Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sacrifice of Fools

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                                                             [photo of Lillooet Fire]

Most days you will see me in jeans and a shirt because that is how I'm the most comfortable. When I go to church, I am usually wearing a pair of clean jeans. I believe that God is not as concerned about what we wear as He is about who we are. Of course, there is protocol with God—but it’s not so much about the clothes we wear. This is where we begin chapter 5.

First of all, God doesn’t play games. He knows us at the core of our beings and we can’t fool Him. When we come to Him we are approaching the Author of life! Our lives are a mere vapor in His hands! Still, for some reason He is mindful of us. Even more mind boggling than this, He actually loves us--even in the quagmire of our humanity. What we don't always realize, is that God is a realist. He doesn’t play around with our lives (actually, that would be us), there is too much at stake.

If you were invited to meet the Queen of England, how would you approach her? Apparently there’s a whole team of people delegated to make sure you use the correct protocol. She is but a representative; an earthly Queen.

How then should we approach God?

The only way to approach God is with awed reverence and honesty, realizing Who He is! He is worthy of our awe and reverence, our praise and worship! If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize there’s really nothing much we can say to God that He isn’t already aware of. So when you come, open your ears, listen carefully and watch your words so you don’t give the sacrifice of fools.

Speaking of words, many years ago I read a little book called “The Power of the Tongue.” It claims our words are powerful and can set a whole forest ablaze! Have you ever witnessed a forest fire? Just watching it leaves a huge impact, not to mention the damage it leaves behind. As we watch, we realize that once it’s been set, it’s very hard to control.  It is very much like that with our words. We often don’t realize the damage we are doing with them--and not just to others, also to ourselves. Their reach goes beyond what we can imagine.
                                                                           
Remember that little saying...”sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me?” Proverbs 18:21 tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” It seems our words have some pretty amazing power!

An encouraging word has the power to pull someone out of depression; give someone that boost they need to try something new; make someone feel better about some aspect of their life. Words that curse also do things. They make people angry, bitter, resentful, and even vengeful. They bring hurt not only to the hearer, but also the giver of them. What kind of words do you speak?

That said, I am also guilty of saying things I shouldn’t say. Before I realize it the words are out of my mouth and the damage is done. Sound familiar?  It’s just foolishness! It’s better to say nothing at all!

I’m only responsible for the thoughts I accept. Just because I’m thinking it, doesn’t mean it’s my thought! We have so many things bombarding us through television and radio programs.  Music is also a huge culprit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself thinking lyrics I don’t agree with. I’m so drawn to the beauty of the music that I don’t always realize the words I’m listening to. Very subtle!

It would be wise to examine the thoughts we are having. In other words, if the thought in your mind doesn’t line up with what you believe...don’t speak it! While you’re at it, purposefully recognize that thought and discard it by replacing it with a true thought that you do believe.  Our thoughts are intertwined with who we are and who we become. This is one way that we battle the lies we are bombarded with on a daily basis. I believe that the cleaner and purer our thoughts are, the easier it will be to hear that still small voice that we so desperately need to listen to.

Well, we only got partway through Chapter 5—but then, what’s the hurry? I’ve realized that I often try to cover too much in one post, so I’m taking things a little slower. 

Thank you for visiting! I appreciate your comments and insights!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Life Isn't Fair!

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                                                         Courtesy: Flickr, zoomar's photostream
There is one question that most people have asked themselves at one time or another. It doesn’t matter whether they believe in God or not, they still ask it.  

If God is a God of love, why does He allow bad things to happen?

Most of us have noticed that life isn’t fair. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.  Solomon tells us that there are times and seasons in our lives. In essence he is saying that God has a perfect plan that includes everything we need, including the bad and the good.

I've realized that the sum of everything I’ve experienced makes me who I am today. I am thankful for the bad and the good things of my life. Not because I like bad things to happen to me, but because I know that God has a purpose in allowing me to go through them. As well, we sometimes do things or say things that inevitably bring us to bad places in our lives. The good thing is, if we survive them, we can learn from them. This is our freewill in motion! God allows freewill because He wants people that truly love Him...not puppets that merely serve Him.

Motivated by envy and ambition; the strong prey on the weak and the helpless, and therefore injustice thrives.  Solomon observes that, “all skill in work comes from man’s rivalry with his neighbor.” I thought that was interesting because it tells us something we’re probably not immediately aware of when we go about doing things. It’s not necessarily that we want the biggest house, the most expensive car, the most appealing spouse. Although it’s nice to have those things, what we actually want is to be admired and recognized! Look at me! I’ve done well for myself! I’m a self made whatever! What it comes down to is a selfish search for significance, without God.

To be honest, I don’t desire abundant riches. Oh sure, I like to spend money once in a while—but if I don’t, I’ll do with what I have.  I’m fairly easy going as far as that’s concerned. “Better is a handful with quietness than both hands full with painful effort.” There’s much to be said for living that way if you ask me.

I know of a man who worked at a very well paying job. When he was done his hours at the job, he spent a good deal of time going through garbage bins, etc. Here is the strange thing...the guy was already a millionaire. He was also a miser; not willing to spend money on the things that were needed, let alone things that were wanted. So when he died, the first thing his wife did was fix all the things around the house that had been neglected for years. Then she bought some things she’d been wanting. Some of the money went to his adult kids, whom he never really had great relationships with.

He never stopped to ask the question, “why am I working so hard for money I don’t need, when tomorrow I may die?”Painful effort and vain striving—it’s meaningless.

I am so thankful that I have a great husband and good friends. People I can rely on, and who can rely on me.  The one thing that I value above all other things is relationship. We can’t take anything from this earth with us; though many have tried, as evidenced by the treasures found in the tombs of ancient Egypt. If we take anything from this world, it will be the relationships which extend beyond our lives on earth. I truly believe that the end of this life is the beginning of eternity.

Solomon seems to value relationships too. It's true that we need each other, but Solomon goes beyond that. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” My husband quoted that scripture to me when we were going out, and before we were married. I had no idea what it meant at the time, but now I know.  A relationship that includes God is not quickly broken.

This raises a side note. I know that the divorce rate in churches is as high as in the secular world. It’s scriptures like this that make me wonder why this is happening in our churches. Are we taking seriously God’s commands and living as we ought? Are we Christians in name only? God forbid!  Perhaps that’s a topic for another time.

The next phrase is interesting. Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer heeds a warning. Now that I’m getting a little older myself, I can relate to this one. As we get older, we seem to resist change. We also think that we’re older and wiser. The truth is, things change, and that is very observable in our present age of technology. I know I don’t need to expound on this as most of you have children. ;) Age doesn’t guarantee wisdom, or knowledge, for that matter.
However, we choose whether we learn from our experiences or not. When you think you’ve arrived, you’re probably pretty far behind, as I’ve learned. It’s like I said in an earlier post, the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know.

Wisdom is different than knowledge; it comes through utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight.  There is much wisdom available to us in the Bible, but we can still lack wisdom if we don’t take it to heart and apply it to our lives.  Even those who come after us, endowed with knowledge but not having wisdom, will repeat the same mistakes. That is why history repeats itself; that is why there’s nothing new under the sun. We think we’re so smart...but are we?

So this too is meaningless—and the earth continues to turn on its axis, and we continue to wonder.

What is the purpose to life?
Why are we here?

*I’ve really been enjoying your comments on my past posts on Ecclesiastes.  They have been spot on and in many ways address the answers we’re looking for.  I love your insights!

Thanks so much for visiting!