Take Heart

Scanning the headlines of major news outlets this week, readers have been informed about political candidates, scandals, polls, and the general mayhem going on around the world.  It can be enough to unhinge even the most positive and stable of people.  Among the various subjects getting more press these days is the unemployment numbers and their potential for artificiality as well as the general (bad) mood of people in the country.  Despite all the “good” news about the economy, people in the middle do not seem hopeful for the future and do not feel that their lives are improving in any measurable way.  Regardless of what is happening in our time or any time, in our country or any country around the globe, God’s people need to take heart. Solomon, in all his wisdom, repeatedly pointed to the fact that there is “nothing new under the sun.”  That is an eloquent way of saying the world is not worse today than it has ever been.  It is likely that because of our unprecedented access to the goings on in the world and because of the ubiquity of media that we hear and see more news than any generation before us.  Everyone has the ability to be a reporter with a cell phone camera and network access, so we know the minute an Elephant rampages the streets of a city on the Indian Subcontinent and the video goes viral. The Bible, as a whole, is God’s story of redemption and one of the repeated themes of the story is of God’s being in control.  As long as the Israelites were...

Eternity in Our Hearts

In Psalm 139 David poetically expressed his wonder at God’s creation: “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works and that my soul knows very well.”  The human body is an amazing machine fashioned by the Almighty.  The account in Genesis describes the creation of man as God forming us like a potter forms clay or a sculptor fashions stone but then, in His awesome power, He animated us with life and a soul with His breath; something no mere artist has ever accomplished.  Every breath you and I breathe exists from the mouth of God.  Like David, this knowledge ought to inspire us and fill us with amazement and wonder. As beautiful as the Psalms are in their way of instruction, more direct to inform us how to be successful in life is the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  Some of the best motivational, personal development literature available is in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  Solomon said several things in Ecclesiastes 3:10-15 that remain ever present in my mind.  In verse 11 Solomon said that God has put eternity into the hearts of men and I want to know all that can be known about what that means because it is so empowering and encouraging, so, what does it mean? First of all, having put eternity in our hearts, God endowed mankind with an everlasting soul.  You were meant to live forever but, according to the Scriptures, your body was not meant to live much beyond 70 years.  No matter how many trips we get around the sun, we can hardly imagine...

Resolute

Here in the first week of a New Year it seems that New Year’s resolutions are almost a thing of the past; that all pretense of our ability to change our behavior, even in the smallest ways, has been dropped. Perhaps, this is only a personal observation more than an actual fact. Perhaps I am mistaken and people are as committed as ever to personal improvement but I have not heard as much about resolutions as in years past. It makes me think people have just given up and that concerns me. Usually one hears more about New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, or cease smoking. Have we all decided that we are incapable of such changes? Is even a little self-improvement so monumental as to be doomed from the start? Have we been so poorly resolute in years past that it seems foolish to attempt such changes knowing that we are destined for failure within a short time? I certainly hope that I am wrong and way off base because if we are resolved to not make resolutions I fear the unintended consequences of such a course of inaction. When we believe that we are dropping the pretense of self-improvement then we resign ourselves to mediocrity at best. For clarification, a resolution is a type of oath or a type of commitment we make to ourselves to change some negative behavior pattern which ultimately frees us of enslaving habits. The Bible encourages us simply to be men and women of our word rather than take oaths (Matthew 6:33-37). Honestly, the making of a...

A Season of Celebration

As a holiday Grinch, I’d have to say that one of my favorite easy reads is John Grisham’s Skipping Christmas or, if you prefer the movie, Christmas with the Kranks’. I have never been one to decorate my house with lights like Clark Griswold. I don’t usually get too sentimental about the holidays but I really appreciate those who do and I don’t seem to notice people doing as much holiday decorating as they used to, maybe that is because people are so afraid they might “offend” someone who doesn’t share their regard for the holiday (Oh, the horror!). I still do not want to pressure my neighbors to continue a tradition when they just want to skip the whole Christmas thing for a Caribbean cruise. What I do not appreciate is people of any persuasion expecting me to observe the holidays in the way they prescribe. Regardless of your religious or political persuasion December is a season of celebration. The Jews are celebrating Hanukkah or the festival of lights, Christians may or may not be celebrating the birth of Christ. Secularists are celebrating their victories over religious sentiments for every nativity scene that doesn’t go up or every menorah that isn’t allowed in public view. There is nothing quite like the holidays to bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Black Friday holiday shopping tussles, as entertaining as they are to non-participants, demonstrates what is worst in us. A little less obvious is the self-righteous finger wagging, guilt preaching, and nonsensical opinion offering done this time of year from every side. I appreciate the...