To usher in the New Year, I have once again found a way to waste your time. Enclosed you’ll find some quotes, quips, and foolishness that will disarm, charm, and alarm you. (Hopefully not the latter). Recall that I collected these over the years, and still do. Please send your personal favs to appear in my next collection. Selah!

 Sign in a propane filling station: Thank heaven for little grills!

Sign in a restaurant window: Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.

“You don’t really buy a beer; all you really do is rent it.” (heard in line for men’s restroom at Titan’s game)

“All of us can be quick to take tweezers to someone else’s eye when we need a forklift for our own.” Anon

“Why don’t I have any tattoos? For the same reason you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari.” anon

“The older I get the meaner I become. I’m pretty sure that within the next few years I’ll be biting people.” shared by Ron (der andere) Meyer

“And in the end, the love you take… is equal to the love you make.” Lyric from song “The End” – Paul McCartney

Sign in a Chicago radiator shop: Best place in town to take a leak.

"...never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty..." Winston Churchill (see the movie: The Darkest Hour)

“I’m glad I learned about parallelograms instead of how to do taxes. It’s really come in handy this parallelogram season.” Borrowed from Rex Schnelle

”We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Sign on a plumber’s truck: “Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.”

My lifeguard walks on water - church sign

“if you’ve never made a mistake, you’re not trying hard enough.” Albert Einstein

 “Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou (shared by Ro S.)

"Yep, that’s me… the solvem probler,"  - (no one claimed this)

Sign on another plumber’s truck: “We repair what your husband fixed.”

Read this the other day: “There’s a new music style emerging that combines country with rap. It’s called hick hop.”

“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.”   Abraham Llncoln

 “One must forgive one’s enemies, but not before they have been hanged.” Ayatollah Khomeini

 “Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you. The cross proves he is both.” Tim Keller

“Originality is the art of concealing your sources.”   Joe Biden

 Mazel Tov!

 Previous blogs you may have missed are on David’s Harp website: playdavidsharp.com

 

Looking at 2017 receding in the rear view mirror, you may be taking a sigh of relief that this year is almost over. To sum it up without going into detail, the social media continues to present a circus of events, creating a crisis of confidence in leadership, loss of respect, ever-widening gaps between people, opioid enslavement, abuse of power, and a great deal of judgmental finger-pointing.

Before you ingest this cocktail of the world’s bitter problems, I’d like to offer a way to recalibrate and realign your thoughts, for in the midst of all this tragic darkness is a beacon of hope sweeping this world we try to make sense of.

This picture was taken at this year’s tree lighting ceremony. It reveals the attitude of a child - that everything is possible. Their eyes give them away, for in them you’ll find trust, hope, love, exuberance, a joyful anticipation of the days and years to come. (A little hamming it up for the camera also helps). It recalls the words of Jesus putting his stamp of approval on children, “for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Isn’t it just like Him to bring truth into a sharper focus in the words of John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” You are a designated overcomer. Can you say amen?

 That’s the beauty of the Christ child – everything is possible! In him you will find trust, hope, love, and an exuberance of joyful existence in the days and years to come. “I am come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.”

 When you say with me, with the world, the word rejoice, what follows in the old familiar carol is the word Emmanuel, which means God with us. Through every trial, hold that thought in your Christmas celebration, and take it with you when you turn out the lights on 2017 and step out into 2018.

What the world needs now – is love. His love.

 

Dear reader: Susie and I are so blessed to have you as friends, to have a God who loves us all so well. We wish you the joy of the Christ child, in the Christmas season and in the New Year!

 

 

With the holidays approaching, I’m looking forward to gatherings with friends and family, and tasting all the wonderful dishes and desserts that only appear once a year. Ummmm, you’ve got to try this! As a result, we become easy targets for Jenny Craig and Weightwatchers who have the perfect, fun, easy plan to take you back down to size - if you’ve got the money and the time. Their plan involves eating the right foods (theirs), toning up with the right amount of exercise, and viola! You’re back to the size of those clothes in your closet.

Unfortunately, many of us get caught up year-round in this cycle of indulging, regretting, and getting back on a plan that gets us into the shape we want to be. I guess that’s why belts have extra holes in them. Self-discipline is not exactly a walk in the park, although the exercise part does help.

I see this cycle as a close parallel to the struggle we have in our spiritual life. We find ourselves tempted by the irresistible taste for the good things, must haves, which we are promised, will satisfy. Hurry - this offer ends soon! We can always pay for it on the installment plan, right? Then comes buyer’s remorse.

We climb on the treadmill and work harder and longer hours to manage our finances, taking a larger portion than we wanted out of time with family, or friends, or service to church or to those less fortunate. In the process, we pay the cost in time and money for things that don’t fill that empty space; things that will eventually rust or fade or go out of style.

These peaks and valleys are just consequences of the real life choices we make. Been there. Done that. In searching for balance in my spiritual life, I’ve found much wisdom in a three-step plan St. Paul outlines in Philippians 4: 1-13.

Step 1. Feed on the Word. Have you noticed in your random searches in Scripture how often you’ll find verses that hit you right between the eyes about something God has been trying to get you to understand? This is not coincidence; it’s his way of revealing his will for you. Feast at his table and you will be filled. (v. 4)

Step 2. Exercise through prayer.Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (v. 6) Faith is a muscle, and must be used to keep it strong. 50 prayer reps a day is not too many; know you have a direct line to the throne. Ora et labora. Translation: pray and work.

Step 3. Enjoy God. It may seem strange to some to put these two words together, but it is his presence in your daily life that’s like a beautiful aroma. God has always been about giving you a generous portion of himself, ready to bless you with an intimacy with him that’s greater than you could ask or imagine.

Talk about food for thought! St. Paul tells us what’s on the menu in verse 8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Enjoy God. He satisfies. Verses 12-13 tell us: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Converse freely and often with him wherever you are. And finally, take in what the writer John Piper tells us: “The great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

Bon appetit!

 

 

C’mon people now, smile on your brother / Everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”

Climb into the time machine with me and dial back to the 60’s. Ken Burns brought this era to life on a recent PBS special. Some of us are old enough to have lived it. Back then, I was teaching middle-grade kids music and current events at a Lutheran grade school. Our country was immersed in the Viet Nam war; Lyndon Johnson was dealing with fighting the Viet Cong overseas and anti-war protesters at home.

Talk about your current events!   Race riots in Watts, the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, Kent State students shot and killed by the National Guard, and police busting heads in Chicago during the ‘68 Democratic convention.

The lyric above was from a song by a then popular band, the Youngbloods. It’s a naïve plea, with an interesting choice of words…”try to love one another.” How spot on the old saying: if we don’t learn from the past we’re doomed to repeat it. Now here we are in 2017, in our fear and uncertainty, still trying to love one another, dealing with stress and unrest, hesitantly backing into the future.

I had an interesting chat with my dear great-aunt, Tanta Alvina in her final years. She was born before there were airplanes and automobiles, and when asked what she thought about how the world evolved through the decades, she said, ”Well, you know, times change and you have to change with them.”

In her lifetime, she had seen the city of Chicago some fifty miles away march toward her small town of Addison until it was surrounded. The land of the homestead where she was born in the 1880’s was annexed and now lies under a runway stretching from O’Hare Field. As for Alvina, she lived a full, rich life, dying at age 104.

We rarely learn, it seems, from the past. Today’s small towns in our country face an irreversible exit of people in search of jobs and big-city amenities. I’m adapting to the times (sort of), but when I observe how big corporate investors buy land and build for profit, ignoring our culture and history, sadly we too will soon be paved over, and our folksy charm, and the rough-around-the edges Nashville we knew and loved growing up will, in the name of progress, become a thing of the past.

I’m working on my attitude adjustment, but here’s what I found in the search. It’s actually not a solution; it’s a transformation. I’ve come to realize Alvina had the right outlook all along, and it’s this: There’s no future in holding on so tightly to these times and this place, for it will one day pass, and so will I. It may take 104 years, (I hope not), but we’re only travelers passing through… to another destination.

Until several days ago, I never uttered the words “living in the heavenlies.” But now when I hear or speak that phrase, I feel a warm peace about it’s meaning. It has a distinctive otherness about it that can only be the work of the Holy Spirit. The heavenlies are not just circling above our heads, they’re also mingled with our daily living here on earth; what we know by faith to be the everywhere-ness of God.

So here’s an invitation. Come along with me, fellow travelers, to experience, in a deeper way, this living in the heavenlies. Ask for it, and don’t think too small, for “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) Walk side by side with Jesus, facing the future with confidence that your life is hidden in Him.

Pray for our country, our leaders, our whole world, that eternal life will continue to blossom into lives lived in the heavenlies, for in Christ we are, at this very moment, seated in heavenly places.

Turbulence, past and present, will continue. We don’t know what the future holds, but by faith, we know who holds the future.

It was all I could do to stifle some choice words as I hit the brakes to slow down. A hitchhiker with a bedroll and a backpack was walking too close to the road, and I gave him a “wake up, dude!” horn blast. As he turned around, I saw his face. His long hair in braids, his red bandana, and his scraggily beard reminded me of Willie Nelson, but it wasn’t Willie… it was you.

I had to stop at Foodland to pick up the usual stuff, and as I was walking in, a piercing scream echoed through the store. I witnessed a mother trying to buckle a small child into a shopping cart, and he would have none of it. She sighed, mouthing a silent apology, and as I saw in her tired eyes what could only be described as saintly patience, I saw you.

The kid that checked out my purchases not only greeted me, he gave me a senior discount without even asking my age, and sent me off with a cheery “have a good one”. His positive spin offset the attitudes of the men I saw later on that night in prison ministry - the passive aggressive inmates with insolent, vacant stares – the kind that say, “lights are out and nobody’s home”. And in their need, I saw you.

In my mind’s eye, I imagine waking up to a golden sunrise, or walking through the rays of a stunning harvest moon at night, or dipping my toes into the foamy waves lapping the shore. Though I’ve never laid eyes on you, you’re there - in the timeless masterpieces of creation that is so… you! The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

And I see you daily, Lord. I see you in painting, and architecture, and design, and words, and music, for you are the wellspring of human intellect, inspiring us to create and bestow on believers and unbelievers alike your wisdom and beauty, never mind that the credit rarely goes to you.

What we experience is the presence of Himself, the One who’s as close as our next breath. He knows no boundaries. We’ve never seen him in the flesh; yet he chooses to weave himself into the fabric of daily life that manifests itself in what I have come to know as common grace. It’s a way of looking at life with fresh eyes.

It’s called common grace because God disperses his mercy and love to cover all people, not just the believers. (“God so loved the world…”John 3:16) The result is to see his hand in history, in government, education, science, and in all his creation. If you limit his involvement to only Christian creativity, or Christian community, or Christian people, you’re making God too small; you’re putting him, and yourself, in a box. God was never exclusive, he has always been inclusive.

Admittedly, we are to shun evil and embrace grace. Yet, recall the people Jesus rubbed elbows with in his ministry – street people, prostitutes, misfits, the sick, the outcasts. He was a light shining in the dark places of the soul, even as he was unwelcome by the Pharisees, the organized religion leaders of his day.

Today, God is present on every backstreet, in every boardroom, every palace, every gated community, and under every bridge with the homeless. We’re to be his hands, his feet, the purveyors of this common grace, and sometimes that means we take a walk on the wild side, outside our comfort zone. Because of your witness to some lost someone, their common grace may become their saving grace.

So Lord, I’m sending one up today, a prayer to make me a better reflection of who you are by seeing the world through your eyes. Help me open the eyes of my heart to recognize the deeper meaning of your abiding presence. Help me stand fearlessly on you, my Rock, and be your bold witness, because there’s a whole world of people out there looking for you that haven’t found you yet.

And it feels like time is running out.

Endorphins: the body’s natural opioids to make a person feel happy.

My mom thought I should have it. A photograph of the Meyer family circa 1920 of my grandpa and grandma and their eleven children. (You’ve seen these pictures on the walls at Cracker Barrel.) Grandpa with his properly trimmed beard, Grandma in her Sunday best, and the children looking very serious with nary a smile.

Perhaps it was taken on a cold winter day in Minnesota because the photo lacks, well, warmth. Consider also these were hard-working non-frivolous immigrants of German descent. Historically, things were rather grim with the world in the throes of World War I.  And in this picture, there seems to be very little joy to go around.

Fast forward to our current times, the way we showcase ourselves for the camera, snapping pictures by the hundreds to document the way we were and the places we’ve been. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! We are a gregarious, fun-loving people; the photo opps, and the selfies, are proof-positive we are happy and having a great time.

If only it were true off camera. If only we could have lasting joy.

To borrow a line from the music group U2, a great number of people “still haven’t found what they’re looking for”. We have our moments. And yet, happiness is elusive. For those whose heart has yet to be filled, something has gone amiss.

The Declaration of Independence says all human beings have been given the unalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, Even within our borders, you’ll find places where life is threatened, justice is compromised, and happiness is but a fleeting dream. America remains as the gold standard among countries in the rest of the world for protecting those cherished rights. And yet…

Some claim that more government, more education, more science, and more determination and discipline will make us a more fulfilled and complete people. Solutions won’t be found in the world as we know it, for this world will one day come to an end, and its demise is long overdue. The answer to those seeking joy is, however, hiding in plain sight.

It invites you to focus your gaze on the One who made you…for himself. It’s about directing your steps in the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. It’s sharing with the “have nots” what you know to be His truth for their life, and choosing to be a witness to the completeness you’ve found in Christ, because He is your joy.

Endorphins are the body’s natural opioids designed by God to relieve stress and enhance pleasure. Clinical studies tell us exercise, laughter, and sexual intimacy stimulate the production of endorphins. So do spicy foods, comfort foods, and chocolate. So if you’re a foodie that loves to work out at the gym, you must be delirious!

“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” (Psalm 37:4) He knows what you need. Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life, and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10)

Maybe the simple life and times a century ago were not so joyless after all. I want to believe my ancestors, unburdened by our modern-day distractions, found joy in their family, their faith in God, and their simple existence, even though smiles were frowned upon in photographs back then.

Have you found the completeness you’ve been looking for? You have God’s permission to radiate this joy that’s beyond understanding. Help yourself to more endorphins. Sing if that’s what makes you happy; get up and dance if you are so moved.

Rejoice and be glad. Be cheerful because you are His. Just be.

 

We have found yet another way to divide the United States of America. Controversy is raging, condemning the NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem before a game, taking a knee in the name of social injustice, demonstrating in the name of free speech and the right to protest. All I ever wanted was to watch a football game.

This is nothing new. Remember the outrage of the flag burnings protesting the Viet Nam war, or the bumper stickers that said: America - Love It or Leave It! I didn’t choose to write this to kick up dust or point judgmental fingers, only to consider our role in these times we live in.

I recall having a prayer sent up before Friday night high school games in our town, along with playing the national anthem and presenting the colors. These days, the prayer has been shelved because we don’t want to make some folks…uncomfortable. Does this mean we eventually dismiss the national anthem because we can’t agree whether to stand or kneel?

You will not hear from the news media about NFL players taking a knee in prayer after the game is over, yet it happens frequently where players from both sides who choose to do so gather on the field after the game to thank God for a hard-fought contest and minimal injuries. You will find these gatherings videoed on YouTube by amateurs who are proud of team members finding something unifying them spiritually after trying to knock each other silly.

You will often see a player after rounding the bases or scoring a touchdown lift fingers heavenward to acknowledge thanks for a sharp eye at bat or swift feet and strong hands in the end zone. And it makes my heart flutter that some player would share the glory and acknowledge God in interviews after the game.

It also takes a certain amount of resolve to say grace at your table in a restaurant where others may notice and your server comes up balancing the plates in his hands. Prayer is to thank Him and honor his provision, just as you do when you remove your cap and sing the national anthem honoring those who make a sacrifice for your safety and that of your country.

You don’t have to say a pharisaic two-minute prayer as the food is cooling and the server is shuffling his feet. God knows your motives; just ask him to be present and enjoy the times you gather with friends or family. There is something very special about breaking bread with the Bread of Life as an invited guest.

Matthew 10:32 says, “He that acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” If you ever needed a motive, that alone would be enough. God loves to hear your prayers at table as well as your allegiance to a nation that claims to be “one under God, with liberty and justice for all.” It puts things in perspective.

Wherever you are, in the privacy of your room, or out in public places, it’s appropriate to include Him with an ongoing conversation of what’s going on in your daily life, by the hour or the minute. He is always there to listen, and wants to be in your every situation. And kneeling is optional.

The events of the last several weeks in the US and neighboring countries are being measured in Biblical proportions. Floods in Houston have been called a once in a thousand- year occurrence. Mexico suffered an 8.1 magnitude earthquake. Hurricane Irma dropped its torrential rain driven by Category 5 winds of up to 185 mph. Record heat has been relentless on the West coast, and huge tracts of forest land in the Pacific Northwest are smothering the region in smoke and ash. Many Caribbean islands and our playgrounds in Florida are devastated and will take years to recover. What in the world is going on?

God only knows. But now millions of people are receiving a message. The One who so carefully and lovingly created land and sea and growing things is shaking his handiwork and displacing people. “For this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and dry land… I will overthrow royal thrones and destroy the power of foreign kingdoms.” (Haggai 2: 6-7, 22)

 It’s important not to miss what’s behind these shaking events. It isn’t God’s unbridled hatred and wrath; it’s his furious love. Those who don’t know him won’t hear of it, and of course will think believers are clueless. God is lashing out against the wrongs of the world, bringing us down, and you call that love? And why label it furious?

 God whispers in our good times, but he shouts in our pain. His actions tell us he will go to extreme lengths to turn us wayward sons and daughters back to Himself. So if it means removing our idols so we can embrace him… (wait a minute; I don’t have idols, you’ll say.) Au contraire. Today’s idols are not wood and stone images, they are the life styles, pleasures, and distractions that capture us, many times without our being aware!

Just about anything can become idols that come between you and God. Your work for example. Your 401k. Your possessions, your hobby, your video games, your leisure time, and as shocking as it may seem, your own family. Anything that enchants us can compromise our relationship with Him. His love is spurned, and that makes him furious.

 God will stop at nothing to smash your idols. He’ll pry them out of your clenched fists even as you call him out for his unreasonable behavior. He will even go so far as to string up his own Son on a cross… to rescue you. God’s furious love rules.

We as a nation will be in mourning for the unfortunate people caught up is these tragic circumstances. Our hearts go out to them for their loss. It will once again be an opportunity to reset our worldview, turning back to him in prayer, witness by showing the love of God through our helping hands and our sacrificial giving.

In a post by author Joel Rosenberg (The Last Jihad, The Twelfth Imam) he says: “The Lord isn’t letting America and other nations be shaken because He hates us. He’s letting us be shaken precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him.”

Joel points to this 2 Chronicles 7:14 moment for the Church, for America, for the world: “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The world measures “acts of God” in numbers of people without power, storms in miles per hour, losses in billions of dollars. God measures events in blood-bought souls.

So it begins. People will recover, repair, rebuild, replace, not just their property, but also revisit the purpose of these life-changing events. Help them, be there for them, and pray they will accept and embrace God’s furious love, keeping one eye on heaven, where their true treasures lie.

“C’mon papa, let’s have some fun,” pleaded my grandson as I was finishing up a project. It was an honest request, and I’m glad he asked. Hanging with a seven year old will change your perspective on what’s important: games, swings, dog walks. Time spent with kids, grandkids, or my wife never fails to fill memory banks, and when recalled, rests gently on my mind.

There were plenty of times I was more dedicated to deadlines, business trips, and meetings than I should have been. Now that I’m my own boss, I have no excuse spreading myself too thin. I welcome the luxury of choosing how I spend my time.

For those of you still working for a living, just know there are seasons in life where you’re pushed to your limits, but you will survive, and life does get less stressful. Find a balance that helps you prioritize: keeping your sanity, maintaining your health, and like my grandson says, putting some fun in your life.

I mention these last thoughts about finding balance. It’s troubling to me that so many find themselves in an unhappy place when the work days are winding down, and the kids have moved out, and you have time on your hands. Just about anyone will tell you the best years of their life were the ones where you struggled the most, and found the greatest satisfaction reaching goals – having a family, paying off a mortgage, getting kids through college, and rising in the ranks of your chosen profession.

Game over? Not by a long shot, mein freund!

The years behind you can only prepare you for the days ahead. An old German proverb says: We grow too soon old and too late schmart. (okay, rough translation). The important thing is to never lose your nerve. Or your sense of humor.

Here’s a bucket list: Have you parachuted out of a plane yet? Taken a trip in a hot air balloon? Run/ walked a marathon? Gone skinny- dipping? Sung accapella in a group? Found your old trombone in the closet? Camped in a national park? Laughed with old friends you reacquainted with? Learned a new language? Got out your old paints and sketchbooks? Spent your kid’s inheritance? Imagine the possibilities!

What time past would not permit, now beckons with new opportunities. Volunteering for the many service organizations pays handsome dividends. Go on a mission trip. Have you always wanted to teach a Sunday school class, or help someone learn to read? Here’s your chance. Just do it. You’ll be a happier person because you were giving of yourself to others.

Some of the oldest people I know are younger than I am. They’re not just retiring, they’re deflating! They’re resigned to living isolated lives, with self-inflicted boredum, having lost their zest for life. C’mon people, let’s have some fun!

My wife’s mother was a wonderful example of living life to the full. She was a widow for many years until she was married for the second time on her eightieth birthday… to a long-time friend…who was eighty-six! They had eleven wonderful years together until he died at 97; she passed on to glory at age 95. When asked why she didn’t care to live in Florida, she said, “there’s just so many old people down there.”

One more observation; something that has finally taken its rightful place in deciding how I spend my time. You may have already found this to be true…

I have discovered a kind of joy that comes from meditating, yes, even marinating in God’s Word. In the last few years, these pages have spoken to me in a way they never have before. Maybe I’m finally growing up, both mentally and spiritually. I could have been blessed all along, had I taken the time. I wish the blessings of meditating on the beauty of Scripture will be showered on you as well, my friend, wherever you are in life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Right next door to the book of Psalms is the book of Proverbs, written by David’s son Solomon. As successor to his father David as king of Israel, his legacy was the wisdom he gathered into several books of the Bible – Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Proverbs. His gift was to chronicle the workings of real life and tell it in the most straightforward terms. God saw to it that his wisdom was included in the Bible.

In a man’s eyes, there is an inner beauty that expresses itself in the countenance of a God-fearing woman. Women can also sense this in men. It’s an ambience you notice when you chat with a stranger on a plane or when striking up a conversation with someone in the checkout line. Women call it intuition. I’ve never heard of male intuition; maybe body language speaks more to men. Just being honest here!

Let’s define “love” and “virtue” to be clear. The inner beauty I’m referring to is agape love, the kind of love that embodies gifts of the Spirit: kindness, warmth, caring, nurturing – virtues that are in sync with God’s nature and found in many women, young or old, single or married.

Solomon, directed by God’s inspiration, wrote down these pearls of wisdom:

Proverbs 18:22: The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 1:8-9: Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck.

Proverbs 5:18: Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Conversely, Solomon condemns women of questionable repute who prey on the naïve and tempt men to be unfaithful: “For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison…” (Prov. 5:3) Or how about this one in Proverbs 12:22: “A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.”

The insecure and the promiscuous flaunt cheapness in the face of decency, having dismissed the virtuous woman as being old fashioned and modest. Mothers, be a model of virtue for your daughters, as you’re the first line of defense from this secular worldview. Young girls are challenged to find positive role models, and peer pressure is intense.

I want to share a story about three of my aunts, two of which never married. Just outside of the ritzy area of Kansas City, called the Paseo, was an intercity church surrounded by crack houses in a downtrodden neighborhood. My aunts had worshipped there for decades.

When the men of the congregation shamefully chose not to step up and lead, these three took their place. My Aunt Irma, who was a nurse, set up and ran the church’s walk-in clinic to serve the neighborhood. Aunt Julia played the organ every Sunday for forty years, and my Aunt Renate was an elder and on the church counsel. Their faithfulness reminds me of the women in St. Paul’s time who were instrumental in holding the early church together.

All three lived into their eighties, and now are probably running things in heaven. They were strong, devoted women, brides of Christ, who had the heart of a servant, living to be a blessing to others.

Take time to read the book Song of Solomon, the most romantic book in the Bible. While some parts may make you blush, it was inspired by God himself, and Solomon was his scribe. Creating life and raising a family was His plan, held together by the blessing of intimate love, precious and beautiful. Relationships between faithful spouses has a buoyancy that transcends the challenges of living in a conflicted world, and when that love rests on Christ as the touchstone, it thrives in perfect sync with the Creator.