May 20, 2014

A Word On Preparation For Marriage (or, meditations on Ephesians 5:25 as a single guy)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church..."
Ephesians 5:25

The way Christian husbands are to love their wives is so simply laid out in Paul’s words to the Ephesian church: love her as Christ loved His church (or, His bride). I’m not going to lie, this is tremendously frightening to me. The weight of responsibility communicated in just this little verse packs a hard punch to my manly pride. This has been a lot to chew on as I prepare for my role as a husband. A simple reason for this: Jesus “gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Yep, Paul is telling husbands to… die. That’s such a simple observations, but it can demolish a worldview. Husbands are to die for their wives.

But I am not married yet. So, in light of this verse, how does it apply to me, today? How do I “prepare” to die for my wife-to-be? I’ve been reflecting on this for the better part of this last year now, but all I can filter this verse through is my lens of SINGLENESS. Singleness has been a dear friend of mine. We’ve known each other for 28 years now. Paul is addressing husbands when he writes this, but how does Ephesians 5:25 impact Matt, a single guy, who wants to get married?

Below are some of my reflections on this. My biggest take away from Ephesians 5:25 during this season of singleness bliss has been to have a mindset and lifestyle of preparation for marriage. I hope my single and engaged brothers will enjoy and be challenged by these reflections.

1. Before the church existed, Christ prepared himself for her. 2,000 years ago, right underneath their noses, Christ was preparing to go to the cross to purchase His bride. His unpurchased bride was blind, deaf, dumb, broken, lame, and completely unable to help herself upon his arrival in the manger. And certainly, while I was in the depths of nonexistence, and when my parents weren’t even born yet, Christ was readying Himself for me and the church in this age. This brings me to this next thought…

2. I cannot expect my future wife to be “prepared” for me. Rather, Ephesians 5:25 calls for the husbands to take on that responsibility. Paul doesn’t say, “Wives, die for your husbands.” Christ fulfilled the Old Testament, went to the cross, died, was buried, rose again, ascended to Heaven as all authoritative Governor of the cosmos (where he currently sits right now), and sent His Spirit to fill His bride. Sealed! done! He put a ring on it!

3. Woo-Woo! Christ wooed His elect to Himself, before He came, while He was here, and after He came. How can I woo my fiancé to myself? As I’ve been getting to know Nati, how can I be quietly working behind the scenes to prepare for her? How can I, right now, work so that when the wedding day comes, she will not have to worry about a single thing spiritually, emotionally, and physically? This is how Christ loved me before I knew Him. He did this work 2,000 years ago when He crushed the serpents head (Genesis 3:15) on the cross.

4. Knowledge given & increasing. I now have a knowledge/understanding that Jesus loves me. It is a knowledge that is increasing more and more. But it’s a knowledge that I was brought into and was given once Him and I were united (when I was “born again”). In the same manner, my future wife, Nati, hasn’t known the extent of how the Lord has worked in my life in the last 28 years. Sure, she has a general snapshot of my life but it’s been extremely limited. She hasn’t known the battle I’ve had in fighting to prepare for her, though I never knew she was out there. She didn’t know the mockery of “celibate until marriage” I’ve had tossed at me the last seven years of being a Christian. She doesn’t know the loneliness that her future husband has endured while the world has thrown it’s lusts at him. She didn’t know or understand that I’ve longed for and have been awaiting her. She’s not aware that I’ve been getting ready to give my life for her, and that I’ve already been pursuing her by fighting to make my way pure and reserved for her. She didn’t know my prayers for her as Jesus prayed for His future bride in the garden before His death (John 17). As we approach marriage, more and more of these things will be revealed about me to her. My life, however is a messy and imperfect picture of Christ’s love for His people. I hope and pray that, through our life together, our marriage will be a beautiful display of this glorious gospel of Christ.

5. Protection. God has always, even before Jesus came, been protecting His chosen. Once Jesus came in flesh, He protected, fed, loved, called, and is now building His followers. “Who can separate us [Christians] from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) Paul asks. As I seek, as unmarried man, to be working at building and maintaining my future marriage garden, I ought to protect it from outsiders, and only let in holy things. I ought to advance and extend this garden of holiness on the earth through my life and testimony. I hope that my vertical gaze will impact my horizontal efforts in the world. I hope Nati finds herself attracted to the fruits of these hidden efforts. I hope she loves the fruit she sees in this work. Once marriage comes for husbands, this effort does not cease but presses onward as we await our Ultimate Groom, Jesus Christ, together, who will look at our efforts and be pleased in our love for Him.


May 15, 2014

Joe Cannon Portrait

I just wrapped up a project for work. It's a 22" X 30" graphite/charcoal portrait we are hoping to use for an upcoming book cover. Below is an example of the process of a drawing for me. Enjoy!

Apr 20, 2014

Jesus Is Alive

Elvis is dead, Picasso is dead
Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin are dead
Marilyn Monroe is dead- however...
Jesus is Alive
Brando is dead, James Brown is dead
Princess Di and John Lennon are dead
Biggie and Pac are dead- however
Jesus is Alive

Give praise to King Jesus, the blessed Son
Victorious, glorious resurrected One
To Him belongs the power, glory and honor
Ascended where He sits at the right hand of the Father
At the cross He made atonement- His people He saved
After three days He was raised in defeat of the grave
By faith the elect behold Him, His scepter is golden
He must have been hot or slippery because death couldn't hold Him
The spotlight is on today's icons
In a thousand years, nobody will care- their light's gone
But at that time, Christ will still shine bright
He's not in the limelight- He IS the limelight
Criminal minded, you've been blinded
Looking for the body of Jesus? You won't find it
We never lack spirit, letting you cats hear it

Plato is dead, Socrates is dead
Aristotle and Immanuel Kant are dead
Neitzsche and Darwin are dead- however
Jesus is Alive
Buddha is dead, Mohammed is dead
Ghandi and Haile Selassie are dead
Elijah Mohammed is dead- however
Jesus is Alive

Throughout history there's been mad religious leaders
Prophets, preachers, scholars, teachers
But when it came to the grave, no one could climb out
That's where Jesus stands alone like taking a 'timeout'
And don't be mislead- I got a level head
No resurrection, Christianity would have never spread
The disciples weren't stupid guys who would ruin their lives
And then choose to die for what they knew was a lie
That would be beyond ridiculous- Nah, the issue is
The risen Christ seen by 500 eye-witnesses
Imagine 500 people in a court of law
Each of them taking the stand reporting what they saw
If their stories lined up and made sense
The evidence would have to leave you convinced
But still it's by faith that we trust and praise the Son
Who was raised for our justification

Nero is dead, Constantine is dead
Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun are dead
Alexander the Great is dead- however
Jesus is Alive
Napoleon is dead, Lao Tzu is dead
Che Guevara and Henry VIII are dead
Saddam Hussein is dead- however
Jesus is Alive

Through faith in Christ, we've been saved from hell
Because He's risen, it means we'll be raised as well
In glorified bodies fit for the new earth
For now, we participate in the new birth
The universal reality of the true church
With resurrection power, watch the Spirit do work!
United with Christ, we reside in His light
Abide in His might, keep in stride as we fight
The pride in our life, the lies and the spite
We strive to be wise as He guides through the night
He'll chide and He'll slice- recognize that He's right
His brightness inside lights our eyes and it's tight
(He) decided to die to wash white all our strife
His life was the price to delight in His wife
He told death "sike" just to rise like a kite
All eyes on the Christ- let's prize Him tonight

Pharaoh is dead, Cyrus is dead
Darius and Sennacharib are dead
Nebuchadnezzar is dead- however
Jesus is Alive
Caesar is dead, Herod is dead
Annas, Caiaphas and Judas are dead
Pontius Pilate is dead- however
Jesus is Alive

Apr 14, 2014

Pre-Marwiage Material

As Nati and I are approaching marriage, there are no shortage of resources to go to. Here are some of the things we dug into or are currently going through right now:

Doug's also got a marriage blog here

So far, these are the biggies. Excited for this next season of life!