Maybe we should lead a marriage group…

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Kevin and I are looking to serve at Trinity Fellowship Church. Our new church home. And that means going through a few classes to help identify our spiritual gifts and personality types.

As we looked through the areas of service available, it was obvious both of our strengths and gifts pointed to leading a group.

“Maybe we should lead a marriage group”, I said. Kevin agreed. And we checked the interest box.

The whole thing sounds rather uneventful unless you know the backstory.

The backstory is that 6-ish years ago we couldn’t even go a day without using the word divorce. We couldn’t stand each other. I was hateful, mean, cold, and detached. Kevin was angry, frustrated, confused, and distraught. If I could use one word to describe the whole situation it would be this: hopeless.

And here we sit, years later, pondering the thought of leading a marriage group.

So what happened between now and then? A lot. But what worked for us may not work for you. So I’m not going to waste your time with a miracle marriage makeover formula. Because I don’t have one. But what I do have is this:

Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22, 23 NIV)

New mercies. New compassions. Every morning. From The Lord.

It’s not that marriages have a magic wand fix. They don’t. There’s a lot of things you can and should do to heal your marriage. Things like counseling, education about communicating, praying, forgiving, etc. But regardless of what you do or do not do you have to trust Gods mercies to get you through another day. Not another week, another month, or another year. Just stick with another day.

Because anything more than another day makes things seem impossible. The mercy has not arrived yet. Nor will it arrive until the correct day. Pondering the next week in a marriage at rock bottom can be gruesome. Stifling at best.

Think of it this way, if your counselor asks you to work on serving your spouse, and you are pondering what that will look like a week from now when you imagine yourself run ragged and your spouse still doing nothing…well you won’t be willing to put in the effort. But when you choose to serve your spouse today with no thoughts of tomorrow, that seems do-able.

And that’s what daily mercies do. They make life in a difficult marriage do-able.

Because things won’t change overnight. But day after day with concerted effort and prayer…you will look back and see change.

Your marriage is on the brink? That’s ok. Because all you have to do is focus on another day. Ask God what to do, what to pray, what to say, how to act, and to grant you favor for one more day. Just one more day. And before you know it years pass by, and you may find yourself saying, “Maybe we should lead a marriage group.” Just one more day…

If you are struggling in your marriage I would love to pray for you and your spouse. You don’t have to leave a long drawn out comment or description…a simple “pray for us” in the comment section will do just fine. I look forward to praying for you.

Love and Blessings,

Stephanie

Why I’m tired of pointing the finger at others in ministry…

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-17

I read a lot of social media. We land blast one preacher for misinterpreting the Gospel. We praise others for their seemingly humble approach. We pick and choose what we like and don’t like about this or that and exploit it to the max.

Because of things I read, I have ebbed and flowed in my desires to write, blog, or really do anything related to ministry. I have wondered, tested, and questioned my motives. Do I write for His glory or mine? Are my intentions pure? Should I lock my thoughts up in a journal and be content? Or is it okay to get excited when stephanieclayton.org is at the top of the google search list?

I swing back and forth. I love well known speakers and writers. I get excited about God when I hear their messages. Then I see them blasted for having “selfish” intentions, and my heart grows weary.

But what I’m learning is that life isn’t simple. Humans are messy. Ministry gets messy. We make mistakes. We are humble at times, and other times our sin-nature gets the best of us. Sometimes we interpret scripture correctly. Other times we might mess it up. And that’s scary. But is it scary enough for us to keep our relationship with God locked up in our bedrooms? I certainly hope not.

I’ve backed away from ministry for a season, some out of calling, and some out of fear. What I am realizing is not to put other people in a box, and not to be bothered when they put me in a box. Because if I dare to share the Gospel, I am also going to make mistakes. Even public mistakes. And that is okay. It’s okay for me. And it’s okay for others. Because we are all just fallen sinners, living in a fallen world, doing the very best we can to share the one thing that sets us free…Jesus Christ.

So are my motives spotless? Probably not. But I will do my best to stay in the center of His will. Will I ever misinterpret scripture? I’ll try not to, but I’m human, and it could happen.

But one thing I choose not to do a second longer is stay paralyzed by mere humanity. Why? Because God knows I’m human. He knows I mess up. And He lets me share His truth anyways. And even if one person, just one time, sees His unobstructed light shining in me, even if for a second…it’s worth it. To spread the love of Jesus to one hurting soul, it’s worth it.

And maybe you are feeling the same way. Maybe you held back the dreams God placed on your heart out of a misinterpreted view on humility. That it’s mandatory to be small and hidden.

Yes it’s essential to have a personal relationship with God that is intimate and quiet…but there is nothing wrong with sharing in other ways He has called you to share. You don’t put a lamp under a bowl! You let the light shine!

There’s nothing wrong with sharing from a gigantic stadium platform. And there’s nothing wrong with leading a backyard small group. It doesn’t matter as long as you are sharing what He has called you to share in the manner He has called you to share it.

So I challenge you, maybe let’s stop mentally or socially pointing the finger and instead be thankful our sin prone bodies can be a little bit more when we let them be the hands and feet of Jesus.

To you friend, going about your day, feeling unseen…

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Hear my prayer, O lord ! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears. For I am your guest— a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me. (Psalms 39:12 NLT)

Driving in your car. Taking the kids to school. Going to and from work. Doing the business of the day. You sweet friend, daughter of the King, blindly singing worship songs to your Savior. You! God hears you. He sees you.

Burdens seem to drown out glimmers of hope. It seems it’s been too long since a song of praise departed from your lips. But I assure you there is no gap too wide or stream to far for you to get a drink. The water of His loving salvation, grace, and forgiveness runs deep. Endlessly deep.

So you sitting in your car contemplating if life is really worth living any more…it’s time to move forward. Into a life based on grace and eternity rather than temporary trials and suffering. It’s time to go. To get up and go. To your family. To your friends. To those who support you in everything you do. It’s time to fully surrender your burdens to Him. Because life is worth living. There is purpose in your pain. And passion beyond what you could ever know or see.

It’s time to move on. From the sin. From the shame. To take steps towards life, and life abundantly. So you sitting in the car singing worship songs, feeling lonely and unseen. He sees you. He cares. And He loves. And it’s time to move forward.