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Why is Bubba Still in My Basement? Missing the Point of Parenting

What is the point of parenting? Is it to raise a happy, healthy child? That seems to be a fairly generic goal.

How does one measure success as a parent? Is it GPA, earning potential, athletic achievement, or some sort of moral standard? How do we know if we’ve done well?

The point of parenting is articulated in the 28th verse of the Bible. Even before God rested, He explains the purpose of a parent.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Gen. 1:27-28

OK, nice Bible verse. So what’s the point of parenting?

  • Image – you are the representative of God on earth. You demonstrate how His Word works in the world and share the blessing that it brings. Your home, as imperfect as it may be at times, is a demonstration of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His redemptive power to the world.
  • Multiply – notice the Bible doesn’t say add but multiply. All things being equal, any man and woman can biologically add children, but the word “multiply” means that there is something exponential in the purpose of parenting. Teach your child how to be an image of God and you double yourself. If that child has children who also pass along those values, and so on and so on, what you have done for the benefit of the world is exponential. The greatest contribution you can make to the world is not the business you start or the recognition you receive. The greatest contribution you make to the world according to Genesis 1:17-28 is in the children you send.
  • Fill – what you are for your children doesn’t stay put, it moves. Notice that the verse does not say fill your basement space, but fill the earth. What has happened in your home needs to happen again, in another place. The word “fill” assumes there is an empty space with a need. When we fill the earth with “image-ness” there is less of a void. People tried the stay-put plan with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). God didn’t take it well. Don’t make your basement Babel 2.0. God was the first father to boot a Bubba out of the basement. The earth left to itself descends into chaos. It needs more images to fill the earth, spread out, and work God’s plan (Gen. 2:5).
  • Subdue – God created the world by applying His Word day by day. In the same way that God applied His Word and brought chaos to order, His images continue to work the earth, day by day, by applying God’s Word bringing an otherwise chaotic culture to order. We need MUCH more of this, don’t we?

So, in short. The point of parenting is to teach a child what it means to be an image of God so that when you release him or her into the world they will continue to apply God’s Word to an otherwise chaotic world and bring it to order.

But Houston, we have a problem; failure to launch.

Failure to Launch

A study published in November of 2016 found that in The State of New Jersey, 45% of young adults aged 18-34 live with their parents, even though they are employed.

The common term for a child’s unwillingness to leave out on his own is “failure to launch.”

I realize that there are a lot of circumstances in life in which a young adult may choose, or need for a time, to live in their parent’s home. Many college students save on the high cost of housing by commuting. I was one of those. My parents encouraged me to go to college by offering to pay tuition. The rest of it was on me. When I realized how much debt I would have just in housing expenses, and then took a look at what they were serving in the cafeteria, I realized that home is a really good deal!

There may be hardships or unforeseen circumstances that require a young adult to shelter at home for a time. There may be mental or physical disabilities that make staying at home a wise choice. But from what I understand of the study, these circumstances are not factored into the 45%. Even if I am making a mistaken assumption and all of these variables are included, 45% still sounds a little high don’t you think?

Life can be difficult and expensive, but I don’t think it is any parent’s dream to raise a capable kid, only to find that at 31 Bubba refuses to leave the basement!

Why am I being so hard on Bubba and his parents?

So what if Bubba is still in your basement? Or maybe he’s a boomerang kid – he moves out but keeps coming back. Am I saying that you are a bad parent? Not at all. I’m not even saying that Bubba is a bad person. Bubba’s first choice may not be for him to be in your basement. Furthermore, I know of some amazing single people who have greatly impacted God’s Kingdom who have lived their entire lives in their parent’s home.

But if you have an adult child who has no plan to launch out on his own and no concern for God’s Kingdom, I do have a question. What’s your release plan?

Surely you are not about to give up on Genesis 1:27 and 28. It’s too great of a vision. I’m not trying to condemn you, but I do want to challenge you. The world has enough people in it that eat Dorito’s, play video games, and binge watch NetFlix. We have some definite void in this culture that needs to be filled. Rise up, don’t give up!

God’s desire is for you to embrace the point of parenting. It will be a blessing to you!

Why are there so many Bubba’s in New Jersey?

Bubba stuck in the basement is not just a New Jersey problem. Failure to launch is becoming epidemic in the American family. Why is this? Perhaps it is because many have missed the point of parenting.

The point of parenting is not to just please our children, but to release them as mature adults. Instead of our homes being launch pads we are instead creating safe, sterilized bunkers in which our kids have everything their heart’s desire, where they are never hurt, never disappointed, never told “no”, and somehow sold on the snake oil that they should never fail.

The problem then becomes that they NEVER leave. Even worse, some parents, never get it! They don’t want to release their children. And YES – this I condemn. It is disobedience and not AT ALL God’s design!

Some parents simply want to control their children no matter how old they are. God has called parents to be equippers, not enablers. If a parent is an enabler, there sits Bubba in the basement thinking he is the center of the world; having no plans to impact the world. This is a child that has been added to the world, but who multiplies nothing. He is a consumer; a proverbial black hole of a family’s resources. He only adds to the chaos, making no contribution to subdue it.

So what if I don’t want a Bubba in my basement?

But maybe that’s not your vision. You don’t want Bubba in your basement. Perhaps you want to be an effective parent who releases an image of God capable of impacting culture and subduing the chaos. So how do we accomplish the point of parenting and raise kids with for purposeful release?

So now that I’ve intrigued some readers and perhaps angered others, let’s offer the proverbial cliff hanger. What’s the answer? I’ll share it in my next post. This week I’ll also address the issue of parents who have done it right, but the child rebels. What then? Stay tuned! Subscribe! Comment, ask questions – let’s have a conversation. How would you explain the point of parenting?

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throat punch love your enemy title

Love Your Enemies

Jesus commands us to love your enemies. When agitated by an enemy, loving them is not my first thought and we all know that thoughts can be powerful things!

Did you know that Samsung is developing a TV that can be controlled with your mind? If they are successful that would certainly take care of the problem of losing the remote.

In February of 2018, a Florida man named Johnny Matheny received a 120 million dollar, advanced, mind-controlled prosthetic arm.

These advances in technology are from a fascinating field of study called cybernetics. In short, cybernetics is the merging of man with machine. If you read about this stuff it will either scare you to death or amaze you at how close we are to existing in a sci-fi movie.

One of the side effects of cybernetics is that it is making us take a hard look at what it means to be human. What is it that makes us different than machines?

For instance, as amazing as it is to have a robotic arm that is connected to your thoughts, aren’t you thankful that you don’t do everything you think? Some people would say that they are a lover, not a fighter. I’m afraid that I’m a fighter, not a lover. I’d rather argue than give a hug. That being the case, I’m afraid that if I had a cybernetic arm that responded to my thoughts; there may be some people who get throat punched!

The Difference in Man and Machine

One of the big differences in man and machine is that computers simply carry out commands. Humans have the ability to make an extra decision between emotion and action that keeps unreasonable, annoying people from getting constantly throat punched by maniacs like me.

While there may be something in me thinking “throat punch,” to date I have throat punched exactly zero people (so give me a sticker). This act of self-control comes from the ability you and I have to realize that even though delivering a throat punch is tempting, that doing so would probably make a bad situation even worse. Somewhere between emotion and action comes a correction that results in a much better decision.

It looks like this for computers. COMMAND ———> ACTION.

It looks like this for humans. EMOTION ——> CORRECTION ——> ACTION. That correction is significant! When you omit that middle thought, someone gets throat punched.

While it is one thing to use restraint and refrain from throat punching someone, it is quite another to carry out the 4 correcting commands Jesus offers us in Luke 6:27-28.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Luke 6:27-28

Let’s break these four commands down from the standpoint of pure emotional first response.

4 People I’d Like to Throat Punch

Enemy. An enemy is someone with whom there is no peace. This is anyone in your life that you would like to throat punch.

Hater. Don’t be a hater! (throat punch)

Curser. You curse me. I cuss you back. (throat punch)

Abuser. There is nothing to say here. All that is necessary is a well-placed Chuck Norris throat punch.

There are some people I’d like to throat punch. But Jesus won’t let me.

Restraint is one thing, but what Jesus is saying seems ridiculous. He wants me to love my enemy? Why would I do good for my haters? What blessing could I possibly have for someone dog cussing me? What could possibly be left within me that would motivate me to pray for someone who abused me?

I understand that I can’t go around throat punching people, but Jesus is not just telling me to use restraint, but to respond with radical redemptive action toward the worst possible people.

Why Restraint isn’t Enough

Why would Jesus ask us to not just use restraint, but to respond in a radically redemptive way? I think there are two reasons.

  1. Action releases emotion. Just because I refrained from throat punching my hateful, cursing, abusive enemy doesn’t mean I have dealt with the destructive emotion. If you emotionally bottle up, you eventually blow up. Typically we blow up on the very people who don’t deserve a throat punch. We take out our frustrations on family and friends because we feel it is “safe.” We direct our aggravation and frustration at them, all the while they are wondering what is wrong with us. Conversations are filled with slander and gossip about your enemy. True, you didn’t throat punch someone, but are you any better off being toxic at home? We need a redemptive release of emotion.
  2. Redemption is better than revenge. If you hate your haters, cuss your cursers, and abuse your abusers all you’ve done is double the problem. If you simply return destructive action in response to destructive action, what makes you any different than your enemy? I can tell you something Jesus desires of you. He doesn’t want you to be like your enemy. He wants you to be like him.

Now that we understand what Jesus would have us do and why, the next logical question is who? Who can possibly do something like this? Has anyone ever responded to a cursing, abusive, hateful enemy with radical redemptive action. The answer is, YES!

The Bible’s Book of Genesis tells the story of one such person. His name is Joseph and he finds himself in each of the horrible situations Jesus articulates. Amazingly, he also displays each of Jesus’ radical redemptive responses. Joseph had every reason in the world to deliver a cybernetic throat punch to his brothers, but instead, he took action to redeem them.

We will begin to explore this story and how it corresponds to Jesus’ corrective commands for us in the next post.

When Family Becomes Enemy Title for Blog Post

Catch up on last week’s series of posts – The Bible Says to Give All, But How Can Anyone Afford All?

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how to afford to give all

Give All You’ve Got

The Bible says to give all you’ve got. How can anyone possibly afford to give all?

“And he (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box.”

Mark 12:41a

Jesus sits down across from the treasury area of the Temple and watches as people walk up and put money into the offering box. The treasury was located in a large outer courtyard of the Temple. The courtyard was lined with massive stone columns. Within the courtyard stood four giant lampstands that were lit during the Feast of Tabernacles. They were so large and stood so high on the temple mount that they could be seen all over Jerusalem. It would be in this place, before these flames that Jesus would proclaim, “I am the light of the world” in John 8.

The treasury of the Temple
The Treasury of the Temple

Behind the walls of the treasury were storehouses that held the wealth of the Temple. The offerings brought to the treasury would be placed in one of 13 golden coffers that were attached to the wall. Each of them were shaped like a trumpet. No doubt the area must have sounded much like a toll booth or a row of turnstiles at the subway station as people passed by dropping in their coins.

The treasury was a busy, noisy place. And there sits Jesus, people watching.

The Creator is People Watching

The Bible says of Jesus in John 1:3, “That all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

It is this Jesus that is sitting and watching the activity of the treasury that has crafted the most spectacular elements of our universe. The galaxy in which we reside is called the Milky Way. It is estimated that there may be as many as 250 billion stars in the Milky Way. Jesus made all of them.

If a quarter were used to represent the size of our solar system, the Milky Way would be the size of the landmass of the United States of America in comparison. Our galaxy is a huge place. He made all of it.

And there sits the creator watching people put money into the treasury.

“Many rich people put in large sums.”

Mark 12:41b

Imagine the sound the rich people make as they give! It would be much like it is when you collect change for a year, put it into some sort of bucket and take it to that thing in the grocery store that turns coin into cash. Imagine the attention it garners when the rich put in large sums. But there is no reaction from the Lord of all creation.

The Woman Jesus Noticed

“And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.”

Mark 12:42

It is obvious as a widow that she has lost her husband. But note also what the Bible does not say. There is no one else accompanying her. There is no son, no daughter. She is alone in the world. Understanding the social constructs of her day there is only one word used to describe where a woman like that ends up. She is poor.

She walks up and puts in two small copper coins. No doubt they make the least noise of the day. Mark, the writer of this gospel, pulls out his calculator and helps us do the math on her offering. Her two coins are worth a penny. It would take 64 Roman pennies to add up to a day’s wage of a menial, entry level laborer. In other words, she is about 120 coins short of her offering being worth anything.

And think of the money in the storehouses behind the wall. What is her offering in comparison to all that is in there? Furthermore, compared to the many rich people who were in line ahead of her, what is this? These two small copper coins are hardly enough for bread.

An Example of Disciple

But she dropped in her coins and the creator saw her. And now, he responds. He calls together his disciples and directs their attention toward her. Imagine this moment. He raises his hand in her direction, pointing her out from amongst the crowd. This is the hand that fashioned Adam from the dust. Now the hands of the creator are directing all eyes to be on her.

Jesus then begins to talk about her. This is the mouth that said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. He spoke creation into existence. Now he speaks about her. Mark has told us that here offering was worth about a penny. The creator recalculates it again. And with his words, he reveals a new equation for everything.

And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:43-44

Those final six words after the comma are critical to the calculation. “All she had to live on.”

Her offering was so small no one noticed it, but so large that only God could calculate it correctly.

Our Struggle with Giving All

We all appreciate this story. It is simple. The story is admirable. It is beautiful. We read it in much the same way as we would take in a masterful work of art. As much as we appreciate it, we could never do it.

We struggle with it. Give all? We know good and well that is what our Savior is getting at. He is making an example of her. She is now the topic of his teaching. To give all is admirable, but who can afford to give all?

Just in case you doubt Jesus’ expectation there is another story that demonstrates the point in Mark 10. An eager young man approaches Jesus. The Bible describes him as rich and powerful. He is well recognized in his community. He asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Let’s cut to the chase. Jesus answers, “God sell all that you have and give it to the poor.” The Bible says that the man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.

The word “sorrowful” is a perfect description of how this story ultimately makes us feel. What the woman did was wonderful, but it is not practical. And when we realize that this is the standard Jesus raises for us, it give us that disappointed feeling – I think “sorrowful” is the word!

Why So Sorrowful?

But why so sorrowful? Maybe it is the sorrow of losing something you love. There is attachment and detachment. You can’t imagine life without all you have.

Maybe it sorrow born out of fear. If I give all, what will I have left to live on? How do I handle life if I have nothing left? Is Jesus pointing us to homelessness? Are we going to have to go hungry if we are to follow Him?

Maybe it is the sorrow of feeling inadequate. You already worry enough about money. You struggle with generosity. You’re OK with giving if you’ve got it, but ALL? Isn’t ALL a little much?

Giving is good, but I can’t possibly afford ALL.

Calculating All

This story is beautiful but if this is what Jesus is asking of us, it makes us sorrowful. But whatever your response, you can’t ignore one feature of it. Look across the way. There is the creator teaching and talking about her. Here is the one who has told us to make our entire lives about telling people about him, but he is telling us about her.

Furthermore we can’t ignore the most glaring truth of the story. We have no excuse. You and I say we can’t afford all, but somehow she did.

How can we afford to give all? Let’s break down this story and talk about how we can afford all. When it comes to giving, there are three ways we calculate what we can afford.

To be continued in the next post . . .”Because of” Giving

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new body post by Brian Branam transformation of resurrection

You Need a New Body! The Transformation of Resurrection

How would you define resurrection? In simple terms, I think most people would say that resurrection is a dead person coming back to life with a much better body. By better body, I mean one that is no longer susceptible to disease or death. But have you ever really thought about what that better body might be like? The Bible entertains this question.

“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?'”

1 Corinthians 15:35

I would think that any conversation we may have about a better body would interest us. We are infatuated with our bodies. From daytime television to wellness magazines, from Dr. Oz to Men’s Health we tune in to things that promise to help us live longer, happier, healthier lives.

We have great concerns about body image. Hollywood dictates to us what is attractive and what is not. As a result, our nation is home to over 18,000 tanning salons. Shows like The Biggest Loser and America’s Next Top model get high ratings.

It seems the younger we are the greater the struggle with body image. According to an article at badgerherald.com, in 2003 more than 223,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on patients 18 or younger. 90% of college students say they are unhappy with their body.

Why We Hate our Bodies

Why is it that we pay so much attention to our bodies, work so hard on our bodies, have so much information about our bodies, but still seem to be so unhappy with our bodies?

I think it is because we live as if this body is all we’ve got. When you make your body ultimate, you are bound to be miserable. Eventually, you come to grips with the reality that you are fighting a losing battle.

If you play the comparison game with well-figured people, you may follow their workout or drink their drink for a time. But at some point, you realize there is one key ingredient missing from the equation. Their body is not your body. You can drink seaweed with every meal, but you can’t be them.

While healthier choices are helpful, it is futile to try to preserve a body that is bound to decay and destined to die.

Resurrection is radical body transformation! But it will not come through keto or liposuction. If you will grab on to what the Bible says about your body in light of the resurrection, you will think about your body in a much healthier and happier way.

Think Seed

The Bible says that if you really want to understand resurrection, you need to think of yourself as a seed.

And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

1 Corinthians 15:37-38

If we are to think of our bodies as a seed, then the real concern we should have of our bodies is not what they look like, but what is in them. If what is in you is resurrected to its fullest potential what does that mean you become forever?

Let’s take this idea of thinking about the resurrection and our bodies like a seed and unpack this idea in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.

A Seed Must be PLANTED

“You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain.”

1 Corinthians 15:36-37

When a seed is planted in the soil, that is the end of it as it is, but that is not the end of it.

Death is not the end of you.

They say, “You only live once.” The Bible says that is not true. The Bible teaches that you will live forever. After you die, you will be resurrected as an eternal version of yourself.

The Bible also teaches that there are only two versions of forever. One is the forever blessedness of those Christ has redeemed in a new Heaven and a new Earth (Rev. 21). This version of forever will be the world as God intended it to be in the beginning. It will be good and life-giving.

The other version of forever is one of punishment as those who were not redeemed by Christ are separated from Him in an eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). This is a horrible and painful end of unimaginable suffering.

Good Looking, Healthy People Die

If we think of our bodies as a seed to be planted, then we surely can’t think of them as an end. For one, death is an inescapable reality. No matter what you do, you are going to die. No one survives life. Very good looking, extremely healthy people die.

The world’s greatest athletes all die. Robert Atkins, the inventor of the wildly popular low-carb Atkins diet, is dead.

Have you ever done Pilates? Joseph Pilates died of emphysema from smoking cigars at the age of 83. He was very flexible when he died.

Being healthy helps, but it is not going to save you. At some point, we have to realize that the question is not how we look or even how we feel. The question we should be asking is what is within us? That’s always the question of a seed – not its color, its size, or its texture. The question of a seed is of what is inside of it?

Perhaps instead of so much working out, we need to spend some time working in.

If what is inside of you is resurrected forever, what is your forever going to be?

It is not true that you only live once. What is true is that you only get one shot to make sure what is in the seed is what needs to be in the seed. And this is not a question of fitness, but of nature. This we will discuss in tomorrow’s post.

To be continued in the next post.. Think Resurrection for a Much Better Body.

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Last week’s posts: God’s Good Answer to Bad Things

#TheWalk – How asking this question every day will help you achieve your greatest goals.

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The Best Way to Waste Your Life

Now that we’ve discussed the worst way to waste your life, let’s talk about the best way to do it (check yesterday’s post). If your life is going to amount to nothing, adding the painful and destructive consequences of foolishness to the mix seems like a dumb way to do it. So Solomon points us to a better way. Instead of folly, let’s waste our lives wisely.

Then I saw that there is more gain in wisdom than in folly, as there is more gain in light than in darkness. The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness.

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14a

While foolishness characterizes a thoughtless, reckless person; wisdom has foresight. He has eyes in his head. The lights are on. He’s intentional. The wise person is careful. And, it works well for him. There is more to be gained in the wise one’s approach. He’s more careful with his money, so he has more of it than the fool. He is more careful with his time, so he is more effective with it than the fool. The wise person is more thoughtful about people, so his relationships are more healthy than those of the fool.

Why QB Kirk Cousins Carries Rocks

Kirk Cousins is the quarterback for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Just beside the front door of his home, he has a glass pillar filled with rocks. As of his 30th birthday, there were 720 stones in the pillar. Why 720 stones? Cousins says that in high school he had a Bible teacher who pointed him to Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days so we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The first day of each new month, Kirk Cousins takes a new stone out of the pillar and puts it in his pocket. Wanting to live until he’s at least 90, the 720 stones represent each month he has left of the final 60 years of his life. He says that the stone reminds him to make his life count. He realizes that when he empties his pocket of a stone at the end of a month that he can’t get it back. Each stone reminds him to make the most of every day.

That’s wise! Kirk Cousins is not walking in darkness. He has eyes in his head. He’s being thoughtful, intentional!

But why? What does it matter? What difference does it make? Solomon comes to a sobering realization.

The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them. Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart. This also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come, all will have long been forgotten.

Ecclesiastes 2:14-16

Although it lacks much of the self-inflicted pain of the fool, the path of the wise and the path of the fool end up in the same place; the grave. No matter how we do life, we die.

How Long Will People Remember When You’re Gone?

This is the thought that drove Solomon to a dark place. If you read the first couple of paragraphs of Ecclesiastes 2 you realize that Solomon was an accomplished man who was rewarded handsomely for his wise choices. But why? We just die. All that is accumulated is soon forgotten. It comes to nothing. “For of the wise as of the fool, there is no enduring remembrance.”

LeBron James has appeared in every NBA Finals since 2011. He is a 15x NBA All-Star and a 4x league MVP. He will at some point end his career as one of the top five players in NBA history if not the best player in NBA history. Lebron has won 3 NBA championships. But it was that first one that brought him to a “Solomon” type realization.

Lebron said after winning the first ring that the celebration only lasted about 48 hours. After 48 hours, no one really cared. Life moves on. Ring or no ring, we live and we die. Championships change nothing.

In an article entitled “How We Will Forget John Lennon?”, Cesar Hidalgo, Director of the Collective Learning Group at MIT Media Lab explains how quickly we forget songs, movies, and the cultural icons we once thought immortal. He says that the vast majority of popular songs, movies, and icons only remain in our collective, cultural memory for about 5 years. It doesn’t take long before we stop talking about them. It is as Solomon says, “there is no enduring remembrance.”

Off the top of your head. What was the #1 song from this week five years ago? What difference does it make? 5 years ago we couldn’t get enough of it. 5 minutes ago you weren’t even thinking about it. You may not even remember it.

Wisdom for the Sake of Wisdom, Is a Waste

How is it that we can do so much that really doesn’t matter? Why is it that even wise choices are quickly forgotten? Why is it that you can win a ring and in 48 hours no one cares?

It comes down to the nature of things. If “this” (rings, money, popularity, power, relevancy, efficiency, accomplishment, notoriety) is the reason you live, then “this” is all you will ever have. It will live with you. It will be forgotten without you.

What a waste of life!

I think it was Billy Graham who said, “I never saw a U-Haul hitched to a hearse.” No matter what you have, you can’t take it with you. Wisdom is a much better way to do it. There will be much more stuff to put into the trailer. But when you’re gone, it’s gone. At best you are a collector. You spent your entire life wisely accumulating things for the next guy to enjoy after you’re dead.

And if this is all you have – even making the best of it – you waste your life. If this is all you have, the realization that nothing comes of it will make you hate it. Solomon did.

So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving for the wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:17

Is There a Way Not To Waste It?

Wisdom is a better way to live. But wisdom for the sake of wisdom is a waste. Even for Kirk Cousins, if he lives every month in the most amazing way, all he has at the end of it is a pile of 700 rocks! What an encouraging post, right! There must be a bigger reason for living than just being wise.

Is there a way we can not waste our lives? How can we not waste wisdom? Is there a better way we can do life and not hate it? Is there a way to enjoy it? The good news is – yes there is! Solomon figured it out!

Let’s look at it tomorrow!

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Blog post on how to react to change by Brian Branam.

Don’t Push the Panic Button on Change

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.

With this series of posts, we are gleaning truth from Ecclesiastes 7 that will help us avoid those wild swings of emotion during turbulent times of life. It is easy in the ups and downs of it all to push the panic button. To see the introduction to the series, visit Don’t Push the Panic Button on Death.

Change

The Book of Ecclesiastes is included in a group of Old Testament books known as Wisdom Literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon). These books are often filled with short, smart, tightly packed riddles that have an inexhaustible depth of meaning. Also true of the genre is that these wise sayings can seem disorganized, which makes identifying the thought flow of the author difficult. Ecclesiastes 7:8-12 is a great example of this issue. If you read 10 different commentaries you will find 10 different ways of piecing these verses together.

The way these verses string together for me is in the ideas of attitudes and generations. Verse 8 speaks to the younger generation that is prone to think that a new thing is the best thing. Solomon reminds them that “the end of a thing is better than its beginning.” Don’t fail to pay attention to what has already been done. Investigate it. Learn from it. Figure out the “why” of an old thing before you scrap it and try to start a new thing.

Verse 10 speaks to the older generation that seems to romanticize the past. “Say not, why were the former days better than these? For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”

There is always that temptation to think that the older days were much better than “these” present days. There is something about the human mind that puts a warm glow on the way we grew up. I grew up in the ’80s which everyone obviously understands to be the greatest decade in human history (I say this felicitously of course – but it was 🙂 – wasn’t it!)

We gave the world E.T., more Star Wars, Hacky Sack, and the original Rubik’s Cube. I have one word for you – Atari! Do you remember Beta-max, Walter Payton, Dominique Wilkins, Jordans, Reebok, Thriller, Dale Murphy (I grew up in Georgia), and Ronald Reagan. Was it not a perfect world?

Not quite! They also told us in the 80’s that your school desk would save you from a tornado and a Russian missile attack. Do you remember the Cold War? Inflation? AIDS epidemic? Do you remember the 80’s version of Climate Change – yes – Acid Rain! And perhaps the greatest crisis of the our generation – – – – – – – – New Coke!

Old is not bad.

New will not be the death of us.

Despite the good and bad of every generation there is something about human nature that is prone to think that the older generations have nothing left to offer and that the younger generations will be the end of the world.

The panic button is pressed in verse 9. Here comes the attitude – anger. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Once anger takes up residence it colors the way we view every change or lack thereof. The resistance to change inherent in the older generation angers the younger one. The propensity to change in the younger generation angers the older one.

As with previous generations, we are once again in a day of divisive ideology, politics, and values. Once again, our culture seems to drive the wedge between the generations for the sake of personal gain. It is hard to ignore the cultural shifts that are taking place before us, and without doubt it is very difficult for us to wrap our minds around exactly what is happening.

But don’t push the panic button!

The gospel provides the greatest potential to create a harmonious, healthy, multi-generational community. Passages like Titus 2 more fully flesh out what is alluded to here in Ecclesiastes 7. Christ-centered, gospel community provides the richest of blessings across every generation.

For the younger generation, don’t push the panic button. You provide great energy and excitement. In our waning years we admire the vigor you still possess. At 45 your brain knows what to do, but your body lags behind. But take it from me as we watch you 20-somethings. Your body is fine, but your brain is desperately trying to catch up! Let’s work together on some stuff! We got the brains. You’ve got the not quite so tired, more flexible, less prone to acid reflux bodies. We need each other!

While it is true that each generation leaves some mess behind for the next to clean up, not everything needs “new.” Sometimes change for the sake of change simply brings turmoil. The end of a thing is MUCH better than its beginning. We fought the battles. We tried and failed. Just leave it be. Save yourself the headache and the hassle. Appreciate it. Improve on it? Yes! Implode it? No! Slow your roll!

Now let those of us who have less days ahead than behind gather around the fire and chat. While it is true skinny jeans and man buns are questionable, despite what Fox News says, millennials will not be the death of us. They carry with them some concerns we should not have allowed to go by the wayside. They are picking up with some things we said were important, but we failed to follow through. While it is true that the mills will eventually figure out how bad vinyl sounds and end this odd comeback of the record player, I am excited to see what NEXT looks like. The future days may indeed be much greater than the former ones. May it be the church that exemplifies this for the glory of God!

Change is never easy – whether you are trying to initiate it or stop it. Wherever you are in the midst of it, don’t push the panic button. Allowing anger to lodge within you can turn you into a bitter old fool at 20 as well as 70. Remember Ecclesiastes 7:14. God has made every day, each generation, and He has something for us in all of it.

Conclusion:

As we finish out the passage, Solomon leaves us with three thoughts to help us not push the panic button in any seemingly turbulent situation.

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously (Ecc 7:15-18) Solomon brings us to balance. Some people will waste their lives thoughtlessly. Some will waste their lives with too much thinking. The world isn’t perfect and you aren’t either. Some people are trying to kill themselves trying to fix it all. You are not the standard of all things. Don’t push the panic button when the world doesn’t suit you.
  2. God has something for us even in the turbulence (Ecc. 7:14) God has made one day as well as the other. Consider it! Don’t push the panic button.
  3. Go straight to Jesus (Ecc. 7:13) I see verse 13 of this passage as the gospel according to Solomon. “Consider the work of God. Who can make straight what God has made crooked?” In Romans 8:13 Paul explains that the word was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope. We have to understand the times and we have to acknowledge our nature. Both are fallen. Both are crooked. Both are incapable of saving or fixing themselves. Turbulence is going to be a part of our existence. In each instance, our tendency is to push the panic button. But consider it! Has not God ordained in the turbulence, not that you push the panic button, but that you reach out in desperation to Him with repentance and faith? Don’t push the panic button. Turn to Jesus as the Savior and Lord of your life.

Don’t Push the Panic Button on Rebuke

It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.

With this series of posts we are gleaning truth from Ecclesiastes 7 that will help us avoid those wild swings of emotion during turbulent times of life. It is easy in the ups and downs of it all to push the panic button. To see the introduction to the series, visit Don’t Push the Panic Button on Death.

Rebuke

I don’t know of anyone who enjoys being called out on their character, or on a critical error. We tend to surround ourselves with “yes men.” We like people who will celebrate us and tell us how amazing we are. But Solomon warns us. Surrounding yourself with “yes men” is as he says in Ecc. 7:5, “the song of fools.”

The songs of fools sound great, but amount to nothing. In Ecc. 7:6 these empty words are described as “crackling thorns under a pot.” There is a fast flame. It makes a lot of noise. All of the crackling makes it seems as if there is something really exciting happening, but it burns out with no real benefit. It is a flash fire at best, it produces no real productive heat. In Ecclesiastes 7:7 Solomon says much like a bribe corrupts the heart, so does surrounding yourself with people who will only tell you what you want to hear.

Ecclesiastes 7:5 contains a great line. If you want to be successful, mark it! If you want to make a difference in life, mark it! If you want to be a great father, great mother, great husband, great wife, great student . . . find someone who will love you enough to tell you what you may not want to hear, but what you need to hear – receive rebuke!

It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. -Ecc. 7:5

We live in a snowflake society that props us up on praise. We want celebrations of every post and pic. Everything is #themostamazing thing. When someone dares to bring rebuke, we push the panic button and absolutely melt.

Rebuke doesn’t feel good. Guess what, it’s not supposed to, but it benefits. Rebuke hurts, but it helps. We tend to avoid those people. We may even criticize those people. But if you look closely at the wisdom of the passage, those may be the people who care about you the most.

The person who brings rebuke sometimes hurts the worst but often cares the most.

In my first ministry gig, I became the youth pastor of my home church. It was a wonderful opportunity that set me up for success, but there were some subtle traps within it that could have easily been my downfall. For one, my parents were in the church. We were longtime members of the church. Most of the adults in that church raised me, coached me, taught me, encouraged me. I was surrounded by people who would celebrate everything I did as if it was the greatest thing that had ever been done. They were proud of me.

I truly appreciate their encouragement, because looking back, I realize those were some bad sermons and a lot of dumb decisions. Now at 45 and the father of two daughters, I realize what it must have been like for a parent to trust a 20-year-old to take their teenager to youth camp. Thank you New Liberty for your days of grace.

But there was one person in my life at that time who not only encouraged me, but he loved me enough to tell me the truth. Not everything I did was great. Not every sermon I preached was amazing. Not every decision was the best decision. When I did wrong, he would sit me down and call me out on it and correct it. He was my pastor.

His name was Wayne Hamrick. And I’ll be honest, I would leave his office so mad at times that I wanted to quit. But even at that time I had the good sense to know, maybe I didn’t like what he was saying; maybe I didn’t understand what he was saying; maybe I didn’t even agree with what he was saying; but 1) he was the pastor and 2) he had been doing this a whole lot longer than me. Intelligence means you have information. I was in school, I was learning a ton. Wisdom means you have information AND application. Bro. Wayne knew where certain decisions and actions would lead. He could see down the road, I could not.

The older I get, the more I appreciate him. And I will say this, the older I get, the more I realize he was right especially when I thought he was dead wrong. When I got mad, I should have been glad that he was a caring, wise, honest voice in my life.

I pushed the panic button a lot of times when he would rebuke me, but I wonder how much better I would be now if I had laid off the panic button and been more ready to receive what he was saying. Rebuke does not feel good, but it is good. Don’t push the panic button.

Be bold enough to invite some people into your life who are willing to rebuke you. Be vulnerable enough to listen and make correction. Be teachable. Wisdom does not come from what we want to hear. Wisdom is gained in what we need to hear.


As I was working on this post I came across some great material that relates in Paul Tripp’s Dangerous Calling. This book is cutting me to the core and will most likely be added to my “5 (now 6) books that rocked my world” list.

None of us is wired to live the Christian life along. None of us is safe living separated and unknown. Each of us, whether pastor or congregant, needs the eyes of others in order to see ourselves with clarity and accuracy. And what is this daily ministry of intervention protecting us from? The answer should sober every one of us: the grace of having our private conversations interrupted by the insight-giving ministry of others is protecting us from becoming spiritually blinded to the point of the hardening of our hearts. The author argues here (Heb. 3:12-13) that personal spiritual insight is the product of community. It’s very difficult to get it by yourself. Perhaps every pastor needs to humbly recognize that because of the blinding power of remaining sin, self-examination is a community project. Every pastor needs people in his life in order to see himself with biblical accuracy.

Dangerous Calling – Paul David Tripp (p. 73)