​Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! 

People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. 

There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. 

And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. 

Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. – Ecclesiastes 5:10‭-‬20 NLT

The premise — “what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!

Is followed by supporting arguments:

1) Hard work pays greater unseen riches than physical wealth can offer. (Verse 12)

2) Hoarding riches places one’s security in a failing, untrustworthy, and worldly financial system instead of in our faithful, true, righteous and just God. (Verses 13-15)

3) Many people spend their lives working hard to accumulate wealth and “financial security” instead of working to make a difference in this world and leave it a better place for future generations. (Verses 16-17)

4) It is good to accept our lot in life and enjoy it. (Verses 18-20)

LORD, open our eyes to the truth of the Word of God! Open our eyes to where true riches are found. Amen.

As you enter the house of God…

​As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. – Ecclesiastes 5:1 NLT

Is our mindset “offering worthless practices” or “hearing from the Good Shepherd”?

This verse underscores my discomfort with practiced/repeated phrases (or whole prayers like “now I lay me down” or “God is great, God is good”) when talking to God. I’m not saying that anyone is going to burn in hell for saying a “taught prayer” but I’m saying that our conversation with God should actually be conversation – not something thoughtless and rote that in our minds covers our “obligatory recognition of God during certain parts of our lives”. If it isn’t conversation with God, we’re missing out on the opportunity for real communion with the living God! And we might even ask ourselves if in our thoughtless we’re calling upon His name in vain.

With that said, my “words will be few” in this post, as I pray we each make ourselves ready to hear from God. Amen.

Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead. – Ecclesiastes 5:7 NLT

[SMALL GROUP] Proverbs – Week 3

Open with prayer and praise, including children. Read a preselected verse/passage/parable, and ask each child a question:

1) PEOPLE: name one person or group of people in the story

2) DETAILS: tell me what happened first, next, last

3) LESSON: what do you think this is meant to teach us?

*dismiss children to play*

Have each person share something.

Praise reports & prayer requests – maintain list on private group
*call children back in*

Praise song



Ecclesiastes 6

Ecclesiastes 7

Ecclesiastes 8

Ecclesiastes 9

Ecclesiastes 10

Ecclesiastes 11

Ecclesiastes 12

Seasons and Times

​For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 

A time to be born and a time to die. 

A time to plant and a time to harvest. 

A time to kill and a time to heal. 

A time to tear down and a time to build up. 

A time to cry and a time to laugh. 

A time to grieve and a time to dance. 

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. 

A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 

A time to search and a time to quit searching. 

A time to keep and a time to throw away. 

A time to tear and a time to mend. 

A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 

A time to love and a time to hate. 

A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1‭-‬8 NLT

Not routine. Not common. 

But abundant and peculiar. This is the life of the believer. 


Oh how we love to organize things into neat little boxes to give ourselves the foolish impression of control. Then the season changes and we wonder why our process, why our schedule, why our man made rituals just doesn’t work anymore. 

Isn’t it better that we trust in the LORD and seek his will in all things great and small — acknowledging our need and staying in close, personal communion with Him?


LORD, heal our foolish and deceived perspective of “self sufficiency” and “routine”. Forgive us for thinking,  “I’ve got this” instead of “My God brought this to me with a specific purpose. He will see me through it, and demonstrate to me (and to the whole world) that He is faithful and true.” Amen.

[SMALL GROUP] Proverbs – Week 2


Open with prayer and praise, including children. Read a preselected verse/passage/parable, and ask each child a question:

 1) PEOPLE: name one person or group of people in the story

2) DETAILS: tell me what happened first, next, last

3) LESSON: what do you think this is meant to teach us? 

*dismiss children to play*

Have each person share something. 

Wisdom Books

Book of Ecclesiastes

Praise reports & prayer requests – maintain list on private group
*call children back in*

Praise song



Start your morning reading or listening to the day’s chapter – and pick one verse that stands out to you. Write it down at the top of your journal page. Pray that God will renew your mind by His Word. Carry your journal with you each day and try to check it occasionally and think about the verse you chose. Jot down any related thoughts or circumstances that apply if you can.

Proverbs 8

Proverbs 9

Ecclesiastes 1

Ecclesiastes 2

Ecclesiastes 3

Ecclesiastes 4

Ecclesiastes 5



Jesus’ friends and family awoke this morning to silence. Their friend, their teacher was not there with them.

The last words they had heard him say were, “It is finished.”

Can we imagine the feeling of loss,  the desperation, the sadness, the disappointment, the confusion that they went through a they mourned His horrible death?

Can we imagine them wanting answers now more than ever – after seeing Him mocked and beaten – after even His closest disciples had hidden and denied Him – and realizing there was only silence?

To everything there  is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what  is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NKJV

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 ESV

Sometimes in our lives, we can face times of darkness where we find ourselves not hearing or knowing the clear direction and guidance that we want to hear from the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 ESV

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 ESV

Little Children

Do you ever ponder over the things of God? Do you wonder about His ways? What about the little children? What is their fate? What is ours?



See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. – Ecclesiastes 7:29 ESV

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 ESV

And said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3 ESV

But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23 ESV



The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. – Ezekiel 18:20 ESV

For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. – 1 Corinthians 7:14 ESV

And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. – Deuteronomy 1:39 ESV



For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. – Isaiah 7:16 ESV

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17 ESV

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11 ESV

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. – Psalm 58:3 ESV

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. – Romans 7:9-11 ESV

Everyone who is numbered in the census, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the Lord’s offering. – Exodus 30:14 ESV

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. – Psalm 14:2-3 ESV

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6 ESV

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. – Romans 7:14 ESV



The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5 ESV

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:12 ESV



For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, – Romans 4:1-25 ESV

And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. – Genesis 8:21 ESV

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. – 1 Peter 1:18-19 ESV



For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16 ESV

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. – 1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, – Colossians 1:11 ESV

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV



Ezekiel 18:1-32
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord God.

“If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination, lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.

“Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise: he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live. As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Life: A time for Birth, A time for Death

The time passes so quickly. 

Just 5 years ago. 

Excited about the new life on its way.
Crushed by the word cancer.

A new life arrives that touched us so deeply and changed everything.

Little Mia comes home from the hospital just in time for a white Christmas.
But as she comes home from the hospital,  another enters.

Empty seats at the Christmas table as we each faced our torn responsibilities.
Hearts stretched to the limits in joy and pain and searching for understanding.
A family faced with so much change,  so much change,  so much…

And along with the new year’s arrival, we found that our family was the same size it had been,
Missing one we knew and had memories with,  but holding one to make more memories.

Oh,  let’s make those memories count.

I love you Granddad. I miss you.
I didn’t get those last days with you,
You know my heart, you know my love,
Until that day when we are reunited –
We love you,  and hope we can carry the Ballinger name,
To God’s Glory and to your memory,
Thank you for your life,  your example,  your faith.

The ring placed back into my grandmother’s open hand,
I can’t hold back the rush of emotion even now.

The words and handshakes of an endless line of loving people,
Whose words I couldn’t even hear through the deafening numbness.

And the joy of baby Mia and the crushing responsibilities of being a new dad,
Gave me a distraction from my mourning and loss,
I stumbled through it all barely awake,  barely alive,
But we made it,  and we are making it,

And God honors your life and showed mercy on our family greatly,
Knowing the hole would be so great from your departure,
That He gave us Mia as a blessing and a renewal,
Just when His timing was perfect.

Thank you,  God,
Your ways are amazing.


Miss you,  Granddad Ballinger. Love you.

“Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other’s hearts
Remember when

Remember when the sound of little feet was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we’d never give it up
Remember when”

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT

Full vent? Or self control?

Proverbs 29:11 ESV
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Self control.

Not letting our emotions and desires control our lives.

Not letting our own opinions and our own will lead us, but examining and understanding which voice we are listening to, which master we are serving.

Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Some who are heading towards destruction will say things like, “I’m not convicted against that” or “I think that we can…” and they will even claim the name of Jesus and talk about grace and forgiveness while they have no interest in loving Him, or following Him, or keeping His commandments, or serving others. They have no interest in learning or being changed. I know this, because that used to be me. I had no interest in a restored relationship with God, but I thought that I had bought my heaven ticket with a prayer and a little bit of religion “once upon a time”.

I was a fool.

I had no self control, I chased after whatever my flesh desired.

I had no interest in God’s will being done on earth through my life – I was only intrigued by the idea of escaping the consequences for my hellish actions.

I was a fool.

I had no fear of God, because I thought of Him as “buddy Jesus” who loved the sinners and hated the religious – which is true – but I had missed the why.

It wasn’t so they could remain where they were. He didn’t bring Good News so things would stay the same – He brings change, uncovering what is on the inside, shining light on the motives underneath that are hidden many times by the masks of outward appearance.

We can all recognize the lost sinners who are bearing only thorns and thistles in their lives, right? Can we agree they are not serving God of they don’t believe – if they have no interest in repentance?

But what about those who want to appear honorable but who have interest only in repentance as far as it is visible to others?

Thrre are those who want to appear religious in their words and who go to great lengths to be seen are the very ones who are working hard to hide their dark hearts. Those who want to be exalted and honored by other men as a “good man” or as someone worthy of honor are the very souls who are most lacking and in need of true integrity and honor. Yes, those areas of deficiency are the areas we try hardest to mask and to hide and to protect when we have no hope of healing.

But there is one who heals both of these ailments, and His name is Jesus Christ. He restores and makes us whole so that we have no need to hide those weaknesses anymore, nor do we have to remain fruitless. In fact, by removing the masks and admitting our weaknesses, He does an amazing thing – He changes us and what was once an embarrassment and a disgrace becomes an area of our lives c touched and changed by the annointing power of Jesus Christ.

My old ways when I had no interest in God’s will led me down some dark paths. Many lessons I had to learn the hard way,  because I didn’t yet believe our understand the value of the Word of God. I didn’t understand that God c truly has provided His divine instruction so that we might have the fullest and beat life by walking in His will and purpose,  protecting ourselves from the influence of the enemy and the inevitable consequences of being wrapped up in their traps.

But today,  those mistakes allow me to go into the jails and talk with others from a common perspective of understanding the struggles that they are going through,  because I have seen a similar path. Today,  those mistakes allow me to talk with someone dealing with addiction and not just be “some preacher with a perfect life that doesn’t know what he’s talking about”. Today those mistakes allow me to counsel someone who is wrapped up in sexual sin, pornography, adultery,  or going through a divorce and let them know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is strong enough to bring them through it and turn it to good – but only when we truly turn to Him.

And I share that turning to Him doesn’t guarantee freedom from the consequences. I see the consequences of my old actions and how it led others down rocky paths. I see how little eyes watched my old example and later followed in my footsteps into consequences of their own. I see that our life choices and our actions have more influence than our words or our Sunday church attendance records.

So I don’t want to be a fool any longer.

I don’t want you to be a fool any longer.

If you think that I’m talking about religion, look into the message within my words,  because my words alone are to weak to explain to your mind what my heart is trying to share with your heart. Don’t try to wrap your head around it. Let your heart chew on it.

Genesis 2:7 ESV
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

John 3:16 ESV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT

Revelation 2:17
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Isaiah 62:2
The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. 
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. 
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. 
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. 
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools. 
For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity. 
Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. 
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. 
Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. 
Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.  For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. 
Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?  In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.
Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 ESV