Ecclesiastes 3 – Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – A time for everything. (Is it possible to read this passage without Simon and Garfunkel running through your head?) Good to remember, we cannot be happy all the time, there are times for sadness. Nor can we speak out all the time, there is a time for silence. If times are bad, take heart, this too shall pass, if times are good, enjoy them but be sober, it’s time too shall pass.
Ecclesiastes 3:12 – “… here is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good …” yet, we find reasons to not do good, that somehow it’s better to pursue something other than simply doing good.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 – “…everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” There it is again – pleasure in our work is God’s gift to man.
Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 – Dust to Dust. Solomon did not have the understanding that we do, the knowledge of the promise of eternity. Jesus had not yet come to declare it, so he says (v. 21) “Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?”. Who knows? We now know.
Ecclesiastes 3:18 – “… God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.” God is testing us to see if we will understand who we are, mere beasts. We like to see ourselves as superior, gifted with intelligence, free will and opposable thumbs. But the truth is that we are mere beasts with little more control over our destiny than any other animal. We cannot stop our own sin, we are not nearly as free as we’d like to believe. God wants to know, will we get it? Will we humble ourselves before Him, understanding who we are and understand that we truly do need Him? I’ve written of this before, He’s calling us in this. In our frailties he’s telling us that we are nothing without Him, we need him.

President Obama

As I write this, it seems inevitable – Barack Obama will be our next president (in fact, as I was writing McCain conceded). I have two reactions.
The first is sadness. I haven’t spoken of it here, but I have a lot of respect for John McCain, more than for any candidate I can remember. His life has been characterized by service and he’s clear and consistent in what he stands for, a rare quality in a politician. The presidency is the natural culmination of his career. If anyone deserves to be elected, and no one does, John McCain did. This should have been his year, but he faced the perfect storm of following an unloved president, an economy tanking and facing the most charismatic candidate in years.
But it was McCain’s campaign strategy that did him in, in my view. As a prominent republican said after one of the debates, the campaign didn’t live up to the man. It’s a shame, because if it had, I believe we’d have a different result.
On the other hand, I’m proud of my country at this moment. Not too many generations ago, Barack Obama would have been nothing more than property, today he’s the leader of the nation. It has taken time, but we have come a long ways.
Congratulations Senator, and congratulations America.

Ecclesiastes 2 – Joy in Work

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 – Who hasn’t, at some time or another, thought that just a little more income or even just a one time windfall, would make our lives so much better. I know I do.
Solomon had the luxury few of us will experience, the financial ability to run after whatever his heart desired. There was no “If only …”, he had the means to do whatever he wanted, and he did. In the end he found that it “all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun“.
Ecclesiastes 2:13 – “there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness” Not all the meaningless toil is equally meaningless.

So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:17

I’ve felt this way sometimes. What good is life, all that I value and strive for, all that is important to me will be gone and unremembered not long after I’m gone. What’s the point?
Actually, verse 18 captures more of how I’ve felt: “I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun”. But Solomon hated it because fo what would become of it, I just hate to work. If it’s all just going to decay and break, why bother? Why not just sit on the couch?
But I’ve learned that there is joy and contentment in work, which, honestly, ticks me off. Case in point, yesterday I was faced with projects to get done and I really just wanted to relax. Our disposal had sprung a leak, the patio furniture needed to be put away and the last lawn treatment needed done. The others could be (somewhat) safely postponed, but an unusable kitchen sink wasn’t going to fly, so i got to work. I diagnosed the problem, went to Home Depot and got the new one, installed it and replaced the dripping faucet flex line. I also picked up some weatherstripping for our entry door and got that replaced. I took advantage of the warm evening and got up on the roof to put up the Christmas lights (don’t worry, they won’t get turned on until Thanksgiving).
I never got to the patio funiture or the lawn treatment, but today I awoke refreshed adn content in a way that I normally do not. God has made us to work, and in that work, even as temporary as it may be, we find contentment and fulfillment. It ticks me off because my way is different. I want to lounge, to indulge, to be lazy. It’s a lie and a seduction, however, because he call of relaxation instead produces anxiety. The restlessness that comes from living outside of God’s purpose. God is at work and he created us to be at work as well.
Solomon realized this as well:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God …

Ecclesiastes 2:24

The joy is in the act of working, not in the results of the work. Like so much in the world, it’s backward from our understanding. We work for the end result, He works for the joy in working.

Ta-Da! [Redux]

Welcome to the refreshed, again. After doing a little digging, I’m trying again with the new template set. I found a way to work around the change in URLs, more on that later. Comments are still broken, but I’ll work on that soon, but maybe not until Monday. They’re working again, but I’m trying a new anti-spam plugin. We’ll see how it goes.
One of the neat things about MT4 is there are finally some neat template sets available. There were some in MT 3.x, but the Stylecatcher plugin was, for me anyway, impossible to get to work. Then, all the styles relied on you having pretty much the default templates, meaning your layout was pretty standard. Not that I broke any ground here stylistically, but I did want to play with the layout some.
With MT4, there’s now something called template sets which you can apply to you blog. These include both style and layout, giving a lot more flexibility. This one is called Mid Century, and it’s pretty popular on MT4 blogs right now. There are others as well, and I may give them a try later. I like this clean look.
If you’re reading right after its application,there are likely some things a little broken, the big one being comments. I’ve got to add in my anti-spam code to the template to re-enable them. I’ve got to figure out where to do that first.

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