The Dancing Puritan

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Time To Kiss

Recently I read a post, The "15 Second Kiss" Experiment, by Ryan Frederick. Frederick got my attention! One of the challenges in marriage is time. This is especially true when there is a house full of children and a boatload of responsibilities. We have often laughed at Jimmy Stewart's line (as George Bailey) in Its a Wonderful Life. When George is having his nervous breakdown he asks, "Why do we have to have all of these children anyway?"

I am sure that you are like my wife Lori and me. We love, treasure, and thank God for our children. But, lets be honest, children require a lot of time and attention. Along with the runny noses, broken hearts, and interesting experiments that our children attempt; there are bills to pay, lawns to mow, clothes to fold, and a job to maintain. You know the story.

Who has time to kiss for 15 seconds? As Frederick points out 15 seconds is not that long of a time, except when you are kissing. He writes:

We burn 15 seconds all the time without thinking about it. We sit on our phones, daydream, work around the house, you name it – 15 seconds is a short amount of time for most tasks. However, when you’re kissing and consciously timing it, 15 seconds seems to be longer. And that’s a good thing!

Snap your finger while counting to 15. Imagine kissing that entire 15 seconds in the midst of your day. Yes, I mean times other than when the bedroom door is closed: 15 seconds before leaving for the office. 15 seconds when getting home from work. 15 seconds on Saturday before lunch. 15 seconds before leaving for church on Sunday.

15 seconds is just long enough to require a cease-fire from all other activities (bills, laundry, diaper changes) and to look into the eyes of your spouse, inch closer, connect the lips, and savor a kiss.

Why will accepting Frederick's 15-second kiss challenge be helpful? Think about it. How often do you race past your spouse in a given day? How often do you just rub shoulders, without much thought, because you are running to the next house-emergency? The person who you pass by is running on fumes, and desperately in need of affection. Studies show, and people often testify, that kissing is one of the most intimate acts of affection in the treasure-chest of intimacy.

Lori and I often find it difficult to have an uninterrupted minute of conversation in the midst of the steady current of life that keeps sweeping us downstream. Decisions are made on the fly as breathlessly we deal with the next issue, engage the next project, and race to the next event. We often struggle to engage one another in substantive ways. The reality is, the raging river is not going to slow down and the current will keep on moving. However, we can choose to get out of the river, take the next exit, find a quiet refuge, and kiss. Even 15 seconds might take some planning, but it will be well worth it.

It is possible to live alone even in marriage. Not being alone is more than occupying the same house, sleeping in the same bed, and riding in the same vehicle to church on Sunday. "Two are better than one," means more than being in geographical proximity to another person. It means inter-connectivity, interlocked arms, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind, and lips-to-lips connectivity. To not be alone in marriage requires the sun to stand still on occasion, at least for a few seconds. It requires collapsing into the arms of your spouse, holding, touching, talking, and kissing.

Perhaps 15 seconds will prime the heart, cultivate desires, and push this issue of connectivity to the point of making some plans that include face-to-face time with your spouse.

George: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.
Mary: I'll take it. Then what?
George: Well, then you could swallow it, and it'd all dissolve, see? And the moonbeams' shoot out of your fingers and your toes, and the ends of your hair... Am I talking too much?
Old Man: Yes! Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: How's that?
Old Man: Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?
George: Want me to kiss her, huh?      It's a Wonderful Life (Quote Here

So, you ask, "Do you want me to kiss her?" That's right. Better than giving her the moon, give her the sort of kiss that may make her daydream like Solomon's girl. She said, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth" (Song of Solomon 1:1).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sing me a Love Song

What is the best song on your play list?  For Solomon it was a song that celebrated the joys of marital/romantic/erotic love (Song of Solomon 1:1).

There are no celebratory songs, poems, or positive instructions in Scripture concerning erotic same-sex relationships. The celebratory, joyful, musical, and instructive words of Scripture are reserved for that male/female union, established by God, in the Garden of Eden. For the married couple (Adam and Eve) their relationship with one another would surpass their relationships with all others (parents, children, animals).

Marriage, from the beginning, was designed to be a unique, exclusive, and priority companionship between a man and a woman for a lifetime. Marriage is a "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh" kind of relationship.

Yet, as Genesis chapter three makes clear, marriage is fallen and in need of redemption. The redemption of marriage is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The best song on Solomon's I-Pod is one that honors God in his provision of romantic-erotic-marital love.  When God made Eve, Adam said, "at last." He had looked around at all of the livestock, birds, and beasts--but there was "not found a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:20). But when God made Eve, Adam said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh . . ." (23).

The best song in Solomon's collection celebrates God's gift of man and woman in a leave-and-cleave relationship, designed for intimacy. From Genesis chapter three forward, marriage is fallen and in need of redemption. However, redemption is supplied through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now marriage can positively display the love of Christ for his people.

Solomon knew the impact of sin and the challenges of relationships (Ecclesiastes 2:8, 7:25ff, Proverbs 1-7). He saw death as a bitter experience but even worse than death is the woman whose heart and hands are one big trap. The man who pleases God escapes the trap but the fool walks right in and the net is pulled (Ecclesiastes 7:25ff, Proverbs 1-7).  Solomon traces the problems of male/female relationships all the way back to Genesis. He writes, "See, this alone I found, that God made man upright but they have sought out many schemes" (7:28).

Even the best of marriages is wrought with problems. Since the fall folks have been scheming many things, resulting in much trouble.

In Song of Solomon we are shown the more excellent way; the closest thing post-fall to the pre-fall situation. With the whole of Scripture we know that, through Christ, a joyful marriage is not only expected, but also possible.

One of the great remedies to a culture, that is increasingly hostile to biblical marriage, is a godly man and a godly woman who are intoxicated with one another because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So with that, Solomon's song opens with these words, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth"(1:1).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Joy is a Big Deal

Joy is a big deal. Why? Joy indicates that we know, trust, and look to the Lord. God gives good gifts of food, drink, work, and children. Life and all of its accompaniments are gifts from him. What are we to do about gifts? Gifts are to be received and enjoyed. When they are, the gift-giver is honored. God is honored when we receive his gifts and enjoy them as an expression of our faith in God, and our joy in him.

Think about it like this: Not to enjoy, money, sleep, marriage, food, drink, work, possessions, honor, and children is a "grievous evil." It is a sin. Joyless living dishonors the giver of life. Such a dishonoring life is a discontented life. The joyless person receives but is never satisfied. He says things such as,  "The sunset could have been more beautiful. The food could have been more seasoned. My job should be more interesting. My church should be more _________." The joyless person receives sunshine, rain, green beans, and the smile of a child, but he is never satisfied.

The godly person is just the opposite. He rejoices in the Lord and is constantly learning at the school of contentment. In fact, he is content when the cupboard is bare or the tank is full. He is content because he knows that God is good and that God delights to provide for his children.

If having joy is the key thing of this life, how can joy be tapped into? 

Look! We need to look to God as the kind, generous, lovely Caretaker of his people. We are not on a search for gifts, but for God and for joy. We are charged in Scripture to "find joy." 

Herein is an essential principle. If you look for joy in people or gifts then you will be sorely disappointed, dissatisfied, disillusioned, and depressed. Such a search is like trying to catch the wind. Why? God has built into everything incapacity to provide what only he can provide. 

Only God can provide joy. He has designed people, money, honor, and possessions with an inability to provide what we need. The reason is that we are to have no other gods before the one true God. Only God can satisfy because only God is supremely satisfying.  If we try to suck joy out of cars, boats, vacations, and grandchildren--we will come back with parched lips every time. Why? People and things are not designed to give joy. They are designed to be enjoyed. There is a not-so-subtle difference. 

Gifts are an expression of love from God. He is the one who delights to give good gifts to his children and who, in fact, gives his children the entire universe for their enjoyment. The universe is not given for their joy but for their enjoyment.

God wants us to seek him first, foremost, and only. As we seek him, he supplies our needs and more. The gifts reflect his love. We are to receive his gifts and glorify God.  Only God satisfies. We are to taste him, smell him, savor him, and learn what it means to enjoy him forever.

Do you see why the absence of joy in eating and drinking is such a big deal? It says that God cannot be trusted, that he is not good. That is a grievous evil. To delight in God by enjoying his gifts, indicates that we are committed to the highest good.

Reflections above are from Ecclesiastes, Philippians and other passages of Scripture.