The Day of Liberty

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It is this week that many reflect upon the up-coming holiday known as “The Fourth (4th) of July.” The day (evening) in which fireworks are shot into the night’s sky celebrating our country’s independence from Great Britain with our Declaration of Independence. The day of independence was actually July 2nd with the Continental Congress voting and declaring themselves free from the British Empire; after some additional debates and revisions to the Declaration, the final vote and declaration was on July 4th.

In my mind, since I like history a good bit, this is a great day of the year. It has lost its luster (shine), however, because now many in our society have failed to understand our country’s history, the tortuous fighting and laboring to keep it strong. Even by those who still know our history the luster is lost because we take it for granted we will be existing in the entirety of our individual lifetimes. Unfortunately, just this week, I saw a headline that 44% of those asked believe we are headed toward another civil war! As a people we have certainly failed to understand our history and the guiding force undergirding our existence. George Washington did not, however.

George Washington is known by nearly all in our congregation (except our youngest), and it is perhaps not as well known that he strongly believed in God and His Providence. On one occasion (July 20, 1775), he gave this order: “The General orders this day to be religiously observed by the forces under his Command, exactly in the manner directed by the Continental Congress. It is therefore strictly enjoined on all officers and soldiers to attend Divine service. And it is expected that all those who go to worship do take their arms, ammunition and accoutrements [other military necessities], and are prepared for immediate action, if called upon” (America’s God and Country, p. 638).

Maybe our country has forgotten those things that are important, such as God and all things related to His guidance, but what about those who call themselves Christians, Have they?

One would think not, but when attendance with the saints is spotty, when the Lord’s Scripture is not read, when financial support for the righteous cause of the Lord is lacking and when there is a general lack of application in Christian principles in the life of each who identify as Christian, then one has indeed forgotten. Jeremiah long ago spoke (and wrote) some hard-hitting words to those who identified themselves as belonging to God. “For my people are foolish; they know me not; they are stupid children; they have no understanding. They are ‘wise’—in doing evil! But how to do good they know not” (4:22, ESV).

The people of the Lord were foolish because they did not know God, that is, they took no time to learn and apply His will in a faithful and steady way.  As the English Standard Version reads, the Lord called them stupid!

The day of liberty, the day in which your sins were forgiven is to be the most significant day of your life; better than any other day in your life that is associated with some great event (graduation, wedding, retirement, etc). It is the greatest day because on that day, as Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, emphasis RT).

Is this something you believe? I know I do.  RT

A Father’s Day Post (late)

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DAD

When the Lord established the family in the Garden of Eden, He set forth the roles early on. In the family, the male (husband/father) is the leader of the family, and the female (wife/mother) is to support the male in this endeavor. The male in God’s established family will bring glory to God and enhance his family as he keeps in mind these things.

First, he is to be a man of Devotion. By this I mean, he is to be devoted to the Father of all glory and devoted to his family. Devotion to God means one hears, obeys, and then leads the family toward heaven.

Second, he is a man who gives Assurance. By this I mean he not only has assurance from God as he revealed Himself in His word, but he extends that same assurance to those whom he leads. For instance, it is a most unfortunate thing to see the children grown up longing for peace, security and assurance in acceptance. A dad plays a significant role in this.

Third, he is also a man who is Disciplined. By this I mean that he is disciplined in his reading of God’s word, he is disciplined in his work ethic, and he is disciplined in his attendance when the church gathers together. He also exercises discipline to his children who step out of the way of that which is right and virtuous. The children, under his discipline, do not escape correction.

All these things that he exhibits will, through influence and example, pass to the family.

Now that is a D.A.D.

I Was Once Stupid

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Not long-ago Haller Funeral Home called me and another to pick up a body that recently passed away. I was on a two-man team, the lesser experienced of the two. It was a melancholy situation. There on the bank of the creek lay an 18-year-old young man. Was it an accident? I heard his grandmother say, to another, he was having a party with his friends, and alcohol was involved. I heard the coroner say that he needed to be taken to Montgomery County for an autopsy, because it appeared there was physical evidence of a struggle. We picked up the once-living young man and left the scene.

Melancholy. It gets one to think (it did me) for what purpose did his life serve? In Ecclesiastes 7, the preacher (Solomon) said one needs to go to the house of mourning in order for the end of life to be imprinted upon those still living. For what reason is this needed? So many try to avoid “end-of-life” issues because of the morbid nature of it all. the Holy Spirit, through Solomon, said this was not wise. For one to go to the house of mourning, it helps to teach that we all will end of up at the funeral home. To make an imprint on the living, let us see those who have died laying still in a coffin.

The stupidity of people, myself included at one time in my life, is remarkable. “Nothing is going to happen to me! Quit your worrying! I will see you tomorrow!” Tomorrow never comes. In my life, as I reflect on it now, I have been but a few times, maybe only twice, on the cusp of death. As I think about it, I can’t help but to thank the Lord for His mercy. For on the cusp of death, I was not prepared. There are a host of people unprepared to meet the Lord. Unprepared because they don’t know the Lord, that is they have not obeyed the holy will of God. They are unprepared because they don’t know the Lord, that is, they don’t take time to read and understand His will for their individual lives. Unprepared, because if there is something that is “known” it is information or knowledge that came from another and is not one’s own. Unprepared! I was once there. No more. I took seriously my responsibility to the Lord, knowing that before Him I will stand one day, judged by the things the Lord did say.

I had better come to know them (John 12:48; 2 Cor. 5:10). I was once stupid because of ignorance. If I am stupid any longer, it will be the result of neglect. Paul wrote, For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad (ASV).

The “good” and the “bad” are not measured by how the individual identifies or determines what is good or bad. The good is the initial response one makes to die with Jesus. More than that, the good is the life one lives with Jesus. Again, from Paul, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20).  

What is the bad? The bad is when one tries to live life not following the good mentioned above.

Who of us have not been engaged in frivolity and senseless pleasures, and now look on those things as a time of vanity?

Having eyes, do you not see?

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Jesus said to his disciples to be on guard when around the religious teachers of the community (Mark 8:15), but the disciples had their minds in another direction, so when Jesus gave His warning, they thought He had something else in mind. He did have something in mind, but it was not at all related to what the disciples thought. Many times, one’s mind can be in a different world than in the one that is immediately in front. This was the case with Jesus’s apostles. So, in tune were they with the necessities of their immediate circumstances, they failed to understand a great point. We find ourselves in the same location frequently. We have eyes to see, but the blue dress we never saw because the hair on the females we are looking at was so interesting (mesmerizing, dumb-founding), we saw nothing else. That which is in front of us is a world of chaos, a chaos that is hardly seen because it is normal, and we have learned to navigates its obstacles. In all the chaos and obstacles presented, Jesus asks us if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, because what we see is confusion, and we certainly hear from as many people as we see the varied philosophies of life that each are certain will land them in the eternal bliss of heaven. Yet, have we heard Jesus?

Empty

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The evil philosophy of secular progressivism generates in society life as meaningless. What inherent value does the political philosophy of progressivism contribute to society? Because of it, the life of a child in the womb has no value; a natural progress from this is the life of man has no value. If one asserts to the contrary, what is the value of life when progressivism uses evolutionary philosophy has it core foundation from which to move? The advancement of science has many looking at life as completely absurd and meaningless. Technology is the religion of the day, and that religious ideology is completely a matter of self-absorption. How is the human condition in life improved by science and technology when science is nothing but organized knowledge to help explain (a value in and of itself), but scientists interpret the data with a completely meaningless philosophy of life (such as life coming from non-life)? And what can a person say about technology?

God is completely eliminated, or almost so, and many live life saying there is no point or accountability. It is progressivism (life has no accountable eventuality) that generates massive murders in society, even if the deranged person is a conservative in his own personal philosophy.

“What’s the point? Let me do much harm and run away with self-extinguishing practices, for there is no one to whom I am accountable!”

On the other hand, Godly wisdom FAR out paces benefits to and for the community, more so than liberal philosophy ever can. It is this way, because liberal philosophy seeks to liberate constraints in many areas of life, one of which is moral guidance. It is self-interest in the immediate that is the focus, not the interests of others toward the end of life. This is empty.

My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Just Pray!

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Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:2-3, ASV). The word “temptation” in the ASV is rendered “trials” in the NKJV. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) reads, “…even if you have a lot of trouble” one learns to endure by having their faith “tested.”

One’s faith being put on trial is a challenge for each of us. After the testing period we can look back and see the value of the test and the resulting outcome. Though we might look back on it and see the value of it, while enduring it we hardly see the value. If that test is really hard – we wonder if we will come through it unscathed with any ability to regroup. Knowing such potentials where there is a possibility my faith will be exposed for the weakness “I am covering up” we sometimes hide and hope the sin does not seek us out.

The Holy Spirit want us to consider it a good thing when we are put in tight spots, when we are called upon to make use of the teachings we have learned from the Lord in every-day life. It is a good thing because the trials of life bring us to maturity, the word “perfect’ in 1:4, conveys this idea as expressed in the translation by Charles Williams, “so that you may be fully developed and perfectly equipped, without any defects.”

In an academic setting, in the safety of the room in which I sit reading what James said in a comfortable chair or at a table, perhaps a desk – I understand his point. What about when I am in the midst of failing, when I am in the midst of falling so hard that I won’t be able to look up to see anyone, much less the Lord because of the great shame I brought to His name?

The only solution I know to be the best solution is that which one reads in Luke 18:9-14. Two men approach the Lord; one is highly religious, the other an outcast in society. The highly religious looked upon himself in comparison with the outcast and was pleased with his standing in society, unlike how he saw the outcast in the same community. It is obvious to each of us who read the words of Jesus this is not to be our approach at making a bad situation better. Strangely, however, more of us are guilty of this than we realize. Our approach may not be precisely the same, but there is a similar approach we employ. “I failed miserably, but my failure is not as bad as Sue’s.” “My sin is so serious that I have a hard time showing my face in public, but at least I am not the only one guilty of the same.” “Why are you so hard on me? Mike is just as guilty as I am!”

The outcast who was hardly able to look up to heaven said to the Lord, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Before that, however, James gives the approach we are each to take: it’s called prayer. Not prayer only, but prayer to the Lord, couple with learning from the Lord’s word, making application. James says much about prayer. “The fervent prayer of a righteous man availieth much” (5:16); in speaking of Job’s perseverance, he reminded that Job was a man of much prayer (5:11); those oppressed cry out to the Lord in prayer (5:4); adulterated (impure) prayers to the Lord results in nothing; submission to the Lord in heart and action generates much devotional praise/prayer to the Lord (4:1-10); the use of a sharp tongue to speak against a brother and in the next breath praise the Lord is a tongue of no use from a heart confused (3:8-10).

When you are in a weak spot in life, difficult as it may be to do so, get down on your knees and pray (1:2-8). Pray the Lord will help you overcome the weakness cast upon you, pray the Lord will give you strength to endure, pray the Lord for the ability to walk away and be protected from the frontal attack being thrust at you in the moment. Pray without doubting the Lord is your strength, and He is your only strength.

“My state of mind is not ready to pray when I am in that tough spot!” Perhaps not; if so, then expect to fail. On the other hand, if not you are not ready to pray, but you don’t want to fail, then change your mind and pray! RT

Two into One…Republicans and Democrats

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Paul taught the blood of Christ has brought near to God those who once were afar off. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:132, ESV). The meaning of this phrase or idea is in relation to the once “nearness” of the Israelite people to God because of His covenant to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. “…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (2:12). Now, because of the blood of Christ, God’s intent to save all people everywhere, the earlier covenant to an exclusive people has been done away with; consider the following: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near (2:15-17).

To abolish in his flesh the “law of commandments” means that Jesus came to an exclusive people, obeyed the dictates/teachings of that law (otherwise known as the Law of Moses) given to the exclusive people (Israelite), fulfilling the Father’s purpose of Him coming to this earth. While on the cross, the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What is finished? The redeeming purposes of God wherein two people are reconciled; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17-18).

From Ephesians 2:14, the middle wall of separation has been broken down. That “middle wall” was the commandments to an exclusive people, the Lord Jesus having now “nailed it to the cross” with His death. Therefore, what is called the Old Testament is actually the Old Covenant of God to an exclusive people. With that which the Lord Jesus did, a New Covenant is given to all people, not to anyone exclusively, but to all. In Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter made reference to the words of God’s prophet Joel: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who -calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

Some points of emphasis from the above passage. First, Peter said the words of Joel would be in the last days, and that what he (Peter) spoke on this occasion was a fulfillment of Joel’s words; thus the “last days” on upon us, that is, we are in the midst of them and have been since the days of Peter’s preaching. Second, God’s Spirit is poured out on all, not only on some. To the Jewish audience, this would not be missed; Peter said God’s Spirit was to both the Jew and non-Jew. Thus, all (Jew and non-Jew alike) who call on the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21). All too often, people put emphasis on God’s Spirit given to someone rather than on God’s Spirit unifying, that is, making a separated people into one.

Comparison: when a male and female come together in marriage, God made two people into one. God made two people into one with the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus. Consequently, if I hold on to my secular ideology, then I am a republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, anarchist, radical—and I maintain separation with my political party of choice. On the other hand, if I allow the blood of Jesus to “do its work,” then I am none of the above, but a Christian only. In fact, it is only in Jesus that the separations of man can be bridged.

Will you stand on Jesus’ side? RT

Some people bring happiness wherever they go; others bring happiness whenever they go!

The Meaning of Life, Will Durant and New Philosopher

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An Essay

Ron Thomas

The thesis of this essay: the meaning of life is from God, one’s meaning in life is moving directly back to God.

“The religious impulse, the quest for meaning that transcends the restricted space of empirical existence in this world, has been a perennial feature of humanity.”[1]

Since man’s life is from one of two sources (God, not-God), meaning in life must be determined in relation to these two sources. If for one the source is not-God, then meaning is strictly the perspective of the individual; submissions to the question “what is the meaning of life?” found in such books like Will Durant’s On the meaning of life and periodicals like New Philosopher: What is the meaning of life? holds sway, which is to say that no one knows what meaning there is to and in life!

If life did not come from God, then answers that people construct to give meaning are viable and “right” as any answer given by another. The answers constructed, presumably, help one get-a-long in a meaningless world; it helps to make one’s meaningless life worth living! You are, in ultimate and practical terms, nothing more than a cockroach to be squashed.

You can hardly accept this, I am sure. You value your life far more than mechanical philosophers do, more than an atheistic materialist does, but if you accept the source of not-God, then to the material (“matter-in-motion”) realm of philosophy you (must) reside. The non-material substance of man (conscience) floats out-there-in-material-space. How rewarding!

Recently I came across the periodical New Philosopher (Issue 19 Feb-April 2018); within its pages are contributors who wrote anecdotal remarks on life’s meaning. Those answers ranged from being compassionate, act better, “something like truth,” little things, flourishing, connection and compassion, one needs to make his/her own meaning, meaning does not exist, have no regrets at end of day, make the world a better place, live in the moment, live honestly, thoughtfully and with compassion, to love, feel wonder and laugh.

I don’t recall a single reply that had substance (ultimate substance) for why one should live in these sorts of ways as suggested by the anecdotal remarks.

I thought I would compare the above replies in New Philosopher to the replies given in Will Durant’s book (mentioned above). In Durant’s book, the answers ranged from finding meaning in poetry, life has no meaning, life might very-well be absurd, one does not know, meaning is in the individual, meaning is uncertain, music or in some other construct of one’s own, life has value but does not need religion to make it that way; ethics and morality is a matter of social convenience and one medical doctor called humanity “human insects.”

With such a broad range of answers, can one know the answer to the question “what is the meaning of life?” No!

Thoughtfulness, as exhibited in the many answers given to the question, is in relation to one’s own search and thinking; some have looked at the writings of others, some paid attention to how other people live, most seemed to have concluded that life has no meaning except what one makes of it. These same thoughtful people arrive at this depressing philosophy of life, concluding that life is nothing more than happen-chance. Thoughtful people (in the periodical and book mentioned) seek an answer to this age-old question. Answers come from varied backgrounds such as a medical doctor, attorney, teacher, philosophy professor, and many other walks of life.

In the recent issue of the periodical New Philosopher, I especially looked for a rationale, the foundation in which the answers given by the contributors sprung (or were based), an answer that was more than anything others in this world have offered before; I saw nothing different; one might say, there was nothing new under the sun in the answers given. I saw much “one should do this,” but I saw little to under-gird why “one should do this” and nothing in the way of attention given to any consequences experienced if “one did not so this.” What is the consequence of these exhortations being done or not done? To what end and why should I engage in life as you proffer?

As best I could tell, each contributor answered the question of life’s meaning from the vantage point of “under the sun” or atheistic naturalism, the meaningless philosophy that says life came from non-life (a violation of the law of biogenesis[2]). With this philosophy in place, cryonics persuades some, suicide is encouraged by others, moral behavior is strictly situational and hedonistic. If one argues against each or any one of the failings of these approaches, on what basis will they argue?

“We feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense of misery to himself is a better man than the who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know of any rational ground for this view, or, perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires is preferable to what the minority desires.”[3]

My Drive

Answering the question “what the meaning of life is?” drove me to seek an answer for years. At the start, in 1983, I hardly recognized the question, much less any substantive answer, but as I look back on it all, though not realizing it, I was seeking an answer to the question. I looked for meaning when I had desire for acceptance, I looked for meaning when I had desire to be loved, I looked for meaning when I had desire to gain wisdom, I looked for meaning when I had desire to achieve economic independence, I looked for meaning in pursuing work to provide for me and my family. In all this, the lessons learned, and the values gained, accomplishment in these areas do not (did not) give ultimate meaning to life.

In Idaho I enrolled at Boise State University, taking classes in philosophy looking for depth of study and meaning in life, but it was there I learned philosophers like to generate questions with no real desire for answers. It seemed the only desire philosophers sought was to parse sentences and words, and to debate the viability of someone else’s answer!

By this time, I already decided to be a Christian (1983). Philosophy gave me no answer, my knowledge in Christianity at the time brought no answer; somewhere along this line I started formulating the question in my mind “what is the meaning of life?” Surely, I thought, there was an answer and the answer available, I hoped, did not have to be profound. Frustrated as I was I knew only to stay the course I was already on because in the two areas of study that I enjoyed most, philosophy and Christian doctrine, I found satisfaction – albeit limited.

As I journeyed, I came upon one of my great enjoyments, reading the written (transcribed) oral debates between atheists and theists. Such debates as the Thomas Warren-Anthony Flew Debate (1976)[4], the Thomas Warren-Wallace Matson Debate (1978)[5], the Thomas Warren-Joe Barnhart Debate (1980)[6]. Thomas Warren did more to influence me away from the meaninglessness and hopelessness of materialistic atheism, sometimes called naturalism, than any man in print. He set forth his arguments in strict syllogistic form, knowing that if each premise is proven, the conclusion is demanded. Powerful! Two other debates from which I gained much was the Craig – Simon/Armstrong Debate[7] and the J. P. Moreland-Kai Nelson Debate.[8] Each of these debates are books are re-read occasionally.

A great find in 1999 was an old copy of Will Durant’s book On the Meaning of Life.[9] I devoured the contents of the book, only to learn he said nothing except that which the greatest minds in the world have said before him.

Durant’s book addressed the “bitterest possibilities” of painting a life without God. He said, “I would not have this letter taken as expressing very accurately my own conclusions on the meaning of our existence; I cannot find it in my nature to be so despondent. But I wished to confront at the outset the bitterest possibilities…” the meaning of life without God (6). The picture he painted in the letter he sent out to people of academic attainment or attainments in other areas of life paints the issue this way: “The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God” (23).

What did he conclude? “Is it possible to catch the meaning of life without getting outside of it to judge it, or with seeing it as part of a larger whole? – and which of us can do that? This is a merry termination of our quest [answering the question ”on the meaning of life”], a disturbing illustration of the old definition of metaphysics as ‘a search in a dark hole for a rat that is not there’” (107).

THE MEANING TO LIFE AND MY DRIVE

Imagine my pleasure in April 2018 when I came upon the magazine New Philosopher: “What is the meaning of life?”[10] Perhaps something in the answers to the inquiry in this issue would be different than the ones given almost 90 years earlier. But I learned the answers given in 1932 are not much different than the ones given in 2018. The words written in Durant’s book are much the same as those contributors in the Feb-April 2018 issue of the New Philosopher. Truthfully, I did not expect the answers to be different, though I wondered if they might.

From the vantage point of “under the sun,” much is the same as that which Solomon thought during his time on this earth. The difference between the meaninglessness of man’s wisdom and that which Solomon proposed is in the source of life. I mentioned earlier that to answer the question, one’s answer comes from one of two foundation starting points, God or not-God. One foundation point will be with the perspective that life comes from God; the other foundation point is with the perspective that life comes from non-life. From the vantage point of under the sun, or the vantage of man’s wisdom without God, life has no meaning (as is evidenced in New Philosopher and Will Durant’s book). On the other hand, from the vantage point of under the sun and the source of life being God, the answer is different and far more meaningful.

The words of Solomon materialist philosophers reject, but the same materialists who reject are unable to offer anything better. If they offer similar answers (and they might), it’s not possible for them to know this is the best course of action to take, they can only guess or hope that it is. Moreover, as far as they are concerned, there is no consequence if one chooses a different course or path. Additionally, it does no good for one to say in reply to the Christian, “My answer is the same as yours and, therefore, just as substantive,” for while this may be the case as far as practical substance is concerned, the difference is the source and where meaning is found.

What did Solomon say on meaning in life in his treatise? His journey is in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and it is here that he saw how life produces much vanity. The vanity, however, in is in relation to one’s failure to explain the perplexities life presents. The wind travels in a circuit, why? The accumulation of wisdom generates more questions than answers, why? Laughter is not really any better than much sorrow, why? Work brings satisfaction, but not satisfaction that is greater than the moment, why? Why does not wealth answer the problems of life? The impoverished person is more at ease with himself than the wealthy, why? What advantage does wisdom give to the longevity of life over the fool? Is there any value to the fool living as long as the wise? These are matters to which Solomon gave attention.

Solomon had direction in his life, but he wandered off the path of a meaningful life to engage in hedonism (self-indulgence); he saw in life much uselessness, that is why he called life vain. However, is life really vain? As he journeyed, he saw life for how it is, but then for how it needs to be seen and experienced. He saw that meaninglessness (vanity) is directly related to man’s corrupted philosophy (7:29). Solomon begins by setting out to identify that which is “good” for man to pursue. He looks at what can be called “good” from a vantage point much different than meaningless-mechanical-materialistic philosophy, or under the sun atheism presents. He looked at what can be called “good” in direct relation to God, the source from which life comes.

No explanations to the many perplexities of life, Solomon noticed, but life lived with direction to God is far better than life lived wandering about in a meaningless world, or life without God. Wisdom taught him this much!

There is much value in that in which a person engages, in the work he produces to benefit self and others (2:10). The work done from the vantage point of under the sun (naturalism) is of no lasting value for the one who labors at it, for while there will be much limited “good” that comes from it, in and of itself, work is meaningless. Work in relation to something greater than self can be of great value even in a meaningless world, but so what? Toward what end does it serve?

On the other hand, life is a gift from God, not something of the non-sensical “life-from-non-life” philosophy that generates no real meaning or purpose that moves one toward an ultimate benefit at the end of life. But to make life meaningful, to have purpose in this dark world, something more than work will be helpful. Solomon spoke of one’s disposition while engaged in a vocation (2:24-26; 3:12-13). This is directly related to contentment. In practical terms, is there something better than producing for oneself and those around him?

Work plus productivity generates benefits for others; happiness or satisfaction can be and should be generated by the one engaged in productivity. There is something to be proud of (to borrow a line from a song) in this. Solomon speak of this as one’s heritage, or portion in life (5:18-20). In his contentment he chooses to live life understanding physical life is a gift from God (8:15), and not allow himself to be burdened with matters of little value in a world of much perplexity.

Solomon asked an important question: For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? (Ecclesiastes 6:12, ESV). If one listens to a materialistic philosopher, he/she will tell you what is “good” in life, or at least what they think is good – but how do they know? They don’t; they can only guess. Solomon was one who thought on a grandeur scale than naturalists, one who included God in the foundation of his thinking, knowing His existence and the judgment man will face from Him who is the Creator of life when his individual life is over. With this before him, he still did not know.

From the exclusive vantage point of “under the sun,” how could he?

Those who consider themselves philosophers or deep thinkers since the time of Solomon have arrived at the same answer, the answer “How the devil do I know?”[11] What Solomon did know, however, is that man is corrupt in his thinking, and a corrupted-thinking-man can’t know what the good is, except a “corrupted good,” if there is such a thing.

Life has meaning in family (9:9-10) and in the work in which one is engaged. To give thought to unnecessary things in the natural world (like Solomon did) is to encourage depression and defeatism. Since life is a gift from God, and God gave man the capacity to work, let him work to provide for himself and others, such as his family. Let him content himself in making a difference in his “little corner of the world.”

So, two philosophical approaches before us in answering the question “what is the meaning of life.” One approach is life came from non-life (not-God), and this approach gives empty answers, is meaninglessness and directionless. The other approach is life came from life (God), and this approach gives an answer, an answer that is not only meaningful in the immediate circumstances of life, but an answer that moves one in a direction toward God. We will all die one day, and the gift of life given is going to return to the Giver of life; this is called judgment. The wise man, in this case Solomon, learned the whole purpose of man is to fear God, for to Him he will give an account (12:13-14).

Thus, the meaning of life is life from God, and the meaning in life is man trying to get back to God; everything else is vanity. RT

[1]  Peter Berger, p. 176, quoted by Dinesh D’Souza in his book What So Great About Christianity.

[2] “There are no exceptions to a law of science” (Dr. Jeff Miller, Science vs. Evolution, Apologetics Press, 2018, p. 9).

[3] Bertrand Russell in Katharine Tait’s My Father Bertrand Russell, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, 1975, p. 182.

[4] The Warren-Flew Debate, National Christian Press (1977); reprinted by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center, 40th Anniversary Edition (2016).

[5] The Warren-Matson Debate, National Christian Press; Jonesboro, AR (1978).

[6] The Warren-Barnhart Debate, National Christian Press; Jonesboro, AR (1981).

[7] God: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist, William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong; Oxford University Press (2004)

[8] Does God Exist? The Great Debate, J. P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen, Thomas Nelson, Nashville (1990).

[9] On the Meaning of Life, Will Durant: Ray Long & Richard R. Smith, Inc. 1932, New York

[10] New Philosopher, Issue 19: Feb-April 2018, 130 Macquarie St., Hobart TAS 7000 Australia

[11] G. Bernard Shaw, On the Meaning of Life, p. 107

No Solution

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I am a republican, democrat, liberal, conservative, anarchist, and/or radical. I maintain separation with my political party of choice, Jesus notwithstanding!

Thus, herein lies the problem of personal relationships. There will be NO solution to the separations.

On the other hand, if I allow the blood of Jesus to “do its work,” then I am none of the above, but a Christian only. In fact, it is only in Jesus that the separations of man can be bridged, because the separations are washed away in the blood of Christ and a new way of thinking is adopted. (Gal. 2:20)

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

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This is Memorial Day weekend, the day following being Memorial Day. A lot of folk on the Memorial Day Monday go to cemeteries and pay respect to the deceased, those who have fallen in service to our country; in my view this is appropriate. Others have different approaches. Whether one is engaged in this or that approach, the memory and/or reflection given to what some gave up for each of us (our liberty) is still done.

I am not sympathetic to pacifists. I respect their way of thinking and will defer to them in many areas of life (similar to that which I do in relation to others), but I am not sympathetic to people who regard pacifism as a higher moral ground than one who is not a pacifist. I am not a pacifist and will never be one. You come into my house uninvited and at an hour when you have no good reason to be there, then I will react strongly, even violently. I will protect that which the Lord has given me, or die making the effort.

I am reminded of these things for two reasons: first, the weekend upon on; second, the book by Dwight D Eisenhower “Crusade in Europe.” He tells of the pitiful state of the U.S. Military just before the Second War (1939-1945), how unprepared we as a country was for the pending war. We were not a pacifist country at the time, but the general trend of thinking was for us not to be engaged in a war in another part of the world. We were not pacifist, but we acted as if we were. The Great War (WW-I) was so destructive of many things, people had no stomach for anything similar, so it is readily and easily understood why many in our country were overly reluctant to be involved in another war. Because we were and because we adopted a “don’t-spend-to-modernize-the-military,” our capability to fight off an attack was woefully lacking and any ability to help the ones engaged in defending their own home was similar.

Because not all in society were pacifists (some few were), when the time came to call men to honor, that is, defend their homeland and the innocent lives of others, in short order millions signed up ready to take up arms and millions more enrolled to support those who did. No one in the world was as capable as our country to do such a thing as we did.

Yes, on this occasion, pacifist ideology respected, I think it is proper to honor those who served our country, and even those who serve in today’s military. More than that, however. I think it is proper to honor all those who serve our country and our community in service-oriented work and I have especially in mind with these words our law-enforcement community (LE). So many disrespect them because of a victimhood mentality, a distorted view of how life should be and how it currently is. The LE must take up arms to defend and protect the innocent, and I can do nothing but respect the vocation.

Not to be out-shone at all, but to be elevated to the highest pedestal available are those who take up the armor of God. In its own right, a far greater battle in which each is engaged (cf. 1 Peter 2:11). When one takes up the armor of God, he (she) can no longer take up his personal way of thinking and engage an enemy; instead, one must take up a new way of thinking and engage the enemy within (cf. Gal. 2:20). Satan is a mighty powerful foe, a foe so strong there is no chance we will be victorious if we engage him on our own terms. In fact, Satan desires that we think we can. He never loses!

There were many who did not fail the Lord; instead, they took up the arms of faith and engaged the adversary of man, coming out victorious. Their victory was not in material or fleshly terms. The Holy Spirit giving us exhortations that we should pattern ourselves after the faith they lived (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Consider Joseph for a moment. A young man who, evidently, thought more of himself in an area or two than he should have, was a favorite of his father Jacob, but had brothers stand opposed to him strongly. Due to experiences in life he was taught powerful lessons, but he suffered greatly. In the many years of separation from his family, perhaps he thought initially that he did nothing wrong. He had to learn to lean upon something. He chose to lean upon the Lord. Unbeknownst to Joseph, the Lord had plans to use him in greater service to a larger group of people. Joseph learned this much later in life, and when he did, he looked upon the deeds of his and his brother’s experiences much differently than, perhaps, he thought he would—certainly not as harshly as his brothers thought he would.

Saints like Joseph, Abraham, Deborah, Esther, Paul, Peter, all living in dissimilar circumstances, but who took up the armor of God. On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember those who serve the Lord, and those who serve and have served this country. RT