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40 Years Of Marriage

BJ Janet Exit Wedding

Janet & I just celebrated our 40th anniversary on July 16.  At dinner, we talked to our waiter (who was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s) and when he found it was our 40th, he had a amazed look on his face and said “I hope my wife and I can make it at least 10 years”.

As I thought about his words and the surprised look on his face,  I tried to think about the things that have helped us get this far.  A couple years ago I posted 10 things that can help your marriage, so this is a re-post of some of those.  This isn’t “pie in the sky” kind of stuff because we’ve had our share of ups and downs, and times when we didn’t feel close at all. But here are a few of the things I thought about that have helped us.

  1. Forgive each other. There are times when we’ve hurt each other and gotten ticked off and said things that we shouldn’t say, but we’ve always come back to the fact the we’re not each other’s enemy and we need to forgive each other just like Christ forgave us. We’ve both made a personal decision to trust and follow Christ, which influences every decision we make.
  1. Take regular breaks from the routine. Marriage can easily become routine and difficult; especially during the child raising years. We determined years ago that we’d strive to have a regular date night away from the kids.   We also decided to try and take a vacation together at least once a year without the kids when possible. Yes, most of our vacations in the child raising stage were family vacations, but we tried to find ways to get away by ourselves. Even if we weren’t able to get away for a week, we at least tried to do something special for a few days every 5 years on, or around, our anniversary. We often had to celebrate “around our anniversary” because many of them were spent at Youth Camps when I was a Student Pastor
  1. Give each other space. It took some time, but we’ve both grown to the point where we’re good giving each other some space; which includes short periods of time alone or away from the family. For me, I get recharged in nature or away from crowds and where there are few demands on me. Janet likes to be with people and do things. We trust each other to spend some time away; for me it may be a spiritual retreat or hunting trip. For her, it usually meant going somewhere to be with her family.
  1. Develop great friendships. We developed great friendships with people who were moving in the same direction as us. Friends who wanted to grow in their relationship with Christ too. That made it easier to talk to our friends and keep each other accountable since we’d built relationships of trust. We also learned the value of consistently being in a small group designed for spiritual growth with friends and people we trusted.
  1. Be on the same page. We decided that we’d always strive to be on the same page when it came to discipline or making decisions that concerned our children. We didn’t air our differences in front of the kids or let them play us against each other, but rather had a unified front in what we decided.
  1. Realize some expectations won’t be met. We had to grow to the point of understanding we are very different (not wrong – just different) and always will be. 40 years into our marriage – we’re still different!  Our responsibility is to try our best to meet each other’s needs and guard our hearts against being selfish. That’s a whole lot easier to write than it is to do. This also means we realize some expectations we had coming into our marriage were unrealistic and we had to grow through releasing these.
  1. Recognize marriage is a journey.   There are ups and downs, hard times and good, times of prosperity and times of want. It’s a journey, an adventure, and we’re in it together for the long haul which means we’ll walk through a variety of things that are good and bad along the way.  In the bad times it’s always unwise to make life-changing decisions; especially decisions that are emotionally charged.
  1. Remember our impact on our family and others. There’s a type of inbuilt accountability for us because we value the example we set for our children and grandchildren, as well as our extended family, friends and others. This doesn’t mean living a life of hypocrisy, but the desire to set a good example means we strive to work through the problems and issues we face and are honest about our struggles. Note: that doesn’t mean airing all our dirty laundry; it just means we’re real people like everyone else and we realize we have a responsibility to those who are watching our example.
  1. Handle Finances Well. We made a decision when we got married to do our best to handle our finances in a way that honored God. We continue to practice tithing to the local church, giving over and above the tithe to build the church, and we continue to support a variety of missions and several children in foreign countries. The only way this has been possible was by building margin into our finances. We learned this the hard way by making a number of mistakes, but over the years we learned to limit debt (we’ll be totally debt free this year!) and be on the same page in how we give. We also learned the blessing of generosity!
  1. A common commitment to Christ. We’re both committed to growing in our relationship with Christ even though we mess up time after time.   Striving to keep Christ as the center and Lord of our lives and home has helped us through tough times when it would have been easier to give up. This commitment includes a consistent commitment to involvement in our church, serving in ministry, staying connected in a small group through our church, and having a regular time alone with God in the Bible and prayer. This is one of the key reasons I believe we’ve been able to work through the difficult times and remain committed to one another.  By the way, learning to work through difficulties and hurts in a local church is part of the journey, but being connected and involved in a local church is crucial to your marriage and family!

PS#1 – Yes, the photo in this post is from several years ago!  Ha!

PS#2 – Some books / cd’s I’d recommend:  His Needs Her Needs by Willard Harley, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, Fighting For Your Marriage by Markmum, Stanley & Blumberg, The Book of Romance by Tommy Nelson, Marriage is a Covenant by Robert Morris.

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RAVE – CELEBRATE – ROBUST – LOUD – ELATED

These are words used to describe one of the primary Hebrew words for PRAISE used throughout the Old Testament.   As one writer states: HALLAL is a primary Hebrew root word for praise. Our word “hallelujah” comes from this base word. It means “to be clear, to praise, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish.”

None of these are to be done to call attention to ourselves, but to call attention to the greatness of God and His glory!

Every follower of Christ should spend time in Praise, Adoration, Thanksgiving and Worship. Much of my private time to praise, adore, thank, and worship God is quiet, but there are times when we gather (assemble together as the church) where some of our praise [HALLAL] is to be festive and loud.  In other places in the Psalms we’re encouraged to “sing for joy to the Lord” and “shout joyfully”.  This kind of praise requires participation.

As I was reading Psalm 149 this morning I noticed some principles that were interesting.  By the way, the word “praise” in verse 3 is from “HALLAL”.   See what you find as you reflect on these verses.  How do you think they should impact our response to God when we gather as a congregation / assembly / church?

PSALM 149:1-4 NASB

1Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

 

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I KNOW I SHOULD FORGIVE BUT DON’T WANT TO

This past Sunday, I wrapped up our series on IDENTITY with a message related to FORGIVENESS.   If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, a part of your IDENTITY in Christ is one of being totally, eternally forgiven.

One of the applications of that message was:  Since I’ve Been Forgiven, I’m To Forgive.   I’ve experienced enough hurt and betrayal in my life to know that’s not always easy.   However, it is something Jesus tells us to do.  If you’re struggling with FORGIVENESS I want to encourage you to listen to one of the following podcasts.   If the podcasts don’t help, I hope you’ll seek counsel from a biblically based Christian counselor.

Here are the podcasts:

http://gf.church/practical-atheist-i-believe-in-god-but-wont-forgive/

http://gf.church/forgiveness/

God bless you,

BJ

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FORGIVENESS

Reading and reflecting on these passages as I prepare for this Sunday.  Maybe you should do the same.

Matthew 26:28   for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:31  He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 10:43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 13:38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Matthew 9:2 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:5 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’?

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.

 

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MY TRUE IDENTITY

When we make a decision to believe and receive Christ as Lord and Savior, we become a brand new person.  Christ is in us and we are in Christ.

Colossians 1:27 NLT says:  For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Ph says: For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation.

A great article on what it means to be in Christ can be found at: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-stupendous-reality-of-being-in-christ-jesus

When we put our faith & trust in Christ; believing and receiving Him, we become a child of God with all the benefits of being in His forever family. Our true identity is found in who we are in Christ and in what God says about us in His Word.

In fact, God sees me and you as VALUED.  Value is usually determined by who owns something and what someone is willing to pay for it.  Several years ago someone paid $130K for a 52 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card because they valued it that much.

When it comes to how much God VALUES you, think about this:

“You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him…”     1 Corinthians 7:23 TLB

If ownership and price equal value, remember God paid for you with the life of His own Son so you could become a part of His family forever.  God says you’re infinitely valuable to Me.

You have a position (or standing) with God because you are “in Christ”.  He lives in and through you.  As a result of our POSITION IN CHRIST…

WE ARE ACCEPTED:  John 1:12, John 15:15, Romans 5:1, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Ephesians 1:1 & 2:18, Colossians 1:14

WE ARE SECURE:  Romans 8:1-2 & 8:39, Philippians 1:6 & 3:20, 2 Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 4:16, 1 John 5:11-13 & 5:18

WE ARE SIGNIFICANT:  2 Corinthians 5:18 & 6:1, Philippians 4:13, John 15:1-5 & 5:16, Ephesians  2:10 & 3:12, Matthew 5:13-14

WE ARE FORGIVEN:  I’ll deal with this topic next Sunday, June 25.

Here are a couple of other resources that may help you if you want to understand your identity and position in Christ more clearly.

The book: Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham

The book: Who I Am In Christ by Neil T. Anderson

https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/core-christian-beliefs/the-believers-position-in-christ.html

If you missed the message:  OUR IDENTITY CRISIS on June 11, or OUR TRUE IDENTITY on June 18, you might want to go to gf.church and watch them on the Sermon Podcast under the Media Tab/Sermon Podcast.

God bless you,

BJ

 

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POSITION & IDENTITY

Here are some of the notes and passages from today’s message on My Position & Identity in Christ.

If you are not a follower of Christ, God wants you to know He loves you in spite of anything you’ve done, His Son Jesus died so you could be forgiven of any wrong and have a relationship with Him, and God wants you to know Him and the life He offers you.

If you are a Christian – or become a Christian – the following is true of you.

AW Tozer – Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a deformed and twisted concept of God.

GOD TOLD MOSES: ‘…”I am the Lord, the Lord. I am the God who is tender and kind. I am gracious. I am slow to get angry. I am faithful and full of love.’” Exodus 34:6 NIrV

David the Great King of Israel wrote: But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.   Psalm 86:15 NLT

John – an eyewitness of the resurrection of Christ wrote: “…anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8 NLT

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NLT

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.   Proverbs 4:23 GNT

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,  in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.   And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV

“For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether—the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ…”   2 Corinthians 5:17-18a Ph

Read Romans Chapters 5-8

When You Trust Christ as Savior and Lord – you’re freed from the penalty of sin

Because You’re Now In Christ – you’re freed from the power of sin

When You Join Christ in Heaven – you’ll be free from the presence of sin

“…Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God’s glory.”   Colossians 1:27 CEV

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above…not on things that are on the earth…For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.”  Colossians 3:2-3 Amp  

“…you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised.” Ephesians 1:13 NCV

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 1:13 NASB

I’ll add more information to this in a few days…Bless you,

Pastor BJ

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HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY GRACE FELLOWSHIP

14 years ago a group of people who had met and prayed for some time were convinced that God wanted them to start a different kind of church in Wise County.  And on Sunday, June 8, 2003, Grace Fellowship Church met for the first time in the cafetorium of Bridgeport High School.

One of the first people I met when I came to help lead Grace as Pastor was Rosie Vaught.   Rosie rarely missed a service and was always faithful to pray for me, our church and our community.  She passed away just shy of her 100th birthday and we had a number of great visits over the years.  One thing she told me that was so encouraging was that she prayed for a church like Grace to be started in Wise County for over 50 years.

We’ve seen over 1600 people make a decision to trust and follow Jesus Christ during these 14 years and continue to see lives changed today.  I’m so excited to be a part of a church that is committed to leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  I’m also humbled and blessed to have the privilege of serving God with such a wonderful church family in a great community.

It’s also been fun to see some amazing students who grew up in Grace Fellowship since Kindergarten graduating from High School this year!

HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY Grace Fellowship.

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The Blessing of Harmony

We all know when there’s harmony in our homes, businesses, family, communities, teams, churches, etc – it’s a blessing.  A lack of harmony impacts everyone.  David, the great king of Israel, wrote in Psalm 133:

How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
    that was poured over Aaron’s head,
    that ran down his beard
    and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
    that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there theLord has pronounced his blessing,
    even life everlasting.

The word in verse 1 for harmony is also translated “unity”.  When we are unified, in spite of our differences, around a common cause – it’s wonderful, pleasant and good.   For those of us who follow Christ, it should be a priority.  Read John 17, Philippians 2:1-18, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, Galatians 5:13-26.

In Allen Ross’ commentary on this passage he says the oil of verse 2 represents the precious nature of unity that’s focused on the worship of God.  When there was unity among the worshippers in Jerusalem (in spite of their differences), that unity impacted the nation of Israel.  In other words, the unity/harmony of the leadership impacts the whole.

And David also compared the unity/harmony in verse 1 with the dew that covered the mountains.  That dew was heavy and symbolized something refreshing and invigorating.  Again, when the leadership was harmonious in worship & purpose of following the one true God, it refreshed and invigorated the entire nation.

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1

Think about the application of this today!

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Blessings – Happiness – Peace

Reading in Psalm 128 this morning, I was reminded of some general and timeless principles.  None of these contradict the truth in scripture that we will all go through tough times (we will experience as Jesus did – sufferings & trials).  But the principles still remain the same; that in spite of what we face in life we can experience blessing, happiness and peace.

Read Psalm 128 and check out a few of the blessings.   “To bless” also means to be happy or to have the quality of happiness in your life.  “Respect” means to have a positive fear, reverence and awe of the mighty God we can know and serve.  Verse 2 talks about being blessed in your work.  Verse 3 talks about the impact your “respect and obedience” of the Lord has on your wife and children.  Verse 4 is a reminder of the promises of this passage.   Read and reflect upon Psalm 128…

Psalm 128 NCV

1Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him.
You will enjoy what you work for,
    and you will be blessed with good things.
Your wife will give you many children,
    like a vine that produces much fruit.
Your children will bring you much good,
    like olive branches that produce many olives.
This is how the man who respects theLord
    will be blessed.

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