Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Category: Marriage (page 1 of 2)

The Pastor’s Wife’s Rewards

A Word for Pastor’s Wives

Being a pastor’s wife is a tough calling. And it is one that very few women sign up for, knowing what they are getting into.

When you are a pastor’s wife there are high demands and lots of hard work. You know people have high expectations of you, but they are never clearly defined. There is only ever a vague sense of whether or not you’re meeting the standards of the people you’re aiming to serve.

Against the notion that ‘the pastor’s wife is special,’ pastors encourage our wives: Be a normal member, be a normal wife, be a normal mother. That sounds nice, doesn’t it?

But there are still unspoken pressures. You have to be exemplary.

If your home isn’t right, or if you don’t invite the right people over enough times, you’re not hospitable. Simply having a bad Sunday can mean that people think you’re unfriendly, or unwelcoming. If you have friends in the church, people may perceive you as ‘cliquey’ and say you have favourites. And if you don’t have friends, you might look ‘stand-offish’ or ‘unavailable.’

And on top of that you have a husband who, more often than not, works weird hours, feels burdened with anxiety for the church, and is weighed down by other people’s sins and sorrows (many of which he can’t share). He is relationally drained long before he enters the home at night — right when you need him to engage. And even in sharing your struggles with him you feel guilty, like you’re ‘piling on’ to someone who is already carrying too much.

But for the pastor’s wife who is truly, first of all, a wife to her husband, there is a great promise of great reward.

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Eight Years of God’s Goodness

Today Stacey and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary. It is a great day for me to reflect on God’s goodness and kindness to us as a couple and as a family over these past several years.

In God’s Mercy I Got a Wife

I have frequently quoted Don Carson’s distinction between mercy and grace: ‘Grace is a loving response when love is undeserved, and mercy is a loving response prompted by the misery and helplessness of the one on whom the love is to be showered. Grace answers the undeserving; mercy answers the miserable’ (from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Confrontation with the World, 24-25).

God clearly gave me a wife in mercy. I was miserable, pitiable, and helpless. I was eating A&W far too often to survive past the age of 30 till she came along. I was so reclusive that I probably would have made a better mortician (and I had thought about it!) than a pastor, but now our house is a happening place. Her strengths clearly complement my weaknesses.

God, in his mercy gave me not just any wife, but my wife in particular.

By God’s Grace I Still Have a Wife

Since our wedding day I have shown myself again and again to be undeserving of Stacey’s kindness and favour. And that’s not just humble-talk. I mean honestly and truly, I have sinned against her in horrible acts and words of selfishness that I had never envisioned saying to my wife (or to anyone!). But time and again she has embodied God’s grace and forgiven me.

Some time ago, when I was younger, I heard from someone that it would be foolish to marry a girl / guy whose parents are divorced. History repeats, as the logic goes. Well, happily, Stacey and I both ignored that advice and married each other. God’s grace overcomes such foolish human notions. The fact that we, as children from divorced families, can live together faithfully and happily is a testimony to God’s grace.

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A Must-Hear Sermon

It is very easy to get used to hearing excellent, biblical, engaging preaching every week. Praise the Lord that solid preaching is the norm, not the exception, at Grace Fellowship Church!

That being said, yesterday was an exception–God blessed the preaching of his word in remarkable ways so that it came with great with even more conviction and clarity than normal.

If you are married, ever intend on being married, want to know more about gospel-centred marriage, or know someone who is married, I cannot recommend enough that you listen to this sermon on gospel-centred marriage. You will be convicted and your soul will be blessed and encouraged as you think about how Christ’s glory displayed in the gospel is the reason and power for marriage.

Looking for a Spouse?

If you are single and looking for a spouse, here is some sound advice from Pastor Tim Kerr of Sovereign Grace Church Toronto. You know a man believes these things if that’s what he’s telling his daughter. Check out what he’s got to say:

Pastor Tim Kerr on What to Look for in a Spouse

Remembering Five Years Ago

* UPDATE, 3/12/09 * The embedded media player has been disabled because some silly people still use Internet Explorer and apparently it was playing the music all the time. You can download the mp3 here and listen to it with your own player. Sorry for the inconvenience! *

1833 days ago, I made the best decision I’ve ever made. On January 24, 2004, I proposed to the love of my life. I was astonished when she said ‘Yes.’

Come to think of it, she never actually did say ‘Yes,’ but she did hug me, so I took that as a good sign. Turns out I was right to assume she meant to say yes because she actually married me. By the grace of God, we were married that summer (June 19, 2004), after 5 excruciatingly long months of engagement and anticipation of taking my bride.

Tonight my bride is out of town with some of her friends on a mini-retreat of sorts. That leaves me at home alone listening to love songs and pining after her. Seriously.

In particular, ‘Astonished,’ by Kepano Green caught my attention tonight as I was finishing up the dishes. It tells the story of meeting a girl, falling in love–being amazed by love–and beginning a life together. That gave me pause to reflect back on the days when I first began to fall in love with my wife.

I think their word is ultimately suitable. I was ‘astonished.’ I remember that after each date, when I was driving home, I would think to myself, ‘How can this be real? How could God have blessed me with this amazing woman? Why in the world does she seem to like me too?’

After we’d been dating for about a month or two, I wrote her a poem. I never showed it to her until the night when I proposed, though, because it talked about us being married, beginning a family, and loving Christ together till old age. I waited to show her to protect her heart, but I knew from the outset that she was the one for me.

I don’t think it took Adam very long to figure out that Eve was his completion (Gen 2.22-23), and it didn’t take me long either. I know it doesn’t work that way for some people, but I knew as soon as I met Stacey that God had made her to be my glory (1 Cor 11.7).

Tonight, five years later, I remain astonished at no less than three things.

  1. I’m astonished that she still loves me.
  2. Time after time I have sinned against my bride. Over and over again some horrid sin has overtaken me, or some deep-rooted sinful heart idolatry has been exposed, and I’ve thought, ‘That’s it; she can’t possibly love me anymore. I’m absolutely unlovable.’ But every single time she has shown me love and forgiveness that I can’t justify or rationalize. Her love for me has been gospel-love: undeserved and overwhelming. It is enduring and steadfast and forgiving. I’m astonished she still loves me.

  3. I’m astonished that I could let a love so extraordinary become ‘ordinary.’
  4. Days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years. As time goes past, the things that were once unexpected become expected. Things that were novel become mundane. I begin to expect things from her that I have no right expecting. I don’t know how, but somehow in my apathy, I get used to ‘being in love.’ The admonition I once found superfluous has now become a rebuke: ‘Rejoice in the wife of your youth’ (Prov 5.18). God forgive me for taking for granted a love that you have so graciously given.

  5. I’m astonished at the wisdom and mercy of God in giving her to me.
  6. Of all the lessons I have learned over the past five years since I have proposed, this may well be the one I’ve learned the most number of times: God made her for me. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She is the one created to be at my side. She completes me. She is perfect for me. The wisdom of God in giving her to me is mind-blowing. The areas where she is strong compensate for my weaknesses; her few flaws are in areas where I can assist her, by God’s grace. And those areas where we are both weak have caused me to grow in my sanctification in ways that I never would have been motivated to, had God not given her to me. Day after day, year after year, I’m increasingly astonished at the wisdom of God in creating her to be the perfect partner for me.

Praise God for his grace! Tonight I’m praising him for my wife.

Click here to go to Kepano Green’s site and buy their CDs. Here are the words to their song ‘Astonished.’

Oh the first time I wrote your name on a paper, you were astonished
And we went down and ate by the sea and there you were astonished
When in so many words, I told you how my heart was yours
And me, the stranger, finding favour, there… in your eye

We watched stars and they crossed there in the sky, look there, well I was astonished
And you grew in my heart every night and I was astonished
So I wrote in the air how I was feeling, you wondered what I’d said
Though unaware we were beginning something that would never, never end

I have evidence framed in my room… there you stood so astonished
When I asked you to be with me soon, oh, you were astonished
And I promise you there, we were not dreaming, diamonds were on the sea
And we were aware that this was beginning something that was surely meant to be

Christian Weddings

Nick & Alicia make their vows

Nick & Alicia make their vows

Christian weddings are one of my favourite things. They just ooze gospel (in the best possible sense). And why wouldn’t they? The whole institution of marriage is designed to showcase the love of Christ for his bride (the church), so what better place to glory in that image than a wedding?

This summer was full of weddings for us–which is great. One of the favourite weddings I’ve ever been at was that of my friends Nick and Alicia Mitchell. This is so for lots of reasons. We were surrounded by friends, it was a day wedding (the whole no dancing scene works great in my two-left-footed-world), and the speeches and music were all gospel-centred and Christ-exalting. The sermon was also stellar.

But the number one thing that makes a wedding good, in my view, is the vows. In the vows, the bride and groom make clear what they think of marriage. What are they setting out to do? What will they promise? What are they committing themselves to?

While most other elements of a wedding are somewhat ‘canned,’ the vows belong to the bride & groom. They reflect biblical convictions, God-honouring intention, and sobriety. They reveal that the bride & groom have thought long and hard about what marriage is, what marriage symbolizes, and what marriage will demand of them. In the presence of God and many witnesses, each person pledges to honour God as they honour their spouse.

Right away I knew I loved Nick & Alicia’s vows. I also loved that they memorized them (further evidence of the seriousness they showed toward their wedding and the commitment they were making). I asked Nick for a copy of their vows so I could post them here for you to see. Enjoy!

Nick’s Vows

Alicia, I know that God has ordained marriage to be a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. On that basis I give you these promises:

I will love you fully and will strive to avoid all things that could quench our love.
I will seek to enjoy you above all of God’s creation.
I will respect you and be the defender of your name.
I will lead you in all things pertaining to godliness through the instruction of God’s Word.
I will aim to put sin to death in my life and humbly serve you just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
I reserve my body for you and you alone.
I will stand by you in all times, good or bad, and will help you bear your burdens.
I will never leave you but will forever be your delightful companion in Holy Love and heavenly hopes and duties when all other outward comforts fail.

I pledge you all these things before God.

Alicia’s Vows

Nick, I know that God has ordained marriage to be a picture of Christ and his bride, the church. On that basis I give you these promises:

I will love you fully and will strive to avoid all things that could quench our love.
I will seek to cherish you above all God’s creation, tending each day to our relationship so that the flame of our love does not diminish.
I will place myself under your leadership as your helper, as the church submits herself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who redeemed her with His blood.
I will reserve my body for you and you alone, and seek to make you the happiest man on earth.
I will stand by you in all times, good or bad, and will help you bear your burdens.
I will never leave you but will forever be your delightful companion in Holy Love and heavenly hopes and duties when all other outward comforts fail.

I pledge you all these things before God.

Two Lucky Dudes, Two Godly (Longsuffering!) Women

Two Lucky Dudes, Two Godly (Longsuffering!) Women

Dinner Conversation

Okay, maybe this is only funny if you know us, but here’s an excerpt from tonight’s dinner conversation.

Julian: ‘Having a wife is like living with a post-modern literary critic: the only meaning that matters is the one determined by the hearer.’

Stacey: ‘Living with you is like living with a geek.’

I laughed pretty hard.

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