The Big Rock Candy Mountain

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Palatka51, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. Palatka51

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    Oct 25, 2007
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    By Pastor Michael D. Halsey, County Line Congregational Christian

    PROV. 3:13-18

    One hundred and ten years ago, or thereabouts, Harry McClintock, otherwise known as “Haywire Mac,” wrote a song which became popular during America’s Great Depression. He called it, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain.” There’s a cleaned-up children’s version, but I’m going to give you the rated “R” rated, adult version of the lyrics as “Haywire” wrote them: “One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning. Down the track came a hobo hiking, and he said "Boys I'm not turning, "I'm headed for a land that's far away, beside the crystal fountains. So come with me, we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains." In the Big Rock Candy Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright. Where the hand-outs grow on bushes and you sleep out every nightWhere the boxcars all are empty and the sun shines every day. On the birds and the bees and the cigarette tree. The lemonade springs where the bluebird sings. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs. And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft-boiled eggs. The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay. Oh I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow. Where the rain don't fall, the wind don't blow. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks. And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks. The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind. There's a lake of stew and of whiskey, too. You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoo. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin. And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in. There ain't no short-handled shovels, no axes, saws or picks. I'm a-goin' to stay where you sleep all day. Where they hung the jerk that invented work. In the Big Rock Candy Mountains. I'll see you all this comin' fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains.”

    You say, “Hey, that’s just a song; so what?” Well, I want to tell you about a man whose father trusted that song and lived by it. His name is Wallace Stegner; he’s a writer; he says his father was a fool. He saw his father as a “sucker” who moved his family all around the American west, always searching for the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Sometimes he was a farmer, sometimes a speculator, at other times he ran illegal liquor.

    In his search to gain, to get, and hold on to get-rich-quick money, he once bought land and cut down 2 acres of 200 year-old oaks to sell for firewood. Wallace said that his father would sing that song, “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” and always looked for a place where people could get something for nothing. And then he wrote, “My father died broke without a friend in the world in a fleabag hotel, having done more environmental and personal damage than he could have repaired in two lifetimes.”

    In a TV interview, Wallace said, “I was trying to write my father out of my life.” The reason? Because, in his father’s search for the Big Rock Candy Mountain, his family became the losers.

    Early in every morning, television is glutted with the Big Rock Candy Mountain philosophy; we call them infomercials. There are so many of them that if they weren’t on, I wouldn’t have anything to watch, since the Cowboys don’t play at 4 in the morning. As near as I can tell, the infomercials deal with three things 90% of the time: money and how to make it fast, usually through buying foreclosed houses for 300$; health and how to get it through exercise, a pill, or a potion; and cooking food in some technological breakthrough we just have to have. If someone who didn’t know anything about Americans and all he watched was TV from 1-5Am, he might think we’re fascinated with money, watching smiling, thin people exercise, and food.

    People can get so obsessed with money, they’ll fall for anything. I can’t tell you how rich I’d be if I’d answer all those e-mails I get from people requesting my help to get millions of dollars out of their country. (“Christianity Today” did an article on ministers who’d fallen for the scam and had lost everything. It’s a good thing I’m independently wealthy and don’t need all those millions, or I could have been the subject of the article.) But when it comes to the possibility of getting money quickly, even pastors can leave wisdom in the dust. Sometimes after I see an infomercial, I go on the Internet to find the opinions of those who’ve sent off for the kit and I find that they’ve sunk thousands of dollars into the “deal” and are livid at being taken for a ride. They write about how stupid they were.

    But wait; let’s go back to the three obsessions of the infomercials. Their obsessions are our obsessions. Those are three things we hold near and dear. Along comes Proverbs and says, “Hold off; there’s something more valuable than money and health and food.” The question is, do you trust God (Prov. 3:5) that’s true? In Prov. 3:14, God is telling us that wisdom, revealed by God in Proverbs, has a greater profit margin than silver, a better yield than gold; more value than rubies. Then he says emphatically, “Nothing can compare with her.”

    This is a truth that we pay lip service to on Sunday morning, but out there in what they call the “real world,” which really isn’t real, we expend a tremendous amount of time and energy on money and our health and food. In regard to food, we see this when the chefs on TV are treated like rock stars.

    But before we dismiss Solomon as being hopelessly out of it, let’s dig a little deeper. Money can get you a nice house, but it can’t buy you a happy HOME. We don’t realize this until we’re sitting in a nice house and it’s not a happy home. I remember talking to a lady who was saved in middle-age. She had all the money she and you and I together would ever need. She told me: “I’d give it all away if all my children were believers.”

    When we think “doctor,” we think of a highly educated, wealthy somebody. Money bought one doctor an education and a great house, but money didn’t buy this one in San Francisco what he came to wish he had, wisdom. He’s making a call to his wife, she comes on the line and he says, “I need you to pick me up and don’t bring the girls.” His wife asks, “Why?”

    He says, “I’ve done something really stupid.” He’s calling from the police department; he’s under arrest; just released on bail. While at work, he got online and started chatting with an underage girl who said that her parents were out of town and when he read that, he suggested he might come over and he told her exactly what he’d like to do when he got there.

    He left the office went over, not knowing he had been talking to an undercover police woman. When he arrived at the house, they got him. Sting! He had purchased an education, but not wisdom. Don’t you think he’d trade all his money and education for what wisdom could have given him? I don’t think his money and nice house meant much to him as he placed that call.

    (Continued next post)
  2. Palatka51

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    Oct 25, 2007
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    (Continued from above post)

    A Christian friend of mine ignored wisdom, didn’t live by it and had to endure the humiliation of his son’s spitting on him for destroying the family. Very educated guy; no wisdom. His education didn’t mean much to him when he was spit on.

    Money can put the best food on your table, but if your home is a war zone, it doesn’t taste very good. One time, many years ago, a professional business man who was making a lot of money, who had a home so valuable it would have sold in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, told me, “Everyday when I’m through at the office, I don’t want to go home.” His home was a battleground.

    Every November, people write to the advice columnists asking what they should do because they don’t want to get together at Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families because the tension at the table is unbearable. Great food; no peace because there’s no wisdom. Dinner ruined; stomachs tied in knots. Family peace is a more valuable commodity than money. You don’t know this until you lose it, unless you trust what God says in Proverbs 3:14-15.

    Take the “ruby reference” Solomon makes in verse 15. Money can buy a wife sparkling jewelry, but it can’t buy her the love she wants. He can give her a ring of huge carats, but what does it mean if he can’t stand her?

    But wisdom makes promises: long life, honor, peace, and wealth (a promise to the obedient Jew in the dispensation of the law). Who doesn’t want those things? When you lose peace at home, you’ll do anything to get it back. When you lose your health because of self-inflicted diseases, how you’d love a time machine to go back and stop the drinking, the drugs, and the multiple partners. You’d pay any amount for such a machine.

    The father is creating an appetite in his son for wisdom. Yes! I want peace. Yes! I don’t want to have to worry about self-inflicted diseases. Yes! I want the quality of life that’s a little taste of heaven here on earth (Prov. 3:18).

    The problem is that usually a person wants wisdom after he’s lost his family, his self-respect, his name, his health, and his money. It’s only then that he recognizes how valuable wisdom is. If the San Francisco doctor had wisdom, the AMA wouldn’t have revoked his license to practice medicine.

    So we’re back to the question: How do I get this wisdom? In 3:13, he says that it’s something you have to “find,” something you have to “gain.” This tells me it’s not wisdom by intuition and it’s not wisdom by chance. In fact, the Hebrew word for “find,” means “an aggressive search.” You have to make a determination to go looking for it.

    That involves a cost. Are you interested in paying the price? Don’t wait until you lose peace and health and then say, “Now I’m interested.” The price means the study of Proverbs and God’s Word. It doesn’t mean dabbling in it. We’re talking serious here. You won’t get it if you come to church for fun. You won’t get it if you come to church for some Sunday entertainment. It doesn’t come by Bible Study Lite.

    When I was in college, I discovered Wisdom. After I discovered it, I paid a price to get it. I paid in time and energy. I listened to all the Bible study, word-by-word teaching of the Bible I could. I listened to every good radio Bible study program. I went to weekly Bible classes and when my parents had one at our home, I was in on those too. All that was in addition to Sunday-go-to-church.

    When I had a paper to write in college, I tried to find a way to turn it into a Bible study project. In one course, I wrote a paper that was a glossary of NT Greek words and I had no knowledge of Greek at the time. In another, I spent an entire semester writing a research paper and including the Hebrews verse that says that the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, so I thought it would be good to study that type of sword the Bible mentioned and compare it with other swords in the Roman military.

    You’re probably thinking, “Where was your social life?” Answer: “I didn’t have one.” So what? That could come later.

    My point is not, “Look at me.” Anybody who aggressively searches for godly wisdom will tell you the same story because that’s what it takes and it’s a price you don’t mind paying because the pay-off is so great.

    Let me tell you just one reward: I get a call from one of my adult children (thank goodness, they’re all adults now), during the conversation, I hear these words, “There has not a day gone by, but that I don’t think about what you’ve taught me.” That’s a pay-off, big time. In talking another adult child, I hear him say, “I told someone that you always said “such and such.” I don’t even remember saying it, but he did.

    I can say the same thing: there’s not a day that passes that I don’t remember something my father taught me. This doesn’t come because we’re so wonderful; it’s a reward wisdom gives you and it’s priceless, more valuable than a large salary.

    I cannot imagine the regret it would be to hear your adult child say, on TV no less, that he’s spent his life trying to write you out of it.

    In Proverbs, the opposite is true—the father is spending his time writing himself into his son’s life, writing himself into his life by transmitting godly wisdom into that life.

    Don’t get confused. Wisdom costs, but salvation is what Paul calls a “free gift.” That’s an interesting combination he uses in Romans, when he writes about salvation he calls it a “free gift.” If it’s a gift, can’t we take it for granted that it’s free? Of course, but he wants to emphasize the fact that God wants to give us forgiveness of sin and everlasting life without a single particle of cost to us.

    Something that wonderful, and it’s without cost to us. Come and take it by trusting Christ, the God-Man and His promise that because He died on the cross to pay for your sins and rose from the dead that He’ll give you forgiveness of sin and everlasting life if you believe Him and Him alone for it.

    Then get wisdom, above all else, get wisdom.

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