Saturday, May 23, 2009





When I was a teenager, my Mom told me that there were three things that I must protect my whole life long. Those things were my good name, my reputation and my credit. I only understood the reputation part, but that only because my Mother talked so much about “getting a reputation” ~ as my Mother put it… At that point in my young life and in my young mind, “getting a reputation” was the same as pre-marital sex. I didn’t want a “reputation”, nor did I think it was wise to protect it ~ if I was to get one… Well ~ so much for what I “thought” I understood…


Now I am older ~ MUCH OLDER ~ and from the perspective of age, I can tell you that my Mother gave me valuable advice. I came to understand that when you “protect” your good name, you are protecting all of it… name, reputation and credit. I understood little about my upcoming “credit”, or how I would protect it. (Actually, back in the day, women weren’t allowed to have their own credit.) Neither did I understand how I was to go about “protecting” my good name…

A good name is to be chosen
Rather than great riches,
Loving favor
Rather than silver and gold.
Proverbs 22:1


But, I was taught well and I CHOSE to protect my good name above all. This meant that in the good times and in the bad times, paying my bills came first. I had my parents as teachers and role models. It really doesn’t get much better than that.


My parents were careful to pay all bills and to pay them on time. I watched my Father work hard to provide for us and I learned, by example, perseverance of a dependable employee. I watched my Mother stretch every dollar and I learned thrifty ways to manage a budget and a home. I knew that the time would come that I would have a job, a home and bills of my own. I understood the importance of being a steady, dependable worker. I understood budgeting and paying all of my bills “on time”. But the most important thing that I learned ~ the one most important tip I can think of to pass along to the younger folks ~ is this: Be responsible with your money and your credit! You will thank yourself later…


And….I am so glad I paid attention to early instruction and the examples set by my parents because it was followed by the biggest quiz of all ~ LIFE~. What I didn’t know is that the “quiz of life” is full of trick questions, dips and curves, mountains and valleys. Kind of like a roller coaster ride!

On the other hand, at the end of the ride, I will certainly be able to shout “Woo Hoo ~ that was some ride!!!”

A good name is better than
Precious ointment,
And the day of death than the
Day of one’s birth
Ecclesiastes 7:1

Solomon knew the value of a good name. In Ecclesiastes 7:1, he called it better than precious ointment. Following that brief statement about a good name, he makes a strange statement about the day of death being better than the day of birth. My reaction in the natural was ~ “What???” “Huh???” I began to think of the births in my family ~ happy days all… I heard the story of the day of my birth ~ happy day ~ funny day because Mom (still drugged up) said she had puppies…LOL… Ahh…hemmm…but I digress. How can the day of death be better than the day of birth? Well, I suppose we think that way because we are still in the middle, or close to the end as in my case, of the quiz of life. We know from experience that the day of birth is a wonderfully, happy day and that the day a loved one died was sad to the max. I have long thought that God’s view of “death” is completely different than the way we view death. I do believe it is a move from the physical to the spiritual, but since I haven’t been there – yet – I cannot state it as fact. What I know for sure is that this life as I know it in this physical body will end one day and I HAVE FAITH that this little spark of life in my physical body –my spirit– will join the Lord in the place He has gone to prepare for us. But, that is not my point. My point is this… “life” can be quite a trial at times. Our journey takes us over mountains and through valleys.


It can be trying enough that sometimes we take our eyes off of the goal and set them lower…yes…we all have done that lowering thing – even if you don’t want to admit it. There have been times we just want to give up. Yes…we look at that next mountain and decide to sit in the valley and rest for a while. Well, yeah…me too… But, what I learned is that I developed my strength in faith while climbing those mountains. I grew not the least little bit while resting in the valleys. In fact, if I rested too long, I grew weak and, a few times, even took my eyes off of the goal. So, after all the mountains and valleys, I think it will be a better day to reach that goal ~ that is IF I don’t sit down in a valley and stay there until I take my last breath.

Many times in life, things get really hard. I have a favorite passage in my Bible that I turn to in such times. When I was working the last couple of years before retirement, I was really tired…not just physically, but mentally from the extreme mental activity needed to do my very complicated job. One day, I took a piece of paper and wrote these words… “PRESS ON” and I taped that paper to the wall in my office where every time I lifted my eyes from my work, I would see that piece of paper on the wall. Many people who entered my office didn’t understand the sign ~ for those people, it was a witness tool. The Christians who entered my office understood very well. There were days when I took my eyes off my “sign” and put them on those guys named “frustration” and “aggravation”. In those times, a fellow (Christian) office worker often said just two little words to me ~ “Press on”. It was like our own secret code ~ like the Christian fish… When she said “press on”, I got back on track.

I love how Paul said it:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press
on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, let us, as many as
are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Philippians 4:12-15

Well, as you know, I did reach that retirement goal and you know what? It was the best day of my career ~ much, MUCH better than that first day on my first job more than 42 years earlier. I was happy that first day, but I was ecstatic on the day I retired. There were ups and downs throughout my career. There were good times and there were hard times. How we handle the hard times are the things that shape us. I think life is like that…

And I believe I have not yet seen the best day of all… While waiting for the “best day”, I continue to “press on.” I am NOT sitting in that valley in my retirement…I have mountains to climb!



(Note to friends: OK…so I sat in a valley for the past 3 weeks… Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7 looked like such a mountain to me. Chapter 7 is loaded with wisdom and I wanted to do it justice, but there is NO WAY to do justice to Chapter 7 all in one blog, or the blog would be so long that nobody would want to read it. So…I am breaking Chapter 7 up into smaller bites. Not sure yet how many bites, but it will be as many as the spirit leads…)

Darlene Cirinna

Sunday, May 3, 2009


At first glance, Ecclesiastes, Chapter 6, seems to repeat the same line of thought as in Chapter 5; however, if we look more closely, we see that in this chapter, Solomon speaks of the appetite.

In the first two verses, Solomon gives an example of what he calls a grievous evil. This is a man who has everything, but dies and someone else enjoys what the man worked for in life.

This reminds me of a parable that Jesus told about a rich fool... In the parable, Jesus speaks of a rich man who just gets richer... The rich man decides that he has plenty of the good things laid up, so he will take life easy - eat, drink and be merry. The Lord said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you prepared for yourself?" Jesus said that this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God. (Luke 12:16-21)

In the second example given in verses 3-6, Solomon tells of another man who has a large family, lives a long time, yet he did not enjoy his prosperity, nor did anyone grieve his passing.

It looks to me like this man "had it all", but was a stranger to his own family. I think he worked all the time, provided well for his family, but failed to develop a loving relationship with them. His wife probably had other interests, having given up on him long before, and his children were probably completely spoiled from having every material desire satisfied by their hard-working father. Then, when this man died... Let's just say that nobody missed him much.

Again, Solomon says a stillborn child is better off than a life such as either of these examples. He goes on to say that even if a man lives 2000 years and fails to enjoy his prosperity, he has lived a life for nothing. It is well to remember that we will all go to the same place – the grave.

Having given the two examples of men who literally lived for nothing, Solomon begins to speak of the appetites of man. Certainly we can agree that it is appetites that drive us. We work primarily so that we can have food, shelter and clothing. Those are our basic physical needs. When we desire beyond our basic needs, our appetite enters the picture and, depending upon what we desire, our fates can be determined…

I remember a sermon at church many years ago. The message was delivered by our, at that time, Bishop Henderson. Bishop Henderson asked if we knew why the lost sheep got lost...referring to the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-5). Then, he proceeded to tell us. The sheep got lost because of appetite. That little lamb put his head down to satisfy his appetite. He took his eyes off the shepherd and put his eyes on what it would take to satisfy his appetite. And, while he was satisfying his appetite, he got lost… Isn’t that the way with us all? We have to be careful of our appetites. Does what we desire take our eyes off of God?

In looking at appetites, we determine that, for the most part, the satisfaction of our appetite is short-lived. We satisfy the appetite, then it returns when it wants more… It can be a vicious cycle if the appetite is for something addictive – such as alcohol or drugs. Seemingly harmless things can also be an addiction if the desire is for excess – such as food, shopping, money, acquisition of “stuff”, gambling, sex…the list goes on and on. The desire for recognition, fame and fortune is also a well trod path to destruction… We can conclude that satisfaction of an appetite, in such cases, is elusive and the rewards are temporary at best.

While we travel our path through life – satisfying our appetites – what are we neglecting or losing? Solomon concludes that it is better to be satisfied with what the eyes see rather than the ever roving appetite. The most important things in life are God and family. Be content with what you have and enjoy life…

We have another biblical expert on contentment…Paul who was formerly Saul. Paul wrote to Timothy about Godliness with contentment. (I Timothy 6:4-10) Paul makes the following points:

a. We came with nothing and we leave with nothing.
b. Be content with food and clothing – in meeting our needs – not our wants.
c. If you want to be rich, you fall into temptation and a trap.
d. Foolish and harmful desires plunge men into ruin and destruction.
e. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, causing some to wander from their faith and cause themselves much grief.

In a letter to Timothy, Paul charged Timothy to flee from the love of money and all that it can buy. Instead, pursue righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Command those who are rich to not be arrogant nor put their hope in wealth, but instead, put hope in God. Command your flock to be rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share. In this way, you lay up treasures for yourself that money cannot buy. (I Timothy 6:17-19)

Paul practiced this as well. We see in Philippians 4:11-13 that Paul considers it better to be content in every situation, whether in plenty or in want. He advises that you can do this through God who gives you strength.

We all have appetites… They have been with us from birth. At birth, our appetite is simply for nourishmen. As we grow, our appetites change. The question is – what are your appetites now? Are they temporal or ethereal? What will your appetite cost you? Will your appetites cost you happiness and contentment in this life? Will they cost you eternity with our Lord? Maybe it is time to evaluate your appetite…

Just something to think about…

Darlene Cirinna
Copyright 4/30/09