FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN

AS WE GROW IN HIM, WE’VE ALSO EXPERIENCED CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS WITH ONE ANOTHER. HOW I LOVE AND RESPECT OUR FELLOWSHIP HERE! AND I AM EAGER, AS C. S. LEWIS PUT IT, TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN. LISTEN TO THIS TWO MINUTE BROADCAST: FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN   FOR THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, BEFORE WE BEGIN A SUMMER STUDY, I WANT TO CONSIDER SOME WAYS TO GO FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN  THE SHADOWLANDS — RIGHT HERE AND NOW WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. MAY IS ALMOST AS BUSY A TIME AS DECEMBER, SO THE LESSONS WILL BE SHORTER.              i’VE BEEN PONDERING WHAT LARRY CRABB CALLS “RELATIONAL SIN.” WHAT IS IT? HOW TO OVERCOME IT? THIS CAN BRING US FURTHER UP AND FURTHER IN WITH THE LORD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER. Relational sin is moving […]

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SET ME AS A SEAL

We’ve come to the close of this love story, of this Song of all Songs. Important things are said when time is running out.   She has come “up from the wilderness” leaning on her Beloved. She is experiencing the whole point of life: intimacy with her Beloved. But He must leave her for a time. And so he tells her: “Set me as a seal upon your heart.” Listen to this carefully– and may it prepare your heart for this Sabbath day, and review for you where we have been. There are three love stages in the Song: First Love, Wilderness Love, and Invincible Love. Do you remember how He “awakened her under the apple tree” in the first love time? We were dead in our sins. But He awakened us and told us to taste and see that […]

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THE DANCING SHULAMMITE

ONCE SHE SAID, “DON’T GAZE AT ME!” NOW SHE IS DANCING BETWEEN TWO ARMIES! ONCE SHE WAS ASHAMED OF HER “VINEYARD.” NOW SHE IS WALKING WITH HER BRIDEGROOM INTO THE VINEYARDS TO SEE THE CHOICE FRUITS. When my friend Twila was in her forties and the mother of five, she went into a severe clinical depression that lasted ten years. She tried everything under the sun to be delivered: various anti-depressants, alternative medicine, confessing and repenting of any known sin, counseling, eating right, exercising… all, it seemed, for naught. She was roller blading ten miles a day, but whenever she got to the five mile mark to turn around, she would plead with God: “Please, Lord – just let me die.” Her counselor kept stressing the love of God to her and had her constantly in the Word and reading […]

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AN ARMY WITH BANNERS

THE BRIDE IN THE SONG IS SOMETIMES SINGULAR, AS WHEN HE SAYS: MY DOVE, MY SISTER, MY ONLY ONE. INDEED, HE SEES YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL, KNOWS YOUR NAME, EVEN HOW MANY HAIRS ARE ON YOUR HEAD. BUT OH, HOW HE LOVES HIS CORPORATE BRIDE! SHE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE SUN, FAIR AS THE MOON, AND AS AWESOME AS AN ARMY WITH BANNERS. EVER SINCE THE FALL WE HAVE BEEN AT WAR WITH THE ENEMY WHO COMES TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY.  CHRISTIANS ARMED WITH THE SHIELD OF FAITH, THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, AND THE HELMET OF SALVATION HAVE PREVAILED WHERE OTHERS HAVE RETREATED. IN GROUND-BREAKING RESEARCH, CHRISTIANITY TODAY (PDF OF ARTICLE) GIVES PROOF OF THE PREVAILING OF GOD’S ARMY. IT IS CHRISTIANS WHO HAVE BEEN WILLING TO FIGHT DISEASES THAT COULD TAKE THEIR LIVES FROM: THE BUBONIC […]

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WORSHIP YOUR WAY OUT!

THIS IS MY BELOVED, THIS IS MY FRIEND. (Song of Songs 5:15)  EVEN MORE THAN NEW YEAR’S DAY, RESURRECTION DAY IS A TIME FOR FRESH STARTS. THE SHULAMMITE IN THE SONG OF SONGS IS EXPERIENCING A NEW BEGINNING. SHE HAS COME OUT OF THE WILDERNESS HOW? WORSHIP! C. S. Lewis struggled at first with the whole idea of praising God, explaining: We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence, or delightfulness… Was God like that? But then Lewis realized praise and worship might be for us, for what it does in our hearts. The most obvious fact about praise…strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. …I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious minds, praised most, […]

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ARISE MY LOVE! (EASTER 2016)

On the walk to Emmaus, Jesus took two grieving disciples through the Old Testament to show them pictures of why the Messiah would need to die and rise again. Perhaps two of those pictures were from Job and the Song of Songs. WHEN JOB WAS SUFFERING HE PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD LET HIM DIE, BUT THEN AN ICY FEAR CAME, FOR JOB LIVED IN THE TIME OF GENESIS WHEN LITTLE WAS KNOWN ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE. SO JOB ASKED: IF A MAN DIES, SHALL HE LIVE AGAIN? THE SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD CAME AND REVEALED TRUTH TO JOB. SUDDENLY JOB CRIES OUT: YOU WOULD CALL, AND I WILL ANSWER YOU; YOU WOULD LONG FOR THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS. DO YOU SEE? WHEN A CHILD OF GOD DIES, GOD MISSES THE ONE HIS HANDS MADE. HE WILL CALL YOUR NAME, […]

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ALTOGETHER LOVELY (Holy Week)

  HOLY WEEK A TIME TO PONDER WHY OUR BELOVED IS BETTER THAN OTHERS BETTER THAN THE GODS OF WORLD RELIGIONS, BETTER THAN OUR HEART IDOLS, AND ALTOGETHER LOVELY. DETERMINE NOW TO GIVE HIM TIME DAILY DURING THIS HOLIEST OF WEEKS. LET ME BEGIN WITH A STORY. I first met Nam, as young mothers often do, through the friendship of our daughters: May and Sally. Seven-year-old May and her mother had flown all the way from Bang-Kok, Thailand to Kearney, Nebraska to make their home with Jerry, an older serviceman who’d proposed to lovely Nam while he was stationed in Bang-kok. When I invited Nam for tea, she told me repeatedly “so happy to have a friend now!” I thought, Okay, I better be her friend! My heart went out to her for she had moved an ocean away from […]

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THE WATCHMEN BEAT ME

WE LEFT THE SHULAMMITE QUICKENED FROM HER LUKEWARM STATE. AFTER SHE REFUSED HER BRIDEGROOM AND HE HAS LEFT, SHE REALIZES HER FOLLY. SHE RUNS, DESPERATE, OUT INTO THE STREET, CALLING OUT FOR THE ONE HER SOUL LOVES, BUT HE GIVES NO ANSWER. I CALLED HIM, BUT HE GAVE NO ANSWER THE WATCHMEN FOUND ME AS THEY WENT ABOUT THE CITY, THEY BEAT ME, THEY BRUISED ME, THEY TOOK AWAY MY VEIL, THOSE WATCHMAN OF THE WALLS. (SONG OF SONGS 5:6-7) Last week you did such a good job of digging into this, pondering it, considering also what commentators thought. I want to go deeper this week, and consider also, how to have strength when we may face this same persecution. Generally the watchmen are interpreted by those I respect, both ancient and modern, to be guardians of the church. They […]

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THE LUKEWARM BRIDE

THE PARALLEL BETWEEN THE LUKEWARM BRIDE IN THE SONG AND THE LUKEWARM BRIDE IN LAODICEA IS STRIKING. HERE IS OUR PASSAGE: I slept but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of night.”  I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.”            (Song of Songs 5:2)   What does it mean when she says, “I slept, but my heart was awake”? Some think she is dreaming but I think it is describing spiritual sluggishness, as when the disciples fell asleep in […]

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LOST, FOUND, WED!

In Chapter 2 the Shulammite chose to stay in the cleft of the rock instead of responding to her shepherd/king and going with him to higher places. Though she thinks she can postpone responding, suddenly he bounds off, for reasons unknown to her. Now she experiences the time of “wilderness love.” The wilderness is a gift from God to refine us until we realize how desperately we need Him. On my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves, I sought him but found him not. Song of Songs 3:1 Ellen Davis writes:  In Biblical idiom, the bed signifies more than sleep and lovemaking. It is also a place of prayer where God is sought intently, and sometimes in great anxiety, and revelations are granted. I will rise now and go about the city, in the street and […]

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ARISE MY LOVE

  GOD LONGS TO PENETRATE OUR HEARTS, SO HE USES POETRY AND PICTURES FOR HIS POIGNANT PLEA: ARISE, MY LOVE! FIRST, SHE COMPARES HER BELOVED TO A YOUNG STAG: THE VOICE OF MY BELOVED! BEHOLD, HE COMES, LEAPING OVER THE MOUNTAINS, BOUNDING OVER THE HILLS. MY BELOVED IS LIKE A GAZELLE OR A YOUNG STAG. (Song of Songs 2:8-9a) HE COMPARES HER TO A DOVE HIDING IN A CLEFT: ARISE MY LOVE, MY BEAUTIFUL ONE, AND COME AWAY… MY DOVE, IN THE CLEFTS OF THE ROCK IN THE CRANNIES OF THE CLIFF, LET ME SEE YOUR FACE, LET ME HEAR YOUR VOICE, FOR YOUR VOICE IS SWEET, AND YOUR FACE IS LOVELY. (Song of Songs 2:10 & 14) WHEN SHE DOESN’T COME, HE WARNS OF FOXES: CATCH THE FOXES FOR US, THE LITTLE FOXES THAT SPOIL THE VINEYARDS, FOR OUR […]

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HE LEADS IN THE DANCE

WE DID NOTHING TO EARN HIS LOVE IN FACT, WE WERE DEAD IN OUR SINS WHEN HE CAME AND BREATHED LIFE INTO US WHEN HE LIFTED US OUR OF THE MIREY PIT AND SET OUR FEET UPON A ROCK! THEN HE TOOK US IN HIS ARMS AND INVITED US INTO THE DANCE! ONE OF MY FAVORITE DANCE SCENES IS FROM THE SCENT OF A WOMAN. SHE IS “A LITTLE AFRAID” TO TRY. BUT, HE PERSUADES HER TO TRUST HIM. AND, OH! THE DANCE THAT FOLLOWS! CLICK HERE: How beautifully the dance pictures God’s design for a husband and a wife, and, in a mysterious way, the relationship of Christ and His Bride. This is also the beauty on every page of The Song of Songs. She is a delicate flower, a “lily of the valleys.” Her fragrance delights him, a […]

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JOIN US FOR LENT 2016!

It is midwinter. The peninsula I live on in Wisconsin always has a candlelit ski the first weekend of midwinter, and I skied it last night. He lights our way through the dark days of “winter,” but if we know Him, joy will come in the morning, as surely as spring is on the way, as surely as the darkness of Good Friday led to Resurrection Sunday! And as we press into Him during this holy season of Lent, He will come to us as surely as the spring rains, the spring rains that renew the earth. Beginning this Wednesday, not counting Sundays, there are 40 Days until Easter Sunday. 40 is a significant number to God. The Israelites wandered for 40 years. Jesus fasted before his ministry for 40 days. And many Christians take these 40 days to draw […]

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IS HE SWEETER THAN HONEY TO YOU?

LAST WEEK I WAS WITH CHRIST’S BEAUTIFUL BRIDE BEHIND PRISON WALLS. THE CORDS OF DEATH ENCOMPASSED EACH ONE,  BUT GOD CAME RUNNING! HE RESCUED THEM FROM THEIR STRONG ENEMY AND THEY ARE SO GRATEFUL. EVEN IF THEY NEVER GET OUT OF PRISON THEY HAVE JOY. SUCH A CONTRAST TO MANY OUTSIDE THE PRISON WHO MAY THINK THEY KNOW HIM, BUT THEY HAVE RELIGION RATHER THAN RELATIONSHIP AND ONE DAY JESUS WILL SAY, I NEVER KNEW YOU. THE SONG OF SONGS IS A WARNING: GOD WANTS RELATIONSHIP, NOT RELIGION. ONLY CHRISTIANITY HAS A RELATIONAL GOD. OTHER RELIGIONS HAVE A MONOLITHIC GOD OR WARRING GODS. CHRISTIANITY HAS WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS CALLED THE PERICHORESES. THE FATHER, SON, AND SPIRIT IN A JOYFUL DANCE. AND AMAZINGLY, HE HAS INVITED US INTO THE DANCE.Thank you so much for praying for me as I […]

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MORE THAN A MARRIAGE MANUAL

Last week we looked at how just as God ordained purity and passion for marriage, He also longs for a pure and passionate bride. This week we will consider how God ordained male and female for marriage and also covenant for marriage — and how these both also apply to our relationship with Him. (This first point is challenging, and I’d love comments to help me make it better, clearer, and stronger.) WHAT CAUSED ADAM TO BREAK OUT INTO SONG UPON SEEING EVE? FINALLY, HERE WAS SOMEONE LIKE HIM. BONE OF HIS BONE FLESH OF HIS FLESH, AND YET, SO OTHER. IN THE SAME WAY, WE ARE LIKE HIM. AND YET, SO NOT LIKE HIM THE SONG PUTS THIS POETICALLY. HE IS LIKE AN APPLE TREE IN THE GARDEN THAT PROVIDES SUSTENANCE AND SHELTER. INDEED, HE IS THE TREE OF […]

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