I want you to want me. Daily Discipleship, Day 9: Song of Solomon 4-8

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me

How many times have we heard this song? It’s catchy, and beckons is back to the days before marriage when we still put some thought into impressing our significant other (amiright?).

But seriously, I think it should speak wisdom info our married lives as well. And as I found out today, those lyrics carry a biblical message.

The song of a married couple in love

I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I was in his eyes as one who finds peace.
The Song of Solomon 8:10 ESV

The Song of Solomon should remind us that having someone to love and cherish is a great joy. But it’s not just that.

The verse shown above shows that these two love birds didn’t just find joy in loving the other, but they find joy in the other loving them.

I can say from experience as someone who has battled back an addiction to pornography in the power of the Holy Spirit that my wife never needed to simply love me. She needed me to love her and only her.

So let this verse be a reminder to us all: don’t stop trying to woo your spouse. She wants you to want her. Don’t stop protecting your marriage with vigilant wisdom that will keep your heart from straying away. He wants you to want him.

Joy comes when you give your whole self to the other person, and it overflows when they give their whole selves to you.

Protect that. Work at it. She (or he) needs you to need her (or him).

God Bless.

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Daily Discipleship, Day 8: Song of Solomon 1-3

Who doesn’t love some good, steamy, sexually charged literature, huh?

Welcome to the Song of Solomon.

The debate has raged over the centuries about what this book symbolizes, and what he imagery represents. I am not of the opinion that it is a romantic Poem from God’s perspective to his people. Mostly because the language isn’t just lovey-dovey; it’s downright spicy!

No, the Song of Solomon is a story of committed and faithful love between Solomon and (presumably) his first wife. He started put so well…

And so in the first three chapters I saw this verse, repeated twice verbatim:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.
The Song of Solomon 2:7 ESV

Awakening love

So here, in this book all about the joy of love (and love-making), Solomon’s bride implores other women to not “awaken love before the time is right” (NLT).

It seems everything in our culture wants to “awaken love.” From earlier and eaier ages, kids are being taught about sexuakity in schools, and being exposed to alluring material.

Even for adults, the waters can be tough to navigate with the proliferation of portable pornography, the crazy successes of franchises like 50 Shades of Gray, and numerous magazines like Maxim and Cosmo, which seem to focus only on sex.

People who strive to “not awaken love” are certainly swimming upstream against the forces of culture.

Yet here, Solomon’s bride relishes in the fact that “I am my  beloved’s and he is mine” (2:16). The joy can be seen through the book, and it is mutually experienxed from him and her.

Give it time, and those who call you crazy for your otments to protecting your heart will be tje ones who have had the worse relationships and the most regrets.

Do not awaken love until the time is appropriate, and then let loose and you’ll really be able to enjoy it.

God bless!

Daily Discipleship, Day 4: Acts 24-28

Who doesn’t love book ends?

Bookends are great, and make awesome decorative accents.

Whether they are bookends designed to look like books, or like the “B” bookends my wife and I had for years because that’s our last initial, bookends always come in pairs.

Literary bookends are the same way. They frame what lies between as a clue to the reader what takeaways are important. Continue reading

Daily Discipleship, Day 3: Acts 20-23

I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Matthew 10:14

Today is day 3 of a year (or less) through the Bible. For the previous day, click here, and for all previous posts, click here.

Today, I read Acts 20-23. The prevailing thought I had throughout this passage was about how incredibly wise Paul was, and this could really serve us as an example of how to go about our lives.  Continue reading

Poolside Purity & Bikini Battles

Here we go again. It’s summer time, which means at any given time, in any number of churches nationwide, pastors, youth pastors and leaders are giving their kids (read: their female students) the “one-piece” talk.

A few years back at our church, some students actually petitioned our pastor to include Tankinis. It was a big win for preteens everywhere. I imagine they sat by the pool that summer in their tankinis and drank virgin daiquiris to celebrate. Continue reading

Solid!

Solid.

That’s my impression of every single missionary family I met last week. Simply put, they are solid people.

Solid in their convictions.

Solid in their life.

Solid faith.

Solid marriages.

Solid families.

Solid kids with solid faiths of their own.

Solid.

If I were starting a church, I’d want any one of them planting with me. I would want them as elders, and ministry leaders. When we worshiped, the singing was genuine, and when they would pray, it was bold and meaningful.

These people get it.

Enter the interesting paradox. Given the opportunity to describe themselves in three words, I doubt any of them would use the word “solid,” or any of its synonyms. There was a humility about them. It was one thing they all had in common. It was humility born of struggle and heartache. A bi-product of moving away from family, of feeling alone in a new culture.

As one minister put it, “When you get to a new culture, it’s very strange. The very essence of your calling, mission and job is communication, yet you can’t even ask anyone where the bathroom is.”

John [the apostle] recorded John [the Baptizer] as saying of Jesus, “I must become less, he must become more” (John 3:30). Then Paul proceeded to call himself the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9), the least of the believers (Eph. 3:8), and the least of all sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). As his view of himself decreased, Jesus was glorified.

I think that is what has happened with these missionaries. Those that have stuck with it for the long term—who have struggled through being the new guy, struggled through learning a new culture, being worth very little (in a pragmatic sense) because of an inability to communicate, struggled through questioning the decisions they’d made, struggled through a life apart from everything comfortable, not to mention taking on the challenge of raising support from the generosity of others—those people have been humbled. They have become less, and their passion for the gospel has only grown stronger and stronger.

Growth only comes out of struggle. Life grows in the valley, regardless of how grand the mountain peaks may be. As one worship song says, “There may be pain in the night, but Joy comes in the morning.”

This isn’t to say they don’t have issues. Or sins to deal with. Or disagreements with spouses, church members and kids. This doesn’t mean their kids never run into trouble, or that everything is always hunky-dory. In fact, I got to see a few very small examples of some of these while I was with them.

Because they are real about it.

Because they aren’t shaken by it.

Because they have been through the fire and come out “without the smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27).

Because they are solid.

I want to be solid.

A Bowl Full of Lemons…

When life gives you lemons. . . well, you know the rest.

This week, my wife and I were served up a whole bowl of lemons. The original plan for us to leave Muncie was to have until the end of the month to find a place and move out.

Now, obviously, the church was anxious to find a new pastor. And they were more than gracious to have given us a couple of extra weeks to leave after closing out my responsibilities with the church.

But then they found a pastor. And the transition was more time sensitive.

On June 11, we got a call saying that the church had found a new pastor and that we needed to be out a week earlier than planned.

Now it was only a week. And I entirely understand the rationale based on a number of variables. This isn’t a post about the church board’s handling of the situation.

This is about being dealt a curveball. What they couldn’t have known was that we had plans to leave town for a week starting the coming weekend, returning on the very day they wanted us out. That gave us precisely 72 hours to move.

Curveball.

Lemon.

Potential emotional meltdown causer.

The question is how were we going to handle a curveball? Without hesitation, Mal’s suggestion is that we shift into overdrive and get moved out before the weekend. And that’s exactly what we did.

That choice — that single choice — took a situation that we could have stewed over and turned it into an exciting catalyst for momentum. We could have held a grudge; instead we held a packing tape-gun. The devil could have gained a foothold and instead, Christ’s grace reigned in our hearts and a joy overtook our attitudes.

This week has been insanely busy, but it has been a blessing. And in the end, it several details worked out better for us and the church even got the parsonage empty with more time than we expected.

Sometimes life gives you lemons. Praise God.

And sometimes it will result in more lemons. Praise God then too.

But once in a while, you will have everything you need to make lemonade. Praise God all the more!

It’s good to be back in Kentucky ahead of schedule!

823 Years?!?

I recently saw the following pop up on facebook:

Supposedly we are experiencing a once-in-a-millenium month in March 2013

Supposedly we are experiencing a once-in-a-millenium month in March 2013

If you read the caption, it claims that a March with FIVE Fridays, FIVE Saturdays and FIVE Sundays only happens once every 823 years.

This is clearly ridiculous.

March always has 31 days, so it will always be such a situation any time the month starts on a Friday. Depending on leap years, it happens every 5-6 years. The next time it will happen is 2019.

Even if a leap year skipped a March 1, Friday (as it will in 2036), you will only go 12 years without a March like this.

And don’t get me started on the completely arbitrary and incorrect use of “Feng Shui” for the purpose of sounding mystical.

BUT WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

I lost count of the number of times I have seen this on facebook. It’s spreading like wildfire. Are we really so gullible?

This got me thinking about the church.

How much do we just accept whatever we see on the internet?

As believers, do we listen critically to the sermons being preached on Sundays?

When a new-age thinker is being interviewed on TV, do we nod and say, “well that kind of makes sense” or do we take the world’s wisdom and test it against Scripture?

When media can circulate so quickly and be completely inaccurate, critical analysis is critically important (especially of truth claims — even simple ones like the facebook meme above).

Are we thinking about what we believe any more?

Just a thought.

What other false information have you seen floating around the internet?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted

Wounds from a friend can be trusted.
But an enemy multiplies kisses.
-Proverbs 27:6

So often we want to surround ourselves with “yes men.” We consider a friend someone who will support us, or be proud of us no matter what. Somehow “loving” one another has become synonymous with “eternally agreeing with (or at least not disagreeing with) one another.” We hear this type of thinking all the time, especially from more progressive folks in the church. “God is love. Why would I say something to someone that would offend them? That’s not very loving.” Or we’ll hear, “Judge not, lest you be judged.”

Jesus did come to preach God’s love. But he was plenty blunt about sin, too. He delivered “woes” to those who were religiously pious but spiritually dead. He talked about living for God. Jesus defined love in what he taught. And the picture that he painted was one where love is a verb, not a mushy-gushy feeling “inside our hearts” for one another.

His Church is here to spur one another to holiness as the primary vehicle to love. We are to be a community (not a collection of individuals) who grow more like Christ and help one another do the same. The most loving thing you can do for someone, sometimes, is to call them out on their junk.

WOUNDS FROM A FRIEND CAN BE TRUSTED

Sometimes, as a friend, you need to tell your friend when they are out of line. If you are working with a neighbor in math class classmate going astray, the loving thing is to look out for their best interest and correct them, not let them do it their way. Those assignments are going to be graded! The loving thing, when you see a friend in an unhealthy relationship is to share your concerns in love, because you don’t want them to be hurt. When a friend is texting and driving, the loving thing is to do or say what you can to remove them from harm’s way and get their eyes on the road.

The key is that these have to come from a friend. It has to be an “I’m concerned for you” conversation, not a “Be better, like me” conversation. I believe this is the key to Christian confrontation. Another thought: to judge a person’s behavior as sinful or not in line with the Bible is not the same as judging the eternal destination of their soul based on that behavior. As long as the prior is done with an acknowledgement that I also behave in all sorts of ways that are inconsistent with the Bible, we’re good. It’s when we say, “you need to fix the sin in your life,” and fail to acknowledge the sin in ours that we run into trouble.

The Bible is the most honest book ever written. It is going to present views that we find hard to swallow. “Love” is not being silent when we see someone straying into a harmful situation, but lovingly expressing concern for them. Being honest. It might hurt, but a wound from a friend can be trusted.

AN ENEMY MULTIPLIES KISSES

History would tell us that we when we surround ourselves with people that agree with us, we set ourselves up for failure. We need people to remind us when we are drifting into incorrect thinking and action. This goes for behavior but also things like worldview and theology. I could metaphorically adorn you with “kisses” and tell you that your ideas are all great, but a survey of most people’s High School careers would suggest that doesn’t lead anywhere good.

If all I hear from someone is positive, I don’t trust their opinion for fear they are just puffing me up.

If I get criticism when it’s deserved, it makes me think, makes me better, and builds trust with that person.

Don’t surround yourself with “yes men.”

Where do you find it tough to “speak the truth in love?”