The Solution

"Be still and know that I am God" The Lord

If you are like me, you may be getting a bit overwhelmed. The drought seems to be really setting in, the politicians seem to be slinging more mud than ever before, the line between right and wrong is becoming more and more blurred, and America seems to be changing in ways that cause us to hardly recognize her anymore.

Add that to the personal problems that we must deal with, and life can get you down.

That's why I read the Bible every day.

It's also why I pray throughout the day.

God is going to win. The only question is, do you trust Him?

There are lots of problems these days - maybe more than we have seen in many, many years. But, God is going to win. Will you be on His side? We do have our part to do, to be sure, so do it!

Then, be still. 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it only leads to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Psalms 37:7-9, NIV

 

The Seeds of Greatness

Every artist was first an amateur. Emerson

What do Vincent van Gogh, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and you and I have in common? All had to start somewhere. One of the joys of Christian living is the fact that each day is the beginning of the rest of our eternity. That means, like van Gogh, Einstein and Edison, we are on the verge of great things, should we so choose.

I've been involved in several very time consuming projects this summer. None are particularly noteworthy, and at times they just seem to be using up my few remaining days here on earth. In fact, today appeared to be a series of one wasted effort followed by another. Looking back over the day, it seemed to be a lot of meaningless labor - just a bunch of hours and a lot of work strung together for no real purpose.

It seemed like a wasted day.

But this evening I was given the gift of a glorious sunset consisting of spectacular sunbeams filtering down through golden clouds. And I realized that the Creator who made this incredible display of beauty has also promised us eternal life. Just imagine, the One who created us is planning an eternity that will be filled with significance and purpose. 

And my day that seemed wasted? It was a day of work for my sweet daughter who is more than deserving of lost day every now and again. Especially, I now realize, when that day was not lost at all - It was simply lived for someone else and then capped off by a gift of glory and splendor that I certainly did not deserve.

How about you? Do your days seem dreary on occasion? They are really not, you know, if you are attempting to live as a servant of God. In fact, God may just be preparing you for great things. Maybe you won't be the next van Gogh, Edison or Einstein, but you might be - either in this world or the one to come. Maybe your just enjoying your amateur phase at the present. Maybe, just maybe, God is allowing you the time to sow a few seeds of greatness.

Life's not bad, when you think about it. Just a lot of meaningful days strung together for eternity, with a few golden sunsets thrown in to remind us that we are here for a glorious purpose... should we so choose.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

II Corinthians 4:17, NIV

 

The Secret of a Happy Life

Life is half spent before we know what it is. George Herbert

This quote by some guy who lived about 500 years ago is just one of the many lessons that I wish I had learned much earlier in my life. Another is this:

A great deal of life is spent doing things one does not want to do, often with people one does not even like. A wise man will learn this truth and avoid wasting time in such unpleasant pursuits.

I shudder to think of the time I have wasted through the years in such vain endeavors. I'm not talking about the time I've spent doing hard work or eating vegetables or going to school - we all have things to do that we don't like, but which are necessary all the same. What I'm talking about are the unnecessary things that are also detrimental - like the times we've hung out with people that we shouldn't have been with doing things we shouldn't have been doing.

I'm convinced that the sooner we learn this truth, the sooner we can get on with enjoying the life that God created us for. While it would be nice for life to come equipped with a reset button so that we could just eliminate all of the really stupid things we have done in the past, the next best thing is to just start doing the things that God wanted us to do in the first place. Then we can get on with pursuing those things that are truly worthwhile - hopefully before the last half of our lives are gone.

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8, NIV

 

These are the Good Old Days

These are the best of times. Styx

I have wonderful memories of the "good old days" as I grew up with a privileged childhood. Not that we had lots of money but we were middle class in America in the sixties and, in the history of the world, that's pretty rich. The richest things of all that I have from those days are my memories of growing up in a suburb of Seattle. I remember all of us kids splashing through the rain in black goulashes and yellow raincoats on our way to Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.

As I recall, I carried a spiffy Lost In Space lunch box with a genuine insulated glass thermos. I took swimming lessons in Lake Washington, road on a ferry boat to Canada, collected seashells on the shores of the Pacific, and rode an elevator to the top of the Space Needle. It was cool, cool, cool.

My summer days were spent in a neighborhood filled with kids. We would go from house to house with our baseball bats and mitts until we had enough kids for a game. Then we played outside all day because we had only four channels on our inside black and white televisions, (not to mention having no air conditioning and no electronic games). Besides, my Mom and the other kids' moms didn't want us lying around the house all day anyway. So we played outside for hours on end, blissfully unaware of the ultraviolet radiation from that dangerous, dangerous sunshine.

But, as good as those times were, they were not the best thing about those good old days. The best was that my Mom and Dad were Christians. They forced us to go to Sunday worship (twice!), plus Sunday School and Wednesday night prayer meeting EVERY SINGLE WEEK! Mom read to us from a Bible story book and listened to our prayers every night. And, we grew up safe and secure in the knowledge that God and Jesus loved us.

I didn't know it then, but I know it now: I was the richest kid in the world. And, the really neat thing is that now I am even richer because I have a wonderful Christian wife and three beautiful Christian kids whom we forced to go to Sunday worship (twice!) plus Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible classes. And we read to them from the Bible and said our prayers together each night before we went to bed. 

And, I realize now that these really are the best of times. How about you? If you have missed out on the good old days of the past, then why not do something about the rest of your days? You can, you know, if you choose to.

Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and 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. Ecclesiastes 5:19-20, NIV

 

The Search for Joy

Man cannot live without joy; therefore when he is deprived of true spiritual joys it is necessary that he become addicted to carnal pleasures. Thomas Aquinas

One of the vital lessons that must be learned at a young age is the understanding that true happiness cannot be found in worldly pursuits. This contradicts everything that we are told, from the enticements of the party life when we are teens to the keeping up with the Jones' when we are a bit older.

From our peers to television advertisers to Hollywood, we are taught that happiness is found in pursuit of physical pleasures. But drunkenness leads to hangovers and addiction, illicit relationships lead to disease and guilt and unwanted pregnancies, and greed just leads to envy and covetousness and dissatisfaction with what we do have.

Why is that? It's because God did not set up His world to yield joy for those who sow evil, anymore than He set up His world to yield corn for those who sow wheat. God created us, he created this world and he created the only path to true and lasting joy. There are no shortcuts, no better ways and no exceptions.

Joy can only be found in God and Christ.

One of the strangest character studies in the Bible is that of King Solomon. He was given the gift of wisdom by God, so he knew that true joy was available only to the obedient. But he decided that he would find out what was worthwhile in life. He tried drunkenness, many wives, and the heaping up of wealth. Do you know what he found? In his own words, he found that pursuit of physical pleasures was "meaningless".

The fact is that much of our lives are consumed by these meaningless pursuits. For those who try the worldly route, there is sorrow and pain and depression and addiction. But, for those whose focus is squarely on Christ, there is joy. Joy does not mean we are immune to the sorrows inflicted on us by those who would pursue worldly pleasures, but it does mean peace of mind and a quietness of spirit.

God wants us to be happy and He has carefully revealed the exact path to that joy. The question for us is will we take the one path to true joy, or will we insist on the alternate path that is filled with sorrow? The answer to that question will be the difference between a nightmarish existence and a fulfilling life that most only dream about.

This only I have found: God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes. Ecclesiastes 7:29, NIV