Review: Intimacy Ignited

I got this book thinking it would be a great aid to studying the Song of Solomon.  I now understand the intent of the book was more designed to examine sexual issues between husbands and wives using the Song of Solomon as a launching pad for discussion.  My understanding of the Song of Solomon has shifted over the years and I have come to a different historical perspective on the Song of Solomon which makes my view of the book come in conflict with some of the authors’ interpretation and main points.  None-the-less I still see how this book has some value for couples who may be looking for some insight into how God designed sex for marriage.

The authors do a great job of illustrating their perspective of the text and relating it to issues faced by husbands and wives today.  Much of the insight and perspective shared on sex inside the book are not new.  The book does a great job of illustrating the perspective of husbands and wives and how to navigate some of the more difficult issues.  Over all Intimacy Ignited: Conversations Couple to Couple: Fire Up Your Sex Life with the Song of Solomon is a good book filled with great perspective and counsel for couples on sexual issues.  However I would offer one word of caution… If you are not married, don’t read the book…. It really is written for married couples.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Intimacy Ignited, the retail price is $21.99 (Hardcover).  It is also available at places like Amazon.com for $14.95I gave it three stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Nav Press Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Theology is Important for a Relationship With God

Theology.  A brief defanition is, “The Study of God.”  A simple explanation is that theology answers the question, “What is God like?”

The key to any relationship is knowing something about the other person.  Fathers try to spend time with their children. Spouses try to find time away from the children. Young couples go on a series of dates before they settle into a marriage.

Usually at the beginning of a relationship we tell ourselves all kind of lies about what the other one is like.  To put it milder, you may say we have differing expectations.  We paint a picture of what the other one is like, but we don’t really know what they are like until we get to know them.    Sometimes our expectations are exceeded by the character of another, sometimes we are let down.  That is why we need to spend time getting to know people.

New dad’s dream about what their kids will be.  However, they soon realize that children have a will of their own.  It is the same way with the young couple that have fallen deeply in love.  They don’t really know anything about each other, but they “love” each other.  Then months or years down the road they realize the real nature of the other person (for good or for bad) and accept that for months they were in “love” with their version of this person and now they must decide if they truly do “love” this other person. That’s why it is a good idea to take the whole courting thing a little slow and know what you are getting into. (You can check out how I dated my wife and married the most wonderful woman in the world… here).

The point is that at the beginning of relationships we fill in missing information about the other person with what we want to put there.  I think many people have false ideas about God simply because they don’t know Him and have filled in false information about Him.  Many of us have created a picture of God based upon what we want Him to be rather than what He is really like.

Some of us picture God like a Santa Claus type figure.  Others have pictured him as an angry judge.  To be honest, some people don’t think He exists at all.  Still others think of him as a passive grandfather who lets everything go.

The challenge is to really know God.  To put all of our preconceived notions on the table and read what God has revealed about Himself in the Bible.  Feeling are a good thing, but I’ve been mislead by feelings.  Isn’t it better to know God?  That happens by learning about Him.  The way you learn about God is by spending time reading the Bible and talking to him.

Theology is answering the question, “What is God like?”  Do your answers come from the Bible, where God had revealed things about Himself or do they come from how you picture Him in your mind based mostly off your feelings?

What tools have helped you dig into the Bible and learn more about who God really is?  Here are a few that have helped me along the way.

3 Things I’d Tell My Teenage Daughter After Watching New Moon

Ok before I start its only fair to say that my daughter isn’t a teenager (she’s almost 4) and I’m really not a fan of Twilight.  But because I was forced to see the movie and I work with teenagers (and I can imagine my daughter being a teenager one day), I went to the movies with the eyes of a father.

Here are three things I’d tell my daughter after we watched New Moon together…

1. You are intensely loved by me and worthy of being pursued one day by the right young man.

My hearts desire is that you follow that path that God has for you.  If that includes marriage, then my hope is in giving you away to the right man.  Until then I will do everything I can for you as a father.  I will chase away the creeps, ask you great questions, and perform background checks on any guy that comes through the front door (ok maybe not the last one…but maybe).  I also promise that if you bring home the right guy you won’t find me cleaning my gun or talking about how people get lost in the Everglades and never come out.  In fact it will be a joy for me to give you away one day.  If you bring home the right guy, I’ll pay for the wedding and rejoice on the day that my princess becomes someone elses queen.

2. Some things appear more urgent than they are.

In the movies Edward says all kinds of nice things to Bella (once you take away the creepy 100 year age difference… please never date a man 100 years older than you… thats a whole new level of creepy).  Everyone enjoy hearing nice things like, “you make life worth living.”  Sometimes words spoken softly and sweetly can be mistaken for love.  Real love is a commitment and it takes time to show up.  Guard your self from giving your heart away to anyone who talks a good game.  This kind of talk can make you think that things are more intimate than they are.

Too many young men are careless with their words.  Many young boys are living life in transition and are mistaken in their feelings or they carry sinister motives and are trying to manipulate you. A young man worth your time will guard his words and will not lead you on.  The woman pursued by solomon in Song of Songs offers some wise advice here.  She says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:7).  Real love is patient and is evident in a young man’s actions long before it appears in his words.

3. Don’t make strong commitments while your life is in transition.

You have grown up so much from the first time I held you in my arms.  You have learned so much.  Every day of your life I have been amazed by you and I am proud of who you are becoming.  I know one day that if it is God’s will that I will give you away at your wedding.

Right now you are going through a time of transition.  You are no longer a child, but you aren’t quite an adult yet either.  You are changing.  Your body is changing and your thoughts, attitudes, and desires are all changing. It is okay to change.  One of the problems with this time in your life though is that sometimes you may not know what you want.  Or you may want two things.  Like Bella in the movie you may have two guys who like you and you may like them both.

A mature woman will act decisively. Even as you become an adult, when you are uncertain I beg you not to commit yourself to anything until you have figured what you want.  This is the reason for the really unpopular rule about how old you need to be before you can date.  I’ll be honest.  My aim is to give you away on your wedding day both physically and emotionally pure.  I know that purity in your marriage will light an intense fire of intimacy and trust with your husband.

I love you and I truly want the best for you.  That day they handed you to me in the hospital was one of the best days of my life.  Everyday with you had been a joyful adventure. I will always be your father and I will always love you.

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  • Why Asking Her Dad Was Easy

    Avia and I decided that we were ready to be married.  Now all I had to do was ask her dad.  I know for most guys this kind of thing seems scary.  I generally don’t think it is easy to ask another man if you can marry his daughter.  I can think of a lot more comfortable situations.

    Engagement Pictures

    What paved the way to make this an easier situation for both her father and I was that we knew each other (though I can’t ever imagine being completely prepared for another man asking to marry my daughter). I had been hanging out at his house three or four times a week for years.  I had been getting to know Avia in the context of her home.  Not to mention that before we started dating, I asked her parents, particularly her dad, if we could date with the view toward marriage.

    So when it came time to ask, though I was nervous, it wasn’t hard or difficult to muster up the courage to go see her father.  It was natural and easy.  I really respected Avia’s dad and I knew I was asking to take responsibility for his daughter.  Such things demand man to man conversation.

    The details of the discussion we had are private, however, it is sufficient to say that two men met that day and discussed life.  The advice I received and continue to solicit from time to time was excellent advice not only on marriage, but on what marriage would be like with Avia.  I’ve come to the conclusion that no man, before her husband, knows a woman like her father.

    With the blessing of her father, mother, and even her brother (after all I had inadvertently used him to get to know Avia better), I set out to propose.  I had the ring in hand, a bible passage to examine, and an anxious girl friend who couldn’t help but wonder when and how I would ask (it was hard for her to ignore that I had gone out of my way to talk with her father, mother, and brother individually).

    Finally the time came to go to a Thursday night college Bible study that I was co-leading.  I drove by Avia’s house and picked her up.   On the way, I remembered that I had left a book in the sanctuary of the church and needed to go by and pick it up.  As we came into the sanctuary I had already arranged for all the lights to be off, except for one spotlight shining down on the altar.  The altar was empty except for a large bible open to Ephesians 5 and in between the pages there was an engagement ring.  I got down on one knee and said, “I’ve been reading this passage.  I am scared and I am humbled by it because I don’t think I am everything I need to be.  But it does describe the type of man that I want to be and will work the rest of my life to become if you answer yes to my question in just a moment.  Today I have a ring for you and I want to put it on your finger.  It is a promise, a promise that in a year from now we will stand together in this same place before God, before our parents, before a room full of witnesses and declare our love for each other and accept each other in marriage.  Avia, will you marry me?”

    She said “yes” and something to the effect of “you talk too much.”  We embraced and read Ephesians 5:22-33 talked about how we would try and fulfill that passage and prayed together.  Then we went to a Bible study and she showed off her ring.  Eight months later we were married.

    Grandpa’s Secret Strategy for Successful Dating: And Why it Worked

    I have this Bible at home.  It is worn out and falling apart from years of use.  It belonged to my grandfather.  The notes and circled verses in the Bible tell of his conversion to Christianity, his love for his wife, and a few other details.  He was one of the greatest men I have ever known.  Though he wasn’t perfect, he was consistent as a role-model.  I used to love to sit with him for hours and hear stories about him and grandma.  I figured if anyone knew how to live out what it means to be a Christian in the context of a marriage, it was him.  So one day, a year or two before he passed away I had the opportunity to ask him to reflect on what it takes to build a strong marriage.  I learned a lot that day, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was that he was genuinely friends with my grandmother.

    Grandpa's Bible

    He shared about how in each venture they undertook, from the farm, to owning a grocery store, to working together in a retirement home, that he loved having a work situation where she was never far and could be by his side.  They were truly great friends and worked well together. If I was going to use my grandparent’s blueprint for a successful marriage, one thing was clear, Avia and I would need to work well together.

    This is really an important issue when it comes to picking and evaluating a future spouse.  Men and women were meant to compliment one another.  That is the gist of Genesis 2:18. God did not intend for Adam to tend the garden alone and made Eve to be his helper.  Men and women were made to work together.  So the question was, would Avia and I work well together?

    To evaluate this and make sure we were building a relationship on trust rather than emotion we took several practical steps.  We didn’t kiss for the first several months that we dated.  We searched for common interests.  We babysat kids together.  We cooked meals together.  We played indoor games like Scrabble.  We played tennis together (and learned its better if we don’t play on the same team).  We worked on crafts together (like sewing identical teddy bears and painting small ceramic houses).  The point was to work on common projects and see how we related.  Most of this we did in her parents kitchen or living room where they could see us interact.

    During this time we also sought out the advice of couples of all ages.  We sat down with newly wed couples and asked what they wished they had done to prepare for marriage.  We interviewed older couples with grandchildren and asked them the secret to their success.  We watched them interact.

    Through this process we learned a lot.  We learned to communicate.  We learned it was okay to disagree.  We learned what we liked and didn’t like.   We learned how to express our feelings.  We learned our weaknesses.  We learned our strengths.  We learned that we were growing more in love with each other.

    Then one night as we were reading the Bible we came to Ephesians 5.  I told her we should study that passage and really start preparing for marriage.  She told me that she didn’t have a ring on her finger and I hadn’t talked to her dad.  She was wise to put a hold on the emotional commitment that such an action would bring until their was a serious commitment toward marriage.  It brought us to a serious point of reflection to see if we were ready to start making preparations for marriage.

    21 Days of Bond(ing)

    Fortunately I was also friends with Avia’s brother Fred.  We’d go up to the church gym every now and then and he would beat me in a game of basketball. One night it came to Fred’s attention that I hadn’t seen all of the James Bond movies.  Fred was an avid Bond fan and owned the complete boxed set.  I didn’t have a TV at the time, so he invited me over to their house and we started watching the Bond movies on a pretty regular basis.

    This provided me with a great opportunity to spend time with Avia her family.  I wanted to see how she interacted with her brother and parents.  She would often stay up late and watch the movies with us.  I remember one night she was sick and had already  gone to sleep.  As soon as she heard Fred and I were there, she woke up and came to the living room to watch the movie with us.  That’s when I knew she liked me.

    As the bond series was ending (21 movies at that time) it became obvious that Avia and I were quickly becoming close friends.  I knew my intentions toward her were for more than friendship and felt it was time to define the relationship.  After we saw the last Bond movie, I asked her to spend the day with me by going canoeing with a large group and a seeing a movie together.  On the ride home I discussed my feelings and thoughts with her and asked her if she would be interested in a dating relationship with a view towards marriage.  We both understood that if either of us saw the relationship wasn’t going to work toward marriage, we would break it off immediately.  She agreed that we could “try it out.”

    Then I did something weird.  I asked her parents if it was okay to date their daughter. They had gotten a chance to know me and they definately knew Avia.  I valued their perspective.  I explained that I was not asking to marry their daughter, but to date her with a view toward marriage.  If they said, no, I would respect that.  But my heart turned flips when they said yes!  I valued their observation and input along the way and  welcomed their sound advice.  I now look back on this time as one of the most treasured moments of my life.   That day God also kindled in my heart a warm appreciation, love and respect for Avia’s parents.

    What I saw at Picklefish Changed my Life

    Pickle FishPicklefish was a restaurant in downtown Mobile.  I used to hang out a lot in downtown Mobile talking to people on the street about Jesus and it didn’t take long for us to find Picklefish, which had a great atmosphere and the best pizza in town.  One of the cool things about the restaurant was that it had a second level where you could sit and watch everybody go by on the street.

    One afternoon a group of my friends and I were getting together to hang out in the downtown area.  I invited several people including a beautiful young woman, named Avia.  At the time I thought there was nothing special about inviting her to come along.  I had invited several people from a group (girls and guys) and she was just one that happened to be there.  She said she would try, but had to babysit and wondered if she could take a child along.  We all agreed that it would be okay set a time to meet.

    To be honest, I don’t remember much about the day (other than we were dragging a little kid every where we went).  I do remember at the end of the day as everyone was headed home, I helped Avia put the child in his car seat.  As she drove off, I couldn’t resist the thought that she would be a great wife and mother one day. Then in a moment, it hit me.  She was the one.  She was the one that I wanted to marry.  For the first time in my life I knew love beyond emotion and childish infatuation.  I was ready to pursue Avia with the intent of marriage.  I had never been drawn in so deep by someone’s character.

    Even though I already knew Avia and her family, I needed to get to know her better.  I didn’t even know if she liked me.  I was conflicted in my thoughts.  I had never pursued a woman where I was intentionally trying to learn more about her character (rather than living off the emotional highs of just liking someone).  I wanted to get to know her, but at the same time I didn’t want to lead her on (I had become better at defining relationships and establishing boundaries).  So I began seeking opportunities to spend time with her and her family.

    The Story Continues: 21 Days of Bond(ing)

    It helps to be Mr. Right when looking for Mrs. Right: otherwise it’s all wrong

    So often when it comes to dating and looking for a future spouse,  the focus is on finding the “one person who was made for me.”  I’ve even heard speakers talk about developing a list of qualities you are looking for in a future spouse and stick to the list. That is really not that bad of an idea (depending on how picky your list is).  I actually had a list but the thought occurred to me, “what if I found someone who fit my list, but I didn’t fit theirs?”

    At the time  I was being challenged to discover Biblical manhood and womanhood.  It also helped that near the same time I overheard a girl at one of the local colleges talk about her list.  After hearing her list and evaluating her lifestyle I  thought, “there is no way that someone who matched that list would marry her.”  She was just dreaming because her lifestyle wouldn’t attract the guy on her list.  She would either have to change or change her list.

    Such thoughts had caused me to come to some serious introspection and I decided to take some time away from the dating scene (because of my failure to come more introspection before dating, I had proven myself a dismal failure as a boyfriend in a relationship throughout college).  I didn’t want to come to the table looking for Mrs. Right and not be Mr. Right.  It was evident there were things that had to change in me.  I was looking for needs to be met by a girlfriend or future spouse that were meant to only be met in God.

    I was  unable to obtain Mrs. Right’s list (I didn’t know God would be so kind as to let me marry Avia) and I thought it was a little arbitrary to blindly make a list of qualities in myself that I needed to submit before God.  So I simply asked God for guidance.  In his kindness I was able to rediscover the books of I Timothy and Titus.  I began to use these books as guides to understanding how to become a godly young man. I also began searching out role models in my life.  Men of character and wisdom who would be wise guides and would give me honest feedback about things I needed to submit before God.

    In the midst of this I discovered that one of the qualities of leadership is to be a one woman man (I Timothy 3:1, Titus 1:6).  God broke my heart of the disillusionment that I had been keeping this standard because I wasn’t married.  Though I wasn’t even dating at the time, I was putting on pretense in the form of flirtation that lead several young women to think I was interested in them.  Though I was single and not in any type of defined relationship, my failure to clearly define my friendships and my willingness to lead others on was evidence that I was not a one woman man (part of me loved the attention).  The details about what God worked in me and how it came about probably deserve its own post at a later time.  I only bring it up only now because I see many young single men (and women for that matter) who like I did are casting nets of wide spread flirtation in search of someone rather than baiting the hook with godliness.

      Choosing to Date Differently

      I remember the day that I called my mom and said, “Had I known it would be like this, I would have never dated.  I would have skipped every prom, homecoming, and barn warming dance (a Missouri thing).  I am hopelessly in love with the woman I want to marry and I just now realized that I have wasted my life  trying to be some other girls’ hero… I am ready to be a husband.” That statement represented a huge paradigm shift that took place in my life from being a serial dater to dating with the intent for marriage.

      Over the years God has blessed my wife Avia and I with the opportunity to share with many single people about how we dated (some would call this courtship).  Sadly the story I will share over the next few blog post will sound completely contrary to the dating culture.  I remember my own years of looking for “love” and going about it in all the wrong ways.  I have sat across the table from enough lonely and desperate people to know that things haven’t changed much.

      If you are single and looking for the right way to date hopefully these blog posts will be an encouragement to you about how God can guide you through this time of your life.  My aim is 3 fold.  1. I will be sharing in a story format how Avia and I came to be married.  2. I will be sharing practical principles and steps we took. 3. I will be sharing the scripture that lead us to those principles and steps.

      Stay tuned…. Here are some of the titles of upcoming blog posts