Writing your own marriage vows

Laura and I wrote our own marriage vows when we got married. We thought it would be cool to do something different. I never really questioned that until I read this in World Magazine by David Blankenhorn. I think it’s better for couples to use the vows of their faith community, rather than make up their own. If you make up your own vows, the not-so-subtle message is that the couple is bigger than the vow—the couple, in that sense, is the God of their marriage. But isn’t it more true and beautiful to say that the vow is bigger than the couple? That the vow makes the couple, rather than the other way around? I wish more ministers who officiate marriages would insist that the couple, in this sense, try to conform to the vow rather than imagining that they are creating the vow. — from World Magazine, August…

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Why Cincinnati?

This is a question that I’ve been asked a lot lately. To be honest, I have no friggin’ clue. When I drive through the city on my way to Cleveland, I like it. It’s big. There’s lots of non-believers there. It’s a city. It’s close to grandparents. It’s close to Louisville. It has a river running through the middle of it. There’s roads and neighborhoods and people people people. There’s black people there. There’s white people there. There’s poor people there. There’s rich people there. There’s liberals there. There’s Nader worshipers there. There’s a road named after Ronald Reagen there. One of the most wicked places imaginable was ancient Ninevah, part of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians were exceedingly violent and wicked people, who tortured the people they captured in conquest and skinned them alive, stacking heads on pikes to parade through the cities and raping at will. God loved…

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Dreaming about Church Planting…

My dad asked me the other day, “why plant a new church when so many churches already exist?” Great question. Tim Keller, one of my heroes, answers the question here: But the less spiritual answer would be this: so many churches are entrenched in turf wars and tradition and protectionism (which is not the sole domain of the old fundamentalists), it would be extremely difficult to find the right kind of church, in the right location, with the right kind of people, who are teachable and eager to be led. Thus, plant a new church, with a fresh vision (not a reactionary vision), to: 1. reach people who are unchurched with a compelling vision of Christ and not gimmicks 2. build a community of people committed to Christ, each other, and the Great Commission 3. develop a network of other churches (and new plants!) who will strategically spread out throughout…

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The Value of Creeds

When someone thinks of God, that is, to use the word “God,” any number of ideas may come into their minds that may or may not reflect who God really is. If you asked Oprah who God is, you’ll likely get a very different answer from orthodox Christianity the longer she speaks. Unfortunately, people like Oprah exert a great deal of influence on what people think about God. The God of modern America is a Santa Clause who doesn’t want me to experience much pain but does want me to be happy. Thus, the right thing to do in most situations is to follow the path that seems, on the surface at least, to make me most happy. This sort of God values equality the most, accepts people along similar lines of an Equal Opportunity Employer who doesn’t discriminate based on sex, race, gender identity, and so on. This is…

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More on God’s Justice…

A.W. Tozer’s chapter in Knowledge of the Holy on the justice of God is so potent and powerful, yet so painfully brief! Yet here are a few observations. First, he says that justice is not a standard that exists above God and which God is required to obey. This would be to imply that God is not the highest standard of justice but is subject to a higher standard of justice. No, God is Himself the standard of justice and he executes his justice perfectly. Yet, Tozer says that “there is nothing in His justice which forbids the exercise of His mercy.” God’s justice is free and perfect, and there is never a time when he is unjust. As the Psalmist Asaph ponders the prosperity of the wicked, he is reassured with this knowledge: “ 18Truly you set them [the wicked] in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.…

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Comments on Revelation 19-22

What a wonderful picture of the worship of God. The voice of the great multitude in 19:6 sounded like the roar of many waters and peals of thunder, and their refrain was simple: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”. The Bride has clothed herself with “righteous deeds” as the verse indicates. This picture is quite inspiring. God has chosen his Bride, and has redeemed her, but has not yet taken her to the wedding ceremony. Our role as Christians are to make ourselves ready for that day and to clothe and adorn ourselves with the beauty of godly character. John, the apostle, would certainly have had the proper theology…

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God’s Justice and Darth Vader

A. W. Tozer remarks in the chapter on justice that there is no conflict between God’s justice and God’s mercy. God does not send people to hell necessarily with neither delight nor with regret. In Ezekiel 18:23, God says, “‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?’ declares the Sovereign LORD. ‘Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’” God is pleased to show mercy to those who are willing to receive it. And yet in Isaiah 13:11, he says, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.” This is remarkably unflinching. God does not express the slightest hesitation in handing out his justice in the right time. In 2 Peter 3:9, he writes that “The Lord is…

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Prayer of Meditation on Psalm 139

  Psalm 139. I thank you, Lord, for the truth revealed in Scripture of your omnipresence. You are everywhere and in everything. I suppose there is some truth to the eastern religions that say “god is in the tree” or something like this: you are there in the fact that you are everywhere. Nothing is hidden from you, you know all things and are aware of every hurt. You know every wicked thing we do and you bear it up and you endure it with great patience. All at once you are here with me as I write these words and you are at the bottom of the sea watching the tiny fish swim under rocks. All at this time you are watching the landscape and enjoying the beauty of your own splendid creation from the tops of mountain peaks and you have counted every snowflake that falls on them.…

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Thoughts on family worship

As expected, the lecture on family worship was one of the very best of the semester and I set my mind immediately to implement what was taught. Several aspects of the lecture I found particularly helpful. The first was the simplicity of the task. I have known of families who have practiced this but the idea had always been somewhat intimidating. It seemed something relegated to the super-spiritual club and I had resisted it, in part, due to my own shame and failure, and also because I did not want to do it simply because all the Christians-who-are-really-good-Christians do it. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to this lecture because I knew, in my heart, that it was the right thing to do and I wanted some guidance now, especially since I have two small children that I want to train for godliness. And so, back…

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The Transcendence of God

Tozer laments how God is not treated with transcendence and awe but rather a familiarity that one uses when speaking with their best friend. The notion of a transcendent God is what leads to the fear of God. Even the idea of the “fear” of God is neutered now and taken to mean simply “reverence” rather than “fear.” But I was reading just this morning in Hebrews 10:31 that “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Consider that! The writer of Hebrews recognizes the transcendence of God to the degree that, even though Christians have been purified, it is still a dreadful proposition to cross him. Or as C.S. Lewis would write, “He is not a tame lion.” Perhaps this is why the Psalms repeatedly appeal to the created order, the observation of the universe to grapple with the majesty of God. Psalm…

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