Tag Archives: wedding

Tie it tight!

Wedding-Day

by Stan Mitchell

My grandmother liked to tell the story of her wedding day. The preacher conducted the ceremony without incident, then while the wedding party milled around, he told the newly weds an interesting story that had happened to him recently. He had married a couple in one county, but their certificate had been procured in another. They had to drive to the right county and undergo the ceremony all over again.

Because she always possessed a sunny disposition, my grandmother saw the humor in the situation, and laughed at the thought of the couple having to get married twice. Did they pay the preacher twice? Is the knot a little tighter when double tied? Did they get two gifts at their anniversary from then on?

Then she noticed something: My grandfather wasn’t laughing!

You guessed it; they tied the knot twice that day!

Those finicky magistrates! All it would take is for one thing to be wrong – just one – and the marriage would not be official. If the groom’s name was “Ross” and the certificate said “Horace,” the document would be blanked! If the certificate said “Washington County” and the ceremony was held in Osage, then according to the bureaucrats the wedding didn’t happen!

Is it my imagination, or does it seem like marriages lasted longer in those days? In our day we seem more concerned about the wedding than the marriage. Our weddings cost twice as much, but our commitment to each other is only half as strong. Do you suppose my grandparents remained married for life because both were perfect? Or because both understood what it meant to be faithful?

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12Proverbs 14:12
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12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But in the end it leads to death.

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It’s not just about tying the knot, or even tying it twice. It was about tying the knot tight. Perhaps it was that (and her sense of humor) that kept that knot tied, happily, for over sixty years!

RSVP

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by Michael E. Brooks

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy, therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matthew 22:8-9Matthew 22:8-9
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8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren’t worthy. 9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.’

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We received the invitations to a wedding and reception in Bangladesh a few weeks before the events took place. Each invitation included the initials “RSVP”, which we understood as the desire for our prompt confirmation or rejection of the invitation.

We in the United States view invitations to most events as opportunities, not obligations. The prospective guest is free to accept or decline. Yet, we also realize that there are some invitations that we cannot, or at least should not, reject. The wedding of a close family member is one example. A presidential summons or Royal invitation would be another.

Once the invitation is received, however, there is usually at least the understood need to respond as to whether or not one plans to attend. And once committed to attendance, the obligation increases. Only true emergencies should prevent one from going.

Most of us have been on both sides of this issue. We have been invited to events that we greatly anticipated as well as those we would just as soon not attend. We have also planned and hosted events where we had to choose just who and how many would be invited. Just as there are those events which one must attend, so there are those guests whom one must invite.

That is the basic social background of the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 22.  A king was hosting a wedding celebration for his son. Invitations were sent out. Given his status, there was great obligation on both sides. Nobles and other important persons in the area would expect to be invited. The king would have expected all who were invited to attend with pleasure.

But that is not what happened. His subjects rejected his invitation with contempt and mistreated those whom he sent to bear it. How did the king respond?

“But when the king heard about it he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Matthew 22:7Matthew 22:7
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7 When the king heard that, he was angry, and he sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

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The secondary result of their refusal was that the king then opened the invitation to include those who would not have expected to receive it. The wedding hall was filled with those who came, “both bad and good” (V 10).

It is clear that Jesus used this parable to rebuke the religious leaders of his day for their rejection of him as God’s chosen Messiah. Later, in the evangelistic efforts of the early Church, we see that it also foretold of the inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom which he would establish. Paul would describe this process as the pruning of the branches of a wild olive tree and their replacement with grafted in branches from a cultivated variety (Romans 11:16-20Romans 11:16-20
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16 If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree; 18 don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” 20 True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don’t be conceited, but fear;

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It was the rejection of God’s message by the Jews that later, somehow, allowed the inclusion of the rest of the world. We may not always understand just how that fits into God’s eternal purpose, but we can understand the lesson and warning contained in it.

God’s invitation is precious. It is also urgent. Those who refuse it do so at their own peril. Willful sinners are described by one inspired writer as having “trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29Hebrews 10:29
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29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will he be judged worthy of, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

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One can hardly read those words without being reminded of the angry king whose invitation was spurned. Let us not make that same mistake.

Defense of marriage

Couple Holding Hands on a Railroad Track

by Stan Mitchell

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24Genesis 2:24
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24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.

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Long before the political insertion of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996), marriage was a Christian institution. Long before the politicians decided to define marriage, then redefine it, God already had his own definition. This definition does not change with political whim.

When the American empire joins the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires as dust and rubble, God’s rule will persist. The US Supreme Court cannot imagine how temporary their decisions are in the context of history.

Marriage began at creation, when God gave Eve to Adam, and commanded them to forge a union, the closest human relationship possible.

When Paul wanted to compare the relationship of Christ and the church, he chose the marriage relationship as the most accurate human analogy (Ephesians 5:25-33Ephesians 5:25-33
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly; 30 because we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. 31 “For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and of the assembly. 33 Nevertheless each of you must also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

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). Jesus insisted that marriage and its component parts were “from the beginning” (Matthew 19:1-9Matthew 19:1-9
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19 1 It happened when Jesus had finished these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the borders of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 Great multitudes followed him, and he healed them there. 3 Pharisees came to him, testing him, and saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” 4 He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall join to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ 6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” 7 They asked him, “Why then did Moses command us to give her a bill of divorce, and divorce her?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it has not been so. 9 I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries her when she is divorced commits adultery.”

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This predates the current Presidential administration by some distance. It is prior to the New York Times, MSNBC and Hollywood. Marriage from a Christian point of view must be defined the way Scripture defines it.

* Puritans in England saw England as God’s kingdom on earth. It was not.
* Many Puritans came to the New World seeking to establish America as the kingdom of God; they did not.
* Dutch Huguenots entered Southern Africa convinced they were the kingdom of God, but they were not.

The United States has in many ways been a marvel of freedoms and democracy; perhaps it will continue in that manner. I hope so.

But the USA was never the kingdom of God. Jesus reminded Pilate regarding the nature of God’s kingdom: “My kingdom,” he declared very clearly, “is not of this world” (John 18:36John 18:36
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36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

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Almost the last thing said in the Bible is an invitation from “the Spirit and the bride” (Revelation 22:17Revelation 22:17
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17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” He who hears, let him say, “Come!” He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely.

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Marriage is not a political entity; it is a Christian institution. They can legislate what they want in Washington D.C., or Brussels, or Buenos Aires. The Christian is a citizen of another country, anyway (Philippians 3:20Philippians 3:20
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20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

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I am as concerned about the supreme court’s political decision as anybody, but spiritually there is another reality.

I checked with the Supreme Court; nothing’s changed.

When two become one

When a couple gets married, they form a new person that enters the world fresh and vulnerable. It must be cared for, if it will survive. From the wobbly first steps to the sturdy paths of the mature, it must be nurtured and protected from predators.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24Genesis 2:24
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24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.

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, NKJV).

They unite to form a being that has never before existed. The cruel world will be determined to destroy it, as soon as possible. The couple must develop strategies to fortify the walls, so the attacks can be repelled.

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6Matthew 19:6
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6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.”

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Divorce is an act of violence that destroys the lives of everyone involved. The shrapnel of the bomb creates permanent scars (Malachi 2:16Malachi 2:16
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16 For I hate divorce,” says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with violence!’ says Yahweh of Armies. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you don’t deal treacherously.

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). The new creation can thrive and persevere. It will just require hard work and an indefatigable eye on the big picture of commitment.

How will they remain married for life?

First, be stubborn. Refusing to break up is a great start. When we resolve to stand firm, we find it easier to withstand attacks. We build our fortifications and man the walls together, not allowing anyone to come between us.

Second, be separate. Entering a place of their own design, they retreat there for safety and sanity. United as one, they protect and cultivate their special place, so it will always be their haven of peace.

Third, be a student. We must learn as much as we can about one another, so we can strive to bring fulfillment and happiness into our lives. We cannot do this for our spouse, but we can sow the seed. We learn all we can because knowledge is power.

Fourth, be substantive. Spend quality time together in play, pleasure, communication and in service to God. Don’t waste days. We must ensure that intimacy and affection are pervasive in our marriage.

Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices. If we do, we will have joy all of our days. If not, we will either break apart or live the remainder of our days stuck in a nightmare.

Sounds like an easy decision.