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The Art of Neighboring

Today, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring."  We began by reading the passages Luke 9:23-25 and Philemon 6.

If we're going to grow, there are 4 key relationships:

1)  We must be healthily engaged to ourselves - but the emphasis on this relationship must decrease.

We spend an enormous amount of time on this one, but Jesus instructs us plainly:  Our relationship with ourselves must decrease in importance.  (Luke 9:23-25)

2)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37.  It's not easy, but vitally important.  We gather because we need all the encouragement we can get.  There also needs to be individual time for reading the Bible and prayer.

3)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with outhers who have a relationship with God.

This is vitally important, and is not a casual thing for us.  The New Testament is full of the phrase "one another."  You can't "love one another" when you're alone.

This won't fall into our laps - we need to work at it.  Things in our culture work against community.

4)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged with those who do not have a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37-40.  Growing OUT toward the world in service and evangelism.

Jesus is saying, "Just tell them about me.  If they know me, tell them more.  If they don't know me, introduce them."

We don't separate those relationships from a sense of superiority or to exclude them.

Philemon 6 -- "And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ."

We can't fully know all we have in Christ without sharing.

Our Assignment:  Begin praying for your neighbors!

Pastor Ed told the story of one of the men in our church who now leads a wide ministry - and his relationship with God began when Ed's wife prayed for him for years.

Two concerns:  

"I think religion is a private thing.  I don't want to share mine."

"I don't know enough."

Neither of those objections is true.  Be authentic and talk about your life.

But we'll begin by praying for our neighbors!

Look at mygateway.life for a devotional guide this week.

This Is Us - Marriage, Part 2

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series "This Is Us" by talking again about Marriage.  He took up where he left off last week, continuing to talk about Keys to a Healthy Marriage.

Key #3 -- Speak the truth in love.

This is from Ephesians 4:14-16, and it applies to all relationships.  Telling the truth is a really big deal to God.

Speaking the truth in love builds stability.  It's contrasted with being tossed by waves.

Speaking the truth in love complements spiritual growth and unity.

Speaking the truth in love is critical for church relationships, and especially for marriage.

Some hate confrontation and need to be reminded that burying the hurt doesn't make it go away.  Others can use the truth like a club and need to be reminded that truth that can't be received doesn't help.

There are two kinds of situations where we need this:

When we've been hurt, disappointed, frustrated:

1)  Allow God to show you your real concern.

Anger is a secondary emotion.  The distance between feeling and awareness can cause problems.  Unrecognized emotion can be at the root of passive-aggression and sarcasm.

Ask the Lord what's going on - Psalm 139.

2)  Admit your issue to yourself with grace and vulnerability.

That's the "in love" part.  You're in a good place if you're asking what the real issue is.

3)  Think FAB:

Focus on your feelings.

Avoid absolutes.

Be brief.

Make hurt the substance, not the fuel.

When we have objective criticism.

If not given in love, it can't be received.

Do your PART --

Prayer coverage

Share Active concerns.

Rehearse the criticism (with a trusted friend).

Set a Time (not heat of the moment).

This is a lot of work.  You'll do the work one way or the other!  Do it on the front end!

Key #4 - Practice your relational posture.

This one's particular to marriage, from Ephesians 5:21-33

For wives:  Submit and respect

1)  This requirement is given to wives.

Wives are told to offer submission and respect.  This is not the husband's concern.  He's not to demand it or take it.

2)  Submission, NOT obedience.

We obey God.  This is your relational posture.  It's about order and function, not about power.

3)  Motivation:  As to the Lord.

This is a way of honoring the Lord.  It's addressing something else altogether than sexism or power.

Respect your husband because that is what he needs.

Men want to know their life matters - that's their point of insecurity.

Men need their wives' respect - that's why God called you to it.

4) Degree of submission: In everything.

The emotional posture needs to be respect.  This does not mean the husband's the boss.  It looks different in different relationships.  This is an attitude.

You're not called to be something you're not.

You're called to offer respect because the man in your life is needy.

For husbands:  Love your wives.

1)  Standard:  As Christ loved the church.

Love is a choice.

2)  This means we lay down our lives for our wives.

Authority to serve.

How can you advance her agenda?

Your relational posture:  Laying down your life. 

Authority is not yours to take.  The wife offers that authority.  Authority means service and responsibility.

What we're called to do is harder than a grand gesture - we're called to do it in small, daily ways - because that's what your wife needs.

Your wife needs to be loved.

She's designed to be the recipient of your love.  Don't let your love grow cold.

3)  Goal:  To make her holy.

Not to make her happy.  This is about her purpose.

You can't do it if you don't have a connection with Christ, so work on that connection first.

When you see stains, wrinkles, or blemishes - those are the reason you're called to the relationship.  They get ironed out by love.

Key #5 - Pray together.

Statistics:  The biggest impact on a lasting marriage isn't church attendance, religious belief, or religious upbringing.  It's praying together.

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