The meaning of life

The Beatles conversed with a Guru on a mountain top in Nepal as they searched for the meaning of life. They returned still questioning in their own mind the purpose of their existence.

The hilarious Monty Python team, in attempting to fathom the problem in their film, did so by exploring the various stages of life starting at birth and finishing with a visit by the grim reaper. Sadly, while there was much to enjoy watching the movie, there was no definitive answer to the film’s title.

Throughout history the search for life’s meaning has occupied the minds of many people from different walks of life and different cultures. We have been given a wide variety of answers based on scientific, theological and philosophical speculation which leaves one wondering.

For those who believe in the God of our creation, they look for the answer through their personal understanding of God, the use of their free will and their belief in the afterlife. They look inwards to the existence of a soul and their interpretation of the difference between good and evil.

The scientific theories would probably be based more on facts about our survival within our universe, whereas many people would just see the need for happiness as their response to the question.

Whatever we conclude as our own understanding of the meaning of life, we should always remember when something is created it is always done so for a purpose. So maybe the simplistic answer as to why we are here and what is the meaning of our life lies in what the creator had in mind for us at the time of our creation.

The answer could be as simple as just trying to be the person our creator wanted us to be in this life. The emphasis here is on the word ‘trying’, for we all know no one is perfect. How this can be achieved is perhaps seeing our God as a God of goodness and love and then trying to emulate these qualities.

So, let’s be good, do good and love good.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Take it easy

I find that sometimes our God can talk to us using the lyrics from well-known songs. Maybe we should listen more closely to the words of a song and not just enjoy the melody. It is possible there might be a personal message in the song which particularly resonates for us beyond what the lyricist intended.

Take for instance the great Eagles song, ‘Take it Easy’. The lyrics tell us of the singer’s quest to find true love in his life that has so far been unsuccessful. It seems, it isn’t the casual affairs but true love which he desires more than anything else.

He tells himself that in his search he should “take it easy” by approaching the situation with a cool head and not to ‘let the sound of his own wheels drive him crazy!’

It is a bit like our search for our God throughout our life. We generally recognise God, or some higher being exists, but our busy life doesn’t always allow us the time or the inclination to really get to fathom out what this relationship is all about. The song tells us to ‘lighten up while you still can.’

While the lyrics refer to ‘a girl my Lord in a flatbed’ ute, they also raise the unanswered question of the Lord that says, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’. It is recognised that in our life, ’we may lose and we may win’, but that ‘we will never be here again’. And as part of our search for true love ‘I may be ‘running down the road trying to loosen my load’. However, I find ‘I’ve got a world of trouble on my mind’.

While we may only find the peace we seek during our stay on this earth in our God who truly loves us, many of us can be very conscious of our shortcomings and our worthiness, so we tend to go ‘lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow our cover’. We know ‘we got it easy’ but the question in the song to our God repeats itself again, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’.

As if in response to our request, Jesus reaches out and tells us to come to Him all who labour and He will give us rest. He will help us find true love. He will be the one to give us the freedom we need to ‘Take it Easy’.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Fair dinkum

We all need to be able to help our mates especially when it is obvious to us they are going through a hard time.

A concern about a particular mate’s situation might cause us to feel we may be able to help him in some way. By just being there for him is sometimes all that might be required.  However, should he wish to discuss his situation with you, it is important we listen carefully without wanting to interrupt or offer helpful suggestions unless we are asked for them.

Sometimes, just giving a person the opportunity to open up and share his problem is sufficient in itself to enable your mate to resolve the problem himself.

Other times, if you are required to offer a response, we need to be conscious of our own knowledge and ability and determine whether we might not be qualified to offer effective advice. In which case, our suggestion would be that he might seek professional help.

It is important we find a way of not only empathising with our friend but praying for him as well. Perhaps we might feel our mate would be embarrassed by openly praying with him on the spot. So, we can keep our prayer for him between ourselves and God.

Scripture tells us it’s the Holy Spirit within us whose job it is to help us with our prayer life. Hence, we should ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray for our mate that he will be assisted in becoming the person God wants him to be, rather than the person we think he should be.

Relying on the Holy Spirit to take our requests and needs to The Father does make praying so much easier, giving us more time to praise and thank our God for his goodness.

This way we can then confidently sit back and watch how God is answering our prayer.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Easter in Aus

The supermarkets give us ample warning that Easter is approaching.  Hot cross buns, chocolate novelties and eggs of all sizes and colours are given highly visible promotional locations throughout the stores.

For some people this is what the season of Easter is all about.  For others, the season has a deeply religious meaning.  It is a time to think about the sacrifice a man called Jesus made for the principles in which he believed.

Perhaps we could spend a portion of the holiday break counting our lucky stars we are living here in Australia.  A democratic country not ravaged by war, border conflicts or ethnic cleansing.

Yet, are we really the lucky country, when we see around us our youth sacrificing themselves to drug addiction and providing the statisticians with one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  Domestic violence and homelessness are becoming serious problems and racism continues to fester. 

Are we too busy looking after our own adult interests and perhaps lost in the Aussie ‘I’m all right Jack’ mentality, to notice that there are many people in our community who are crying out for help in different ways?  They not only need our support but they need hope and encouragement just to survive.

The man who died on the cross 2000 years ago left behind him a message that spoke of love and caring for one another.  Perhaps this Easter could be the time when we look a little closer at that message and what it might mean today to each one of us here in this country of ours.

Perhaps we might look beyond just having a holiday from work and filling ourselves with chocolate. Perhaps we could resolve to do something positive that might help some of those less fortunate with whom we come in contact within our own communities.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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When two people first find they love each other in a deep and meaningful way, their hearts are filled with an ecstasy that overwhelms all other emotions.

As their love grows, they promise each other a lifetime of pleasure, excitement, generous giving and open sharing.

Sometimes the joy of the relationship can fade if the promises are broken. The effervescence of yesterday’s overwhelming feelings of love can be replaced with today’s heartaches.

As we interrogate ourselves over and over about our commitment, our actions and even the words we used, we can find ourselves at the point of despair where we even question our own ability to love.

The cry of the broken-hearted lover was heard on Calvary as Jesus called to His Father for support.

During those times when both promises and hearts are broken, we need to reach out and seek the help of our God who has experienced what we are going through.

During our rough times it’s a lot easier if we don’t have to go it alone.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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C T scan

A Computerized Tomography, or CT Scan, uses computers and rotating X-ray machines to create cross-sectional images of the body. It allows doctors to see inside your body.

If you have ever had a CT Scan you will know that you lie flat on your back on a bed that is moved by medical professionals along a track that leads to a circular X Ray machine.

After placing you in position, you are left alone while the machine is operated from outside the room. If you are having a brain scan your head moves to within the circular machine area and the information obtained is transferred to a computer screen to be examined by those outside.

If, in your bed, you awake early in the morning, you can say good morning to your God by imagining you are about to have a CT Scan with a difference. You are alone and your body is travelling slowly backwards along the track towards a big circular machine. However, while it may seem similar to what we know as a CT Scan machine, it is a Complete Trinity Scan machine.

This circular spiritual machine contains three equal segments, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Together they form a circle that has no beginning and no end. It can read our every thought and is aware of our every action. It is not a machine of which to be afraid, it is one that exudes love and care and only wishes us well.

We are blessed as we commence our new day, knowing that our spiritual CT Scan has welcomed us and provided us with the energy and enthusiasm we will need to face whatever trials might occur during our day.

We can be at peace knowing that the Blessed Trinity will continue to be with us, even as we roll back along the track and return to our darkened bedroom and the reality that is the dawning of a new day.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Scripture today

Many of the stories, or parables, we read in the New Testament seem mostly concerned with relationships of different kinds. We come across numerous people in different situations, but the story line is not so much about who they are, but what they do, and their relationships with each other.

So, is it possible to relate these stories to our own relationships? I believe it is, because it seems to me Jesus had an underlying message for us all and deliberately wanted us to find out more about ourselves by delving deeper into His parables than the surface story was about

There is a parable in Matthew’s Gospel which has always had me questioning my sense of fairness. The story of the vineyard servants hired last getting paid the same as those who had laboured all day in the hot sun. To me it just didn’t seem a fair payment, until I asked myself why should I feel this way?

I realise that my understanding must really stem from how I would feel if I was in the shoes of those early workers. In reality, I have been saying to myself the owner shouldn’t be so generous, because in doing so he has tended to remove the just reward of those workers who have toiled throughout the day and equalise everything. And that’s not how it goes in this world of ours.

When I realise my envy and competitiveness is not the way our Father in Heaven wants me to feel towards others, I get a different slant on the story entirely. I think this parable is given to us to uncover something deeper within ourselves.

Maybe, as in my case, I feel I am being invited to treat others as Jesus would treat them, rather than how the world has trained me to react in a self-righteous way.

There is no doubt this is one parable that has a message for us all today, even though it was voiced over 2000 years ago.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Recently, I became engrossed in a story I was reading by William Bausch in his book, Storytelling, Imagination and Faith. In short, the story tells of a man sitting alone in his country kitchen concerned about problems he was having at work, at home, trying to balance the finances and other family matters which were weighing heavily on his mind.

Something made him look up and he realised Jesus was standing in the doorway. He assumed it was Jesus. The man was wearing a long white robe, had a beard and a golden halo around his head, just like the pictures you see of Jesus.

The man questioned the reason for such a visit and Jesus invited him to come for a walk with him. After getting over the initial shock, the man thought it mightn’t be such a bad idea to use this opportunity to get Jesus to give him some answers to his pressing concerns.

As they walked down the road the man started blurting out the problems, he was having at work. Rather than giving an answer, Jesus seemed to ignore the man’s concern and instead, pointed out how beautiful the landscape looked after yesterday’s rain.

The man tried on a number of occasions to get some answers to his problems, but each time Jesus evaded his questions by pointing out some other interesting facet, such as a butterfly or the fruit on a tree. The man gave up when Jesus challenged him to a stone throwing attempt at hitting a lamp post.

When they returned to his home, the man was upset that he hadn’t resolved any of his problems. As he looked up at Jesus, he detected a smile on the Lord’s face as Jesus turned towards him and said, “Stop trying so hard”. 

This so reminded me of the words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel,’ Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest’.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Repair and respect

His old car had seen better days. It was easy to see how the sun had faded its paintwork and a number of small skirmishes with posts and walls had left tell-tale bruises on the bodywork.  

He knew there was something not right happening under the bonnet but, not being mechanically minded, he wasn’t sure what the odd noises meant.

His finances were tight but he knew he needed his car. His first thought was to get the bodywork repaired so he could once again be proud of his vehicle and hope the motor lasted long enough for him to save up and get the local mechanic to check it out.

Although it didn’t make him happy, he decided the repairs to the motor were more important.

Scripture tells the story of how Jesus was once asked to heal a physical illness and his response was “Your sins are forgiven”. This response was viewed somewhat cynically by the onlookers and Jesus asked them what was easier, to repair what could be seen on the outside or the unseen inside?

Sometimes we can pray really hard for someone to get better and we see no physical signs of improvement in their health. This doesn’t mean that our God isn’t hearing our prayer. It means our prayer is being answered in the way our God feels is more important for our friend.

In our so-called ‘instant society’ we expect things to happen when we want them to happen, yet in God’s repair workshop the overall needs of the person being prayed for is of prime consideration.

Our prayer then can be one of repair and respect. We ask our God to repair what we see as a problem and we respect how this prayer is used and thank our God for hearing our request.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Getting away from it all

As humans we started off as nomads. When we leave our cities to go camping in the Australian bush, we have a real sense of getting back to our roots.

By camping, I don’t mean staying in a caravan park with all the facilities of home available to us. To ’get away from it all’, as the saying goes, is to travel to a setting where you can experience the rhythmic sounds of nature untarnished by the electronic or mechanical noises of the city.

Here in Australia it is so easy for us to find these locations where we can enjoy the natural sounds and sights of birds and animals; the wind in the trees; the movement of water in a river or waves in the sea.

It is in this environment we can experience feelings of peacefulness, mental wellbeing and the freedom and enjoyment of spending quality time with ourselves or our family and friends. Here it seems so much easier to be in touch with our God.

If you are an early riser you get to see the miracle of a new day dawning through the mists in a valley and hear the wake-up calls of birds passing around the early treetop news. If you are quiet, you might also see a mother kangaroo feeding the youngster in her pouch, or the platypus family sneaking out of their underwater home to welcome the day.

Having the time to sit in front of a camp fire, watching the sun slowly set on a perfect day while dinner cooks in the camp oven and the kids cook their marshmellows on pointy sticks in the glowing embers, is priceless.

Later as it gets dark, you get to view the wonder of a star filled sky that helps us realise we are just a small part of an amazing universe created for us to enjoy and look after by a God who truly loves us.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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