Strengthening Your Marriage

We are really looking forward to our Marriage Seminar and want you to be apart of this event. The seminar will be on January 28th from 3:00 to 8:00 and will involve teaching from Pastor Brandon Porter, fellowship, and a meal provided by the church. See the information page here.

Also, I figured I would give you all some last minute gift ideas for enriching your marriage or some ideas of how to spend any Christmas cash that you might receive. I mean, what better way could you spend your money than investing in your marriage. (Also, great reading for single men and women who want a godly marriage in the future.)

1) The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Committment with the Wisdom of God – Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller

2) Sacred Marriage- Gary Thomas

3) What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage – Paul Tripp

4) Reforming Marriage- Douglas Wilson

5) This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence – John Piper

6) When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage – Dave Harvey

7) Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace – Gary and Betty Ricucci

Marriage: A Blessing or A Curse?

Have you ever felt frustrated in marriage? You know the type of frustration that leads you to walk away from hard conversations or where you try to tune your spouse out during a heated debate. I hate to say this but I have.

I have struggled to want to pursue my wife. I have struggled to “live with my wife in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7).  I have even failed to love my wife like Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5)

What, Lance?! You haven’t loved your wife, as well as, Jesus loved his church. Yeah, I know it sounds shocking, but I haven’t. And I never will as long as I live. However, that doesn’t mean we are left without hope.

So my question to you is: How do we strive to make our marriages a blessing rather than living like they are a curse?

1) Give thanks to God for everything about marriage.

This doesn’t sound like the easiest task at hand. However, it is clear from Genesis 3 to 1 Peter 3 that marriage is a gift from God. All of marriage. That means we can give thanks to God during a disagreement and when we are in agreement. We can give thanks when we don’t want to be in the same room and when we don’t want to leave each other’s presence. We thank God when it’s hard and when it’s easy.

Why? Both of these are blessings of a sovereign God. In every moment, God is using our sin, suffering and sweet moments to make us more like Jesus. That’s the best place to be in the whole world. Not where it’s easy, but where the Lord is changing me.

2) Keep the gospel at the center of your marriage

Chances are when you have fallen out of love with your spouse, you really have fallen out of focus. The focus of marriage is that we bring God glory, by displaying the gospel to the world.

Jesus was perfectly patient when we were unloveable. He was gracious and forgiving even when we were rebels. He pursued us passionately with his love when we were passionately pursuing sin. 

This is the glorious grace of God. And we have the opportunity to display his grace by the way that we speak to our spouse’s with patience. By the way that we pursue them even when they are not being loveable. And by the way we are gracious and quick to forgive when we have been wronged. 

3) Die to yourself daily and live for your spouse daily.

One of the keys to making your marriage feel like a curse is making everyday all about you. All about your wants, your desires, your right way to do things, and your feelings.

When marriage becomes all about you, it displays how little you value your spouse and your Savior.

So the best thing you can do for your marriage is to kill yourself today. What I mean is, kill your desires, your demands, your have-to’s, your don’t question me’s, and kill all the “you” that gets in the way of your marriage. Instead, pursue your spouse. What does she desire today that will make her feel valued? How could I honor my husband in a way that he knows I care and respect him?

When we begin to give thanks for our marriage, keep the gospel the focus, and die to ourselves, we can be sure that Christ will be glorified and our days will be blessed.

**For more information about an upcoming marriage seminar at Christ Fellowship, click here.

How Can I Know God’s Will?

Should I get married to Mrs. Soandso? Should buy a new car? Would it be wise if I went into debt to go to college? It’s almost daily that a question pops into our mind and we want to know what God thinks about my dilemma.

First of all, it’s a great thing to have a desire to please God in our daily lives. And asking these questions reveals a heart that wants to please Him. However, we need to see that sometimes we are making the decision to complicated when it doesn’t have to be.

This week, Tim Challies has written a series of blogs about knowing God’s will. Read all of the posts in order below since each post builds upon the other. And then experience joy and freedom from living God’s will.

Glorifying God at Work

John Piper was asked at a recent conference “How can a young worker glorify God at work?” This is a great question for people to be asking.  Especially, since EVERYTHING was created for the glory of God. That means your work was supposed to put the glory of God on display. Here was his answer at the conference:

Dependence. Go to work utterly dependent on God (Proverbs 3:5-6; John 15:5). Without him you can’t breathe, move, think, feel, or talk. Not to mention be spiritually influential. Get up in the morning and let God know your desperation for him. Pray for help.

 Integrity. Be absolutely and meticulously honest and trustworthy on the job. Be on time. Give a full day’s work. “Thou shalt not steal.” More people rob their employers by being slackers than by filching the petty cash.

 Skill. Get good at what you do. God has given you not only the grace of integrity but the gift of skills. Treasure that gift and be a good steward of those skills. This growth in skill is built on dependence and integrity.

 Corporate shaping. As you have influence and opportunity, shape the ethos of the workplace so that the structures and policies and expectations and aims move toward accordance with Christ. For example, someone is shaping the ethos of Chick-fil-A restaurants with this video.

Impact. Aim to help your company have an impact that is life-enhancing without being soul-destroying. Some industries have an impact that is destructive (e.g., porn, gambling, abortion, marketing scams, etc). But many can be helped to turn toward impact that is life-giving without being soul-ruining. As you have opportunity, work toward that.

 Communication. Work places are webs of relationships. Relationships are possible through communication. Weave your Christian worldview into the normal communications of life. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Put it on the stand. Winsomely. Naturally. Joyfully. Let those who love their salvation say continually, Great is the Lord! (Psalm 40:16)

Love. Serve others. Be the one who volunteers first to go get the pizza. To drive the van. To organize the picnic. Take an interest in others at work. Be known as the one who cares not just about the light-hearted weekend tales, but the burdens of heavy and painful Monday mornings. Love your workmates, and point them to the great Burden Bearer.

 Money. Work is where you make (and spend) money. It is all God’s, not yours. You are a trustee. Turn your earning into the overflow of generosity in how you steward God’s money. Don’t work to earn to have. Work to earn to have to give and to invest in Christ-exalting ventures. Make your money speak of Christ as your supreme Treasure.

 Thanks. Always give thanks to God for life and health and work and Jesus. Be a thankful person at work. Don’t be among the complainers. Let your thankfulness to God overflow in a humble spirit of gratitude to others. Be known as the hope-filled, humble, thankful one at work.

Why Not Bowling Green?

When God shows up, cities are turned upside down. Over the last year, the pastors of Christ Fellowship have been preaching through the book of Acts and time after time we have seen God change cities. He has moved in power to transform the culture, heal broken souls, save the lost, build his church, and spread his fame to the ends of the earth.

The Spirit of God moves in Jerusalem and 3,000 souls are saved. The power of God is shown in Antioch when God builds a mult-ethnic church full of pagan people (Gentiles) who have trusted in Jesus. In Philippi, he saves people from the poorest slave girl to a Roman jailor. It’s in Ephesus that God frustrates the idol makers by changing the idolators hearts into Christ worshippers. Or in Berea were the people of the city search the Scriptures and believe in Jesus.

The Lord goes city by city as he turns the world upside down, and my question is “Why not Bowling Green?”  Why could God not move in power among us?

Ray Ortlund shared on his blog the other day some thoughts from J I Packer’s book “God In our Midst.” Here is what he said happens when God brings revival:

1.  Awareness of God’s presence: “The first and fundamental feature in renewal is the sense that God has drawn awesomely near in his holiness, mercy and might.”

2.  Responsiveness to God’s Word: “The message of Scripture which previously was making only a superficial impact, if that, now searches its hearers and readers to the depth of their being.”

3.  Sensitiveness to sin: “Consciences become tender and a profound humbling takes place.”

4.  Liveliness in community: “Love and generosity, unity and joy, assurance and boldness, a spirit of praise and prayer, and a passion to reach out to win others, are recurring marks of renewed communities.”

5. Fruitfulness in testimony: “Christians proclaim by word and deed the power of the new life, souls are won, and a community conscience informed by Christian values emerges.”

So let us be fervent and pray for revival in our city. Let’s pray that the signs that we see above would be present in Bowling Green. For the glory of his name and for the joy of our city.

Are you a work-place blessing?

If you are a Christian, then you probably know that Christ has called you to be his ambassador. You probably know that it is your responsibility to take the grace and truth of Jesus into the lives of those who do not him Jesus. You probably know that you’re supposed to show up to church events, be involved in outreach programs, and go on mission trips to spread the gospel of Christ. But has it ever crossed your mind that Christ wants you to bring his love and blessing to the place where you probably spend the majority of your week – your job? Too often we get settled into the grind of our everyday 9 to 5 (or whatever hours you work), and we miss out on many opportunities to be a blessing to those whom we work with. If you were to leave your job would the people there even notice? Are things better at your work-place because you are there? Are you actively seeking to extend the blessing of Christ in your work-place?

Here is a link to a blog by Josh Reeves on this very topic. Josh provides 30 very helpful and very practical ways to be a blessing to your work-place. Here is a sampling:

1. Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.

2. Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.

3. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.

4. Bring extra snacks when you make your lunch to give away to others.

5. Bring breakfast (donuts, burritos, cereal, etc.) once a month for everyone in your department.

Read the whole list here and strive to bless your work-places for sake of Christ.

When Tragedy Strikes

What do we say to someone in the midst of a tragedy? When tragedy strikes like a family member getting cancer or a tornado rips through the town, people long to know why God did or did not do anything to prevent it. As believers, it can be a difficult and weighty situation when speaking to unbelievers in the midst of tragedy.  The follow blog was written by David Shrock over at the Gospel Coalition blog. It is a great example of how to speak mercy and truth to someone dealing with tragedy.

When the winds raged and the waves threatened, the disciples awoke Jesus with fear in their hearts. Jesus arose, stood on the storm-tossed boat and spoke three simple words, “Peace!  Be still!” The winds ceased and the storm ended faster than it came (Mark 4:39).

In that moment, the terrified fishermen were more frightened by the man in their presence with the power to subdue nature than they were of drowning under the heavy waves. God’s Son in human form had just displayed his divine power, and that with a word.  On that lakeside journey, Jesus stopped the storm with a sentence. On May 22, in Joplin, Missouri, he didn’t.

For the disciples, Jesus stopped the storm and it led to a question of his identity: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (4:41). For the survivors in Joplin, the question is different. For them and for anyone staggering from a recent world-halting tragedy, the question is closer to that of the Psalmist, “How long oh Lord? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Ps 13:1). Because Jesus word did not stop the storm before it hit last week, there is now the need for Jesus word to come speak “Peace. Be Still.”

With such a need in mind, let me suggest four words from God’s Word that I pray may bring a biblical perspective to those bruised and broken by the storm, and to those ministering to them.

Read the rest of the blog here.