Give Me The Keys To The Kingdom
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Book Cover - Give Me The Keys To The Kingdom 

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Chapter One

Where was God on that day?

September 11, 2001 - The World Trade Center Towers collapse into rubble at ground Zero. Virtually every person in America, as well as most people around the globe remembers where they were when they witnessed this mind-boggling event. This was one of the most devastating incident in our nation's history, an event on par with Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941, however, lacked the "live" impact of modern TV coverage bringing the immediate horror of this cowardly attack right into our homes.

Where was God on that day?

Was God off in the far reaches of the universe on urgent business? Did Satan use the opportunity to unleash his fury, or was this simply a random act of violence by disturbed people?

If we believe there is a God at all - a Supreme Being - how on Earth could He allow something so horrible to happen? What about other horrendous events that can befall even the best of us? And what if the disaster lacks the convenient distance of television - what if this is happening in our own lives? Friends of ours watched helplessly as their toddler son died right in front of them on their lawn from a rare, undiagnosed condition. How can any of us come to terms with such a horrific event without asking the obvious question:

Where was God?

Did He even care about this youngster's death and the agony his parents were made to endure? Why didn't He intervene? Why, indeed, do bad things happen to good people? If God is real, a Creator of everything, then shouldn't He be powerful enough to save us from horrible events happening to us? Why doesn't He?

Perhaps circumstances in your own life - or the lives of people close to you - make no sense, whatsoever. How do we explain a personal disaster we never asked for nor deserve? Be this a huge event with global impact, or a tragedy closer to home, many of us dare not venture too close to those nagging questions. . .a hesitancy even shared by many clerics within the world's religious establishments

Where was God when we needed Him?

These are problems (and there are numerous others) that go largely unanswered even in a lot of our churches, synagogues, and mosques. Often, the answers we are given - and by those who are supposed to know - leave us unsatisfied, bewildered, and without the deep sense of understanding and comfort we so desperately crave.

It might not take a disastrous event to shine a spotlight on our human frustrations, either. Sooner or later, most of us are faced with the mystifying task of assessing our place in the cosmos. Is there a God? How am I to respond to Him? Does any difference exist between one religion and another? What path am I to take? More often than not, even the primary question of our essential being is left open to conjecture, philosophical speculation, and superstition. Here's a fundamental matter each of us must face at one time or another:

Why are we here?

Yes, why are we here? I don't mean right here reading this. I mean what is our purpose in this world? Was our entry into this life planned by God, or was chance the lone factor? These questions are both specific and relevant, but the answers are so vague in our minds most people stumble and trip at the mere thought of it. In general we avoid thinking about difficult concepts and leave them up to ivory-tower philosophers to debate.

Often, we put forth explanations that have been handed down to us by others - our parents, a clergyman, professor, or someone else we respect. Furthermore, we've adopted those answers for no other reason than lack of something more certain to offer. Who can know for sure, anyway?

The truth is, solutions are available to us. Coming to realize this fact - that there are some answers - contains the potential to forever alter our perception of the world, and to impact our lives in unimaginable ways.

The truth shall set us free!

Most of us are familiar with this simple insight. Indeed, the truth shall set us free, but free from what? In reality, life is lived in the trenches, not poised on some lofty mountaintop. Oh, perhaps we get to visit the high places on occasion, but then we're back to living our lives in the midst of all the dreck this world can throw at us.

I decided to write this book because I found that it's actually possibile to experience immense joy even under the worst of circumstances. This realization grew out of a 35 year search for the truth. Actually, it's more accurate to say God unfolded this for me over those many years, like peeling away the layers of an onion.

Where was God on that day?

I was lying in bed when my wife came in and turned on the TV. "You've got to see this," she shouted. "Someone flew a plane into one of the World Trade Center towers." Of course, we didn't wait for long before another airliner crashed into the second tower. In a flash, the awful truth came into focus. We were under attack! A lot of innocent people were going to die.

Watching those towers implode and crumble to the street below, I was overwhelmed - not with sadness nor despair - but with the full awareness of a God who is still in complete control. Yes, even in the midst of chaos and confusion, I felt the love of God and His reassurance that He was caring for every single person involved - despite appearances to the contrary.

This was the culmination of a message He had been building in me for many years. Yes, everything is under God's control and, regardless what our situation is in life - no matter how deep are our trenches - He is close beside us. Nothing touches us that He is not aware of, and if difficulty plagues us, then it does so for an extremely good reason.

I thought a lot about what to title this book and nothing is more descriptive than "Give Me The Keys To The Kingdom." What does this mean, however? The meaning will be different for each of us, but to me this means being able to experience absolute contentment and joy right in the midst of the worst disaster or tragedy that can befall us. This "key" eclipses anything the world's belief system, including the various religions, works at getting us to conform to. In the end, it is a peace and comfort transcending all understanding and logic.

Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul: "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:11-12)

This is about comprehending our place in the universe and being satisfied with where we are. The goal is to know ourselves and where we're going. It's also about facing our demons eye to eye with such confidence and clarity of purpose that nothing can defeat us.

The concept of contentment and joy will be reiterated throughout this book, time and time again, because this is the goal for which we strive. Our society, however, is geared toward instant gratification and quick fixes. Swiftness doesn't work in most instances and the realization of contentment and joy is no exception.

In order to arrive at the place we seek, you and I must take a journey together. With each step may come challenges to your assumptions of reality. Each new truth will open doors you might not imagine to exist. Some of this may be familiar to you, but surprises will come, maybe big ones. In the end, my prayer is for your complete transformation. The events in your life may be the same, but you will not!

In Part One - A Foundation For Faith, we'll look at the available facts regarding the existence of God, His nature, and His eternal purpose for us. Fortunately, we live in a time where the advancement of science is nothing short of incredible. Thanks to instruments like the Hubble Telescope, we can ascertain the scope of our universe in astonishing ways. Amazing as this might seem, the result of this knowledge sheds light on our understanding of scripture in ways our forefathers could not imagine.

We take a bit of a side trip in Part Two - Religion On Trial. This section is two chapters long. The first is titled, "Why God Hates Religion." This always raises a few eyebrows; sometimes right up to the hairline. However, to proceed further in our journey we must understand that religion is not the answer we seek.

Part Three - Life Lived In The Trenches - is all about applying the principles we've learned up to this point and putting flesh and bone on them. A whole bunch of theory leaves us more frustrated and confused than ever if it can't be brought into every-day, real-life circumstances. So, my prayer is that you will emerge with a new perspective of life and be better equipped to handle the road ahead.

I look forward to taking you on a wondrous journey of discovery - about God, about the universe, and about yourself. In the end, I hope you'll gain a more complete understanding of how this life we've been given really works. The result will bring a level of contentment, joy, and peace that right now you might assume to be impossible.