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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.

Spiritual Growth - Philippians 4

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Today's Sermon focused on the lessons of Philippians 4:4-9.

In the scripture Paul tells his readers that they should "Rejoice in the Lord Always" and he emphasizes this point by repeating himself "Rejoice!"
Paul's advice is given based both on his own experience -- and on his appreciation of God's peace which transcends all human understanding -- and is his gift to us through his Son, Christ Jesus.
For the "Lord is near"  Paul tells us, and he advises us that we should not be anxious about anything, but instead, in every situation, we should present our requests to God with both prayer and thanksgiving.
From our vantage point in the Washington Metro area in March 2018, it is difficult for us to fully appreciate whether Paul's words can be easily applied to our busy lives.  Although we can appreciate that Paul was speaking to a church that faced potential persecution -- does his appeal have relevance for our lives today?
The answer to this question is a resounding YES!
We live in incredibly stressful times -- and though we may not be faced with physical persecution for our faith, the rapidly shifting norms of our society make it increasingly difficult to hold fast to the virtues passed on to us by our Savior. 
Anxiety is a reality of our every day lives
So, given this fact, can Paul's guidance to us be of use?  and if so, what are the practical steps we need to take to follow his advice?
First and foremost, we need to recognize that God is in Control.  This can be hard for us to believe in a society that teaches each of us that we must be self-reliant.  It is this self-reliance that drives us to look for solutions to all of the ills that beset us -- and that puts us in search of the magic pill or silver bullet solution that will solve all of our problems.  Eventually, we will comet to realize that "there is no magic pill."
Secondly, we need to realize that our ability to deal with the challenges that we face, whether they be from anxiety itself, or from anxiety associated with loneliness, separation, the loss of a job, the failing of a business, or all of the above, are founded in our attitudes.  Current research in the field chronicled by Dr. Kelly McGonigal illustrates that our traditional beliefs about stress and its impact on our health and wellbeing may be fundamentally wrong.  Indeed, her TED talk and her book (The Upside of Stress) make a compelling case that stress may actually be good for us. If we reflect deeply on these challenges, especially in those cases where the challenges drove us to our knees in desperation, at some point, we may recognize that the problem actually helped us to recognize the limits of our capabilities living without the presence of God in our lives.  Indeed, though it may not be true for everyone, for some of us, the challenge is what actually drives us to seek out the loving arms of God.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we must learn to rejoice and give thanks in every situation. Yes, we may face adversity -- after all we live in a fallen world.  Our bodies will eventually grow old, and weak, and we will die.  But the timing of this ultimate challenge is not under our control. 
What is under our control is how we choose to live in this present moment.  At one end of the spectrum we can choose to be stressed out of our minds with worry and doubt relying solely on our own capabilities and capacity for response. 
At the other end of the spectrum we can recognize the challenges we face an an opportunity to worship -- giving Thanks in a God who so loved the world that he gave us his one and only Son.  In this we can rejoice because we recognize that the Lord is near and the Lord is in Control.  All we need do is present our requests to God  through prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.