The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Time to be Resolute

My wife and I have often lamented the rarity of young men who are focused, purposeful, and manly. Where are the manly men? Jonathan Edwards was manly, not because he could bench-press 300 pounds, but because he, as a young man, was resolute.

Are you resolute? Do you make resolutions?

When Edwards was 19 years old he penned 70 resolutions. He reviewed them throughout his life. However, the resolutions would have been without strength, if it were not for his preface.
Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. 
Jonathan Edwards, in his preface, gives three keys to making resolutions. Follow these three principles and you will be on your way to becoming resolute.

1.  A sense of helplessness.  If you have made resolutions before, then you have also broken those resolutions The first key to keeping resolutions is to recognize that you have no independent power to keep resolutions.

2. Humility and prayer. Since have no independent ability to keep resolutions, then humble yourself and pray. Your inability should not be a point of ultimate discouragement, if it leads you to rely on God for help. Remember, God is omnipotent!

3. God's will. As you make your plans for 2014, submit yourself to God's will. It is good to humbly make plans. It is bad to make plans presumptuously.

Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17 

Now you have a simple way to make resolutions for 2014. When you fail to keep your resolutions, don't give up! Look to Christ, receive his grace, and start again. You are not trying to keep resolutions in order to gain God's favor. You are trying to be resolute because you are already loved by God (if you are a Christian).

Nourished in the Word Ministries (NITW) is the teaching and writing ministry of Ray Rhodes, Jr. The ministry of NITW is supported through the financial gifts of friends like you.  There are two ways to give.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

In 1982 I played Walter Mitty for a production at the Franklinia Playhouse in Vidalia, GA. Out of all of the roles that I played as a young actor, Mitty was my favorite. The play was based on the short story by James Thurber.

I have often thought that I would return to the stage (not that anyone is clamoring for my return) if I could once again play Walter Mitty. Since no offers are coming my way, I will likely not be making a comeback. However, like Mitty, I can dream.  

One of the reasons that I love the Walter Mitty story is because, I am a lifelong daydreamer. More than once I have been jarred back to reality by someone repeatedly calling my name (usually one of my children). 

If you have never read the Thurber story, I think you will find it well worth your time. You may even do a bit of daydreaming with Walter. If you go to the movie looking for a script that is faithful to Thurber's story, you will be disappointed. However, if you are in the mood for a fun, witty, romantic, and inspiring adaptation, then you are in store for a treat.

The movie (opened Christmas Day) stars Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty and Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff. Mitty is a 16 year employee at Life magazine and Melhoff has only worked there for a few months. As Life transitions from print to dot com a number of folks are left unemployed (including Melhoff).  

Mitty has been a great employee for Life. His job is in jeopardy because he can't find a negative, from a photo shoot, by the famous photographer Sean O'Connell (played by Sean Penn). This negative was to be the photograph used for the cover of the last print issue of Life.

The movie revolves around Mitty, his attraction to Melhoff, and his search for #25 negative. Early in the movie, Mitty gets lost in his daydreams. For good reason, his daydreams diminish in frequency as the movie goes along. Why do his daydreams decrease in number? The message is an important one. You will have to see the movie to find out.

Mitty finds later in life, what had escaped him in his youth. He finds it on several levels. 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about life. Life just supplies the context. Just remember, it may not be too late to see a snow leopard.

Stiller and Wigg are excellent in the movie. I also enjoyed the performances by Sean Penn and Shirley MacLaine.

Go see it! 

A short piece about James Thurber:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glad Tidings of Great Noise

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

Do you ponder? To ponder is to think deeply, to consider. It is to meditate. If you ponder, then you turn thoughts, statements, and events over and over in your mind and weigh them.  What was Mary "treasuring up" and "pondering?" The Bible says that she was pondering "these things." What things? She was treasuring up all of the things that had been told her by the angel (Luke 1:26-45), the greeting that she had received by Elizabeth (42-45), her trip with Joseph to Bethlehem (2:1-7), the birth of Jesus (19), and the visit and message of the Shepherds.  Mary pondered.

I wonder how often we follow Mary's example at Christmas time (or anytime). We are Crazy Busy and therefore we have no Margin (*to quote a couple of book titles). Margin is the space that surrounds the words on this blog post. Around the words, there is room left over. There is space. 

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah (Psalm 46:11).

The word "Selah" is used over 70 times in the Psalms. "Selah" means to pause and reflect. As the musicians would play and the singers would sing, they would pause. The pause allowed for a breath. It also allowed opportunity for a brief moment of reflection.

There is a lot of noise in the Christmas story. Angels constantly show up (Luke 1: 8-17, Matthew 1:18ff, Luke 1:26-38, 2:9-14). People and angels speak lyrically (Luke 1:46-55, 68-79, 2:13-14, 29-32). Shepherds testify to the wonder of the Christmas message (Luke 2:15-20). Bethlehem bustled with activity (2:1). The Birth of Jesus was preceded by, accompanied by, and followed by a lot of noise. There was the noise of the angels, the noise of Elizabeth, Zacharias, Mary, Shepherds, and Simeon.

After Joseph had taken his family to Egypt there would be more noise in Bethlehem, directly connected to the birth of Jesus. There was the noise of " . . . Rachel weeping for her children . . ." (Matthew 2:18). Rachel's weeping was the result of Herod's brutal murder of the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. 

That first Christmas brought not only "glad tidings" but also great noise.

Not much has changed about Christmas. Christmas is a time of singing praises to God. It is a time for noisy family gatherings. The decorating, shopping, and busyness of the season--leaves little time for pondering. Much of the noise is of the joyful sort. But there is also the loud noise that reflects, as Herod's noise, hatred of God. Babies are brutally murdered as they are ripped from their mother's womb. Why? Because God is rejected and hopelessness abounds. As we sing Silent Night we must not forget Rachel's weeping.

We should participate in and hear the noise of Christmas. We should also ponder. What Child is This? is not just a song, it is a question that must be asked and answered. Who was that babe in a manger? Such a question demands a response. It demands loud praise. It also requires pondering.

Do you ponder?

*Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. Margin by Richard Swenson.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Basketball for Christmas

Christmas ignites some of the most treasured memories of holidays spent with family. Christmas has always been eventful in our home. Reflecting on growing up in a relatively large family, I appreciate the sacrifices that my father and mother made out of love for us. Many of those sacrifices were most evident during the Christmas season. Two years ago my dad was in his final days on this earth. He would die on Christmas Day. He and my mother were married for over 51 years. That is a lot of time, a lot of memories, a lot of life together! My mother, now a widow, is on my heart and in my prayers. 

A special Christmas that I  remember is the year we lived in an old country home with a wrap-around porch. Outside of that house was an oak tree with a large knot prominently featured. That knot was my basketball goal. Frequently, I would take my over sized basketball and shoot at that makeshift goal.

There was an elderly lady that lived next door and she loved our family. She would watch me play with that ball day after day. Just a short time before Christmas, she died. A few days after her death her husband brought over some presents she had wrapped for us. As I opened my present, there beneath the wrappings was a new regulation sized basketball. I do not have that basketball today, but the death of my friend forever sealed that present and that Christmas in my memory.

Thoughtful and sacrificial giving, always makes an impression upon the heart.  

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Jesus was born to die.  The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus forever seals in my heart and mind the truth that God loves me.  He has demonstrated that love by giving the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus.  Such sacrificial love calls upon us to trust Him and then to display that kind of sacrificial love to others. May the gift of God in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus be the anchor of your heart and the focus of your activities this Christmas season and always.

Edited from a post that ran last December.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Opportunities of Christmas

What are your thoughts about Christmas? Whether one decorates a tree, exchanges gifts on December 25th, or sings White Christmas is really not the issue.  It should be said that godliness is not measured by whether one celebrates Christmas or not.  The question goes much deeper. Where are your affections?  What are your motives?  What is your ultimate goal?  These are questions that penetrate deep as you consider what your response will be to Christmas.  Think through the following considerations as you seek to honor God this holiday season.

1. Consider the Bible.   Embrace what Scripture embraces and rejects what it rejects.  When it is silent seek wisdom.  Celebrating Christmas would be among those ‘silent’ issues.  Christians are not commanded to celebrate Christmas.  As Christians we must seek to be Christ-centered people everyday.  There does not seem to be anything fundamentally unbiblical or biblical about decorating a tree or setting aside a season of holiday celebration.  They are really non-issues.  The issue is Christ-centeredness in all of life. For to me to live is Christ...(Philippians 1:19). Beware then of establishing a monument of self-righteousness based on your degree or lack of degree of celebrating Christmas.  As followers of King Jesus we should preach against materialism and worldliness and we should proclaim the excellency of Christ.  Why love the world or the things in the world when there is an all-satisfying, infinitely delightful, eternally lovely Christ to be loved?  That is a message worth communicating.  Decorating or not decorating a Christmas tree has little to do with our ability to proclaim that message.

2. Seize the Opportunities of the Christmas Season. It is, in fact, true that some folks would have any reference to God or the Bible removed from any public place in our culture.  The willful ignorance of our country’s history by such people is staggering.  That being said, the Christmas season seems to be a time when people are more open to discussing the Christian faith.  Christians can choose to seize the opportunities of the season.  For example, while many people are thinking about gifts, peace and goodwill, and family, it seems that Christians should look for opportunity to speak to those issues biblically.  I think that we have increased opportunities to be a witness for Christ during the holidays than at other times during the year.  Seize the opportunities by considering the following suggestions:

   A. Open Your Home During the Holidays.  As Christians we are to love the Lord and we are to love others.  A wonderful way to get to know people is to invite them to your home for a meal or snacks.  That opens up opportunity for engaging conversation.  Invite your neighbors and others to stop by your home during the holidays for coffee and cookies.  Fill your home with Christmas hymns to focus your own thinking and to serve as a witness to your guests.

  B. Give Thoughtful Gifts.  Gifts do not have to cost a lot of money.  We purchase some gifts but we have also made many others over the years.  My wife, Lori, has been teaching our daughters to cook since they were very young.  Through the years they have made a variety of homemade treats to give to neighbors, teachers. family and other friends.  You can attach a handmade card filled with Bible verses to the treats.  One year we gave away a photocopied selection of some of my writings that included a gospel presentation.  Our family enjoys reading and giving books.  Give books that communicate sound doctrine in a winsome way.  Be creative and seek to honor God through your giving.

  C.  Build Family Traditions.  We have a biblical responsibility to pass down the faith.  Christmas traditions, I think, can facilitate us in the effort.  The Bible states: “You shall teach (God’s Words) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  The beauty of all that God has created and how it displays His fingerprints is amazing.  God has not painted this world in black and white but has filled it with colors and tastes.  Christmas can be a time when our eyes are captured and our taste buds dance with more vigor--a time of learning that eating, drinking, and decorating a tree can all be done to the glory of God.  In fact, anything at all, except those things that God has forbidden, can and should be done to His glory.  Everyday Lori and I are seeking to grow in our faith and we are seeking to teach our children of the greatness of God. Our goal is that they will love the Lord and will tell others of His greatness.  One of our Christmas traditions is to read the Christmas story from the Old and New Testaments many evenings in December.  Take time to read the story of Christmas with your family.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home, Heaven and Bethlehem

Crawfordville, GA

I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams.  

Do you ever get homesick?  There are special attachments that most of us hold for the town of our birth.  I grew up in a small town and never imagined that it would have any real significance to me as I grew older.  However, as childhood dreams give way to adult realities, I have discovered, with the lengthening of the wrinkles on my face, a real affection for the town of my youth.

Certainly it is natural for one to have appreciation for the earthly place that they call home.  However, for the Christian, there is a land on a far away strand tis a beautiful home of the soul; built by Jesus on high, there we never shall die, tis a land where we never grow old (James Moore).  The Christian should have a homesickness for heaven.  Do you long for heaven?

Sometimes heaven has been referred to as a state of mind.  It has been viewed as a place where transparent spirits float amongst the clouds in a kind of dreamy existence.  The Bible, however, tell us that heaven is a real place where real people will spend a real eternity with a real Savior who really came to the cradle in Bethlehem and really lived a righteous life.  He really died on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice for His people, and really ascended to heaven, where today He really sits at the right hand of God praying for His people.  One day He will really return!

Before Jesus was crucified he spoke to his disciples about the place He was preparing for them.  His words were intended to give comfort and hope to disciples who were about to be severely tested and most of whom would eventually be martyred for their faith.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-2).

Jesus instills within the disciples hope.  He is about to leave but He will be coming back.  In fact, while He is away He will be actively preparing a place for them and for all who will believe in Him.  Heaven, according to the Bible, is a real place.

If you are a Christian, God is your Father; Christ is your Lord and Savior; and heaven is already your home, though you do not yet physically occupy it.  The Bible teaches that Christians are already citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).  Therefore, we should long for heaven.  We should live for heaven.  We should bring our heavenly citizenship to bear upon all earthly relationships and activities.  The people of this world should be able to look at our lives and see a little bit of heaven on earth. In fact, when the church is gathered, we do get a glimpse of heaven's worship (see Revelation 4-5 and Hebrews 12).

What does this have to do with Christmas? So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:28).  Christ came to the earth for the purpose of dealing with our sins.  Bethlehem was His first stop on the way to Calvary.  Over the cradle of Bethelehem loomed the shadow of the cross. Yet there is more in view here.  Do you see it?  Beyond Calvary was Heaven to which Jesus ascended and from which He will return for His people.  Without Bethlehem there is no eternal home for believers.  Without heaven, Bethlehem loses it's significance.

This Christmas, as we think of Christ, we must start with heaven.  From heaven Jesus came.  To heaven Jesus ascended.  From heaven He will return.  To heaven all of His people will go.  As you remember the cradle, don't forget to keep your eyes fixed on heaven.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Christmas Creed

You have probably heard it said, “No creed but Christ.” Sometimes that statement is a result of the diminishing of doctrine as a whole, except for some general thoughts about Jesus. That can’t be a good way to think. For one reason, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

When that was written, the “All Scripture” referred to the Old Testament. It is true that the ultimate point of all Scripture is to reveal Christ (Romans 1:2ff, Luke 24:25-27).  This is certainly what Charles Spurgeon meant when he said, “I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’” Anyone who is aware of the ministry of Charles Spurgeon knows that he did more than simply posit some general thoughts about Jesus. He preached from the Old and New Testaments and expounded on many truths. Yet he always took those truths to Christ.

I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’ Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon once gave an illustration about a young pastor who preached a poor sermon. The sermon was  "poor" because there was “no Christ in it.” Spurgeon said:

"I have never yet found a text that did not have a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it."

Spurgeon was not against using creeds, confessions, or statements of faith. A Christ-centered creed is a teaching mechanism. Creeds can help a person to fix big truths to their heart in short form.  The Bible contains creedal statements.  I Timothy 3:16 may be a fragment from an early Christian hymn. It is also a creed.

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Christians were unified around this confession. Paul said, “we confess.” That is what happenes when the church uses creeds as a part of their faith and practice. They say, “we confess.” What is it that is confessed? I Timothy 3:16 opens by confessing the Incarnation. “He was manifested in the flesh.” God became man and remained God. God took on humanity. He pitched his tent here with us.

The mystery is revealed in the coming of God to the earth. Do you want to know the secret of piety? The secret of piety is to confess with your mouth, believe in your heart, and live with by your life, the creed of I Timothy 3:16. As you celebrate during this Christmas season, make I Timothy 3:16 a part of your celebrations. It is a Christmas creed!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Lights

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:30-32

Lights are a vital part of our Christmas celebrations. The Christmas tree is filled with lights. We light candles on an Advent Wreath and we enjoy the candlelight service at our church. Many people drape their homes in lights. Simeon referred to Jesus as "a light" in Luke 2:32. Jesus referred to His disciples as "light" in Matthew 5:14.  As the Christian shines as a light, his godly life points to the brightness of Jesus.

Family Activity

Load the family in your vehicle and take a night drive through town. Survey the many different kinds of lights and decorations that you notice. You will likely see many thousands of lights on even a short drive around town. Sing holiday songs together as you drive and enjoy the beauty of sparkling lights against the night sky. Stop by a local restaurant and enjoy some dessert. Talk about the significance of Jesus as the Light. He is our clarity in a world of confusion and darkness. Think of ways that your family can shine as lights in a world that is shrouded by sin.

"Light dawns in the darkness for the upright" (Psalm 112:4).


Our Father in heaven, thank You that Jesus has come and brought light into a world darkened in sin. Thank You for the hope that we have in Christ. Help our family to shine as bright lights in a world of darkness. May our lives point to Jesus who is the light of the world. Amen.

Today's post is from Family Worship for the Christmas Season by Ray Rhodes. To order click beneath the picture and send us a message.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Expectations

At the end of the day it is a mixed bag, isn't it?  Christmas that is.  The season begins with a bang (actually with a Turkey on Thanksgiving).  Fresh from the table (and a game or two) shoppers are rushing to the store.  They are looking for that great deal, waiting in line at Walmart for the ridiculously priced iPad. They storm Victoria's Secret and even camp for a week at Best Buy.

Christmas opens with a promise that this is going to be the year when the magic happens. The family will get along. The presents will actually be special and appreciated. No more socks or ties. This will be the year when chestnuts roast and Jack Frost tickles our nose. The kids will smile, the family will sing, the bells will all be silver and sweetly chime "ding-a-ling." Can't you just hear them ring?

The Hallmark channel will get the tears flowing, perhaps at the same time the marshmellows are roasting. After the movie Grandpa will tell us of "the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

We fall for it year after year don't we?

Yet never are expectations met. After the wrappings are discarded we are soon checking our email, Facebook, and texts.  By noon the Christmas music sounds dull. It is an experience that is over and yet we hope that it might peek it's head around the corner and excite us again.

Some years we come face to face with suffering. A loved one in the hospital.  No money for presents (and barely enough for food). Perhaps Christmas greets us with a death.  Sometimes a loved one even dies on December 25th.  There is little time or desire for presents. We are met at the door by grief. The tears fall. Being home for Christmas will never be quite the same.

But what then? Do we drown in our tears? Or do we grieve with a senes of hope? You see the message of Christmas is a message of real promise and true expectation.  The Christmas story tells us that God pitched a tent here on the earth. He came to live among us as a baby, a boy and a man. And he lived a perfectly righteous life, died a substitutionary death (substituting for sinners; taking what they deserved), and was raised again from the dead.

Christmas should be a reminder to us that our hope is not found wrapped in beautiful paper, nor is it in family unity and peace on earth. Our hope is in Christ alone.

So when Christmas winks at you with promises of happiness--remember. Remember that the promises of the Christmas season will not be found in gifts, and family, food, and music. Those may all be good gifts from a kind and gracious God--and we should thank Him.  But they are not the end. They are pointers. They point to Him.  And the suffering that we may face at Christmas--its not the end. It is just a reminder that the glitter and gold of this world is quickly tempered.  Suffering should point us to Christ.  He suffered for us that He might bring us to God. As you exchange gifts, exchange expectations!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas Vision

Adapted from Family Worship for the Christmas Season by Ray Rhodes. To order click here and send us a message.

Do you have a vision for Christmas? Do you often find that your expectations for the Christmas season fall short? Do you find yourself frustrated by the time Christmas Day rolls around?  Perhaps it is time for you to reconsider your Christmas vision.

Christmas is about much more than your family and is much larger than your living room. The vision of Christmas stretches from before time and beyond time. The Bible speaks of the ". . . hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2). The birth of Jesus was planned before the world was created. God's plan of redemption was orchestrated "before time began." The Bible teaches that the salvation of God's people will bring Him glory in "the ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7).

When God sent His Son into the world it was the outworking of His plan that began before time and that continues into eternity. God's love for the world is amazing and was most wonderfully demonstrated in the sending of Jesus (John 3:16).

This is what we are embracing afresh at Christmas. Our vision of Christmas must look back to eternity past, forward to eternity future, and embrace a large vision for missions to the entire world.  That is what motivated Paul to say, "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10).

Making it Practical

Do an Internet search for Christmas customs around the world. Write down some of the more interesting traditions of people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Mark the places on a world map and pray that the people of that region would hear and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Find out  about missionaries who are serving in those areas and pray for them by name. When it is possible (and acceptable with security concerns) write a letter of encouragement to them. Put a collection box near your Christmas tree that will be used to collect coins for mission's giving.

A Prayer

Our Father in Heaven, I pray that your character would be recognized as great throughout the world. Please encourage and enable Your missionaries in their work. Please help our family and church to be faithful to share Christ during the Christmas season and always.

Scripture references from the New King James version.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Word to Husbands

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word (Ephesians 5:25).

The primary responsibility of a husband is to love his wife. It is sad that some wives seldom (or never) hear or feel that they are loved. On the one hand, it is impossible for a husband to make his wife feel loved. However, there are things that he can do to encourage her that she is loved. His responsibility is not to make her feel loved. His responsibility is to love her and tell her that he loves her. In doing so he is cultivating in her a capacity to know and feel that she is loved. He should do nothing that would argue otherwise.  How can you cultivate in your wife a feeling and a knowledge that she is loved?

1. You should be desirable. When your wife thinks of you, she should have every reason to think of you with desire.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you (Song of Solomon 1:2-3).

Why did she desire his kisses? Because his love was "better than wine." There was a sweetness, richness, and depth to his love. When she thought of him she thought of the best things in life. Like good wine his love was mature, invigorating, and delightful.  When he came to her mind she imagined kissing him, smelling him ("your anointing oils are fragrant), and she thought of his well-known character ("your name is oil poured out").  Based on these verses, a husband should be a good kisser. He should smell good. He should live a good life. When a man loves a woman, he loves her in every way. Because of love, he cares about how he smells and how he looks. How are you doing?

2. You should tell her that she is loved.  If your  wife does not know that she is loved, it should not be because you have not told her.

Behold, you are beautiful, my love;
behold, you are beautiful;
your eyes are doves (1:15).

It is important for you to regularly tell your wife two things: "I love you" and "You are beautiful."  You should find numerous ways to express your love to her. Though you never compare her negatively to other women (in the sense that she does not measure up) you may compare her positively. 

As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women (2:2).

He describes her beauty in very specific ways (4:1-7; 7:1-9).

How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O noble daughter!
Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand. (7:1-2).

3. You should tell her that you want to be with her.

Come, my beloved, 
let us go out into the fields
and lodge in the villages;
let us go out early to the vineyards
and see whether the vines have budded . . . (7:11-12).

Does your wife know that you love her, that you think she is beautiful, and that you want to be with her? 

Guys, we have a responsibility to learn how to better communicate with our wives. If they do not know and feel that they are loved, it should not because we have failed in our most basic duty to love them.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Parenting at 52: Watch out for "Precious."

Today I received a notice from Amazon. The email indicated that my order would arrive in two days.  What did I order? According to Amazon I ordered headphones for $350 and a video game for $50. I immediately called the family members who order things from my Amazon account. They all denied having placed the "1 click" order. I then clicked the cancel button on the order and called Amazon. All that they could tell me was that the order was placed at about 4:30 AM PST. 

The light began to dawn on my confused and dark brain. Where was I at 4:30 AM PST? Well, I was in my office at 7:30 AM EST. Then I remembered that my daughter Abigail (age 2) was with me at that time. She is fascinated by technology. It is not uncommon to find her hidden away with my phone.  This morning, while the coffee was brewing, she turned on my Kindle and turned on an Amy Grant Christmas album. I was busy setting up my computer and getting my books organized for the day. When it was time to take Abigail back upstairs, I checked the Kindle. I simply noticed that she was on the Amazon page. 

While I was on the phone with Amazon, I remembered the Kindle. I connected the time of the order with Abigail playing with the Kindle. I then figured it out. Abigail ordered some very nice headphones and a cool video game. I suppose that she was buying me some gifts for Christmas. I tried not to curse the "1-click" shopping option that makes ordering so easy. Thankfully the kind folks at Amazon were able to cancel my order. I changed my password, just in case.

I was reminded this morning that parenting at age 52 is very different from when I was 28. When I was 28 we did not have a computer or a cell-phone. Amazon did not exist.  Things were much slower 24 years ago. Parenting at 52 means coming to grips with technology, for one thing. I am not anti-tech (obviously). I think that we see the creativity of God on display with the development of all of kinds of devices. However, like any good gift from God, I have to be on guard for problems. The problems are not a result of the existence of technology. The problems are much deeper than that. The problems go all the way down into my heart. Technology, and anything else under-the-sun, serve to shine the searchlight on my sinful heart. 

This is the lesson that I must learn and that I must teach my children. Sin is first of all a heart issue. "1-click" shopping is not a bad thing. The bad thing is when I am so anxious over a product and my heart is racing, that I can't wait to click. Two-day shipping is not a problem. The problem is that my heart does not want to wait for anything. The problem with technology is that the creators of technology are savvy concerning the human heart. They know that we are impatient and that shiny things easily mesmerize us. 

At age 52 I have to better learn how to use and redeem technology for the glory of God. I need to help my daughters to see that "all that glitters is not gold." I must learn and teach patience. And I have to learn and teach that technology can become a "Precious."

I have a love/hate relationship with powerful things. Like Gollum I can see such powerful things as "Precious." I am tempted to think that if I can just get the "ring" then I will become the "master." And I hate what I can allow the "ring" to do to me. So I fight. Competing voices cry out. The only way that I can master technology and its virtual power, is to submit to the real Master, God the Creator.  

Parenting at 28 meant dealing with all sorts of things that were precious and that competed for the loyalty of my family. Parenting at 52 means dealing with new kinds of masters that are faster and that can change your life with just "1 click."