WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

I am back!  I had a long summer!  Surgery and recovery, but I am glad to be back with a new post!

I was saddened a few days ago to hear of the death of Anthony Bourdain.  Mr. Bourdain was an acclaimed chef, a world traveler, food expert, author, and an award-winning television personality.   After thirty years as a fine dining chef, he left that arena to travel the world.

Bourdain, who, in his early years, was a macho, unrepentant, drug-loving chef, became a crusader for the hungry of this world.  He said he would eat anything, go anywhere and say anything.  He also said he was famous for his optimism, and eating was the thing he did best.

Traveling the globe he rubbed shoulders with the elite and shared meals of questionable substance with remote tribal people.  He searched for obscure cuisine and unknown restaurants, and explored politics and history, life and love with locals over a plate of food and drink, and—

Last week, at the age of 61, he hanged himself in the bathroom of his suite at a luxury hotel in Kayersburg, France.

His mother said, “He had everything!”  He had success beyond his wildest dreams, and money—more than you can imagine.

“I want it ALL!  I want to try everything once,” he had declared.

Some believe that he was on a quest to seek out and understand the “Human Condition.”  He wanted to find the answers to the great questions of life.

However, in his journey to try EVERYTHING, he arrived at NOTHING.  In all his experiences, in everything he had tried, he found no answers to the questions that plagued his troubled heart.  Unable to face the unbearable misery of depression and disappointment, he thought to end it all by taking his own life.

What is meant by the “Human Condition?”

Simply put, it is “The Meaning of Life”—the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence.

The real problem in human life comes from the existence of good and evil.  We are capable of doing terrible things, but we can’t seem to figure out why we do them nor how to stop it.

Why are we competitive, aggressive and selfish when our originally instinctive state was cooperative, selfless and loving?

Years ago, I gave up my work toward a doctorate in counseling, because I couldn’t figure out myself.  How in the world would I ever be able to help anyone else?

Truth is, on our own, we are unable to understand ourselves or anything else.

Do you sometimes wonder what life is all about—why you were born, how do you find happiness, why this world is in such a mess?

Trying to figure out all of this can result in unbearable depression and no answers.

Though I have seen him on television a few times, I am not particularly interested in the life of Anthony Bourdain.  However, when I see a life that has enjoyed it all and yet ends in such terrible despair, I can’t help but wonder how he arrived at such a place.

I must tell you, “I am privileged—I am blessed.” Never once in all my life, even during the darkest of times, have I ever thought of ending it all by taking my life.  I have never come near such a thought, for from my earliest days I have known the answer to these difficult questions.

The answer to all our questions lies in Father God our Creator, God who sacrificed the life of His own Son, so that we can live, God who loves this human race and longs for its reciprocal love.

This world is in a mess because man decided to do his own thing rather than obeying God.

Obey, demand, command, laws—these are negative words to us.  Yet, living in obedience to God results in the most positive, joyful, productive life ever imagined.

Let me give you the highlights of Leviticus 26:3-13.  God says, “If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments…” You will have more than enough to eat.  Your country will be a place of peace and war will be eliminated.  God will give you His full attention and cause you to prosper.  He will live in your neighborhood and walk through your streets.  He will be your personal God, and you will be free.

WOW!  What promises for simple obedience!  Isn’t it worth a try?

A few days ago, President Trump sat at the table with Kim Jong Un trying to fix some of this world’s problems through diplomacy, but in the end, diplomacy doesn’t work, war doesn’t really solve anything, and walls don’t end the problems.

From the beginning of the human race, God had the answer.  “Obey me!”

If you are struggling today, and all your avenues of relief have turned into “Dead Ends,” there is still hope.  He is our hope!  God, who created this world and all that is in it—God, who formed man his is own image, has never found a problem that He cannot solve.  Hope in Him!

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWEET PEACE

 

My Mama, Maggie Lou, was married in a quiet ceremony, in her parent’s home, on Christmas Eve, 1917.

The war that raged on the Western Front, in Europe—“The Great War”—The War to End All Wars,” seemed a million miles away on that joyous occasion.

Mama went to live with her beloved Ed and his bootlegging father, on a dry land farm in eastern Oklahoma.

By her eighteenth birthday, in March of 1918, Mama was already pregnant with her first child.  Suddenly life, for this laughing girl, became serious.  She was now responsible for another life, and she awoke each morning wondering if this was the day her young husband would be called up to serve his country and perhaps die in a faraway place.

America, under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, had remained neutral the first two and one-half years of the war.  However, neutrality finally became impossible considering the increased aggression of the Nation of Germany, and our close bond with Great Britain.  So America entered the fray on April 6, 1917 sending 2,000,000 American boys to the front where 50,000 of them died.

In Paris, France, on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m. an Armistice was signed, and the war came to an end.  The world was at peace!

Just after midnight, in the wee hours of November 12, while bells were still ringing, horns still blowing, and people still celebrating, Maggie gave birth to a baby boy.  Beautiful Levi!

The baby that she had carried in her womb for nine months was now safe in her arms, and there was no longer any danger that Ed would have to go to war.  Sweet peace brought healing to her troubled heart.

Peace is a rare and longed for commodity.  It is said that there are those who would give a “King’s ransom” for one hour of genuine peace.  The “War to End All Wars” was a hope never realized, for war rages somewhere in this world continually.

Many people and entities have tried to bring peace to our world.  The military can’t do it.  Diplomats have failed.  Governments are ineffective, and The United Nations is laughable for the most part.

War does not have to be nation against nation.  It is sometimes corporation against corporation or family against family, and mostly individual against individual.

Truth is, strife and discord begin at the grassroots.  I’m reminded of The Hatfield and The McCoy feud—a feud that lasted almost thirty years and has had repercussions for decades.

No one is sure, but it is said that the whole thing started over the theft of a hog.  However it started, it escalated to murder and mayhem, and the absence of any measure of peace.

I know individuals who hate to go home for the holidays, because of family infighting—so much for “Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Men!”

There are times when outside interference lays siege to my personal peace.  Last spring when I was rewarded guardianship of my sister, I heaved a sigh of relief believing that, aside from the annual reports I must file, I needed only to take good care of her.  However, last week, without warning, my sister’s attorney requested that I be removed as guardian.

I am devastated.  I am praying. I am crying, and just like you, I am wringing my hands, and losing sleep.   Sunday evening I was with a group of friends, who prayed with me.  Monday morning just as I was awakening, I saw the words, as on a plaque, “sweet peace the gift of God’s love.  Opening my eyes, I thought, “That’s a song.  I haven’t heard it in a hundred years, but I know that song, and the words came singing back.

When Jesus as Lord I have crowned,

My heart with His peace will abound;

In Him, the rich blessing I found,

Sweet peace the gift of God’s love.

 

Peace, peace, sweet peace,

Wonderful gift from above.

Wonderful, wonderful peace,

Sweet peace the Gift of God’s love.

 Later in the day, I read these words from Jeremiah 20:11.  “But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One.  Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail.”

 This promise is certainly a recipe for peace.

Finally, I believe, “THE WAR TO END ALL WARS” is the war that I wage within—the war that I fight against Christ and His authority in my life.  When I refuse to give Him control, I am filled with turmoil, hopelessness, and fear.  When I lay down my arms and lift my hands in surrender, the Prince of Peace comes in, and His peace remains.

The world is in fighting mode—in hearts, in homes, in our streets, in legislatures, courts, and palaces.  From north to south, east to west, we are at war, but in the middle of all this chaos, you can live in peace.

Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on You.”

God’s peace is a gift.  Give up your weapons, sign the Armistice, and fix your heart and mind on Him in exchange for perfect peace.

Your prayers are appreciated.

REMEMBER, THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILLUSIONS

I guess I’ve always been nearsighted—it’s called astigmatism.  I don’t know whether or not anyone was aware of it, but I knew how to compensate.  I don’t remember ever thinking, “Hey!  I can’t see.”  I just held my book a little closer and sat in front of the room nearer the chalkboard.

I didn’t own glasses until I was a young adult, and even then I didn’t wear them.  Just couldn’t get used to them, and, you know, they didn’t look good.  I tried the old hard contacts, but they were more of a nuisance than anything else.

On the rare occasion when I visited the optometrist, he always yelled at me, but I was doing all right.  However, when I began to preach, I realized that it was difficult to follow my notes, so I was forced to resort to the glasses.  Now, my glasses are the first thing I don each morning.

A few years back, I found myself blinking frequently trying to clear away the mist that obstructed my sight.

“Man,” I thought.  “It’s time to change my glasses.” I probably hadn’t changed them in ten years.

The optometrist laughed at me and said, “You don’t need new glasses.  You need cataract surgery in both eyes.”

The day after surgery, when the patch came off the first eye, I was amazed at the change.  I couldn’t remember ever having seen such vivid colors and distinct features.

However, the first time I looked in the mirror I found myself crying, “No!  No!  No!  No!  No!”

I couldn’t believe what I saw.  I knew I had wrinkles, after all, I was seventy-six years old, but I thought my wrinkles were soft and sweet and undefined.  Now I saw the deep creases.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.

For an instant I wanted to undo the surgery—forget the vivid colors, for my mirror revealed the stark truth.  “I was getting old.”  Mirrors have a way of doing that—revealing the truth.

Ever since Narcissus peered into the pond and fell in love with himself, mirrors have fascinated us.  They show us what we want to see, and what we don’t want to see, but they also surprise us.

I’ve discovered, however, that mirrors don’t always tell the truth.  The first mirrors made in the 1600’s were often fashioned with warped glass and coated unevenly, so that those who used them were tempted to flee from their own image.

When I stand in front of the mirror at my Weight Watcher center, I look tall and very thin.  I could stand there all day, but that is not a true picture of who I am.

When I first went to Belgium, I bought a beautiful old mirror at the flea market.  It is oval with a real wood frame—an antique, I think.  It has hung over my sofa for more than forty years.  I love it, but the reflection is no longer flawless.  One hundred years ago mirrors were made by coating a sheet of glass with silver.  The coating is thin and easily scratched flaking off.  The scratches are beginning to show through marring the image.

Perhaps you have visited a fun house where mirrors are made to purposely distort the image, or you have had the privilege of touring the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

Truth is you cannot always believe what the mirror reflects.  Sometimes the image is an illusion.  We see what we want to see.  I deceived myself for years thinking I looked younger—thinking that the wrinkles weren’t so bad.

I know of only one mirror that will never deceive you.  The Apostle, James, compares the Word of God to a mirror.

James 1:22-25 (The Living Bible) says, “And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to.  So don’t fool yourselves.  For if a person just listens and doesn’t obey, he is like a man looking at his face in a mirror; as soon as he walks away, he can’t see himself anymore or remember what he looks like.  But if anyone keeps looking steadily into God’s law for free men, he will not only remember it but he will do what it says, and God will greatly bless him in everything he does.”

God’s Word reveals the truth.  He speaks to you through its pages and shows you exactly who you are.  You may not like what you see, but there are no distortions—no illusions. James says keep looking steadily into the mirror of God’s Word, and obey what it says.

God’s blessing upon your life will be abundant.

The sun will come out tomorrow!