Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last Thoughts From Single Life

I'm getting married. Single life will be a thing of the past. So, naturally, I'm thinking a lot about it.

I've had to give up a lot of stuff.

I have a PEZ dispenser collection that I have been working on for the past 10 years or so. Most people who know me know that I have over 400 of them. That's why we'll have a little fun at the wedding and put the bride and groom on the top of the cake. However, since I've been engaged, my collection has pretty much piddled out of my mind.

This happens in life. When certain things in life are more important, you give up other things that are less important.

My whole single life, I've never had to think about someone like I have been learning to think about Jen. I have never had to think about my responsibilities. As a single person, I only thought about the specific, minor, and relatively unimportant responsibilities in my life.

Not until recently have I realized my ultimate responsibility. My ultimate responsibility is to be a servant. A slave to Jesus. My short little life is going by quickly. Single life is gone, and married life is beginning. Pretty soon, married life will be gone and death will be nearing.

I have to get this in my head every single day. I have to start giving up things in my life. I have to start giving up sin in my life. What is sin? Sin is my pride, my selfishness. Anything that gets in the way of pleasing God is sin. And I still do it all the time.

As I'm finishing up my singleness and starting my married life with a wonderful woman, I have to make lots of decisions. Every day, every minute I have to decide what my life will represent. Right now, I want my life to represent love, honesty, forgiveness, sacrifice, and joy. I can do something about it, too. With the power of Jesus transforming my mind and my heart, I can decide to turn my back to sin.

My responsibility to Jen is a serious thing. I only have one life and I need to do it right.

Jennifer, I commit my life to you, to be your husband, to serve you, to protect you, and to give you my love. I accept the responsibility given to me by Christ, to love you as He loves the church, with the humility and strength He supplies. I will love you, listen to you, and adore you when times are good and even when times are difficult. I promise to always seek God in our relationship and to strive to be the leader He wants me to be in our family. I love you Jen and I praise God for leading me to you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Non-Christian "Living Biblically"

I don't know very many agnostics who know the Bible well, but in this case, this guy really knows it well. Or does he? Can an agnostic learn something by doing his best to "live biblically?"

Author A.J. Jacobs just recently published his new book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. He carried around a list of 700 rules he read out of the Bible, and for a whole year, did his best to obey them. He admits that he didn't do that great of a job by saying, "I was able to cut down on my coveting maybe 40 percent, but I was still a coveter. Flat-screen TVs...a better cell phone...not to mention coveting my neighbor's wife." Other obscure rules included not cutting his hair, wearing white, not cursing, and stoning adulterers.

Of course, he missed one rule that Jesus instructed in Matthew 18:8, "If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire." Hmm... I seriously doubt that rule was on his list.

What Jacobs (along with many non-Christians and Christians too) fails to see is that the Bible is not just a rulebook. It is God's word to us. Just like when we talk to each other. Sometimes we summarize, sometimes we are specific. Sometimes we are very literal, sometimes figurative. Sometimes using similes, sometimes metaphors. Sometimes we are angry, and sometimes we are gentle. God speaks to us through the Bible in the same ways.

This is kind of a funny experiment that Jacobs does and I'd definitely be interested to read his reflections on it. However, he completely misses the main point that Jesus highlights in Mark 12 about what it means to live biblically. Jesus said that the most important command that He gives us is to love God more than anything else. And that means that if you obey all the rules in the Bible except that one, then it's all pretty much worthless. So sad.

Image from the article.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? (Part 3)

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

Two loves of my life: my wife and baseball. Which love is of greater importance? Baseball was my idol growing up, but what is my idol now? Baseball? No. My wife? No. God is my idol. I want to please him with all of my behaviors, words, and thoughts.

Since Jesus is my idol, He gives me instruction on how I should prioritize the rest of my life. The obvious answer to my dilemma is to turn off baseball and focus on my wife. God wants husbands to love their wives sacrificially. Like a servant. A servant to his wife, like Jesus was a servant to the church.

It certainly seems very obvious for me to turn off the tv on my wedding night, but why do so many men get it wrong later in their marriage? Why do so many men focus on sports or hobbies more than their wives?

Because men are selfish, sinful, and act as though they themselves are God. They focus on their own desires and needs instead of the needs of their wives. They are not being servants to their wives as Jesus was to the church. They are being BAD examples.

Is it wrong to watch baseball? No. Is it wrong to be interested in stuff other than your wife? No. Is it wrong to make baseball a higher priority than the woman God entrusted you with for the rest of your life? Yes. Clearly.

God calls a husband to fulfill his duty to his wife. In my case, that certainly means no baseball on our wedding night. Fulfilling my duty to my wife in this situation would be to not even mention baseball to her that night. However, I might have another dilemma. What if the Indians make it to the World Series? The first Series game is right in the middle of our honeymoon! Oh no! Does this mean that I can't watch it? Not necessarily...

I have talked with her about this and it's very difficult to come to agreement on "what if this happens" or "what if that happens." But I have to remember that my duty to her, and ultimately to God, is that I make sure that she feels like she is more important to me than anything else. I don't think she'll mind if I watch the World Series in our hotel room on our honeymoon. As long as she feels loved and not a lower priority than the baseball game.

I am beginning a new life with my almost new wife. I am totally pumped because even in just the relatively short time that I have been engaged to her, I already love her more than the day I proposed. But in order for my love to keep growing for her and our relationship to grow to represent Jesus' relationship with the church, I have to think about the future.

In the future, life will be different. Every other day won't be like our wedding day. Every other day won't be like our honeymoon. Every other day won't be picture perfect. I am hoping that every time that something comes up in my life to distract me from my lovely wife, that I will set it aside and make sure that she is my greatest priority under Christ. That's what pleases the Lord. And He is my idol.

Game 1 of the 2007 ALDS begins in a few hours for the Indians and Yankees. Now I know where my priorities are. Now I can comfortably cheer for my beloved team, knowing full well that it is nothing compared to the love for my wife.


Photo from here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Tough Choice: Sex or Baseball? (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1.

My fiancee and I have been moving some of her stuff into my apartment recently. Since we are just weeks away from the wedding and finally living together, we wanted to do our best not to overlap the "moving day" stresses with the "wedding day" stresses. As we were organizing and unpacking this past weekend, it was one box of items that really seemed to transform my bachelor pad into what now feels like a cozy home: her candles.

So as I'm sitting here with these lovely scented aromas all around me, I am instinctively imagining our wedding night ... we make the getaway from the reception, drive through the Seattle night to the hotel, take the elevator up to our room, unlock the door, I carry her over to the bed, and then turn on ESPN.


Well it just so happens that we scheduled our wedding day in the middle of the American League Championship Series! According to the schedule, if the Indians make it through the Division Series to play either the Red Sox or Angels in the Championship Series, then I could possibly carry my new wife into the hotel room and finish watching Game 6!

Now this is a relatively serious worry for me. This baseball team has been my idol for the majority of my young life, but Jen has been the love of my life for the past year and a half. Looking at it on paper, it seems like a tough decision:
  • Love for Jen: 1.5 years
  • Love for Cleveland Indians baseball: 24 years
  • Percentage of the rest of my life to be with Jen: 100%
  • Percentage of years Indians have won AL pennant: 4.7% (5 out of 106 years)
  • Joy/gratification of having sex: I don't know yet
  • Joy/gratification of my team winning World Series: I don't know yet
What's one night of sex, really? I mean, we'll have the rest of our lives together! Is it so hard to wait till the game is over or after I check the score? We have waited to have sex for almost 11 months of engagement, so what's wrong with waiting until after the ESPN highlights?

Tough choice. Sex or baseball? What's it gonna be?

My decision will be officially documented in my last section, Part 3.

Photo is from the recent Indians/Mariners series here in Seattle! Woohoo!