Wednesday, April 22, 2009


As I begin to read Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, right off, my spirit is reminded of so much scripture and I think…how am I going to fit all this in one blog? So, I pray that the Lord will give me what HE wants me to write.

Verse 1, short as it is, is full of wisdom. I could write a four-point sermon on verse 1 - all by itself…yeah.. But, I will hit upon all four points in brief and expand on only one, as the Lord is leading me. The four points are:

1. Walk prudently when you go to the house of God – remember that your place of worship is God’s house. Behave with respect as if you are standing before the Lord Himself – because you are. Remember you are standing on holy ground…Exodus 3:5
2. Draw near to hear – remembering always that when you are in God’s house, you are there to hear God’s will and to learn so that when life presents the unexpected that you know how you are to behave. You “hear” from God on a personal level, taking what you “hear” into obedience.
3. Rather than to give the sacrifice of fools – God had much to say about our sacrifices. First, I want to relay a story from I Samuel, then a message from God, delivered by His prophet, Isaiah…

In Samuel I, Chapter 15, the Lord charged Samuel to anoint Saul as king and to send Saul into battle to punish Amalek for what he did to Israel. The Lord’s instructions were to destroy all men, women, children and livestock – sparing none. Apparently, Saul did not listen very well and this is what he heard: ‘Spare King Agag and let your people do as they determine is right…’ You think???

So, Saul attacked the Amalekites, intending to do God’s will as he has “reasoned” is God’s will. He spared King Agag and his men plundered the best of the livestock. Afterward, Saul went to Carmel to make a monument for himself. Hmmm….naughty boy worshiping himself?

When the Lord told Samuel what Saul had done, Samuel was grieved, so he went looking for Saul. When he caught up with him, Saul was well pleased with himself because he believed that he had done the bidding of God. Samuel confronted Saul about the livestock. First Saul lied, and then he blamed “the people” for taking the livestock, saying it was for sacrifice to the Lord.

So Samuel said:
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
I Samuel 15:22

And, just so, did God’s favor for Saul come to a sad end – over because of disobedience. Sacrifices do not please the Lord. It is your obedience that pleases the Lord. And partial obedience is the same as disobedience. You can’t do things according to the joint will of you and the Lord – nope. You cannot please the Lord if you partly obey Him and the rest is your own will.

In Isaiah, Chapter 1, Isaiah relays God’s call to repentance. It is too lengthy to write here, so I hope you will read the whole chapter. In Isaiah 1, God recounts the rebellion of His people as a sinful nation, backslidden, brood of evildoers and corrupt. A people who have forsaken the Lord. God says the whole head is sick. He could have been saying the same in the 21st century – probably IS saying the same thing! But, as interesting as that is, I want to move into what the Lord has to say about sacrifices.


“To what purpose is the multitude of your
sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of
rams and the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.
When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts?
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity
and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.”
Isaiah 1:11-15


And, there I will leave it – for the Holy Spirit to speak to you personally while I hope that you read the rest of Isaiah, Chapter 1.

4. For they do not know that they do evil – quite simply stated is because they did not first seek the Will of God.

Next, Solomon speaks of the words we speak. Here again, my spirit is flooded with much scripture about the mouth… You see, I had much to learn about the mouth and what I learned is another whole blog. So, pardon me if I, once again, share what the Lord is giving me to share. Maybe later on I will write about the mouth….

Solomon speaks of vows. His language is in the form of a warning. Solomon tells us to not be hasty when making a vow before the Lord (as all vows are) and to let our words be few..he says a fool’s voice is known by his many words… He urges that IF you make a vow to God, that you do not delay to pay it because God has no pleasure in fools. He goes on to say that it is better to not vow than to vow and not pay.

While you think about that, I will relay a little story found in Judges 11. The people of Ammon made war against Israel. Jephthah, commander of Gilead, made a vow to the Lord…


And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said,
“If You will indeed deliver the
People of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my
House to meet me, when I return in peace
from the people of Ammon,
Shall surely be the Lord’s,
and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
Judges 11:30-31


If you know this story, you know that Jephthah was successful in the defeat of the Ammonites. When he returned to his house at Mizpah, his daughter, HIS ONLY CHILD, came out to meet him “with timbrels and dancing”….happy to meet her beloved father who was returning from battle. This story did not have a happy ending, but if you want to read it, the end of the story is found in Judges 11:35-39. How foolish was Jephthah’s vow? And, remember… God isn’t even pleased by burned offerings! All God wants from us is obedience… If God had told Jephthah that He required Jephthah’s daughter, it would be one thing, but God did not… Jephthah made a very unnecessary vow.

I remember back in the ‘60’s, a story I read about a woman who begged God to let her son live and if God would let him live, then she (the mother) vowed to eat frogs for the rest of her life. I thought about that vow a lot over the years. In the news article, they reported that the boy lived and the mother was living on a diet of frogs. I have wondered many times over the last 45 years, or so, how long did that woman keep her vow to God and eat nothing but frogs??? As a teenager, I saw the vow for what it was….foolish. But, what happened? Curiosity sent me to Google, but I couldn’t find any reference to a mother eating a frog diet. (Hey…it was worth a try…I love to Google…) Whether she continued with her diet of frogs or not is not important here. What is important is that we must be careful in what we vow to God or to each other, for that matter. Consider carefully before vowing anything and do not vow often….

It also reminds me of how I was raised. In my mind, a vow and a promise are the same. My parents did not tolerate any nonsense when it came to promises. My sisters and I were taught the importance of a promise. We were taught that we should be careful of what we promise and make no promises without first considering if we could, or would, or wanted to do what we were about to promise. With that said, I can assure you that if you receive a promise from one of my sisters or me, we will fulfill that promise as quickly as possible and as promised, even if we no longer want to do as we promised. Or, as we say in my family…You must keep a promise - even if it hurts…

Solomon cautions us to not allow our mouth to cause our flesh to sin. If we make a vow or a promise that we do not keep, it would have been better for all if the vow had not been made to start with. To break a vow is to cause our flesh to sin. How much better it is when vows are not made unnecessarily or in haste?

Beginning in verse 8, Solomon abruptly changes his topic to labor and money. First he says we should not be surprised when we see government oppressing the poor, and denying them justice and their rights. Solomon goes on to say that every government official is protected by higher officials. He concludes this short portion of scripture by saying that the profit of the land is for all and that even the king depends upon the harvest. Solomon follows up with his conclusions about money:

1. If you love money, you will never be satisfied.
2. The richer you are, the more money you will need.
3. A working man sleeps a sweet sleep.
4. Worries about money keeps the rich man from sleeping well.
5. It is a terrible thing to save money so that you can leave an inheritance to your children, then to lose it all through misfortune.
6. You enter the world with nothing, labor your whole life and then leave the world the same way you entered – with nothing.
7. Whatever you gained while in life is left behind when you die. You can’t take it with you!
8. We get to live our lives in darkness, grief, sickness and anger.
9. What profit has he who has labored for the wind?

Once again, Solomon concludes that it is better to eat and drink and enjoy what he has worked for; this is man’s fate. If God has given a man wealth and property, and allows man to enjoy them, he should be thankful and enjoy what he has worked for because it is a gift from God.

It is with no little sadness that I dig up a memory to share with you. When I was a child, there was something said often that some would not understand, but that I understood well. It was this…”Don’t use that. I am saving it for good.” This meant that something was being saved to use on a future day for some special event – that imaginary, bright, happy day in the future that would be worthy for use of the item being saved. It was my Mom who always said that – all through her life. I encouraged her to use her possessions – to enjoy them. She did not. Mom died last November, leaving personal property in three states. It was my sad task to sort and make disposition of the Florida property. Even sadder was the discovery of boxes packed up for a better day – once new items grown old and dusty, rusty, yellowed or spotted with age – still in original packaging – never used.

I found a little Christmas soap that was given to Mom by her small great granddaughter a few years ago. I remember also receiving my own little Christmas soap. The soap had a delightful fragrance and every time I washed my hands with that soap, I smelled it, I lingered, enjoying every moment, and I smiled while thinking about my little niece and her wonderful gift of love. I ENJOYED that little soap and when it was gone, I continued to enjoy the memory. I knew Mom was “saving” her soap, so I encouraged Mom to use her soap and enjoy it as I was doing. I told her that the soap would lose its fragrance after a while…to use it and enjoy it. Sadly…she never enjoyed that little Christmas soap. The soap was spotted with age and smelled badly…And I was extremely sad as I gently laid the little gift of love in the trash can.

Sunday, April 19, 2009



“That’s not fair…” When I hear someone say this, I immediately think about a man that I worked with many years ago. He was the head of our organization – a wise and accomplished man. He had an answer each time someone said this. He always said… “Life is not fair. The only fair I know about is the one that comes once a year - out on West 50.”

Heh… Did you ever get tired of hearing one liners? Oh yeah…I cringed every time someone said something was not fair in this man’s presence, because I knew what his next words would be. It got really old!! But, it is so true… There is nothing that is “fair”.

When tragedy strikes, we begin to question why God would allow such a thing to happen. Many non-believers have said these words… “If your God is such a loving God, then why did He allow such and such to happen?” Well…unfortunately, you will not find the answer here because I cannot answer that question, nor does anyone else know the answer. Only God knows. I prefer to think that God knows what He is doing…but that is just me… I know that nothing is fair about life. But, I do know that I can adjust my attitude about how I handle the things in life that I would just rather had not happened… You know?

“Fairness” has always been a really big issue in my life. I grew up under the “Fairness Doctrine”. Oh yeah…my Mom taught us that everything had to be fair. I have two sisters, the same as Mom did. As the middle child, Mom often felt neglected by her own mother, so she decided that no child of hers would ever feel left out. So, the last piece of cake would get carefully cut into precise thirds. If we were given candy ~ jelly beans for instance ~ we waited patiently while 3 little piles were carefully counted to be equal. The number of gifts received at Christmas would be equal for each of the three of us. She even made sure that the same amount of money was allotted to be spent on each of us. We understood that at times, lots must be cast to make sure no favor was shown for one child over another. We grew up with all of the “lot” type activities ~ you know the ones of which I speak… We drew straws, we did the paper/rock/scissors and eenie, meenie, miney, mo things… and dice…

haha… gotcha! NO, we did not throw dice…but we understood the concept. Heh…yeah… At a very early age, we understood words like fair and equal.

Sadly, there was a reason why my Grandmother may have kept my Mother at an arm’s length – emotionally at a minimum. While Grandma was pregnant with my Mother, her 3 year old son, David, became ill and died. He died in 1927, but I guarantee you that every person in my family and in my generation and some in the next, know who David was because he was kept “alive” by Gram – never allowing him to be forgotten. When David died, my Aunt Bev was an infant, already welcomed and already loved. My aunt was also very ill at the time David died. My Grandmother went from two children to one and a fear that the other might die as well. It must have been a horrible time in Grandma’s life. As time moved on, Grandma did not get over the loss of her only son. She made no secret of the fact that she would, willingly, have traded the life of my Mom for the life of David. She said so… and my Mom overheard her say it. My Mom was born to a Mother who was so lost in her grief that she really didn’t want my Mom. My Mom’s life as a child was much like a small shadow, living in the shadow of a ghost brother she never knew. Later, a third daughter was born, who lived the life typical of a youngest child and spoiled beyond belief. My Mother’s perception of her world was that both older and younger sister were loved, but she was not. Whether that was true or not does not matter because our perceptions become our realities and our realities become our truths. And from those perceptions are born our outlook on life and subsequent actions and beliefs. Mom tried all the usual tactics of a child who did not feel loved. She tried to be really good all the time. She did not do things to grieve her parents. She simply existed – desperately trying to please her Mother. She did have the complete love of a good Father, but there was always that void in her life, that perception that one was favored over another and she was not the one favored. This feeling persisted as my Mother grew. She said that Gram would often say… “If David were here, he would be _______ (playing football, going to the prom, graduating from high school…fill in the blank…). For my Mother, it was like growing up with a ghost. Mom said that the last time Gram used that phrase was at the time David would have graduated high school. For the last time, Gram said “If David were here, he would be going to war.” Mom said with that sad realization that David may have only lived to die in war, Grandma let David go. It was all vanity and the answer was blowing in the wind.

In the first 3 verses of Chapter 4, Solomon considers the life of the oppressed, comparing praise for the dead to the one who has never existed. He concludes that it is better to have never existed to start with. As a child, my Mother felt oppressed. She lived with praise for the dead. Mom thought it would have been better if she had never been born…she said so. However…she was here and she lived a life that was a balancing act. Careful to never offend her Mother who she never believed wanted her. The “balancing act” continued into her adult life. She was always careful to be the good daughter, the good wife and the good Mother. It was out of this careful balancing act that was born her “fairness doctrine”. I also have 2 sisters. My Mother was determined that my middle sister would NEVER feel like the unwanted, neglected middle child. In my Mother’s perception, the middle child gets lost in the family because that is what happened to her. Mom was careful that everything was FAIR AND EQUAL between my sisters and me. My “middle sister” never got lost in our family. Mom made sure that my middle sister never felt the way she herself felt while growing up. It is noble that my Mom felt this way and translated her feelings into actions. Yes…that was a good thing. It gave my sisters and me a good foundation for understanding fairness, but on the other hand, were our expectations realistic? REALLY??? Anybody who has spent much time on this earth knows that there is nothing fair about life! Upon entering the adult world, I was let down considerably by how unfair it is out there in the world… I didn’t know just exactly how unfair the world was because I grew up under the “fairness doctrine”! I can tell you that an upbringing like I had was good in many ways, but leaves one unprepared for the inequity and the unjust aspects of life we learn when we become adults and step out into the world. There is no “fair”…under the sun. And, I also conclude that it is all vanity and grasping for the wind.

More on Labor: Solomon again considers labor as vanity. He considers that the fool may be better off than the one who has his hands full of toil and grasping for the wind. (Vs 5 & 6) He sees that even one alone, without companion or son or brother, labors towards riches, never satisfied and never asking “For whom do I toil…? (Vs 8) This type of person works hard, amasses a fortune, but for what? He has no one with which to share, or even a son to inherit because he made his whole life about getting wealthy, perhaps leaving no time for a family. He succeeds by the worldly standards, but not without personal cost because he has no family, he has no love… He has no one to share life with him. His life is empty regardless of his wealth. Sad for me to think of such a man… Ebenezer Scrooge comes to mind… Solomon concludes that it is “vanity and a grave misfortune”.

He continues to reason that two are better than one because that is a reward for labor…for if one falls, the other can lift up, but woe on the man who is alone because who will lift him up when he falls? Also, as one alone has no extra warmth and if two can warm each other, how much better to be three?

Though one may be
Overpowered by another,
Two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Solomon concludes that being alone is not a good thing, two is better, but a threefold cord is not quickly broken…. When the enemy comes against us, the person with no one may be overpowered, whereas, two or more have the strength to withstand. And though two have strength, if you add a third, additional strength is added. I have always thought that this scripture pertains to God being the third person who adds strength enough to bind the enemy. We have victory when God is our third cord… And if our work comes between us and God, family or friends… it is foolishness.

Solomon also considers that it is better to be a poor and wise young man than a rich and foolish old king who the Lord no longer chastises. Even the man who has a rich and successful life will be replaced one day by a younger man. So, why lose your life, love and companionship while trying to make a name for yourself and while striving to become rich? It’s all vanity and really for nothing…

Don’t take your job so seriously because your job does not define you, nor will it keep you warm when all else has been lost while you toil for recognition and fortune… Remember…LIFE IS NOT FAIR! When you reach the goal post and look around, will anybody be there? Or have you lived a life in vain? God did not intend for man to be alone, living in a paradise with all comforts, or He would not have created Eve.

And the Lord God said,
“It is not good that man should be alone;
I will make him a helper comparable to him.”Genesis 2:18

Wrapping up Chapter 4, we find Solomon’s opinion on youth and old age. Contrary to the general opinion that wisdom lies with the elderly, Solomon points out that we may have forgotten the lessons of our youth to become foolish. He opines that it is better to be poor and wise in one’s youth, than to be king and too foolish to take advice in his old age. He continues this line of thought with the fact that there will always be a young man to take the place of the king. And he adds that when the old king is gone, no one will be grateful for what he has done anyway, so it is all useless…like chasing the wind…

This made me think back and recall some things about my own life. I worked in human resources in state government for 36 years before retiring. Many years ago, when I first started in my career, the personnel manager watched me work like there was no tomorrow. I worked all day, and then I took work home at night. I preferred to think I was dedicated and hard working, but from the perspective of age, I know that I was simply an ambitious young lady who wanted a good career, but lacked the wisdom to prioritize and organize. I had a lot to learn, so work flow was often interrupted while I went seeking through state rules and regulations for answers that later became ready knowledge. The manager, seeing the work habits I was developing, decided it was time to share some wisdom with me. This from the perspective of his age, no doubt… He told me that there are two things that I need to know… But, first, he wanted me to visualize myself putting my fist into a bucket of water, then pull it out. He asked me how long the hole stays there in the bucket of water. Once I understood that there would be no hole, he went on with the two things I needed to understand. The first thing is that if I am killed on the highway on my way home after work, someone would be sitting in my chair, doing my job, within a week or so. The second thing…when you are gone, everything is your fault because you will be blamed for everything found to be wrong after you leave. I never forgot the bucket of water analogy, nor did I forget that I was not the only person who could do my job.

I’m not saying you should not give your best to a job. I’m just saying that you should not over estimate your own importance. I would add a postscript to his advice…from the perspective of age…mine this time…when once you were the young whippersnapper, remember that when you are old, there will be another young whippersnapper to take your place. And the new whippersnapper will do as good a job as you did and maybe better. It is vanity to think otherwise.

Once again…I would like to remind you to stop, enjoy your life and smell the flowers along life’s way…

And, be the best friend you can be because you never know when you might be the one to make a difference in someone else’s life.

This concludes Chapter 4. Thank you for studying along with me as I share what Ecclesiastes means to me and how I translate it into real meaning for my life. I hope you also see how this book relates to your life as well. Please continue with me in Chapter 5. It will be up soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


When my Dad entered the hospital for the last time, something deep inside of me knew it was his time to go home to the Lord. Yet, I had a tenacious hold on HOPE and FAITH that God would not take MY Dad. And nagging at the back of my mind was the fact that God is God and just because I ask…well….more like beg, HE is not obligated to give me what I want. I wanted my Dad and this was a really BIG BIGGIE in my life. With that, once again, I began mulling the “time thing” over and over in my mind.

Many times in the past, I had wrestled with the belief that we each had an appointed time to be born and to die. Now…in January 2004, I was face to face with the issue. I had to know… I struggled with the “time to die” concept mainly because it is clear that many people died prematurely, by our standards, by accident, suicide or murder. I cannot believe that a loving God sits on His throne and decides, before birth, that someone will be murdered, or die a horrible death in a fire, auto accident, suicide, or even a slow suicide by addictions or any death that is not a natural death. I do believe that in many cases, it was the free will choices that led to an early death. We all have free will and I believe that the very same free will changes things. For instance, I do not believe that at some time before a drug addict was born that God “decided” the specific date the addict would die and that it would be by drug overdose. No…our God is not like that…of this, I am sure. A drug addict has free will and it was that free will that ultimately takes the addict’s life because he/she chose to use drugs. God didn’t choose that for anyone. I pondered the “time to die” scripture for a very long time and I could never completely wrap my mind around it. Many times the timing of one thing hinges on an earlier event. We can take it all back to the free will that has been given by God and the domino effect that will follow a free will decision.

On the other side of the coin, I do believe that God has a plan for each life…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares
The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

And that MAY include an appointed time to die…IF that person lives a righteous life according to the known Word of God, which is God’s will, and not by their own free will by pursuing things not righteous. If a person lives a righteous life and the full measure that God had for him had been lived out, as I believe my Dad did, then I can agree that just possibly we have a specific moment in our future when we will meet God. Well, this will not be the spoiler blog…you will have to wait until the end of the study of Ecclesiastes to see why I believe this and how it played out in my spirit to this conclusion…

Before we dig into Chapter 3, I need to say that the Book of Ecclesiastes is a philosophical book and is the only book of the Bible that is the closest to pure philosophy. These were Solomon’s thoughts, impressions and beliefs. The Book of Ecclesiastes IS God inspired, but it is not a statement of fact, nor is it a rule book. Ecclesiastes should not be taken literally, but, instead, should provide food for thought and spiritual growth. For me, the book was beneficial in putting life into perspective. As this study progresses, I hope it will do the same for others.

In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Solomon recognizes that there are established patterns in nature and of life. There IS a “time” for everything under the sun. At the end of a gestation period, it is time to give birth. Every person will die at “some time”. A farmer plants one time of the year and reaps at another time of the year. A time to kill may pertain to warfare, considering the author of the book and the time in history. I remind myself that these are Solomon’s thoughts; therefore I must also consider the events of his time and his experiences during the same time. Considering all of that, I must look at the “time verses” in the same light as by Solomon. When he states in verse 1 that to everything, there is a season. I look at that as an interesting statement because seasons are not all alike. For instance, in planting season, the time that you plant may hinge on the last frost; yet planting must take place during a specific time frame – a season... In Florida, we have a “rainy season”. We don’t always have a lot of rain during rainy season, but it is still “rainy season”. Things change – seasons change – our seasons are defined by what we normally expect, but we recognize that the abnormal does show up – out of season. We have a ready example this week. It is the Spring Season. In spring, we think of new and tender shoots of green beginning to grow, early flowers, the sun warming us after a long winter. But, this week, the first week of April, there was snow in places where no more snow was expected. Yesterday in Florida, the “March Winds” arrived…in April and last night was unseasonably cold…for Florida. It really doesn’t feel like the spring season as we know it, yet the calendar tells us it is spring. I think we can safely say that time marches on and seasons will repeat themselves year after year, but there will be deviations from the normal. And, I think we can see that we cannot attach rigid specifics to time or seasons. In my humble opinion, I believe this is what Solomon means in his “time” verses.
.. ..
Recognizing that our life comes down to be just “a season”, Solomon re-examines the labor in our lives. Certainly some labor is necessary to provide those things we need – food, shelter and clothing. But, he quickly moves from the aspect of physical labor into the realm of God-given tasks.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
I have seen the God-given task with which the
Sons of men are to be occupied.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts,
Except that no one can find out the work that
God does from the beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Solomon recognizes that God exists and that, though His ways are mysterious, they are right. Our whole life is in God’s hands and our attitudes, actions and beliefs towards and about God will determine what kind of life we have IN Him or without Him. We cannot know all that our human condition desires to know about God, but what we do know is that for the man who seeks God, things begin to make sense. Not only does he see life in a new light, but he acquires wisdom, knowledge and joy. This is the gift from God for the man who seeks Him and who loves God enough to submit and obey Him. And, can we all agree that when we seek to really know God, our life may well be as He desired for us? That we may live that “full measure” that God intended for us at the moment of our conception?

But, you say… WHOA… What about the person who is living for God, but dies suddenly in the prime of life, through no action of his own??? Well, I can only remind you that God has mysterious ways and we cannot see or understand neither the beginning, nor the end. This leaves only TRUST and FAITH. Sometimes that is all you have to hang onto in times of trial, but hang on you must!

In verse 11, I find a curious statement that God has put eternity in our hearts. In my own philosophizing, I believe that to mean that God has put in our hearts the desire to really know God, to please God and to, eventually, spend eternity with God. To me, that is the ultimate joy. Therefore, I think that Solomon recognizes the same and that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, do good, eat, drink and enjoy their lives, which is the gift of God. Yet, all the while, we can rest in the assurance that all is well in our spirits when we place our faith and trust in God and live a life pleasing to God. And when the things come that we do not understand, we do well to remind ourselves….

I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should
Fear before Him.
Ecclesiastes 3:14

Fear: acknowledge, honor, respect. For understanding, please read my blog – Fear the Lord – dated 8/11/08.

Further, Solomon understands there will be judgment, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (vs. 17)

Solomon decides that we are no different than the animal. “As one dies, so does the other”; man has no advantage over the animal; all is vanity (vs. 19). “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (vs. 20) In verse 21, Solomon concedes that man really doesn’t know if a man’s spirit goes up and the animal’s spirit goes down to the earth. This scripture pleases me because I have had many, many pets in my lifetime…each one dear to me, grieved and greatly missed after they were gone. Many view this verse as being the know all, end all verse that confirms that there will not be animals in heaven. To that I say… Hogwash! We do not know where spirits go – not man and not animal. The wisest man ever to walk the face of the earth, Solomon, did not understand this mystery either. To look into the eyes of a beloved pet, one KNOWS BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that there is intelligence, understanding, love, need – a soul and a SPIRIT. It’s all there….in the eyes…the window to the soul.

So, you see…man is not that different from an animal and in that, Solomon was correct… We all die and return to dust, but we do not know where each spirit will go. It is all speculation while in the flesh, therefore, I save the energy it would take to argue whether my beloved pets will be in heaven or not. I believe they will and that is enough for me!

I’m going to digress for a minute…. I often said that everything I know about FAITH, I learned from my dog. This is true… I had a wonderful dog who lived to be 17 years old. Her name was Elvira. Elvira was with me during my faith-growing years. I learned much from her. She trusted me. She knew that she didn’t have to bark or act out to get my attention because she knew that I would take care of her every need. She believed that I would feed her when she was hungry. She understood that I cared for her and would always do so. She had FAITH that I would be there for her in every situation. I came to understand that FAITH in God is likewise…through the eyes of my dog!

Elvira knew that I loved her. And, I knew that Elvira loved me with the purest love known – that unconditional love rarely displayed in man, yet found in abundance in a dog. Given that capacity to LOVE…do you think for one minute that God does not have a place in heaven for animals? But, like Solomon, I do not know where our spirit will go. However, like Elvira, I have faith that God knows the love between man and pet, for who do we think PUT that love into the spirit of a beloved pet? And that FAITH lets me believe that one day our spirits, mine and Elvira’s, will dwell together in the same place.

And then there is this to consider… in God’s new heaven & earth (Isaiah 65:17-25), there are ANIMALS ~ CANINES (WOLVES) AND FELINES (LIONS)!!!

Thank you for bearing with me while I remembered Elvira. She was a blessing! And, I do so hope to see her again one bright day ~ when we all are together again in God’s new heaven and earth!

WELL!!! THAT being said…. Back to Solomon – who concludes Chapter 3 with his perception that nothing is better than that we should rejoice in our works, for that is our heritage and we cannot see into the future anyway.

Chapter 3 is the very reason that I was led to study the Book of Ecclesiastes in 2004. I pretty much knew that the chances of my Dad surviving another heart surgery at age 75 was slim. When he was admitted to the hospital, I began garnering strength from wherever I could from God’s Word. Ecclesiastes 3:2 naturally came to mind and while I was reading, His Holy Spirit came strongly to my consciousness to show me that this book was where my strength would come from. Trusting the Lord in all that I had within me, I embarked on a study that not only carried me through the difficult days ahead at that time, but other difficult days and situations since that time. Not because it is a “rule book”, but because the Book of Ecclesiastes makes you think about what you really believe…. At least it did for me and I am hoping for the same for YOU.

May God bless each of you who remained while I rambled on in thoughts and about my dog during the study of Chapter 3. I pray that you will join me in Chapter 4 soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009


In Chapter 2 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon contemplates pleasure, attainment and labor, first from hedonistic, then from materialistic points of view.

he·don·ism (hēd'n-ĭz'əm) n.

1. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.

2. Philosophy of hedonism: The ethical doctrine holding that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good.

3. Psychology of hedonism: The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The Vanity of Pleasure: In verses 1-3, Solomon briefly examines pleasure and quickly comes to the conclusion that happiness is not found in entertainment. Just because you laugh, drink and enjoy your pleasure, does not mean you have found true happiness. Often times, pleasure is used as an escape from the things in life that are unpleasant and when the entertainment is over, you crash back into the reality of your unhappy life. Pleasure is in vain as it pertains to the meaning of life.
I blame my generation for making pleasure the epitome of our existence. Shame on the flower children. How did my generation justify the pursuit of pleasure? There was an expression – “If it feels good, do it.” Sad but true…this expression was on almost everybody’s lips of the day. They justified sexual gratification by declaring that “God is Love”. Some went even further by using just enough scriptural knowledge to form communes to live out their hedonistic philosophy. In the commune lifestyle, it was “free love”, drugs and a combining of resources so that the commune community could spend all of their time in the pursuit of pleasure and not materialism. Hmmm…this leads us to the next point. It seems that Solomon had an opinion about materialism as well.

Well, Thank You God that You gave me the parents that You did because I was not really a citizen of that world. No siree….my parents would have yanked me out of such a lifestyle and made me wish I had not even glanced in that direction. I am grateful that I had such parents.

ma·te·ri·al·ism (mə-tîr'ē-ə-lĭz'əm) n.

1. Philosophy of materialism: The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

2. The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.

3. A great or excessive regard for worldly concerns.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The Vanity of Attainment: Solomon acquired much in his life. His wealth and possessions were great and he excelled more than all the Kings of Jerusalem who lived before him (vs. 9) and his wisdom remained with him throughout his reign. Yet, when he looked upon all he had attained, Solomon realized that all was, once again, vanity.

Then I looked on all the works
That my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed, all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 2:11

I can relate… I worked from age 18 until 60. During this period of time, I attained much. Sometime during my 50’s I came to realize that possessions did not make me happy. I was and am a very happy person, but not because of all I owned. In fact, possessions began to feel like a burden. All I wanted was to simplify my life and that meant getting rid of “things”. I find it ironic that I spent approximately 35 years acquiring “things” and then I didn’t want them. And, how much better it would have been if I had kept it simple from the start and saved all the money I spent on “stuff”!!! It was all vanity… “Stuff & things” do not hold the key to the meaning of my life.

Likewise, Solomon’s possessions did not give meaning to his life. And, as he considered further, he examined wisdom compared to folly. He reasons that, in the end, the wise man is no different from the fool.

For there is no more
Remembrance of the wise
Than of the fool forever,
Since all that now is will be
forgotten in the days to come
And how does a wise man die?
As the fool!
Ecclesiastes 2:16

Solomon concludes his contemplation of attainment with this pronouncement that it was not worth the work and stress:

Therefore I hated life because the
work that was done under the sun was
distressing to me, for all is vanity and
grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:17

The Vanity of Labor: Prior examination of “attainment” leads, naturally, into thought about labor. Solomon examines labor – for what? He makes no secret of the fact that he hates that he worked so hard, but only to die and leave his wealth to someone who did not work for it. He reasons that he attained all of his wealth through wisdom, knowledge and skill, yet he must leave his heritage to, not only someone who did not work for it, but quite possibly a fool.

For what has man for all his labor, and for the striving of his heart with which he has toiled under the sun?

For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest.
This also is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

So far, Solomon has examined the reason for life intellectually, hedonistically and materially. Regardless of how successful he was, how much he attained materially, how much pleasure he found; I suspect that Solomon still felt emptiness in his life. I’m thinking that Solomon was thinking….”Why did I bother?” I’m also thinking about that expression “he who dies with the most toys wins”… I think NOT.

Solomon recognizes that, possibly, the key to the meaning of life can only be found in God, but that causes him to consider the difference in what God may give to each… the believer and the sinner. And that this also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy
to a man who is good in his sight;
but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering
and collecting, that he may give to him who is good
before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:26

Enjoy life: Solomon comes to the conclusion that there is nothing better than that man should eat, drink and be happy. Solomon’s message is that we should enjoy life because it is a gift from God and that without Him, our life is labor without joy, which he also concludes is vanity and grasping for the wind.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation
or shadow of turning.
James 1:17

Is this all there is? The answer is blowing in the wind…it remains a mystery. We come to realize all of life is vain or in vain. Our world is flawed and can’t be fixed. We must live our lives the best that we can live it… The empty feeling inside cannot be filled by intellectualism, hedonism or material possessions.

As a happy Christian, I can tell you that empty feeling can be filled by God. And instead of continually striving against the world? King Solomon had some good advice... He decided it is better to enjoy life. My advice? Don't waste your life... Take the time to smell the flowers...

Thank you for joining me in the study of Ecclesiastes. Chapter 3 will be up by the end of the week.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


As we wait for our future to play out, many are holding their breath while waiting. Questions swirl around and around in our minds because of current economy issues. Fear abounds. Some are floundering or sinking. Many are homeless. Holding your breath won’t help…it will only make you feel faint. And this is no time for the faint-hearted. JUST BREATHE…You won’t make it through this hard time if you don’t JUST BREATHE.

I think often about a question that was popular with the flower children of the ‘60’s. The question was phrased differently by some, but basically it was this: “What is the purpose of life?” Unfortunately, the flower children of the ‘60’s thought the answer could be found in some drug induced stupor… Shame on them…. No… no one has, nor ever will be able to answer that question in the natural, but the person who came the closest was King Solomon.

King Solomon was renowned for his wisdom. He pondered the question of our existence and we can read his very thoughts on the subject today in the Book of Ecclesiastes. This particular book of the Bible is short, but powerful. The book flows and the thought pattern is fairly easy to follow. So, I have it in my heart to share Ecclesiastes with whoever is willing to study along with me.

My love for the Book of Ecclesiastes began in January 2004. My Father had congestive heart failure for many years. He entered the hospital in January for valve replacement. The day that my Dad entered the hospital, the Lord placed a burning need in my heart to study – REALLY STUDY – the Book of Ecclesiastes. I began the study the same day and I finished the study the morning that the Lord took my Dad home.

Just a little bit of information is necessary here….I was a Daddy’s girl… Oh yeah…big time! My Mom said that the attachment was strong from infancy. To this day, I am certain that the Lord was preparing me for the death of my Dad. The Lord knows my heart better than I do. He knew that certain questions needed to be answered before I faced what I was to face. He knew that without the prior study of Ecclesiastes, that my faith might not survive the death of my Father. God knew that. I didn’t until my faith was shaken to the very roots. It was because of my in depth study of Ecclesiastes that I was able to cling to my faith through the storm. And God showed me through circumstances that it was positively Daddy’s time to go home. (I am saving the details for a later blog.) My loss was great, but the Lord comforted me through His leading for this study at that critical time in my life. God is merciful… JUST LIKE THAT!

Maybe it is due to my upbringing, or maybe it is something that God put deep in my spirit, I can’t tell you which, but I have always been an optimist. I think there are a lot of optimists… More than the pessimists…I think. I think it is human nature to be more optimistic than pessimistic. We take our optimism and add expectation – mix it up and we have a blended mixture of what we think our life SHOULD be. Well, Solomon said it best:

“Vanity of vanities”, says the Preacher;
“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.
Ecclesiastes 1:2

The Preacher (Solomon) then lists the “vanities”, expounds upon each and concludes with TRUTH.

The Vanity of Human Accomplishments: First, Solomon questions what profit has a man from his labor “under the sun” (in the physical life). Then, we are reminded that generation follows generation – the same as the earth continues to cycle…sunrises, then sunsets, the wind whirls around continually, all rivers run into the sea, says Solomon, to the place from which rivers come, there to return again.

All things are full of labor;
Man cannot express it.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing,
Nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes 1:8

We work to achieve those things we wish to achieve, but we can never circumvent the cycle of life. We all will die…eventually. Solomon concludes this portion by reminding the reader that there really isn’t anything “new”…it is as it always has been and always will be.

Does anyone know their great great grandfather? Do you even know his name? What was his occupation? What did he accomplish in his life? Do you really know what he was like? You are from his blood line, yet you know little to nothing about him. Most of us don’t even have a picture of him for reference. Even if we do have a lot of old pictures, we don’t know our great great grandfather from Adam. Case in point… We will be forgotten after a while… A couple of generations later and you are only a name in a lineage without any memory of you.

We are born, we live and then we die; our remains returned to the earth, as the earth continues to cycle through time. The memory of us lingering briefly, then to fade into forgetfulness. And yet, knowing this, man strives to achieve because he is never satisfied in life. I think it is better to love. Love is remembered longer than the material thing.

The Vanity of Wisdom: Here we see Solomon use past tense when telling that he was king over Israel. This tells us that Solomon wrote this book when he was old. He had already lived most of his life. Right about now, the flower children of the ‘60’s should be coming to understanding “why we are here”… without the drugs!

Remembrance, ponderings and reasoning seem to come more frequently as we age. And, for the most part, that can be a good thing because, in my experience, time and distance has added perspective. I just have to be careful that I stay away from the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve thoughts because those thoughts are completely unproductive and THAT is also vanity.

In the book of Kings I, Chapter 3, Solomon asked God for wisdom so that he could be a good king. God liked that Solomon did not ask for long life, riches or the life of his enemies, but only asked for understanding to discern justice. So God blessed Solomon with the wisdom as he asked and then, because God was pleased with Solomon’s request, God added riches and honor to Solomon’s gift of wisdom.

I have seen all the works
That are under the sun;
And indeed, all is vanity and
Grasping for the wind.
Ecclesiastes 1:14

In his life, Solomon had attained all he desired. He had great wisdom, knowledge, wealth and successes. But, he loved women – many foreign women. Solomon married 700 princesses of royal birth and he had 300 concubines. Solomon had a pattern of using political marriages to establish good foreign relations, but it was contrary to God’s will (see Deuteronomy 17:17). Solomon’s wives turned his heart to other false gods; therefore, his heart was not fully devoted to his true God. (I Kings, Chapter 11) He concludes this portion by confession that he had set his heart to know, not only wisdom, but madness and folly. This he also perceived to be grasping for the wind.

For in much wisdom is much grief,
And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Ecclesiastes 1:18

As you may have guessed, I am a product of the ‘60’s. I love all of the “philosophical” songs of that era. My generation could be best described as seekers of the truth of life. Many songwriters expressed those questions in song. But, of all the philosophical songs, I think one comes closest to the truth. It was this: “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind...the answer is blowing in the wind.”

In our old age, we often reflect on our lives… Well, I do… I think many do. Also in our old age, God gives us a little extra wisdom and that added wisdom sometimes causes sorrow in the remembering. But, even so, we are left wondering just what is the reason for our life…

In conclusion, Solomon has thus far learned that the reason for our life cannot be found in accomplishments or wisdom. What he does know is that he will live, eventually die and ultimately be forgotten.

If you have not already read Chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes, I encourage you to do so and, if you would read along with me, that would be GREAT!

Solomon has explored the meaning of life, intellectually, in Chapter 1, yet we haven’t learned the meaning of life yet. In Chapter 2, he will determine if the meaning of life can be found in hedonism or materialism.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18