Archive for the ‘Ecclesiastes’ Category

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“SOOTHING OINTMENT” – June 28

June 28, 2013

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.  Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”  Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

English: Jogging at Cranny Good for your healt...
English: Jogging at Cranny Good for your health, but sore on the joints. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am engaged in a personal battle with friction.

Friction becomes a problem through its application over the accumulation of time.  My skin can tolerate the friction that wears upon it for a 5K run.  There are no particularly unpleasant effects even for runs of the duration to cover 10K.  My issues arise at distances beyond 10K.

Beyond 10K, the swish-swish of my legs begins to have a noticeable effect.  Every slight swish from the passage of thigh against thigh belies the accumulative effect of rubbing and the resulting friction.  This accumulating effect results in a rash, chaffing and sores.  None of these results are pleasant.  They are particularly unpleasant when one considers that the location of this swishing is originating from where were my legs join the rest of me.

I considered various alternatives to “girding my loins”  but most had other drawbacks.  Therefore, I settled on lubrication.  I determined that the best way to defeat friction was to reduce the resistance associated with the swishing.  My plan was to apply some lotion to my nether-regions prior to my next long run and thereby defeat my nemesis of friction.

Last week, I prepared for my little experiment as the rest of the household slept.  I was fully clothed in my running gear and went into our bathroom for the lotion treatment.  Unfortunately, there was no lotion on the countertop.  I fumbled through my wife’s cabinet in search of my secret weapon.  There was no lotion to be found.  Undeterred, I commenced my search again only this time seeking any sort of lubricating agent.  This search was quickly rewarded with a white bottle whose orange label read, “Absorbine, Veterinary Liniment Gel”.

“Gel”, that will be lubricating, I reasoned.  The label explained that this gel contains botanical extracts and is pleasant to use.  Great!  My search had put me behind schedule.  I needed to get on the run or I would be late for work.  I hurriedly squirted a generous amount of the gel on my hand and slathered it all over the region of concern.

I immediately felt a stinging sensation.  Initially, I thought it was just from the rash of my last run.  Curiosity transformed to concern as the stinging took on a very distinct awareness of rising heat.  My head snapped up to stare at the image in the mirror, who incredulously asked, “what have you done, you fool!”

The growing discomfort and spearmint scent jogged my memory of this gel.  We had purchased this gel more than a year ago when my wife was having back problems.  It was recommended to us as a treatment to help loosen up knotted back muscles.  It was horse-strength analgesic.  This gel relaxes tense muscle through the stimulant of … heat;  heat that I had now slathered generously ALL OVER a very sensitive region.  My only response to the gathering storm in my loins was “aaarghhh!”  I immediately grabbed a wash-towel, wetting it in the sink as beads of sweat began to form on my brow.  All I could think was “I don’t want to die this way.”  I scrubbed and scrubbed; wetted the towel and scrubbed some more.  As I scrubbed, I cursed the irony that I had applied this gel to avoid friction and now here I was directly applying more friction than running had ever caused.  I was just about to jump into the shower when the heat reached its zenith and began its descent.  I was relieved that I would not have to give any of the explanations that I had been rehearsing for a 911 operator as to the nature of my emergency.

This little incident reminded me of many solutions that we often resort to in an attempt to solve friction in our lives.  There have been many relationships that have been made much worse by the application of the wrong ointment; the ointment of sin.  That ointment can burn away years of good feelings in an instant.  An inappropriate response can often become more of a problem than the original source of friction.  That momentary decision to follow folly has been the source of much discomfort and the ill-will in relationships.

The natural response of our flesh is never an ointment that leads to anything other than folly.

The treatment that will always have the intended results is the Spirit.  Generous applications of the Spirit will inevitably soothe the most painful of friction induced afflictions.  The response of the one who is walking in the Spirit provides a wisdom that can restore the fragrance to that which has taken on the stench of decay.

Therefore, walking in the Spirit is not something that we can practice in an irregular manner.  We constantly need the wisdom of the Spirit.  We never know when folly will present itself to us.  We never know when we will be confronted by circumstances that demand a response.  We do know that a fleshly response can make a situation so much worse.

Therefore, we need to be diligent in the setting of our minds.  We need to be intentional in walking in the Spirit so that when we are confronted by the potential of folly we will naturally apply the ointment of the Spirit.

The wisdom that comes from abiding in the Spirit will soothe beyond anything from our own wisdom.  Therefore, let us not wander from Him who will make our paths straight.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have applied way too much of myself in past conflicts.  Father, help me to abide in You.  I want my natural response to be the soothing wisdom of your Spirit.  I want my response to make things better and not worse.  I want you to be glorified in the most frictional of situations.  Lord, I want to be a peacemaker.  Help me to walk in your Spirit at all times.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“A GLORIOUS WARM-UP” – June 26

June 27, 2013

“For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten.  How the wise dies just like the fool!  So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:16-17

Civil War Veterans

Civil War Veterans (Photo credit: Tipton Genealogy)

Old black and white photographs have a way of capturing my imagination beyond any portrait painting.  Gazing into images of real people with stern and dower expressions cause me to wonder about by-gone ages.  I am easily entertained speculating about what their thoughts and dreams might have been; hypothesizing as to their adventures or romances.  Had they been respected or despised?  Were they a hero or a coward?  Did they have a sense of humor?  What did their laugh sound like?  Were they kind?  Did they love?  Were they loved?

Unfortunately, one cannot deduce much about who a person really was from a photograph.

My parents have many such photographs hanging on their wall.  Their hallway has a gallery documenting my family lineage.  The characters in those images have names, many of which I cannot remember.  They have titles such as great-great-grandfather, great-grandmother, cousins, uncles and aunts who passed decades ago.  They represent a vast network of expanding branches emanating from what is my family tree.

However, these images don’t connect with me beyond a fascination that I contain some of their genetic composition…which is not very comforting considering the general unattractiveness of many of my fore-fathers.

Any connection to these images only begins towards the end of the hallway with the images of my Grandparents.  I knew them.  I played games and laughed with them.  I worked with them.  I listened to the stories that they told.  I knew of their thoughts and dreams.  I was told of their adventures and romances.  I knew that they loved me.

They were so much more to me than an image in a photograph.

Yet, I realize that they are but another image in a long line of images to my children.  My children never knew my grandparents.  Their connection to my grandparents mirrors my own connection to the portrait of my great-great-grandfather.  I am saddened to know that the memories of people who I loved are being lost to unrelenting pressure of time’s passage.

The speed at which we are lost to history is astonishing.  The majority of us will be consumed into the fog bank of the past within a generation or two.  The knowledge of who we really were will simply fade away as age catches up with those who actually knew us.  The brevity of our lives in the span of history might be depressing if this world was all there was.

Fortunately, a life span on planet earth is not all that there is for those who are in Christ.

MSO warm up

MSO warm up (Photo credit: vigilant20)

I have heard this life described as the warm-up for the symphony.   As we move along the narrow road, we are fine tuning our walk; we play our part of the score on our own or maybe with a few others; we might strike the wrong note; we might play with poor timing; we might play with near perfection.  However, no musician has ever laid down his instrument and walked from the stage after a perfect performance in the warm-up.  They don’t take a bow after tuning-up because they have not come for the warm-up.  They are there for the symphony. For those in Christ, our symphony gets its full voice when we take our place among the redeemed.  The beautiful sound of the redeemed praising their redeemer will be a performance beyond what this world can even contain.  Paul tells us that nothing is this world, not even his suffering, is worth comparing to the glories that will be revealed to us.  Those are the glories that we are currently warming-up for.  It is for those glories that we continue to diligently and obediently follow our Lord through this life.

The full symphony is coming. 

The time when we will be freed from this sinful flesh to fully glorify our Lord and Savior is not far way.  I don’t believe that there will be any of the redeemed who will be disappointed that their warm-up was forgotten when they raise their voice before the King of kings.

In glory, they will know that the Most High never forgot their warm-up.  They will know that their Shepherd will have brought them to that moment for that purpose; the purpose for which we were created and will finally and fully fulfill.

When compared to the glories that we are being called to, the value of being remembered by this world is but a trinket.

So, let us keep this world in perspective.  Let us not mourn over its brevity or our insignificance.  Let us warm-up well.  Let us set our hope on what is coming.  Let’s enjoy this life and the works that we have been given but may we never forget:

 the best is yet to come.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me so much to look forward to.  I can’t wait.  Lord, come quickly.  Help me to make the most of the time that you have given me here.  Help to warm-up well.  Help me to make the most of all the opportunities that you provide.  Help me to glorify you in all that I do in anticipation of the glories that are coming.  I long for the day that you bring me to my place among the redeemed.  You truly have blessed me in abundance.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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