Kissing Crooked Lips

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“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”

Luke 7:34

God in some profound way, accommodates Himself to your ‘sickness.’ He will turn away from you.

We find that He has this beautiful quality about Him–He becomes quite tender and gentle around any spiritual disease. He gravitates to the broken ones. His love for sinners is a well-established fact we must consider frequently.

In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face:

“I stand by the bed where the young woman lies. . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . private.”

“Who are they? I ask myself . . .

“He and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once, I know who he is.”

“I understand, and I lower my gaze.”

“One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.”

This is who Jesus has always been to you!

And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. For it’s He who wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness, and our ugly, our ever-present sin.

Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you. And I don’t really understand.

I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear….all of it. (Take all it, Lord Jesus.) If I don’t present this broken, messed-up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.”

God truly loves the unlovely.

He is wildly passionate about those who have been disfigured by sin. Those who turn with pretense find a sort of ‘spiritual Botox’ that can only hide their blemishes. But by coming to him with all we can muster we’ll find healing and acceptance.

You see, you’re the young woman in this story. The kisses of your Savior are yours. Unconditionally. And forever.

For some reason, He delights in kissing crooked lips.

Jesus is My Apple Tree

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“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
    is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
    and taste his delicious fruit.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, NLT

Jesus is my apple tree. He keeps my dying soul alive.

He is the subject of many different metaphors. We know him as a shepherd, a door, and bread. There are many other ‘pictures’ in Scripture, that speak of his ministry and life. There is one that strikes me today, that of Jesus Christ as a life-giving tree– an apple tree. Song of Solomon 2:3 and Revelation 22:1 are the ‘roots’ of this wondrous thought.

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Rev. 22:2

To think of Jesus as ‘the tree of life’ or an apple tree is both an honor to Him and a strength for us. We can swirl metaphors around all day and never exhaust their truths. Jesus (a.k.a. “the apple tree”) is seen imparting life and healing through his fruit. He is the source of everything good and grand in our lives. Eating his fruit is not only significant but encouraged. (Like most things in God’s Kingdom.)

The young maiden in Song of Solomon has given us her take on Jesus— her shepherd, lover, and king. She sees him as the finest in the forest. He provides shade to her, as she eats the fruit of his branches.

Oh, what a worthy picture of Jesus our savior. We can look at this all day. As we come to him we can see the One who is gifting each of us his blessings. We do well to consider him this way.  The first few lines set the tone for us.

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.”

The song, based on an anonymous poem, first appeared in a New England hymn collection by a New Hampshire preacher in 1784, so it has a history. Many people sing this as a Christmas carol, although there is nothing in the words that refer to Christmas. Go through each stanza. See if it fits you. Perhaps it will cause you to see Jesus in a new way. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

“Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.”   

John Piper

Scandalous Joy, A Raucous Dance 🥰

Do the Dance-- For Him

“And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.”

2 Samuel 6:13-15

When I start to dance, you had better head for higher ground! 

I am without question the world’s worst and the clumsiest of all.  And since my brain surgery, it has gotten even worse.  I need to use a cane now.  (And if you look up “klutz” in the dictionary you’ll see my picture, lol.) 😃

Even so, I do love the idea of dancing, but I’m like Bozo, the circus clown, only wearing roller skates.  I lurch from side-to-side and I’m always on the verge of falling on someone’s lap.  Which is a real hoot!

But there is just one dance that I am waiting for.

It is the dance I will have with my Savior.  There will be a day, in a place and time where He will call me home and I will learn to dance.  I know it’ll be incredible, and it’s a day that I anticipate and honestly, I hope comes soon. 

To dance is to liberate your heart. 

You must cancel out all self-consciousness.  If you are self-aware, you will never enter into the joy and wonder of the dance.  You will be a perpetual wallflower, living only on the edges.  And, you will be very sad.

It seems you must dance in your heart before you can ever dance with your feet.

I desperately would like to dance. And I see Him clearly on that day when I have no cane and am as graceful as I hope to be. I honestly won’t be watching you, (I’m sorry), but I will see only Jesus.  I believe that my heart will beat exclusively for Him.

Some of you have been crippled—smashed up in the grinding gears of life.

But I know that your life can be astonishingly full of grace also– you have endured so much, and yet Jesus intends to occupy your thoughts and vision. As His disciple, you’ll discover your special dance. And when you finally see Him, your heart will finally be free to spin and twirl.

You will find Him to be the Lord of the Dance.

“Young women and young men, together with the elderly, will celebrate and dance because I will comfort them and turn their sorrow into happiness.”

Jeremiah 31:12-14

A Holy Romance

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What if I told you that the universe was built for romance.  To be sure both scientists and psychiatrists might see that idea both simplistic and perhaps even dangerous. And while we may not understand life as clearly as we could, it surely isn’t a passionate romance– or is it? Please consider: Why couldn’t the universe be the arena of a furious courtship between Jesus Christ and His followers? I’m one of millions who believe this is precisely the case.

I’ve been reading the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon the last few weeks and have thinking a lot about this very intense allegory between a shepherdess and her lover.

It is full of passion and of public declarations of love and desire.  Kisses are exchanged. A dialogue is developed, and truths are volleyed back and forth from character to character. Sometimes it’s hard to follow, but the book is an exquisite work of God’s love, and grace, and passion for your soul.

We can, and should cry out for a revelation of Jesus’ presence. He really is there and He is waiting for your response.

Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth,
    because your love is better than wine.
The smell of your perfume is pleasant,
    and your name is pleasant like expensive perfume.
    That’s why the young women love you.
Take me with you; let’s run together.
    The king takes me into his rooms.

Songs 1:2-4

Scripture as a whole leads us to believe that romance is much more substantial then we dreamed it could be.  But if we can, we should visualize Jesus’ love for us as being his motivation for doing what he has done, and is doing.  Love is what keeps him from letting us go!

My illness can be heartrending; it drives me straight to Him, and I cry out for Jesus’ hand. I may sink, but He’s right there to pull me out. My depression is His invitation to intimacy. Things can get pretty ugly, pretty quick, if I decide not to reach out for His outstretched hand. Trust me on this. (Matthew 14:29-30). I swim like a stone.

There are piles of scripture that declare His heated love for you.  I believe there exists a holy romance that Jesus has for your soul.  Love continues to motivate him to reach out repeatedly for you.  Your devotional life (as Christians like to call it) is nothing more than your dialogue with Him as He saves you from a certain destruction.

The ancient Jews regarded the book of Song of Solomon to be the ‘holiest of holies’ of scripture and set apart to be read during Passover. 

You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;  you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.”

Songs 4:9, ESV

Captivated over me. Hmmm. Quite often I wonder what He sees in me. Why should I be honored like this?

I think that our pastors and teachers need a “theology of romance” to clarify the place of discipleship in our hearts. Good theology is always warm-blooded. Instead of cold doctrine we need a fervent passion to work it through our lives.  We are a bride after all– the bride of Christ, and we must be reminded of that by good pastors who understand.  “I am my beloved and he is mine.”

“Who is this sweeping in from the desert,
    leaning on her lover?”

Songs 8:5, NLT

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