Build Your Marriage on This

In my marriage, I don’t think we could count the number of fights we have had.  It’s not like we don’t love each other, but we are two different people who are both sinful in nature.  No matter what the dispute, one thing is for sure, forgiving my wife is always worth it, even when it hurts.  But the most powerful words you can say are, “Will you forgive me?”  
 Forgive
 
“…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, and there are even 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 Forgiving

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 that 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 his disciples that He is a God of 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 Summer and I fight, the intimacy comes when we forgive.  I have joked  before, those couples who learn how to “make-up” will probably end up “making-out”. It simply means the immediate benefit is depth of relationship.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive your spouse or anyone for that matter, your intimacy will always suffer.  When people get married, they want to love and be loved.  Most 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 for marriage!

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 especially will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children.  Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think.  Even my nine-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 and your marriage?  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 about your spouse.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down your lover to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive your spouse, 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, 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”, and 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.

Who do you need to forgive?  Who do you need to ask forgiveness from?  Make it happen.

 

Josh

 

 

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday October 8, 2017 we are going to 2 services times of 9:30 am & 11:00 am.

5 Reasons You Should Forgive

In my marriage, I don’t think we could count the number of fights we have had.  It’s not like we don’t love each other, but we are two different people who are both sinful in nature.  No matter what the dispute, one thing is for sure, forgiving my wife is always worth it, even when it hurts.  But the most powerful words you can say are, “Will you forgive me?”  
 Forgive
 
“…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 Forgiving

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 that 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 his disciples that He is a God of 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 Summer and I fight, the intimacy comes when we forgive.  I have joked  before, those couples who learn how to “make-up” will probably end up “making-out”. It simply means the immediate benefit is depth of relationship.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive your spouse or anyone for that matter, your intimacy will always suffer.  When people get married, they want to love and be loved.  Most 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 for marriage!

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 seven-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 and your marriage?  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 about your spouse.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down your lover to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive your spouse, 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, 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”, and 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

 

It’s hard to believe, but we enter into year seven of 217church this Spring!  We are calling this the “RELAUNCH” of 217church.  This means developing a relaunch team.  I want you to be on our relaunch team.  Here are some ways to be involved in this historic moment:  Join one of these Relaunch teams:

  • Small group team – making disciples that make disciples
  • Weekend team – making our church the most hospitable place in Central New Jersey
  • Worship team – leading the church into the presence of God
  • Prayer team – interceding for the church
  • Administrative team – ensuring excellence in communication
  • Ministry fair team – helping people find their place and ultimate contribution
  • Youth & Kids team – investing in the next generation

E-MAIL DOUG@217church.com to join one of these teams

Relaunch_2.125'x5

 

We are officially #Relaunching @217church after 6 full years of ministry.  Our first Sunday services will be Sunday February 7, 2016  Don’t worry, we have regular weekend services leading up to this historic day for us as we prepare and build our teams!   Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

What’s Wrong With Marriages?

Who is with me?  Marriage is hard right?  Sometimes it would just be easier to throw in the towel and give up, pack it in, try some other avenue to do life.  Many people have thought of ending their marriages over this past year.  I have watched many marriages this year of friends and acquaintances become dysfunctional, disintegrate and even end in divorce.  I have met with many of them and one of the saddest things I see is when two people give up on each other.  But you can choose differently.  Build your marriage on the foundation of Jesus.

Marriage is not a casual agreement it is a life altering covenant…

“Love…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

 I just celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary yesterday.  The last nineteen years haven’t been all bliss.  14 moves, college degrees, masters degrees while working, paying off student loans, losing loved ones, 3 major job changes, 3 children, 3 dogs, countless diapers, parenting struggles and some sleepless nights.  Those are just a few highlights, but through it all there is one person who has loved me.  My marriage isn’t perfect and we’ve had to navigate ALL of the below dysfunctions.  My hope is that you will take these and address these with your spouse.  Have a conversation.  If you aren’t married yet, buyer beware!  Know what is in front of you and proceed carefully.

What is Wrong With Marriages?

1.  Unwise Choices – “Love always protects” – Before you make ANY major decision regarding anything, you must make the decision TOGETHER.  Buying something?  Going somewhere?  Starting something?  Flirting?  Let me give you a word that will protect the covenant of your marriage perhaps more than anything else, COMMUNICATION.  Communication protects.  Everything you do and say affects your spouse now.  You can’t live with just yourself in mind but you must live for the well being of the other person putting THEM FIRST.  Selfish people are late, don’t communicate and think they have the “right” to certain things.  Have a big decision coming?  Find a couple who has been there and done that and ASK.  PROTECT your marriage.

2.  Unconfessed Sin“Love always trusts” – My wife and I have disagreed about almost everything: Money, division of labor, parenting styles, sex, communication, what to watch on TV, how often to clean the floors, EVERYTHING.  But I always trust when I come to her and say, “I am sorry,” she will forgive.  Some of you may be saying, wow, he must be miserable.  On the contrary, my wife is LOYAL and to have someone I can trust to confess my sins with is a true gift.  This is STILL working itself out.  You will spend the rest of your life hurting the person you love the most.  Confess it, deal with it and then find out how to STOP doing things that hurt your spouse and START doing things that help.  TRUST your sins with each other.

3.  Unrealistic Expectations  –  “Love always hopes” – This is huge!  The person you married is a person, they are human.  Don’t make them a God and don’t make them an idol.  DO NOT worship the ground they walk on, but love and respect them as a child of God.  They MUST not rule you, but must complement and comfort you.  The person you marry isn’t designed to “meet your every need.”  They are a companion who will walk with you in sickness and in health.  You celebrate with each other through the highs and you hold on to each other through the lows.  Expect to work, expect it to be difficult, but also, expect to have wins together. HOPE with each other.  Laugh, love, and live in harmony with one another.  One of my favorite things to do for Summer is to pursue her.  This means that I am constantly trying to find out what she likes.    A realistic marriage starts with a humble, sober view of yourself and your own expectations.

4.  Unraveled Commitment – “Love always perseveres” – Sometimes it happens, someone breaks the marriage one flesh covenant.  For whatever reason someone cheats outside the marriage and one or both use it as a license to divorce.  I don’t claim to understand this, I don’t want this for you but when the other person cheats, it doesn’t mean you have to give up.  Dare to dream about your future together and the pain of the present will slowly disappear.  It baffles me how we invite the Holy Spirit to be a part of the marriage covenant and then when things get tough, we give up on the same Spirit that brought us together.  Maybe your marriage story is the same of the story of Christ whom we crucified, cheated on and put to death.  but yet he takes us back as his bride.  We are a CHEATING BRIDE, but he persevered. Persevere through the pain.

This is NOT an article to judge or jeer at but is one to hopefully make you contemplate your vows and the clarity with which you live.  There is no formula for marriage, but yet a constant adjustment of how to live and love your spouse.  One last encouragement… May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.”  Romans 15:6

Josh

 

This Sunday at 217church December 21st – #Jesus is…COMING KING – Dare to Dream about the Future

 

 

Josh is the lead pastor at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Starplex Cinemas in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

What Summer Really Thinks About Marriage

Today is a post by my wife Summer.  She is a pretty big deal, so you should read this…

Josh and I have been married for 18 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.  That’s 6,719 days, 1.84 decades and 129 dog years.  Now matter how you look at it, that’s a long time!  (Unless you’ve been married for 18 years, 5 months or longer, to you, we are rookies.)  Please don’t ask me what our secret is.  I don’t believe in formulas.  I loathe conferences.  Self-help books make me angry.  I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to relationships.  But, if you were to twist my arm and demand that I tell you what works in our marriage, I would say something about maintaining the friendship, keeping a sense of humor, discovering new things together, making date night a priority, blah, blah, blah…

The Family is the backbone of our culture and it’s time for an adjustment. 

josh & Summer 2011

So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”   Matthew 19:6

But, lately I’ve been asking myself that question.  What does make our marriage work?  When I look a bit deeper it seems that a theme emerges.  We live our life by a couple of cliches.  You may have heard them.  The older cliche is, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  The newer one is, “Happy wife, happy life!”  My husband likes to say, “I married up.”  My husband is my best friend.  My husband likes to take care of me.  He encourages me in my dreams.  He listens to me when I’m down.  He knows when I need some space, or when I need a hug.  He’s not perfect.  Sometimes he gives me a hug when I need to be left alone, and leaves me alone when I need a hug.  But, we work through it.

I can already hear the internet ask, “What do you mean he ‘takes care of you’?  Are you talking about ‘traditional roles’?  I don’t need a man to take care of me!”  I’ll tell you what I mean.  My husband loves to serve me.  He likes to surprise me with gifts and flowers when I’m not expecting it.  He does housework and enjoys spending time with the kids.  He likes to plan date night and the occasional weekend away.  He brings a cup of coffee to my bedside table every morning.  Lucky me!

I believe there are a lot of good men out there who love their women and want to see them happy.  I also believe it’s very easy for us, as women, to take advantage of that.  It’s easy for me to demand my way and be selfish.  If I really wanted something, I know he would do everything he could to try to get that thing I wanted.

But, there’s another cliche I’d like to address.  “Behind every successful man stands a strong, hardworking and wise woman.”  We live in an age where we want to empower women.  I’m all for women empowerment.  But, I hate to see men being pushed down under that same umbrella.  I see too many men lose sight of their unique contribution to this planet because their wives decide they want something different in life.

Marriage is a partnership and requires sacrifice.  This is not a new thought.  It can oftentimes clash with “I deserve to be happy.”  What is your husband’s dream?  Are you encouraging it, or discouraging it?  Are you lifting him up, or belittling him?  Are you pushing the brake pedal when he feels he needs to step on the gas?

Imagine all the sacrifices made by the First Ladies of the U.S. before they were able to call themselves that.  It takes a strong woman to support her husband in the risks he takes to put himself out there as a candidate.  It takes a hardworking woman to take care of the family while the husband has his focus on other things.  It takes a wise woman to overlook the massive criticism about her husband and the open window into their private lives.

Who was your husband when he first caught your eye?  Was he an adventurous thrill-seeker?  One who was willing to take risks?  One who had big dreams?  Did he have a desire to help others?  Who is he now?  Is he different?  Those qualities don’t go away, but they can become squelched.  He can be easily discouraged from taking a risk on a new business venture.  He can be tamed from his adventure seeking.  His dreams can become squelched.  We women have that power.  That’s the ugly side of women empowerment.

I once had a woman ask of me, “Please pray for us.  My husband needs a new job.  It needs to be within (this specific line of work), near (this specific side of town), with (this specific amount) of pay.  Because we need to be near family, and I don’t want to sell the house, and blah, blah, blah…”  Are you kidding me?  I never want to be that woman.  I never want to limit God.  I never want to justify my wants with excuses.  I never want to limit my husband.  Do you want to know what I prayed for this girl?  I prayed that God would open her heart to any possibility He might have for their family.  I prayed that God wouldn’t allow their limitations to stifle His possibilities. I prayed that I would always be open to God’s leading in our life…no matter what.  Does God want to move us across the country from Oregon to New Jersey?  Ok.  Does God want us to step out in faith and plant a church? Alright.  Does God want us to open our homes to an orphan?  I’m open.  Does God always ask me to make minor adjustments, or does He challenge me with situations that I think are outside my realm of comfort?  When I read the Bible I see a theme.  I see people being challenged beyond what they think are comfortable. I see people who have to rely completely on God, because only He could make a bad situation good.  I see people that have to depend on only Him…anticipating that only He can predict the outcome?

Don’t limit God…and don’t limit your husband.  I strongly believe that when we try to control situations, that we miss out on possibilities beyond our imaginations.

My Husband Likes 3 points, so Here’s my attempt at the three point marriage advice –

#1 Encourage Him –  Choose to focus on his strengths, and not his weaknesses.  Give him permission to be who he was created to be.  Let him know you appreciate him and value him as your life partner. 

#2 Trust Him Don’t try to control him, but trust that he’s going to do what he feels is right.  He will fail, just like you fail.  Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.  Never throw his failures back in his face, but encourage him to keep moving forward.

#3 Pray For Him  Every day.  Right now.  Pray for his health.  Pray for his mind.  Pray for your relationship.  Figure it out and make it happen.

I could probably come up with 12 more points, but I’ll just stick to three at this moment.  Just remember, in the end this is your love story.  In the end, I want to know that I married a man who lived exactly how he was suppose to live.  Every marriage is different and has its own unique set of challenges.  Embrace yours.

Summer

 

Join us at 217church for our series Live Differently…

May 11- Family Health (Mother’s Day)

May 18 – Physical Health

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.  Celebrate mother’s day with us Sunday May 11.