Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, Resolutions, and Legacies

Most people make resolutions at the onset of a new year------weight loss and getting finances in order seem to top the list.  I have spent much time thinking what I want in the new year.  I think I can sum it up by saying I want to be more pleasing to God, to rely more on Him, and to be more like Jesus. I have the traditional resolutions, but they seem to fall under this umbrella.

What does it take to please God?  I think He is pleased when I rely more on Him, seeking Him for guidance as well as in times of need.  That is what a relationship with Him is about:  reliance.  I really don't know how people make it through this life without Him.  It is hard.  Life stinks sometimes...actually, much of the time.  If I rely on Him, I can accomplish the resolutions I make.....be they weight loss or finances.  It may take a moment-by-moment reliance, but that's ok.  That is what He wants of His children.

To be more like Jesus-----That is a hard one.....and one I really need to work on.  We are commanded to pray for our enemies, and I have to admit, that is a hard one for me.  When we are in the midst of trials provoked by another, it is human nature to balk at this expectation. Likewise, we are commanded to pray for those in authority over us.  How many of us do that?  How many of us who don't like the current President, pray for him rather than curse him?  I have had to change the topic with my own family members when one of them brings up the President.  Such vitriol is not productive.  Period....

To be more like Jesus also involves giving to those in need.  He has taught me much in the last year about that......and He continues to teach me.  In giving to those in need, He has shown me to rely on Him to provide the resources.  There have been times when I have said, "But how am I going to do this, God?"  He has responded by telling me to let Him worry about that.....and He has always provided.    A friend recently posted, "Nobody has ever become poor by giving to others."  Think about that.

Many people say we have but one life, so we should make the most of it.....have as much fun as we can while we can.....get what "things" we can to enjoy life.

I agree.....that we do have but one life here on earth; but, what does it mean to "make the most of it"?  When we are gone, do we want to be remembered for all the "toys" we accumulated, all the trips we took, all the people we trampled on to "get to the top" of our profession......or, do we want to be remembered for all the good that we did for others, for the blessing we tried to be?

What will be your legacy?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

On the outside it was not a beautiful cake; one could tell it was not done by a pro.  But the inside was scrumptious when I tasted the batter----real butter, eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, coconut, sugar, flour----and the outside was equally divine:  butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, walnuts.  The outside was every bit as decadent as the ingredients on the inside, but it wasn't "Cake Wars" worthy.  I was worried as I drove to deliver the cake to the client.  I shouldn't have been.  She knew the inside was far more valuable, because what is the purpose of the cake?  To sit and gaze at or to EAT?  It's the inside that truly matters.

So it is with us as humans.  1 Peter 3:3-4 cautions,
                           "Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles
                      and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.  Instead, it should consist
                      of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet
                      spirit, which is very valuable in God's eyes."

Our society has everything mixed up.  We have a celebrity like Miley Cyrus named one of the most intriguing people of the year, hang on everything the Kardashians do, and brushstroke models in magazines so young girls think they have to strive to be anorexic to be beautiful.  Once we reach a "certain age," we are deemed old and unattractive.....in society's eyes....and our society is driven by Hollywood.

God tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7:  "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

And, finally, Proverbs 20:29:  "The glory of young men is their strength; and the beauty of old men is the gray head."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Show your beauty with your actions.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keeping the Christ in Christmas

Tis the season.....for depression and commercialism.....yet, it is also the season for hope.........

The holiday season...........while I have no statistics to substantiate this, I know this is the time of year when most people hit the doldrums, seasonal depression, whatever you want to label it.  I speak from experience, and this morning was a classic example.

I found myself before 8 am in a local national retailer, wandering with a buggy.  I was looking for one thing on my son's Christmas list......and I was depressed.   As I meandered through the aisles, the Christmas music was subliminally trying to get me to buy more ....I am sure.  I could not find the item on my son's list, but I did do some Christmas shopping.  This is how I now approach Christmas:  I do not need anything (except a new phone).  Since this season is so hard on me emotionally (I am not happy with the place I am in life.), I seek to not focus on myself, but on others.

Today I started Christmas shopping for my school Angel.  This is a boy who has moved on to a higher grade, but he is one that last year went home on Fridays with a backpack of food he may not have had as well as special kid treats because God told me to help him.  While I see "I want" postings on Facebook and read of people stun gunning each other and knifing each other on Black Friday, I want to simplify Christmas.....I want to get as close to what I think Christ would want me to do.  And, to me, that means doing for others. 

If you know anything about Jesus, think of whom he hung out with:  tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers...............the misfits of society....those society spurned.........He, the Son of God, came to offer us, any of us, including the "marginal" of society (society's "cast-offs").....life everlasting beyond this broken, corrupted life on earth.  I believe He shakes his head in pain when he sees the greed demonstrated during this season that bears His name...........at how commercialized we have become so that the average person has either forgotten the reason for the season or gives Him a minimum nod.

I think of this boy who doesn't have much; and on his questionnaire he filled out, he is not asking for much.  God has given me the resources to help him, and that is my calling.  I do it in Jesus' name and for Him; I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Jesus is why I am compiling a baking list of items I need from the grocery store to bake for the kids at school...........any 6th grader, not just the 67 I teach.  A large number of the kids I contact daily live in poverty and in less-than-desirable home situations; I may be the only light some of them see on a daily basis.  That is why I  scoured the internet on-the-spur-of-the-moment for eggless brownies (I had no eggs but still wanted to bake.) the other night.  By the way, the kids LOVED them! 

So.................in this season of "I want" thinking when you may find yourself feeling depressed or harried from the "expected" shopping, slow down.  Ask yourself what you can do for someone else this season....connect or re-connect with the true meaning of Christmas:  Be  Christ to someone who may not know Him.........you may be the only light in that person's life.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Greed of American Consumerism

I came across this on Facebook this morning:


God has been speaking to me all week during this "Thanksgiving" break about greed and the overwhelming need Americans have to chase the demon I call "Materialism."

When I checked, there are close to 50 verses in the Bible about greed.....50.......God knew it was and would always be an issue.  My mother used to love to misquote one verse and say, "Money is the root of all evil."  When I was old enough to know better, I corrected her:  "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil......" (1 Timothy 6:10).  Make no mistake, money can and is used for good; however, God warns us of letting it become our god. 

As each and every Thanksgiving, I woke to the same old story in the online news: (the link will not work, so I removed it.)  Anyway, in West Virginia two men fought over a parking space at Walmart; one pulled a gun and one was slashed to the bone.

When I read these articles, this verse screams at me:  Proverbs 28:25..."A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts the Lord will be enriched."   Re the above article:  Brandishing guns and cutting people to the bone OVER STUFF??????  This is how far our society has plummeted??  I don't do Black Friday.  Years ago I attempted it once but never even left the car when I saw the lines.  There is NOTHING I WANT that badly to venture into this insanity that looms today.

Hebrews 13:5 reminds us, "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

Contentment.....what does this mean?  Be satisfied with what you have.  I do not need the next bigger, better gadget, or "toy".  We as a nation have become enslaved by tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft.  Truly, when I think about it:  Their CEOs have got to be laughing at us.....laughing at us all the way to the bank.

This week as I have mulled this over, I have taken steps, albeit small ones, to do my part to avoid this trap.  I have de-cluttered, taking things to the dump and giving things away.  I have also started to question every purchase.  I am not obsessing, but I am asking myself, "Do I need this?" 

Do yourself a favor, for one week ask yourself the same question:  "Do I need this?"  You may be surprised at how freeing that can be. ......and at your answer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chiseling Granite

God is working on me in these few days I have off for Thanksgiving.  There is much He is teaching me, but for now I will share one thing.....my selfishness.  It is not that I don't like to do for others, but I like to hang on to "things" that are sentimental.  I have a special Scottish wool blanket my father brought from that country  when he was working there for the US government in the late 80s.  Because I have cats, I did not want them to ruin it with their hair; thus, it has been packed away in my cedar chest since.  ...... Hear me:  it has not been used.  So, the other day when I was visiting my shut-in as I do every Sunday, she asked if I had any blankets.  No, she was not begging.  I had told her I was de cluttering for Goodwill, so she simply asked if I had extras.  Immediately I thought of some throws we had left over from last winter's homeless drive.....then, God reminded me of that blanket.

Back and forth we wrestled.  Me:  "But, God, it is special.  My dad gave it to me."

God:  "So?  You don't use it.  Priscilla needs  it."

You get my drift.  On and on this went until this morning.  It now sits packed, ready to go with her feast this afternoon.

Do not get caught up with "things".  You can't  take them with you when you die.  They are mere hay and stubble.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

Change

I have never been good at change.  I like familiarity.  I like the people I care about to be close. That is why I didn't go far off to college and why I didn't move far from my parents.  I need to be close.  But, there comes a time in our lives where we have no control.  Such a time has come for me.  In the near future my life as I know it will turn upside down.  For a year and a half I have been involved in a park ministry to feed the poor and homeless on Sundays.  Three of us have done this for the last year.  Now, two of the three are moving on to bigger and better things .....in California.  It might as well be China.  I did not just cook in this ministry with them; my whole social life was wrapped up with these people.  Now, it is coming to an end....soon....very soon.  I can not afford emotionally or financially to continue.  I don't know what I will do.  My life will go on, somehow.  But it will never be the same.  Enriching friendships will fade as distant memories.  Promises not to forget will fade with new relationships and adventures.  Life will go on..........as the tide ebbs and flows.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Romans 5:3

"We rejoice in our affliction, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope."

Monday, August 5, 2013

Faith, Hope, and Love: Part 2

I said in my last post that faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for, and we grow our faith from the Bible. Romans 10:17:  "Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is the Word of Christ."  We need to submerge ourselves, bathe ourselves, in the Bible.  We need to open our hearts and ask God to speak to us as we read. 

Many times, especially in times of trouble, I have implored Him to speak to me.....to give me specific verses that pertained to my situation.  Quite often He has.  In fact, about ten years ago I was going through something so frightening that I was highlighting and writing in my Bible when He spoke verses to me.  My Bible became so ragged that a friend bought me a new one.

This is how we grow our faith; we have to exercise that muscle-----it involves reading, seeking, and meditating on what He says to us.

I read recently that faith is the "act of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods...."  The devil will use our emotions to make us doubt; he does it all the time.  That is why our emotions really don't mean anything.  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  So, His love for us will not change, even if our emotions tell us (the devil actually) that He doesn't really love us...that we're not good enough.  All of that is rubbish because Jesus died for us. 

I will leave this post on this note: Luke 18:18:

"When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Faith, Hope, and Love: Part 1

"and now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love." 
      1 Corinthians 13:13

A few weeks ago I felt drawn to write my thoughts on this verse.  They are just that:  my thoughts.  This verse seems to encapsulate the message of the Gospel in three little words:

                 faith.......hope......love

Today I am going to begin to tackle faith.

Faith, for the Christian, is trusting God at His word; lack of faith is doubting Him.  I have read that lacking faith is adultery.  I can see the correlation because if we are His, it is like a marriage and we can not doubt Him in spite of our feelings or circumstances.  Those feelings and circumstances would pull us away from him as a spouse would be drawn away in adultery.  The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6: 

           "Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near
    to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him."


Faith is believing in what we can see and more importantly, in what we can't see. 

          Hebrews 11:1:  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things
   not seen." 

The first step of faith is believing in Christ....that God sent Him as a substitute on the cross for our sins, and that He rose again for all those who believe and follow Him to have everlasting life with Him in heaven.  That is the gospel in a nutshell.  I guess I am speaking to those who are Christians and who ask, "How can I keep the faith when all around me is a mess?" 

God wants us to believe in Him even when the "evidence" of the world looks bad.  That is what
sets us Christians apart from the rest of the world.  Faith is the state of being convinced about what we hope for.  How do we grow our faith?  ......the Word of God-----the Bible.  We need to submerge ourselves, bathe ourselves, in the Bible.  We need to open our hearts and ask God to speak to us as we read.

Next:  Faith, Part 2

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 13: Song of Songs, Chapter 8

"If only I could treat you
   like my brother,
one who nursed
   at my mother's breasts,
I would find you in public
   and kiss you,
and no one would scorn me.
I would lead you,
   I would take you,
to the house of my mother
   who taught me.
I would give you spiced wine
   to drink
from my pomegranate juice.
His left hand is
   under my head,
and his right hand embraces
   me.
Young women of Jerusalem,
   I charge you:
do not stir up or awaken love
until the appropriate time."

In biblical days, women were not to show affection in public with any man who was not their father or brother.  Here she seems to be wishing she could demonstrate her love for him in public; thus, the reference to wishing she could treat him as her brother.  At the end of these lines, she again admonishes young women of Jerusalem not to awaken love before its time.  She knows the strong hold love can have on the young, and she advises it is not prudent  to admit or show love until they are ready for marriage.

"Who is this coming up
   from the wilderness
leaning on the one she loves?"

These are the local women who are again watching her.  They see her coming back with Solomon, the one she loves.  He is strong, and she is leaning on him.

"I awakened you under
   the apricot tree.
There your mother conceived
   you;
there she conceived and gave you birth.
Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death;
ardent love is as unrelenting
   as Sheol.
Love's flames are fiery flames---
the fiercest of all.
Mighty waters cannot extinguish
   love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If a man were to give all
   his wealth for love,
it would be utterly scorned."

Here are some of the strongest words describing the strength of love in the entire Song.  She implores Solomon to set her as a seal on his heart and his arm.  The King's seal was specific to him and she wants to be as bound to him as that seal would be to whatever he placed it on.  She goes on to describe love as strong as death; and ardent love is unrelenting....inescapable.  The flames of love are fiery.....the fiercest flames of all.  Not even water can drown love, nor can rivers destroy it.  Nothing is stronger than love. 

"Our sister is young;
she has no breasts.
What will we do for our sister
on the day she is spoken for?
If she is a wall,
we will build a silver parapet on it.
If she is a door,
we will enclose it
   with cedar planks."

These speakers above are ambiguous, but it seems to be speaking of a young girl before she is married.  They are hoping she will remain pure (as a wall or a door) until she is given in marriage.

"I am a wall
and my breasts like towers.
So in his eyes I have become
like one who finds peace.
Solomon owned a vineyard
   in Baal-hamon.
He leased the vineyard
   to tenants.
Each was to bring for his fruit
1,000 pieces of silver.
I have my own vineyard.
the 1,000 are for you, Solomon,
but 200 for those who guard
   its fruits."

This stanza references Solomon's harem (a "vineyard" in Baal-hamon) with the eunuchs in charge of it.  The Shulamite's vineyard is her own physical body reserved for her love alone.

"You who dwell
   in the gardens---
companions are listening
   for your voice---
let me hear you!"

Solomon is calling upon her to speak to him so his friends can hear.

"Hurry to me, my love,
and be like a gazelle
or a young stag
on the mountains of spices."

The book ends with the bride calling to her husband to hurry to her "like a gazelle" or a "young stag". 

As I have said before, much has been written about The Song of Songs being representative of Christ and His church.  I accept that, but I also see it as God's model to us of marriage.  He uses intimate details to describe the bride, and I don't believe that is merely for the benefit of describing the Church's intimate relationship with Christ. 

Next series:  Faith, Hope, Love

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 12: The Song of Songs, Chapter 7

"Why are you looking
   at the Shulammite,
as you look at the dance
   of the two camps?
How beautiful are
   your sandaled feet, princess!
The curves of your thighs are
   like jewelry,
the handiwork of a master.
Your navel is a rounded bowl;
it never lacks mixed wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
surrounded by lilies.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is like a tower
  of ivory,
your eyes like pools in Heshbon
by the gate of Bath-rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower
   of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
Your head crowns you
   like Mount Carmel,
the hair of your head
   like purple cloth---
a king could be held captive
   in your tresses.
How beautiful you are
   and how pleasant,
my love, with such delights!
Your stature is like a palm tree;
your breasts are clusters
   of fruit.
I said, 'I will climb
   the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.'
May your breasts be like clusters
   of grapes,
and the fragrance of your breath
   like apricots.
Your mouth is like fine wine---
flowing smoothly for my love
gliding past my lips and teeth!"

Here again we have the bridegroom remarking over his love's beauty:  her feet, the curves of her thighs, her navel, waist, breasts (He spends a lot of time describing them.), neck, eyes, nose, head, hair, and even her breath and mouth.  He misses and omits nothing of her physique. 

"I belong to my love,
and his desire is for me.
Come, my love,
let's go to the field;
let's spend the night
   among the henna blossoms.
Let's go early to the vineyards;
let's see if the vine has budded,
if the blossom has opened,
if the pomegranates are
   in bloom.
There I will give you my love.
The mandrakes give off
   a fragrance,
and at our doors is
   every delicacy---
new as well as old.
I have treasured them up
   for you, my love."

Here in the most literal sense, she is inviting him to spend the night with her in an open field among the stars, to, in essence, switch up their scenery.  Some commentaries suggest she is referring to his country house, but I take it in the literal sense because I believe the intention is that the readers understand it as written and not be required to research or guess what is meant.  In keeping with that idea, I see where the entire Song of Songs could be an allegory for Christ and His Church, but I do not believe that is what God intended.  I believe this book is His model for what  the physical aspects of a Christian marriage should be.  Period.  In all my church-going years, I can not recall a pastor speaking on any part of this book.  I think it is one that many Christians ignore or try to pretend doesn't exist because they are embarrassed by it; but, they need to remember that God inspired it to be written just as He did the other 65 books of the Bible.  God created sex and all of its components for marriage; it is mankind that has bastardized and trivialized it.

Next:  The final chapter: Chapter 8

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 11: Song of Songs, Chapter 6

"Where has your love gone,
most beautiful of women?
Which way has he turned?
We will seek him with you."

We left off in chapter 5 with the lady searching for her love and begging the women of Jerusalem to let him know that she is pining for him (She says "lovesick".), and then she goes on to describe his physical attributes that have her enraptured with him.  In this first stanza, it is presumably the women of Jerusalem who promise to help her look for him.


"My love has gone down
  to his garden,
to beds of spice,
to feed in the gardens
and gather lilies.
I am my love's and my love
   is mine;
he feeds among the lilies."

In this stanza it would appear she knows where he is.  Earlier, the garden was used to symbolize the bride's untouched body prior to the wedding.  Here it seems to be that he has, in fact, gone to his true garden.

"You are as beautiful as Tirzah,
     my darling,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awe-inspiring as an army
    with banners.
Turn your eyes away from me,
for they captivate me.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down from Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock
     of ewes
coming up from washing,
each one having a twin,
and not one missing.
Behind your veil,
your brow is like a slice
     of pomegranate.
There are 60 queens
and 80 concubines
and your women
     without number.
But my dove, my virtuous one,
     is unique;
she is the favorite of her mother,
perfect to the one who gave her birth.
Women see her and declare
    her fortunate;
queens and concubines also,
    and they sing her praises.

Her love has returned and he sets out to immediately remind her of her beauty.  The reference to Tirzah:  It had to be an important city because Joshua defeated the people of Tirzah (Joshua 12:24) and Jeroboam made it his capital. (1 Kings 14:12-17).  There had to be something that made it special enough to compare her to it.  Then, there is another simile to compare her to Jerusalem.  Psalm 50:2 describes Jerusalem as having "perfect beauty."  He then reiterates the beauty of her hair, her teeth, her brow.  He stipulates that none of his 60 queens or 80 concubines is as special as she.  She is unique....so unique that she is not only her mother's favorite, but other women admire her and sing her praises.

"Who is this who shines
      like the dawn--
as beautiful as the moon,
bright as the sun,
awe-inspiring as an army
     with banners?"

The women are admiring her beauty; they compare her to the dawn, the moon, the sun, and  say she inspires such awe as an army would (and an army in biblical times was awe-inspiring.)

"I came down
     to the walnut grove
to see the blossoms of the valley,
to see if the vines
    were budding
and the pomegranates blooming.
Before I knew it,
my desire put me
among the chariots
    of my noble people."

This stanza is perplexing because my Holman Christian Standard Bible has the lady as the speaker, but commentaries I have read online suggest Solomon himself is the speaker.  I don't think it is that important to the meaning of the chapter because the focus of the chapter is again....her beauty and Solomon's captivation with it.  In fact, the chapter closes with the women imploring her to come back so they can appreciate her beauty even longer:

"Come back, come back,
    Shulammite!
Come back, come back, that
    we may look at you!"

Next:  Song of Songs, Chapter 7

Monday, July 22, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 10: Song of Songs, Chapter 5

"I have come to my garden---
      my sister, my bride.
I gather my myrrh
      with my spices.
I eat my honeycomb
      with my honey.
I drink my wine with my milk."

"Eat, friends!
Drink, be intoxicated
   with love!"

There is no doubt the first stanza is the bridegroom talking about consummating his marriage with his beloved.  There is some discussion about the second stanza.  Some believe that is God encouraging the couple; others believe the bridegroom had left the bridal chamber to show the wedding guests proof that his bride was a virgin, and he is now encouraging them to eat and drink in celebration.

"I sleep, but my heart is awake
A sound!  My love is knocking!"

"Open to me, my sister,
    my darling,
my dove, my perfect one.
For my head is drenched
    with dew,
my hair with droplets of the night."

"I have taken off my clothing,
How can I put it back on?
I have washed my feet.
How can I get them dirty?
My love thrust his hand
    through the opening,
and my feelings were stirred
    for him.
I rose to open for my love.
My hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh
on the handles of the bolt.
I opened to my love,
but my love had turned
   and gone away.
I was crushed that he had left.
I sought him, but did not find him.
I called him, but he did not
   answer.
The guards who go
   about the city found me,
they took my cloak from me---
the guardians of the walls.
Young women of Jerusalem,
    I charge you;
if you find my love,
tell him that I am lovesick."

There is some speculation that this is a dream sequence.  She is awakened by her love knocking at her door.  She doesn't want to get up because she has undressed and washed her feet, as was the custom before retiring for the night.  She is concerned about getting them dirty.  Nevertheless, she rises to admit him, but he is gone.  So, she goes in search of him but finds only the guards.  She implores the women of Jerusalem to let him know, if they find him, that she is lovesick.

She is challenged by the women as to what makes "her" love superior to all others:

"What makes the one you love
   better than another,
most beautiful of women?
What makes him better than
   another,
that you would give us
   this charge?"

To which, she gives them an earful as she extols all of his physical attributes:

"My love is fit and strong,
notable among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold.
His hair is wavy
and black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves
beside streams of water,
washed in milk
and set like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds
   of spice,
towers of perfume.
His lips are lilies,
dripping with flowing myrrh.
His arms are rods of gold
set with topaz.
His body is an ivory panel
covered with sapphires.
His legs are alabaster pillars
set on pedestals of pure gold.
His presence is like Lebanon,
as majestic as the cedars.
His mouth is sweetness.
He is absolutely desirable.
This is my love, and this is
   my friend,
young women of Jerusalem."

Everything about him is perfection:  his head, hair, eyes, cheeks, lips, arms, body, legs, mouth, indeed, his very presence....is perfection to her.  And, she not only calls him her "love," but he is her "friend".  That speaks volumes to their relationship; it is not merely physical .....this is what God intends the marriage relationship to be: two people who have a bond that transcends the physical.  This is why marriage can not be based on sex alone.  Is it important?  Of course it is, but there has to be more.

Next:  Song of Songs, Chapter 6

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Marriage From God's View: Part 9: Song of Songs, Chapter 4

At this point the couple are married and the man is complementing her physical beauty before they consummate their union on their wedding night.  These are some of the most beautiful passages in the book as he seeks to put her at ease that "she" is the most beautiful woman in the world to him.  What woman wouldn't want this kind of reassurance?

"How beautiful you are,
    my darling.
How very beautiful!
Behind your veil,
your eyes are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
streaming down Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock
   of newly shorn sheep
coming up from washing,
each one having a twin,
and not one missing.
Your lips are
   like a scarlet cord,
and your mouth is lovely.
Behind your veil,
your brow is like a slice
   of pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower
   of David,
constructed in layers.
A thousand bucklers are hung
   on it----
all of them shields of warriors.
Your breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle, that feed
   among the lilies."

In Old Testament times, women did not traditionally wear veils except for special occasions, such as a wedding.  They may have worn headdresses but not veils.  Here he is assessing her before she removes the veil.  Her eyes are doves to him; doves symbolized purity.  Her hair was long and flowed down her back much like the goats going down from Mount Gilead.  Her teeth are perfect and complete, like a flock of sheep that has been newly shorn.  I take this to be unusual in that day because the hygiene of the day just didn't normally provide for perfect teeth.  He moves to her scarlet lips and then to her brow "like a slice of pomegranate"----rosy.  Her face is probably flushed with excitement because they are finally married.  From there he moves to her neck and compares it to "the tower of David"......strong, unyielding----She was a woman of strong character.  Finally, he makes his way to her breasts and compare them to two fawns, baby deer that are soft and gentle.  They have been untouched by human hands, until now---their wedding night.

"Before the day breaks
and the shadows flee,
I will make my way
   to the mountain of myrrh
and the hill of frankincense.
You are absolutely beautiful,
   my darling,
with no imperfection in you."

In the above lines he is clearly talking about consummating their marriage and the "mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense" are references to her body.

"Come with me from Lebanon,
   my bride---
with me from Lebanon!
Descend from the peak
   of Amana,
from the summit of Senir
   and Hermon,
from the dens of the lions,
from the mountains
   of the leopards.
You have captured my heart
   with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace,
How delightful your love is,
   my sister, my bride.
Your love is much better
   than wine,
and the fragrance
   of your perfume
   than any balsam.
Your lips drip sweetness like
   the honeycomb, my bride.
Honey and milk are
  under your tongue.
The fragrance of your garments
  is like the fragrance
  of Lebanon."

In the lines above he is telling her to leave all thoughts of home and all worries behind and count on him now that they are married.  She captured his heart with one look.  Her love is delightful to him; her love is better than wine, and he is intoxicated with her perfume.  Her lips drip honey, and honey and milk are under her tongue....he has tasted her mouth so he knows.  It appears the French did not invent French kissing.

"My sister, my bride, you are,
   a locked garden---
a locked garden
   and a sealed spring.
Your branches are a paradise
  of pomegranates
with choicest fruits,
henna with nard---
nard and saffron, calamus
   and cinnamon,
with all the trees
   of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
with all the best spices,
You are a garden spring,
a well of flowing water
streaming from Lebanon."

Here he is praising her virginity before they come together.  She is a "locked garden" and a "sealed spring."  She has saved herself for her husband only, and he prizes that fact.  The last three lines show how she responds to her love, her beloved, her husband...as God meant.

The last lines are the only time the maiden speaks in Chapter 4:

"Awaken, north wind---
come, south wind.
Blow on my garden,
and spread the fragrance
   of its spices.
Let my love come to his garden
and eat its choicest fruits."

She is ready to offer her virginity to her husband.  If we look closely, she relinquishes control of "my garden".....to "his garden".  She now belongs to him, body and soul, and she offers herself totally.



Next:  Chapter 5

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Getting in Shape

This summer I have purposed to get into (better) physical shape.  After gaining chemo. weight nearly six years ago (from 115 to 157), I have struggled to shed it all.  I joined the local hospital gym and have grown to love the elliptical and sweating.  The recumbent bike is growing on me as long as I can read at the same time.  I have only lost two pounds, but I am sure I am losing inches because my clothes fit differently.

Anyway, tonight it occurred to me that I am also working on getting in better spiritual shape.  I had let this blog die for nearly a year because I didn't know what direction to take with it, and I had lost interest in it.  Then, about two weeks ago, God put it on my heart to do a series on marriage.  A divorcee, yeah, right!?  Well, He can use whomever He wishes.  So, I have been letting Him lead me.  They may not be eloquently written, but they "are" my take on marriage....at least what it should be.  I am not done with that series and already He has given me the topic of my next:  faith, hope, and love.  In fact, I wrote the first installment this morning.  

Where He leads me, I will follow.....in life and cyber world.

Marriage From God's View: Part 8: Song of Songs, Chapter 3

Chapter three opens with the young woman searching for her love; some presume she is dreaming here:  

 "In my bed at night
I sought the one I love;
I sought him, but did not
     find him. 
I will arise now and go
     about the city,
through the streets
     and the plazas. 
I will seek the one I love. 
I sought him, but did not find him.
The guards who go
     about the city found me.
'Have you seen the one I love?'
     I asked them.
I had just passed them
when I found the one I love.
I held on to him and would not let him go
until I brought him
     to my mother's house---
to the chamber of the one
     who conceived me."

I have read this before and never considered she could be dreaming until now.  She starts out in bed, futilely seeking her love. She could be in the throes of a dream that continues when she arises.  Then, she wanders the streets of the city to find him, but initially the guards find her, as though she is not supposed to be out that late.  She asks them, "Have you seen the one I love?"  That is not exactly specific, and we are not told if she stuck around for a reply.  But, I picture her in distress, asking anyone she were to come in contact with, but moving on when she doesn't get an immediate answer. Right after she leaves the guards, she finds her love and hauls him to her mother's bedroom.  That is perplexing.  Is she introducing him to her mother for the first time? 

In verse 5 she again admonishes young women,

"Young women of Jerusalem,
   I charge you,
by the gazelles and the wild does
   of the field:
do not stir up or awaken love
until the appropriate time."

Again, the gazelles are symbolic of the young men (bucks, as you will) and the does represent the young women.  She knows how rash young people are, so she is warning them not to mess with fire (engage in sex) until the "appropriate time."  That means marriage.  Remember, God had this book written as he did the entire Bible, so this is what he intends.

The remainder of the chapter introduces King Solomon on his sedan chair.  There is speculation that this is his entrance to his wedding because the chapter ends with these lines:

"Come out, young women
    of Zion,
and gaze at King Solomon,
wearing the crown
    his mother placed on him
the day of his wedding----
the day of his heart's rejoicing."

To me, this is one of the most beautiful chapters in the Song of Songs because it shows her deep love for "her man".  If, indeed, she is dreaming, she can not even escape thoughts of him while asleep.

Next:  Chapter 4

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

God's Voice

There have been times when I have heard God's voice....not an audible or describable voice but a strong impression to do something or a verse.  Today was one of those days.  This summer I purposed        to purge my house of extra "stuff" and papers...papers reproduce in my house.  I was going through the closet in the spare bedroom getting things boxed for Goodwill and bagged for the dump.  All of a sudden this popped into my head:  "under the shadow of his wings".  Now, I can not memorize scripture..I just don't have a mind for it, so I looked it up online.  Here it is in its entirety:

Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you
   with His feathers.
You will take refuge
   Under His wings.
His faithfulness will
   be a protective shield."

He knows what I need just when I need it, and today was one of those days.  Only He and I know what it means, but I was open to hear His whisper in the midst of my mundane chore.

Ask Him to speak to you....and then have your ears open to hear.



Marriage From God's View: Part 7: Song of Songs, Ch. 2

"Young women of Jerusalem,
I charge you,
by the gazelles and the wild does
of the field:
do not stir up or awaken love
until the appropriate time." (verse 7)

Here the bride warns young women not to stir up love until the right time.....wait until marriage..that is what God intended.  In our culture today sex is not revered, not sacred.  In fact, society promotes having as many partners as possible, and if  someone waits until marriage, she (or he) is considered a freak.  

"Listen!  My love is approaching,
Look!  Here he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My love is like a gazelle
or a young stag."  (Verse 8)

She uses a simile to compare her love to a gazelle and a stag.  A gazelle is an antelope that can run as fast as 60 mph, and a young stag is a male deer.  She thinks her man is a STUD.  She admires his athleticism.  

"My dove, in the clefts
of the rock,
In the crevices of the cliff,
let me see your face,
let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet,
and your face is lovely."  (Verse 14)

Here is her husband comparing her to a dove; doves are symbolic of love and purity. He is enraptured by her voice and her face.

Next:  Chapter 3




Sunday, July 14, 2013

Marriage: From God's View: Part 6: The Song of Songs, Chapter 1

The man said,


"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife,
and they will become one flesh,
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:23-25

God created men and women and designed them to become one in marriage...one in every sense of the word.  The Song of Songs is largely ignored in churches today; many people have never even read it so they don't know what it contains.  Others try to "spiritualize" the book to refer to Christ and His church (I think, because they are uncomfortable with the details).  The obvious interpretation of the Song is God's intention of romantic, sexual love in the context of marriage.  I think every couple should read it as they start their marriage; God wrote it for His children (us).  The entire book is the wooing, expectancy, and consummation of the love of this couple as God intended. 

"Oh, that he would kiss me
with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is more delightful
than wine.
The fragrance of your perfume
is intoxicating;
your name is perfume
poured out,
No wonder young women adore
you.
Take me with you----
let us hurry.
Oh, that the king would bring
me to his chambers. 

                       (Song of Songs 1:1-4)

These are the opening lines of the book, and how beautiful they are.  The King's beloved is dreamily thinking of his kisses as more wonderful than wine, and she is intoxicated by the memory of his scent and even by his name. Yes, his name; she is enraptured by him.  She can't wait for him to carry her to his chamber.

She goes on in verses 16-17 to say,

"How handsome you are,
my love,
How delightful!
Our bed is lush with foliage;
the beams of our house
are cedars,
and our rafters are cypresses.
I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys."

Some interpretations of the above is that they are consummating their marriage outdoors.

Verse 15 has "her man, her love" praising her
beauty: 

"How beautiful you are,
my darling.
How very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves."


Next:  Song of Songs, Chapter 2
 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Marriage: From God's View, Part 5: Ordained Sex

God is the designer of sex; like an architect, He designed the male and female bodies as miraculous things of beauty.  When I really think about that, I do not see how anyone could think we "evolved"
from something else. 

 Matthew 19:4-6:  "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate." 

Mark 10:6-9 substantiates the verses above: "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no long two, but one.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate."

The two will become one flesh...........My interpretation of that is that spiritually as well as physically they become one; while they are two separate individuals, at the same time they are one unit. God warns that no one is to try to break that covenant.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5---"A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.  A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does.  Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.  Do not deprive one another--except when you agree, for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

In this passage Paul is not only commanding/advising married couples to have sex, but he tells the woman her husband has control over her body, and likewise, the wife has control over her husband's.  He instructs them not to withhold sex from one another unless it is for prayer (and fasting) because Satan may tempt them.
 
Now, I know how some women are ( I say "women" because I have never heard of a husband giving an excuse to beg off sex.).  If they are angry, they often want to "get back" at their husbands by withholding sex; thus, the "Not tonight, honey; I have a headache" cliché. That is wrong, wrong, wrong.....and I will go a step further and say they are asking for trouble because they are leaving the door open for Satan to tempt their husband with another woman.  God created the male and female bodies to complement each other, and that makes sex a huge part of marriage.

Next:  The Song of Solomon....up close