Companion of Your Youth – from FlightPaths by Dene Ward

Companion of Your Youth – from FlightPaths by Dene Ward

Companion of Your Youth – from FlightPaths by Dene Ward

December 30, 2013

Yet you say, Wherefore? Because Jehovah has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion… Malachi 2:14

The Hebrew word for “companion” in this passage is only used here in the Old Testament, and is feminine.  It makes sense then, that this is a one-of-a-kind companion to the man, which should make them special to each another.

The prophet obviously speaks to older men who were “dealing treacherously” with the women they had married young, trading them in on a new model, as we often say nowadays.  They had forgotten the covenant they made when they were younger to be a companion, not just for awhile, but for life.  Men are not the only ones who need this reminder. So you will be delivered from… the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; Proverbs 2:16-17.

Since we cannot look to other uses of the word in scripture, it might be helpful to examine the English word the translators chose.  Originally it derived from “someone to share bread with.”  It speaks of a closeness beyond simple acquaintance.  When people put their feet under the same table, they learn far more about each other than they ever will with a handshake in the foyer.  For a man and woman to share a meal, the assumption is intimacy.  What do you think of a couple you see eating together in a restaurant?  Either they are married or dating.

The intimacy of a marriage, of course, goes far beyond eating together.  When I see a man whose tie is askew or whose collar is turned up, I tell his wife.  I would never put my hands on another woman’s husband in quite that way.  In the same manner, Keith and I eat off one another’s plates and share drinks, we brush lint off one another, and get in one another’s personal space without a second thought.  The sexual relationship, which we have already discussed (see “Cistern”), is a natural element of male-female companionship and all these small nuances are its natural byproducts.  That is why married people should be careful who they spend the most time with.

God meant that this companionship begin, ideally, in youth, and continue for a lifetime.  “A man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife…” Gen 2:24.  As he reaches manhood, as she reaches womanhood, they search out a companion, make a covenant together and begin a marriage.  In their “youth,” however a particular culture may define it, they learn together and grow together.  They make plans and share a purpose—together.  These are choices they make, not some overpowering feeling they cannot control.  Choosing to be together and using that time to best effect makes the relationship more and more intimate as the years go by. But just as the myth with children, “quality time” does not happen if a quantity of time is not being spent at it.  Anything that lessens companionship, in both quality and quantity, is a danger to the relationship.

Dating couples need to be talking about these things early on.  If you cannot agree on life goals, if you do not share priorities, if you become bored in one another’s company, maybe this is not the ideal companion for you.  Stop now before you get in so deep you feel unable to get out.  It will only make the hurt worse to continue in something that will have no good end.  You are talking about a lifetime decision here, one that will affect you as no other will, one that can even determine your eternity.

It is interesting that Barnes defines “companion” as “another self.”  While some time alone can be re-invigorating to a marriage, it should always leave one with a sense that something is missing.  Couples who make it a habit to be away from one another are lessening that sense of belonging.  “But we’ve grown apart,” some will say to excuse divorce, condemning themselves in the process.  The whole point of the relationship is togetherness.  Do we think this happens by magic?  It is my responsibility to make sure we grow closer together, not further apart.  That does not mean that we must share every single interest, but we should share the things that matter the most.

When you’ve started out young and made it together through the various trials of life, the relationship grows stronger, deeper, and sweeter.  Knowing there is always someone you can count on, that any little tiff will soon be over and all will be right again, gives you a sense of security that will see you through the toughest times, and that includes the time when this lifetime relationship is broken by death.  To hear my mother say to my father just moments before he died, “Wait for me at the gate.  I’ll be there soon,” was something I will cherish till my time comes to say the same words.  That is what companionship is all about.

From those first baby steps as a brand new person—“one flesh”—to the maturity of an interdependent couple who have seen the both the best and the worst of each other, who have helped each other, supported each other, lived together, worked together, laughed together and cried together—a married couple should cling to one another and no one else in this relationship, under the loving watch of the Father who designed it.

And God said, It is not good for man to be alone… Gen 2:18.

Dene Ward

Excerpts from “Wait For Me”

The Boss (Bruce Springsteen), 1992

Sung at the wedding of Lindsay and David Mast, 2001

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true

But you and I know what this world can do
So let’s make our steps clear that the other may see
And I’ll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there’s a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There ‘neath the oak’s bough soon we will be wed
Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I’ll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

A gay man’s take on Phil Robertson and the A&E controversy

Interesting perspective on recent controversy

Visiting the shepherd’s fields near Bethlehem

Ferrell's Travel Blog

After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Luke records that an announcement of His birth was made to shepherds in the field at night.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11 ESV)

There was enough distance that the shepherds said, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15 ESV)

We do not know the exact…

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Wendell Berry’s “St. Vith, December 21, 1944”

Wendell Berry’s “St. Vith, December 21, 1944”

Off the Shelf: Wendell Berry’s ‘St. Vith, December 21, 1944′

via Alan Cornett in Pinstripe Pulpit

Part of Wendell Berry’s long running Sabbath series of poems, “St. Vith, December 21, 1944″ captures a moving moment during the brutality of the Battle of the Bulge. American forces withdrew from St. Vith on that date, leaving the Belgian city to the Germans. General Bruce Clarke ordered the Americans out having said, “This terrain is not worth a nickel an acre to me.”

This limited edition signed broadside was handset and printed by the great Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press in Kentucky, under whom I apprenticed sixteen years ago. It was commissioned by Michael Courtney, proprietor of the best bookstore in Kentucky, Black Swan Books (where I also worked years ago). Michael commissioned annual broadsides for several years from Gray. For me, the confluence of Larkspur Press, Black Swan Books and Wendell Berry brings about a perfect match.

It was one of the first Wendell Berry broadsides I ever purchased, possibly the first. It was framed in Columbia, South Carolina while I was a graduate student. Special instructions were given to display the lovely deckled edges.

I suppose this entry isn’t really “Off the Shelf,” but “Off the Wall” didn’t have quite the same connotation.

A Merry Christmas from Pinstripe Pulpit.

The Sin of Bank Robbery

Responding recently to an on-line post complaining that Christians recently seem overly concerned with the issue of homosexuality, to the neglect of equal condemnation of other sins denounced in Scripture.  I myself have made a similar point before: at least in the context of churches composed of those who claim to believe the Bible enough to take it seriously, heterosexual sins — fornication, adultery, and the often-resultant divorce and breakup of families — are orders-of-magnitude more frequent, and of much more serious concern (to say nothing of greed, hatred, gossip, drug abuse including alcohol, etc. etc.).

But when the focus of public attention — and even the rare instance of secular “moral outrage” — concerns a particular sin, it is understandable that Christians should engage the conversation on that point and at that time.  Have you seen the headline: “BREAKING NEWS: Washington DC and Hollywood up in arms over Phil Robertson openly condemning swindlers in GQ interview” ??

In this case, it’s the public media, LBGT propagandists, and others who usually champion free speech and support EEOC regulations prohibiting an employee’s religious views from being conditions of employment (or termination) — not Robertson or Christians — who have limited the outrage to discussion about homosexuality (or, in the case of a few, the comments on race relations of a white male who grew up in rural Louisiana during and shortly after the end of the Jim Crow era).

I have sometimes commented to audiences that I haven’t preached my famous sermon on “The Sin of Bank Robbery” lately — it’s a terrible crime and a sin which endangers lives and life savings, and people need to stop it! Of course, the (slightly humorous) point is that it is largely irrelevant to speak about issues which are not of concern at a particular time or to a specific audience. But then, people often don’t get my weird humor 🙂

The point remains: we can condemn “sin” generically, or preach loudly against sins no one within earshot is practicing, and have the effect (maybe) of merely making ourselves feel good about our “soundness.”  A statement commonly attributed to Martin Luther applies here (and while some dispute that he actually said it, I’ll repeat what one historian has said in another context: “If he didn’t say it, he should have!”).  Here’s the quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Well said — whoever said it!

Peyton Manning: Sportsman of the Year, 2013 — Sports Illustrated

Peyton Manning: Sportsman of the Year, 2013 — Sports Illustrated

Excerpts from one of several long articles on Peyton Manning — read more at

A son of the genteel South, Manning learned early on the power of the handwritten note, unsurpassed by text or tweet. He still remembers the college coaches who wrote him during his recruitment (like Florida State’s Bobby Bowden) as opposed to the ones who resorted to thoughtless form letters. He would lick his thumb and rub it against the signatures to determine whether they were real. When Manning left for college, Archie wrote him before every fall semester.

Throughout his career Manning has written coaches and players who retire, as well as widows of coaches and players who pass away. He writes subjects of documentaries he’s seen and victims of tragedies he’s heard about. He writes his children every six months, even though they are years away from deciphering his cursive. Ashley buys his stationery, cream-colored cards with Peyton W. Manning in block letters at the top. He adds an arrow when a message continues to the back. “I don’t know if that’s proper or not,” he says. It’s hard to find any coach, teammate or staffer who hasn’t received a note from Manning. “I got one when my dad passed,” says Stokley, “and another when Peyton stayed at my house.” “I got one when I retired,” says former Colts video director Marty Heckscher. “It almost brought me to tears.” “I got one when the Colts let me go,” says Torine, the former strength coach. “It meant more than any paycheck.”

All the support that Manning sent to others came flooding back in the year he missed: calls from friends such as Fox broadcaster Joe Buck, who nearly lost his voice because of a nerve ailment in his left vocal cord, but also from rivals like Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “We’ve been playing a long time in the same era, and there aren’t too many people who can relate to what I go through on a daily basis and what he goes through, besides each other,” Brady says. “There’s mutual appreciation. I’ve always looked up to him and admired him.” Manning considered the impact those well-wishers made and was reminded of the influence he could have.

On his first day as a Bronco, he sought out staffers Adam Newman and Josh Bruning. “I’m going to need you to help me with my mail,” he said. Every Tuesday, Newman and Bruning read the roughly 300 pieces addressed to Manning in a given week, determining which ones he will want to see. Autograph requests go in one pile. Double-dippers are discarded. Heartfelt letters are marked read in red pen. Manning reviews them over lunch in the office Newman and Bruning share. The notes that move him, or that entertain him, he takes home. He has installed a hospital tray next to his bed — “My wife finds it very attractive,” he says — so he can work there without craning his neck. He uses the tray to watch video on his iPad, an upgrade from the Beta. But he often pulls out the stationery instead and writes.

To Charlie Johnson, a 63-year-old in Indiana nervous about neck-fusion surgery: “My neck pain went away immediately after my surgery. I believe you will be able to resume your normal activities rather quickly. I took it slow on doctors’ orders, but I felt better right away. I can’t give you a definite time frame. I would encourage you to be patient to avoid any setbacks. But you should be back lifting soon. Good luck and health.”

To Jack Benson, an eight-year-old in California with cancer: “I just wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Your cousin, Skip Hanke, wrote to me and told me of the tough fight you are having. You have a lot of people pulling for you. I am glad to know you are a Bronco fan! Keep fighting, stay positive, and say your prayers.”

To Clint Taylor, a high school quarterback in Texas who broke his leg: “I just wanted to encourage you to keep working hard and keep the faith. I have read your blog and I can tell you that your positive attitude and your strong work ethic will take you a long way. Keep it up.”

To Chris Harris, widow of David Harris, a pastor in Arkansas who was killed in a car accident along with his granddaughter Maci: “I am sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted’ (Matthew 5:4). I learned that Pastor Harris was an avid Colts fan and had an autographed picture of me in his office. I read an article about Pastor Harris, and I can tell he was very special. Maci sounded very special as well. I am proud that he was a fan of mine. May God’s peace be with you.”

To Shannon West, who married Bill Sydlowski in New Jersey this summer: “Best wishes to you on your wedding day. I wish you eternal happiness. Your dad says that you are a fan of mine (he said commercials, maybe football too?). I appreciate your support. I can tell that he is very proud of you. All my best to you and Bill.”

Manning keeps a list of those he has contacted, with descriptions of the correspondence on the back of the their envelopes. “Letter from a woman whose best friend had cancer and is a big fan. . . . Husband has MS and they are naming their first born Peyton. . . . Sick man. Call ASAP.” Sometimes, instead of a note, he picks up the phone on the 25‑minute drive home after practice. “I cold-call them,” he says. “I block my number, and they don’t answer, so then you have to call back at night. They think it’s a prank call, but after that, you just take a moment and listen. I’ve always done that, but it is a little different this year.” Many of the voices on the other end are struggling with neck injuries. “I have to be careful about giving medical advice,” Manning says, “but these people are hurting and I was able to overcome the same thing. I tell them, ‘These are my symptoms. These are the doctors I saw.’ ” He asks Antonopulos, the Broncos’ trainer, for guidance. “If someone is from Texas, he will give me a doctor in Dallas.”


It is an overcast Friday morning in Indianapolis, the Colts beat the Titans the night before in Nashville, and the equipment managers are spinning 30 loads of laundry on three hours’ sleep. “It doesn’t smell as bad when you win,” says Jon Scott, who has been scrubbing grass stains since the team’s Baltimore days. He met Manning in 1998, when the hotshot prospect visited the Colts’ headquarters. On the way out, Manning said, “Hey, Jon, it was nice to meet you.” The Mannings may be American royalty, but they relate best to workers. “My mom drove a station wagon, my dad drove an Oldsmobile,” Cooper says. “We were around fame but we weren’t entrenched in it. We weren’t going to Europe on private planes. We did what everybody else did.” Archie told the boys that the most important people on any football team were the trainers and equipment managers. When Saints trainer Dean Kleinschmidt was married, Archie was the best man. When Archie was traded to Houston, assistant equipment manager Glennon (Silky) Powell cried as he walked him to his car.


Outside of Manning’s family, support staffers might know him better than anybody. They know that he studies opposing defensive coordinators, and their history against him, as much as opposing teams. They know that he likes a baseball cap handed to him the moment he walks off the field after third down, and collected the moment it’s time to walk back on. They know that he doesn’t wear a chinstrap in pregame warmups, so it has to be attached when he retreats to the locker room. The equipment managers laugh about staffers having to be reassigned from chinstrap and baseball-cap duty. “Oh, he’s demanding,” says Heckscher. “There were times I got an intern to shoot a walk-through, and it’s boring as hell, and the intern starts daydreaming and misses a snap. Most people don’t notice. Peyton walks in an hour later and says, ‘Things moving too fast for you guys out there today?’ ” Likewise, if Sullivan and Seabrooks flubbed a couple of passes, Manning would crack, “How about we mix in some catches with these drops?”

He barred his beloved equipment guys from the goodbye press conference, for fear he’d break down even faster than he did. But when it was over, he requested that they drive him to the airport, Sullivan behind the wheel of a Toyota Sequoia, Seabrooks riding shotgun, Scott and Manning in the backseat. “There were a lot of tears,” Scott says. “I gave him a handwritten note because that’s what he gives everybody else. He thought it was a joke. I just wrote the record of my first 15 years with the Colts and my record after he came.” Without Manning there might not even be an NFL team in Indianapolis, and there would certainly be no Lucas Oil Stadium and no downtown renaissance. Scott glances at a picture of Lucas Oil, lit up for the 2012 Super Bowl, hanging in the Colts’ facility. “It wouldn’t have been here without that guy,” he says.

They returned from the airport and cleaned out his office, pausing to send him a picture of the whiteboard, filled with his scribbles. Manning still calls the Colts’ equipment room every few weeks and asks to go on speakerphone. He texted Indianapolis staffers a video of the first preseason out pattern he completed for the Broncos. He mailed Christmas cards, with donations enclosed. Given the angry politics of modern sports, it is nearly impossible for an iconic athlete to remain on good terms with a city left behind. But Manning has accomplished what Brett Favre could not. After signing with Denver he called Vince Caponi, executive chairman of the board for St. Vincent Health, which oversees 22 hospitals in Indiana, including the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. People were asking Caponi if he’d rename it after Luck. “I want you to know I’m committed to St. Vincent,” Manning said. “That won’t waver.” His Peyback Foundation still hands out 800 bags of groceries in Indy for Thanksgiving, as well as 800 in Denver.

When Manning started the foundation, in 1999, he was advised to address one specific area of need. “But I like to say yes more than I say no,” he explains. Peyback has awarded $5.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations benefiting underprivileged children in Louisiana, Tennessee, Indiana and, now, Colorado. Most of the donations are relatively modest, around $10,000, but they are earmarked for roughly 90 organizations per year. Some want to buy school uniforms. Some want to launch afternoon programs. Some want to build gardens and grow vegetables. Online applications are due Feb. 1 and are graded by a board. Manning and his wife pick the winners.

Read More:

“Hail the blest morn!”: Merry Christmas from Alexander Campbell


Selina Huntington Campbell remembered in 1882 that

Dear Mr. Campbell was a lover of good music; he had when young received lessons in the art, but, as he said, “was born tuneless;” he understood time and loved to make a “joyful noise.” He could almost sing  “Hail the blest morn! When the great Mediator ” etc., and when riding together, through the vales and over the hills of Bethany, he was sure to commence with ecstacy : “’Tis not the law of ten commands,” but  always turned to the last verse :

“Israel, rejoice, now Joshua (Jesus) leads,

He’ll bring your tribes to rest;

So far the Saviour’s name exceeds,

The ruler and the priest.”

Ahh, the wonders of the internet, where an easy search of YouTube brings us here:

Authored by Reginald Heber (perhaps best known for Holy, Holy, Holy), the tune you hear in the clip is…

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