“Why are you traveling to Europe?” asks the man behind the counter.
“We are here on vacation for our tenth anniversary.”
He lifts his head up from our passports with an awkward stare of shocked disbelief.
“You two aren’t old enough to have been married for ten years,” he says, struggling to ascertain the real reason we are in his line at immigration control.
“We got married young. I was twenty, she was eighteen. We are thirty and twenty-eight now, with four kids and number five on the way!”
His look of shock turns to a sarcastic smirk, as he laughingly says, “That’s insane. I’m thirty and not getting married anytime soon. I can’t understand why anyone would want to get married so young, let alone have kids. Have fun in London.”
He shakes his head, stamps our passports and waves us through.
And with this singular encounter, I have just summarized the last ten years of our lives – full of confused stares and awkward questions.
So in light of ten years, I want to offer ten reasons why it’s not only okay, but can be very good to get married and have children young.
- Because you get to grow up together AND grow old together.
- Because you are fighting for holiness. Despite our culture’s broad acceptance of sex outside of marriage, co-habitation and more, God has given us a right and better way to enjoy sex within the meaningful and satisfying confines of covenant marriage. When you’re young, your hormones are going nuts and you’re a lot more likely to make stupid sexual mistakes that could potentially cause a lot of physical and emotional damage to yourself and others. I’m not saying marry just anyone so you can have sex, but if you’re “burning with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9), getting married young helps protect and empower you as you contend for the holiness of yourself and your spouse.
- Because you will never really find the right person and if you do, you’re probably not the right person for them – at least for long. I don’t mean this to sound fatalistic and this doesn’t mean just marry the next person you date because you’re not gonna find “the one.” Certainly you should have standards that honor God and set you up for a fighting chance to win at marriage. But you’re both gonna change a ton over the years. Both Amanda and I are completely different people than we were ten years ago. We have both gone through various phases of personality and passions. It is like my wife has been three different women over the last decade. I have loved all three versions of her, and she has loved most of the eight or so versions of me. The inevitability of change is one of the key reasons we make a promise to love, honor and cherish each other’s future selves.
- Because you’re never really going to be ready. You will always want to make more money, do more things, and go more places. Getting married and having kids young just means that you get to do all those things with the one you love by your side as your partner. Sure, you may have to get creative and work hard, but you’re gonna have to do those things anyway if you ever want to accomplish anything worth doing.
- Because few things can sanctify you like a spouse and children. God the Holy Spirit uses these gifts to mature and help you grow up; changing you for the better. Nothing confronts your selfishness and depravity like putting the needs of others before your own needs. Marriage is hard work. Parenting is no walk in the park (though it sometimes involves walks in the park). It’s fun and rewarding, but in no way is it easy or comfortable. Yet God has not called us to comfort and ease. He’s called us to die to self and be made into his image and few things help us do this like our spouse and kids.
- Because having kids is better than having dogs. Dogs can’t laugh at your dumb jokes or tell you they love you in just the right way to melt your heart for the millionth time. They can’t take care of you when you’re old. You will never be your dog’s hero. Your dog will never come to you for advice. You will never watch with amazement as your dog comes to saving faith in Jesus. You will not spend eternity worshiping Jesus with your dog.
- Because having kids doesn’t mean life as you know it is over. When you get married and have kids young, you are a lot less likely to make your entire life about your kids. You still have things you want to do and having children young doesn’t mean you have to put everything on hold until those little guys are out of the house (they don’t stay little for long). They are not running the show. Your spouse is the most important person in your life and will be there after your kids are out of the house. So do yourself a favor and don’t make your life all about your kids. Date each other, do fun things together, go on vacations together and enjoy life. I’m not saying ignore your kids or be irresponsible, or that there won’t be seasons that you need to ratchet back, but your kids won’t die if they aren’t the center of attention.
- Because when you’re young, you have more stamina and vitality. This is incredibly helpful both biologically when it comes to starting a family, as well as practically when it comes to the many complex and amazing aspects of marriage and parenting. Sleepless nights with a newborn, rolling around on the floor, playing ball, wrestling or carrying kids on your shoulders for hours on end – all are much easier when you’re in your prime. Not to mention how much more you will enjoy your grandkids when you’re still young and your kids start bringing those little guys into the world.
- Because you don’t want to be confused for the grandparents at your kids’ graduation, but it might be nice to be confused for the parents at your grandkids’ graduation.
- Because having kids young means they graduate and are out of the house when you’re still young. Only instead of being young and broke, you’ll be young with money. You’ll likely have spent years establishing your career and finances, and will have the finances and freedom to do many of the things you always wanted to do.
Obviously this is not for everyone. God calls different people to different things and not everyone is called to marry and have children young. But by all means, this is appropriate and good for many and just because it is strange to the culture we live in doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s an adventure and adventures take courage.
Last weekend was what we in ministry call “The Super Bowl.”
It was the big weekend – the weekend that the Church across the world remembers and celebrates the death and resurrection of the King of Kings!
Easter is something of a “High Attendance Sunday” where people who would not normally feel compelled to go to church often stop in for their annual visit.
Worship leaders all over brought out the big guns. We held extra rehearsals, added extra musicians, wrote new song arrangements, and more. We wanted it to be the best it could be for the glory of Jesus.
Depending on the type of church we serve in, we may have even thrown in extra video, lighting and set design to add that extra awe factor in setting up the environment for corporate worship.
Yet in the back of the room, the real heroes worked silently without recognition to make sure this all went according to plan. That’s right… underneath the resurrected King Jesus himself, the real heroes of Easter weekend are the production team.
You know – the guys no one notices until something goes wrong? Like janitors who are rarely thought of unless there is a mess.
Even if you’re in a church that has very little production, you’ve got to hand it to these guys. They are often volunteers who work full time jobs and then come up to the church to work through all the extra ideas that we crazy artist types impose upon them.
No matter how hard the musicians work, these guys have the power to ruin everything if they wanted to. At the drop of a hat they could cause that kind of “scream at the top of your lungs and smash a mirror” feedback that every worship leader has nightmares over.
They could mute everything, or crank it and burst everyone’s eardrums.
They could refuse to advance the lyrics slide so that no one can sing along.
We entrust them with an insane amount of power, and yet they choose each week to use that power to lovingly, humbly serve the church that very rarely – if ever – thanks them.
So I wanted to take a moment today and say thank you to all the technical and production volunteers and staff out there.
You are noticed. You are loved. You are appreciated.
We see your long hours. We see your hard work. We know we are not always easy to work with and we see how patient you are with us.
But even more than that, Jesus sees it and he delights in it.
Thank you so much for serving the church the way you do.
Worship Leaders, when’s the last time you thanked your tech team? Make a point of thanking them today, whether verbally or if you have the means, with a card or some token of appreciation.
Worship Leaders, God has never promised to use our cleverness or talent; neither our incredible song arrangements and amazing musicians.
He has never guaranteed that if we have the most skilled sound and lighting technicians who set up the perfect environment for corporate worship that he would be there, meeting with us and changing us to be more like himself.
He has promised that He is seeking worshipers who will worship in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24)
He has promised that as we proclaim the truth of His word, it will powerfully succeed in accomplishing the very purposes that He intends for it to. (Isaiah 55:11)
Yet often, we rely so heavily on our own talent, planning, and execution, thinking that if we can just play the perfect songs perfectly, it will act as an adequate mediator between God’s power and God’s people.
But if worship is not built on God’s word, we are really just having an experience with our own emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, excellent music and lighting are wonderful tools that God has given us and when they are not done well, it can be incredibly distracting. I am all for excellence and place a high value on it myself. The Holy Spirit can use these things in powerful ways to change people’s lives for his glory – but how much moreso will he use His own word?
The marriage of the word and worship is paramount. With it God has promised to save, shape and sanctify people for himself.
So I wanted to offer a few suggestions for how we all might more regularly incorporate the scriptures in our worship services.
SATURATE SONGS WITH IT: Choose songs that are saturated with the Bible, centered on God’s character and work, and full of gospel truth. Our people should be singing God’s word as often as possible, and we have the unique privilege of putting it in their minds, memories and mouths with song. Of course, this means we really need to know God’s word. But if we aren’t in love with God’s word, we should probably consider a new career path anyway.
READ IT: Nothing fancy here. Find places in the service where verbal, out loud reading is appropriate (it’s always appropriate, but some times fit better without interrupting the flow of the service). Often times a call to worship or benediction is a great place to do this. The Psalms are full of great calls to worship, showing God’s character and his works, and exhorting people to praise God with all they are. If you are introducing a new song, try reading the scripture the song is taken from. And of course, it is always a good idea to read the scripture your pastor is preaching from that day before the sermon.
PUT IT ON SCREEN: I have often heard people advocate for making the flow of your service a non-stop wall of singing by taking out all musical breaks in the songs (shortening intros and outros, cutting out the instrumental bridge, etc.) Yet these moments are great opportunities for beauty to work in concert with truth as we leave space for it in the music. Rather than removing these moments, use them! Leave in the instrumental breaks and incorporate Bible verses on the screens during these moments. Use scriptures that explain what is being sung and encourage people to worship God in light of those truths. Make sure the scripture you choose is short enough for people to finish reading before you begin singing again, or lengthen the break in order to give people time to finish. We want our people to learn to love God’s word – not train them to ignore it because they think they won’t have time to finish reading.
There are plenty of other ways that we can incorporate God’s word into our worship services. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below of how you are doing this effectively in your own local contexts.
A wealthy entrepreneur I know once had a brilliant idea to buy a large plot of land and transform it into a battlefield, a war-zone where people would come stay for the weekend, lodge in barracks, drive tanks, jump out of planes, carry guns, and dress in camouflage. They would fight until the enemy was annihilated. The Nazis would lose every time, freedom would prevail, and paying customers would enjoy the spectacle.
His idea was to create a world where people could get as close to “real life” as possible through re-enacting battles from World War II. They would experience the stench of sweaty barracks and the burning fuel from the tanks. The goal would be to reproduce the exhilarating feeling one got watching Band of Brothers, only considerably more life-like.
I loved Band of Brothers. Watching it gave me pride in my country and appreciation for the men who sacrificed so much for the freedom we enjoy today. But my friend’s idea seemed a little much. I couldn’t help but compare it to the kind of Civil War reenactment that people split their sides laughing at in the movie Sweet Home Alabama.
The purpose of reenacting a battle that has already been fought and won is lost on me. Why people would devote their lives and give of their resources to relive a series of events whose outcome will not change makes no sense.
This is why I sometimes have a hard time with the events and attitudes surrounding Holy Week. Before you pick up the cat of nine tails, hear me out.
In 2004, I sat in a theatre with the rest of Christendom and stared at the massive screen portraying a ruthlessly bludgeoned Jesus. Like everyone else in the theatre, I bawled like a baby. Then it occurred to me that there was no reason to sob. The man on the screen wasn’t Jesus. It was Jim Caviezel, and his trauma wasn’t real.
While The Passion of the Christ may not have depicted the actual Jesus Christ of Nazareth who had walked that dreadful road two thousand years ago, the graphic portrayal of what he suffered for us was undoubtedly potent. The film forced me to remember the excruciating death of Jesus, undoing me for my sins while engendering gratitude for my salvation. This is the purpose of Good Friday. To remind us of the depths of our depravity, the heights of God’s love, and the lengths to which Christ went to reconcile us to God. The mourning makes the celebration sweeter.
There is a wealth of wisdom in church history. We stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us, who have put two millennia worth of thought into re-presenting the Gospel within the church calendar and weekly liturgies. We do well to ruminate on the theological underpinnings of liturgical seasons, to take time to mourn our sin, repent, worship, and consecrate our hearts. Yet some take this to unhelpful extremes.
It has become popular for churches to put on Good Friday funeral-esque services to mourn the death of our Savior, complete with people dressed in full black attire, minor-key dirges, crying, and a collective depression. One service I attended centered around an actual casket. I tried fruitlessly to understand the intention behind the absurdity of having a funeral for a man who everyone knew was not dead. Nonetheless, we went along with it, sobbing as though Jesus himself was inhabiting the casket on stage. Sentimental nostalgia won the day and we all became actors in a play.
Good Friday is a powerful day of remembrance. However, Good Friday is good only because Sunday eventually comes. As Christians, we must never look at the cross without thinking of the empty grave. Jesus’ suffering is inseparable from his victorious resurrection. There is a reason that the logo for Christianity is an empty cross: he did not remain upon it, but rose again. We can mourn our sin, but we do not mourn as the world does because Jesus reigns upon His throne.
Because of the necessary tension that the cross holds with the resurrection, many people fail to realize the weight that this day carries with it. Droves of Christians reduce the death of Jesus to a holiday tradition, the precursor to hunting for eggs and eating chocolate bunnies. If we do not take time to see the cross for what it is and respond to what Christ has done in faith, then we are doing nothing more than reenacting battles from World War II. However, if we actively, worshipfully remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, our hearts will change in greater measure as each year passes. The battle has been fought and won and the story will never change. But the outcome of the story changes everything.