Summary: If you are going to live a life of gratitude, you must believe with all your heart that 1. God is good. 2. Life is good. 3. There will be a day of resotration.

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I often wonder why we who live in the United States of America, and have life so good, seem to be so discontent at the same time. How can we have so much of this life’s goods and pleasures, freedoms and privileges, resources and comforts, yet be so miserable? Perhaps we have too much. Bling bling is the thing. I am often overwhelmed by the choices I have in a store. I don’t just have peanut butter available to me, I have smooth peanut butter, chunky peanut butter, extra-chunky peanut butter, processed or natural peanut butter, peanut butter with jelly already in it so I don’t have to open another jar, Jiff Peanut Butter, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, Smucker’s Peanut Butter and a hundred more brands and subtle flavors — plus the jars come in several sizes or a 5 pound bucket. I can buy peanut butter in the middle of a chocolate cup, or peanut butter in candy shells. I can get peanut butter in cookies or pies. I typed in “peanut butter” on a Google search and got 8,500,00 hits. So many choices, so many privileges, so much abundance, and so much unhappiness. It has to point to the core problems in American culture: We are out of touch with God, out of touch with life, and we live only for the present with no hope of eternity.

We keep wanting this life to bring us satisfaction in itself. We keep wanting it all and wanting it now. We want to believe in God without having a relationship with God, or being accountable to God and responsible for our behavior. We keep wanting this world to be perfect, fulfill us and make us happy. We keep wanting this world to be heaven without the hope of the real heaven. No wonder we are in a spiral of misery. Meanwhile the advertisements grind on, promising us that we will attract the opposite sex if we only have the right car or clothes. We will find fulfillment by buying the latest, greatest thing they are offering. Life will be good for me if only I can get the new Razr phone with Bluetooth wireless technology and built-in camera, video cam, internet capability, remote headset, iTunes, etc. I am sure life would improve for me if I could afford a Wi-Fi PDA or the latest ipod. The newest diet will solve our problems with self-esteem. Maybe we will win the lottery, or one of the financial gurus on television will help us get rich and our lives will improve exponentially. More education will get us further and a better career. We are in a spin cycle of false hope and unhappiness, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

There is a way out, but the problem is you have to give up your false hopes in order to find real hope. Walk the Line is the new film that opened this week on the life of Johnny Cash. Near the beginning of the film a twelve-year-old Johnny Cash is talking with his older brother Jack, whom he greatly admires. Johnny asks how Jack is able to remember so many of the stories in the Bible. Jack, who wants to be a preacher, says, “You can’t help people unless you can tell ‘em the right stories.” True it is. This culture is telling us all the wrong stories that lead us to false hope, dysfunction and despair. The Bible is telling us the right stories that led us to life and peace.

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