Know Where You’re Going


Those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. Proverbs 14:22

Early in their marriage, FamilyLife ministry cofounders Dennis and Barbara Rainey decided to go away for a weekend. Their goal was more than a couple days of relaxation. Separately, they each created a list of values that they wanted to one day teach their children. After making their lists, Dennis and Barbara came together and settled on their top five family values. That project was a wonderful time of sharing for the Raineys that also established “true north” for their journey as parents. In later years, Dennis and Barbara had a written record to refer to when child-rearing issues arose. In fact, Dennis still carries that dog-eared piece of paper with him wherever he goes.

Whether you write your values list on paper or in your heart, it’s important to recognize where you are leading your family. As Yogi Berra once said, “You got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Your children will discover and embrace the values that matter—love for each other, kindness, integrity, devotion to God—only if you have the right map to lead them there. Choose your values wisely (see examples in Matthew 7:12; Romans 12:9–13; 1 Corinthians 16:13–14; 2 Peter 1:5–7)—then stay on the trail!

Before you say good night…

Do you have a plan for leading your family?

What are your family’s top five values?

Are you passing on your values to your kids?

How can you do a better job of this?

Lord Jesus, apart from You, we wouldn’t even know where to start. Help us to lead our children; help us to set the pace toward a godly life. Show us what You value most so that we might live those values within our home…and before a watching world. In Your strong name, amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Values list material from Growing a Spiritually Strong Family by Dennis and Barbara Rainey with Bruce Nygren (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 2002).

Doing the Right Thing


“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith.” 1 Timothy 5:8

Our friends Keith and Mary Korstjens have been married for more than forty years. Shortly after their honeymoon, Mary was stricken with polio and became quadriplegic. The doctors informed her that she would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. It was a devastating development, but Keith never wavered in his commitment to Mary. For all these years he has bathed and dressed her, carried her to and from her bed, taken her to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and combed her hair.

Obviously, Keith could have divorced Mary in 1957 and looked for a new and healthier wife, but he never even considered it. We admire this man not only for doing the right thing, but for continuing to love and cherish his wife. Though the problems faced by the rest of us may be less challenging than those encountered by the Korstjens, each of us will confront some kind of hardship in the years ahead. How will we respond?

Just between us…

  • Do you worry about failing health down the road?
  • When you’re sick, how well do I care for you?
  • Have you ever resented having to serve me during times of sickness or disability?
  • How could illness—either minor or serious—actually strengthen our marriage?

Lord, we don’t want to deny the faith by failing to provide for those You have entrusted to our care. We ask for Your strength—especially when hardships come—to show enduring love in our marriage and in our family. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.


There’s Dumb and There’s Death

by Zondervan, from The Story Devotional


The Lord sent word to [His people] through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy. — 2 Chronicles 36:15-16

Ask teenagers why they did something dumb, and their answer will be “I don’t know” — because they really don’t know! The part of their brain that can reason, control impulses, and anticipate possible future events or consequences — the prefrontal cortex — has not yet developed. Hopefully by the time they’re twenty-five, it will. So why did the adults of Judah continue to do the same dumb thing of disobeying God and pursuing idols?

Isaiah spoke clearly. Ezekiel spoke clearly. Jeremiah spoke clearly. But the kings and the people to whom they spoke refused to listen. Especially in Jeremiah’s day, the kings grew increasingly brash, ignoring the prophet’s warnings and wisdom.

The book of 2 Chronicles contains one of the saddest statements in Scripture: “The wrath of the Lord was aroused against His people and there was no remedy.” Nebuchadnezzar was on the move, a tool of judgment in God’s sovereign and righteous hands.




The Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. — Exodus 7:22-23

Conflict, rivalry, competition — human beings throughout time have experienced these. Sometimes the coming together in order to go against each other is just for sport, but on other occasions the stakes are life or death. That was the situation in the battle of Moses versus Pharaoh.

Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh. Aaron’s staff became a snake; he held his staff over the Nile, turning it to blood; he commanded frogs to fill Egypt; Pharaoh’s magicians could do the same.

Then God started flexing His muscles — the Lord sent gnats, flies, a disease that killed the livestock, boils that covered people and animals alike, destructive hail, hungry locusts, and frightening darkness. Each time Pharaoh said Moses and the Hebrew people could leave — and each time Pharaoh changed his mind. What would it take to compel Pharaoh to let God’s people go?

By the way, God’s chosen people were not touched by the plagues. Even when darkness fell, there was light in the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived.


Excerpted with permission from The Story Devotional, copyright Zondervan.
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Your Turn

The beautiful grace is that God looks at our hearts. He knows us deep down inside. When we are dumb, He can give us wisdom. When we are hard, He can soften us. It’s about our willingness! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you!