Category Archives: Trying to be our best inside and out!

Rise Up, My Love (229): Wouldn’t You Like to Have a Perfect Nose?

Song of Solomon 7:5 “Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.” Damascus was the capital of Syria, and although the Syrians were chronic enemies of Israel, during the zenith of Solomon’s reign the political control of his kingdom not only included Damascus, but extended another three hours north and east to Tadmor, which was half way to the Euphrates River. As Solomon’s kingdom grew, he continually built watch towers along the perimeter to guard his land from enemy attack, so a reference to a defense tower placed in the mountain range of Lebanon facing Damascus (which would have been to guard Israel from enemy troops advancing from the Syrian capital through the mountains toward Jerusalem) indicates that the Song of Solomon was probably written near the beginning of Solomon’s reign.*  This is consistent with the highly romantic but not implausible theory that Shulamith (“Mrs. Solomon”) was indeed Solomon’s first wife, and that perhaps her untimely death at an early age triggered a long and fruitless search for a replacement. (Hence, the three hundred wives and 700 concubines whom he eventually gathered into his harem…and who ruined him spiritually.) As one with the conviction that a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman was God’s design from the creation of Eve to the present, this is the only theory that satisfies my soul, and I cling to it with peaceful tenacity! (See Genesis 2:24; Isaiah 54:5-6 [consider that God Himself only has one wife: Israel, to whom he has been and will be eternally faithful]; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31; I Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6; and Revelation 21:9.)  But, back to our main subject. What did the tower of Lebanon look like? Delitzsch suggested that this comparison conveyed “symmetrical beauty combined with awe-inspiring dignity.”** That seems an apt, well chosen description. Without a doubt the reference to a tower brings to mind prominence and straight lines.Noses can “make or break” the sense of beauty in many faces, and although no one seems to greatly admire huge, prominent noses, straight, well-shaped noses often lend a sense of character to faces, giving them a courageous-appearing countenance, as if strength of line bespeaks strength of character. To describe the wife’s nose as a tower gives the feeling of a nose that descends in a straight line from the brow to the mouth (not broken or crooked)…a “tower” strong and unable to be turned aside. Spiritually, this brings to mind an impregnable fortress against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matthew 16:18). Furthermore, a nose “which looketh toward Damascus” is a nose placed squarely in the middle of a face like a watch tower supporting two eyes that are circumspectly facing the enemy. The bride of Christ is a woman of character and strength who is watchfully facing the enemy of our souls, Satan, and heeding God’s admonitions.  Although we can’t do anything about the shape or size of our physical noses (apart from plastic surgery), as part of the bride of Christ, we can be spiritually beautiful and strong by heeding God’s admonitions to be watchful:  “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).  Notes:
*Paige Patterson,  Song of Solomon (Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 106.
** G. Lloyd Carr, The Song of Solomon: An Introduction and Commentary (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1984), 159.

(I took the photos of people while watching First Knight, a 1995 reinterpretation of Camelot with a more virtuous Gwinevere and Lancelot than usual. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know we can’t all look like movie stars, but by God’s grace, we can all be virtuous if we’re willing! I took the photos of the towers in Tunisia, not Lebanon.)

Would You Like to Pray with Me?

hes-got-the-whole-world-in-his-hands-from-nelson-mandelas-homeAt the risk of repeating myself, I want to mention today that I have a son (Jonathan) whose great passion is to make Christian education available to anyone who wants it, regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to attend a traditional university for training. I believe Jon first felt this when he was a young teenager and we visited China together (many years ago). On that trip, we learned that up to 100 people were taking turns using one Bible.  notre-dame-de-paris-franceThe internet has made sharing information so much easier, but there are still many places in the world where meeting with other Christians for prayer or Bible study is prohibited, so Jonathan  has opened an online prayer center, which can be accessed here:

http://aqueductproject.org/prayer-center/

candles-in-notre-dame-de-paris-franceWe’ve been meeting every Friday morning at 9:00 EST (and there’s a chart at the site explaining what time that is at various other locations around the world) as we’re able, and if you’d like to join in with us, please do. If enough people respond and it becomes “crowded,” we can also find a different time for “our group” (those from this blog who would like to pray together). If you’re interested but can’t pray at 9:00 am EST on Friday, please contact me, and we can try to find a different time. Jon’s prayer center is open all the time, around the clock! At the 9:00 am Friday prayer time, we share requests and pray for each other as well as world needs, practicing the “Lectio Divina” style of prayer (which just means reading together a short passage of Scripture as a prompt for thinking about God and as a means of responding to His Word). The prayer time usually lasts about a half an hour. Every week there are different people. There are never very many, but Jonathan and I try very hard to be there each week. Please feel free to email me (kathrynwarmstrong@gmail.com) or call me if you’re here in GR and would like to find a different time. Also, the prayer center is available to everybody, so if you’d like to pray with a group of your friends, you can also use the Prayer Center as a way to meet on line for prayer! This might be especially appealing to those of you for whom English is not your first language.  rose-windown-in-notre-dame-de-paris-france(Dr.) Jonathan (Armstrong) is also team teaching a seminar on prayer, which I mentioned last Wednesday. This 7-week educational lecture series is being offered totally free of charge in conjunction with Moody Bible Institute, where Dr. Armstrong teaches. If any of you are interested in learning more about prayer, the series is ongoing for the next six weeks on Wednesday evenings from 7:30-8:30 pm (EST) and can be accessed here:

http://aqueductproject.org/prayer-seminar/

Afterward, it will also be available online hopefully. I’ll try to figure that out and add a postscript later, or there will very likely be information by clicking on the link above.

However and whenever, I hope you are communicating with God the Father often and growing in your own “theology”… learning “God speech.”

people-praying-in-notre-dame-de-paris-franceI say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20).

 

In the Spirit of the Ides of February

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” Maureen Churabrutus-and-the-ghost-of-caesar-public-domain-wikiMost people know about the Ides of March, March 15, which was made infamous by the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC and continued in infamy by Shakespeare’s famous play, Julius Caesar, written some 1643 years later.

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

However, did you know that February 15 also has special significance historically? February 15 was the date of an ancient ritual of purification, particularly washing with water, to purify people and their city from any evil spirits, which would allow the blessings of health and fertility to flourish as the citizens prepared for spring. februar_leandro_bassano-public-domainI don’t know about you, but I find all the dissension in America deeply disturbing, and I’m wondering if we might honor today as a day of personal purification coupled with earnest prayers for the healing of ourselves and our nation. It’s so easy to be critical of others…to make ourselves and our own values  into a gold standard for the way things should be. Can we instead humble ourselves and ask God to purify our hearts and straighten our thinking, so that we can see clearly and become a positive influence for good instead of adding to the cacophony of discord? There’s an old saying that “Charity starts at home,” and I think it’s just as true that “Purity starts with me.” Are we casting stones because we’re perfect and angry, or are we throwing mud because we’re frustrated that life is unfair and things aren’t going the way we think they should? Instead of adding to the problem, let’s pray that God will make us part of the solution by purifying our hearts and the hearts of our people. We can’t change others, but by God’s grace we can change ourselves. Then, I do believe God himself will rise up and move to work all things together for good…something no amount of fighting and anger will accomplish.mourning_mingrelians_pranishnikoff_1884“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” (James 4:7-9)

What Does Courageous Love Look Like?

courageous_love_movie_posterCourageous Love is being released on Valentine’s Day…perfect timing and perfect contrast with another movie just coming out that looks at “love” from a perfectly selfish (evil) standpoint. Mark A. Knudsen has written a powerful story to demonstrate what real love—courageous love—looks like. In this romantic drama, young Alex Shelby is shocked to discover that he’s become the CEO of his father’s engineering company following the tragic death of his parents.  alex-shelby-in-courageous-loveWhile relying heavily on the wisdom of the remaining executives, his own intuition, and guidance passed down to him from his father, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,” Alex learns to make the hard choices that integrity demands but could lead to bankruptcy for his company.  director-daniel-knudsen-with-actress-patricia-mauceri-1Monday I’ll share more about this inspirational movie (which I had the privilege of previewing last night), but today I want to spend a minute reflecting on the courageous love demonstrated by those who’ve written, directed, acted in, and produced such a movie! These are not Hollywood professionals. They are flesh and blood, every day heroes who have spent a tremendous amount of time and money, and they’ve invested heart and soul in developing a product to impact our culture for good…to give us a choice. Thankfully, I’m finding more and more such movies on the shelves of our local video store, which thrills me no end! actress-holly-houk-with-actress-kristina-kaylenAre we going to watch glamorous stars spewing profanity and teaching immorality as the new morality, or are we going to choose inspiring stories produced by a budding Christian industry that wants to exalt God and promote Truth? Courageous Love was developed and filmed right here in Michigan, and I hope a zillion people watch it, love it, and are inspired by it! Will you give it a try? It’s coming soon. Look for it! (It can also be pre-ordered now.) Please watch it, and let us know what you think!

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things:
and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things

(Matthew 12:35).

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing,
whether it be good, or whether it be evil
” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Chasing Slow All The Way To Hawaii

chasing-slowErin Loechner is young. I am a senior citizen. Erin Loechner is a blogger with a fan base of over a million women. I have yet to have half a million people even view my blog and no “fan base” at all! Erin Loechner’s new book, Chasing Slow, just hit the market three weeks ago. I’ve never had a book hit the market! One thing we do have in common: She has no clue who I am, and I have no clue who she is…or at least that was true until I accepted the offer to read and review her book on my blog.

Chasing Slow arrived just before we left for Hawaii, and I chased slow all the way there and back, as the deadline is today! Do I recommend her book? Yes, for these people:

*Women who feel a lion roaring inside them or are feeling dizzy on their merry-go-round. (If this makes sense to you…you’re in.)

*Women who own a Millennial, love a Millennial, or would like to understand the pressures on this now largest living generation, born sometime between 1980 until 2000 or so. Millennials are a cohort of 75± million precious souls who are the major target of massive marketing efforts. They live in a world of cyber connection, averaging 250 friends on Facebook and a median of 50 phone texts per day. They tweet, instagram, pin, blog, linkin and are expected to measure their self worth on the yardstick of what the world-wide web deems perfection.

There’s the reason the “web” is called the “web.” It’s sticky and few escape. Erin found herself trapped in the vortex and has been trying to find her way out.

But it seemed impossibly hard, because she kept feeding the lion, and he was never satisfied. Feeding the lion? I grew up eating the Word and brushed my cut my teeth on 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t feed the lion, resist the lion, and cast all your cares on God, who will care for you and deliver you from the lion (1 Peter 5:7-9; 2 Timothy 4:17). Sounds simple, but I know it’s hard. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to keep the lion fed. Both sooner and later he’ll just keep devouring you.

Feeling dizzy or empty? “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). That works better than yoga, brambleberry lip stain, or a double chocolate latte with whipped cream. Seeking fame and fortune—which comes standard on most Millennials—isn’t the endgame of life. Love and connection with God, family and friends is. Erin’s struggle to figure that out will inspire you if you’re a Millennial and probably distress you if you’ve stayed out of the fast lane, but she’s a very entertaining, openhearted writer, and she salts her mismatched analogies with lots of pepper, so if you can keep from crying you’ll be laughing as you read along her wild ride Chasing Slow.

(P.S.—Tomorrow I want to tell you about a Hawaiian we met last week named Larry Rivera. He played with Elvis Presley back in the day but passed him forty years ago by chasing slow!)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV)

Are You Tuned in to Donald Trump’s Inauguration?

donald_trump_august_19_2015-wikiToday is Inauguration Day… “the big day” that every American’s been waiting for, either with a sense of anxious dread or excited anticipation, or something in between. Are you going to watch Trump being sworn in at noon today?trump_rally_in_cincinnati-wikiWhether you’re lining up with the thousands of protesters in L.A. or have a room reserved in Washington D.C., there’s electric energy in the air across the country. I try really hard to avoid being political on this blog, although I am deeply grateful for every person who has invested his (or her) life in trying to make our country the best possible through serving in a public leadership role…a difficult calling at best and a heart-breaking disappointment at worst.  trump-caucus-wikiWould you like to be the president of the United States? Frankly, I would not. donald_trump-wikiApart from spending my life flat on my face praying to God Almighty for wisdom, I can’t imagine how I (or anyone) could possibly have the insight and courage to rule our country well. I have a few friends who are quite delighted with the prospects of Trump becoming president, and I have many friends and family members who vacillate between feelings of fear, anger, and despair.  electoralcollege2016-wikiNo matter how you feel personally, as Christians I know what the scripture teaches, and that is: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).  donald_trump_laconia_rally_laconia_nh_4_by_michael_vadon_july_16_2015_19-1Over the years, I’ve done more complaining and less praying for our presidents than I want to admit, but I’d like to encourage all of us to take up our role as prayer intercessors on  behalf of those who are in positions of authority… especially Donald Trump. Do you want to be able to live a quiet, peaceful, godly, honest life? I do. Let’s put our prayers where our complaints have been and lift up Donald Trump to the throne of grace, so that we (and he) “may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

donald_trump_and_mike_pence_july_2016-wikiWhen the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice:
but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn
” (Proverbs 29:2).

(All photos used by permission of Wiki Commons.)

Rise Up, My Love (218): Feeling Blue? How About Being a Brilliant Blue?

kathi-in-field-of-rapeseed-05-15-16-france-countrysideSong of Solomon 7:1. Do you ever wish you looked different? Shorter nose, lighter frame, smaller waistline, broader shoulders…whatever? Do you know that God made you exactly the way he wanted you? I still marvel at that and find myself asking, “Are you sure? I don’t look the way I would have made me…” Do you doubt God’s wisdom? Would you change his sovereign choice? Would you like to be a piece of pottery who says to the master, “Why did you make me thus?” “Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay?” (Romans 9:20-21). beautiful-ceramic-pottery-in-napoleons-apartments-louvreNo, we need to respond as the prophet did in Isaiah 64:8, “O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” May we learn to rejoice with the sweet psalmist who sang out, “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands” (Psalm 92:4). Oh, the love and tender care our heavenly bridegroom has bestowed on us! Oh, for hearts to understand our heavenly husband’s delight in his wife’s beauty (that’s us)! And yet, we must also always remember that our beauty is really the result of his love, not the cause of it! africa-starling-in-ehlanzeni-saMay we never come to the point of becoming proud or lifted up, thinking that we are more beautiful or somehow spiritually superior to anyone else. Who makes us beautiful? “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee [emphasis mine]…behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires” (Isaiah 54:10-11). south-african-national-gallery-of-artThe next time you feel blue, remember that you are blue…deep down…for God has laid your foundation with sapphires! As a friend once said to me, “If you’re going to be blue, at least be a brilliant blue.” tanzanite-from-shimansky-diamonds-in-cape-town-saIn fact, our foundation is the brilliant sapphire, and the structure of our body (which is the spiritual temple to be filled with the glory of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us) is laid in multicolored gems…rubies, diamonds, and emeralds, etc.! If that doesn’t cheer your heart—then meditate on that last passage (Isaiah 54:10-11), and let it sink in! Finally, as we read in Colossians 1:16, “All things were created by him, and for him.” Not only did his great love culminate in our creation and redemption, he did it for his pleasure! blue-skies-with-grey-and-white-cloudsLook at Revelation 4:11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Would you like to add to his pleasure? “Build the house [referring to the temple]; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord” (Haggai 1:8). How can we please our Lord and add to his pleasure? By “building” upon the house-temple of our body’s foundation with the gold, silver, and precious stones of faith, reverence, love, obedience… and the good works that follow in their train. Oh, Lord, may we rejoice in your work in us—the work of a cunning craftsman—and may we also do our part to build upon the foundation a temple of great beauty so that you will be glorified and take pleasure in us!