Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Conclusion of the Matter.

Ecclesiastes 12,13

Ecclesiastes is a strange book but the ending is awesome!

Throughout the book King Solomon makes some good points.
1. Wisdom is great and everyone should desire to gain wisdom.
2. The wise and the fool both die - just maybe not at the same time.
3. Sometimes the wise die early and the evil live long.
4. Enjoy your youth and do whatever your heart and hands find to do.
5. Be careful about what you do since God will judge your deeds and motives.
6. Man's lot is to work and find pleasure in his toil and his rest.
7. Everyone dies.
8. Every deed will be judged by God.

But while the content may be a bit sketchy, the end of the book is spot on!
12:13 here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,for this is the whole duty of man.14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,including every hidden thing,whether it is good or evil.

Do what you want - but be mindful of the consequences. Enjoy life! But be concerned about death and meeting your maker. Fear God - and you will be wise. Then, whether you live a long life or a short one you will stand before God unashamed.

God, help me live for the moment I stand before You, so that in the shame of my sin and failure I might be proved wise for having known Your Son and lived for Him.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shut up.

Well, I'm convicted once more this morning about the same thing. As a preacher it is my job to talk. As a Father I have to talk and instruct. As a Husband I have to talk and share. So, I talk a lot. It's no big deal, talking is like breathing to me - I'm not scared of it. One person or a big crowd it's all the same to me. But when I come before God I have the same problem. I talk.

Maybe you don't think its a big deal, I know that we are supposed to talk to God. But I wonder if I approach him more like I might the guy in the back of the church in that telephone booth looking thing then as the God of the universe.

I tend to just go on and on about this and that and it seems that if I stop talking... I get completely sidetracked and start thinking about other things. So I talk to keep my self focused I guess.

Anyway, look what I read this morning in Ecclesiastes 5.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth,so let your words be few.

Whoa. So, I pretty much do the opposite of that. Quick mouth. Hasty heart. Blurt out lots of stuff.

Perhaps I need some more quiet times of awe before God. I'll try and work on that.

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Man's Lot - It is A LOT!

Ecclesiastes 3,4

Something Solomon said really struck a cord with me today... actually several things I'll really have to meditate on... but a couple verses got me really thinking.

Do you think we over analyze life? What is all means and what it is for? Here's what Solomon said, see what you think. 3:11 He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.

There are a couple of big things here. First, Solomon says that God has "set eternity in the hearts of men." That statement is incredible! God, an everlasting, never ending, always and forever creator put a tiny spark of that eternity in our hearts. Perhaps this is why as our bodies begin to fail we begin to long for what's next - a life without pain and bad joints and headaches and broken bones. Now, the reality is that we can not "fathom" or fully understand tiny spark that God placed within us, but we can't deny it either. We were created for-ever. Wow! That is incredible! And helps me understand a little why sometimes we get freaked out by the concept of eternity - we have a bit of it, but can't figure it out! The same way I get freaked out by a Rubik's Cube! I have it, it was all put together at one point... but I can't fathom how in the world to get it back the way it was! (yes, I have tried to follow the directions!)

The second thing Solomon says has to do with out work. Lots of well meaning Christians think that if you enjoy life you are somehow sinning in some way. If you find pleasure in life then that in itself is evil. Apparently we are supposed to make ourselves miserable so that we have a better time in heaven... what could be better than heaven?! No matter how great life is, Real Life will be even better! Solomon has a different idea (and he was the smartest guy ever to live!). So, he says, "there is nothing better...than to be happy (cool) and do good (love God/others) that everyone may eat and drink and find satisfaction... this is a gift from God." So, I am to find satisfaction in the work I do that provides me with the means to eat and drink and be happy AND to do good! That is Great! This satisfaction in a days, no matter what it is (short of sinning) is FROM GOD!

So look, we have within us the spark of eternity - which we can't understand, but God has given us the ability here on earth to work, to provide for ourselves and others, to be happy and use what we have to do good and the satisfaction we gain from doing "good" in a world that is finite is from God.

If that is a gift from God then, thank You Lord. Help me to live everyday to the fullest. To work hard and rest well. To be happy no matter what and to do good wherever I go. And I can thank You for it all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The forgotten...

Ecclesiastes 1,2

I started this book written by King Solomon this morning and man is it depressing. Here's a guy who was granted wisdom (give me more Lord!) and was given all the other stuff too, money, power, fame, everything a man could want. All this was given to him by God. And yet, Solomon was miserable most of his life, at least that's the way it appears when you read this book.

If you don't really remember, Solomon is the guy who says, "everything is meaningless, there is nothing new under the son." He had more money, more land, more women, just plain MORE than anyone before or after him. The richest man in the world today would only have pocket change in relation to the wealth of Solomon (seriously, you have to read about his wealth!).

But there was one verse that stuck out to me this cool morning. It comes early in chapter one and says, "11 There is no remembrance of men of old,and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow."

I think this verse is important because of something I read just yesterday from my Mother. It was about her childhood when her father lost his job in the shipyards of California working for the government to build battleships. After they closed the shipyard (just hung a sign on the gate that said they were closed) the family moved to Oakland, OR where they lived for 28 years. Grandpa built the house they moved into and I still remember climbing the cherry trees out front. But this is not why I thought of this while reading this morning.

Mom said that there was a neighbor family (she was about 4) who invited her folks to church... and kept inviting them to church until they went. In her words her parents, "liked it" and kept going back. Her father and mother and two older siblings accepted Christ in that church and began a legacy of faith that continues today. My Mom went to Bible College in Idaho. She met my Dad (who's family were only moderate believers) and they married and Dad began to preach. They had 4 kids, two girls and two boys who are all active and involved in their churches and have children who believe. Four generations representing 39 people. 39 people who have shared their faith with hundreds of people.

So let me take a second to remember and thank that family who invited my grandparents to church and didn't give up until they came. Their faithfulness has touched many lives and will continue as the legacy of faith is passed down from generation to generation.

You want your life to count for something? You want to be remembered? The man of wisdom or wealth or power or strength who dies in his sin will not be long remembered. Their children will forget them soon enough. But the man of faith will leave a treasure to be continually uncovered by generations to come as they each discover the great gift they have been left. Faith. Life. A relationship with the creator of the universe. The hope of eternal life.

Maybe we ought to remember to share our faith, as someone did with us - or our ancestors and the change the course of those to come.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'll have the perspective...

Job 38

So, I've been reading in Job, you know the guy that is living his life right and then all his kids are killed and he looses all his herds and lands, etc. and is essentially destitute. That Job. You probably know him because some christian person (or your mom) used to tell you when you had it pretty bad in life that, "at least you're not like Job."

Yesterday I was a little upset because things were financially tight (like who doesn't know about that!) and I was expecting a check on the 12th that we were counting on. Well, the 12th came and went and things got tighter and tighter. Trent ran out of some of his meds. I take him to school every day (100 miles a day) and the car was out of gas. I put just enough gas in to get to and from his school yesterday because I was sure the check would come... but no check.

In those times, do you feel like the whole world has been reduced to your crummy situation? I do. And I get upset. I pound my fist on the table or wall or floor or car or couch or desk or... you be the picture. I wonder out loud to God, "I'm doing what I'm supposed to, I'm living right, why don't You show up?! (cause the preacher on tv said that if I live right God will give me what I want!).

And then I read my favorite part of the book of Job. We've heard Job speak about his troubles. We've heard from each of his friends too. But now it's God's turn to speak for Himself. And it's classic!

Why don't the rivers and oceans flood and wash over the insignificant pieces of earth? You've seen the globe, mostly water. What keeps the oceans where they are supposed to be? Did you know that if the tide is off a little we loose California and Florida (and Louisiana!)? What, or who, keeps the waters back? Who causes it to rain here and not somewhere else? Why does the lighting strike the way it does and why does it "never strike the same place twice"? Who provides food for the lioness and the bird alike with no discrimination? Who keeps the stars from falling out of the sky (or the earth for that matter!)? Who closes up the sky with clouds but at the right time clears them away to reveal that the sun was always there?

There is no randomness to the universe. It is a perfect example of perfect balance. And yet, I still worry about the simplest little things. If my God can conduct the elements like an orchestra and set the seasons on schedule like a perfect piece of simple software (God must use a mac!). If He can remember to feed the animals without being reminded 10x's. Then maybe, just maybe he really does know what's going on. Maybe I don't need to remind Him about me. Maybe I have more faith that my car is going to start in the morning (no, not that one!) then I do that God is watching out for my situation!

And if all this is true then I am about the worst example of faith in the world. Thank you God, for throwing out all the test scores except the highest, and giving that One to the whole class. I can't even tie my shoe without You - forgive me for trying to tell You what You should do. You just go ahead and do whatever You want... I'll get on board with that. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Whoa, He's smart.

When I was a kid in school I remember learning about how some people, way back in the dark ages when people just crawled up out of the goop (sarcasm), thought the earth was flat or that it was connected or held up or whatever their crazy ideas were. Science has certainly evolved over the years, hasn't it. Now we can take objects way out in space and triangulate their position based on other objects. We can send a space ship up and a video camera can feed us live images from Mars. But of all the things science has "discovered" what has it taught us? Okay, gravity... I'll give you that but that was pretty basic, right? Science has given a lot of things that already existed a name. But what has it really explained?

Here's what I mean. We have a name for gravity and we know it works and there are some theories about how it works but where does it come from? How come the other planets don't have gravity like ours? How is it that there is exactly enough gravity to keep us here, but not enough to squash us? We know that stars (and our sun - a star) are flaming balls of gas, but how come our planet isn't? Why are some gas and some not? Science has shown us what is already there but not explained it very well or "taught" us anything new.

Like, I thought the closer to the beginning of humanity the dumber people were. Right, cave drawings and clubbing some girl and dragging her back to your cave for a wife. That kind of stuff. But I'm reading in the book of Job (one of the oldest books in the Bible as I recall) and Job says something pretty amazing. In verse 7 of chapter 26 he says, "[God] suspends the earth over nothing." Wow! And Job didn't know any super scientists! He didn't have Newton or one of Hawking to tell him that! So, science how does that work exactly? Teach me something I don't know... tell me how our planet and others can simply float in empty space?! Oh, yeah, I remember, you already did. You see a long, long time ago... everything in the universe (we don't know where that came from) collapsed into something the size of a pin head (huge gravitational pull) and then exploded! BANG! and all the little particles that were in that pin head shot out like a rocket and then all suddenly stopped in mid flight, started spinning on an axis and rotating around another gob of goo that instantaneously caught on fire and lite everything. Oh, and gravity happened sometime around there too. (so that was incredible, a cosmic gravitational pull overcome by a cosmic explosion that was big enough to break the gravity - man that's awesome - sarcasm).

Here's how Job ends chapter 28, maybe we should take a lesson... "The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,and to shun evil is understanding."

Thank you Lord that there are still unteachable things out there we can't explain... well, You know what I mean, wink.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Way of the Wicked Seems Good.

Job 21,22

You can see, if you read these posts, that we've jumped from Esther 9 to Job 21. That's because like so many things I do, I'm behind in my Bible reading and posting. So, I've tried to catch up so you may see these posts jump around a bit. Sorry.

So far into Job and he seems to be in the same place many of us are in today. We look around and see people we deem as wicked - or not having a relationship with Jesus - and it appears that they are doing very well for themselves. They have money. They have possessions. They live a life of pleasure and enjoy the finer things in life.

And then there's us believers. Struggling financially. Involved in a bit of covetousness where those fancy toys are concerned. Paycheck to paycheck we live. And we sometimes wonder... "why are the wicked blessed and the righteous cursed?" Isn't that the backwards way? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Why aren't all Christians happy, healthy and wealthy? What's going on here?! STOP THE INSANITY!

But think about it for a moment. Is it reality? Let's look at a couple things.
1. RAS. Reticular Activating System. It's a pretty big part of your brain and it is like a big net. It catches all the things that are important to you and filters out all the stuff that's not. For instance. Whey you buy a new car that's exciting! And as you're driving home you see 50 of the same make/model that you just bought. Why? because the car is now important to you so your RAS "sees" more of them.
2. Satan's plan. If every "believer" was healthy and wealthy and every non-believer was not would there be any non-believers anymore? I mean if all you had to do what confess Christ and you got healthy (like God wants you to be) and wealthy (like all Christians should be) and happy (cause that's totally dependant on you being healthy and wealthy) wouldn't EVERYONE be a christian? Of course! So Satan's plan is to make it "look" like non-believers have it all so that we Christians, just like Job, will ask the question... "why should I follow Christ and be in need, when I can do what I want and be wealthy and healthy and happy?"

God wants you to trust Him no matter what... no matter how much money you have.
God wants you to see Him as your provider... not your primary care provider.
God want you to learn happiness no matter the situation... the situation doesn't determine happiness.

So Job, Corey, YOU, don't get caught up. This is not a race or a test or a wicked vs. righteous debate this life is a YOU and GOD marathon. We have to stop worrying about what the neighbors down the street have and whether or not they go to church. We have to stop thinking that all God wants to do is make us happy and healthy and wealthy. We must start running the race marked out for us with confidence so that whether in little or much we know what it means to trust God. To live a life of faith in spite of my temporary surroundings.

May my life, whether in plenty or in need point to God my Father who supplies ALL my needs through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Real change...

Esther 9

Well, I'm thinking this morning about I was told in school lots of years ago. Whenever an election came around we were told that "one person can make a difference." "One person can bring about change." I suppose I believed it but it sure is hard to see that on the political scene. Ted Kennedy just passed away and lots of nice things were said about him, but did that one man really bring about any significant change to the system? To our lives? President Bush made some changes... President Obama ran his campaign on "change" but are any of those changes really going to make any drastic or lasting change to our lives? Will my life be changed by what's going on in Washington?

Esther, was probably one of the first real political "change agents." Her guts, determination and willingness to (literally) risk her life for her people brought about significant and lasting change to the lives of the Jews in the kingdom of Media/Persia.

But here's the difference I suppose. First she did not set out to save her people. She did not seek public office or stand on a "platform" of reform. She simply followed a plan that was marked out for her before she was born. And when it came time she stepped into that role and did what had to be done. It's a thing called humility. She didn't seek the spotlight and was scared to take a stand but, as Mordecai said, "she was born for such a time as this." Secondly, when you recognize that you are just playing a part in a much bigger show it takes some of the pressure off. She was not the savior, she was not the star, she was just playing her part. Fulfilling her role. She recognized that God was the star and that she was just filling a role. All she had to do was enter the stage at the right time, say her lines and get off. That is liberating!

Far to many politicians today think they are the star of the show! But their not. So many think that they bring about change or that they are "change agents" but their not. Real change is life change. And that's the business of God through his son Jesus. To change your life you have to start with the inside, not the food you eat or the medical care you get or the school you go to but the condition of your heart. When the heart is changed, the mind is changed the body (what you do and how you do it, what you think and how it comes out of your mouth) follows.

That's lasting change. that's life change and there's only One who can bring that kind of change about. His Name is Jesus. He's the star of this show.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The end is always the same...

For my lovely wife - Esther 7 and 8

Reading quickly today since I got up late. Even in the quick read this am and the need for a quick post I find comfort in the fact that the end is always the same. Well, every instance may not be exact but the end, that remains.

It's like this, every battle in a war is not always won, but the individual battle does not constitute the war in the end, the last nation, group, government or person standing... that's the winner.

In Esther's story it appeared as though Haman was going to get his way and see the destruction of the Jews. But in the end, Mordecai is given Haman's position, his crown, his robes, his ring and his estate.

The same is true for you and I as believers in Jesus Christ. It may appear that things aren't going your way. You may feel like you are being crushed. Sought after for destruction. Everything in your life may be going down the tubes. But what you have to remember is that the end is always the same. In the end, good defeats evil. In the end, right triumphs over wrong. In the end death holds no power.

How can this be? I'll tell you. News just hasn't gotten out yet. You see, the war is over. There are still places where the enemy still thinks he can win and he's fighting with all his might but it's futile. The war has been won. The news hasn't gotten to everyone yet. The battles are still raging but the war has been won by One.

When Jesus rose from the grave that was the beginning of the end. The prophecy was true, "he will strike your heel but you will bruise his head (mortal wound)." The empty cross, the empty tombs they are just reminders for us that the end is always the same.

Jesus won the battle, he dealt the death blow, the war has been won. Satan is just the last guy on the field who can't believe he's lost and is yelling, "get back here!" "I'm not finished with you yet!" But his cries fall on deaf ears. The war is over. The battles won. The victor is secure. His children are safe and the fear of death is gone.

Glory and Honor, Power and Praise be to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The war is over and He won.