The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Starbucks or not? That is the question.

As far as I know, I have never joined a boycott. That does not mean that I necessarily think that folks ought never to boycott.  I have simply not found compelling biblical or other evidence to suggest that boycotting is something that I ought to be doing.

Boycotting products and their producing companies may have some limited impact on the financial well-being of the company.  However, I am not sure that those gains are worth the time and effort nor am I sure the message that is communicated about the Christian faith through such boycotts is usually helpful.

It is disheartening when Christians "chest-bump" over small (or perhaps large) cultural victories. Such bragging diminishes us.

Is that how we impact our culture? Do we fight our enemies and then when we win a battle think that we are strong?  We blow our guns while walking off into the sunset?  We look over our shoulder and chuckle at our enemy trying to breath while eating our dust?  And when we win a cultural victory, what have we won?

Christians (and others) are being encouraged to boycott Starbucks over recent statements from company leadership regarding their support of equality in marriage.

Some people heard the statements from CEO Howard Schultz and ran for the heavy ammo. He basically stated that it was a core conviction of Starbucks to support diversity of all kinds among their 200,000 million employees.  He was addressing a shareholder's concern that sales of Starbucks were down over the past quarter due to their support of gay marriage.  This shareholder is also the founder of an anti-gay marriage group.  He attributed the loss in sales to a national boycott by the National Organization for Marriage.  Schultz responded with these words: If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.

The statement by Schultz was misinterpreted by some people as meaning, If you support traditional marriage we don't want your business at Starbucks. This is what often happens in the heat of the moment.  Rumors get started as collars are heated and the truth is lost. The Christian's witness is diminished when he runs with the rumors.

If boycotting businesses, that have core convictions that differ from ours, is a focus of our attention then we have a heavy burden to carry in our shopping cart. There are some businesses that are so obviously corrupt that our very presence in the place would be damaging to our witness and corrupting to our heart. I am thinking of the local pornography shop a few miles down the highway from where I live.

However drinking a coffee at the local Starbucks generally does not carry corrupting associations. In fact a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks might provide opportunity to strike up a conversation that leads to the gospel.

Forbes: Column about Starbucks

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sick but not like Ferris

At 11:00 AM today I was disgnosed with pneumonia.  I have been fighting sickness all week.  Most of my duties have been sidelined. This is my first experience in 51 years with pneumonia. It has knocked me down.  Hopefully I will write again soon. 

"Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Subtle Changes: The Acceptance of Homosexual Marriage in America

Senator Rob Portman and Family

The recent support for homosexual marriage by Hillary Clinton, Rob Portman and Rob Bell is unsurprising.

How does a culture change to the point that it embraces as normal that, which was once considered aberrant? It does not happen overnight.

I compare it to a professed Christian who falls into false doctrine. His fall, likely, did not happen via hearing someone loudly denounce the Trinity. It was subtler than that. Small doses of false doctrine were placed beside true doctrine until the two merged. His fall was slow and undiscerning at first.

For a long-time there have been loud voices calling for the full acceptance of homosexual marriage.  Yet it was not the loud voices that have led us to our present state. It was more the slow, careful, placement in various places of the homosexual lifestyle as normal. Not many years ago it would have been impossible to show homosexual relationships on television. Now it is not uncommon at all.  It was not as if one day we turned on our television sets and there before our shocked eyes were homosexual unions portrayed as normal. It was much more subtle than that. An insinuation here, a character there and over time our collective defenses were weakened. Though we disagreed, it became accepted.

The Christian must be vigilant against subtleties. If we are to stand on the truth without compromise then we must be discerning. If we are to love our neighbor, (regardless of how they classify themselves), as God has called us to, it must be from a position of unmixed truth and not from a merging of truth and error.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

C.S. Lewis: A Life

Yesterday I opened the mail and beneath the brown cardboard I found a new biography of C.S. Lewis.  The book, including notes, is 431 pages. So far, I would say, I anticipate 431 pages of sheer pleasure.  I knew there was a danger when I opened the box that I would be tempted to put down other books and focus on this one--well, I gave in to the temptation.

This is a book written by someone who discovered Lewis through his writings, for others who have come to know Lewis in the same way.  The Lewis I have come to know is mediated through his words, not through any personal acquaintance.  Where other biographers refer to Lewis as 'Jack' in their works, I have felt it right to call him 'Lewis' throughout, mainly to emphasise my personal and critical distance from him.  I believe that this is the Lewis whom he himself would wish future generations to know. Alister McGrath.

I am early into the book but thus far have not found a boring page.  Often times when reading a biography I tend to want the writer to get to the point in the person's live that I am most interested in.  For example, I am most interested in the Oxford/Cambridge days of Lewis and am less interested in his early life. However, I have found that McGrath has drawn me into the early Lewis.  He has taken me to a home filled with books that consumed the time of the young Lewis and has connected events in the early life of Lewis to examples from his books.

Perhaps I will have more to say about this work later.  I have to put it down now because I have mounds of work to do before I sleep.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Words and Marriage

Words build.  Words wound. Words strengthen. Words destroy.

Our words reveal something about us.  They speak of our fears and our dreams.

What are your words saying about you?

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  Have ever more foolish words been written?

The hardest of destructive words to take are those that come from our once intimate companions.

For it is not an enemy who taunts me--then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me--then I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend (Psalm 55:12-13).

David's friend changed from speaking sweet counsel (14) to taunting him.  That is tough.  To have a trusted friend turn against you is almost unbearable. None are such real enemies as false friends, wrote Charles Spurgeon.  David felt the pain of having one that he had confided in turn on him.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: It was not merely the counsel which men take together in public or upon common themes, their fellowship had been tender and confidential. The traitor had been treated lovingly, and trusted much. Solace, mutual and cheering, had grown out of their intimate communions. There were secrets between them of no common kind. Soul had been in converse with soul, at least on David's part. However feigned might have been the affection of the treacherous one, the betrayed friend had not dealt with him coldly, or guarded his utterance before him. Shame on the wretch who could belie such fellowship, and betray such confidence! And walked unto the house of God in company. Religion had rendered their intercourse sacred, they had mingled their worship, and communed on heavenly themes. 

There are many disgusting aspects of the traitor's treachery but his words are the most damaging.

Once they took sweet counsel. Once they spoke the language of familiar friends. Once they had laughed and once they had spoke of the things of God together.

Yet the traitor's lips turned from God and from his friend. His tongue became an arrow and his wounds were not of the faithful variety.

I thought of this today in terms of marriage. Once those who could only speak sweet words of affection now have the vocabulary of an adversary. Once their words built up their beloved. Now their words destroy. Once they spoke the romantic language of Solomon but now the romance is replaced with venom.

There is only one way back from such traitorous behavior.  Repent. Turn to God. One old Puritan Pastor was fond of saying, if I die in the pulpit I desire to die preaching repentance and faith. If I die outside of the pulpit I desire to die practicing repentance and faith.

Regarding marriage, repentance and faith are often needed. The person guilty of slowly killing their spouse with words must repent and look to Christ for deliverance.That repentance will involve putting off destructive words and putting on the language of The Song of Solomon.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Leading a Marriage Retreat

There is an overwhelming sense of inadequacy that I feel as I prepare to lead a marriage retreat. The people who attend are traveling from various parts of the United States and they are coming for help in some way. Some folks may just need a couple of hours away from their normal surroundings. Others are looking for some encouragement. Still others may be in deep trouble in their marriage and hoping to find help at the retreat.

My theology informs me that I am just a messenger. I have no power to open a heart or change a life.  I am totally dependent on God and if my teaching has any godly impact it is due to the power and grace of God.  So I am prayerful this morning as I plan to lead a marriage retreat this weekend.

Before I actually begin the teaching part of the retreat I am going to remind everyone of five truths.

1.  Without the Gospel We Are Lost.

  The Gospel is the power of God for unbelievers to be transferred from darkness to light. It is also the power of God for believers.  Wherever we have been and whatever we have done--there is hope for us in Christ.

2.  God has Created Us for His Glory.

  We were created by God and for God.  Our existence and marriage is by God and for God. Our life and marriage will only have meaning as we live for his glory.

3.  God has Created Us for Community.

  Marriage retreats are no substitute for the regular and ongoing ministry of a local God-centered church. Marriage cannot thrive outside of the confines of congregational life. Marriage retreats will be a mere band aid over a gaping wound without commitment to a local church.

4.  Marriage is a Big Deal.

  This is our mantra at Nourished in the Word Ministries. Marriage is about God, His glory and His gospel!  Our marriages need our full attention. We cannot afford, our children cannot afford, the lost world cannot afford, our church cannot afford for us to give up on our marriages.  When a person gives up on their marriage they do incalculable damage to their spouse, friends, church, the culture and themselves.

5.  There is help.

  I am no marriage magician that can fix marriage problems.  I am a mere pilgrim on a journey.  There is help in God's Word.  So we end where we started. If a person will turn from their sins and turn to God and his Word then they have every reason to be hopeful and confident that God will help them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Changing Places, Moving Forward

A few boxes packed in the old space...hundreds to go

For 17 years I have occupied the same office space. It has been everything from a retreat place to a counseling center.  I have read good books here, produced hundreds of sermons and enjoyed dinner and a movie with my wife here. Most of my daughters have pulled books off of and pushed others to the back of the shelves over the years.

It is time to move from this place to my new space. We are blessed that our son-in-law and daughter are living in our basement apartment for a season.  We are also overjoyed that they are expecting their first baby in early June. And we are glad that they plan to live with us for a while longer. My present office is soon to become a nursery. Books will be replaced with teddy bears. I can't wait.

They have been so kind to help construct me a new office space in an unfinished basement at our home. The new place is actually larger than the present one. They have worked long hours and spent their hard earned money to help me to change places and move forward. I am getting excited about the soon to happen move (God-willing).  Thankfully I am not moving very far.

Moving my office is no easy task.  I have more stuff in this small office than some folks do in an entire home. Thousands of books line my shelves and are stacked on the floor.  Hopefully during this move I will be able to weed out a few books that I really don't anticipate ever needing.
New space as construction draws close to completion

I am not one to change very easily. I like to do the same things, the same ways, year after year. I am not a mover and really not much of a shaker (except on the dance floor).

The last few years have been moving years with various life changes that have pushed me out of my comfort zone. In the next months I anticipate more major life changes.

Moving office space is symbolic of the movement in my life and family. This is a time of new beginnings. As I change space I am learning how to move forward.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Friends and Lovers: Two Keys to a Happy Marriage

This is my lover, this is my friend (Song of Solomon 5:16).

Joel Beeke Book

In one power-packed sentence from Solomon's Song we have two keys to a joyful marriage.  

Do you see the keys? A happy marriage hinges on both partners being lovers and friends. Dennis Kinlaw in The Expositors Bible Commentary writes; The Song of Solomon is unabashedly erotic. Yet it is never satisfied to be content with the physical alone. A normal person finds the erotic ultimately meaningful only if there is trust and commitment, delight in the other's person as well as the body. The writer of the Song understands this. Our hero is her lover, but he is more: he is her friend.

Solomon's Song understands what our romance intoxicated culture in its songs, literature and art usually misses with its focus on the erotic. Sex is divorced from friendship. It is divorced from commitment.  The traces of the divorce are evident throughout our society. Abortion, for example, is one of the results of sex without commitment. It is often imagined in movies and music that the ultimate erotic experience would be no strings attached. 

The separation of the erotic from real relationship not only has resulted in abortion but is evident in divorce, pornography and the sense of meaningless and desperation that characterizes the expressions of our culture. The actual end of separating physical intimacy from real relationship is a diminishing of the joys of the erotic. That is why, as Dr. Albert R. Mohler writes, Pornography reduces women to objects of sexual attraction and the endless permutations of sexual behaviors available on the Internet are evidence of the insatiable desire for innovation and excitement that pornography produces. This, to a large extent, is what makes pornography such an expansive industry. Its product builds an apparently insatiable appetite for more, and then even more.

It is not hard to find studies that show that addiction to pornography creates an increasing appetite for more bizarre expressions of sex. This appetite cannot be satisfied. The person caught in the web of immoral passions keeps eating and drinking but they grow increasingly hungry and thirsty.

In the case of homosexuality one takes what is permissible and good--friendship between two members of the same sex and joins that friendship to erotic expression. The union is flawed because there is only one arena where sex and friendship are to be joined and in fact can flourish. That arena is in the covenant relationship of marriage between a man and a woman. What are divorced in the homosexual relationship are friendship and the appropriate context for sexual expression. That could also be said of adultery, fornication and any other inappropriate sexual expression.  The real divorce happens at a much higher and deeper level--the sinner divorces himself from God (or so he imagines). Yet he can never be rid of God. God must always be faced.  

Marriage offers the remedy for loneliness and for sexual hunger. In marriage alone is found the holy union of sex and friendship. In marriage alone those two are to be joined and in marriage alone those two thrive.  Both are needed. Both are required. Both are beautiful. Let the two never be separated. In marriage we properly delight in the other's person and body. In marriage we can rightly say of our spouse they they are our lover and our friend.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cotton Candy or Grapes? Thoughts on Intimacy

The highlight of my day is very early in the morning.  It is then that I rise up, read Scripture, pray, read from other books and do some writing. The mornings pass by way too quickly.

Today I woke up praying, "Lord I want to serve you."  "Lord, I want to be intimate with you."

A focal theme of this blog, as you are well aware, is joyful intimacy in marriage. I am convinced that Christian marriages are suffering from a lack of joy, creativity, descriptive communication and godly exhilaration. I am also convinced that a lack of joy in marriage is a bad testimony to the gospel.  I don't apologize for writing so often about marriage.  As we often say here at the headquarters of Nourished in the Word Ministries; Marriage is a big deal.  It is about God. It is about the Gospel.  It is about the glory of God displayed via a Christ-centered marriage.

The Bible opens with the marriage of Adam and Eve and closes with The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  Earthly marriage is temporary but incredibly significant and so we must seize the opportunities of marriage as a presentation of the gospel even as we look forward to the culmination of our marriage at The Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  Marriage is huge!

That being said we must not separate intimacy in marriage from intimacy with God. Intimacy in marriage is not to be some isolated thing that floats around in romance land ungrounded. Godly intimacy in marriage is grounded on the authority of the Bible and is fed via a greater intimacy, intimacy with God.

I cannot love my wife as I could if I do not love and know God as I should. God must be the supreme passion of my heart, my desires, my thinking and my living.  And God is not a tool to get me a happy marriage. God is the goal. God is the objective. God is the end all.

Yet God has commanded me to be intimate in marriage, to rejoice with the wife of my youth, to provide her shade and sweetness, to enjoy her all of the days of my vain life, to love her as Christ loves the church.

So marital intimacy is a matter of obedience to God who is my King, my Lord and my Savior.

Intimacy is about knowing. When God knows a person it means more than he is intellectually aware of their existence. It means that he is intimate with them. God knows them relationally. God's knowledge of them leads to oversight and specific care for them--the way a father cares for his children. When I seek intimacy with God I am seeking to know God, to know him relationally, to walk with him, to listen to his voice through the Bible and to desire God like a newborn baby desires milk.

Intimacy with God is not a magic formula to get me a better marriage. Yet intimacy with God is the key to a marriage that honors and loves God (the first objective) and correspondingly loves my closest neighbor (my spouse and second objective).

If intimacy in marriage does not grow out of intimacy with God then it will nose-dive into something very superficial and empty.  It may taste sweet but more like cotton candy than apples, pomegranates and grapes. Cotton Candy intimacy is the sort of thing that is portrayed in much popular music and movies. Apple, pomegranate and grape intimacy is a substantive sweetness that is sweetened by the gospel.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Every Marriage Needs

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in Eden marriage has been in trouble. Their sin marked the beginning of family feuds, slammed doors, silent treatment and wandering eyes. Following in their trail was murder, polygamy, adultery, homosexuality and every sort of relationship sin.

Thankfully the story does not end with sin. As the Bible opens with the wedding of Adam and Eve, it closes with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In between we learn about the purposes and pleasures of marriage. Marriage was good before the fall and through Christ marriage can still be good.

The closest picture to what love looked like prior to the fall is The Song of Solomon. Many commentators see in the love relationship between the country maiden and the king in Solomon's Song a picture or commentary of the pre-sin relationship between Adam and Eve. Of course the couple in the Song of Solomon were sinners. Yet they portray what love and marriage can be, even now.

A good marriage does not just magically happen because two starry eyed folk's say I do and race off to the honeymoon. A happy marriage requires faith in God, a commitment to local church membership and a willingness to learn about marriage as the couple discovers one another.

What are a few things that characterize every good marriage?

Eyes.  The eyesight of the couple in the Song of Solomon strikes me. They see. They see gazelles, jewels, horses, doves and flowers in springtime. And they compare one another to the best things in life. Every successful marriage has eyes that see. What about you?  Do you see the beauty of creation? Though nature is fallen and your spouse is fallen both still reflect the beauty of God. When is the last time you have actually seen your spouse?  Do you see the beauty amidst the warts?  Does their beauty, in your eyes, so overshadow the flaws that you are able to say of your spouse that they are flawless (Song 4:7)?

Ears. The senses are alive in Solomon's love song.  The man and woman speak often of and to one another. And they hear. We know they hear because his praise of her leads to her praise of him and vice versa. The man says to the woman, ...let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet...(2:14).  Do you long for the voice of your beloved? Do you hear them when they speak? We need to hear the heart as well as the voice. We need to hear the groans and the laughs. We need to hear the heart and the mind. We need ears to hear. We need to be able to hear the gazelle as he runs swiftly through the field.  We need to hear the dove as she flies gently above.

Speech. Not only do we need ears to hear--we need to find our voice.  Dennis Kinlaw in his commentary on the Song of Songs writes; a common language is developing to show the mutuality of their love. He calls her 'beautiful' (1:15), she responds with the masculine form of the same word, 'handsome.' This common language grows throughout the Song. It deepens. It becomes increasingly creative and erotic. Healthy marriages develop a common language. It is a language exclusive to the marriage, descriptive, joyful, creative and often erotic. It is a reserved language--for no one else. It is also a comparative language. They compare one another to the best things in life.

Smell. A married couple needs to smell scents of love. Marriage needs two noses that smell the sweetness of an apple tree (and orchard), the sweetness of grapes (and vineyards) and the sweetness of perfume and shaving lotion. All of the best smells are but reminders of the sweet aromas of the beloved.  God gave the scents and spices of nature. He gave us the ability to take the smells in. On a recent tour a guide was giving instruction on how to smell a particular drink in preparation for drinking. She said, open your lips and breath the smell in. That is the way marriage is. One must learn to open their lips and breath in the sweetest aromas as an enjoyment of their spouse.

Taste. Every marriage needs taste buds. The purpose of taste buds is simply to enjoy the experience of eating and drinking. The lady desires the kisses of her beloved (1:2). She said of her beloved, with great delight I sat in his shadow and his fruit was sweet to my taste (2:3). The man grazes among the lilies (2:16). She invites him to, come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits (4:16). He responded, I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk (5:1). I don't have a scientific study before me--but I can almost guarantee you that in a healthy marriage there will be a lot of kissing.

Touch. In a joyful marriage, touch is essential.  She said, His left hand is under my head, and his right hand embraces me (1:6)! She knew that his arms were rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory bedecked with sapphires...(5:14) not just through observation but also through touch. He touches her (7:8). Smiling marriages are characterized by touch. It may be a gentle touch to the back as you pass by your spouse. It might be a touch to the head or face.  It might be a hug. It is sometimes more.

What does every marriage need?  Every marriage needs eyes, ears, speech, smell, taste and touch.

By grace through faith in Christ when you care enough about your spouse to see them, hear them, speak sweetly to them, smell them, taste them and touch them--then you can get close to Eden even in this fallen world.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marriage Retreat

Marriage Retreat

One of the most enjoyable responsibilities in my ministry is leading marriage retreats. I am encouraged that God is at work as I watch couples interact with the teaching by smiling, nodding and even showing the pain of conviction. Marriage retreats are a lot of fun and are filled with much opportunity to deal with issues and to stir up love.

Interestingly, many couples have never attended a retreat. Some of the reasons are really rather obvious.

Too much to do. Folks in our culture are busy. There is the tendency, once a person is married, to sort of settle into the pattern of work, daily domestic duties and sleep. There may be a few outings here and there and an annual vacation but many couples think that they are just too busy to go off alone for a weekend of teaching, fellowship and interaction.

Children. For couples with young children it is difficult to come up with a strategy for proper child-care. "How can I take a day or two away from my children?"  "Who will watch them while we are away?" This is a legitimate concern. Certainly every thoughtful parent wants to make sure that their children are properly carried for while they (the parents) are out of town. For some couples leaving their children for a day or two is a "bridge too far."

Finances. Many of us are stressed under the burden of financial challenges. How can we afford to spend $200 (or whatever the fee may be) on a marriage retreat? There are too many bills to pay for such an expenditure. Finances are a legitimate concern.

Fear.  This concern may manifest itself in at least a couple of different ways. Some couples fear that if they attend a marriage retreat that other people might think that their marriage is in trouble. Another fear is of their spouse. Meaning that they fear being forced to communicate with a spouse that they really do not know. Someone shared with me recently that they are not surprised when a couple, married for 30 plus years, divorces. The reason?  They said that it is not unusual for a couple to date, honeymoon, have children and for their marriage to revolve around children for 30 plus years. Once the children have left home--they are face to face with a spouse that they really do not know.  They are also face to face with issues that have been swept under the rug for 30 years and now they are too tired to deal with them. Many couples opt for divorce after the children leave home. There is also the fear that one might have to deal with a sin issue at a retreat and it is easier just to keep the sin uncovered.

Don't see the need. I have found that a lot of ladies would love to attend a marriage retreat but their husbands are just not interested or motivated to do so. Many men are dealing with various burdens and they either don't see the need for a marriage retreat (it is not a priority on their burden or bucket list), don't care about the need, or are just too overwhelmed with life to be able to do an honest assessment of their marriage. Pray for your husband and do not nag him.  He is carrying many heavy challenges.

There are no doubt lots more reasons why people do not attend marriage retreats.

I want to encourage you to re-think marriage retreats. I understand what it is to be busy.  I am a very busy man. I also know that my marriage is a priority for many reasons. The ultimate reason is that it is to rightly reflect the gospel of our Lord. My marriage needs attention. A marriage retreat is one strategy to giving my marriage a bit of attention. I also know what it is like to have young children. I am 51 years old and Lori and I have six daughters including a 16 month old. It is very hard to plan time for just the two of us to get away. When you understand the priority of marriage then you will look for ways to pull out all the stops, call in all of the favors (so to speak) and do what is necessary to find trustworthy child-care.

What about the cost of a retreat?  It is true that a marriage retreat can cost a good bit of money. We try to keep our costs very low so that finances will not be a tremendous challenge for couples. For example we presently charge $199 for our overnight retreat. This includes hotel, food, sessions and use of conference facility. We think that is a bargain. For our one day retreat we charge $79. That includes two meals, snacks and all of the sessions. We also work with couples to find creative ways for them to afford to come to our retreats. There are often ways that a couple, even struggling with finances, can find a way to attend a marriage retreat.

What about the fear factor?  I actually think that it is rare that other people think that a couple attending a marriage retreat are having major marriage problems. But if they do--so what? Dont' let pride get in the way of taking advantage of opportunities to strengthen your marriage.

As for the fear of being forced to communicate with a spouse that you really do not know or having some sin exposed, let me say that your marriage cannot grow without learning how to better communicate and deal with issues. Are you serious about the gospel? Are you serious about having a marriage that produces a sweet aroma of godliness?

Attending a marriage retreat is just one arrow in your quiver to help make your marriage more Christ-like.  

Go the extra-mile and find a way to spend some extended time with your spouse at a God-centered marriage retreat.

For information click our marriage retreat link on this page.

I hope to see you at a retreat soon!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

God is great and God is good.

God is great and God is good.  Let us thank him for this food. The simple blessing, that we learned as children, is profound in its theology. In one sentence it proclaims the greatness and the goodness of God. It is a reminder that his greatness is evident in the creation of food (via rain, sunshine and fruitful seasons) and that he is good in allowing us to eat. Because he is great and good we are to thank him.

Perhaps you are solid in your theology of the greatness of God. The heavens declare his glory (Psalm 19:1-6) and his law is perfect (7).  The Psalmist sings, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness...(Psalm 45:6).

How solid are you in your theology of the goodness of God?

Duane A. Garrett writes in his Song of Solomon commentary:

The religion of the ascetic fears that if the joy of physical love is not condemned as an innate evil, the mind will forget spiritual things and instead plunge into ever deeper corruption. In the same way, it rejects the gospel of salvation by grace through faith on the grounds that it inevitably leads to more sinning 'that grace may abound.'  It it's attempt to build a wall around the human soul, legal religion only separates the sinner further from God and gives him or her a false hope of escaping the intermingled yearnings and lusts of the heart.

Biblical faith sees asceticism as it truly is, as both a denial of the goodness of God's creation and as an attempt to conceal the radical nature of human sin behind superficial obedience to the laws of religion. The man and woman of God should no more be slaves to sensuality than they should be gluttons, but the enjoyment of creation and the fulfillment of the drive toward one another is no sin.  The united love of the man and woman in the Song of Songs is...a fulfillment of the creation covenant and a reenactment of the love of the first man and the first woman. It is not a parable; but it is, for the believer, a part of the testimony of the power of grace over sin and the flesh (New American Commentary vol. 14, pp. 377-8).

The Christian honors God by receiving his gifts, not as idols to be worshipped, but as good gifts to be enjoyed,

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy (I Timothy 6:17).

God is not honored when we spurn his gifts and fail to celebrate his kindness towards us. He is honored when we see him as great--the creator of good gifts and good--the giver of good gifts.

God is great and God is good!  Let us thank him.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

From Age to Age: A Biblical Framework for Family Worship

Are you stuck in the present? After all there are bills to pay, schedules to meet, demands to be met in the daily fare of life. It is argued that one cannot live anywhere but the present; the past is gone and the future is not yet. Our problem is that we are so stuck in the present that we miss the big picture and lose the ability to learn and dream. That is true in every area of life including family life.

Much of what we learn about the family in the Bible is from a Hebrew perspective. Family life among the Jewish people was deeply rooted in the past and was thoughtful about the future. Where did the Jewish people develop such a multi-generational perspective?  From God Himself.

In Deuteronomy chapter six the heart of Israel’s theology and practice is displayed.  They were to know and love God.  The fathers were to remember the promises that God had made to their forefathers (3).  They were to take that knowledge of God and make sure that it  was burned with the iron of conviction upon their own hearts so that they could teach their sons and grandsons (6, 2, 7, 20-25).  The passage gives us a multi-generational family perspective of forefathers, the present fathers, sons and grandsons.  Past, present and future people all made up the family portrait. The Hebrew family understood that they were deeply rooted in the past and that they were to have a vision for the future.

Family worship embraces a multi-generational view of family life with a vision to learn of God’s faithfulness from ages past, invest biblical truth in the present age with an eye to the future age.  The Hebrew view of family life was from age to age. God had taught their forefathers.  They had passed the faith down to their children.  The present generation was recipients of that trust and had a responsibility to future generations.  Age to age!

Resting on that foundation consider this biblical framework for family worship.

Visionary Thinking is Essential in Family Worship.  In Family Worship we need to look back to the lessons of biblical history and then we need to look forward with the hope that our grandchildren will be impacted for godliness. This requires thinking beyond the next bill we have to pay.

Biblical Knowledge and Wisdom are Required in Family Worship. “And these words that I command you today must be on your heart” (vs. 6).  The truth that God is one and therefore is to be loved, feared and obeyed was to be branded with the hot iron of conviction upon the hearts of the fathers. This was prerequisite for training their children.  J.A. Alexander in his book, “Thoughts on Family Worship” wrote: There is no member of a household whose individual piety is of such importance to all the rest as the father or head...Where the head of a family is lukewarm or worldly, he will send the chill through the whole house...

Diligence is Required When Leading Family Worship (vs. 7-8).  The goal of family worship is to pierce the hearts of each family member with the truth about God. The faithful parent leading their children to worship God will seize daily opportunities to teach (sitting, walking, bedtime, morning) as well as more structured times of instruction. They will look for ways to keep the truth about God and the call to love Him constantly before the eyes of the family (8-9).

Blessings are Promised to Those Who Will Lead Their Families.  There were very specific promises given to Israel regarding inheriting and enjoying the land (2,3).  The New Testament has no problem lifting those promises and applying them to the Christian Church (Ephesians 6).  The Christian parent has every reason to be hopeful for the spiritual well being of his family as he lovingly and joyfully exposes his family to God.

What are some of the reasons that family worship should be the practice of your home?

In the midst of plenty (or lack) there is the temptation to forget God (10-12; Proverbs 30:8-9).  We must remember God.  Family Worship is an important arrow in the quiver to hit the bull’s eye of our memory with the truth about God.

We are constantly tempted to worship other gods (Deuteronomy 6:14-15).  Other gods may take the form of job, technology, sports, popularity, people or anything else. A god is that to which we devote an inordinate amount of our time, money, energy and we invest hope in.  We buy into the promises of peace, prosperity, popularity of whatever the god may be offering and we are willing to bow down to appease and receive from our gods. Family Worship is a constant reminder that God is to be the sole object of our faith and obedience.

We are often challenged with the thought that God is not trustworthy (16-17).  Family Worship is an opportunity to show from biblical history that the God who has been faithful in ages past will be faithful to this present age and will be faithful in the ages to come.

Family Worship gives us opportunity to declare the gospel (20-25).  As Hebrew parents would recount how God had delivered them from Egyptian slavery to the land of promise; Christian parents have the opportunity to recount how they were delivered from slavery to sin, are being delivered daily from the power of sin and will one day be delivered to heaven’s land where there is no sin.

Is Family Worship worthy of your time?  I think that it is.  From age to age it has been God’s design that we declare “...the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4). Remember the past. Engage the present. Invest in generations to come.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fruit from the Palm Tree: Intimacy in Marriage

Is the woman in The Song of Solomon the Virgin Mary and her navel the baptismal font?

Wrong views about sexual expression have led people to fanciful interpretations of biblical passages concerning marital intimacy.

Some have imagined that the woman in The Song of Solomon represents the Virgin Mary and that her navel in chapter seven portrays the baptismal font (or communion cup). That is a strange, unusual and totally unjustified interpretation.

More common is the view that the Song speaks of God's love for Israel or for the Church. Though ultimately marriage is about God and the gospel and is designed to display the love relationship between Christ and his people that is not the immediate message in the Song. That begin said, all of the Old Testament points to Christ and finds it's fulfillment in him (Luke 24:25-27; 44-47). Therefore, even as we read the Song as a love song between a man and a woman, we must look to Christ.

Why is there such a problem celebrating God's gift of intimate expression in marriage?

Historically some Christian leaders have struggled in this area. Some went as far as to encourage abstinence even in marriage.

Perhaps some have imagined that when God covered Adam and Eve in the garden that it was his design that they forever remain covered--even in marriage. It is true, as a result of their sin, intimacy changed. Gone were the days of unhindered bliss. Intimacy felt the impact of sin as both Adam and Eve (and their offspring) would struggle against self-centeredness (and other sins) in sexual expression. It was not long before polygamy and homosexuality was seen in the ancient world. Even the greatest of Israel's leaders (David) would fall to immorality.

However, though sex is now fraught with dangers as a result of sin, it is nevertheless a good gift from God. Though Adam and Eve were clothed--they would disrobe in the presence of one another.

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, 'I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD' (Genesis 4:1).
Dates on a Palm Tree

The Song of Solomon chapter seven finds the lady in full view of her husband. He examines her body from her feet to her hair and describes the palm tree in the most erotic of terms. The man speaks of the feet, thighs, navel, belly, breasts, neck, eyes, nose, head and hair of his beloved. He is entangled in her flowing locks (5). There is no doubt what he is talking about when he speaks of the palm tree and it's clusters.

There is also no doubt what the lady is referring to when she speaks of fields, villages, vineyards and then says, There I will give you my love.  She has old as well as new pleasures laid up for her beloved (13).

Only the most extravagant of interpretations lead to an understanding other than that of sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife.

Physical intimacy in marriage is a gift from God.  To deny the gift for an extended time is to sin and to enter the valley of danger.  Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (I Corinthians 7:5).

Gifts are to be received with great delight.  The man in the Song of Solomon saw his wife as a daughter of delight. He delighted in her and she delighted in him.

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, and a graceful doe.  Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love (Proverbs 5:18).

Marital love stands in need of redemption in order to be properly delighted in. One must first delight in Christ before they can rightly delight in their spouse. As always--look to Christ and the gospel.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Love Songs

The Song of Solomon is a love song. Sometimes the man sings. Sometimes the woman sings.  Sometimes a chorus of ladies sings.  All sing love songs.

The songs are all about the love between a man and a woman.

Love songs are filled with many poetic pictures/images/symbols.  The pictures, though not always literal, always describe actual experiences.  It may take some creative thinking but if you examine the songs long enough you will eventually scratch through to the meaning of the symbols. Yet, mostly, the songs are not to be examined. They are to be sung.

Our language needs more poetry, more prose, more music.

Sometimes we need the straightforward language of the Apostle Paul when he says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her... (Ephesians 5:25). His language is straightforward and his illustration is powerful. There is no flowery language in Paul's statement. He says directly that husbands are to love their wives.  His illustration is staggering, as Christ loved the church. We get it--right away.  A husband is to love his wife in the same manner as Christ loved the church. He is to love his wife sacrificially, specifically and with a sanctifying objective (as the context will bear out).  The husband is to lay down his life in loving his wife. He is to love her in a manner distinct from his love for anyone else.  He is to love her with a view towards her holiness.  To love her like that he needs the gospel to transform and inform him. And his love illustrates the gospel (as does the entire marriage).  Paul's language packs a punch. He writes, Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord...and let the wife see that she respects her husband (22,33).

Solomon says the same thing but in a different way.

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.  With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste (Song of Solomon 2:3).

The message is the same as Paul but the language is more flowery. It is more musical.  Solomon, via the woman, says that the husband is a protective tree that provides sweet fruit.  You might say that the husband is the head of the wife and he nurtures and cherishes her (Ephesians 5:29). He keeps her safe and provides her with a sweet life. The wife submits to and respects her husband by sitting in his shadow and enjoying his fruit.  What brings greater honor to the giver of a gift than enjoying the gift that is given?  The woman honors her lover by receiving his good gifts of protection and nuture. She honors him by delighting in him.

Sometimes I need the gut punch of Paul.  Often I need to love songs of Solomon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

William Gouge on Marriage

William Gouge is our guest blogger today.  The quote below is from The Puritan Board. I am scheduled back tomorrow.

An husband's affection to his wife must be answerable to his opinion of her: he ought therefore to delight in his wife entirely, that is, so to delight in her as wholly and only delighting in her. In this respect the Prophet's wife is called the "desire" (Ez.24:16), or delight, or pleasure of his eyes: that wherein he most of all delighted, and therefore by a propriety so called. Such delight did Isaac take in his wife as it drove out a contrary strong passion, namely the grief which he took for the departure of his mother: for it is noted that "he loved her, and was comforted after his mother's death." (Gen.24:67)

This kind of affection Solomon doth elegantly set forth in these words, "Rejoice with the wife of thy youth: Let her be as the loving Hind, and pleasant Roe, and be thou ravished always with her love." (Prov.5:18 & 19) Here note both the metaphors,also ravished always with her love." (Prov. 5:18 & 19) Here note the metaphors, and also the hyperbole which are used to set forth an husband's delight in his wife. In the metaphors again note both the creatures whereunto a wife is resembled, and also the attributes given to them. The creatures are two, an Hind and a Roe, which are the females of an Hart and a Roe-Buck: now it is noted of the Hart and Roe-Buck, that of all other beasts they are most enamored (as I may so speak) with their mates, and even mad again in their heat and desire after them. 

These metaphors hath Solomon used to set forth that unfained and earnest, entire and ardent affection which an husband ought to bear unto his wife: which being taken in a good sense, and rightly applied, so as they exceed not the bounds of Christian modesty and decency, are very fit, and pertinent to the purpose: if we stretch them beyond modesty, we wrong the pen-man of them, or rather the Holy Ghost that directed him, and propound a pernicious pattern unto husbands.

The attributes given to the forenamed creatures much amplify the point: the former is termed a "loving" Hind, the latter a "pleasant" Doe, word for word "an Hind of Loves, a Roe of favor," that is, exceedingly loved and favored: for to set forth the extent of God's love unto his Son, Christ is called the "son of his love". (Col.1:13)

These comparisons applied to a wife, do lively set forth that delight which an husband ought to take in her, and yet is it much further amplified by the hyperbole used in this phrase, "be thou ravished with her love," word, for word, "err thou in her love," by which no sinful error, or dotage is meant, but a lawful earnest affection: implying two things especially: First so far to exceed, as to make a man overlook some such blemishes in his wife, as others would soon espy and mislike; or else to count them no blemishes, delighting in her never a whit the less for them. For example, if a man has a wife, not very beautiful, or proper, but having some deformity in her body, some imperfection in her speech, sight, gesture, or any part of her body, yet so to affect her, and delight in her, as if she were the fairest, and in every way most complete woman in the world. Secondly, so highly to esteem, so ardently to affect, so tenderly to respect her, as others may think him even to doat on her. An husbands affection to his wife cannot be too great if it kept within bounds of honesty, sobriety and comeliness. The wife's affection ought to be great to her husband, yet because of the husbands place of authority, he must especially take all occasions to manifest this his inward affection. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lions, Leopards and Marriage

The sweet expressions between the man and woman in The Song of Solomon could lead one to believe that marriage is all about honeycombs, nectar dripping lips, garden fountains and spices.

Yet as that couple surely knew--and you know, marriage is not all about chocolate and dancing.  Marriage is not just one big kiss-fest with lotion, perfume and pomegranates.

There are bills to pay, doctors to visit, lawns that must be mowed, jobs that must be executed and a thousand other daily tasks. How do you have a joyful, nectar dripping marriage in the midst of runny noses and unthoughtful bosses?

We Puritans like to dance at work, at play and in our marriages. We must learn to think like that. We get to think like that. We are to do all things joyfully--without grumbling and complaining.  There is a way to enjoy God and his people in the midst of doing our due diligence in every area of life.

Life is a gift. Work is a gift. Children are a blessing from God.  We must begin by acknowledging that God is the give of good gifts. Our sin taints the gifts but the gifts are still gifts to be unwrapped, marveled over and enjoyed with our eyes constantly focused on the giver of those gifts.

Time is a gift. Everyone reminds us that we all have the same number of hours, as does the President of the United States. But what do we do with that time?

Priorities indicate the big things of life--the non-negotiables. Those things must be done first. Daily Bible reading is a big thing. Going to church on Sunday and not allowing other things to snatch that away is a big thing. Neglect either and you will begin down a slippery slope.

Marriage is also a big thing.  Huge! Marriage displays the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In The Song of Solomon chapter five the marriage is not yet consummated. Solomon is feeling pain of being separated from his beloved.  The garden (her body) is still locked. It is a spring locked, a fountain sealed (12). Solomon can smell the garden and he knows that beyond it's gates are sweet delights. Yet his beloved is high in the mountains and surrounded by lions and leopards.  Solomon calls her to come to him (8).

They were awaiting, with joyful anticipation, the culmination of the wedding night.   There were still challenges in the way.

Marriage is also like that. There are pleasures to be enjoyed just beyond the garden gate. But sometimes the gate seems locked with lions, leopards and other hindrances guarding the garden's entrance. Fatigue is one of those armed guards. Many times it is the tyranny of the urgent that hinders entrance. The garden does not often scream for attention. Too often we are quick to hear the voices of the urgent and miss the aromas of the garden.

So help us out. We must be faithful in the duties of life. We must rejoice in the Lord at work, home and play.  There are things that must be done in order to eat and have a home to live in.  So,without avoiding essential duties, what do you do with the essential duty of romance in marriage?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Are you Interesting?

Leading marriage retreats keeps me in the writings of Solomon, especially the Song of Solomon.  It struck me this morning that part of the attraction of the man to the woman in that book is probably connected to the fact that the man was interesting.  He was not a bore that caused a snore.

He knew and saw life in multi-colors.

Now, Solomon was Solomon and we are not. God gave Solomon unusual wisdom, insight, knowledge and understanding.

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt (I Kings 4:29-30).

Though Solomon had unusual wisdom, all of God's children are to walk in wisdom (see the book of Proverbs). If we are lacking wisdom, on any particular matter, then we are to ask God for wisdom--the kind of wisdom that can be used to make good decisions that benefit others (James 1:5).

God is ready to give wisdom to those who ask for it humbly and unselfishly. The book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings given to a son from a father. Jesus himself is the personification of wisdom.  To have wisdom requires the knowledge of Christ and his Word.

He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish.  And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom (I Kings 4:32-34).

Though you do not have the same amount of wisdom that Solomon had--you have the same source for wisdom that Solomon had. Solomon's wisdom came from God. Your wisdom comes from God also.

What are the keys to being an interesting person who brings God glory and brings delight to others?

1.  Know God through faith in Jesus Christ.
2.  Saturate your heart in the Bible.
3.  Ask God for wisdom to be used for his glory and the good of others.
4.  Be aware and have knowledge of the world around you.  Do you know about trees, beasts, birds, reptiles and fish?
5. Be a man of poetry and music.  Solomon had 1,005 songs on his I-Pod.  Out of the 1,005 songs--he said the best one was the Song of Solomon.  Cultivate a love for good music and make music a part of your daily diet.

There is no excuse for being a boring person.  God has painted this world in multi-colors. He has given us flowers, trees, birds, reptiles and fish. He has given cacao beans and grapes. He has given the ability to make chocolate and wine. He has gifted his people to write poetry, music and songs.

Show some holy curiosity.  Put a death to boredom by swimming in the sea of God's creativity.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Your Marriage is Smelly

Lori and I were visiting beautiful Dahlonega, GA a while back. I was digging through an antique store searching for good books. As is often the case in such stores there was a musty smell. Lori has many allergy issues and it was not long before she was sneezing, coughing and her eyes were running.

Since I am a relatively brilliant guy--I thought of a solution. I would walk Lori over to the Paul Thomas Chocolate store (PT). She loves chocolates and it would not take her long to forget the allergy producing antique shop, or so I reasoned.

The aroma at PT is very different from that of the antique store.  From the moment you walk into the door your senses come alive in the most positive of ways. For Lori--the new smells brought healing from the afflictions of the old ones.

One of my top bits of marriage advice to guys is to make chocolate your friend. Learn to love chocolate and to give chocolate to your wife and you will go far in your marriage.

There is another truth about chocolate that is helpful in marriage. Making chocolate takes patience and vision. There are only a few places in the world where cacao trees grow (near the Equator).  These trees produce beans which when processed produce chocolate. The harvest is only twice a year and once the seeds or beans are picked they have to ferment and dry for a period of time before they can be shipped to factories.

Once arriving at factories they must be cleaned, sorted and roasted. The inner nib is crushed and warmed up until finally--cocoa butter appears. The butter must be ground into a paste and that paste is the foundation of chocolate. After all of that there is still work to be done. It takes time. Patience, care and time go into making chocolate.

The same is true of a marriage that produces a sweet aroma.

Your marriage is smelly.  The question is does it smell more like a chocolate or an antique store?

Lack of time, patience and care will produce musty smells. Tender care, faith in God and gentle patience will make your marriage more like the chocolates at PT.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What Every Woman Wants

You might think that with six daughters and one wife that I totally understand women. You would be wrong. There are times that I am completely confused. Many times.

I need help. My wife and daughters would say, Amen, he needs help.

Thankfully the Lord has given his Word as a lamp and a light. Armed with God's Word, I am able to discern some of the things that every woman wants. Though there are exceptions, deep down, I think that every woman--if they can break through the scars that might be hindering natural desire, want the same things.

1.  Every Woman Wants to Be Kissed.

Jim Forsyth, from a Reuter's column on Feb. 13, 2006, writes that kissing evolved from sniffing, which people did centuries ago as a way of learning about each other. He quotes Vaughn Bryant, an anthropologist at Texas A&M University, who said, at some point they slipped and ended up on the lips, and they thought that was a lot better. You got a lot more bang for your buck.

Every time that I read the Song of Solomon (SOS),  I am struck that some of the first words of that great Song have to do with kissing. Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (1:2)!

Notice that it is not just any guy that she wants to kiss her.  Let him... This is a specific man.

Wise and godly women do not want to just be kissed. They want to be kissed by one man. That man is her Beloved.

Why does she want to kiss him? For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out...(2-3).

Love in the Song of Solomon is compared to wine. Wine is sweet to the lips and intoxicating to the mind and body. His kisses are sweet to her lips. Her man intoxicates her.

She also wants to kiss him because, your anointing oils are fragrant. Simply stated--he smells sweet.

And she wants to kiss him because; your name is oil poured out. He has sweet character.

For the woman it is not hard to kiss a man who is sweet to the taste, sweet to the smell and who has a sweet life. He is sweet. She desires him. A word to guys is in order here. Make sure that your breath smells good, you body smells good and that you are a sweet guy in your character and attitude.

 2.  Every Woman Wants to Feel Pretty.

The lady in SOS does not think of herself as pretty.  She is self-conscious about her appearance (1:3-6). Her family had required her to work outside tending vineyards and her skin was dark. In biblical days tanned skin on a woman was not desirable. While tending to the family vineyards she had not been able to take proper care of her vineyard (her body).

Regardless of how she felt about her appearance--she felt comfortable and desirable to her man.  She knew his love that was better than wine, his kisses that were sweeter than wine and his life that was full of sweetness.

Guys it is your job to help your wife to feel pretty. How do you do that?  It is really rather simple. Tell her! Behold you are beautiful, my love; behold you are beautiful; your eyes are doves (1:15).

To him she was the most beautiful among women (8). That meant that he only had eyes for her. Though there might have been other women who, by the standards of the general populace were more beautiful--none of that impacted the man of SOS. He was totally focused on his woman.

3.  Every Woman Wants to Be With the One That She Loves (1:7).

Part of what it means to be in love is that partners want to be together.

It is easy for a man to forget that his wife wants and needs to be with him.

The lady wants to have a rendezvous with him, when he is least distracted by work. He is out in the field shepherding the sheep. She wants to come to him while the sheep are resting (7).

She is invited, playfully it seems, to come and see him (1:8). The guy offers no barriers. He simply invites her to come for a visit and then he tells her how exciting she is to him. I compare you, my love, to a mare among Pharaoh's chariots.  Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of jewels (9-10).

It seems that he is saying something like this, you are beautiful, regal, filled with dignity and are as exciting as a mare among the chariots of Pharaoh.

It is important to let your wife know that you also want to be with her.  She is beautiful--even regal to you and she excites you.

It is true, I do not know a lot about women.  However, this I do know. Your wife wants to be kissed by you.  Be desirable in your appearance, smell and attitude. Your wife wants to know that you think that she is pretty. You must learn to think of her as the most beautiful of all women.  Your wife wants to be with you. Don't put hurdles in her pathway. Invite her to see you, and when she gets there--tell her that she is beautiful.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Adult World

One cannot travel without being confronted by billboard advertising. In the past week everything from the birthplace of Lincoln to cheap hamburgers invited us to take the exit ramp and to slow down our journey. Most of the calls we resisted--others we found too compelling (Churchhill Downs got us).

A few years ago I was travelling up Interstate 75 through Kentucky. There was a large sign advertising Adult World just ahead. There was a huge adult store to the right of the Interstate. On the same exit, to the left, was a giant white cross. I thought, as I passed the exit, that both advertisements reveal a powerful choice, especially for men. Every man that approaches the exit has a choice. It is either Adult World or the Cross.

It is not just the exit--but when it comes to sexuality, we face that choice every day. Will it be the sexuality of the world or the sexuality that grows out of cross-centered marital love? One person views the opposite sex as an object--a sort of vehicle to get what he wants. The person that embraces a cross-centered sexuality sees a person to be loved.

It was interesting that the very next exit--just down stream from Adult World, was for Stinking Pond Road (SPR). SPR is a striking picture of one's destination when they bypass the cross and seek pleasure out of bounds.

Watch out of advertisments.