Category Archives: Guest Posts

GUEST POST: Seven BILLION Souls

By Ron Hutchcraft

I was just doing the math. At one point in time, we had one grandchild. I couldn’t believe my wife was old enough to be a grandmother! But then – within a matter of years, that one has become eight grandchildren!

But that’s nothin’. In that same period of time, a billion more people have joined us on this planet. And this week, our “global village” just changed the population sign from six billion to seven billion.

Not just seven billion people. Seven billion souls. According to Jesus, each one of them is worth more than “the whole world” (Mark 8:36 ). And according to the Bible, each one of them will ultimately spend forever in heaven or hell. And 150,000 of them will slip into eternity every single day. I don’t know about you, but I find all that more than a little breathtaking.

And the orders of Jesus remain unchanged: “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15 - NLT). Everyone. Each of those seven billion humans deserves the chance to know that God “so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16 ) to take their hell and give them heaven.

So, with the seven billionth soul born this week, the stakes just got higher. The Final Orders (AKA, the Great Commission) just got more urgent.

But as the number of lost souls grows exponentially, something strange is happening. Many Western churches are cutting back their missionary budgets – sometimes to spend more on themselves. The percentage of believers’ income given to God’s work is declining – and the percentage of that which goes to reaching a lost world is shamefully small.

Missionaries who are ready to take that Good News to some needy place in the world can’t go yet – it’s taking them three years to find the support to go. And when some Christian young people tell their Christian parents they’re sensing God’s call to world missions, their parents are telling them to “do something more secure and just give to missionaries.” We want our kids to do something important, right? Don’t tell God that. His Son was a missionary.

With nearly a billion people more to reach with each decade, how can we possibly be content to do it the ways we’ve always done it? At this time of an unprecedented people explosion, we also have within our reach an unprecedented communications explosion. Through technologies like the Internet, social networks like Facebook, mobile systems like iPads and smartphones – and, in some parts of the world, the still powerful “old school” technologies of radio and television. Does this population explosion leave us any choice but to use “all possible means” (1 Corinthians 9:22 ) to give every soul a chance? To capture the most powerful delivery systems in history to deliver the most powerful Message in the world!

If Jesus wept over a city that was lost (Luke 19:41 ), how must He weep over a world that is lost? With more lost souls than ever before. But as world evangelist, D. L. Moody, said: “The Master’s heart is pierced with unutterable grief…not over the world’s iniquity, but the Church’s indifference.” Forget about the Church’s indifference – what about yours and mine?

The exponential growth of souls on this planet isn’t just a fleeting headline – it’s a mandate for the people of God. All of us. Each of us. To pray differently. Give differently. Even plan our future differently. We certainly cannot explain to God “business as usual.”

Because God so loved the world.

Ron Hutchcraft will be speaking at The Cove on March 23-25th.  His seminar is titled: “How Then Should We Live: Bold Living in a Meltdown World.”  Special offer:  FREE seminar if lodging on property! Click here to register and for more details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Ron HutchcraftRon Hutchcraft is an evangelist, speaker, author, and radio host. He is president of Ron Hutchcraft Ministires and founder of On Eagles’ Wings, a Native American leadership program. Ron Hutchcraft is committed to communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost in their language and to motivating and equipping believers to communicate Christ in their world. For more information about Ron and his ministry, visit www.hutchcraft.com

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GUEST POST: A Ministry of Presence

By Jack Munday, Director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team

Dealing with tragedy often leaves people feeling overwhelmed and helpless. What do you say to a loved one who found out that she has cancer? Or to a friend who just lost his parents in a tragic accident? As you wrestle with the realities of life and death, what can you do to bring the smallest amount of comfort into an unbearable situation?

Many, if not all, of you reading this are going through a life-changing hardship, or know someone who is. When the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a nationwide network of chaplains trained in crisis-response, deploys into an area impacted by a man-made or natural disaster, we often find that up to 70 percent of the people with whom we interact were already in the midst of a personal tragedy in their lives before the large-scale disaster struck.

When personal disasters occur, there are multiple needs that must be met. There are the obvious physical needs, such as financial assistance, medical care, rides to the hospital and pharmacy, and others. Beyond that, however, exist the emotional and spiritual needs that often receive less attention.

What do you do if a friend or loved one’s world just changed forever? Perhaps the most important thing to offer is what we call a “ministry of presence.” Simply being there for your friend can mean more to them than you may ever know. It seems that many of us have a built-in fear of getting too close to sorrow, so our first inclination is to run from the pain. We’ll say, “I’m praying for you,” as we run out the side door. We treat our friends, with whom we were laughing and shopping two weeks ago, like we want nothing to do with them.

Jack Munday
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team Director Jack Munday ministers with victims of all kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made.

The emotional toll of that, especially in addition to the physical circumstances of whatever they are going through, is enormously destructive. That’s why it is so important to be there for your friend. What should you say? Consider this: maybe you don’t need to say anything!  Many of you know the biblical story of Job, a wealthy man who lost nearly everything he had – his possessions, his family and his health. Three friends came to mourn with him, and the Bible tells us: “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” (Job 2:13, NIV) They didn’t have to say a word; they just sat with him as friends. In fact, everybody was a lot better off when the friends weren’t speaking!

Very few people who are going through a tragedy feel like listening to a sermon. What they do want is the chance to share their story and the concerns of their heart. Ask questions that give them that opportunity. We have found that asking “How are you holding up?” is a much better option than asking “How are you doing?” If you ask “How are you doing?” many will reply “fine,” even though we all know they aren’t. Or, in more extreme circumstances, they may angrily retort, “How do you think I’m doing!?” Asking “How are you holding up?” acknowledges that they are going through a hard time and opens the door for an honest answer.

I would also encourage you to not discard the spiritual as you minister to the emotional needs of your friend. As we travel through despair and trial, it’s important to know God is greater than our current pain and sorrow.

Two verses that offer a great amount of hope are Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (NIV) Also, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) God is very much able to take the broken pieces of our lives and make something good out of them, though we may never know this side of Heaven what that is.

The cornerstone of the Christian faith is the wondrous truth that God, rather than remaining distant and aloof from our suffering, sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ into this world as a “Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). After dying on the cross for our sins, Christ – through His resurrection from the grave – made it possible for us to have hope that endures for eternity.

Whether you are supporting someone who is dealing with tragedy, or if you yourself are the one walking through this valley, lean on God, not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5). And please remember that through it all, often the best thing you can do is simply be available to offer love, respect, support and encouragement … without ever saying a word!

If you are interested in learning more, The Cove is offering a leadership training seminar entitled “Sharing Hope in Crisis” on February 25. This program will equip you to give effective emotional and spiritual care to people experiencing tragedy and crisis. Designed for use in daily life and ministry, as well as community or regional catastrophic situations, it will introduce you to the work of RRT and is a requirement to be an RRT chaplain. Click here to learn more.

Jack Munday is the director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, a nationwide network of crisis-trained chaplains who are prepared to deploy into manmade and natural disasters to minister to the emotional and spiritual needs of survivors. He is also a senior chaplain with the International Fellowship of Chaplains and a chaplain with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Jack lives in Charlotte, N.C., with his wife of more than 40 years, Bonnie.

GUEST POST: What Does it Mean To Me?

By Kendra Graham

Have you ever walked out of church, away from Bible study, or gotten up from your quiet time and wondered, “So, what does that mean to me?”  I found myself asking this question time and time again. I loved the Lord, and I spent daily time in devotions, whether it was reading a passage of Scripture, doing a Bible study book on my own, or reading something like Our Daily Bread or Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. But, I still felt like something was missing.

Shortly after I was married to my husband Will, I was introduced to his Aunt Anne [Graham Lotz]. Anne had just come out with her first published video series, “Vision of His Glory,” a study on Revelation. I was intrigued.  Anne taught a method called the three questions: What does it say? What does it mean? and What does it mean to me?

It was that last question in the series that caught my attention, and deep inside my soul I screamed, “Yes! This is what I have been waiting for!”

Anne taught me how to study God’s Word without using every commentary aid on the market, and it made all the difference in the world!  My daily quiet times became the most anticipated part of my day! I was now able to open God’s Word, read it and listen for God to speak to me! God’s Word began to transform my life like never before. The hunger in my soul was being satisfied, yet at the same time I just wanted more and more. And, more there is, everyday…. just enough to get me through until the next time we meet in the stillness of my morning.

I have always respected God’s Word with the utmost respect, but now, God’s Word has become precious in the indescribable ways. Come to the upcoming Bible study on Joshua, allow me to teach you the treasure of these three questions, and hear God speak personally to you.

Click here to learn more or to register for the Bible study.

GUEST POST: A Life Guided and Cared for by God

By Jane Derrick

I will lead a free women’s Bible study at The Cove on Tuesday mornings Jan. 10 through March 20. As we study the book of Acts, we will be amazed at how powerfully and lovingly God guided and cared for the early followers of Christ. Each week, we will seek to encourage one another and to grow in our awareness of God’s presence and help in our lives.

Watch this video invitation we recorded with more information. I hope you will join us … and invite your friends!

Click here to learn more or to register for the Bible study.

GUEST POST: Seeking Jesus Like the Magi

By Kendra Graham

On Sunday after the Ladies Luncheon event, as I walked out of the auditorium at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, I was left with the magnificence of God’s Christmas gift.  My cousin, Rachel-Ruth Wright, was invited to come to The Cove to share God’s Word, and that she did!

Matthew 2:1-11 speaks of God’s precious gift of Jesus to a sinful world.  Matthew 2:2 says, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews, for we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him!”

Rachel-Ruth Bell Wright shares from God's Word at the Ladies Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 4.

Rachel-Ruth shared how Heaven was opened up for the shepherds on the night when Jesus was born and invited them to the manger of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. But that same night, a star appeared in the east to the Magi, who were looking in the night sky. When they saw the star, they packed their bags and followed it mile after mile to where Jesus was.

How great a Savior, who comes to His chosen people, the Jews, AND to the Gentiles!  Jesus is for the whole world. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him SHALL be saved (John 3:16)” Jesus was born!

Rachel-Ruth reminded us that in a world that was unsteady, an economy ready to bust, oppression at its highest peak, Jesus came. Jesus who will shepherd His people (Matthew 2:6). Jesus loves us and cares enough to lead us, protect us and tenderly care for us as we maneuver through life.

Rachel-Ruth reminded us how the Magi sought the Child until they found Him, and when they found Him, they worshipped Him and fell down at His feet (Matthew 2: 9-11).  God’s Word promises us when we seek we will find – if we seek with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). Rachel Ruth asked if this Christmas was the Christmas God has whispered in your ear, “You have sought Me, and found me. Come today.” Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Ten women asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins! What a glorious day, to see God work in the lives of His people. Like the Magi, who went back to their homes a different way, these ten women went back to their homes, not a different way, but entirely different indeed. These ten women are eternally changed by the love of God revealed at Christmas. Praise God for His indescribable gift of Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Today, maybe you have been seeking like the Magi from the east. Maybe you have come a long way, through pain, suffering, times of heat and cold, but today, as you have read the message Rachel-Ruth gave at The Cove, maybe you are hearing God whisper in your ear, “Here I Am! You have found all you have been seeking!” Jesus is everything.

God promises in His Word “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” (John 1:9).  Will you ask Jesus to forgive you, and to clean your heart this day? There is no greater gift you could lay at the feet of Jesus than your sin that He died to cover. What say you?

Kendra Graham is the wife of Will Graham, assistant director of The Cove and associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Kendra leads a free weekly women’s Bible study at The Cove January 10 – February 21, 2012. Click here to learn more or to register.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Ladies Luncheon: Dec. 9, 2012. Click here for more information or to register.

 

GUEST POST: Be Filled with the Spirit

By Will Graham

Have you ever noticed how life’s distractions and temptations can change your spirit? Think about it. You go into work in the morning with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, only to overhear a co-worker denigrating your abilities in front of your boss. How do you react? Later you have an opportunity to work your way out of a difficult situation by bending the truth to fit your needs and cover your back. How do you react now? Finally, you see an accounting error that could add some extra money to your paycheck if you simply stay quiet and do nothing. With all of these frustrations and temptations piling up, you probably would not be feeling overly spiritual at that point.

The fact of the matter is that in our fast-paced society, with so many different distractions around every corner, it is easy to be filled with a worldly mindset and not filled with the Holy Spirit. That, however, is no excuse. Frankly, we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What does this mean? It means that you are to be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit—God, dwelling in you, ordering your steps.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr in the Scriptures, gives a beautiful picture of someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 6:3 and 7:54-8:1 offer a few key characteristics in this example of a man who was facing the cold reality of death at the hands of an angry mob.

First, someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit is of good report (6:3). It is not that having good report—being known by others as virtuous and pure—fills you with the Holy Spirit, but it is the Holy Spirit that allows you to have this trait. The Sanhedrin were opposite of this. They called murderers, betrayers, stubborn, and disobedient (7:51-53). Why?  Because they resisted the Holy Spirit. They wanted nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.

Second, unlike the Sanhedrin, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit welcome the truth (7:55-56). Stephen sees Christ standing at the right hand of God, and he commits his spirit to God. He was glad to see Jesus and trust Him with his spirit. Those who are not filled with the Spirit were the same ones that—in verse 57—began to “cry out in a loud voice” because they heard truth and wanted to drown it out by their own words.  They also covered their ears, trying to prevent the truth from affecting them.

Finally, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit will intercede for others (7:60). Stephen was falsely accused, falsely arrested, and was about to be stoned, and yet he prayed for those who were about to stone him. What compassion! The only way Stephen could do this was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. This was not a one-time deal but a way of life for Stephen. Acts 6:3, 5, 8 and 7:55 all state that Stephen was a man who was filled with the Holy Spirit.

This needs to be a way of life for us as well. Too often we only want to be filled with the Spirit on Sundays, and as soon as we leave church, we return to our worldly routines of mundane tasks, acceptable temptations or angry confrontations.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit—being of good report, welcoming the truth, and compassionately interceding for others—has a lot to do with your effectiveness as an evangelist for the cause of Christ. If you are someone who truly wants to reach the lost (a motivation all believers should share), you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. If you have been witnessing to that friend from work, but then turn around and terrorize your colleague for speaking ill of you, or bend the financial rules for dishonest gain – My friend, you are doing more harm than good for the Kingdom of God.

Conversely, if you are living a Holy Spirit-filled life, in which—much like Stephen— you take the distractions, frustrations and temptations of this world and handle them with the purity, truth and compassion of the Holy Spirit, others will want to know what it is that makes you tick. They will want to know what is missing in their life that is present in yours.

My friends, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Eternity is at stake.

Will Graham

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He currently serves as assistant director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

GUEST POST: Let the Fire Fall

By Cliff Barrows

When I was 10 years old, my father took me to Yosemite National Park in California. And, there at Camp Curry (which is today called Curry Village®), the National Park guide was talking to us about Glacier Point – the face of the mountain that extends more than 7,000 feet above Camp Curry, commanding your attention from the valley floor.

He explained that on the top of that mountain, workers had been amassing wood and debris and had been burning it all day so that it was a huge mass of coals. He said to us, “Come back at 9 o’clock tonight and you’ll see a sight you’ve never seen before.”

Well, we were there. I had a hold of my dad’s hand. And, there was the guide, adjusting his signature park ranger hat. He was looking at his watch and said, “Alright, it’s 9 o’clock. Let’s listen. We’ll hear a voice from up on top of the mountain.”

All of sudden, we heard, “Are you ready, Camp Curry?”

Our guide cupped his hands and shouted up, “We … are … ready! Let the fire fall!”

And, up on the mountain, there were guys with pusher boards with poles. They pushed that great big pile off the ledge, and those coals cascaded down the face of the mountain.

We all said, “Oh, look at that.” They did that time and time again. They stopped it now many years ago.

But, in my own mind and heart, I know many times the Spirit of God has said to me, “Are you ready, Cliff? Do you want Me to pour out My power upon you? To let Me work in this area of your life so that I can be manifested? And, being convicted, I’ve said, “O God, I am ready. Let the fire of your Holy Spirit fall in my life as never before.”

Today, my prayer is again, Philippians 3:10 (in the Amplified version) which says “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death.”

Yosemite Firefall
Yosemite Firefall. Photographed by Richard Marklin on May 18, 1963. http://firefall.info
Cliff Barrows

Clifford Burton Barrows (born April 6, 1923 in Ceres, California) is the longtime music & program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has been a part of BGEA since 1949. He is best known as the host of Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program, and the songleader and choir director for the crusade meetings. Cliff appears regularly at The Cove, including SeniorCelebration events and Christmas at The Cove. Visit www.thecove.org for more info.

GUEST POST: Mama says, “No So-Poppers”

By Jennifer Rothschild

The older I get the more frequently I hear the words of my grandmother echo through my memory. Mama taught me a lot through her life and words. I giggle now at one of her admonishments. In her sweet voice, with her Southern draw, she would say, “Honey don’t ever watch ‘so-poppers’.” As a young girl I vowed I would not — even though I had no idea what “so-poppers” were. As a young adult I finally realized the words “soap-operas” had gotten lost in her thick Georgia accent.

While that’s great advice, even greater wisdom came from her favorite scripture she would quote to me. “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you.”

Mama knew the power of words. In the book of Proverbs we see that the words of the wise are persuasive; that a person’s words can be life giving water; and that wise speech is more rare than gold and rubies.

I heard that the average woman uses 25,000 words a day. (That comes as no surprise to the verbally challenged men in our lives). Given the number of words we speak, we should pay attention to not only the words we use, but also the way we use our words.

In Luke 4, Jesus is in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. He has come back home to Nazareth to preach and to teach. After he has spoken, Dr. Luke tells us in verse 22 that “the people were amazed (or astonished) by His gracious words.”

A few verses and several cities later, we see Jesus again in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. This time though, in verse 32, He is in Capernaum. The response of the people? …”they were amazed, because he spoke with authority.” So Jesus was known not only for his authority, but his gracious words. Isn’t that what we seek as Christian leaders? When we speak the Truth, we want it to be authoritative, but we should also want it to be communicated with graciousness. Authoritative words should never be offensive, and gracious words should never be without power. If our words reflect His Word, then people will be amazed and astonished at the One who speaks through us. For this to occur we must submit all 25,000 words to him daily, and pray:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

And … as Mama says, turn off those “so-poppers.”

On Sept. 10, Jennifer will be with us at The Cove for a special women’s seminar called “Your Thought Closet Makeover.” Click here for details.

Jennifer Rothschild

Jennifer Rothschild is a celebrated author, songwriter, recording artist and Bible teacher. Diagnosed at age 15 with a degenerative eye disease that would eventually steal her sight, she is the founder and publisher of the popular online magazine WomensMinistry.net and has been a featured speaker for Women of Faith and other national women’s conferences. For more information about Jennifer Rothschild and her ministry, visit www.jenniferrothschild.com.

Praying for The Cove’s Future Guests

By Amanda Parrish

In a life often run dry by constant activity, the pressures of decisions, disappointments, anger and regret, many seek a chance to pause and breathe.

Giving participants this chance is part of the heart of The Cove. Challenging guests to relax, refresh and renew while growing and learning is an important part of ministry. This challenge lives within the hearts of staff members and volunteers. Beyond the greeting smiles, lies a heart of more than mere politeness. All incoming groups have been cared for long before entering the gates at the bottom of the mountain. Fully aware of life’s many challenges and difficulties, the staff and volunteers at The Cove commit to praying and providing for guests before their arrival and during their stay.

Nearly every department of The Cove, from office staff to house cleaning, has determined to care not only for the physical needs of the participants, but also the core spiritual needs.

To the approximately 20 housekeepers charged with cleaning the inns and cabins, scrubbing bathrooms and changing sheets is not just a necessary duty. Their goal is to provide a restful environment, relieving the guests of pressures and worries, allowing them the space to hear God.

“We are here to take the cares of the world away so they can focus on the Lord,” Tina McGuinn, who oversees lodging and housekeeping, said. “That’s our dearest ministry.”

Cleaning the sinks and dusting the furniture, these precious women dedicate much of their time praying for the participants. The housekeepers pray for the encouragement, the refreshment and the healing of the guests. They pray the teaching and quiet time will remain with the participants and be incorporated into life as they return home. They pray for an outpouring of joy, peace and rest. Their purpose does not lie solely in cleaning, but ministering in the simplest way. The staff’s desire is to help relieve the pressures of the world, allowing guests to be free to move toward the heart of God.

Deanna Sales, food service coordinator at The Cove, said the dining room staff prays for the guests as well. While greeting participants and serving their tables, the staff pray for the needs of the guests. Familiar with life’s struggles, each staff member can sympathize with the need for refreshment and a friendly, encouraging smile.

Before each meal, the dining room workers gather together, grasp hands and take a moment to share needs. Prayers for the refreshment of each guest entering the dining room, strength for the staff and peace for those “closest to eternity,” fills the small circle before the meal rush begins.

Kay Whithington, volunteer coordinator for the Prayer Intercessors at The Cove, also seeks to minister to guests and staff. “Our hope is to be a source of encouragement,” Whittington said.

This team of volunteers prays consistently for the staff and participants of The Cove. Walking about the grounds, meeting in the chapel and praying about the needs and concerns of all on campus is part of their ministry.

Office staff also grasps the opportunity to pray for the guests. Receiving a list of seminar participant’s names, each member of the staff prays for the group and for the individuals.

The importance of praying and caring resonates with many guests. Some face the difficulties of life and find strength to continue and others worn thin find encouragement to begin again. This is a ministry of caring ingrained into the heart and history of The Cove.

GUEST POST: Love and Relationships

By Dr. Gary Chapman

Mark was a successful businessman. He admitted that he was reluctant to call my office. “But I’m desperate,” he said. “My wife told me last week that she does not love me; in fact, she doesn’t even like me and she wants me out of her life. How can that be true?” he continued. “We have a good marriage. I’m a good provider. We have a nice house and three wonderful children. I love Suzanne deeply. I’ve given her everything she wanted. I don’t understand. How can she just throw away seventeen years of marriage? If I were a bad husband, I could understand; but I’m a good husband. I’ve never been unfaithful to her.” Tears are now flowing down Mark’s face. “Besides that,” he said, “we’re Christians and Christians just don’t stop loving each other.”

I spent some time expressing empathy with Mark’s pain and frustration. Then I asked, “Has Suzanne verbalized complaints to you over the past few years?” “She’s always saying that we don’t spend enough time together. My business is very demanding.” “What else has she complained about?” I inquired. “She says we don’t talk. When I get home, I’m tired of talking. I’ve talked all day and I need some down time.” “What else has she complained about?” I asked. “A couple of weeks ago, she said that I loved golf more than I loved her. That’s not true. Golf is one of the ways that I unwind and it’s good for the business.”

It was obvious to me that Suzanne’s primary love language was Quality Time, and Mark had not spoken her language in a long time.  I knew that there was no quick fix for Mark’s marriage. I wasn’t even sure that Suzanne was willing to talk about it.

The need to feel loved is our deepest emotional need. When that need is unmet over a period of time, we lose our romantic love feelings for our spouse. Then, their negative behavior patterns begin to annoy us. That is why Suzanne could say, “I don’t love you; I don’t even like you.”

After thirty years of marriage counseling, I am convinced that there are only five basic languages of love. Each person has a primary love language. If you don’t learn how to speak your spouse’s primary love language, he or she will eventually lose their feelings of positive regard toward you and will, in fact, dislike you. If you speak your spouse’s primary love language, you keep emotional love alive in the relationship.

Let me briefly describe each of the five languages.

Number one: Words of Affirmation: using words to affirm your spouse. “You look nice in that outfit;” “Thanks for taking the trash out. I really appreciate all the hard work you do.” “You are the greatest.” The scriptures say “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Number two: Gifts. My academic background is anthropology, the study of cultures. We have never discovered a culture in which gift giving is not an expression of love. A gift says “She was thinking about me. Look what she got for me.” Gifts need not be expensive. Haven’t we always said, “It’s the thought that counts”? If Gifts is your spouse’s primary love language, it is not what you give but how often you give that communicates love.

Number Three: Acts of Service. The scriptures admonish that we are to love not only in word but in deed.  (I John 3:18) Cooking a meal is an act of service. Washing the car, walking the dog, mowing the grass, doing the laundry, changing the baby, and vacuuming the carpet are all expressions of love.

Number Four: Quality Time. Quality Time means giving your spouse your undivided attention. It is not sitting on the couch watching television. It is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other; or taking a walk down the road and talking with each other. It may involve a picnic or a weekend away. The important thing is the two of you are sharing life with each other. The next time you are watching television and your spouse walks in the room, put the TV on mute, turn and look at your spouse. Give them your undivided attention and you communicate that they are more important than anything on television. It is a powerful expression of love.

Number Five: Physical Touch. We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Holding hands; embracing; kissing; sexual intercourse; putting your arm around their shoulder; putting your hand on their leg as you drive down the road; a back rub; or perhaps gently wrestling them to the floor are all expressions of love.

The key to keeping emotional love alive in a marriage is learning to speak each other’s primary love language. So how do you discover your spouse’s love language? Answer the following three questions. “How does my spouse most often express love to me?” If they give you words of affirmation regularly, that may be their love language. They are giving you what they wish you would give them. Number two: “What does your spouse complain about most often?” Our complaints reveal our deepest desires. Suzanne complained, “We don’t ever have time for each other. We don’t talk. You love golf more than you love me.” Quality Time was her primary love language. Number three: “What does your spouse request most often?” If your spouse says “Would you help me make up the bed?” “Would you give the children a bath tonight?” Such requests, if they come regularly indicate his/her primary love language is Acts of Service.

Three things are required if you are to be a successful lover. Number one: Information: What is your spouse’s primary love language? Number two: The will to love. Love is a choice. And Number three: Regular expressions of love, using your spouse’s primary love language.

It took Suzanne nine months of counseling to work through the pain, the hurt, the neglect and the lack of empathy exhibited by Mark. But eventually, their marriage was reborn. “If anyone had told me that I could have love feelings for him again, I would never have believed it,” said Suzanne. “But I do. He’s speaking my language,” she said with a smile on her face. Learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language and you too can live with a smiling mate.

Dr. Chapman will be at The Cove July 29-31. Space is still available. Click here for more information. A free live webcast of the first session will take place on July 29 at 7:15 ET on www.thecove.org.

Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman is the best-selling author of The Five Love Languages series and an international speaker on marriage, family, and relationships. The government of Singapore invited him to present his marriage seminar, and the Chaplain’s Office of NATO invited Dr. Chapman to speak to the NATO forces in Germany. Other engagements have taken him around the world. He has served for more than 35 years as senior associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC.