Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Futility of Arrogance

January 14, 2013

All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun.  There is a time when a man lords it over others to his own hurt.  Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this.  This too is meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 8:9, 10.

 

Probably one of the harshest truths an individual faces is how insignificant any effort for personal glory becomes once he or she fades from public view.  The energy expended on gaining an immediate advantage over others by any means possible ends up self-destructive in the long run, though it isn’t perceived as such in the moment.

Probably the best lesson I take away from Scripture really emphasizes no one’s value can be determined by the gains or losses of the moment.  It’s the continuous growth over the long haul which matters the most.

Meaningless…without meaning; lacking purpose or reason..

Almost every time I read the words “evil” “wicked” “sinful” they usually describe a person either partially or completely devoid of a moral compass.  The righteous, of course, search for moral certitude in one form or another.  The dichotomy (or oxymoron, if you will) in how either is “rewarded” for their efforts towards the bad or good of life presents a dilemma philosophers have been wrestling with for eons.  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why do evil people seem to prosper while the good languish and struggle in either poverty or loss? 

While there is certainly more to the puzzle than I’m going to mention right now, I believe one of the most significant “pieces” is this:  The wicked prosper precisely due to the fact they don’t care who they hurt, what they have to do, or where the moral boundaries for their actions or desires lay.  Unless we grasp the full implications of this fact, we will live in a state of uncertainty, frustration and, most of all, hopelessness.  If you’ve ever heard someone say he will get his one way or another, you know someone devoid of the consequences for others.  Now granted this person might not mean assassination or theft or embezzlement, but it does indicate someone who will not lose when the moral road forks.

Solomon observes the wicked receiving what he believes the righteous deserve and visa versa.  It might be hard to fathom why he claims these seemingly unjust outcomes are meaningless, but follow me while I attempt to explain what I take from it.

  Meaning implies purpose and reason; a sense that one’s actions and motives serve an end of some sort; in financial terms we would consider it profit from an investment.  The outcome of a wicked person’s life, while profitable in the short 70 +/- years we all live on the earth, has no lasting significance.  What they create or destroy is forgotten once they die—and often before they even set foot on death’s downhill ride.  In that era, however, money (or possession) was just one of the many things which gave a person wealth.  One’s reputation and standing in the community often held more importance than holdings.  A wicked person’s standing in the community would be devoid of profit since all they produced or possessed came from oppression, swindling or bribery.

I don’t know that Solomon would come to the same conclusion I have, since he seemed to believe this life was sum of man’s existence, though he does mention something to the contrary.

Although a wicked person who commits a hundred crimes may live a long time, I know that it will go better with those who fear God, who are reverent before Him.  Ecclesiastes 8:12.

So, in this one sentence Solomon believes there is something to rectify the injustice of the righteous’ suffering during their few years here—something to solve the contradiction of just desserts is meted out after death.  Who do the wicked take from?  Others like themselves?  Not usually, instead they target those who practice a solid work ethic, remain careful with their wealth and live a life based on good results.  Outside of any natural disasters which could occur, the wicked borrow and do not repay, or force laws which are unjust to be written.  They also use the inventive, creative or entrepreneurial people of the world to build an empire in which these same innovators have no share or profit.  A person who profits from the hard work of others is not necessarily “wicked” except when the person making it refuses to share with those who helped create his or her wealth.  The inventor or innovator should be considered an equal partner not just a slave or servant—no matter what his or her station is in life.

Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.  Ecclesiastes 8:13.

For Solomon to conclude such a thing after just stating that sometimes the wicked live a long profitable life, suggests to me he was alluding to eternity.  There is no reason to think he didn’t believe in some form of afterlife, even though the Messiah was merely a hope in his day and not really understood clearly anyway.  Something about God’s eternal being and just nature spoke to him of an ultimate outcome where the efforts of the righteous received due recognition.  Yet while we remain on a planet riddled with selfish ambition, injustice continues to prevail, and that simple fact robs much of life of its eternal significance, meaning or lasting purpose.  Still, believers in gods of all stripes and origins continue to spout empty “wisdom” of spiritual comfort which imply that God or their god has a purpose in allowing all this evil to take place.  Solomon claims evil deprives the reward principle of its meaning, since the wrong people seem to receive the rewards.

For instance:  the Columbine massacre, where many people were either injured or killed, remains a good example of people looking an explanation and/or a spiritual or cosmic overtone.  The spiritually minded say things like,  “God’s will…” or “God has a reason for letting these things happen…” and, in a way, they are right, but the reason is not as subtle as many of us wish to think it is.  God’s will is spelled out clearly in His Word the natural consequences for our choices.  Those who choose against God’s definition of life choose death; those who choose His definition of death find life.  The recent killing spree in a school brought out a certain radical Christian subset of people to public venues where their comments ran something along the lines of, “This school is being punished for supporting gay marriage…” and other such rants.  Trying to interpret today’s disasters by stories of God’s actions in the past is dangerous, bordering on the ridiculous, for everyone is now subject to the Day of Judgment when God renews all things.  What we are experiencing currently is the natural consequences of our actions not God’s divine interference.  I’m sure He does step in at times, but I don’t think most of us have the spiritual depth to discern when and where anymore.  Even in Scripture, if you look at the times God stepped in to do something miraculous in context, you will notice sometimes centuries passing before He acted.

The world is an example of oxymoronic thinking.  What the two young men did at Columbine and the latest shooter did with Newtown’s school were not for any deeper reasons than damaged psyche (I consider mental illness to be a result of sin’s degrading effects).  God did not purpose those children be killed in order to inspire a spiritual awakening or for any other reason.  How do I know?  He makes it pretty clear through the prophet Ezekiel, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked…”  Ezekiel 33:11.  We remain so superstitious and manipulated by those whose minds are fixed on the temporary we have lost the eternal perspective.  It’s easy to do.

God’s “reason” for letting these things happen is that we made a choice eons ago through our ultimate parents to develop our own sovereignty.  The consequences for us have such long reaching effects that we often don’t recognize our state of being today as such.  But it is.  For example:  The very fact that we have new strains of “defeated” diseases returning after nearly fifty years of absence should inform us of how far our sovereignty really goes.  But it doesn’t.  With all our advances human nature hasn’t really changed—we continue to take sides and scorn any other viewpoint as ludicrous.  The people that amuse (I don’t find them funny) me the most are those who claim to be open minded and tolerant.  To see just how true their claims are put them into a room of people they consider “intolerant” and watch the sparks fly.

The world’s reasoning is based on humanity’s sovereignty but it was founded on God’s.  We have a conflict of interest here to which history and our current state of being testify.  What we see around us is the result.

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The End of Wisdom

April 20, 2012

Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:7.

What could turn a wise man to accept a bribe or begin extorting from others? Greed.

Thought for the Day

November 24, 2010

Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

The Only Reason

April 1, 2010

The only reason I can see myself for who I am, whether it’s the sin I fail to run from or the triumphs that result from my choices is because the light has shined in my heart through Jesus’ Word.

I love Him because He loved me first; I love you because He filled my way, heart and life with His love.

I fail you because I first failed Him then myself.

The reason I have any good in me at all is because He lives in me.  The reason I know my sin or righteousness is because Jesus shines a light on it by His very presence.

The reason I can be forgiving is because I’m forgiven.

The reason I am merciful is because I’ve been shown mercy.

The reason I extend grace is because my Master extended grace to me.

In short:  Jesus is the reason I am who I am sans the sin; and the reason I am becoming a better man.

The Path to Glory

March 19, 2010

When he was gone, Jesus said,  “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him.  God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.”  John 13:31, 32.

When we think of glory as humans we tend towards heroic deeds or possibly someone with courage beyond what is common.  Jesus being glorified, however, points to a different frame of thought altogether because He is speaking of His coming death.  As a point of reference, we need to remember how ignoble the cross was in Christ’s day. 

By wearing the cross around our necks as jewelry and hanging it above our mantels as a decoration we have robbed it of its the horror and shame.  I’m not saying wearing it as a symbol of belief or as a reminder of who we serve is wrong, merely that the enemy has successfully endeavored to rob the cross of its meaning for most of us when every rock star or rap artist wears one as well.  These people care nothing for the cross as symbol of salvation, I even read an article where Madonna called the cross “sexy”.  There’s a big disconnect here, I’d say, for what the cross did to people was anything but sexy.

Paul speaks to the issue of shame becoming glory in a similar way but with a different purpose in mind.  For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame.  Philippians 3:18, 19.  The enemies of the cross of Christ point to those who lose the ability to see what He did for them on the cross—which is to take the punishment for their sins on Himself so that they might be reconciled to God.  Those who live as enemies of the cross call evil good and good evil, taking the shame away from those things which rebel against their proclaimed Master.  Granted, most of their views might conform to the Word of God, but to deviate from it or deny it as truth in one area undermines the whole.  Humans who live as enemies of the cross are shamed before God not humans.

Jesus, on the other hand, was shamed before men not God; though, while He bore the sin of man, His Father turned away from Him.  Christ’s shame was never one of personal sin rather one of human concoction and artificially inspired, manufactured to get rid of His voice, which spoke light in the darkness of human reasoning.

Jesus’ glory in the cross arose from the reason He went to the cross.  His death and resurrection made it possible for us to find life again by connecting to the Source of Life.  There was no halo around His head while He died nor any while He lived; no one would have picked Him out of a crowd as the Messiah because of what He looked like or for his human connections.  His glory came from who He was, definitely, but our grasp on what brings glory is so skewed we struggle to grasp even the simplest of truths:  Jesus was glorified in the cross because He gave Himself as a ransom for all.

That which humans considered shameful Christ turned to an object of salvation, thus forever making what was intended to degrade, destroy one’s dignity and kill any hope of a name or future by earth’s estimation into His personal vehicle of salvation.  His ability to do this shows us the inverse of man’s character displayed in stark contrast.

Human preoccupation with glory can be summed up in a census taken of grade school and hi school students a few years ago where the poll takers asked them,  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I don’t remember the exact percentage, but a high number of them said “famous”.  When asked,  “Famous for what?” they didn’t care or even think about how to get there, they just wanted to be famous.

The path to godly glory can be summed up in Paul’s declaration,  “For to live is Christ, and to die is gain!”  Christ’s path to glory passed through the door of human humiliation and those who follow Him must travel the same road.

God’s Motivation:

June 24, 2009

Here’s a question for us who believe (and those you who may be in a state of indecision):   What is God’s motivation for sending Jesus?

Here’s another question:  What is God’s attitude toward humanity even in its sinful state?

Both answers can be found in John 3:16, 17, which is where we will be going next.  Think about the answers Jesus gives first, then move on to the thought that we are to imitate Him in all things.

A New Direction

May 26, 2009

A few years back I studied the book of John as a part of a devotional I wrote for a forum.  I’ve decided to revisit the book through the journal I wrote then refreshing the subject through a little clearer vision (I hope) obtained since.  I’ve kind of been bouncing around subjects for a while and thought it would be nice to hit a book again to stay focused.

It’s gonna’ take me awhile so stick around.

Lost

May 7, 2009

I had a cool post and lost it because my computer gave ate it. I’ll have to retype it in

Busy Week Over

April 13, 2009

Four programs, two days. I’m tired, going to shower, then go to bed. Jesse and I will get vanilla bean scones in the morning along with those big blue berry ones at Starbucks…

Jonny’s Proverbs

April 8, 2009

Hate does only what is expedient for right now; love strives to do what is best for all seasons.