Sunday, November 24, 2019

Think You Know What Abundance Is? You May Not, and Here's Why

On the way to school, I was talking to my son about phones.  I told him that all phones used to have these wires attached.  You couldn’t take the thing with you.  And he said. “Like those old- fashioned phones in your office?”  I said yes.  But now, I think.  He calls those phones old fashioned?  Sheesh ten years ago, I thought they were the most sophisticated thing ever.  Heck, they even had a screen on them, and a voicemail that talked to you.   Now I carry something in my pocket that can show me pretty much any show or movie ever made, and all I have to do is tap it a couple of times.   Wow. 

Do you see that picture? 
It shows you a picture of a house in the 1950s, and not just any house, but a dream house.  And how big was that dream house? If it fit the average, it had a thousand or so square feet.  Maybe if it was the deluxe model, it might go up to 1250 square feet.  And today, do you know what the average size has become?  It’s more than doubled to 2500 square feet.  Yet, let’s get real, has anyone’s happiness doubled or their fulfillment or their joy?   Does anyone feel twice as much contentment with their life? 

Growing up, I remember well when our family went out to eat.  We went out on the birthdays. Do you know why?  We had a local family restaurant that gave the birthday kid a free meal, so it made it just barely affordable.   And yes, we did go out on Mother’s Day usually to the local Morrison’s Cafeteria, but we could only pick a certain number of items for our tray.  And that was it. 
If you had told me then that someday folks would go out to eat every week or maybe even more, I’d have thought.  Wow, what an amazing, wonderful life that would be, to eat out like that!   But now, folks are pretty much living that life.  More restaurants open all the time, and within days, their parking lots are packed.  Yet, would those folks opening the menus talk of how amazing or wonderful their life has become?  I wonder.
The world we live in has more abundance than ever.  But do you feel all that abundant?  I gotta admit.  Most days, I don’t feel all that abundant.   I feel stressed.  I feel harried.   I feel even at times overwhelmed but abundant?  Not so much.   Do you feel all that abundant?   Do you feel blissfully content with the overwhelming bounty that lies before you? 

Four years ago, Gallup did a survey trying to look for the most contented nations.  They asked questions like these.  Did you feel well-rested yesterday?   Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?  Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?   Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?  So where do you think America ranked.  We ranked two places below Rwanda.  Think about that.   A nation that twenty years before suffered one of the worst mass slaughters in history ranked as more upbeat than America?   So, if that’s the case, maybe, abundance isn’t what folks think it is.  So, what does truly bring well-being in the deepest sense of that word?  What will truly make you content?  In these words, God shows you the way.  Let’s listen and here what God has to say. 

We live in a time when we carry televisions in our pockets. We live in luxury that even fifty years ago people would find stunning.  Yet, with all that abundance, do people seem more content, more satisfied with their life?   Heck, with all those things, do people even feel rich?   So, if all that abundance doesn’t do it, what does?  In these words, God tells you.  

God even tells you that you can have this contentment even if you have very little.  Look at what Paul says.   He says.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  What is Paul’s secret? How does that happen?   It happens when you realize where true contentment can be found.  And when you discover that source, you’ll realize, like Paul, that no matter what you face, good or bad, this source will bring you a sense of contentment, of peace, no matter what you face. 

But before you and I can go there, we have to see one thing first.  We have to see why Paul calls it a secret.   Why do people have such difficulty discovering what Paul has? 

They have difficulty because pretty much everyone looks for contentment in the wrong places.   So, folks think.   If I have success or a happy marriage or a great family or lots of pleasures or even live a life serving others, then I’ll be content.   They have a point.   All those things do give you contentment, for a while.   But does the contentment ever really last?   No, not really.   And it doesn’t last because it’s not good.  It doesn’t last, because all those things, no matter how good they are, weren’t created to give you the contentment for which you yearn. 

And everyone kind of knows this.   Do you ever even in your most fulfilled, contented moments, still sense something is missing?   Maybe, it’s because you know the contentment won’t last.   So, you enjoy it yes.  But you’re still already anticipating the sadness of when it will go away.   Maybe you sense, as good as that moment is, it’s still not good enough.   Yet here’s the irony.  Even when it disappoints, we still keep looking.   Why? 

It’s because we sense that the contentment we seek is out there somewhere.   And all the good stuff, it does give us a taste, a hint.   It arouses our desire for it even.  But it just can’t fulfill it.  Yet, here’s the problem.   Even when people realize that the contentment isn’t happening, they still miss where it really can be found.  Why? 

Well, first they may keep banging their head against that same wall.  They think.  I just need more success or more wealth.   I simply need a better plan or a better job.  I just don’t have the right thing yet.   Or maybe they think.  I don’t have the right person.   Every week, I send out these funny quotes to our young families.  One quote I loved, but well, I just couldn’t send.  So, I’m telling you here. It went like this.   “I just bought my husband a “get better soon” card.   He’s not sick.  I just think he could be better.”   It’s funny, but painfully true.  A few years ago, an old friend of mine wrote to tell me that her husband was leaving her and their four kids.  He wasn’t having an affair or anything like that.   He just didn’t feel content.  He thought leaving behind his family would help.   I still remember her devastation, and the heartbreak of her kids.  And you know what I guarantee.  Contentment didn’t come for him.  It never will.   If you think it will, you’ll just be like that poor schmuck in the desert always running to the next mirage, thinking that the oasis lies there.  But you get there and see it’s nothing but sand.  Still, you don’t stop.  You just look for the next mirage.   And in all that searching, you leave a lot of wreckage behind in your life and in others.

But let’s say, you don’t bang your head against the wall anymore, what then?  A lot of times you just start banging on yourself.   You think.  Something must be wrong with me.    And you are right.  Something is wrong with you.  Because something is wrong with everybody.   That’s not the problem, though. 

Have you even seen a preview for a movie and thought that film looks awesome! Then you went and saw it and realized that you had already seen the best parts, in the preview.   That’s the life of everyone you know.   Everyone you see is always showing you their highlight reel.   No one sees the behind the scenes.    And today, you don’t even need to see the person to see that highlight reel.   All you have to do is go to Fakebook or Instagram to see it.  

So, if you believe others’ highlight reel or fakebook or Instagram posts, then you go through life, thinking it must be me.  You may even go to therapy to figure that out.  And sure, therapy could help you.  But you know what therapy can’t do.   It can’t give you contentment.  

Now if you stop blaming things or people or yourself, where do you go next?  You may go off and blame the universe.    You think.   Nothing has brought me the contentment, I yearn for.  So, I guess.  It just doesn’t exist.    This is as good as it’s going to get.   You simply let the desire die.  Some may even go as far even losing the desire to live at all.  But most still live their life.  They just do it with a sense of resignation.   The desire is still there.  But you just press it down.   You deny it.  Maybe you try to distract yourself from it.    But in the more honest moments, you feel the sadness, the grief that that your life will never hold the meaning, the joy, the contentment you yearned for it to have.  But if that’s you, you’re wrong.   Just because you can’t find something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.   It just means that you’re looking in the wrong places.      

I love the way C.S. Lewis put it.   Creatures don’t get born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist.   So, a baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim; Guess what?  there is such a thing as water.  People feel sexual desire; well, there is something called sex.  So, Lewis concludes.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.   

Do you get what Lewis saying?  This contentment does exist.   And you can even get hints of it in the pleasures of life.   But ultimately what you are looking lies beyond those things.   It lies beyond what you can see.   That is the secret Paul has learned.   And notice how Paul says it.   He didn’t discover it.  He learned it. 

You see.  In Paul’s case, what did he look for to bring him contentment?  He looked at religion.  But religion didn’t do it either.  But when he encountered Jesus, he encountered someone even beyond religion.  And in Jesus, he began to learn the secret of contentment.   He learned even, that his relationship with Jesus could bring contentment no matter what circumstances he faced.  

Why?  Jesus’ presence didn’t depend on his circumstances.   Instead Jesus’ presence transcended them.  Jesus presence went beyond them.  And the more he made that relationship, that presence his ultimate focus, the deeper and more unwavering his contentment grew. 

Now how does Jesus bring that sort of contentment?   It comes from simply knowing this.  It comes from knowing how much you are loved.   When you see that in Jesus, the creator of all reality came for you, came to bring you home, that this God in Jesus even gave up his life to do that, that fills you.   And that love stays with you, on your worst days and on your best.  

I love the way that the singer Victoria Williams put it.  
Jesus walked on the water, He turned the water into wine
He went down to the drunkards To tell them everything is fine

You R loved, You R loved, You R really, really loved

And when you know you are loved like that in the deepest parts of who you are, it fills you.  It fills you with contentment, with joy, with a sense of well-being that nothing, nothing can take away.   When you look for contentment in something beyond Jesus, the problem is not that you want too much.  The problem is you want too little.  

Yet, still, you and I can miss what Jesus yearns to give.   Why?   We can’t let go.   We cling to stuff that doesn’t ultimately matter.  And as a result, we miss what truly does.   Maybe you cling to old resentments or guilt from our past.    Maybe you cling to ambitions or the opinions of others.   But whatever it is, if you’re holding on to it, you can’t receive fully what Jesus yearns to give.   But if you want what Jesus has for you, you can’t receive it unless you let go.

And sadly the one thing that a lot of folks can't let go is money.  Here’s the truth.   Until you let go of the lie that your security lies in your stuff., you will never be able to experience the fullness and freedom that Jesus yearns for you.  Why?  This stuff gets in the way.   Sure, you say, you’re trusting Jesus for your contentment.  But is your checkbook telling a different story?  Is it telling you that you’re still trusting in the lie that your stuff can bring you contentment?  You stuff can’t do that, not now, not ever. 

Ultimately, your giving is about your growth, your freedom, your discovering where true contentment lies.   And when you let go of your money, something that has far too much power in our world, and if you’re honest, in you, it frees you.  It frees you into a deeper dependence on God, and with that dependence, a deeper experience of God’s love. 

Where can you let go of your need for money, where can you sacrificially give to bless others.  For three months take a step of radical generosity.   See what God will do.   See how God will work.   See, how in Jesus, God will even reveal more deeply his incredible love for you.   For when you open yourself to this love, His love that loves you no matter what, then you have opened the door that leads you into the very contentment you seek.   If you doubt that is true, then simply test it.   The door to contentment is open before you.   All you have to do is go through.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Happiness is a Bigger Problem Than You Think. How? Here's How

Every day, does it seem to get worse?   A light turns green, and within a millisecond, someone honks.  Sheesh, give that poor car a millisecond ok?  Of course, then what happens?  You see that same honking car sitting at another red light just a mile up the road.  A lot of good that honk did.  But forget the honks.   People get so unhappy these days about all sorts of stuff.  They rant on the radio and cable news.   And social media?  So often, the last thing I’d call it is social.    

But what do we really have to be unhappy about?  Sure, things aren’t perfect.  But did anyone get shot or bombed on the way to worship this morning.  If you do a political rant on Facebook, does anyone come and arrest you?   When you go to the drugstore, do you find medicine on the shelves?  Yet lots of places in the world face those things and worse.    With all our nation’s challenges, we still live in a place more stable, more peaceful, more well provided for than almost anywhere else.    Yet, folks are still unhappy, and not only unhappy but anxious.  In the world, no one gets more anxious than Americans.   We’re No. 1.  

But why?  Maybe the problem has to do with the whole idea of happy.  Could happy be hurting us.   Could happy, the whole idea of it, make you unhappy?   Maybe people need to give happy the old heave ho.   No more happy for me, thank you very much.   How could happy be the problem?  More crucially, if you give happy the heave ho, what goes there?  In these words, from Paul’s letter to a church in Philippi, God shows you the way.   Let’s hear what God has to say. 

In a nation full of unhappy people, how do you stay happy?   You don’t.   You give happiness the heave ho.  You stop focusing on happiness.  Instead you rest in joy.  You want peace?  You want fulfillment?  Stop focusing on happiness.  Instead rest in joy.  You see people believe that happiness is what they need.  But you don’t need happiness.   What you need is joy.   Joy trumps happiness every time.   Don’t misunderstand me.   I don’t have anything against happiness, except this.  Happiness doesn’t last.  

Last week, I talked about that TV show Mad Men, about an advertising agency in the 60s, and their star advertising guru, Don Draper.  In that show, the guru Don Draper asks.  ‘What is happiness?”   And his answer?  “It’s the moment before you need more happiness.”   Don Draper wasn’t sharing any new idea.   For thousands of years, people have known it.  Happiness doesn’t last.   

Heck, when the Greeks, the folks who gave us a lot of our words in English, came up with their word for happiness, do you know what it meant?  It described how the rich don’t have much to worry about or how you feel if you win the lottery.  They connected happiness to circumstances.   And you know what? Circumstances come and circumstances go.

I remember thirty years ago I had finally saved enough money to buy the stereo system of my dreams.   It had it all, dual tape deck, five CD player, a super powerful amp, and the piece de resistance, Bose speakers.   When I first hooked that baby up and cranked out some tunes, I did a happy dance all through my living room.   I was so happy.    

But then a week passed.   Two weeks.   Three weeks.   I still loved my dream stereo.  But my happiness level, had gone down.  It had gone down a lot.   Why? Happiness doesn’t last.   And if you try to make it last, well, that will mess you up. 

I heard this definition of addiction this week.   Addiction is when you need more and more of something to make you less and less happy.  Happiness doesn’t last.   And if you expect it to or think if you get this thing or achieve this goal, you’ll finally be happy.  You won’t.  Instead, you’ll eventually be very unhappy.   And even before you’re unhappy, you’ll be anxious, worrying when your happiness is going to go away.

So, if happiness doesn’t work, what does?  Joy does.  And the Greeks told us that too.   Their word for joy meant a fullness within that you have no matter what happens.  In other words, circumstances don’t take away joy.   Something can, yes, but not circumstances.  So, what takes away joy?  Fear.   That’s why in this letter, God, in Paul’s words, moves straight from joy to peace. Joy and peace live together.  Just like ironically happiness and anxiety live together too. 

And when God talks about peace, God is not talking about an absence of something.  God is talking about a fullness.   God is talking a fullness in you so complete that you simply don’t have room for fear and anxiety.   And this inner peace leads to deeper and deeper joy.   And nothing, when you have it, can take that joy and peace away.  Yes, you can be unhappy but still be at peace.   Yes, you can be sad, even devastatingly sad, but still have joy.  What do I mean?

Have you ever heard of John O’Leary?  When he was nine years old, he experimented with matches and gasoline in his family’s garage.  The worst happened.   The gas fumes created an explosion that burned 100% of his body, 87% with third degree burns, the worst kind.   O’Leary had a 1% chance of living, but live he did, even as he lost his fingers, even as he went through countless surgeries, even as he suffered unthinkable pain.  Yet as an adult, he recounts how in the midst of it, he still found joy and peace.  But you can say, well, of course, kids can be resilient like that.  But what about when you get older, and devastation happens, what then?        

Today, we’re going to sing a classic hymn called, It is Well With my Soul.  I love this song, not simply because of the words, but because of the story behind them.  Horatio Spafford worked as a prominent lawyer in Chicago after the Civil War.  As Chicago grew, he invested heavily in real estate.  But six months after his investment, the Great Chicago Fire hit.  He suffered devastating financial losses.   Then right afterwards, he lost his four- year-old son to Scarlet Fever. 

Two years later, his wife, Anna and his four daughters, 11-year old Annie, 9-year old Maggie, 5- year old Bessie, and two-year old Tanetta traveled on a family vacation to England.  But Horatio, still trying to recover his losses and provide for his family, had to stay behind to travel later.  But that ship that carried his wife and four daughters collided with another.  And even as Anna tried to hold on to her daughters she failed.   A rescue ship found her floating and unconscious. When she reached shore, she sent a telegram to her husband with just these words.   “Saved alone.”    Horatio rushed to England to be with his wife.  And as he sailed, he came to the point on the ocean where his daughters had died.  There, he wrote these words: 
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrow like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say. It is well, it is well with my soul. 

How could someone go through such awful, almost unimaginable losses and write that?  He could do it because of what God tells you here about peace. 

How does peace come, and with it, joy, even in the most profoundly worse moments of your life?   It happens when you focus your thoughts on what can never change.   It’s what Paul means here by these words about whatever is pure and true and honorable.  he uses those words elsewhere in his letters to describe his core convictions about God, about God’s love for him, about God’s working in the world.    So, Paul is telling the Philippians, when worry and fears hit, what do you do?  You ponder what is true no matter what you face, God’s love for you even in your darkest moments.   

When John O’Leary as a child suffered those awful burns, as he sat immobile for months in a hospital bed, how did he make it through?  He remembered the stories of Jesus, how Jesus could walk on water.  And he trusted that if Jesus could do that, Jesus could bring him through this. 

And on that ship, Horatio Spafford did the same thing.  The next verse of his poem goes like this: 
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

He pondered if God did that for me, then in some way, God will bring me through this.   Even in his almost unbearable grief, because of that truth, he could find peace, even joy. 

And out of that joy, came, even in the loss, as strange as it sounds, gratitude, but a certain type of gratitude, the gratitude Paul describes here.  When Paul talks about praying with thanksgiving, do you get what Paul is saying?  He is saying something stunning.  He is saying.  When you ask God for an answer, thank God even before you know what the answer is.   Why would you thank God even before you have your answer?   You do it to remember, to remember that whatever God’s answer will be, it will be the answer you would have chosen if you knew what God knew.  

That’s exactly what Spafford does here.   He says, I’m going to let this blessed assurance control.   If Jesus gave up everything for me, he will not only see me through this.  Jesus will even find a way to bring good out of this awful evil. 

And astoundingly God did for both Spafford and O’Leary.  Today, John O’Leary, a devout Catholic, delivers inspiring talks to corporations and organizations around the world.    His devastating story has become a powerful message that encourages and lifts up thousands, even millions.   He still carries the scars.  He still faces the looks from those who see his mangled hands.  But he lives in joy and peace because he ponders what can never change.  Here are his own words:

God is not this wonderful white bearded guy who lives way up there. God is this extraordinarily personal friend who loves me and authored my life and the life of the 7 billion friends on this earth. God is the one who welcomes me back into God’s house every time I mess up, which happens quite frequently. It turns out that I am the Prodigal Son; it’s awesome to know that we are lucky enough to be loved by a God who is continually on the edge of the driveway looking for us, and when he sees us he goes running toward us.

And as for Horatio Spafford, what happened to him?  He and Anna did have other children.  And their devastating loss compelled them to go and bring peace to the brokenness of the Holy Land.  Together with a group of friends, they began a mission in Jerusalem known as the American Colony to care for folks of all faiths.  During the devastation of the first World War, that mission fed thousands.  It sheltered hundreds of orphans.  And in 1925, Horatio’s daughter, Bertha, founded the Spafford Children’s Center in the Colony’s first house.  And 150 years after Horatio’s immense loss, each year. it cares for more than 30,000 children in Israel and Palestine.   

You see.  When you focus your heart, even on your hardest days, on God’s love for you, it not only brings you joy and peace.  It enables you to bring joy and peace to others, maybe even thousands.   In your bulletin, you’ll see an insert about God’s offer of gratitude and peace, and I would add to that, God’s offer of joy.  I don’t want you to fill it out today, but I want you to ponder what God might be calling you to do.   

You can think money will bring you happiness, and it will, for a while.  But it cannot bring you joy or peace.   It cannot even bring you security.    Horatio Spafford could tell you that.   Yet still you can get addicted to it.   That’s why God calls you to give.  Yes, your gifts make a difference in the world, including right here in this community.  But more than that, your gifts make a difference in you.  They remind you of what ultimately matters.  They help you focus on the amazing gifts of God that no loss, no matter how great, can ever take away.    And they free you from the delusion that your money can ever give you what you ultimately need.  So, as you go home today, remember what alone can give you peace and joy, God’s love for you.  And as you remember, remember at what price that peace and joy came.   

For, when Jesus went to that cross, did he have peace?  Did he have joy?  No.  He lost his peace in that dark and despairing place.   He cried out.  My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?    He had no joy.  The brutality and pain of those hours emptied him of joy.  But he willingly gave up his peace so that you might know a peace that passes understanding   He left behind his joy to open the way to joy for you now and forever.   And God did all that willingly, freely, out of love for you.    At any moment, Jesus could have walked away.  Jesus could have ended the agony.   But Jesus stayed on that cross, because even there, utterly alone and beset by evil at its worst, God’s love for you did not change.    And if God’s love did not break under that, then it will never break.  Death won’t break it.  No loss or setback or failing will break it.  And the more you realize that, the more joy will fill you and peace, a peace that pushes away fear, that passes all understanding.   And as it does, you won’t be stressed so much anymore about your happiness.  You’ll know.  You have something that no happiness could ever begin to give, and that no unhappiness can take away.     

Sunday, November 10, 2019

More Is More Dangerous Than You Might Ever Think. How? Here's How

I admit it.  Rich folks can irritate me.   Years ago, I was talking to a well-off friend.   She was complaining that her family’s taxes were going up.   She said to me with total sincerity.  “You know, Kennedy, a quarter million dollars a year.  It’s not a lot.”  I just kind of nodded, mainly because I was so shocked.  But inside I was thinking.  “A quarter mil sounds like a lot to me, a whole lot more than I’m making.”  

At the time, I didn’t have much sympathy for her.  But then a few weeks ago, I read this article about folks in her income bracket.  These folks should be living the American Dream.   They have money.   They have status. Their kids attend the best schools in the best neighborhoods.   Yet even these folks and their kids aren’t living the dream.  No, it’s more like the nightmare.   Just take the kids.  In one elite high school in super-rich Silicon Valley, here are the stats.  80% of their students suffer from moderate to severe anxiety.  80%!  Over half show moderate to severe signs of depression. 

Their parents are living the nightmare too.  Experts talk about what they call a “time famine.”  Workers, especially the most highly paid ones, don’t have enough time for what truly matters.  They have no time for decent relationships with their spouse or children. 

Suddenly I thought back to my friend’s husband, who worked in finance.  I remembered his stress, his 80-hour work weeks, how miserable his job made him.    And I thought.  I get it.  But these are the elite, the one percent.   And if it’s that bad for them, what does it say about everyone else?   

Here we are living in the wealthiest nation on earth.  People have more creature comforts than ever.  Every day brings almost limitless options for entertainment and diversion.  Yet, people have become more anxious, more troubled, more lacking in joy than ever before.   What is going on?      

People have forgotten what these words means, and why we need them more than ever.  In these words, God provides a path back towards fulfillment, towards joy, towards a life that is as it should be, as God created it to be.   In this command, God shows the way.  Let’s listen and hear what God has to say. 

So, what has happened to make lives so driven, so stress-filled?  People have forgotten how dangerous desires can be.   Don’t get me wrong. God wants you to desire.   Heck, God has placed you in a world full of stuff to be desired.  And God wants you to desire them.  Heck, I’m already working up some desires for that delicious pumpkin soup after worship.   God is not telling you in this commandment to not desire.  But God is warning you.  Your desire can get out of hand more easily than you could ever imagine.    

So, God tells you.  Desires gotta live within boundaries.  Your desires can’t cross boundaries that hurt others, that injure relationships, that negatively impact other folks’ stuff.  That’s what coveting is.  It’s desiring too much.  So basically, God is saying in this commandment.    Your desires can never come at the sacrifice of your relationships, your relationship with God and your relationships with yourself and with others.   

But desires can be tricky.  They can take you over before you even realize it.   Have you ever heard of the fantasy books The Chronicles of Narnia?  Growing up, I loved those books. The books tell the story of four kids, two sisters and two brothers, who have adventures together in the wondrous land of Narnia.  But when the first one of them, Lucy, discovers Narnia through a magical door in the back of a closet, no one believes her.  Can you blame them?  Who has heard of a magical land that you get through the back of a closet? 

But then, her brother, Edmund, wanders into the same closet.  And the magic door opens for him.  But here’s the problem.   For decades Narnia has been under an evil spell.   In Narnia, it’s always winter, but never Christmas, just cold and dreary all the time.   And Edmund runs into the very person who has created the spell, the White Witch. 

But the White Witch doesn’t seem bad.  She takes Edmund into her beautiful sleigh.  She wraps him up in a beautiful fur blanket.  And she gives him this awesome food called Turkish Delight.   Edmund loves it.  He can’t get enough. He tells her all about his family, his two sisters and his brother. When the White Witch hears that, she gets worried.

You see, when she cast the spell, a magical creature delivered this prophecy to her.  The creature said, when two daughters of Eve, and two sons of Adam arrive in Narnia, your spell will be broken, and your power destroyed.   And now, exactly that, two daughters of Eve, and two sons of Adam have arrived.  So, she figures, if she can kill them right when they arrive, she’ll stop the prophecy.  So she asks Edmund to bring them to her, and he will get more Turkish Delight.  And Edmund says.  “Sure, no problem!”    So, get this.  Edmund becomes her willing accomplice to his own death.  And all she had to do was give him something delicious to eat.

Edmund loves that Turkish Delight so much he lies to his siblings again and again.  He betrays them just to get another taste of that wonderful dish.    Do you know, when I read that as a kid, what I thought?   Sure, I thought that Edmund was a jerk.   But do you know what else I thought?   I thought.  “Wow, what must that Turkish Delight taste like?  I’d love to get some of that.”    Even after I knew what that food led Edmund to do, I still wanted a taste.   But of course, I would never do what Edmund did. 

But that’s the problem with your desires.  They lie to you.   They tell you that you’re in control, when you’re not.   And more than that, they tell you if one little taste was good, more will be better.   But it’s not.  

Heck, more is so not better, economists even made that into a law.  They call it the law of diminishingreturns.   Basically, this law states a kind of obvious thing.   Let’s say.  You run a factory with a hundred machines, and a hundred employees, but you want to produce more.  So, you think.   I know what I’ll do.   I’ll hire 1000 more workers and then I’ll make way more stuff.  But you still have only a hundred machines.  And what happens?  Now, you’ve got a thousand employees fighting over one hundred machines.  And that makes for some serious diminishing returns.

But did you need an economist to tell you that?   Anyone who has gone through a buffet line one time too many knows about the law of diminishing returns.   But here’s the problem.  We may know it, but we still get snookered by it.  What do I mean?

Do you see how God includes all these things not to desire too much in this commandment?  He gives you this super long list.  Why?   God is telling you.   You can desire anything too much, including all types of totally wonderful things.  Why does this happen?  It happens because of the lie of more. 

And we live in a world that has bought into that lie hook, line and sinker.  Why are all those rich kids so stressed out?   It’s the lie of more.  Their schools think.  Hey two hours of homework was good, so three hours has gotta be better.   And yes, getting ten kids into Harvard was awesome, but if we get twenty kids that would really rock.   So, these kids get driven and driven by this lie of more, more work, more achievement, more success, and it’s killing them.   

And their parents get caught in it too.   In 1962, top law firms expected their lawyers to bill 1300 hours a year.   Now forty years later, one major law firm said that 2400 should be the number.  Just to help you understand what that means.  It means a lawyer needs to work from 8 am to 8 pm six days a week with no time for vacation and sick days to make that goal.   When I was growing up, we used to joke about “bankers’ hours” as in those folks didn’t work much.  But today, folks in finance joke about “banker 9 to 5.”   That may sound pretty good until you realize it means starting at 9 AM and finishing at 5 AM the next day.   And we’re talking about the folks living the so-called American Dream.   We’re not talking about the folks working at Walmart, then driving Uber or some other internet job just to try to pay the bills.   

But why do people do all these things?  It’s because people buy into the lie of more instead of the truth of enough.   At a certain point, more is not better.  But enough is.  But when you listen to the lie of more, you never have enough.   And all around you, voices are coming at you that say that you don’t have enough.  Your smartphone isn’t smart enough.   Your living arrangements aren’t nice enough.  Your TV isn’t good enough.  Heck, your life isn’t great enough.   Just look at all the fun your friends are having on Fakebook, oops, I mean Facebook.  Have you ever heard that phrase FOMO.   It stands for Fear of Missing Out.  That’s the lie of more. 

And when that lie infects you, it puts your desires on steroids.  And when that happens you suffer.  And everyone else around you suffers too.    But it can be so easy to fall into this desiring too much. 

Do you know we are living in the Golden Age of Television?  You can find more awesome shows on TV or your favorite streaming site than ever before.   I am loving it.   At least I thought I was.   But I couldn’t keep up.    I kept adding to my list of must-see TV, but I couldn’t watch it all.   I tried.  I’d come home at night, and as soon as I could, head to the man-cave to catch up.   But more TV wasn’t better.  It was worse.   My shows became something to check off a list.   When a series ended, I felt not sadness but relief.  I woke up sleep deprived each morning.  And, my wife and I didn’t have time to spend together.   And she noticed.  She said.   Kennedy, you are watching way too much TV.   It’s not good.  You’ve almost addicted.  I disagreed   So, she challenged me.   If you’re not addicted, then stop watching for six weeks.   And so, I did, mainly just to prove her wrong.  But I gotta tell you.  It’s been terrific.   I’ve read more, slept more, hung out with my wife more, and to be honest, I haven’t really missed the TV.  

But why did I watch more and more shows, even when it wasn’t fun anymore.  I watched more, because I wanted to be more.   I wanted to feel like I was in on all the hot shows.  I sense without being up on that, I wasn’t hip enough.  I wasn’t sophisticated enough.    That’s why folks go for more, even when their more is so much less.   They are afraid.   Without that more, I won’t be enough. 

Why do people push their desires to the breaking point?  Why do they go for more and more even when all that more makes them less and less?   They do it.  You do it because inside you fear.  You’re not enough.   But if you had more money, if you had more friends, if you had more good looks, more whatever, then you’d be enough.    And that fear has some truth.   None of us are all we yearn to be.   But pushing your desires, going for more no matter what the cost, that will never bring you the enough you seek.   But in Jesus, that enough does come. 

Why?   Because even when you were at your worst, even when human beings in Jesus nailed God to the cross, God’s love was enough, even for that.   In God’s love, even when you are not enough, even when you are at your worst, God’s love is enough.  It is enough to make up all the difference.  

More than that, that love frees you from ever worrying about being enough ever again.   If in Jesus God died for you, if God did that, then what is more enough than that?   In the security of that radical love, you realize.  You already have more than you could ever have dreamed.  You have enough.  In God, you are enough.   And in that enough, you can enjoy your desires without pushing them to the brink. 

Why? Because you already know.   In Jesus’ love, you are enough, now and forever.   And in that love, you do become more.  You become more at peace.  You become more fulfilled.  You become more you than ever before.   So, where have your desires gone beyond their bounds?  Where is your yearning for more making you less?   Let it go.  Let Jesus show you.   You are enough because of his love right now.  Let that love free you.  Let that love fill you until you want no more.