Thursday, January 9, 2014

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Importance of Church for our Marriage

During the first year of our marriage, David and I attended the church where our wedding ceremony was held. A large, thriving church, we were eagerly anticipating making friends, especially young couple friends, getting involved in the music ministry, and being grown and fed together. We attended the young adult Sunday School class and played keys and bass in the morning praise band on a regular basis. Although we attended each week and tried hard to connect with the people we encountered, it just wasn't a good fit for us.

I would consider both of us solid Christians. This is not to brag, but we were both raised in a Christian home, attended church all our life, and even studied at a Christian university. But Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 10 could not be more clear, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (vs 12). The lack of deep Christian fellowship and accountability in our lives during our first year of marriage was definitely a source of weakness for us.

Recently, we joined a local church just minutes from our house. We started attending there last fall and have felt more shepherded, loved, and grown in a few, short months, than we did in a whole year at our previous church. From an outsider's perspective, the church we now attend would not seem like the place for a young couple. It is an older church, and by older, I mean that the average age of the congregation is around 70-75! It is also a smaller church, with probably 50 in attendance on a good Sunday. There aren't any big programs or activities for our age group. David's parents attend this church. David's dad is in charge of planning and leading worship each week. We love David's parents so much, but at the beginning of our marriage, we didn't want to attend the same church as they, just so we could establish who we were as a couple spiritually. So there is absolutely nothing that, from an outside perspective, would draw us to this church.

Except for God.

Though the church is small, we have enjoyed such sweet fellowship in our time there. We enjoy attending church with David's parents and getting to run the race alongside them. We are one of 5 young couples that regularly attend on Sundays, meet for dinner and Bible study on Tuesday evenings, and spend time together outside of church activities, and our number seems to be increasing each week. What used to be about a 10 person Bible study has steadily grown to around 20! We have come to know, trust, and love these sweet couples in such a short time, and we are always encouraged by their faith and humor. We are also still using our musical abilities and assisting in leading worship each Sunday. We are just as involved as we were at our previous church, but there is one fundamental difference.

Fellowship. (Acts 2:42)

One of the things we've learned the most out of this whole process is not only is it vitally important to have solid doctrine and teaching at the church you attend, it is also vitally important to have fellowship. At the first church we attended, the sermons and services were always very solid, filled with meaty truth, and excellent at instruction and growth. But pair that powerful mix along with deep fellowship - accountability, knowing and being known, praying together, playing together - and you get a dynamic combination. We feel like we have grown more in the past 6 months than ever before in our marriage, not just because of the Word unashamedly preached weekly, but because of the chance to live out, be reminded of, and be encouraged with that Word throughout the week. All because of fellowship.

Now I'm not saying that we should only fellowship with people in our own age group. We greatly enjoy getting to know our pastor and his wife, who are middle-aged, and the older people of the congregation. But it is incredible to live out the Word together with people who are right there with us in this stage of life. You need a balance of both - mature discipleship (We love our pastor and it is incredible how much more his sermons mean because we know he cares for us.) and like-minded accountability.

I will never discount how much a solid church body can do for a marriage. You and your wife/husband may have been raised, drenched, saturated in the Christian culture all your lives, but you can't do life alone. You need each other, but you also need like-minded believers walking alongside you to encourage, strengthen, and challenge you.

The church is looking to grow in the next year by reaching out to youth, starting an apartment ministry, and doing more to support missions. They are looking for great growth and for more to be brought into the fellowship. While this is important to us and definitely the direction the church needs to go, I think we are living proof of an answer to those desires and prayers. God is already at work in our church and in us and in our marriage, and we are so grateful for His faithfulness and for the love and fellowship of our fellow believers.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Great Blog Post

Happy Friday all!

Today, instead of posting myself, I want to share THIS fantastic blog post with you.


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Value of a Good Example

Allow me to brag on my husband a bit, because frankly, he's the best.

Last Saturday, the Saturday before Valentines Day, we were so excited about the presents we had gotten each other that we just went ahead and gave them to each other. I gave David a photo book of our trip to Europe last May and he gave me a customized coupon book for things like "A Night of Nothing" which included take-out, him waiting on me hand and foot, and whatever else I felt like doing/not doing. Bragging point number one.

On Tuesday, actual Valentines Day, I knew we would give each other our cards that evening, and I suspected that there might be flowers for me when I got home from work, but what I didn't expect was to walk into my classroom and see a lovely tulip arrangement and a sweet card sitting on the piano bench, hand delivered by David. Bragging point number two.

This past Friday night, David took me out to dinner at our favorite French restaurant and then to see Wicked, my favorite Broadway show, at the BJCC. He also planned for us to stay overnight at the Redmont hotel downtown for a fun and relaxing Valentines weekend. David meticulously planned this weekend, even driving to the hotel Friday afternoon to make sure he knew where he was and where we needed to go for our evening of fun. Our dinner of chicken crepes was delicious and we headed to the show with great anticipation. As we were entering the theater, the ticket taker paused and said, "These tickets are for Thursday." My heart sank. Ticketmaster had sent us the wrong tickets, and believe me, these weren't the cheapest, peanut gallery tickets either! But David handled it all with such grace. We went to the ticket window, and he bought us another set of tickets, in the same section where our original tickets were supposed to be. I kept telling him he didn't have to, but he kept insisting that he wasn't going to let anything stop us from having our evening. Bragging point number three.

David is not perfect, but he is pretty incredible. I see God's hand so clearly in his life, growing and shaping him into the man He has planned for him to be. And yes, he may get annoyed at traffic or frustrated when things don't go as planned, but I see such maturity in him, maturity to handle unexpected situations, maturity to meticulously plan a weekend of fun for his wife, maturity to go the distance in the little things, like coupon books and flowers.

I know that David has gained much of this maturity from watching his father, and so really this post is not just about bragging on David, but on his dad and on the Lord, too. We cannot underestimate the value of a good example in a person's life. David would be only half the man he is today if it wasn't for his dad and the example he has set. And David's dad (or David, for that matter) would not be the man he is today if it wasn't for the work of salvation that God has done in his heart. So as David's dad follows daily after Christ, David is encouraged to follow daily after Christ, and one day, our children will look to their dad's example to follow daily after Christ.

I thank God for the wonderful example he has placed in my husband's life and for how that will reap benefits down the road that we can't even imagine now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Tool in the Hands of God

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth." Psalm 115:1

As we groggily awoke and snuggled in bed on this cold, Valentines morning, David and I reminisced about our dating and pre-dating years. Notes we wrote each other, past Valentines celebrations, when we knew we first liked each other, the first time we held hands, past relationships, etc. When we first started dating in December 2007, David had just come out of a relationship a few months before, a relationship that he had sought after for some time but turned out to be not what God had for him, causing disappointment, confusion, and distance from God. However, God in His immense grace and His sovereign plan brought us together at that point in time and has led us faithfully until now. As we were remembering this this morning, David said to me something like, "God brought healing to me through you." I've been pondering this statement all morning. To think that I, a fallen, selfish, broken, messed-up, saved-by-grace sinner was used by God in the life of my now husband to draw him closer to his Savior is an incredible thought to say the least! One of the biggest blessings and challenges in a Christian marriage is being that "iron sharpening iron" (Proverbs 27:17), encouraging one another towards growth and more complete dependency on Christ. We are completely inadequate in ourselves to accomplish this, but praise be to God for His work in our lives! I worship Him for using me as a tool in His hands in my husband's life and I rejoice in Him for how He is using David to do the same in my life. It's a wonderful thing to witness and be a part of, something that you can take no credit for in and of yourselves, but that causes you and the world to look at your marriage and say, "Wow, only God could do that." So give thanks to our Father this Valentines Day for His grace in your life and marriage and for His kindness to make us useful instruments of blessing in His loving hands.

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.'" 1 Corinthians 1:26-31