Learning about sex from baking brownies (2 of 2) | For married & unmarried

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 2 Comments

There are few things in life that can rival the enjoyment of a freshly baked brownie. There are few things in life that can rival the enjoyment of the physical relationship between a husband and a wife.

If you have not read post 1 of 2, the back story from Wednesday’s post can be read here.

Today’s post picks up where that left off: What are the ingredients that lead to an enjoyable brownie? Or what are the ingredients that will increase your joy, intimacy, and pleasure in the physical relationship?

The central contention I would make is that maximum sex comes from seeking a deeper depth and not simply higher highs. Personally, I do not believe that maximum sex is a result of tricks, or technique, or positions. Don’t misunderstand me. These things can increase pleasure within sex. But, maximum sex is more than just physical pleasure. It’s the total package. It’s connection, intimacy, security, joy, sacrifice, and pleasure with your spouse. It’s the total enjoyment that comes from sharing a life together. As such, the list below may be noteworthy for what’s not on it.

It’s only fair to tell you that my starting point is the Bible. Anyone skimming this post, or flipping down the numbered ingredients, could find themselves disagreeing or disappointed by what is or is not on the list. But, the Bible is my starting point when it comes to determining what qualifies for increasing enjoyment with one another. Different starting points will inevitably lead to different ingredients. That’s why I tell you what mine is.

So, with this as my starting point and through conversations with my wife, Jill, I present these as important ingredients that will lead to increased intimacy, greater joy, and more sexual pleasure between spouses.

  1. COVENANT. It’s been alluded to other places, but I want to state it explicitly here. I believe the intimacy of sex is reserved for a husband and a wife. From the analogy, I believe the oven of vows brings forth the type of relationship commitment (i.e. until death do us part) that can bear the intensity of sex. Sex, inclusive of the intimacy, vulnerability, emotional/spiritual/physical nakedness, passion, and more (!), is experienced most enjoyably between two inseparable and shared lives. From Song of Solomon 4:12, the husband speaks, “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” It speaks to covenant. Our culture gets it wrong when they paint marriage as this miserable ball-and-chain. The husband from Song of Solomon sees the exclusive opportunity he has to be the only to drink from this “sealed fountain.” What a beautiful reversal of how our culture views covenant!
  2. FAITH. What!? Yep. Beyond covenant, I hold that a husband and a wife share similar passion (or non-passion) for God. One’s beliefs about God greatly impact one’s views of intimacy, marriage, and sex. Compare two people. One person believes there is a God over all, who created us for his glory, gifted us with a spouse for marital satisfaction, and believes He knows best how they should relate to one another, including sexually. Another person does not believe in God, lives his own life, does as he sees fit, and aims to love his wife as good as he knows how and to enjoy her sexually. These two people will approach sex from drastically different perspectives. Faith matters and will come to bear on the bedroom.
  3. SELF-SACRIFICE. The Bible speaks very clearly that our bodies are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). For those who have believed in Jesus Christ, we are first the Lord’s. Then secondly, in marriage, we give up authority of our bodies to our spouse (1 Cor. 7:4). Sex is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate sacrificial love by putting the other’s needs and desires above our own. Those words could get me berated on certain talk shows that tell you to “get yours!” But, the words of Jesus are true, “It is more blessed to give than receive”…even in the bedroom!
  4. INTIMACY. Connection in the bedroom is one possibility. But, if it’s the only connection, I think maximum sex will get reduced to seeking a higher high. Rather, how many different points of connection could you have with your spouse? How man shared interests could you connect over? How might you connect with them by phone, over email, or through a Facebook wall post throughout the day? How might you enter into their world of work, or hobbies, or rest, or family drama, or dreams for the future? One recent example in our house has been how Jill embraces the NCAA basketball tournament. She demonstrates a willingness to enter into my world of sports by filling out a bracket and watching some games with me. I love her for it. It’s one of the ways we foster friendship. We’re sharing lives!

Stopping there, I want to flip the script back to you. You’re heard some (not all) of the ingredients I believe lead to a deeper relationship with your spouse and, in turn, maximum sex.

QUESTIONS: But, what do you think? What are the ingredients you’d include?

Learning about sex from making brownies (1 of 2) | For married & unmarried

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 15 Comments

To quote Steve Treichler, “have great sex.” God wants you to have maximum sex. Finding maximum sexual pleasure is like making the perfect batch of brownies.

I love brownies and I love licking brownie batter from the bowl. Even to this day when my wife, Jill, makes brownies I’ll swoop in like an eagle to grab the bowl and spatula from her. I just can’t wait to get a taste of that chocolaty goodness. At times, I will even get a stomach ache filling up on brownie batter. I am too impatient for the 12-16 minute journey from batter to freshly baked brownie. Can I get an “Amen!” from anyone?

One time when I was younger I recall a pan of brownies being taken from the oven and within minutes seeing it discarded into the garbage. I couldn’t believe it! I sprinted over to the garbage can, picked up several scraps, and took bites. I quickly realized why the brownies had been thrown away. There was obviously an ingredient or two that were missing. For anyone who has tasted freshly baked brownies with all the ingredients, these were not them. But, as a kid at the time, I didn’t want them to just get thrown away due to one or two or eight missing ingredients. So, I was willing to salvage the “brownies” AS IS even with a distorted texture and mistaken taste. I would take these as my brownies even though they couldn’t truly qualify as brownies by any baker anywhere.

I think the same happens in the area of sexual intimacy. In this analogy, the batter is the dating relationship and the oven are vows which forever change the batter into a brownie (marriage).

People sneak bites of batter before the brownies have been baked. They may fill their stomach with batter again and again. Sex before marriage is becoming more commonplace. People are proving content to never marry and taste the goodness of a freshly baked brownie. For them, endless supplies of batter are being settled for.

Other people have come through the oven. Some of these people have tasted the bitterness of brownies with missing ingredients (i.e. an imperfect marriage).

Within this group a section choose to accept it as is, missing ingredients and all. They, being so desirous of brownies, are willing to settle for knock off “brownies” or anything with even a hint of sweetness: “Any relationship, even a bad one, is better than no relationship at all.” Though they can recognize brownies from the trash should really be left there, like me as a kid, close enough is good enough.

Another group that has come through the oven, gotten married, and have tasted this bitter brownie have chosen to throw it away. One or both may have not been willing to work on their marriage. It has missing ingredients. Rather than work on it though the first batch is thrown away and another batch starts getting mixed as if it were truly that easy to stop and start such intimate relationships. Though such a cycle of throw and replace seems absurd in this analogy, it’s not too far from reality.

This can result in one of three possibilities.

  1. They may mix up a great next batch. Though statistics seem to tell otherwise, it could happen, but it is pretty uncommon.
  2. They may mix up a batch and content themselves once again with more brownie batter. They conclude the oven must be broken: “Marriage just doesn’t work.”
  3. They may make the same mistake over again and dump a whole other batch of brownies into the trash.

It is for the pleasure of the marriage relationship, sex included(!), that we require premarital counseling at our church. I know when I was preparing to enter the oven with Jill I knew about some of the ingredients but not all of them.

QUESTIONS: What do you think? Do you like this analogy? How would you change it? Do you see any of this happening around you? Please, comment below.

NEXT TIME: So, whether you’re in the batter stage or in the brownie stage, what are those ingredients? And if some are missing, what can you do to bring those into your relationship to increase your joy, intimacy, and pleasure? Read now.

4 truths to remember when filling out my bracket | March Madness

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 6 Comments

So, it turns out all that talk of lost time and wages is a bunch of hooha. After a little digging, the startling statistics put out about lost wages ($192M), time (8.4 million hours), and productivity (lots!) during the Madness of March aren’t all that startling.  CEO John Challenger of Challenger Gray & Christmas states these numbers are “a relative drop in the bucket, accounting for less than one-tenth of one percent (about 0.07 percent) of the total hours American workers will put in over the three weeks of the tournament. Basically, there is no measurable impact on the economy or even an individual company’s bottom line.” Even though the stats might not be as grotesque as previously advertised, it’s estimated that over half of us will fill out a bracket.

Office pools can increase the thrill by giving us a personal vested interest in the outcome of every game. It’s the same way that fantasy football and baseball give us a stake in each game or player. A bracket makes us feel a connection to a team that we know nothing about. That is, a team we knew nothing about until Seth Clark or Clark Kellogg or Digger Phelps or Dickie V. told us this team was the Cinderella of the tournament.

But, let’s face it. Most of us will experience a busted bracket before Saturday morning gets here. And I don’t want to miss out on the thrill of March Madness because of the agony of a busted bracket!

This year there are four truths that I want to keep at the forefront of my mind as I fill out my bracket.

  1. God knows the end from the beginning. The Bible is pretty clear on this one. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a person, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  And in Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” God knows the outcome of this tournament. Don’t get me started trying to answer the question, “Does God really care that Easter Tulsa beats Western Appalachia?”
  2. I am not God. This should not come as surprise, especially those who know me well (see: Jill Wachter Chmieleski). But, it’s a simple truth that reminds me to keep God in his correct place and me in my correct place even when it comes to filling out a bracket. Then I won’t be faced with that dreaded feeling.  You know the one: “I can’t believe I didn’t pick western Chattanooga River Valley State to beat Kentucky. I knew they were going to win. I knew it. Why didn’t I pick them?!”
  3. Nothing I can do before Thursday is going to help me overcome that I’m not God. But, annually, I fall into the trap of thinking I can. If I just find the right bracketologist, stat, team, player, coach, venue, or theory, then I’ll fill out a perfect bracket. But, it never goes down that way. Teams surprise. Some rise up and win games that they are picked to lose and vice versa. There was a point in life when I could give up all sorts of time to bracket creation. Not anymore. The days of working in a bookstore are over! (Can you feel me Tim?)
  4. So, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy the madness of March. Sports are thrilling. A 68-team tournament is compelling. A 3-week ride of basketball down to One Shining Moment (can we please get a new song?!) is fun. So, I don’t want to lose the thrill of sport for the thrill of my sport (bracket watching). I don’t want March Madness to equal me getting mad because my bracket is busted by 3pm this Thursday. I’m aiming to take it easy, okay (spoken like Jack Black in Nacho Libre).

You’ve heard my thoughts. What are yours?

QUESTIONS: What’s your strategy for filling out your bracket? Do you have any tricks of the trade?

How I de-Smeagol my office

Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP | 1 Comment

I feel constantly inundated with email, paperwork, event plans, meeting notes, appointments, financial details, and all kinds of administrative i-dotting and t-crossing.  Can you relate?  My relationship with my desk resembles something out of a Lord of the Rings film.  Instead of an orderly set of papers to be processed, I see a hundred different Smeagols pursuing me as though I were the One Ring.  I am their precious and they treat me kindly until I don’t give them what they want.  Then it gets ugly.  Can you relate?

Today, I’m sharing one of the things I do each year to get organized.  It might not work for everyone.  But, it’s worked for me.  And at the end of this, I’d love to hear your tricks of the trade for getting organized.

Each January I have the opportunity to travel to northern MN for a week of rest and recuperation.  I’m a pastor.  At times, it is important to pull away from the crowd and re-focus on what’s most important in my life, family, and church.  You might be thinking, “Rest?  What do you need rest for?  You only work an hour a week each Sunday morning.”  You’d be wrong.  We run 3 services.  So, I have to work for 3 hours (kudos to @pastortrike for this joke).  But, why would a pastor need four days all by himself?  The answer may surprise you.  I do use it to rest.  But, as importantly, I use it to get organized.

I believe one of the best ways to organize my office is by getting away from my office.  That may be counter-intuitive.  You may think that to get organized you should hunker down in your office.  You may think all you need is an end-of-the-world supply of canned goods and a weekend.  So, why have I found this approach of getting out of my office so beneficial?  I’ve found that the enemy of getting fully organized is getting partially organized.  If left in my office, will I get fully organized?  Maybe.  But, I’ve found that more often than not I don’t give myself enough time to get organized.  And then I encourage myself with the words, “Well, at least it’s better than it was.”  And with that partially organized wins.  Right?  I’ve done that countless times.  In getting away, though, I’m focused on what I need to do and the time frame I need to do it within.

So, here is what I suggest: pack it all up, put it in your car, SUV, or RV, and go home or get outta’ town!  You may be thinking of what a waste of time it would be to pack up all the crap that lies before you.  You may be thinking you don’t have time to get away.  You may doubt that it is even possible to legitimately get organized while not being in the area you actually need organized.  You can.  Look at your calendar, pick a few days, and make the decision to get your office organized by getting out of it!  I’ve found this method to be extremely helpful in killing (killing?…that seems harsh! taming?) the Smeagols of my office world.

QUESTIONS: So, are you ready to trade your Smeagols in for something more manageable?  What are your tips for organizing your office?

You’ve heard mine.  I want to hear yours.

Don’t let these 4 excuses keep you from building the church.

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 6 Comments

In Spain there is a traditional festive competition of human castle building. Castellers, or human-castle builders, compete with one another to see who can rise up highest in the sky.  Some of these will reach as high as 30 feet in the air.  While many of these will rise up and come down without incident, some of these will topple and injuries will occur.  If you have never seen a video of this click here.  It’s remarkable.

So, how does one build a human tower?  

The base is key.  It will require 50 or more people compacted tighter than any elevator ride you’ve ever had. They are packed together literally like a can of sardines.  These folks may not be the strongest of the group (a trait needed two tiers above them), but they will be some of the bravest.  For if the tower collapses, they are likely to be injured as they receive the impact of those falling down above them.

Once this base group is established the remaining tiers are stacked with brilliant speed.  One…two…three…four…five…even six more tiers are assembled.  The youngest and smallest, commissioned to climb to the top, will wear helmets in the event that the castle topples.  What sweet accomplishment for this group as these young girls reach the top.  What an achievement!

Men of Hope*, you are that base group with Christ as the rock of foundation underneath your feet.  And if Hope Community is going to play a role in changing the spiritual landscape of the Twin Cities, we will need each one of you.  “For the body does not consist of one member but of many…[and] if all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body (1 Cor. 12: 14, 19-20).”  Again, we need each one of you.

You may be thinking any one of the following excuses:

  1. I’m too new to the church.”
  2. Or “I’m too young.”
  3. Or “I don’t know enough Bible.”
  4. Or “I don’t know if I’m going to be here for that long.”

In Spain, the castellers are willing to grab tourists to help form the base of their human castles.  There’s only one requirement these tourists must have: willingness.

So, are you willing to be a part of this base group for the sake of the church and the Twin Cities?  We didn’t invite you here because you know the most Bible, or have been around the longest, or because you’re the oldest.  We invited you because we see something in you of great value and we’re asking you the question, “are you willing to share this with others?”

We make no promises.  Like the people at the bottom of the human tower, there is no promise of recognition, blessing, or success.  In fact, it could be just the opposite with little recognition, increased likelihood for suffering, and the potential of failure.  We only promise that you won’t go it alone.  In building human towers, “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:26).”  The same is true for our communal endeavor to build the church.  We’re together in this.  So, we’ll ask again, are you willing?

Men of Hope, “Strive to excel in building up the church (1 Cor. 14:12).”  Don’t let any excuses keep you from this.  Let’s form a base layer together so that this tower may find prominence. Why?  Because “(Christ) is the head of the body, the church (Col. 1:18)” and “all things were created through him and for him (1:16).”  Not to us, but to Glod “be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 4:21).”   

QUESTIONS: Are you willing, whatever church you’re a part of, to help build up the church?  How can you turn from excuses and strive to excel in building the church?

Justcor is an effort to build powerful conversations around faith, leadership, and life, so we’d be honored to have you participate!  If you’ve been encouraged, please take time to leave a comment below, subscribe, or share with a friend.

*THIS IS ADAPTED from a charge I gave for a men’s event at my church, but I think it holds true for each of us.