Category Archives: Love

Things Grand & Beautiful

[I must apologize in advance for all the baby content.  A father simply cannot hold back when talking about things that are beautiful and grand.]

More and more I’m beginning to realize I’m the luckiest guy on this blessed earth.  I am, and this summer has provided me some respite to dwell on what all is beautiful and grand in my life.

Most of all, I must say it is who I am in Christ.  That cuts to the core of what I was made to do and who I will be for eternity.  I was made to enjoy God, and all the things he’s made for us.  This simple life I have now is just a snapshot of what’s to come.

One of the more beautiful things I have witnessed this summer is my family’s love for each other.  It has been a joy to see my grandparents on my side of the family as well as those on my wife’s side, embrace with gladness their grandparent-hood with my son.

Anyways, I wanted to share with you my life, in hopes you’ll find things for yourself that are “grand and beautiful” in yours.  I had to work to find them.  I don’t always have this perspective, but that’s what I’m out to change.

The One Who Wears My Ring

The One Who Wears My Ring

The old Roman stones were rough,

The nearby streets hustling bustling,

With the downtown baazar filled with stuff,

I’m found wanting.

 

Though the blue sea and its warmth does please,

The carpets of Anatolia do spark wonder,

One can live life here quite at ease,

But still for one thing do I hunger.

 

Fascination is filling its appetite,

And my eyes are filled with new sights,

Curiosity is overwhelmed with the number

Of unexplored corners, and unknown streets.

But when all is still and well,

The buses and taxis have had their fill,

When the fishermen have no fish to sell,

I’m found wanting one thing, still.

 

If I could travel even more…

If I could try the world’s foods…

If I could meet the most interesting people…

If I could see the oldest ruin…

I would still be found wanting this one thing.

 

In man’s pursuit of beauty in all the land,

All he wants is to walk with her, hand in hand.

Though the world interest, curiosity, and fascination bring

Only let me be with the one who wears my ring.

“My wife married five men, all of which were me.”

I’m taking today to share with you just a golden video of wisdom from three great men I highly admire.  John Piper pastor of my youth, Tim Keller excellent author on making timeless truths relevant for the modern day man, and DA Carson one of the most respected scholars in my book.

Together they’re talking about the covenant of marriage, and how that covenant, not the feeling of being in love, will be sustaining power in a marriage.  So worth the listen.

Notable excerpts:

Tim Keller: “My wife married five men.  All of which were me….hes trying to get across the fact you change, and your spouses change….when you get married you change each other.”

John Piper: “[Covenant] is the ground where the flower grows.  If you are in a season where your flower is wilted and you think the solution is to pull the plant up out of the ground, thats not the solution.  The ground of covenant, the ground of promise, the ground of “no divorce, maybe murder” is the ground where the flower can flourish again.  And my life is a testimony of 42 years of falling in love with my wife all over again…”

The original link can be found here.

A Sacrifice that Commands Attention

Morris and Wendy Johnson work with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the US now (they used to work abroad), and from time to time I get an email from them about their whereabouts, their work or a story.  On Easter they sent out a wonderful Easter story!  It embodies how vital effectual translation is.

Linguists and Translators (which the Johnsons are) don’t just deal with words, but ideas, for ideas are communicated, seen, and felt through words.  But say you come to a culture in Paupau New Guinea who has never heard of Jesus Christ, never heard of Christianity, doesn’t even have a reference point of sacrificing things for their wrong-doings, how do you begin to communicate ideas like that to them.  This wonderful Easter story shows that struggle, and the surprising response of the people.

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A Sacrifice that Commands Attention

Adapted by Borghy Holm from an excerpt from In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson with Hyatt Moore (Chapter 16: Broken Bodies).

“How could villagers in a Papua New Guinean rain forest grasp what it meant to “flog” someone? As our Folopa translation team was gathered one day, we became mired in a passage in Mark 10 where Jesus predicted what was about to happen to Him.

“…the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him, and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:33-34, NIV).

We were stuck, I didn’t have a word for “flog.” What do you call it,” I asked, “if someone hits another, say an enemy, with something like a rope?”

That drew a blank. Apparently hitting someone with a rope was nothing that sounded familiar to them. But it was about to happen to Jesus and it was part of the passage, so I cast about for other ways to describe it.  My eyes fell on a piece of rattan vine left over from tying the thatch on the roof. It was lying on the old woodstove. The vine was about three feet long and as thick as my little finger. I picked it up, and instructed the men to imagine the vine was a piece of rope and the woodstove was the back of Jesus. Then with all my might I started beating the iron stovetop.

Immediately Owarap Ali – his eyes wild and his nostril flaring – shouted out: “That’s not hitting with a rope, that’s fokoso sirapo!”  He was indignant, staring up at me from his place on the floor.

Fokoso sirapo.  I wrote the words down. “Tell me more about it,” I said. But when I looked up, they were all just staring at me. It was as if it had taken them right back to the old days of revenge and bloodshed.  “Wait a minute,” someone said. “Do you mean they did that to Jesus?  But here it just said they were going to do it. Did they really do it to Him?”

Quiet fell on the room as I answered, “Yes.” Finally Eleke Whi Ali said, “We used to do that. But we only did it to our enemies, and then just before we were going to kill them.”  Yes,” I said, “that is coming, too.”

They hung their heads. In the corners, the large shell earrings of the old men swung back and forth in stunned sadness. The memory offokoso sirapo “floggings” was too fresh in their minds. They were seeing a deeper vision of the awful cruelty – the enormity of it all- than I had ever understood. And that this would happen to Jesus…someone they had grown to respect and like.  He was a Man who would put little children on His lap, who would reach out and heal those in need. These men knew what torturing and flogging were all about . That this Jesus would come to suffer like this was too much to take in.

We had to stop work for the morning. They couldn’t go on.”

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There are thousands of languages like this, that are largely unwritten and no one is doing work in.  Wycliffe needs your help should you chose to give it.

When I’m just not feeling it…

Last night was just one of those nights, and this morning was just not one I want to remember.  I was slightly less than romantic yesterday evening, and this morning, my attitude wasn’t exactly as bright as the morning sun.

I’m discouragingly finding myself insufficient to pursue my wife the way I want to the past day or so.  I’m sure husbands, wives and boyfriends, girlfriends everywhere know what I mean when I say, sometimes “its” just not there.  If everyday could be full of sailboat rides on balmy mornings, hours filled with my wife and I skipping down the Lake Shore trail hand in hand eating cotton candy, and watching a sunset from atop a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  But we know that’s not how things are.  Things scratch at our affection, and compete for our emotional energy.

Sometimes a rough night of sleep tears down your day.

Sometimes the stress of the unknown makes you a bit shaky and irritable.

Sometimes that crazy driver in front of you should just be blown to bits.

Sometimes everything just does NOT go your way….

And you find yourself insufficient to invest in the lives of those around you.  Sometimes you can’t go forward, so you slump into a chair and zone out, or take a nap, or just get out.  You want to stop everything…and be still!

This morning a word was impressed on me, and I want to share it with you.  It was simply this:

“I [God] am relentless for you!”

Relentless?  What does that mean?  It means unstoppable, unwilling to stop, and VERY willing to continue in perseverance.  Also, since one of the attributes of the very being of God, is perfect love, he can’t help but pursue us with His love!  He just can’t help it!  He pursues us!  Relentlessly!

He is so able to come alongside, and give you strength for the journey!

Like me this morning perhaps you need to pray this with me:

“Father I come to you broken and needy.  Indeed be glorified in my weakness, that as I come to you for help, you give it.  If my earthly father gives me bread when I ask, how much more will you give me good things when I ask you, my spiritual Father.  May your peace, your comfort settle on my life.  Enable me to be the co-worker, the friend, the husband, the servant you want me to be. Amen!”

“Stop playing the role of harlot! I love you!”

When someone sleeps deeply, loud voice and violent shakings are needed to wake them.  A slight whisper will not do.  So I also am about to use strong language, because many who may be reading this may be sleeping spiritually.  It is my goal to wake you.  I pray this may aid in waking you up to soberness!

The Bible often times uses strong language to communicate a point, to allow a message to awaken a people group, to shake sleepers from their slumber.  When one enters the spiritual lair of the evil one, every spiritual tool ought to be used to save.

What if God told you to marry the most beautiful woman in the land, but with one stipulation…she would become a harlot and break your heart?  This is what God told Hosea to do, during the reign of King Uzziah, a wicked king of Israel.  Israel had once again turned their backs on God, and God was through with it.  You ever wonder if God’s patience wears thin…well it does.  He said He had enough of this rebellion that He ordered the Assyrian peoples to come and invade and plunder the land of Israel.

Hosea was a prophet, and his message was not getting across to the Israelites of that time.  Repent!  Return to the Lord!  But no one would hear him.  God was about to ask Hosea to do a very hard thing.  He was asked by God to marry the most beautiful woman in the land, called Gomer.  Have three children by her, but God promised she would fall away and play the whore on the common streets.  What a way to start a marriage!!

The prophecy soon began to be fulfilled!  Gomer conceived a child and God told Hosea to name it “Not-Pitied” for God was done with pitying his people.  And soon after, Gomer gave birth to another child, and God told Hosea to name her “Not-My-People”.  If Israel would just repent, he would receive them back, but instead he embodied his sentiment with Israel in the common form of children.  Imagine what people were saying, “Isn’t that Hosea’s kid, Not-Pitied?”

And soon on queue, Gomer began to play the whore with various men while Hosea might have been gone on preaching trips.  Word got around, the most beautiful woman in Israel was now a prostitute, and could be found in the streets.  She herself was also embodying something profound; what Israel was doing to their relationship with God.  When Israel, or we who are found in Christ, pursue other gods, whether they be money, relationships, your children, anything that competes for the affection of God, we are in effect having an affair.  We are forsaking the love, the promises, the covenants we have with God, and pursuing other things.

The story doesn’t stay like this, just as God doesn’t stay at arms length from us, for those who repent.  God said in Hosea He would once again have pity on Not-Pitied, and he would once again call his people who were Not-My-People.

To me, this may be one of the most beautiful pictures of love in the Old Testament.  Embodying the sentiment of love and the desire for restoration, Hosea goes to Gomer in her low estate, as her recent lover couldn’t pay for her food or her clothes.  Even though a spear had been thrust through Hosea’s heart as he heard, rumor upon rumor, how unfaithful Gomer had been, love triumphed gloriously.  With strides of zeal for his bride who was still his, he rescued her!  He went to her!  He bought her back!  He called to her, “Gomer, you will be mine again, and you will NOT play the whore anymore.  I love you!  You will no longer be with any other man, and I promise the same to you.”  Here is how the book of Hosea puts it.

“And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” …. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.”

–         Hosea 3:1-3

Oh see how our God loves us?  It’s not like He loves someone who is lovable and is ready for His love.  Romans says we were actually in enmity with God, before he reached out to us.  We were enemies of God, when he considered to love us!  For His glory, lets be real.  We were not simply lost, like someone without a way.  We were actively pursuing other lovers.  We were enthralled with the world.  We were pleased with sin, therefore putting us in enmity with God.  We ourselves, like Israel were playing the role of harlot!

How great a love is this, that would choose to love harlots!  If that’s not a poor investment, I don’t know what is.  But God’s love is different…it changes us, it transforms us, and it readies us to be lovers of the not so lovable.

The scriptures say, Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.  What is God saying to you?

If you feel like talking with your Father and dealing with whatever is on your heart, please do so, and perhaps let this worship song aid your time with our loving God.

Marriage gap forming in America, based on new study

Original article is found here, on CNN.

The retreat from marriage in Middle America is not a retreat from bearing children. Wedding bands may be out of vogue, but in Middle America, women pushing strollers, diaper bags slung over their shoulders, infants hidden in bundles of blankets, are as common a sight as ever.

But children who grow up in Middle America today are far less likely to grow up with their own parents than they were 30 years ago. By contrast, a greater proportion of children in upscale America live with their mothers and fathers today than they did 30 years ago…..

What should we do?

We don’t go about insisting that the poor are better off left alone in their poverty — as if this were a state they chose and should remain in. Instead, we recognize poverty as an injustice. We set about helping the less fortunate find fortune.

It’s the same with the growing, class-based marriage gap. We can’t just put a bandage on the injustice by, for instance, providing support groups only to single parents, albeit support groups certainly can help. Instead, we should help couples, too, achieve the stability for which they long.”

In the article, she poses the question, “What should we do?”  Perhaps having big high-way banners that say, “Need a divorce?  Call us for help” making a decision like that as easy as calling a bill-board number.

What do you think?