(It was my great privilege yesterday to officiate at the wedding of Adam Ramos and Kristina Gates. Adam came to know Christ through the ministry of our church three and a half years ago and has grown steadily in the Lord since. He is a true disciple - hungry to grow and learn and to become more like His Savior. Adam met Kristina through a Christian dating service called "Holy". Anne and I had the privilege of having Kristina in our home a number of times over the last year and we had the privilege of doing their pre-marital counseling. Kristina has known the Lord for many years, having been raised by Christian parents. She truly loves Jesus and longs to please Him. May the Lord be greatly glorified by this couple as they continue to know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the notes I worked off of yesterday).
On behalf of Adam & Kristina I would like to welcome each of you and thank you for caring enough to join us as we celebrate their coming together as one in marriage.
There are very few events or happenings on the earth that the Living God takes more interest in than a young man and a young woman – committing themselves before God and men to marriage. I do not think it is a coincidence that the very first recorded miracle in the ministry of Jesus Christ on planet earth was at a wedding.
So let’s look to Him now for His blessing on this wedding, and especially on this precious couple as they begin their new life together. (pray)
Who gives this woman in marriage?
(have everyone sit down)
Adam & Kristina, I want to talk to you this afternoon about an attribute or characteristic that is probably the most talked about, and yet least experienced of any I could think of as it relates to building a foundation in a marriage. That attribute is the attribute of love. A marriage is really not a marriage without love. And yet, true love continues to be as illusive as ever for many couples. I’ve seen more couples than I care to admit experience romantic and exciting dating and engagement periods - only to wake up in a love less marriage a few years down the road. William Faulkner reflected this sense of defeat in trying to experience true love when he wrote, “Perhaps they were right in putting love in books,... Perhaps it could not live anywhere else.”
The good news as you two well know - is true love is very much alive and well for those who are willing to humble themselves and who are willing to lean on and learn from the greatest lover of all time Jesus Christ. Anne and I have been greatly encouraged in our times together with you over these last months to observe the budding of true love in your relationship as you lean on and learn from your Savior. I hope you sense His favor, His presence and His intense interest in your marriage. He is the Master marriage builder and He is more than ready to build yours.
In light of that reality, what I want to do in the next few minutes is share three bedrock principles or truths from I Cor. Chapter 13, that if diligently pursued - will enable you to increasingly experience this true love that God has designed for you and wants to impart to you.
The first principle is this: True love requires a huge value shift. If you want to experience true love increasingly in your marriage, you will have to undergo an ongoing value shift. The apostle Paul describes this process in the first three verses of I Cor. 13, where he writes, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
You see, Adam & Kristina, the reality is that anything and everything in life is easier than love. Men and women throughout history have excelled in their work, in their hobbies, in their exploits for God and country, in the expression of their gifts and talents, but they have failed miserably in the matters of true love with their mate, because when it comes right down to it - it was never as important as these other things - - it was never as valuable to them as these other things. We say it is, but our actions and our time allotted to relationship building tells another story. Unfortunately - in our society - we get a lot more strokes for the things I’ve just listed - than we do for investing time and energy in our marriage.
Building a relationship based on true love will require a continual value shift. It will require an ongoing transformation of your inner man by the renewing of your mind. And it will require you to regularly pursue cleansing from all of the world’s influence on your thinking and attitudes and perspectives. Adam for you, it will require you to regularly buck the typical man’s infatuation or obsession with his work. I find it interesting that of the ten or so clear commands or responsibilities for a husband in scripture not one of them is specifically to work hard to provide for their financial/material needs. And yet four out of these ten or so commands and responsibilities is specifically to “love your wife”. Now if we take into account all of scripture we know that a husband should be a diligent worker and do his part to provide for his family. But that is not what is emphasized in the scriptures that speak directly to husbands regarding their wives.
You see love is not a feeling as much as it is a decision that you make day in and day out. A decision that you will not let anything crowd out your relationship with your mate. Because - as the scriptures say, all the attainments and accomplishments of the world are as a noisy gong when there is no love in your relationship.
Well not only will true love require a value shift. It will also require a security shift. Building a relationship based on true love will require a security shift because true love demands responses and characteristics that are extremely difficult if not impossible to carry out - unless you are very secure in who you are in Christ, who God is, how you stand with Him, and how He feels about you as a married couple. This is reflected in vs. 4-6 where Paul explains what true love looks like. He continues, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant; does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;” That’s what true love looks like in the every day trenches of life. But how do you develop that kind of love? How do you get to the place where - you come home from a long day at work, and your spouse snaps at you and criticizes you, and instead of snapping back, you are able to take a step back - realize your spouse had a rough day, take it on the chin, and extend much needed patience and understanding? Well you shift your security and sense of worth from circumstances to a Person. And that person is not your spouse. It is the only Person who truly understands you, truly loves you, and who has the power to change your spouse - the Lord Jesus Christ.
You see Adam & Kristina, if my security is in how my spouse treats me or responds to me, it is only a matter of time until their ugly side comes out, maybe in a time of intense stress, and all of a sudden my world is spinning out of control. If I am insecure about my value as a person and if I believe that I am the one who has to solve all of the problems in my marriage, and I am the one who has to get my spouse to change, then when my spouse turns on me or neglects me - I either become like a cornered wild animal, or I flee the scene full of rejection and bitterness.
But if I am secure in my value as a person, if I understand that I am created uniquely by God Himself, and that He has demonstrated His amazing love for me by sending His only Son who knew no sin to bear my sin on a criminal’s cross; if I understand that He is waiting for the invitation to get involved in my marriage, and that He is able to change my spouse and heal the wounds inflicted on me by my spouse (and the wounds inflicted on my spouse by me) – If I’m confident of all of that - - then I can take a step back, extend love and mercy, and resist the temptation to get even. Only secure people can consistently be patient, extend love, resist jealousy, bragging and arrogance, refuse to act unbecomingly, refuse to take up an offense, and embrace selflessness instead of selfishness.
Adam & Kristina - your ability to be kind and to not take into account a wrong suffered will be largely dependent upon how convinced, and thus secure you are in the fact that God does not take lightly a husband who neglects his wife, nor a wife who scorns her husband; that He has heard and will answer your prayers concerning this or any other destructive pattern in your spouse; and that it is your kindness and not contentiousness that will in the end win your spouse’s heart and affections.
Well not only does true love require a value shift and a security shift, it also requires a commitment shift. It is deep unswerving commitment that is reflected in these last two verses. Listen to the conclusion of this description of what true love looks like. vs. 7,8 “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails.” True love requires a commitment shift. True love remains faithful and committed when everyone else would have thrown in the towel. True love puts up with stuff that the typical spouse in our wishy washy society would never put up with. Adam & Kristina, true love never fails. What a joy to live with someone who is truly committed to you regardless of your faults, regardless of your shortcomings, regardless of your weaknesses until death separates you! That’s the kind of love that I hope every day you will cry out to God for. That’s the only kind of love that will give you both the marriage that I know you long for. And it is actually that kind of love, that gives a husband or a wife the freedom to begin to make the necessary changes and adjustments in their life that we all need to make from time to time. Ultimately this is the kind of love that only God can give, because as the scriptures say, God alone is love.
Now, sooner or later Adam & Kristina are going to hit a bump or two in their marriage. Those of you who are here as witnesses and loved ones have the privilege and responsibility to encourage them in the difficult times to stay the course and walk out the commitment they are getting ready to make. I trust that you will do that with a spirit of love and humility, and not a spirit of judgment. I would remind you as this passage concludes that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, love never fails.” Would that all of us had more friends, more brothers and sisters, more moms and dads, who love us enough to help us stick to our commitments.
Well we’ve talked a little bit about the importance of commitment. Now it is time to express your commitment to one another through the stating of your vows. Adam, let’s start with you: Please repeat after me.
I Adam, take you Kristina 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, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and so in front of God and these witnesses, I pledge to you my life and love.
Kristina – if you will repeat after me - - “I Kristina, take you Adam 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, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and so in front of God and these witnesses, I pledge to you my life and love.
Exchange of Rings:
Another way that Adam & Kristina have chosen to express their commitment to one another is through the exchange of rings. With these rings, the purity of gold symbolizes the purity of your love for one another - a purity that must be diligently maintained through consistent communication and fidelity with one another. Second, the unending circle symbolizes the unending vows you have just expressed - vows which may be broken honorably in the sight of God only by death. Again Adam let’s start with you…
Do you give this ring to Kristina, whom you have now taken as your lawful wife, in token of the affection with which you will cherish her, and the fidelity with which you will perform the sacred vows you have now made? (place the ring)
Kristina, do you give this ring to Adam, whom you have now taken as your lawful husband, in token of the affection with which you will cherish him, and the fidelity with which you will perform the sacred vows you have now made? (place the ring)
Forasmuch as Adam & Kristina have convenanted before God and before this group of witnesses to enter the holy state of wedlock, and thereto have pledged by the stating of vows and giving of rings their unending commitment to each other, I now pronounce you man and wife in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder.
Adam you may now kiss the bride.
It is now my distinct pleasure to introduce to you - Mr. & Mrs. Adam Ramos!
Announcement re: Reception at: The Olde Alehouse on LOVR between Rexall and the Hong Kong Restaurant