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Spare Change - March 2022

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How many of you had buyer's remorse after you got married?  Be honest.  When you go from engaged to married you find out who your partner really is.  Maybe he clips his toenails in bed or she leaves hair all over the bathroom.  Sometimes it's little things and sometimes it's big things.  One person in the relationship may struggle with depression or maybe it is a sinful attitude or action.  Whatever the problem, big or little, we have all had that moment where we want to take our spouse back to the store like we would a faulty toaster.

How should we cope with the fact that our partner is a seemingly different person as our marital relationship persists?  First off, as Christians, we must remind ourselves of the covenantal nature of marriage.  When we said our vows before God and all our friends and family, we became bound to our spouse.  That commitment must be cherished and upheld no matter what.  If you are bound to your spouse you must keep them and, of course, murder is frowned upon so we must find a way to move forward.

One of the things that a Christian must realize is that God uses marriage to sanctify us.  Through our relationship with our spouse our faith is challenged.  If God has brought this person into our lives and has brought us into a covenant relationship with them, then we must trust His plan.  We must realize that the other person is there to encourage and help us, but they are also there to challenge us.  I would encourage all married couples to view their marriage in this light.  To do that you must focus on your personal relationship with Jesus.  Only then will you have a better perspective on these challenges. Make sure your relationship with the Lord is preeminent, even before your relationship with your spouse.  

Another important thing to realize is people are not static.  In other words, people change and can’t be expected to stay the same.  As we age, experience life, and raise kids we change.  We need to embrace the changes of our spouse.  We must constantly be learning what their hopes and dreams are, but also what frustrates them and where they need encouragement.   Don’t get down about their changes, rather embrace them.

There will also be things that will never change.  Things that frustrate and annoy you.  You might lament the fact that your spouse won’t change in a certain area of their life.  We need to stop trying to change our spouse.  You have probably already figured out that it doesn’t work.  If you do manage to change them then they are probably doing it begrudgingly.  Most people will resent being forced to change.  In reality, our spouse might not need to change, rather our expectations of them need to change. Many times, people expect their spouse to live up to an impossible standard of perfection.  Are they not allowed to be imperfect, are they not allowed to make a mistake?  People rarely hold themselves to that standard of perfection.  Why then hold your spouse to that standard?

Instead of trying to change your spouse there are two things you can do.  First, we need to pray for our spouse.  You need to spend time everyday praying for your spouse. If they really do need to change then only the Lord can help them realize it.  He needs to be the one to help them change.  Once they have realized they need to change then you can be an encouragement in that, but it is going to be tough for them to change unless they really want to.

The second thing we need to do is find ways to serve our spouse.  Have you ever heard the phrase “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”?  This applies to marriage.  Instead of getting onto your spouse or nagging them, try serving them.  Find ways to show them you love them by helping them.  Do more with the kids, do chores around the house, bring them a gift, take them out on a special date, check off that project or honey do list.  There are thousands of ways you can serve your spouse and make them feel special.  Rather than be frustrated all the time, try being positive, encouraging, loving, and service oriented.  Trust me, you will see a better attitude in your spouse, and you will have a more enjoyable marriage.

Isn’t that what we all want – an enjoyable marriage?  As Pastor Alan said in a recent sermon, marriage is meant to be enjoyed not endured.  If you are simply enduring marriage, then take it to the Lord in prayer. He will help you discover what it means to enjoy your spouse and have a long fulfilling marriage. 

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Student Ministry - March 2022

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It has been a particularly difficult season for my family and me. I will explain why in just a moment, but please understand that the reason I am writing about this is not to complain or garner sympathy. Rather my hope is to share what God is teaching me currently. Also, it is what is most clearly on my mind at the time, and I am not sure I have much other than this to share. Thirdly, our church has showered us with prayers and offers of help, and we couldn’t be more thankful. So, with that said, let me explain.

Over the past four or five weeks our lives have been altered continuously. Kayla, who is expecting our third child in April, started having labor contractions at 29 weeks. For those of you who might be like me and not fully appreciate the significance of that number, it suffices to say that that is not good. After a three night stay in the hospital, a birth that seemed like it was still months away now felt imminent. Our baby girl could arrive at any moment. The risk of her early arrival has required us to alter our daily lives and our plans for the weeks we thought we had (and still might have) before she is born. To say that this has been a stressful event is an understatement. 

The reason for all the change is due to the need for Kayla to avoid activity that could possibly induce early labor. This means cancelling plans to travel to Louisville to visit family and have a baby shower. No going on walks with the boys. Limited outings. Limited trips up and down stairs. Etc. To top it off, we all got the stomach bug the week after that, and then the boys got head colds the week after that. I also forgot to mention that Kayla had Covid the week before all of this happened. So, for four weeks straight we either had Covid, were in the hospital, were suffering from the stomach bug, or were in and out of the doctor and hospital with toddlers running excessive fevers. Now we simply pray for good health and wait for a major life event to happen either tomorrow or in six weeks. In all of this I have begun to feel very weak. 

I think that is the point. God is allowing and even causing me to feel my weakness. This is a pretty normal thing for God to do. It can seem strange, confusing, and even unloving at first. But when we remember what scripture says, then we can know that God is doing a very good work in us.

There are many texts that can help us process our weakness, but the one that came to my mind is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, which says:
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I believe that text perfectly explains why God lets us feel our weaknesses. It is so that we can find our strength in Him alone. Paul’s attitude is the one for which I strive in this difficult season of life. I cannot say I am attaining it well each day. But I do think that by God’s grace I will grow into more of an enduring and patient Christian than I was before this season of life.

I hope that you too will see the difficulties in your life as God’s way of showing you your weakness so He can be your strength. And I hope that in that you will find that His strength is many times stronger than your greatest efforts.

Let us be content and hope in our strong God in the good times, in the bad times, and in the hard times. It is then that we are made strong.

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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