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“Your cheeks are lovely with ornaments, your neck with strings of beads.” (Song of Songs 1:10 NASB)

As we look at the Shepherd King’s[i] words toward our maiden fair we are going to see Him use dozens of word pictures. Last week we looked at an example of an image from nature, this week we see Him muse about her appearance.

He will get pretty explicit as the song goes on, and I will attempt to make some sense of how it applies to the believer’s life.

Today we start with cheeks.

What good are cheeks?

Read the Cheeks!
Read the Cheeks!

They are like the emotional thermometer God has installed in each one of us. They rise and fall with our moods, and flush and pale with our passions.

Emotions are a funny thing in the church. For many years, centuries perhaps the church has frowned upon any display of emotion. I can remember as a 20 something singing a song in church where the lyrics said “I lift my hands up, unto Thy name” and looking around to see 8 hands in the air, in a room of 150 people.

We, the Church, have a limited view of God’s emotions as well. We have a God who is happy and smiling the day we repent and come to Him, and then angry with us every day after that, because we are not walking in complete submission to His will.

This is messed up.

God created us with a broad range of emotions and passions, and they are intended to bring the most out of our lives. There are ways to experience each of our God-given emotions in a way that pleases Him.

When He looks at us, our cheeks bring Him pleasure. He sees them flushed with the thrill of His presence and raised in joy and anticipation. Our passion for Him can't be hidden.

What about these ornaments?

Ornaments are adornments made for us by skilled artisans to bring out the beauty in our cheeks.

This may sound crazy, but I believe one adornment is worship. When we worship the Lord we engage our emotions, and take the skillful work of others—Poets, Songwriters, Musicians, Artists—and let it bring out the beauty in our emotion. We let our emotions do that for which they were created – bring Glory to Jesus.

Does that make sense?

I know it helps me.

BenThanks for stopping in.

See you next week.


[i] For the purposes of this series the Shepherd King represents Jesus in our reading of the Song, and the maiden is the individual believer. You can see the discussion on this in my earlier post – “Interpretation - #SoS Saturdays


Have you heard the song out of Bethel Music called Spirit Move? Written by Kalley Heiligenthal, Amanda Cook, and Brian Johnson, its words caught my attention.

The chorus goes like this.

We are fixed on this one thing

To know Your goodness and see Your glory

We’re transformed by this one thing

To know Your presence and see Your beauty

I found my spirit in love with this song, but my mind resisting it.

Do you know what I mean?

My spirit told my mind, it’s OK, but my mind kept saying, but… but… but…

You see, my mind went to Romans 12:2, a verse that took hold of me about a decade ago, and has not yet let go.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:2 NASB

God spoke to me directly about this verse. He taught me that if did not look like Jesus it was because my mind needed to be enlightened. And more than that, if I wanted to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, I would need to stop believing some lies. He showed me that, to the extent that I was not like Jesus, I would have to change what I believed and thought. That was the path to true transformation.

So my mind tripped over the second couplet in this chorus.

We’re transformed by this one thing

To know Your presence and see Your beauty

It kept shouting - we’re not transformed by the presence, we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds.

You see, my mind wanted control of all transformational activity. Ben, it told me, if you are going to be transformed, you’ll have to study and learn, and feed ME! I want INFORMATION and I’ll get you looking just like Jesus.

For the record, that is not how the revelation came a decade back. It was not a food fest for my brain. It was a sweet revelation that I didn’t—couldn’t be walking with perfect theology, because I didn’t look much like Christ.

Tonight I was reminded of a revelation that God blessed me with nearly three decades ago. I still remember it, because I was in the back yard raking leaves. God started to speak to me about this very well know passage in 1 John.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. - 1 John 3:2 NASB

The revelation that struck amidst the fall leaves was simple.

When we see Jesus, we become like Him.

There it is again. Transformation. But this time it’s not mind, it’s vision.

God spoke to my heart that day if you can see Me you’ll be transformed into my image.

Today, on my ride home from work, God spoke once again. These are not two separate means of growth. It the same thing.

Think again of Isaiah and his encounter in the throne room. (Isaiah 6) His mind was renewed as he saw the beauty and magnificence of the Lord. His vision of holiness completely renewed his mind. When He heard the voice of the Lord, his will was conformed to the Lord’s. When he pressed into the presence of the Father, he found himself acutely aware of his shortcomings and in complete agreement with His will.

He was transformed by this one thing - knowing His presence and seeing His beauty.

So my spirit was right, and my mind has relaxed, and now I can fully embrace this wonderful worship song.

With no further ado,

Spirit Move

Written by Kalley Heiligenthal, Amanda Cook, and Brian Johnson

Verse 1
I feel it in my bones You’re about to move
I feel it in the wind You’re about to ride in
You said that You would pour Your Spirit out
You said that You would fall on sons and daughters

So like the rain come drench us in love
Let Your glory rush in like a flood

We are fixed on this one thing
To know Your goodness and see Your glory
We’re transformed by this one thing
To know Your presence and see Your beauty

Verse 2
I can see it now Your kingdom come
I can hear it now the sounds of Heaven
You said that if we ask we’ll receive
We are asking for the greater measure

Pre-Chorus 2
So like the rain come drench us in love
Let Your power rush in like a flood

So come and blow on through
Spirit move, we’re ready for You
To come and blow on through
Come and do what only You can do

Thanks to Bethel Music for these lyrics.

Thank you for stopping in today.

Shine where you're screwed in,



Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; (Song of Songs 1:3 NKJV)

Let me worship like the woman who
Wept upon the Savior’s feet
Washed them with her tears of sorrow,
Tears of love washed Jesus' feet.

Then she took her hair and wiped them
Cleaned the dirt from the long dry path
Feet that just a few days later
Would feel nails of God’s own wrath
Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet

Now the box of ointment broken
Poured upon the Savior’s head
Sacred head that soon would carry
The crown of thorns, blood flowing red

Her sins though many, now forgiven
Her love displayed for all to see
Her love was given with abandon
Written for all eternity

Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet 

Now she shares with Him the fragrance
The scent of spikenard they both wore
Prepared for burial was the Savior
Mary, born to die no more

Help me love you with abandon
Like the woman, fragrant, sweet
Help me break the box of my life
Pour its contents at your feet

Jesus grant me true repentance
Fill me with your Spirit sweet
Let the fire of your Spirit
Burn the chaff and purge the wheat

Help me worship with abandon
Help me give my life to You
Help me live to serve you always
Let my life smell just like You.

Copyright Ben Nelson 2006 - All rights reserved

photo credit: Fergal of Claddagh via photo pin cc


I think you'll love this.

The Cause of Christ
by Kari Jobe, Benjamin Hastings, and Bryan Fowler

Verse 1

The only thing I want in life,
is to be known for loving Christ,
to build His church to love His bride
and make His name known far and wide


For this cause I live
for this cause I'd die
I surrender all for the Cause of Christ
All I once held dear I will leave behind
For my joy is this, oh the Cause of Christ

Verse 2

He is all my soul will prize,
regardless of the joy or trial
When agonizing questions rise,
In Jesus, all my hope abides


For this cause I live
for this cause I'd die
I surrender all for the Cause of Christ
All I once held dear I will leave behind
For my joy is this, oh the Cause of Christ


Jesus my Jesus, for Your glory, for Your name
Jesus my Jesus, I will only sing Your praise x3


For this cause I live
for this cause I'd die
I surrender all for the Cause of Christ
All I once held dear I will leave behind
For my joy is this, oh the Cause of Christ

For my, Joy is this, oh the Cause of Christ


It is not fame that I desire,
nor stature in my brother's eye
I pray it's said about my life,
that I live more to build Your name than mine

Thanks to MetroLyrics for the lyrics

BenHeadshotHave a great day!

See you again soon,



I can't get this song out of my heart. I've been singing it all week long. I picked up Bethel's new collection (I want to call it an album, and I suppose that still works - but it does show my age) and have been loving it, but this one has grasped me.

Have It All

Written by Brian Johnson, Bobby Strand, Lindsey Strand, Mia Fieldes, Joel Taylor

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Verse 1
Oh the joy I’ve found
Surrendering my crowns
At the feet of the King
Who surrendered everything

Verse 2
Oh the peace that comes
When I’m broken and undone
By Your unfailing grace
I can lift my voice and say

You can have it all, Lord
Every part of my world
Take this life and breathe on
This heart that is now Yours

Ohhhh, Ohhhh
There is no greater call
Than giving You my all
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
There is no greater love
No higher name above
I lay it all down, I lay it all down
Singing Ohhhh, Ohhhh


Isn't that wonderful!

You can pickup the CD or MP3 here.




Many Waters - SoS headerHome. She is at home in His garden.

O you who sit in the gardens,
My companions are listening for your voice--
Let me hear it!

Song of Songs 8:13 NASB

She is the Shulamite, and she’s a picture of the mature lover of Jesus here at the end of the Song of Songs.

She's been through a lot, this one who hosts the Lover of her Soul and His companions, in the garden of intimacy.

There was a time when she couldn’t bring herself to climb the mountains and leap in the hills with her Beloved, but now her life is marked by fruitful ministry. She’s partnering with Him in His mission of building His Church by spending her days making disciples.

She’s seen disappointments and abuse. She’s been through valleys and long days where the heavens seemed like brass.

But she never abandon the secret place—the garden she prepared for Him, and gave to Him.

And there He can find her, and He calls for her voice.

Her times of intimacy create a hedge protecting her from burnout, and depression. They give her life.

But what we sometimes don’t realize is the simple fact that the Lord loves these times too. He loves to hear her voice—the song of her heart—the poetry of her worship—He loves her garden of praise.

Home. Your voice makes this garden home for Him too.

The Lord beckons to us today, “Let me hear your voice.”

Will you answer His call today? Let Him hear your cry—your whisper—your song—your prayer. He loves your voice. It's home to Him. He inhabits your praise.

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping in.

Have a great weekend.


PS - If you’re in the Northern NJ area, I’ll be signing books at the Westwood Farmer’s Market from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM today, Saturday 10/10/15. I’d love to meet you!


It's a good day to remember the great God we serve!

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest Whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
while I Know That in heaven 'n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt Within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made ​​an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is free Counted
the Just For God is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Verse 3

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I can not die
My soul is Purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

© 1997 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Here's where I found these lyrics.


Kingdom of Heaven

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:11 NASB

Matthew is making the case that Jesus is the king of heaven. He’s going to focus on Jesus and his kingdom teaching, but before he gets to that he takes time to establish Jesus as the rightful king of Israel, and the rightful king of all the earth.

An entourage from the East come to visit Jesus sometime in the neighborhood of His second birthday. There’s lots of intrigue surrounding their visit. King Herod (in no way the rightful king) hatches a plot to capture and kill the child king. Angelic visits give them lucid dreams warning them of his intentions.

But the end of it is that these foreigners come from afar and bring gifts to the king. They give him four things. (Were you thinking three?)

1 - Worship

These travelers give the child Jesus their worship. I suppose you could argue that all the gift giving could fall into the category of worship, but it explicitly tells us they “fell to the ground and worshiped Him.

Does that strike you. Stop and picture that in your mind. Stand up and act it out. Go ahead—I’ll wait while you experiment with it a bit.

Do you see them down on one knee?

Did they drop to both knees?

Did they kneel slowly, or dive down fast.

Where they on their face before this toddler?

The Greek word here 'pipto' has among its meaning to fall down prostrate. Prostrate means lying face down on the ground.

I’ve never seen that on a Christmas card - have you?

Sometimes we get them kneeling, but the picture I get when I read what the Bible actually says is three grown men, who were deserving of honor themselves lying on their faces before a young child.

How casually we approach the thrice holy Son of God.

2 - Gold

Now there’s an a gift suited for a king. The gold given is specifically an acknowledgement of Jesus’ royalty. How these Magi knew is a mystery, but they came seeking a king, and gave him this gift of gold as an honor to His majesty.

3 - Frankincense

While gold points to Jesus as king, frankincense points to His deity. His kingship knew not earthly limit. These wise men traveled from afar not to give gifts to a foreign dignitary. They came all that way to acknowledge Him as their own king—king of all the earth—king of ALL. Frankincense says Jesus is king of heaven and earth.

4 - Myrrh

This last gift posed a mystery to the givers, no doubt. Though very valuable, it was associated with death, not birth. Certainly not the sort of gift you would normally give a child, nor a gift you would give a king. It was a prophetic declaration. Jesus would live a life pointed directly at death. He came to die, and the Myrrh given to Him in His first days foreshadowed that death.

The wisemen’s worship began with the giving of their lives to seek Him, falling on their faces to honor Him, giving of the substance to speak into His life, and declare His majesty, deity, and His moons path to all who would hear them.

Will you fall on your face before Him?

Hail Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.



But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, "Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? - Acts 3:12 NASB

There is a principal buried in the story of Peter and John healing the lame man, that speaks to much of Christian culture today. It’s one of the great misunderstandings in Christian thought.

as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk

Much of the Christian world today misunderstands this principle as applied to one discipline or another. As we speak, I’m trying to allow the Word to renew my mind and transform me in regard to a couple of these fallacies.

The confusion comes from Christians thinking that they can EARN the favor of the Lord by things they do. I’m not talking about obedience. Our obedience to the Lord in all things it the outward demonstration of our Love for Him.

Let me poke at three of these today.


Let’s start with healing. Peter and John make it very clear that the healing of this lame man at Jerusalem’s Gate Beautiful had nothing to do with their own power or piety. They do tell how He was healed:

And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. - Acts 3:16 NASB

Faith in the name of Jesus—faith given by Jesus brought this man gave perfect health.

Huge portions of the body of Christ attribute any healing miracles to the whims and sovereignty of a God who may or may not respond. Others put the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of God’s man of faith and power.

This is not some demonstration of apostolic power. It’s not because these were special holy men. It’s not even because they said just the right words, or followed just the right formula. It was simply the result of faith in the Name of Jesus.

They did not EARN this ability. That’s the thing that is rumbling around in my spirit this morning. How much of our modern church thought revolves around us earning something from God.


We do it with our giving. The New Covenant church was generous, holding everything they had loosely, considering it not their own but the Lord’s, to do with as He saw fit. People like Barnabas  would sell property and use the proceeds to help those in need in the household of faith.

Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. - Acts 4:36-37 NASB

Today, we are taught that the tithe earns us the right to some financial blessing. (I have to confess, it’s really hard to even write these words for me, as I have taught this for decades.) Tithing is an Old Testament principal, and it is sound, and still impacts your interactions with money in a positive way. I’m not saying you should stop tithing. What I am saying is that you can’t earn God’s blessing by giving.

We give out of the abundance of our appreciation for what the Lord has done for us. We give in obedience, when He puts in on our hearts to give. God blesses giving and generosity. Giving generously is a healthy lifestyle for a christian.

But in the Old Covenant the tithe belonged to the Lord. It was His and the rest was yours.

In the New Covenant the tithe still belongs to the Lord, along with everything else. You belong to the Lord, along with all you are and all you have. No longer is any of it yours. So when you give some of it away, you're not giving your stuff away, you're giving the Lord’s stuff away. So who’s the generous one now? Who gets the credit when you give to the poor? Is it your power or piety that brings prosperity?

No—its faith in the name of Jesus—faith given by Jesus—that bring everything you need into your life.


Ok - this one really hurts my feelings. But even the idea that we some how earn the presence of the Lord in our worship services by the choice of songs we sing falls back into this works mentality of the Old Covenant.

Bro. Steve Bremner, missionary to Peru and blogger/podcaster had a conversation with Dr. Stephen Crosby about Dr. Crosby’s book, Praise, Worship and the Presence of God. The book debunks the idea that we can draw or drive off the presence of the Holy Spirit by the quantity or quality of our worship.

Again I hear Peter and John saying—do you think it is our power or piety that made this happen?

Oh, worship can set a mood; Worship can create an endorphin rush and generate feelings. But are feelings and sensations that come as a result of effective use of music the same thing as the manifest presence of God?

John 14 teaches us that God take us residence in those who love Him.

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." - John 14:23 NASB

Our praise and worship are a reaction to His presence in our lives. They’re an overflow of the fullness we have in Him.

I wonder if our lack of seeking Him in the secret place has added to our need for the feelings we get in corporate worship. Remember we’re talking relationship here.

Think about the intimacy shared between man and wife.

If I go with my wife to a public event, I don’t have to conjure a manifestation of her presence while we are in public. And frankly, though we enjoy one another’s company in public, our time together in private far overshadows the intimacy we can achieve in public.

As we abandon the secret place, we find ourselves longing to sense the presence of the Lover of our soul, and seek Him in the crowds. Not unlike the Song of Songs, when the maiden was alone in the locked chamber, she missed His touch, and went seeking Him in the streets.

I’ve gone longer than I intended, but I hope you hear my heart on this. All these things are good and part of the christian walk. The problem comes when we think we can earn God’s healing power, prosperity through tithing, or His presence through worship, is falling back to our pre-Christ ways. It’s a through back to religion where we earn our place with God.

God is a giver, and His gifts are free.

Have I stepped on your toes today?

Can you see areas in your walk with Christ where you are trying to earn His favor by your own power or piety?

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by.



Check out Steve's podcast here:


photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)
photo credit: produce for the week via photopin (license)

And at our gates are pleasant fruits,
All manner, new and old,
Which I have laid up for you, my beloved.

Song of Songs 7:13 NKJV

As we see life through the eyes of this beautiful bride, we find she welcomes her Husband, the Shepherd King, with pleasant fruit at the gate - both old fruit and new, laid up for her beloved. What a ripe (I couldn’t resist) image this paints.

As they live their life together, and they labor in the fields and gardens before them, she offers fruit to the Lover of her soul. And right there at the gate.

There was a day when her garden was locked. (Song 4:12)

There was a day when the door of her chamber was closed to Him and He bid her open. (Song 5:2)

Today He is welcomed with pleasant fruit, both new and old.

What does this offering of fruit say? How does she welcome the Lord as He returns - or perhaps as they return together. I like that image. She has prepared for their return, and then joined Him in His labor. When they return together, He is welcomed. Notice it is fruit she has laid up for Him. She isn’t scrambling to find something to offer her Lover. She does not have to stir up her devotion in order to draw Him to her worship service. She has an overflow of fruit.

Let’s unpack a bit.

Whats fruit does she offer her beloved?

Let’s start with Isaiah’s prophecy. In Isaiah 5 we read that the Lord planted a vineyard and expected fruit—grapes—and returned to find nothing but wild grapes. He says in explanation:

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry! - Isaiah 5:7 ESV

Two forms of fruit that please the Lord are justice and righteousness.

We, on our own, will never walk in either, but through the blood of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit, He has given a heart that beats for justice, He has given us an appetite for righteousness.

Paul tells us of the fruit of the Spirit—love characterized by joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—fulfilling the Lord’s desire for a people who walk in justice and righteousness. (Galatians 5:22-23)

It’s intrigues me—this call for justice and righteousness—justice would be an outward display of goodness while righteousness would imply an adherence to that which is right in oneself. So in this simple two-fold call, He looks for inner holiness and outward demonstration of love.

He was disappointed with Israel’s fruit offerings. He called them wild grapes. But the fruit the maiden lays up for Him is pleasant.

Another aspect of fruit borne in the life of a believer is the fruit of our lips.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. - Hebrews 13:15 ESV

I’ve heard someone say they didn’t understand how people can walk into church of a Sunday morning and vault right into full praise and worship mode. This person didn’t get how anyone could immediately be caught up in the presence of the Lord.

And yet the writer to the Hebrews makes it plain that we are exhorted to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to our God - the fruit of our lips acknowledging His name. If our mouth is constantly offering up praise, we will have an abundance to offer at the gate.

It’s Psalm 100 that tells us:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! - Psalm 100:4 ESV

Praise and Thanksgiving are in fact the gateway to His presence.

Finally, one more area of fruitfulness in the believer is in those we have brought with us to follow the Shepherd King. Like Philip to Nathanael—there are those to whom we say “I have found the Messiah, come and worship Him with me.”

What offerings of pleasant fruits have you laid up for the Lord? What have you left at the gate of your dwelling to greet Him as He comes?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you’re screwed in.


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