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This Is Us - Marriage, Part 1

Today Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series, "This Is Us," looking at the important relationships in our lives.  Today he began two weeks of looking at marriage - but he promised that everyone will have something they can learn from.

(Oh, and before that, very appropriately, we sang songs about the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.  Whether or not we're getting love from other humans, God's love is faithful.)

He listed some ground rules first:

-- Listen for yourself.  (There's something for everyone, even if you're not in the very target audience.)

-- Do not compare.

We'll hear stories as illustrations.  Do not compare with yourself or with your spouse or kids.  That brings discouragement or false encouragement.

-- Use what you can.

Pray for the time when you can use more.

Then he began on Keys to Doing Marriage Better.  (We only got to two of the three in the time.)

Key #1 -- Keep your purpose before you.

This purpose is promoting our partner's spiritual and personal welfare.

We looked at Ephesians 5:25-29 -- "to make her holy" (spiritual promotion), "feed and care for her" (personal promotion).

We want to help our spouse be who God designed them to be.

Holding up an ideal picture of what we think marriage (or friendship) should be can diminish our spouse (or friend).  Don't let that hang over your marriage.  Instead, keep your purpose before you.

Promote your spouse personally.  Promote your spouse spiritually.

"Make her holy" -- unique and utterly set apart for the purposes God made her for.

In friendship, we need to be for one another.

Then Pastor Ed interviewed Deen and Althea Salami about promoting one another.

We must fight off the tendency to keep false purposes before us, such as to provide or to please or many others.  What false purposes tend to drive you?

Key #2 -- Be realistic about your happiness.

Many of us do not have what we hoped for.  But the joy is there.  Notice it!

Don't burden your marriage with an unrealistic picture.

Know your expectations.  Unrealizable expectations will kill a marriage.  Unknown expectations will damage it.

Reality clashes with our expectations, and the result is suffering.

Then for those who have been married longer, you may have settled and dialed back your happiness.

There's only one connection that can bear up under the weight of complete trust, and it's your connection with God.

God may not meet our expectations, but He meets our needs.  Psalm 20:7; Philippians 4:12-13

Repeated studies have shown that the biggest predictor of marital happiness is the level of individual happiness before marriage.  (It's not your spouse's fault!)

Happiness is not a byproduct of marriage.

Happiness is always, in some part, a choice. (James 1:2-3 -- "Consider it pure joy...")

Happiness in marriage is cyclical and seasonal.

Often happiness is a byproduct of nurturing a deep connection with God through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ed finished by reading an essay from Laura Munson about when her husband had a midlife crisis and she took the stance that she was not the root of her husband's problems.

[Laura Munson wrote a book about the experience and explored it in depth.  I read that book in 2010 and wrote a review of it.  I highly recommend the book if any part of that story resonates with you.]

Pastor Ed left us all with something to think about in our relationships and friendships.

Easter Sunday: Why Jesus?

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This was a big weekend at Gateway Community Church.  On Good Friday, we met to sing and pray and hear a message from Pastor Alex York out of Zechariah 13:1 about Jesus as a fountain cleansing us from sin and impurity.

On Saturday, we had a memorial service for elder Tom Bellino, who went home to be with the Lord on March 24, after a battle with cancer.  We celebrated his life in the context of Easter and belief in the Resurrection.

On Easter Sunday, we began a new schedule of two services on Sunday morning at 9:00 and 11:00 - and both services were packed!

Pastor Ed Allen spoke to us from John 14:1-9, answering the question Why Jesus?  Why do Christians keep insisting that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?  We took an honest look at the exclusive claims that Christians have made over the centuries.

Jesus' story is remarkable, and there are strong, rational reasons to believe it.  We went over those briefly.

-- The Empty Tomb

Alternate explanations are very weak, and where did this idea even come from if it wasn't true?

-- Early Witnesses

Paul wrote less than 25 years after the event that Jesus had appeared after his death to more than 500 witnesses - and most of them were still alive.

-- Lives of the First Followers

Their lives were completely changed.  They suffered and died over the next 40 years without changing their story.

Okay, so What does it have to do with us?

We're starting with these foundational principles:

1)  The universe was created with the greatest intention and care.

2)  Humans were made to occupy the pinnacle of creation and relate to God.

3)  The universe has an intrinsic moral framework.

4)  When that framework is violated, existence is altered; sin leads to death.

So we're in trouble.  And we know we're in trouble.  We see the effects in our lives.

Romans 3:23 - "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Romans 6:23 - "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

2 Corinthians 5:21 - "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him."

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled that system.

So - "Do not let your hearts be troubled."  If you know Jesus, you know the Father.

Jesus is the Way!

Jesus is the way God relates to us.  We need a Saviour.

Jesus is the Truth!

The Truth is a person.  If you want to know the Truth, know Jesus.

Jesus is the Life!

Real life is through Jesus.  The tomb is empty!

It's difficult to hold onto our faith at times.  But Jesus told us, "Don't be troubled.  I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Posted by Sondy Eklund with

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