Monthly Archives: September 2018

Rise Up, My Love (306): Of Spices, Mountains, and Endings

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” The bride desires for her husband to be like a young stag and make haste…to what location? “The mountains of spices.” This is the last picture painted for us…the last “snapshot” in the bride’s album…the last poetic rose in the bride’s bouquet…the last lilting melody in this song of all songs.

What are the mountains of spices? We are! I blush to consider that we should be given such a beautiful name, but we must remember that the Song of Solomon was a love song written by Solomon (and our greater than Solomon) for his bride, and “mountains of spices” is the name God chose for his bride to use in describing herself at the end of this book, so let’s consider all that it means and aspire to fulfill this high calling.  The words “mountains” and “spices” are used multiple times earlier in the Song, and these references give the clues we need to understand what the bride is saying. First, let’s consider what the spices represent. From 4:12—16 we learn that the bride is like a protected garden, designed by the master gardener, watered by the Word, filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and whose aroma wafts out like heavenly spices. In 5:1 we find the husband enjoying his garden wife and taking pleasure in the spicy fruits found in her.

In Song of Solomon 5:13 we hear the wife likening her beloved’s beard to a soft bed of spices. Oh, to be able to look into the face of God and with the touch of faith feel the very presence of the fragrant Holy Spirit upon him. The lush physical and spiritual imagery intertwines beautifully to portray the exquisite delights of both physical and spiritual communion. The spices are physically the scents and textures of the wife’s body, but spiritually the spices are the tangible evidences of the Holy Spirit’s fruit developed in our lives, fruits which the Son relishes and which also feeds the souls of others (see 5:1). So, the “spices” are the fruits of the Spirit.

What are the “mountains”? Twice earlier, the word “mountain” has appeared in reference to something other than the bride, and twice earlier the term appears in reference to the bride. In 2:8 the husband comes leaping over the mountains to join his wife and calls her out to enjoy, explore, and reign over his kingdom with him. In 4:8 the king invites his wife to climb to the top of the mountains with him and gain a heavenly perspective. In the first instance, the mountains are huge obstacles which the husband overcomes with ease in order to reach out to his beloved; in the second instance, the husband invites his wife to conquer great things with him so that she will share his passionate vision.  What is a mountain? It is something massive, grand, impressive. Mt. Everest is so big it can reach through the clouds and kiss heaven’s feet. Mountains are spectacular: they fill people with awe and a sense of wonder. Mountains are a force to reckon with…to be conquered by or to conquer. Mountains are immovable apart from the work of God in response to faith. Mountains are majestic. Mountains should humble us and cause us to praise this one whose massive hand is so large that the whole world could fit inside, and Mt. Everest wouldn’t even look as big as a hangnail. What a mighty God we serve!!

Yet, this infinitely great Creator calls us his “mountain of myrrh” in Song 4:6, and the bride invites her beloved to enjoy her as “a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether” in Song 2:17. In this last poetic picture, we see the wife calling her husband to come unto her and enjoy her…no longer upon the mountains of “Bether” (separation), but upon the mountains of spices. She has grown from a garden into a mountain…a mountain of spiritual delights.  Oh, beloved, are we mountains of spiritual delights? Massive. Immovable. Majestic. Abounding. Able to feed the soul of our mate? Notice that the bride, after a timeless length of time, still refers to her husband as a “young stag.” Dear wife, is your passion for your husband as fresh and fervent as it was at the marriage altar? In your heart, is your love still young? Does our longing for our Savior still burn as hotly as it did at first? Though we may have found our true loves (if we have indeed found both a spouse here on earth and our bridegroom in heaven), we must ever seek them still! “Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:19). As we close the study of this greatest of all love songs, may this picture linger like a sunset in our hearts. May we be like mountains of spices where our beloved spouse can graze with abandon and be always ravished with our love! Amen!

Source List:

Berry, George Ricker, Ph.D. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.

Brown, Francis, D.D., D. Litt. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 1997.

Carr, G. Lloyd. The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary. Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984.

Chapman, Gary D. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

Cowman, L.B. Streams in the Desert. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.

Criswell, W.A., ed. Criswell Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979.

Davidson, Francis. The New Bible Commentary. Great Britain: Billing and Sons Ltd., Guildford and Esher, 1953.

Delitzsch, Franz. Commentary of the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. V. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corporation, 1991.

Glickman, Craig S. A Song for Lovers. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1976.

Gordis, R. The Song of Songs and Lamentations. KTAV, 1974.

Green, Jay P., ed. The Interlinear Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985.

Grolier Inc. The Encyclopedia Americana. . Danbury: Grolier Inc., 1995.

Guyon, Jeanne. The Song of the Bride. Auburn: The Seed Sowers, 1990

Harley, Willard F., Jr. His Needs Her Needs: Building an Affair-proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse/Revell Audio, 1995.

Henry. Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. McLean: MacDonald Publishing Co., 1706. (Can’t find current date)

Hirshberg, Arabic Etymologies. VT 11, 1961.

Hocking, David and Carole. Romantic Lovers: The Intimate Marriage. Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR. 1986.

Ironside, Harry A. Addresses on The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1973.

Lockyer, Dr. Herbert. Love Is Better Than Wine. Harrison: New Leaf Press, 1981.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997.

MacDonald, William. Believer’s Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

McPhee, L.M. The Romance of the Ages. Grand Rapids: Gospel Folio Press, 1939.

Murphy, Roland. Toward a Commentary on the Song of Songs. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 39, 1977, pp. 441.

Nee, Watchman. Song of Songs. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1965.

Origen. The Song of Songs Commentary and Homilies. Translated and annotated by R.P. Lawson. Vol. 26 of Ancient Christian Writers, edited by Johannes Quasten, S.T.D. and Joseph C. Plumpe, Ph.D. Westminister, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1957.

Patterson, Paige. Song of Solomon. Chicago: Moody, 1986. Phillips, John. Exploring The Song of Solomon. Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1987.

Richmond, Gary. A View from the Zoo. Waco, Texas: Word Book Publisher, 1987.

Smalley, Gary. Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, Seminar, 1993

Spence, H.D.M., and Joseph S. Exell. The Pulpit Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1950.

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Morning and Evening. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994

Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Most Holy Place. Pasadena: Pilgrim Pub., 1974.

Taylor, J. Hudson. Union and Communion. Edinburgh: R. and R. Clark, Limited, 1929.

Tenney, Merrill C., ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977.

The American Heritage Dictionary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992.

The Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc., 1995.

The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book—Childcraft International, Inc., 1980.

Torrey, R.A. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Witaker House, 1996.

Trent, John. Love for All Seasons. Chicago: Moody Press, 1996.

Truth and Praise, Inc. Hymns of Worship and Remembrance. Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise Inc., 1950.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language: College Edition. Cleveland: The World Publishing Co., 1966.

Wilson, William. Old Testament Word Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978.

Young, Robert, LL.D. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972.

Zlotowitz, Meir, and Scherman, Nosson. Shir HaShirim. New York: Mesorah, 1977.  

“This dwarfish age is not likely to esteem this book [The Song of Solomon] as it ought to be esteemed; only those who have lived near to Jesus, have drunk out of his cup, have eaten his flesh and drunk his blood, only those who know the fullness of the word ‘communion,’ can sit down to this book with delight and pleasure; and to such men these words are as wafers made with honey, manna, angels’ food: every sentence is like gold, and every word is like much fine gold.” —Joseph Iron, quoted by Spurgeon in, The Most Holy Place, p. 295.

Afterword: I would be happy to hear your response and welcome any insights or comments! Thank you, and God bless you as you continue to pursue our heavenly bridegroom!

Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

When you were little, did you have a favorite soup? How about now? When I was little, my favorite lunch was tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, and this is still the favorite lunch of my youngest son’s lifelong buddy (who’s now an adult). Also, on our recent cruise of the North Sea, we were served tomato soup several times and discovered that it’s popular not only aboard ships but on land as well…from Iceland to India. Therefore, I believe it’s an international, inter-generational classic!Alan and I have enjoyed many iterations of tomato soup, such as this unusual bowl of tomato soup with spinach and pasta. Tomato basil soup has become quite popular with hipsters and in upscale restaurants. My “Little Sister, Liz” made some from scratch last time I visited her in Washington D.C. , and it was outstanding!However, I think possibly the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted was served at Friðheimar, a restaurant near Selfoss, Iceland, while Alan and I were on the  “Golden Circle Tour.” It was basically super fresh and creamy, with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkling of parsley on top. Of course, I don’t know exactly what ingredients go into fabulous dishes, but I can usually come pretty close, so I want to share what I dreamed up, inspired by mulling over the delectable tastes and smells of that wonderful meal and dedicated to the memory of Iceland. If you’re the chef at Friðheimar and find this recipe, please feel free to share “the real” recipe with us. I looked online trying to find your recipe, but all I found were reviews that said things like, “the best fresh tomato soup I’ve ever tasted,” “we just instantly fell in love with the sweet’n’fresh tomato soup,” “simple but so tasty,” “amazing soup,” “gorgeous soup,” etc. That’s just the way we felt too! So, I tried, but mine is not as amazing as my memory of Friðheimar’s. Maybe I’ll write and ask him if he’ll share his recipe. Meanwhile, here’s a bright, healthy soup to warm you up on a chilly autumn day.

Fresh’n’Sweet Tomato Soup

In a large stock pot, combine:
2 tablespoons butter (turn on heat and melt), then add
1 medium onion, finely chopped (I only used half of the one above)
1 garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon pressed garlic; I just used 1 clove of this bulb)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1  teaspoon (your favorite; mine is Lawry’s) seasoning salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper. Saute until the onions start to brown. Then add:
2 tablespoons flour; stir until absorbed into the juices before adding:4 large tomatoes, cubed
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon crushed basil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes=2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder) Simmer for 30 minutes on medium heat.  Let it rest 15 minutes, then run it through a food mill or use a blender or immersion blender to puree. At this point, I believe Friðheimar must have run the puree through a strainer to remove skins and seeds, but I tend to think all sources of healthy fiber are good for  you, so I didn’t. Suit yourself on this one.Next, taste it, and possibly add more salt and pepper per your personal taste.
Just before serving, reheat to make it piping hot, and serve with some swirls of yogurt and sprinkles of parsley (fresh or crushed).

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith
” (Proverbs 15:17).

P.S.—In the picture above, I had stirred extra yogurt into the soup (trying to match the color I remembered and add protein), but it wasn’t as yummy with the yogurt as without, so I left it out of the recipe above. Tomato soup is very light, however, so it’s good to combine it with something like fruit and fresh bread with cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich so you don’t end up hungry in an hour! 🙂  )

 

 

Will Brett Kavanaugh Be Confirmed?

If you’ve been distressed by all the debate over whether or not to confirm Judge Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, consider watching Marshall this weekend. Marshall is the inspiring true story of Thurgood Marshall, 96th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and our first African-American justice.  He served in the Supreme Court for thirty-four years, from 1967-1991, retiring during the administration of George H.W. Bush and succeeded by Clarance Thomas.  Marshall was a champion for the oppressed, a crusader for the cause of equality, and a brilliant lawyer. Over the course of his career, he argued 32 times before Supreme Court and won 29 times! The film keys in on Thurgood’s courageous and career-defining case defending Joseph Spell, who was accused of raping his socialite employer, Eleanor Strubing in The State of Connecticut v. Joseph Spell From research, I gather that the movie is quite accurate except in two points: Sam Friedman had already been practicing for fourteen years, had a “stellar reputation as a trial lawyer,” and was a brave man.* Also, Roger Friedman (movie critic and nephew to Sam Friedman) stated, “It is unimaginable that Marshall, a man who was highly intelligent and educated, would have ever addressed Sam that way [using F***].” Friedman also reported that “his family cringed when they heard it at a private screening.”* Indeed, my only problem with the movie was the bad language, which apparently was unfairly included! Come on, Hollywood! Let’s elevate, not degrade. I’m not sure how you feel about the impassioned testimony of Christine Blasey Ford (and as a woman, I tend to believe women), but after watching Marshall, it does occur to me that emotion doesn’t necessarily translate into truth.  Also, just for the record, I’d like to point out that although Marshall Thurmond is one of my heroes, here are a few bits from his youth, mostly gleaned from Wikipedia:

“Marshall showed a talent for law from an early age, becoming a key member of his school’s debate team and memorizing the U.S. Constitution (which was actually assigned to him as punishment for misbehaving in class).”  While in college at Lincoln University: “Initially he did not take his studies seriously, and was suspended twice for hazing and pranks against fellow students.”

Among his classmates was the poet Langston Hughes, who was a lifelong friend but described Marshall as “rough and ready, loud and wrong.”  “His marriage to Vivien Buster Burey in September 1929 encouraged him to take his studies seriously, and he graduated from Lincoln with honors (cum laude) Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, with a major in American literature and philosophy.” In 1933 he graduated first in his class from Howard University School of Law.

I’m thinking that we’ll never truly know whether or not Brett Kavanaugh is innocent of his alleged sins against women as a college student, but I will say that it appears he settled down after marrying and has had a pretty impeccable record since graduating from college (as was also true of Thurmond Marshall).

With just minutes to go before the vote is taken, I would like to encourage us with words originally spoken three thousand years ago by one of the world’s most beloved kings, King David of Israel. I think they’re words most of us can echo:

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord” (Psalm 25:7).

*http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/marshall/

(Just FYI: One of Marshall’s great grandparents was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but brought to America as a slave back in the 1800’s. His father was a steward and his mother was a teacher. When Marshall was little, his father took the kids to watch court cases and debated with them afterward, and Marshall became an able debater. He said his father never told him to become a lawyer, but he turned him into one! Regardless of our background, we can become upstanding members of our communities and inspire our children. Let’s do it!)

 

Hidden Treasury of Religious Art at Scrovegni Chapel…Lost in Padua

The baby was due Wednesday, and Michael predicted that it might be a photo finish between Baby Cakes and me as to who would arrive first. We had a “Plan B” in place while I was in transit from America just in case the baby came and Michael couldn’t meet me at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport. However, Mike was there smiling when I emerged from the baggage claim area. That was Friday.  By Saturday, Grace was more ready than ever to deliver, but Baby was unwilling to participate in a premiere showing, so Michael valiantly offered to take care of their four kids so Grace and I could visit the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, about a 40-minute drive from home. “Intrepid” is perhaps a modest understatement of Grace’s enthusiasm for life, and she’d really been wanting to visit this acclaimed masterpiece of Western Art before they left Italy, so we decided to take our (a?) big chance and go. Having GPS is one of the world’s finest exploration conveniences…when it works. The first time Alan and I visited Venice (about fifteen years ago), our GPS kept telling us to exit off the highway where there was no exit (all new construction), and we had a terrible time finding our way to our hotel. That particular terror was in the back of my mind when Michael warned us that the GPS wouldn’t really bring us to the right spot. He said we’d have to cross the Brenta River, so that we did. Then, our GPS said we were just three minutes from the chapel, but it didn’t seem able to direct us further, so we found a parking space (which is definitely a driver’s pot of gold  in this area of Padua) and began to walk. Many Italians know a little English, but few with enough facility to actually give adequate directions, and we quickly became completely disoriented on the twisty streets. I should have thought to take photos on my camera every time we turned a corner, but I didn’t. For future reference, if you’re traveling and unsure of where you’re going, take photos, and record where you’ve parked your car on your phone’s GPS if you have a smart phone. This works great for recording trail maps, too!At one point, we saw a young, professional-looking woman and approached her, thinking at last we’d get help. She’d never even heard of the Scrovegni Chapel (aka Cappella degli Scrovegni in Italian) and wondered if it might be downtown. After bumbling about like the blind leading the blind for half an hour, we finally found the chapel, which is part of the “Museo Civico of Padua.” Whew! The Scrovegni Chapel is filled with frescoes painted by Giotto in 1305 and is the forerunner to the exquisite works that Michelangelo painted two centuries later in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Although it’s virtually unknown relative to the world-famous Sistine Chapel, people do come from all over the world to visit, and we were give a twenty-minute slot with a small group in a carefully temperature and humidity-controlled environment to view the life of Christ as depicted in this chapel. (If you’re going to visit, reservations ahead are almost mandatory! We were late, but they graciously allowed us in with the next group. Thank you, Italy!)One of the most famous scenes is Joseph kissing Mary at their wedding. I was told that this is the “first kiss” ever depicted in Western Art (perhaps the world?).The Museo Civico of Padua is filled with literally thousands of pieces of artwork.                       They even have their own Pieta, by Antonio Bonazza.Grace and I spent hours marveling at all the gorgeous religious art, and it made us all the more amazed that so many people within a few blocks of this world-class treasury seemed to have no knowledge of its existence. How could that be? Did we fail to ask the right questions? Use the right words? It reminded me of my son Jonathan trying to find an evangelical church in Germany. He lacked the vocabulary to explain what he was looking for and so stumbled around for a long time before he found a very vibrant congregation of spiritually-minded believers.                 (Thankfully, he did, because that’s where he met his wife!) At any rate, we spent a glorious day standing in reverential awe of God as we experienced this beautiful chapel/museum hidden away in the heart of Italy.I fear that all too often Americans (myself included) fail to help others find their way to Christ. It’s easy to be like those busy Italians who lived and worked outside the walls of the Scrovegni Chapel but were oblivious to its existence. They never visited, had no clue what was inside, and couldn’t tell anyone how to get there…yet people from all over the world are seeking.  Can we open our eyes to the gospel message, believe it, receive it, and share it with others? For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).

(P.S.—The end of this story will have to be told next time. Do you think we found our way back to the car? Before Grace went into labor?  Tune in next week… 🙂  )

A Little Boy and His Fish

Remember last Saturday when I mentioned that we’ve never caught a trout in our lake? Well, I do want to share one sweet fishing tale anyway!  Even though our kids didn’t grow up fishing, my daughter-in-law, Carleen, did, and she’s not only a good fisherwoman herself, she often responds to the appeals of her small sons and takes them fishing on our lake. This happens most summers when they come to visit, so I can’t believe I don’t have more photos to document their adventures, but not too long ago, their third-born, Reid Solomon caught a little blue gill. He was ecstatic and prevailed upon his mother to let him keep it. Consistent with her magnanimous heart, she gutted the fish and prepared a little fillet for him, which they cooked up together. However, instead of relishing his small treasure by himself, he divvied it up amongst the whole lot of us (and we’re quite a lot!) so we could all taste a bite. Who could miss his generous spirit or fail to see the connection between Reid’s unselfishness and that of the little boy in John 6? If you’ve never read that story, let me share it with you here:

 “After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:1-14).

Some folks believe that the people themselves were so touched by the little boy’s example of sharing that they all shared what they had too. The Bible doesn’t really say how it happened, just that it occurred. Either way, it was miraculous that multitudes of people had enough to eat with a lot left over, and it all started with a little boy sharing his simple lunch, which Jesus blessed and multiplied. Do you ever feel overwhelmed, like, “What can I do to help with such unending needs?” All we have to offer is what we have, but that’s all God asks. He’ll do the rest.

Rise Up, My Love (305): Pictures of Jesus as a Deer

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or to a young hart…” What are the roe and the young hart like? The NIV translates these animals as “deer and gazelle.” Earlier in this book we discussed the Middle Eastern cousins to the North American members of the deer family with which we are so familiar. What are their outstanding characteristics?

These two animals are only mentioned a half a dozen times outside of The Song of Solomon, but in each instance the context offers valuable insight. In Deuteronomy 12 we learn that the Israelites loved the delicious meat of the hart and roe, and two chapters later we learn that these prized creatures were among the clean animals that could be eaten. In 2 Samuel 2:18 we learn that the wild roe was “light of foot”—a fast and graceful runner, and in Proverbs 6:5 we learn that the roe was quick to deliver itself “from the hand of the hunter.” Psalm 42:1 reveals that one whose heart is like God’s own heart will pant after God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks.” Isaiah 35:6 describes the lame man who is healed as leaping for joy “as an hart.”

What can we learn from these word pictures that will help us understand the bride’s request? She longs for Christ to be quick and fleet-footed like the roe in escaping the hunter and coming to her. Although this book was written a thousand years before Christ came to earth, we can now see that he did indeed escape from the hand of the evil one who hunted his soul. Jesus rose victoriously over the grave and is now sitting at the Father’s right hand in heaven, awaiting the Father’s bidding to make haste and come again to gather us unto himself!

Jesus proved that his soul exceeded the hart’s passion for water when he suffered the agonies of death and hell for love of us, his bride. Near the beginning of the Song of Solomon the bride says that her husband is indeed “like a roe or a young hart” (2:9). “Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills” (2:8). What beautiful pictures the Scripture paints of the husband returning brilliantly, passionately, and joyfully to join his wife again!  All this, and yet there is more to be learned about Christ in the bride’s simile about the deer. It is hunting season in Michigan today (or at least it was when I wrote this years ago!). There is no more prized game in this state than the wonderful taste of flash-fried, fresh venison. (No, you don’t have to simmer it for hours to make it tender; overcooking is what makes it tough in the first place.)  One of the men in our “care group” (a group of families from our assembly who met weekly for Bible study, prayer, support, and accountability when I was writing this) shot an eleven-point buck while bow hunting. This friend is in the ministry overseeing a Christian “growth center” for young people who have finished a rehabilitation program and are now trying to find jobs and reintegrate into society, so you can bet that deer will be a great blessing to the folks struggling to make ends meet there. (By the way, I was later treated to some venison stew for my birthday…so I was one of the beneficiaries as well!)  “Be thou like to a roe…” Picture Christ as that great eleven-point stag…whose life was forfeited so that others could be sustained. Surely the bride did not have in mind that her husband would give his life for her, but he did. Jesus fulfilled her request in a most unexpected way. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Like the desirable “clean,” innocent deer, our Lord Jesus Christ gave up his life so that spiritually we could “take, eat; this is my body..this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28). Jesus sacrificed himself so that he could impart to us his own eternal life and through a great divine mystery make us “bone of his bones and flesh of His flesh.”

As the Deer
(—Martin J. Nystrom, 1984)

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

I want you more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

You’re my friend and You’re my brother
Even though you are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything.

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship You.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).

(The first and last photos of deer are from my home, but the middle three are used by permission by my friends Dennis and Frances and their son Amos. Thank you, dear friends, for being willing to share!!)

Over the Rainbow Pan-Fried Trout

We used to live in Marquette, Michigan, on forty acres in the woods, where you could pull a rainbow or brown trout out of our pond for dinner (if you knew what you were doing, which we didn’t, but our friend, George Sokoly, did).  Michigan has 12,000 miles of trout stream along approximately 1,400 trout streams, and 190 of them are open year around, so trout season never ends here! The Au Sable, Manistee, Pere Marquette, and Muskegon Rivers—all fabled for great trout fishing— are within a few hours of our home even here in Grand Rapids, although we also live on a little spring-fed lake that theoretically has trout. (For the record, we’ve never caught one here either! 😦 ) However, even though we’re terrible fishermen (“God made fishies to live!” was Alan’s wail as a small boy observing fishing near his Upper Peninsula home),  we do love to eat fish, and trout is one of the sweetest-tasting, most delicate and delicious fish you’ll ever eat, so when it’s offered on a menu, we often order it.  Alan said his rainbow trout from the mountain streams of Nepal last fall was his favorite dinner from that entire trip. On our recent cruise of the North Sea, we had some excellent trout dishes, including rainbow trout in Reykjavik, Iceland that was so fresh it must have been in school earlier that morning! So, I decided to write about trout today, even though for those of you who are old hands at fishing, I know you’ll say, “I already knew that!”

Simply the Best Rainbow Trout

Are you ready for this? The fact of the matter is that the best fish are the freshest fish, flash-fried in hot butter on a griddle or in cast-iron skillet (or over a fire!).Wash the fillets, brush a light coating of flour on both sides, and fry them skin-side up for 3 minutes in hot butter (browned but not burned). Flip them over (carefully, so they don’t break apart), and cook them for three more minutes, sprinkling them with salt, butter, and seasoning salt to taste. (I use Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, but whatever you like works). If you’ve not overcooked your trout, it will be tender, flaky, and moist. Serve it up immediately with some fruits and veggies. If you like tartar sauce and lemon, that’s fine, but if your fish is really fresh, it can stand alone on its own fins!

P.S.—Have you noticed that in life (like cooking), many things are complicated, but sometimes the best way is to apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid)? In most of the scriptures, “simple” is equated with “ignorant” and given a negative connotation, but there is one verse that tells us to be “simple,” and in this case, it’s a good thing: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). When it comes to exploring evil, God actually wants us to avoid learning about it. Do friends tease you because you’re so “naive” or inexperienced? I used to get teased a lot. One girl friend alleged that on my honeymoon I’d probably make chocolate fudge because I wouldn’t know what else to do. Keep life pure..and “simple.”