Let us not become weary when doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
When things are going well we should feel like nothing can stop us from continuing to do good. But, what happens when doing what is right and good becomes hard, and others are watching? Will you remain steadfast and NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT or buckle under the burden?
What happens to our enthusiasm when we receive the recognition we feel we deserve for doing good?
What about when choosing to do good means you may be the only one doing it?
No matter what, we are encouraged to stay the course, choosing to do what is right and good. There is a promise connected to staying the course, but the reward may be merely getting to see the fruit of our efforts – a changed life although nothing materially changes for us.
If such is our reward, will you continue to choose to do good? That is the test that God may place before you. Will you stay the course no matter what?
Please know doing what is right and good can be a challenge, taxing our willpower, but we also have a stronger power than our willpower — God’s spiritual power within us. Make sure God’s spiritual power empowers our willpower. Then you will NEVER NEVER NEVER QUIT doing what is right and good!
Would you trust God when the choice you have to make conflicts with what may be in our personal best interest and cost more than we think we can afford? What price do you place on doing what is right and good? Consider the plight of John Priestly and Theo Phillips in Sanctuary.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
Does your heart have God as its anchor and the words and example of Christ Jesus inspiring you? If so, the hope of dwelling forever with God is real to you. This eternal hope removes all doubt that God cares for you and you discover his encouragement, empowerment, and equipment to face every inevitable challenge in this lifetime. And, all this is God’s gift for the asking because he wants you to experience life with him, and to witness to all who may ask for the reason of the hope you have within you.
So these questions remain: Are you prepared each day to explain the reason for the hope that resides within you? Do you know the heartfelt words that will testify of Christ’s influence on your life?
Our testimony before others is not about quoting scriptures or singing hymns of praise but sharing in your own words what it means to have God as the anchor in your heart! “Being prepared” is not intended to be a motto, but a new way of life for every born-again, child of God.
A man cannot help others unless he can learn to help himself, and having God as the anchor of one’s heart is the beginning of always being prepared to respond to others in need.
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 at the least, uniquely special. However, though we may be unique in many ways, we all travel the road of life the well-traveled and well-marked road of life prodded by many long before us, and many more will assuredly follow us on this same road. The choice we get to make is how we navigate this road of life among all the others who share the road with us. Let us be clear; there are no new paths to choose, just enticing highways with dead-ends should any of us choose to wander off onto our ways. God declares there is but one way to follow him. All other ways are futile and paths of destruction for any of us who decide to navigate our ways.
Look at the world around us; see how God’s creation share his unique, undeniable hallmark. Even nature’s winds and waters behave specific ways, just as the stars and planets have predictably paraded in the heavens as reliable guides for millennia without deviation. The living creatures on land, in the waters, and in the sky migrate and roam the planet in their never-ending cycle of life as well.
However, God has given mankind an inquisitive mind. Unlike the rest of creation, man has the innate nature to pursue the unknown and seek the untraveled as a challenge. When we fail to check with the Creator along the way, our eyes and ears become preoccupied with the prospects of the new, the uncharted paths, we tend to perceive them as new to us, but is not nascent to God. It is a simple fact we too often ignore – nothing exists outside Creator God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
So what must we do? Is futility a trait of maturity? We mature as we realize just because something appears new to us, nothing is new to God. The moment we assume we have captured an original idea, a uniquely created revelation of some truth within our mind, we usurp the role of God in our life. Our life should be a constant pursuit of expanding our understanding the absolutes and realities that flow from our Creator by his grace and will. He alone knows what we are capable of comprehending and benefiting from for his higher purposes. Therefore, as we stumble and bumble our way along the road of life, seek daily to uncover and embrace the discoveries found through exploring God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Trust God alone, and never our selfish desires and understanding…because on our own, we can only claim to discover the dead-end that waits for our arrival! Life awaits all who trust God’s sure ways and perfect will. But God created us with a choice to choose? Do not let futility rule your life.
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 to run the race doesn’t make it so. Being told you come from a great family does guarantee victory in the race either. Until we have competed in life and put forth the effort, we have not earned the right to claim honor for our name, nor the victory for a race we have not run.
Success and fame are not something you can claim – they must be earned and are received. Success and fame arrive after the crown has been placed upon you by those you have impacted and gained favor from during the race of life because no one attains success or fame while still at the start line of the race. What accomplishment can you claim before the race has even begun? You may certainly look good in your fancy track shoes and your uniform may make you look like a winner, but it is in the running of the race that earns the accolades once you cross the finish line.
The Teacher in this passage clearly makes the point that one’s lifetime of achievements become worth remembering after the results of the race are posted, and thus far more valuable and rewarding than the applause and back-slapping during the race.
I have been a part of many funerals that have turned into a celebration of memories, a genuine testimony of a person’s positive impact on the lives of others. From another perspective, how sad would it be if no one attended your funeral? The tragedy in the Christmas Carol story is that Ebeneezer Scrooge gets to foresee that without a change in his miserly, lonely ways, no one will mourn his death. No one will miss him after he is gone except as the brunt of jokes and ridicule. What a legacy of a life wasted on selfish ambition and values that took from others and never shared with others. Scrooge became too enamored by his own idea of success and fame, he forgot to even compete in the race. He never lined up at the starting line. He chose only to compete with himself.
Consider which stage of the race you are running in this lifetime? Remember, the race of life is a marathon, not a sprint. In fact, the course to run may not be clearly marked, but there will be plenty of others running the course with you. At every crossroad during the race, your life can be affected for good or for bad by the choices you make, so choose wisely. Just remember, there’s never a shortcut to the finish line. A moment to consult God’s will, ways and wisdom is always a good investment to avoid disastrous, hasty choices. And, never trust the crowd to always choose wisely either, because most often the crowd are like sheep and follow the herd, only to learn they have blindly been drawn down the hazardous and dangerous path at the crossroads.
Run the race that is set before you, knowing someone who loves you more than anyone is standing at the finish line, calling you by name, urging you to not quit and finish strong. He knows the way because he has run the race and knows the challenges and obstacles you will face along the way. But, he also knows the reward at the end! There’s the roar of all who finished the race before you encouraging you toward the finish line. Do not give up or give in, because eternal success and fame adorn the crown waiting for you.
For those, like myself, who are still running their race, there is plenty of encouragement along the journey. You will be encouraged and rewarded by those you have helped along the way as well. Run the race set before you and seek along the way to celebrate life with friends and family until you break the finish line.
Enjoy this short video that my wife took during my opening as I shared insights and a reading from the beginning chapter of Sanctuary. Sorry it cuts out as Theo and Liddy arrive into Shiloh, but guess you’ll need to get your own copy of Sanctuary for the rest of the story…
Please support your local independent bookstore. Walk in and ask them for a copy of Sanctuary by T. M. Brown. If they don’t have it on the shelf, they can easily order you a copy. (Yes, you can get your Kindle or paperback from Amazon too, but why not support the bricks and mortar retailer investing in their community?)
Sanctuary covers a specific timeline as Theo and Liddy’s story unfolds in the late Fall and ends on Christmas Eve in Shiloh. This makes this heartwarming small-town Southern mystery a wonderful holiday gift for family and friends.
Nothing changes about the original book cover, however the promo images infuse the “Christmas in Shiloh” imagery.
As a proud author-member of Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA), I personally encourage you to contact your local independent bookstore to purchase your copy of Sanctuary.
For those in the Greater Atlanta area, visit Horton’s Books and Gifts in Carrollton, GA. I’ll be there on Saturday, September 23rd. They already have Sanctuary conveniently available on their online shopping page… Horton’s Online Book store
REMEMBER: There are two current noteworthy promotions underway.
(1) From all the reviewers of Sanctuary, twenty-five will be selected after December 31st to receive advance copies of Testament, the sequel due to release early 2018.
TESTAMENT, available 2018 – “Shiloh wrestles with an unexpected visitor from its past…”
(2) On a first come first serve basis, there are four (4) Kindle versions of Sanctuary available. Just go to my Facebook Author Page and comment why you love Southern mysteries or what you find intriguing about Sanctuary. Remember this is a limited offer so don’t hesitate to respond.
For schedule of all my author events in the coming weeks please go to my Facebook author page. As the holidays approach, do you think Sanctuary might make a convenient holiday gift for your book loving friends and family members on your Christmas list.
The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.
According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?
Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.
I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.
What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:
Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”
“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”
“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.
… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”
Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me.
“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”
Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”
…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.
Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?
John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.
Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org
The Write Spirit: Man pens a book for his grandchildren
THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD, Jun. 24, 2017 – 6:30 AM
By JUSTON LEWIS – email@example.com
(T.M.) Mike Brown had traveled parts of the United States for more than 30 years before deciding to settle in Grantville.
Brown has worn many hats over his lifetime – businessman, coach, teacher, preacher, inspirational speaker. Recently he took up the mantle of author.
According to Brown, he was eating at Redneck Gourmet with his family when first hit with the idea to draft a story. He stepped outside into the square and had a conversation with his wife, Connie.
It started with a what-if question. He asked himself, what if he could write a story about a small town to share with his grandchildren.
“I wasn’t really sure where the story would go,” Brown said. “I just wanted to do a story to my grandkids that would involve my grandkids.”
From there it was a process that took two years. Brown drafted a titleless story that was relatable to his very own life and that his grandchildren would be able to read and understand as they got older. Once all the writing and editing was completed Brown said he felt relieved.
“I was ecstatic, I felt like I accomplished something,” Brown said.
Little did he know he was just getting started with his writing journey.
During peer review the name “Sanctuary” was suggested as a title. Brown said he knew immediately that was the perfect title.
Once the story had a title, he had to find a picture, and he did such stumbling upon a picture of a burning courthouse. Brown did research on the picture and found the backstory to the picture and eventually visited Hancock County where the picture was from.
They had rebuilt the courthouse, and it was in a “timelost town” as Brown put it. The town of Sparta, Hancock’s county seat, was very similar to the fictional town of Shiloh that was the setting in Brown’s book.
Seeing this Brown, said it all had come to culmination. He finally had completed his book. He faced a few minor setbacks with the promotional period, but now he is back on schedule and is doing book signings across Georgia.
He will be hosting an author meet and greet at for Sanctuary at Corner Arts Gallery in downtown Newnan on July 1 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and July 6 and 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Brown says that his second book, “Testament,” is in the editing stage, and he is hoping for a fall release date.
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Go to https://www.facebook.com/TMBrownauthor/ or to discover more about my Southern novel, Sanctuary, a small-town mystery with a message of family and community inspired by Newnan, GA, just up the road from my home.
What can be more inspirational than our family? If you live near Atlanta, especially Coweta County, come checkout Newnan’s historic Court Square. There you will discover a quaint shop, Corner Arts Gallery in the shadows of the “Old County Courthouse” and the setting that inspired the setting of Shiloh, the small-town in my premier Southern novel, Sanctuary. There’s where Jenny Jones and her staff will gladly offer you a signed copy of Sanctuary.
I will be onhand to answer questions and sign more books Saturday, July 1st -10am-2pm; Thursdays, July 6 & 13 from 6-8pm for NewnaNights Mid-Summer Entertainment evenings. I also would love to celebrate the Fourth of July with you at Crossroads Church on Hwy 16, Sharpsburg, GA from 6:30 until Fireworks go off. I will be among the other vendors offering refreshments, food, games, and crafts on the church grounds.
Whether you prefer reading the Kindle version or the paperback, Sanctuary will draw you into time-lost Shiloh. you’ll mosey alongside newcomers Theo and Liddy Phillips seeking to quietly retire near their country roots. But, God has other plans! Before they can kick back and relax on their porch, happenstance becomes God’s harbinger of past secrets, impacting their plans through unexpected providential encounters.
discover for yourself why Sanctuary has become a must read for “all audiences” this summer. Visit T. M. Brown’s Author Facebook Page. check out the latest reviews and purchase a copy for your upcoming summer vacation. quick links help you order your Kindle (free to Kindle Unlimited Subscribers) or the paperback versions. make sure to “like” the page before you leave!
For a limited time, why not request a personalized copy shipped postage-free to you. Email “Mike” at firstname.lastname@example.org to request your signed copy – $18.95 delivered to your mailbox.
NOTE: Special Book Club offer available for orders of 6+ books. Email for details.
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)
Why do so many people desire to read a myriad of motivational books? Why do so many people pursue a regiment of religious writings for encouragement in their lives? What benefit is there in reading all that has been written based on various proverbs, parables, and other renown passages of wisdom? Will an end ever come to man’s attempts to expound upon, interpret, and translate all the ancient writings regarding God’s relationship with humanity?
Why do I write what I believe God has inspired me to share? Well, simply put, because, just maybe, someone else needs to hear the same message that God has placed upon my heart. Besides, I have discovered over the past decade, or so, writing and sharing my systematic Bible-based expositions, I have benefited the most! As I prayerfully pondered each passage and wrote, and often re-wrote, a relevant message, I grew closer to God. The feedback I have received has also provided affirmation and encouragement to my ongoing regiment. However, the greatest blessing has been a feeling of God’s smiling approval every so often.
Am I wise? Certainly not! There are far more knowledgeable people that have crossed my path. Am I a good teacher? Not as good as I desire to be. There are far better educators that I have met in my life. So what validation can I offer for what I have shared all these years with family, friends, and those I may never meet? The only validation that matters at theend is GOD’s inspiration and confirmation that someone might receive after reading what I have written.
Is what I have written new and unique? No! There is nothing new under the sun, as the Teacher in Ecclesiastes shared. What I merely tried to do is translate the wisdom I found in each passage into a real and relevant application for our present life circumstances. So that we all may live in a better relationship with others, in a manner pleasing to God, and reflects God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
Beyond our full and fast paced lives, at the end of all things, the wisest thing we can hope to know is that God waits patiently for us. All our actions, attitudes, and thoughts, whether spoken and written, will record how we lived our life before God.
What will be your record say about you when you stand before God? What relationships can you claim earned God’s smile?
I pray what I have been able to share with you has helped you to reflect more on your life and with all your relationships and most importantly with God as your daily guide.
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)
Most decisions about one’s relationship with God originate during one’s childhood, before the age of accountability. An innocent time before a child leaves the safety and security of their home. This fact impacted me many years ago but also continues to serve as a primary motivation for my desire to teach and write at my stage of life.
The Bible offers a strong emphasis on the proper rearing of our children. Parents have a divine mandate passed down through the ages, generation to generation, to teach their children about God. Beyond the setting of the home, parents expose their children to a church’s children or youth ministry, even though the parents may not even attend that church?
I am not declaring that everyone who has received the biblical message taught in the church will ultimately live out all the teachings they received, all the time. Each of us must travel through various stages during our life-long journey with God. Many, if not most, mature their faith as they grow beyond mere blind acceptance to a maturing, questioning of what and why we believe about God. However, each of us experiences a desire to connect with our Creator. Hopefully, we receive our initial introduction to God during our formable youth, long before the stresses of life have choked most of our receptivity to God away from us!
It is also a fact, most teenagers, especially after they leave the house, will wander testing their abilities and understandings about life for an extended period as young adults. Many will listen to others question God’s reality and existence, and hear differing opinions about the authenticity of the biblical writings in academic circles. Freedom of thought and self-understanding are important stages in each person’s life. I believe, God allows us to challenge our faith.
For those who received a solid grounding during their youth about God, the challenges in life will draw them closer to God again, with a stronger relevant understanding and conviction than ever before. I believe, the parable of the prodigal son reveals this to be true. You see, people in pursuit of all the options life affords them, sooner or later, come to the reality that no acceptable option exists beyond our faith in God. Some may try to live in denial of God, but even in fighting against the reality of God one struggles with the origin of God’s gifts in their life.
There is no greater, more unequivocal evidence regarding God’s existence than the fact people around the world believe in God. Even scientists, doctors, engineers, architects, and philosophers admit their journeys of discovery almost always conclude with them staring at God for the answers they seek about life. From a worldview, all the religions found across our planet may never fully agree about God, but they all exist because of man’s desire to connect with and understand God.
Why is this so important? In life, times of trials and tribulation will happen that will be beyond our abilities to cope and survive. They will cause each of us to acknowledge we cannot make it without our faith in God. God allows such formidable challenges to nurture our faith in God as we grow older with God. Yes, our life-long journey with God may falter from time-to-time, but, sooner or later, most all of us return to seeking out God’s will, ways, and wisdom as the cornerstone of our life. God enjoys receiving each person who realizes that life without God risks an end whereby the laughter of children fades, the colors of the seasons fail to change, the clouds become swallowed by darkness, and the wind offers no relief at our last gasp of breath. What happens next rests with God…
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)
At the extremes, life and death book end the span of time we have on earth. As disconcerting as our limited time may sound, God walks beside us every step of our sojourn on earth. And, if we believe that to be true, how can we believe that at any time God is not involved in our lives? Could we ever consider ourselves that good, that righteous, that we could walk apart from God’s presence? Conversely, could we ever consider ourselves that wicked, that evil, that we would walk alone apart from God’s presence?
At what extreme of goodness or wickedness would God, our Creator, consider his mission at an end with any of us?
God uses adversity and prosperity in shaping and molding us. He allows us to experience the consequences of right and wrong choices in life, so that we will be able to decide for ourselves the value of our relationship with God.
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 be able to choose between what is good and evil?How can we know love if they do not understand hate?
“Good News!” — God never desires us to exist in either extreme of life. Our lives experience the fullness and awareness of godly living between the extremes of absolute goodness and wickedness. How else can we best comprehend the choices and consequences we face throughout the journey of life? God also allows us to taste life without his presence at the extremes so that we can value life embracing his presence.
Choices, whether encroaching upon the good or the wicked extremes within us, God remains with us, whether we acknowledge him or not. His love for us wanes no less because we refuse his presence. We cannot dismiss our Creator, nor will he give up on his creation until death’s door opens. There God will ask, “Your way or my way?” Who can stand before God claiming to be so righteous or so wicked that they are beyond God’s care? Who would choose separation from God and dismiss God love for eternity? That choice defines Hell! There only the extremes dwell absent from the light, love, and laughter that God offers.
God demonstrates his love for each of us through both the good and the bad times, through all the life and death decisions we face. How might we know what’s the right choice? Seek first God’s will, ways and wisdom, and he will walk you through the decision-making process and guide you from the extremes of life.
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)
Consider the value of wisdom versus wealth. Which of the two is 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?
All the treasures of the world cannot guarantee happiness and contentment. Wealth consumes and can never satisfies what resides inside a man. Power, prestige and position may be bought with gold and silver, but can wealth satiate the lusts within man’s heart? Wealth stirs envy in others and lures the thief and robber to steal the possessions we claimed with wealth. And, before we brag, one thief exists no one can prevent from distributing our wealth to others: Death! What wealth exists beyond the grave?
Now, consider wisdom. Wisdom continues to grow as we nurture and reap the fruit it bears while we mature through life nourished by wisdom. Yet how does anyone gain wisdom? The seed of wisdom is a gift from God. It is the only investment man can profit from through time and faith. If we seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom each day and apply what we learn from God, wisdom sprouts within us and changes our lives.
Wisdom and knowledge are commodities always in high demand, but short on supply. Thus, in the end, wealth migrates to the wise who understands that wealth has short-term, relative value. A wise man understands what absolute value wisdom offers, because God alone is the alpha and omega of all knowledge and wisdom.
The wise man never frets as worldly wealth ebbs and flows because he understands God brings both good times and bad times for a purpose. Ultimately, all things work to the good for those who love and trust God – no matter the circumstances they find themselves facing in life. (The Story of Job sits as a book of Wisdom for this reason.)
Wealth ebbs and flows, but wisdom from God never loses it value. However, be careful not to mistake man’s wisdom for God’s wisdom. One is absolute, the other relative and unreliable. Always identify the wisdom you desire. Filter the wisdom you discover against God’s Wisdom, if what you claim is from God it will offer unshakable truth. Otherwise, it is from man. Likewise, time always increases the value of wisdom that flows from God. That is the final test of God’s wisdom versus man’s wisdom.
Choose wisely between wisdom versus wealth. Wealth comes fraught with risks, wisdom overcomes all risks. Final thought: Only one can master the other. Choose wisely.
Better is a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer pays attention to warnings. For he came from prison to be king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. I saw all the living who move about under the sun follow a second youth who succeeds him. There is no limit to all the people who were before them, yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Eccl 4:13-16 (HCSB)
Which king does this passage focus on? Is it Solomon? I don’t think so, unless he is seen as the second youth. Was David, Solomon’s father, the king that rose from prison. An argument could be raised to that affect because of King Saul’s relentless pursuit of David. Whomever is pictured, this passage ponders how history will regard them after they are long gone.
There is little difference between kings of ancient realms and heads of state today. In our country, every four or eight years the mantle of leadership gets passed on to the next president. As soon as the former steps down we immediately begin to compare their term in office with the accomplishments and disappointments of other past presidents, and in short order with the new president as he (and someday, she) grasps the reins and directs the course of our country.
Initially, a rosy glow follows each past president for a period after they leave office, and it burns once again upon their passing for a spell. However, in time, the legacy of all our presidents winds up in volumes of books crowded amongst the previous volumes written about all the other past presidents, comparing the accomplishments and failures of each president. All written through the bias of time and the fickleness of ever-changing popular opinion.
It is interesting though, as important as their time in office, we relish as much curiosity upon their backgrounds, and how their upbringing and early struggles shaped their leadership legacy. We tend to connect best to the rare leader who arrives onto the national scene from common roots similar to our own. In recent history it has been harder and harder to find that kind of presidential candidate, but there have been several notables since World War II: Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Each of these rose from ordinary beginnings in poor or ordinary family situations. Clinton and Obama were raised in broken homes, which marked their personalities. People relate to common humble beginnings and the climbing of the ladder of leadership through a lifetime marked by hard work and uncanny grit to fulfill their destiny.
However, time takes its toll. Interest in their humble beginnings fades. History redacts our memories and only highlights remain as footnotes in the history books. In time, like the kings of ancient days, little more than another presidential bust or portrait remains identifying the growing line of former presidents, but most people will fail to even recall many of their names.
Whether from rich, ordinary or poor family backgrounds – God calls men and women to rise up as leaders for his greater purposes, and he holds each accountable for their time under the sun. Nothing has changed in all the millennium of kingdoms, nations and governments instituted by mankind. Monarchs, oligarchies, and presidents, whether elected or appointed, lead under God’s approval and the favor of the people they serve. From time to time as Thomas Jefferson pointed out in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, we remind ourselves that governments receives its authority to govern from those they govern. It is a cherished right whereby the value is derived by each of us relinquishing a portion of our freedom to protect our rights to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We may memorialize past presidents and write about them in history books, but only the current president can make a difference in the lives of the people. The only constant we can depend upon is God’s influence upon each leader after the voice of the people reveal his will. May we trust in God as the next president finds his or her place to guide our country.
I also observed under the sun: there is wickedness at the place of judgment and there is wickedness at the place of righteousness. I said to myself, “God will judge the righteous and the wicked, since there is a time for every activity and every work.” I said to myself, “This happens concerning people, so that God may test them and they may see for themselves that they are like animals.” For the fate of people and the fate of animals is the same. As one dies, so dies the other; they all have the same breath. People have no advantage over animals, for everything is futile. All are going to the same place; all come from dust, and all return to dust. Who knows if the spirit of people rises upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth? I have seen that there is nothing better than for a person to enjoy his activities, because that is his reward. For who can enable him to see what will happen after he dies? Eccl 3:16-22 (HCSB)
The question at the end of this passage reveals the difference of those who know God and those facing death alone. Outside of faith, is it possible for anyone to factually know for certain what happens after death. Certainly there is a lot of speculation and there’s been much research since Socrates poisoned himself in the pursuit of the truth about death.
Are we unlike the animals, who we believe are born and eventually die in some simplistic, beneficial cycle of life on earth? Can we dismiss their death so casually as if God does not care about the animals he created? How can we truly know what happens to animals after death? As the Teacher in the passage above proclaims, mankind shares the same breath of life, and death arrives to man and beast when that same shared breath ceases to sustain life in either man or beast.
The Teacher reveals the futility of understanding death beyond this life. He, like so many today, reckons what he does not know for certain does not affect him. Life now is all that matters. There is no understanding beyond this life.
However, if that were so, what would be the purpose of living rightly in this life?
When we choose to live life guided solely by our own limited understanding and wisdom, we espouse the philosophy of hedonism, the pursuit of self-serving pleasure as life’s main motivation.
However, if that was true, then why don’t the animals reflect the same motivation in their lives, if there really is no difference between man and beast? Animals are instinctive in their life choices.They will defend themselves to preserve their life and they will even put their own lives at risk to protect the lives of their offspring, but what they fight to preserve is their present right to life. Man however is more than an instinctive, reactive thinker as he or she makes choices in this life. Man is endowed with a conscience revealing what are good or bad choices. As a result, there are times when our life choices reveal our life motivation transcends mere survival instincts like the animals. Man recognizes their connection to God and this temporal life maybe finite, but the life that God created for us is eternal and mortal death merely is the divide between the two.
On the other hand, what happens for certain to animals beyond death, only God knows that answer? We have no gained no insight from God on the matter. Yet, we have received plenty of firsthand assurances from God about the prospects of our future beyond death. Even long before the days of the biblical testimony man believed a time of judgment between the wicked and the righteous awaited all of mankind. But, throughout history the struggle has been in defining what about our life makes us righteous before God. Is it our heritage or bloodline? Is it our deemed righteousness or wickedness a personal, a family, or a communal accountability before God? The biblical testimony declares that we all will stand individually before God, accountable for our own life choices. Those who live in denial that there will be such an accounting for our righteous and wicked choices by God seem to prefer to believe there exists no difference between man and the animals beyond the grave. Sadly, there is a difference. Animals made their instinctive choices in life because that’s how God made them, but man was created with a conscience by God to rationalize and dream to direct his or her life choices.
Therefore, I believe when we seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom, not selectively seeking what appeals and dismissing the rest, then little doubt should remain as to how we should strive to live this life, impacting our life choices that are rooted in the belief God awaits beyond the grave.
Thank you Lord God for the heritage of your word entrenched in the biblical testimony, because it clearly guides us in the making right life choices in this lifetime to realize your blessing on that day when all of us will humbly stand before you.
What does the worker gain from his struggles? I have seen the task that God has given people to keep them occupied. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already has been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what has passed. Eccl 3:9-15 (HCSB)
Our temporal life is preparing us for our eternal destiny. Yes, whether we want to admit it or not, we all will experience eternal life, but not all will eagerly accept eternity as God’s gift. A gift stored in our heart from conception into this temporal world. However, long before our first heart beat or gasp for breath, God existed, and long after our last heart beat and and final exhale of breath, God remains. You see, God existed before eternity and even its vastness pales to define God. Why? God created eternity for us to share.
Though temporal man can merely theorize the threshold and span of eternity, God gifts the expectation of eternity within each of us. While man futilely searches to define eternity, God awaits patiently to reveal it fully to each of us. And in the midst of this ultimate display of God’s incomprehensible greatness, we will experience the indescribable unveiling of the gift of eternity that has always resided within our hearts. God will then explain how that special gift signifies how we were created in his image.
Even so, some deny God’s gracious, unique gift. Some choose to believe death is final and life ceases with the final heartbeat or gasp of breath. They deny God and eternity exists merely because they rationalize their limited understanding offers a more palatable notion of reality. However, these same rational minds can conceive of the vastness of the universe and discuss the vastness of eternity and its infinite reach in time and space. So, doesn’t this beg the question: Can the created be its own creator?
Since, even nonbelievers understand that all motion requires a force outside of itself. That same motion is perpetual without an opposing force impairing the motion. Thus, who or what provides the force that determines our life? Most scientists recognize that beyond the farthest boundaries of the universe and its infinite, yet tangible vastness lies God, the eternal force, the self-existent cause behind all creation.
When I contemplate on eternity, I can only conclude that God awaits at the threshold of eternal life. I have little doubt that God birthed us into this temporal life for a purpose beyond the limits of our present lifetime. My sense of and curiosity about eternity testifies to God’s majesty and glory. As for those who reject man’s participation in eternity, consider the isolation, limitations and hopelessness of one’s lifetime when you denounce God’s gift of eternity. The way I look at it: No matter how anyone depicts “hell,” being adrift in eternity with only your “self” to navigate through the limitless, unyielding emptiness is far worse than any “hell” man could depict! But, then again we all have this one lifetime to ponder the gift of eternity that resides within us.
What about you? Is this life worth living because you have discovered seeking God’s will, ways and wisdom reveals God’s purpose for your lifetime. Has your search revealed that God has orchestrated your lifetime so you can ponder the joy of eternity with Him? Do you have that assurance within you that helps you through those trying and difficult days we all face? If not, begin today realizing God has an eternal gift for you. You may struggle with all the world shouting around you daily, but I’ve found God invites your skepticism and doubts as a beginning of understanding his gift of eternity. Begin by walking out on the next clear night and stare into the heavens and ponder the cause, the creator behind all of creation. God will do the rest…
Words of Wisdom #224-8EC
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