There’s A Time And A Place For Everything!

SCRIPTURE ECCLESIASTES 3:1-15

I have always been musically inclined, from a small boy pretending to direct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in front of my parent’s radio that rested 4-ft. high on the floor in the 1940’s to singing in choirs in elementary school and then in church choirs as an adult.

So in preparing for this study in Ecclesiastes, a tune began playing on my memory’s turntable of a 1961 classic Marty Robbins song:  A Time And A Place For Everything [See Footnote [i] ].

There’s a time and a place for everything

So let’s pretend we’re not blue.

There’s a time and a place for everything

Someday our dreams will come true.

A TIME FOR EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN –

We Christians tend to sing happy songs about God, and His blessings, and His goodness, and our relationship with Him.

I like happy songs; I’m in favor of happy songs.  The world’s songs, on the other hand, are often not so happy.  Even the ones that sound HAPPY and peppy are often not so happy when you listen carefully to the lyrics.

ECCLESIASTES sounds more like popular music today than the happy Christian songs we tend to sing.

We need to be careful.  Sometimes it is really easy for us to enter into a Christian cocoon.  Christian music, Christian friends, Christian decorations for our homes, and we even speak “Christianise”, as a pastor once mentioned in a Sunday message.

Now I’m very much in favor of all these things…but there’s a DANGER if we become so isolated that our message, even our lives, become irrelevant to the world around us in which we are to be salt and light.  We have to be careful we don’t become so isolated, so deaf to the regular questions of living and struggles of life without God, that we become MUTE to our neighbors and coworkers and families.

IN THESE TIMES…

More and more people are struggling to keep their heads above a rising tide of PESSIMISM about future prospects.  Of course, there are exceptions from a handful of optimists, predicting a better and brighter tomorrow.  Still, the larger portion of humanity is less convinced.

A hundred years ago [in the “modern era”], FAITH in human reason and progress was probably at an all-time high.  TODAY, it [seems] as low as ever with growing doubts whether the world can ever solve its problems on its own.

ECCLESIASTES speaks to this condition.

It expresses the intense disappointment that people feel when they realize, “Life should be better, but it isn’t.”

There is a classic rock tune that was released a year after I was married.  The group, The Byrds, in 1965, came out with “Turn, Turn, Turn” – YouTube has the original recording if you want to listen.  Apart from the title, all the other words in these lyrics were pulled directly from Ecclesiastes 3.  52 years ago, the Byrds understood that these words in ECCLESIASTES would resonate with the regular people.

[1] There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven;  [2] A time to be born…and a time to die.

Of these fourteen couplets…the FIRST THREE are along the same lines:

  • Born – Die
  • Plant – Uproot
  • Kill – Heal

We ALL have a time to DIE.

I know this isn’t a popular subject but try as we might to deny it, ignore it, avoid it, put it off…these lives as we know them, in these bodies, will come to an end.  We ALL have a time to die,  We just don’t know when that is.

Well, actually, we can know if we’d just visit http://www.deathclock.com.  Out of curiosity, I visited and answered a few simple questions and found out “Your time has expired.”  

The good news in all of this is the actual timing of my life here on earth is known only by God!

ECCLESIASTES 3:1-4 – New English Translation ( NET Bible)

A Time for All Events in Life

3  For everything, there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth;

  • A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what was planted.
  • A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and time to build up.
  • A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

The TEXT says that there IS a time and a season for everything!

EVERYTHING, a full rich life with all kinds of experiences, a robust life, lived fully.

It seems to me the trick is to get the TIMING right.  We sometimes seem to get things backward and we’re doing the opposite of what we should be doing.

When you say “time” to a musician, I think in terms of RHYTHM.  There is something wonderful about locking into a groove.

LIFE ought to be like that…A RHYTHM to die…  But get that RHYTHM OUT OF SYNC, it becomes like clapping on the wrong beat.  We get out of sync.  When we should be PLANTING Encouragement and UPROOTING Discouragement, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around.

When we ought to be putting to DEATH our old, rotten, selfish ways and nursing RIGHTEOUSNESS and HEALTH in our lives, we get out of SYNC and do it the other way around, killing righteousness and nursing back to health our rotten sinful ways.

We LAUGH at what’s disgusting and evil when we should WEEP.

So, when should we DANCE?

Here’s an idea:  Believe we can get ‘circumstantially’ out of rhythm in life.  For an example, this very CIRCUMSTANCE:  CHURCH.

When we are together reflecting on and our singing about God’s goodness and greatness, we probably ought to DANCE, but some of us seem habitually out of SYNC and rather MOURN in church instead (at least the look on our faces seem mournful).

FOURTEEN COUPLETS OF POLAR OPPOSITES…and each has a time.

Some Bible commentators say that the numbers here of 14 couplets (7x2x2) is a significant indication of COMPLETENESS.  From BIRTH to DEATH and everything in between.  ALL of it intentional…ALL of it work!

AND NO, IT’S NOT YET TIME FOR ME TO BE SILENT (v. 7).

Our country is torn today in regard to whether this is a time for PEACE.  The TEXT brings back to this rhetorical question seen before in Ecclesiastes.  “In the grand scheme of things, what good is all the toil?”

HERE, THERE IS AN ANSWER:  “GOD HAS GIVEN US A BURDEN (TASK, CALLING, WORK) AND HE HAS MADE IT BEAUTIFUL (OR GOOD) IN ITS TIME”  [VERSE 11].

The verse continues and explains that it’s God who put ETERNITY in our hearts, our soul and spirit, a longing to know something beyond time in this life, in this world, and in these bodies.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (b):  “…yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

When, all is said, we only have a spark of eternity in our hearts; we cannot fully comprehend ETERNITY.

So, when you get right down to it, IT IS A GIFT OF GOD–

  • WE HONOR GOD BY ENJOYING THE GIFT HE GIVES US
  • WE HONOR GOD BY LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST AND BEING SATISFIED WITH HIS GIFT!

This becomes a reminder that God’s SOVEREIGNTY is powerful:

Ecclesiastes 3:14 (AMP)

[14] I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor taken from it,  And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is].

It reminds us that any part we have in ETERNITY comes from our being in step with God; our soul’s attitude is in alignment towards Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our life.  We are reminded that we are neither puppet nor parasite.   We are not merely running in program mode that’s set in place by a grand puppet master.

And…we’re not without resource to add or subtract from our lives and enjoyment.

We are invited to join God in His work, not adding nor taking from His work, but joining Him.

So, what exactly can we take from this PASSAGE of SCRIPTURE?

I know what I came away with, you, maybe something else.  It seems clear that the passage, like all of Ecclesiastes, meant to make think to ourselves.  It’s meant to call us to a REALITY CHECK.

We are called to wrestle with out humanity, this fallen world around us, and what God has to say about it.

NO ESCAPE!

It’s all about LIFE in a  fallen world.  ECCLESIASTES says we can deny it, fight it, hide from it, even try to make sense of it.  BUT…we can’t escape it!  The only response is to LIVE IN IT one day at a time, fearing God and cherishing as best as we can the STUFF of which life is made–food, family, work and not in that order.  These are GIFTS of God’s hand.

So we are to ENJOY THE GIFTS God gives us.

We WORSHIP Him by living abundant, robust, even happy lives.

We examine ourselves and the rhythm of our lives.

We should ask ourselves, honestly, are we honoring God by living full lives well?  Are we treating this GIFT OF TIME as a PRECIOUS GIFT?  Are we living in Relationship with God, or are we working for ourselves…which ends in VANITY, meaninglessness?

More importantly than asking ourselves…let’s ask our Heavenly Father.  Let’s be open to God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak to us, revealing where we can LIVE more fully and thus honor God.  And let us RELY on Holy Spirit to GUIDE, and STRENGTHEN and give us COURAGE,

Now it’s normal, I believe, when we stop and think along these lines, to have REGRETS…to wish we had done some things differently, to have different priorities over time.  BUT the GIFT we have right now, THE GIFT OF TIME, we are enjoying today and will enjoy tomorrow.  YESTERDAY is gone!

So where different priorities are often called for, we’ll need to make a FRESH START today!  I’m going to, will you?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Footnote [i] :  There’s A Time And A Place For Everything – songwriters Benny Joy Edidson –  Published By – Unichappell Music, Inc., Elvis Presley Music.

Photos:  Google Image, Advance Search Setting.

Bible Translations:  New International Version NIV), unless otherwise stated.

 

 

 

 

 

The “They”[s] of Narcissistic and Entitlement Behavior

Question: WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOR?

Health professionals agree that it is a lack of feeling loved, which in turn, leads to insecurities, even narcissistic attitudes.  It is also the term in psychology to describe a preoccupation with SELF (Mayo Clinic Study 2013 – Narcissistic personality disorder).

It is a Greek term taken from the mythological NARCISSUS, who fell in love with his own IMAGE; doomed to die because he wouldn’t turn away from it.

Today, the obsession for taking “selfies” could be called narcissism.

maxresdefault-1

So, in a nutshell, I’m referring to a people who display a high level of SELFISHNESS, VANITY, and PRIDE in their life.  He, or she, sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective.

And when it comes to Christianity–SELFISHNESS, VANITY, AND PRIDE– can lead to a deprived mind and a counterfeit FAITH.

STUDY BIBLE TEXT:  2 Timothy 3:2-8 (NLT):

[2] For people will LOVE only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.  They will consider nothing sacred.

[3] They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.

[4] They will betray friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

[5] They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!

[6] They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.

[7} (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)

[8] These teachers oppose the truth just as Jammes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have deprived minds and a counterfeit faith.

 

Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror
Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror

[*NOTE:  I am not going to address every characteristic that Paul addresses in the 8 VERSES listed but will point out ones the Holy Spirit directed me to emphasize in this BLOG.]

THE “BOASTFUL” & THE “PROUD”

A reason people don’t feel they need Savior or forgiveness is because PRIDE tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart.

PRIDE also blinds people to their own responsibility and accountability for SIN.  

So, NARCISSISM (pride), makes SIN, whereas the GOSPEL reveals the TRUTH that leads to remorse for SIN!

AND, narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the LUST of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:28).

“IN THE LAST DAYS…” – The Identified Characteristics of Society  

EUGENE PETERSON sums it up:

“As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderous, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addictive to lust, and allergic to God.  They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals.”

OUCH!!!

The Heart of the Apostolic Charge Paul is telling Timothy that people will be “lovers of self” in the last days.

The Apostle to the gentiles had in view the growth of the apostate church which, though bearing the marks of evangelism to the surrounding community would nevertheless be spiritually DEAD.

The church which Paul foretold exalts external religion, yet denies or lacks the interest of the Word of God.  This Laodicean church is indeed coming at the end of the [Church] age! [Rev. 3:14-17]

Whenever SELF is exalted, lifted up to a position of honor, GOD is no longer worshiped.  God cannot be worshiped if we are exalting “self”.

  • SATAN loved himself more that he loved GOD; his self-love was the genesis of rebellion in heaven.
  • ADAM and EVE exalted “self” on the throne of their lives and plunging the WORLD into ruin.

SELF-LOVE ON DISPLAY:

One of the most frightening developments, in my opinion, is many contemporary churches are making enthusiastic declarations of SELF-LOVE, not only as allowable but as being the basic virtue.

SELF-LOVE has many offshoots–

  • self-esteem, self-worth, self-fulfillment, positive self-image…

The claim is made that one cannot properly LOVE God and/or other people unless he loves himself.  That is purely destructive thinking which comes from antibiblical psychology.

GOD MUST BE LOVED SUPREMELY!!!  SELF-ABSORBED people grow overly confident spiritually.

Spiritual Superior, meaning they are SELF-ABSORBED–boastful in their spiritual depth (1 Timothy 1:7):  “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently confirm” (NIV).

As a bible teacher, I need to take heed to Paul’s words.  Confidence in God’s word is important, but not to the degree of superiority.

“Contemptuous of parents” (v. 2, “disobedient to…) –

Contemptuous of Parents
Contemptuous of Parents

Society will produce children who are “contemptuous”.  

Too many parents think that Bart Simpson is cute when he disses his parents.  But SELF-WILLED children, their “cuteness” will one day come back to the parents of teenagers, with sometimes devastating consequences.  All because you thought it was “cute” when they were small.

And this can lead to the attitude of ENTITLEMENT.

ENTITLEMENT DEFINED: The fact of having a right to something; the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

In America, people feel ENTITLED to abundance, simply because they can claim the title of being a U.S. Citizen.

502072152-parents-to-blame-1

ENTITLEMENT can be based on such things as age (The “Millenials”), seniority, credentials, family name, etc…

ENTITLEMENT is demanding something for nothing and permitting laziness.

ENTITLEMENT tells you that you deserve what others have because YOU (Self), deserve what others have because you’re just as important.

ENTITLEMENT lies to you, distracting you with GREED and feelings of JEALOUSY.

ENTITLEMENT can hide behind the guise of EQUALITY, yet they hold nothing in common.

SELF-CENTEREDNESS ABOUNDS –

Self-centered people are “ungrateful”, imagining that they but receive their due whenever a courtesy is shown toward them.  The UNGRATEFUL PERSON despises the idea of GRACE, and because of their ungratefulness, God’s wrath is on display against their behavior.  [see Romans 1:18, 21]

The Unholy…

“Ungrateful” people are “unholy” people, no matter how religious they may appear in society.  The word translated “UNHOLY” isn’t so much the idea of ‘irreligion’ as of extreme indecency.

The UNHOLY PERSON is driven by SELF-LOVE (narcissism) to gratify his/her lust and passions in different areas as fully as possible with no thought of decency.

An “Unbending” Nature, another form of NARCISSTIC BEHAVIOR

The word “unbending” speaks of an individual who cannot or will not come to terms with another.  The word literally means “without a treaty.”

Convinced that they are right, they refuse to be reconciled because they must be seen as right in every instance.  No compromise here, regardless of the consequences, even to the point of destroying their own lives and the lives of their family member.

The Apostle continues with three characteristics depicting HUMAN PRIDE and HARMFUL DEALINGS with others before summarizing their relationship with God.

VERSE 4:  “TREACHEROUS” – not dependable–here today and gone tomorrow “RECKLESS [rash] – not careful with relationships; instead of valuing them. 

The passage of Scripture concludes with the first of a long list of complaints of the wicked character:  “lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God”  (Amplified bible).

Literally, the people in view have the outward form of true religion [eg. Christianity] even while denying its HOLY SPIRIT POWER.  These people can be church “members”, but they are lost.

Camouflaged Hearts
Camouflaged Hearts

HOW SHALL WE LIVE AS WE AWAIT CHRISTS’ RETURN?

There is little in contemporary society today that deters me from the understanding that we’re living in the LAST DAYS, perhaps even the final days!

The cult of “SELF” has grown so strong and become so ingrained that many professing Christians are oblivious to the pressure towards Narcissistic Behavior except when we look into the mirror of Scripture.

As the Apostle continued his instruction to the pastor of Ephesus, Paul insisted on the way Christians MUST LIVE in the Last Days.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (NIV):

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

The ANSWER to how we must live is found in the words at the end of this Chapter:

Paul writes,  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”  [2 Timothy 3:14-17 New International Version].

Looking at modern society, it becomes obvious that the dams that hold back destruction are now cracked, now threatening society with a momentary flood.

And no matter how hard “I” try to fix the leaks, it will FAIL every time.

The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).
The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after the water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).

INSTEAD of trying to stick fingers in the dike as crack after crack appears, we need to look to God and the POWER of His Word.

We need to realize that ALL fellowship is ultimately based upon doctrine and not upon how we feel about ourselves–how we feel about others or even about the conditions we face.

We are to SHARE our lives through sharing TRUTH; we share our lives through determining to OBEY God and to honor Him.

ECCLESIASTES 7:29 (NIV):

“This only have I found;  God created mankind upright, BUT they have gone to search of many schemes.”  [“but” not capitalized in the original text.]

Either we look to God, or we can attempt to “fix” things ourselves by putting our fingers in the dike.  But be aware that the “dike”, or the DAM in the above photo, is crumbling and springing multiple leaks.

Just as we are seeing the state of culture being overwhelmed by the cult of “me”, so it is impossible to “fix” what is dead.

What is DEAD must be abandoned.  We don’t have enough fingers.

Therefore, look to God!

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

While Jesus’ popularity grew, John the Baptist friends felt a little slighted for the prophet.  John the Baptist, however, said about Jesus,  “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”  (John 3:30 NLT).

We all may be tempted to be NARCISSTIC AND ENTITLED in some ordinary circumstances.  It has happened to me way to often and that might be the reason God’s Spirit prompted me to write on the topic.  Okay, forget that I said “might be” and replace it with “is”.

I read a story in my studies this week about a man who was flying from Tampa to Chicago every week on a work assignment.  At the end of a certain week, he was tired and ready for a quiet and relaxing flight home. It wasn’t going to happen.  That day a large group got on the plane who were having a noisy celebration of some kind.  Instead of getting angry and upset, the man who was already tired just sighed and smiled as he told himself, “Apparently today is not about me.”  [Story from William Earnhardt’s – Bible Cures for Narccism]

The CURE may just be that simple.  Remember that “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.”

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

What Does The Bible Say About Narcissistic Behaviour? The 3 Faces Of Evil by Christine Louis de Canonville.

Narcissism?  gotQuestions.org.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translation (s): The New International Version (NIV), except where noted.