Category Archives: Marriage

Song recommendation: Holy/Wedding Day by The City Harmonic

I love how succinctly Canadian band The City Harmonic‘s lyrics sum up the picture of marriage (to point to Jesus’s love for His Church) in that one sentence:

This is the story of the Son of God hanging on a cross for me,
But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea.

It’s musically well-crafted too. It starts melancholy (like Aqualung or Glen Hansard) and gradually expands into a wall of Brit-pop anthem-like sound (kinda like if Chris Martin and Coldplay sang with gospel eyes).

Lyrics:

This is the story of the Son of God hanging on a cross for me,
But it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea.
O death, where is your sting?
‘Cause I’ll be there singing,

‘Holy, holy, ho, holy is the Lord.’

This is the story of a bride in white waiting on her wedding day;
Anticipation welling up inside while her groom is crowned a King.
O death, where is your sting?
‘Cause I’ll be there singing..

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.
Who was and is, and is to come.

This is the story of the Son of God hanging on a cross for me,
And it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea.
This is the story of a bride in white singing on her wedding day;
Altogether all that was and is, can stand before her God and sing.

Copyright © 2011 Thankyou Music/Adm by worshiptogether.com songs excl. UK & Europe
adm by Kingswaysongs, a division of David C Cook

Not sure how to use it congregationally, but chord chart and other resources available on their website.

 

The story behind Andrew Peterson’s “You Came So Close”

Andrew Peterson’s “You Came So Close” has lyrics describing someone’s marriage breaking apart through adultery, but then somehow holding together. Some of the lyrics:

You could no more kill the darkness
Than you could raise the sun
And the sky was cold and black
Like the barrel of a gun

And I remember the tremble
In the words you spoke
As you balanced there on the brink
At the end of your rope

You came so close to letting go

And you knew she would hate you
She would kick you out
You’d been lying in the bed that you made
When you broke your vow

Then you woke in the wasteland
Of the truth you told
And you turned to see she stayed,
She was bright as a band of gold

You came so close to letting go

In an old interview, he describes the story of difficult grace behind the song:

The verses came out of hard conversations with friends of mine who were going through dark nights of the souls – suicidal thoughts and another guy whose marriage was falling apart. He had been cheating on his wife and spiritually speaking was as dead as he could be. He decided that whenever his wife found out that he would have his bags packed. She confronted him; of course it was ugly. He stood there waiting for her to kick him out and she didn’t. In this moment of incredible grace, she said, “I don’t want you to leave. I want to figure this out. You’re my husband. I love you.” That was so jarring to him, because he couldn’t fathom that she would ever want him to stay. It woke him up. Whatever it was that was in him that wanted to quit, it gave him a ray of hope that maybe he was loveable. Lo and behold, they’re still married. That story renewed my faith that there’s never reason to give up hope. The Lord can do anything. How many times has He proven this ability to take all of this darkness and to turn it inside out and turn it into this bright light.

I was watching the commentary on The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and one of the commenters said that despair is not just a sin theologically speaking. Despair is also just a mistake. Despair assumes you know the end of the story, that you can see something that you can’t. My friends in that moment could not forsee a good ending to their stories, but there was still cause for hope. We don’t know how the story will end.

What an example of Christ-like commitment to his church, even in the midst of terrible sin and sorrow.

The song is on Andrew Peterson’s “Counting Stars” album. Worth every dollar.

Define marriage

that day is coming when we're all gonna go over the berlin wall! : rainbow flag, castro, san francisco (2012)

This blog exists, as the header above states, to give “mites from our momentary marriage and ministry”. Yet on the day after one of those words is redefined in our country, what to say?

In some ways, with the flurry of thoughts being shared by people much smarter than me (see list below), I don’t feel I have anything useful to add about it.

But I’ll also be honest – I’ve been scared of saying anything all day. (If you know me well enough, you’ll have noticed my sinful tendency to feather my reputation, word things nicely and to “keep the peace”. My ditch is the people-pleasing one.)

I mean:

There’s one other thing I’m also scared about:
that the definition of marriage I support, that I vowed to is a definition I don’t live up to.

Defined by defining

Moon, the beauty of night (2)

The past year has had plenty of talk about defining marriage: whether explaining and contending for what the bible terms it, or what society terms it. We’ve grieved, ranted and debated brothers, co-workers, strangers, Facebook acquaintances to death on this topic (sometimes charitably, sometimes not). And we’ve had ample opportunity to have our say: no matter if imperfect, misconstrued, ridiculed or maligned.

However, there’s been less talk about defining marriage in another sense – to make clear the outline or form of an object. Just as that the earth’s shadow defines the shape of the moon in the night sky. Just as Christ’s self-giving love to the church defines God’s idea for marriage (Eph 5:31-32).

And this is the thing I’m scared about. Practically, I still have more work to do to better define true marriage, to better reflect the picture of Christ and His bride. Yes, I need to work on my unclear thinking and explanations about what marriage means, but I also need to work on my unclear life and example of what marriage looks like.

Do I clearly define marriage:

  • by dying to myself and serving the other (like the suffering Servant)?
  • by keeping the promise I made to my spouse (like the Promised One)?
  • by seeking repentance and forgiveness (like the Lord who forgives)?
  • by trying to understand and communicate with my spouse (like the Word of Life)?
  • by striving to know and understand by spouse (like the One who knows all things)?
  • by loving and shepherding my family (like the chief Shepherd)?
  • by forsaking all other earthly relationships to cleave to my spouse (like the Rock of Ages, cleft for me)?

When people see I’m married, can they see a picture that defines the person and work of Christ?

Defined by realities

Wedding rings

I’m afraid to say I fail most days at fulfilling the above list. If my standing in Christ was based solely on how well defined my marriage is, I’d have no standing. I’d be in outer darkness.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…” (Eph 2:4-5)

So my identity, my hope is not in how well I define marriage. It’s in Christ, my Bridegroom, my advocate, my righteousness, my strength, my example.

So I’m empowered to keep going — until the day I die — to try and better define marriage for God’s glory, and my delight.

Vaughan Roberts (who himself struggles with same-sex attraction) reminds me:

“No one battle, of the many we face, however strongly, defines us, but our identity as Christians flows rather from our relationship with Christ.

All of us are sinners, and sexual sinners. But, if we have turned to Christ, we are new creations, redeemed from slavery to sin through our union with Christ in his death and raised with him by the Spirit to a new life of holiness, while we wait for a glorious future in his presence when he returns. These awesome realities define me and direct me to the kind of life I should live….

… like all Christians, I am a sinner saved by grace, called to live in the brokenness of a fallen world until Christ returns and brings all our battles to an end.”

No matter if the world keeps going in its marriage-defining work. I must continue to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength – and to love my neighbour – gay, straight, bisexual – as myself.

And I must keep going in my marriage-defining work — picturing the gospel of Christ — that a Sovereign, loving God calls and empowers me to proclaim by both my words and my life.

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More opinion (if you can handle it!!):

Summary post on Marriage and Same-Sex Marriage in New Zealand – Joe Fleener

One giant leap for equality? – Pete Collier

Marriage equality (an apologetic) – Rhett Snell

What I Would Have Said – Geoff Robson, who says: “…I commit myself to treating you and your communities with love and respect, even as I oppose this bill.”

How to relate to a gay relative – John Piper (only because it’s personally relevant)

Prone to forget our wedding vows

“Do you remember your wedding vows?”

Someone asked us this recently.

I started with a few words – “Cheryl, I vow… to…”

…but then had to stop.

I had to admit I couldn’t remember them well. Even though they’re stuck on our fridge door, which we walk past every day!

Thankfully, we’re reminded of our vows (in splendid colour!) from 1:40 – 2:10, and 2:58 – 3:40 of our wedding video.

 

On hearing us make those vows again today, three years on, these were the bits that stuck out to me afresh:

“I vow…to commit my entire life to knowing and loving God, and to knowing and loving you.”

… only Jesus Himself can provide that sort of servant-hearted love!

“…so that our marriage will be better on its last day than its first.”

… only Christ can supply the day-to-day dying to self and living for the other that could possibly enable this!

It’s helpful to remind ourselves that, in the words of Tim Keller:

“Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love.”

So for what it’s worth, Cheryl, everything we’ve been through so far has been worth it to get a front-row seat to the beautiful woman God is shaping you to be!

 

William and Cheryl collage - tekapo 2010

 

Happy 3rd anniversary my love!

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Why should we expect to emerge unscathed?

I read this quote the other day:

“Marriage, see, was God’s idea. It’s one of the most potent metaphors in all of Scripture for the way God loves us and the way we’re to let ourselves be loved by him. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To the contrary, it’s fraught with peril. Any good marriage involves a thousand deaths to self—the good news is, in Christ that marriage involves at least as many resurrections. We lay our lives down and enter this perilous dance with another human being who has done the same. Why should we expect to emerge unscathed?”

– Andrew Peterson, describing the story behind his song “Dancing in the Minefields”

The ironic thing is, soon as I posted it, Cheryl and I got into an argument. I don’t remember exactly what it was about (to heighten the irony, perhaps it was an argument about posting things on Facebook!).

But we sinned and went to bed angry (well, I know I did). And the next morning, the first thing we had to do was to repent of our wrongs. We then asked each other for forgiveness. Death to self. Then a resurrection. So true.

Marriage is a wonderful, gracious way to expose how selfish I continue to be, and that I’d have no hope of changing from if it weren’t for God gently, courageously transforming me into His likeness (Rom 12:1-2).

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– William