September 26, 2016

Commonplace Monday #53

"[Christ came] to 'save sinners'; -not to open a door for them to come in if they will or can; not to make a way possible, that they may be saved; not to purchase reconciliation and pardon of His Father, which perhaps they shall never enjoy; but actually to save them from all the guilt and power of sin, and from the wrath of God for sin: which, if He doth not accomplish, he fails of the end of His coming."
John Owen



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

September 22, 2016

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.

Originally posted on Facebook as, "Saturday notes...Part 2"
April 8, 2008 at 1:36am
Well, here's the rest of the verses I had on Saturday night, most of which I didn't get to.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-"To ever thing there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."

Romans 8:28-"And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

Hebrews 10:23-"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

I think these are all pretty familiar verses, especially Romans 8:28. I guess I just have had all this stuff as "head knowledge" and not lived it out. I know in my head that God is faithful and will work things out to my good, so why don't I live like it? Why do I refuse to turn control of my life over to Him? It's just stupid and makes things more difficult. I guess it kinda goes back to the whole thing in Psalm 37 about not fretting.

*James 1:2-8-"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the LORD; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."

I've started to realize of late how much of a double-minded man I am. I ask God for wisdom or strength, yet I keep on living frustrated. Why should I be worry when the almighty God of the universe is there for me? I should be praising and thanking Him for giving me the chance to grow and learn and draw closer to Him, and instead I'm frustrated and angry because things aren't going "my way". How stupid can I be? How much easier would it be to just follow God...to "let Him drive", as it were. That's all He asks, and it's the least I can do.

Hopefully these encourage someone, I know they've helped me a lot.



All the Scriptures I used are quoted from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

September 19, 2016

Commonlace Monday #52

"Church is too often a place of pretense and therefore a place without hope."
Larry Crabb



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

September 15, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Trusting God, part 1

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit lightly for readability, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably (at least on occasion) contain some things which even I think are crazy.

Originally posted on Facebook as "Kinda follow up on Saturday night...Part 1"
April 7, 2008 at 2:10am
Well, when I gave the messege on Saturday night, my notes kinda went out the window. God led me in a different direction than I thought I was gonna go. But I still have these notes...well, it's mostly just scripture references...but anyway, it's still stuff that God has used to teach me of late, so I figured I may as well share it. I did use some of it Saturday, but most of it I didn't get to. I guess my main point is the same, though.

September 13, 2016

Vanity, Vanity: Ecclesistes 1:1-11

I have taught through Ecclesiastes a couple of times over the past few years. This book stuns me over and over with its devastating appraisal of the human condition. So, I thought I might go back through some of my notes and share them with you here. I can't promise how frequently I'll have them up for you, but hopefully someday I'll have the whole book finished. My hope is that you will be as encouraged, convicted, and challenged by this book as I have been.


Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10  Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11  There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.


Introduction to Ecclesiastes: What is the theme of Ecclesiastes?
True joy in a vain world under the reign on a Sovereign Judge. 

Joy- the kind of joy that finds satisfaction in life without being dependent upon a particular set of circumstances to bring that joy about. A joy in life as God has given it.  (2:24-26, 3:12-13, 3:22, 5:18-20, 9:7-10, 12:9, 12:13) 

Vain- the words vain or vanity occur in (I think) 37 verses in Ecclesiastes. It is, though not the most frequent, certainly the most dominant word in the book; we will look at it in more detail when we start into verse two. But for starters I want to give you the "literal" (I watched a Douglas Moo video in which he shredded the idea that Hebrew and Greek words have "literal "meanings, and he knows a lot more than I do...) meaning of the Hebrew word (hebel), which is the idea of a breath or a vapor. A mist. Something that is here and gone, of little actual substance, something which does not last. (1:2, 2:11, 3:19, 4:4, 5:10, 6:11, 7:6, 8:10, 9:9 [vain], [chapter 10 does not contain the words vain or vanity, but the idea is pervasive through this set of proverbs], 11:8, 12:8) 

Incidentally, this idea of life being vapor like is not unique to Ecclesiastes. See also, James 4:14, Job  7:7 

Judge- we will see throughout Ecclesiastes the picture of God as judge. We see Him also as Creator (7:29) and the Giver of joy (3:13), but I think the dominant way God is portrayed throughout this book is as the One who will judge our lives (3:17, 5:6-7, 11:9, 12:14) 

Tying these together- some commentators, or even just readers, of this book may look at these seemingly paradoxical strains of truth, that we should enjoy life, that we should view life as passing, and that we should live in light of the judgement to come; and rather than attempt to resolve how these puzzling components fit together, instead try to explain them away or ignore some of them.  
So for example, there are scholars who believe that there are multiple authors or narrators to this book. They don't see how the same guy who said "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved of what you do." (9:7) could be the one who says, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement." (12:13-14) 

This, I believe, is folly. The author is certainly arguing from a logic that confronts our conventional ways of interpreting reality, but he is not in error. While we may not make the mistake of the unstable commentator, we as readers we can make the more casual, but equally serious, error of minimizing one aspect of the book in order to highlight the part that we like. For example, I used to consider "all is vanity" a pretty good mantra, while ignoring the plead to look towards God's judgement, and the encouragement to enjoy one's labor. 

But as believers in the inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit ( 2 Peter 1:21, 2 Timothy 3:16), we need to acknowledge that not only is all of Ecclesiastes true, but that it all fits together. Instead of trying to minimize or explain away the hard or confusing things we will encounter, we must pursue an understanding which takes all of the truth presented into account. Doing so will prove to be a richly rewarding endeavor. 

Introduction to 1:1-11
Verse 1

The book begins with an introduction to the author, Solomon. An overview of Solomon's life can be seen in 1 Kings 2-11, and we will examine it more closely in following weeks. Suffice it to say here that Solomon was a man who enjoyed great renown for his wisdom, wealth, and splendor. 

Term "preacher" here means one who convenes, or gathers together for the purpose of addressing. You may notice the similarity between "Ecclesiastes" and the word "ecclesia" which is the NT word for church. An ecclesia is a gathering together of people, Ecclesiastes was written by one who gathered together.

Point 1- main thesis "vanity of vanities, all is vanity" 
Verse 2

Hebel , the Hebrew word translated into English usually as "vanity" (ESV, NKJV, NASB) or "meaningless" (NIV) carries three primary meaning in the Hebrew:
a) mist, vapor, breath 
b) meaningless, futile, pointless 
c) puzzling, beyond understanding, perplexing 
While there of course are different emphasis at different points, I think it is a bit dangerous to totally separate the three meanings from one another. Solomon uses the same word throughout the book, indeed, it is his primary argument. Thus, we should be quick to look for connections in the uses, unifiers, rather than divisions. That is not to deny the differences that can take place from verse to verse or chapter to chapter, but ultimately we aren't looking to break the book into pieces and say "in this place it means this, in this place that"; we are trying to follow his argument on the whole. 

Point 2- demonstrations of the unchanging nature of life under the sun, and our lack of effect or bearing on it. 
Verses 3-11

Verse 3 gives the rhetorical question which guides the next six verses as they reply to it. 
What does man gain by all his toil under the sun? What do we get from it? 

As we look at these verses, what is the emotion that is brought about?...despair, perhaps? Remember, Scripture doesn't speak merely on an intellectual level. 

Verse 8, "all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it." 
V 10 another rhetorical question which Solomon answers for added effect.  

Point 3- conclusion of the first section, there is no remembrance of the former things.
Verse 11
Nothing we do will be remembered by those who come after us. This rubs us the wrong way, doesn't it?

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com