Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Love of Labor (2)

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor - it is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

In a previous post, I wrote about Solomon's observation that it was a blessing of God to eat, drink and enjoy his labor. Here again in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, he repeats something similar. As a basic theme in life, laboring that results in eating one's food and drinking one's wine is a gift from God. Not only this, but labor that can result in eating and drinking is a labor that is good. Solomon notes several times in Ecclesiastes that laboring only to have the product of one's labor go to others is a severe evil.

I desire to rejoice over eating and drinking from my labor. I am praying for this gift from God. To my readers: What about you? Do you ever pray for anything like this? Is this what Jesus means when He teaches us to pray, "give us this day our daily bread"? I'd like to hear your opinions.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Wisdom of Solomon

For at the window of my house I looked out through my lattice, and I saw among the naive, I discerned among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing through the street near her corner; and he takes the way to her house... Proverbs 7:6-8

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2

King Solomon wrote a good deal of wise things, and much of his writing found in the bible is found in what are considered the "wisdom books." Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. In my estimation, I would say Solomon was a "people watcher." He watched other people's actions and lives. He took note of them. He saw patterns in living. He made special notes of cause and effect. He was informed. He knew God's precepts and the advantages and disadvantages of following them. He knew what blessings and curses were. He knew what certain life situations "felt" like to people; even to himself, and he knew these things aside from what God's word really meant.

If I could summarize Solomon's writing in a short quote I would say the following. "I spent a good part of my life acting like a fool, and all of my life watching others act like fools. I've learned my lessons, and I'm telling you about them so you don't have to suffer quite as many consequences. Everybody suffers simply from being human, but listen to God so that your suffering might be less."

Wisdom is applying knowledge to life. Solomon knew how to do that. We should listen to him.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

PILGRIMS PUB: A Learner's Permit for Drinking

PILGRIMS PUB: A Learner's Permit for Drinking

Jason at Pilgrims Pub posts a letter from a high school student asking why there is no means for an adult to learn to drink responsibly, with practice and preparation, instead of suddenly being allowed by law one day.

In the eyes of the all-knowing state, we become adults when we turn 18, yet aren't allowed to drink until 21. I wonder if anybody else ever realizes that most of the problem drinking in our country is for those aged 18-21 (read: college underclassmen). Coincidence? Hardly.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mt. Diablo

I grew up with a mountain in my backyard, Mt. Diablo (Devil's Mountain). Located 35 miles east of San Francisco on the edge of California's great Central Valley, this mountain stands a modest 3,849 feet above sea level. Yet, because of the valley and proximity to the ocean, in terms of viewable land area from its summit Mt. Diablo boasts the second grandest view on the entire face of the earth. Only Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa has a greater view.

The summit is accessible by road, and the views are spectacular. One can see over the Oakland Hills and view San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge and on a clear day, the Farallon Islands 35 miles out into the ocean. East, one can see Half Dome at Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountains. North, one can see Lassen Peak, and each direction the views through the valley are extensive. The Sacramento river delta is easily seen, as are many cities and towns all over the area.

There are many hiking trails, and a museum on top of the peak. Hang gliders jump off the south ridge and out into the sky. I took my seven year old up there week before last. I hope to have more pictures soon.


"Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces..." Esther 1:1

Mrs. Scott was invited to a women's bible study by a friend, and they were reading the book of Esther. She commented that she wanted to read it. Yesterday we parked at the train station, where the stalls are numbered. I parked in stall 127. Numerology? Nah, I just wanted to have an easy way to remember where we parked.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ecclesiastes Thread?

I'm reading Ecclesiastes right now, and it seems that a thread on Solomon's thinking is in the works on this blog. I don't think I'll make these posts into a series of connected ideas, but may just offer random comments on Solomon's observations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Love of Labor

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen, that it is from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:24

I have been reading the book of Ecclesiastes lately, and have been pondering it for a while now. Being out of work and trying to decide what more to do in life, what to do next, why do it at all, I keep coming back to certain sayings in the book that have long given me a sense that there is something missing. There are several verses that say something similar to this one. These are Solomon's versions of Miller Time.

A day of labor, even if hard, can result in satisfaction. Taking joy in the labor of one's hands and marking the progress. Celebrating the accomplishment of labor with a cold beer with friends. The end of a day of labor can bring a sense of completion. I've lacked this in much of my professional life in the business world, but have found it in home projects, whether woodworking, consructing a patio, or a kitchen remodel. I always find it extremely difficult to relax in life. I'd like to get some kind of work that will allow me to do that.

Whatever I do next, I pray that I might be able to see the end of each day as a gift from God's hand. Am I dreaming or asking too much?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Division of Labor (2)

An anonymous commenter anonymously commented on my division of labor post:

"I wonder if this applies to "outta sight, outta mind"? The other problem I see/experience in this is if people can't afford it, it doesn't matter how good it is, if people can't afford it, they won't buy it."

Yes, I thought about this. So, maybe making yourself available/scarce is a double edged sword? I've probably thought about these things so many times, just not in certain terms.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Division of Labor: Excellence as Scarcity

Julie Neidlinger at Lone Prairie writes about scarcity. Excellence is a form of scarcity, as a book she's reading puts it. I've never thought of it in those terms, but I quickly identified it with the biblical concept (an economic one, too) of division of labor that Ron McKenzie is writing about at Blessed Economist. The concept of division of labor means that people can focus on things they are good at - becoming excellent in those things - and increase the overall standard of living in society.

Being scarce means that with you in low supply, the price fetched for your services can increase. If somebody has general knowledge and skill in a particular area, and you have specific knowledge, you demand a higher price. The buyer can pay one amount for an okay level of service, or a higher amount for excellence. With everybody making themselves more scarce, they can command greater prices, thus making more and being able to hire more people who specialize in more things. This can work with people relationships, too, as Julie points out when she says, "making oneself scarce is no foolish thing." Now, if I can apply this to looking for a job...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Remember The Joy? What Happened to the Spark?

I've heard numerous times from people, and often from sermons, "Remember the joy you experienced upon your conversion to Christ? Remember how you could hardly contain yourself, and you had to go out and tell everybody you knew about your new faith? Remember how you witnessed the gospel to everybody? How you couldn't stop praising God? How you couldn't stop reading your bible? What happened since then? What happened to that spark? You need to have that spark renewed in your life."

It is amazing how many people take this view of converting to Christ. To them, it's as if this is the only way it does ever happen. But for me, it didn't happen anything like this at all. Far from it. My conversion was one of much confusion. Fear. I heard the gospel, yes, and realized the need to repent from my sins, but I saw God as a figure of terror, not so much as a loving Father. I was terrified to tell others about my experience. My first group of religious leaders were legalists and they really twisted the meaning of Christianity. I heard about Christianity for years, then my conversion didn't happen in a single moment, but somewhere within a period of eight or nine months.

One troublesome thing for me is in just how often people have a narrow idea of what Christianity, and all of its smaller pieces, looks like for other people. I think next time I hear something like this, I'll try to inform the one who is speaking that life isn't like his/her expectations.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Preaching To The Poor and Blind and Naked

"Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see." quote from The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God - Revelation 3:17-18

I reflected on a conversation I had with a friend about something in my church past. I have rarely ever desired to be a preacher, but on those rare occasions, the above text might have been tempting.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Proper Church Authority and Submission To It

Ron McKenzie at Blessed Economist paints a portrait of pastoral authority in the church and what submission to that authority looks like. What Ron describes looks nothing like what most of the church today looks like. Quoting:

Christian submission is different from worldly submission, because its purpose is protection against error. Christians submit to an elder by giving the elder permission to speak in to their life. ... The elders will know the Christian well, so they will notice any mistakes. Elders have authority ask the tough questions, that no one else will ask. ... Elders must know their disciples well enough to see their hidden mistakes, and they must love them enough to challenge them, even at the risk of losing their friendship. Many Christians fall away when they make a bad decision or slip back into persistent sin. This often happens, because no one loves them enough to challenge them, at the time of their first mistake.

I constantly hear of people leaving churches in large numbers. What I never hear is how these people departed only after the shepherds left the other 99 sheep in the flock to pursue them. Either shepherds don't know their sheep or they know enough about how to control them with improper authority that they leave. I suspect both in today's evangelicalism.