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Thursday, April 30, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

When Crystal, our daughter, married Greg Miller, I was fortunate to be not only the father who represented her mother and myself but also the pastor who officiated at the wedding ceremony.

It was a beautiful summer Saturday afternoon in Maine. Nature blessed us with sunlight. Heaven smiled upon our gathering in the Lord’s sanctuary.

Crystal had come to know Greg because he was seeking God’s chosen one. He had been married before; that union ended in painful severance. Then Greg, in his mid-30s, found Christ by reading the Bible. There was no human intervention regarding his understanding the way of salvation; instead, it was in reading the Scriptures through that he discovered Jesus’ holy sacrifice for his sins.

Crystal had been reared in our parsonage. She knew the Lord as Savior when a youth. However, in her mid-30s she had not yet come upon God’s chosen partner. She too was praying for divine guidance.

The Lord crossed their paths—she living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while he resided in Portland, Maine. They met by way of worship in our church. What a way to decipher the divine chapter for their next journey.

It was not a hasty decision to become one. Both pleaded earnestly with God regarding His perfect will. These young adults were mature enough to understand marriage as a most significant institution set in place by the Creator Himself. Finally, they knew they were divinely meant for each other.

With that, invitations were sent out far and wide with friends and family gathering from across the county and Canada. Much excitement filled the air. Prayer in praise had preceded the wedding.

The ceremony included communion, encouraging hymn solos, the lighting of the unity candle and exchange of vows with rings. But the highlight was the commission offered the newlyweds as they stood before God’s holy altar.

When this commission was pronounced, then mailed to our extended spiritual family, so many responded with appreciation that we were overwhelmed. In other words, the message seemed to be that our spiritual community was truly encouraged by a young couple dedicating themselves to such spiritual depth. It was a commitment true to the Scriptures.

With that, I share with you this commission, praying that it will likewise be an encouragement to you and yours. . .


Greg and Crystal, Jesus is your Lord. He has forgiven you of your sins. He has planted the hope of heaven within your souls. He has provided you with your Christian lifestyle.

You found Jesus through the Bible message. That Bible continues to govern your thinking and choices. You witness that you would not trade that Bible treasure for any alternative.

As you individually committed yourselves to Jesus, now you commit your marriage and home to His direction. This is your joy. This is your fulfillment.

You serve Jesus, not out of obligation, but out of gratitude for His sacrifice upon the cross in order to rescue your souls from darkness unto His marvelous light. You serve Jesus because He has proven His love to you.

With such Jesus as the sole foundation in your personal lives, you now embark upon the creative excitement of crafting a Christian family and home. Naturally, being a part of a spiritually fallen world, there will be numerous attacks against your ambitious endeavors. They will come from all quarters—daily. You are already aware of this reality.

Nevertheless, you already know that the Spirit of Jesus within you is greater than all the foreboding threats. Therefore, you will determine to overcome every obstacle for Jesus’ sake. Nothing will deter you from your Christian principles. You have dedicated your lives to living out the divine plan.

Your Christian testimony in marriage then will witness to keeping the Lord’s Day holy. You already live out this joy. His day is given to faithful worship, Christian fellowship, deepening your understanding of Scripture and renewing your souls for another week’s labor.

Your Christian testimony in marriage then will witness to recreation and leisure that are pleasing to God. Nothing will taint your offering of entertainment and pleasure for God’s blessing and approval.

Your Christian testimony in marriage then will witness to daily prayer and Bible reading, seeking to instruct your children in the ways of God. You will teach them early the message of salvation, interceding that they will live for the same Christ who rescued you from despair and sin.

Your Christian testimony in marriage then will witness to giving and sharing, loving others and sacrificing for their good. You will delight in opening up your hearts and home to those in distress, those in need of a real friend. Instead of living for self, you will live for lifting others’ burdens in the name of Jesus—for this Jesus has lifted your burdens of hopelessness and waywardness.

Your Christian testimony in marriage then will witness to growing older gracefully in Jesus—growing in divine wisdom, being more perceptive to the divine will, seeking out ways to serve Jesus that are lowly and humbling. While the rest of the world wakes up each morning to gather for self, you will awaken to help someone in need of Jesus’ love. While others go to rest at night counting their moneys, you will go to rest counting your blessings in serving.

Your Christian home will be used of God as long as you yourselves are laid upon His altar of caring and compassion. Your Christian home will be lighted by heaven’s smile as long as you remain faithful to one another and loyal to God’s holy way.

Few have discovered this treasure. Few houses are homes. Few marriages know real
happiness and contentment. But yours will be different. Why? Because yours will be cupped in Father’s hands for you have willed Father to craft your love for one another and for your children.