Looking at the Total Package

Have you bought a 2 Liter Coke lately?  Well, it may still be the real thing, but the bottle isn't the one we have all grown really used to since 2 liters first came into our lives way back in 1970 when Pepsico introduced the first two-liter soft drink bottle. The two-liter bottle is one of the few usages of the metric system which has never taken off, or maybe I should say caught on as was hoped back in the '70s.  Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 "to coordinate and plan the increasing use of the metric system in the United States".  In 1981, the Board reported to Congress that it lacked the clear Congressional mandate necessary to bring about national conversion. Given this apparent ineffectiveness, and in a Reagan effort to reduce federal spending, the Metric Board was disbanded in fall 1982. Nothing beats a failure but a try.

Nevertheless, the 2-liter bottle was a success.  Coke followed Pepsi as did many other soft drink manufacturers and used the plastic 2-liter design and the nonmetric minded Americans bought and bought and drank it up. Now here we are nine years into a brand new century. Coke has decided it is time for a change.

Coke has finally realized that it is hard to stand out when every other soft drink company uses the same packaging. When asked about the uniform packaging for 2-liter drinks, Henrick Steckhan, head of carbonated soft-drink brands for Coke said it best, “When you think about this, it just doesn’t make sense.”  Coke has seen slumping sales and thinks a new design can help boost sales and draw attention to the iconic brand.

Coke has now updated the old standard with a more contoured and shapely 2-liter bottle, very similar to the smaller coke bottles available.  Hopes are for the new bottle to draw the same attention as the original glass coke bottle, which was created in 1916 and is still a favorite among many soda drinkers.

What's the deal? What are nonmetric minded Coke drinking Americans having to say about all this newness?  Believe it or not, there is a web site dedicated to Coke drinkers doing nothing but discussing Coke all day long. The name of the web site is Coke ConversationsThe following comment can be found on that site by an unsatisfied nonmetric minded Coke consumer conversing about his beloved Coke. "I and my whole family are devout coke drinkers. Having said that, I need to voice my dissatisfaction at the new design of the 2-liter coke bottle. The bottles are taller than the previous ones and are difficult to fit in the refrigerator. We've rearranged all the shelves in our refrigerator to accommodate the taller bottle but are not happy with the result. It’s hard for us to believe that you really think coke sales will go up just because you've changed the bottles to make them look like the old glass ones. If anything, I think you will lose some of your less devoted drinkers when they realize Pepsi still fits on the standard shelf."

How quickly they turn!  Did you get the feeling this Coke contester may be considering partaking of Pepsi instead of the real thing which is no longer in the familiar package he and his whole family have grown to love?

People have a tendency to get set in their ways, in their packaging and don't adapt well to, or accept visible changes. We become familiar with the familiar and think that  (whatever that may be) is the way it is always going to be. If the real thing is repackaged does it really still contain the real thing? Obviously, I am not just talking about Coke bottles here. 

Christians often get used to the packaging. If church is church to us in a familiar kind of way we drink it up, consume it happily. But do not ask us to rearrange any shelves to make anything or anyone new fit into the mold we have in mind as to how church is supposed to be.   It seems to some of us it would take an act of Congress, or maybe a miracle I guess, to convert our set in our ways mindset into a new way of thinking. 

When we argue over how to do church, we are really arguing how we as Christians are to present ourselves to the world, not really so much how we present Jesus to them, which is what the world needs now. 

Was that an old Coke commercial?  No, sorry I think the song from the commercial I was thinking of  was, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke to keep it company."  Great idea I suppose, but at today's prices that could be a little expensive.  The government should have done that before the federal spending reduction of the '80s, huh?

Seriously, here's the deal. Jesus is the real deal, the real thing. No matter how we may try to package and repackage Him into a more acceptable form. No matter how man tries to present Him,  He is always the same.   No measure of man-made conversation can change or rearrange Him.

Why do we worry if someone moves the shelves or the pews around a little?  If Jesus isn't in the package, in the church, there will be no satisfaction anyway.  Yes, we may lose some who think their old way of thinking, or maybe even the world itself fits them a little better than the church, but in the long run those devoted, totally sold out to Jesus, will remain faithful.

Do we as Christians have a plan ready to coordinate among all people to increase the number of believers in Jesus Christ worldwide, or are we too busy arguing over how to package ourselves-those of us who already believe in Him to others who also say they already believe in Him?

No, we can't buy the whole world a Coke to sway their thinking, but our goal must always be to see the total conversion of the entire world as they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

When looking at the total package, Christians must be unified and stand out from the world.   We should be longing to win one lost soul at a time over to our way of thinking.

We must not be ineffective. We must not fail.

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.




The summer of 1976 was long ago and I guess could be officially classified as the happy days of my teen years.
I was in love I thought and maybe still think I was.  One  May afternoon at Sonic Drive Inn on West Main Street, sitting in a white mustang convertible, eating a corn dog and drinking a  Coke Icee, the one I loved asked me if I was happy.  I don't recall anyone ever asking me that before and I don't think I had ever really been, so, therefore, the question took me by surprise and instead of giving a truthful answer, I think I just answered with the answer I thought I was supposed to give. I took a deep breath, a big swig of Icee, and said yes, but not very convincingly. I guess the idea that someone in my life actually cared if I was happy or not took me by surprise.   I think the question forced me to face facts I didn't really care to face.

Now those happy summer days are long gone, but not really forgotten even though - let's see how is the best way to put this?   I once was young and now I'm old. The summer day long ago when the question was asked was remembered just the other day.  You see,   recently the question of happy came up again, not the question of am I happy but the question what is happy?

The question kind of took me by surprise and once again forced me to face facts that I don't care to face.  My answer was to me happy is peace and contentment.  Is that what happy really is? 

To some happy is this:  a place we find in ourselves and find ourselves in,  a state of being that we strive to keep as a permanent fixture in our lives.  On the other hand, to some happy is nothing more than a brief passing emotion that
lies to us and causes us to lie to ourselves and even to others. As I questioned and reminisced and reflected I found that is the state I have found myself in quite often when forced to face happy.

Where does happy come from? I mean the word itself, not the emotion, or state of being.

Word Origin & History of Happy 
1340, "lucky," from hap "chance, fortune" , sense of "very glad" first recorded 1390 
The definition for happy:
1.delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.  2.characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.  3.favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky
So it seems the actual origin of the word leans more toward happy being a passing emotion than an actual state of being. Very glad can quickly turn to very sad when contentment is interrupted by confusion. Fortune and lucky fade.

Synonyms for happy: 1. joyous, joyful, blithe, cheerful, merry, contented, gay, blissful, satisfied. 3. favorable, propitious; successful, prosperous 

The synonyms synonymously describe passing emotions. We all experience cheer and merriment which come for seasons.  There are some states of being  actually sprinkled in though. Success and prosperity usually hang
around awhile.  Joy is something that can and which I believe God intends to remain in us.   

John 15:11  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

The person who asked what happy meant to me seemed to think happy can only truly be attained when we attain a state of balance in our lives. I found a quote from someone who also seems to define happy in that way.
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity. The art of living does not consist in preserving and clinging to a particular mood of happiness, but in allowing happiness to change its form without being disappointed by the change; for happiness, like a child, must be allowed to grow up." -- Charles Langbridge Morgan
So I suppose the proper answer to the question is "Are you happy?" and "What is happy?" is something we all have fo find for ourselves. Maybe there is no universal right or wrong answer. The answer differs from person to person and from day to day, which in itself proves happy is
more of a passing emotion than a state of being.  As we grow older our definition of,  and hopes for, happiness change.

Another question for you, " Is it wrong to pray for happy?" "Is it pointless to pray for happy?  Does God smile when He hears us pray for happy?  Do other people who hear us pray for happy think it is wrong, pointless, and humorous? Maybe, but I need all the help I can get.
Psalm 146:5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God
I still plan to pray for happy in my life and in others lives who I love. I don't think God minds us asking and I can imagine God giving us an answer like this old proverb I found.

"If you want happiness for an hour -- take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day -- go fishing.
If you want happiness for a month -- get married.
If you want happiness for a year -- inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime -- help someone else.
-- Chinese proverb 

John 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The
servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 
As I thought long and hard about happy I remembered two very happy choruses from VBS when I was a child.

I found happiness
I found peace of mind
I found real contentment,
Perfect love sublime
I found joy of living
Happy living in accord
I found happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind when I found the
Happiness is a new creation, Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord
Happiness is the Lord"
I believe happiness is really a  state of being we find in the Lord.  Happy is drawing from the joy He has placed deep inside of us when everything around us is chaotic and confused and sad and hopeless. When
we have that joy it brings balance that is better than being emotionally happy for brief periods of time. It is a sure thing that is always there waiting for us to learn to take advantage of its availability to bring peace and contentment to our lives whenever we sincerely seek it.



Today is August 31st.

Today would have been my mother's 92nd birthday had she not passed away on March 1, 2007. This morning I attempted to cook biscuits like she cooked for me every single morning up until about the last year she lived.  I did say attempted to cook biscuits like hers, mine just don't taste the same.  I also bought a jar of pear preserves especially for today which was her favorite.  I drank coffee from her blue-flowered coffee cup and remembered birthdays we had shared together in the past.

Though she never received recognition, my mother was an artist and writer. She drew pictures of women in beautiful sequined evening gowns and swim suites and costumes of all kinds.  I have many of her drawings that she drew for me when I was a child.  

She wrote acrostics and jingles for companies which were printed in trade journals and magazines throughout the years.  The companies would send mother their products and sometimes cash in exchange for the "ads" she sent them. 

Today I got out the container that contains writing from throughout my mother's life.  I read and smiled and cried.  She wrote poems and jingles and limericks for everyone about everything and everybody which always brought smiles. From Elvis to Pork and Beans mother had a rhyme for it. In the box there is a copy write from 1979 for an acrostic she wrote spelling Elvis. On a yellowed index card labeled jingles are these words: "Pork and Beans they call it, but I'd like to ask one question, has anyone found enough pork to give them indigestion?"   From 1936 there are several copies of a song "Let's Pitch a Little Woo."  copywritten along with the actual vinyl record which was in the original mailing package. There is 15 cents worth of postage from Los Angeles, Calif.  on the cardboard. 

In the box, there is enough writing to find the story of her life.  When she lost her vision, not being able to write the words didn't stop her from "writing." The rhymes still came. It was like she wrote them with pen and paper in her head in perfect meter, never missing a beat.

At her funeral a poem was read she wrote. The name of it was "He Walks Right In."  It was beautiful.   Today I searched for a poem to share for the devotional this week.  I found so many it was hard to choose just one. The poem below pretty much tells the story of my mother, Christine Elizabeth West Hanson, author and artist.  She didn't have a lot here, but now she is in a place far better probably still writing her rhymes.

The Master

I have no bachelor's or master's degree.

But I have a Master who watches over me.

I have never received worldly acclaim,

But I tell others of His precious name.

I've never written a book or painted a masterpiece.

But I tell of a love that will never cease.

There's never been a movie in which I did star.

But shining for Jesus is better by far.

I have never lived in a mansion on a hill.

But there is a mansion waiting for me far better still.