What is the Legacy of Our Labors to be?

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What is the Legacy of Our Labors to be?

I hated all my work at which I labored under the sun because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will take over all the work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile. So I began to give myself over to despair concerning all the work I had labored at under the sun. For there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it. This too is futile and a great wrong. For what does a man get with all his work and all his efforts that he labors with under the sun? For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful; even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.

There is nothing better for a man than to eat, drink, and to enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand. For who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from Him? For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy, but to the sinner, He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:18-26 (HCSB)

In history, there are many great kings, emperors, and rulers of vast dynasties that are well known. But, what happened after they passed away? What happened to their kingdoms and empires after their day in the sun had ended? What happened after others took over the legacy of fame and fortune left behind? Many collapsed and faded away into the grips of likewise foolish kings, emperors, and rulers who followed.

What caused their sad demise? Most often history revealed either sons or grandsons assumed the reins of power but stumbled and bumbled what had been built by the hard work and labors of their father or grandfather before them.

Solomon was one such ruler. He received the Kingdom of Israel from his father, King David, and managed to hold onto the greatness of Israel as a nation until the end of his reign, but soon after strife and conflict rumbled throughout the kingdom. In the end, his successors fought over the kingdom and it split in two. The once-great Kingdom of Israel spiraled downward until within 200-300 years its collapsed in total devastation. If Solomon wrote this passage did he have a premonition as to what would happen in the future?

So the question arises: Why should we work so hard in this lifetime to build something when it likely will fall apart after we are gone? Will history be kind to our legacy? Should we care?

My father built a great company, but after he retired late in life, the business was sold and resold again by others. Outside of the family, my father’s legacy has slowly faded into a distant memory. The family remembers but none could dare match the fire or drive of our father. So what purpose did the legacy of his labors serve?

The good news is this: In the grand scheme of life, God uses others at the right time to pick up the pieces of others for His greater purposes, using the right person(s) to rebuild the labor of love for the greater good. Yet, though we will inevitably be long gone, we can trust that God will pass onto the future generation the same God’s grace that we enjoyed in our lifetime.

What will be the legacy of your labors? What greater good did your legacy serve? What greater purpose has your labor in this life served? Or, have you only lived a life that is like the wind – here today and gone tomorrow, leaving no trace, no footprints for others to follow? That would be meaningless.

Fame and fortune should not be the focus of your legacy. They will fade, but a legacy of love and devotion that inspires others who follow can never lose its value over time. Thanks, Pop.

Coach

The legacy of my father and his father inspired me to write my Shiloh Mystery novels. Much of my father’s and grandfather’s shared wisdom is reflected in the stories. Visit TMBrownAuthor.com

Wise Man, Mad Man, or Fool

 

 

Wise Man, Mad Man, or Fool

Then I turned to consider wisdom, madness, and folly, for what will the man be like who comes after the king? He will do what has already been done. And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise man has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.

Yet I also knew that one fate comes to them both. So I said to myself, “What happens to the fool will also happen to me. Why then have I been overly wise?” And I said to myself that this is also futile. For, just like the fool, there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man, since in the days to come both will be forgotten. How is it that the wise man dies just like the fool? Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 2:12-17 (HCSB)

The difference between the wise man, the mad man, and the fool is this: If all are at a busy crossing on a street corner–

    1. The wise man will wait and look both ways before proceeding across the street, making certain there is no traffic;
    2. The mad man will look but will begin walking across even though he sees traffic, but in his estimation, he can make it across before getting hit;
    3. The fool, well, he starts walking assuming no one will hit him, and never bothers to look if it is safe or not.

Which of the three will likely live longer and avoid injury? Which will avoid death altogether?

The answer is clear, the wise man may outlive the other two, and the mad man likely will outlive the fool, but all have the same destiny–death!

If all three share the same fate, is there any logic that concludes why not live like the fool or the mad man, and ignore the light (clarity) that God’s gift of wisdom offers us?

Consider there are many people in this world that you may know who live like the mad man or fool. They walk a riskier path, always seem in a hurry, throwing caution to the wind. They seem to believe they are invincible, but sooner rather than later, they discover after it is too late that such a lifestyle presents risks that eventually includes hazardous consequences.

Does Life Require Some Risk?

However, is it not true, life without some risk prevents a man from exploring new horizons?

If wisdom is so good for us, then why do so many people opt not to apply it to their lives?

Why do so many walk away from the pursuit of it?

Why do some people embrace the thrill of living on the edge of danger? Is it madness or folly?

On the other hand, does God desire us to live a totally safe and cautious lifestyle?

I believe the Bible states otherwise. One can be wise yet still walk boldly and confidently in the face of danger if it is for the right purpose.

When we walk in the light of God’s will, ways, and wisdom, we realize there is a mission we have deep inside of us to make a difference in this lifetime. Sometimes that mission will undoubtedly place our lives at risk, but we are never alone to face the danger. When we are attuned to the Lord’s direction in our life, his presence is ever-present in the valley of the shadow of death, and we can feel his presence when we face our enemies (fears). The Lord’s presence will always calm our fears, comfort our soul, and guide our steps as we pursue our God-sanctioned mission in life. There lies the difference between a wise man and the mad man or the fool.

The Teacher in Ecclesiastes saw the folly in it all. He argued over and over, in the end, we all face the same inevitable fate–death. However, when we walk in concert with God’s will, ways and wisdom, death becomes merely a predestined portal to something much greater. The wise man approaches each crossroad assessing his course of action in the light of his mission in life. The mad man and fool only stumble through life unclear about their mission in life and thus rush off the street curb with reckless abandon only to cross to the other side.

Which course you pursue matters…

What about you, are you challenging the wind, chasing the wind, or are you being capturing the wind? Three sailing ships with similar rigging head out into the ocean. One is determined to navigate headlong into the wind, determined to challenge the wind. The second ship decides to chase after the wind no matter where it ultimately takes him, determined only to go fastest. The third steers a course that captures the wind and adjusts his course to make headway toward the ultimate destination that all three ships desired. Which will flounder? Which ends up chasing the wind without considering the ultimate destination?

Coach

Many of the Coach devotional messages appear in T. M. Brown’s Shiloh Mystery Novels. Visit TMBrownAuthor.com to order your copies and follow the exploits of Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy, as they get drawn into dark secrets and scandals and solving mysteries that only lil’ ol’ Shiloh can muster.

In the Pursuit of Knowledge, the Destination Should Be God!

Ecclesiastes1_14

In the Pursuit of Knowledge, the Destination Should Be God! 

I, the Teacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to seek and explore through wisdom all that is done under heaven. God has given people this miserable task to keep them occupied. I have seen all the things that are done under the sun and have found everything to be futile, a pursuit of the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I said to myself, “Look, I have amassed wisdom far beyond all those who were over Jerusalem before me, and my mind has thoroughly grasped wisdom and knowledge.” I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind. For with much wisdom is much sorrow; as knowledge increases, grief increases. Eccl 1:12-18 (HCSB)

God created us all uniquely. As a unique species of God’s creation, we have an insatiable desire to understand life and to pursue all knowledge. However, what we realize in the pursuit of all knowledge is this: The more we grasp, the deeper we dive into the mysteries of life, the more we come to the realization how little we actually know. The frustration is like pursuing the bottom of an abyss or the origin of a black hole in space — at the end of our never-ending pursuits resides all knowledge of God and eternity.

Knowledge is not finite, but infinite.There will always be more to learn, more to understand. The more we know, the more we discover that needs to be understood. That was the frustration that The Teacher in Ecclesiastes expereinced as he pursued God’s gift of wisdom. That gift became a curse. We can gain wisdom yet never attain wisdom. Wisdom is the proper understanding and application of the knowledge we attain during our lifetime. The pursuit of knowledge comes with the responsibility of wisely using it. Why? God holds us accountable to how we apply the knowledge He has endowed us to understand. In that accountability comes the frustration and sorrow of gaining what we have sought after.

I believe as God’s unique creation we should be open-minded to receiving more knowledge everyday and pray for God’s guidance in its proper application. Yet, the pursuit of wisdom alone is not what life should be all about. Living the abundant life that God promised is learning to be content in our present life circumstances; though remaining open to new knowledge and opportunities that God orchestrates into our life.

We should welcome the change new knowledge creates in our life and be willing to grow daily in our understanding of God and His Creation. However, that pursuit should not comprise the totality of our desires. One of the greatest realities we should learn to accept in life, as the Teacher of this passage says: What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. 

There are undeniably some things that no matter how wise we become, we cannot change or create what is God’s to control or create. God alone is the author of creation. We are limited to acknowledging what God reveals and to comprehending what we cannot change or create. There just are some things about life that God has chosen to make crooked because He had purpose in doing so, and there are some things God chose to limit because He decided that had an eternal purpose as well. Ours is not to try and understand the mind of the Creator, but to accept the limits of our own mind.

How deep is your understanding about the things of God? To what depths to you desire to know God? Are you in pursuit of God’s will, ways, and wisdom? That is all God asks of us. God will do the rest.

Ponder the wonder of God and His creation, but do not stop living within God’s plan and purpose for you, which includes treating others as we wish to be treated. Why? They are challenged the same as us in this lifetime we share.

Coach

Please visit TMBrownAuthor.com

Words of Wisdom: Why Follow the Folly of the Fool’s Advice? Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

Scarecrow directionsWords of Wisdom: Why Follow the Folly of the Fool’s Advice? Ecclesiastes 10:12-15

The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, but the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of the words of his mouth is folly, but the end of his speaking is evil madness. Yet the fool multiplies words. No one knows what will happen, and who can tell anyone what will happen after him? The struggles of fools weary them, for they don’t know how to go to the city. Eccl 10:12-15 (HCSB)

Confusion and chaos are the destiny of those who listen and follow a fool onto the path of his folly. Yet, so many people are susceptible to the tickling and tantalizing words the fool seems most adept employing. Most people struggle with selfishness which leads to shortcuts, ways that appear easier to get ahead in life. Even when they know better, they believe the lies and folly of the fool who paints a rosy picture of a better life.

Are the fool and his folly to blame? Or, should we brand ourselves as the fool because we have chosen to pursue the advice of the fool?

So how can we filter what we believe: the utterances of the fool versus the counsel that comes from the wise?

The Bible clearly puts it this way: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. Psalm 111:10 (HCSB) This fear infers “utmost reverence and respect” for the priority and perfection of the Lord’s guidance to mankind. It begins by committing daily to seeking God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Within the Bible resides ample testimony to God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Our daily task is to dig these morsels of truth and apply them to our lives.

When we invest in hearing, reading, and meditating upon what God’s will, ways, and wisdom, then our ears and eyes become more sensitive to the folly of fools and their tainted advice. No matter how tantalizing their initial message sounds, the fool keeps talking to tickle ears and sway the curious to his alternative advice.

When you trust the Lord, you find his wisdom remains with you and he guides you away from the folly of the fool. However, the fool’s folly never entails the fool’s investment in his own plans. He gladly tells you how invaluable his way is to go, and challenges you to go his way, but the fool never goes with you. He is too busy swaying the ears and minds of others.

The fool’s ways are lonely ways. It is far too easy to discover that instead of a shortcut his misleading way gets us lost. Even our sacred manmade GPS system has its faults and shortcomings. and we can certainly get misdirected when we blindly rely upon our Google map or another navigation device to choose our way. Only God wisdom is absolutely reliable. He resides within us to prevent us from going down the wrong ways. We only get lost when we stop listening and trusting in the Lord’s direction.

What are you relying upon to guide through the days that lie ahead in your life? God offers his counsel to us, but he also allows us to make the ultimate choice.

Coach

The Futility of Expecting Something New

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The Futility of Expecting Something New

The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”

What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, [it returns] to its place where it rises. Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles. All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again.

All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. There is no memory of those who came before, and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow [them]. Eccl 1:1-11 (HCSB)

We all want to be different, or uniquely special. However, though we may be unique in many ways, we all travel the road of life that is well-traveled and well-marked by many before us, and many more will follow us on this same road. The choice you get to make is how you walk this road of life among all the others on it with you. Yet, let it be clear, there are no new paths to take, just dead-ends should you choose to wander onto your own ways. God has clearly stated that there is but one way to follow Him, and all other ways are futile and paths of destruction for those who decide to walk in their own ways.

Are there genuinely unique new ways?

Just look at the world around us and see how His creation is marked in a similar way. The winds blow and waters flow certain ways, and the stars, planets, and heavens above all guide their ways through the evening sky the same way for centuries without change either. The creatures in the forests and oceans and in the sky migrate and roam the planet in the never-ending cycle of life as well.

However, God has given man the inquisitive mind, and pursuing the unknown and the new is an instinct of challenge that we have, but when we do not check with the Creator first along the way, we allow our eyes and ears to be filled with the prospects of things we perceive as new, but in consulting God we learn that what is new to us is not new to Him. Nothing new can be created outside the will, ways and wisdom of the Creator God.

So what must we do?

A new understanding is a part of our maturity, but we should realize just because it is new to us, an astounding revelation of eternal truth and magnitude, it is not new to God. The moment we assume something to be of original thought, a revelation of our own mind, we assume the role of God.

Our life is to be a life in pursuit of new thoughts and revelations that flow from the Creator, and He alone knows what we are capable of understanding and benefiting from for His greater purposes. Therefore, as we walk along the road of life, seek daily to uncover and comprehend God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word! Trust in Him alone, and never unto our own understanding – because its destination is a dead-end! Life eternal is God’s purpose for us. Which do you choose?

Coach

If you are a creative writer, how can this understanding influence your work? Do we really write unique stories?

Hope you’ll consider visiting my Author Page. 

Having the Right People in the Right Positions

ecclesiastes10_18

Having the Right People in the Right Positions

Woe to you, land, when your king is a household servant, and your princes feast in the morning. Blessed are you, land, when your king is a son of nobles and your princes feast at the proper time – for strength and not for drunkenness. Because of laziness the roof caves in, and because of negligent hands the house leaks. A feast is prepared for laughter and wine makes life happy, and money is the answer to everything. Do not curse the king even in your thoughts, and do not curse a rich person even in your bedroom, for a bird of the sky may carry the message, and a winged creature may report the matter. Eccl 10:16-20 (HCSB)

Certainly, the common person relates to others who are most like them, but is that a good thing when selecting our leaders to govern over us? Do we want the best and most qualified, or do we want to relate with the people we have placed into office? Well, consider this: if you have a need for life-saving surgery, do you want a surgeon who is chosen out of your pool of friends or those most like you, or would you seek the most qualified surgeon? Governors and Presidents are not meant to be our best friends, but the most ideal person to keep us secure and maintain stability for our life.

The Social Contract theory of man says that we are willing to give up certain personal natural liberties to protect our primary interests of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property” which translates to Happiness. In that willingness to submit to a government to govern over us, we also recognize that the best government is the one that governs the least while securing our liberties the best. That balance requires competence, and we ourselves are not properly experienced and trained to govern efficiently and effectively – nor are those in our circle of friends or family. So in the end, do not choose people for positions in government because we like them the most or can relate to them best, but simply will I feel more secure with truly competent and prepared people serving our needs if placed into positions of government.

As we look ahead to a future of hope and prosperity, we need to be reminded that our government is allowed to govern only by the consent of the governed – that is the constitutional principle of popular sovereignty. Before we bad mouth those in office lets be reminded that it is the people that have authorized those in office to govern. If there is any bad mouthing, it is towards the general population for deciding to place the people in office that are there. We the people have the final say – but choose wisely at the next opportunity to support or replace those in government.

From God’s perspective, He exercises His divine sovereignty through the hearts of men and women. I pray that recognize that God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word will be ideally revealed when His people seek His guidance and approval for the selection of the servant-leaders who run our government. So when the roof seems as if it is caving in, and there are leaking breeches, we only can blame ourselves for not seeking God’s ideal servants but those we feel most comfortable with.

Coach

TIME – God’s Gift to Mankind

timeTIME – God’s Gift to Mankind

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. Eccl 3:1-8 (HCSB)

Mankind may have devised how we measure and track TIME, but it is not a creation of man – TIME is God’s gift to mankind. TIME is finite, not infinite. TIME is marked by a beginning and an end. In eternity, TIME vanishes. God created TIME for man’s benefit. It defines our LIFE-TIME. TIME defines us and stirs a sense of urgency. TIME once lost cannot be replaced or reset. TIME for each man begins at conception and ends with our final heartbeat. For those in misery, TIME drags on. For those experiencing contentment with life, TIME races on. TIME exists only in the present; TIME once past can never be recovered; nor can we grasp TIME before it arrives. God created TIME for mankind to cherish and enjoy to the fullest.

TIME is also the perfect complement to LOVE. TIME marks the breadth and depth of LOVE because who and what we LOVE demands the most TIME. Sharing TIME with those you LOVE is by far the most valuable gift one can give someone else. Wasted TIME weakens relationships, whereas invested TIME strengthens relationships. TIME establishes the true value by which LOVE is measured and cherished. Do not let TIME slip away, because LOVE will follow.

Since God created TIME, He cannot be defined by it, nor is He limited to it, however, He expresses His ultimate gift of LOVE by offering it for our sake. Yet, the greatest measure of God’s LOVE is reached when we step into eternity, far beyond TIME’s finite, Alpha and Omega limits of TIME.

Coach

Note: This passage from the Bible and the related thoughts about God’s gift of time came from the opening lines of my third novel in my Shiloh Mystery Series – Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest (Winter/Spring 2020). For more go to TMBrownAuthor.com.

At the Conclusion of ALL Understanding, GOD Awaits

Fear GodAt the Conclusion of ALL Understanding, GOD Smiles

In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails. The sayings are given by one Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is:  fear God and keep His commands, because this [is for] all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil. Eccl 12:9-14 (HCSB)

At the conclusion of all understanding, God awaits. Why do so many people desire to read motivational books? Why do so many people pursue a regiment of devotional writings for encouragement in their lives? What benefit resides within the proverbs and parables and passages of wisdom? Will man’s attempts to interpret, comprehend, and translate God’s Word ever come to an end?

Why do I write what God has inspired me to express? Well, simply put, because maybe someone needs to hear what God has stirred in me. I confess the greatest benefactor for all that I’ve written after all these years is myself! As I have pondered the passages and prayerfully sought relevance of the wisdom treasured in God’s Word, my outlook on life has been altered. All the feedback received from others has also been a blessing to me. However, at the end of everything, the greatest reward I have received is a sense of God’s affirming smile along the way.

Am I wise? Certainly not. I am not any wiser than most people I know. Am I a good teacher? Certainly not. I am not smarter than many of the people I know. There are many wiser people than me who are definitely far better teachers. So what validation do I offer sharing what I have attempted to express after all these years? The only worthwhile validation: GOD’s inspiration and affirmation.

Have I written anything new and unique? Of course not! There most definitely is nothing new under the sun after all these thousands of years. All I can do is reveal how I interpret the wisdom written long ago and share what I sense is real and relevant in hopes we all may live in a better relationship with one another, pleasing God.

In conclusion…

I pray that for a brief moment we all can take a step back from our break-neck fast and crowded lives and grasp a portion of God’s will, ways and wisdom, which reveals time and again that at the end of all things: God patiently waits for us! All our actions, attitudes, and words, even our very thoughts, spoken or scribbled, will record how we have lived our life before God. What will be the testament to your life? Will it comfort you on that day when you stand before God? What relationships can you claim that will generate a smile on God’s face, yet also which will cause us to writhe as well?

I pray what I have been able to share with you has helped you to ponder your life, your relationships, and most importantly, your awareness of God as your daily inspirational guide.

Coach

Just as the Bible records so many relevant stories and parables, God has inspired me to write stories that apply through the lives of the many memorable characters how to tackle tough circumstances and formidable challenges that life can throw at each of us in real life. I certainly hope you’ll enjoy investing in my stories for their hours of entertainment and inspiration too. Please go to TMBrownAuthor.com to learn more about my inspirational Southern mystery series.

For Southern Fiction with an inspirational message about living life in the face of scandal, dark secrets, and tackling hard choices in our lives.

Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Ecclesiastes 11 7Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Light is sweet, and it is pleasing for the eyes to see the sun. For if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, since they will be many. All that comes is futile. Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sights of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment. Remove sorrow from your heart and put away pain from your flesh, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting. Eccl 11:7-10 (HCSB)

Darkness by definition is the absence of light. Absolute darkness leaves no reference points to stumble around. In total darkness, only fear exists. Fear reigns because we do not know what the next step will bring. Future hope as a destination does not exist to focus our eyes.

In our darkest days there is only desolation and desperation. Yet, even in the darkest days, God provides us with sufficient light to find our way. His love is so great that even when we cower in the darkness, he seeks to draw us toward his gift of light. However, as the passage reveals, our fears of the light reveal the state of our lives. Light reveals truth. Though truth sets us free, it also reveals the shortcomings of our life.

Light is relative. In God’s presence there is absolute light; no darkness exists. In God’s presence man risks entering the “shekinah” glory of God – God’s light of truth.It not only reveals but also cleanses away what is not pure. Man must be exposed to God’s radiant light to purify him, dispelling all remnants of darkness. However, our memory of those dark days draws us closer to the light!

Hope, faith and love thrive in the light, whereas fear, desolation, and desperation rooted in darkness are cast away. From isolation and separation we discover fellowship and lordship. In pure light, we focus upon the “good” and discover the “truth.” Both are a gift of God as we leave behind the dark days, and pursue the light.

One final thought, once we value light, we become light to those left in the darkness. It is for this purpose God drawed us out of the darkness. His radiant light is meant to be shared, never hoarded as if given exclusively. It is a gift to share and is inexhaustible sharing with others.

Coach

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

My Shiloh stories contain these themes in both Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and Testament, An Unexpected Return.

For Southern Fiction with a message, may I suggest.

Words of Wisdom: Seek God While He Can Be Found! Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Remember your youth

Words of Wisdom: Seek God While He Can Be Found! Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

So remember your Creator in the days of your youth: Before the days of adversity come, and the years approach when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; before the sun and the light are  darkened, and the moon and the stars, and the clouds return after the rain; on the day when the guardians of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, the women who grind cease because they are few, and the ones who watch through the windows see dimly, and the doors at the street are shut while the sound of the mill fades; when one rises at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song grow faint. Also, they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper loses its spring, and the caper berry has no effect; for man is headed to his eternal home, and mourners will walk around in the street; before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, and the jar is shattered at the spring, and the wheel is broken into the well; and the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile. Eccl 12:1-8 (HCSB)

Why is it that the statistics reveal that if a young person does not acknowledge and pursue God by the age of 18 there is less than a 5% chance he or she will do so later in their life? Most all decisions about one’s relationship with God occur in one’s childhood, before the child grows up, and leaves the safety and security of their home. This is a fact that impacted me years ago and is one of the primary motivations and inspirations for me having been a teacher and coach. Parents, why is there such an emphasis in the Bible to rear our children under the admonition of the Lord and to teach them about God and His Word? Why do most parents place their children in church settings even though they themselves may not be as devoted to the church as they know they should? Now, I am not saying that everyone who hears the Word lives the Word as the focus of their life, all the time. We all go through stages in our walk with God. However, we all need to connect with our Creator God while we are young and the stresses of life have not choked the opportunity from us!

It is also a fact that most teenagers, especially after they leave the house, will wander on their own testing their own abilities and understandings about life for a period of time. Many will listen to people question God’s reality and existence, or hear challenges to the authenticity of God’s Word in academic circles. Freedom of thought and self-understanding are stages in every person’s life that I believe God allows as a challenge to our faith. However, for the majority of those who had a solid grounding in their youth about God, life’s events will eventually bring them closer to God with a stronger understanding and conviction than ever before after a period of independence. You see, most people in pursuit of all their options come to the reality sooner or later that there is no option to God. There will be some who try to deny God, but even in fighting against God one is struggling with God’s reality and impact upon their life. There is probably no greater evidence of God’s existence than the fact that so many people have such a strong faith in Him, and in the end most people cannot deny His existence and reality. Even the most educated scientists and philosophers find their own journeys of discovery almost always conclude that they are staring at God in the end.

Why is this so important? In life there will be times of trials and tribulation that will be beyond our abilities to cope and survive without God. He allows these challenges and obstacles into our life so that our knowledge of God becomes our faith in God as we mature in our walk with God. Yes, our walk with God may falter, but sooner or later most all of us return to seeking by faith God’s will, God’s Ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word as the cornerstone of our life. And God enjoys every person who realizes that he or she cannot go any further in life without Him and seeks the opportunity to return to Him as the Lord and Savior of their life.

Coach

Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them. John 12:35-36 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Quit Trying to Understand What Faith Will Reveal! Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

If-you-wait-for-perfect-conditions-y[4]Words of Wisdom: Quit Trying to Understand What Faith Will Reveal! Ecclesiastes 11:1-6

Send your bread on the surface of the waters, for after many days you may find it. Give a portion to seven or even to eight, for you don’t know what disaster may happen on earth. If the clouds are full, they will pour out rain on the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or the north, the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones [develop] in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hand rest, because you don’t know which will succeed, whether one or the other, or if both of them will be equally good. Eccl 11:1-6 (HCSB)

Just as the angels of the Lord counseled the disciples in Jerusalem on the day our Lord ascended into heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection, we too cannot stand idle waiting for what is promised to happen someday. Just because something will happen in the future does not mean it will happen in the present! We must continue to live in expectation, but not anticipation! We cannot give up living in the present based upon what we believe will happen in the future.  Because, what we do in the now has a bearing upon what will happen in the future.

God was very clear that He has chosen to use mankind to prepare and build His kingdom on earth until He chooses the time for bringing His kingdoms of heaven and earth together as one Kingdom. However, He patiently perseveres with mankind’s distractions and delays for action not because of those who are hesitating and struggling to act as He wishes, but for those who will benefit from the action and respond to His calling upon them to join His kingdom. God’s patience is for all who have yet to hear and respond to God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word.

For the many disciples who struggle in their obedience to God’s Word; Gods forbearance is not for their benefit but for those needing to hear and respond.  We all will be judged someday for how we have responded or failed to respond to God’s Word. None of us have responded perfectly, yet God has worked through our shortcomings to grow His kingdom purposes. To be more obedient and responsive, we need to quit looking for the signs that will tell us His time is near. Too many of us are religious procrastinators – many are eagerly anticipating the arrival signs so that then we will scramble to do what we should already be doing when He comes. In the meantime, we are sitting, staring, and secretly hoping that His arrival will not come for another day. Those who beg for the Lord’s return are those who are tired of waiting to act, rather than being obedient to the Lord in the present. Those who are obedient have been living in expectation but not anticipation. They live life each day with a purpose, and seek to grow daily in God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word, because not only is God pleased when we do, others may be watching us and their heart yearns to be filled with what we have.

Do we need to understand all the signs? No! And, all I know myself is that God has the future in His hands, the past is behind me and thankfully God’s forgiveness has allowed me to move out of the past. Thus, I know all I can be held accountable for is the present. If the dark clouds let loose its rain, so be it. If the wind howls, I do not care to understand from where it came, just how to deal with it. And, I praise God for babies being born without trying to understand the miracle of creation beyond what God allows me to comprehend. Each day I pray to plant a seed and do my part to see it develop and prosper to the benefit of God and His Kingdom. Am I perfect? Absolutely not! But I am being made perfect by His grace. How about you?

Coach

So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, at this time are You restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Signs of Evil Ways: Things Are Upside Down, Ecclesiastes 10:5-11

axe_sharp_plans_purposes_pursuitsWords of Wisdom: Signs of Evil Ways: Things Are Upside Down, Ecclesiastes 10:5-11

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, an error proceeding from the presence of the ruler: The fool is appointed to great heights, but the rich remain in lowly positions. I have seen slaves on horses, but princes walking on the ground like slaves. The one who digs a pit may fall into it, and the one who breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. The one who quarries stones may be hurt by them; the one who splits trees may be endangered by them. If the axe is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success. If the snake bites before it is charmed, then there is no advantage for the charmer. Eccl 10:5-11 (HCSB)

When do we realize that we are in the midst of evil days? Consider the fact that the people have been blinded for the sake of change and fools have found their way into leadership positions and appointed other fools replacing qualified civil servants who have been previously successful. Then the government tries to turn society upside down with the poor and disadvantaged over the rich and successful people, and the wealth is redistributed to win the hearts of the people. In these situations, the days of evil are in place because social order has been overturned by the fools who do not understand the consequences of their folly.

Thankfully, God has an order in place for society and each time man tries to change the natural order of man chaos and dissent follows. However, God is in control so that when fools take charge they only discover that their pits are traps for themselves, and as they try to act like the thief taking what is not theirs to take they are the victim in the end. Likewise, when one tries to perform skilled work without the needed experience the risk for harm is escalated – such as a stonecutter in a quarry or a lumberjack in a forest, which are two extremely skilled and dangerous occupations. Experience matters and maturity enables a person over time to become a capable worker. If this is true, what about in a more challenging and skilled leadership roles of our government, because failures at this level in judgment affects all the people, and not just the one person who is making the decisions.

When we are looking to place people into high offices we must make sure we have properly prepared people who are truly qualified to perform in office to the common good of the public, and not for selfish gain or vanity sake. We need to make sure we have a properly prepared or “sharp axe” to accomplish the tasks that the office requires. We need likewise to realize wisdom is a gift from God, and our leaders need to be thus men of God, and ones who daily seek God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. When the leadership and the people are on the same page, society is in proper order and the nation is blessed and God is honored.

As a final thought, God works through His people to hold the leaders in government accountable and responsible. All successful governments have been accountable to the people, and when the government fails to please the people “change” occurs! Communism and socialism have been overthrown because of the people’s reactions to such regimes. Let us all seek God’s will, ways and wisdom when pursuing the change we desire to see. Then and only then will the change for the common good actually take place; and. change for change sake is dangerous, unless we know the change God desires for us.

Coach

Listen to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son,” he said. But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance!” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers? “He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told Him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest.” Matt 21:33-41 (HCSB) (Note: God’s plans cannot be usurped or taken away by man) 

Words of Wisdom: One Bad Apple Ruins the Bushel, Ecclesiastes 10:1-4

apple bushelWords of Wisdom: One Bad Apple Ruins the Bushel, Ecclesiastes 10:1-4

Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil ferment and stink; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart [goes] to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks along the road, his heart lacks sense, and he shows everyone he is a fool. If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your place, for calmness puts great offenses to rest. Eccl 10:1-4 (HCSB)

When shopping in a farmer’s market for a bushel of apples, it is hard to realize at first glance if the bushel you are looking at has any signs of a bad apple that could impact the goodness of the others. If you do not take the time to inspect all the apples before storing them away, there is the chance one bad apple could turn into many bad apples in no time. The same is true in a group of people – one fool can cause others harm. The fool can disguise himself among the others until he begins to misdirect the others.

Because it is the natural instinct within mankind to be a follower, there is a constant risk of choosing the wrong leader to follow. However, time always reveals the folly of the fool, and those who have followed him begin to realize they are at risk unless they change leadership and leave the fool behind. So choose wisely the leaders you have the choice to follow, even if you discover the error of the choice at some time, there will be a cost for the time you followed the fool.

What can we do? Just like a being at the farmer’s market choosing apples that experience will help you avoid investing in bushels with bad apples. The same is true in life. The closer you are to God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word, the more likely you can recognize those who are opposed to living the right way in life, and only seek their own selfish folly. When one claims to have all the answers, our response should be simple: RUN! Although you may become wiser and more mature, you will never be fully wise or fully mature, as if you are our own god. What the wise man realizes is that the wiser you become, the more dependent you become to placing your faith in God and following Him alone with confidence. When you come to that point God will help you to be more alert to the folly of others.

Where do you place your trust for your choices in life?

Coach

Finally, pray for us, brothers, that the Lord’s message may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance. 2 Thess 3:1-5 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Wisdom Saves All But Its Memory, Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

wisdom over strength

Words of Wisdom: Wisdom Saves All But Its Memory, Ecclesiastes 9:13-18

 I have observed that this also is wisdom under the sun, and it is significant to me: There was a small city with few men in it. A great king came against it, surrounded it, and built large siege works against it. Now a poor wise man was found in the city, and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. And I said, “Wisdom is better than strength, but the wisdom of the poor man is despised, and his words are not heeded.” The calm words of the wise are heeded more than the shouts of a ruler over fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much good. Eccl 9:13-18 (HCSB)

We call them geeks, nerds, even eggheads, but our lives are better because of those who have the gift of wisdom. We are jealous of their unique gifts and all benefit from their knowledge applied to our lives, but our selfishness causes us to not appreciate them enough to remember them or to acknowledge their accomplishments in our lives. In this passage it is one of those insignificant, behind the scenes wise geeks who finds a way to defeat the strong foe who had laid siege to his city. Though the victory went to the small city thanks to this geek, no one acknowledges him for what he did, and he was even quickly forgotten as they went back to their self-focused living. What is also sad is that we tend to resent those with such gifts and talents, because they have been given what we do not have or could we even have it even if we wanted to claim it.

Wisdom cannot be bought or developed by human endeavor. Either you have the gift of wisdom from God or you rely upon the wisdom of God from others who have the gift. Such reliance causes many to become resentful and jealous. And, it only takes one destructive, ill-timed scheme of a wicked person to destroy the good of the wise.

Why do we envy what God has obviously dispensed for His greater purposes? When we mock or resent those with such talents, are we not mocking and resenting God Himself? When a gifted person crosses our path are we thankful for the opportunity to benefit, or are we jealous that we cannot do the same? Whenever we look carefully at ourselves and others around us we will see that there is a mosaic of unique talents and gifts that God has endowed upon each of us that are intended to complement our shortcomings. No one person is fully capable of having all the gifts and talents to survive in this world alone. We all need to rely upon others to be successful in this lifetime. Do not be jealous of what others have, but discover your own giftedness and give freely of what you have to others, as they should likewise do in return. All of us should search daily by seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word, and seek to discover how God desires to use us to build His kingdom on earth.

Will you choose to participate and collaborate with others, or push them away and stumble on your own?

Coach

For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ˜Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.”His master said to him, ˜Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”Then the man with two talents also approached. He said, ˜Master, you gave me two talents. Look, I’ve earned two more talents.”His master said to him, ˜Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”Then the man who had received one talent also approached and said, ˜Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.”But his master replied to him, ˜You evil, lazy slave! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt 25:14-30 (HCSB) 

Words of Wisdom: Celebrate the Gift of Life, Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

CarpeDiemWords of Wisdom: Celebrate the Gift of Life, Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun. Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in  Sheol where you are going. Eccl 9:7-10 (HCSB)

Sheol to the Hebrews, especially in Solomon’s days, was a common place for the dead – the wicked and the righteous. God was Lord over the dead there as well and bodies could be ransomed out of the desolation of the grave. It was conceived as the holding place for the dead – a place of darkness and nothingness. Therefore, in the context of Solomon’s thoughts here, you are encouraged to realize that God knows your heart, as well as all of your actions and attitude, and your future destiny has been determined. From that perspective Solomon says rejoice now in this life time. Celebrate in your present days, which are but a few in the prospect of your eternal destiny. You are either celebrating for the joy of being ransomed by God into His paradise – His presence, or condemned to eternal darkness or separation from God. Either way, celebration now of your life has a practical purpose.

Solomon says to take joy in your marriage, your family, and even in your career. Take nothing for granted and embrace every opportunity to enjoy life’s pleasures. This is not a hedonistic pleasure principle but a principle of not wasting the gift of life in the present because no one knows when life will come to an end. Likewise, your destiny is in God’s hands, whether for good or bad.

Of course, there is now hope for our eternal destination that Solomon did not understand. Solomon’s advice today would suit anyone not believing in Christ’s message of hope. Since the days of Jesus, mankind has learned that God’s love is so great that He has revealed that God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word offers eternal life in His heaven to all who surrender their present lives to Christ’s lordship. We now have a Savior – the Messiah promised in scriptures that Solomon did not understand has been revealed – and He was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem and grew among us, lived the ideal life, and taught us that God desires all to be saved. This same Jesus even paid the debt for our sin that allows all to claim His sacrifice on the Cross as the ransom for their soul beyond the grave. Sheol in the present tense has no hold on us any longer; we have immediate presence before God the Father through the works and word of Christ, the Son of God.

With Christ as our Savior, as Solomon suggested, we certainly do have a good reason to celebrate life now to the fullest, enjoying it to the fullest in the light of His ways, truth and life that we can understand in His Word. Was Solomon saved? I don’t know, but you can know about your destiny – it can be secured in Christ. Just call upon Him and make a commitment to live your life in the light of His Word.

Coach

This [Jesus] is The stone despised by you builders, who has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Acts 4:11-12 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Different Routes, Same Destination, Not Same Destiny! Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

hope in lifeWords of Wisdom: Different Routes, Same Destination, Not Same Destiny! Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

Indeed, I took all this to heart and explained it all: the righteous, the wise, and their works are in God’s hands.  People don’t know whether [to expect] love or hate. Everything lies ahead of them. Everything is the same for everyone: there is one fate for the righteous and the wicked, for the good and the bad, for the clean and the unclean, for the one who sacrifices and the one who does not sacrifice. As it is for the good, so it is for the sinner, as for the one who takes an oath, so for the one who fears an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: there is one fate for everyone. In addition, the hearts of people are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live – after that they go to the dead. But there is hope for whoever is joined with all the living, since a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead don’t know anything. There is no longer a reward for them because the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate, and their envy have already disappeared, and there is no longer a portion for them in all that is done under the sun. Eccl 9:1-6 (HCSB)

In this lifetime there will be both love and hate in our lives, and we cannot control when or why either will cross our path. God has a purpose through both love and hate to shape and mold, to enlighten, and to guide our lives. And in the end of things, no matter how we have dealt with the challenges of this lifetime, we all have a common destination regardless of the various routes we have chosen to follow in life, for good or for bad, for love or for hate, for obedience or for non-obedience, for fulfillment of promises made or for rejection of promises. We all will find our paths will arrive at the same destination – the same finish line. Death waits all without exclusion!

Our lifetime is meant to be a time of preparation for understanding what is good versus bad; love versus hate; clean versus unclean; obedience versus disobedience; truth versus ignorance; faith versus foolishness. God gives no one an advantage in this lifetime, because He loves all equally and perseveres with our folly – as all have hearts that are full of evil. God wants all to be saved from their selfish disobedience. Until we reach the finish line of this lifetime, God is encouraging and influencing everyone to discover His love and the truth that lies in seeking after God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. Through the pursuit of them lies the reward of eternal life that is promised for all who arrive at the finish line truly alive and not “dead on arrival.”

Yes we all have the right to choose our own different routes in this life, but we all have the same destination, but God says not the same destiny. Think carefully upon the choices we are allowed to make, because there are consequences to those choices.

Coach

Then He said to [them] all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the truth: there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-27 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: It is all a Matter of Personal Perspective! Ecclesiastes 8:14-17

jealousyWords of Wisdom: It is all a Matter of Personal Perspective! Ecclesiastes 8:14-17

There is a futility that is done on the earth: there are righteous people who get what the actions of the wicked deserve, and there are wicked people who get what the actions of the righteous deserve. I say that this too is futile. So I commended enjoyment, because there is nothing better for man under the sun except to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the years of his days that God gives him under the sun. When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the activity that is done on the earth (even though one’s eyes do not close in sleep day or night), I observed all the work of God [and concluded] that man is unable to discover the work that is done under the sun. Even though a man labors hard to explore it, he cannot find it; even if the wise man claims to know it, he is unable to discover it. Eccl 8:14-17 (HCSB)

Why do bad things happen to seemingly good people, innocent people? Why are seemingly bad people allowed to have what appear to be good things happen to them? Why does it seem the world is turned upside down with the way rewards are distributed? Of course, are any of us able to discern God’s motives for how His blessings are dispensed? Do we understand the mind of God and understand His purposes and plans?

Solomon’s advice does make a lot of sense when he declares: there is nothing better for man under the sun except to eat, drink, and enjoy himself. I believe what we must learn about life is that we must accept what we are responsible for and not fret over the lives of others and the events we cannot control.

Godly humility applauds those who seemingly are rewarded with blessings even when such rewards do not seem appropriate in our eyes. Why? Because, we must not be jealous for what happens to others. If we believe in God’s justice and mercy, should there be any reason for our envy or criticism? There is so much in this lifetime we are never meant to understand, and though we may pray for understanding, there is much that is beyond our grasp. The only ultimate wisdom we can attain in this lifetime is the wisdom to know and accept we can never know all there is to know, and in that simple fact resides the most valuable piece of wisdom we can learn, and there godly humility resides.

Remember, in the end of all things, we will only be held accountable to God, our Judge, for what we did with what He allowed us to experience in this life. We will not be held accountable for what others did, only how we responded to what they did. Therefore, our attitude must be that of Christ’s: as one seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. Our prayers must be not to try to find justice in the lives of others, but to understand how we must respond to such matters, especially when we clearly do not understand. God has such a broader and deeper perspective on the comings and goings in life that is well beyond our ability to see and understand, and ultimately our faith should declare God’s good and perfect purpose will prevail through even the events that seem unjust to us. What we should pray for is God’s perspective on these matters so that we may humbly reside in peace with everyone, then we can walk through life focused on what matters the most: our personal relationship with God, and leave the rest up to Him.

Coach

If you do [what is] good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do [what is] good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Luke 6:33-36 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Wisdom Frees the Chains of Ignorance, Ecclesiastes 8:1-13

chains of ignoranceWords of Wisdom: Wisdom Frees the Chains of Ignorance, Ecclesiastes 8:1-13

Who is like the wise person, and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom brightens his face, and the sternness of his face is changed. Keep the king’s command. Concerning an oath by God, do not be in a hurry. Leave his presence, and don’t persist in a bad cause, since he will do whatever he wants. For the king’s word is authoritative, and who can say to him, “What are you doing?” The one who keeps a command will not experience anything harmful, and a wise heart knows the right time and procedure. For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though man’s troubles are heavy on him. Yet no one knows what will happen, because who can tell him what will happen? No one has authority over the wind to restrain it, and there is no authority over the day of death; there is no furlough in battle, and wickedness will not allow those who practice it to escape. All this I have seen, applying my mind to all the work that is done under the sun, at a time when one man has authority over another to his harm. In such circumstances, I saw the wicked buried. They came and went from the holy place, and they were praised in the city where they did so. This too is futile. Because the sentence against a criminal act is not carried out quickly, therefore the heart of  people is filled [with the desire] to commit crime. Although a sinner commits crime a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I also know that it will go well with God-fearing people, for they are reverent before Him. However, it will not go well with the wicked, and they will not lengthen their days like a shadow, for they are not reverent before God. Eccl 8:1-13 (HCSB)

We will never know all the reasons under the sun for why certain things happen or even why some people can get away with the things that they do, but we are blessed with sufficient wisdom to learn to be patient and to persevere even when it seems futile, and to persist in seeking to understand. However, wisdom is not dispensed like candy from a vending machine or doled out as in a cafeteria buffet line. Only God knows all things, and He alone has the sovereign authority over wisdom and the sharing of it with man. And, I believe there are times when God holds back wisdom to protect man in certain circumstances. Why? Because, man cannot fully comprehend all the reasons why certain things happen and for what greater purpose God allows them to occur.

Yes, there are arrogant and wrong-doing authority figures that rule over us. However, God has allowed them to rule for a reason and for only a season so that His purpose will be realized later. However, while such a person flaunts their power and position upon others, we are told to prayerfully persevere under their yoke of tyranny because in the proper time we will see the blessing that will come from remaining faithful. This is also true of the wicked that walk among us and even enter our churches; there too we are told to not be jealous that they seemingly are getting off scot-free from their lifestyle choices and evil deeds. Though they flaunt their superiority and invincibility, there is coming a time when they will be held accountable and justice will not be delayed or softened.

In the end, God-fearing people are the faithful ones who pursue God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word on a daily basis. The faithful are given the wisdom to recognize wrong but also the patience and understanding to persevere through times that they cannot change. Christian courage is given to those who are willing to walk in this world realizing evil exists and bad things do happen to good people, and bad people seem to get away with their schemes. However, in the midst of that God shines His light of truth upon the truly courageous and faithful, and they are given the wisdom to break the chains of ignorance that causes us to fear. Just as if there is no darkness how would you know what the light is, so too with evil and goodness! That is the beginning of Godly wisdom. This is how we learn to live with a purpose in this imperfect world, making a difference for God’s glory and greater purposes by faith.

Coach

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:43-48 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Do Women Tempt Men, Who is Really at Fault? Ecclesiastes 7:23-29

bonded to lustWords of Wisdom: Do Women Tempt Men, Who is Really at Fault? Ecclesiastes 7:23-29

I have tested all this by wisdom. I resolved, “I will be wise,” but it was beyond me. What exists is beyond [reach] and very deep. Who can discover it? I turned my thoughts to know, explore, and seek wisdom and an explanation [for things], and to know that wickedness is stupidity and folly is madness. And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, her heart a net, and her hands chains. The one who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner will be captured by her. “Look,” says the Teacher, “this I have discovered, by adding one thing to another to find out the explanation, which my soul continually searches for but does not find: among a thousand [people] I have found one [true] man, but among all these I have not found a true woman. Only see this: I have discovered that God made people upright, but they pursued many schemes.” Eccl 7:23-29 (HCSB)

The pursuit of wisdom is an ongoing journey, and the more we grasp, the more we realize that we are short of what we really need to discover, which is still beyond our reach. If only we could grasp the knowledge we need, then and likely only then will we avoid the wickedness that leads us to stupidity, and the folly that identifies us as mad men.

The ultimate test for a man that claims to be wise, that has become the envy of others, is how that person handles his relationships with women. When man pursues out of lust a woman then that pursuit, not the woman herself, becomes a trap, a net, and it will chain us in that lust. A wise counselor who was a professor in college told me that when a man and woman establish an intimate relationship there is a chemical connection that lasts a lifetime long after the two have traveled separate paths. A man will remember vividly each woman he has been with given the right circumstances. That is an interesting trait that marks our life of relationships, however often many of those memories come with regrets and consequences.

So are women wicked? Are they to blame for man’s stupidity and folly? Why do proverbs identify sin with the temptress? (Well, most of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were likely written by a man who knew wisdom and wealth, but still felt the need to lust after what he could never own – the love of the women he pursued in life.) No, women are not wicked and certainly not to blame for man’s lustful desires. The only temptress is man’s own sinful, lustful heart that stirs man’s stupidity and foolish ways. Just as wisdom is never fully attainable, neither is the satisfaction of man’s lust for women. However, we become wise when we realize that fact and learn to be satisfied with where we are in life and not allow the pursuit of wisdom, wealth or women to blind us into falling prey to the lust of any of the three.

Our only hope is found in our faith in pursuing God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word so that we can learn to love rightly all that we have, and to free ourselves from the lust that resides within us. Lust is the seed of sin that tempts us. Men beware, and do not blame women for our sinful distractions that are left unchecked will destroy the relationships we hold most dear to us.

Coach

You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell! Matt 5:27-30 (HCSB)

 

Words of Wisdom: Strength in Humility and Honesty, Ecclesiastes 7:19-22

Understanding Others

Words of Wisdom: Strength in Humility and Honesty, Ecclesiastes 7:19-22

Wisdom makes the wise man stronger than ten rulers of a city. There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does “good” and never sins. Don’t pay attention to everything people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; for you know that many times you yourself have cursed others. Eccl 7:19-22 (HCSB)

Wisdom is more than knowledge of stuff. Wisdom is applying common sense to life’s situations and knowing your limits and the limits of others as well. Wisdom is learning when to be quiet and when to speak. Wisdom knows what is truth and what is just people talking for the sake of talking. Wisdom recognizes our imperfections and shortcomings.

Wisdom is a powerful gift that God provides to those who are willing to invest in it and who will actively pursue it. Yet, wisdom from God can never be fully acquired or discovered in one’s lifetime. In some way or another, we all have some degree of wisdom. Even the fool has stumbled across some wisdom – just not enough to recognize what he still lacks, but enough to think he has found it.

A person who has pursued wisdom grows in humility and honesty each day, and interacts with others in a manner that pleases the author of wisdom. The more wisdom one realizes, the more that person realizes how much wisdom he or she lacks. The person that invests in wisdom also realizes that goodness and sin exist together to expose the other. And, a wise person has experienced both in their life and acknowledges the fact that without God’s forgiveness there is no one righteous on their own.

Have you invested enough time in pursuing God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word to walk through life with the strength and confidence of knowing what godly wisdom is and that it is worth pursuing? How can you know if you are becoming wiser? Well, do the words and actions of others not affect you like they used to? Are you seeing the strength of living more humbly and honestly with others? Are you still seeking approval from others, because the truly wise person knows the only opinion that matters is from the Author of Wisdom, Truth and Life? Only our relationship with God matters in the end, but remember how we relate to others does matter to Him! We cannot be responsible for how others relate to us, but we are responsible for how we attempt to relate to others, and God offers us the wisdom in even the most difficult relationships. It is there we find real strength, true humility and honesty!

Coach

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Phil 2:1-4 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Even in the Extremes of Life: God is There! Ecclesiastes 7:14-18

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Words of Wisdom: Even in the Extremes of Life: God is There! Ecclesiastes 7:14-18

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him. In my futile life I have seen everything: there is a righteous man who perishes in spite of his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in spite of his evil. Don’t be excessively righteous, and don’t be overly wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Don’t be excessively wicked, and don’t be foolish. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp the one and do not let the other slip from your hand. For the one who fears God will end up with both of them. Eccl 7:14-18 (HCSB)

Life and death are a part of the cycle of our time on this earth. Yet, God is with us all the time, in everything, and with every step of the journey of life, even well after our death. How can we believe that at any time God is not involved in our lives? Will we ever be that good, that wise and righteous that we can walk alone without God’s presence? Or, can we ever be so wicked that God will abandon us and we walk alone without God’s presence? On this side of heaven, at what point would God, our Creator, consider His mission complete with us, or declare His mission has failed with anyone of us?

God uses adversity and prosperity for His greater purposes in shaping and molding us. He allows us to experience right living as well as wrong living choices, so that we will be able to choose for ourselves what is right and wrong. I believe that the story about Adam and Eve reveals a truth about God’s relationship with man: God desires man and woman to choose through their free will the way in life they should go, and to do so God allowed us to know the difference between good and evil. If we only knew “good,” how would we have a free will choice between good and evil, because we would have no knowledge of evil? How can one love if they do not understand hate or the absence of love? However, God never wanted us to live in one extreme or the other – our lives are to experience the fullness and awareness of living so that we can make the choices we need to make. God also allows us to realize how life would be if we chose to live without Him in life.

Through it all, all the extremes in this life and the death that we all will certainly face someday, God is with us, whether we accept Him or not. Even when we reject Him, He is there! He loves even those who claim to dismiss Him or hate Him, and He will not let go until a person arrives through death’s door rejecting Him, and then God says with a tear, “I tried, but have it your way!” And, your wish becomes eternal reality – separation from God and everything and everyone God loves. That is the choice of Hell! Yet, God wants you to know that light, love, laughter and living with others are absent in Hell. Think about the choices God makes the next time you believe you will reject God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. God is trying to show you His love in the good times and the bad times, through life and death. Consider the freedom of choice He gave you.

Coach

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:16-21 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Choose the Better Investment: Wisdom or Wealth? Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

wisdom v wealth

Words of Wisdom: Choose the Better Investment: Wisdom or Wealth? Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, and an advantage to those who see the sun. For wisdom is protection as money is protection, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of its owner. Consider the work of God; for who can straighten out what He has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: without question, God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him. Eccl 7:11-14 (HCSB)

What better person than Solomon to consider the truth about the value of wisdom versus wealth, because God blessed him with both. However, which of the two did he find more valuable and enduring? Which of the two once obtained cannot be taken away? Which has only increasing value and does not fluctuate unless not used properly by the owner?

It seems clear that after all the wealth that Solomon was blessed by, during his reign as King of Israel, he found all the treasures of the world could not bring happiness and contentment. Wealth consumes a person and can never satisfy what is inside of a man. Lust for power, prestige and position may be bought with gold and silver, but cannot satisfy the desires of man. Likewise, wealth is the envy of others and draws the thief and robber in the night to steal what you claim to be yours. And despite our best efforts to protect out things, there is one thief that no one can stop from scooping away everything we hold dear from our grasp: Death is that one unstoppable threat! What wealth exists beyond the grave? Someone else will take possession of what was yours while you were alive.

However, consider wisdom. Wisdom continues to grow as one applies it and experience nurtures the fruit to blossom as one walks through life in wisdom. Yet where does it begin? It begins as a gift from God, the source of all wisdom. It is the one investment man can make with only the price of time and faith. If we will only seek God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word each day and by faith apply what we learn, wisdom will grow within us and change our lives. And the most wonderful thing about wisdom is that it can never be devalued by fluctuating market conditions. Wisdom and knowledge are commodities that are always in high demand. Therefore, in the end, wealth finds its way to the wise, but also the wise understand wealth is relative and never pursue wealth as a goal in life. A truly wise man understands what is truly important; walking daily with the Lord of Life, because He alone is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. In good times and in bad times, the wise man never falters in his faith because he understands God brings both with a purpose, and ultimately all things work to the good for those who love and trust in God’s purposes – no matter the circumstances they find themselves in life.

Wealth may come and go, but the wisdom from God will never fade in value. However, be careful to not mistake man’s wisdom for God’s wisdom. Genuine wisdom is absolute, whereas man’s wisdom is relative and subject to change. Always know the source of the wisdom you seek, and your future will be secure. If what you find to be wisdom, filter it against God’s Word: if it is from God it will be verified in His revelation of truth to you. If not, it is of man! Which do you trust? Time always increases the value of God’s wisdom. That is the test of God’s wisdom versus man’s wisdom.

Coach

The  Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ˜Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children. Luke 7:34-35 (HCSB)

 

Words of Wisdom: Don’t Take What is Not Yours to Take, Ecclesiastes 7:7-10

patience leads to the endWords of Wisdom: Don’t Take What is Not Yours to Take, Ecclesiastes 7:7-10

Surely, the practice of extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe destroys the mind. The end of a matter is better than its beginning; a patient spirit is better than a proud spirit. Don’t let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools. Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not wise of you to ask this. Eccl 7:7-10 (HCSB)

Learning to be content in our present state – the challenges and opportunities that are in the present moment – is the key to learning to be patient. We cannot change the past; those days of opportunities and challenges are behind us and never can be realized again. What we failed to accomplish for any number of reasons (most likely because of selfish excuses) are like the water in a river that has rushed on by us and is certainly irretrievable. Yet, likewise, the opportunities and challenges of the future are unknown until they present themselves in the present, and can only be recognized in the context of the present. It is like trying to predict what will flow in the waters that have just began its journey at the head of a river – so much depends upon what is in the path of the river along the way, long before it reaches you where you are. The future is unpredictable, and God certainly is the only person who knows the future, because He alone exists outside of space and time, and He is the creator of all that occurs in this lifetime, past, present or future.

In light of our present situation in life: Why get impatient and angry because you want to know what is coming as the next challenge or opportunity in your life? God knows what you are capable of handling, and only allows what you can handle to be thrown at you in this present moment in time. Sometimes you may feel overburdened, and other-times you may feel even bored, but God is teaching you through all those moments. How you handle life in the now, God is watching, shaping and molding you for what the future holds for you. So do not be like the fool and pursue a seer and her crystal ball to peek into the future, because they only see what you want to see, not the future. And, wishing to return to the days of our past is futile and certainly folly, because if we could go back, it would never be the same because you are not the same person who lived in the past moment! Learn from the past, but realize we can never live in the past.

So how can we have the strength to cope and exist in the present challenges and opportunities of the present that often seem like endless tests, trials, and tribulations of our patience, our endurance, and our perseverance? The answer is simple. Seek out a daily, present moment relationship with the author of time and space, the one who orchestrates the challenges and opportunities for each of us – God, our heavenly Father. Begin each day and return as needed to seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word. Pray for the patience to wait on the future as we prepare in the present, and praise Him for what has past and is clearly behind us. Believe with all your heart that God knows what is best for us, and that He does allow choices at certain crossroads, but He will continue to journey with us in the present for the greater good, no matter the choices we may make. But for heaven’s sake: don’t be like the fool and try to dam up the river to hold onto the past and rush the future, as the fool will only get washed away by what he thought he could handle that was not his to have!

Coach

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me, but lacked the opportunity [to show it]. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content] – whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship. Phil 4:10-14 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Pick Wisely Those Who You Desire to Follow, Ecclesiastes 7:5-6

Fireside relation ship

Words of Wisdom: Pick Wisely Those Who You Desire to Follow, Ecclesiastes 7:5-6

It is better to listen to rebuke from a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. For like the crackling of [burning] thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This too is futile. Eccl 7:5-6 (HCSB)

No one desires to seek out a rebuke as words of encouragement! However, why is it that many young people today seem to be drawn to firm, authoritative older adults? Why do they actually listen attentively to firm but caring words of constructive criticism and correction, but only laugh along with the comments of their peers? Why is it that most people seek out an older, wiser mentor-friend for their life?

We all seek and need someone who genuinely loves us enough to tell us what we need to hear, even if it is not always what we want to hear. Most people realize soon enough that much of the chatter and comments amongst friends is not beneficial to them, but actually self-serving banter that is seeking approval for their own benefit. Many people need and desire laughter in their lives as some form of approval. However, laughter quickly fades like the “thorns that pop in the fire” which make a big snap sound, but quickly disappear in the flames.

A firm hand shake that connects two people is more lasting and significant than a slap on the back or some high five gesture that is seeking approval. We respond to those who genuinely care about our needs rather than promoting their own agenda. We all desire to spend valuable time with someone who will ask questions and listen to us about our lives, rather than constantly share about their own lives or how wonderful they are.

When we spend time seeking God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom in God’s Word we discover the caring but stern Father who loves us enough to say what we need to hear, not what we want to hear all the time. He firmly hugs us and holds our hand when we need to be directed and comforted about life. He chastises us and disciplines us when we stray, but does so with a loving heart that seeks only the best for us. The way God deals with us is the way we should seek to be a strong mentor-friend for others, and to seek such for our own lives.

Who is your mentor-friend? Who has God directed into your life? Or are you only interested in listening to the always laughing and joking buddy who really is only blowing his own horn for the attention he desires? Think about who you allow into your inner circle…

Coach

Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (HCSB)

Words of Wisdom: Is there Satisfaction at the Beginning of the Race? Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

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Words of Wisdom: Is there Satisfaction at the Beginning of the Race? Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of one’s death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart. Grief is better than laughter, for when a face is sad, a heart may be glad. The heart of the wise is in a house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in a house of pleasure. Eccl 7:1-4 (HCSB)

Being told you have a lot of promise doesn’t make it so! Being told you come from a great family does not make you great! Until we have competed in life and put forth the effort, we have not earned the right to claim honor for our name. Success and fame is not something you can claim – it is something that you earn and is received. It is the crown given to you by others you have impacted in this life. Success and fame come from the reputation you earn for yourself as you walk through life affecting and relating with others. Thus, at the beginning of the race what honor have you received? What accomplishment is there before the race has been run?

Solomon is clearly stating that a life well remembered at the end of the race of life is far more valuable and rewarding than a party we may hold along the journey. I know that I have been a part of many funerals, but they have all turned into a celebration of memories as a testimony of the person’s impact on the lives of others.

How sad it would be if no one came to your funeral?

If there is a tragedy in the Christmas Carol story, it is that Ebenezer Scrooge gets the opportunity to see that if he does not change his miserly, lonely ways, no one will mourn his death. No one will memorialize his life. In fact, those who do take note are glad to see him gone. What a legacy of a life wasted on selfish ambition and values that took from others and never shared with others.

Consider the stage of the race you are in this lifetime? Remember life is a marathon not a sprint! It is not clearly marked but there are plenty of others who are running it with you. At all the crossroads the race though life can be affected for good or for bad by the choices you get to make, so choose wisely. A moment to consult God’s will, God’s ways, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word is always a good investment. Do not trust the flow of the people to always choose wisely because there are many who are like sheep and they will follow the crowd only to learn they have picked the hazardous and dangerous path at the crossroads.

Run the race that is set before you, knowing that there is someone who loves you more than anyone standing at the finish line calling your name and urging you to not quit and to finish strong. He knows the way. He ran the race and knows the challenges and obstacles you will face along the way. But He also knows the reward at the end! There is a crown of victory and a crowd of others who finished before you waiting to celebrate the victory you will have realized. At the finish line in this life, genuine satisfaction and honor resides. However, for those still running the race there are plenty of opportunities for encouragement along the way, and you are rewarded as you help others along the way as well. So, continue to run the race well, and desire to celebrate your life with friends and family along the way.

Coach

Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. Heb 12:1-2 (HCSB)