"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

Wedding Truths to Remember

Several people have asked me to share the 10 points I gave Hannah and Tyler at their wedding last week. I am putting the manuscript of the entire wedding charge below. Some of the statements were personally directed towards Tyler and Hannah but I pray the truths will be an encouragement to many.

Brother Joe

Hannah and Tyler,
The day you’ve been counting down to rather strangely is here. We’ve talked about marriage and what it is about – how God teaches that marriage is about God. It gets its real meaning in God. It exists to put on display what His covenant love for His bride, the church is like. As special as this day is for you, it’s not mainly about you. This is really about you entering into a picture – a parable – that God wants to get glory from.
Hannah, you are a beautiful bride and Tyler, you don’t look too bad yourself. You guys were created to be together – to complete each other – two becoming one. You were created for that purpose but you were dead to that whole idea for years. Playing in the club house in Anna or on the fort in Rose Garden or on the basketball court taking the first shot in a game at the UMAC or even during those early days of Project 61 and tutoring you were dead to this tall dude from Oregon and Tyler for those years out on the pitcher’s mounds or chasing your brothers around – and even at Master’s College you were dead to this Okie girl from T-town. But then there came a time when something happened (in you first Tyler) and all of sudden – not because of what you did – but you began to notice her and like her and pretty soon that happened for you too, Hannah – the more you looked and watched the more wonderful Tyler became – and now it’s hard to imagine the thought of not having each other.

You see – this whole thing of marriage is a parable – it’s preaching to us what it is like to become a Christian – to become one with Jesus. There was a time when you were dead to loving Jesus – you didn’t care anything about living for Him and then – something happened and you began to see that Jesus really was beautiful – He was someone to be loved and treasured – and then you are awakened to love Him as the One you were made for.

There’s a lot at stake in marriage and I am really glad God’s brought you together – but in all of your enjoying of marriage – and in the challenging times of marriage – don’t forget what is at stake – it is about the world and the heavens and all the people around you that God has given you to love – it is about them seeing what God’s love for them is like. Show it – sing it with your life! Tell the story!

Hannah – a few years ago I wrote you a letter – you had turned 18 and I wrote “With the desire to see you redeem the days God gives you to the maximum I want to stir you up to remember some important truths. I pray you will hear them (re-hear them) and I pray they will be etched upon your heart and mind.”
Before you make your vows to one another this afternoon – I want to remind you and Tyler again – except now there are 10.

Remember first – “In the beginning God…” All of life is about God. To deal with atomic energy, human physiology, world peace, marriage or ministry without God is to abandon your self to the trivial. For most of 24 years for you Hannah and Tyler for the last three years I have sought to instill in you a God-centered view of life. There is no greater motivation to doing good and no greater encouragement to avoid evil than to see God as the awesome, holy, great God that He is. I know you know that but here is where I want you to pay close attention. Over the years I have observed that the people who waver with uncertainty over the problem of God’s sovereignty in the matter of evil usually do not have a God-centered world view. For them, now God is sovereign, and now He is not. Now He is in control, and now He is not. Now He is good and reliable when things are going well, and when they go bad, well, maybe He’s not. Now He’s the supreme authority of the universe, and now He is on the witness stand with His creation peppering Him with demands that He give an account of Himself.

But when a person settles it Biblically, intellectually and emotionally, that God has ultimate control of all things, including evil, and that this is a good and wise and gracious and precious thing – that an infinite God should have ways that are more just and loving than our minds can conceive – when we grasp that, THEN a marvelous stability and depth come into our lives and we develop a God-centered world view. Don’t buy into chance, luck or fate. Fate says whatever is, must be. What I am reminding you is that whatever God ordains must be; but God never ordains without a purpose. There’s a big difference between the two – Piper says, “as much difference as between a blind man and a man with good eyes.”

So remember and hold on to the absolute sovereign control of God over all things, including evil, because it is Biblical, and because it will help you become stable and deep and God-centered and God-glorifying in all you think and feel and do every day of your married lives.

Second – I want to encourage you to hope in the triumph of God. Find your place in the triumphant Cause of the Lord Christ. See everything in relation to the triumph of God. Know that the path of sin is a dead end street no matter how many cool and famous people are on it, because the cause of righteousness will triumph in the end. The decisive blow was struck on the cross and in the resurrection of Christ. Sin makes promises of pleasure and satisfaction but the sure triumph of Jesus is a better promise to believe. In Philippians 2, Paul says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Third – I pray for you to be a man and a woman in love with the Bible. Please hold fast to the treasure that has been entrusted to you. Guard it by hiding it in your heart. Guard it by pursuing it with your mind and heart. Don’t settle for pat clichés or someone’s system. You labor to know what God has revealed of Himself in His Word. And if the Lord tarries show your children that this book is the most important book in your life and that it contains the answers to life’s greatest questions and the purpose for everything.

Fourth – Pursue your joy to the fullest – be happy in God and if/when the tough times come may your testimony be similar to that of the prophet Habakkuk. “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the LORD. I will joy in the God of my salvation.” We have sung it around our dinner table hundreds of times – not just because Nehemiah said it and I like it – but because it is the truth that so often keeps my soul – “The joy of the Lord is my strength”

Fifth – Solomon is right when he says, “A good name is to be desired more than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1).

Sixth – Enjoy and love your spouse – Hannah when I think about Tyler I think about 1 Timothy 1:5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith; Honor him – love him, admire him, ENJOY him and if there are struggles and there will be – remember the issue is not Tyler and whether you can trust Him. You are modeling how worthy Jesus is to be loved – so love Him more.
Tyler when I think of Hannah – she has a deep loyalty in the way she loves – like Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi – But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”

Enjoy her and if you ever are struggling to enjoy her – or if there are problems in your marriage – remind yourself that the problem is “you are not loving her enough”. Take your love to another level. Love her better – love her more. You are modeling Jesus’ love for the church – who He died for – so love her more. Love her more. Love her more.

Seventh – Love the church – Tyler – no man truly loves his wife who doesn’t lead her to love the church. That’s what the parable is about – so if you miss that – you’ve missed marriage. Hannah, no wife parables forth the purpose of marriage without encouraging her husband to treasure the church. Never ask him to love the church less – help him to love her more.

Eighth – Live in light of heaven – I was reminded last night that of the 6.9 billion people in the world – somewhere between 4-6 billion of them live their lives without finding their delight in Jesus Christ as the greatest treasure of life and death. The Bible teaches that they will spend eternity lost, separated from the presence of God under His wrath. If you are saved when so many others have perished you bear a certain responsibility to do something with your life. Don’t waste it. Be zealous for good works.

Ninth – Hope in the GospelFor the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works…For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Mrs. Smiley said it like this – “everybody needs hope – we all need it – keep offering hope to everyone.”

Tenth – may you treasure Jesus above everything. He is the pearl of greatest worth. He is the field worth selling everything for. His lovingkindness is better than life. Find in the Lord the giver and origin of every good and perfect gift and may His love satisfy you at all times as His love makes you a loving person. Preach to one another that Jesus is better – always better.