A man and his wife had been divorced for seven years and were living seven hundred miles apart. By chance, or perhaps the divine grace of God, they found themselves at the same theater to watch the recent hit movie, Fireproof . The husband was so moved by the film that when he saw his ex-wife he lifted her out of her seat and kissed her. They plan to remarry soon.
Stephen Kendrick, co-creator of that movie and co-author of the best-selling book, The Love Dare , says true stories like that constantly affirm that God is working through the movie and book. He is amazed at the number of people who contact him revealing similar tales. He takes no credit for his work, acknowledging that God is responsible. “God resurrects dead things. He resurrects dead marriages,” Stephen told me during our interview.
His humility comes from his belief that God is just using him to spread His good news. This is evidenced by Stephen’s favorite Bible verses, including Ephesians 3:20, 21: “Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
My husband and I also watched the movie Fireproof . It was amazing. Although my husband and I have a very strong Christian marriage, we don’t always see that reflected in our family. Why?
We are both so called ‘experts’ in marriage and family. My husband is a physician with a BA in psychology and I am trained as a social worker/parent coach. We have coached pre-cana couples and married couples for years, so why then does our own family struggle and fight constantly? We did all the things we thought we were supposed to do; Home schooled for years, took our kids to daily Mass, attend confession with them at least once a month and they come with us to faith-based conferences, camps and classes. So what were we doing wrong?!
We decided to embark on a forty day journey last Lent. We challenged ourselves and our family to adapt The Love Dare to family life. I kept a journal of our experiences on Catholic Exchange. After seeing my work, the publicist for The Love Dare authors asked if I would like to interview them and of course I jumped at the chance.
For Stephen and his co-author and brother Alex, this movie and the subsequent book were the culmination of years of work in ministry and Bible-based marriage counseling. Their first projects together (including the movie, Facing the Giants) had strongly impacted businesses and personal journeys in a Christian way. The brothers had been praying for months about how they could create something that could similarly impact our culture and marriages. One day, as Alex was jogging, it came to him: the idea that would become the movie Fireproof ! He literally ran to Stephen to tell him his idea. Stephen describes it as an “ah-ha” moment, as he realized that his years of marriage ministry had led to this project.
The Love Dare helps an individual focus on changing into a better spouse. Stephen points out that it is too easy to default into “fixing my spouse thinking.” We are called by God to be Christ-like (even when the other person is not acting kindly) and to give an account to God about how we helped your spouses in their spiritual journeys. What the world says about marriage and what God does are not always the same thing.
My ten-year old daughter, Anya, had a special question that she wanted me to ask Mr. Kendrick, “Did you love dare your own wife?” Great question! The answer was a resounding, “Yes, even before I wrote the book!” Stephen shared that he told his wife early on in their relationship that he could not satisfy all her needs or even love her unconditionally without God.
With the success of The Love Dare propelling the authors forward, they have reached out with a new project so that they can positively affect more marriages. The Love Dare Bible Stud y, uses the Fireproof movie and The Love Dare book as a first step to a deeper understanding of Scripture and of God’s purpose for marriage. The authors have expanded the depth of the studies and included tips for group work and group leaders. It will be released when the movie DVD comes out in January.
When I asked Stephen Kendrick why he thought it was important to include all those leader tips he responded, “I’m always thinking that Bubba in the back row is only paying attention to half of what someone’s saying (laughing and adding, sometimes I’m Bubba) and I wanted to reach him.” Getting the message out and spreading the Gospel in a way that helps marriages is Stephen’s goal.
What’s next for the brothers? A 365 Day Devotional Book for married couples that will continue The Love Dare on a daily basis. Also in the works, a love dare for parents.
As Catholics, we can benefit from the Fireproof movie and The Love Dare book. A set of specifically Catholic resources that are based on Fireproof and The Love Dare are available here .
The Love Dare Bible Study may be beneficial but, since non-Catholic Bible studies can sometimes be slightly biased against Catholics and are not developed with the ‘full deposit of faith of the Catholic Church.’ (ref CCC 95) I would encourage parish priests, faith formation directors and theologians to facilitate them if they are used. This would ensure proper perspective rather than risk the misdirection of a well-intentioned lay person. I wrote about our Catholic understanding of Scripture on Day Thirty-Six of journaling my family’s love dare:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
Many other Christians think that Catholics do not read the Bible. While it is true that many Catholics do not actively study the Bible on their own, many others do. There are great tools for this in Catholic books stores and even audio studies such as Jeff Cavin’s, Bible Study of the Book of Matthew.
Our family believes that in order to better serve Christ; we must know God in His Word! We often challenge our children to find a Bible story that represents a situation we are going through and when they were little, we used to have them memorize Bible verses. This is always an area we can do more in, BUT Catholics do know their Bibles because of the Mass.
During the Mass the Bible is covered in a three year cycle. This includes the Gospels, much of the Old Testament and the New Testament. While not everything is completely read, the focus on the Word of God cannot be denied. Besides that fact, much of the prayers during the Mass and the responses are directly from the Bible.
Catholics are also privileged to have the fullness of the faith. The Mass is separated into two parts; The Liturgy of the Word and The Liturgy of the Eucharist. We tell our children to think of it this way; If you wanted to get to know our family, we might share with you a book or love letters we have written to each other. Or perhaps, those of you reading this are starting to feel like you know us already! How much better will we know each other, if after reading, we all have dinner together? You will hear the tone of our voices as we laugh and share. You will see our craziness (and at our house even some bad behavior). How much better can we know the Lord then if we read His Word and then come to His table and share in His supper?!
To hear my interview with Stephen Kendrick in full please click here . May God bless you and bless your marriage!