Where is that Perfect Teacher?

May 11, 2018

Whether it be teacher, preacher, writer, director, author, pastor, or boss, it all comes down to a single precept – they are ALL significantly flawed.

Yes, that’s right, it’s a topic no one wants to talk about or admit.  After all, admitting that we are flawed is a sign of weakness, right?  But, it is the truth.

However, even if we are told and reminded that no one is perfect, we still would like to see perfection in those who are in leadership, and we are disappointed when they show signs of weakness, or heaven forbid, when they fail.

Their failure stuns us, causes us to reevaluate, causes us to doubt, makes us unsure about placing our trust in anyone in the future.

But, what is that old saying, “To err is human; to forgive Divine?”  How quickly we forget that we ourselves are also flawed.  We may be saved, and anointed, but you are still human, too.  Humans make mistakes.

So, how does that work?  How does God expect humans to carry forward His perfect plan, and His perfect message, when the vessels He uses to deliver His plan and message are flawed and less than perfect?  Yes, the mystery….

When Christ died on the cross, the torch for delivering the gospel was passed into the hands of fallible and flawed humans.  Was this a mistake?  No.  Now, let’s be perfectly clear.  We are to strive for perfection.  And there are times when we may act, think, and speak perfectly.  All of this is good, but there are also times when things don’t go as well.  We don’t say the right things.  We don’t act in a perfect way.  Our thinking is flawed.

The remedy is two-fold – 1) forgiveness for the person involved, and 2) tolerance by others that are involved.

We probably understand #1, but there seems to be much less understanding on #2.  Let me see if I can illustrate.

If someone does me wrong and asks forgiveness, I may forgive them.  If they continue to repeat the offense my tolerance decreases, and I may reach a point where I do not forgive them.  Unless…..

Unless, they are my child, or my parents, or my spouse.  Then things are different.  My tolerance limits have changed.  In other words, I don’t apply the same tolerance to all people – it is selective.  I choose how much tolerance I’m willing to commit to.  I apply more tolerance when it is ‘family’.

So, here’s the rub…   In the family Christ has created, we are all family.  So, why can’t the same tolerance be applied as if they were our own flesh and blood family?

 

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From Promise to Fulfillment

May 8, 2018

In Acts 23:11 we read (in KJV):

“And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

What a comfort.  Paul had been abused by the Jews of Jerusalem, arrested, and thrown in jail.  But, now the Lord, Himself, gave Paul a promise that he would go to Rome and testify there.  End of story.  All’s well that ends well.

Not quite.

The next few chapters describe that the following events occurred between the ‘promise’ and its ‘fulfillment’:

  1. Paul is in bonds (chains, shackles) and prison for another two years.
  2. Paul is aboard ship and in a storm that is so strong everyone thought they were going to die.
  3. He is shipwrecked, and must swim to an island.
  4. He is snake-bit by a venomous snake, while gathering wood for a fire

What happened???

The promise seemed so simple and direct, what had gone wrong?

Nothing.

Christians who have studied this passage sometimes come up with their own version of the events, that might go something like one of these:

  1. It wasn’t that difficult for Paul.  After all, he knew the promise and who made it.
  2. There was a purpose in every event, so it’s no big deal.

Ok, let’s look at this differently then….  “You” know the promise that has been made you, and “You” know that there is purpose behind every event that comes your way – so, what is YOUR problem?

Yes, it feels differently when put that way doesn’t it?  Of course it does.  The truth is that this was a very difficult and trying period for Paul.  Paul, the evangelist.  Paul, the church planter.  Paul, the church encourager and overseer.  Now, Paul the prisoner.  Not for a few hours, days, or even months.  We are talking about years here.  Oh yes, we could do that.  Really?

The truth about Paul’s experience may be a bit more complicated than it appears on the surface.  There is an enemy of the gospel, and this enemy was determined to see Paul stopped.  However, Paul had an advocate (attorney), who saw to it that Paul survived any obstacle thrown at him.  Now here is the clincher to this discussion — while God delivered Paul from every obstacle and challenge, He did not stop them from coming his way.  He did, however, give Paul the power to overcome every challenge that came his way, and Paul was assured nothing would keep him from the promise that was made earlier.

So, my friend, do not think you are immune to the storms, imprisonments, beatings, snakebites, and poking of the enemy.  You are not.  But, you are also not a rug to be walked on, trod on, beaten down, or destroyed.  God has given you the provisions and training necessary to win.

It’s Not a Cake-Walk

May 7, 2018

I would suppose one of the biggest confusion factors in the Christian realm, might go something like this, “If I’m a Christian, and God loves me, then why am I going through what I’m going through?”

And, let’s be fair – this is not just a whining complaint from someone who is never satisfied, there are serious situations involved – death, injury, relationship, marriage issues, children issues, loneliness, grief, chronic pain, disease, need I go on?

While we can put our imagination to work on this, and we often do, I suspect our conclusions are more wrong than right.  We come up with all kinds of reasons why things happen, especially bad things.  “God is trying to teach me a lesson.”  “God is punishing me for my wrongs.”  “God is upset with me.”

We sometimes forget that all throughout the Bible, people had problems.  Good people.  Anointed people.  Of course, their problems seem small when compared with our own.  And, we can clearly see the outcome of their problems, whereas we cannot see the end of the road for our own.

I’ve seen enough suffering by ‘good’ people to understand the answer lies elsewhere.  Even our imagination fails to unravel the mystery behind these things.  In fact, regardless of the ingenuity of man’s mind, there are only a few things we can say with certainty:

  1. Even when the storm is raging, God is still in control
  2. When the storm has subsided, and all that is left is rubble and destruction, God is still in control
  3. When it appears the storm has destroyed everything and there is no remedy or repair possible, God is still in control
  4. When there is no one to help or lend a hand, or even understand, God is still in control
  5. When our world turns upside-down, God is still in control

While we often do not understand the reason, or comprehend the purpose, God still has a plan.  God is not behind everything that happens.  Nor, is He the reason for everything that happens.  Nor, is He happy for everything that happens.  But, once again, God is still in control.

Some disasters are our own doing.  Some disasters come from natural causes (earth quakes, storms, etc…).  Some disasters are man-made.  And, still, some disasters are fostered by the Devil, or those working for him.

Regardless of the source or cause, God is still in control.

When Jesus told the thief, “This day you will be with Me in paradise”, it must have provided some mental relief.  However, the physical pain continued.  It even got worse.  For after Jesus died, the Roman soldiers broke the thief’s legs to hasten their death.  That doesn’t sound much like paradise to me.  Yes, I think he made that journey that day, just like Jesus promised.  But, in between the promise and fulfillment was some very intense suffering that we often forget.

So, let’s take a moment and talk about ‘Victory’.  This is a much more pleasant thought than suffering.  But, even that term is cloaked in confusion, as we sometimes don’t see the ‘victory’ for some individuals.  What we often see is disease, pain, and deterioration instead.  Where is the ‘victory’ for these folks?  Well, it is in the same place as it was for the thief on the cross with Jesus.  It is at the end of the journey, not in the beginning, or in the middle.  Obviously, we want our ‘victory’ NOW, if not sooner.  But, in some cases the victory will come beyond the curtain of this life.  Because the curtain obstructs our view, we have trouble grasping it, but this doesn’t make it any less real.

In summary, Christians have a difficult time sorting out the ups and downs in their life – myself included.  We want to know the ‘why’, and most often this question cannot be adequately answered.  But, while we may grope for answers, I’m assured that God is still in control, and that somewhere there is a reason and a purpose for everything.  I may not fully comprehend it, though, until I make that final journey.

Searching for the Joy

April 30, 2018

As a man searches for buried treasure, hidden riches, or secrets of the unknown, I’ve been searching for joy.

You know, the ‘joy’ spoken of in the Word of God.  Of course, we know ‘joy’ is different from ‘happiness’.  In my limited understanding ‘happiness’ is more of a fleeting thing, whereas ‘joy’ is something deeper, something stronger, something more permanent and unchangeable.  With that understanding we can be unhappy, but still have joy.  But, on the other hand, remove the joy, and even if we are smiling we may be quite sad inside.

So, I’ve been on the hunt for joy.  For the ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’.  Not that I haven’t had joy, but wanting to understand it better.  And in this journey I’ve discovered something that is really quite hard to explain, but we will give it a shot…

“Joy” – is not what most people think it is.

The truth is this – most people are selfish, and the selfish nature can never find the joy spoken of in the Word.  Now understand – when I say ‘selfish’ I’m not talking about the little boy that wants all the candy for himself.  I’m talking about we seek those things that bring us pleasure and enjoyment, and sometimes that process short-changes others.  In other words, “us first, and everyone else second”.  Of course, we most often deny this ‘tag’, but reality often speaks for itself.  Most everyone would deny they are selfish, instead we are caring, giving, self-sacrificing, always thinking of the other person.  But, the real puzzle is you can be both giving (and those other things), and also selfish, too.

But, let’s be clear – the ‘joy’ I’m talking about is a lot more than just being giving and helpful, and thinking of the other person.  In other words, not selfish.  It’s deeper than that.

This deeper ‘joy’ only comes from an awareness that we are part of a much bigger whole.  It comes from an awareness that even though we are small, and seemingly lost in a sea of humanity, somehow our very existence is important to the ‘big picture’.  I may even be as bold to say that the world needs you.  I know – that seems a little too much, but to understand the ‘joy’ I’ve been talking about requires us to acknowledge the fact that although we don’t always understand our purpose in this crazy world, and we don’t always feel loved and appreciated, nevertheless we are important to God’s plan and in His plan NOTHING is insignificant.

So, this ‘joy’ I’m talking about really has very little to do with pleasure seeking, or temporary happy moments.  It has more to do with understanding that we are important to God’s plan, and that although things are not always to our liking, He is guiding our life in the way that pleases Him, and that is enough.

It’s not about getting what we think we want, or getting those things that we think will make us ‘happy’.  Those things will change, some will fade, and some will simply go away.  No, those are temporary things, that may bring us happiness and enjoyment, but the ‘joy’ I’m talking about is much deeper than that.  This ‘joy’ is not affected by circumstance, situation, persecution, sickness, riches, or poverty.  It not affected by position, fear, or even the happiest of times.  This ‘joy’ is rooted in being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and that when all else is over and done, that is all that is really going to matter.

We often feel our situation is unique, and that whatever feelings we may have – loss, grief, relationship problems, children problems, parent problems, stress, anxiety, fear, depression, and on and on – are feelings that we, alone, have.  But, this is not true.  And, even if it were true, God feels our distress and knows exactly where we are at all times.

‘Joy’ is not about everything going right, or everything working out like we planned.  It is not even about winning all the time.  ‘Joy’ is not about prosperity, or poverty, or anywhere in-between.  It is not about what you have, or don’t have, or wish that you had.  This ‘joy’ I’m talking about is rooted in the simple fact that God loves you, He has a plan for you, and He is working His plan, and though the storm may rage and waves and wind try to tear you apart, all will be good.

Why Not “Butter Side Up”?

April 23, 2018

We all know the old question, “When dropping a piece of buttered bread, what are the chances it will land buttered side up (or down)?”  And, of course, the answer is it almost always seems to land buttered side down.

This saying goes along with a dozen or more other related sayings such as, “When it rains, it pours”, etc…

But, what if that could be turned around?  If the odds are that the piece of bread lands buttered side down, why can’t the odds turn the other way, and it land buttered side up?  What’s to prevent such a change?  Probably, just us…

In order to ‘crack’ this requires a readjustment in how we think.  It’s not a matter of which side the bread lands on, but a matter of perspective.  I’m not saying you can simply ‘think away’ your problems, or that the ‘power of positive thinking’ solves every issue.  I am saying that in order to get a firm grip on the ‘buttered bread’ issue, requires us to change our thinking.

Consider the ‘Battle of the Bulge’….

The World War II battle in Europe, known famously as, “The Battle of the Bulge” illustrates my point.  Short summary for those unfamiliar with this battle.  Germany is losing the war on both the Eastern and Western fronts to the allies.  This is a desperate time for the German army and they must do something ‘big’.  They plan an offensive with massive troop numbers and tanks and succeed to push through the Allied defensive lines, creating a ‘bulge’, hence the name.  To the Allies this was a disaster, and a visible victory for the Germans, and for awhile it looked very bad.  When General Patton got involved he took a different view, however.  His general view went something like this, “This is great.  This will end up being a great victory for the Allies, as the Germans will have nothing significant to fall back on after we win this battle.”  In other words, most of the Allied leadership saw this move by the Germans as a defeat and setback, but General Patton saw it as an opportunity to soundly defeat the German army and win the war.

So, who was right?  Well, it largely depends on how you want to look at it, doesn’t it?  We did lose a large number of good men in this battle, and that is never a good thing.  However, in the larger scope of things, Patton was undoubtedly correct, as the Battle of the Bulge was Germany’s last great offensive of the war, and they surrendered to the Allies less than 5 months later.

So, what am I trying to say?  I’m certainly not saying that bad things are good things, and we just need to ‘keep our chin up’, or ‘look on the bright side’.  I am saying, that sometimes things may look bad, and seem bad, and feel bad, but in the end they may turn out differently than we expect.

We certainly want the victory, don’t we?  Of course we do.  But, without a battle there can be no victory, and no battle is pleasant.  Rather than wishing we could do away with all battles, maybe we should be finding out better ways to fight and win the battles that do come our way.

Have I figured it out?  Do I have this concept mastered?  Hardly…  I’m still in school, and the knocks are hard and painful, and I still make plenty of mistakes.

I do, though, sometimes wonder if Christians are praying ‘amiss’ – “Dear Lord, remove all battles from my life and make them go away.”  This is not likely to happen.  Has that prayer worked for you lately?  No.  Maybe a better way of approaching this might be, “Dear Lord, give me the strength, the wisdom, the courage, and the skill necessary to fight and win the battles ahead of me.”

This does not mean you will come out unmarked.  You may have mud smeared on your face, your clothes torn, your knees scraped, you got scratches on your arms, and you are tired.  There may even be tears in your eyes, but you are victorious, and in the end that will be all that will matter…

Why Kill Jesus?

April 20, 2018

For brevity we will dispense with the solid studies already done over the centuries dealing with the spiritual battle between the Devil, God the Father, and Jesus that occurred during the time leading up to the crucifixion and day of crucifixion.  We will also dispense with the reasons why the Romans consented to the unlawful condemnation and judgment of Jesus.

Instead I will focus this posting on the purely ‘human’ motives behind the actions of the chief priests, Pharisees, and scribes.  Why did they want Jesus killed?  Certainly, it was not because they understood He was the Christ.

Before I get into the motives of the Jewish leaders, it is important to note that the Devil did not actually torture and kill Jesus.  However, it is clear he was working behind the scenes in providing reasons, justifications, causes, fears, and motivations for the people who were responsible for Jesus condemnation and crucifixion.  He doesn’t ‘force’ anyone to do anything.  He does provide the ‘fuel’, however, in various forms such as fear, thoughts of jealousy, greed, vengeance, pride, power, and a host of other human vices and weaknesses.

So, for the Jewish leaders to take Jesus, try Him, condemn Him, and sentence Him to death, there must have been sufficient reasons.  The reasons don’t have to be true, accurate, or substantial, but they provide the justification for the actions.

While the Jewish leaders had many reasons for wanting Jesus dead, there are a few that I want to cover in this posting that don’t get much ‘air time’, primarily because they are tucked away in a few areas of scripture that I’ve never heard taught about, or preached about.  By doing this I will give you something to think about, and search out on your own.

Probably the biggest motivating factor behind the Jewish leadership’s desire to have Jesus killed was simply this – FEAR.

In order to understand their fear requires us to know a little about their situation.  Israel was under Rome’s thumb.  This meant that the Roman army, governors, and civil leadership was run and controlled by mostly Romans.  However, not everything was directly controlled by the Romans.  The Romans controlled the Jews by creating alliances with the Jewish leadership – priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducee’s, and of course, the High Priest himself.  Through these alliances the Romans could indirectly control the Jewish nation.  Not that this was a ‘love’ relationship, by any means.  It was a relationship of ‘convenience’ and ‘necessity’, fueled by greed, power, position, and of course, convenient necessity.  A means to an end.

Fear of losing this relationship with Rome, and its leaders, was one of the major contributing factors to why Jesus was killed.  Can I substantiate this claim?  John 11:47-53 explains this better than I can.  Basically, there was a real fear that if Jesus was allowed to continue that those in Jewish leadership would lose their relationship with Rome, and its leadership, and all the ‘perks’ that went along with that.

What kind of ‘perks’ are you talking about?

Consider just one fact – the High Priest lived in a palace!!  Where in the scripture do we read that the priests, or even High Priest, lived in a palace?  That’s right – nowhere.  But, given the close relationship with Roman power, a palace will do rather well.  No wonder Jewish leadership was fearful of Jesus.  He threatened:

  1. Their relationship with Rome leadership
  2. Their high lifestyle and benefits – think palace…
  3. Their control over the Jewish people

In brief, Jesus threatened to turn their world upside down, and therefore, must be stopped at all costs.

Of course, all this was a fulfillment of scripture, and part of the master plan of God.  But, from a strictly ‘human motivation’ standpoint, it is interesting to see why the Jewish leadership was so intent on seeing Jesus dead.

In order for the Devil to get people to do what he wants them to, he must manufacture a plausible ‘reason’.  He must give them a reason why any action makes sense.  These reasons tend to have roots in the ‘dark side’ of humanity – greed, lust, pride, envy, jealousy, anger – from which thoughts come the actions: murder, theft, violence, etc…

It was insufficient for the Devil to plant in the Jewish leadership’s minds that Jesus was simply a ‘dangerous’ man.  No, it had to also include the fear that Jesus, if allowed to continue, would turn everything upside down, and disrupt their relationship with Roman power and all its associated privileges.  After all, the High Priest would be very unhappy if he had to give up his ‘palace’….

That’s Not Exactly What I Said

April 13, 2018

Have you ever been misquoted?  Someone takes your words, and with a slight twist or misinterpretation turns them around completely.  In some cases, you might even say, “That’s not exactly what I said.”

But, it happens often, and not just with people.  We will take God’s Word, and apply our own interpretation to it.  Worse – we will sometimes tell Him what He said, as if to cross-examine a client and prove our case.  That is not wise, unless we know exactly what we are talking about, and what He was talking about.

And, that can be a problem.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, and others had a hard time understanding God’s Word and the things Christ talked about.  They even argued with Him, (not a wise thing to do), on many topics.  In short, they tried to state God’s word, but the result was not exactly what He said.

If we are not careful we can run into the same problem.  We quote the Word back to God, “But, God, you said such and such..”, and we expect Him to submit to His Word.  And that is fine, but you better not misinterpret or misunderstand, or leave any words out.  People generally do not respond very well when their words are misquoted or misunderstood.  I somehow think God may be the same.  Of course, God is more tolerant of some things than we are, and He is certainly more patient than we are.  But, just to be safe it would be recommended we know exactly what we are talking about, before we accuse God of not keeping His Word.

Who Do You Pay Attention To?

April 3, 2018

If one were to pull away from our day-to-day hustle and bustle and somehow elevate ourselves so that we could look down on our daily activity, what would we see?

What are the things, and people, we pay attention to?  What are the things, and people, we avoid?  Who are we happy to see, and who are we ‘pained’ to see?  Who are the ones who only want something from us, and who are the ones who are always giving to us?  Who are the ones encouraging us, and who are the ones causing us grief and pain?

It makes perfect sense, from a human perspective, to show more attention to those who make us happy, or who can make our lives more enjoyable.  The ones who might always need our help, therefore, sometimes go on the back-burner of our ‘to-do’ list.

It’s not too hard to understand things from a human perspective, but what does God think, and how does He act?  Who does He pay attention to, and who does He avoid?  The best answer we have for those questions comes from reviewing the actions of Jesus recorded in the gospels.

During His three and one-half years of ministry, Jesus had many things on His ‘to-do’ list.  Each day was filled with people, places, travels, and activities.  He was busy teaching, correcting, healing, and performing a variety of miracles.  What is most interesting, however, in Jesus’ recorded history is not those things that were on His calendar.  It was those things and people that were not in His schedule.

Now let’s put this into perspective.  If you were the Son of God, on a mission directed by the Father, would you allow yourself to be interrupted from your normal schedule?  Who would you allow to have access to yourself and your limited time?  Could just anyone approach you and take up your time?

From what we can gain from reviewing the gospels, anyone, with any cause, could gain access to Jesus.  Although, there were times when His disciples tried to discourage ones from gaining access, we find that Jesus was not pleased with their actions.

We can find no ‘filter’ that Jesus used to determine who might have access to Himself.  Rich, poor, sinner, saint, high authority, no authority, healthy and diseased all gained access to Him.

What does this tell us about God?  Can anyone gain access?  Do you have to possess special credentials?  Do you have to be a certain status or position or have wealth?  Does He only grant access to those who are believers?

What can we take away from this?

  1. God can accept anyone, even those we think are not worthy
  2. God’s rules are somewhat different from ours.  We put lots of distinction on wealth, position, fame, even righteousness, not understanding that even the unrighteous can gain some audience with God
  3. We could learn a few things from just reviewing who Jesus accepted.  Who gained access to Jesus?  Virtually, anyone who had the drive it took to get into His presence.

Actions, Words, Thoughts

April 1, 2018

One of the signs of growing Christian maturity is in the area of self-control.  But, this is not a single effort, or single goal, as if to say, “I now have self-control”, but like many things it is a process.

One of the first areas we typically work to bring under control is our actions.  This makes a lot of sense, as it is often our actions which bring immediate, negative response from those around us.  It is also true that often actions, once done, cannot be easily reversed, and in some cases can never be reversed or corrected.  So, from a practical standpoint it makes perfect sense that we work on our actions as a starting point.

But, there are additional things that need to be brought under self-control – like our words.  It could be argued that words misspoken at the wrong time, wrong place, could do as much, if not more, damage than actions.  It is true, that words can make lasting impressions, and cause much long-term damage.  It’s not just the words that are spoken, but there are things to learn in when to speak, and when to say nothing at all.  Knowing what to say, when to say it, and when to be silent all fall under the general category of self-control.

Finally, we come to ‘thoughts’.  Some might argue that everything really is controlled from the mind including words, actions, and thoughts, so why don’t we just start with the mind and cover all the bases with one blow?  That is a perfectly good approach, but in reality it doesn’t seem to work out quite that way.  While it is true everything originates from the mind, it tends to work better when we can rationalize and separate the various issues into compartments, rather than just creating a general category and dump them all it at one time.  To put it simply, we do better when we can take things a step at a time, and let the Lord guide our progress.

Now back to ‘thoughts’.  If I had to guess where many Christians are today, it would be that they have made significant progress in controlling their actions and their words, but still struggle with the ‘thoughts’.  We can refrain from destructive actions, and from saying words that we might regret later, but the ‘bad’ thoughts often remain.  Why is this?  I think the simple answer is because actions and words are public, but thoughts are private, and because they are private they are hidden from view, so no one really knows but us.  So, while I may publicly act and say nice things towards someone I dislike, my thoughts are bad.

This disharmony between actions, words, and thoughts, however, is destructive to our well-being.  The conflict it raises destroys our chance at peace, calmness, and serenity.  The solution – we must master our thoughts as well as our actions and words.

All this sounds well and good, but you cannot control thoughts as easily as we might control our actions and words.  They won’t just go away because we tell them to.  It’s a bit more complicated than that.  While they cannot be dismissed or caused to vanish, they can be transformed.  But, this will not be an easy or trivial task.  It cannot be done half-hearted or willy-nilly.  It takes concentrated effort, awareness, and help from the Spirit of God to do this.  But, it can be done.  For sake of brevity I will only use one small example of what I’m talking about.  Take the thoughts you have regarding your ‘enemy’.

I’m not talking about the Devil here, but about someone who you consider to be your ‘enemy’.  This person has caused you harm, distress, discomfort, destruction, etc…

How in the world can you transform your thoughts toward this person?  The answer is really simple – you must transform them into your friend.  Now, understand – it would be wonderful if we could actually turn enemies into friends, but it is not necessary that they actually become physical friends, although that would be nice.  What is necessary is that in your own mind, they are no longer in the ‘enemy’ category.  How can this be done?

I know of only two things that work – prayer and practice.  Praying for your enemy will begin the transforming process.  But, a single prayer is not going to do the trick.  Practice, or repeated prayers, will, though.  By doing this you will transform your bad thoughts, but it takes time and patience.

 

Strange

March 16, 2018

Life is, what shall we say – strange.  Although, the ‘experts’ will tell you all kinds of things about life, it still ends up being a bit strange and a mystery.  While we understand many things about life there still remains a large portion which is hidden from our view.

Perhaps, that is why much of Ecclesiastes sounds distressed and somewhat depressing.  Of course, we know that Solomon wasn’t in the best frame when he wrote Ecclesiastes, and most scholars attribute his depressed writing to the fact that towards the latter portion of his life he was drawn away from God by his various marriages to women of foreign pagan cultures.  But, that really doesn’t tell the whole story of Ecclesiastes.  You see, according to the scriptures, Solomon was the wisest man ever.  Past or future.

What does ‘wisdom’ have to do with Solomon’s writing?  Everything.  You see with great wisdom comes the ability to ponder, to think, to take apart, to understand.  But, there’s one tiny little problem —

Much of life, at least from our standpoint, remains a mystery, and a puzzle that has no answer, or at least, an answer we can understand.

Even people who think they have everything figured out, and who are, at present time, sitting on top of the world.  Their world can come crashing down in a few moments time, and all the kings men, and all the kings horses cannot put it back together again.  For most of us, life is a series of events, some good, some wonderful, some tolerable, and some just plain bad or painful.  Although we would like to believe we are in control of our life, the reality is we are in control of very little.

Now before you think I’m writing a real ‘downer’ of a posting, and wonder what kind of shape I’m in – ponder this.  Is what I’m saying true or false?

Now before we lose hope, we also need to understand a few other things:

  1. While life may be a mystery, and we have no complete control, God is still in command
  2. Large portions of our life, if not all of it, will only make sense when we enter eternity
  3. While we may not understand or comprehend the events in our life, God has a plan, and that plan includes us, and what happens to us
  4. Much of God’s plan for our life may have little to do with us, but involves our interaction with others
  5. To avoid mental anguish and needless suffering the best way forward for us is to submit to God’s plan, and stop trying to figure everything out
  6. The basic rules have remained the same, and are understandable by everyone – 1) love God, 2) love your neighbor