Wednesday, July 9, 2008

randon thoughts on Ecclesiastes

Enjoying life is not just a scheme contrived by sinful man when he should have found nothing more enjoyable than Calvin’s Institutes. Ecclesiastes tells us that “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor--it is the gift of God.” Hmm, good enough to repeat a few times. “So I perceived that nothing is better than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his heritage.” Rejoice in his own works? As a Christian who faithfully spanks little Johnny, feeds him when he’s hungry and changes his poopy diapers, pets the puppy, and scrubs the carpet when Johnny’s got “the bug,” should all be a reason for rejoicing. Getting up to go to work, thanking God for giving you yet another monotonous day of it filled with bitter hormonal women, grumpy guys, and bratty kids (other people’s of course ;) This should make you smile and fill your healthy lungs with God-given oxygen. “For who can bring him to see what will happen after him? For he does not know what will happen; So who can tell him when it will occur?” It’s comforting when we think about how we are not expected to know what will occur, we are just supposed to act like whatever will happen happens because of God. That’s when faith wakes us up with a smack on the head. “As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything.”
I can’t bear the burden of answering all of my own questions and consoling all my own fears. I could easily consume myself with the minute entities that make up my life, or the next decision that will want a handshake and a piece of my soul. I would only be asking for an overwhelming burden that I cannot carry. The weight on my shoulders will only be lifted when I lift it up to God, Who’s yoke is easy and His burden light. That is my privilege. “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” That is our duty.
“I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” After searching the world for answers and pleasantries, the wise man concludes that we should rejoice in this meaningless ramble, not in spite of it. We are to rejoice in the days we have on this earth, though they come to naught when we are dead. Enjoy the work at hand while you have hands to work. The last enemy, death, comes to all. That is a fact. What precedes that is the effect of our lives, the effect we have on other people, and the effect we leave behind. We do not have to master all skills before being the master of this earth. This is our inheritance under Christ, our toil under the sun is nothing new, but it is our duty and gift. Moses was not the master of speech before being called by God.

Because children have abounding vitality...

because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. they always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!! (a rough draft)

What does it mean to have true independence? Yes, we can give the Sunday school answer: "God's blessings which we receive daily." God is our God, but how does this give us independence? God offers to make us free from sin and death, to lift our burdens, and yet calls us to slavery. We cannot be completely free until we are completely bound. But how do we accomplish both?
Rev. 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
We are offered a drink that can not only squelch our thirst but make us live. We will drink and thirst no more, and hunger will be satisfied. Do not bite the hand that feeds you but rather find rest in His arms and abide in His protection where blessings will abound and we will experience true freedom and happiness.
If we bind ourselves to Christ and live in His service, then we will find our burdens being lifted from our shoulders. Through His sacrifice we are able to be free. Walking in His footsteps means being His example, sacrificing ourselves.

John 12:24

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." Speaking of grain, the virtuous wife seeks wool and flax, willingly works with her hands, brings food from afar, plants a vineyard, and still finds time to stretch her hand to the needy. "Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." We would never have had this proverb, if this woman had chosen to remain in her own world instead of actively living in her surrounding world, and sacrificially giving herself to her household. The meaning of sacrifice is death. The grain had to die enabling wheat to grow for the nourishment and provision of someone else. As we die to self we nourish others, and allow them to be fed off of our sacrifice. Hmm sounds like what Christ does for us daily. Live by this. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Gal. 6:2)
This is not to add discouragement to those who are busy caring for their families and cannot reach the poor and needy on a daily basis. They cannot leave their families to council the battered women of the world, encourage the Pro-Lifers, read dozens of books, or even keep up with politics. For you the faces of the needy may not have hollow, sunken, cheeks and gray eyes, but the needs still lie there behind the rosy cheeks and bright eyes.

Are there no other stories in the world except yours; are all men busy with your business?

"But how much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you! How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their vile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers."