I created the following picture on my iPad Mini for my sweet wife, Valerie.
Because I love her 🙂
I created the following picture on my iPad Mini for my sweet wife, Valerie.
Because I love her 🙂
Not long ago I performed a wedding service in which the whole wedding party and myself were brought to tears. Now, there were only 3 people in the room (the groom, the bride, and myself), but everyone of us were finding it difficult to keep water out of our eyes.
It was a very simple ceremony, one with no decoration, no cake, not even a tuxedo or wedding dress; just a wedding chapel, wedding rings, a man and a woman, and a pastor.
But what made this little ceremony so special was the reason behind it: the couple were getting re-married.
Long story short, they had gotten a divorce, but because of their love for their four children and the fear of how growing up in a split family might affect them, they determined to find a way to come back together. Whatever differences they had which led to their divorce were evidently able to be overcome, at least they were going to try – because they understood there were more important things than their own feelings.
As I stood there with them, I could sense the seriousness, the somber mood, and the need to go off script when it came to my normal wedding ceremony. In every wedding ceremony I conduct I always talk about how marriage is to be a reflection of God’s love for us, but I went full marriage-counselor mode/preacher this time.
As I referenced the selfless, unabashed love God displayed for us on the cross of Calvary, and how that true love, the unconditional kind, can forgive even as Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” the tears began to flow down the brides face…then mine.
With tears on everyone’s face, as I continued into the part where the vows were to be exchanged, the bride held the groom’s hands and said, “And if Jesus can forgive us for all we’ve done, we can forgive each other, too.” I literally about lost it! (I’m getting teary-eyed just typing this!)
When all was said and done, I extended my hand to thank them, saying, “I just want you to know, you made my day.”
The bride bypassed my hand and rushed me with a bear hug, then said, “No, YOU made OUR day!”
Then right before I was able to take a picture of the two as they stood on the stage, a newly re-married couple, the bride whispered to the groom, “God was here today.”
Amen to that!
The fact of the matter is that even though we may make each other’s days, like I did for that couple and they did for me, God has LITERALLY made our day!
This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
God doesn’t just do things for us that make us happy, therefore giving us a reason to praise Him for making our day memorable; He literally makes the day – every day – in which we live.
Think about this for just a second… the Hebrew word used in this case is in the perfect tense, meaning that the act of making the day was done, finished, once and for all completed. In other words, in God’s eyes, though it may appear to us as being as in the process of being made, it’s a done deal – finished. This is the day that the Lord has made.
Therefore, instead of worrying about the outcomes, the challenges, the twists and turns, why not rejoice in the moment, in the day, as we watch with amazement how God unfolds the gift that He has prepared for us?
I enjoyed hearing someone say, “You made my day.” I would bet God is no different. And since He knows what’s best for me, what I need, and how I can bring Him glory through my thoughts and actions in the next few hours, it will surely be a day worth remembering if I just pay attention and hold His hand.
Lord, You made my day!
I’ve been doing a lot of weddings lately. As a matter of fact, I probably did 20 in the last two months.
One of the things I explain to the couples before they exchange rings and say their vows is how over time, if they will endure, their marriage will become more precious than the day they say “I do.”
This June my wife and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, and believe me, we’ve experienced our share of fiery trials.
I ask the couples I marry to look at their rings and consider why the “precious metal” is precious. I ask them to consider what those rings went through in order to be shaped into the works of art they’re about to wear. Fire, forging, testing, shaping, more heat, and a lot of polishing: it was all part of what made the rings beautiful.
So why is it that so many men will throw away something as precious as a marriage tried by fire and forged in the furnaces of life for a temporary, plastic, fragile, and ultra-common shallow relationship?
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. … And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? – Proverbs 5:18, 20
The fact is that we men (and women, too) tend to forget the value of what we actually have and get tempted by the shiny newness of what we don’t have.
Worse, we forget that the God before whose eyes we said our vows never took his gaze off of us. We have no excuses.
For a man’s ways are before the LORD’s eyes, and he considers all his paths. A wicked man’s iniquities will trap him; he will become tangled in the ropes of his own sin. – Proverbs 5:21-22 CSB
Satan hates families. Satan hates anything that mirrors the faithful love of the Lover of our souls, the Groom of the Bride – the Church. Therefore, he loves nothing better than destroying (and redefining) marriages.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. – Ephesians 5:31-33
This year, instead of taking my wife for granted, I want to spend time strengthening my marriage. I want to remind the wife of my youth that she’s more precious to me now than ever.
One reason is because my “ways are before the Lord’s eyes.”
Another reason is because the world is watching, especially my own children, and I want them to see in me a reflection of the faithful love of my Savior.
But there’s one more reason I want to strengthen my marriage… Valerie deserves it.
Since it is a topic of hot debate these days, I figured I would keep the boat floating in the stream a little while longer and write a little more about the subject of masculinity.
Except today I’m going to do it from a laptop in the passenger seat behind my wife while she’s driving – it’s a long trip.
And I’m going to do with with pictures – like the one I just took of my computer before I typed this sentence 🙂
By the way, as of this moment, after nearly 10 years of blogging, I’m only at 49% of my memory limit with WordPress, so I’m not worried about the amount of photos in this post.
Anyway, I was thinking about masculinity and how it’s displayed, and that’s when I decided to search back through my phone’s photos. I thought it would be interesting to post some pictures from my life and share what I though was “masculine” or “manly” about them.
Some of these photos might fit a stereotype you don’t like. Some may make you scratch your head. But if I was to tell a young boy what it means to be a man, and if I could show him through some of my own pictures, this is what I would say.
And please understand, I’m not trying to make this all about me… I’m just making observations.
I’m just glad I had a dad that taught me what it meant to be a man. He was a consistent, loving, meek, humble, trustworthy, honorable, hard-working, self-sacrificing, faithful husband and man of God.
That’s about all I’ve got to say. Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.
Husbands, love your wives, even also as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Ephesians 5:25).
In other words, think twice before you say of your marriage:
“This is too tough.”
“I don’t feel it anymore.”
“I deserve better.”
“I deserve to be happy.”
“She doesn’t love me.”
“She doesn’t meet my needs.”
“She cheated on me.”
Think of all Jesus could have said, but didn’t…as He carried the cross all the way.
“As Christ loved” is our example. If He didn’t quit, when should we?
Did you know that Ringgold, GA is the “Wedding Capital of the South”? Well, it is, and that’s because hundreds and hundreds of couples get married there every year.
And where do many, if not most of them choose to tie the knot? The Ringgold Wedding Chapel. Go check out their website and read about its history, including some of the more famous names who’ve gotten married there (Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Bob Harvey from Jefferson Airplane, etc.).
Anyway, I’ve been conducting weddings at the Ringgold Wedding Chapel for a few weeks, now. It’s been interesting, to say the least. 🙂
Some of you may think me crazy, or even a heretic, for agreeing to marry people in a wedding chapel. Believe me, I get it. There used to be a day when I wouldn’t do a wedding for anyone unless they first agreed to extended pre-marital counseling. Now, I marry people the same hour I meet them.
But why do I do it? You see, the people that come into the chapel to get married don’t just walk in and say, “Marry me!” No, they have to book the chapel and pay a fee, plus have all their paperwork in order. However, those that want to get married could just as easily go to a courthouse, but they don’t; they choose to be married by a minister.
If these couples are going to get married somewhere, no matter what, I figured why not seize the opportunity to present the Gospel to them through a ceremony that highlighted a biblical model of marriage? It’s not a perfect situation, but it’s a chance to plant a seed, if nothing else.
So, I wanted to share with you guys my wedding script. It’s what I read for each and every wedding, making adjustments as needed, sometimes adding more when appropriate. When the service is over, I give the couple the script I used (with their names written in the blanks) for a keepsake, Scripture references and all.
Greetings, everyone! My name is Rev. Anthony Baker, and on behalf of __________________ and ________________, I would like to welcome you to this wonderful occasion.
We are gathered together here, today, in the sight of God and all you witnesses, to join this man and this woman together in holy matrimony. It is holy because marriage was not invented in a court room or a judge’s chamber, but in ages past by God Himself. Therefore, it should not be taken lightly, but should be entered into reverently, advisedly, and in the fear of God.
He is watching, and He will never forget the vows you two will be exchanging. And, not to leave anyone out, God also knows every one of you here as witnesses, and He will know whether or not you encourage and support this couple in the days and years to come.
To Bride: ______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Answer: “I am.”
To Groom: _______________, are you willing to proceed with this ceremony? Ans.: “I am.”
The Giving of the Bride (optional)
Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Response: “I do,” “We do,” “Her mother and I do.”
Father in Heaven, Creator of all things, we thank you this day for your mercy and grace and for giving us the wonderful gift of marriage. Lord, please bless us with Your presence, bless the union of this bride and groom, and be glorified by all that is said and done today. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen!
Statement of Marriage
As I mentioned before, marriage was not created by men, nor was it ordained in a courtroom; marriage was created by God Himself. We know this from reading the second chapter of Genesis. There, God created Adam, then Eve, and brought her to the man. Adam then said of Eve, “This is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Genesis 2:24 reads: “This is why a man shall leave his father and mother and bond with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Marriage is the institution in which God ordains a man and a woman to come together in love, with undying commitment, as a testimony to others of God’s love for us.
When times get hard, you don’t run away, throw in the towel, and say, “I quit!” Why? Because Jesus, as our example, said to His disciples, “I will never leave you” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). As a further example to us, even after all we did to Him, after all He went through, He still carried the cross – He gave His all.
Marriage is more than a 50/50 relationship; it’s 100% both ways. But even when one of you doesn’t live up to the other’s expectations – it will happen – true love carries the extra burden, forgives, shows mercy and grace. That is one reason why the apostle Paul tells us in the 5th chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Eph. 5:25). The sacrificial love of Jesus was to be mirrored in the marriage relationship. To sum it up, Paul went on to say in verse 33: “…each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.”
_______________ and _______________, the greatest love of all, the truest love of all, is not a love that demands of each other, or expects of each other, but gives all that one has without any expectations. 1 John 4:10 (NLT) says, “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Therefore, the greatest advice I can give is if you want a long-lasting, wonderful marriage, love each other more than yourself, for loving each other IS loving yourself.
_______________ and ______________, now that you understand something of the reason for marriage, are you ready now to confirm your commitment to each other, before God and these witnesses, by the saying of your vows? Response: “We are.”
Then please turn to each other and join hands.
_______________ (groom), in taking ______________ to be your wife, do you so promise to honor, to love, and to cherish her in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you? Groom responds: “I do.”
_______________ (bride), in taking ______________ to be your husband, do you so promise to honor, to love, and cherish him in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in hardship as in blessing, until death alone shall part you? Bride responds: “I do.”
Do you have rings?
The Exchange of Rings
You will now seal your vows “to honor, to love, and to cherish” by the giving and receiving of rings. I would like for you to look at your rings for just a moment. What you see is symbolic of two things. First, of course your rings are round. That symbolizes something that is never ending, a union that cannot be broken, and that is what your marriage should be.
But secondly, I would like for you to think about the precious metal that these rings are made of. The metal is precious because it was hard to find and what it endured to become what you will wear. The metal in these rings went through a furnace, through testing, through times of purifying. Your marriage will also have times of trials and tribulation, times when you’ll be put through the fire. And when those times come, look at those rings you will be wearing and remember this: The longer you stay together, the more fires you endure, the more precious your marriage to each other will be.
_______________ (groom), place the ring on ___________’s finger and repeat after me:
Groom: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded wife to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”
________________(bride), place the ring on _____________’s finger and repeat after me:
Bride: “I, ________________, take you, ________________, to be my wedded husband to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Joyfully and willingly, I commit myself to you and to you alone.”
Gracious Father, we thank you for creating us in your image so that we might know You and what true love is. Through your power and blessing we ask You to enable these two to keep their vows and be renewed daily in their love and commitment to each other. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony (Optional)
_______________ and ______________, we have witnessed the pledging of your love and commitment to each other, and the sealing of your vows by the exchanging of rings. Thereby, under the authority of God’s Word, and in accordance with the laws of the State of Georgia, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife!
_____________ (groom), you may kiss your bride.
Introduction of Newlyweds: I now present to you Mr. & Mrs. ______________________.
Officiated by: Rev. Anthony C. Baker, M.Min.
So, what do you think of my wedding script? Feel free to use it if you want.
What do you think of sharing the Gospel in this way?
Would you word anything differently?
Let me start off by saying that I am not going to be writing about the biblicality of taking up serpents during a church service. The purpose of this post is not to run down and disparage anyone’s heartfelt religious belief. I’m not here today to call someone an idiot for doing something that is clearly foolish – that could be another post for another day.
Right now let’s just pray for Cody Coots. I mean, just four years ago his father, the former pastor, died (age 42) after being bitten by a rattlesnake – only five minutes after being bitten in the hand during a worship service.
Now, the young Pastor Coots – the still-living pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle In Jesus Name Church – is recovering from a near-fatal bite to the ear from a rattlesnake (click HERE to see the video). Sadly, there must have been sin in his life, the fact made unfortunately obvious right when a bunch of cameras from a world-famous news organization were filming.
That must have been a bummer. We really need to pray for him and his health, and his family.
But, like I said, this post isn’t about Pastor Coots’ religious beliefs or health – it’s about his poor sweet wife and all the other ladies out there who might be concerned with marrying a snake-handling preacher.
What I want to do for now is offer a little advice to the lovelorn, the lovesick, and those blinded by love. You see, what really got me about the story of Pastor Cody Coots is what his wife, Tammy said:
“Me and Cody didn’t talk about religion until after we got married and all I said is, ‘God, what did I get myself into?'” (source: The Sun)
You were introduced by a relative, then you immediately fell in love, but you didn’t know anything about what he believed? You had no idea he went to a snake-handling church?
I mean, seriously, Tammy, what did you do for dates. go out hunting Copperheads? You visited his garage and saw cases of snakes, and thought what? Or did you even visit his home? Didn’t you think it wise to visit your prospective groom’s church just once before walking down the aisle? During the wedding rehearsal, did you think the rattling sound was from a wedding present?
Why only after you got married did you ask, “God, what have I gotten myself into”?
That being said, I feel obligated to spare future Tammy’s from the fear of losing one’s husband to the venom of a faith-testing rattler from heaven.
Well, I hope this helps. There’s no need for you to get into a marriage only to say the first Sunday, “God, what have I gotten myself into?”
Commentssssssssss would be nicccccccce 😉