Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

GUEST POST: Keeping Your Marriage the Priority: 5 Tips for Navigating the Child-Rearing Years

By Chip Ingram

I will tell any couple that the key to navigating those child-rearing years is to make your marriage your number one priority. My wife Teresa and I learned some things (through Scripture and personal experience) that I would like to share with you:

1. Keep cultivating the spiritual side of your marriage.

This doesn’t have to look legalistic or structured, but praying together and sharing your hearts is crucial to the health of your marriage. It looks different ways for different couples. Honestly, corporate devotions don’t work well for us. Instead, my wife and I each have our devotions and get together often and talk about what God is teaching us. This kind of sharing builds a necessary spiritual connection between husbands and wives.

2. Develop companionship.

It’s important to have fun together. This is the kind of thing that keeps the love alive. Youth sports, work and kid demands can very quickly crowd that out.

Of all the years of pastoring large churches, my wife and I spend much of my day off together. We go to lunch, goof off and have fun. Even in our earlier years when we were raising children we would usually have about three hours to ourselves. We’re still doing that after 30 years of marriage.

3. Build a structure for communication.

So, what do I mean by this? Here’s an example:

We, like most people, get paid every two weeks. Neither one of us enjoy doing the bills. So, we have made it a time where we leave the house, get cup of coffee, and write out all of our bills together. That way, we both know where the money goes and we are on the same page about our finances.

We would also spend this structured time to talk about the kids, and how they are doing … phases they were going through. So every two weeks, Teresa and I discussed money, values and kids, so we that didn’t find ourselves confused by going too long without talking about these things. We do these things that keep us on the same page.

4. Spend time with older, more mature couples.

Wherever we’ve lived in the past, we learned to seek out older couples who seemed to have a marriage like we would want to have and/or who have raised godly kids. This doesn’t need to be anything formal or structured, but proactively go after them. Go out to dinner with them.

You know that couple that is 20 years older than you, but seems to have more fun? Find out what they do!

And the couple that has four adult kids that walk with God? Hang out with them and learn what they did.

5. Be united in front of the children.

Throughout my marriage, I would say our biggest arguments were the result of not being on the same page about discipline and consequences. She thought I was too hard on the kids; I thought she was too soft. When she would not follow through with what we agreed upon, it drove me nuts. When I would deliver consequences that she did not agree with, it drove her nuts.

Then we decided that we would agree in private on discipline and consequences so that we could, in public, stand before the kids with a united front.

Chip is coming to The Cove this weekend to teach couples biblical principles of parenting. Space is still available for this specially priced retreat. For more information or to register online, click here. Chip caught up with BillyGraham.org. Click here to read more about “raising up parents” and the upcoming seminar at The Cove.

Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram is an accomplished author and the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, Calif. He is also president and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship media ministry that provides teaching through radio, TV, and interactive online discipleship pathways. For more information about Chip and Living on the Edge, visit www.livingontheedge.org.

GUEST POST: The Call to Give an Answer

By Alex McFarland

Doubts and questions about God and the Bible are nothing new. There have always been skeptics. Some are sincere yet misguided, while others are unwilling to embrace the truth once they’ve encountered it. Others simply have an axe to grind.

A number of websites (many of which are aimed at teens) are devoted to debunking the Bible. Books like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or Bart Ehrmann’s Misquoting Jesus have generated media coverage for “the new atheism.”

Consequently, many of the questions raised by these high-profile skeptics are also on the minds of skeptics with whom I interact.  During the course of planning this special conference at The Cove, here is one of the more common questions on the minds of people I encounter:

What about those who haven’t heard of Christ?

The Scriptures are clear that those who believe in Jesus will be saved (John 1:12).  But what about those in un-reached people groups?

The fact is that God has not forgotten the un-reached peoples. I Timothy 2:4 clearly states that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Acts 17:26-27 says that God has determined the times and places for everyone to live “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Scripture and contemporary missionary evidence support the claim that those who seek God based on the light they have will be given the knowledge of the Gospel in some way, even if this is supernatural (like the Gentile Cornelius, found in Acts 10).  This conclusion has been held by Christian thinkers ancient and recent, such as Thomas Aquinas, James Arminius, to modern theologians like Ronald Nash and Robert Lightner.  This view satisfies the claim that a loving God would make salvation universally available, but it avoids the problematic claim of inclusivism that people can be saved without knowledge of the gospel.

A striking example from modern missions that supports such a position is related by Don Richardson in the book Eternity In Their Hearts.  A man named Warrasa Wange from the Gedeo people of Ethiopia cried out to “Magano” (his tribe’s notion of the highest and most benevolent Deity). Warrasa asked the Deity to reveal himself.

Almost immediately, he began having visions of two white men building shelters under a large tree in his village.  A voice in the visions told him, “These men will bring you a message from Magano, the God you seek. Wait for them.”  Eight years later, two Canadian missionaries came to Warrasa’s village and met him under the same tree he saw in his vision. The missionaries shared the gospel and Warrasa and many of his fellow tribesmen believed.  I believe that this is a compelling example of God getting the Gospel to a person who honestly sought after Him based on the “light” he had. But what is important is that his salvation was based on the gospel he believed, not just on the “light” he had.

Beyond this the Bible does not clearly teach what will happen to those who never receive the good news of the Gospel but do attempt to seek God. As C. S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, “The truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are.”  The best a Bible-believing Christian can do is to trust in God’s wisdom, mercy and grace, and to suspend judgment salvation of the un-evangelized.  As the editors of Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World conclude in their introduction, “These optimistic hints can never become a first-order control belief” because the Bible is just not clear on this subject.

In reality, there is only one person of whom you may speak authoritatively regarding the condition of their soul:  yourself.  As with so many things in the Christian life, C. S. Lewis offers practical wisdom for the situation: “In the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. . . If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them.”  The bottom line is that we can trust that God, who loves the whole world, will take care of the questionable situations, but our job as Christians is to bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarland

As a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.

GUEST POST: Apologetics – An important part of evangelism today

By Alex McFarland

Alex McFarland
Alex McFarland

“Christian apologetics” is the practice of sharing reasons why we believe what we do. If you’ve witnessed to unbelievers you’ve probably heard various objections to the gospel message. Some people are under the false impression that the Bible contains errors. Others wonder how God (if He exists) could allow natural disasters. Whether a listener has a legitimate question about God or tosses out a thinly veiled excuse for unbelief, we must equip believers to support their faith with evidence and sound reasoning.

Apologetics means “a defense.” Its Greek root, apologia, appears several times in the Bible. For example, 1 Peter 3:15 encourages believers to “be ready always to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have.” Translated answer and reason, apologia is an ancient legal term meaning—you guessed it—“a defense.” That same word is found in Philippians 1:7 where Paul said he was prepared to defend the gospel. The principle is also echoed in Jude 3 as believers are encouraged to “earnestly contend” or “stand up for” the faith.

Each of us has been given the assignment of not only presenting the gospel but also explaining and defending the truths of our message to the world around us. There is plenty of evidence to support what we believe. The Bible reminds us that the good news about Jesus is not just based on human opinion or someone’s personal preference. Christianity is truth, not mere fables or myths (2 Peter 1:16). Romans 1:4 says that Jesus’ resurrection shows He was the unique Son of God. Acts 1:3 says that, after His resurrection, Christ showed He was alive by many undeniable proofs.

Christianity is unique in that it is the only faith system based on historical facts that can be thoroughly investigated. We have verifiable words and events, including the bold claims of Jesus Himself. When a non-Christian says “You have no right to judge me” they are absolutely correct. But Jesus has evaluated the entire human race and His Word sums it up for each of us: “You must be born again” (John 3:3-20). It’s there in black and white, yet people risk eternity by trusting their own opinion about what it means to be in right relation to God. If we hope to reach them we need to be armed, not to win arguments but to win souls.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarlandAs a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.