Esther and I enjoyed speaking to the women of Centerpointe yesterday during our Sunday School hour. To be more precise, Esther did the speaking and I did the commentary, but we had a great time.
During the morning worship service, I preached on how families are to live together in a way that exemplifies Christ. This means living under the influence of the Holy Spirit and allowing the Fruit of the Spirit to grow in each of us.
Here are four books I am recommending during our series, "Ready the House Family Edition." They are meant to be a resource for you as you strive to thrive in your marriage, not just survive.
1. Pray Big for Your Marriage is a wonderful book by Will Davis Jr. with lots of practical and specific ways to pray for your marriage and spouse. It includes a 30 day devotional guide. One chapter is specifically geared for those who have an unbelieving spouse.
2. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich is a classic must read for couples. It gets to the basic differences between what men and women need in a relationship.
3. Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is another classic. It is not only helpful in marriage, but also has great insight into how people respond differently. I learned a lot about people from this book.
4. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian is a must read for every wife. This book changed our marriage - I'll leave it at that.
Yesterday, I encouraged husbands and wives to pray a one minute prayer of blessing over each other. Hearing words of blessing is a powerful and life changing experience. At the end of the message, Esther and I modeled this before the congregation. Here is the video of Sunday's message.
As I look over the landscape of marriages in the church, I am concerned that the people who are Christians are living in marriages no healthier than people who do not confess a relationship with Christ. I am also concerned about the models of marriage that are represented by television sitcoms and unrealistic reality shows - talk about messed up families!
On Sunday, we will begin a new sermon series called Ready the House Family Edition. Psalms 127:1 says, "Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good" (NLT). Proverbs 3:33 says that the Lord blesses the home of the upright.
For the next seven weeks we will talk about what it means for the Lord to build our homes. There will be special sessions for husbands, wives, singles and special topics. See Ready the House Family Edition for details.
I am believing God to help families who are healthy to celebrate and grow closer together and to do miracles in families who are struggling to hold it together.
Over the last 52 days, Centerpointe Church came together to renovate, restore, remodel and upgrade the church facilities and systems. People gave generously of their time and resources to "Make it So." I am so proud of the unity and sacrifice of our people. We studied the book of Nehemiah as a congregation and we tracked along closely with the people of Israel in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the later reforms.
During this time, we have learned some valuable lessons together that are worth mentioning:
1. Working together is more about people than projects. Personalities come to surface as we are put in pressure situations, but at the end of the day, we are still a family and God gets the glory. The building simply houses the activity of God's people for a few hours a week, the rest of God's activity happens outside of the church walls.
2. We can dream what seems to be impossible dreams. In God's hands, nothing is impossible. With a church of 200, it did not make since to tackle such a project in such a short amount of time, but God specializes in things thought impossible.
3. It's amazing what can be done when God's people work together. There is no way we could have accomplished what we did if we did not have many volunteers show up and work together.
4. Although change is necessary, change is hard work. Even when people work together, it is difficult - but so worth it.
5. Doing anything for God demands courage and commitment. If you are going to do anything for God, you will take a little heat. I am so proud of the leaders of Centerpointe who took a risk to move forward. They agreed on the plan and stuck to it.
6. Vision has to be communicated over and over again for people to buy into it. Even though the staff grew tired of talking about the 52 days after the second week, the congregation was just catching on. Constant communication is critical.
7. God is willing and able. Every time something came up that we could not handle, God sent someone along at just the right time with the right skills to help. He seemed to be saying at every critical moment, "I got your back." He is not only a mighty God, He is an active God who is involved in the details of our lives.
We still have a lot to learn. For one, just like the Israelites, we will have to learn how to live in a new environment. It will take a lot of love and patience. In fact, we will have to be more like Jesus than ever before, so that's a good thing.
We have "readied the house", now let's "fill the house."