Valentine’s Day is For Getting Drunk (by Jon Bloom)

The evolution of Valentine’s Day has followed a course similar to the evolution of Santa Claus. It began with legends surrounding an obscure saint (actually, there’s more than one St. Valentine) from early Christian history that oddly morphed over the centuries into something else entirely. Then it exploded into a pop culture and commercial phenomenon in Victorian England (thank the Brits for greeting cards, flowers, and “confectioneries”), with the United States quickly jumping on the bandwagon.

No one knows for sure how a February 14th feast day commemorating a martyr(s) came to be a celebration of Eros love. It’s possible that when 5th Century Pope Gelasius l abolished the ancient Roman pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia (celebrated on February 15th), it ended up just meshing with St. Valentine’s Day. All we know is that “Volantynys day” abruptly shows up in a romantic poem by Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century and it’s been with us ever since.

So what should Christians make of today’s Valentine’s Day?

As much as purely possible! Valentine was a saint and Eros is not Cupid’s domain. It’s God’s! Christians should be the most unashamed, exuberant celebrators of romantic love there are, and the strongest guardians of God’s design and boundaries, because God made it for us to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17)! And God, the greatest romantic in existence, has designed it to give us a taste of the greatest romance that will ever exist, of which all Christians will experience.

Be Drunk with Love!

On the Desiring God blog we tackle, with blood-earnestness, the issues of sexual sin, the scourge of pornography, the anguish of same-sex struggles, and the complexities and difficulties of marriage, dating, and singleness. We all know the crucial need to guard ourselves, our children and each other against our indwelling, sexually broken depravity and a culture that shoves illicit sexuality in our faces every day.

But just for a moment, let’s not dwell on the dangers and disappointments of Eros. Let’s simply savor the purely intoxicating joy that God intends for betrothed and married lovers!

Yes, intoxicating. That’s Bible-talk for romantic love:

Friends, drink, and be drunk with love! (Song of Solomon 5:1)

Be drunk with love! I would say that’s a sweet imperative. The Bible doesn’t want us to drink in moderation when it comes to loving our lover. We are to drink deeply and become inebriated.

Like the Best Wine

So in that sense Valentine’s Day is a good day to get drunk. And a good place for some wine tasting is in the Song of Solomon. One read and it isn’t surprising that this wild drinking romp through the vineyard of betrothed (pre-consummated) and marital romantic love makes it one of the most controversial books of the Bible! Here are some of its wine samples:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine. (Song 1:2)

How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much better is your love than wine. (Song 4:10)

He brought me to his banqueting house (literally “house of wine”),
and his banner over me is love. (Song 2:4)

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride. . .
I drank my wine with my milk. (Song 5:1)

Your navel is a rounded bowl
that never lacks mixed wine. (Song 7:2)

Your mouth like the best wine.
It goes down smoothly for my beloved,
gliding over lips and teeth. (Song 7:9)

The taste of God’s Eros is like the best wine — even better! (There was more to Jesus’s first miracle than we first thought (John 2:1–11)!) And it’s meant to be drunk freely.

Awaken Love

Married lovers, have you lost your taste for this wine? If so, go to the Song together. Walk back through the vineyards. Have foxes gotten in and spoiled them (Song 2:15)? It may be that for you this Valentine’s Day is a moment when you resolve together to “awaken love” (Song 3:5). Flowers, cards, and confectionaries won’t do that. Love awakens when you revel in each other.

Husbands, read sections 4:1–5 and 7:1–4. Hear the Song’s groom salivate over his bride’s eyes, hair, teeth, lips, cheeks, neck, breasts, feet, thighs, navel, belly, and nose. Let your lover hear your delight in her body!

Wives, read 5:10–16 and listen to the bride savor her groom’s locks, eyes, cheeks, lips, arms, body, legs, and mouth. Let your lover hear you luxuriate out loud in what you admire.

Hear again God’s invitation to you:

Friends, drink, and be drunk with love! (Song 5:1)

God wants married lovers to experience deeply, and future married lovers to anticipate, the full-orbed sensual and spiritual pleasure of erotically loving another embodied soul. And he designed this intoxication to occur within the safe chamber of marriage because forbidden intoxication can kill (Proverbs 5:15–19, 20–23).

I Am My Beloved’s and My Beloved Is Mine

But of course there is much more to the Song of Solomon than a celebration of marital Eros. In it is woven the mystery of the Great Romance:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31–32)

Because of this, the Song can be savored by every Christian. The deepest drink, the most wonderful inebriation Eros can provide any husband and wife in this age is only a copy and shadow of what’s to come. No Christian will miss out on the real thing.

At the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we drink the real wine with our Groom and enjoy an intimacy with him that we had only previously known in metaphors, then we will really know what was meant by “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Revelation 19:6–8; Matthew 26:29; Song 6:3).

And then we will all know what true and wholly pure intoxication is.

Publishing Note: Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God. www.desiringGod.org Copyright 2014 John Piper. Used by permission.

The Normal Christian Life

Watchman Nee is one of my favorite authors. His book, The Normal Christian Life, summarizes in Biblical detail what is “normal” for a Christian. I had only one problem when I finished reading…my normal day didn’t match the normal Christian life I had just read about. My normal day was a lot more me and fell far short of Galatians 2:20;

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

I remember thinking after the first few pages, “I need to fix my normal day!” However, by the end of the book Nee lovingly and firmly brought to light what needed fixing. It wasn’t my outward actions, it was my heart. The truth is, Jesus isn’t only the Savoir that died for me; He’s not only the Savior that rose for my justification; He is the Savior that dwells within me. He is a present Help. He is constant Friend. We abide together! Today, and every day I spend on this planet is a day I need to be dead to self and alive in Christ!

And so, we pick up tomorrow, Wednesday January 8th: 11:45am and 6:00pm, in the Word and pray our hearts melt in its truth and mold our normal Christian life.

New Year’s Resolutions

I heard a statistic regarding the average American and new years resolutions…only 8% of us keep any one of the resolutions on our list. In other words, if you have 10 resolutions there is only an 8% chance you will keep even 1 of the 10. If you have ever wondered why depression is so wide spread in our culture, look no further than your list of abandoned resolutions.

The problem with New Year’s resolutions is they call for “external change” and give no regard to the power by which external change takes place. May I suggest that unless your heart change, external change is not sustainable.

I know of no other agent of change for the heart and soul of a person than the Word of God. That said, I offer the only list of resolutions necessary:

  1. May I love and adore the Word of God and the portrait of Jesus Christ it paints.
  2. May my adoration of Jesus be manifest to the world around me.

Please join us as we continue our study of the book of Hebrews this Wednesday; 11:45am and 6:00pm.

Investing in 2014

Unlike money, all of us have the same 24 hour allotment to invest. Since it’s wise to invest about 8 of those hours in rest and sleep each day, we all come to the marketplace with very limited resources.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics here is how the average American invests their day:

AvgTime

Now, I am going to make a bold assertion: there is little we can do to re-allocate time investment reflected in the chart. The chart reflects who we are physically and who we are as a culture. In other words, physically we must eat, sleep, keep our homes, and care for those in our charge…culturally we must work 8 hours and participate in sports and leisure activities. This is what it means to be an American. There is little we can do on the average day to break out of this mold.

That being said, I want to address the time slice in the chart labeled as “other”. The average American has 1.6 hours each day that is not ruled by the physical or dominated by culture. About an hour and a half daily is yours to invest any way you choose. It may not sound like a lot of time to invest but look at it this way; one could read over twenty books a year if you only invested 15 minutes each day to reading.

I believe one thing is clear, based on the limit of the resource, one must invest this time slice wisely. It is my desire that you would invest some of this resource with us. Patriarch Project exists to change lives with the Word of God and with interacting with each other.

Someone said we change the world one life at a time. Please watch this TED Talk from a man who grew up in South Africa working in his family’s tourism business:

Got Confidence?

A key to having Joy in Responsibility is confidence. If you see the future as hopeful it is much more common to experience joy in that which you are responsible.

Therefore, if you lack confidence, the joy of which we speak will be missing from your life. The problem may be as simple as misdirected hope. Placing your hope in the next big business deal, our nation’s economy, or your own intelligence and abilities, could be the source of your lack of confidence; and rightly so. None of those things are perfect.

Along with the author of Hebrews, I am asking you to CONSIDER JESUS. Can’t find joy in this season of joy? Consider Jesus! Lack confidence in your future? Consider Jesus!

Redirect your hope. Consider Jesus. That’s why we study the Word of God together.

Join us each Wednesday at 11:45am or 6:00pm. Or visit our blog site and watch the recorded study sessions. www.patriarchproject.com

We will continue our in-depth study of the book of Hebrews and seek to find the Joy in Responsibility!

The Profound State of Being Understood

Being understood is profound. For example, in a marriage when your spouse understands you, despite all your shortcomings, the relationship thrives in many areas. And, being understood, the rough areas of the relationship prove to be a launch pad for improvement. My wife and I have been married for over 33 years. That’s a long time to study each other.

In recent years I have noticed how my wife makes adjustments in our relationship based on my many shortcomings. She can make these adjustments and avoid consequences because she understands the areas of life in which I don’t do well. Seeing her do this alerts me to the troubled area and allows me to consider making a change for the better. (sometimes I do better than others)

Most people have a fear of the unknown. We don’t know where change will lead, so we struggle to stay where we’re most comfortable.

However, being understood, and knowing we are understood, releases us from fear. Think about it; what if my wife asked me to make a major change in life. Knowing that she understands me empowers me with a confidence to move toward change. I believe it is as powerful as knowing she loves me and wants what is best for me.

Now, take this idea of being understood and apply it to your relationship with Jesus. As we continue our study of the book of Hebrews we are introduced to this same concept in our relationship with the Savior.

Hebrews 2:10 reads,  For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (ESV) 

We are going to see, as our study continues, that God the Father saw it fitting that Jesus suffer just as we do. In this verse it states that Jesus is leading us to glory. He is not leading us as one who doesn’t understand the way we suffer with sin and fear and doubt. However, He does lead us as one who was perfectly victorious over the things in which we fail daily. Jesus understands us! He is sympathetic to our plight and at the same time victoriously leading us through it.

I find great Joy in the Responsibility that is mine when my Benevolent King, my Sympathetic High Priest, my Victorious Older Brother, namely Jesus, leads me to glory with an understanding heart.

I look forward to our time together next Wednesday December 4th. Have a Happy and Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Break

No Bible study this week.

Growing up in West Virginia, a place where deer hunting is a way of life not just a sport, Thanksgiving week (the opening week of deer season) was a time when typical daily routines went on hold. Even the grocery stores were manned by skeleton crews (those low in rank and unable to schedule it off). It was a time when nothing but essentials were covered.

It was also a time spent with family. So while we take this week off from our normal Wednesday Bible study, enjoy family!

We will pick up next Wednesday December 4th at our usual times; 11:45am and 6:00pm.

May the Lord richly bless you and your family this Thanksgiving!

Pastor Mike

Don’t Neglect Your Joy!

God is not an ogre. He’s not a tyrant. He’s not egotistical. God gives commands for our good. The authors of the Bible trumpet over and over… He is Steadfast Love and Faithfulness. Every Word of this one and only beautiful Truth is for HIS GLORY. It is His Glory that we crave, even when we don’t realize it. For it is only in His Glory that we can be satisfied. It is only in His Glory we can find Steadfast Love and Faithfulness. It is only in His Glory that we have real and lasting JOY.

As we study Hebrews together remember our first command in chapter 2 verse 1…Listen! Listen to this Jesus tell you how much He loves you. Listen to your only source of joy. God gives commands for our good.

As Americans we must neglect hundreds of people and things each of our waking hours. We have images and data coming at us at the speed of light. We cannot address them all. We must flip by tons of information never giving it a chance to change our lives.

The author of Hebrews asks the question,  “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrew 2:3)

God threatens terrible things if we won’t be filled with joy. So, out of everything you choose to neglect this weekend…

Don’t neglect being loved,

Don’t neglect being forgiven,

Don’t neglect righteousness,

Don’t neglect your Wonderful Father,

Don’t neglect being a Child of Grace.

Blessings,

Pastor Mike

Save the Date

New Bible Study

Beginning Wednesday, November 6th

11:45 am and 6:00 pm

THE JOY IN RESPONSIBILITY

An in-depth study of the book of HEBREWS

Plan to join us!  If you attend the 11:45 am study bring your lunch; the 6:00 pm study bring your dinner.  Feel free to kill two birds with one stone…. Have you ever felt like the amount of responsibility in life is a heavy burden? Ever wondered how the Bible can ask you to be “joyful in everything”? Lets explore this life changing principle together!

Please call or email and let us know which study you will attend. Call Mike at (602) 321-6695 or email m.jones@patriarchproject.com .

Also: If you can’t join us in person, we will be broadcasting the study via “GoToMeeting”. You can sign in on your pc or mac or call on the phone and listen in…even participate! Call or email for details.

PATRIARCH PROJECT

138 S HAMILTON PLACE, GILBERT, AZ  85233

Directions: Located in Elliot Commerce Park, on Elliot Road between Arizona Ave. and McQueen.

My Card

A very wise mentor once said, “Only ask advice from those who have your best interest in mind.” Now your first reaction to this statement might be, “Duh, that’s not profound, everyone does that already! I never ask advice from my enemies.”

Before you write off this statement allow me to point out some of its deeper meaning. The key lies in knowing who has your best interest in mind.

I’ll make my point with this example:

A high school graduate stands at a crossroads decision. “Where will I go to college?”  He seeks and receives advice from two trusted sources. His parents are very successful doctors from one of the country’s finest medical schools. Desiring that their son follow in their footsteps, they strongly encourage their alma mater.

The graduate’s two best friends in the world are going to a sleepy little college nestled in the Appalachian mountains. Being a respectable school with a regional reputation, the two friends encourage the graduate to keep the tradition going…the three musketeers conquering the world together.

Two trusted sources encouraging two opposing paths. Both the parents and the friends love the graduate. All desire a successful future for him. However, both futures are biased, based on the personal desires of the advisors.

We are faced with these types of decisions throughout life. Especially those ordained to lead. Think of how often a business owner is faced with making major decisions. Is it time to hire and expand? It is time to cut back and downsize? Should I buy that business? Should I sell my business? The list is endless.

It is always a good idea to talk over life changing decisions with your spouse and close family members. It is even a good idea to talk with your peers. However, one must realize that these people always begin the advice with their own biased desires.

That’s why you need a pastor. That’s why business owners need a pastor even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly “religious” person. You need a point of view from someone who seeks your best interest from a Biblical perspective without personal bias.

There is nothing wrong with making an appointment to discuss specific issues and seek answers. But the best answers are the ones found while studying the Bible together. I can’t tell you the number of times a business leader has said they discovered the answer to a perplexing problem right in the middle of the Bible study. I wasn’t even aware that there had been a question. The Bible has answers, period. It is trustworthy.  It is truth.

I pray that you’ll join my study in the Word of God starting in November. We will begin with the topic “The Joy in Responsibility”.

Oh, by the way, my card…

Business Card Pic

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

Pastor Mike