"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Under the Sun

Chase: to pursue in order to seize, overtake, etc.: The police officer chased the thief. To follow or devote one's attention to with the hope of attracting, winning, gaining, etc.: He chased her for three years before she consented to marry him.

Under the Sun

1 I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless. 2 “Laughter,” I said, “is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?” 3 I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.
 4 I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. 8 I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well—the delights of a man’s heart. 9 I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
   I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
   and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
   and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
   nothing was gained under the sun


This past Thursday I wrote a piece entitled "Reflection" where I provided commentary concerning the power of living an intentional life. I expressed my thoughts about how many of us, if not all of us at one time or another; live out our lives intentionally in areas that ultimately do us more harm than good. We seek monetary gain, material items and momentary moments of pleasure to give our lives meaning and our hearts contentment and satisfaction. And through all of our successful attempts to chase after that which we find so much value and enjoyment in we soon realize that all this effort is in vain, leaving our minds confused and discouraged; hearts saddened, our souls empty.

Chasing pleasure, chasing pride and property, chasing praise is no more meaningful or achievable than chasing after the wind. 

The wisest man that ever lived, Solomon, shares with us in Ecclesiastes 2:11 that no pleasure, no delight and no reward was meaningful apart from the presence of God in our lives.

Apart from God we are nothing; we have nothing. 

In my last piece I mentioned the words of C.S. Lewis, his words are still readily available in my mind as he spoke of the dangers of excessive delight and pleasure: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It is in our pleasure, and in our success, that we have the greatest potential to experience pain; cause others consternation.

It's hard to get ones attention when all is going well.

I went on to say that I realized once again how easy it is to say YES to pride, praise and pleasure in one or all of its worldly forms. It had become recognizable to me that the flesh is too easily influenced by pride, so easily impressed with praise, and tragically, so easily distracted by pleasure.

It is not my view or opinion that pleasure is bad, it is not. My point is that a life that is intentionally lived to provide as much pleasure as possible with as little pain is a very shallow existence. The sadness, and irony, is that kind of life has no purpose; has no point.

John Wesley was one of nineteen children and his mother, Susanna Wesley, was one of twenty-nine children - I cannot tell you how happy I am to report that someone else has more children than I - and when the young Wesley ask his mother what the definition of sin was she espoused this view and said these words: 

"Son, if anything weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the Spirit, then that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself."
In short, anything that gives power and increases the authority of flesh over the spirit becomes sin no matter how good that very thing is in of itself.

All of us have things we love to do that bring us great pleasure. For me it is playing the game of golf. I love to play golf, but at the end of the day there has to be a balance. The dilemma one faces when one loves to play golf is that ONE can't hold their wife and a golf club at the same time. If my pleasures routinely take me away from my family, and time spent away from them is because of an increased value and high importance placed on playing golf - or working, or spending time with friends, or writing - you fill in the appropriate pleasure for yourself - has been implemented over being with them than I've begun down a path of denying myself of my rightful, and Godly, responsibility to love, protect and cherish my family, and in short invited God's dismay and ultimately, sin into my life. 

Ravi Zacharias puts it this way; "any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure." Our hobbies, work and or golf are not the problem; it is the excessive and inexcusable value one might, and frequently does, put on them that should be a concern.

Wordily illicit pleasures usually come at the expense of pain in our, and our loved ones, life. 

The Godfather: Marlon Brando

Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, in the epic silver screen gem, The Godfather, said these words: "Do you spend time with your family? Good. Because a man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."

If we choose pleasure over life and family priorities we can never be the person God intended us to be.

I love pleasure, but delight must be put in the correct context; perspective must be gained in the area of delight.

Proverbs 25 states; "If you find honey, eat just enough--too much of it, and you will vomit." Too much pleasure, any pleasure, however good it may be, will distort reality and destroy our appetite if not exercised with thoughtful perspective and balance.

You must entertain the area of pleasure with proper balance. 

Even if going to church is your pleasure, if you spend all your time within God's sanctuary without spending time outside to comfort and to confess to others the good news of Jesus Christ then I believe you have lost balance and perspective in your Christian walk.

In the end, it doesn't matter as much of what we do - within the keeping of the law - or what we vainly chase as much as it is paramount that we recognize that our calling or folly, our gift or false pursuit(s) will at some point test our character, and in that test our character will eventually be revealed to all the world to see.

Chase folly; gain failure. Chase God; gain freedom.

Anything we purse, anything we chase apart from God will reveal a character that has a high potential to stumble in difficult times, and fail in times of trial and tribulation. This often occurs because of a lack of God's direction and God's standard in one's life that isn't readily available.

There have been times in my life that my pleasures landed my feet in the world and other times they have been firmly planted, albeit for a short time, in God's kingdom. At other times my pursuit of worldly pleasures have left me straddling the proverbial fence with one foot in the world and one foot in His kingdom, only to have the spiritual crowed jewels that God has blessed me with being bruised and battered, all the while, rendering me somewhat helpless, and establishing in my mind that all folly, all false and fake pursuits, left me feeling empty and realizing the meaninglessness of it all.

I've come to realize and acknowledge, like Solomon, that there is nothing that can be accomplished or gained that has true value and that can provide complete satisfaction like God's presence in one's life.

Like chasing the wind, every pursuit is in some discernible way meaningless. Without God everything is meaningless; everything under the sun.

sbb 17.12.11

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