Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Twila Paris Share Views of Contemporary Christian Music

Does Contemporary Christian music meet needs of today's church?

Does Contemporary Christian music meet needs of today’s church?


“Contemporary Christian music lacks depth. The words repeat too many times.”


“I don’t like contemporary Christian music at all. It’s too fast and too loud.”


“Contemporary Christian music is all I listen to and I listen to a lot of different artists.”



If there is one subject the evangelistic Church seems to be divided on, it is the subject of contemporary Christian music (we’ll refer to it as CCM for brevity).


Most church members have some opinion on the subject, and depending on one’s location, background, personal tastes, the responses will vary.


Part of CCM’s popularity may be due to the down-to-earth subject matter in many of the lyrics.


Christian contemporary music groupZoegirl.

Christian contemporary music groupZoegirl.

When Kristin Swinford and the other two members of ZOEgirl took a missions trip to Ecuador with a group of teenage girls in 2004, they discovered a well-spring of gritty subject matter. “There were poignant evenings as the girls shared their struggles, pains, joys, and sorrows,” recalls Swinford. “We knew if they had gone through these sad situations, other girls around the world had too.” The trio then recorded songs to address those needs (no names were used so the teens’ privacy was protected).


Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Chris Tomlin.

Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Chris Tomlin.

Some CCM artists prefer to deliver a softer message of love and hope. Chris Tomlin ( is considered one of this era’s top songwriters for the church. His string of popular choruses — “Forever,” “How Great is our God,” “We Fall Down,” and “The Wonderful Cross” — are sung by millions weekly.


During an interview, Tomlin said his songwriting technique was nothing complex. “I try to write songs in a clear way that people can understand and they can sing to after hearing once or twice,” he says.


Other times Tomlin has used the Bible for inspiration. When writing Arriving, Tomlin used the words of Isaiah 40: “Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival!” Isaiah 40 (The Message)


“We’re like this landing strip in the desert for our great incredible God to arrive on,” says Tomlin. “(We’re) a way for Him to come into people’s lives.”


Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Phil Joel, former guitarist for The Newsboys.

Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Phil Joel, former guitarist for The Newsboys.

Still other CCM artists prefer to reach listeners with a rock sound and lyrics that focus on Jesus Christ. While growing up in New Zealand, Phil Joel, former guitarist for popular contemporary Christian music group The Newsboys (, listened  to pioneers in the contemporary Christian music movement — Keith Green, Altar Boys, Petra, Whiteheart.


Joel acknowledged the positive influence those early bands had on him as a young Christian. “They helped me know the difference between what to put in my mind and what not,” he recalls. “They filled my mind with good things.” Today, Joel ministers to Christians around the world with a call to pursue one-on-one relationships with the Lord (


Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Steven Curtis Chapman.

Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Steven Curtis Chapman.

Steven Curtis Chapman (, another popular Christian music songwriter and singer, has used his CCM performer status to advance the cause of international adoption (


While the question of how music should be played differs among CCM artists, ultimately it comes down to the message.


Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Twila Paris.

Christian contemporary music songwriter and singer Twila Paris.

Twila Paris (, who penned 22 No. 1 singles, some of which have been included in modern-day hymnals, believes there is a place in church for different types of music. “Sometimes at my church 20-year-olds will lead worship using alternative Christian music. I say to myself, ‘Wow, here is the next generation joyfully praising God. They’re responding to that music in their hearts. Am I open to what God is doing through this?’”


With the diversity of CCM artists and music available, the dilemma of trying to satisfy everyone with the style and content of contemporary Christian music may never be resolved.


Chris Tomlin may have summed it up when he said: “Since I was 13, I’ve felt called to write songs for the church. I look back at the years since I started recording and see how I’ve grown. It’s incredible. It has all been God.”


What’s your opinion of the CCM? Do you listen to it? Who is your favorite CCM artist and why?


The End


Note: Parts of this article were featured in The Lookout Magazine, published by Standard Publishing.














Caliente Restaurant’s Authentic Cuban Food Gains Rapid Following

Caliente Restaurant seeks to teach its customers Spanish words on daily basis.

Caliente Restaurant seeks to teach its customers Spanish words on daily basis.

One of the joys of writing is doing restaurant reviews for travel-oriented publications. Here is a review published on the Fort Wayne Insider blog in 2013. Dozens more of my blog posts about entertainment and fun experiences in Fort Wayne are published here:

My first experience with Caliente Restaurant, which may be the only place in Fort Wayne that serves Cuban food, was a strange one. After listening to my friends rave about this small café located next to Park Center on East State Blvd, my husband and I decided to check it out one Saturday after doing errands. It was 5:00 pm so well within their advertised hours of operation.

Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed. “We ran out of food at 3pm!” a man who was sweeping inside shouted through the door.

Now I’ve heard of restaurants having to close early in countries like Cuba, for example, where food is rationed. But I’ve not heard of it happening often in the United States.

Thankfully, I know now why the owners ran out of stock. I decided to give the restaurant another chance and returned a week later (but earlier in the day!) to eat a meal of hot bean soup, plantanos (fried mashed bananas), and a Cuban sandwich. Total cost—under $10.

Imagine how good this soup tasted on a bitterly cold winter's day!

Imagine how good this soup tasted on a bitterly cold winter’s day!

My, but it was bueno! I know now from the delicious tastes and steady stream of customers who came into the restaurant why the owners, Gustavo and Yalili Rodriguez, had run out of food. It was not due to rationing but because their food is so great tasting!

Seriously, the steam rising from the black bean soup was a comfort to see as outside the temps were well below freezing. It tasted slightly tangy but not too hot. I don’t like jalapenos and didn’t want them in the soup or on my sandwich.

Have I said how yummy my first Cuban sandwich was? After hearing about Cuban sandwiches for years, I finally ate one—actually I could only eat half because it was so big and took the other half home. It was traditionally made on special Cuban bread and spread with a special sauce, turkey, cheese, thin slice of beef and a dill pickle slice. The sandwich is then smushed together with a special Cuban sandwich machine.

I’m not much of a pickle eater but the tang from the pickle as it melded with the cheese and meats was delicate and refreshing.

And the plantanos – I could have used a little bit of a seasoning on them, but they were an interesting addition and one I’d recommend. There is only one in the photo because I could not wait to try one before snapping the shot.

The décor is simple but clean and interesting. A small board lists the word for the day. On the day I was in it was ‘Delantal’. When I asked Gus what it meant, he pointed to his apron. Cute!

There is a Cuban stamp collection hanging on the wall, along with artwork depicting Cuban culture. Another sign says ‘A different place to warm up your taste.’

I give the owners credit for also establishing an online presence with Facebook and Twitter accounts, a website and email address. They are sure to attract even more business by getting their name out there. Caliente, which means warm in Spanish, is well on its way to becoming a popular place to get a quick, and economical delicious lunch in Fort Wayne.

Caliente Restaurant
1123 E State Blvd
Fort Wayne 46805

M-F 11am-7pm
Sat: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm

Twitter: mycaliente
Facebook: caliente cuban cuisine

One Thing Christian Singer TobyMac Would Change

TobyMac places fatherhood above singing.

TobyMac places fatherhood above singing.

One of the great things of being a freelance writer for a major daily newspaper like the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel is doing interviews with celebrities and singers. I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing TobyMac by phone for the News-Sentinel and also a story for Focus on Your Child, a magazine published by Focus on the Family for parents of tweens.

The interview for this story was done in 2008 but I’m happy to say TobyMac is still a great Christian, singer, husband and dad. He’s also nearly 50 years old! Hardly acts like it on stage when he’s jumping around! In this story he shares a personal perspective that is not well-known about his life but pertinent for all dads today.


For Christian pop singer Toby McKeehan, otherwise known as TobyMac, being a dad carries tremendous responsibility. One parenting goal he has set for himself is to make sure his children – Truett, 9; Moses, 5; Marlee, 5; Leo, 3; and Judah, 1 – know they are loved. He thinks the best way to convey that is through regular interactions. “I knew from the way my parents took care of me that they loved me,” he says.

Since the early 1990s, when he, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max organized the popular Christian contemporary group, dc talk, TobyMac has toured steadily.

In 2000 dc talk disbanded and TobyMac formed his own band. Today, he continues to tour with them and record music.

With a wife and five children awaiting him at home, TobyMac increasingly feels the pains of separation from those he loves most.

“I hate being gone from my family,” he says. “It breaks my heart when I’m on the road four, maybe five days a week. I’m sharing God’s love and music, but it kills me to be away from my kids.”

TobyMac believes these prolonged periods of separation can take a toll on his family. “Certain children have no problem with parents going in and out of their lives, but others can feel the effects.”

The scenario challenges him as a father. “I always ask myself, how long should I do this? My kids know why I go. They know it’s more than making music. But if God told me to change one thing about my parenting style, I think He would tell me to be in their lives more consistently.”

When he is home, TobyMac concentrates on his family. “We sit down to dinner together,” he says. “After dinner, we all do chores. I run the vacuum. Marlee cleans the table. Leo picks up the toy room. We all have jobs.”

Afterward, TobyMac may take his children outside to play. “I run around with them, and we play baseball,” he says. Then everyone goes inside for bath and bedtime. TobyMac reads to them, prays with each one, and tucks them into bed. These are precious times to Dad, especially since he’s not there to do it every night. “I love that routine,” he says. “It kills me to miss it.”

He understands his dedication to family will mean sacrifices in other areas of his life. For example, when male friends extend invitations to get together with him, TobyMac says thanks, but no. “I don’t have that opportunity, because I’m gone a lot,” he says. “When I’m home, I need to be with my family.”

The End

Keep Your Family Laughing!

Together at Christmas our family laughed at several humorous episodes from our past.

Together at Christmas our family laughed at several humorous episodes from our past.


I refused to take another step. Our family of five had trekked around San Francisco for five days on foot (the trolleys were always full) and my legs felt like lead. My husband was tired too, but he wanted us to hike Muir Woods before we left for home the next day.

Looking at the faces of our 11- and 13-year-old, I could tell they weren’t enthusiastic about going up yet another hill either. Wondering how we could solve this situation while keeping everyone happy — no small feat for any family! — I glanced over at our youngest.

Eight-year-old Lindsay had jumped to the front of our pack and was brandishing a walking stick as a baton. “Thanks for tuning in to the Lunge Lindsay aerobics class,” she announced. “Today we will hike to the top of this mountain. Just put one foot in front of the other, folks, and follow me!” Then she turned around and began climbing.

The rest of us, too startled to think, followed.

Lindsay’s continued actions and comments were so hysterical that afternoon that we laughed during the rest of the hike. To this day we still chuckle about how “Lunge Lindsay” got the family to climb that mountain together.

In his book The Seven habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey, father of nine, says this about family humor: “In our family the central element that has preserved the sanity, fun, unity, togetherness, and magnetic attraction of our family culture is laughter—telling jokes, seeing the “funny” side of life, poking holes at stuffed shirts, and simply having fun together.”

One of our family favorites is to watch funny old movies together, like Abbott and Costello and “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Another is to cut out comics and place them on the refrigerator for everyone to share (Family Circus is a favorite!). I have also taken photos of the kids when they do something silly, like try on Grandma’s old hats and gloves and pretend they are “grown-up.” These photos are displayed around the house to give each room a special “funny” memory.

By doing these things, my husband and I hope to create cheerful people who are happy, full of good stories and who other people will want to be with.

There’s also humor’s healthy aspect. Mental health professionals know that people who laugh at their mistakes recover faster from illness than perfectionists. The Bible says “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” (Proverbs 17:22)

Chuck Swindoll, father of four, concurs with humor’s mental health aspect in his book Home, Where Life Makes Up Its Mind, “Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity.”

Keep in mind that what one family finds humorous or fun to do together, another might not. The secret is to be alert to personalities and interests.

Humor has also been a healing power in our family.

One night 10-year-old Chris had pushed my last button. I wanted to give him a lecture along the lines of “How many times have I told you not to do that!” I also wanted to punch something — maybe him! Yet, I knew that was not healthy or the right thing to do.

Finally, I stood up straight, shook my finger at him and warned, “If you don’t behave, I’ll pull your ears!”

When my daughters, who were in the room, heard my words, they started laughing. I joined them, feeling better than I would have, had I given in to my natural impulses. Chris smiled faintly, startled at my response but obviously weak with relief. He behaved better – for a while.

That “pull your ears” statement has become famous around our house. In fact, my kids tell their friends about it, guffawing each time. I don’t care. In fact, I rejoice in it! Family laughter is truly a gift and to be able to make my own kids laugh — it’s almost sacred!

The End

Overcoming Holiday Blues

This story has been posted on my blog in other years but it is such a timely subject that I wanted to share it again. It originally was published in The Lookout Magazine. Since then, we have lost my father-in-law. Losing a loved one is never easy, but enduring it at the holidays is harder. I hope this helps and blesses everyone who reads it. Please let me know your thoughts. Take care.


My dad died in August 25, 2005. His death was the result of an unsuccessful surgery for an enlarged aortic aneurysm (he had to have the surgery to remove it or it could have burst, killing him at any time). The next couple of months were a blur. I worked in a college library and had to immediately return to work for the new school year. My older children were in college and my youngest in high school so their lives were full too with school duties. My husband’s work in a factory also kept him busy.

Dad’s last Christmas before Heaven.

Having little time to grieve became a disadvantage as the Christmas holidays approached. My own family as well as those of my two sisters, wondered how to handle our usual holiday family traditions minus Dad’s presence. Who would distribute our extended family’s gifts to each other on Christmas Eve? Dad always did that. Who would buy the piece of jewelry Dad always gave to Mom? Who would sit in his chair at the head of the table during meals? Dad had loved each of us unconditionally and we missed him. To replace him without thought during those special occasions seemed dishonorable.

The Bible says, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Proverbs 3:4). Unfortunately, the time to mourn can seem to interfere with the message of Christmas, which is joy. This emotion can be difficult to manifest for people dealing with loss of a loved one. One thing that can help is to be prepared to deal with grief at Christmas.               



One of our favorite photos of Grandma Jane.

1. Acknowledge your feelings of loss.

The first year after Dad died I tried ignoring my grief as Christmas approached. It didn’t work. Holiday music grated on my nerves as it was far from ‘the hap-hap-happiest season of all’. To croon, “There’s nowhere like home for the holidays” was a lie when every visit to my parents’ home reminded me of Dad and how he would not be here to celebrate with us.

For a person in grief Christmas is far from ‘the hap-hap-happiest season of all’.

Attending a grief seminar that focused on ways to handle grief during the holidays helped. The instructors provided ideas for achieving a sense of normalcy (would anything ever be normal again?). Their suggestions alleviated my anxiety about greeting the season of Christ’s birth with joy when my heart was heavy.

One suggestion that meant much to me was to honor Dad’s absence by establishing a memorial in his honor. Our family chose to do this by hanging an ornament with his photo (a smiling head shot) on the front of our Christmas tree. Seeing it among the twinkling lights reminded me each time I drew near of Dad’s happy outlook on life.

The methods of handling grief at holidays can vary by individuals. Every year since Dad’s death, my sister and her daughter have honored him by taking holiday gifts to the local animal shelter in memory of his hobby of raising dogs.

After my mother-in-law died of cancer, another daughter-in-law burned a candle during daytime hours for weeks leading up to Christmas in her honor.

When thinking of ways to honor a loved one, it can be soothing to bless others simultaneously. My friend and author Cathy Shouse purchases a poinsettia each year to decorate her church in memory of her mother-in-law who died several years ago. “My mother-in-law’s  name is printed in the church bulletin along with the names of several other people who have passed away and are placed there by members of the church,” said Cathy. “After Christmas, we take the flowers home and continue honoring our loved ones by caring for the plants.”


John and his dad had a close relationship until Bob’s death in 2011.

2. Accept comfort and support from friends.

Grief can feel like a solitary process, but it can help to accept comfort from family and friends. A few weeks after Dad’s death, a friend sent me a card. “I know Christmas will be difficult for you this year,” Tonya wrote. “I’m praying God will bless you this holiday season.” Her contact reminded me I wasn’t alone. 

Jonathan and David had this kind of friendship when Jonathan said to his friend, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.” (1 Samuel 20:42 NIV). These friends were there for each other through everything life could produce. That proved especially true when David later cared for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, after Jonathan’s death (2 Samuel 4:4).
The Christmas season can take a strenuous toll on individuals suffering from loss of a loved one. Friends offering a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear can lessen the impact.


3. Grief can lead to spiritual growth.

Jesus spoke about the inevitability of grief in our lives when he delivered the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. (Matt 5:4 NIV). 

My friend Susan discovered this comfort the Christmas following her father’s suicide. “I had just graduated from college,” she said. “My life was supposed to be filled with excitement over new possibilities. Instead, it came to a screeching halt. I was shocked and devastated.”

That tableau continued throughout the fall. Then, in December while singing ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, Susan had a revelation. “The words from the song ‘Born that man no more may die’ took on new meaning,” she said. “I realized for the first time in my life what Christmas was about. It wasn't a matter of doing something or focusing on what I didn't have but focusing instead on what God gave us on Christmas Day. The weight of grief lifted from my heart.” 

4. Care for yourself when in the throes of grief.              

I was shocked at how pain from Dad’s death affected more than just my emotions. Getting out of bed, choosing clothes to wear and food to eat became difficult as Christmas approached. Concentrating on doing things I enjoyed, such as volunteering to help with a charity, attending a candle light service, calling an old friend to wish her Merry Christmas, taking a child shopping for his parent’s gift, helped assuage my sluggish movements. By thinking less of my loss and focus more on others at Christmas, I obeyed the words of Paul in Philippians, “…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  (2:4 NIV)

As the days got closer to the Season of Joy that first year after Dad’s death, I cried more often and apologized less. It was hard to smile at gift-opening time for many of us in our extended family, but we knew Dad would not want us to be sad at this family event.  He would want us to feel happy. 

By the time the next Christmas occurred, we could talk about Dad without entering a crying jag. Such actions did not mean we missed him any less. We just could handle our loss better by then.

5. Ways to help others through the grieving process. 

Do you hurt for someone who is grieving and want to help them through the season of Christ’s birth? The above suggestions can be adapted to fit their needs (i.e. give money to a charity in celebration of the loved one’s life; make a memory tree for the deceased; purchase a poinsettia to decorate a church and place the name of the friend who has passed away on it).

Churches can help people dealing with grief at Christmas by providing support. One example is a Living and Giving Tree. It can be a full-sized tree (artificial is recommended) placed in a central location, such as the sanctuary, at Christmas time. Envelopes filled with names of people from the church who have suffered loss during the past year are hung on the tree. Other church members choose a name and offer an appropriate gift to the bereaved, thus offering friendship during a difficult time– a meal, gift, an invitation to go caroling.

Two gifts you can give a person deep in the pit of grief that will mean more than anything — undivided attention and unconditional acceptance of their journey.

Grief can occur at any point in our lives. It seems especially tough to have it interfere with Christmas, the season created to bring joy to every person through Christ’s birth. But if we accept the support of friends, share with others, and acknowledge our feelings of loss, we can move toward the road of healing and true understanding of Jesus’ birth.


The End




Linda Lehman Sews for Children

This sweet lady came to my acquaintance a few months ago when I wrote her story for the Senior Living magazine. She has since offered me names of other people in her area that would make good profiles. Thanks for that, Linda! I’m sure you’ll see your friends’ stories in print soon! Linda’s story reveals the joy in volunteering. I hope it inspires you to do volunteer today.

Linda Lehman of Berne has stitched more than 100 dresses for little girls in Africa.

Linda Lehman’s home in Berne, Indiana, is filled with family photos and mementos showing her love for people. It is an inherited trait from her mother who passed away in 2010.  “Mom made quilts for each of her grandchildren,” said Lehman.


When Lehman began cleaning out her mother’s home after her mother’s death, she found many yards of good material leftover from her mother’s projects. “Mom never wanted anything to be thrown away,” Linda added. “She loved being creative.”


Lehman shared some of the material with a nearby church, knowing her mother would have liked it going to religious projects. She brought the rest home and stored it. Less than a year later, Lehman was happy to discover a purpose for it which she knew her mother would have approved.


“A friend had made dresses for little girls in Africa from pillow cases,” said Lehman. “When I admired them, she said so many children in Africa do not even have one set of adequate clothing.”


Lehman asked for the website with the pattern and mailing address. She immediately started making dresses from her mother’s leftover fabric and notions.


The dresses for girls are sometimes referred to as ‘pillowcase’ dresses because they are simply constructed from fabric pieces that lie across the front and back of a body and are tied together at the shoulders. Besides pillowcases and fabric yardage, dresses can be made from curtain panels. Lehman adorned her dresses with rickrack, lace, hem binding and bias tape to make them prettier. Lehman has applied special stitches from her machine for added touches. Most have elastic around the necks and are sleeveless to accommodate Africa’s hot climate.


She has also sewn dresses for little girls in Haiti which a missionary to that country delivered. When a member from her church who works as a nurse at an orphanage in Africa heard about the dresses, she asked for and received dresses from Lehman. Thus far, Lehman has sewn more than 100 dresses.


Linda and her husband Luther attend First Missionary Church in Berne. The church has a sewing group called Hearts and Hands. According to Linda, members of the group have contributed to the cause. “Four ladies in the group agreed to make dresses for Africa,” she said. The group has made quilts, bears, blankets for other projects.


Born in Celina, Ohio, Linda Lehman moved to Indiana with her family as young child. She graduated from French High School in Berne before it closed. She and Luther, a Berne man, married in 1958. They have four children and 12 grandchildren. Linda worked as a secretary for 32 years at South Adams High School.


Linda is pleased with the way her mother’s fabric is being used to help children in third-world countries.  “I think about Mom when I’m working on a dress,” she said. “I know she would be happy with how we’re using her materials to help needy children.”


Information on how to contribute items for Little Dresses for Africa can be found at


The End



Testimonies of Long-Term Marriages

Our son Chris, me, John, daughter Lindsay 2011

My husband, John, and I recently celebrated 32 years of marriage together. This article which I wrote for Lookout Magazine describes the long-term marriages of people we’ve known who have reflected Godly patience while living together. I post it here with hopes it will help other couples stay married. I just wish I had photos of all of them.


My friend Sandy works for a large national business firm. Several times each year, she and other colleagues at the same firm are required to attend seminars in other cities. This means staying overnight for the meetings. Recently while we were talking, Sandy confided that on her last several trips, she had noticed something that made her uncomfortable.

Several of her colleagues seemed to be flirting with employees of the opposite sex from firms in other parts of the country who were attending the same meeting.

Having worked at her firm for several years, Sandy knew most of her colleagues were married. Finally, after watching this take place for several hours one evening, Sandy approached one of the men who had spent considerable time talking to women individually in a corner of the room. “Dan,” she said when he had ambled to the food table, “I notice you’re not wearing your wedding ring. Have you lost it?”

As Sandy related the incident to me later, Dan stammered a reply, saying he had taken it off to pack and forgot to put it back on his finger. While the encounter seemed to dampen Dan’s enthusiasm for a short time after he walked away, it did not quell it completely. Sandy noticed Dan and a female employee from another firm leaving the party together at the end of the evening, his hand on the small of her back.

John & I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary by spending time together at home. Bliss!

Although some people might disregard my friend’s attempt to confront Dan in front of others as rude behavior, she said her goal was not to embarrass him but to encourage him to think about what he was doing to his marriage. During our conversation, she asked me a rhetorical question, “What do people expect from relationships based outside of marriage? Love for a lifetime?”


“What do people expect from relationships based outside of marriage? Love for a lifetime?”


Why remain faithful to a spouse?

Unfortunately, people do not have to take overnight business trips to sabotage their marriage.

The AshleyMadisonAgency in Toronto markets itself online to married men and women who want to have an affair with the slogan: “when monogamy becomes monotony.”

While it may not seem vogue in society to stay faithful in marriage, the Bible commands it. God thought so much of the union of marriage that he established it as a witness for the sanctity of one’s relationship with the Lord:

“For your Maker is your husband— the LORD Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” (Isaiah 54:5)

“Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. (Jeremiah 3:14)

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.  I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20)

“The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.” (John 3:29)


In other words, a marriage is a holy institution between the bride and bridegroom. Outsiders are not welcome!


A marriage is a holy institution between the bride and bridegroom. Outsiders are not welcome!


Respect your spouse

Listening to the words of Christian couples who have been married for many years to the same person can help the rest of us understand the importance of this union and learn to implement this reverence into our own marriages.

Dr. Wes and Mary Gerig from Fort Wayne, Indiana, were married from 1952-2012 (sadly Mary died this year). Dr Wes taught Bible courses at Taylor University-Fort Wayne (formerly Fort Wayne Bible College) for 51 years.

It might seem to have been easy staying married while living in a Christian atmosphere, but both of the Gerigs admit they had challenges during their five and a half decades together.

During the week when the whole family was together, Wes and Mary involved the children in family devotions each morning after breakfast. “It was brief because everyone had to leave to go places,” says Wes. “But we read from a children’s Bible and prayed together as a family.” Today, the kids are grown and live around the world with their families, but Mary says they still call to ask for prayer.

Raising four children on a professor’s salary was not easy. Wes often earned extra income by filling in for area pastors who had to be away from their pulpits on Sundays. To create a regular routine for the children Mary stayed home and took them to the same church each Sunday.


Get pre-marital counseling

The Gerigs advise couples who come for pre-marital counseling to consider the value of having similar backgrounds. “We both came from missions-minded families and that helped us believe the same about tithing and serving,” says Mary. Wes’ father had been a pastor and Mary had grown up on a mission field in Peru, South America.

Another similarity the couple shared was a love for travel. After the children were older, Mary accompanied Wes when he was asked to preach at churches around the world in countries like Israel, Haiti, Jamaica, Ecuador, Philippines, Taiwan and the DR. The Gerigs have also made several trips to Japan and Russia where two of their children serve with their families as missionaries.

The important thing, they say, to having a long-term marriage is to have fun together and respect    each other’s differences. “We consider ourselves a team,” says Wes. “God is the central part of our marriage. We live by the Bible and its principles and encourage our children and grandkids to do the same.”


We consider ourselves a team,” says Wes. “God is the central part of our   marriage.


Go to church together

Bob and Evelyn Sprinkle of Bluffton, Indiana, have been married since 1943. Both were still teenagers when they wed in Evelyn’s home in Markle. Unable to afford their own home, the couple moved in with Bob’s family before renting a farm and homestead to live in on their own a few years later. They later became parents to a daughter and son. Larry Sprinkle, their son, is pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton.

The Sprinkles believe attending church regularly helped their marriage (Bob eventually became a Sunday school teacher and elder; Evelyn played the piano and organ). Even when they owned a nursing home and later a motel, they made an effort to be in church each Sunday as a couple.

“Nothing stopped us,” says Bob. “We hired people to work for us who didn’t attend church. We would have sold the business rather than have to miss church on a regular basis.” (Bob Sprinkle has passed away since this article was published).


My own parents were married 47 years before Dad died of an aortic aneurysm in 2005. Mom was 29and Dad, 32, when they married. Mom told me recently she thinks this helped them in their marriage. “We had lived several years on our own and we knew we wanted to be with each other,” she says.

Even though they had separate careers — Mom as a hospital lab technician and Dad as a farmer and small businessman – they managed to raise three daughters. Dad encouraged Mom to obtain her Masters degree in elementary education which she did. When he began working on Amtrak and was gone much of the time, Mom raised the three of us alone (I’m ashamed to say I gave her the most trouble!).


Don’t consider divorce

Though their personalities varied greatly (she liked to play games; he preferred working with tools), they came together in great ways. Mom always took us to church and kept us involved with church youth groups. Dad attended church when he was home and participated in hosting missionaries in our home. Despite occasionally getting mad at each other, she assured me recently the word “divorce” was never spoken in our home.

Coincidentally, my husband of 32 years was raised on a dairy farm five miles from where I grew up, though we didn’t know each other until I was in high school. Though the farm work was tough, John grew up seeing his parents work through difficulties. I’m convinced this stick-to-it-iveness, as well as both of our parents’ refusal to consider divorce, has helped us maintain our loving relationship.

It may not be easy staying faithful to a spouse in these days, but by examining the lives of those who have done it, we can see that it is possible and reflects a holy living. Evelyn Sprinkle may have summed up the thoughts of many married couples when she said, “We knew what God expected of us and we obeyed him. He blessed us because of it.”

The End