Keep Your Eyes On the Groom

Courtesy of pixabay.com

 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
 Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”  Revelations 19:6-8

I’ve never seen a bride who wasn’t radiant. Dress her in the raiments of her wedding, and she glows with a joy we all want to capture.

This past weekend, our youngest son married his bride. As I’ve done for years, instead of looking first at the bride, I watched the groom, our son, as she first appeared at the end of the aisle. If you’ve never done that, then try it next time. The bride will remain radiant, don’t worry, you won’t miss a thing. But the groom only catches his first glimpse once. Make sure you see it.

We’ve had three of our children marry, so far. With each one, I watched the groom first.

Our son Chris had a nervous smile on his face that turned to consternation as his bride took longer than expected to step out of the limo that delivered her to their garden wedding. The moment she alighted, his face transformed with relief, joy, and happiness. I’ve never seen his smile as big as I did that day.

When our daughter Terri approached her husband-to-be, I watched tears cloud his eyes. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. When she came close enough, he couldn’t help himself. “Wow,” he whispered as he drank in the sight of her.

This past weekend Nathan stood stiffly at the front of the church, waiting. When they opened the doors to reveal his bride, he grinned, his gaze focused solely on her. I waited. This son is more reserved than the others and I sensed him holding back. Then I saw it, a great big gulp, his Adam’s apple wobbling with the emotion he couldn’t contain.

Each of these lovely daughters of mine caught a glimpse of what awaits us on the day when Christ receives his bride, the church. A wedding is the perfect time to get a hint of the joy we’ll experience on that day, when we are presented in fine linen, bright and clean. I can’t begin to imagine our joy. But I believe the joy on Christ’s face will outshine our joy like the sun blocks out the stars.

Advertisements

What Does St. Patrick’s Day Have To Do With Christianity?

Kiss me, I’m Irish!

Courtesy of morguefile.com

Wear green or you’ll get pinched.

Silly traditions associated with today, March 17. I am Irish (Scotch-Irish) through my maternal grandmother.

I don’t wear green; it makes me look half-dead.

As I helped my grandchildren choose clothing that ensured they wouldn’t be pinched black and blue today, my mind wandered to traditions and how they manifest over time. Many traditions come from a Biblical perspective, including St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, died on this day in 461. He brought Christianity to Ireland, so the Irish have celebrated this day for over 1000 years. That means this is a religious holiday.

Wait! What? But people have drunken parades and behave frivolously on this day. Yep. That’s true.

The original holiday, the Feast of St. Patrick, allowed the Irish to ignore their Lent observances for the afternoon. It gave them a break from fasting, but by the next day, they returned to their Lent observations.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the religious aspect of this day. That may or may not be true everywhere, but I don’t recall any connection to the church with this holiday.

Why? Maybe it’s because the holiday is not a God-ordained holiday:

Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? Matthew 15:3

In this verse from Matthew, Jesus and his disciples failed to wash their hands before eating. The Pharisees thought they had Jesus in the wrong and pointed out their lack of faithful behavior. The problem? God didn’t create the hand-washing commandment. Man did. Jesus pointed this out and took it a step further, implying they followed their traditions over God’s.  Oops!

Don’t get me wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the spread of God’s word, if that’s what we’re doing. There’s nothing wrong with feasting, or wearing green, or giving a neighborly kiss…if that’s what we’re doing. But, when it steps on the toes of our faith, when it overrides the commands of God, we’ve got a problem.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t the only man-made tradition focused on our faith. Look at Easter and Christmas. God never commanded us to celebrate the birth of Christ. He did command us to celebrate the resurrection EVERY day, especially Sunday. It’s not a once-a-year celebration.

If you examine these well-known holidays, you can see how far we’ve strayed from the faithful plans of the people who first chose to celebrate them. When man establishes something, it’s easier to lose sight of the original focus.

Can commandments from God disintegrate? Absolutely! Just read the Old Testament, and you will see it over and over again. Still, thanks to the timelessness of the word of God, the people always returned to true faith.

So, today, if you wear green or kiss someone who’s Irish, it’s ok. Maybe, while you’re at it, give thanks to God that you can celebrate the life of a man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Just remember, St. Patrick is not who we should celebrate. The amazing story he brought to Ireland is the point.

Courtesy of morguefile.com

God Is In Control

flag-1209484_1920-pixabay-no-attrib

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Today is an important day in US history. Today Donald Trump becomes President.

Some people are happy. Others are not.

Accusations and rumors abound.

Fake news runs rampant through social media and often appears on major new outlets.

How can we know the truth?

We can’t. Only God knows all of the truths, and that should give us hope as Christians.

So, what are we to do?

Remember the following from Romans 8:31-39:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you skimmed over those verses, then please go back and read the last few, the ones I underlined. We may disagree on what is right and good for this country. We may not know which sources to believe. We definitely do not know the future. BUT, we do know that God is in control.

And remember as you go throughout your days that we live in a very different world than the one when these words of encouragement were first written. Persecution was an every day fact, but even then, Paul reminded them of the power of God.

May you find peace from these words and may it follow you through this day and the year to come. And remember, we are commanded to pray for our leaders. Prayer  can move mountains!