Genuine intimacy is the cry of our nation. Many individuals search through multiple marriages trying to find the vital connection their souls long for. Still louder shouts the silence of the man or woman who has been married for decades and feels alone in that partnership.
Many feel they have done everything right at home and with their spouses, yet there is little or no intimacy. Far too many partners feel like roommates—as if they are just getting by emotionally. If fulfillment is promised, then why is it that few couples enjoy that impassioned connection?
I don't think this is God's plan for your marriage. He wants you to live the abundant life and to have a marriage full of joy and love—and this is what we're going to accomplish these next thirty days. We are going to make your marriage over into what God has designed for you and your spouse.
I have lived in the laboratory of other people's marriages for many years. In addition, I myself have journeyed from the inability to be intimate to a place of deep intimacy and great fulfillment with my wife, Lisa.
Early in my married life I had the feeling that I was surrounded by walls. I desperately wanted to step out from behind those walls but could not find a way to connect to my wife. God in His graciousness drew me into the field of marriage and family counseling, where I gained much understanding. Still, no one explained, These are the steps to intimacy: The mystery of intimacy and the skills required to build and maintain it continued to elude me—as it does for so many others in my field. read more
Just in time for Valentine's Day, a true love story of a couple's Christ-centered commitment winds up shredded by Hollywood's moviemaking machine in this sign-of-our-times "chick flick."
Kim and Krickitt Carpenter's real-life story is one of sadness, true love, and God's grace and protection. The couple—whose inspirational account was first told in their 2000 book, The Vow (B&H Books), and now in a movie by the same name—never gave up on their marriage, despite tremendous obstacles thrown in their way.
After only 10 weeks of marriage, the Carpenters were involved in a life-threatening accident the day before Thanksgiving in 1993. Though Krickitt was given a less-than-1-percent chance to live, she eventually awoke from her coma. But Kim's excitement to have his wife back didn't last long: Krickitt had no memory of meeting him, getting married or going on their honeymoon. Doctors explained that the last year and a half of Krickitt's memory was gone and would possibly never return.
Throughout their struggles to restore the life they'd dreamed of sharing, the Carpenters clung to God and centered their broken relationship on Him. And through His goodness, they were able to save their marriage and push past Krickitt's memory loss and personality changes caused by her severe head trauma.
That's what happened in real life. Onscreen, however, it's a different story—literally.
The major motion picture, which hits theaters 16 years after the Carpenters signed over the rights to their story, is not only a prime example of what happens when a true story goes through Hollywood's fine-tuned moviemaking machine, it's also a tell-tale sign of our culture's modern fixation with antiheroes and not-so-happy endings.
Starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, The Vow had every opportunity to be a heartwarming romance to the likes of The Notebook—a broken man fighting for the woman he loves, no matter the cost. Unfortunately, it hardly measures up to the Carpenter's truly inspirational story.
The film is about Leo, a record studio owner, and Paige, an art student and sculptor. From flashbacks, we see the young couple happy and in love, with Leo constantly wooing his beautiful bride. But after the two suffer a car accident four years into their relationship, Paige wakes up with no memory of her husband. And it's at this point where the movie takes a major detour from the true story.
In fact, Paige has lost five years of her memory and last remembers being engaged to another man, Jeremy (Scott Speedman). She can't recall leaving law school to become an art student, meeting her husband or even that she's been estranged from her family for a number of years.
Although the relationship breaks down after the accident, the couple's fairy-tale romance is depicted in an enjoyable way through a series of flashbacks. The little snippets into their love story pre-accident portray two kindred spirits falling in love and getting married in the beautiful city of Chicago. Leo continues to romance Paige even after they're married, and she is clearly smitten.
But when Paige wakes up, her commitment to Leo has vanished. Although she briefly tries living with the husband she can't remember, the young wife quickly escapes to the comfort of her old life—ex-fiance and all. Leo fights for her, trying to help jog her memory with their wedding video, apartment and her art studio.
His attempts to win her back culminate with him taking Paige on a romantic date. Paige keeps her promise—which she doesn't recall making—to skinny-dip (wearing underwear) with Leo in Lake Michigan, and the couple even share a kiss or two. They really hit it off, and it seems their love story is back on track. But shortly after, Leo gives up on the woman he loves.
With all of the negative elements added to the story—Paige's controlling parents, the man she almost married trying to win her back and Leo's absence of a family—The Vow becomes another case of Hollywood furthering our culture's supposed preference for depressing endings in the name of "reality." Add to this a bedroom scene that features partial nudity, a rear-view shot of Tatum fully naked and an opening sequence graphically reenacting the auto accident, and this PG-13 film clearly proves it's not family friendly.
For all its changes from book to the screen, however, The Vow's most glaring omission is also the most important part of the Carpenters' real-life love story: their faith in God. To this day, Krickitt still can't recall an important segment of her life, yet she continues to remain faithful to the vow she made to her husband as she puts all of her hope and trust in God. She and Kim place their Creator in the center of their relationship and relentlessly work on recovering what they once had.
"We don't have a story without God. And that story really is about commitment—commitment to Him and commitment in marriage," Kim told the Christian Reader.
In a recent interview with The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.), Krickitt said: "I would love to say that I fell in love with him again because that's what everybody wants to hear. I chose to love him and that was based on obedience to God, not feelings."
Sadly, though not surprisingly, The Vow heavily focuses on the feelings and not at all on their obedience to God. In fact, the movie never even mentions God other than when characters—including the couple—take God's name in vain (along with using profanity).
Most people enjoy a movie more when they haven't read the story in a book. And that's obviously the case with The Vow, which misses out on telling a truly romantic—and yes, just as realistic—story without all the dark elements. Yet even for those who have nothing to compare it to, the movie still lacks the quality of romance (and acting) most chick flicks offer. While it offers plenty of awww moments and is sure to leave its (mostly female) audiences fawning over Leo's sweetness, this Vow ultimately breaks down in depicting a heartbroken husband winning back his wife.
Gina Meeks is an assistant editor for Charisma magazine. read more
The last few days I have been waking up thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. I kept hearing his "I Have a Dream" speech as I awoke each of the last few mornings. He is one of my heroes of the faith; a difference-maker, and a catalyst for good and for the generations. I asked the Lord if there was some further meaning to my thoughts about him. He said, "I gave him a dream, and I have given you a dream."
I decided to write out my dream in honor of one of my hero's dreams. Thank you, Lord, for Dr. King, who stood for You, stood for freedom and gave his life for the cause of that freedom. I write this in honor of him and the legacy he left for us all:
"I have a dream that one day the kingdom nation of God will rise up and live out the true meaning of Christ's all-consuming creed that fulfills all laws and prophecies with these words: 'The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and also love your neighbor as yourself. read more
Guys who have been touched and challenged by the message of the faith-based police drama, Courageous, to become the godly influence in their home that God intended, have an opportunity to share it with others in a low-key way, starting tomorrow.
The hit movie from the makers of Fireproof releases on DVD, providing a great opportunity for men to host a small group viewing or invite non-Christians friends who may have felt uncomfortable going to see it in the theaters to watch together at home.
The makers at Sherwood Pictures—based at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.—have reported hundreds of testimonies of husbands and fathers who have been inspired to turn their lives over to God in a new way through the movie.
Among those who have written to the producers is Aimee, who told them: "I want to thank you for what you have done to my marriage. My husband is a police officer, so the movie particularly struck close to home. Not only has he stepped up to be what God intended him to be, he has given up addictions and vices that were crippling and shattering our marriage and the relationship he had with our kids." read more
Albert Narracott loved the thoroughbred horse from the moment he saw
him. When his father purchased the animal in a moment of pride, Albert
vowed to take care of him. He named his beloved horse Joey and instantly
set to work on training him.
Set in Europe during World War I, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse follows
Albert and Joey on an incredible journey of courage and adventure.
Played by newcomer Jeremy Irvine, Albert teaches Joey how to plow his
father’s field for planting, despite tremendous opposition from his
family and townspeople who do not think the small mare has the stamina.
When Albert’s father, Ted Narracott, sells Joey to the British
military in a moment of desperation, young Albert is devastated and
pleads with the soldier who purchased Joey to let him serve alongside
his animal. Capt. Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston, Thor) refuses because Albert is too young, but he agrees to return the horse when the war is over.
Albert soon finds out Capt. Nicholls has died in battle, and he fears
Joey has met the same fate. But the brave horse makes his way through
Europe as we watch him become acquired by German soldiers and then cared
for by a young girl and her grandfather in France.
Joey is eventually dragged back into battle and forced to haul heavy
artillery for soldiers intent on completing their mission with no
thought to the consequences the horses face. Though the thoroughbred
escapes, racing through ravaged lands, he entangles himself along the
way in barbed wire fences.
As viewers, we’re taken through a gripping journey of triumph,
sadness, hope and joy. Albert joins the war when he’s old enough in an
effort to find his dear horse. With Joey’s tenacity and Albert’s love,
it is hard not to believe these two will be reunited again—as impossible
as it may seem.
Because it is set in the middle of WWI, War Horse features
violence. Several battle scenes depict dead soldiers and horses strewn
on the battlefield. Two German traitors are executed and throughout the
film, horses are treated brutally. Albert is gassed in a battle scene,
and afterward he is badly scarred around the eyes.
Spielberg puts his own touch on the film, based on a young adult
novel that was adapted into an award-winning play. Though promoted
heavily among the “faith-based community,” War Horse doesn’t
contain overtly Christian messages beyond such elements as loyalty,
friendship and laying down your life for another—even if it’s a horse.
Characters mention God a handful of times, as when a down-on-his-luck
Ted Narracott tells his wife: “I used to believe God gave each man his
fair portion of bad luck. Now I don’t believe that anymore.” And when
Capt. Nicholls and Joey enter their first battle, the soldiers shout,
“Fear God! Honor the King!”
Though Spielberg’s latest wartime project has a heartwarming message
and contains no sexual content or noticeable profanity, the movie earns
its PG-13 rating for intense battle sequences. Families with young
children may opt to choose another movie on its Christmas Day release.
But those with teenagers will enjoy the tale of a young boy and the
incredible, unconditional love he has for a horse that is more friend
than farm animal. read more
I write this aboard a jet airliner
speeding south from one of the nation’s greatest northern cities. I am heading
home for Christmas.
How eager I am to see
the face of my wife, embrace my now-grown children who are gathering at the old
homestead, grab my little grandchildren and swing them high as they squeal:
How eager I am to sit
quietly with my dear friends, my extended family, to embrace and whisper “I
love you” in the ears of those as committed to me as they are to their own
blood relatives. We will embrace, take off our shoes, sit in front of a fire
(sipping egg nog), and feel “at home” in each other’s presence.
Home for Christmas! My
oldest son will be driving through the night after finishing his work in the
nation’s capital—joining his family in Florida. Our youngest daughter will
fight the mobs which throng the airports, winging in from college in
In all of our efforts
to get home for Christmas, we touch others—desperate, happy, lonely,
cheerful—thronging crowded terminals, all trying to make that mystical
What is it on this day
that so drives us to be among loved ones?
Busy businessmen forget
about buying and selling, creating and convincging, to lounge around the house
with the family. Things like trade agreements, real estate deals, marketing and
sales—all take a back seat to important things like carving the turkey and
opening inane but precious gifts under a tree.
professors, their cheeks ruddy and hair blowing in the wind, race up and down
sidewalks, laughing and shouting as they hold on to small children riding bikes
with training wheels.
Ranchers and dairymen
quickly finish morning chores so they can take off muddy boots and join
laughing families at Christmas breakfasts.
physicians, engineers—(all intellectuals, all degreed and pedigreed) sit
cross-legged under trees, waist-deep in wrapping paper, turned into little
children—at least for the day.
Gangsters, tax evaders,
liars, drunkards, adulterers, prostitutes, even members of the Mafia—all turn
aside on this day to kneel at altars and shed a tear in a communion cup for a
baby in a manger.
Home for Christmas!
Broken-hearted parents sit and wait by the telephone, anxiously scan the mail,
hoping memories of Christmas past will stir the heart of a runaway child and
bring word of safety.
Runaway children, some
young, some very old, walk city sidewalks, huddle in lonely motel rooms, sit and
stare in drab apartments on this, the loneliest day of the year—yearning for
some power so they can hurdle the wall of pride and reach out for home.
Soldiers in far-flung
military outposts, wet and cold, sweaty and sticky, stand lonely watch around
olive drab vehicles or shiver in isolated guardhouses at the gates—all dreaming
Airmen, cramped in the
cockpits of flying cannons high in the darkened and silent skies on Christmas
Eve, look upward for a star, then down over tilted wings at the winking lights
below Misty-eyed, they dream of the touch of a mother’s hand, the warmth of a
father’s chuckle, the squeals of little ones, cookies, candles and a choir
singing “Silent Night.”
Home for Christmas? For
many it is but an impossible yearning.
In hospitals, while
suction machines whir and monitors beep, some fight for their lives. Christmas
is but a card, a small wreath on a tray, or the gentle touch of a nurse’s hand
to say,” I am with you on this day.”
In jails and prisons,
men and women, black and white, lie on rusting steel cots facing concrete
walls, or stare upward at gray ceilings where peeling paint covers faded
obscenities written by those who walked this angry path before them. All,
strong and weak alike, finally bury their faces in the mildewed canvas of a
lumpy pillow and cry away the day.
Home for Christmas! In
nursing homes, neglected and forgotten, the grand old people of this world
reach out for a small group of strangers with cookies and carols, vainly look
for comfort from an indifferent attendant bitter over a rotation system that
forces her to work on a day when no person should work, struggle to hear a
voice on radio or see a face on television—anyone who might bring a message of
comfort and cheer.
The words echo from the
centuries: God rest ye merry, gentlemen.
God rest ye merry? How can there be any merriment if we are not home
Why all this homesickness? Why does a cup of cold water seem so blessed
on this day when loneliness sweeps the world like an epidemic?
Why do the Salvation Army lassies take on an almost saintly hhue as
they ring their little bells? They, even if you do not, will try to provide a
home for those not home for Christmas.
Could this homesickness be from God himself?
Is it possible that Jesus, lying in a bed of straw on Christmas Day,
was homesick? Could it be the memory of heaven still lingered? Were some of
those infant tears the same tears lonely men and women shed today—tears in
memory of home?
This Christmas, missionaries will gather their families about them in
heathen cities, will hang red and yellow decorations on banana trees, will walk
through maddening Orient markets where the world roars by without even knowing
the name of their baby. They are followers of Him—men on a mission.
So He came, to bring heaven to earth, to make the kingdom He had known
and establish it on this planet.
Because of Him, men and women in many sectors of earth no longer throng
taverns, no longer blast their brains with ungodly sound, no longer fill their
bodies with chemicals. Because of Him children do not run away. Because of Him,
no matter where we find ourselves on this Christmas Day, we will be home.
O tidings of comfort and joy!
Jamie Buckingham was
senior pastor of the 2,000-member Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla., a
nondenominational church he founded in 1967. The former editor of Ministry
Today magazine, he wrote dozens of books, including autobiographical works for
Nicky Cruz (Run Baby Run) and Pat Robertson (Shout It From the Housetops). He
died in 1992. read more
It has been said that the New Testament
is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New
Testament. This is certainly true of the birth of the Messiah, which we
celebrate this month. One need only turn to the pages of the Old Testament to
discover where, when, how and why Jesus of Nazareth was born.
Where would the Messiah
be born? When Herod the Great sought to find the Messiah, he asked the Jewish
religious leadership to discover where He would be born. They, of course, had
the answer immediately: Bethlehem.
How did they know this?
Because the prophet Micah had recorded this revelation hundreds of years
earlier. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the
clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" (Micah 5:2, NIV).
There are two interesting
points to this prophecy. First, the word Bethlehem is formed from two Hebrew
words, bait ("house") and lechem ("bread"). It is no
coincidence that Yeshua, the Bread of Life, was born in the town known as
"house of bread."
Second, this verse has
the fascinating statement, "Whose origins are from of old, from ancient
times." This prophecy reveals the amazing paradox that the Messiah would
be born, yet He already would have existed! Only Yeshua, who John reveals was
in the beginning with God and is Himself God (see John 1:1) could have
When would the Messiah
be born? To answer this, we have to turn to Daniel 9 (for further study on this
chapter, I recommend Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks by Alva J. McClain,
Zondervan). "The Anointed One will be cut off but not for Himself. The
people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary"
(see v. 26).
This clearly states the
"Anointed One" (Mashiah, Messiah) would be "cut off," or
killed, and that after this the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed.
Daniel 9:26 foretells that the Messiah would die before the city of Jerusalem
and the temple would be destroyed. It wasn't until A.D. 70--after Yeshua's
crucifixion--that the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
How would the Messiah
be born? One of the great signs of Messiah's birth was that He would be born of
a virgin. This concept comes from the Old Testament and ancient Jewish
expectation. As Isaiah 7:14 promised us: "Therefore the Lord himself will
give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel."
Those who argue against
the virgin birth point out that the Hebrew word used here, almah, and
translated "virgin" simply denotes a woman of marriageable age and
not a virgin. Two things should be mentioned in response to this.
First, in the
Septuagint--the translation of the Old Testament into Greek in 250 B.C.--the
Jewish scholars chose to use the Greek word parthanos (the clear Greek word for
"virgin") when they translated this passage.
Second, the origin of
the virgin birth actually dates back to Genesis. Here, the Lord gives us His
first promise to redeem mankind and informs Satan that at some point in time
"the seed of the woman would crush his head" (see Gen. 3:15). He says
"seed of the woman"--a strange phrase because "seed" is
usually referring to the man.
Why would the Messiah
be born? Again, the Old Testament has the answer. "He was pierced for our
transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought
us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Is. 53:5)
Yeshua was actually
born to die. He came to this earth, set an example for us of how to live, and
then gave His life as an atonement for us.
What is most important
about Christmas? That we remember the "reason for the season." This
is a celebration of the Son of God. The incarnation of God Himself into human
form has transformed time itself and has begun the process of redemption for
Bernis is president of Jewish Voice
Ministries International and has worked on the forefront of world
evangelism since 1984, taking the good news of Israel’s Messiah worldwide and
to the Jewish people. He is the founding rabbi of Congregation Shema Yisrael in
Rochester, N.Y., where he served as senior Messianic rabbi from 1984 to 1993.
He also founded and pastored the Messianic Center of St. Petersburg, Russia,
where he lived and ministered from 1993 to 1996. read more
Dr. Doug Weiss is all about healing. He has devoted his life
to healing the sexually broken. Through his work as a counselor and clinical
psychologist as well as his many books, public speaking and numerous media appearances,
Dr. Weiss has been able to help rescue thousands from sex addictions and other
problems. He claims an 85 percent success rate. He personally understands
sexual addiction, and has been successfully sober for more than 24 years. read more
C. S. Lewis wrote in The Problem
of Pain: "If God were good, He would wish to make His
creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty, He would be able to
do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore, God lacks
either goodness, or power, or both. This is the problem of pain in its
Of the many questions raised by suffering
and evil, these four capture most of the heart issues:
Does God know? (the issue of His omniscience)
Does God care?·(the issue of His benevolence and love)
Can He do anything about it? (the issue of His omnipotence)
If He knows, cares, and can do something about it, why doesn't He?·(the·issue of His purposes and will)
So much about suffering and evil remains opaque and impenetrable. On the other
hand, a lot is knowable. read more