Today Is Brought To You by the Number 12

The Top of the Wedding CakeOn June 14, 1997, I woke up excited. I got dressed and drove to Scottsville Road Baptist Church and sat in the parking lot for a long time. My bride was inside wondering if I was sitting outside having second thoughts. I was really just thinking about how I was going to get through the rain and into the building without seeing her. The rain stopped. I made it inside. The day was awesome!!

It’s been awesome since then too. This is not a brag session about how great our marriage is. In fact, I’d be the first to say that marriage has its ups and downs, and it takes a lot of work and sacrifice. Anybody that says they’re happily married can only be right part of the time because the truth is, nobody is always happy. But I will say I’m joyfully fulfilled in my marriage. I’m secure and delighted with the wife God chose for me so long ago.

As we’ve talked about the fact that we’ve been married twelve years today, one thing has surprised me, and that is the number of people who have acknowledged that twelve years together is a big accomplishment in today’s times. True.

As a Pastor, I’m often asked to perform weddings and I don’t always accept. In fact, I’m starting to tell people that I’m simply not interested in performing wedding ceremonies. I am, however, interested in preparing couples for a lifelong Christian marriage, and a wedding ceremony is just a really small part of that.

Marriage has lost its meaning to some degree, even among Christians. More and more people consider it optional, and more an more consider it a temporary arrangement at best, and seek to loosen its definition to almost any kind of relationship.

I’m thankful to have made it twelve years. I’m thankful that God picked out the ideal wife for me. I’m thankful that at the end of a busy Sunday, with its stresses and pressures, I get to go home, and love doing so!

I only hope that during this month of weddings, couples across the nation will realize what they’re stepping into and won’t take it lightly. You’re signing up for a lifetime of adjustments to someone who is more different from you than you realize today. You’re committing to love someone until death even when things change physically, financially, and emotionally. Get married, but only if you’re willing to embrace it for all that it is. Only then is it a source of lifetime joy.

Twelve years… I’m thankful. And I can’t wait to see what the rest of our lives hold in store.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mendhak

A Whirlwind Adventure

Ella as a FlowergirlI just returned home from a whirlwind adventure! We started out last Monday and stopped in Branson to spend a couple of nights with Angie’s family. We spent a day at Silver Dollar City, ate at some good restaurants, and spent some time by the pool with the kids.

Then we headed to my hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky where I was scheduled to perform the wedding of a couple whom we had come to know over our years of ministry there. Ella had flowergirl duties to perform as well! I then preached on Sunday and we headed home again, stopping to celebrate Ella’s birthday (in advance) with her Nana and Papa. Continue reading A Whirlwind Adventure

Ten Years… And Counting!

Today marks our tenth anniversary as a married couple. I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting back on that very special moment when we were pronounced husband and wife by my father-in-law. I showed up at the church a few hours before the wedding and it was pouring down rain. I wanted to wait until it slacked off and until I could be sure I wouldn’t see Angie a moment too early. She was inside wondering if I was re-considering!

I wasn’t re-considering, and I haven’t since. I wouldn’t trade the last ten years for anything in the world. We’ve had a precious daughter, served a couple of great churches as Pastor and wife, Angie has earned two degrees (I’m on the very long-term educational plan), and we’ve made a whole lot of great friends along the way. We’re thankful to God for the fruitfulness of these years and can’t wait to see what God has in store for the decades to come.

A marriage, when lived out biblically, is designed to show the world how much Jesus loves His church and how much they can accomplish together in the redemption of lost mankind. I wouldn’t dream of putting forth the image that we have one of those perfect, never-had-an-argument, syruppy-sappy, always romantic relationships. If you do that, nobody believes you anyway and you probably get on everyone else’s nerves. Nonetheless, I’m proud of the marriage we have. We don’t ever have to question one another’s faithfulness and commitment, and we’re slowly learning to communicate and to compliment one another in a way that glorifies God. I’m so very thankful for all God has blessed us with… to Him be the glory!

Going Back to (Vacation Bible) School

I love VBS week! I love to watch kids having fun. I love to see the people of God in action, doing their thing to accomplish ministry to families. More than anything, I love seeing little ones embrace the story of Jesus as their own. It’s awesome! This year’s VBS has been a blessing to my heart for quite a few reasons.

One is that we’ve started out with about twenty more kids involved than last year. Two is our Associate Pastor, Cory McCaig has done an absolutely awesome job of leading it and teaching the kids. Three, our Associate Pastor has led, not me! Angie and I, for a decade, have always spent our wedding anniversaries at Vacation Bible School, but this year, we get to run away for a night and celebrate our tenth (more on this in the next post).

I’ll have to report later on the results, but through two nights, I’m fired up about attending Avalanche Ranch!

Graduation Day

DSC01030Today was kind of tough… for Momma anyway. We saw our little girl “walk the line” to graduate from Preschool. The theme was What A Wonderful World, which all nineteen graduates sang together. They actually played Pomp and Circumstance as they marched in. She got a diploma and an award for Developing the Most in Confidence throughout the year. We’re so proud!

Angie handles moments like these with a mothering sadness. Her little girl will never graduate from Preschool again. I, on the other hand, handle things a bit differently. While Mamma shed a few tears, I was frustrated that the camera wasn’t working quite right. For me, it’s just one more step toward adulthood, which is the goal. I know that the time will fly and I’ll be crying at her wedding far too soon. Nevertheless, I tend to look forward to each next occasion while Angie wants to hang on to her little girl.

One thing I know, I’m going to enjoy another graduation someday. I’m not referring to Ella’s High School graduation, though I know I’ll enjoy that too, but the day I “walk the line” at the judgment seat of Christ. On the one hand, I view that day with trepidation – there is so much more to be done here in this life. On the other hand, I can’t wait for the eternal reward God has promised to all who place their faith squarely in Him alone.

Our little baby is all grown up… or at least about to head for kindergarten, but I feel that we have so much work to do. If she’s out of the house by eighteen, then we only have fourteen more years to prepare her heart to be forever sensitive to the Savior’s voice. We want to pray her into the family of God, model a genuine love for Jesus, and watch as she surrenders herself to His will daily. May God so prepare us for our graduation day!

What A Wonderful World

At our wedding, Angie and I chose to have Louie Armstrong’s song played… What a Wonderful World. In light of yesterday’s shootings, and so many other monumental tragedies in recent years, is it really a wonderful world? We were driving to Fort Smith yesterday for the annual meeting of the BMA of America and were reflecting on some of the tragedies that have taken place at this same time of the year such as the Oklahoma City bombing (April, 1995), the Waco compound burning (April, 1993), and Columbine (April, 1999). Each of these tragedies evoked emotions of fear and trepidation about living in this present world.

Our daughter begins kindergarten this fall. She’s nearly five years old and we’re already speculating about the nature of the world in which she will grow up and go through school. The news media tackles subjects like campus security and the psychological reasons behind such an awful rampage. But the secular media can never fully comprehend the nature of human depravity. Evil men will do evil things, no matter our level of security. If not on a campus, then in a restaurant, an airport, or a World Trade Center. Is this really a wonderful world?

There are natural and supernatural factors that can only be seen through a God-centered world view. The depravity of man runs deep in the heart. Evil abounds in humankind and murder, war, and bloodshed will continue as long as lost mankind has some dominion over this present realm. Further, Satan is labeled in Scripture as the “prince of the power of the air… the god of this world.” We who live on earth, live in a time and place where darkness has dominion. Is it really a wonderful world?

My answer, surprisingly, is yes. Why? Because it is in this present realm that God is actively working to extend His saving and healing grace to a lost and depraved people. It is here that God moves. It was into this humanity that Jesus, the light, came into the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s glory was put on display through the life of Jesus Christ, through His atoning death, and through His miraculous resurrection. Do we live in a wonderful world? Only insomuch as Jesus makes the difference.

Last night, we were ministered to by a wonderful gospel singer who performed the old song Beulah Land. I love the lines… “Beulah land, I’m longing for thee, and someday on thee I’ll stand…” Our world, inundated with pain and loss and suffering, is merely a waiting room, a practice run, an incubation chamber for eternity. For those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, heaven is our real home. Hell awaits those who reject His free offer of grace.

Amazingly, we cannot forget that it is this world which will someday be renovated by fire. This world will be redeemed. It currently groans with birth pains, waiting to be delivered from its depraved lostness. It’s a wonderful world, plagued by the inherent sinfulness of humankind. It’s wracked with pain and evil. Yet everything on God’s time line is moving toward a great and triumphant finality. Jesus will rule and reign.

Our hearts are gripped, in times like this, with uncertainty and fear. Then Scripture speaks on behalf of its divine author… “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Is this world your home, or do you seek a city to come, a home not made with human hands preserved in the eternities for you? Jesus Christ came to be the light and hope of a lost and dark world. He came to offer you peace, pardon, and eternal life if you’ll only trust fully in Him, even in the world’s darkest moments. More is to come. Scripture foretells that times will wax worse and worse. Yet Jesus’ hand is always extended toward you. Embrace Him who is ready to embrace you, and enjoy the unspeakable peace and confidence of God.

Whom Do You Love?

“Love not the world… for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world, and the world passeth away…” -1 John 2:15-17

Remember Louis Armstrong’s great What A Wonderful World? Angie and I had that song played at our wedding. This truly is a wonderful world in many respects. It’s the place where we view the glory of God in creation. This world is where Jesus came to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. This world is where Jesus found me and saved me and is now using believers across the world to extend His Kingdom. But this world is not everything. In fact, it isn’t even permanent.

John and other New Testament writers often used the word “world” (kosmos) to refer, not to the physical creation (though that was the literal meaning of kosmos), but to what we might call today, secularism. The “world” of which John spoke was the human realm of thinking, devoid of God. It’s the realm in which Satan attempts to pull us away from God through his three primary tempting agents: the lust of the flesh (that which feels good to our body), the lust of the eyes (that which appeals to our sight), and the pride of life (that which fills us with a false sense of fulfillment or self-achievement).

Preachers used to speak of “worldliness” more in churches, but it was usually in reference to cultural stigmas such as going to dances or movies or having the wrong haircut. Worldliness is much broader than these or any other simple actions. Worldliness is thinking in temporal terms, living for the here and now with total disregard to eternity. We’ll either live in fear of an eternal God or we’ll be left to our own devices (i.e. worldliness).

When left with the choice between living in godless humanism or godly cosecration, let us remember the words of Peter Marshall, “It is Christ or chaos!” Are your everyday decisions informed by Scripture or society? Do you think in spiritual terms or cultural tones? Does Christ have all of you or do you have one foot in the church and the other in the world?