Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Bit More About Spiritual Senses

Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (KJV)
Hebrews 5:14 (NAS) But solid food is for the mature who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

In the previous post I talk about involving the senses in worship. I consider there to be both natural senses and spiritual senses. And really, when you think about it, Jesus said that the true worshipers will worship in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
The above verse given in both King James and New American Standard version translations talk about senses. It doesn't specify that they are spiritual. However, the discerning of spirits is a spiritual gift listed in I Corinthians 12:10. So to me, the above verse encourages us to train and practice our spiritual senses.
So how do you do this?
I don't have all the answers to that, of course. Who does?
But I know that we need the truth that is found in the Bible if we are to worship Jesus in spirit and in truth. And Hebrews says this sort of thing takes practice. The only place I know to start is in prayer and worship and fellowship with other believers who are already heading down this road. It is a process, learning to let God partner with us to train our senses. We must trust Him to meet us and work with us when we practice the Christian disciplines that have been handed down to us by the church fathers and mothers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Involving the Senses in Worship

~I John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled (touched NIV), concerning the Word of Life-

~Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

I told Brenda that I did not think of Song of Solomon (SOS) as being a sexual book. I also told her that I don't look upon it as sensual. What I meant was - sensual in a sexual way. But in all honesty, SOS very much involves the senses.

This is not exclusive to SOS. The two verses above also involve the senses. John's words are a witness, a testimony of his very intimate involvement with Jesus Christ Himself. The Psalmist calls upon the worshiper to seek God and experience Him personally. The senses are very important to us in our understanding of the world.

SOS's second and third verses also call upon the senses.

~Song of Solomon 1:2&3 May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. Your oils have a pleasing fragrance, Your name is like purified oil; Therefore the maidens love you.

This is the maiden, or beloved, speaking here in 2&3, talking about her desire to be kissed by Solomon, a.k.a the lover.
The Hebrew word for kiss means both literally and figuratively to kiss. It also means to touch or fasten up or an attachment. She wants to be touched and she compares the lover's kiss/touch as being better than the taste or effects of wine.

In verse 3 she notes that the bridegroom smells good. Don't let the word oil throw you. They didn't have Bath and Body Works back then. No lotions or after shave. Olive oil was an important staple in the Hebrew home. It was used for lighting, food, and for cosmetic purposes. Oils infused with different fragrances were used. Later on in the song specific smells are brought up and they are highly symbolic, some of them for the purpose of healing. But for now, just know that the presence of the lover is so pleasing that not even the beloved notices, so do other maidens, and they love him.

This is a nice story about two people falling in love. But the deeper symbolism is the worshiper looking with longing toward God, toward Jesus the Bridegroom and desiring to be closer, close enough to reach out and touch Him.
I heard once at a Praise and Worship Seminar that one of the definitions of worship is to turn to face and kiss. And this view is not so hard to imagine when you think that long ago a kiss was a form of worship. I don't know if you have seen historical movies where someone kisses the hand of a lord or a king or high official in the catholic church. But it was not uncommon back then.

So hopefully it is not a hard step to take to meditate on the Christian longing to be closer, to touch, to taste and see that the LORD is good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Acronym Break

Just learned this one.

Sorry if everyone already knows this one. I'm not always known to be on the cutting edge of these kinds of things.

This is dedicated to all people with addictions, bitterness, and brain disorders who refuse to acknowledge the fact.

DENIAL = Don't Even kNow I Am Lying

I like a good acronym.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lovers & Fighters, Praisers & Mourners, Fools & Sages

I really do want to get to Song of Solomon (SOS) chapter one verses two & three.

But I think a quick Old Testament overview might help to give a better perspective of SOS and it's place in the Bible.
If you aren't much into overviews, I apologize. But I have found that overviews help me. And some people checking in here might benefit. Others that check in here probably already know what I'm about to share, and a whole lot more.

The Old Testament is divided into four parts.

~The Law

~Historical Books

~Poetic Books

~The Prophets.

The Law contained five books. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy. The stories within these books include, Adam & Eve, Noah & the Ark, Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, Joseph and his coat of many colors, and the Ten Commandments among other stories.

The Historical Books are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It contains stories like the Battle of Jericho, Gideon, Sampson & Delilah, David & Goliath, Elijah's chariot of fire, the building and rebuilding of the temple.

The Poetic books are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. I will come back to this section.

The Prophets start with Isaiah (The evangelical prophet) & Jeremiah (The weeping prophet) and goes on to the end of the Old Testament. Stories within this grouping include Danial in the Lion' Den, Jonah and the Whale (or big fish if you want to be literal), and Ezekiel's valley of dry bones.

Now back to the Poetic section where SOS is found. To me, the poetic books are the heart and soul of the Old Testament. In the poetic books we see deep grief, high praise, great wisdom, intimate love and been there done that extremo. They deal with the deep places of the human heart.

The oldest book in the Bible may in fact be Job. And his is the story of a good man who loved God and his family. He's going along minding his own business when WHAMO (in loving memory of Steve Irwin). Now where was I? Oh yes, Job was going along, minding his own business, when WHAMO, everything is riped away from him. The rest of the book is him struggling with his situation, his friends telling him he must have done something wrong, and him calling on God. God answers him in the end. It's an excellent read.

Psalms is the longest book in the Bible, containing 150 chapters. It is not just a book of praises and high praises, but of repentance (Ps 51) and prayers of faith in adversity (pofia). Besides praise and thanksgiving, worship, waiting and meditating are common themes.

Proverbs is practical, rubber meets the road, observations on how the world and relationships work. There are 31 chapters and many people read through Proverbs once a month, chapter 1 on the first of the month, chapter 2 on day 2 etc. If you've never done this, I highly recommend doing so once in a while.

Ecclesiastes... well... It's the book of excesses. A wise and wealthy man became foolish and financed it freely for sometime, then comes back to his original conclusion. The last two verses of this book state:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
vs 14 For God shall bring every work into judgement, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Then there is SOS. The best of the Songs. In the poetic section, they saved the best for last.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not About Sex. At least not for me at this time.

My new friend Brenda left a comment under my January 25th, 2009 post that makes me wonder if I better cover something about Song of Solomon (SOS) before I move onto verses 2 & 3 of chapter one.

When I replied to her first comment on my blog I made the observation that SOS was not about sex to me but about intimacy with God.

Her reply was as follows--

Brenda: "Wow, I don't think I found your blog my mistake either! I also need to get to a more intimate place with God. For quite awhile He has felt very distant even though I haven't given up pursuing Him by staying in the Word and prayer. It's been very frustrating to me. I'm looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on what you get from SOS. It is difficult to read about breasts, lips, mouth, tongue, thighs, and navel, and picturing God and me. It's much more fun imagining my husband in it. But, I'm going to give it a shot. Because you may just be on to something."

I'm very glad she brought this up. And please, those of you who check in here from time to time, bear with me as I try to explain this. I am getting to a very specific point. And it is about intimacy with God. But sometimes you have to wade through some stuff to get everyone on the same page, or at least in the same book.

As Brenda mentioned, breasts, lips, mouths, tongues, thighs, and navels are mentioned in this book. No wonder people immediately think about sex first thing. Especially in our sexually overcharged society. I mean, magazines and websites exist that are dedicated exclusively to large breasts. And sex is used to sell anything and everything. In a society such as ours, women can be viewed as sex objects. I mean, what other purpose is there for breasts than to attract men?
Well, actually, women's breasts do exist for something else besides sex. They exist for nursing babies. But with our sex oriented culture, it's hard for many to think of them for anything else. Women who want to nurse in public places, even discretely covered, are not looked upon favorably by many. Sometimes the outcry against such a thing is huge. Some people treat nursing as something nasty that needs to be hidden from the public eye. A private matter between a mother and her infant child. With this collective social attitude, no wonder many women resort to bottle feeding their babies. A gal might like to go out in public once in a while and feel caged within her home or have to run to a public restroom and sit on a toilet seat with no lid in order to nurse so as not to offend anybody.
Well, breasts have other uses besides sex, I think it's safe to say that lips, mouths, tongues, and thighs also have other uses. We don't need to automatically assume, sex.

I think you get my point. So enough of my nursing soapbox. That's not what this blog is about. What it is about is my journey out of bitterness.
When I started reading SOS I had no idea why God wanted me to study there.

But I was very much aware of something else.

I was aware that God uses symbols and pictures to reveal Himself to us and the relationship He wants to have with us.
~He uses sheep and Shepherd. He wants us to see His protection over us and how dependent we are on Him.
~He uses slaves/servants and Master. He wants us to see and respect Him as LORD.
~He uses children and Father. This is even as deeper and more intimate view than the servant/Master mode, as a child is more cared for than a servant or slave.
~He uses student/Teacher. We have a lot to learn from Him.
~Jesus, as the first born from the dead can also be looked upon as our older Brother. Hey, this is a good meditation. How do you think your life would be different if you had an older brother who was a prince or king? It would be a good thing if your brother liked you. Not so good if He didn't.
~After the disciples followed Jesus a while, He told them that they were no longer His servants, but His friends. This is definitely a step up.

~Then, of course, there is Jesus as the Bridegroom and the church as the bride. What greater place can there be than to be one with the Creator and Redeemer of the universe?

Of course, in this life, in this world, we can only see in a mirror dimly. In heaven we can see Him face to face.
But it is our job in this life, to try to get to know Him as best we can here. Why wouldn't we want to? After all, we will spend all eternity with Him. We shouldn't be practically strangers with Him when we die.

I had a friend who was orphaned very young. Because she had no earthly father, she meditate deeply on the fact that she had a heavenly Father. It brought her great comfort, made her feel loved and not rejected. But a mutual friend of ours pointed out to me that this orphaned friend was stunting her own spiritual growth by only focusing on one aspect of her relationship with God. She'd been in this place for years. She didn't need to let go of her understanding of Father. But she needed to not fear the deeper intimacy that God calls us all to.

It was from this perspective that I felt I should study SOS. And it is from this perspective that I'd like to share what I've learned so far.

And please, any one who checks in here, look at Brenda as a good example. If you don't understand something, or if I've not been clear, please ask me.
I am far from a perfect communicator. I may be assuming people know things that they don't. Or I may assume people have a similar view to my own when I shouldn't make such an assumption.