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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Help Needed: Reception Ideas

A few weeks ago I asked for ideas on what posts readers would like to see and this was one of the responses:

“I’d love to see some ideas for components of a reception that would be fun (or at least not painful) for us, glorifying to God, and appreciated by a wide variety of guests.”

So today I’m opening this up to the readers for any and all ideas. I’ll write more on the topic later in the week, but for now, how would you answer this reader?

What are some fun reception ideas you’ve seen?

What about unique, meaningful elements?

How can you serve a variety of guests by not just focusing the reception on one demographic?

Thanks for your help!

Watching and Waiting: Jewish Wedding Traditions in the New Testament

'Wedding Photos' photo (c) 2011, Katsu Nojiri - license:

When I was researching wedding traditions for the book, I discovered wedding imagery is used throughout the New Testament. Because I was previously unfamiliar with Jewish wedding customs, I had no idea all these references were present. Seeing them, though, stirred my heart to love my Savior more and to long to be with Him in a new way. So today I’d like to share these things on the blog.

So here are some of the ancient Jewish wedding customs:

First, the groom’s father would choose a bride for his son, either on his own or through a servant or messenger. If the bride’s father agreed on the marriage, they would come to terms on payment. The groom’s father was required to pay a “bride price” to the bride’s father—basically buying her for his son.

Once the terms were agreed upon, all parties would come together for the betrothal ceremony. At this point the bride price would be paid, and the bride and groom would sign a contract or covenant, called a “ketubah,” signifying their agreement to marry. They would then drink wine as a symbolic sealing of the marriage.

At this point they were betrothed. But unlike our modern engagements, being betrothed during this time basically meant you were married, only you had not yet consummated the marriage. Only death or a decision on the part of the groom’s father could dissolve the betrothal.

So after they drank the wine and signed the Ketubah, the groom would return to his father’s house and would work to build an addition onto it, preparing a home for his bride. He would continue to work, sometimes for over a year, until the day when his father approved the work and gave him permission to go and bring back his bride.

So the bridegroom would go for the bride, who was waiting expectantly, not knowing when he would arrive. He would bring her back to his father’s house where they would enjoy a feast lasting up to seven days. We get a glimpse of such a feast in John 2 at the wedding at Cana, where Jesus provides wine after it has run out too soon.

I’m sure you’re picking up on these things. The idea of Christ as bridegroom is all over the place in the NT. First, the Father chooses a bride for his Beloved Son. The love of the Father for the Son now spills out in the love of the Son for His chosen bride.

But there is a bride price. And the price is inestimably high. For the bride price the Father pays IS the Son. How much must He love the bride to pay such a price? And the value of the bride comes from the degree of love with which she is loved by the Father and the Son.

As Jesus eats the Last Supper with His disciples, He drinks the Passover wine with them and says, “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” This is the betrothal wine. He must go to prepare a place. In his Father’s house are many mansions, so He is now preparing a place for His bride. And one day—a day even the Son doesn’t know—the Father will give Him the go-ahead to return and bring home His bride.

On that day we will feast—the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will be prepared for us. We will drink the cup and the marriage will be consummated and the union will be complete. And we say together, “Even so, COME LORD JESUS.”

When the groom would go home to prepare a house for his bride, the bride would remain to prepare herself. And when she went out around others, they all knew she was spoken for. She wasn’t looking around for a better offer. She was saving herself for her bridegroom. This was part of the betrothal agreement. She had been bought at a great price, and therefore she had to remain pure for her groom.

So it is in our case. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul tells the Corinthians he feels a divine jealousy for them because he betrothed them to one husband, to present them as a pure virgin for Christ. And why on earth would we look around and let our eyes wander when we have CHRIST? After all, we have been bought with a price—the blood of Christ—and are no longer our own. It is Christ who lives in us. And through the Holy Spirit, as we look on Christ and His beauty and glory is revealed more and more to our hearts, our desires and affections for Him increase. It’s like receiving a letter from your fiancé—you can’t be with him in person, but as you long for that day your heart is drawn closer to Him through His words to you.

I pray these truths encourage your heart as they have mine. What a precious gift to find in His Word. What love and joy is ours in Him! May we live each day encouraged and strengthened by that love, as we work and wait and rest in Him.

Choosing Your Wedding Attendants

'Wedding group at Wynberg, New Farm' photo (c) 2010, State Library Queensland - license:

I’m finally getting back to the subject of choosing your wedding party, a topic suggested by a reader a couple of weeks ago.

I have talked to several women who say they look back at their wedding pictures and no longer have contact with many of their attendants. There are many reasons for this, but one of the common ones is that we tend to choose those people we are currently closest to, or those we promised we would choose years earlier.

Maybe in high school you and your best friends would talk about being in each other’s weddings. So when you get engaged, you feel as if you’re required to honor that decision you made 10 years earlier.

Or maybe you just graduated from college and have high school friends, college friends and family members to choose from and you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Or it could be that you’ve moved away from home, lost touch with some of your older friends, but still feel you should include them.

There is no real right or wrong decision here, but I would pose a few things to consider:

What is the purpose of having bridesmaids and groomsmen?

I like what my friend Sarah had to say about this:

I think that from a Christian perspective, the wedding party isn’t merely a group of close friends that you want to celebrate with you. They’re the people you ask to stand as witnesses to your covenant vows, and to encourage you in & hold you accountable to those vows in the future.

So your bridesmaids and groomsmen are the primary witnesses of your covenant. If they are to hold you accountable in the future that would necessitate an ongoing, close relationship.

Another reader pointed out the importance of choosing people you trust to plan parties for you, like the bachelor or bachelorette parties, if you choose to have them.

Should they be my age, single, married, older, younger?

Once again, there is no right or wrong answer here, but I like what Bill said about his decision:

When I chose groomsmen last year, I chose men who were brothers in Christ and had godly marriages so they would be able to hold me accountable to being a godly husband. Also, they were able to offer the encouragement and counsel that single men could not provide.

Depending on the situation, this of course is not always possible. You would not necessarily want to pass up on choosing your single brother just so you could have a married friend instead. But I think the idea is a valuable one. You can learn from and be encouraged by those who have the benefit of perspective during this process. They have been through it and know how to support you and pray for you.

Must they be Christians?

When I began writing the book, I assumed it was best to only have Christians in your wedding party. But I heard from a couple of brides who made the choice to include unbelieving siblings as bridesmaids. These couples chose this because it gave their siblings an opportunity to get a first-hand glance into the beauty of the gospel message as portrayed by a wedding ceremony. And they knew their other attendants were strong believers. They wanted their siblings to be around other Christ-followers.

I hope that is a helpful look at this topic. There are obviously many more things that could be said, but the truth is that it’s an opportunity for the bride and groom to sit down together and pray over this decision. Allow the other person to be in on the decision-making process for your own attendants. This will ensure that you have the same goal and desires in your choices.

Do you have any other thoughts on this topic? Any stories from your own wedding or a friend’s?

Loving Those Who Are Trying Desperately to Forget

Today’s scheduled post regarding wedding planning will be posted at the beginning of next week. In lieu of that, I’ll be sharing some things weighing heavy on my heart today.

In the coming days, we (prayerfully) will be hearing more about a man named Kermit Gosnell. If you haven’t heard about him yet, it’s because the mainstream media has refused to report on his trial. But many citizens are demanding news outlets stop what looks like a cover-up–we are demanding a voice for those who have been murdered inside and outside the womb for years in Gosnell’s Pennsylvania abortion clinic. For more information on the trial, see this helpful post by Joe Carter – 9 Things You Should Know About the Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial.

We need to pray for all those involved in this trial–for Gosnell, who is not beyond the reach of grace. For his staff, who are no doubt haunted by the things they saw and did in their time working for him. For those who have attempted to cover up or turn a blind eye to the horrific injustices performed, not just at Gosnell’s clinic, but every day all across our country.

But today I want to beg us all to pray for the women. The would-be mothers. The teenage girls. The terrified women who believed they had no choice.

Gosnell apparently catered to minorities, immigrants and women in poverty. Women who were told this was their only option. Women who were told, sometimes in a language they didn’t even speak, they would be better off if they had the tissue removed. Women who were literally forced against their will, put to sleep only to wake and discover the abortion had already been performed.

So now the truth comes out. The horrifying truth of babies born alive and then killed. The sounds of babies screaming outside the womb, their cries falling not on deaf ears, but on ears who try desperately to forget, years later.

I cannot imagine what it is like to be told your pregnancy is only tissue, only to find out one day that your baby might have been alive when it was taken out of the womb. To wonder if your child was crying in a metal tray.

As the truth comes out, it is not just the patients of Kermit Gosnell who may be dealing with regret, guilt and fear.

These women are our neighbors. They are in our churches. They may be us.

They may not have had anyone to help them. They may have been told this was their only choice, on threat of being kicked out of their homes by “loved” ones. They may have been too scared to ever tell anyone, carrying their shame and guilt for years.

And as the news continues to come out about this one clinic, women in our communities will, once again, be reminded of a painful past. Fears will rise once again–fears for the present and the future. Fears about eternity. Fears that they are damned because of something they did fifteen years ago.

My heart aches for these women. I ache for them to know God as Father. I ache for them to know Jesus as Brother and Savior and Friend. I ache for the Spirit to comfort them and tell them they are loved.

And so, as the news comes out, may we pray. Pray for women to know the freedom only the Good News can bring. The same gospel news that tells of hope for a self-righteous church girl like me gives hope to the woman who has had an abortion. Christ died because the Father wanted to share His love with us. There is enough love.

So please, pray with me. Pray for chains to be broken and prisoners of guilt and shame to be set free. Pray for Truth to prevail. Pray for the prevention of future pain. Pray for the end of abortion. Pray for revival.

And when you look outside at your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow church-goers, know there is pain and regret in all of us.

And know the grace of God in the gospel is greater than all the pain and regret in the world.

So let us LOVE.

Help Needed: How to Choose Your Wedding Party

Last week a reader asked if I could give some advice on how to choose wedding attendants–bridesmaids and groomsmen. This is a great question and I do have some thoughts. Much of what I have to say, however, actually comes from the wisdom of others. So before I chime in I thought I’d put it out to you, the readers, to see what you think.

So, if you have thoughts on this topic–what to do, what not to do, what you wish you had done, what you plan to do–please chime in. In a couple of days I will compile some of the comments into a post on how to choose a wedding party.

Thanks to those who read, encourage, share and pray. May Christ be honored and the Father glorified through our words on this site.

Free Indeed

'Crack The Heavens' photo (c) 2011, William Ismael - license:

Today I’m just sharing what’s on my heart right now.

Our neighbor’s mother died yesterday. She had a horrible disease that claimed her life within a year of diagnosis. She wasn’t even 50.

A quick look at Facebook in the morning reminds us of our mortality. A friend’s baby dies; another friend suffers from cancer.

Yet social media also reveals how we are consumed by the here-and-now. The immediate. The thought of laundry, lunch or sports leagues. The customer service representative who makes us so mad we just have to share it with the world.

(This is not an anti-social media post, by the way.)

Last Friday I went to the Secret Church live event in Birmingham with some of my extended family. As David Platt preached for 6 hours on “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World,” I rejoiced in the truths of Scripture regarding the believer’s eternal destiny.

But the thing about meditating on eternity is that there are two sides to that coin. When we read to understand the joys of Heaven and the New Earth, we also see the horrors of  Hell. We start to care about people. We start to see everyone as an eternal being.

It’s actually really uncomfortable. And I think it’s supposed to be.

Sitting in the church building in Birmingham, I was surrounded on both sides by couples who are exchanging earthly comfort to live in light of eternity. One couple was in the process of literally selling all their possessions to move to the Middle East to share the gospel. Another couple lives in the ‘hood, serving their neighbors at all hours, spreading the gospel truth to shoe-less children and uneducated grandmothers; drug dealers and welfare recipients.

So I’m meditating on all these things. The following quotes and Scripture are going through my mind and implanting in my heart. My life is His. May He use it.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

“If people really knew what God in His mercy and grace was teaching us, how He is providing for us, and what we gain by trusting Him, they’d laugh at the thought of our ‘sacrifice’ and ask to join in.” – My ‘hood-dwelling sis-in-law

“When you know the truth about what happens to you after you die, and you believe it, and you are satisfied with all that God will be for you in the ages to come, that truth makes you free indeed. Free from the short, shallow, suicidal pleasures of sin, and free for the sacrifices of mission and ministry that cause people to give glory to our Father in heaven.” – John Piper

The Finish Line (sort of)

'Finish Line' photo (c) 2010, jayneandd - license:

We (my co-author, a.k.a. my mother, and I) turned in our finished book manuscript on Monday. Since then, I have been too busy breathing sighs of relief to get back on here and post. I think I’ve just enjoyed being away from the computer. My kids and I planted vegetable seeds and played with worms, went to the library, had lunch at our favorite restaurant, cooked out with some dear friends. It has been a good three days of celebration.

Of course, we still have rounds of edits and proofs to go through. But for the next few weeks, I am pretending it’s all done.

So now it’s back to blogging! I am going to attempt to make a blogging schedule with post ideas for a week or two in advance. Current post categories include: wedding stuff, book reviews, highlights from other blogs and devotional thoughts.

I’m curious about what wedding-related themes I should blog on. So if you have any thoughts, please pass them along. I want this blog to be a help to those planning a wedding, although not exclusively.

Finally, for all who have prayed, written, asked, hugged, and prayed some more–thank you. God has graciously, faithfully done something I never would have imagined two years ago. I have prayed and begged Him to use this book to point others to Himself and to open eyes and hearts to the gospel. May it be so.