Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Sweden

With the rise of secularism across much of Europe, it is no wonder that in a 100 year span the percentage of professing Christians in Sweden could go from 99% to a mere 48% believing in the existence of God. But it has happened. Since 2000 the Church of Sweden has ceased to be the official state church, leaving the country of Sweden with now complete religious freedom.

There are over 9 million people living in Sweden, and while Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian countries, the population is heavily concentrated with only 10% of the abundant mountains and forest cultivated. In the wake of massive secularization, Sweden is now known as one of the most permissive societies in Europe.

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray for the youth of Sweden. There is a generation coming up who has no real understanding of Christ and his work.
  2. Pray for a robust, orthodox theological education in Sweden. There are two main education facilities for theological training and these facilities are heavily influenced by secularist and humanist teaching that permeates the universities.
  3. Pray that the nations would be reached in Sweden. Sweden has become a place of refuge for people of other nations. In reaching Sweden, we can reach the nations.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Way of the Wise: A Review of Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild

If we were asked to think of a “wild woman” a person or type of person would typically quickly come to mind. We can all think of her right? She is usually the girl we don’t hang out with, because of her bad reputation. She is the girl flirting with the boys in school, or the girl buying the bikini at the mall, or the girl at the clubs and bars every weekend night. But she certainly isn’t in our homes or churches. She couldn’t be, could she?

What if when we thought about who described the wild woman we looked in the mirror for a change. That is exactly what Mary Kassian does in her book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. She holds up the mirror of God’s Word and shows us that all of us are the wild woman at heart, and we need a new heart to make us into the wise woman that God calls us to be.

She begins the book by combating pride immediately. There are two types of readers of this book, those who already know they are wild and want help, and those who think they are wise and need to understand that they aren’t. Kassian shows us that all of us are “Girls-Gone-Wild” and we need to be changed.

One of the things that I have always appreciated about Kassian’s teaching and writing is that it is saturated with Scripture. She knows her Bible and it shows. The entire book is a contrast between the “Wild Woman” of Proverbs 7 and the “Wise Woman” that Proverbs so often speaks of.

The book is definitely worth reading for multiple reasons, but there are three things that stood out to me as I read this book.

To be a wise woman means getting a new heart. Kassian says that, “A woman who attends to her heart will attend to her ways.” For Kassian, the entire book is built on this premise—the heart reveals our treasure and our desires. She shows that if a woman’s heart is captured by Jesus, then she will walk according to his ways. If her heart is captured by the world and its pull, then she will walk in the ways of the world. According to Kassian (and I think rightly), the heart must be transformed first before any of the following points about wise living can be fulfilled.

To be a wise woman means understanding what God says about womanhood. This isn’t the entire point of the book, but it’s where Kassian is going ultimately. Kassian is decidedly complementarian in this book and in everything else she writes. Feminism’s lure has been at us since the Garden, and to be a wise woman means to understand how God created you to be. She takes us through the entire biblical history of gender starting with creation. Understanding gender, she asserts, helps us know how to live. The wise woman understands that God created her with boundaries, and these are good and wise limitations.

She says: “The fact that woman was created within boundaries of a household also implies that women are to have a unique responsibility in the home. This is consistent with the idea that a woman metaphorically keeps her feet (and heart) centered in the home, rather than outside it. For the woman, nurturing her relationships and keeping her household in order takes priority over other types of work.” (133).

To be a wise woman means to be countercultural. From boundaries, to entitlement, to dating, to sex, to honesty, to our tongue, to our view of possessions, to dependability living wisely according to God’s standards means we look a lot different than the world. We go against the grain. Every chapter is filled with the cultural norm countered with the biblical mandate. In the chapter on sexual conduct she shows us how God designed sex for our good within the confines of marriage. She says, “The problem is not that we value sex too much—but that we don’t value it enough” (136). We settle for lust and seduction rather than the true beauty of marital sexual fidelity. And so often we settle for a big list of “don’ts” instead of understanding the “why not” behind it. As Kassian says, marital sex displays God’s glory. Anything outside of these parameters brings dishonor on the Gospel.

It’s hard to fully convey the value I think this book has for women of every age. We are so easily pulled by the world, and often we don’t even realize our tendency towards wildness. Kassian is a breath of fresh air in a polluted and filthy environment that we find ourselves in.

She ends with a powerful admonition: “will you join the quiet counterrevolution of women who are committed to living according to God’s design?” It’s a hard task, but not an impossible one. God is big enough to change our hearts and lead us in the movement. Imagine what could happen if women across our churches read this book and asked God to chisel away the Wild Woman in them and begin making them into the Wise Woman. Let’s begin praying that God would be pleased to make it happen.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Somalia

In college I had a professor tell my class that we were facing an unprecedented missionary opportunity among the Somali people simply because thousands of them have had to flee to places like America. Often, he said, American Christians will bemoan the fact that missionaries are unable to enter countries like Somalia (or any closed country), while ignoring the reality that many of those very people are living right in their neighborhoods. I think he is right in a lot of ways. And if this is true about the increasing numbers of people from the nations literally coming to our doorstep, then we should be informed about our new neighbors.

Today’s country is Somalia. Somalia is located in West Africa and has a population of over 14 million. Islam is the official religion of Somalia and less than 1% of the population is Christian. After a bloody civil war ended in 1991 and UN withdrawal in 1995, no formal government was established, making Somalia the most lawless country in the world (according to Operation World). The country is run by warlords primarily and has no formal economic system. Because of the lack of economy and stability many Somalis are totally dependent on aid and family assistance from outside of Somalia. Hundreds of thousands of Somalis, including 25% of children under age 5, have died due to famine and violence.

Many Somalis have been forced to flee the country due to lack of food and the fighting in their own land. And many have fled to America.

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray for the Somali Church. It is thought that there are maybe 2,000 Christian Somalis in the world. Pray that this is would increase and that God would use them to spread his name among their fellow countrymen.
  2. Pray also for the Somali believers facing persecution. The Somali Church is an underground movement, if anything. It is a dangerous thing to be a Christian in Somalia.
  3. Pray that God would grant true and lasting peace in Somalia through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. UN peacemaking efforts have failed and only Christ can bring unity and change to a country.
  4. Pray against the barriers to the Gospel among the Somali people. Many Somalis associate oppression with Christianity. Pray that the Christians who come in contact with Somalis would only show compassion, care, and love to them. Many Somalis also think that being a nomad (which many are) is not compatible with Christianity. Pray for Christians who are willing to disciple Somalis and show them that cultural practices (that aren’t sinful) have no bearing on your acceptance before God—it is by grace.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer is for More Reading!

Today CBMW posted a suggested summer reading list on womanhood that I wrote for their blog. It is not exhaustive, but it is a start for women wanting to get their feet wet on understanding how God created them to be.

I figured I would get my personal reading list in order since I was in the "reading list" mood. I don't really know why, but summer always makes me feel more motivated. I really should make a reading list all of the time, but the one I have made for this summer will suffice for now!

Below are the 6 books on my list for the remainder of the summer (or as long as it takes me to finish them).

The Reason for God by Tim Keller
I have heard really good things about this book and have wanted to read it for a while now. Now is the time.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I always try and pick a novel/literature to read to give me some variety. I have wanted to read this one for a long time but didn't own it. I got it at a garage sale in Little Rock for .50 (I think), so it is definitely the cheapest book on this list.

The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells
I read No Place for Truth a few summers ago and really enjoyed it. We have had this book for a while and I keep meaning to read it. Again, now is the time!

Jesus and the Feminists by Margaret Kostenberger
This is my "gender" reading for the summer. The fact that this book is written by an articulate, complementarian woman just gets me excited thinking about it. I am really excited to read it!

Trusting God by Jerry Bridges
This is my "counseling" reading for the summer. Everyone I know who has read it loves it and this is definitely an area of my life that I need more sanctification in.

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas
William Wilberforces life fascinates me. I think this book will challenge me in many ways and give me greater perspective into the life and ministry of this remarkable man. Plus I have to get it from the library and it's a good excuse to use my library card.

So what's on your list?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How a Dad Loves a Prodigal

Seven years ago on Father’s Day I had a very different relationship with my dad. In fact, I wasn’t even speaking to him. You see, I liked sin and liked living in sin. Talking to my dad (and mom) meant conviction, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

For nearly two years I ran from my parents, family, and the Lord. And then one December everything changed.

Earlier this week Focus on the Family was asking people to send in their favorite memory of their dad. It got me thinking about my favorite memory. I’m sure I could list a hundred memories of my growing up years, or even from my years post conversion. But the memory that immediately came to mind when I heard the advertisement is one I don’t think about often, but is perhaps one of the most formative events in my entire Christian life.

The entire time I was away from my family my parents prayed for me every day. So when I told them I wanted to move home and was tired of my life of sin, they were overjoyed. Immediately they began helping me prepare for the move. They arranged flights for me to come home, paid for a moving truck, and began helping me think through where to finish college.

And then I got mono.

I suddenly found myself uninsured and in the emergency room. At this point I was too sick to do anything besides barely plug along to finish my school semester. There was no way I was going to be able to pack up and get myself to Dallas to the airport. My dad had already intended to come help me move home by picking up my car and driving it to Michigan. At this point, I needed him. I had no energy, no real friends, and no ability to think through a move. I was helpless.

Things never turn out like they are supposed to. My dad flew to Dallas and picked up a car from a friend to drive down to where I was living. Less than an hour outside of the city the car he was driving broke down. That didn’t stop him from getting to me. I will never forget the words he said to me as he sat in the Greyhound station waiting on his bus to San Marcos.

“I will get to you, Court. If I have to walk there, I will get to you.”

When I picked him up at the Greyhound station he embraced me with tears streaming down his face. It was exactly what I needed. The softening of my heart had begun with the mono and continued with the love and care of a dad who didn’t hold my past hatred of him against me. For my dad it was a rescue mission. I needed help physically and spiritually.

For over a week my dad stayed with me packing up all my boxes (asking me why I had 15 sweaters even though I lived in Texas!), getting reacquainted with me, and showing me what it means to live like Christ. It humbled me on so many levels. For two years I had spurned his and my mom’s love, care, and fellowship. And here he was forgiving all of it and welcoming me back in.

There are so many more pieces to this story, like the fact that my dad stayed in the dorms with me to make sure I was eating and getting rest. Or the fact that he went to the cafeteria with me everyday to watch me fix my plate and have me go get more food if it wasn’t sufficient in nutritional value. Or the fact that my parents paid all of my medical bills despite the fact that I was the one who abandoned them. This is what makes it all memorable. They didn’t abandon me.


You don’t always appreciate and understand your parents when you are younger. At 27 I see my dad (and mom) as instruments used by God to help me understand the Gospel. God is relentless in his pursuit of us. So were my parents.

Father’s Day 7 (and 8) years ago might not have included my well-wishes, Dad. But I am here now, praising God for a dad like you, who did not stop pursuing me until you brought me safely home. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Models for Marriage

Daniel and I had the privilege of spending time a few weeks ago with a couple who has been married for many more years than we have. We always like the opportunity to be around people who have been at it longer than us because it gives us a chance to learn from them and pick up some helpful tips from their relationship. This time provided us with such an opportunity.

As we ate lunch with our new friends, the thing that stood out to us the most was how much this couple loved each other. Their love and care for one another was evident in the way they preferred the other over themselves, spoke highly of each other, and genuinely enjoyed the company of their spouse.

It convicted us and made us want to be like them. After all these years, children, moves, job changes, and seasons of life they still delighted in being together and being married. When I was engaged to Daniel, I had people tell me that the evident love and excitement I had for my soon-to-be-husband would fade as the reality of marriage set-in. The sad reality is that for many married couples marriage is just something you do, not something you delight in. But it’s hard for me to believe, especially based on the example we saw a few weeks ago, that this is how God intends our marriages to be.

If marriage is God’s good design for us than why should it have to be drudgery and boredom? Our culture would have us believe that all of the excitement and warm feelings happen prior to the wedding day. All of the joy and delight ends when you say “I do.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, marriage is hard and sanctifying. And yes, there are times where the feelings are simply gone. But as my older friend told me, we need a long-term view of our marriages. We need to be able to see beyond the moment of frustration and pain, and see it as a piece of what God is doing for the long-haul in our marriage and in our soul.

I have not been married that long. But when I look at older couples, like the ones we were with a few weeks ago, I am encouraged to strive for what they have. I want to delight in my husband for as long as God gives me breath. I want him to be my best friend all the days of my life. I want him to be the highlight of my day, after the Lord.

If we believe that marriage is a shadow of a deeper and more beautiful reality, namely Christ’s relationship with his Bride (the Church), then we have to believe that joy in this brief shadow is what he desires for us. Our contentment and satisfaction in our marriages for what they are (finite relationships) shows the world the greatness of the Gospel. And a crabby wife or disengaged husband is devastating to a Gospel-witness.

What I learned most from my friends was not a list of rules or tips for how to cultivate love in my marriage. What I saw was a relationship centered on the Gospel. They love Jesus with all of their hearts and it spills over into their marriage. They have an eternal view of what their marriage is pointing to and they are committed to the covenant. This is what I want for us, for a lifetime.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Kyrgyzstan

Sadly, up until a few years ago I knew very little about the former Soviet country of Kyrgyzstan. But Kyrgyzstan has been in the news in recent days and many in the world are now looking at this nation as they deal with ethnic clashes and violence. Reports say that as many as 77 people have died in the fighting between the ethnic Uzbeks (natives of Uzbekistan) and Kyrgyz, this has forced many Uzbeks to flee to the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Due to the influx of people attempting to enter the country, those trying to flee have been stopped at the border because Uzbekistan simply cannot handle anymore people coming in—many of them are women and children.

Kyrgyzstan is the poorest of the Central Asian countries. It borders China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. They gained their independence from Russian in 1991. There are over 5 million people living in Kyrgyzstan. While 78% of the people are Muslim, Kyrgyzstan is a secular state with allowed religious freedom. Those who claim Islam and Russian Orthodox would like it to be otherwise. But Islam is more cultural than it is practiced and most of the people of Kyrgyzstan hold to shrines and spirit worship over anything else.

Only 7.83% of the population would claim to be Christian. This is seen as a significant increase and answer to prayer considering that in 1990 there were only 20 known Christians in the country. In 2000 that number had risen to 3,200.

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray against the barriers to the Gospel. Like many cultural Muslims, to become a Christian in Kyrgyzstan is to deny your family and your culture.
  2. Pray that God would continue to grow churches and Bible schools in Kyrgyzstan. They have grown numerically since 1990, which is a praise.
  3. Pray that God would use the economic despair to show the people of Kyrgyzstan that Christ is the supreme treasure and hope for them.
  4. Pray that the fighting in Kyrgyzstan would cease and the true peace through Jesus Christ would be attained through this turmoil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Counseling and Job's Friends

The book of Job fascinates me. Between the interaction with Satan and God, God’s overarching control of everything, Job’s response in the midst of great sorrow, and the subsequent response of his friends, I have always finished Job with lots to ponder and process. We can learn a lot about counseling from the book of Job. And I found myself repeatedly praying throughout the entire book, asking God to protect me from the all too familiar tendency to counsel like Job’s friends.

There are three things about counseling that stood out to me while reading.

  1. Counseling must begin with a clear understanding of God. We see from Job’s friends that they begin counseling Job from a faulty and improper view of God and how he operates with his children. They assumed that Job must have committed some sin against God in order to be the recipient of such suffering. How often do we try and counsel our friends from our own perceived view of God, rather than what the Bible says about him? Bringing a wrong view of God to people in their suffering will not only discourage them, but it will provide no hope for them in their trial.
  2. Counseling must show empathy and care for the one suffering. Hurting people need to feel loved. More importantly, they need to feel loved by God. Sometimes that love means saying nothing. Sometimes it means showing them a bigger view of God. This is where empathy comes in. We must enter into the pain of the people we are counseling. Job’s friends started off well (Job 2:11-13), but they did not stay there. Perhaps they thought he was taking too long to get over his pain. Maybe they just didn’t understand their friend. We don’t really know. But we do know that they did not continue to serve their friend in his suffering. Often showing empathy means getting out of our comfort zone (and our opinions), but it will serve our friends.
  3. Counseling must show people that God is for them. Job continued to hold to his innocence of wrongdoing. His friends could have helped him see that his suffering was not necessarily a result of God’s discipline. Reiterating God’s care and love for a hurting brother or sister can sometimes be the very means God uses to bring them hope.

Perhaps you are reading this and feeling saddened by past failures to counsel suffering people well. Or maybe you are overwhelmed by your inability for the task. You are in good company. We all are. But God is faithful to redeem you of insensitivity and inability. Left to ourselves we cannot help anyone. We need Christ’s work to enable us to do all that he calls us to. This is why all counseling needs to be bathed in prayer and done in humility. We must entrust ourselves to the God who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine both through us and in the lives of hurting people.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Syria

I don’t know about you, but I find myself often thinking of the Middle East as some far off land where people are so different than me. The Middle East is far away from America geographically. Most of the people are followers of Islam. The cultures and food are very different. And for the most part, we don’t even speak the same language.

But if we think about the people of the Middle East as members of our global humanity created by God, we really aren’t that different. For us, sometimes Islam can seem so “other” and unknown. But if we understand the root behind Islam, namely spiritual blindness and worshipping of a false god, then we quickly see that we aren’t all that different than our Middle Eastern friends. Unbelief in the true God of the Bible holds the same destiny, regardless of what religion a person holds to.

Today’s country is Syria. There are approximately 20 million people living in Syria, and 92% of the population is Arab. Since 1973, Syria has been a secular state, but Islam is the majority religion with over 90% of the population identifying themselves as Muslim. The minority religions have some religious freedom. While there are some people who claim Christianity in Syria, most of that population is within the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Protestantism is a small minority.

Ways to pray:

  1. Currently, missionaries are not allowed to live in the country. Pray that God would open doors for pastors and missionaries to bring the Gospel to the people of Syria.
  2. There are many unreached peoples in Syria. Many are either unresponsive to the Gospel or have no known Christian presence among them. Pray that they would know the name of Jesus and see him as the only true way to God.
  3. Pray for the Protestant churches in Syria. They are a minority and very small in number. Pray that they would be equipped to evangelize their Muslim countrymen and be equipped to disciple new converts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Fish Experience: Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

I made fish for the first time ever tonight. For some people this might be no big deal. But for someone who has had a major fish aversion since getting sick from fish sticks in elementary school, this was a huge milestone. Daniel likes fish and he also likes to try new things. He has been trying to get me out of my boring food routine since we met and tonight was a big breakthrough.

I am sort of dramatic about things, so I was nervous about this meal all day. Would I overcook it? Would I gag when I touched the raw fish? Would it taste fishy? Would it stink up our apartment? None of those things happened, which made for a relieved me and a happy husband. I try to make a few new things a month to build my food repertoire so I think this counts big time!
I made Broiled Tilapia Parmesan. A friend of mine made me a cookbook for one of my bridal showers and it has come in handy. It is a collection of easy and budget friendly recipes that she enjoys. To be honest when I first read the Tilapia recipe I thought, "I am never making that. I hate fish." But I am really glad I did.

Here is the recipe. It is SUPER easy.

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan (serves 8)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon celery salt

2 lbs. Tilapia filets

  • Preheat your boiler. Grease broiling pan or line another raised-edge pan with aluminum foil.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the parmesan, butter, mayo and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

  • Arrange filets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Flip the filets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the filets from the oven and cover them with the parmesan mixture on the top side. Broil 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

It really did taste good. And I don't even like fish.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good News to Start the Week

Some days I run out of things to say, or at least things to say that could have any real meaning. Today is one of those days. On days like today I am grateful for people like John Piper. I am currently reading What Jesus Demands from The World, and it is full of truths that have convicted me and caused me to think more deeply about Christ's call on my life. I struggle a lot with fear of man. So when I read a section like the following statement, I am encouraged to continue to fight my prideful tendency to fear man rather than God. I hope this gives you hope to start your week fighting sin.

(He is talking about the how loving people doesn't always mean they will "feel" loved by us.)

"It (love for people) has real motives and real actions. And when they are loving, the response of the loved one does not change that fact. This is good news for the lover, because it means that God is God and the loved one is not God. The judgment of the wounded loved one is not absolute: It may be right, or it may be wrong. But it is not absolute. God is absolute. We give an account to him. And he alone know ours hearts. The decisive thing about our love when we stand before God is not what others thought of it, but whether it was real. That some people may not like the way we love is not decisive. Most people did not recognize Jesus' love in the end, and still do not today. What matters is not that we are justified before men, but that God knows our hearts as truly (though not perfectly) loving. And he alone can make that final judgment (Luke 16:15)."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Honduras

For the last 9 years I have had the privilege of sponsoring two boys from Honduras. God has used this small investment to give me a greater desire to help those in need and make his name known among the nations. Compassion International is doing great things to help children and families in poor countries. Not only are they giving them physical care, food, and shelter, but they are giving them spiritual food that never runs out.

There are over 8 million people living in Honduras. With the unemployment rate at 40%, the average income of a person in Honduras puts them well below our poverty line. Many families cannot provide the care their children need, and subsequently many children end up on the streets of Tegucigalpa (the capital city). In 1998, prior to Hurricane Mitch’s devastation, there were an estimated 8,000 street children in Tegucigalpa. The number has since grown. Many of these children are abused and exploited for sex, leaving roughly 30% of them HIV positive. Honduran street children are considered some of the least reached people in the country.

While the Honduran government practices separation of church and state, like many Central American countries, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church presses heavily on people inside. The Catholic Church comprises most of the population, though there has been a growth in the Evangelical movement among Honduran people.

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray that the Church in Honduras would see their responsibility to care for orphans and street children. Imagine what would happen if churches began taking these vulnerable children into their homes and families.
  2. Pray for the continued growth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by faith alone and grace alone among the Honduran people.
  3. Pray for leadership development in the existing churches in Honduras.
  4. Pray for Compassion International’s work in Honduras.

Read from Operation World on Honduras

More information on the work being done to help street children in Honduras can be found at the Compassion blog.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I Learned in the First Year: Marriage is a Good Thing

Often it is the example of others that causes truths to stick into our hearts and minds. We can hear teaching all day long, but it is the real life testimonies of grace that cause us to see the teaching come alive. In God’s mercy I have been surrounded by many godly marriages. Whether it was through my parents, friends, or church family, I saw that godly marriages were possible and that they mattered. So I knew conceptually that marriage was a good thing. But one of the things I have learned even more fully this year is how good it really is.

God created marriage. He even declared that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). So when he created the woman for the man it was finally declared good. When God joins a husband and wife together in a covenant of marriage we can declare, along with him, that what is happening before us is indeed very good.

One of the ways I have felt this goodness is through the complete fellowship Daniel and I share. We never tire of being together. After the Lord, he is the best part of my day—every day. Like I have said previously, God has used him in profound ways to sharpen me and push me towards greater holiness. This is all a part of the good design of marriage.

Marriage provides an outlet for safety and vulnerability that I have never known in any other human relationship. And this is all part of the good design.

When God created marriage he knew what he was doing. He knew of the deeper realities it was pointing to: the relationship between Christ and the Church. As a member of the Bride of Christ we too can know this safety and vulnerability with our Bridegroom, Christ. The fellowship I experience with Daniel is a mere shadow of the fellowship we both experience with our King. How kind of God to provide the shadow and the reality for us.

When I talk to godly couples who have been married for many years I am always encouraged by their positive thoughts on marriage: “It only gets better. Hold on when it gets hard. It will always get sweeter.” In those moments I get excited and hopeful, because most of the time I can’t imagine it getting much sweeter than this.