Did you remember to ask her about the concerns she voiced during your conversation the night before? We serve our wives through listening and following up on what was said.
  3. Are you aware of your mistakes? If you’re not saying “I’m sorry” on a regular basis, you’re probably not paying attention. (And yes, this goes both ways.) This includes apologizing for obvious infractions (like when you spilled your work frustration onto her and the kids) as well as the more mundane ones (forgetting to change the light bulb she can’t reach). Owning our mistakes helps our wives to trust us and keeps us in reality.
  4. Are you doing the things you promise to do? Early in our marriage, I would attempt to jettison out of conflict by promising that I would never do it again. (Itbeing any number of indiscretions such as being late for dinner or over-reacting during a conflict.) I had no idea what I was talking about and this only led to disappointment when I did the exact same thing two months later. A sincere apology is undercut by an unfounded promise and a bad track record. The truth is, I may continue to be late, to overreact, or forget to replace the light bulbs. Instead of overpromising, I’ve learned to let her know that I’m aware of my specific shortcomings and to keep her posted on how I am addressing them.
  5. Are you serving your home other than through your income? Yes, she may be more perceptive about what the children need and more efficient at running the home, but that doesn’t mean you can defer. For me, deferring usually comes to a screaming halt when I happen upon something that isn’t performed to my specifications (a missing check in the register or another unmatched sock).  All of my previous blithe indifference becomes a dictatorship about how things should be done. It goes much better for me if I help a little at a time, and keep my overwrought master schemes to myself.
  6. Are you digging into Scripture so that you understand what God is asking of you? Far too many of us think we know what Scripture says about marital relationships but really only vaguely remember what serves our best interests. Do your own work. Spend time going through the entire arc of Scripture so that you can truly understand what sacrificial love and godly submission look like. (Hint: The latter does not mean you can play the submission card when you want sex.) Give God the opportunity to correct you so your wife doesn’t have to. (See #3 above.)
  7. Are you pursuing sobriety—in thought and deed? Jesus tells us to pluck out our eyes, cut off our hands and feet, and cauterize our hearts rather than continue to sin. That seems to imply that what we do with our eyes, our minds, and our sexuality deeply impacts those who are closest to us. Software safeguards are the least we can do and maybe it’s time to take it to the next level and talk about your areas of sin and struggle with other men instead of avoiding it and pontificating about how magnificently the QB did in the second half. When you go first and say the obvious, you are likely to be met with support, camaraderie, and relief. And my guess is you’ll discover that talking about your marriage with other men will actually help you become a better husband.


Faith Films Coming This Spring

February 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
February 16th, 2018 – “SAMSON” (not yet rated) is based on the powerful story of a champion chosen by God to deliver Israel. His supernatural strength and impulsive decisions quickly pit him against the oppressive Philistine empire. After being betrayed, captured, and blinded, Samson calls upon his God once more and turns imprisonment into final victory. 

March 16th, 2018 – “I Can Only Imagine”, based on the incredible true-life story that inspired the beloved, chart-topping song, is a powerful reminder of how God can soften the hardest of hearts, offer forgiveness to the unforgivable, and mend broken relationships.

March 28th, 2018 – “Paul, Apostle Of Christ” brings to vivid life on screen the epic story of Paul, the man who went from persecutor of the church to its most powerful and important proponent. Paul suffers alone in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution under Emperor Nero. Mauritius, the ambitious prison prefect, can hardly see what threat this broken man poses. Once he was Saul of Tarsus, the high-ranking and brutal killer of Christians. Now his faith rattles Rome. At great risk, Luke the Physician visits the aged Paul to comfort and tend to him—and to question, to transcribe and to smuggle out Paul’s letters to the growing community of believers. Amid Nero’s inhuman persecution, these men and women will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and change the world. 

March 30th, 2018 – “God’s Not Dead 3: A Light In the Darkness” follows Reverend Dave as he is released from prison to a flurry of controversy. The growing social unrest leads to Dave’s church being burned down, taking with it the life of his closest friend.

Devastated, Dave is launched on a painful spiritual journey as he fights against the University trying to keep him from rebuilding his church, and as his belief that “God is good all the time” is put to the test.

Improve Your Prayer Life

February 6th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
If you want to improve your prayer life, the Echo Prayer Manager is a FREE app with no ads. It can help you pray for the things you care about, even when life gets busy.

The app:

  • Keeps track of all your prayers
  • Reminds you to pray
  • Gives you the space to pray
  • Lets you share prayers with others
  • … and more features are coming soon!

Visit  for more info or download it in the Apple App Store or from Google Play.

Dear Moms: In 2018, Get In the Picture

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Please hear me when I say this: In ten years, you will not look at these family pictures and wish you were ten pounds lighter.

I’m in the middle of busy season here at the studio…and I mean BUSY. I’m talking living on coffee, no sleep, and haven’t fixed my hair in two weeks kind of busy. My house is a mess, the studio is a mess, and I’m actually loving every minute. I’m enjoying spending time with my amazing clients and friends doing exactly what I love.

I’m putting aside my editing and mile long to-do list to write this letter to you. It’s weighing heavy on my heart today and I really feel like it’s something you need to hear.

Every day I interact with sweet moms who have kids of all ages. You spend so much time putting effort into your photo shoot. Coordinating the perfect outfits, making sure your kids get great naps, begging your husband to cooperate. I see you, and I’m so thankful for that effort. As your photographer I want nothing more than for you to love and cherish your photos. I want them to last forever and I want you do adore them forever, and the most rewarding part of this job is hearing how much you love them.

But, lately it’s been difficult for me to hear how hard you’re being on yourself. Here are a few things I’ve been hearing over and over the last month in different shapes and forms:

“I have been wanting to book a shoot with you, but I’m trying to lose ten pounds first.”

“Please, photoshop me as much as you can!”

“I couldn’t find anything that looked okay on me so I decided not to be in them.”

“Please hide me behind the kids as much as you can.”

“I will love the pictures as long as I’m not in them!”

“I love my pictures, I just wish I was not in them.”

“I get so stressed out when it comes to pictures.”

I see the panic on your face when I ask if you want to be in a photo. I even had a sweet mom tell me today that she absolutely loved her pictures and was recommending me to everyone she knew, but she had a major breakdown about the pictures she was in because she hated how her body looked.


Mommas…..please give yourself some grace.

As an artist, I study you in detail. I think you are beautiful. Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. But, I think we are talking about two different versions of beauty here. I’m not talking about your perfect outfit or your perfect body. What I see is the way you love your kids. The way you have so much patience and the way they look at you and giggle. That is so much more beautiful than perfect hair or make-up.

Sometimes they cling to you and don’t want to be put down. You get frustrated. I always assure you it’s okay. I love seeing how safe they feel in your arms and when they snuggle into you, I pretty much melt. (Even if it is totally messing up your hair.) Their drool on your shirt? Yes, of course I can photoshop that. But should I? You’ll miss that one day, you know. They adore you.

No matter hard you try, your photos will not be perfect. Life isn’t perfect. And that’s the beauty of photography – capturing the messiness of life as it comes and as it actually is. Because messy or not, you’ll never get those moments again.

And please hear me when I say this. In ten years, you will not look at these photos and wish you were ten pounds lighter. You will be looking at how little your baby is in your arms and wishing you could jump right back into that moment when they needed you so fiercely. You may even think how great you looked with less wrinkles and wish you could go back to that too.

In twenty years, when your sweet baby is grown they will look back and cherish these pictures. They won’t care about the outfit or what you weighed but they’ll be grateful they have something to remember how great of a mom you were to them.

Someday you’ll be gone and your great, great, great, grandchildren will see how much they resemble you and be so thankful for the legacy you left. This is the true beauty of a photo.

And let me just say, I’m speaking to the choir here. I’m not a mom yet, but I’ll be the first to admit I try to be perfect. In a world of social media and instant gratification with likes and comments, it’s hard not to be hypercritical of yourself.

So please, moms.

You literally made a human with that body of yours. Be easy on yourself. Give yourself grace. Take the pictures, even when you don’t feel your very best. Love the pictures, even when you don’t look your very best. You are more beautiful than you’ll ever know.

I promise you won’t regret it.


This article originally appeared at

5 Ways to Rediscover Your Spouse Over and Over

January 8th, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
Here are five practices that have helped us rediscover each other as we navigate marriage from season to season.

Marriage is said to be a three-stranded cord, a covenant between us, our spouse and God. The funny thing is God is the only strand that’s sure to remain the same. When we said those wedding vows, we promised to love each other well, even as we constantly change and grow. That’s why maintaining an attitude and practice of discovery is essential for a thriving marriage. Today, I’d like to offer just a bit of what my husband and I have learned over these past 12 years of imperfect, but thriving marriage. Here are five practices that have helped us stay in discovery mode with each other as we navigate marriage from season to season.

Daily Debrief –Okay, debrief sounds kind of stuffy, but this is about as informal as it gets for us. We enjoy this practice every evening to wind down and it’s truly become refreshing to us both. This is where we discuss anything and everything that’s on our mind and hearts that day. We talk about what we did, something beautiful we saw, something funny the kids said or a song on the radio that made us cry. Anything is fair game. The goal is to simply cultivate a habit of sharing in life together.

It’s also a space where we touch base about anything from our schedule, budget or decisions that need to be made. Covering those seemingly minor details can go a long way to minimize miscommunication, preventing a snowball of stress and frustration. Truly, practice makes progress with this habit. It may take some diligence (and forgiveness), but is so worth the effort.

Open-Ended Questions – Open-ended questions are a wonderful way to intentionally foster a sense of discovery in our marriages. Open-ended questions tend to provoke more fulfilling exchange than “Did you have a good day?” or “Did you get that project done at work like you hoped?” For us, our conversation went to new places when we learned to say, “Tell me about your day.” Or “What are your hopes for our weekend?”

“Double-clicking” – I first heard this term in a business training many years ago. It stuck with me and is essentially asking a question based on answers. It’s active listening at it best. Consider this example.

Me: Hey honey, tell me about your day.

Him: It was good. I had those two meetings this morning and then I was extremely busy, but productive the rest of the day. I still need to prepare for my meeting with management on Tuesday.

Me: What would you like to see come about as a result of that meeting? Best case scenario? (This is double-clicking. Let’s take it a little farther.)

Him: Well, I’d like to …

Me: That makes a lot of sense. How can I best pray for you and empower you as you prepare for this important meeting?

At the heart of it, double-clicking can be a powerful way to say, “I’m interested in what you’re saying. You’re important to me. I want to learn more about you and all that pertains to you, because I am your #1 partner in life.”

Shared Language– This is something that my husband and I have slowly adopted conversation by conversation. When caring curiosity drives conversation, you’ll find yourself learning things that you never thought you’d know, all so that you can have a deeper understanding of your spouse and all that affects their daily life.

I have learned just enough about my husband’s business so that as he shares with me, I can more clearly grasp his professional goals, challenges and victories and encourage him in those things. He has done the same thing for me by learning about homeschooling or whatever I’m nerding out about at the time. Our conversations can go a lot farther and are a lot more satisfying because we’re willing to take interest in each other’s passions, hobbies and work.

Go first. You’ve expressed interest in your husband, initiated some open-ended conversation and you’ve given him opportunity to share. What’s on your heart that you could share with him about you? If you start inviting him into the dreams of your heart, you give him permission and encouragement to do the same. Going first means taking risk. It’s gently modeling the exchange you would like to grow in your marriage.

I’d love you to share in the comments below how practices like this work for you and your husband. As always, I’d be honored if you’d share this article with anyone you think it would encourage.


This article originally appeared at

LifeWay Study Finds Bible Reading As a Child Leads to More Faithful Adults

November 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips

By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Most churchgoing Protestant parents of young adults say their kids grew up to be Christians.

But half of them don’t actually practice the Christian faith, their parents say.

And the biggest factor predicting their spiritual health as young adults is whether they read the Bible regularly as kids.

Those are among the findings of a new study among Protestant churchgoers about parenting and spirituality from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The study was sponsored by LifeWay Kids for use in the book Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith.

For the study, researchers surveyed 2,000 Protestant and nondenominational churchgoers. All attend services at least once a month and have adult children ages 18 to 30.

Researchers wanted to know what parenting practices pay off over the long haul when it comes to spiritual health, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

“Churchgoing parents want to pass on their faith to their kids—and to see their children make that faith their own,” said McConnell. “But they don’t always know how best to make that happen.”

Spiritual disciplines

LifeWay Research took a twofold approach to the study.

First, researchers asked parents about 40 factors that could affect a child’s moral and spiritual development. Among them: whether the child’s parents had been divorced, whether the family prayed or ate meals together, what kind of school the child attended, how often the child went to church or youth group, and even what kind of music the child listened to growing up.

LifeWay Research then asked parents to describe their adult children’s spiritual health, using eight observable factors. Each child received one point if he or she:

  • Identifies as a Christian.
  • Shares his or her faith with unbelievers.
  • Is involved in church.
  • Reads the Bible regularly.
  • Serves in a church.
  • Teaches others at church.
  • Serves in the community.
  • Supports local or foreign missions.

Parents gave observations for a total of 3,472 adult children. Eighty-five percent identify as Christians, according to their parents, giving them at least 1 point on the 8-point spiritual health scale. But only 3 percent had a score of 8, the highest possible. Two-thirds had a score of 2 or less. Half had a score of 0 or 1, meaning they either don’t identify as Christians (11 percent) or they identify as Christians but have none of the other spiritual practices (39 percent).

LifeWay Research then compared the results of all these young adults to find out which factors predict the highest spiritual condition.

The top factor: Bible reading. Twenty-nine percent of the young adults regularly read the Bible while growing up, according to their parents. On average, that group has 12.5 percent higher spiritual health than otherwise comparable individuals who didn’t, LifeWay Research found.

In addition, spiritual health levels are 7.5 percent higher on average for young adults who regularly spent time praying while growing up (28 percent), regularly served in church (33 percent) or listened to primarily Christian music (22 percent) than for comparable individuals who didn’t.

And scores average 6.25 percent higher for young adults who participated in a church mission trip while growing up (27 percent) than for comparable individuals who didn’t.

Doing all five of these practices in childhood could boost a young adult’s spiritual health score 41 percent, putting the young adult above the 90th percentile, said McConnell.

“Practicing your faith—in specific ways—really pays off later in life,” he said.

Nothing Less, said it’s easy for parents to be caught up in the busyness of life—and not to ground their kids in the practice of reading the Bible.

“The key takeaway from the study is a simple yet profound finding that God’s Word truly is what changes lives,” she said.

Researchers identified a few factors that point to lower spiritual health for young adults. Those whose parents say they did not want to go to church as teens (22 percent) score 5 percent lower on spiritual health as young adults. Those whose parents say they were rebellious (16 percent) had scores 3.75 percent lower than others, and those who listened primarily to secular music (58 percent) had scores 2.5 percent lower.

Attending popular church activities such as youth groups and Vacation Bible School predicts spiritual health for young adults—but only when linked to core practices such as reading the Bible and serving, said McConnell. Other activities, such as family meals, did not show up as key predictors in this study.

Parents’ behavior is also related to their adult children’s spiritual health, LifeWay Research found. Young adults had higher spiritual health scores if they grew up with parents who spent time:

  • Reading the Bible several times a week.
  • Taking part in a service project or church mission trip as a family.
  • Sharing their faith with unbelievers.
  • Encouraging teenagers to serve in church.
  • Asking forgiveness when they messed up as parents.
  • Encouraging their children’s unique talents and interests.
  • Taking annual family vacations.
  • Attending churches with teaching that emphasized what the Bible says.
  • Teaching their children to tithe.

All these little things can pay off, said McConnell, by showing kids what practicing your faith looks like.

“In the end, parents hope the light will go on and their children will want to follow God on their own,” he said. “At any age the Holy Spirit can flip the light switch, and these habits can help kids grow in their faith.”

3 Ways to Honour Your Church Leaders During Pastor Appreciation Month

October 2nd, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in Advice and Tips
By Mark Dance (source:

Scripture is clear about the importance of showing “double-honor” to our pastors. What better time is there to do that than this month during Pastor Appreciation Month?

Your church has the opportunity to join thousands of churches across North America in recognizing your pastoral staff in a public and positive way.

From my personal experience as a pastor, I would like to suggest three ways churches can honor their pastors.

  1. Recognize Your Pastor Publicly

“Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12).

Respect is rarely more than a noble sentiment. A special appreciation event gives church members an opportunity to articulate their personal expressions of love, respect, and appreciation. At least one of those recognitions needs to be made by a visible lay-leader on a Sunday morning.

If October is not a good time on your church calendar to bless your pastor publicly, leverage a key anniversary or birthday instead.

  1. Encourage Your Pastor Personally

“Regard them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

Pastoral staff members are more than mere professionals; they are someone’s spouse, parent, and child. Whether they are leading successfully or failing miserably, all pastors need encouragement, love, and respect of their church families. Ask them how you can pray for their family, then follow up with a note so they know you are seriously praying for them.

Treat your pastoral staff like friends or family members because they are both. Provide a listening ear and safe place for your pastors to share their dreams, as well as his nightmares. Will you join me in pouring into our pastors who have so generously poured into us?

  1. Bless Your Pastor Tangibly

“The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher” (Galatians 6:6).

“The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

Here are a few tangible ideas to show your pastoral staff you care.

  1. Express love and encouragement in writing or in person.
  2. Take your pastor hunting, fishing, golfing, etc. Or provide tickets to a sporting event, concert, or movie.
  3. Set out a gift basket in October for notes and gifts.
  4. Mow their lawn/wash their car.
  5. Provide a night out with a gift card for dinner and childcare.
  6. Ask them how you can pray for their family.
  7. Deliver their favourite dessert or meal.
  8. Take them to lunch.
  9. Help with a house renovation.
  10. Purchase and arrange a couples retreat.
  11. Bless them with a sabbatical (timeshare donations).

Whether churches do this in October or at another time during the year, LifeWay’s Pastoral Leadership team has provided resources to help you honor and bless your pastors. Free resources for Pastor Appreciation Month are available at You’ll find downloadable materials including “33 Ways to Bless Your Pastor,” and an interview with Pastor A.B. Vines about implementing a culture of honor in your church. Other resources include a comprehensive list of discounted hotels, retreat centers, and Bed & Breakfasts.

I hope these ideas and resources help to prime the pastor appreciation pump in your church. Know that your pastor will be genuinely grateful for anything you do.