John Stumbo Video Blog No. 53

December 12, 2017

12:57

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John brings Christmas greetings from an unexpected setting: a wedding in Colorado Springs. In his message about the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23, he explains how the Shepherd’s goodness and mercy, which is said to “follow” us (vs. 6) translates to “chases” us. “Christmas is a fantastic time for us to . . . share the good news that the God who would pursue us all the way from heaven welcomes us to the great wedding feast to come—Joy to the world! The Lord has come!”

Transcript

Merry Christmas, Alliance family, from an unexpected setting: a wedding in Colorado Springs. This was actually the bride’s idea, believe it or not. I’ve known her since her childhood. She’s now on staff at the National Office. And she suggests that maybe a video blog coming from a wedding might be a unique opportunity. Let’s join part of their wedding ceremony.

John Stumbo: Who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Father of the bride: Her mother and I.

John Stumbo: I want to share words that I know that you know but are for me words for the moment, and I think by the end you’ll know why. “The Lord is my shepherd,” it starts, Psalm 23. You guys have declared that you want leadership in your life. You want a Savior; you want a Shepherd. You’ve declared you don’t want to do life or marriage just on your own. You’ve decided many years ago that you want Someone beyond yourself to enter in and forgive you, make you new people. You have a Shepherd.

Now for some people, that seems weak. You need help. Well, we’re admitting that we are weak. Too weak to live like we really want to live. Too weak to love like we really want to love. Too weak to get to heaven. Too weak to do marriage. We’re admitting we are weak. And so what this passage does is tells us the kind of places that our Shepherd’s gonna lead us as we follow Him.

It says that He’s gonna lead us by gentle waters and quiet streams . . . green pastures. He’s gonna restore your soul. This world is a rough place for the human soul and it’s a rough place to do marriage well, but your Shepherd knows that. He knows that this world is a difficult environment for humans . . . He wants to restore that soul daily. He will lead you to places of soul renewal.

It says that He’s gonna guide you on paths of righteousness. And you’ve both lived long enough now to know that there’s lots of unrighteous paths available to us, especially when our souls are not renewed, when we’re tired. There’s always an alternate path shouting at us, “This will make you feel better fast!” But you’ve learned that there’s always a righteous path waiting for you. Your Shepherd leads you in those places, and we believe that this moment is one of those righteous paths that He has led you in.

The next verse almost seems out of place. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” How’d I end up here? But even there, no need to fear. There’s no evil present there because our Shepherd knows His way through that valley. He’s been there. He knows that place well.

You prepare a table before me? You’re gonna give us a nice reception here in a little bit. We’re gonna enjoy that, and you know that I love to eat.

He sets that table in an odd place, with enemies looking on. You’re not being assured by your Shepherd that you’ll never have an enemy. You’ll have things that come against your marriage, come against you as people. That’s life on a fallen planet. But he assures you that He’s gonna have everything that you need at that table. All the provisions are there for you. It’s actually a table set for royalty . . .

[Martha hands the groom a tissue.] No, it’s good that you’re already aware of his needs. It’s good.

Cup overflowing, a table set for a queen and a king. That’s the table that He has provided for you.

But it’s really the next verse that led me to this passage. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.” I like that picture. Goodness, love, or goodness and mercy following us? That’s a fun picture, to be followed by sweet things like goodness.

I was just in France last week and I learned in the French translation it’s translated, “Surely goodness and mercy will be my companion, will accompany me.” That’s even closer, like “right at my side.” But the Hebrew, the words that David actually wrote when he wrote this, aren’t either of those if you look carefully. It’s the word closer to “chase.”

I’m thinking of a moment on a basketball court in a game that I never saw. But I’m guessing that there was some opponent making a fast break, and there was a long-legged guy with all of his might chasing them down that court to block the shot by the time he got to the backboard. You were chasing someone with an intention to catch. Not just with a passive, “Oh, I think I’ll follow along.” I think you’re way too much of a competitor to just kinda stroll in the background.

But when we were in my living room together, you told me a story that was very impactful for me. Martha, you’ve been in a number of relationships through the years where the guys seemed, kind of, can I say, fickle? Non-committal. Is there any depth or any interest or any . . .?

And then this guy comes along and early on he says a phrase that reached deep into your soul. He said, “I want to pursue. I want to pursue a relationship with you.” And there’s something that triggered in your soul, Martha, that this was different. This man was different. This moment was different. That you were feeling what it was like to be pursued. And the emotion and the significance of that between your guys’ relationship is the significance of what has been communicated here. You’re being pursued.

In fact, we’re all being pursued by goodness, mercy of God. We might not recognize it; we might not want it. We might not appreciate it. But we can’t escape it. We will be chased our entire lifetime by the mercy and the goodness of God, sometimes carefully disguised in circumstances where we wouldn’t first recognize as merciful or good. But if this is true that there is a Shepherd, and if it is true that the Shepherd is good, then it is true that you’re being chased.

He wants to chase us all the way to heaven, where He wants to prepare a home for us. That’s His heart. That’s His desire. Just as Tom and Martha are starting a home together—they entered into this relationship so they could actually live together in a holy union called marriage—so it is that the Father chases us because He longs to have that eternal relationship with us.

Now I found it fascinating in your story that, here we’ve got a salesman who is accustomed to getting answers now. And we have an editor who’s accustomed of being able, of perfecting her answers over the course of time. Time is always an asset to an editorial mind, and time is always a frustration to a salesman. But over the course of time, you guys finally understood that this was a mutual pursuit. And may it be for all of us. With the Shepherd who pursues us, may we pursue the One who is pursuing us. Why would we run from love?

So to those who have the Shepherd have also the promise, and the Psalm ends, “And I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” You’re establishing a new home now. We’re excited about that, especially excited that it’s in Colorado Springs, right? You guys didn’t change your mind, right? Good. If you don’t know, I’m Martha’s boss and I didn’t want to lose her at the office, OK?

You’re establishing a home, and we celebrate that. And we believe that it’s gonna be a good one, and we’re here to affirm it. But we also know that it points towards another day when a final home is prepared for us.

So we’ve signed the certificates. You’re official in the eyes of the state. You’ve spoken vows to each other in the presence of family and friends, and most significantly in the presence of God. And so it is my privilege to declare you at this moment for the first time to be husband and wife. How does that sound? You guys like the sound of that? Husband and wife? And since it’s really God who brings the two of you together as one, may no one and nothing ever come between you.

Now I’m not telling you what to do, Tom, but in moments like this some people have been inspired to launch their husband-and-wife status with a kiss.

Ladies and gentlemen it’s my privilege to introduce to you for the very first time, the Mr. and Mrs. Tom and Martha Renaud!

So Alliance family, let’s freely share this gospel. Let’s proclaim this news of the God who loves us so much that He would chase us with His goodness and mercy. Let’s tell this story joyfully. Let’s scatter the seed liberally—Joy to the world! The Lord has come!

Let’s spread that joy. Let’s share that message. Christmas is a fantastic time for us to scatter the seed. So, Alliance family, let’s not hold back. Instead, let’s share the good news that the God who would pursue us all the way from heaven welcomes us to the great wedding feast to come. God speaks to you. Merry Christmas!

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