Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Mema's New House"

Friday morning June 17, 2011 at about 8:00 a.m., Mema Hazel Marie Darnall Sutherland moved out of her nearly 92 year old "house". This week has been bittersweet because we have watched her mental and physical health slowly deteriorate over the last few years and know her body and spirit were weary, but we will miss her in many ways.

I appreciate these words from the Holy Spirit -
"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal home in heaven not built with human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked."
"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come." 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NIV

Mom and Dad were married 53+ years and nearly all of those years they lived in three houses, all built by my Dad with help from a few friends and his son-in-law. He built the first house they ever owned, where my two siblings and I were born and reared. Over the years he built two others including the one the Rose and I have been living in with my Mom since 2006. Mom loved this house and filled it with many, memories and momentos of their life together after all the kids had left the nest to go their own way.

She has now been relieved of her "groaning" and sings her joy in a very different choir. Her 91+ years on this earth were a blessing to all who knew her because she loved everyone and always sought to serve - her family most of all. She was a strong lady who never gossiped, never complained and almost never spoke in anger. She was a nurturer of all whose lives she touched. Her faith and her family were her life.

Now, she is looking forward to getting settled into a new house, an eternal house, built by God, her true Father. We will miss her, but only for a short time.

"When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming." 2 Corinthians 5:8 MSG


Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Live With A Glad Heart!"

A 'glad heart' is one of God's beautiful gifts to the human family. But, like any gift, it must be received, appreciated for what it is and used for a good purpose to be of any benefit to the recipient.
Solomon contrasts the mirage of wealth against the reality of God's beautiful gift -

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless." Eccl 5:10 NIV
"Naked a man comes from his mother's womb and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing with him from his labor that he can carry in his hand." Eccl 5:15 NIV
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor ... for this is his lot ... (to) be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." Eccl 5:18,20 NIV

Every life is punctuated by many disappointments, dead ends, sorrows and unrealized dreams and goals. Much of the frustration connected to daily living is tied to money because we tend to assume that money = happiness/success. Sometimes that's true because all of us struggle through those hard times when money is scarce and we live on the edge of despair. However, assuming that wealth will fix "my problems" is a mirage because it can vanish like smoke. Solomon calls it "chasing after the wind", meaningless, pointless, ultimately its just smoke. His reasoning is sound because even the wealthiest people eventually end up just like the poorest.

Living daily with the faith that Solomon calls "gladness of heart" is true wealth because that is the only real asset that we can retain in any circumstance, especially in death! Wealth is neither good or bad in itself, its just a temporary situation. How one obtains it, views it and uses it determines it real value.

In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money." That's good enough for me. Money isn't a bad thing, neither is having enough money to be considered wealthy, its just a temporary situation. A glad heart however, whether with or without money, is God's gift that will not tarnish, cannot be stolen by thieves and grows at a greater interest rate than dollars.

So, enjoy every day of your life! Live it with a glad heart and allow the Spirit of Jesus to teach you that a happy heart is your most treasured asset.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"The Best You Can Do!"

One of the important lessons I have learned in my "senior" years is to use the phrase "I did my best" very sparingly. Why? Its rarely true. I believe I can do just a little better on any given day in any given situation, but if I give myself permission to settle for less by repeating that phrase over and over, more often than not, I will fall short of thinking, doing, giving my best.

Having said that, I do appreciate Solomon's powerfully positive statement about doing the best I can. He wrote - "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him who can eat and find enjoyment? To the man who pleases God he gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 NIV

To me, Solomon is making a bold statement to all people who ignore Yahweh, who he is and what he does for those who honor him. God wants us to enjoy the daily process of living in a spiritual awareness of his presence and involvement in our lives. But if we turn our back to him and refuse his counsel, we may seem to have achieved much that proves our success, but, as Solomon observed, in the end its all pointless.

I think Solomon learned this lesson early on from his own father - "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts him." Psalm 32:10 NIV Learning to "trust him" is a lifelong commitment, every day of every week, of every month, of every year! Doing that requires patience to always allow God to do what he does because he is God.

Jesus seems to echo Solomon's words with this timeless divine declaration - "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33 NIV

A faithless life is ultimately meaningless, a chasing after the wind, because it goes nowhere. No matter what one may achieve in the way of social status, political power, or just being able to put food on their table and a roof over their family every day, if that life ignores God, it is ultimately meaningless. The evidence all around us is far too great to overlook.

So, I hear Solomon saying to all of us, enjoy your life, do your best in everything and always honor God with and for your blessings. And, trust him to be there in the hard times. He pays back that faith in ways that no words can truly describe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"I Hate Life!"

Yeah, sometimes "life" can be like that.

Solomon wrote - "When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind, nothing was gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:11
"The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise? I said in my heart, 'This too is meaningless...like the fool the wise man too must die'. So, I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind." v:15-17 NIV

Every person who has lived long enough can surely testify that "Life is pointless - I hate my life!" We all experience those times in a dark valley of black despair when all we have done appears meaningless, those days when nothing seems to work out for our good.

I believe Solomon is writing out of a faithless perspective because that was the prevailing sentiment among unbelievers. And, it's still true, life is meaningless if we ignore the love of our Father and the certain hope offered to us in Jesus Christ.
Our total inability to control everything in our life leaves every life wide open to results and consequences that can seem hopeless. That is the BIG LIE Satan wants us to buy into and he works overtime to pile on more and more devastation. Satan is the enemy that creates all the chaos in our life.

Here is what I have come to know from personal experience and many years of watching and listening to countless others - people of real faith refuse to wallow around in self pity for very long. The Holy Spirit just will not allow it! At some point, faith rises to the top and even when things don't work out the way we wanted, we are still able to trust God to help us see past the "meaningless" nature of it all.

There is always MORE that none of us knows, only God does and only his Holy Spirit can help us see what we cant see. That's the power of faith, it always points us forward. HALLELUJAH!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chasing The Wind

Solomon wrote - "I the Teacher, was King over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." Eccl 1:16-18 NIV
"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Eccl 12:13-14 NIV

What a contrast between the beginning and the conclusion of Solomon's observations on the life we mortals experience. If all that occurs in that "between" fails to arrive at that conclusion, then the common cynical assumption about the "meaninglessness" of life is absolutely accurate.

In every age since the beginning with Adam and Eve, God has consistently warned his human family about the futility of worshiping gods of our own making. In the end they are a form of self worship and cause our devotion to become purely selfish. Anyone can invent a "god" and use that human invention to control others out of superstitious fear. Those "gods" are merely impotent expressions of a misplaced fear of what we don't understand or cannot know about our human life.

Jesus came to help us learn to serve God out of a "fear" that transforms into "love". This had always been God's hope and intent as is obvious from Deuteronomy 6:4 and Jesus affirmation of it as the "Greatest Commandment" at Mark 12:29. But the pagan influence was so pervasive that superstitious fear reigned supreme and the love God had hoped to receive from his creation failed to materialize until Jesus taught and modeled it for us.

We can acquire wisdom and knowledge of life's processes and stages by study, experience and observation, just as Solomon testifies. But, if all that we learn fails to connect us with our Creator in absolute, childlike love for our Father, in the end it truly is "chasing after the wind."