Update – September 14, 2009

Well, I know I say this in every update I send, but this update is definitely overdue. Lauren and I have been learning so much. It seems like every day we’re presented with another piece of spiritual truth that we have to digest. We’ve just finished a massive paper in Corinthians class focusing on: law versus grace in performance, man as clay pots and working life in others, biblical giving, and conflict. We are also currently writing an outline of Romans 3:21-5:21 where Paul talks about “Righteousness Provided: Justification”.

I’m finding that my comprehension rate this year, as a married man, is much higher then it has been in previous semesters. I think it’s because I’m able to see the truths about marriage, conflict, and sincerity in a much more applicable light (I find myself agreeing so much more with all the teachers then l ever did in previous semesters). All in all, growth and change have been going on, and I look forward to seeing the Lord work at changing my life. As Paul would say, “Death in me works life in others” (2 Cor 4:12).

I think, for me, this has been one of the most life changing truths that we have learned thus far: the identification of ourselves as dead with Christ, and consequently dead to sin. It has been very life changing as I notice the legalistic and performance based theology that I previously held. It’s very freeing to realize that, through my death in Christ, I no longer have to suffer the whims of my flesh, nor does my flesh have any true power over me.

Life as a married man has been a constant lesson of grace and love. I’m finding, more often then not, that I have so much to learn from Lauren. She’s been a constant encouragement for me in changing my perspective on studying. I tend to approach learning with the idea that grades count more then what understanding you take out of the class, and, although grades do count, I’m trying to learn that my grades should reflect what I have learned.

Work is going well, though sometimes it’s hard to be cheerful and diligent with long hours and getting over a dreadful cold. I’m praying that I can learn to be content and joyful as I work and that my attitude towards work would change from: a way to get cash, to: a way to shine the fruits of the Spirit to those that I work with.

Lauren and I have been excited to be able to be more involved, both with the teachers, and with our fellow students, especially the new (and less sociable) freshman class. We have been able to have teachers and students over for meals, games, and general fellowship. Our humble little apartment is also the meeting area during chapel hour for a small group with two other married couples. I’m preparing to teach one of the upcoming married men’s chapels which is a very daunting prospect seeing as I’m the youngest of all the married men (and one of the newest marrieds). Nevertheless, I’m looking for God’s strength, guidance, and words to work through me to provide at least some spiritual encouragement to my fellow married men. Another great opportunity we’ve had is in joining a weekly small group at our teacher’s house, going through the book The Complete Green Letters.

Jamal, the bunny, is beginning to obtain quite the little personality as he discovers new and more dastardly ways to escape his confines. Despite his constant desire for freedom, he seems to be enjoying his little fluffy life here at the school in Jackson.

Regardless the business of our schedules, Lauren and I have been attempting to become more involved with our church (First Baptist Church of Albion). We absolutely adore the people there, and are very thankful that God has placed us in a church that is so encouraging and biblical in their teaching. On Labor Day we went to a bonfire at the pastor’s house, and we have a BBQ potluck at the church this Sunday. I’m also getting involved with a martial arts program at the church, and I even saw God’s hand at work in that, I went to the first class and the teacher offered me with free lessons.

In closing I’d like to thank you all for your prayers and love. We’ve really needed them! Life here is vastly more challenging then expected, but it’s also proving to be so beneficial to us and our new marriage. We’re seeing God bless us in so many ways:

Praise:

  • We’ve both been blessed with flexible jobs and Christian bosses.
  • We’ve been provided free meals through the food cart here at school.
  • We also found out today that Lauren was accepted for Medicare in the state of Michigan (which is great because we can’t afford health insurance haha).

God keeps showing us time and time again that “His grace is sufficient”.

Prayers:

  • That our food stamps application will be accepted.
  • That we can build relationships and find ways to serve at our church.
  • That we can build relationships with staff and teachers and allow them to invest in us.
  • That we would be thankful and joyful with the jobs God has provided us.
  • That we continue to trust God with finances.
  • That both of us would grow a heart of a learner.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we head into what I believe will be a very challenging term. Thanks again. God bless.

P.S. Though there is no way I could possibly share everything I’ve learned here thusfar I found this verse to be one of the most encouraging that I have ever read.

“And he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecution, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12: 13

Sincerely yours, Mark & Lauren.

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