February 4, 2016

The Legacy of Karen Carpenter

"When I was young, I'd listen to the radio, waiting for my favorite songs."

The opening lines from the Carpenters' hit "Yesterday Once More" seem to ring of days gone by. In fact, it was 33 years ago the world lost the greatest female voice of the seventies and of her generation. On that day, Karen Carpenter passed away, but the very memorable music she crafted with her gifted brother Richard continues to reach new fans every decade since.

Unfortunately, her death from anorexia nervosa overshadowed her art in the earliest years, but the public has moved on to finally first recognizing her as the amazing artist she was- a once in a lifetime vocalist. With brother Richard as arranger, songwriter, producer, and musical partner, the Carpenters were a recording act for all time. 

"Close to You", "We've Only Just Begun", "Rainy Days and Mondays", "Superstar", "Goodbye to Love", "A Song For You", "Top of the World", "Only Yesterday", "Please Mr. Postman", and of course, Karen's favorite "I Need to Be in Love". Playful or serious, these incredible recordings defined music in their time and are still played today. Even as the duo's popularity waned, the least of their best selling albums contained instant classics. Enough hits to fill two full discs of music without a trace of filler. 

Karen's voice was instantly recognizable, the mark of a great artist.  Pure tones without having to scream to make an impact. No studio tricks in order to make you listen. Just talent. Intimate, engaging, richly deep, and sensual. All those wonderful multi-tracked vocals of the brother and sister displayed Richard's genius in arranging the songs and producing Karen's voice.  

Do you ever wonder why you don't hear covers of Carpenters songs on The Voice or American Idol? Easy. Although Karen made it all sound simple, in reality, the songs were very difficult to perform, and only the finest vocalists would attempt them. Yet, Karen's voice along Richard's production combined to make their versions definitive. Even Christmas songs became theirs. When no one else was recording these favorites, they set the new standard for holiday music with their 1978 release of "Christmas Portrait". 

Photo from her long delayed solo album.

Karen's influence is still heard today. Every time I hear Adele sing "Someone Like You", I hear Karen and her first take- the one released as a single- on the Leon Russell classic "Superstar". Vocalists as varied as Rumer, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, k.d. lang, Shania Twain, and Christina Aguilera have named Karen an influence. Even British singer Harriet, a lovely woman with a voice eerily similar, wisely avoids doing covers of Carpenters songs.

As part of a duo or a solo artist, there's only one Karen Carpenter. The woman could sing, and she could sing anything. Try out one of these lesser known, non-single, favorites from their/her catalogue-

Album Title: Song

Ticket to Ride/Offering:  All of My Life
Close to You: Baby It's You
Carpenters (aka Tan album): Hideaway
A Song For You: Road Ode
Now and Then: Our Day Will Come
Horizon: Desperado
A Kind of Hush: Boat to Sail
Passage: B'wana She No Home
Made in America: Strength of a Woman
Voice of the Heart: Ordinary Fool
Lovelines: Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night
As Time Goes By: Karen's medley with Ella Fitzgerald
Karen Carpenter: Still Crazy After All These Years

For those of you new to the duo or to Karen, what wonderful discoveries await you! For those of you already familiar with their work, it will be a trip down memory lane. Want more Karen and Richard? To date, there's over 80 more posts on this blog, including album reviews, very rare photos, and much more.
Follow this link if you want to read about Karen's last hours and the documentary that was made about it. 
If you want to read my original reviews of each Carpenters album (and here solo album) starting at the beginning, go here. Or if you want to see how I've changed my perspective on each album after years, start with Ticket to Ride Revisited.

February 3, 2016

Nighttime View from California Grill

Take a look at this incredible photo of the Magic Kingdom from the outdoor walkway at California Grill. This shot by my friend Len Yokoyama captures the reason this restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort has become one of my favorites. And dare I say, it is something that Disneyland cannot compete with! From the far reaches of Big Thunder Mountain to New Fantasyland to the iconic Space Mountain, you can see it all. When you're there, you can see it all via telescope too, even displaying the logs going down the final flume of Splash Mountain. Gorgeous!

(Photograph copyright Len Yokohama.)

Retirement Plan

There's nothing like being cooped up in bed for several days to make you think about the things that are truly important. And at least part of the time, that is what I have been doing. It's ugly work thinking about your life and how it does or doesn't match up with what you'd like it to be or what you say is really important to you.

When I was a younger man, my dreams were centered on a great wife and raising wonderful kids, a career I loved, and the chance to travel the world, (starting with Japan), enjoying music, friends, and life in general. 

I guess you could say I have been blessed because all those things have come to pass- and not from my hand, but from the hand of God who opened every door for these to happen. There wasn't too much, honestly, that was not about fulfilling what I wanted. 

Things have changed. I'm older, somewhat wiser, and there's fewer years ahead of me than those behind me. (There's always eternity!) 

Now, I'm focused on "finishing well" for the next several decades. Or tomorrow should God decide it's my time, and you never really know when that will be. Do you? I don't, so I want to plan to live life to the fullest as God defines it.  He is the One we'll all answer to.

Thankfully, in Jesus as the absolute perfect representation of God the Father, we see a loving and sacrificial God. At the same time, he is fully righteous and pure. He desires not one person be in Hell at the end of time, but He allows each individual to have free will to choose His way or the way of death. His way involves turning our lives inside out to follow Him. Everything else is someone else's way that leads to the wrong final destination.

So, when I pray, I pray for people. That they would know Him, love Him, and spend eternity with Him. It's extremely rare for me to pray for things. Sometimes I pray for circumstances. But generally, it is people. People I love. My wife, my children, my grandchildren, relatives who both know Jesus and those who do not, friends I meet along the way who are undecided about their spiritual choices- the very ones that will determine their eternity.

We spend so much time planning and thinking about how to make this life better, and we give relatively little time into preparing for an eternity where time no longer matters. My ultimate retirement plan is secure in Christ. What's your plan?

(Photograph copyright Matthias.)

February 2, 2016

Loving Laguna

Our latest big snowstorm has arrived, so I thought I'd share a little California coastline. I snapped this photo a couple of years ago, and Laguna Beach is still a favorite place. I just love it! Enjoy!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

February 1, 2016

New Shanghai Disneytown Art

New concept art showing Disneytown at Shanghai Disneyland. With World of Disney dead center. Not thrilling, but it is part of it all.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

The End of Adventure Thru Inner Space

Long before Star Tours made its debut at Disneyland, the deepest, darkest, most mysterious attraction to be found at the brand new Tomorrowland 1967 was a corporate sponsored presentation, Adventure Thru Inner Space. The Monsanto company was on the leading edge of bringing science into everyday life making them a great choice for sponsorship. 

Notice the Peoplemover overhead 
and the same general building shape as the current Star Tours. 

Due to the fact it was at the entrance to Tomorrowland, crowds were instantly drawn to it. Peeking inside the building, the display of a larger than life snowflake made for a compelling piece of eye candy, while the giant microscope at the end of the queue seemed to devour guests. 

Actually, it really did devour guests! The reason Inner Space had great numbers of riders was due to its innovative, continuously moving vehicles. Guests journeyed into the world of a snowflake in the Atommobile, the first use of the Omnimover, a vehicle designed by Disney Imagineers.  It not only kept the crowds moving, it was also used to direct the sightless of visitors as the car itself turned to specific show scenes. 

Nice piece of WED concept art.

This thrilling journey into the world of an atom was a fan favorite for a variety of reasons- including the opportunity to travel with the one you loved to a cool, dark, and relatively private place. All under the view of the Mighty Microscope, of course! 

The actual ending of the attraction is shown in the top rendering. On the right side, drops of oil flowed down hundreds of strands of Monsanto fibers creating a striking piece of art. Smaller exhibits surrounded guests exiting the attraction in an area much smaller than but similar to EPCOT Center's Communicore / Inventions.

The attraction poster.

Crowds packed out Inner Space for about 15 years. By then, it seemed to be time for a change. Disney Imagineers and George Lucas joined together to bring the Star Wars universe to Disney. It was the end of the beloved attraction.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 30, 2016

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

"A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity". The tagline says it all. But in a world of hype on all ends of the spectrum, this book by Nabeel Qureshi is worth far more than the paper and ink used. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells the very personal story of a man raised in a loving, gentle Muslim home and how he slowly began investigating the truth of what he believed, much moreso after 9-11. It's a compelling and compassionate narrative, describing truths about Islam straight from its earliest sources and where it differs from Christianity. Absolutely breathtaking, balanced, and heartfelt.  

January 29, 2016

Perhaps the Most Beautiful Animal Kingdom Art Ever

I am not going to comment and let this beautiful piece of concept art for Disney's Animal Kingdom speak for itself...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 28, 2016

A Rat's Life

A wonderful film, a beautiful soundtrack. Ratatouille continues to be a Pixar film I just love! It's almost ten years old now, but the adventure of rat chef Remy in the kitchens of Paris has all the makings of a classic. Michael Giacchino's score evokes evenings in the City of Light without coming across as too sweet a valentine or as a mockery. One listen to "Dinner Rush" sums up the entire soundtrack rather nicely. French recording artist Camille brings just the right flavor to "Le Festin", an original number you'd swear was a classic tune from years ago.

If there was ever an attraction to make me want to visit the miserable Walt Disney Studios in Paris again, this is it. I'd even take it in World Showcase at Epcot- as long as it did not replace the old but lovely Impressions de France. (Toons are already in the park. I'm just going with the flow...)

January 27, 2016

Killing Christianity

The Christian Church in America is Dying From the Disease of Terminal Niceness! Let that statement sink in for a bit before you keep reading. 

How did we get there and so far away from Historic Christianity?

Let me throw some thoughts your way. First, “The Soft Gospel”. It says, "Come to Jesus and your life will become better." It's the Pathway to Prosperity, etc. It's a teaching that has taken hold in the United States for a few decades now. We have come to believe it is our God-given right to health and wealth. This mindset keeps us focused on our own needs- and ineffective in God's Kingdom! We don’t think about God’s priorities but our own! It is still “all about us”!

Let me say, Jesus didn't end up wealthy and healthy on this earth; neither did the Twelve Disciples, neither did the early New Testament church. Many were killed for their faith! Even today, true believers are not welcomed in our world. The latest martyrs- believers in the Middle East who are executed- certainly didn't end up with a life on earth full of money and comfort.

This thought is no better than any other philosophy, reducing Jesus’ bloody sacrifice on the Cross- and His Resurrection- to nothing. It reduces Jesus to just another philosopher instead of the Creator God who will return to Judge all Creation. Following this thought pattern reduces the Christian to another self help group, and we can fall into the trap about talking about Jesus and thinking about Him, intellectualizing Him, without actually following Him into a life of self-sacrifice and death. Ultimately, the church and the Christian faith looks like what the world offers but from a different slant!

I read the Bible where Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me.” (John 12:26). On the way to his crucifixion, he asks Peter “Will you really lay down your life for me?” (John 13:38) The same question holds true for us today!

The second reason the church has been infected by terminal niceness comes from another incomplete piece of theology. “It’s All By Grace” – Yes, that is true, and I am thankful for Amazing Grace- but it does not mean nothing is required of us! The Biblical book of James was written for a reason. Faith without works is dead!

Work is an expression of, and a response to, the grace given us, an outpouring of our gratefulness toward Him who gave all for us. Jesus himself set this example in motion! To be Christlike is to also engage in the work the Father gives us. For His purposes and for his glory. If we never work, we become spiritually fat, lazy, and dull! We remain self-focused and immature, useless in God's kingdom.

So, that begs the question- What Does Terminal Niceness Look Like? What are the symptoms?
1- We get Bored- and We look elsewhere for fulfillment! Be it entertainment, business, family, sports, money, leisure, outright sin, , etc. Why? "Soft Christianity" doesn’t fulfill because it has no depth, no challenge, so we look other places.

It used to be the Military appealed to patriotism to recruit. In the last few decades, when that no longer worked, they changed tactics and now appeal to a “Are You Man Enough?” approach. They realized we are designed by God to be about something bigger than ourselves! This is partially why we "come alive" on serving others- Missions Trips and Service Projects! We do what we are designed for!

2- We get Frustrated and Cynical!
As people in the church respond to lack of direction and clear purpose, frustration continues, and in response the church becomes focused on making people happy and being nice- reinforcing the cycle!

3- Other Symptoms

There are plenty! Here's a few.

• We rewrite the rules to justify our personal weaknesses.
• We are fearful to confront sin. Truth tellers become the problem.
• Iron no longer sharpens iron- We got stuck in our disfunction.
• We become insincere as everyone must start to look good and be content or risk not fitting in. • We segregate ourselves from the outside world or we begin accepting everything the world says as ok for Christians. We become useless salt.
• We begin to protect the status quo in the church. At the extreme, we defend it to the result where good is labeled evil, and evil is justified away.

The church's call to Holiness, living a life that pleases God, is not legalism or simple narrow-mindedness - it is asking the church to be the church, the believer to be a disciple, the challenge to live as we say we believe. If we carry the name of Jesus, we should live like him!

If we look at 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul addresses Timothy- who was young in the faith but set aside to pastor a church, we get our "job description" as a person who follows Jesus Christ. It's interesting to note that in this letter to Timothy, Paul is the one in prison, but he is encouraging the young pastor to stay the course!

“1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:1-3)

Just some observations- We need to acknowledge God’s grace to live this life. Don’t rely on yourself. The Holy Spirit empowering us! Secondly, we as Jesus followers all have work to do, and Paul was encouraging young Timothy to endure hardship- knowing Timothy was working.

Some authors, like the popular Christian author John Eldridge, believe the church has been feminized. This may be why men are dropping out in record numbers, but I believe it is more than that. If it was just feminization, the drop out rate of college age students would be decreased by half!

I believe we have been rendered ineffective by being pacified. We have become pacifists- but God calls us to something different. He calls us to be active in our world, making it better becasue we are in it, contributing to it.

Paul compares being a Believer to being a soldier. But what are soldiers called to do? The job of a soldier is to: Defend, Protect, Free Prisoners, Advance Against and Break Down Enemy Strongholds

The book of I John tells us the whole world is under control of the Evil One, that is the devil. (I John 5:19-20). We know that he is like a roaring lion waiting to devour (I Peter 5:8). Yet, even without the Scriptures to remind us, we can see evil is winning battles in this world, although God has won the War. We are at war! Reality says “If you want to live in a nice world, go to Disneyland!”

Look at Jesus’ words about this battle: "12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." (Matthew 11:12- New American Standard version of the Bible). What does this mean? The best explanation from the commentators is this: “The Kingdom of God Belongs to Those Who Contend for It!” Who will win? Not the nice guys! Hear me, I'm not advocating aggression or a victim mentality; I'm advocating perseverance and remembering our priorities.

Further in 2 Timothy 2: 3-4: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs- he wants to please his commanding officer.” There's only two comments from Paul here. First, a reminder. Don’t get involved in civilian affairs In other words, remember your first priorities! And second, please your commanding officer – the bottom line! For the soldier, this priority remains job Number 1.

Obedience is required- full understanding of all the facts or circumstances is not necessary even if it is preferred. This is training in integrity, commitment, and perseverance. There's no excuses- you are in the military or you are not. Own what you signed up for! Soldiers train for battle, refined by their commander. Every person is under someone’s authority. Each has special skills which work together for the common good, and all of us in the battlefield of life must be able to rely on the other.

Sometimes, the Commanding Officer is blunt, direct and honest- preparing the platoon for things to come; not always liked but respected. He's not your Mamma! We need Him to keep us from getting lazy and getting off on the wrong track. We need Him to remind us what Our Mission is!

Churches and People can forget their true Mission! It's the Great Commandment, to love God and one another. And it's the Great Commission, to go out into the world, be it near of far, and share the good news that Jesus died for the sins of men to save them from an eternity in Hell.

What challenges do soldiers face? Plenty- we must "Fight the Good Fight of Faith!" It should be a joy and a delight to work with God. At the least, it is exciting to be obedient and see where that leads! The Lord will judge us for our deeds; He will forgive our sin, not our excuses!

We are human and we like to run from truth to justify ourselves. We let ourselves and others stay in sin and old unhealthy patterns- this is not good for the church and not good for us as individuals! We like having just enough Jesus to save us from Hell but this kind of shallow satisfaction isn’t enough to give us deep freedom and healing. Only full submission will do it!

Not only is the way to eternal life narrow, the path for a true follower of Christ is narrow. It’s a path that leads us to the cross as well! Choosing to die to our own desires and embrace His calling.

We stand at a crossroads every day. What will it be, our purposes or His? Obedience or sin? It's time we fight the disease of Terminal Niceness in our churches. Isn't it?

This teaching is one of my personal favorites. I posted this years ago, and the message still holds true today.

January 26, 2016

Harry Potter Tales to Come

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter changed the face of theme parks forever. Universal's Islands of Adventure finally had a hit on its hands- and the lovely little park deserved to be noticed. With Harry Potter attractions also at the Studios park, Universal Orlando is giving Disney a run for its money.

My friend and great photographer Len Yokoyama stopped in for a lenghty visit over the Christmas holidays and returned with some wonderful photos and stories. More coming- stay tuned.

(Photograph copyright Len Yokoyama.)

January 25, 2016

The First Walt Disney World Map

Here it is for your viewing pleasure: the very first map I ever saw of Walt Disney World. Looking at this illustration of the soon to open Magic Kingdom was all it took for me to convince my folks to take a trip to Central Florida. It still has its charms with its very distinctive 1960's design aesthetic. 

Just look at 20K Leagues Under the Sea up at the top with its huge lagoon and mysterious caverns! Liberty Square and the Hall of Presidents. A brand new castle and the Country Bear Jamboree. So much to see, not counting the futuristic Contemporary Resort and the tropical Polynesian Village.f

Passport to Dreams Old and New is one heck of a site. One that provided this map. In fact, there's a whole article about the first ten year's of Magic Kingdom maps, and it can be found here.  But there's more on this site worth your time: in depth articles, rare photographs, and investigative reporting. One of the best out there is you love Walt Disney World history.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 22, 2016

Hong Kong Disneyland: The Little Park That Could

Woefully under built at opening, a Disney park fan could easily pass on visiting Hong Kong Disneyland. There were no landmark, unique to this park big budget attractions, a cheap knock-off castle from the original park in Anaheim, and in general, just not much to make this stand on its own. However...

There were photographs like this one above. (Photographer unknown.) A new twist on the classic Jungle Cruise. With the stunning mountains that surround the island, this Asian Adventureland has on air of authenticity not duplicated in Anaheim or in Tokyo Disneyland. And it was photos like this that made me take a second and third look.

New twists on old favorites.

Then, finally, the expansion began, and the park began to take on a unique personality. First Grizzly Gulch brought something fresh to the park as Imagineers satisfied guest's desire for something new. Granted, it is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad meets Expedition Everest and Grizzly River Rapids, but it looks pretty impressive nonetheless. 

Now that's a showstopping attraction!

Then, Mystic Manor opened, finally putting the little park on the international map.  This very original take on Disney's classic  Haunted Mansion totally redefined the place, creating the park attraction every Disney fan wanted in their home park.  In one swift move, Hong Kong Disneyland became a destination I'd want to see.

Can this little resort hold its own with Shanghai Disneyland opening soon? More surprises are coming with Marvel's Iron Man Experience and beyond. Rumors continue that this park will be receiving some significant investment in the next few years: new attractions, new hotels, and even a new theme park. Things are getting interesting!

(Art and bottom photograph copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 21, 2016

The Elegant Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace Poster for Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace is the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch if you're looking for an elegant setting and wanting a nice beginning to or break in your day. Just head to the left when you reach the hub. The building is large but charming. It's hard to miss!

Stunning, isn't it?

The beautiful glass dome and indoor plants are meant to evoke an old British greenhouse- a conservatory- making the building a perfect transition between Main Street U.S.A. and the wild jungles of Adventureland

Click to see the details in a much larger version of the photo.

Once inside, the more you look around, the lovelier the details. The hand of the artisan certainly was put to good use! 

Plaza Swan Boats and Crystal Palace concept art

It's very, very nice now, but it was even better at the beginning. In the early days of the Vacation Kingdom of the World, back when a trip to Walt Disney World meant the entire resort had two monorail line hotels but just one theme park, the classic Magic Kingdom. At the end of Main Street U.S.A., a quiet tranquility permeated the hub in front of the castle, framing expanses of land and water effectively separating out each land. Ah, the Plaza Sawn Boats!

Now they cease to exist.

I remember these charming boats gliding by as we approached the Palace and thinking just how beautiful this park was! (More on the Swan Boats here.) As a Disneyland native, the "blessing of size" was just so evident. The Imagineers took great care in providing top notch attractions in the midst of a serene garden like landscape. Everywhere a visitor looked flowers and trees were perfectly chosen to enhance the experience. The Crystal Palace is a great choice for dining, a wonderful place to eat where the food was  very good and also reasonably priced.

For quite awhile now, breakfast at the Crystal Palace means the overpriced Pooh character breakfast. Noisy, full of happy kids, and a very fun experience for families. Still with its very tempting buffet. But I would trade it in an instant for the early days when the dining experience inside matched the elegance outside.

(Art and photographs copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

January 20, 2016

Down for the Count

Look for a new post tomorrow, one written awhile ago. But I'm out sick and really feeling it. I hate it when illness slows me down.

January 19, 2016

Vintage Paris

The story begins in the year 1909. French banker Albert Kahn commissioned a handful of famous photographers of the day to travel around the world to document world famous cities.  Of course, Paris was at the top of the list! The world's most gorgeous city just had to be shot. Take a look here for the rest of this stunning collection.

January 18, 2016

Eagles' Glenn Frey: May He Rest in Peace.

Glenn Frey of the Eagles has passed away. What a gifted man, a talented artist. Hotel California remains one the best odes to life in the Golden State with it melodic guitar solo and biting lyrics. The Heat is On instantly brings me back decades, and James Dean rocks me to this day. It is the mournful, gorgeous Desperado, sung by Karen Carpenter, that showcases the array of his talent. It's an iconic take on an iconic tune. Rest in Peace.

Lies We Tell Ourselves: #1 Things Will Never Change

Politicians do it. Business CEOs do it. Even sweet dear old Mom does it. The truth is, you and I do it, too. We lie to others- and we lie to ourselves. Every lie has a series of unknown consequences far beyond its original intent, but the lies we tell ourselves may be the ones that truly keep us from being everything God has intended.

For those of us who diligently follow the Lord Jesus Christ, it is of the utmost importance that we take him at his word. The Old and New Testaments combined form the only true word of God. Other books, how ever well intended, are not the word of God. They may try to explain it, offer alternatives to it, or even deny the truth. However, if you are looking for eternal truths that never change, do not look elsewhere. 

Why is it important to understand the truth as God designed it? Simple. To do otherwise is to live within an alternative universe created in your mind. But it is one that does not exist. A very, very  wobbly place in which to make important life choices- one that always changes based on how you feel. 

The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Colossian church to encourage them in understanding the truth as only God defines it.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”        Colossians 2:6-8

It is with this thought in mind that I'd like to share about the lies we tell ourselves, beginning with one of the biggest whoppers I hear most often.

LIE NUMBER 1: “Things Will Never Change”

How Do We Hear This?  What Does It Sound Like?

“The situation will never change”
“He will always be this way”
“I’ve Resigned Myself to it”
“I Was Born this Way”
“God Could Never Forgive Me”
“I Can’t Forgive Myself”

Anything that communicates  “God doesn't care enough about me to do anything" qualifies as a lie we must fight. What lies such as this do you currently believe? Do you want to get past it? If so, read on.
This is a battle in our minds, but we must fight for the truth by the power of God's word and in the strength of His Spirit. Sometimes, we like to believe the lie that things will never change.  Problems abound when this lie has taken root in our lives. It's a not so subtle progression that goes from bad to worse, and it's very easy to move down the sliding scale into hopelessness after you begin buying into it.

First and most importantly, believing this lie denies the character, the power, and the plan of God. Let's look at each one individually.

Even a light reading of the Old and New Testaments reveal God’s Wonderful heart toward us! His character is without fault. Pure, righteous, forgiving. He is worthy of our faith in Him because not only is He the creator of the world, he is the definition of Love Itself. He treats us not as we deserve but in compassion and mercy, desiring to draw all people to himself through His Son Jesus Christ. They very Son He sacrificed on the cross for our sin.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
 Numbers 23:19

Those who love and follow the God of the Bible know well that we serve a god who goes before us, one who has our best interests in mind even if circumstances do not make sense to us, one who is dependable, one who is loving, and one who follows through on what He says we will do. Unlike the leaders of man in any field - even the church itself- God can be trusted and depended upon.

The Power of God is without limit. He can do absolutely whatever He determines must be done. He created our world and its holds it in His Hand. All creation displays His Glory, and yet He is near when we call on Him.

God could be distant and aloof, demanding of us, ruling over us, making us fear for our lives and for our eternity. Instead He alone conquered sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because of His great love for mankind, he clearly tells us that is the only way to eternal life with Him. Period.

He performs miracles so we can see not only His personal love for us and His power but for his desire to reveal Himself for who he is - altering the very rules of the universe He created!

God's plan is perfect. God's plan for you is perfect. It doesn't mean your mistakes, your choices, your sin cannot cause you to take a different and much more difficult route than what God intends. The ultimate "first step: in God's plan is that you would come to know Him as both the One who died to pay the price for your sin, the Father who loves you deeply, and as the very One whose lead you follow.

Choosing to follow Him and turn away from your current life in this way means we become children of God. (See Galatians 3:26 in the New Testament). At this point, God begins a wonderfully great transformation in your life. Slowly, and maybe without ever knowing it, you become more like Jesus and begin to desire to please God. (See Romans 8:29). 

Imagine a life that begins to make sense, a life with peace and purpose and hope! It goes far beyond the freedom forgiveness brings. This world promises us riches and power and pleasure but delivers disappointments one right after another. It's God who blesses us with the good things we have... and only because He is loving and desires we would come to know Him. 

God gives us His personal promise that He will complete that substantial work of changing us. Then, He will use us for the truly important things in life, blessing people and sharing His Sacrificial Love. This love is so powerful, so transforming, that we may end up going all over the world as well as across the street to share the news. So much better than the world's wealth.

The best news for those who believe comes when its time to say goodbye to life on this earth. Just listen to what God promises:

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
 I Thessalonians 4:16-18

YOU can have all this! Or you can choose to believe the lie that things will never change. The choice is yours, but let me warn you, if you continue to believe the lie, you'll lose out on so much. You'll also go down the path to destruction. But more about that next time...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)