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Spare Change - March 2023

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Fighting Fair: 5 Steps to Resolving Conflict with Your Spouse

Do you fight with your spouse? It might be a small skirmish or an all-out war but at one point or another you will have a dispute with your spouse. Since conflict is inevitable, we need to come to some kind of agreement on how we should address these quarrels. You might be saying, “Hold up, Pastor Bryan! Shouldn’t we be striving to avoid fighting?” Avoiding conflict is not a biblical idea and often leads to resentment over time. Look at what the scriptures says:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

Conflict must be addressed if we are to follow scripture. However, most couples do not fight fair. Instead of having a Christlike mindset, we seek to hurt the other person. We seek to win and conquer our spouse until they relent and recognize that we were right all along. We fight from a place of intense emotion and sometimes manipulation. All of this is a sinful way to resolve conflict. We need to learn to fight fairly! Here are some steps to resolving conflict in a biblical way:

  1. Reconciliation is the goal: We must remember that reconciliation is the goal. We should always be seeking to restore the relationship with our spouse. Our model for dealing with conflict is how Jesus Christ has treated us. Instead of letting us stew in our sin and receive our just punishment, He came to seek reconciliation through the cross (Romans 5:10).
  2. Be quick to listen and slow to speak: Communication is assumed and you must learn to share your heart with your spouse. One key part of communication is listening. The Bible tells us in James 1:19 to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It has been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk. You must listen to your spouse and understand where they are coming from before any conflict can be resolved.
  3. Watch your words: When you do talk, be careful with how you talk to one another. Remember, once you say something, you cannot take it back. Even if you say sorry, the thing you said is out there. Do not resort to calling names, swearing, or using accusing language. It doesn’t help when you are attacking your spouse with words; you will most certainly regret it later on. According to Ephesians 4:29, we should not let any corrupt talk come from our mouths. Also, we see in James 3 an example of how powerful the tongue is in tearing down or building up.
  4. Deal in facts: When we fight emotions can rise quickly. We need to remember that emotions are important, but they can mislead us if we are not careful.  We must deal in the facts and not emotion. Try to talk through the facts of the situation when you fight. Take a break from talking if the emotions get too high. Also sitting down at the same table rather than standing toe to toe helps. According to Ephesians 4:26-27 we can be angry and not sin. The sin happens when our anger produces hatred in our hearts, which usually results in shouting, withdrawal, and resentment. 
  5. Run to forgiveness quickly: Forgiveness is the most important part of reconciliation. Once again, we look to Christ as our example. Colossians 3:13 says, “...if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” How can we not forgive our spouse when we have been forgiven so much by our Lord? If you refuse to forgive your spouse, you need to do a heart check. I understand that sins have varying consequences and work must be done to complete reconciliation.  I am not saying that forgiveness is easy or quick, however, we must be working toward forgiveness if we are to fully reconcile conflict with our spouse. We can bring glory to the Lord if we address our conflict in a biblical way!

For more on communication in marriage check out the Families for Life podcast Marriage series at oakhillbc.org/f4l

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Spare Change - February 2023

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The Power of Prayer

One of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard on prayer is by Jim Cymbala called, “My House Shall Be Called A House of Prayer.”  This sermon reiterates for me an age old truth that is often ignored by modern Christians.  We need to be on our knees praying!  For all the “arranging” and “planning” we do in ministry, we miss the most powerful asset that we possess.  We simply are not doing enough praying.  There is real power in prayer. I encourage you to watch this sermon on YouTube or download it off of the web, but for now, here is Jim’s testimony to the power of prayer.  It is about his oldest daughter who was raised in the church but chose to leave behind her parents and her faith to live completely for the world.  I hope it encourages you to spend more time in prayer, even today, even right now!

On a February night in the prayer meeting…someone sent a note up to me. A woman, a young lady who is sensitive to the Lord, she sent a note up through the usher. She said, “I feel deeply
impressed that we should stop the prayer meeting and pray for your daughter.” I looked at the note. People were praying all around me. I looked at the note and said, "God, is this really you?" I don’t want to be the center of attraction. People have their own needs. But I felt impressed it was [God]. 
I stopped the prayer meeting after a little while and everybody gathered together in that room in that church and held hands—over a thousand people probably that night—and I called one of my associate pastors in the front, and he began to pray. All that I can tell you, I don’t know what your theology is, and it really doesn't matter. I'm just going to tell you what happened. You know where Paul said, “I travail like a mother giving birth till Christ be formed on you” (Galatians 4:19). 

Well, I told the people, "My daughter thinks up is down and down is up, and she thinks light is dark and dark is light, and unless God visits her and intervenes, my daughter is out there. Someone wants me to stop the meeting so you can pray. My associate is going to come, and he is going to pray." Suddenly, it turned into a labor room. You ever hear women when they are giving labor? It's not pleasant, but it has great results. They began to pray. I was overwhelmed by it. They went to the throne of grace like, “And now Satan, you will give up that girl.” And they prayed. I came home. My wife wasn't there that night, and over a cup of coffee I told her, “Carol, it’s over.” She said, “What's over.” I said, “It's over. If there is a God in heaven, what I
experienced tonight, it is over, finito.”

Just about a day later, I was shaving and my wife burst into the bathroom and said, “Chrissy is here.” Chrissy, I hadn't seen her in four months. I went down the steps, wiping off the shaving cream, and on the kitchen floor was my daughter on her knees. I walked into the kitchen. She grabbed at my pants leg, and she pulled it. She was weeping, and she said, “Daddy, I’ve sinned against God. I've sinned against myself. I've sinned against you and mommy. Daddy, forgive me for being rebellious, etc. Daddy, it's
different. But Daddy, who was praying for me? Who was praying Tuesday night for me?”

“What Chrissy, what happened?” And she said, “In the middle of the night, God woke me up and He showed me I was heading towards a chasm, and it had no bottom. But Daddy, even as He showed me that, He showed me how awful I was. He put His arms around me and showed me that He loved me, and He had a plan for my life. Daddy, I’ve made it right with God.” I could tell by her face that she was my daughter again, the one I had raised. Very soon, God opened the door, and for the next four years she
directed the music program at a Bible school. She married a man of God. They are both in the ministry today.

And God reminded me once again, "My house shall be called a house of prayer, because when you call, I will answer." And the hard cases that some of you are facing, I want to tell you now, it won't come from another seminar. Seminars have their limit. All they can do is be an arrow that gets you to the throne of grace. But when you get there, watch out because God can do
beyond what we ask of Him. I’m not being emotional. I'm not being simplistic. But we have too many technicians now invading the church that are into methodology. The answer is not in methodology; the answer is in the power of the Holy
Spirit. The answer is in the grace of God.

“Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” Isaiah 56:7

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