Unwrap This… Forgiveness

It’s that time of year again, time to think about what you would like to give to those in your life who you care about the most.  Gift giving is an exciting time of sensing the value that will all have as family and friends.  This year in our family we created a wish list for those who want to get something specific for any of our kids.  But the thrill of a new gift fades away quickly and toys under the tree last year quickly become boring, outdated and even neglected.  But there is one gift you can for sure give that will endure and never get old, and when you give it there are so many additional benefits.
 
 
“…if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:13
 
Forgiving each other isn’t easy, as a matter of fact there are times when I don’t want to forgive, but in the end I am always thankful when I choose to forgive and ask forgiveness.  Jesus forgives you so you will forgive others?

 

5 Benefits of Forgiveness…

 

1. Spiritual Clarity – Show me someone who claims to be close to Jesus, and by asking one simple question I can tell if it is true or not.  Here is that question:  “Is there anyone you need to forgive?”  If the answer is “yes” there is a spiritual block.  We see over and over in the New Testament Jesus telling the disciples of his grace.  When asked how many times one should forgive, Jesus blew the disciples minds and answered, seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18:22) This basically means you can’t stop forgiving.  Once you stop forgiving, stick a fork in your spiritual growth.  If you are willing to forgive, God will immediately excel your growth.  If you want to be on the fast track of God’s plan for your life, learn to forgive.

2. Deeper Intimacy – Whenever conflict comes, intimacy comes when we forgive.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive anyone including your spouse, your closeness will always suffer.  If you find yourself becoming jaded towards someone, it’s time forgive and draw close to them again.  With family and friends people want to love and be loved.  Especially with marriage people don’t get married to be hurt, but two sinners in a relationship will always hurt each other.  Forgiveness is not an option, but a mandate from scripture.

3. Eliminate Bitterness – Where there is authentic forgiveness, bitterness cannot take root.  I have counseled countless couples that just can’t forgive.  No matter what the offense, it seems the more you choose to withhold forgiveness, the deeper the bitterness penetrates.  Since we are holistic beings, a failure to learn to forgive will affect EVERY area of your life.  Not forgiving your spouse will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children.  Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think.  Even my ten-year-old daughter can perceive when mommy and daddy are not being nice to each other, even when we think we are hiding it.

4. A Worthy Example – Have you ever considered how many people are watching you?  I’m not trying to stress you out or build the pressure, but if you claim to follow Jesus, your friends are watching to see if there is any substance to your faith.  If your religion is a punch line and a Sunday experience, you are harming the testimony of Jesus.  If there is no difference between you and your co-workers, you need to take a step back.  One of the most harmful things you can do at work is complain constantly.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down people to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive, people around you benefit exponentially.

5. A Clear Conscience – Simply put, there is not much more satisfying than a clear conscience.   To know even though you did something wrong you asked forgiveness, that is pure peace.  To know despite the hurt inflicted upon you, you forgave, IS PRICELESS!  When you forgive others it allows you to move forward with passion and integrity.  This means you have to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!  When someone says to you, “I forgave”, then they can’t stop talking about it, they didn’t forgive.  They are medicating with gossip.  If someone isn’t part of the problem or solution, leave them out of it.  Forgiving makes you a person of integrity and will kill your pride.

Josh

Josh Conn is a 20 year ministry veteran, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Feels Like God Isn’t Doing His Part

Do you feel like you are at a crossroads?  What do you do when you know you are called out by God to do something, but you don’t see any forward motion?  What do you do when you know God is about to move but when you look around all the circumstances point to not yet?  What do you do when you feel passed over and ignored from people who have had every opportunity to advocate for you? What do you do when you know that you know that you know, but you can’t see the results?
“The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.” 
Exodus 14:14

 

One of my favorite stories in the bible (1 Kings 18) is when Elijah a prophet heard the sound of rain, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He was confronted with the future reality of the end of the famine, but there was no physical evidence of God even starting to build the storm from the heavens.  He even told king Ahab it was about to happen.  This is tough stuff because often when we hear the voice of God, we usually can’t see evidence of the outcome.  Here are four stages of the fulfillment of a promise from God.

Which Stage Are You In? 

  • Hear it – If you haven’t heard from God lately, chances are you aren’t listening.  If you need clarity on a message ask for it.  It will come.  God delights in talking to and spending time with his children so open your heart and your ears and you will be surprised by what he will say.

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.”  1 Kings 18:41

  • Pray it – Don’t skip this step.  If it is worth working through it is worth praying for.  If you have a plan on paper pray the plan then enlist a team to pray with you.  Don’t skip this step!  Didn’t I say this already?  The prayer part of the vision is how visions are refined and our hearts are aligned with God’s intentions.

    “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” 1 Kings 18:42

  • Check it – Sometimes you have to check it over and over again.  This is a great stage to be in because you can look for clues that God is working.  But the main reason for the waiting is preparation.  Never make waiting time wasted time.

    “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times.”  1 Kings 18:43

  • See it – This is when all the hard work pays off, the planning and praying yield progress and God comes through.  All God given visions will come to pass in his time.  Remember your timing isn’t usually his timing.  Finally, remember what God has already done.  Just because God hasn’t made something happen remember all he has already made happen.

And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” 1 Kings 18:45

Hear it, pray it, check it, see it.  Looking forward to seeing you at Sharon School in Robbinsville for Sunday services at 9:30 and 11 am!

Josh

 

Josh Conn has been pastoring for over 20 years, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

What Mom Wants For You

If there is one thing I know – My mom wants me to achieve, win, grow, mature, pretty much every positive thing you could possibly say.  She wants me to be safe, happy, and know that she loves me.  My wife wants this for our six children. But, there is an evil enemy to our own potential…  FEAR.  If there was one gift every mom would be happy to receive this Mother’s Day, it’s knowing her kids are safe and secure.
 

 

–This chalk board hangs in my dining room–

 

“I will fear no evil for you are with me.” 
Psalm 23:4

 

This reminder hangs on our dining room wall…Three simple truths deeply rooted in scripture and profoundly impacting how we treat others and ourselves.  I pray this every night for my kids.  I know things may not be going your way and you may even feel the stress this weekend of parenting.  Take a positive approach to honoring mom and remember these 3 things.

Three Things Mom Wants For You –

  • Safety – Sure, a diligent mom is going to do everything in her power to keep her children safe.  Physical safety is never guaranteed, however your eternal security is pretty much a done deal.  Placing your trust in Jesus helps you to remember this.  My children need the reminder of safety every day.  “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5
  • Love – All children have to deal with fear at some point in their lives.  As a matter of fact, if a child does not receive adequate love and affection as a young child it has the effect of permanent scarring of the brain.  But there is a restorer – “Perfect love drives out fear”  1 John 4:18 
  • Doing The Right Thing – Yes there are cameras in my house.  Why?  Not necessarily because I don’t trust my children (Well, sometimes) But more so they feel safe.  I want them to remember God always sees them and is with them.  They have a the ability and responsibility to do the right thing.  God sees EVERYTHING  “I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18

Looking forward to seeing you at Sharon School in Robbinsville for our Mother’s Day Service at 9:30 and 11 am!

Josh

 

Josh Conn has been pasturing for over 20 years, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Rock Solid Decision Making – The Courage To Change

If you or your organization is facing a MAJOR decision, it presents an incredible opportunity to depend on God solely.  But too often we shrink from the possibility of the better future because we look for the “safe option.” Or worse yet, we let one opinion or option or person dominate decision making because of too much influence and power.  Occasionally we get an opportunity to make a major change and think differently about a situation, and that circumstance usually has a short window of availability.  The safe option doesn’t necessarily lead to success.  As a matter of fact safe options can often lead to stagnation.


“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”  Philippians 1:12

The answer is solely depending on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.  The opportunity you have in front of you is there to advance the Gospel, period.  You MUST trust the process.  So many times I see people and organizations short circuit the process because they want too much too fast.  They want their way.  I love helping people maximize those moments of opportunity and I love it when I see people, businesses, and churches making courageous, careful, calculated, wise decisions. Let’s look at two different examples, David’s appointment as king from the old testament, and Paul’s perseverance in prison in the new testament.  Here is how to approach the change process…

Rock Solid Decision Making – Three Words

New Testament (Paul in prison)- “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:14

  • Boldness – 

Overcome Fear – “Use your fear as fuel.” I am not saying be careless, but if there is an opportunity that balances carefulness and courage, it’s most likely a wise option.  A wise mentor once told me this, “just enough risk and just enough known results.”  Remember when Samuel was looking for a successor for Saul?  Take David for example, yes he was the youngest of eight before he was chosen by Samuel, but he measured up to the older brothers.  Remember HE KILLED THE LION AND THE BEAR.  David had the ‘it factor’.  He was both a risk and a known loyal family member.

Measure Choices –  “Consider ALL options.” If you have been convinced there is only one option, you have more than likely been deceived and you are trapped and need to break free from this deception.  There is great insight and wisdom in asking someone from the ‘outside’ their opinion on your situation. Only considering one option to change is utter FOOLISHNESS and NEVER the wise choice.  David was anointed as king, but even David was compared to his older brothers and found to be the Lord’s anointed. But in case you have still have fear in the decision making process, here is a question: ‘What are you really afraid of?’  Boldness without a higher purpose is meaningless.  But courage that will lead you closer to the end goal is clearly the best option.

Old Testament (David anointed) – “Then Jesse called Abinidab and Shammah and made them pass before Samuel, And he said neither has the Lord chosen this one…And then he sent and brought David in…’Arise and anoint him for this is he.'”  1 Samuel 16:8-12

Question:  Are you really trusting the Lord and weighing all your options?

___________________

New Testament (Paul sacrifices for the Gospel) “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.” Philippians 1:25

  • Progress –

Take Hostile Ground – “Safe choices lead to stagnation.” Do you want to personally grow?  Then look for the greatest opportunity payback, but realize there WILL BE opportunity cost.  Paul chose to stay on earth for the MAXIMUM gain of the kingdom, but it cost him greatly!  If something is broken and isn’t producing, you need a change.  Progress demands it.  So many times we keep with a direction even when it is going bad or worse yet, average.  Even though it was excruciating, Paul continued on his trajectory.  Denial won’t help, excuses won’t help, “just believing,”  won’t help either.  One more thing, beware of manipulation, ultimatums from people in the decision making process are usually manipulations.

Take Your Time – “Quick choices lead to much regret.” SLOW DOWN!  If possible test the outcome before making a decision.  Even David had to kill Goliath before he was accepted as king.  Rushing into the decision is rarely a good option.  Unfortunately we are prone to sacrifice long term gains for the short term feeling.  Is there a long term process to make the change?  If not, stop dead in your tracks and invent the process BEFORE you start making decisions.  MOST SINS we commit are a result of a lack of patience and shortcutting the process.  If only Adam and Eve would have walked away from Satan in the garden.  SLOW DOWN, measure the progress in terms of the LONGEST TERM GAIN.  The cheapest, quickest, easiest choice will probably lead you to a faithless, barren result.   Most of us want instant results and instant gratification, or just want the decision behind us.

Old Testament (David defeats Goliath) – “So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone…” 1 Samuel 17:50

Question:  What is the ‘upside’ and ‘downside’ of your various options?

___________________

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27

  • Focus –

Clarify Your Purpose – “Wisdom blindness comes from personal agenda.” People and teams have to fight ‘wisdom blindness’ continually.  Usually the culprit is pride and hidden agenda.  Either way it’s sin.  Paul was intensely focused on letting his life point to one outcome…the Gospel.  What is your higher calling?  What is your team’s goal?  What is your family’s clear vision?  What is your committee’s ultimatum? What is your church’s ultimate responsibility? Are you carrying out the mission with the utmost carefulness and with the best intentions, or have you let your own desire get in the way of God showing up and doing the miraculous?  And by the way, “if there is no disagreement, you might be deceived.”

Clarify Your Prayer Strategy – “Without fasting and prayer, you won’t prevail.” If you are needing to make a major decision and haven’t fasted and prayed.  STOP!  Not just prayed, but have you let the Holy Spirit fill the lack in your stomach with a dependence of sustaining presence…and answers?  Don’t even pass go or collect $200 if you haven’t fasted.  Get clear, silence the noise, put aside the internal agenda, get rid of the pride and see beyond your own preferences.

Old Testament (David focused on Goliath) – “His sling was in his hand and he approached the Philistine…” 1 Samuel 17:40

Question:  Have you been distracted or deceived in your decision making process?

___________________

Trusting God for His wisdom and courage to change…

…May you be filled with the knowledge of his will, in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”  Colossians 1:9

Josh

 

Josh Conn is a 20 year ministry veteran, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Here’s Why WE WIN – Easter

This past week I received a note from a hospital for a medical bill from almost three years ago.  Dumbfounded, I called them back and asked them why I was just now three years later receiving a bill in the mail?  I talked to the most polite woman named Wanda.  She said, “can you hold on for a minute?”  After about 4 minutes of waiting, she came back on the line and said.  “We failed to send you the bill in a timely manner and it has passed the statute of limitations, Therefore your DEBT IS CANCELLED!”  That was a great feeling and a great moment!  Thank you Wanda!

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12

Here is the good news… You have a zero balance!  No interest is accruing, no worry needs to own your thoughts, Jesus has removed the sin, cancelled the debt and you now can have the gift of eternal life.  But let me ask you a question. Are you still living like the sin owns you?

Three Essentials of Easter

  • Built on Forgiveness – What Jesus came to establish was not an earthly kingdom, but one that would be built on humble principles, a way of living that redefines culture and sets a new standard for the way that we love God and love others. Are you willing to extend the same grace to others that you desire for yourself?  We didn’t deserve forgiveness but Jesus extends it anyway.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”  Matthew 18:35

Question – Who do you need to forgive today?

  • Understood Through Preparation – Life is hard but remember, you have been purchased with a price so persevere with power.  Jesus prepared his whole life to die on the cross.  Our life will be full of pain and suffering, but the Holy Spirit and the church walk with us in our pain.  You are not alone.  God is preparing you for something great and he is preparing a place in heaven for you.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:2

Question – What do you need to persevere through today?  How can I pray?

  • Advanced Through Serving – What Jesus did was incredibly upside down.  Jesus came into the world as the son of God and made himself a man and became obedient to death.  It was his ultimate act of service to die for us and take on the sin of the whole world.  But from the grave emerged greatness as he defeated death and conquered sin once and for all.  It’s not about what you can get but what you can give.

“…So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”   Matthew 20:16

Question – Who do you need to serve today?

I trust this Easter you join your local church in worship and live in victory!

Josh

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  Join us for Good Friday Service Friday March 30th at 6:30 PM and Easter Sunday Services at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

3 Physical Health Strategies

Did you know that more people will die from heart disease this year than any other cause? Why? We eat a lot of junk! The truth of the matter is most of us treat our bodies like a human dumping ground as opposed to a temple of the Holy Spirit. We “calorie up” with sugar saturated drinks, eat way too much fast food, and exercise for some of us consists of going for a run…from the couch to the refrigerator. This is not God’s best for us. God cares about our bodies and he wants us to take care of what He has given to us. Tired of those extra few pounds you are carrying around? Do you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure?  As we continue in our expectation series I want to take time to introduce you to another key area of health we will be tackling.

What does Physical Health look like?

“whoever loves discipline loves knowledge…” (Proverbs 12:1 ESV)

Most of us eat what we want, when we want and we use the argument, “it’s my body, so I will do what I want with it.” This is not true, it’s a lie from the culture.  It’s not your body, your body belongs to God and he desires for you to use it to glorify Him.  Discipline can create a marvelous dependance on God as long as your motivations are correct.  but most of us struggle with the nasty ‘D’ word, DISCIPLINE. Here are a few things that helped me as I have started new habits and increased my own discipline factor.

  • Don’t Compare – Nothing will discourage you more if you try and compare yourself to other people.  Some people are gifted to be vegans.  Some people are genetically predisposed to be thin.  Stop worrying about everyone else and what the magazine adds tell you to be and seek God for his plan for your health and nutrition.  What worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you.  Seek God!
  • Take it Slow- One mistake we usually make is we pull the plug and make drastic changes all at once.  Then we fail miserably and pile on the guilt later and claim, “we tried.”  Unfortunately, most of us want instant results and instant gratification.  It didn’t take you a week to gain that extra fifty pounds or have high blood pressure so it is going to take more than a week to remedy the problem.
  • You Need A Buddy – Seriously, don’t even try and change a major habit on your own.  You need the support and accountability of a friend who will let you succeed and sometimes fail without piling on the guilt.  You need someone who you can model your health after and someone who will celebrate with you.  Isolation = failure.

I urge you therefore brothers in view of God’s mercy to present your bodies a living sacrifice, this is your spiritual act of worship.”        Romans 12:1-2

We can do this, together!  Josh

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Love Conquers All – Easter

There are some experiences in our life that mark us for the rest of our lives. These experiences can be full of pain and anguish but can guide us to our understanding of our redemptive God. If you look at your scars they tell a story of a broken world: A physical illness, a story of abuse, a divorce, a fatherless child, an orphan, a life of poverty, a death of a close friend. If you look closely at your life, these experiences are calling out to you to see the great power of the resurrection of Jesus to set you FREE!  The moment dawn broke on that day – YOU BECAME FREE!  Love Conquers All!
 

 

“…Death no longer has any power over Him,” Romans 6:9

4 Ways To Break Free This EASTER

  • Resurrection Power – Do you believe? This is the question. Belief that Jesus that has forgiven you gives you access to the resurrection power, and it is no JOKE! We see Jesus raise someone from the dead in Luke 8. But are you living like you are dead or alive? What have you given the enemy power over in your life. God wants to give you Resurrection power in EVERY area in your life. To overcome sin, addiction, failure, you now have access!
  • Invitational Lifestyle – Are you taking anyone with you? Literally, who are you bringing along with you to be your rock? Who prays for you, believes with you, cares for you? Better yet, who are you praying for, believing in and caring for? Individualism is overrated. The world says be great, Jesus says to make Him Great and then make others great. (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • Strong Theology – It’s not just that you believe the easy parts of the bible, but the framework that supports that belief matters. What we believe about God will determine what we do for him. Jesus isn’t a genie in a bottle granting wishes, but is more like a shepherd guiding us along the pathway of life. Here are 4 key ideas regarding who we believe Jesus is from 217church.
  1. Jesus is Savior – The bottom line is we are forgiven Acts 2:38, and our guilt is gone. Romans 8:1 This happened as a result of the blood that was shed on the cross for our sins.
  2. Jesus is Sanctifier – This means we have separation from Sin 1 Peter 1:15-16, and separation to God, Revelation 1:6
  3. Jesus is Healer – His healing power points everyone to him. John 9 Physical, spiritual, emotional, it’s all covered!
  4. Jesus is our Coming King – This means Jesus is coming back to Earth his appointed day to rescue us! Acts 1:11 Are you ready for His imminent return?

(You can read more in depth about these four ideas here)

  • Killer Instinct If you are going to Break Free you have to put to death your fleshly desire. Romans 8:13 . Put to death your pride, greed, and desire for more control. You need to realize you are in a battle with your own sin nature and the world. James 1:12-18 But this is where is gets good! Remember DEATH HAS NO POWER OVER YOU

We would love to see you at our Easter Services this year at Sharon School in Robbinsville at 9:30 or 11 am!

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  Join us for Good Friday Service Friday March 30th at 6:30 PM and Easter Sunday Services at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

Work Is Good – Period

I’ve never understood people who don’t want to work at all.  I remember my first day of working a job.  I was 14 years old, nervous as can be but excited to step up and start being a man, getting a pay check.  I bussed tables at a local restaurant. I’ll never forget the rush of putting on the uniform getting trained, and getting some stuff done!  (Did I say getting a paycheck?)

Work has been turned from a curse to a blessing, all because of Jesus.  #Provision

bread work

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  Colossians 3:23

Now, I fully understand you may not be working in your dream job right now, you may be feeling stress, and you may be wishing you were paid more money, but Having a J-O-B is what grown ups do.  It is a blessing from God.  Work is the provision of the simple things.

4 Reasons Work is Good – Really Good

1.  Work Gives Us Relationships – 

Think of all the people at work who are your friends.  (Now if you don’t have any friends at work, that may be saying something about you)  Maybe it’s time to start trying to make friends.  These people were put there so you could build relationship with them.  You are not there on accident

2.  Work Provides For Our Needs – 

Did you eat this morning?  Do you live under a roof? It’s simple really.  The person who started the business you work for, is providing for your needs.  You ate today because of them.  That is something to be grateful for.  Excessive work is evil, just the right amount is perfect.

3.  Work Is Our Mission Field –

The people you work with, need to know Jesus, Period.  Start viewing your job as an opportunity to help others.  Look for a need and meet it.

4.  Work Keeps Us Busy –

Since when has being busy been a bad thing?  People complain about being busy all the time.  Having a job keeps you out of trouble!  And by the way, working hard helps us rest well.

So be thankful for your coworkers and your leader, honor him or her, thank them.  Remember you know who you work for.

Josh

(By The Way – if you don’t have a job and want one, we would love to pray for you in person this Sunday)

 

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

What Makes Marriage Work?

The other day I looked around the house and asked a simple question:  What can I do to make Summer’s life easier? (Summer is my wife)  as I looked around the house, it wasn’t that hard. The window coverings that had been torn down by the dog, the to do list on my phone that said, “printer for Summer.” The clothes in the laundry room seemed to scream out, “fold me!”  I have been married for 22 years now and one thing is for sure, a wedding and a marriage are two TOTALLY different things!  Anyone can plan a wedding, but a lifetime of marriage takes an INCREDIBLE amount of diligence and commitment.  It never ceases to amaze me how a couple will spend $25,000+ on their wedding and go into debt, (that is the average amount spent on weddings in New Jersey) and then be unwilling to see a counselor that may cost them a few hundred dollars, but could save their marriage.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH US?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”   Genesis 2:24

Don’t ever forget you are one with your husband or wife.  EVERYTHING you do affects them and EVERYTHING they do affects you.  Every decision and thought you have is a thought they are having.  Marriage is the one relationship by which we understand Jesus deeper than any other relationship, because it teaches us selflessness.  But what are some keys to practically make your marriage work?

5 Keys To Make Your Marriage Work

1.  Persistent Prayer – I meet very few couples who actually pray for and with each other consistently.  I remember dating Summer we would wake up at 6:00 AM and go into the chapel on our college campus and actually pray together.  (No, we didn’t use the time to make out!) A healthy prayer life together is the launch pad to selflessly approaching your spouse.  I am constantly thinking of ways I can help Summer and prayer often leads me to these moments of discovery about her.  The most important and meaningful text I get in a day is when she types these simple words and presses send, “Praying for you today.”

2.  Consistent Communication – Man I am terrible at this one!  I have improved, but I am naturally an inconsistent, incoherent, infrequent communicator.  Even writing these words is reminding me to set a time with Summer to talk about our calendar, vacation and just things I know she would like to connect about.  Here are some tactics that may help your communication.

  • Keep it down –  As you approach difficult topics to talk about, and you will have them, keep your voice tone in a range that communicates care and concern.  I feel bad when I see couples ripping each other apart with their words in public.  If you do that in public, what are you doing in private?  Man, that must be one intense fight! 
  • Keep it tactical – There are times when Summer and I have a “staff meeting.”  This is when we talk about all the details of the schedule of the coming weeks and months.  The appointments, work schedules, evening meetings, karate classes, baseball games etc.  Intuitively, we both despise these tactical meetings, but we do them because they help us get on the same page!
  • Keep it sensual – Words can soften a moment.  I don’t think Summer ever tires of hearing, “I love you” as long as it is backed with action.  Finding creative specific ways to tell your spouse how much you are in love with them as your friend and lover will bring new life in your marriage.

3.  Physical Passion – Sex is a good thing!  Sex is a God thing!  Making time for each other in the bedroom is and can be a launch pad to deeper intimacy in marriage.  The bible has plenty to say about the refreshment and healing offered through sexual relationship between a husband and a wife.  A great book to read together is “Intimacy Ignited“.  It specifically address the issue of sexual intimacy in marriage from a biblical perspective.

4.  Regular Rest –  Marriage works when you figure out how to build in breaks and take them together.  This will vary from season to season in your married life.  If you are young and married and have no kids, you usually have no excuse to not get away together!  If you have younger kids, this is going to be a challenge for you!  Learning how to take a sabbath together is one of the most important parts of marriage.  It reunites you in every way.  I always encourage the man to take the lead in planning these times initially. Book the hotel room, the reservation, the flight, etc!  Your bride will no doubt appreciate your effort and see it as an act of love.  Three types of sabbath:

  • The Spontaneous –  Call her for lunch, swing by and pick her up, surprise her with a morning coffee date, go into work an hour later.  Whatever it is, be CREATIVE! 
  • The Routine- This is date night, card night, whatever you love to do together!  Make it a ritual and let nothing get in the way of it.  Summer and I want to be known as the couple that is always seen on dates together.  Remember, YOUR CHILDREN ARE LEARNING MARRIAGE from you!
  • The Feast – This is when you getaway at least for a weekend together.  Do what you love, invest in each other, read books together.  Make a memory together.  One of my favorite weekend getaways together was when we rented a cabin in October in Sunriver, Oregon.  The place was empty.  We got massages and it was like the whole resort existed for us.  It was AWESOME!  We also read a book together and dreamed about our future.  That was almost 9 years ago and we talked about what we are doing now.

5.  Selfless Serving – I have never met a couple who made it who gave fifty/fifty!  If you are reading this and are single and want your marriage to work, you better be all in 100%!  This means you get to do stuff that you don’t necessarily want to do, but you learn to love it because you will do anything for your spouse.  The bible actually says that husbands are supposed to lay down our lives for our wife!  That is pretty intense!  Try this one today men:  Take the thing she knows you “don’t like to do” and just do it!  I guarantee her response will be positive.  But don’t do it for the response, do it because she is more valuable to you than anything.  Likewise, the same goes for women.  Pick something that he absolutely loves and serve him in that way.

What about you?  What makes your marriage work?

Josh

Josh lives in Hamilton, NJ with his wife Summer and six kids.  He is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ. Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here

For speaking engagements please e-mail josh@activatecoaching.com