Why the Leafs…

I have wonderful old books — simply fascinating treasures.

I dare anyone to measure their wealth against my library and try to come out richer.

Even the simple act of reading titles sets me a buzz with interest.

Perhaps the history of each particular volume would add to the external charm, but what is most delicious to the mind lies between the leaves.

Ink is black gold… its characters form an inheritance expansive enough to take any individual’s breath away.

 

Thanks to my sister/best friend/twin, I am in possession of several truly phenomenal acquisitions:

Tom Sawyer   by Mark Twain – printed in London, England

A Girl of the Limberlost   by Gene Stratton Porter

Swiss Family Robinson (possibly a first edition), Paradise Lost, Nicholas Nickleby, A Tale of Two Cities, and others I can’t see to name.

 

More I have read and will read – these are purchases, some, but mostly gifts or discoveries. Each is priceless. Were I to lose everything I owned but my books, their bodies would serve to build a house with and their souls would be bread, butter, and tea for me.

Gorgeously tall bookshelves

“Honey… could you pass me that book I dropped?”

To be honest, I am falling in love with books all over again. Not just children’s books, which bring joy to the child I will never cease to be. Neither the simultaneously dense and brilliant textbooks, anthologies, etc. which leave my mind actively tingling with new information. No, these are the Timeless Books, with stories which speak to every season and event of one’s existence, displaying characters both complex and simple, both raw and long-refined who present striking resemblances to the diverse people populating our own lives.

Yes! I love to taste and experience this stunning world God Everlasting has created. And it is in this world – or others very close to touching it – where such life-changing stories happen.

My great hope is that in reading Timeless Books, they will teach me how to write a better story with my own life: to live an incredible story. Just ask Donald Miller and Bob Goff.

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The Permanence of Love

Along with my thoughts on these Principles of Love, there are many young women who have been touched by this story, and touched even deeper by this Love. Here are some of their thoughts on Permanent Love.*

“The Shulamite couldn’t wear down His love for her. It’s like the best permanent marker ever: bold and bright and never dry. It’s so steady and ready to flow. His love is not conditional – it doesn’t require me to keep up certain requirements.”

“I can relate to the hesitancy and flight of the Shulamite. She was running away from the prime promise of His love….  never feeling like you belong with the accepted crowd. No matter what though, He’s still there at the door, peering in to see why I’m hiding myself. I’m learning how to accept His love and quit running away.”

“God is Love. It is who He is. The Bridegroom staid with the bride, His attitude unchanged. He doesn’t love any ‘better’-believing woman better than He loves me.”

It’s about Security   ~  ” ‘Will this person stick around in my life, or not?’ This love isn’t done until you die – my covenant with Him is eternal. [The King] keeps bringing up her beauty and singling her out as precious. So strong, permanent, and secure that death doesn’t end it.

“[The last chapter describes the Shulamite] ‘as one who finds peace’. While His lessons change, His character and goal remain eternally the same. He can and He does want to love me. [This means] permanent peace, no matter what is going on around us.”

“In the Hebrew language, this word is ‘olam’: meaning ‘everlasting, continuing or enduring without fundamental or marked change; with no anticipated ending’. [When Jesus asks] ‘You don’t believe me, do you?’ [I ask myself] ‘Do I?’ [Then I see His wrists and feet.] There’s a permanent mark, a scar for eternity of His love. [The Love], it’s just a gift. Learn to accept it.”

*These words are not mine but those of several other young women who studied with me. Out of respect for privacy, their names have been excluded, but the words are almost entirely their own. They deserve credit for sharing these heartfelt insights. My thanks to them.

Love is Permanent

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm" SOS 8:6

The Principle of Permanence

*Note: This post refers to Scripture verses found in the Old Testament book, Song of Solomon. In order to better understand what I’m talking about, it’s helpful to read these verses along with the text bollow.

While the Shulamite’s love and affections fluctuated with each encounter and each circumstance, the King’s love for her continued through those same things and emerged unchanged. All his heart was fixed on her and was not the slightest bit removed by her (1) self-pity, (2) indifference, (3) anxiety, (4) possessiveness, (5) neglect, or (6) lapsed passion. After every single struggle on her part he comes back with praise and an unwavering desire to be with her and to have her in his presence [1].

 

If you subsituted my name for “Shulamite” and JESUS for “the King” you would have a spot-on picture of my relationship with Christ:

My love and affections for Him fluctuate with each encounter and each circumstance of my life. Meanwhile, Christ Jesus’ love for me continues through those same things and emerge unchanged. As a matter of fact, one of the attributes of Christ as God is immutability: being unchanging over time or unable to be changed. God is both, so Jesus Christ is both. It is against His nature to change in purpose, character, desire, etc. All my life His heart has been fixed on me and has been not the slightest bit moved by my self-pity, my indifference, and the many other attitudes that the unsettled heart tends toward. After every struggle on my part, He comes back with praise and that unwavering desire to be with me, to have me in His presence.

Most stunning to me is that nothing I do can end my salvation, reverse my redemption, or reduce His desire and love toward me. I thought otherwise for years, and the lie comes back, but Jesus Christ proves it’s not so.

Scripture addresses from Song of Solomon

(1) Chap. 1: verse 5-6  & 1: verse 15 – 2, verse 2

(2) Chap. 2: verses 10, 14, and 17

(3) Chap. 3: verse 1-2 and 4

(4) Chap. 2: verse 16  & 3: verse 4

(5) Chap. 5: verse 2-8  & 6: verse 4-10

(6) Throughout the book

[1] Chap. 4: verses 1-5, 7, and 9-11

 

 

 

 

What Love is….

As this week started off with preparations for Valentine’s Day, I thought it fitting to wrap-up the whole month of February with a theme, much in the way one wraps a simple gift or a special note in some strong yet thoughtful ribbon. And what more appropriate theme could we reflect on than that of Love?

Now, when I refer to Love (notice the capital “L”) this by no means represents the temporary, superficial, undetermined, or impetuous notions of such a feeling. What I mean to touch on is that incredible, authentic sensation of being cared for in full knowledge of your deserving or undeserving condition. While there are many books and articles, “experts” and individuals on whom I might rely to understand such a concept, an ancient scroll of love letters in poetry form proves itself a faithful and honest source.

The Song of Solomon can be found in any faithful edition of the Old Testament, right after a rather depressing book titled, Ecclesiates. What you’ll read there, if you can make your way through the Hebrew poetical form and pastoral imagery, is a touching story of a simple girl who is loved by a young king, the gradual transformation of her feelings and self-perception, and the steadfastness of her Beloved.

 

Now guys, don’t check out at this point. With a deeper grasp of this story, you may better understand what it means for a young woman to be truly loved. And for yourself, here is a godly standard for measuring your treatment of women, your behavior in a relationship, and your control of sexual desires against. Be challenged; be inspired!

If the intro to this next series hasn’t frightened you away, I look forward to sharing what Song of Solomon has taught me and what it can teach you… if you’re willing to learn.

Blessings from the writer~

“Set your mind on things above…”

Colossians 3:2 challenges each of us as believers, everyday, with the words,

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

What, exactly, does this mean – practically speaking? Well, I’m not a Greek scholar (yet), but with an avid appetite for the English language in written form particularly, this is how it broke down for me.

 

To set: “to place; to lay down; to put something in position (e.g. in preparation for something) ~ set the table for company ~ set the runner’s block ~ set the clock ahead/back ~ set down a burden.

“On things above” – when I set a jar of tea or rice or flour or whatever on a shelf, it doesn’t depend on me for support once it has left my hands. I cease to be the force sustaining it, meaning I do not prevent it from coming to ruin (aka, yielding to gravity). It is entirely, totally up to the structure of the shelf to support the weight of that object. Depending on the integrity of the shelf, I feel safe trusting it… or I don’t. Would I trust something like my grandmother’s heirloom button jar to a rickedy, broken, bug-eaten shelf or some ledge too narrow to fully support it? No, definitely not. But would I look at a smooth, broad shelf with braces and brackets, screwed into the studs of the wall, even edged with a lip to keep objects from possibly falling off and say, “I can’t trust that. What if it fails?”

Yet some people do just that, even people living in the Church.

Honestly? It takes faith to leave whatever you’re carrying around on the shelf, to trust and let the weight slip out of your hands. Is it easy? Not really. Will it ever be? I’ll answer that with another question: When you really trust the One taking that burden from you, are you even afraid? Or are you relieved? Here’s the thing – “set” objects don’t dangle or teeter or roll. They sit, safely waiting to be put to use, or put to rest. The strangest thing is to see people who are desperate for something to lean on or somewhere to rest their burdens standing next to the Rock of Ages and unwilling to set anything on Him. The saddest thing is to see is believers, people living the Christian life of Christ, also clutching those jars and bottles, boxes and knapsacks and stones but never yielding them to rest on Christ.

Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” For those who want to argue that Christianity is complicated, I’d

like to ask them how many hoops they think that little verse is asking people to jump through. A friend once explained to me that in order to lean on anything, you have to put weight against it. The more you trust a structure for support, the more weight you put on it and – in a sense – the more value you place upon it. I say “you”, but this applies to me and anybody else. (Notice how I’m not afraid to use “absolute language”. My English teacher would be upset, but there’s no reason to impair the truth.) The trouble comes when my pillar, my frame of reference, my mountain shifts or crumbles, leaving me on my face, bruised and shaken up. Was it the mountain’s fault for changing on me? No, not when I choose to entrust it with the weight of my life. Besides, it’s a mountain. What does it care that my life falls apart when it moves? There’s no promise that a mountain can hold up to stress and time forever.

So, what are you leaning on for support? Can it hold you up? Indefinately?

"Colorado Mountain

"What do you lean on?"

Means for redemption…

Ruth 4:6-10   “And the close relative said, ‘I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I ruin my own inheritance. You redeem my right of redemption for yourself, for I cannot redeem it.’ Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging, to confirm anything: one man took off his sandal and gave it to the other, and this was a confirmation in Israel. Therefore the close relative said to Boaz, ‘Buy if for yourself.’ So he took off his sandal. And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, ‘You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, from the hand of Naomi. Morever, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day.'”

Chapter 4 focuses almost entirely on what Boaz does to redeem Ruth for himself. He even goes so far as to buy extra property just so she can fully belong to him. It reminds me of Matthew 13:44-46:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he ahd and bought it.”

This is such a perfect picture of Christ to me. He didn’t need me in order to have honor – He alone is worthy of all honor and glory and praise. He didn’t need to redeemt he whole world either – it all belonged to Him anyways. I couldn’t offer Him anything for compensation – I literally had nothing to bring, nothing but my own fallen self and dead spirit. He took one long, penetrating look at these things, then He walked to the top of Mt. Calvary and ransomed His life to have mine, signing the deed in blood. There was no sensible reason why He wold do this except He loved me and wanted me. So He gave up everything that rightfully belonged to Him and paid it out to ensure that I would belong to Him forever. now, there is nothing I could possibly do to leave this position or make myself irredeemable. “Hallelujah! What a Savior!”