Every day is NOT a great day

jewish-wedding-breaking-glassIf you’re unfamiliar with Jewish weddings, it might catch you by surprise at the end of the ceremony when the groom steps on a thin glass wrapped in a napkin — smashing it under his foot.

I wish this breaking of the glass tradition was included in every wedding. It offers a very important reminder that where there is rejoicing, there should be trembling. This idea is based on Psalm 2:11 “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

According to the history of the tradition, breaking the glass served to encourage sobriety and balanced behavior. One Rabbi said, “A wedding should not be sheer undisciplined merriment, and the breaking of expensive glass stunned the guests into tempering their cheerfulness. The ceremony serves, then, to attain tempered emotions.”

The custom could be used as a vivid object lesson to teach us that even in times of great joy and celebration we must also realize life and marriage will not always be easy. There will be times of difficulty,  sadness and sorrow. It serves to remind the couple and all who are present at the wedding of how fragile life and relationships can be.

The breaking of a glass is also reflects the Talmud’s assertion that, “joining two people in marriage is as difficult as splitting the sea.” On a more humorous note, another Rabbi suggested that it might be the last time the groom gets to put his foot down.

Our Church services

I thought of the breaking of the glass in light of Christian Church services where so much emphasis is placed on everything being “wonderful” and “great” and “amazing.” Do we strain to present ourselves in such positive terms that we give a one-sided view of reality? More importantly, how does our emphasis fit with the teaching of Jesus and the apostles in the following verses?

  • Matthew 6:34 – “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  • John 15:20 – “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also”.
  • John 16:33 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  • Acts 14:21-22 – “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Evidently instruction about hardships, trials and suffering was part of the core curriculum of disciple making. It was presented as something normal to life and especially to the Christian life.

Cultural shift

Do we now live in cultures that encourage unrealistic expectations of uninterrupted happiness? I find it troubling when the Church strains to paint everything in such positive terms that believers are shocked and perhaps disillusioned by trials and suffering.

I appreciate the way one writer approached this truth:

“We need to develop the wisdom for living a life that is comfortable with being uncomfortable, and accept the fact that it sometimes doesn’t feel good to be a Christian….” “many people believe God’s main job is to make us feel good about ourselves and remain happy on our journey…”

“In this approach to following Jesus, there is no place for ambiguity, tension, struggle or any sense of anxiety. It’s a lot easier to believe that abundant life comes without pain and struggle. This mentality, however, directly opposes the type of self-denying life Jesus lived (Luke 22:42), and the inward dying and external pain Paul wrote about (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, Romans 5:3-5)” (By Zac Northen).

Hardships and Hope

Believers face sorrow like all people — but we do not sorrow like those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13). We have access to the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles (II Corinthians 1:3-4). And we are encouraged to count is all joy when facing trails of many kinds (James 1:2-5). We also eagerly await a Savior from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

One day “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). But until that day comes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

Do our gatherings reflect the tension of these truths? Are we equipping young people and new believers to understand the place of hardships and suffering in a context of hope? I get the desire to be positive but let’s not allow ourselves to be artificial or even dishonest in leaving out important truths that God has graciously revealed.

Psalm 2:11 “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

Steve Cornell

12 Tests of Love

“I’m in love! I’m in love! And I don’t care who knows it!” (Buddy the elf). But how can you know if it’s love or some kind of counterfeit emotion?

Here’s a helpful check list to distinguish love from infatuation.

  1. Test of Time – Love benefits and grows through time; infatuation ebbs and diminishes with time.
  2. Test of Knowledge – Love grows out of an appraisal of all the known characteristics of the other person. Infatuation may grow out of an acquaintance with only one of these characteristics known about the other person.
  3. Test of Focus – Genuine love is other-person centered. Infatuation is self-centered.
  4. Test of Singularity – Genuine love is focused on only one person. An infatuated individual may be “in love” with two or more persons simultaneously.
  5. Test of Security – Genuine love requires and fosters a sense of security and feelings of trust. An infatuated individual seems to have a blind sense of security.
  6. Test of Work – An individual in love works for the other person for his or her mutual benefit. By contrast, an infatuated person loses his or her ambition, appetite, and interests in everyday affairs.
  7. Test of Problem Solving – A couple in love faces problems frankly and tries to solve them. Infatuated people tend to disregard or try to ignore problems.
  8. Test of Distance – Love knows the importance of distance. Infatuation imagines love to be intense closeness, 24/7, all the time.
  9. Test of Physical Attraction – Physical attraction is a relatively small part of love, but it is a central focus of infatuation. (Now don’t read “small part” as “not a part” in what I just stated. If your heart doesn’t skip a beat now and then and you don’t feel real attraction for your mate or the person you plan to marry, I’d call that a problem. In contrast, when couples who are in genuine love have any physical contact, it tends to have special meaning as well as pleasure. Couples often communicate volumes through looks. These tend to express what they feel toward each other.)
  10. Test of Affection – In love affection is expressed later in the relationship, involving the external expression of the physical attraction we just described. In infatuation affection is expressed earlier, sometimes at the beginning.
  11. Test of Stability - Love tends to endure. Infatuation may change suddenly and unpredictably.
  12. Test of Delayed Gratification – A couple in genuine love in not indifferent to the timing of their wedding, but they do not feel an irresistible drive toward it. An infatuated couple tends to feel an urge to get married – instantly. Postponement for the infatuated is intolerable.

(from – Chip Ingram,  Love, Sex & Lasting Relationships

See also - How can we know what love is?

Minister rebukes photographers

I’ve performed a lot of weddings. Each time I tell the photographers and videographers that I trust them to exercise discretion as they capture the occasion. I’ve never had a situation like this one. This pastor isn’t playing!

What do you think?

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For….what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (II Corinthians 6:14-15)

To be “yoked together” pictures two oxen sharing the same yoke while plowing a field. An unequal yoke is described in Scripture as the yoking of dissimilar animals (Deuteronomy 22:10). 

The command against an unequal yoke prohibits believers from entering into cooperative relationships with unbelievers that would bind them to compromise their commitment to the Lord. One reason might be found in Jesus’ warning that we cannot serve two different masters (Matt. 6:24). 

Marriage and the unequal yoke

The unequal yoke is most often applied to the marriage decision. A marriage relationship requires more unity than most realize. It’s a yoking of life at many important points and places. If those who are yoked in marriage have too many differences, they will be pulling in different directions. Their unity will be threatened.

I keep a miniature wooden yoke in my office to use as a visual for explaining the importance of an equally yoked marriage. It’s a fitting description because life together in a marriage involves many decisions that could easily lead to disagreements (especially when raising children together). 

Marriage will significantly test the oneness and unity of two people. The yoke illustration implies that believer and unbeliever will be pulling in opposite directions or working at cross purposes with each other.

But this text assumes an ability to identify the differences between believers and unbelievers. So the first question about marriage for those who seek God’s will is how to identifying a true believer. See:  Answering the first question….

Steve Cornell

Audio resource: What Should You Expect? 

A deeply touching story

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.’ And he also said, ‘It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life’” (Revelation 21:3-7).

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).