Category Archives: Love

Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Song of Solomon expresses the joys of romance and married love. God loves it when one man and one woman are totally in love with each other. Solomon and Abishag are the main characters, but knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body. While most of the previous posts in this series have dealt with the man viewing his new bride, this final post has the bride admiring her new husband.

She has to put words to how she feels. He has sung to her. Now, she will sing to him. There is an impulse in ancient love song toward hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. It’s perfectly permissible in a song. There is also a search for superlatives, words and phrases to highlight the value of the one being talked about. She compared her lover to the best things she could possibly think of in her day and time. In our search for superlatives, we might say “You’re astronomical, you’re galactical, you’re cosmic, you’re a star.” But her world was more about beautiful animals, dense forests, precious gems, lovely gardens, appealing smells, and great building materials. I want you to notice how many times his handsomeness and studliness is compared to precious gems or stones or to gold. She is trying to communicate his worth and value and her respect for him.

5:10-16 10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.

She thought he was stunning and masculine and he just shined with a great complexion. She admired him. There’s just no rivals, no incoming freshmen who could ever match the handsomeness of her collegiate stud. Out of ten thousand, he’s still the one to beat. You know how hard it would be to find someone in a crowd of ten thousand people. Yet, she did find him and can hardly believe that people like him actually existed. Talk about respect. This guy is one lucky dude. Her facial expression and tone and now her words say that he’s the man she wants.

11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.

This is not literal – a head of gold. He’s just number one in value to her. Gold was not native to Palestine. But it was used lavishly in the construction of important and valuable things, such as the temple. They even made false gods out of it. But she’s not making him a god. She’s not worshipping him. She’s saying that he has a good head on his shoulders. If his head was made out of pure gold, she wouldn’t be any better off. His level-headed approach was worth everything. She’s showing utmost respect for his judgment and his decisions. And when she disagrees, she does so winsomely. That’s how wise and perceptive he was and she was. I take it that he was well read, that he was a good leader, that he was a gentleman, that he was principled and moral, and had the utmost respect for women, especially her. He had the respect of a lot of people, even though he was young. And she just adored his jet black hair, black as a raven. There’s no gray in it. He’s young yet and he’s got a full head of wavy hair, and yet he is so wise.

12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

She’s just painting a picture with all this, isn’t she? She’s just giddy. He had beautiful eyes that just set perfectly with everything else. One resource said that the color of the dove noted hear would have been a deep blue color. When they would cluster up by a waterfall, the blueness would be set in contrast against the whiteness of the foam. He had gorgeous blue eyes. But they are white like milk. The guy is not a drunk with bloodshot eyes. He’s sober and in his right mind. These eyes are set like a jewel in a ring.

13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.

She is moved by his looks, his smell, his kisses. An argument can be made here for good hygiene. Fellows, don’t overlook it. He had great breath. But even more, he said some really nice things to her. The “beds of spices” on his cheek leads me to believe that he’s got a beard. But it’s attractive and well kept. Beards were common in this day. Remember this is the exaggerated language of a girl in love. Beards are beds of spices to the lover. He must have wore great cologne too. Ladies go smell some samples, buy the one that just drives you wild and give it to your husband. He’ll be spraying it all over his body!

14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.

Chrysolite was a precious stone of some sort. As is the case with all precious stones, its color and rarity made it precious. When you have a precious multicolored stone, it commands a lot of attention because not that many people have them. These stones were used in jewelry or in decoration items or sewn into clothing. They were objects of appeal and beauty in the ancient world. She’s saying this guy is such a rare find. When she looked at him, she just couldn’t believe that he was hers. She loves his arms and hands were considered part of the arm in the ancient world. They are so sexy looking. Gold is actually a soft metal and pliable. When he flexed, it was like the gold just reshaped itself on his arms. He’s well molded. His head was like gold and now his arms are too. She loved his arms, hands, and fingers. You get the feeling that these hands have caressed her many times. She’s studied them. They’ve steadied her in a moment of imbalance on a walk in the Lebanon forests. They caressed her cheek as they have strolled through a garden. They’ve held her strands of hair. They’ve written her love letters. They’ve even been balled up and protected her from some rogue threat. They’ve intertwined with her hands. They tenderly touched her body. They have been used to figure out problems. She’s saying, “He can figure things out with those hands.” Men love to figure things out. If a man can find his way through a jungle with only a tattered map and pocket knife, he feels so alive, affirmed, excited, encouraged.

His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires.

Just the plain meaning of this indicates that he’s got a six-pack evidently – a strong torso. I’ve got a six pack. It’s just buried beneath all the polished ivory. A sapphire is a bluish stone and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. If his torso is decorated with these, perhaps she’s seeing the ripples of the six pack. There is also a very good possibility that she is describing his manhood and the male anatomy with the polished ivory tusk like remark and the sapphires. Let the Spirit speak.

15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

This guy sounds like Conan the Barbarian or Hulk Hogan. He did not have bird-legs. Marble and gold and cedar made great building materials. This guy was one put-together dude. He was tall like a tree in Lebanon. You could build a life on this guy. He was like one of the choicest Cedar trees in the Lebanon forest. They provided great construction materials. You may not love this guy, but you have to respect him. He’s not a loose cannon who is going to go off on someone, but he’s put together and sturdy and demands a certain level of respect.

16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

She loved the way he talked to her. She loved him for being so much more than a sexual partner. He was a soul mate, a friend. She looks at her imaginary friends and says, “Do you girls see what I mean now.” This guy is one in a million.

This woman loved her man. When a woman loves a man this way, it is not a guarantee that he will never stray, but it captivates his attention like nothing else can. Many men have affairs with women who may be less physically attractive than his wife, but the woman he had the affair with made him feel like a man again.

Remember this is all a song. They didn’t always get it right. But when it was time to write the song about it all, these were the things that they wanted to say. They relished each other and became the closest of friends. Long before they pleasured each other’s bodies, they delighted each other with warm, creative conversation, time spent together, and loving embrace. We don’t know for sure what each of them looked like, but we can’t deny the love with which they were loved. And regardless of what they looked like, that’s what made all of this a beautiful thing. It’s the value of the one loved.

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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Solomon was taken in by the beauty of her figure and breasts. The picture is of two young gazelles, affectionate, playful, soft – something that you want to touch and enjoy watching. Fawns are young, sleek and even graceful. But they are also very skittish. If you make a quick movement, they will bolt away in fear. Solomon is saying I want to touch those, but I don’t want to frighten her. He’s being tender. He’s moving slowly and cautiously. I don’t see him aggressively squeezing or violently treating her. It’s so important not to attack your bride.

Are you surprised that the Bible talks about breasts in such an erotic way? God is Holy. He is pure. This can’t be obscene. A man and woman married, madly in love, and having the time of their lives. It’s a playful time, a flirtatious time, a sensual time. If a woman always asks, “Am I beautiful to you? Do you notice me?” a man is always asking not just “Do I have what it takes?” but “Is life with you going to be sexual?” When a wife walks by, it builds sexual tension in the visually oriented male. He notices her curves and shape. And with every passing day since the last intimate encounter, every one of her features become more distinct and attractive to him.

Does your wife feel desired by you and does she feel beautiful to you? If not, why not? The reason she uses all the make-up and accessories is that she wants to stay in your center of vision. Does your husband feel admired, nourished, sexually alive? Why not? Why are you leveraging or holding out on this precious gift of marriage?

6 Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense.
Now, in the flow of things, it appears that the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense refer to the same thing. But what are they referring to? Myrrh and incense were expensive perfumes. Let the spirit speak to you on this one. If I explain this one it may get you and me both in trouble. This is a work of verbal art. There is no sterile medical language to rob it of its eroticism. But there is no crudeness or obscenity to cheapen it. Each word and phrase lets us know that Sol basked in the beauty of it all.

7 All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
It seems now, that Solomon takes a step back to get the full picture. It’s like he’s saying, “From head to toe, you are just wonderful.” Of course, her body wasn’t perfect, but it was to him. It’s not so much what she looks like, but how he feels about her. With the exception of the teeth comment and the longer hair which is implied with the goat remark, we have no idea what she physically looks like. It doesn’t matter. What does matter, is how her husband viewed her (Mahaney). Remember it’s a song, poetry. He’s making some poetry. Her body is beautiful to him. He can exaggerate for effect if he wants to. To him, it was a perfect body. It’s perfectly acceptable to exaggerate in a song. Besides great romance is trial and error. Remember, this is a polished song, suitable for publishing. I’m sure Solomon and Abishag made their mistakes. Great romance isn’t about kissing just right or touching just right or a flawless evening. Romance is not reserved for those with flawless bodies. It’s more about fumbling and bumbling around together until you laughingly stumble upon those things that bring the greatest satisfaction and joy to you both. Romance, sex and love should be a no-pressure playground where you cultivate the spirit of playfulness. That’s what I sense in all the Song of Solomon – a spirit of playfulness and fun and joy within a marital context. That’s part of the marital fun. You open the gift of your sexuality together and begin to experiment and play for a lifetime. You give each other respectful signals of what is working and what isn’t and you just keep at it for a lifetime.

To Be Continued

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Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 3

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Part 2

4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built with elegance; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors.
Did this woman work out or what? What bride wants her neck compared to a solid, thick tower weighted down with heavy metal shields? Is Solomon messing up the poem? Is he about to spoil the romance of it all? The tower of David was a military place; it symbolized strength. The neck was a symbol of strength and inner character. She’s standing tall and straight. There is no shame. There is no disgrace. She has never been with a man, but she’s quietly confident. She was a true gift. She was not overwhelmed with embarrassment, even though she had some initial blushing. She had a tilt to her head and a sparkle in her eyes. She was ready for him to explore more.

I think that Solomon was undoing a necklace for her when he comments on her neck. Necklaces were made of coins and flat pieces of designer metal (Tommy Nelson and others). The clank of it all reminded Solomon of a fortress when all the soldiers would be called to battle and you could hear the whisking of swords going into their sheaths and shields bumping and clanging against the stone. “Her neck would hold much of the jewelry that a woman might wear. Such jewelry was often layered, where strands of jewelry were placed one on top of the other. This formed a layered appearance that could ascend from the shoulder and reach as far as the top of the neck.” Imagine the adrenaline rush as a soldier who was getting ready to lay it all on the line on a battlefield. Now, there is a different adrenaline rush. When he tenderly takes that necklace off her beautiful, slightly tilted neck while she was holding those long strands of black curly hair up away from her neck, he was totally lost in it all. She had this amazing body language. The way she held herself just captivated him, and yet she never said a word.

You can’t “not” communicate with others, especially a spouse. Without saying a word, you reveal your feelings and attitudes. Your smile says, “I’m happy” and a fake smile says “I’m not happy, but I want you to think I am.” Your frown and crossed arms say, “I’m mad,” and your drumming fingers and loud sighs say, “I’m impatient – get moving.” Even when you try to show nothing, your closed-off stance and refusal to speak say, “I don’t want to talk about it” or “I’m rejecting you.” You communicate non-verbally with facial expressions, gestures, and posture and you also communicate by how close you get spatially to people (McKay, Messages…). It seems that Solomon is doing most of the talking, but what I see is that her body language is awesome. He’s within 18 inches of her. He’s seeing all the nuances of her face. He sees if the eyebrows are raised or lowered, if the forehead is wrinkled or smooth, if the skin is pale or toned. She gave him all the gestures he needed to let him know that he was saying and doing the right things and that she loved it. Your face is an ever changing billboard signaling your attitudes and reactions.

All the men know what I’m talking about when I talk about “the Look.” The Look is a very useful tool for women and can accomplish many objectives. When she is upset or disapproving, “the Look” will often get him to stop doing something. When she is disappointed the Look can spur him to action (Pam Farrel). Abishag had great body language.

This is one kind, tender man, but it is also one amazing woman. He’s taking it all in. He’s being romantic. Guys, take note. He’s gazed into her eyes. He’s whispered affirming words. He’s helped her untress her hair. He’s traced her lips with his finger. He’s studies her teeth! He’s kissed her. He has tenderly removed her necklace. He’s just now getting to first base! His tempo is impeccable and it all says that he was attracted to her. He’s not even below the neck and he’s just mesmerized. And she overtures back a melody of body language that lets him know that all this feels so loving to her. She tilts her head just a little when he helps her to let her hair down, when he so delicately moves his finger along her lips. Her cheeks are a little red, but she’s confident and so alive in his presence. It all says to him, “I really like this.” Men, this is how women go about connecting. Intimacy means sharing secrets, talking things over, cuddling.

Gary Smalley wrote, “Men are microwaves, women are Crock-Pots.” He’s right. A man 3,000 years ago could jump out of a chariot and into the sheets just about any time of day or night and enjoy sexual things in just about any form. Has anything changed? God designed men to be visually oriented. This is not an excuse to be immature in how you treat or view a woman, and if you as a woman are irked, irritated, or angry about this basic wiring, your issue is with God, not your husband. A man is visually-oriented. A woman is so different. She needs time and tenderness to build rapport. If you have a problem with that, take it up with God. That’s how she’s made. But God made us both this way. It’s complimentary. If women were wired like men, nothing would ever get done. It would all be just one big romance. You’d never leave home. Tommy Nelson has suggested that if men were wired like women, we would have no over-population problems in certain parts of the world. God wired us this way so that men would always keep coming back to their wives and so that women would always reach out for him when he arrived.

Solomon is disrobing his bride. He expressed appreciation for everything he saw. The eyes were pure. Her hair was tranquil. Her teeth mature. Her lips loyal. Her cheeks were modest. Her neck showed integrity and confidence. Now, we see desirability. He’s worked down to the neck, what’s next?

-To Be Continued-

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Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 2

To read Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 1
This is Part 2.

2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Our teeth come in pairs. She still has her pairs. She has all of her teeth. That was a big deal 3,000 years ago. This doesn’t just suggest good hygiene; it suggests maturity as well. Solomon is not robbing the cradle! She’s past the baby teeth stage with huge gaps that are common between teeth. She’s smiling at him and her teeth are clean and smooth. Smiling is a woman’s greatest cosmetic.

3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Do you know what I think? I think Sol is moving in for a kiss, that’s what I think. But he’s not in a hurry. He just takes it all in. Lips can be so sensual, their shape, the way they move when words are shared. Kisses are powerful too. Her lips were ravishing to him. He loved their color, their shape. I think he’s tracing her features with his finger, gently touching her lips while he whispers his approval and admiration. He watches her as she shapes and verbalizes her words.

There’s a touching story told from the hospitals of WWII, where a young and badly wounded soldier was brought in from a hellish week of fighting. After doing what she could for him, the nurse asked if there was anything else she could do. “Yes,” he said. “Could you just put on some lipstick while I watch?” There’s something about the beauty of a woman that comforts and soothes the soul (Captivating, 39). This wounded soldier saw the beauty of her lips.

Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Note that the veil is still on. This guy is incredible! Talk about taking your time. Guys, pay attention here! He’s not in a hurry. And as his eyes take in the beauty of his bride, maybe for the first time due to the veil customs that women had to observe, her cheeks turn red, like pomegranate. She’s never been seen and observed like this before. He’s right there, only inches from her face now on this the beginning of their honeymoon. And she’s blushing.

The pomegranate has a red-and-white skin, which reminded the ancient poets of a blushing bride. Pomegranate is defined as a several-celled reddish berry that is about the size of an orange with a thick leathery skin and many seeds with pulpy crimson arils of tart flavor (Webster). But it’s the reddish color that’s the point of focus here. The temple wasn’t just the soft spot beside the eye, but included the cheek as well in ancient poetry (Hocking). He’s describing her cheeks and her blush of innocence. She can’t believe all the joy of this moment and she’s shy about being admired and looked at so closely, but yet she is enthralled to have captivated him so entirely. Sammy Kershaw would say, “She don’t know she’s beautiful, though time and time I’ve told her so.”

I come back to this idea of blushing. You know, I’m concerned today about the fact that we don’t blush much anymore. Young girls pretty much say and do just about anything for anyone. They don’t blush on their honeymoon because they’ve already done it all. Our culture says we should normalize immorality and in so doing, they have hollowed sex out and removed it from a sacred place. It’s something that is pervasive. “Our society is filled with people for whom the sexual relationship is one where body meets body but where person fails to meet person; where the immediate need for sexual gratification is satisfied but where the deeper need for companionship and understanding is left untouched (Buechner).” “When we bypass the soul and spirit in relationships, when we’re too familiar with sex – let it intoxicate us too young and too early and with too many – we lose its mystery and wonder (Bly).” And we don’t blush anymore.

Some of you single girls wonder why the boys get bored with you. You tell all and reveal everything in the first week of the relationship. Be mysterious. Pace your secret-sharing. No one should just waltz in and get what they want in the dating relationship. Be cool, fun, and exciting and try new things, but there are some things he shouldn’t see, should not know, and has not touched. It’s the chase of what he can’t have and doesn’t know that keeps him interested in the dating relationship. When you dish it all out on the second date, there’s nothing for him to chase after. Hold back a little. I think they call it “Peepin’ it.” If you tell everything, there’s nothing to chase after. No adventure to pursue, no challenge, no uncharted territory. You’ve dished it all out. Keep parts of your life to yourself. And when you get married, it’s OK if you blush. You’ll have a lifetime to explore and do things with your husband and reveal all the secrets that you hold. A guy can get sex from any weak or needy girl that’s crushing on him. You become old hat after a few months. And he probably won’t remember your name in 7 years. Girls today give up way too much information. It should take the guy months to get to know you. Easy girls are not keepers. They are a temporary fix until the right one comes along. If he stops chasing, it means he doesn’t really like you or he’s not man enough to keep pursuing – either way you find out what you need to know. And, guys, if you tell your girlfriend that if she gives up too much too quick then you will get bored and walk away, I guarantee you that she will stop. A fast win means the game is over way too quickly (with help from Lookadoo).

– To Be Continued –

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Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 1

The Song of Solomon (in the Bible – Old Testament) expresses the joys of romance and married love between two partners. It is very erotic and sensual. “The most obvious feature of the Song of Songs is the sexually explicit nature of the material, sensitively guised in figurative language (Tom Constable).” It’s the most erotic literature in the Bible.

The majority of commentators believe that the lover is Solomon, presenting himself in the prime of life and describing his first true love (important considering that he had seven-hundred wives and three-hundred concubines). Some feel the bride was Abishag, the beautiful woman that assisted David when he was older (1 Kings 1:1-4). From what we can tell, she was not a lady of the royal courts. She was a country girl and naturally beautiful to him without a lot of cosmetics.

Knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. This can be confusing, but once you break the code of ancient poetry, the meaning just unlocks before you.

As noted by one author, because all the sexual references are cloaked in symbolism, a child can pick this book up and read it without offense. But a man and woman can pick it up and find a marriage manual on the most intimate part of marriage. It’s poetic, yet specific. It’s frank, yet innocent and pure.

There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body.

Song of Solomon 4:1-11. This is apparently when Solomon and his bride are finally in the bridal chamber after a week of wedding festivities. She apparently is disrobing. Solomon takes his time to absorb all of her characteristics.

4:1-11 1 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! He’s saying you’re beautiful and He says it twice for emphatic affect. This is a smart man. Your wife or girlfriend wants to know that she is beautiful to you. He told her that she was beautiful and he looked right into her eyes when he said it.

Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Solomon starts with looking into her eyes. Freshly married and her veil still on, he sees that she has given herself to him and him alone. He connects with the eyes. The eyes of a dove are wide-eyed and beautiful. I see doves feeding at our bird feeder all the time. Their eyes are captivating. They are alive with loyalty and romance.

Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead.
Watching flocks go down this mountain, with the sun reflecting off their coats of fur is the picture here. The flowing movement of those herds and their hair as they come down the mountain with the sun reflecting on them is what Solomon is seeing (Hocking,Romantic…, 99). If you got enough of these goats Watching flocks go down this mountain, with the sun reflecting off their coats of fur is the picture here. The flowing movement of those herds and their hair as they come down the mountain with the sun reflecting on them is what Solomon is seeing (Hocking,Romantic…, 99). If you got enough of these goats moving moving down the mountain, it looked like a head of hair, waving in the breeze. As she let her curly black hair down, it cascaded over her shoulders and Solomon loved it.

We don’t have to speak the same Hebrew idioms. In fact, telling your wife or girlfriend that her hair reminds you of goats could get you in trouble today. Her hair and how she tossed it around just mesmerized Solomon, gentle, soft, flowing hair, that rested on thin shoulders – simply incredible. I thought of the country music song sung by Charlie Rich: “My baby makes me proud, Lord don’t she make me proud She never makes a scene by hanging all over me in a crowd ‘Cause people like to talk, Lord, how they love to talk But when they turn out the lights, I know she’ll be leaving with me CHORUS: And when we get behind closed doors Then she lets her hair hang down And she makes me glad I’m a man Oh no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. My, behind closed doors. VERSE: My baby makes me smile, Lord don’t she make me smile She’s never too far away or too tired to say “I want you” She’s always a lady, just like a lady should be But when they turn out the lights, she’s still a baby to me.”

I think Solomon probably grabbed several strands of this black curly hair and held it against his cheek. She must have liked it because the next verse talks about her teeth. She smiled.

2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone.

Abishag has all of her teeth! Our teeth come in pairs. She still has her pairs. She has all of her teeth. That was a big deal 3,000 years ago. It’s not so much that they’re straight as it is that they are still there for her and they’re mature. This doesn’t just suggest good hygiene; it suggests maturity as well. Solomon is not robbing the cradle! She’s past the baby teeth stage, with huge gaps that are common between teeth. A sheep that has been sheered has a pinkish white color. Guess what? She’s smiling at him and her teeth are clean and smooth. Sol loved her smile.

—To Be Continued—

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30 Days to Live – Born February 22, 1968 – Died January 31, 2009 | How will you live your dash?

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” –Randy Pausch

Those words were spoken by a guy whose book I recently read entitled, The Last Lecture. Doctors estimated that Randy Pausch had three to six months of good health remaining. He didn’t waste those remaining months. He spent time with family, with friends and with colleagues. And he wrote a book.

The Last Lecture is a collection of life’s lessons and reflections, by a man with just a short time to live. Ironically enough, his book is more about living than dying. He talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others, and seizing every moment, because in his case, life had to be squeezed into just a few short months and ten cancerous tumors in his liver were not going to cheat him of even 10 minutes that he had left.

Many college professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to ruminate on what matters most to them as a professor and as a human-being. They are invited to talk about their lives and the life lessons. Carnegie Mellon invited Pausch to do the same, and Pausch’s lecture became a book.

In preparation for a lecture series that I’m doing called “30 Days to Live”, I’ve been living as if it’s my last 30 days.

What if you had only 30 days to live? How would you live? Who would you want to be with? What would you like to say to them? Where would you like to go? What would you like to do? Would you modify your weekly schedule to allow for more together time? Would you still watch the same amount of television? Would you still fret over the same tit-for-tat stuff, hold grudges or get bitter? Would life’s little irritations even matter to you? Would you talk to God more? Would you admit that He existed? Would you go to church more? Would you spend your money differently? Would you follow through with your good intentions? Would you need to connect with a family member that you had distanced yourself from? Is there an apology that you would need to make? If you had only 30 days to live what unfinished business would you need to take care of? Is there a son that you need to call? Is there a daughter that you need to hug? Is there a parent you need to sit down with? Is there an issue that you need to resolve? If you had 30 days to live, how would you live? Are there habits that you would give up? Are there lifestyle changes that you would make? Is there a letter that you would have to write? Is there a task that you would need to do? Between your date of birth and your date of death is a dash. This post is about that dash and about the lecture you leave behind while you live.

After reading Pausch’s brief book, I couldn’t help but think about the last talk, post, or lecture that I would be forced to give some day. And since I only have less than 30 days to live (at least, that’s how I am living these days though no diagnosis has been given to the contrary and I’m healthy so far as I know), I had better go ahead and write about a few things that I need to share, something to remember my life by and to get communicated what I need to say to the people I love. What would my last lecture sound like assuming that I only had 30 days to live?

1. Live in the present moment. Savor your days and simple things. If I have any regrets in life, it would be this one – that I always looked ahead to the next thing without fully enjoying the moment. I don’t know where my 20’s went. My 30’s are just a blur. My 40’s are just beginning and I want to savor every moment.

2. Read and learn as much as you can. Learn like you’ll be here forever but live like it’s your last day. Be a student of the Bible because in it we encounter God.

3. Develop and live by a biblical, Christian worldview, knowing what you believe and why and how Christianity is true. Don’t ever abandon the faith. The Gospel is true and is the hope of the world. Christianity answers the deeper questions of life like no other belief system in the world. Where we came from, why we’re here, what life’s purpose is, what went wrong in the world, what God is doing to fix it, why the bible is so special, what God eventually does to resolved suffering and evil, and how we know there is life after death – all of these questions are so ably addressed by a Christian worldview. No matter what happens, don’t abandon the faith. Christian Theism is defensible and the resurrection changes every thing.

4. Love your spouse with a mature love. Allow all of your learning and growth in life to translate into a love for your lover, where mistakes can be talked about and true intimacy can be achieved. I want to thank my wife for all that she has given to me over the years, so selfless in caring for children, allowing me to pursue degrees, and setting me up to enjoy daily life. Donnette, I have to say thank you and please live your life knowing that you were loved, even though my own selfishness seemed to indicate otherwise and hindered me from understanding how love was supposed to work. I offer my sincerest apologies for inflicting hurt. I also want you to know that my happiest memories in life have you somewhere in the picture or on the slide of life. College, career, moving, graduate school, children, and life transitions – you are in all of them. The dates, the baby’s first cry, the first job after college, the Christmas mornings, the trips home to see family, the great dinners, the songs sung, the little moments of humor and silliness – only you babe.

5. Be absolutely crazy over your children. Don’t placate or pamper them. Shoot straight and let them feel the consequences of their actions. But be the safest place in the world for them to go to talk about anything and everything in life. Have no “off-limits” topics. Talk about anatomy to theology to just plain old life and be fully there when you talk. Tell them what is important to you. Make it clear how they can live their own life, but that if they wanted to honor you as a parent, how best to go about that.

Megan, I love your ways, so considerate and kind. I love how you laugh when you’re really tickled. I love your curly hair, to see you lost in a great story, to hear the word “Dad” mid-sentence to just make sure I’m still there and plugged in to what you are telling me. You are wise in so many ways, a lover of music, and passionate for animals and left-out people. I absolutely adore your artwork and sketches. You be a work of art; make life beautiful with whatever you are given to work with. My sense is that you will graduate from IWU someday, get married, have a family, all the while, creating, sketching, painting some of the most beautiful things one could imagine.

Will, you have no idea how much you mean to me. You are quiet, yet so fun loving and ornery. You are a man I will always respect, for getting on the mat and wrestling for something you believe in. As you get older, you are looking more like I looked when I was your age. You don’t have to achieve anything for me to love you any more than I do. God has given you the ability to process your thoughts slowly, deeply, and thoroughly. When it’s all done, I love hearing what you have to say. Your love for the outdoors, for adventure, for the mountains and rivers, pulls me back to my roots and primal instincts. God has given you the gift of appreciating His nature gifts and living from them. When you kayak tour and hike and climb and travel and experience all of this, know that I will always be in those moments with you. My sense is that you would love to see the world and that college and/or the military or a career will be the vehicle that takes you along this path. In all your journeys, there will be one cheering for you as you explore and lead a God-honoring life.

Levi, I could not imagine life without you. God has given you some great abilities and I want you to use everyone of them for Him. Honor God with your life. Really enjoy knowing and loving Him through your gifts. Is there anything more honoring to God than that? My sense is that you’ll go to a Big Ten school, study engineering, play a sport, and build that home for unwed mothers that we’ve talked about someday. Whatever you do, use your words, sharp intellect and athletic ability to honor God and win great victories for His kingdom. You honor your mother. And when people want to know what you attribute to your life success, you tell them that there was this little 5 foot tall woman who fixed the greatest meals in the world, invested so much time in your upbringing, and who showed you how to be tender and kind.

6. Always partner with a local church, serving others in the community, helping to reclaim a fallen creation, fulfilling the cultural mandate to steward the creation as well as to make disciples of Jesus. My mother wrote in her journal that her one great wish for all her family would be that all of her children would be a part of a local church all their lives. “Mom, here I am, leading one. I have championed that which you so deeply have believed in.” The church is the hope of the world when it’s working right. I would also add that I appreciate my immediate family, my brothers and sister. You always carry your family with you. There probably isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t recall some memory or experience that you had as a child with your family. Randy, Becky, Jeff, and Rob (and your families), remember our mothers request and legacy. May the family circle be unbroken when we are all together once again.

7. Cultivate a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Don’t become a “religionist.” Follow Christ with passion, go against the cultural tide if you have to, and make Him your greatest pleasure. Do life as he asked us to do it.

8. Have a passion in life that you care deeply about. Don’t worry about what other people think. Live from your passion, always showing gratitude for those who help you along the way.

Sitting around the table a few days ago and thinking about these things, I asked the kids, “If you only had 30 days to live, what would you do and who would you do it with?” The consensus was that they would want to do things with their immediate and extended family. But the specifics of what they wanted to do varied. (I give these is grocery list fashion)

Levi, would want to take in a Colts game. Visit the 5 places he would like to go to the most (California, NYC, Hawaii, Alaska, and Dallas.) Experience 0 gravity. Go to Cedar Point one more time. Help all abused dogs. Go to a BCS football game. Go to Michigan Wolverines football game with uncles and cousins. Try the worlds hottest pepper and get on the wall of flame at Wings Etc. See Dad run a NFL play or catch a pass in a game. Visit all Big Ten Stadiums. Solve a Rubik’s Cube.

Will would visit the Grand Tetons and the Boundary Waters and go to WV to kayak with the dogs.

Megan would adopt some death-row dogs and donate her money to the Humane Society. Hug everyone she cared about. Stay in a cabin in the mountains. Eat as much as she wanted. Would not exercise.

Donnette would go to KC and spend time with family there. Spend time with parents in Quincy, IL. Go to Israel and Ireland with family. Teach her kids how to make a few of their favorite recipe’s. Make a CD at Gaither Studios with encouraging songs, songs about being faithful, loving God and then donate CD’s to prisoners, crisis pregnancy centers, nursing homes and others needing encouragement. Somehow be able to share her heart on a big scale with her nation for the burden she carries for them. Tell them to look to God’s Word on the key issues like family, sex, faith, abortion. Go buy a beautiful dress and not worry about the cost. Then go have dinner and attend an outdoor concert with me in KC or Colorado. She would hope that she wouldn’t have to do any grocery shopping or laundry.

I would take half a month and see the world with my family: tour Jerusalem and sail the Sea of Galilee; sat down for lunch in Greece and stand in the amphitheater of Rome; fly over the Swiss Alps and stay in a mountain lodge; visit a few key stops on Paul’s missionary journeys; spend time with a C.S Lewis guide in England and see his home, Oxford office, and pub he lunched in; do Alaska and Australia and European villages and towns. I would show my kids how to use my library and write books with it. Take some time for extended family and church family friends and any atheist friends who would care to talk about the deeper spiritual questions. Spend a day or so with children who are not expected to live very long. I have no desire to ride a bull, jump out of a plane, or visit a celebrity. I would spend the next 15 days or so at home with the people I love, sharing my thoughts, appreciating the moment. Last meal: Donnette’s homemade pizza.

Randy Pausch, Born: October 23, 1960 – Died: July 25, 2008. He was 47. Joey Nelson, Born: February 22, 1968 – Died: January 31, 2009. He was 40 years old. How will you live your dash?

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Brevity of Life, Christian Worldview, Church, Death, Family, Good Life, Home, Legacy, Love, Mother, New Year, Spiritual Life, Stewardship, Uncategorized, Worldview

“I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem” | Alcohol, Christmas, and Getting Real through Tough Love

In Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, he tells a story about confession. He found himself in a rehab center north of Minneapolis. The setting on this particular day was in a recreation room with twenty-five chemically dependent men and a counselor named Sean Murphy-O’Connor. A man named Max was in the hot-seat, a seat in the middle of the room.

Max was a nominal Christian, married with five children, owner and president of his company, wealthy, affable, and gifted with remarkable poise. Keep in mind that no alcoholic is truthful with how much he or she drinks. Sean knows this, and so begins his day of therapy.

“Max, how long have you been drinking?”

Max gives this long, detailed list of how much and what he drinks.

At the end of it, Sean, the counselor said, “You’re a liar.”

Max was offended, but composed himself quickly. Eventually, he admitted more than before. He kept a bottle of vodka in the nightstand, a bottle of gin in the suitcase, another in his bathroom cabinet, and three more at the office.

The questioning went on, “Have you ever been unkind to one of your kids?” Max asserted that he had a good relationship with them.

“But I didn’t ask you that.”

“When have you been unkind to your kids?”

Max suddenly knew what he needed to say about his daughter on last Christmas Eve, but said that he couldn’t remember the details. Sean, put the phone on speaker mode so that all could hear, and called Max’s wife for an explanation of what he suddenly could not remember. The conversation went like this:

“Hello ma’am. I’m calling in the middle of a group therapy session and your husband just told us that he was unkind to your daughter last Christmas Eve. Can you give the details, please?”

A soft voice filled the room (I’ll paraphrase), “Yes, I can tell you the whole thing…. Max gave Debbie some money to buy the nicest shoes she could find on Christmas Eve. On his way back home, Max stopped at the Cork-n-Bottle, a tavern a few miles from our house. He locked little Debbie in the truck with the engine running to keep her warm in the 12 degree weather. It was 3 in the afternoon. Max met some army buddies in the tavern and came out of the tavern at midnight. He was drunk. The motor had stopped running and the car windows were frozen shut. Debbie was badly frostbitten on both ears and on her fingers. When we got her to the hospital, the doctors had to operate. They amputated the thumb and forefinger on her right hand. She will be deaf for the rest of her life.”

Manning describes Max when he heard these words: “Max appeared to be having a coronary. He struggled to his feet making jerky, uncoordinated movements. His glasses flew to the right and his pipe to the left. He collapsed on all fours and sobbed hysterically.”

All of the other addicts left the room and no man will ever forget what he saw that day. Max was still on all fours. His sobs had soared to shrieks. Sean, the counselor, approached him, pressed his foot against Max’s rib cage and pushed. Max rolled over on his back. Sean told him, “Get out of here before I throw up. I am not running a rehab for liars!”

Manning summarizes: “The philosophy of tough love is based on the conviction that no effective recovery can be initiated until a man admits that he is powerless over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable… For Max there were three options: eventual insanity, premature death, or sobriety…

Max later got honest and became more open, sincere, vulnerable, and affectionate than any man in the group. Tough love had made him real and the truth had set him free (123-130).” If we are a prisoner of our pride, confession is impossible. Lies trap you because you have to live in your own false little world that you have created. You can’t allow anyone to see the true you. You have to keep up the show and keep pretending that you’re that person that everyone loves you to be.

How about getting real with your need this Christmas? You are only fooling yourself and no one else. See the real you, and rather than retreat into denial, own your problem, refuse to medicate with alcohol, and achieve a new intimacy with those you want to love over the holidays. Tough love can set you free.

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Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christmas, Love