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Leaving a Legacy

“For there is no eternal remembrance for the wise along with the foolish. With the days that have already come, are all forgotten and how the wise dies along with the foolish.”

(Ecclesiastes 2:16)

Do you see what Solomon is saying? As we have pointed out before, he is not falling into nihilism or fatalism of a sort. No, he is recognizing that death is the great equalizer of mankind and if we pursue earthly things, they will die with us and the legacy that we leave behind (the “remembrance”) will be short.

One of the things for which most of us strive is a legacy. We want our name to be remembered by people. Yes, our name will be etched in stone and placed in a cemetery somewhere, but most of us are not content with that. People strive to all sorts of incredible feats just to get their name into the Guinness Book of World Records to leave behind a memory — “I was able to do this…” People leave money to institutions so that a wing of a new school, a part of a library, or a professorship will be named after them. I write books for much the same reason (I want the generations that follow me to know not only my name, but also the spiritual things that I value). 

Yet, eventually we will be forgotten. Even the most famous and infamous will be forgotten across the ages. And that reality can be sobering. It’s not going to stop us from seeking to leave behind a legacy, but it calls upon us to explore that which will last eternally — Christ, the Scriptures, and the things of God. This is the one thing that is truly enduring. Solomon is taking us there, but not just yet…he wants us to explore with him the various options that people seek as they seek to find purpose in life and only at the end will he offer the purpose to the one who faithfully walks with him through his reflections. For now, though, this is vanity if done for its own purposes.

Remembering You

“I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you.”

(Philippians 1:3)

Our experience, C.S. Lewis wrote, does not end with the event that causes the experience, but the experience works on us, matures within us, and grows into something beautiful as we reflect on and remember the original event. Biblically, remembrance of the works of God is seen as something that helps keep us living faithfully when tempted to go astray. Our lives are filled with experiences and interactions with people and ideas, but it is our remembrance that ties all of these experiences together into a unified story…it provides cohesion and continuity and of course, is one of the reason that diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease is so devastating…for it robs a person not only of individual memories, but also of the continuity that binds these memories together in a unified way.

Thus Paul, as he remembers back to the people that form the church in Philippi, rejoices, for their kindness and grace stirs in him good memories and a greater reminder of God’s own grace. This, of course, is especially important, for Paul is in jail as he writes this letter. Thus, these memories must also provide a piton of hope upon the mountain of trial that he sees before him. How, indeed, we all need such reminders of God’s grace to us through others to remind us why we press onward in the calling to which our Lord has called us.

It is my prayer that remembrance of God’s people that have influenced your life in the past would also bring you thanksgiving and that the faithfulness that such people demonstrated would spur you on to faithfulness. It is my prayer that you would rejoice in the God that has given you such people in the past, no matter how dark or difficult your life may seem at the present. It is my prayer that the memory of God’s hand in your life directly and through others may also remind you that you have a God that will never leave nor forsake you. And it is my prayer that these memories will serve as the unifying theme of your life, helping us to rejoice in the successes and learn from the failures, that we might grow more faithful as we mature in faith. Friends, may we rejoice in the memory of one another and give our God thanks that he has seen fit to bring us together in the way he has so done.

The Children of Keturah

“And she bore to him: Zimran, Yoqshan, Medan, Midyan, Yishbaq, and Shuach.”


And here the children of Abraham and Keturah are remembered by name.

  1. Zimran: Likely derived from the Hebrew word rAmÎz (zamar), which refers to the playing of an instrument or the singing of praise to God. Children are indeed a blessing and God is the author of blessings, worthy of our praise.
  2. Yoqshan: Or, in many of our English translations, it is written Jokshan (the “Y” being exchanged for a “J” and the “Q” being exchanged for a “K”). This is a result of German scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries and the way the Germans pronounced Hebrew words. It was left that way in English for consistency and for ease of pronunciation. Likely his name is derived from vAqÎy (yaqash), which means to snare something in a net or a trap.
  3. Medan: In Hebrew, this name means, “Controversy,” and is often rendered in the negative way of one who sows discord (see Proverbs 6:14,19). It is purely speculation as to why this name was given, but surely it reflects events that were transpiring in Abraham’s life at that given time.
  4. Midyan: A derivative of the word “Midian,” as well as “Medan,” again referring to one who is controversial or to one who brings controversy.
  5. Yishbaq: Likely borrowed from the Arabic word, qAbDv (shabaq), meaning to forestall or to obstruct. Like these other brothers, we know little about them save their name; nevertheless, as the name reflects much about the person’s character, it makes me wonder about these children of Abraham’s old age.
  6. Shuach: This is the Hebrew word that describes a gorge or a deep pit in rough terrain.


Again, we can only speculate as to the rationale behind some of these names; it should never be forgotten though, that names had a reason and a purpose in ancient times. They told of the character of the person but, like today, they identify the persons who happen to carry those names. These persons are not generic masses, but children of Abraham who are blessed by their connection to the “Father of the Great Multitude.” They had real hopes and fears just like you and me, and God the Holy Spirit thought it fitting to remember them if only in their connection to Abraham. Do not forget the human element of these texts. It is easy to get lost in the names and forget the people behind those names.

There is a reminder in these names for us as well. For most of us, there will come a day when our name will simply be an entry on someone’s family tree. May we remember that in the end, it is not about us or our legacy — it never was — it is about Christ and the legacy of Christ that we leave behind to our children.

Driving out the Nations; Crushing the Strongholds

“He drove out peoples under us;

Nations under our feet.”

(Psalm 47:4 {verse 3 in English Translations})


“The God of Peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet — the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

(Romans 16:20)


The Biblical testimony is consistently that if you remember the things that God has done for you in the past, that ought to help you remain faithful in the present. In other words, it is coming to terms with the principle that God has always shown himself faithful, why do you think that this particular crisis will prove to be any different. Historically, when the people remember their roots, God blesses them as they seek to pursue Him; when they forget, they fall into sin and disobedience — often in extreme ways.

In this case, the psalmist is looking back to the conquest of Canaan. A time when none of the opposing nations could stand before the people of Israel as they entered. Even that event, though, was marked by the disobedience of the people and ultimately some Canaanites remained in the land. God allowed them to remain to be a thorn and a snare (Judges 2:3) and to teach them war (Judges 3:2). Even so, it is God that established them in the land; it is God who is the warrior of Israel; and it is God that will cast out the nations before them. Had they been faithful to God in that task, things would have been quite different than they ended up.

Yet need we simply see this as an ancient mandate? By all means, no! The God we worship today is the same God that led Israel through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. He is quite capable of leading us through whatever situation and trials we face in our lives today. Granted, we are not facing wild tribes of Canaanites that want to kill us and whose cities we are to commit to destruction, but we are facing the devil who wants to kill us spiritually and whose strongholds in this world (including those in our lives) we are called to tear down (2 Corinthians 10:4; Matthew 16:18). Will you be faithful is putting these sins to death and tearing down the strongholds that they have created in your life? Will you engage the strongholds of sin in your community as well, seeking to marginalize their influence over your life, your family, your church, your school, your nation? Praise be to the God who crushes those strongholds underneath our feet.

If you are there, God…

“On this very day I came to the spring and I said, ‘Yahweh, God of my lord, Abraham, if you are there, please bring success to my way upon which I have walked.”

(Genesis 24:42)


Many of our modern English translations will render the phrase of Eliezer: “if you will prosper my way…” yet that is not a literal reading of the Hebrew text. Literally he states: DKVv‰y_MIa (im-yeshka), “if there is you.” The impression that is being given is not so much: “Lord will you please bring success,” but, “Lord, if you exist, please bring success…”

How often have we, or have we been tempted, to pray that prayer? It is the fleece that Gideon would put out and it is the test that Thomas posed — “I need to touch his pierced hands and side…” We doubt, we fear, we worry, we wonder and then we ask God over and over to assure us of his guidance — that the path we are on is exactly the path that He has designed for us to walk.

Somehow we think that things, if we are doing God’s will, will simply fall into place and be easy. That as a pastor, my congregation will swell with membership; that as a father, my children will grow up kind and respectful and obedient; and that as a husband, my wife’s life will be filled with joy and excitement and the pleasure of every new day. Perhaps that will be so in the new creation, but here we grow as wheat amongst the tares; we live in a fallen world where trials and tragedies are commonplace and where fallen people constitute our congregations. So we cry out, “God, if you are really there, won’t you…”

The amazing thing is that sometimes, God does… Yet, in reality, most of the time God is teaching us patience and persistence as well as faithfulness through the woes of a world in rebellion against truth. He has been faithful to us and if we will but read his word, we will be reminded of his many kept promises. If we but remember the path through which he has led us in life, we too will remember that even through the darkest valleys of trial, it is his rod that has guided us and his staff that has kept us secure. The pathway that Christ chose to take to heaven led through the cross; why should we expect that ours will be more comfortable?

So, let us refocus our prayers and our lives in the knowledge that God is there and ask ourselves, “What, my Lord, are you teaching me through this trial?” and then seek to apply that learning. True, that is often easier said than done, though it has been done by many believers who have walked this road ahead of us — we are not blazing a new trail. Ultimately, the goal is to be made like Christ … how long a path we all have to go toward that end…


The Value of A Life

“And it came to pass that Sarah lived one-hundred and twenty-seven years; these are the years of Sarah.”

(Genesis 23:1)

Isn’t it amazing that, when all of our years on earth are done, they are summed up so briefly? Behind our church there is a cemetery with rows and rows of headstones. And in most cases, the life of the person whose body is buried beneath is summarized by just a handful of words. When was this person born? When did they die? Were they married? Did they have children? And perhaps one or two things that were memorable about the person along with a passage of scripture. Such is the nature of history. Even the lives of the famous will end up being summarized in a few paragraphs in a history book or if one has led a particularly interesting or influential life, perhaps even in a biography. But again, what are the words that will fill several hundred pages of a biography in comparison to a full life lived on earth? One is tempted to claim with Solomon that it is all vanity…chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:2,17).

Yet, I would propose that Sarah understood what we often miss…that the summary of our lives is not the reason we live a life. We live a life to glorify our God. He is the one that ought be remembered; he is the one that needs to be honored. Were you to live a hundred and twenty-seven years and die in obscurity, but having glorified God with every breath, your life is of far more worth than the man who built monuments to himself and changed the scope of human history but done so to his own glory. Though earthly biographies may be written of men and women that have lived for themselves, of what value is that biography when one must live in eternity consumed by the fires of hell. Similarly, though not a word be written about my life or the life of another believer, of what importance to me will a biography be when I am in the presence of my Lord and King for all eternity? The praise of men pales in the light of the presence of my God and Savior.

And thus we have the close of Sarah’s life and so too, may our life be closed in a similar way in God’s timing. May everything that is said and done by me and about me always point toward Christ and speak of His glory. When I die, let it be Christ of whom they speak, not the man held in the Master’s hand.

David in the Wilderness: Psalm 63 (part 7)

“When I remember you on my couch,

in the night watches, I mediate upon you.”

(Psalm 63:7 {Psalm 63:6 in English Bibles})


David begins this passage with a conditional clause.  In the Hebrew, this particular conditional clause (with the conjunction ~ai (im)), reflects the idea of a realizable condition.  In other words, this is not a vague or “pie in the sky” hope, but this is something that is a concrete event in his life.  On those dark and lonely nights as he lay awake sleepless, it was God that will fill the mind of David—even in the midst of his great troubles and times of flight for his life.  How often we lay awake at night because of the burdens of life (bills to pay, things left undone, etc…); David sets before us another example—meditate upon the person of Christ and his beauty and the depth and wonder of our God.  No, it won’t make your obligations or bills go away, but it will put them in their proper perspective.

How rarely we meditate on the person of Christ!  How rarely do we sit and reflect on the perfections of God!  Oh, beloved, we often think of all the things that God has done for us, and that is good and right to do, but do you think on the beauty of the one who has done these things for you?  Do you spend time reflecting on his person and his character?  A marriage relationship with stagnate if the couple is only in love with each other based on what they do together or what the one has done for the other.  Though the actions and deeds are still very important, relationships find their depth in falling in love with the person and character of the spouse.  So too with God.  If your love for God is only based on what he is done for you, you will find yourself in crisis every time you go through a dark trial and cannot see his hand at work.  You must fall in love with God for who he is for your relationship to grow deep.

Oh, beloved, what is on your mind during those dark hours that you cannot find sleep?  Is it God?  Is it God’s perfections and character?  Is it the beauty of Jesus Christ?  Is it all that God has done in the world—and for you as well?  Do you lay awake marveling at God’s redemptive plan?  Do the concerns of this world overwhelm your mind when all the lights have gone out?  Loved ones, God has promised that if you seek him, he will take care of the stresses of the day—spend your waking hours during the days and nights seeking after him and his righteousness and all these other things he will add unto you.