Friday, April 25, 2008

Botox Religion

Wrinkles? We have a shot for that. Fat? We have a pill for that. Losing muscle tone? Just 20 minutes a day and Bowflex can fix that. Hair going gray? We have a shampoo for that. Body feeling its age? Try icy hot to relax it away. Hearing starting to fade? Beltone make 'em smaller and less noticeable to not only improve hearing, but to safe face by not revealing your weakness.

Does it seem that people in our culture accept aging and death as a part of life? No, we flee from it. I wonder, then, if there is a connection between our denial of the facts of aging and our denial of the facts about God. If a person is truly believes the delusion that they may avoid aging by the power of their own will, effort, or wealth, what heed do they give to their Creator?

Solomon seems to draw a distinct connection as he describes the effects of time on a man, and yet his only conclusion is to remember God while you still can, before the final effect (death) takes hold. As long as we can run from death, we have no need for the Creator. But Solomon says, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come" (Ecc. 12:1) What do you suppose it profits a man to contemplate death even while he still feels invincible?

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The futility of us... the centrality of Him.

All throughout Ecclesiastes, the theme of vanity, meaningless life, toil, and trouble are apparent, and nowhere more so than in chapters 8-10 that we'll be looking at on Sunday. Solomon searches out every possibility that remains in his quest for something worthwhile. Pleasing the king, or rebelling; following the law, or disregarding it; Even trying to be wise may not get your far, because it seems our fortunes are up to chance.

In fact, there are only two things Solomon appears to know for sure. First, try not to die. For whatever reason, it seems dying is not a good thing to Solomon. Second, God reigns!

Through this entire section, the one unchangeable, unshakable, unaffected, righteous, and generous character that we see is God. Take some time, if you can, and read these three chapters, focusing particularly on the lines that reference God. Notice the reverence that is given Him that Solomon does not even give other royals like himself. No matter what we see in this fallen world, we must continue "holding on to faith and a good conscience" (1 Tim. 1:19) saying "God be praised" in all circumstances.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ameri-Canaan Dream

We hear so much about living the American dream, and by the name of it, you'd think we came up with it or something. Live free and wealthy, own land, enjoy the fruits of your labor... c'mon, is it really fair to call this the American dream. If we read chapters 4 & 5 in Ecclesiastes, we'll see Solomon describing the same dream in Canaan, over 3000 years ago. Let's see how well it worked out for him.

Oh, now it might sound like a stretch to say there's so much similarity between the Canaan Dream and the American Dream, but just look at the text. Starting in 4:3, we have the people pursuing contentment (in their possessions), familial relationship (2-1/2 kids and a dog, right?), political gain, and of course, all the while observing the necessary religious patronage that our societal tradition requires (5:1-7).

The tune changes in 5:8, however, as Solomon goes on to observe the evil of taxes, economic expansion, and building an estate for inheritance. Move on to chapter 6 and the picture gets grimmer.

So where do we find our hope? Who can answer the rhetorical questions in 6:8,11, & 12? The old hymn says it best, "My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesusí blood and righteousness."

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