Live a Colorful Life

Always a Colourful Life

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Live a Colorful Life

Always a Colourful Life

Welcome to Christianity Oasis Purity Publications. This E-book is titled Live a Colorful Life - Always a Colourful Life written by Author Ben Cunningham. Christianity Oasis in association with Purity Publications proudly presents you with this Always a Colourful Life E-Book free of charge for your enjoyment.

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"All these people, stickin' they nose in ma business, causin' me anxiety!" Charlie was a man who lived on the street in London. He would never know the impact of his often repeated statement, quoted above. His living conditions were less than adequate, but he was an easy man to help, or to at least make the attempt. Charlie had obviously lost the will to advance in traditional society, and suffered in many ways. One of those tormenting situations occurred when others would attempt to impose their values on him, or to attempt to give him unwanted help or direction. Charlie was quick to become very defensive of his right to be who he was, and to have his own views of how something was to be done.

Analyzing Charlie was not easy, and in such a case, the best analysis is to search for the open areas which can be found in order to reach someone. It is certain that Charlie provided many colourful times for everyone he touched. Even those on the streets were taken by his charms, and he always seemed to have friends. Perhaps the most difficult situation faced by Charlie and others on the street is when someone approached with a cure-all answer to all problems. Charlie was met with criticism on many occasions. In one instance, a lady approached him to condemn his lack of responsibility. It was sad to see him revert to a shell, as if he had been attacked. Yet, this was the way Charlie lived, and the chance he took every day of his life.

Remembering Charlie is easy. He was also a wonderful fellow who gave a variety of colourful memories to many people. In analyzing Charlie and others like him, and also remembering personal situations which were similar in nature, it is amazing to find that life is colourful in all aspects, even when we think that our boredom and lack of a bright, flamboyant life is too overwhelming. Charlie found no lack of colour in his life, and he gave much colour to others, even in his deprived condition.

In considering this thought, we can rest assured that it's always a colourful life if we are willing to reach out and take it. Life is not bounded by a lack of activity, except in our own imagination. God has given us all things richly to enjoy, and we have His power to act in His will. Each of us has a variety of situations which arise in life, to which we may adapt and use as colourful memories and development tools. Nothing enhances our experience with the Lord any more than trials. Nothing will help in our growth any more than our trials being watered by both tears and laughter. A life of all tears will leave us in darkness, while a life of all laughter will leave us in denial of reality. We must have a balance, and find the truth of balance in producing an always colourful life. The darkest life situations can produce a colourful life.

Chapter One

Just Don't Think About It

"What do you mean? Do you know how serious this is?" Sometimes, it simply does not sink into the thought processes. Some things are serious, and require thinking! From the perspective of a young person, this makes no sense. One young lady decided this was the only answer anyone would need. When a major issue arose, she told her father, "Just don't think about it!" In some ways, this can be a hilarious situation, but imagine what is imminent when a job is at stake. Think about the consequences of what could come if there is a loss of income, or a breakdown of the family transportation. To be fair, it is better to not speak about it, but it seems impossible to not think about a traumatic issue when it comes upon us.

In thinking about this answer from a sincere daughter who always wanted a relief from suffering and torment, this can be found as a colourful memory. One of the best things of advancing in life is that we can turn back to many things when the children are grown. So, what would be expected when this same daughter has a crisis at hand, and needs advice? It is likely to be predictable. If an immediate answer is not available, it is then up to "Pop" to say, "Just don't think about it!" Of course, the answer will always produce a bit of a smile, but the memories of a colourful life in itself could help to create a more calm atmosphere in which to analyze the problem and its answers.

There are several examples which can be used to illustrate the principles involved, but none may be more descriptive than Job's friend Zophar. In his second attack on Job, he only increased his volume of condemnation. In the 20th chapter of Job, Zophar levelled his attack on a suffering man, not realizing that he was also telling what was wrong with his speech. In verse 2, he actually says that while he is thinking about something, he wants to hurry up and talk! In a sense, go ahead and speak, and just don't think about it!

It is when we are in a hurry to go ahead and give someone "what they deserve," that we can make our greatest mistakes. It is always impossible to know exactly where we will find someone in life. One of the easy mistakes which can be made is when we can presume that we have all the answers to the problems of another person. For a strange reason, we never seem to grasp the fact that we are not mind readers! The difficulties of another person could be due to something completely different than what we have come to imagine. This was the case with Job. As his friends measured his destruction, they took no account of the instigation of Satan against Job. His defences were insufficient as an explanation to his friends. Perhaps many of us know this routine. When we have done our best, and things go wrong, we can be subject to humiliation, and usually from those who speak before thinking about what might have caused our miseries.

Considering these thoughts, it is always a good idea to figure out what happens when we speak before we think. There are several possibilities of outcomes when one is put into a position of inability to recover from temporary setbacks, as severe criticism comes from outside sources. What happens when we speak, and "just don't think about it?"

The first result is that words without thought can steal the dignity of others. There was a young man who surrendered his life to the Lord, and intended to do his best in all things, no matter what the task. One of his activities was to visit people at random, by knocking on their doors, and introducing himself and his church. He was always in the company of another member, visiting in teamwork. One day the fellow met his co-worker, and they were off to visit. He would never have dreamed that one door would reveal one of his former high school teachers!

The pair of visitors were invited in and received warmly. While inviting the teacher to their services, the young man gave a detailed description of the church operation. As he opened his mouth, without thinking of the situation of his former teacher, he boldly and efficiently acclaimed that the church was interested in no one who had been divorced, as far as participation was concerned. No thought or tenderness was evident in the young man as he proclaimed the facts as he knew them.

Apparently stunned, the teacher softly said that it was likely that she would not find a church home in their midst, since her husband had left her previously. Both the visitors were shocked, but the product was evident. The teacher had her dignity stolen by the tongue of one young person who was full of zeal, but far short of the thought process concerning how to present a caring approach.

There are several Scriptural ideals to keep in mind when dealing with others. One is found in Galatians 6:1, which says, "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, lest thou also be tempted." As Jesus' critics also spoke without thinking, Pilate responded by saying, "Take ye him and crucify him." He finished his statement by saying, "I find no fault in him" (John19:6). This is an irrational statement, apparently not thought out well. In a sense, Pilate was guilty of telling them to take Jesus, and "just don't think about it."

A second result of speaking without thinking is that we can affect the opinions of other people. An American pastor was living in England, and started a church. One of his first converts was a man about the same age. Their friendship and mutual admiration grew, and their families became very close in fellowship. The two men became associates in the ministry, with the new convert starting to Bible college training, and serving in the church where he had been saved. It was a close bond which endured for years, going more than twenty years after the departure of the American, who returned to his own home soil. In their years together, there were many colourful moments which made this a special time to remember. The memories were both in the church setting, and in personal ties which were created. John and Tony were best of friends. They also shared one thing which was peculiar to them.

John and Tony always visited together in teamwork. They were finding all those whom the Lord would allow them to reach. In one visit, there was a lady who noticed their similar situation. Both John and Tony were missing the index finger from the middle joint, on the same hand! It was not advertised, and not something that they could have predicted. It did, however, cause quite a stir.

On that single visit, the English lady decided that in order to become a part of their church, part of the ritual was to have an index finger removed! She decided it was her sworn duty to let others know that it was a strange group which was visiting, attempting to get others to join them, but there was a price. Of course, others took the advice, and some would not want to join them. Without knowing the reasons for why John and Tony had missing fingers, the lady had decided for herself, and affected the opinions of others.

Yes, life can be colourful, and have its unending accounts of situations that occur, but we continue in this world. It can be remembered that David's son Absalom had rebelled, and decided to overthrow his father. As he stole the hearts of his father's subjects, he did manage to influence one man who was trusted by David. Ahithophel was a counsellor to David, and he decided to counsel Absalom instead. When Absalom refused to follow his advice, Ahithophel saw little chance of survival, and could not return to David. Instead, he put all his things in order, and hanged himself, earning the title of the "Old Testament Judas." Absalom's actions were based on selfish desires. Ahithophel's trouble was to be found in taking up the offence of Absalom, an issue which did not concern him. This was a tragedy, but can be seen in the influence of one person on another.

A third result of speaking without thinking is that we can set ourselves up to be judged. It is a grave mistake to judge others, without knowing the troubles which have taken them to their current state. In the previous illustration of the young man who was visiting his former teacher, it would only be four years later that he would cross the same problems. His wife left him, and he endured the trials of others telling him that he would not be able to serve the Lord. He then had to live in the same situation as the one he had unintentionally offended, by speaking without thinking. Thinking of Job's friends, what if God had decided that they should be judged by their words to Job? Instead, He had mercy, and allowed Job to pray for them.

Indeed, it is always a colourful life. Some situations can be humorous, while others can be difficult and draining, but we are commissioned to work through them, in order for our task for the Lord Jesus to be meaningful. He has provided a myriad of obstacles through which His people must pass, and there are different ones for each of His children to conquer. Actually, the more challenges we have provided by the Lord, the more rich and colourful life will be. The characters we encounter, and the issues which seem to be impossible, will all create an always colourful life.

Chapter Two

The Copy Cat

One of the most delightful things about a sense of humour is when some one tells us a joke that we have originated, or told, maybe hundreds of times. It is really hard to keep a straight face while listening, and preparing for the punch line. When the joke's climax is finally at hand, there are three things we can do. First, we can go ahead and laugh as if we have never heard it before; second, we can finish the joke for the other person, and steal the thunder; or third, we can remain with a deadpan expression as if we didn't get the joke. Any of the three reactions can have a humorous effect. Depending upon the personality of the one telling the joke, it could also cause the person to avoid us.

Humour can be a great blessing. God's Word says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22). Since jokes are intended to be told, we can expect to hear those we have told many times. There are also those who have no idea how to tell a joke, like the man in a prison setting. One of the men had received a volume of ten thousand jokes. After a while, the jokes had become a bore to tell, since they had been used so often. The entire group decided to number the jokes, and just call out the numbers. One day, a fellow shouted out, "Hey, number 2,455!" The entire group broke out in laughter. A few seconds later, another man said, "Catch this! Number 4,389!" Once again, the group was humbled in laughter. A third man then shouted, "Hey guys, number 8,274!" This time, there was silence. One of the men whispered to another, "Some guys just don't know how to tell a joke."

If there is one thing that is certain about telling a joke, it usually requires a talent to copy some aspect of a personality or movement. There are individuals who can adapt a joke to their personality, and make it even more effective than they first heard it. This is a measure of the ability to effectively copy another person.

It is sometimes difficult to know what to do or say, when we realize that we are in a conversation with information which has been previously given by another person. It is a necessity to be gracious when we recognize that a story we are hearing is told by one who is not original with the information or the presentation. Simply repeating things in the manner of a parrot is not effective communication. It is better to be ourselves, and acting like "us" than to copy someone else. Our personality is a gift from God, and is a blessing from Him. There is no doubt that some personalities see others as attractive, and feel cheated by the Lord because they are not blessed. Then, the issue becomes one of an attempt to imitate the one we envy. This cheats everyone else, since our natural gift is not used. We have become a "copy cat," without originality.

Remembering Job's friends, there was one of them who had no original charges which he could bring against Job. Bildad was one who repeated the charges of the others, and sounded as if he was using words because others were. For example, he charges in Job 8 that Job's "words are as wind" (verse 2, as compared with 6:26); he talked about Job's children (verse 4, as compared with 5:4); he spoke of Job's future increase (verse 7, as compared with 5:25-26); and he claimed Job was lying (verse 6, as compared with 4:7). Bildad had little information of his own, and had no insight. He depended on the other friends to speak, and then used their words to condemn Job.

It is important that we become as original as possible. There are two main reasons for this when we interact with others. The first reason is that it allows us to see others as individuals.

In the television and movie productions of STAR TREK, the entry of an alien entity is introduced as the Borg. The Borg are converted humans, assimilated into a "collective," losing all personality. Each Borg works as a part of the wider group, with no personal goals, mind, will or emotion. Some religions see humanity-at-large in this way, with no individuality. Simply, we are seen as part of one pool of cosmic energy.

This also introduces another aspect of beliefs, known as reincarnation. One of the introductory remarks of this belief is, "Have you ever been somewhere, and felt as if you had been there before?" Indeed, this does happen. However, it is easy to remember one instance of standing in a Wal Mart store, feeling as if this had happened before. The main thought of that time was that it was a newly opened store! If it had been something in a previous life, it must be remembered that Wal Mart would not have been in business! As well, if there were such a thing as reincarnation, it would be difficult to desire it. In the present world, one trip through it is plenty! As the world declines in the quality of life, we wait for those things which the Lord has prepared for His people.

There are three considerations in seeing people as unique individuals. The first of these is that individuals have personalities. Each person is uniquely created by God, and given those qualities peculiar to that person, to bring glory to God. We know people by personality. When a personality is changed through a tragic situation, or by a change in attitude, it is as if we no longer know that person. This is not an unusual occurrence. It is a fact of life. The way we create love, attachments and respect are all through the response to personality.

A second consideration in seeing a person as an individual is that people have talents which belong to them alone. Bertoldo de Giovanni was the teacher of Michaelangelo. In one instance, he took one of Michaelangelo's works, a simple statue, and crashed it while he said, "talent is cheap, dedication is costly." We must find ways to get individuals to employ their talents. This is a part of our responsibility to recognize others as individual in every part of their being.

A third aspect of considering others as individuals is in recognizing the needs of the individual. Inside the body is a complex system of emotions, dreams, desires, talents, strengths, weaknesses, failures, past history and more. These all work together to make us unique. The individual also has a need to grow out of where we find him or her. Life is full of development, and there must be an exercise in order to move from strength to strength, while developing all our qualities.

If there are considerations in seeing others as individuals, then there is certainly also the second aspect of treating others as individuals. There is only one Gospel message for the entire world. However, there are many ways in which individuals understand how to accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour.

In Texas, Carolyn was a young girl who could not be reached. She was resistant and seemed unable to grasp the Gospel as it was presented by parents or other teachers. She finally did accept the Lord Jesus as her Saviour, through the presentation of something she could understand. In the Bible book of Leviticus, chapter 14, there is a method for the cleansing of a leper. It involves a ceremony of taking two birds alive, killing one of the birds, and dipping the living bird in the blood of the dead bird, allowing the living bird to go free. This is a picture of what the Lord Jesus Christ does for His people. This is the presentation that unlocked Carolyn's heart. Individuals are not clones. They are open to understand issues from where they are. Some open to a message of very strong judgement, while others are open to light compassion. There is only one Gospel, and only one God who gives individual access to His throne.

There are three reasons to treat others as individuals. First, others have intellect. It is necessary to find the opening into a person's heart. Many times, we are quick to give up on a person who resists. Yet, if we have not continued to try, we will never know if an alternate approach could have worked.

Second, individuals have desires. It is always good when we find those who have all things in common with us. It is also rare! Most people have completely different goals and interests in life. The miracle of the Christian life is seeing those work together in harmony, producing growth in individuals.

A third thing to learn is that individuals can learn. No one has cornered the market in the "how to" of every situation. We can teach, but the individual will learn from others as well. We must treat them as individuals, with respect, and understand that there is a presence of intellect, desire and capacity, if we are to accept others as individuals.

Remembering these key issues should resolve the question of the need to be a copy cat. The human mind, will, emotion, intellect, desire, talent and all other qualities possessed, when controlled by the Lord, cannot be adequately copied or cloned. This is what makes life always colourful. People who use their personal gifts and qualities will enrich their society, and the lives of their friends, giving great pleasure and memories to all who will become a permanent part of them. No copy cats, please. We are individuals!

Chapter Three

The Whole Story? Impossible!

Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn will never know what they did. In their great 1952 film ROMAN HOLIDAY, they created some unanswered questions. Playing the role of a newspaper man after a story, the movie portrays Peck and his friend Eddie Albert as two money hungry characters who are setting up the innocent Princess for personal gain only. However, by the end of the movie, Peck is so smitten with Hepburn's charms that he cannot follow through with the plot, refusing to turn in a story or to make money from his enterprise. The actors performed with a great deal of charm, one thing which has become lacking in later day films. It is well portrayed and full of grace. There is only one thing lacking with the film. As in most films, it leaves its audience wondering what happened to the characters!

Frustration comes when we cannot know everything we want to know. In the film in the above comments, the audience is not allowed to know what happened to the people involved in the plot, or whether there would ever be another meeting between them. It is almost a film in need of a conclusion, or at least a sequel. Only its charm allows the film to fulfil the satisfaction. This is somewhat like the world in which we live. There are many situations we know, but some seem to have no resolution in them.

The 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy has long attracted constant theories about what actually happened, and who was involved. It was a tragedy for which no complete answer will ever be found. Not only is there a lack of evidence now, there was the same lack of information when the event occurred. The search for the truth goes on, as many have spent years and much money attempting to unravel the mystery. Yet, that is exactly what it is- a mystery! There is something in us which must know more, and find answers. One of the most difficult frustrations we face is the irritation of coming up short in the search for answers.

Considering the question of knowing the whole story, we must submit to our nature as finite beings. It is true that the search for such answers creates a colourful life. This is a natural part of our human make-up, that we will search to learn more than we know, and our investigations will colour our pathway. Yet, in the matter of information, we must bow to inability in some instances. One of those matters is our knowledge of Scripture, and our relationship to our God. There is much we can know of Him, but we understand that there is also much we cannot know of Him on this earth. This is our part in faith, by accepting Him in what He has revealed. Sometimes we attempt to fill in the blanks for ourselves, and always tie more knots in the rope than we can untangle. It is best to find out all we can, and to commit the unknown to our faith, in His capable hands.

There are things which are impossible to know. The first is that we will never get the whole Word of God in this world. It is not that we do not have it in our possession, but that we have only a designated number of years, and it is impossible for the human mind and spirit to grasp every part of it.

When a student goes to school and sits through every class a teacher has to offer, the student has the capacity to learn every possible thing from that teacher. However, if that is all that is learned by the student, then this will only make a clone. There is no possible instance in which a teacher can know everything about a subject, and if it were known, there would not be enough time to teach it all. A student must investigate many sources, even in one subject, in order to know as much as possible, and even then there is only a small percentage of the subject which is known.

Every week, there are pastors who preach the Word, but none have ever exhausted the entire Bible. Each day, millions of people study the Word, and still find that there are yet mysteries unsolved, and questions unanswered. It is amazing also to know that so many have memorized such tremendous amounts of Scripture. Then, knowing the words in order cannot be the key to unlocking the true meaning of Scripture. As it is impossible to know everything about every school subject, it is also impossible to know everything the Word of God holds in its treasured pages.

There is something about faith that is important in making this a colourful life. Faith requires parts and portions, not full answers. As children develop, they need direction. They do not always understand why adults tell them to do things. Sometimes a parent can only say, "Because I say so, and that's enough." There is a reason why children need direction. Their teachers are training them for the future. However, no one knows what the future is! It is a matter of faith.

God does not show His children the future, and does not answer why He does certain things to direct them. This was the case with so many Bible characters. This was the case with Abraham, called to go to another country, and going without knowing where. He had parts and portions of the information he needed, and was taken from his comfort zone into an area he knew nothing about. It is this way with the world today. Changes in systems and governments can shake our confidence, but it should not be so. We do not have the answers, but we have the same God who knew the world would change, and was plain about it in His Word. He told us what would happen, but not how it would. This gives us the opportunity to exercise our faith, and makes life always colourful.

Although we can never fully understand, and never get the whole Word here, being forced to exist on parts and portions, there is still an attractiveness to life that can make it always colourful. There is no need for us to live a bleak, grey life, when we have the opportunity to investigate. The world is still a colourful place to live. The whole story? Impossible! However, there is enough available to give us a colourful life.

Chapter Four

The Know-It-All Club

Do you know anyone who has already "arrived," and seems to know everything about every subject? It appears that such a one could claim omniscience, equal with the Lord Himself! There was a fellow in California many years ago, who knew ultimate facts in a wide range of subjects. It was impossible to keep up with him! He was an expert in every subject including science, math, all sports, car racing, music, teaching, surfing, travel and many other subjects. This is not bad for one who was only 19 years of age! Then, it was comical when others called his bluff, and presented facts from those subjects which caused his theories to fall apart!

In considering the trials of Job, and the ritual assaults by his friends, one of Job's remarks in reply to Bildad is classic. In Job 12:2, Job's answer is, "No doubt that ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." Job was weary of hearing charges against him, founded on words without wisdom, and who could blame him? He did not know the source of his problems, yet his friends all claimed the omniscient power to read his mind and heart. In his reply noted above, Job was finally making fun of his tormentors. He was in misery, but he created some colourful responses to colourful arguments.

There are things that the "know it all" never considers. At the top of the list, a person who acts as a know-it-all never considers the intelligence of others. One who knows it all is one who is revealing a lack of wisdom. When we do not give credit to others, then we are guilty of a lack of humility. Humility is one thing the know-it-all cannot know, since his wisdom is tied up in pride, which is a sin. At this level, a lack of understanding will also be found. Job's friends were at ease. They were not forced to endure the same kind of testing that Job suffered. It is much easier to find the shortcomings of another who is in torment, when it has not touched us personally.

There was a story of a group of men from another country who decided to learn to play the game of American style football. The bought a rule book, and went to a field to set up a game among themselves. As they tried to figure out what the rules meant, one man was certain that he could find the mystery, and assumed the leadership. Their attempts were constantly tangled, and the game they played looked nothing like the original version as intended. A young boy was watching, and finally decided they needed help. He offered his help, and showed the men the proper set-up, and after a half hour, they were playing correctly. There is little value in depending on our own wisdoms to guide us. Even if we know a lot about certain subjects, there is no guarantee that we can master others. We do need one who can direct us, and we must find the humility we need. As in the case of the football rule book, it is often not as complicated as it appears. The simplicity of a child is required to handle many hard questions in life.

Another thing never considered by the "know-it-all" is that he can fail. Failure is normal in this life. There have been many wise things said about our failings. Among them is that the biggest problem is not that we try and fail, but that we fail to try. In a similar setting, it has been said that failure is never fatal until it is final. People do fail in this life. The "know-it-all" will never see himself as a failure in any circumstance, but always as a success.

There was a story of a young preacher who was very proud of himself and his ability to speak. In one service, he had been invited to speak, and an elder minister was in the crowd. The young man showed himself as cocky and boastful, but when he delivered his sermon, he became disoriented and the message was ineffective. After having to hang his head in shame, while leaving the pulpit, he tripped on the steps and fell flat on the floor. After the service, the elder minister simply told him, "Young man, if you had gone into the pulpit like you came down, you could have come down like you went up."

Thinking of the pride of the "know-it-all," there are two things to consider. First, this pride leads to constant criticism. This eventually drives people away from him, in order to avoid being criticized. It is this way in his home, with friends, acquaintances, in the workplace and other places where he has contacts. People avoid criticism. Secondly, such a person is boring to others. He never bores himself, because he has a wide frame of reference. Others can easily tire of hearing it all, regardless of the subject.

In thinking of the character of the "know-it-all," a final thought is that there is a lack of spiritual maturity. The Apostle Peter was like this, all talk and no action, until he sinned by his denial of Jesus, and was forced to repent. Amazingly, there are several possible outcomes of one who seems to know everything, and the qualities are usually found in abundance.

In the matter of faith a "know-it-all" will either make the message too easy to believe, or too hard for anyone to obtain, making grace a works-based situation. This personality also requires a certain level of humanism to survive. Grace is cancelled, since the very nature of grace is "unmerited favour." The personality also overtakes the sovereignty of God, and discounts the value of others in the plan of God, making others cheaper than their own value. In all these things, the personality never considers that God, self and others have all been let down.

The "know-it-all" club is not open to a wide membership. Only those on equal terms are permitted to join. Then, where do they find their equals!? Nevertheless, this open personality is one of the ingredients which makes this a colourful life. Some people live only to challenge them! Some run from them, and others endure the stress. No matter in which group we find ourselves, it is a colourful event when we find one who has been admitted into the "know-it-all" club. Job knew them well! No doubt, they are the people, and wisdom will die with them!

Chapter Five

The Song of Fools

Culloden Moor is a famous spot in the north of Scotland, near Inverness. In 1745 AD, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his forces had been chased to the north by William, the Duke of Cumberland, also known as the "butcher." Arriving at the moor, Scot forces were massacred. As well, men, women and children were burned in their homes. Receiving news of victory in Scotland, George Frederick Handel wrote a great work of music to welcome the troops home to England, JUDAS MACCABAEUS. One movement of the work, "All Hail the Conquering Hero Comes," was dedicated to the Duke of Cumberland who came as a hero. However, when other news arrived of the massacres of innocents, the pomp and circumstance turned to mourning. Handel was ashamed that he had given such tribute to a scoundrel.

Whether in wrong surroundings or right ones, there will always be songs about those who make a mark in the world. Again, Job could identify with this. In Job 30, there is an interesting statement by the speaker. Job declared, "They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth. And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword" (Job 30:8-9).

In the same way, there are those who sing about Christian failures. Many of those come in two categories. The first is the traitor. One of the most noted traitors in the history of America is Aaron Burr. He tied in the presidential election with Mr Thomas Jefferson, and was defeated in the vote of the House of Representatives. In a duel, Burr killed Alexander Hamilton, and later went to South Carolina to assemble an army, in order to take over Texas and defeat the United States, with a vision of making himself King! Burr was a traitor, but there are also others who can create equal calamities, on a smaller scale.

The church is not immune to having traitors in its midst. There are those who make false professions of faith in order to gain membership. One instance occurred in a church in which a young man made a profession of faith, and began to question all the operations and beliefs of the church he had joined. Instead of a display of faith, the outcome saw him announcing the church shortcomings to all the city, and later denying that God even existed! The damage to the church was evident. A great danger is for others to watch and find that Christians are not perfect, and then use the old name of "hypocrite" when we are found wanting in any area. Excuses for not becoming a part of us are then used, including, "I'm not going to church, because it's full of hypocrites." One great evangelist of the past answered this by saying, "Well if it is, I'm going anyway. I'd rather go to church with them than to hell with them!" It should be no great surprise if we are tagged in this way. Please remember that much worse was done to Jesus, and He was the perfect man! There is no way to escape the tongue in this world.

A second category of those who sing about Christian failure is the greedy. Some will only use a church for gain, and what they can get out of it. It could be supposed by many that since there is a building, there must also be vast reserves of cash, in the same measure as when Joseph laid up enough store for seven years of famine. Regardless, having a building is no sign a church is rich beyond measure. There are those which have more than an abundance of wealth, but this is not every church.

In our years in London, we began with very little. Leaving our home country, we went with no support, and only the guiding hand of God. After only one month in London, He directed us to a small group of three people, who were trying to keep the doors open. The average weekly offerings were less than $30! Our income was $0! In some way, the Lord opened channels which would never be seen by us. Living expenses came in from the local area, church bills were paid, the church began to grow, and when it was tallied eleven years later, it could be seen that the Lord had provided over one-half million dollars for expenses and the work in two churches. This was incredible! It came from unseen sources. At times, life was very colourful, as we questioned where the next meal would originate.

In that time, there were many visitors who came to our door, including the man mentioned in the introduction, Charlie. Each of them had the imagination that since we were in a building, we must be brimming over with money. The truth was that we never had it until we needed it. Strangely, when it did come, we were challenged to use it to meet the needs of others. They seemed to have radar money detectors! It became a delight to help those in need. We never had a knock at the door that did not result in the giving of food or resources, and were even able to hire some of them, including Charlie, to do odd jobs like painting. Charlie did a great job painting our sanctuary! He had more help than he wanted, when some of our ladies would attempt to direct him. It was then we would hear his familiar words, "All these little ol' ladies, stickin' they nose in ma business, causin' me anxiety!" It made for a colourful memory, thanks to Charlie's personality and wit. As well, he was always thankful for what he received.

Others arrived, and some were given a place to stay out of the cold, and meals for the time they were with us. Yet, there were the greedy. One man visited us after our Sunday service, and was begging for help. His mother had died, and he needed to get to where she would have her funeral. We gave him the price of a train ticket, and he was on his way. It is always so good to help others! Then, a few months later, the same man came back, asking for help to get home to the funeral of his mother who had died! Déjà vu, all over again! This was no doubt a scam. We offered food, but he did not want it. He was intent on having cash. A third time, the same man came with the same purpose. All three of his mothers had now died in the space of a year! For some reason, this did not sound like a venture in which the church should invest is slim resources. Of course, he had anger, but wisdom told us that the funds were likely being misused. We would help any person who asked, but our participation in questionable activities could not happen. We helped people with needs, not scam artists.

It matters not how much we have, or do not have, greed is a fact of life. It resides in many, and cannot be quenched, even by the acquisition of material goods. Yet, a church is not intended to be a financial empire. It can be financially blessed, but to hold in its resources to no purpose except getting more is not in the plan of God. A church is to be a channel, not a reservoir. It should be a giving entity. It is right for its members to give tithes of their resources, but it is also right that when those resources are received, the church should also give at least the same percentage and more, in the support of missions and help for the needy.

Money is not the purpose of the church. It should be noted that the Lord never asked for a love offering when He created the world. He is also the same God who can sustain His church in every way. A Christian's offerings to Him are an expression of love, and fulfils the requirement in the ongoing of the work. Becoming a Christian does not release us from responsibility so that we can do less. It increases our responsibility to do more. It has been wisely said that salvation is free, but someone has to pay the freight! Holding in our resources means that others will not hear the message of hope.

Since money is not the purpose of the church, it is well to note that it is money which allows us to go forward in this world. One preacher mentioned that, "I do not preach for money, but money keeps me preaching." Sometimes the purpose of the Lord's treasury can be seen out of focus. For many years, one church had started and built a church, and faithfully continued to work toward increase in the flock. When the church had grown, there was a move on to go for another property and build a larger complex. Long time members were incensed to think that all their work would be changed, so an argument followed. The long term members won, and it was decided that the church would remain in its present location. It was decided that it would be beneficial to build, so the church purchased all the houses around it, and destroyed them. A massive structure was built, with the only reason being to "build a landmark to the church presence at that site."

The Lord is definitely interested in landmarks, and mentions them in His Word. Yet, to construct a building with this as a purpose, rather than seeing it as a place to worship the Lord and build others for Him, makes the reasoning less than Scripture seasoned. It is a look back, with little view of the future. The landmarks which interest the Lord deal with His visitation to His people, and His great deliverance, such as Joshua crossing the River Jordan. Please note that even Solomon's great Temple was destroyed. We must have our facts in focus.

Singing songs about our failures is one of the favourite activities of the world. It is well for us to give them no occasion to compose such a soliloquy for us. The musicians of madness will compose when there is no inspiration, so we should not provide a proof of their entertainment. There are traitors and greedy ones in plenty, and all have voices to sing songs about the people of God. The composers are always active in gossip, and always ready to make life more colourful for us. It is not always our fault that we should become the song of fools, but it is our responsibility to withhold the themes for the songs which are written about us. Life is colourful enough without introducing more colour!

Chapter Six

Happy to Be Me!

When he came in wearing sunglasses, it was not unusual, since it was summer. Many people do wear dark glasses in that time of the year. However, he wore them inside also, and refused to take them off during the entire day! The man was a radio announcer who was well noted in his community. Weeks before this day, he had been to a concert by a country and western singer, and took exception to the performer's presentation. He noted that it was not something to which anyone would take a family, including profanity and suggestive behaviour.

Our star announcer returned to his daily radio show, and announced that he was so incensed that he would break the performer's latest record, on the air. Crack! The deed was done, and in the following hours, many of his loyal followers flooded the phone lines with calls of thanks and congratulations for protecting the community from such a filthy collection of rubbish. The announcer became a hero, and there could have been honours in the making, if he had lived in a monarchy!

Occasionally, a personality can be noticed who is very proud to be found qualified as a hero. In fact, it is sometimes found that the person is saturated by self love. There is a faction of those who have followers who could not possible love them any more than they love themselves. In common language, we are talking about someone who sees himself as being far above everyone else.

A short few months after the community hero had taken bows for his performance, he entered the building with those sunglasses. The self proclaimed bastion of morality had been in a bar, and had insulted the girl serving drinks. He became obnoxious, and was greeted with the fist of the piano player! The reason for the sunglasses was obvious. He had a black eye! Strangely, no one announced that over the airwaves!

This man's love of himself is too far, but it is a polar opposite to some who have no self esteem or self respect. These are qualities which can be lost in the shuffle of life, and can be stripped away by the uncaring treatment of others. If we can find a balance in our being, we can overcome those things which hold us hostage to the cruelties of the world, and can drain our spiritual resources to the point of resign. There is within every person a capacity to build the proper self esteem, without taking us to the limit of what we could see as a "superiority complex." It also has a capacity to take us out of a feeling that we are inferior, without allowing us to reach the sublime heights of imagined perfection, or to the need to give a portrait of what we want others to think of us. The capacity we have is one which allows us to be happy as we are, and happy with who we are, rather than reaching for the fulfilment of our envy of others. Dark glasses are not required!

Yeter and Ilkay were a mother and daughter in London, whom we met in 1999. They were Kurdish refugees from Turkey, with a sad history. Yeter had a college degree, and had been a car designer in Turkey. Being Kurdish, they were considered to be politically subversive. A few years before we met them, Yeter's husband was assassinated by the Turkish government forces. Yeter had taken Ilkay and fled the country, going west to Germany for political asylum. While there, they were refused leave to remain, and were ordered back to Turkey.

Instead, some family in England loaned them funds to hire a truck driver to hide them in his truck, and get them into England as stowaways. When they were into the country, the driver let them out in the countryside in southeast England. The weather was cold and dreary, and they made their way to London, where they located family. While there, they applied for leave to remain in England, but there was a problem.

The Dublin Agreement made it unlawful for a country to receive asylum seekers who had been refused in another country. The third country involved was required to return them to the second country, which would have been Germany. Only one day before they were scheduled to be deported, their cousin brought them to us for help. We were able to locate a lawyer who took up their case and put the issue on hold.

For the next six years, we were involved in a struggle with the British government in trying to keep them from being deported. In 2005, the struggle was finally won. Yeter and Ilkay were granted permission to remain in England as permanent resident status. It was not without being deeply scarred.

In addition to the traumatic circumstance of their flight from Turkey and Germany, the ladies were to suffer terribly in England as well. When we met them, they were not full of confidence. They were terribly worn by the constant turmoil that had infiltrated their lives. They had lost their self esteem and self confidence, and could find no self worth. In attempts to deport them, the British Home Office had directed a raid against their home, and they lost everything they owned. Worse things were to come.

It was a law in England that the government could not deport a child travelling alone. In this consideration, Yeter attempted suicide, knowing that Ilkay would not be forced to leave. She preferred to die rather than to see Ilkay returned to more hostile territory. It was an unsuccessful attempt, and Yeter was hospitalized for a period of time. This did nothing to help her self image.

Over the time, it was our joy to lead Yeter and Ilkay to Jesus, a move which naturally disconnected them from Muslim family members. They witnessed the kindness of God through His people, and wanted to become part of His grace. We baptized them, and they became members of our church, active in every way. After leaving London for our time in Peacehaven, Yeter and Ilkay became the only London members who ventured the trip to attend our services on the south coast. They phoned us repeatedly when we had returned to our home country! Their self image was restored, and they were family!

Not all situations are this dramatic, and not all would take this number of years for a resolution. One thing is certain. Once a self image has been eroded through traumatic circumstances, it is a long process to renew the healthy image that God has provided for His people. He has included the equipment within us which will identify with Him, if we respond to His grace. We are created in the image of God, but the fall of Adam and Eve affected that image. After the fall, when Seth was born, it is said that Adam fathered a son "in his own image, after his own likeness." The race was fallen, and outside God's regenerating power, was dead in sins and trespasses. Since God is living, He is separate from death. Yet, some of those qualities remained.

Even in our fallen state, we are endless beings. This does not mean eternal, because we had a beginning. We are "immortal," and will exist throughout eternity future. Our body can be destroyed, but the soul will live on, and cannot be annihilated. Not only are we endless beings, but we are made like the trinity, with a body, soul and spirit. Then, we also possess capabilities of intellect, emotion, ability to decide and a moral nature. This makes us moral, spiritual and rational creatures. With the new life of regeneration given by the Lord, we are restored to the image of God, with the possibility of a fully healthy self image.

Regardless of our standing in Christ, we are still capable of sin, and are sinners saved by grace. There is no reason available that should lead us to think that we are somehow above others, or that we have "arrived." Likewise, we have every reason to believe that God has done so much for us, and allowed us the possibility of retaining our self image as He installed within us.

If any of God's servants could have been downhearted, it could have been David. He had become a national hero to Israel after slaying Goliath, only to find that he had then inherited a new nemesis, King Saul. Following this era, and into his own Kingdom, he would then experience the heartache of Absalom's rebellion, and run for his life. His own problems in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah would haunt him, but he would be the one who would be called, "the man after God's own heart." David had enough of a struggle to keep him humble, but also enough encouragement to keep him from a poor self image. He also had a very colourful life!

No matter our station in life, there will be struggles. We will have times in which we wonder whether tomorrow will come, and if it does, we dread to see it, knowing that it is full of more trouble. Nevertheless, the sun will shine again, and we have the capacity to overcome all fears, and rebuild our self image. If we know the Lord, then we are His, and children of the King. This is enough to just be happy being who we are. It is part of the colourful life we have, through all its twisted and tangled pathways. It is certainly a colourful maze to go through!

Chapter Seven

Something Besides a Pancake

"Pancakes! If we have pancakes one more time, I'll scream!" Just imagine hearing this being said after a nice breakfast meal. Having any kind of food should be a great blessing. Is there ever a reason that we should be so adamant against having a repeated menu for breakfast, or any other meal? Perhaps this is best answered by knowing the situation.

Each of us depends on someone else for certain things in life. In the home, one of the dependencies is usually on food. According to the family schedule, it is often left to one member of the family to make sure that everyone has a meal on the table. Life is hectic, and it is a great blessing to receive the bounty from the hand of one faithful to provide a bite to eat. Imagine what would happen, if we can, in having the same menu every day.

Our mind can go to the beginning of a week, on Monday morning. After we have had a good sleep, and readied for work, we approach the breakfast table, and find a nice treat of pancakes. Such a great start to the week this will be! As we carry on the normal morning conversations, it is time to go to work. We collect our lunch kits for the day, and out the door we go. Four hours later, we open our lunch kits, and behold, we have a real treat! We have, once again, pancakes! A bit disheartened, we gulp down lunch, and get back to our task. At the end of the day, our return home promises to be a proper end to a long day away. It is now time for dinner, and we all make our way to the table. The main dish is brought, and again, it is pancakes! Can this be happening? We were ready for a dish of lasagne, or fish and chips! Never mind. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday morning has arrived! It is time to rise, shower and dress for work. Before we leave, breakfast is waiting. Morning greetings are given, and thanks is given for the bounty on the table. Eagerly, we wait for the uncovering. To our surprise, again we find our day starts with pancakes! Making our way through the routine, we start to work and wait for lunch. Once again, we have pancakes! After work and expectantly arriving home, our evening meal is, to our surprise, pancakes. If this routine should become the daily normal, it would seem that all the variety of life would be lost. It would overcome even those others things we love to enjoy.

This is not an imagined circumstance. It is one which was faced by Israel after they left Egyptian captivity, under the leadership of Moses. As they travelled into the barren wilderness, some provision had to be made. God had created a way for Israel to be fed in those hard times, by having manna fall from the sky each night, onto the fresh dew. It was a blessing to eat, but became the equal of the story of pancakes. It was the same meal every day and every meal, with no variety. The murmuring would be evident. Life was no longer colourful. The Bible book of Numbers gives the account of this setting. The first eleven verses of that chapter describe the time that complaints were plentiful. From their words, Israel said, "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely. The cucumbers, and melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes" (Numbers 11:4-6).

Some of the people decided to make the best of a bad situation, and decided to make a change to the preparation method. In their frustration, the Scripture says, "And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans" (Numbers 11:8).

Often in our world, it is easy to become so accustomed to having the colourful life that we forget to count our blessings which we have received from the Lord's hand. It is not wrong to enjoy variety, but when the Lord has given us instructions and provided for our ability to carry them out, He will expect us to operate in His economy, and not our own. It is noted that Israel decided that the manna was not good enough, so they changed the way it was received.

Changes are not always bad, but they can indicate deeper resentments. In this case, Israel did resent the method of provision, and gave a message of things to come as they attempted to change the appearance and taste of the manna.

In the Old Testament, there are pictures (types) which point to the Lord Jesus Christ. The manna is one of those pictures. Jesus is represented by the manna as the bread of life. In changing the manna, Israel is pictured as rejecting Him, as their descendants later would in person. Their changes included grinding it, a picture of the inner grief that Jesus had in the rejection by His people; beating it, which foretells what would be His reception before His crucifixion in Jerusalem; and baking it in pans, a picture of Jesus in the fire of God's affliction, tasting death for His people. It is a perfect picture of what would happen to Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel accounts of His life.

Additionally, it can be seen in its most full rejection, as Jesus was the perfect man, and His people wanted to avoid His perfection. It was a normal part of His life that those who were Israel's leaders would constantly attempt to trick Him and falsely accuse Him at every turn. The grief of this rejection is beyond the comprehension of any man or woman today. We can only identify with the message it gives.

It is most usual that we have come to love the colourful life, with all its variety and the ways we have of being able to make it what we want. The Lord has accommodated us more than He did for the people in the wilderness. Still there are aspects of life and of the Gospel which can never be changed to suit our desires. Life is colourful enough. We have no need to change what has been decreed by our God. He has given His best, and our task is to glorify Him in drawing others to His love. His provision is declared in one message for all time, the death burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many colourful presentations, but only One Saviour for all.

Chapter Eight

Salt and Pepper, or Just Plain Grey?

Sometimes the mirror is simply not our friend! The more time advances, the less we have a chance of finding the magic mirror which tells us how young we look. As well, a mirror can sometimes have a lot of help from those who are close to us. When we hear the first proclamation that things are changing, and, "Hey! What is that I see? A grey hair is...," then there is a mad dash to the mirror, just to see for ourselves. When the traumatic charge is confirmed, there is a sullen admission that whether we like it or not, we are changing. This is an event called "age." From this point, it is confirmed that a mirror is not a friendly instrument.

There could have been days and years in the past when the vanity glass could have given a word of encouragement. For a young man, it could be the first attempt at the removal of hair, commonly known as shaving. For a young lady, it might have been a first application of make-up, or the first really special hair-do for the prom. These are days the mirror is a real friend. It does not always remain that way.

As the years advance, there is a change in our appearance. One of the most evident is in the hair. There is the standing joke that, "If it doesn't turn grey, it will turn loose!" That is a heavy thought, and sometimes fact. Yet, we seldom think of it in terms of being a blessing. The appearance of grey hair means that we have lived a while, and have been granted experience in many areas, and hopefully some wisdom for life's always colourful situations. If we have the experience of hair turning loose, or falling out, it could still be a blessing. It is time to consider that it did at least fall out, instead of having to be pulled out like teeth!

Occasionally we find one who deals with the changes in another manner. There are multitudes of products available which wash out the grey, and restore the colour to what is desired, giving the appearance of restored youth. This is not necessarily bad, but is opposite to the philosophy of one man who said, "I'm proud of my grey hair! I had fun putting every one of them there, and I earned it!" This is a positive view of the marks of age coming naturally. If we have had a colourful life, it will show in the early stages of salt and pepper hair, and then in total grey.

The prophet Hosea had something to say concerning the change of colour. Speaking of Ephraim, he said, "...grey hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not" (Hosea 7:9). This is in reference to the failures of Israel's leaders. Often, our ways of operation can become old and stale, and show the marks of age before we realize what has happened. It could be an advantage to have a bottle of hair colouring for our aging institutions and procedures, as well as for our natural hair!

Hosea's message to Israel was plain, and there is every reason that we should accept it for what it is today. The aging process in Israel came about in a subtle manner, with no thought for the fact that it was like the sight of grey hair, showing that many of their actions had become old. They were operating as always, with no freshness in their step, and no growth, depending on those who would come to the rescue. "Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned" (Hosea 7:8). Thinking of the pancake illustration, it can be imagined that Hosea is saying that Ephraim was well done and dark on one side, and still uncooked batter on the other, since the pancake had not been turned over to cook on both sides. This situation had become old to the Lord, and the grey hairs were showing.

This is also happening in the current world in western nations, such as the USA and Britain. The systems have been employed for so long that the grey hairs are showing. It happened in Rome, Greece, Persia and Babylon, as well as many other nations in history, so it is no phenomenon for the modern age. On every hand we see political corruption, financial instability, moral corruption and many other severe troubles in the land. This can be expected when the grey hairs are here and there upon us, and we do not realize it.

Early 21st century America experienced some traumatic events including terrorism and the appearance of imminent financial collapse. The cry for "change" came from every quarter, but it should be remember that when a system has aged and shows its grey hair, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." A move toward unity with other nations does not solve problems. In fact, it is much like Hosea's prophecy in regard to Ephraim, when the society "mixed himself among the people." The outcome was not good, and cannot be expected to be positive until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign on earth.

Several steps can be taken on a personal level, in order to see our condition as we must. The first sep is that we can get acquainted with our own soul. In the modern world we have taken the art of self interest to new heights. It has become a strange thing to know our neighbours, or to pay attention to things which are not "material." While a scratch requires a doctor, Jesus is seldom called when gangrene is found in the soul. It is as if we do not want to see the decline.

A second step is to know who we are. If we open a bank account with $500, it is not a wise thing to write checks for a total of $5,000. We usually realize that we have available funds for only what we deposit. In the same way, if we have a wound by a sword, we are not inclined to cover it with a plastic strip, hoping it will go away. We must understand who we are, and what our condition is, if we are to restore the colour to our life. This is an appeal to the Lord Jesus Christ, for His grace and mercy. He has provided eternal life for all who call upon Him. Getting to know who we are is the only way to approach Him. We are sinners in need of salvation, and He is the only way into the presence of the Father. Often, our reluctance to admit our failures and inabilities will keep the grey hair growing, and will not allow us to humble ourselves in His presence. Grey hairs could be here and there upon us, and yet we do not know it.

If this is the case, then a third step is needed to see our condition. That step is simple, but requires boldness. It is looking into a mirror. The only one available is the mirror of truth, God's Word. As we visit its pages, we can find that we will see a need for grief over our own sin nature, and then need our for repentance. As well, there are times when the Lord Jesus Christ is slandered by others in our presence. When we are looking in the mirror of the Word, we will find that it produces another kind of grief, that our Lord is the object of hatred by some. This should not be a humorous event to us, when we recall that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He did not laugh over it. The mirror will also cause us to count no sin as "minor." We would not take just a little poison, so we should not form the opinion that there is just a small sin.

When we have viewed our true condition in the mirror, a fourth step will take us to prayer and duty. One ancient pastor described prayer as something like a coastal town which was a port. When the town sees decay, the ships come less and less, until there are no ships at all. It is like this in the Christian life. When we have decayed to a certain point, we are inclined to reduce our prayer. This could be marked by a decline in the delight we have when we hear the Word of God proclaimed. It is our delight and our duty to stay in God's Word, and to pray.

There are also other steps which we can take in order to restore the colour to our life. One is in the daily examination of our hearts before the Lord. It is beneficial to find out where we actually are in our walk with the Lord. We must be certain that we have the real thing, and are not caught in the trap of nominal religion. The salvation offered by Jesus is a personal relationship to Him, making us a child of God, born and adopted into His family. In the Roman Empire, natural born children were also adopted in order to assure their inheritance. It is the same in the Lord's family.

One further step requires supplication. This is a daily diligent seeking for the power of Christ to live as He has instructed. It is not a participation in the weakness of religion in many of its forms and structures. Knowing the Lord Jesus Christ is personal, and is a guarantee of granted communion with the Saviour Himself. It is not a relationship which can be created by others for us. One great evangelist was dealing with the husband of a woman who knew the Lord. The husband's response was that his wife was a Christian. The evangelist answered him, saying, "It will do you no good to be an in-law to Jesus!"

Every form of religion will lose its youth when it grows old without Jesus as the focus of its attention. There will first be the appearance of the salt and pepper hair when it begins to turn, and finally the system will go full grey. It is this way in religions and in churches, as well as in nations, when the wear of years causes us to live on established history, rather than a vibrant growth within ourselves. It is also this way in human life as we grow in years, and develop the marks of age. Young people sometimes live as though there will be an escape from the process. Yet, no one can escape the ticking clock. It is always running at the same rate, as it has throughout history. Life does not have to be either salt and pepper, or full grey. It is as colourful as it can be at any stage, and there are ways to keep a freshness in it. With Jesus as the centre of life, it is never dull!

Chapter Nine

Keeping it Colourful

"Wouldn't you just know that would happen to me on my first day on the board!?" Life is full of embarrassing moments. When those moments are exposed to thousands of people at one time, the shame becomes more intense. Public broadcasting is one of the avenues from which many such times have come. Remembering those times is easy. An attempt to forget them is impossible!

It happened on the first day of a new task. Having experience as a radio announcer in secular radio, a new life in Christ brought a new look at life in the world. The move to a powerful Christian radio station should not have been a traumatic experience, and it did hold many great memories, but the beginning was less than glorious. Getting to know a new system and operation can be tricky. Some of the knobs, buttons and dials look the same, but they can be used for different purposes in different stations.

Jack was the incumbent afternoon announcer at the new station, but was moving on to another job, leaving his spot vacant. He had agreed to stay on until he could train a new personality. It was a pleasure to meet Jack, and in the week under his guidance, he gave a new insight to some much needed thoughts about working in Christian radio, compared to a secular style. The day Jack gave up the microphone, he started the lessons, staying close in case anything went wrong. He had his hands full! It was a colourful memory!

Thousands of people listened to the station, a 50,000 watt AM station in an area full of churches and Christians. Knowing the music content could have helped, but this was a new experience, and required learning. The first record chosen was a production by Doug Oldham and the Spear family, "I Just Feel Like Something Good Is About to Happen." At least the title was encouraging. The experience would be the opposite.

The turntable was set, and the record was pushed off. As the music began, I turned off the microphone switch and sat still. The words began, the same as the song title, I just feel like something good is about to happen. Then, another voice rang out saying, "You know Ben, I feel the same way." When a microphone is switched on, it kills the sound in a studio. Believing that the wrong switch had been turned, I reached back and turned the switch back on! Slamming the headphones down on the table, my quote was, "Wouldn't you just know something like that would happen in my first day on the job!" Strangely, there was no sound in the studio. The realization came that the microphone was on again, and every word had blocked out the music going over the airwaves! The voice which addressed my name was actually in the record! It was Doug Oldham, with a part of the song that required talking, and the lead singer of the Speer family was Ben Spear! All illusions of Jack speaking my name were dashed, and the mistake was made. It was a memorable mistake, and made for a colourful recovery.

The recovery from this mistake was short lived, and Jack was laughing hysterically. In a calm manner, we gathered our thoughts and started to prepare the next record on the other turntable. The new record would be produced by the Lanny Wolfe Trio, a fine song called "I Keep Falling In Love With Him." It had several seconds of introduction music before the singing would begin, so there was time to segue the records, allowing the previous one to finish, pushing the other one off as it did, and read a weather report while the introduction music was playing.

As Oldham and the Spears built their music to a climax ending, all being prepared, listening for the stinger ending, the Wolfe song was launched and the music began to play. As it played, I started the weather forecast with a welcome to the station and an introduction of my name. Just then, it was realized that the Oldham & Spear record had a false ending! Once again, they launched into the finale of their song! At that time, there were two records playing, several people singing, and I continued to read the weather forecast until confusion reigned! Jack heard the confusion, and gently came forward to eradicate two of the sources of what was certain to have been an irritation to the audience. Through his guidance, no further mistakes were made. It is good to have a calm hand in the midst of destruction!

The actions of this kind of memory are very unpleasant when we are in the midst of the experience. The embarrassment, frustration and loss of confidence are enough to allow us to consider that we are in the wrong place, for a time at least. However, those times are part of what creates a colourful life. If we are expected to go through life considered "perfect" by our peers, we will fall short of the mark at every stop. There are some who wish for the world to consider them perfect, but it is only an illusion. Our true self is not always seen in public, but each person knows the failure when we are behind the closed door.

Sharing our imperfections with others is one way to make life more colourful, for us and for others. We have all felt impending doom. We have all felt the hammer of wrath come down upon our heads. We have all felt the embarrassments afforded by life, and there is no need to pretend that we are the exception to the rule. Honesty and truth are premiums as we deal with others. By our candid approach, we can open thoughts to other people, and allow them to consider the value of their own testimony. If we have lived any time at all on earth, then we have experienced victory and defeat. How great we are is not as important as what we can mean to others.

Questions are created in this area, concerning our openness to share everything we have done. Certainly we are to confess our faults to one another, as we seek to cancel our offences to others. However, there is no value in confessing all the sins committed in our lifetime, except to our God. Our confession is made from our heart to the Lord, and He promises forgiveness for our agreement that we have sinned against Him (I John 1:9). We have a High Priest in Heaven, to whom we have access by His own blood. We have no authority on earth who can forgive eternally, when we have sinned. We do actually have many on earth who will hold those against us, if we share the load!

One evangelist was speaking in a meeting, and using some of his life experiences and failures as illustrations for his message. He related that in his early life he had taken some things which did not belong to him, and had been convicted that he should return and make restitution to the one he had wronged. Usually a good illustration, it backfired on him, when another evangelist who heard the message approached him following the meeting. He told the man that his theft was a disease like any other, and that if he had been a thief, then he still was, and could be trusted by no one. The two men never spoke again. The honesty of one, who had repented and given restitution, caused another to hold the sin against him, which God had forgiven. In such a case, it can be expected that there are always those who are unforgiving, even when the sin is not against them.

Even if it is better to not expose our entire catalogue of sin, it is still valuable to give an account of our life experiences in victory and in defeat, in success or in failure. This approach is guaranteed to keep the attention of others who can identify with what some have been through in life. As we apply it to Scripture and what God has done in our own life, it becomes a testimony to others. This is a more adequate presentation for some, when we consider that the name "hypocrite" is used for those who proclaim truth.

Preaching on the streets in London for several years is no easy task. Early on, we did notice that there were others who did that. Listening to many, we found that they all had one thing in common, and that was a tendency to point an accusing finger in the direction of those who listened to them. They would point at certain people, and name specific sins, without even knowing the people to whom they were preaching. From this action, they also had another thing in common. The reaction to their message left them on the street alone! No one responded to their appeals, feeling that it was a condemnation meeting, with no appeal of kindness, and only an attack in anger.

When we started our preaching campaigns, we did the opposite. We covered the same issues and the challenge was evident, but we presented it differently. When we made accusations of sin, we identified ourselves as the sinner, stopping short of naming specific trespasses in our personal life. We constantly gathered crowds of fifteen to fifty people, and some were inclined to stay after the message for a talk. Some made professions of faith as a result of this method. These are days that we miss tremendously, and that we value greatly in remembering the more colourful times in life.

We can indeed present ourselves, even in our foolishness and from our negative times, to make a statement which will be remembered long enough to carry an important point into the hearts of others. When we share ourselves, imperfections and all, we are inviting others to live with us for a while, and hopefully revealing that life can be colourful in any and all circumstances. It is part of having a life message, and learning to reach others as the Apostle Paul was challenged, to be "all things to all men." Our experiences are ours alone, but can be given to others to make a difference in their lives. How much we share is up to us, but many can share in a more colourful life when we share. Every person has a colourful repertoire which can be shared. It is all part of keeping it colourful.

Chapter Ten

Life Was Good, Even Plain Vanilla!

No, it is not over yet! As long as we can breathe, life can still be colourful. Oscar Wilde was an eccentric writer who left many stories and quotes which have been used for many years, and are still popular. It is noted that before he died, his last words were, "Either that wallpaper goes, or I do!" Such a thought, for one who was about to enter eternity and meet his Creator. However, he left this world in the same frame of mind which took him through life! He was a colourful writer, and a memorable one.

As life goes forward, conversations about "retirement" are inevitable. We have noticed that there are varied settings for those who retire. Some decided to travel and enjoy other places. Some just want to sit still and wait for the end. These are the two extremes, but there are other ways to treat it. Instead of waiting to "retire," it would be better to "re-tread!" As long as there is life, there are things to do, and an impact can be made in the lives of others.

Remembering younger days, the most dominant flavours of ice cream were chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and a combination called "Neapolitan." In later years, several other flavours began to appear, until a time when the market is flooded with all types of exotic ice cream varieties. Even in the early years, when life had become the same in all situations, many people described life as being "plain vanilla." We could have seen it that way, but it was more than that. Even vanilla ice cream has flavouring! The lack of physical colour as compared to other varieties is no hindrance in vanilla providing its colourful taste.

Whether life seems to be standing still or advancing at a rate faster than we can keep up, there are colourful events to be remembered. The performances provided by others will create a lifetime of memories when our own actions are silenced, but never mind, there is more of life ahead, in which we will be able to take the stage and bestow many warm imaginations for others. There are ways to make certain that we will have our own repertoire of thoughts, as well as leaving ourselves for others.

One requirement for the building of memories is that we must give up our comfort zone. Each of us has a created area in which we are the most comfortable. It is our own private little world in which we exist, and in which we are the ruler. The comfort zone is intended to be our retreat in any circumstance, where we may withstand the assaults and aggressions of the world. It becomes easier to shut out the troubles if we have a place which is all our own, or which we share with others. However, in our comfort zone, it should be noted that it is a place reserved for us, with others banned from the territory! It is our kingdom, which we rule with diligence, allowing no opposing force to enter. Sure enough, it is safe. No other person will enter, or help us create memories.

If our comfort zone is invaded, we feel threatened. The space is not intended for other influences, and it is certain that no memories will be made, and that no colour will fill the spaces we hold. In order for us to enjoy a colourful life, it is necessary to break out of the place where we believe that we cannot be hurt. Leaving our comfort zone will allow us to develop not only ourselves, but others whom we touch. Isolation keeps us from the colour of life.

It is amazing that a comfort zone can be anywhere. We can have one at home, at work, at school, at play or anywhere we feel the most safe. It is not a contradiction of terms to include places where others may be, and to use the term "isolation." We can isolate ourselves when surrounded by a crowd. We could be one who prefers to go to a large church, because it is easy to get lost, and we will never be challenged to action. We could be isolated in our workplace when we do not reveal our true self to fellow workers. It is very possible to live a sheltered life, even if we are surrounded by people.

Closely related to leaving our comfort zone is the need to take a risk. Plainly stated, life is a risk every way and every day. Each time we venture forth to the most common of tasks, we take a risk. There could be a form of danger thrown into our path, or we could face an unseen peril in normal life situations. Still, we take the risk.

In our church in Peacehaven, England, a large exhibition was planned for a Saturday afternoon. During the course of the day, a man collapsed and died just outside the main sanctuary. This was a tragedy which affected all who witnessed it, but there was nothing which could be done, and it was inevitable, due to his continuing heart condition. There is no place that is safe from tragedy in this world. Taking a risk is necessary. The man who died was busy about the work of doing what he loved, and finished his life that way.

The consequences are not always so dramatic. As we consider building a colourful life, the risk we take is only one which is reaching out to others. There are two things that cause us to not want to take a risk. One is anger, and the other is fear. When we present ourselves to others, we fear the reaction we can get. Also, we do not care to face an angry response, and we can almost become angry just thinking about being rejected, even before it happens. Rejection is common, and all people have experienced it in one form or another. Overcoming that rejection is the only way to find peace, and the only way to overcome is to take a risk. It is our fear that prevents us from leaving our comfort zone, and fear also prevents us from risking our hearts on others. Yet, it is the only way to live a colourful life, made of memories.

At the end of this life, our main objective is to hear from the lips of our Lord, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." If there are any accolades to be had from our fellow servants, the most pleasing that we could hear them say is that we shared with them in a colourful life, when we abandoned our comfort zone, and put ourselves at risk in order to create a colourful life with them. Life was good, even plain vanilla!

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