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Life

“Wedding Dress” by Derek Webb

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Life

Happy Holiday, I’ll be Back in a Few Weeks

For the next three weeks I’ll be on holiday (as my South African friends would say).  Later tonight, I’ll start a 36-hour journey back to Nebraska.

Carly and I will get to spend some much-desired time together.  I’m super pumped about this, if you couldn’t guess.  We haven’t seen each other since January 6.  It has been a hard, yet joyous 5+ months apart, and such a learning experience.  It’s going to be a delight to see her.  Also, my sister gets married on June 27, and I am the best man in my friend Matt Meschke’s wedding on July 3.

I’m going to take these weeks away from blogging.  (Please, hold your tears.)  For you three faithful readers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that I have a couple friends who will be posting from time to time in my absence.  Let me introduce them to you.

  • Jordan Esmay studies ELED at the University of South Dakota.  He’s from the booming metropolis of Murdo, South Dakota, and he is married to Julie.  Jordan loves dancing and reading, and he is a fan of St. Augustine and Mike Huckabee.
  • Andrew Reiners graduated from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a business administration degree.  He currently works as a family assistant with Owens Associates in the greater Lincoln area.  Andrew loves coffeehouses, Alaska, and rap music, and he’s passionate about not wasting his life.

I hope you find their posts edifying, inspiring, and good for a laugh.  Lord willing, I’ll be back sometime around July 8.

peace,
james

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Life

The Heavy Doctrine of Atonement for the Married Man

Next year at this time, I’ll be married. Lord willing, Carly and I will be living in Orlando, Florida, starting our life together, getting ready for me to attend seminary. That’s almost unbelievable to write. With each passing day though, it sinks in a little deeper. I’ve only been engaged for five weeks (just as long as we dated!), but in that time, God has already taught me so much about Jesus’ relationship with the Church and how Carly and I (especially me) are called to imitate that.

Ephesians 5:26 says, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” At a Together for the Gospel conference, pastor Ligon Duncan said, “Doctrine is for marriage. Christ’s atonement has implications for how you men are to love your wife. Christ died for the Church. Husbands are called to do the same thing.” When we look at marriage like that, it’s humbling. For some, perhaps it’s depressing, thinking that men could never live up to that. The wonderful news of the gospel, however, is that Jesus has already accomplished the perfection we could not keep. Truly, we have a King and General who has won the victory for us in every area of life, including marriage.

Over the past month, the most compelling verse for me in preparation for marriage has been 1 Peter 3:7, which says, “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing her honor as the weaker vessel, since you are an heir with her in the grace of this life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” At first glance, you might scoff at this verse. What do you mean weaker?! How chauvinistic! The reality is, this verse is the complete opposite of chauvinism. In fact, this verse places the woman as the treasure of a man’s heart. This verse says that a man is to love, cherish, honor, and please his wife. Didn’t Jesus do that for us? He humbled himself to the point of death (Phil. 2:8), simply to show how much God loved his Bride. God wants us to have this perspective. Christ lived in complete understanding of the Church, knowing that he needed to give himself up so that we might be saved.

In my relationship with Carly, I have experienced this weight of glory. I have felt the Lord press it on my heart to live with Carly “in an understanding way.” What does this mean? Well, she is different than me and most days, I don’t have a clue why she is the way she is. Why? Because she’s a woman and I’m a man! We are entirely different. God calls me to chase her and figure her out. I want to know her. Didn’t Jesus do that for us? Didn’t he pursue and chase and woo us with his perfect and matchless grace? I’m not perfect-actually, I’m quite far from it. But God calls men to chase their wives and love them. It’s impossible to do with Carly on my own, but by God’s grace I’ll succeed.

This verse in Peter also calls husbands to show honor to their wives as the weaker vessel. Uh oh! Peter didn’t write that, did he? Hold on, Peter is not degrading wives. He’s stating the obvious. Physically and emotionally (in general!) women are weaker. This is how God made women. Instead of thinking that Peter is a pig-headed jerk, we need to remember that when Peter says this, his focus is on husbands, not wives. More importantly, we need to remember that God is the author of Scripture. It’s not bad to say this about women. Instead, it really puts the responsibility on the man to show his wife honor. What woman wouldn’t want that?

A husband shows his wife honor by trying to make her life easier through joyful and willing sacrifice. It’s not chauvinism for a man to lead and actually treat his wife like a lady. A man’s not being a jerk when he wants to sacrifice everything for his bride. I want to do that. After all, didn’t Jesus do that for us?

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Life

I’m Going to Marry an Amazing, Jesus-Loving Woman

As of Friday, December 26, I am engaged to be married to Carly Anne Forsman.  She loves Jesus, hates sin, is crazy enough to want to be a pastor’s wife, and reads Charles Spurgeon and John Piper.  Ah, what more could a man ask for?

Many of you know that I’ll be in South Africa for the next 11 months, so be praying for us as we plan and prepare for our wedding and marriage over Skype, emails, and letters.  It will be an awesome challenge to do this, but something we know that the Lord has prepared us for and will guide us through.  Our wedding day will be in early January 2010.

I love you, Carly, and I long for the day to come (and it will very soon!) when we start the rest of our lives together.  I’ve told you before that I don’t believe people can complete other people, but I believe that God made you to be the love of my life after Jesus.  You are beautiful.

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Songs of Solomon 8:7).

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Life

Maybe the Pool-side Wedding was a Bad Idea