Musing on the Tragic Death of Amy Winehouse

Well yesterday, 7/23/2011, the pop music artist Amy Winehouse died. Sadly, not one person is truly surprised at her death for she was living on borrowed time, long ensnared by addictions to drugs and alcohol. It was simply a matter of time. She continued to use and ultimately she died. Sadly, her one hit was the song “Rehab” which she essentially wrote and sang about her rejecting a plea for her to go to drug rehabilitation. Her is a fact, while Amy’s life and death was tragic and while many can easily sit in judgment over how sick she was and proclaim if only she would get clean, each of us are really no different. When it comes to making changes, we too often protest “No, no, no.” There are things we like, we enjoy that we really just do not want to give up. We resist calls to repentance with the reply “No, no, no.” It takes brokenness and a realization of the truth to move toward change. We all have choices to make. There are many paths to death and destruction beyond the likes of alcohol and drugs. We are selfish and walk paths even with full knowledge that it is not good. We all have trouble embracing changes and turning from the paths of death. Ultimately there is one choice each person needs to make and sadly the refrain there is too often “no, no, no.” And that choice is surrender to the Creator, to Jesus the King of Kings. All to readily the response is “They told me to submit to Jesus” and “I said no, no, no.” See, for the appeal of self-direction and choosing own life, even if well aware of the pain and emptiness with lack of true peace, is alluring. Any life that dies apart from surrender is tragic. It is the path of many, not just Amy Winehouse. It is a sad day that such a hurt and broken soul reached the death point. It is too late for Amy, it is not too late for you. Please do not cry out “No, no, no” any further. This is true even for those who have submitted to Jesus yet God is stirring you to change and let go of areas of sin in your life. Stop saying “no, no, no” and repent, for the rejection only brings more pain. Surrender, say yes, it is worthwhile!

Superbowl Sunday Musing: True Victory

The day of this commentary is Superbowl Sunday. The day the “big game” is played. The games serves as the end of the football season where one team comes out on top and achieves victory. It is the cultural apex not only in the United States of America, but the world as well. No other contest, no other game gets the attention and the notoriety worldwide.

This game and the ultimate victor is one of many such contests, with one gaining the victory and coming out on top over all others. It is really a contest to determine who is the best and is the essence to how things function in the ways of the world. It is all about “reaching the top.” Be it career, politics, athletics, games, contests, and so on, in the world it is all about rising above the rest. Then once that is achieved, the contest starts all over. The victory is temporary and fleeting, lasing but moments.

There is a victory though that is not about “rising above” others. This victory is not fleeting or temporary but endures. This victory is that which occurs when one enters in to the Kingdom of God and recognizes Jesus as both Savior and Lord. For the true victory was already won, already declared when Jesus cried “IT IS FINISHED!” This victory is about victory over sin and the return to relating and depending on God. It is the setting in motion that of untwisting what was twisted when life apart from God was chosen. In this victory the least are the greatest and loss is gain. It is contrary to the world system and the constant striving to come out on top. It is simply victory through right relationship with God and having a place in His Kingdom. No granted, this victory is one that does not appear sound to the normal eye.

If I let go of that which is of self and look to God alone, how gain I gain. This because all we know of victory is the crawling, scratching, and fighting to come out on top. But see, the worlds way, the fighting to be on “top” there can only be “one” victor. In the way of God, the way of Jesus, there are many winners, yet it is hard to grasp. This victory is called the narrow way for many will choose the road that appears right with confidence they will make it through on top. It is a way of self-effort and self-determination. It is a way of losing. God’s way, the way found in Jesus and the victory established of the cross is the way of surrender. It is the way of growing up in righteousness while both transformed and renewed. It is the way of letting go and giving up of self. The cross started things moving and the course is set, victory is assured for all those who accept Jesus as both Savoir and Lord.

The time of victory is coming closer every day. The day is coming when all will be made right. It will appear for a time that the powers of darkness win and the schemes of the devil prevail. But the time is but limited and soon all will be made right, not by our efforts or strength but in surrender to Jesus and bringing all things under His authority. It is not done by our striving or effort, but will happen upon His return. True victory is assured. Victory over death. Victory over suffering. Victory over all that ails all of creation. Those entangled and engrossed in the twisted things of self and darkness will be death with and true life will be known. When Jesus does return and claim victory, the war cry will be sure “HIS LOVE ENDURES FOR EVER!” For it is by His love alone that all is made right. It was His love alone that established the way. It is His love alone that assures the victory. Imagine if you knew today the outcome of the game ahead of time. This is what it is like in terms of the true and eternal victory. We know the outcome, we know Victory is assures. So no matter what the struggle of the day is, as long as you remain in Him, remain true to the Kingdom of God and continue to surrender to Jesus as both Savior and Lord, then Victory is assured. So stand firm, endure, and surrender to him. Then rejoice in the Lord, for Victory is Won for it is HIS LOVE THAT ENDURES FOREVER!

Stories of death compared to the true path of life

We live in tough times. Economic forces ebb and flow. People are losing jobs left and right. Awareness that while the economy has suffered significant setbacks, more difficulty can come soon. Basically where we are at is that the kingdoms people have built around themselves are being shaken. When things are shaken and darkness and corruption brought to light and the weak foundations that personal kingdoms are built on, some people get to a state of complete hopelessness. We may reach a point of complete personal hopelessness that people seriously consider desperate actions such as suicide. In the past month there have been three stories of people choosing the darkness of suicide at the collapse of their personal kingdoms.

Once such story is Adolph Merckle, a German billionaire who ultimately committed suicide after the economic hardships placed stress on his finances couple with a failed attempt to take over Volkswagen. He had dreams, goals and ambitions but yet they came to failure as took an unwise course of expanding his kingdom and met total failure. His personal kingdom collapsed and all that he put his faith in crumble, he chose to end his life in the face of that collapse. He couldn’t bear to lose the fortune or live with the stigma of dealing with a great fall.

Another story is that of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuche, who invested heavily with Bernie Madoff. Not only did he invest in Bernie Madoff’s scheme, but he also used his connections with European aristocracy to get others to invest heavily as well. When Bernie Madoff admitted to having no money and his Ponzi scheme collapsed it caused a collapse of Monsignor’s kingdom of finances and reputation. Monsignor Villehuche built his personal kingdom on lies, and spread those lies to others. He ultimately reached the point where he couldn’t cope with being deceived and deceiving and took his own life.

The third story is far more tragic. It is the story of Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, also known as the Santa Killer. He is a man who defined his own kingdom by his family and the woman he married. He was unable to handle the divorce as the women he loved rejected him and his personal kingdom collapsed. He became angry and killed several people and is reported even to have intended to kill his own mother, and ultimately lost his life in the process.

These three stories are tragic and point to how easy our own personal kingdoms can come to a sudden end. If we place our hope on what we accomplish, our reputation, or our relationships they all are fragile, and easily destroyed. And there are spiritual forces out there working to bring each of us to a point of hopeless despair that only leads to death and destruction. They expanded or held on to what they thought was theirs and the forces of evil used it to draw them into death of self or others. As the bible states in Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)   12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. Suicide or murders are only one form of destruction that can occur. Ultimately all forms of building our own kingdoms will result in destruction. Unfortunately, many are headed toward destruction and pay no mind; they are wrapped up in their personal goals and agendas seeking after the things that are desirous, many believing lies and extolling them. We each can be no different than these three men.

There is another path; it is a path of moving beyond self. It is a path of loving others and giving. It is a path that is only found in Jesus. Others will be touting self-sacrifice and sharing and giving to others, being tolerant of their choices that lead to destruction, but it is all empty outside of Jesus. The reason being is there is no righteousness, no goodness, no real reaching out to others outside of surrender to Jesus as Messiah. We are all selfish and the only way to get past the selfishness is through turning our own kingdoms over to Jesus and submitting to Him. There are two choices, the path of destruction, which is very attractive, or the path of life, which does not offer immediate gratification of self or an easy path, but is the only way to true hope and peace.