Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wonder! ... and Cynicism

One of the joys of childhood, and having children, is the unadulterated wonder and awe of life! The joy in the smallest of things. I think of the delight my little granddaughter and I shared as we watched little ants crawling around on our cement driveway.

One of the things we have to fight as we go along in life is cynicism. We have more years. Experienced more battles. Seen more wickedness. Observed (and been on the receiving end of) more injustice. And we can get a very jaundiced view of the world.

Today we hear from "The Cynic".

Solomon was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth", as the saying goes. He was rich. Handsome. Became powerful. Took any of the most beautiful women that he wanted. (And he wanted a lot. 700 concubines, 300 wives) He should have been the happiest man in the world. Here are some of his words...

1These are the words of the Quester, David's son and king in Jerusalem

2 -11 Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That's what the Quester says.]
There's nothing to anything—it's all smoke.
What's there to show for a lifetime of work,
a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
but nothing changes—it's business as usual for old planet earth.
The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
then does it again, and again—the same old round.
The wind blows south, the wind blows north.
Around and around and around it blows,
blowing this way, then that—the whirling, erratic wind.
All the rivers flow into the sea,
but the sea never fills up.
The rivers keep flowing to the same old place,
and then start all over and do it again.
Everything's boring, utterly boring—
no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
what happened will happen again.
There's nothing new on this earth.
Year after year it's the same old thing.
Does someone call out, "Hey, this is new"?
Don't get excited—it's the same old story.
Nobody remembers what happened yesterday.
And the things that will happen tomorrow?
Nobody'll remember them either.
Don't count on being remembered."

Isn't that inspiring?

Don't read this when you are depressed. You will probably go jump off a bridge. Into the path of an oncoming train!

He goes on...

Ecclesiastes 2
1 -3 I said to myself, "Let's go for it—experiment with pleasure, have a good time!"
But there was nothing to it, nothing but smoke.
What do I think of the fun-filled life? Insane! Inane!
My verdict on the pursuit of happiness? Who needs it?
With the help of a bottle of wine
and all the wisdom I could muster,
I tried my level best
to penetrate the absurdity of life.
I wanted to get a handle on anything useful we mortals might do
during the years we spend on this earth.
I Never Said No to Myself

4 -8 Oh, I did great things: built houses,
planted vineyards,
designed gardens and parks
and planted a variety of fruit trees in them,
made pools of water
to irrigate the groves of trees.
I bought slaves, male and female,
who had children, giving me even more slaves;
then I acquired large herds and flocks,
larger than any before me in Jerusalem.
I piled up silver and gold,
loot from kings and kingdoms.
I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song,
and—most exquisite of all pleasures—
voluptuous maidens for my bed.
9 -10 Oh, how I prospered!
I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day's work!"

24 -26 "The best you can do with your life is have a good time and get by the best you can. The way I see it, that's it—divine fate. Whether we feast or fast, it's up to God. God may give wisdom and knowledge and joy to his favorites, but sinners are assigned a life of hard labor, and end up turning their wages over to God's favorites. Nothing but smoke—and spitting into the wind."

More next time...

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Wisdom

It was my nephew's wedding this week end, so we got to spend time with family in Canada. It is ssoooo good to be with family.

Thank you Sharon, for being the perfect host. Ruthie, for coming from so far. Donald, for the long talks.

Today we are back to Proverbs, enjoying the wisdom of Solomon.

8 Don't jump to conclusions—there may be
a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.
9 -10 In the heat of an argument,
don't betray confidences; Word is sure to get around,
and no one will trust you.
11 -12 The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend's timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
13 Reliable friends who do what they say
are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!
14 Like billowing clouds that bring no rain
is the person who talks big but never produces.
15 Patient persistence pierces through indifference;
gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hello? Hello... This is God speaking...

Ring ring...

Hello... This is God speaking.

God? Almighty God? Creator of heavan and earth?

Yes... I have a word for you...

I... I... I'm listening!

God appeared to Solomon again, just as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

3 -5 And God said to him, "I've listened to and received all your prayers, your ever-so-passionate prayers. I've sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I've set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I'll back your kingly rule over Israel, make it a sure thing on a solid foundation. The same guarantee I gave David your father I'm giving you: 'You can count on always having a descendant on Israel's throne.'

Solomon's heart was pounding.
He was speechless.
And listening carefully...
God goes on.

6 -9 "But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, then the guarantee is off: I'll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I've just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will become nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world. And this Temple, splendid as it now is, will become an object of contempt; visitors will shake their heads, saying, 'Whatever happened here? What's the story behind these ruins?' Then they'll be told, 'The people who used to live here betrayed their God, the very God who rescued their ancestors from Egypt; they took up with alien gods, worshiping and serving them. That's what's behind this God-visited devastation.'"

And Solomon obeyed...

14 -15 He followed the practice of his father David in setting up groups of priests carrying out the work of worship, with the Levites assigned to lead the sacred music for praising God and to assist the priests in the daily worship; he assigned security guards to be on duty at each gate—that's what David the man of God had ordered. The king's directions to the priests and Levites and financial stewards were kept right down to the fine print—no innovations—including the treasuries.
16 All that Solomon set out to do, from the groundbreaking of The Temple of God to its finish, was now complete.

God talked to Solomon. And Solomon obeyed.

Does he still talk to us today?


Exhuberance! Joy! Praise!

Young love.
New marriage.
And there was joy...
Brennan and Leah got married yesterday.

5 -9 Let true lovers break out in praise, sing out from wherever they're sitting, Shout the high praises of God,

For some reason, today's reading is Psalm 146 through 150.

Psalm 146
1 -2 Hallelujah! O my soul, praise God!
All my life long I'll praise God,
singing songs to my God as long as I live.

No mention of circumstances here...

These are the praise Psalms.

Psalm 149
1 -4 Hallelujah!
Sing to God a brand-new song,
praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
Zion's children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!
5 -9 Let true lovers break out in praise,
sing out from wherever they're sitting,
Shout the high praises of God,
brandish their swords in the wild sword-dance—
A portent of vengeance on the God-defying nations,
a signal that punishment's coming,
Their kings chained and hauled off to jail,
their leaders behind bars for good,
The judgment on them carried out to the letter
—and all who love God in the seat of honor!