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Ten Years With My Wife

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I have been married ten years to Stacie. On Saturday July 30, 2005, we made vows, she took my last name, and we began our journey in life together as a couple in covenant. What a joyful journey this has been! It’s been ten years of

1. Knowing – There is nothing like truly knowing another person and being known by them. In marriage I have had the unfolding experience of getting to know my wife, and she me. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’ve seen each other at our best and worst. She knows me better than anyone else and (praise God!) loves me anyway.

2. Talking – For ten years we have been talking as husband and wife. And we talk about everything. When I’m away, I look forward to coming home and seeing my favorite conversation partner. We are genuinely interested in each other. And even ten years later there are still things I learn about her!

3. Bearing – One great benefit in marriage is the shouldering of burdens together. Weep with the weeping, rejoice with the rejoicing. As a married couple, you don’t know what the future holds, what the challenges will be, what trials and seasons are down the road. But whatever load is down the road, we will bear it together.

4. Laughing – I love my wife’s laugh, and I love to make her laugh–not just a chuckle or brief guffaw but the kind that makes the gut hurt, when you think you can’t catch your breath because the laughter won’t let up. Laughing together is beautiful music in marriage. She’s so quick-witted and funny.

5. Dreaming – For ten years we have been dreaming. We dream of places we want to see, things we want to do, and what life may be like when we’re old. Practically every new milestone in this last decade was preceded by a late-night conversation or over early-morning coffee.

6. Studying – During most of our ten years together, one or both of us have been in school. So many classes taken, books read, papers written. While that season has finally ended, the studying continues, though no longer for course credit. We share a love for learning, as well as a love of sharing what we’re learning!

7. Traveling – There is no one else I’d rather be in a car or on a plane with than Stacie. She makes traveling fun, and over ten years we have had such wonderful travels together. Not all travels have been vacation though. We were married in Texas and lived five years there (2005-2010), but then moved to Louisville, Kentucky for our next five years (2010-2015).

8. Hosting – We love people and having them in our home. I’ve continually appreciated Stacie’s heart of hospitality and open-armed posture toward friends and family. Over our decade together, we have enjoyed the company of family and friends who have stayed days, weeks, or months at a time.

9. Parenting – For six-and-a-half of our ten years, we have been a father and mother. We are married with children–three boys ages 6, 4, and 2. Life is loud and energetic, and we’re tired all the time. Stacie is an incredibly devoted mother. Our boys adore her and are so blessed to have her.

10. Worshiping – I praise God that my wife is a disciple of Jesus Christ. I enjoy being with her at church every week with our family. In addition to being a church member, she is also the pastor’s wife. After the time of singing each week, I leave our pew, walk up the stage steps, and stand behind a pulpit to preach. I love being her husband and also her pastor.

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

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I’ve heard it for years: “God will never give you more than you can handle.” But does that conventional wisdom stand up to biblical and theological scrutiny? Over at The Gospel Coalition, I’ve written against this popular saying and argue that God does and will give you more than you can handle. An excerpt:

You might not consider overwhelming sufferings to be “light” and “momentary,” but think of your trials in terms of a trillion years from now. In the middle of affliction, sometimes the most difficult thing to hold onto is an eternal vision. Paul isn’t trying to minimize your affliction; he’s trying to maximize your perspective.

Suffering doesn’t get the last line in the script. In this life, God will give you more than you can handle, but the coming weight of glory will be greater than you can imagine.

“Endurance for the Pastor’s Heart”

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Over on Dan Dumas’ blog, I’ve written on “Endurance for the Pastor’s Heart.”

An excerpt:

The pastor will have to wage war against his acts of flesh, just as he exhorts his hearers to walk in the Spirit and in the light. He must endure this battle, in season and out of season. He must not justify his sinful failings but repent of them. The pastor should lead the way in obedience, setting an example for the flock (1 Pet. 5:3). He should hold to the gospel more firmly, take holiness more seriously, love God’s word more deeply, and intercede in prayer more fervently—all for the glory of God and the good of his family and church.

This post was the last installment of a three-part series. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here:

“Rest for the Pastor’s Heart”

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Over at Dan Dumas’ blog, I’ve written on “Rest for the Pastor’s Heart.”

An excerpt:

Wherever ministers are, there they should be faithful. The growth, the success, comes according to God’s perfect providence and wisdom. The pastor’s goal must be faithfulness, to shepherd the souls in our care as we exhort our flock with God’s Word. Some ministers plant while others water, but only God grants the growth that matters—and the One who gives the growth deserves the glory. God’s glory and the pastor’s rest are not at odds. 

Previously on Dan’s blog, I discussed “Prayer for the Pastor’s Heart.”

“Prayer and the Pastor’s Heart”

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Today on Dan Dumas’ blog, I had the privilege of contributing a post on “Prayer for the Pastor’s Heart.”

The beginning:

Listening to sermons each Lord’s Day, while important and necessary, comes with a danger that must be faced and overcome by God’s grace. We already know that pews fill up with some people who may not respond to the sermon in a way that honors God, people who may be hearers only, and not doers, of the preached word (see James 1:22-24). But the pastor must keep in mind his own temptation during the sermon time. Because he is a herald of God’s word, he is also a hearer of it, yet he may leave the service a hearer only. Pastors face the weekly danger of not sitting under their own sermons.

“Biblical Theology and Discipleship”

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Today I’m over at the Boyce College blog discussing “Biblical Theology and Discipleship.

An excerpt:

The Bible calls you to a different kind of seeing. The biblical authors, across sixty-six books, give you a set of lenses through which to view the world. The Bible’s worldview allows us to see why we’re here, what went wrong in the world, what God has done to rescue us, and what will happen when Jesus returns. We need biblical theology because we need to live faithfully before God, walking in a manner worthy of the gospel and understanding that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. To be a disciple on this narrow road, we need to see the world and our lives as the Bible does.

The Question for Two Miraculous Feedings: How Many Baskets Did You Gather?

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In Matthew 14:13-21, Jesus fed five thousand people with a small collection of fish and bread. Then in 15:32-39, he fed four thousand people with another small collection of fish and bread. Matthew 16 references these two stories and draws important lessons about the two feedings. My suggestion is that in Matthew 16, Jesus asks questions in a way that shows the significance of the numbers of baskets leftover in Matthew 14 and 15. I think those real numbers have a symbolic meaning.

In Matthew 16, the disciples are in a boat with Jesus and they’ve forgotten to bring the leftover bread (Matt. 16:5). Jesus warned them of the leaven (or teaching) of the Pharisees and Sadducees (16:6, 12), but the disciples were too distracted by the lack of actual bread in the boat (16:7-8).

Jesus helps them focus by asking some questions in Matthew 16:9-10. In 16:9 he asks, “Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” And in 16:10, “Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?”

Notice the information Jesus supplied. He refers to both feedings (which are reported in Matt. 14:13-21 and 15:32-39), the number of loaves in each case (“five” in the first feeding, “seven” in the second), and the number of people who were present for each miracle (“five thousand” and “four thousand,” respectively). However, there is also a number Jesus omits in each question: “how many baskets you gathered” (16:9 and 16:10). The reader has already learned that 12 baskets of leftovers were gathered after the first feeding, and 7 baskets after the second (see 14:20 and 15:37). When Jesus was on the boat with the disciples in Matthew 16, he surely knew the number of baskets that were leftover in each episode, so he didn’t ask for those figures for his own information. The phrasing of the questions in 16:9 and 16:10 highlights the number of leftovers because it was the only number Jesus didn’t explicitly give in each question. Jesus wanted the disciples to recall the number of the baskets when he fed the 5,000 and the number of the baskets when he fed the 4,000.

Notice that the numbers of baskets are not random numbers like 9 or 17 or 22. The numbers are 12 and 7, which are significant numbers in Scripture. Some interpreters may be reluctant to ascribe symbolic significance to the number of baskets in Matthew 14 and 15, but I think the phrasing of Jesus’ questions in 16:9 and 16:10 invites the reader to consider a meaning to the numbers. If the numbers didn’t matter, why omit those details in the questions? Jesus clearly wants the specific numbers to be remembered. Because of the geographical areas where the feedings in Matthew 14 and 15 took place, the former was probably a “Jewish” feeding, reinforced by the “12” baskets of leftover bread (for Israel had 12 tribes in the Old Testament), and the latter was probably a “Gentile” feeding, reinforced by the “7” baskets of leftover bread (for Deut. 7:1 names seven nations in Canaan; and note too that Jesus had just healed a Canaanite woman’s daughter in Matt. 15:21-28 before the second miraculous feeding).

In the miraculous feedings of Matthew 14 and 15, Jesus was forecasting the great messianic feast, where Jewish and Gentile believers would fellowship with their God forever. He himself was the Bread of Life (see John 6:22-41), the true and better Moses. The two feedings showed that Jesus was reconstituting the people of God around himself. He was the one who would provide what they needed, no matter if they were Jews or Gentiles. He not only gave them bread, he would be bread for them. In the fields, he gave them loaves. On the cross, he gave himself.