Faith at Home

As we continue this week in our series, Standing Firm, through the New Testament letter of 1 Peter, it seems like the apostle is going off the rails. He’s been preaching a consistent and powerful message, but here it looks like he’s switching gears entirely. If you look closely, though – as we’ll do in this message – he’s being perfectly consistent with the theme he’s had running from the start. Although it looks like this passage is about wives submitting to their husbands and is thus terribly controversial, it’s about something much more important than that. Lean in with me and let’s see what Peter has to say here.

Faith at Home

You all know what a Chinese finger trap is, yes? A few months ago, I gave one to everyone in the room. Naturally, everyone who was here kept theirs in a treasured spot as you do with all your sermon freebies. I don’t suspect I need to explain to you how they work. You put your fingers in and when you try to pull them out, you discover they are trapped. The harder you pull, the more thoroughly you find yourself trapped. The trap works by taking your natural inclination—to pull harder when you’re stuck—and makes it work against you. The design tightens more the more it is stretched. In other words, when it comes to escaping from a Chinese finger trap, force isn’t going to do the trick. So, what does? Gentleness.

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Today is a Special Day

“You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride. You have captured my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Today is one of my favorite days of the year. Today marks the beginning of one of the greatest journeys of my life. It has been going on now for 16 years and I can’t wait to see what the next 16 and beyond will bring. Today is the day the woman i love more than any other said, “Yes.” Today is the anniversary of the day I married my beautiful bride. Today is a special day.

As good as today is, it really had its start 17 years and two months ago, not merely 16. That was the day I got out of a van and nervously headed for the door of the dorm I’d called home for the six weeks on the campus of Spalding University in Louisville, KY as a Bible study leader for Passport youth camps. Before I could even reach the door, it burst open and the leadership staff already there came out to greet us for the first time. I don’t remember much else about that day or even that moment, but I do remember the beautiful girl who captured my heart with one glance of her eyes. Just that, and I was hooked.

It took a few weeks for me to convince her I wasn’t just your average nerd. It didn’t hurt that in a skit the staff performed all summer one of the lines was, “Yes, but you’re my nerd, and everyone needs a nerd.” But eventually, I wore her down. A little illegal matchmaking by our assistant camp director who was fully on board with the blossoming relationship we weren’t even supposed to have finally put us on the same page just before the summer’s end. From there, it was a whirlwind of cross country trips between her home and mine, lots of hours burning through cell phone minutes (remember when cell phone plans weren’t all unlimited?) and wearing out our fingers on AOL Instant Messenger (there’s a blast from the past for you), and graduating from college before we could start our life together.

The journey since has been one of a few challenges but far more joys of every sort. There have been things I haven’t gotten right along the way, and she has been more than gracious more times than I can count. I’ve learned far more than I could have ever imagined about how to be a husband, a father, and a man. She has been with me every step of the way, confirming again and again and again just how good the decision to marry her really was.

Lisa is amazing. There’s just no other way to put it. Besides being breathtakingly attractive, she is smart. Really smart. And incredibly talented. She’s got a mind for administrative details like no one else I’ve ever met. Our family would quickly and easily fly apart into chaos without her doing the things she does. More than that, she is wise. She has a strong sense of what is right and a drive to pursue it. She can look at a situation – whether hers or someone else’s – and know quickly what is the right way to go. More even than that, she is willing to share it with humility and graciousness. If I am at all a good man today, she has more to do with that than anyone else in the world. If I have been a successful pastor in any sense, she has played the most profound role in every part of it.

Not only is she an amazing wife, but she’s a superb mom too. We have three remarkable boys who are growing into fine young men. It is a true delight to watch her engage with them to give them all the gifts and wisdom a mother was designed to give on a daily basis. They will be a gift to the world and she has a great deal to do with that.

When I proposed on the morning of New Year’s Eve sixteen and a half years ago, I woke her up and recited the words to the Ben Folds song, The Luckiest. Sixteen years later, I can still say with absolute certainty that I am. Lisa, thank you for being the wonderful woman God created you to be. Thank you for never giving up on me or us. Thank you for showing me the love of God each day in ways I’ve never experienced by any other means. I love you, and more every day. Happy Anniversary! I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Digging in Deeper: Mark 10:10-12

“When they were in the house again, the disciples questioned him about this matter. He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. Also, if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery against him.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes truth is hard. That’s something our culture today doesn’t much like to acknowledge. We want truth to be whatever we make of it. That’s certainly a more convenient approach. If we run up against a particular wall of reality that doesn’t fit with the narrative we are currently crafting for our lives, we simply turn in another direction, declaring that “our truth” means we can ignore that wall and keep doing what we want. Yet truth simply is. When Jesus was asked about marriage by some Pharisees looking for a bit of wiggle room to keep living how they pleased, He responded with truth. When the disciples later asked Him about it again, He stuck to His guns. What He had to say wasn’t comfortable; in fact, it was hard. Let’s talk about it just a bit more this morning.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:5-9

“But Jesus told them, ‘He wrote this command for you because of the hardness of your hearts. But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In many of the weddings I’ve done and attended over the years, a common feature of the ceremony was some sort of a symbolic unity ritual. Most often it has been a candle. Two candles are lit at the beginning of the service and during the affair, the bride and groom take up their candle and use them to simultaneously light a third. Sometimes it has been a sand ceremony. Here, two different colors of sand are poured from their respective vessels into a third resulting in a mixing of colors. One time the couple weaved a braid together into a cord of three strands. The point of these exercises is to signify the permanence of the relationship being formed. Why is this kind of thing included in so many wedding ceremonies, and how should we think about this in a day when divorce is common and marriage rates are falling? Let’s turn today and tomorrow to some words from Jesus that speak right to the heart of this issue and see what kind of clarity He brings to the matter for us.

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Digging in Deeper: Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In the summer between my junior and senior years of high school I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend three weeks in Higashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan. It was an absolutely fantastic trip. It was made even better that I made the trip with a group of some of my closest friends at the time. Rather than staying in hotels, though, we all were assigned to a different family with whom we spent the bulk of our time. The total cultural immersion was a transformative experience. Our hosts were gracious far beyond what we could have imagined. They went out of their way to both make us comfortable, but also introduce us to the best their culture had to offer so that we could appreciate it more fully. It worked wonderfully. Traditional Japanese culture is beautiful. I got back home even more convinced of that than I was before I left. But during our time there, it was really nice to get together with our group members. There’s just something about relaxing in a culture with which you are familiar when you’ve been immersed in one with which you aren’t. I was reminded of this by a recent episode of Mixed-ish. Let’s talk about it.

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