Years ago, we were leading a pastor’s conference in West Texas, talking about the importance of making family your first mission field and guarding your marriage as the foundation for your family. As we were leaving, a pastor came to us and asked if there might be a chance that we could have lunch with him and his wife. I told him we really didn’t have too much time before our flight left, and he said, “Well it’s okay, I don’t even know if my wife would really even join us anyway because we’re separated and she’s filing for divorce.” They had 5 kids and this pastor was obviously not just worried about losing his family, but his ministry as well. So we told him to reach out to her, and if she would at least agree to meet us, we could have a quick lunch at a diner on the way and then follow up with them and maybe talk over the phone once we got home. He called his wife, and she surprisingly agreed to meet with us.
When we all sat down at the diner, I said, “Well we really don’t have a lot of time to visit, so let’s just skip the pleasantries and ask what’s been going on in your marriage that led you to this decision?” The wife almost immediately responded, “He doesn’t help out with the kids. He spends too much time at church. He puts his ministry first. He doesn’t spend any time with me. He doesn’t listen to the things that I need…” A few minutes later when she finally got done with her list of his transgressions, I said to the husband, “Have you heard any of this?” He replied, “Yes, many times.” “So what have you done about it?” I asked.
“Well I now come home at a decent time each day”
And the wife mumbled, “Too little too late”
“I also try to make sure I listen to her and ask her how her day went.”
“Too little too late”
“I ask the kids how they’re doing.”
“Too little too late”
“I sit down and spend time with the kids when I get in from work.”
“Too little too late”
“I help get the kids in bed.”
“Too little too late”
So literally after about ten things that he said he’s done and her saying “Too little too late" after each one, I turned to her and asked, “So I guess at this point, no matter what he does it’s too little too late, huh?” and she replied, “Yeah, pretty much!” I said, “Wow, it’s amazing how I can pull that out of thin air. I guess that’s why I’m a professional.” She didn’t find the comment nearly as amusing as I did. I continued, “So it sounds like your mind’s made up. I guess what I’m wondering is, why you agreed to meet us here, because it tells me while your mind is made up, maybe your heart isn’t sure.” She didn’t respond to that at all and I said, “Listen, maybe before you walk away from this marriage, you might want to think about why you chose to enter this marriage in the first place and what you’ll tell the kids when you have to look them in the eye and tell them why you’re leaving their dad. You might want to just make sure that both your heart and your mind have considered everything and aren’t just making decisions based on past hurts and feelings, but rather more of an objective reasoning. I suggest maybe you take Philippians 4:8 and you go through that list of things that Paul says we’re to think on and figure out how each of those things still applies to your husband, because even though you might not be able to see any of those things in him anymore, God obviously still sees those things in him, because He put them in him.”
We left and hurried back to the airport and talked on the way out about how sad it was to see another couple that had waited way too late to seek help because her heart was obviously very hard and bitter.
Fast-forward a couple of years down the road. We were back out in West Texas, had just finished a conference, and were waiting on our departing flight at the Lubbock airport. I was just sitting, reading the paper when I notice out of the corner of my eye down at the other end of the terminal (because in Lubbock, the airport is so small you can see one end of the airport from the other), there was a grown couple, holding hands and skipping in the airport.
Now I didn’t turn and look at that, right, because I’m a male and when I see that kind of thing I’d rather just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. So I just kept reading the paper and as I did, they kept skipping, I kept pretending to read, and they kept skipping until they finally skipped. up. to. me. So at this point, I didn’t have any choice but to turn and acknowledge the very awkward fact that I had been… skipped up upon. I peered from behind my paper and the woman asked, “ Do you recognize us?” and I replied, “Are you… the couple from the pastor’s conference a few years ago?” She said, “Yes! I bet you thought you’d never see us again!” I shook my head and said, “Well definitely not together!” She asked, “Do you know what did it?” I said, “It could only be God, based on the way I heard you talk last time.” She agreed, “It was God, through Philippians 4:8!”
Then, she started to recite the verse from memory and for everything Paul says to think on, she listed 5 different ways that one thing applied to her husband!
“Whatever is true: he loves me, he loves the kids, he loves God, he’s passionate, and he’s patient…”
She just spouted it off in succession; one after another as though she’d been saying this stuff to herself so many times that she was just saying it by heart. She ended with,
“You know, I was a believer and have been saved since I was 12, and I’ve been in ministry for many years. But, I have to honestly say this is the first time that I’ve seen firsthand the transforming power of God’s word in my life because I decided to live it out even when I didn’t want to.”
How can you live out Philippians 4:8 with your family?
After seeing the power of actively using this verse in our lives, we realized that we began to speak of it like it was a verb. As odd as it sounds, we now “Philippians 4:8 each other” by stating how each item in the verse applies to our family members.
During this busy season, it can really be difficult to keep your family a priority. We want to help you do that, so we created a week’s worth of screensavers to remind you to think on what is great about your family! You can either download them here or follow us on Instagram to simply screenshot them.
We can’t wait to hear how God transforms your marriages and families through this verse! When he does, let us know so we can celebrate with you! Please just don’t skip up to us in public to tell us…