What is the difference between warfare in the Old Testament and Islamic jihad?

One of the great things about preaching through books of the Bible is that it forces you to preach about topics that you might normally never discuss. Let me give you an example. I am preaching through the book of 1 Samuel right now. Just this week I came to 1 Samuel 15:3…

“Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

God is telling King Saul to completely wipe out out the Amalekites. Men, women, children. The reason God is directing Saul to do this is because when Israel was leaving Egypt the Amalekites attacked Israel before they even reached Sinai (Exodus 17:8-16).

Maybe I am weird, but I got excited when I read this passage. The reason is that I knew it would force me to study hard to understand what exactly is going on. I like the challenge.

Quick side note. If you don’t believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God then you simply disregard passages like this and claim that these holy wars were done by people who were acting outside of God’s will. Your culturally influenced view of who God is leads you to change the clear teaching of Scripture. This kind of loose handling of Scripture has obviously infiltrated the church and has led us into all kinds of false teaching and Biblical compromises.

The more I thought about it the more I realized how important this passage is for us today. This is one of the passages that people use to discredit Christianity. Their argument goes something like this, “if God is good how in the world could he give such a command for his people to engage in a holy war?” Or they will make statements like, “Christianity and Islam are really no different, both encourage holy wars and genocide.”

Here is a quote from Richard Dawkins that lets you know what we are up against, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

How do we respond to these kinds of statements? What will your kids say when they hear this from their college professor? Is there a good, biblical way to respond?

What I want to do now is answer the question, is there any difference between warfare in the Old Testament and Islamic jihad? The answer is an emphatic yes. 

  1. God is holy and he has the right to judge sin and sinners. Allah is not the one true god and has no right to judge sin and sinners. I am convinced that this is the place you must start with this conversation. In Isaiah 6:3 we read this, “And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” God is holy (1 Samuel 2:2, Isaiah 57:15, 1 Peter 1:15-16), humanity is sinful (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). Unless a person repents and turns to Jesus Christ they will face the judgment of a holy God. Yes, culture would love Christians to dial down the holy God, sinful man talk. As faithful messengers of God’s Word we can not do that. God is the rightful judge, not Allah.
  2. Acts of “war” in the Old Testament were for a specific time and place. Not a command to be repeated. The Quran commands Muslims to still wage jihad today. The holy wars that we see in 1 Samuel 15 (and other places in Scripture) were not meant to be perpetuated by future Christians. They were specific acts of God’s justice against people who were living in rebellion to his righteous laws. The jihad we see in the Quran is expected to be modeled and lived out by all future Muslims.
  3. If you follow Jesus you get peace, if you follow Muhammad you get jihad. We need to stop and think about the founders of Islam and Christianity. Jesus came to earth he brought peace. In Matthew 5:44 we read these words from Jesus, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Some people will argue that if Jesus taught peace then how did we end up with the Crusades? We need to keep in mind that the Crusades came about a thousand years after Jesus and they were the result of people disobeying the clear commands of Jesus. Here is where the difference is clearly seen. The jihad that we see going on all around us in the world today is the direct result of the violence that Muhammad modeled and commanded to his followers. Nabeel Qureshi puts it like this…

“The historical Jesus never sanctioned violence and endorsed nothing like the Crusades, whereas the historical Muhammad engaged in jihad as the greatest deed a Muslim can perform. Violent jihad is a result of adherence to the life and teachings of Muhammad, whereas strict adherence to the life and teachings of the historical Jesus results in pacifism and sacrificial love for one’s enemies.”

Final thoughts

It is very important that we make a distinction between the religion of Islam and the people of Islam. Here is what I mean. Islam is a false religion. We don’t need to apologize for saying it. We do no one any favors by hiding the truth and denying that there are significant differences between Islam and Christianity. Yet at the same time we are called to love all Muslims. Our heart should break for the fact that there are so many Muslims who have not yet understood just how beautiful and amazing Jesus truly is. We stand firmly on the truth while we simultaneously reach out in love to those who disagree with us.

Sources used:

  • “No God But One” by Nabeel Qureshi. If this topic interests you I would strongly encourage you to read this book!
  • “Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Samuel” by Heath Thomas and J.D. Greear


Continue reading “What is the difference between warfare in the Old Testament and Islamic jihad?”

Dying Well

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. -Psalm 90:12

I shared with my brother-in-law that I was going to preach a sermon on the topic of what it means to die well. He shrugged and mumbled something I could not understand. Let’s just say that I have come to grips with the fact that the title (Dying Well) is not very sexy or appealing to the masses. But preach on this topic I must.

Why?

We all die. Yet it appears to me that we spend so very little time thinking and preparing for this unrelenting reality. In fact, our American culture goes OUT OF IT’S WAY to avoid thinking about or dealing with death.

Sick? Hospital.

Dying? Hospice.

Death? Funeral home.

If we are fortunate enough we may just need to miss a couple hours of work when someone we know passes away.

Whenever I perform a funeral it seems to me that people are almost itching to go get a stiff drink or watch a baseball game on TV. ANYTHING besides dealing with the reality of their own mortality.

Although we don’t like to talk about death God tells us that wisdom is gained when we reflect on the fact that our days are numbered here on earth (Psalm 90:12).

So where do we turn for an example of how we should think about death? The first person that I thought of was the apostle Paul. I am not aware of any one who ever suffered as much as Paul yet at the same time was filled with such joy.

In Philippians 1:21-24 we read these stunning words from Paul, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

Paul was in prison while he was writing these words. The idea of death was no stranger to him. The one constant whether Paul lived or died was his passion to know and be with Jesus. Which leads me to this thought. The primary reason that heaven was considered “gain” to Paul was because Jesus was the passion of his life. Paul desired heaven because he desired to be with Jesus. Which leads to a challenging/convicting realization. If we do not consider death as “gain” could it be that we love something or someone here on earth too much?

This coming Sunday my primary text will be Philippians 1. But I plan on sharing a few other truths from God’s Word along the way. Here is what I have come up with so far:

Dying Well Outline

 

One of the things that troubled me most about the way my father died is that there were times when he did not seem certain of his salvation. My father was one of the most godly men I have ever known and I have no doubt that he is in heaven. I believe that it was his dementia that caused him to lose confidence in God’s Word as he slowly passed away. It breaks my heart that my father had to deal with those doubts at such a difficult time.

One of my recurring prayers is that God would grant me the strength and peace to face death with a faith like Paul’s. As a pastor I pray the same thing for the people I love and serve. I pray that in their time of greatest need that they would know “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was executed at the hands of Nazi Germany wrote these lines in one of his sermons, “Whether we are young or old makes no difference. What are twenty or thirty or fifty years in the sight of God?  And which of us knows how near he or she may already be to the goal?  That life only really begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up – that is for young and old alike to think about.  Why are we so afraid when we think about death? ….Death is only dreadful for those who live in dread and fear of it.  Death is not wild and terrible, if only we can be still and hold fast to God’s Word.  Death is not bitter, if we have not become bitter ourselves.  Death is grace, the greatest gift of grace that God gives to people who believe in him.  Death is mild, death is sweet and gentle; it beckons to us with heavenly power, if only we realize that it is the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.

Interview with Jaquelle Crowe (This Changes Everything)

One of the things that I like to do on my blog is talk about how the gospel relates to everyday life. So when I learned that there was a new book coming out that is gospel-centered and relates to teens I was immediately interested. Jaquelle Crowe recently published a book entitled, “This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms The Teen Years”. I have already started reading and discussing the book with two of my kids. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for teens or parents with teenagers. Jaquelle has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Family, what you are doing now, aspirations for the future, hobbies, etc…

Jaquelle CroweI’m 19, and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia — which is in eastern Canada. I still live at home with my parents (my dad’s a pastor, my mom’s a homemaker), younger brother, and two adorable cats. Right now I’m writing full time, hosting a podcast for youth (Age of Minority), and running an online membership site for young writers called The Young Writers Workshop. My future is an open slate — I’m currently pursuing the opportunities the Lord has put in my path (writing, mentoring, speaking, traveling) and am completely open to wherever he leads next. I would like to go to grad school, seminary probably, and one day earn my Ph.D. As far as hobbies, I love to read, exercise, listen to music and podcasts, and eat/cook. I’m an aspiring foodie and enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants and coffee shops. I’m also a health nut so I love experimenting with healthy baking.

2. What motivated you to write “This Changes Everything”?

I wanted to write This Changes Everything for two reasons. First, because it was the book I wanted to read as a younger teen but could never find. I wanted a book that didn’t sell me short as a Christian teen, that didn’t dumb anything down for me, that taught me solid theology but was also practical and fun. But secondly, I wrote it because I met more and more teens like me who wanted this kind of resource. Someone recently called it, “The Pursuit of Holiness for teenagers,” and that’s exactly what I wanted to capture — how do you pursue holiness as a teenager? I realized if there was only one book I wrote in my entire life, this was the book I needed to write.

3. What would you say to the teen that is involved in the church but is just coasting spiritually?

I think every “church kid” needs to come to the point where they realize that church attendance, tradition, or niceness doesn’t save us. I know I did. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can give us spiritual life. I would say to this coasting teen, “Examine your heart and ask yourself whether this faith is yours or merely your parents’ faith.” Jesus has no half-hearted followers. He demands everything. And if we’re saved, we’re required to pour out our whole lives in passionate, devoted obedience to him.

4. Describe a few ways that parents can get involved in the life of their teens to encourage their spiritual growth.

Regularly read and discuss God’s Word with them (my family has a time of worship each evening where we do just this and then pray together). Carve out weekly one-on-one time with your teens to talk about their spiritual life and struggles, temptations, and joys. Read a spiritual book together.

5. Christians understand that the gospel is what saves them. But the gospel is also key for our sanctification. What are some practical ways that teens can deepen their understanding and appreciation of the gospel so that it continually transforms their lives?

Read God’s Word every day — even if it’s just a chapter or a few verses. This daily discipline will do more for your spiritual life than you can possibly imagine. Pray every day. I find it helpful to set a timer to keep me focused and on track. Also, read prayers from godly saints, like the prayers in The Valley of Vision. Finally, pay attention to and invest in the teaching of God’s Word from your church — sermons, Sunday School, youth group, every time the Word is opened.

6. Can you name 3 or 4 books that you would recommend to teens to read?

Absolutely! Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle (applicable to both young men and women), Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.

Islam, ISIS, Immigration & Christianity

Ten thoughts about Islam, ISIS, immigration and Christianity.

  1. Christians should be looking to care for and love immigrants as they are coming into the United States. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ -Jesus
  2. We need to speak kindly and compassionately about immigrants. Every immigrant is made in the image of God and is therefore of immense value and worth. As Russell Moore points out, “We might be natural-born Americans, but we’re all immigrants to the kingdom of God (Eph. 2:12-14).”
  3.  Loving immigrants and vetting immigrants are NOT mutually exclusive. It does not make a person Islamaphobic if they believe in vetting and want to make sure that our country is safe.
  4. We should not ban Muslims from entering our country. We should absolutely  ban anyone who supports radical Islam.
  5. ISIS is a real danger and this is true because it takes Islam seriously. Loving our neighbor does not mean that we stick our head in the sand when it comes to dangers that we (and our country) are facing.
  6. I think it is odd if a person posts online a lot about loving immigrants but they don’t know their next-door neighbor. I think the reason we are tempted to do this is because posting stuff online is much easier than loving our actual next-door neighbor.
  7. I think it’s sad if people argue and complain online about immigration and yet don’t actually do something to make the lives of immigrants better.
  8. We should stop the name calling when it comes to people who disagree with us. In most cases we don’t know the heart of the person we are disagreeing with and slinging insults only further divides us.
  9. It seems crazy to me that many Americans still seem naive about the intense hatred that radical Islamists have for the United States of America.
  10. Call me captain obvious, but there is a difference between immigration and illegal immigration. One is OK, the other is not (Romans 13:1-7).

Interview with Karina Kreminski (Loving Our City, Too Busy to be Salt and Light)

During the past couple years I have developed an appreciation and respect for Karina Kreminski and her writing. Her blog tells you what she is currently doing as a profession, “I am a Lecturer of Missional Studies and a part of the Tinsley Institute team at Morling College in Sydney. It is a centre for missions and missional studies helping to equip leaders to be on God’s mission in our world.”

Karina was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. My prayer is that her answers inspire and challenge you to join God in what he is doing in everyday life!

Question: What do you think are the key reasons so many churches have lost sight of the fact that they have been sent (John 17:18) into our culture instead of merely waiting for people to show up on Sunday morning?

Answer: I think that we live in a culture that fosters a consumerist worldview. This is a false narrative that we have believed as Christians which competes with the narrative of the kingdom of God. The fact is we can’t live out both stories and be faithful to the gospel. I also think that some of the leadership philosophy coming through in the 1980s for example encouraged a very pragmatic and corporate way of doing leadership in the church. We have not theologically critiqued some of these values very well in my opinion. I feel moreover that we have highlighted methodology over a focus on discipleship and embodied practice in our teaching and preaching as leaders. We need to understand the identity of the church which is that it is a body of people sent into the world by God on his mission. It is not a vendor of religious good and services as George Hunsberger has said.

Question: What motivates, inspires and empowers a person (or a church) to sacrificially love their neighborhood and their city?

Answer: I think we need to understand that the church is a part of the ‘ecology of relationships’ that exist in the broader neighbourhood. This is something that Paul Sparks is helping us to understand in his book The New Parish. Once we realise that “God with us” means that the image of God is found in everyone and also that God is active in our community, it should influence us to take action beyond the confines of the four walls of the church. So we need to get our thinking right but not just leave it there. Instead, we then take action and connect with what God is doing in our community.

Question: What are some practical ways that Christians can get out of their comfort zones and begin to live as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods?

Answer: Get to know your neighbours- literally! Who are the people that live right next door to you but you don’t even know their names? The Art of Neighbouring is a great book that can encourage us as the authors tell us to know our neighbours names and then practice hospitality towards them. Another thing we can do is volunteer at the local community centre. What are the programs that are already happening that Christians can get involved with? This is a great way to build friendships. We need to focus on making friends rather than simply ‘connecting’ or ‘networking’ with people. Engage in missional habits like prayer walking so that God shows you his heart for the community in which you live. You will be surprised at what God reveals to you as you walk around you neighbourhood.

Question: How would you encourage a person who says they are simply too busy to get to know and love their neighbors?

Answer: Yes this is really an issue. The fact is that there is no way around this one really other than to make time for building relationships with people. Think of one activity you could stop doing or limit such as watching TV and then give more time to connecting with people. It shovel come naturally rather than forced. Be intentional as you step outside your home and God gives you an opportunity as you bump into your neighbour who you haven’t seen for some time. Sometimes it’s simply about being intentional in the everyday moments rather than carving out more time to build relationships.

Goodbye dad.

On Monday my father, Lee Wallenmeyer, passed away. Words that come to mind as I think about my dad….

Gentle

Kind

Patient

Compassionate

Prayerful

Playful

Man of God

There will never be anyone else quite like you dad…look forward to seeing you again some day…

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. -Revelation 21:4

Do you know the gospel and want to move into the deeper things of God’s Word?

If we look at the book of Colossians the Apostle Paul would seem to disagree. 

Paul was called as an apostle by Jesus (Colossians 1:1)

The good news of Jesus is bearing fruit throughout the world (Colossians 1:6)

The kingdom belongs to Jesus (Colossians 1:13)

Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15). Another way of saying that Jesus is God.

All things were created by Jesus (Colossians 1:16)

Jesus  is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18)

All the fullness of God indwells Jesus (Colossians 1:19)

Jesus reconciled sinful man through his death (Colossians 1:22)

We grow spiritually as we remain steadfast in Jesus (Colossians 1:23)

The church is the body of Jesus Christ (1:24). Want to reform the church? Don’t fixate on what other churches are doing. Fix your eyes on Christ.

Maturity means becoming more like Jesus (Colossians 1:28)

We operate on a daily basis in the power of Jesus (Colossians 1:29)

All wisdom and knowledge are found in Jesus (Colossians 2:3)

Every day of our life we are to walk in Jesus (Colossians 2:6)

We have been filled in Jesus (Colossians 2:10)

We have been circumcised in Jesus (Colossians 2:11)

We have been buried in Jesus (Colossians 2:12)

We were raised in Jesus (Colossians 2:12)

Our debt was cancelled by Jesus (Colossians 2:14)

Jesus broke the power of sin and death on the cross (Colossians 2:14)

We need to daily set our minds on Jesus (Colossians 3:1-2)

Our life is hidden in Jesus (Colossians 3:3)

Peace comes to us only through Jesus (Colossians 3:15)

We need to let the Word of Christ dwell in us (Colossians 3:16)

Every single thing we do in life should be done in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17)

All of our work should be done as unto Jesus (Colossians 3:23)

The way we treat employees needs to be done in the light of the fact that Jesus is our Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1)

Anesthetize: Overcoming The Desire To Numb The Pain Of Unmet Longings

“Thank God I got sober now so I could be hyper-sensitive for this series of humiliations.” -Meryl Streep in Postcards From The Edge

I still remember the conversation I had with a man who had gone through quite a few trials in his young life. He struggled with an addiction to cocaine but eventually he gave up his addiction and got clean. Not long after that he found out that his wife had a terminal disease and was going to die. After his wife died he needed to learn how to honestly deal with the pain of life without numbing himself with drugs. He was telling me about a time when he was at home and was contemplating having a beer. He was
not thinking about getting drunk, just having a couple of drinks. From his perspective, nothing overtly wrong with a beer or two. What got me is that he, in that moment, sensed that the Holy Spirit was telling him not to have the drink. Instead of having a beer he was being told that he needed to stop self-medicating and actually feel the pain present in his life. He knew that his propensity was to do something, take something, to help him cope with the pain of life. He put the beer down and began the lifelong process of embracing the pain of life and looking for how God was going to meet him, heal him, where he was most deeply broken.

It makes me wonder how often we anesthetize ourselves throughout our daily lives? It may not be cocaine, it may be prescription medicine, alcohol, entertainment, food, shopping, pursuit of romance, career advancement, money, etc…

Here are a few thoughts I have when it comes to our tendency to escape our pain rather than meet God in it…

  1. Most likely we have tightened the stranglehold of an addiction in our life. Every time we turn to something other than God to deal with the pain of life or unmet expectations we enslave ourselves to something that can not possibly deliver what we need. Every compromise with sin makes it a little easier to give into it next time.
  2. We are telling God that he is not enough. When we give into an addiction we are making it very clear to ourselves and anyone else in our life that we do not believe that God is enough for us. We may not say that God is not enough out loud, but the way we live reveals what we truly believe.
  3. We are quenching (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieving (Ephesians 4:30) the Holy Spirit and keeping him from healing our brokenness. God loves us no matter what. Time and time again in Scripture (Luke 15) we see that God’s love for the prodigal knows no boundaries. Yet Scripture does warn us that, even as Christians, that there are repercussions if we continue our sinful habits. If we feel distant from God or that there is a serious lack of spiritual power in our lives it may be because we are trying to manage the sin in our lives instead of treating it like a cancer that wants to kill us.
  4. We keep from seeing how God was going to care for us and love us in our moment of desperation. We read in God’s Word that Jesus is (John 4:14) the living water that satisfies our deepest longings and thirsts. Perhaps we have gotten into the habit of giving into our temptation instead of patiently enduring the trial and experiencing God’s gracious provision in Christ.
  5. We may have given the devil a foothold in our life (Ephesians 4:17).  The Bible is clear that we are in a spiritual battle (1 Peter 5:8) and it would appear that continual, habitual sin may give the devil an undesired influence in our life.
  6. We keep from seeing and understanding why we are feeling the way we do. Our pain may be revealing something that we love too much. Is it possible that we feel desperate, angry, bitter, depressed, anxious because we love something or someone more than we should? If we numb ourselves instead of dealing with the pain we may never see the the many idols that are present in our lives.
  7. We reveal that we fail to understand that God uses hardships and trials (1 Peter 4:12) in our life to shape and mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. It is rather easy for us to dismiss the prosperity gospel as truly awful theology. Yet, how many times do we we demonstrate that we harbor a little gospel prosperity theology in our lives when we question God’s goodness in the middle of our trials? The Bible tells us that God redemptively uses suffering in our lives to spiritually transform us and make us more like his Son Jesus Christ.
  8. We fail to see what God is doing in mundane, everyday life. Is it possible that we have unrealistic expectations about what it means to walk with God? If so we may be tempted to escape and look for a quick fix to our unmet expectations. For some people following Jesus will mean giving up everything and moving to a new country for the sake of his kingdom. Sounds radical. Sounds exciting. For most people living as a Christian means living out our faith in the grind of everyday life. Jobs, raising children, sports, neighborhoods, friendships, hobbies are all a gift from God and his desire is that we live as salt and light in the middle of it all. Have we taken for granted what we already have been blessed with in Christ?

The Ecclesiastes Moment In The Movie “Boyhood”

movie boyhood
As soon as I saw the trailer for the movie “Boyhood” I wanted to watch it. I am a highly nostalgic person and look back on the days of my youth with a mixture of wonder and regret. If you want to know why the movie is Rated R you can take a look at Christianity Today’s review of the film. I enjoyed the movie but as a father with three young kids I fully realize that this film is not age-appropriate for them.

The movie, as far as I can tell, is one-of-a-kind in the sense that it is filmed over the course of 12 years. It is amazing to watch everyone in the movie grow old right before your eyes.
movie boyhood 1

If you are looking for explosions, car chase scenes, and lots of action you will be incredibly disappointed. The plot is very simply the day-to-day happenings of one family. The simplicity, to me, is the beauty of the film. When you think about it, each one of us has a pretty amazing story played out through everyday life. The film’s star and primary character is Mason played by Ellar Coltrane. The father is played by Ethan Hawke (Mason Sr), the mother (Olivia) by Patricia Arquette.

Throughout the movie you get to watch the highs and lows of Mason’s family. Mason’s mother has an uncanny knack for marrying men with anger issues and serious drinking problems. This leads Mason’s family to continually pack up, move on and keep looking for a better life. One of the things I keenly sensed in the movie is a restlessness. All of the characters seemed to be looking for fulfillment, meaning, a place where they belong. Because of the fact that Mason is such a free-spirited boy at one point in the movie one of his teachers asks him, “What do you want to be Mason? What do you want to do?” Important questions for all of us.

The Ecclesiastes Moment is towards the very end of the movie. Mason is about to head off to college and Olivia completely breaks down, cries, and makes the haunting statement (paraphrased), “I just thought there would be more to life.” Olivia has been through two terrible marriages, worked hard to get back on her feet, earned her Master’s degree and becomes a fairly successful college professor. Yet, as she sees her son head off to college she is left with a nagging feeling that there should be more to life. Life has happened and it was not what she had dreamed it would be. Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, worked harder than most people at finding fulfillment in knowledge, pleasure, wealth and at the end of it all he wrote this…

And what ever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11

I think it is fair to say that we all have a deep restlessness and we are longing to find purpose and fulfillment from the stories of our lives. Even as followers of Jesus Christ we can fall into the trap of thinking that we can find happiness in the stuff of this world.

The tragedy is that the ache we all live with can lead us to destroy ourselves as we recklessly pursue the next buzz that we hope will keep us going. Could it be that this ache is a good thing? Perhaps we should acknowledge this craving in our soul for what it truly is, a sacred gift* that has been given to us to point us towards the only one who can truly satisfy us. We find the only source of true fulfillment towards the end of Ecclesiastes…

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth… Ecclesiastes 12:1


*Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. -CS Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wallenmeyers are moving to Dallas-Fort Worth!

June 25 we leave New Jersey and head out to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We are (sadly) saying good-bye to many wonderful friends and, yet, at the same time looking forward to this new season of life.

Marcie has already begun a training program that will lead to her teaching middle school kids in Fort Worth. I will be looking for work in the area once we get down there.

We are looking for someplace close to Fort Worth to live. Here is what we need from you. We would love to hear from people who know the area (FORT WORTH) when it comes to good cities, neighborhoods, churches, etc…Anything you can share, insights, will help us to determine where we will live!

Thanks!

Dallas-Ft-Worth