10 Reasons Why We Need a Local Church in Our Lives

16 10 2017

I recently returned from serving a local church in Chicago, IL and was reminded in so many different ways of why we each need a local church in our lives and the lives of our family. To me it is imperative to be in close relationship with those persons who care about you and your family. It is essential to have that connection for not just receiving, but giving as well.

So, here are 10 reasons for being intentionally connected to a local church.

 

  1. Support – A local church connection provides support to family and/or us as individuals. It is a vehicle that God has chosen to provide spiritual and emotional support for personal growth. It is a spiritual family with fathers and mothers who will care about you and your future. (I Cor. 4:5; Heb. 12:9; I John 2:13, 14)
  2. Fellowship (koinonia) – The local church is a place of relational connection and belonging. It is a place of family with common life values. We are not alone in this world when we have a local church connection. We have people around us who personally care about our welfare. Wholesome and positive friendships can develop with our younger children, our teenagers and ourselves. An active, involved, dedicated and serious youth group can save a teen’s life. (Acts 2:42; I John 1:7)
  3. Service – The local church is a place where we can work toward and support a vision outside of ourselves. We all need something bigger than ourselves and a local church with vision can provide that. We can connect with the vision and find valuable ways to serve others. (Acts 12:24, 25)
  4. Gifts – It is a place for us to learn, practice and use our spiritual gifts. The body of Christ needs one another and the gifts that we each bring. Those gifts given us by God are not to be hidden, but made use of to serve others. The local church is the perfect place to use your teaching, serving, hospitality, prayer or mission gifts. (I Cor. 12: 12-27; I Peter 4:10)
  5. Resources – A local church is extremely important to a family. There are resources available at every age level to participate in. There are ongoing trainings and seminars for raising children, budgeting, marriage and the like. Often there are even counseling, coaching and mentoring resources. Families who attend church together have a clear advantage over those who do not – they have resources above and beyond themselves. There is far less isolation and far more family interaction with spiritual connections and challenges. (II Timothy 2:2)
  6. Outreach – A local church is often the vehicle for local community outreach. Local churches are involved with the homeless in their community, the after school tutoring and the missionaries serving overseas. Your family can have a direct effect and impact in the world by participating with these worthy causes. (II Timothy 4:5)
  7. Education – The local church is a place of education in the Bible and in practical Christian living. It is a place where our whole family can grow through sermons, Sunday school classes, seminars, video classes and so much more. (II Timothy 3:16, 17)
  8. Groups – Small groups provide accountability and discipleship for each of our lives. The small group setting is a place of greater relational intimacy while it provides room for open discussion and opportunities for praying together. (Acts 5:42; 16:34; 20:20; Romans 16:5; I Cor. 16:19)
  9. Giving – The local church is the place to give our tithe and sow financial seed into something that we know and trust. We can give elsewhere to a lot of really good causes, but it’s difficult to know where our money is going. Not so with the local church and the built-in responsibility that is offered. (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 6: 3,4; Romans 12:8)
  10. Accountability – When we are part of a local church, there is a provision aspect of someone watching over our soul, someone(s) caring about our daily life and our future. There is the possibility of others who we can look up to that are inspiring models in integrity, marriage, spiritual gifts, etc. There are positive peer relationships that help us to keep moving forward in our faith, growing, being challenged and calling us to a higher level of faith. There are businesspersons and homemakers that can help us walk out our daily lives. (Psalm 119:26; Hebrews 13: 17)

I have experienced all of these and more in many local churches and I appreciate the body of Christ so much. God is not angry at His church as so many speak today, but rather, He loves His church, He died for His church and longs for His church to be with Him one day. Until then, be a vital part of a growing, Bible believing and faith-filled local church body. You and your family will grow and help to grow others.

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Staying Together Chapter Thirteen: The Six Most Important Words

9 10 2017

This completes a thirteen-week blog series that has shared a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is available through House to House Publications.

We are settled. We do not have to always agree, but rarely do we disagree. Steve is Mary and Mary is Steve and we desire the very best and the highest goodwill for each other. We are not competing with one another and we are not jealous of each other. We will not settle for mediocre in our relationship and we will not allow a spirit of discontentment to show its ugly head. We both know that through the grace of God and His goodness to us, we gained something…or someone in marriage. When we said “yes” to one another, we said “no” to every other possible partner out there. We have no regrets.

What are the six most important words in marriage? Are you ready to hear them? Once you hear them, you will be accountable for knowing the right thing to say and to do.

You’ll find those six words, maybe nine, in chapter thirteen, the final chapter of Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair. I hope you have enjoyed this thirteen-week series introducing you to our new book. Please order a copy for yourself today and one to give away to a couple you know. Please consider running a “Staying Together” small group to encourage other marriages.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Staying Together Chapter Twelve: Intimate Conversations

2 10 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

Before you were married, did anyone advise you that your marriage would need room for failure, forgiveness, loss, brokenness, disagreement, or even sin? If not, a full and honest disclosure was missed, and you may have entered into marriage a bit naïve or ill-advised. Marriages fail because we fail God, each other, and ourselves. We fail to love, we fail to honor, we fail to forgive, and we fail in keeping at bay our own personal struggles with selfishness. And that’s where prayer can come in.

You can be sexually intimate with almost anyone, but you cannot pray with just anyone. In order to really open up our hearts and pray together, we must know we are in a safe place. We must know we are not being judged for our heartfelt prayer. And we must know that the one to whom we divulge our heart will maintain confidentiality and that we can trust them with our deepest, most secret sins and needs. Praying together within marriage is so intimate that if these factors are not present, we will almost always divert ourselves to a same-sex prayer partner for that level of prayer.

Can we not have a conversation with Him together about our marriage, family, business, or life questions? Would we be amiss to entertain for one moment that God has stopped caring for those He created to bear His image after Genesis 3? It is this discussion that takes us to the most intimate act of marriage—prayer.

In chapter twelve of Staying Together, we also discuss growing our friendship and a marriage evaluation retreat.

 

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 

 

 





Staying Together Chapter Eleven: Going Under Cover(s)

25 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

We seemed to have reached a desperate part of our meeting with a middle-aged couple pastoring a small church in New York. In tears, the wife declared, “We’re not intimate!” We asked what she meant by that statement. She said without hesitancy, “We don’t do fun things together; we don’t hold hands; we don’t sit close any longer; we rarely have sex; and our conversations have become predictable, boring, and too infrequent. It’s like we’ve taken a break from closeness, from our friendship…from intimacy.”

During the dating and engagement seasons, intimacy seems almost too easy. We are fooled into believing it will always be this way—easy and natural, without having to try very hard. But that’s simply not true. After we say “I do,” we sometimes stop pursuing or actively admiring our partner as we settle into a routine together. But it’s crucial that we continue to desire and affirm one another and continue to pursue deeper and deeper intimacy.

How does a couple stay sexually active when there are jobs, a family, household responsibilities, and civic commitments, along with children’s sports and school, and then local church involvement? All of these good things can rob us of intimacy as married couples and can even become priority over our sexual thoughts and desires. Sometimes life gets a hold of us, and all too often we’re too exhausted to take a hold of one other.

In this chapter of Staying Together you’ll discover different aspects of sexual intimacy, e.g., what inhibits sexual intimacy? We also look at what builds intimacy along with the benefits of a healthy sex life.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 





Staying Together Chapter Ten: Staying True

18 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

On your wedding day, you spoke something called vows that probably sounded something like this: For better or for worse; for richer or for poorer; in sickness and in health; ’til death do us part. Rarely do we imagine having to face such issues. But truth be told, we will face some of these things and, perhaps, already have. If you think about it, these vows prepare us for reality long before reality sets in; they help prepare us for inevitable disappointments in marriage.

An affair occurs when one person in a marriage takes the most sacred expressions of that marriage and gives them to another. Most people assume that there’s only one type of affair—a physical, sexual encounter with someone who is not your spouse. But sex is not the only sacred expression of marriage, and you can have an affair without having sex. By giving away the emotional intimacy that should belong only to your spouse, you can have an emotional affair.

Today, emotional affairs are happening near, such as between coworkers, and far, oceans apart, through the Internet. Social media has become a huge source of marital failure as people rediscover “first loves” or feelings they once felt. In this way, you can have an affair and never meet the person face to face.

Infidelity can affect all of our marriages because we can all be tempted. We are all potential vow-breakers. If we think it can’t happen to us, we can become sloppy and less guarded, not alert to the enemy’s schemes. In this chapter, read about an actual emotional affair up close and personal and how the couple confronted this issue in their marriage.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG

 





Staying Together Chapter Nine: Rebuilding After Loss

11 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

We sat down to interview Jon and Amy (names have been changed), a couple we have encountered who have a pain-filled story. With their permission, we are about to share with you their loss, brokenness, hope, and redemption.

Jon was sexually molested as a child. In his teen years, he succumbed to pornography and masturbation for comfort and intimacy. It was the beginning of a lifelong pattern of turning to pornography for the relief of pain, anxiety, and fear. He was addicted to the images on the screen. Eventually the addiction became more and more powerful in his life and he began to act out his fantasies. When he had extra cash available, Jon would visit a local prostitute, all the while hiding his dark and tortured secret life from his wife Amy.

One day, Amy received some pornographic pictures on her phone. She called the phone company and asked how that could happen if she never visited such websites. They told her someone most likely used her phone to access pornographic material. She questioned her sons, and then she questioned her husband. No one confessed. She prayed and asked God for wisdom.

She knew her husband had a “past issue” with pornography but had no idea of how current and active it presently was. She pressed in once again with Jon and he denied any involvement. “I felt so horrible,” Jon said, “but lying seemed like my only alternative.” He just couldn’t believe he was at this point; he had been telling himself it would never get out of his control. That thought was now a past hope, not a present truth.

For more of Jon and Amy’s story and the redemption that followed, see chapter nine in Staying Together.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG





Staying Together Chapter Eight: Putting Your Money Where Your Value Is

4 09 2017

Note: This thirteen-week blog series will share a snippet from each chapter of our new book, Staying Together, Marriage: A Lifelong Affair by Steve & Mary Prokopchak. This book is now available through House to House Publications.

If your goal was to tear apart your marriage, money arguments would certainly help. But marriage is not about me and mine; it’s about us and ours.

Mary and I already confessed to you that our biggest disagreements early on in our marriage had to do with money. We talked about our differences in how we valued and viewed finances. But what we didn’t discuss was how to make those distinct differences a point of strength rather than a point of weakness within our relationship. Often, right down to the demise of a marriage relationship, we can experience deeply heated and contested issues over money and co-owned possessions.

If God provides for us and shares this wealth with us, then our position before Him is that it is all His, and we simply steward that which He shares with us.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10). This is the first step in our own financial discipline. It is a step that says Jesus is Lord of our finances.

We will ask you to complete a budget in this chapter so that you can “see” what’s coming in and what’s going out, along with many other financial values questions to consider as a couple.

Other ordering options:

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/staying-together-steve-mary-prokopchak/1125534926?ean=9780768414905

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Staying-Together-Marriage-Life-Affair/dp/0768414903/ref=sr_1_2?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1499959168&sr=8-2&keywords=steve+prokopchak

CBD (Christianbooks.com): https://www.christianbook.com/staying-together-marriage-a-lifelong-affair/steve-prokopchak/9780768414905/pd/414905?event=ESRCG








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