Archive for the Ecclesiastes Category

John Coltrane and Ecclesiastes

Posted in Ecclesiastes, Grace, John Coltrane, Music, Tim Keller, Work on October 17, 2013 by kevinwilkening

John ColtraneEarly today, October 17, I posted on Twitter the following: “When Tennessee Ford’s 1955 hit & The Vogue’s 1965 hit make your Ecclesiastes 2:12-26 sermon I am reminded that musicians often speak truth.”

Here is another example of a musician speaking truth. This is an excerpt from John Coltrane’s liner notes inside his 1957 album entitled, “A Love Supreme.” (I have been listening to it all day).

During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which as to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At the time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD …

This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say “THANK YOU GOD” through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.

— John Coltrane

*(quote taken from Tim Keller’s book entitled, “Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work”)*

Ecclesiastes 2:24–25 (ESV) — There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?


About Schmidt & Ecclesiastes

Posted in Ecclesiastes, Film on September 6, 2013 by kevinwilkening

About SchmidtConfession: I have been surprised how well Hollywood understands the Book of Ecclesiastes (although unknowingly).

Think about the movie About Schmidt (2003). Context: Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) is a recent retiree from Omaha, Nebraska. Throughout the movie Warren Schmidt’s inner struggles are heard through the letters he writes to Ndugu, a young African boy whom he supports monthly. As he returns from his daughter’s wedding in Denver, Colorado he stops by a roadside exhibit that highlights the early pioneers who crossed Nebraska heading West. He then expresses his frustration at not having done anything that might make his life significant. In a voice-over, he reads a letter that he has written to Ndugu.

My trip to Denver is so insignificant compared to the journeys others have taken … I know we’re all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference. But what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me? When I was out in Denver, I tried to do the right thing, tried to convince Jeannie she was making a big mistake, but I failed. Now she’s married to that nincompoop and there’s nothing I can do about it. I am weak, and I am a failure. There’s no getting around it. Relatively soon I will die … Once I am dead and everyone who knew me dies too, it will be as though I never even existed. What difference has my life made to anyone? None I can think of. None at all. Hope things are fine with you.

Yours truly, Warren Schmidt

It is true. Ecclesiastes 2:22–23 (ESV) — What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23 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.

Ecclesiastes 3:19–20 (ESV) — For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.

So we are encouraged in wisdom … Ecclesiastes 3:12–13 (ESV) — I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Are you getting excited for our study through the Book of Ecclesiastes??

Barth, Mozart, & Ecclesiastes

Posted in Ecclesiastes, Karl Barth, Mozart on September 6, 2013 by kevinwilkening

Karl BarthApparently Karl Barth (pronounced Bart) listened to Mozart every day, finding in his music a joy that “overtakes sorrow without extinguishing it, in which the Yea rings louder than the ever present Nay.” (A quote from the foreword of Karl Barth’s book Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).

Barth, speaking of Mozart in his Church Dogmatics wrote, “He [Mozart] had heard the harmony of creation to which the shadow also belongs but in which the shadow is not darkness, deficiency is not defeat, sadness cannot become despair, trouble cannot degenerate into tragedy and infinite melancholy is not ultimately forced to claim undisputed sway … The light shines all the more brightly because it breaks forth from the shadow. The sweetness is also bitter and cannot therefore cloy (sicken with excess sweetness). Life does not fear death, but knows it well.”

And this is what we will see and feel as we journey through the Book of Ecclesiastes. The light will shine all the more brightly because it will break forth from the shadow.

Like Clock-Work … says Ecclesiastes

Posted in Books, Ecclesiastes, Lewis Smedes on September 4, 2013 by kevinwilkening

Clock“Most of us spend our time crawling, groping, climbing, sometimes running, but always moving like the works of a clock. But now and then joy comes to arrest the motion, it stops the tedious ticking of our life-clocks with the bracing discovery that we have received a gift. It works most magnificently when we feel our own life as if it were God’s gift to us.”

~ Lewis Smedes, How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong?

Ecclesiastes: A Dangerous Book

Posted in Books, Ecclesiastes, Robert Johnston on September 4, 2013 by kevinwilkening

Useless Beauty book image“It is significant that the transcendent vision of life in both Ecclesiastes … comes without reference to the church of the synagogue, without reference to traditional religion. This is perhaps why the medieval church saw Ecclesiastes as a dangerous book. Although Qoheleth … knew the law (the story of God’s gracious provision for his people at the Red Sea and at Mt Sinai), he chose not to use it in his argument until the final coda.”

~ Robert K. Johnston, Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes Though the Lens of Contemporary Film

Outline for the Book of Ecclesiastes

Posted in Doug Wilson, Ecclesiastes on August 26, 2013 by kevinwilkening

EcclesiastesContrary to popular belief, Ecclesiastes is not a book about despair in the midst of existential meaninglessness. Rather, the Book of Ecclesiastes is a book about profound joy. Not a silly joy. Not a trite joy. Not a shallow joy. Not a superficial joy. But a joy which thinks deeply, and allows God’s people alone to enjoy the vanity which surrounds us on every side.

Ecclesiastes has four basic division. These divisions will helps us understand what the author is trying to accomplish as we study through this book together.

First Division: Ecclesiastes 1:2-2:26 – Satisfaction cannot come from anything within man’s power.

  • Subdivision 1: Ecclesiastes 1:2 – 1:11 – Nature repeats itself again and again and again.
  • Subdivision 2: Ecclesiastes 1:12 – 2:11 – Empty experiences show Solomon that experience is empty.
  • Subdivision 3: Ecclesiastes 2:12 – 2:26 – Wisdom is better than foolishness, but only God knows why.

Conclusion to First Division: God is the one who gives things, and God is the one who gives His people the power to enjoy things.

Second Division: Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 5:20 – God is sovereign over everything. Thus, Solomon answers objections to God being sovereign over everything.

  • Subdivision 1: Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 3:15 – God sovereignly puts everything in its place.
  • Subdivision 2: Ecclesiastes 3:16 – 4:16 – Solomon addresses six objections to God’s sovereignty.
  • Subdivision 3: Ecclesiastes 5:1 – 5:20 – Practical applications and cautions to God’s sovereignty.

Conclusion to Second Division: The basis for our joy is God’s divine sovereignty.

Third Division: Ecclesiastes 6:1 – 8:15 – Solomon applies the doctrine of sovereignty to show that God alone gives enjoyment in the midst of vanity (incomprehensible repetitiveness).

  • Subdivision 1: Ecclesiastes 6:1 – 7:15 – We must evaluate our outward condition properly.
  • Subdivision 2: Ecclesiastes 7:16 – 7:29 – We must evaluate humanity properly.
  • Subdivision 3: Ecclesiastes 8:1 – 8:15 – The sin of powerful men can sometimes block our view.

Conclusion to Third Division: The fact that sinful men wield their power unrighteously gives us occasion to enjoy life with others who have been given God’s gift of wisdom.

Fourth Division: Ecclesiastes 8:16 – 12:14 – Various obstacles to our joy (discouragements) are addressed and removed.

  • Subdivision 1: Ecclesiastes 8:16 – 9:9 – Remaining incongruities must not diminish our joy.
  • Subdivision 2: Ecclesiastes 9:10 – 11:6 – We must work hard and be sensible despite the remaining incongruities.
  • Subdivision 3: Ecclesiastes 11:7 – 12:12 – We must prepare for our journey through old age and into eternity.

Conclusion to Fourth Division: Fear God by keeping His commands for this is the whole duty of man.

*This outline was taken from Douglas Wilson’s Joy at the End of the Tether: The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes. I have made small structural and wording adjustments. However, Doug Wilson’s main content remains intact.

Books on Ecclesiastes

Posted in Books, Ecclesiastes, Literature, Reading on August 26, 2013 by kevinwilkening

bibleMany at CHBC have asked what I have been reading over the past several weeks to prepare for preaching through the Book of Ecclesiastes. Thus, I have compiled a list of the books that I have currently read (in whole or in part). I have placed them in alphabetical order by author (not by order of preference or value).

A few words about the books you will find here: First, you will notice that the writers are from diverse backgrounds. It is important that you read widely. Second, you will notice that you will not agree with every author. It is important that you be discerning readers. Third, you will notice that I have listed twelve books and two sermon series. You should not try to read all of these books. Nor should you try to listen to all of the sermons. We cannot read everything, nor should we try. Lastly, if you have recommendations of books that I should add to my growing list, then please send your recommendations. Better yet, just send me the books. LOL.

Barrick, William D. Ecclesiastes: The Philippians of the Old Testament.

Bollhagen, James. Ecclesiastes (Concordia Commentary).

Chandler, Matt. Beyond the Sun: A Study in Ecclesiastes (16 Part Sermon Series by Matt Chandler at The Village Church in 2006 no longer available online).

Driscoll, Mark. Ecclesiastes (12 Part Sermon Series by Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill Church in 2003 available online).

Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes (Foundations for Expository Sermons).

Johnston, Robert K. Useless Beauty: Ecclesiastes Through the Lens of Contemporary Film.

Keller, Tim. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.

Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes: An Introduction to Wisdom Literature.

Kidner, Derek. The Message of Ecclesiastes (The Bible Speaks Today).

Longman, Tremper. The Book of Ecclesiastes (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament).

Murphy, Rolan. Ecclesiastes (Word Biblical Commentary).

Pearcey, Nancy. Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning.

Ryken, Philip Graham. Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters (Preaching the Word).

Wilson, Douglas. Joy at the End of the Tether: The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes.

Wright, J. Robert. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture).

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