Ruth: A Love Story

Out of the 66 books in the Bible, there are two books in particular I think are weird to find there: the Songs of Solomon and Ruth. It’s pretty obvious why Songs of Solomon is weird (it gets a little steamy), but don’t worry, it’s Ruth that I want to focus on today. Before the book of Ruth we have books devoted to our origin story, our laws, and our wars, but Ruth departs from all of that to teach us seemingly little about theology. Her book is more or less a short, random, overlooked love story.

This 4 chapter book begins with Ruth losing her husband and committing her life to her mother-in-law who also lost everyone dear to her. Ruth was from a different people and culture than her mother-in-law so it must have been a bit terrifying to follow her mother-in-law when she decided to return home to her own people in Bethlehem, but Ruth was committed to her, so she did it anyways.

While they were in Bethlehem, Ruth met a guy named Boaz. He let her freely take any food she wanted from his farm and made sure all the guys in his workforce left her alone. He protected her and took care of her and when mealtime came around he gave her more to eat than she needed, though she hardly knew who he was.

But he knew who she was, because he was a relative of Ruth’s mother-in-law. He had heard of how Ruth had committed herself to her mother-in-law instead of her own parents and how she had chosen the discomfort of being with her mother-in-law’s people rather than her own people.

And he was impressed.

Ruth and Boaz moved pretty quick. In chapter two they met and in chapter three Ruth gave a proposal of sorts through a bunch of interesting and confusing cultural practices, which you can all check out later if you want (don’t worry, it’s a short book). Whatever exactly it is that truly happened in chapter three, Boaz feels blessed by it and by chapter 4 they’re married.

So what’s the point of this book? Maybe to show us how God loved Ruth the Moabite, a woman from a people group outside of his own chosen Israel. Or maybe it was to tell us more about King David’s back story seeing as how Ruth ended up being David’s great, great grandmother. Or maybe it was so we’d know that not all mother-in-laws are evil—I don’t know!

But I do find it interesting that the Bible pauses for love. It pauses to tell us the stories not just of our heroes, but also of their love interests. Sure, many of these stories evolve into soap operas of sorts, but in this case, we find an incredibly short book breaking from stories of our origins, wars, and laws to tell us the seemingly unimportant story of how one little lady on the outside married a farmer on the inside—showing us that things like marriage and love matter.

Jesus himself (who was also a descendant of Ruth) talks about the importance of marriage. Even though he never married, he understood that it was a HUGE deal. He explained that in marriage we “are no longer two but one flesh” and that what “God has joined together, man shouldn’t separate.” He went on to explain that divorce was made by man, not by God—making it clear that not only does God care about our marriages, but that he takes them more seriously than humans do. He cares about your marriage whether your dating life was 3 chapters long or 6 years long.

Why does He care? Because He knows every hair on your head! I love my wife and my children immensely, but I don’t have the slightest idea how many hairs are on their heads! A God who is that meticulous about something so minuscule and unimportant as hair, of course cares about your marriage! That’s a huge part of your life! From today on out you’re two lives are fused as one and you need to know that God cares about it. He cares more than you do, which will be important to remember on some days.

He is a God who is constantly creating life, and he’s still doing it today in our marriages. It’s like our physical birth from our parents and our spiritual birth from salvation in Christ being melded together into some new kind of physical, spiritual, marital rebirth. Cherish it, just as God Himself cherishes it for you. For love is God and God is love and you dwell with God when you love each other.

Allow me to leave you with a scene from the movie Stardust. If you’ve seen it, you may recall in this movie that there’s a star that falls to the earth and becomes a human. Her name is Yvaine. After going on some adventures with a boy named Tristan she begins to wax poetic about love. Speaking from her prior perspective as a star looking at the earth she says:

“I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate—It made me want to turn away and never look down again. But when I see the way that mankind loves—You could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful. So yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know that it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and—what I’m trying to say, Tristan is—I think I love you. Is this love, Tristan? I never imagined I’d know it for myself. My heart—It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it’s trying to escape because it doesn’t belong to me any more. It belongs to you…. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”

I encourage you to make the same exchange. Your heart for theirs. Their heart for yours. If both of you are always about each other, consistently handing your hearts to one another rather than keeping it to yourself, your marriage will be filled with the love that God has for you, for He showed us that love for one another is found in humility and service to one another—freely handing us his heart if we wanted it even in times when we didn’t deserve it. We could just take the free gift of his heart in exchange for our own.

For Erin and Shott on their Special Day

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I can’t quite pinpoint the first time I met Matt Shott, but I do vaguely remember talking for a long time about video games with a frizzy-haired kid during youth group one night. I feel like we had talked a few times before that moment, but I think this was the moment we really connected. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Sonic the Hedgehog and I had never met anyone so knowledgeable about such amazing things.

 

Not too long after this encounter I found myself over at Matt’s house—I’m sorry… it’s really hard to call him Matt. See, all of his friends knew him by different names: the Fungus, the Legend, Shotty, Shottman, Shottgun, ashottinthedark, Bud Shott—but really we all just called him Shott.

 

This presented a problem on the phone. I remember calling his house once:

 

Shott: “Hello?”

 

“Shott?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Hey man! How’s it going!?”

 

“It’s going pretty good.”

 

“Sweet. What you up to today?”

 

“Not much.”

 

“You wanna hang out then?”

 

“Do you want me to go get Matt?”

 

“OH. Hi Mr. Shott. Yeah, is Matt there?”

 

Who started calling him Shott instead of Matt? I don’t know. Probably Brandon. Brandon starts everything. There has always been this weird vibe between Shott, Brandon and Hugh. They are always laughing about things that I’m pretty sure aren’t that funny. I mean, to them I’m sure it’s hilarious, but to everyone else I think it’s just a bunch of inside jokes. All you have to say is doubs cheese and Shott will start laughing. Or you can make a reference to some weird video they made about trying to track down a raccoon (or something like that) and that should get him going too.

 

These stories are ridiculous mostly because Shott and his friends are ridiculous. And because of that, it’s pretty easy to talk Shott into a lot of strange things. You should see some of the videos we made back in the day! There’s one where he, Taylor and I are superheroes. Taylor was called “the Duplicator” because he could turn himself into a bunch of mini-sized versions of his already mini-self. Shott was named Pac-Man because he could walk off one side of the video screen and onto the other like the old Atari favorite. And then I was Gasoblaster. For whatever reason, I had the ability to fart myself into space.

 

Yeah… It was messed up.

 

I’m pretty sure Shott and I were good friends, but now that I reflect on that, I’m not sure why anyone would allow their friend to record themselves with magical farting abilities. Fortunately, we killed my character at the end of the video so there’s no chance for a sequel.

 

We made countless other videos. There was one where Taylor and I recorded Shott running like a doofus down a long road for like 5 minutes or something. And another time, I actually got him to sing a song with me! After several attempts to record his beautiful singing voice, I eventually just took what he did and severely autotuned it to make it work. The lyrics were really pretty simple. He just sat in a corner of a room and sang “Sitting in a room. Just sitting in a room.” It was pretty dumb, and the bloopers were endless.

 

After Brandon and Hugh graduated, Shott, Taylor and myself hung out just about every other day. Mr. and Mrs. Shott can attest to this as we rendered them foodless for sometime. It was the Shott-house tradition. We would bury ourselves in their basement, break out some DDR moves or play some other video game or watch an entire 3 seasons of some TV show, and then return to the surface at 3 in the morning to deep fry whatever we could get our hands on. We couldn’t help it! They had like the best deep fryer in the world! It probably had something to do with the fact that we never changed the oil over the years.

 

So many french fries. So many chicken tenders. So many cheese sticks. So much constipation.

 

Which reminds me of another story, but we won’t go there today.

 

I still remember the sheer terror I felt when I learned that Mrs. Shott had gone on a health kick and was throwing the deep fryer out. I remember the anxiety that filled my soul as I pulled out later that day and spotted it in the trash. I’m not gonna lie: I debated long and hard about pulling it out of there and taking it home.

 

It was the same kind of terror and anxiety I felt the night I let Shott drink some Mountain Dew. Who needs alcohol when pop can do that to a man? Though he didn’t seem to recall it an hour later, I’m pretty sure a few tires came off the ground as we drove home through the backroads.

 

The stories go on and on because Shott, Taylor and I did just about everything together. We may have gone our separate ways when college came around, but come summer, we’d be back to hanging out again. I’d be in the middle of playing a video game when a text would appear on the screen, which, by the way, was an incredibly inefficient way to communicate. I never understood why Shott didn’t just call me. It took both of us like 15 minutes to type a reply to each other using a PS3 controller. Plus it forced me to pause my game every 30 seconds.

 

But despite all of the foolishness I have now indulged you in, you should know that there is a serious and deeply spiritual side to Matt Shott. There were countless times where we confided in each other for accountability and many other times where we had long spiritual and doctrinal chats about God and life and what-have-you.

 

We could talk about anything. I don’t think I always knew that, but I discovered it one night after I went through a breakup. I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to Shott about women (no offense buddy), but he did a great job at comforting me and helping me through it. Maybe it was because of how many women are in his home? Or maybe he just listened to me talk for like 3 hours and hardly said anything because he didn’t know what to say and that was what I needed? (Truth be told, I don’t really remember shutting up that night.)

 

Or maybe none of us truly knew the Shottman Legend and perhaps he just sat in his basement all day, watching chick flicks, eating ice cream and crying his eyes out. My guess is that wasn’t the case, but then again, he did find a wife before most of my friends. Perhaps there’s a hopeless romantic in him somewhere that we all missed!

 

After all, five minutes before this service started Taylor told Shott that if Shott cried, he wouldn’t be able to help himself, at which Shott replied in his monotone voice, “You know me, I’m and emotional guy.”

 

I didn’t spend as much time with Erin, but don’t worry, I still have plenty to say about her, because who hasn’t met Erin that doesn’t have plenty to say about her?

 

I got to know Erin as my wife got to know Erin. She was a jerk. She and my wife—they were both jerks. In fact, they had two other friends who were jerks as well: Clare and Becca. Surely everyone understands what I’m saying when I say this, but incase you don’t, let me explain. For whatever reason, these four girls decided it’d be fun to put their names together to create an acronym: Jodi, Erin, Rebecca, Clare; AKA: the Jercs. I tried to tell them that they spelled it wrong, but they wouldn’t listen. They liked being jerks.

 

Out of the four of them, I knew Erin as the loud one. Me and her are tight, so I can say that. Seriously though, it didn’t matter where you were on campus—if she was outside, you could hear her. You could hear her laugh a mile away—and her insults! There were times where I’d Skype with Jodi and I thought I could hear Erin over the computer and outside my window!

 

Okay, I might have over-embellished that one a little, which I didn’t do at all with Shott.

 

She’s quite vocal at church too. She laughs loudly at my jokes when no one else will. The more insulting the jokes are towards myself, the louder she’ll laugh. She’ll also laugh whenever she feels awkward. That’s just how she handles it.

 

“Erin, will you and Shott come forward this Sunday so we can pray over you and your upcoming marriage?”

 

“HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

 

“Uh… okay?”

 

She also likes to speak up during church to correct me or call me out on something I said—in fact, I’d be surprised if she hasn’t done so already as I’ve been reading this. All I can hope is that she’s not calling me out on some kind of analogy I’m making between Jesus and science, because chances are she will render my analogy obsolete, right in the middle of service.

 

Maybe that’s why I call her before my message now a’ days. In fact, just a few weeks ago I called her early on a Saturday, hoping that a scientific analogy I had found was true.

 

“Hey Erin, how does light work?”

 

“What?”

 

“Science me! How does light work?”

 

“You’re calling me right now to ask me to explain quantum mechanics to you?”

 

“Ooo, that sounds so cool. Yes, explain it to me.”

 

“Dude, your making me have to think back to some old classes to have to explain this.”

 

“All I need to know is that light is still a particle and a wavelength and that that hasn’t been disproven or anything over the years.”

 

“No Jamin. Light hasn’t been disproven.”

 

“Cool, thanks!”

 

She’s my resident scientist at church. Using her magic, she once blew up a few pumpkins in order to entertain the kids there (and me). And whenever I have a question that only smart people know the answer to, I ask her. Unfortunately, she has yet to present me with science-fiction theory as to how our entire world could be turned into 2D pixel-like landscape, but I trust that one day she’ll figure it out.

 

But hey, I’m getting distracted. I was trying to explain Erin being loud. Even Erin’s car is loud! After her muffler broke, you always knew when she was coming. Jodi and I would be sitting at our old apartment:

 

“When’s Erin coming over?”

 

*VROOOOOOOOOM*

 

“Ah. Never mind.”

 

It took her quite awhile to get that thing fixed. I think she even came late to small group once because she had been pulled over for how bad it was.

 

While it might be easy to find Erin via the sounds she sends through atmosphere, it’s not so easy to spot her visually once spring has rolled around. She simply camouflages into all the greenery everywhere. Seriously! Who has that much green clothes in their wardrobe? I know of no one! She’s like a cartoon character. Does she have 50 pairs of the same outfit or something?

 

But outside of all of this, Erin too has a deep, serious, spiritual side. I’ve witnessed it first hand. As I’ve gotten to know her better, I’ve seen a certain light in her that I had missed  when she was more just Jodi’s friend. I’ve heard her ask profound questions. I’ve seen her do things that God asked her to do, even when I bet she didn’t want to do it. I’ve seen her grow in a way that I’m not sure even she understands and it has been amazing for me to watch.

 

And so now here I am, about to marry two great friends in my life to each other. They represent something to all of us. A son. A daughter. A cousin. A brother. A sister. A friend. A best friend. Maybe they even represent a stranger because your someone’s plus one or a wedding crasher. But no matter who you are, look upon these two as an example of what love looks like. All of us married folk know they have no idea what they’re getting  themselves into. Thank God they didn’t take their marriage classes from me.

 

I have seen a depth in these two that is strong enough to contain one another’s soul; a strength that goes beyond themselves; and an honesty that is a rare find. I am excited for them as they move into this next step and I believe that as they continue to ground themselves together in the power of Jesus Christ, they will find a fullness in their marriage that was built specifically for them to experience together.

Wedding & Honeymoon

A lot has happened in the past week. The important part for you to know is that I love Jodi. Forever. This is my marriage covenant with her. Here’s a bunch of stuff that’s been going on:

 

 

 

Also, people have been tagging pics like crazy. You can check ’em out on my Facebook, or take a look at our honeymoon photo album by clicking on the pic below:

 

JK Wedding Dance

One of the things we tend to stink at doing in the church is celebrating. And of course there’s a place to be solemn and serious and whatnot, but we need to learn to party a little bit more. We have the most joyous story of all time.

What I love about the oh so famous “JK Wedding Dance” is that the people in the video decided to violate the rules of seriousness and make their wedding a joyful occasion from the get go. This has been your two second message of the day :D

And now for lots of videos: