The One Thing
About the Guest
Pastor and Filmmaker Alex Kendrick actually has another job. He's the president of the Christina Kendrick Fan club. Listen today as Alex exhorts couples to be their spouse's number one cheerleader, not because they've earned it, but because this office is our privilege and Biblical responsibility to fulfill.
Alex KendrickAlex Kendrick is a follower of Jesus Christ and has a passion to tell stories of hope and redemption. He is a co-writer for the screenplays and books, and he's the director and editor for Kendrick Brothers' films. Alex has spoken to churches, universities, conferences, and businesses all across America and in other countries. He has been featured on FOX News, CNN, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, Time Magazine, and many other media outlets. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State Universi...more
Pastor and Filmmaker Alex Kendrick exhorts couples to be their spouse’s number one cheerleader, not because they’ve earned it, but because this office is our Biblical responsibility to fulfill.
The One Thing
Bob: Alex Kendrick, who directed the movie, Courageous—he starred in the movie, as well—believes that many of us are spending too much time focusing on what is wrong with our spouse rather than spending time thinking about appreciating and affirming all the things that are right.
Alex: You must be the number one cheerleader for your spouse. They will not always deserve it. Many of you don’t deserve it; but we do not deserve the love and grace of the Lord. Yet, He continually offers it to us, and offers it to us, and offers it to us. So, my job—I’m the number one fan and president of the Christina Kendrick Fan Club.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 3rd. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to hear a message today from Alex Kendrick about how we can renew our minds when it comes to thinking about our spouses. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Don’t you wish—don’t you just wish there was a boat big enough that all of our FamilyLife Today listeners could come with us on a Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise?
Dennis: That would be the largest ship—[Laughter]
Bob: It would be.
Dennis: —1.5 million people aboard the ship. We would decrease the population of the United States, leaving port.
Bob: But I’ll tell you—we had many of our listeners joining us here, a couple of weeks ago, on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. It’s just a great week-long getaway.
Dennis: And the most frequent comment, Bob, you get is: “What a great idea—to be onboard where everybody is a part of the same cruise—
Dennis: —“learning the same thing—
“talking about how to develop your marriage/your family, how to have an outreach in your community”—all of that led by FamilyLife—with great entertainment, great comedians—couples who teach you how to dance. Barbara and I took a dance lesson on this cruise.
Bob: You get any better?
Dennis: I needed it. That’s all I can tell you—took two lessons. I needed both of them! But it’s a good time, and it’s a lot of fun. At the same time, you are going to grow spiritually. Where else can you go to experience that over Valentine’s week?
Bob: We’re starting to make plans for next year’s cruise. In fact, at the end of this year’s cruise, we were almost half-sold for next year.
So, if a listener is interested in joining us next Valentine’s week, which is February 9th through the 13th, you may want to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the Love Like You Mean It cruise link. This week, we’re offering special pricing. So, if you’d like to find out how you can save some money and join us on the cruise, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link—
for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. Since we can’t take everybody with us on the cruise, we thought we’d bring a little of the cruise to our listeners this week.
Dennis: And we thought we’d let you listen in as Alex Kendrick addressed our audience. Many of you know Alex from his movie, Courageous—also, Fireproof, Facing the Giants. And Alex is a kindred spirit.
Bob: He is passionate about marriage and family. In fact, we were talking about their new movie, which they are getting ready to start shooting. He said they may bring it on the cruise with them next year and let us have a sneak preview of that movie. It’s got a marriage theme attached to it, as well. But he spoke, on the cruise, on the subject of marriage—and talked about the importance of us believing the best about our spouse and really focusing on the blessing that our spouse is.
Dennis: And what I like about his message—he was really talking about something that God had been doing in his heart, over the past four months, both in his and Christina’s marriage.
And nothing like kind of getting some freshly-baked cookies, you know?—something that is going on, currently, in somebody’s life.
Alex: Four months ago, the Lord taught me something that has really changed my marriage. Christina and I have been married about 18-and-a-half years. I want to share that with you tonight. It all has to do with the battle of the mind.
When we look at—who we are, what we believe, how we behave—we must eventually trace it back to how we processed thoughts in our mind. In other words: your actions, your emotions, your decisions, your speech—all follow what you believe in your mind. And what you believe will direct what you do.
You may say you believe one thing, but what you really believe will come out in your actions. In like manner, your true belief about God will determine your relationship to Him—your closeness to Him, your communication, your trust in Him or lack thereof—
are controlled by what you think and believe—when we talk about the heart and the mind. In Proverbs 23, verse 7, it says this—and you’ve heard this before: “As he thinks in his heart, so is he,”—mind and heart permanently connected. That’s why Satan attacks your thought life more than any other area. If he can get a stronghold in your mind—which leads to your beliefs—everything will be impacted. Let’s talk about the difference between a foothold and a stronghold for a minute.
A foothold is when he gets an idea or a concept—and he gets that foot in, and he gets you just to entertain the thought. Then, he begins to nurture it. If he can slowly widen the door—whatever it is—a temptation, a sin, a grievance—whatever it is, he tries to get a little bit in, a little bit in, a little bit in. He starts trying to put down roots. If it stays there long enough, it becomes a stronghold—the roots get deeper, and it’s much harder to get it out.
Think of Normandy. When I think of a stronghold, I think of when the troops came upon the beach. The enemy didn’t just have a foothold. They weren’t just behind shrubbery and there early. They had time to develop a stronghold—concrete bunkers. It took a heavy price to root them out. There’s a difference between a foothold and a stronghold, and both start in the mind.
In the simplest terms, a stronghold is when you believe a lie or a network of lies. Let’s talk about what that looks like. A stronghold could be an unhealthy fear—fear of dying, disease, lack of provision. This fear believes that God is not in control. That’s one unhealthy stronghold. Let’s look at another: bitterness. Bitterness is believing that you should take the seat of judgment against someone for a wrong done to you because God won’t handle it. A stronghold could be an addiction—
alcohol, drugs, pornography—this is believing that God is not enough to fill and satisfy me.
Remember, a stronghold is believing a lie or a network of lies. So, when you are addicted, you’re saying: “I need this! I need this!” And then, you also—Satan will also tell you: “You can control it. You can stop any time you want to.” But you can’t on your own power. Bitterness, addictions, unhealthy fears—these are strongholds.
I’m going to read to you from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments, every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity for the obedience of Christ.” We’re going to come back to that concept—“bringing every thought into captivity.”
So, all this stuff starts in your mind. Satan will introduce a truth mixed with a lie. He tries to get a foothold—
gets those roots down. If you don’t take that thought captive—that idea—the deeper it goes and becomes a stronghold.
Now, we’re going to get more into marriage in just a second; but this is Ephesians 6:12. We’re going to study this for just a second. It says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.” Now, what I want to point out about this is—we do not use physical weapons to fight spiritual battles. And you and I are good at that.
We have this issue over here—and we get physically angry—slam the door, throw something down, get into heated arguments with our spouse. You do not fight spiritual battles with physical weapons. But the Lord gives us the right weapons—
Audience: Yes, sir.
Alex: —to fight. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Your enemy—your enemy is not your spouse.
Alex: We have a very real enemy named Satan. The enemy is him and his demonic kingdom.
His desire is to conquer and control you, and he starts with your thought life. If he can make a stronghold, he wages war against God.
Since there is a battle—and it is with Satan and his forces—what are we told to do? In Ephesians 6:11—listen to what it says—“Put on the whole armor of God so you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Then, in 13—Ephesians 6:13—it says, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” We are to stand firm.
What are we doing while we’re standing firm?—“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end, with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,”—when we do this—that is the first step toward having the mind of Christ. When we are in Christ, God gives us a new mind. And Satan hates that!
So, he comes after it, and he comes after it, and he comes after it. That’s why, in Romans 12:2, it says, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the”—
Alex: —“renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God.”
So, I’m going to talk about fighting defensively and offensively. Defensively—James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will”—
Alex: —“flee.” So, this first applies to our thoughts. I’m going to give you something here. This is going to seem real quirky, at first. Moms in here will know what this is, first—but the five-second rule in dealing with food; right? [Laughter] You’re fixing your kid’s lunch—you’re working in the church nursery—and you’re handing out the Oreos®—whatever—and one falls in the floor. You grab it [sounds of blowing on food] and say, “Five-second rule—still okay;” right? [Laughter]
Now, if you find a cookie under the diaper changing table, and some kid is crawling over to it—you see it. You go: “Whoa, whoa, whoa! No, no, no! Don’t eat that one. We don’t know how long it’s been there;” right? [Laughter]
Because the longer it’s been there, the more corrupted it is; right? You throw that out. What if we apply the five-second rule to your thought life and you say: “That was not of the Lord,”—Boom!—“I reject that. Cast that out.” You control your thoughts or your thoughts will control you.
Satan tries to hinder your communication. So, we have to fight. First, defensively—Ephesians 6:16 says, “After all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to distinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” “By faith: “I’m not believing that because Scripture says this.” He throws this temptation—block it—and, “I reject it.” So, I’m fighting, defensively, first.
And I want to keep in mind that temptation is not a sin—it’s when you act on it. Jesus was tempted. Remember, He went in the wilderness for 40 days. Satan tempted Him, and tempted Him, and tempted Him.
And what did He use to combat him?— Scripture—the Word. He blocks it—Boom! Offensive weapon is the Word of God—the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
A sword is an offensive weapon meant to tear down and destroy the enemy. This is exactly what meditating on the truth of God’s Word does to strongholds—it tears them down. Sometimes, guys, it doesn’t—it may take longer than a day or a week—just like when you think of Normandy. Some of you may have an addiction or bitterness, and it’s so deep it may not happen in a day; but it can be rooted out. It can happen. Satan says: “You’re a failure. I mean, look at your past.” God’s Word says: “What past? The blood of Jesus has washed it away.” We fight it with the Word of God.
Now, some of my favorite verses—and some of you could probably quote it with me—in Philippians, Chapter 4, verse 8, it says,
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute—if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” That is a choice!
Okay, what I’m about to say, now, I have permission to say. Christina and I have been married, as I said, almost 19 years. We have six children. About 10 years ago, when the Lord began opening the door to do the movies and the books—we did Flywheel, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous—and helped out with some other Christian films—wrote some: The Love Dare, Resolution for Men. This whole time—I’m doing what I truly believe God called me to do.
Now, Christina—her love language is service. Mine is words of affirmation. It means a lot to me when people give you an: “Atta, boy!” “Wow! You did a great film,”—whatever—“Good book,”—whatever.
So, Christina’s is acts of service. I come home; and I say, “Oh, this is what happened with this film today!” or, “We won an award today!” or whatever. She was like: “Okay. Well, where are you going to put it? [Laughter] Don’t put it on the mantle. Matter of fact—let me give you some spray. Would you wipe that mantle off for me? Just dust it really good. I’ll find some place for this.” You know? It would irritate me! Sometimes, I felt like she just cared about how clean the house was!
I’m thinking, “My wife doesn’t appreciate me very much.” Satan begins to introduce thoughts into my mind: “She doesn’t respect you like she ought to because you’re doing big things for God, and she is just here cleaning the house. Oh, please!”—you know? He starts running her down in my mind, and I accepted those thoughts. And I start getting frustrated with my wife: “She’s not loving me, respecting me, or supporting me like I think she ought to.”
We would have arguments—and on a number of occasions—in our bed. You could put like four kids between us. I’m on this side. She is on this side—as far as you can go. My back is to her; her back is to me. We’d have these testy, little, snarky arguments back and forth. You’ve been there. Some of you are like, “Uh-huh.” [Laughter] I’m just saying.
In my mind, I would run her down. Sometimes, in her mind, she would run me down. Guys, you do not win those wars. We’re not fighting the right way. Instead of fighting for my marriage, I was fighting her as if she was my enemy. She is not my enemy! This is what the Lord taught me in the process.
Four months ago, I’m studying and getting ready to do our—ramp up and do our next movie and stuff—as I’m with the Lord, and I remember I’m in His Word—and it was like He just kick-boxed me in the head:
“Alex, you are running your wife down in your mind. She is not your enemy. The enemy wants to distract you, deceive you, and divide you. Your wife and you are one unit. Both of you are sinners, and both of you are in need of My grace.
“And Christina—I did not design Christina to compete for the spotlight with you, and be up on stage, and be in front of movies. I designed her to have strengths in areas you don’t have. Alex, you do not run the wife—I gave you—down, looking at everything she is not. You look at what she is and how I designed her.”
I began to make a list—rejecting those thoughts—and making a list of—whatever is true about Christina, whatever is honorable about Christina, whatever is right about Christina, “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute. If there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise,—
dwell on these things;” [emphasis added] right? [Applause] The list for her—the positive list—was very long.
Guys—don’t run your spouse down, in your mind. When that—apply that five-second rule—renewing of your mind. If you are in Christ, what do you do? Follow Philippians 4:8. Your spouse is a sinner, but they are not your enemy.
There is a real enemy that doesn’t want to be seen! He operates in the shadows, and with lies, and whispers things to you; but you have the shield of faith. You block them, block them, block them; and you apply the Word of God: “The Lord gave me my spouse. He says we are one unit. We are not enemies. We operate as one unit.” What Satan wants to do is divide, divide, divide, divide.
Audience: Yes. That’s right.
Alex: Don’t do it! He started in the garden of Eden. What does he do to Eve?
He distracted, deceived, divided. That is Satan’s strategy: distract her to the one thing she shouldn’t be focused on. He deceives hers so he can divide her and Adam—divide them from relationship with the Lord. Since then—for all time—he’s been doing it. He wants to divide you from your spouse. He will use anything and everything—any bit of ammunition. They have wrongs—I have wrongs——but I fight for our marriage, not against my spouse.
So, guys, I don’t know where you are. Some of you may be saying: “Oh, man, I agree with that. We’re in love. We are doing this.” And some of you are struggling in your marriage. So, the Lord wants you to fight for your spouse.
If you take notes, I’m going to give you a few verses as ammunition: 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control;” James 4:7, “Submit your souls, therefore, to God.”
“Resist the devil and he will flee.” There is power in the name of Jesus Christ. A number of times, I’ve said: “Satan, you get out of this house in Jesus’ name. I’m resisting you.” If he gives me a thought, you throw it out. Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.”
Luke 10:27, “And He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Psalm 119:15, “I will meditate on Your precepts and fix my eyes on Your ways.”
You must be the number one cheerleader for your spouse. They will not always deserve it. Many of you don’t deserve it, but we do not deserve the love and grace of the Lord. Yet, He continually offers it to us, and offers it to us, and offers it to us.
So, my job—I’m the number one fan and president of the Christina Kendrick Fan Club; right?
Audience: Woo! [Applause]
Alex: I’m learning to love her with her love language. Sometimes, I’ll come in the door—and you think: “Wow! We’ve got…” and, “The Lord did this…” or, “The Lord did this…” but, you know, the floors still needs to be swept, and the dishes still need to be washed, and the kids still need to be disciplined.
That’s part of it, guys. It’s all part of it: “Lord, help me gain ground in my mind.” I gain ground, and I fight for our marriage instead of against my spouse. You may need to apologize to your spouse for something if you’ve allowed Satan to run them down in your mind—kick him out, kick him out, kick him out, kick him out!
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a message from Alex Kendrick, presented just a couple of weeks ago on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. There were a lot of heads nodding as he was talking about the need to really focus on the right stuff in our marriage.
Dennis: And the battle really is between our ears—I mean—it is how we think about our spouses. There are a lot of listeners, right now, who are probably struggling with being critical of a certain area of their spouse. They need to apply what Alex shared here. I’ll just read to you a passage—only a portion of a passage—Ephesians, Chapter 4, verse 32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted…” You know, if we focused on being kind and tender-hearted toward our spouses, our marriages would, I think, begin to blossom in fresh ways.
The easiest thing to do is—to focus on, and become critical, and, perhaps, bitter—
about an area where they are not matching up to our expectations. That’s why what Alex shared is really important, Bob. Your mind is really important as you think about your spouse and your marriage.
Bob: Well, as I mentioned, we’re hoping that many of our listeners will consider joining us next year on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, February 9th through the 13th. We’re going to be going to Key West and Cozumel. And we’re going to be joined by Voddie Baucham, by Kirk and Chelsea Cameron. Andrew Peterson is going to be with us. Michael Junior is going to be with us. Guy Penrod from the Gaither Vocal Band is going to join us. We’ve got a great lineup—other folks we can’t tell you about quite yet because we don’t have everything tied down.
But here is why we’re telling you about this now—because about half of the ship is sold out, at this point—so, if you’d like to join us, we need to hear from you soon. This will be the 5th annual Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
And this is a good time to get in touch with us, as well, because between now and March 14th, we are making some special pricing available. In fact, in some of these cabins—the way the pricing works—you pay for yourself and your spouse comes for half price—so, good opportunity to save some money and enjoy a great getaway together, as a couple, on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2015.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link you find there for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. All the information you need about the cruise is available. If you want to take advantage of the special pricing, you need to act quickly. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
If you are interested in a copy of the message we heard today from Alex Kendrick, that’s available online, as well. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download the MP3 file of today’s program and listen, again, as Alex challenges all of us—
to renew our minds when it comes to how we think about one another in our marriage relationship.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to feature an interview that was recorded while we were sailing on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We just left the Port of Miami, and we had a chance to sit down with singer/songwriter, Laura Story. She shared a couple of songs with us and talked about why those songs were significant in her own marriage. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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