” . . . and he brought her to the Man.” 

Genesis 2:22

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of officiating at the marriage of Aaron Nelson and Ashley Gates. Here is my sermon, a meditation on the Mystery of Marriage and the Truth about Twitterpation!


Aaron, Ashley, I’m pretty sure you’ve both seen the Disney classic, Bambi. But just in case, let me introduce my remarks today by describing a memorable and beloved scene from that movie.

Bambi the deer, Thumper the rabbit, and Flower the skunk are assembled before Friend Owl. Suddenly, out of nowhere, two bluebirds appear, fluttering madly about in the air.

“What’s the matter with them?” asks Flower.

“Yeah, why are they acting that way?” asks Thumper.

“You don’t know?” says Friend Owl. “Why, they’re twitterpated!”

“Twitterpated!” cry the three befuddled friends.

“Yes, twitterpated. Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime. You’re walking along, minding your own business. You’re looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack dab into a pretty face. Wooo-hooh! You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head’s in a whirl. And then you feel light as a feather, and before you know it, you’re walking on air. And then you know what? You’re knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head!

“Gosh,” says Thumper, “that sounds awful!”

“Appalling!” says Flower.

“Terrible!” says Bambi.

But friend owl isn’t done.

“And that ain’t all. It could happen to anyone. It could even happen to you.”

“Oh no, it’s not gonna happen to me!” says Thumper.

“Me neither!” said Flower.

“Me neither,” said Bambi.

Famous last words!

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For I will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.

Zechariah 2:5


This is an excerpt from a Memorial Day article by Fox News correspondent Chris Stirewalt. The brave men he writes about became a wall of fire around their fellow Marines. Hundreds were saved.


Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly delivered a speech to the Semper Fi Society — a group for former active duty Marines — in St. Louis on Nov. 13, 2010, just four days after his son, Lt. Robert Kelly, USMC, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan.

Kelly delivered his speech despite his grief and never spoke of the loss of his son, but the general chose to close with the story of Jon Yale and Jordan Haerter, two young Marines who had been under his command in Ramadi, Iraq.

In the span of six seconds on April 22, 2008, Yale and Haerter acted to stop a dump truck loaded with 1,000 pounds of explosives and driven by a suicide bomber from entering the Marine compound. If the suicide bomber had made it through the gates, hundreds of Marines would have surely been killed. But he didn’t, because these men did their duty.

In making his recommendations for the Navy Cross for the two Marines, Kelly had been able to review the recordings from security cameras made just before the blast destroyed them.

Here’s how Kelly described it:

“You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads, I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: ‘Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.’

‘The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

“It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time, the truck was halfway through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were — some running right past the Marines.

“They had three seconds left to live.

“For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop — the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the SOB who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers, American and Iraqi, bedded down in the barracks, totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.

“If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe, because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence, Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons.

“They had only one second left to live.

“The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.

“Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty, into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight for you.”


 A dimly burning wick he will not extinguish.

Isaiah 42:3

Though, for a time, you may doubt the mercy of Christ to yourself, take care not to wrong the work of his Spirit in you heart.

Just as Satan slanders Christ to us, so he slanders us to ourselves. If you were not so much as a dimly burning wick, then why do you not renounce your interest in Christ, and disclaim the covenant of grace? This you dare not do.

Why do you not give yourself up wholly to other pleasures? This your spirit will not allow.

And where do these restless groanings and complaints come from?

In this appears Christ’s care to you, that he has given you a heart in some degree sensitive. He might have given you up to hardness, security, and profaneness of heart—of all spiritual judgments, the worst.

So lay your present state alongside the offices of Christ to sinners such as yourself, and do not despise the consolation of the Almighty, nor refuse your own mercy. Cast yourself into the arms of Christ, and if you perish, perish there. If you do not, you are sure to perish. If mercy is to be found anywhere, it is there.

The signs of a bruised heart carry in them a report, both of our affection to Christ, and of his care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be towards him unless he has first cast a gracious look upon us. The least love we have to him is but a reflection of his love first shining upon us.

Christ suffered in his own person whatever he calls us to suffer, so that he might the better learn to relieve and pity us in our sufferings.

In his desertion in the garden and on the cross, he was content to be without that unspeakable solace which the presence of his Father gave; both to bear the wrath of the Lord for a time for us, and likewise to know the better how to comfort us in our greatest extremities.

God sees fit that we should taste of that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that we might feel a little what sin is, and what his Son’s love was.

But our comfort is that Christ drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will succor us, so that our spirits may not utterly fail under the little taste of his displeasure that we may feel.

He became not only a man, but also a curse, a man of sorrows, for us. He was broken that we should not be broken; he was troubled, that we should not be desperately troubled; he became a curse, that we should not be accursed.

Whatever may be wished for in an all-sufficient comforter, all is to be found in Christ, in him who first loved us, and—while we were yet sinners—gave himself for us.

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) The Bruised Reed


 A dimly burning wick he will not extinguish.

Isaiah 42:3

Christ may act the part of an enemy a little while, as Joseph did, but it is to make way for acting his own part of mercy in a more seasonable time. He cannot restrain his bowels of mercy long. He seems to wrestle with us, as with Jacob, but he supplies us with hidden strength to prevail at length.

Faith pulls off the mask from his face, and sees a loving heart under contrary appearances. At first he answered the woman of Canaan, who was crying after him, not a word. Then he gave her a denial. After that he gave an answer tending to her reproach, calling her a dog, as being outside the covenant. Yet she would not be so beaten off, for she considered the purpose of his coming.

As his Father was never nearer him in strength to support him than when he was furthest off in the sensing of his favor and comfort, so Christ is never nearer to us in power to uphold us than when he seems most to hide his presence from us. The influence of the Sun of righteousness pierces deeper than his light.

In such cases, whatever Christ’s present bearing is towards us, let us oppose his nature and office against it. He cannot deny himself, he cannot but discharge the office his Father has laid upon him. The Father has undertaken that he shall not extinguish a dimly burning wick; and Christ has also undertaken to represent us to the Father, appearing before him for us, until he presents us blameless before him with exceeding joy.

The Father has given us to Christ, and Christ will surely give us back the Father again.

Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed


“See to it that no one misleads you!”

Mark 13:5


I read it and groaned. Some poor soul, in anticipation of Christ’s return on May 21, withdrew his entire life savings and poured it into signage warning his neighbors of Judgment Day and the end of the world. Thankfully, he will live to regret it. God willing, he will live to learn from it, as well.

Why do so many saints fall for this kind of thing? You will reply, “Because they don’t take seriously Christ’s admonition that no one knows the day or the hour of his return”  (Mark 13:32). 

True enough. But actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that. That’s because for nearly a hundred years much of the Evangelical world has taken its eschatological cues from Dispensationalism, a system of theology that teaches that Christ will return not once, but three times: first, at the secret Rapture, when he removes his Church to heaven; second, at his Coming in visible glory seven years later, at the end of the Tribulation; and third, at the end of the Millennium, where he arises to the Last Judgment. (If your head is already spinning, learn from it: Does Jesus really want sheep with spinning heads?)

Now, please pay close attention. Dispensationalists say, “Yes, Christ and the apostles gave us lots of signs, signs by which the Tribulation saints can know that his Coming is near. But there are no signs to indicate the Rapture. It is ‘imminent.’ It could happen at any moment, without warning. For again, Christ gave us no signs by which to discern the nearness of the Rapture, only to discern the nearness of his Coming.”

Do you see how this plays into the hands of the date-setters? People get to thinking, “Yes, we cannot know the day or hour of Christ’s Coming, but maybe God has tucked away a secret code in the Bible, a code that some anointed end-time prophetic expert will crack, and so grace us with the knowledge of the day and hour of the Rapture.”

What I am saying is that the Dispensational eschatology is a fertile soil for deception; that it makes the saints vulnerable to every wind of eschatological doctrine, thereby exposing them—and the reputation of the Church—to serious loss.

But what if the classical Catholic and Protestant eschatology is true? What if the Bible teaches that Christ is going to come again ONCE at the end of the present evil age, to raise the dead, transform the living, judge the world in righteousness, and create new heavens and a new earth, the eternal home of the redeemed?

And what if Christ and his apostles have graciously given us a number of clear signs by which we can know, with absolute certainty, not the day or hour of his Coming, but that his coming is indeed at hand, even at the door? What a boon that would be! Then we could keep our eschatological cool right up to end of the world!

Well, check out 2 Thessalonians 2. The Thessalonians were going through precisely the same thing Mr. Camping’s followers are today. With regard to the Coming of Christ they had been quickly shaken from their composure, whether by a (demonic) spirit, a (prophetic) message, or a (phony) letter as if from the apostles, to the effect that the Day of the Lord had come (2:2).

So what was Paul’s antidote to the poison working its way through the Thessalonian system? In a word: SIGNS! He reminded them again of certain signs that HAD to occur before Christ would come; signs that would signal that his Coming really was near. And please note: In all this he did nothing more or less than what his Master done, carefully teaching the flock about the signs of the end, so that when things in the world got rough or spooky or tricky or hysterical, they would be well able to keep their cool (Mt. 24).

How I wish that the dear brother who cashed out his life savings had given me a call first. I would have said, “Dude, COMPOSE yourself! The Lord told us that he is coming back ONCE, and that before he does, certain key things HAVE to happen: The gospel must be preached to all nations (Mt. 24); the great mass of Jews must repent and turn in faith to their Messiah (Romans 11); a personal Antichrist must arise, and lead the entire world-system in a final battle against the Church (2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 11, 19, 20). Have all those things happened? If not, put your money back in the bank. Better yet, dedicate a chunk of it to world missions.”

Saints of God, we have a good Shepherd. He leads his sheep beside still waters. He teaches them carefully, so that they will be calm, cool, and composed, even amidst the terrible tumults of the end times.

So then, in these last of the last days shall we not follow him?

For more, click here and here.