Thursday, July 9, 2009


Fortune, fun, and fame--Michael Jackson seemingly had it all.

In the last 25 years, it is estimated that he made more than $700 million. His spending topped his income, by 1998 he was earning $11 million a year, but spending $31 million.

He had his own theme park, his 2500 acre Neverland ranch had a zoo, an amusement park, a movie theatre, and a minature train system. It cost him $5 million a year to staff and maintain.

He had fame. Boy did he have fame! The legendary "King of Pop" sold incredible numbers of recordings and videos. His 3 hour memorial service had just over 31.1 million viewers. Only Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana had more.

He seemingly had it all, but did he really? It is readily apparent that he was not a very happy man. The circumstances leading up to his death suggest a life filled with both disappointment and regret. In Michael Jackson's case the American Dream morphed into an American Nightmare.

Apparently the "King of Pop" discovered the same thing that another "King" learned centuries ago. King Solomon also experienced fortune, fun and fame. His own testimony was, "And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure..." (Eccl. 2:10). The wealthy King Solomon had incredible wealth, experienced varied and pleasurable pursuits, and had worldwide fame--but in those things he was not fulfilled. His testimony? "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity." (Eccl. 1:2). His conclusion? Life has no meaning apart from faith in God (Eccl. 12:13).

God has not designed us to be happy and fulfilled in life apart from relationship with Him (Eccl. 3:11). St. Augustine put it this way: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee." Fortune, fun, and fame amount to nothing more than "broken cisterns which can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13). God offers instead, in Himself, the "fountain of living waters."

What does Michael's experience teach us? You can have all of the wealth and fame in the world, but if you don't have a relationship with God you don't have a thing. Jesus came that we, through faith in Him, "might have life, and might have it abundantly" (John 10:10). True contentment in Christ is possible regardless of one's circumstances (Phil. 4:12-13). How pertinent are Paul's instructions to Timothy: "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Life indeed is something far better than mere fortune, fun, and fame.

Pastor Jerry

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