Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Wedding

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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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

Christian Wedding Vows

It’s wedding season… which is great! I love thinking about weddings. Their whole point, after all, is to point to my Saviour and his love for his bride–and I like to think about that!

Since staying married is not about staying in love, but about reflecting the covenant-keeping love of Christ, the centrepiece and focal point of a Christian wedding is the vows.

What a couple views marriage as is reflected in what they promise to each other. As I’ve suggested before, I think Christian couples should at least endeavour to memorize their vows, so as to be able to speak them clearly, forthrightly, and meaningfully when the moment comes, looking their partner in the eyes as they speak.

Just for fun I thought I’d post the vows that Stacey and I spoke to each other in the presence of God, family, and friends on June 19, 2004, when we were wed. I keep a copy of mine posted with a wedding picture right beside my desk so that I can regularly reflect on the meaning of what I’ve promised.

Here are our vows.

Julian

I, Julian, take you, Stacey, to be my wife.
In the presence of God and these witnesses I pledge my love and devotion to you and to you alone for as long as God grants us both life.
I promise to be faithful, patient, kind, humble, and gentle; to serve you and to give myself up for you, as Christ has given himself up for his bride.
I will love you as my own body; endeavouring to lead you and help you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
As God grants grace, I promise to make our home one where Christ is exalted and God is glorified in our love for each other and in our devotion to him, above and beyond all else. 

Stacey

I, Stacey, take you, Julian, to be my husband; to share with you God’s will for our lives. As we journey through this life, with both its joys and hardships, I promise to love and be faithful to you.
I will obey, trust and encourage you, Julian, as long as we both shall live.
I promise to follow you as you follow God, believing all things and hoping all things.
I will pursue godliness in all areas of my own life, that together our lives and home may bring glory and honour to our Lord. 

Some Thoughts on How to Make a Wedding Glorifying to God

Several events have conspired of late to turn my mind to the topic at hand. The engagement of one of my best friends, along with my own one year anniversary, the beginning of “wedding season”, and the one upcoming anniversaries of several of my friends (along with the finishing off of the last of our wedding wine tonight at dinner) have all reminded me of what it is like to plan a wedding. Planning a wedding is tough, and there is no shortage of people out there wanting to tell you exactly how each minute detail should be arranged.

With all that in mind, I am writing for my good buddy recently engaged and anyone else who may be involved in weddings in any way in the near future. I am not writing to tell anyone how to do it, but rather, I am simply giving some humble offerings gleaned from experience and observation. Some of the things mentioned we did in our wedding; some things mentioned I wish we had done. Some of the things we did, we did well; others we should/could have done better. Nevertheless, here for starters, I think, is how to make a wedding glorifying to God:

Underlying principles to have in mind as you plan the service:

1. Remember that it is first and foremost a worship service. You are not celebrating something that has happened in your life, but the way that God has graciously and lovingly done something in your life. That perspective makes all the difference in the world. You are not the focus. How God is working and has worked in your lives is the focus.

2. Remember that the true wedding to be celebrated is not your own. Your wedding is an image and representation of the true eternal relationship between Christ and his Bride (the Church). The celebration of your marriage, then, should function as the rest of the marriage should: By acting as a big mirror, pointing others to the goodness of Christ and all that he has done.

3. The gospel must be preached to the unchurched. There are many people present at any wedding who have never and will never set foot in a church outside of this and other weddings and perhaps funerals. Use this opportunity. Make the gospel message free from “Christianese” and easily comprehensible to all.

With those principles in mind (in no particular order):

– Don’t allow any distractions during the ceremony–it is sacred. Plan ahead and make it clear to the guests what should be done with children.

– Memorize your vows to the best of your ability and proclaim them loudly and clearly, while making eye contact; Say it like you mean it!

– Absolutely soak the whole day in Christian music o When you sing, sing like you mean it! Redeem the time for the gospel; whenever music is being played (ie. solos/special music, dinner music, etc.) have it gospel-oriented.

– Preach Christ and him crucified. Keep it biblical and simple.

– Reflect a high view of Christian marriage in the declaration of intent, statement of purpose, giving away of the bride, vows, preaching, etc. Everyone in the world these days has a low view of marriage. Don’t let them think for a second you feel the same as they do.

– Keep the joy to a sober bliss (ie. don’t be goofy). There are times and places (namely, the stag or the night before) for goofiness. Keep a reverance for the day.

– Do not refuse to cry–experience the emotions God has given you for all they are worth.

– Make sure the speeches are all planned and appropriate.

– Entrust the day to the Lord and then relax! o This requires much hard work and even more prayer beforehand.

– Have a godly MC!! Absolutely crucial. We were very blessed by and through ours. In a very real sense, he is the one who sets the mood and the atmosphere for the whole evening. He is (in a way) the “face” of your wedding to a lot of people.

– Suck all the joy you possibly can out of every moment! Take mental pictures and constantly be reminding yourself of what God is giving / has given you this day.

– ENJOY IT TO THE GLORY OF GOD!

– And for goodness’ sake, have a little wine! (Obviously this calls for wisdom, but when possible, receive and enjoy with thanksgiving!!)

I am very interested in comments and additions. What else can we offer our brother to help him plan this wonderful day?

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