Making Sanity Out of Vanity: Christian Realism in the Book of Ecclesiastes
Gale, Stanley G.
"What do John Bunyan, the Epicurean philosophers, Barack Obama, and all the pop culture icons and materialist idols of our age have in common? The writer of Ecclesiastes, that ancient and sometimes depressing contemplative, knows; and Stan Gale has written an excellent series of reflections on that most timely of Scriptural books. With his usual self-effacing wit and wisdom, Stan takes us behind the curtain of Ecclesiastes and shows us the sense and sensibility, the rhyme and reason, of this anchor of Old Testament wisdom. Truly, as Stan helps us to see, there is nothing new under the sun. But Ecclesiastes, as frustrating, depressing, and dour as it can be, is a book that points us to hope, the only hope that can bring peace and joy to people in every age. Stan Gale masterfully demonstrates how Ecclesiastes turns us away from the vanity of a self-serving, materialistic existence, to the sanity of living all of life to the praise of the glory of God's grace."See All
T. M. Moore
Dean of the Centurions and Principle of The Fellowship of Ailbe
"What Stan Gale did so well with The Prayer of Jehoshaphat he has done equally well with Ecclesiastes. Rather than "commenting" on Scripture, he dispenses profoundly practical pastoral wisdom—helping us focus on God and His eternal purposes as we live life in a world that is often confusing, distressing, and frustrating. Making Sanity Out of Vanity is an extremely helpful book—insightful, encouraging, and very very practical."See All
author, Light for Your Path Bible Study series
"The message of Ecclesiastes has an amazingly contemporary ring to it; but with one important caveat. It does not merely reflect the mood of confusion and disillusionment with life that pervades an entire generation today, it also provides answers that today's world does not have. Stan Gale uses Ecclesiastes, in his own words, as a lens' through which to view the spectrum of life and in doing so has done our generation a service. He allows this book from another world to speak eloquently into ours to help us make sense of it in light of eternity."See All
Mark G. Johnston
Senior Pastor, Proclamation Presbyterian Church
Somehow there is a myth floating around that when you follow Jesus life has certain tangible perks. When your Father is God and Jesus is the reigning King, you expect that finances won't be quite as tight, relationships will be easier, and life will be a bit merrier. A little bit of false advertising. Seemingly innocent expectations. But these beliefs are far from innocent. When you expect wine and roses and end up with gruel, your confidence in the Lord wanes. Maybe, you wonder, this relationship with Christ is just a life insurance policy after all. It is good for when you die, but costly for when you live. Life insurance policies are boring, at best. Maybe the Bible has no real-world application.
And what about the many men and women who jettison their faith because they encounter suffering—lots of suffering—and following Christ seems to make absolutely no difference? They have been spared nothing. There is a rule in suffering: the more intense the suffering, the more alone you feel from both other people and the Lord. There are times when life is a painful mess, and if God doesn't speak to us in the midst of that mess, why bother?
In Ecclesiastes, God speaks into the mess. Ecclesiastes is not about happy thoughts that deny earthly realities. Instead, the Preacher, along with the other voice we hear in Ecclesiastes, open our eyes even wider than normal. They take us to all the hard places. They hear our questions and run further with them until all is laid bare. Every once in a while you might think that Ecclesiastes is written by a dour existentialist, but, somehow, even before you get to the end of the book, you can tell that this examination of life will end in hope and result in more meaning and fullness that we can comprehend.
Includes a Foreword by Edward T. Welch