Ecclesiastes 7 – Laughter, Sadness and Fearing God

Ecclesiastes 7:1 – OK, I get that ‘a good name’ is better, but ‘the day of death’?
Ecclesiastes 7:3 – “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.” That’s contrary to what we believe. We chase the laughter and gladness. I have to admit, I don’t quite get what Solomon is advising in these verses. Are we to seek out sadness and sorrow?
Ecclesiastes 7:9 – “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” Yep, been there. It’s not good.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 – “Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” I love this. It’s one of my pet peeves that folks lament the ‘good old days’. Human nature has not changed in all of human history, in my view. The old days are no more good than the ‘new days’, at least as far as how evil people are. When folks try to say that people were better back then, I say no, they were only perhaps better at hiding it.
Ecclesiastes 7:18 – It always comes back to Fearing God. Don’t be too righteous, don’t be too foolish – fear God.

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

How true and wise. We often say things that we regret and many times don’t have the opportunity to apologize. We want folks to be forgiving of us in those circumstances, yet when we are hurt by careless words that are later regretted, we tend to hold onto it, taking to heart that which was said in haste and in error. If we would have taken it back if we could, why should we assume they wouldn’t?
I have to say, this chapter really confused me in spots. I read it over and over and didn’t quite get it. Anyone know what Ecclesiastes 7:25-29 is about?

Update …

Sorry for the silence. I’ve been busy with Christmas stuff (did the fam. presents last night), basement remodel planning and working on layout tweaks for More substantive (and not-so-substantive) stuff to come soon.
However, as I was slogging through CSS & HTML to get the look that I want, Jesse at Plasticmind pointed out on Twitter just what I needed to make more appealing, mouthwatering and appetizing.

Ecclesiastes 6 – Better Stillborn?

Ecclesiastes 6 is a scant 12 verses, and a bit of a downer. Better a still born child than a man not satisfied with life’s good things, Solomon says.
That’s on the face of it, however. Thinking about it a bit more, I think I see what Solomon is saying is that if you can’t be satisfied with the good things you have in this life, you’re worse off than a stillborn infant. For that child finds rest quickly, while the ever unsatisfied man, longing for more, never finds rest.
Look at what’s good in your life, and be satisfied that God has provided enough for you. After all, if it weren’t enough, He would have provided more.

A Tale of Two Christmas Trees

Milly will tell me I should have known better.

Our 4-5 year old pre-lit Christmas tree has lost some light strings each year. I love the idea of a pre-lit tree, but the quality of the average mini light string means that the strings can start to go dark after only a year or two’s use. This year, I put the tree together and only about half the tree lit up. After weighing my options and looking online, I decided on a new GE tree with ‘ConstantOn’ lights from Lowes for $150.

I picked up the last one from our local store last night. Turns out all the decorations are half off. I guess December 5th is the end of the Christmas season. When it starts well before Halloween, I guess that’s about right. Gotta make room for the Valentines stuff I guess. Anyway, I got the tree home and put it together and plugged it in. Wouldn’t you know, 4-5 branches of the ironically named ConstantOn lights were unlit and no amount of plug wiggling or branch shaking or fuse changing would get them on.

So I called GE’s customer service line. Their trees are made by a company called Santa’s Best Craft, ‘Best Craft’ also being rather ironic in this case. One of the reasons I bought the GE was the non-existent customer service I had with the last one made by a Chinese company named Puleo, now gone I guess. The friendly sounding lady on the phone decided I had a bad string and offered to send me a new one. “New branches, you mean, right?” I asked. Nope, just the lights, that’s all they’ll send. So now I have to re-string my pre-strung tree before I even use it? Have you seen how they are cable tied in place and interwoven into the branches? No way, not going to do it. I didn’t spend $150 (mind you, this is normally a $300 tree) so I could string the lights again. So I took it down and returned it.

The whole setting-up-the-Christmas-tree experience has the potential of sending me over the edge every year (long time readers may remember my battle with the icicle lights) so I’m fighting a serious bad attitude here. So I pray on the way to Lowes.

I pray that God will help me make the right choice in trees when I get there so I don’t get angry. OK, that’s silly, I really don’t think God has a ‘right lazy-man’s-pre-lit-Christmas-tree in mind. What I really need is for help in being Godly and acting like His child in this. And then I began to think about the $150 I was prepared to spend. I had a perfectly presentable tree at home that just needed new lights. New lights would be about $10.

So by the time I reach Lowes, I’ve decided. If I have $150 of disposable income, I’m going to dispose of it to someone who needs it more than I. I’m going to add it to our charity fund to be dispersed in our family meeting later. So I head toward the light isle, stopping to pick up a grille cover on the way. The cover they had will be too big, but it’ll work.

Arriving at the light isle, they are out of lights, of course. So (and this is the part that Milly will tell me I should have known all along) I put the cover back and head across the street to Home Depot. They’ve got the lights I need and a grille cover that’s just the perfect size.

Lessons learned?

  1. Praying about it is always a good idea.
  2. When you pray about something with a a clear choice between A and B, the spirit will frequently reveal that the answer is, in fact, seven.
  3. Go to Home Depot first. 😀

No Place For Capitulation

Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks. …

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

Albert Einstein, Jew by birth and Atheist by choice as quoted in this Time article from 68 years ago (Monday, Dec. 23, 1940).

It’s long-ish, but well worth your time. You’ll hear of pastors arrested for not changing their message to fit the will of the Führer. They refused to submit to the Führer over Christ. The courts freed them, but the Nazi’s just threw them in the concentration camps. Then, when offered release with the sole condition being that they not preach, not that they change their preaching, just that they stop preaching, they refused. To be imprisoned and forced into silence was preferable to voluntarily not preaching.

Said one daughter of writing to her imprisoned minister father, “When I write the address, ‘Concentration Camp, Sachsenhausen,’ then I am always very proud.”

HT: Jessie Gardner via. Twitter

Ecclesiastes 5 – Fear God, the Vanity of Wealth

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

Wow, there’s a lot of wisdom in this one paragraph. Where was this years ago when I was swept away in big dreams and the proclamation of doing big things for God. Of course, it was right here, but I was too busy dreaming and proclaiming to listen to it. Ah, irony. Solomon cautions us about speaking rashly – “God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” Wisdom comes with age and experience, and a fair amount of pain as you do things you’ll later regret.
I see this at work in others as they speak and proclaim and fail to hear God. To those around them, it’s clear, but they are too busy dreaming to hear. It breaks my heart sometimes. How do you break through to those who “do not know that they are doing evil”?
Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 – Wow. Seriously, wow. I need to do a family devo on this section. Some really good stuff to learn. I remember being taught that disciples dream big, plan big and do great things for God. To do anything less is to dishonor Him. Solomon would disagree – “For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
Ecclesiastes 5:13-14 – “There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture.” How appropriate for today as the wealthy scratch for more and to prevent from loosing their riches while their folly trickles down and hurts those who had no part in it.
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 – So work and find enjoyment in it. Why? Because it is your lot, God has made you for this. It’s a gift of God. Then, you “will not much remember the days of [your] life because God keeps [you] occupied with joy in [your] heart.”
Life is not about chasing big dreams, making big plans and accomplishing great things. God has given us a small place to fill, we are to work to fill it. And in this is the Joy that eludes so many, including me, far too often.
I needed to hear this.

Mid Century Banner Tweaks

Phase one of the tweaks to the Mid Century Template Set. Added a banner image, moved the nav bar down to make room, added the blog description, shifted the search and feed links to the nav bar, shifted the nav links to the left and changed the Home link to red.
It’s beginning to look more like home.
What do you think?
If you’re interested, all my changes are in a separate css file, here.

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