I'm writing this during Easter week and just finished (as a part of my daily Bible readings) the book of Ecclesiastes. Frankly, with thoughts of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter and Ecclesiastes, there is a disconnect.
If you read Ecclesiastes for your devotional time, make it in the morning. If you read it just before going to bed, you won't sleep very well. In Ecclesiastes, there are texts like...
"I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity [futility] and a striving after wind..." (1:13-14).
"I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity [futility] and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun..." (2:11).
"What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity [futility]..." (2:22-23).
"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 [futility] and a striving after wind..." (2:16-17).
That's in the Bible?
Yeah. And you should read it to some of your pagan friends who think the Bible is an unrealistic book, and tell them to put that in their pipe and smoke it...
Steve's Letter: April 2013
I just came home from speaking at the Liberate 2013 conference at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. I generally don't like conferences and don't much like speaking at them. A conference is just another meeting (albeit a big one). If I get to heaven and God calls a meeting or sponsors a conference, I'll know I'm in the other place.
But this was different for a lot of reasons. One reason was the whiskey and cigars.
Whiskey and cigars????
Wait, wait...let me explain...
Steve's Letter: March 2013
A few weeks ago, two guys I never met asked me to write an introduction to their book. Frankly, I already have too much "bubble gum to chew" and generally can't do this sort of thing. In this case, though, I had a feeling that maybe I ought to do it for them. I wasn't sure if the "feeling" was the Holy Spirit or indigestion; but for whatever reason, I told them I would write it.
Turned out not to be indigestion.
As I read the book, I was deeply moved by what I read not because it was new, but because I needed to be reminded. The title of the book (at least the working title) is Seeing God as Father: The Fullness of Sonship Explored by Noel Due (from Australia) with Daniel Bush (a pastor in Kentucky) and it's being published this year.
I wanted to share with you what I wrote in that introduction...
Steve's Letter: February 2013
I'm writing this a couple weeks before Christmas. So far I haven't punched out Santa, offended anybody I know, or screwed it up for everybody else.
But there is still time.
You, on the other hand, are through with Christmas and probably don't want to hear anything about it for a long time. As you know, I generally write these letters to you about whatever I'm thinking or doing at the time...and this old Scrooge is still dealing with Christmas.
I'm listening to a lot of media talk about the "war on Christmas," and feel constrained to say something about it...so you're it.
As our culture becomes more and more secular, and we become less and less popular, this is not altogether irrelevant to what Christians feel most of the time. If you haven't noticed, there is a lusty, materialistic paganism afoot and those folks don't like us much. Political correctness (unbelievers are rarely consistent) means that it is acceptable to say whatever you want (no matter how scurrilous, uninformed and shallow) about Christians and Jews, but may God have mercy on your soul if you say anything even mildly negative about Islam, abortion, alternative lifestyles, etc.
(Well, maybe not "God have mercy." If one doesn't believe in God, there's no one to give you mercy.)
Is there a war on Christmas?
Of course there's a war on Christmas...
Steve's Letter: January 2013
This is not political, so don't send me letters.
You're reading this in January; but since I write this weeks before you receive it, I'm just now getting over the election. And, no, I'm not that happy.
I'm so conservative and opinionated I don't "get" the political views of my friends who disagree with me. And I'm quite sure God agrees with me. After all, I'm ordained, teach in a seminary and write religious books. I'm an expert in the things of God and what he wants for the political process.
I didn't even watch the election returns because I was so sure my candidate would win; and, frankly, I kind of like our president, have a modicum of compassion for him, and even if I didn't want him as president, knew it would be a difficult time for him and his family. I just didn't want to watch so I went to bed...quite sure that God was a Republican and he, of course, would vindicate my views.
I woke in the morning to discover that something had gone seriously wrong. God caused, allowed or maybe permitted the reelection of President Obama. How could God do something like that? My worldview doesn't allow for screw-ups from God. I have always believed he was in charge of this mess. I am sure God has a special place in his heart for America and its leadership. And given my own views, turning on the television the morning after the election was not dissimilar to walking into a Kafka novel.
If you're not a conservative or if you're even politically to the left of me (almost everybody is), you don't have a problem. "God's in his heaven and all's right with the world." But this election has "messed with my head," caused me to think the unthinkable and forced me to reevaluate. In other words, I've had a "come to Jesus" talk and an attack of sanity.
You've changed your views? ...