Nostalgia may be comforting but can it rob you of the joy of your present life and the hope God has for your future?
[Gary Petty] Welcome to a special edition of Beyond Today here in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have a live audience. We are glad to be able to speak to all of you today. Sometimes you hear people talk about the "good old days." You know when people talk about the good old days, they're talking about a time when things were simpler, and people were kinder and it was just a better time. Better than the day that you live in now, right?
Well when were your good old days? When were the good old days? What were the good old days?
Well today we're going to look at the subject of nostalgia. Looking back at the good old days and how sometimes, that can rob us of the joy God wants us to have in our lives today, and it can actually cloud the future that He has for all of us.
So let's look at your life, your future and "The Good Old Days."
When were the good old days? People talk about the good old days all the time. There's actually a magazine called The Good Old Days. You can get it. The headline says the magazine that remembers the best. Oh that was the best back then. Wherever then was, a lot depends on your age, right? Here's a book: Live It Again 1952. Now if you were born in 1952, you lived in 1952, maybe these were the good old days. I mean postage stamps were only three cents. Those are good old days.
In 1952 is when they introduced the transistor radio. There are people in this audience that don't even know what a transistor radio is. And those went to the retail stores. It was a time when Singing in the Rain was the number one movie. Now some of you are shaking your heads. Oh I remember that, those were the good old days! Course, for tens of thousands of G.I.s in Korea and the families that were getting the little messages, those weren't the good old days.
Maybe the good old days for you were the early 60s. Remember the Beatles? Remember John Wayne? He was at the height of his career. Famous in the early 1960s. Boy that was the time, right? That was the time that the good old days... if we could just go back to then. But if you were a child in the early 60s, do you remember at school, hiding under your desk because they were teaching you how to protect yourself in thermonuclear war? You weren't sure what that was, but it was frightening.
Maybe 1996—those were the good old days for you. I mean, the Dilbert comic strip came on the scene. Now 1996 was when most of us could begin to buy personal computers and we could with 45 million other people around the world, surf the net. Ask a teenager what surf the net means and they probably don't even know. Were those the good old days?
When I was a teenager I used to watch the program The Waltons. Remember the Waltons? Oh, that was my favorite show. It was about the good old days back in the 1930s and 1940s. And during the 1930s and 1940s it showed these people, they lived in this perfect environment. Oh it was rough and they didn't have a lot of money, but it was such a great family that they lived in. And they lived in a community where everything, where everybody worked together. In fact, it was amazing how every problem in life was solved in exactly one hour. And I wanted a life like that—where every problem was solved and at the night, you know everybody gets together and goes to bed and says, "Goodnight John Boy."
But were the 1930s and the 1940s really the good old days?
I remember my dad telling me about when he was a child, he and his siblings and his mother sitting out on the street, because they had been kicked out of their apartment because they couldn't pay the rent in the 1930s. 50 million people died in World War II. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of people were homeless, sick, wounded. For them, were those the good old days?
What happens is, is when we get in a time in life where the future seems uncertain and unclear, and the present is uncomfortable, you know what we do? We look towards the past and we say, somehow that was better. There was a simpler time. There was a time when human nature wasn't really this bad. There was a time when people loved each other more. There was a time when people got along. There was a time when people had more family values and more church values. And we long for those days, and many times we'll make up a past. We'll make up a past that never even existed.
Now I'm not saying it's wrong to have good memories. We all should have good memories. We all should look back at good times. But you know the truth is; the good old days were never always that good. And there's never been a time when the human condition was really that good. You know, oh if I could just live in the Middle Ages, where there were knights and there were ladies and bubonic plague, okay.
When were the good old days for all of us? Well we look back.
Does the financial insecurity that you have now... the fact that you live in a world that's coming more and more, becoming more and more complicated. I mean, we live in a time when it seems more and more like we're headed for chaos. Our society—Maybe you worry about just the immorality and the fact that nothing can be changed. You look around and you think wow, all these politicians are supposed to fix it. And our choices are what, the lesser of evils? Who do we choose? How do we fix this mess? And you long and say, ah the good old days.
Maybe the 1980s? People look back and say well the 1980s were the good old days. There was more prosperity in this country and we had some pride and... See it all depends on your viewpoint, where you are and what you look back as the good old days. For many many people, the 1980s on a personal level was a terrible time, wasn't it? Maybe you were sick. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe the 1980s was a terrible time for you. When were the good old days?
Well we're going to look at today, three steps that can allow you to have God take control of your life right now. Give you purpose and give you a future. We're going to talk about how to make right now the good old days. How to make right now—I don't care what your state is, where you are. I don't care what problems you're going through—How to make right now, today, the good old days, from God's viewpoint.
Now, when we look at the past and we live in this nostalgia all the time we can sacrifice the future so, the first step is to seek God's future for your life. First step: Seek God's future for your life. And then have Him show you His purpose. Now we'll talk about the purpose for your life right now in a minute. But I want to talk about first this future.
Let me tell you a story. When I was a young boy, I went over to a friend's house and the two of us decided we were going to go hiking. Now I used to love to go to his house. He lived in the hills of Pennsylvania and he lived in a little town out in the middle of nowhere. And behind his house we would just go out and go hiking.
And so we were going to go out hiking, and he and his brother and I would go up this ravine, a ravine that would go up and then we could get up into the hills. Well he lived across the street from a tavern. And it was the only tavern for miles around. And that ravine is where the drunks would come sleep it off. And so, you know, Friday nights, Saturday nights, the ravine was full of drunks and the family just let them sleep it off there.
Well, the three of us are walking up the ravine and I'll never forget one of the boys saying, "Money!" And we all looked down and they had been sleeping there for years and all the change had been falling out of their pockets. Now I want to you to imagine three 12 year old boys. This was like Tom Sawyer. We hit the ground. Dirt was flying. Leaves are flying. We're shoving each other. Money! All over the place! We're stuffing our pockets with money! I mean we talked about this for years. In fact, for a long time afterward I walked with my head down.
It's got to happen again. I don't know how many times we went back to that ravine; over and over. We never found another cent. We tried to relive that moment over and over and over again because for us that was the greatest highlight of life! It would never get any better than that. Finding all this money, right?
When we see the past that way, we spend ourselves looking at our lives looking at the ground. What if I had spent the rest of my life looking at the ground? I think of all the sunsets I would have missed, and the people I would have never met and how many trips I'd go into the hospital by running into things. Right? We can't spend our lives looking down waiting to recreate the past.
God has a future for every one of us. And that future is what we're to look towards.
There's an interesting verse in Matthew 25. Matthew 25 is actually, this part of Scripture... Some of you have Bibles. Go ahead and turn to it if you want to. Matthew 25, is a series of parables and Jesus is telling a story. And He's talking about people that when He returns He will accept and people that He won't accept. That's what this parable's about. And He says in verse 34, I just want to talk, this one verse, capture something Jesus said.
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
Prepared from the foundation of the world. God has a future for you. Now I want you to think about this. Before He created the world, before He created this universe, before He created molecules, He was going to make you. And He has a future already prepared for you if you want it. He created that future at the foundation of the world!
That's your future! We keep looking at the good old days when that is your future. God wants to clean up the mess in your life. He already has a future planned.
Now we have to figure out how it affects us every day and that's why we're offering this study guide, The Road to Eternal Life. For those watching the program we want you to get this booklet. We want to send it to you. It's free. This simple guide will help you understand the meaning of the word repentance, what the Bible means by the fruit of repentance, and the importance of water baptism.
You can read The Road to Eternal Life online at BeyondToday.tv. Request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
I would also like to invite you to something very special. Beyond Today and the United Church of God is conducting free Kingdom of God Seminars across the United States, Canada and around the globe. Each seminar is different. If you attended the last one you don't want to miss the next one in the series. Go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link to find a seminar near you and register.
God wants to clean up the mess in your life. He has a future that He's already planned for you. Whether you receive that future or not depends on whether you understand His purpose in your life now. And take that purpose as your purpose.
The apostle Paul traveled to Athens. And if you understood what Athens was like in the first century, it was the center of philosophy. It was the center of religion. For hundreds and hundreds of years, it was considered the intellectual capital of the world and people would go to Athens and study. Romans brought Athenian scholars into their homes in Rome to teach their children.
And Paul went there to tell people about God. How could he tell them about God in that mess? If he told them well I'm here to tell you about the Jewish God everybody would cut him off. How does he tell them? And he's speaking on the street and it says two groups come up to him, the epicureans and stoics.
The stoics believed that the secret to a righteous life was to live your life very controlled. Control all of your emotions and live at this sort of peace and meditation. The epicureans took the other extreme. The secret to life is just to find happiness wherever. Experience everything. And as you experience everything you'll be able to sort through what's good and what's wrong and have a good life.
And these two groups of philosophers hear Paul talking and they say come here, you need to go with us. And they take him to the areopagus which is where all the philosophers come together. And he gets up and he speaks to them. And he starts telling them about this God—the unknown God.
Now they actually had throughout Athens these alters to the unknown God. It goes back to a legend that one time there was a plague and they sacrificed to all the known gods and goddesses and nobody could, would stop the plague. So they just put a bunch of sheep and ran them through the city. And wherever one stopped, they would sacrifice it to the unknown God. Figured that way they covered all bases. And so throughout the city were alters to the unknown God. And no one really knows that that's how it started, but that's how the legend was by the time Paul comes along.
And he says I'm going to tell you about that unknown God. And then he tells them something very interesting and you can read that in the book of Acts. He says, you—them, those people there, those pagan philosophers —he says all of us, all human beings are His offspring (Acts 17:18-32 Acts 17:18-32  Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seems to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached to them Jesus, and the resurrection.
 And they took him, and brought him to Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof you speak, is?
 For you bring certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
 Then Paul stood in the middle of Mars' hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.
 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.
 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands;
 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;
 And has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
 For as much then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like to gold, or silver, or stone, graven by are and man's device.
 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
 Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.
 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again of this matter.
American King James Version×).
He tells these people you have to understand your purpose in life. You don't know your purpose in life. You live this life here in Athens and you think you're so smart. You live a world in which you think your philosophy is so brilliant. Every society believes its philosophy is brilliant right? And he says but what you don't get is that there is a Creator God and this Creator God is your Father and you are His children. And he told them right then and there for anyone that would listen, this is your purpose.
You think your purpose is making money. You think your purpose is just having fun. You think your purpose is getting as much out of life because when life ends, you don't know what happens. That's not your purpose! That's not why you are here. That's not why you were created! God has a future for you that He prepared before He made a molecule.
And that same Creator God said I have a purpose for you if you want it. Now you and I have freewill. We don't have to seize that purpose if we don't want it. But you can seize it because God offers it to you. He says, you were created to be my children.
Every human being on the face of the earth was created by God to be His child. That's why you were created! That's why I was created. That's why we're here!
The apostle John says that. Go to 1 John 3:2 1 John 3:2Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
American King James Version×. Here the apostle who was the closest friend to Jesus when He was walking this earth. He says, "Beloved, now"—Now listen to what he says... Now! Right now, the present—"Now, we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He"—speaking of Jesus Christ—"is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
Now here we have the future and the present brought into one verse. Now you can go to the Creator God and be His child. You can go to God, not just to God as this judge in fear. Yes we go to God and we're sinners. We go to God because we have faults, but we can go to God as Father.
Would you rather, if you do something wrong, go to a judge or to dad? I always told my kids that. You drive drunk you better hope you come to me. Oh but Dad you'll do... No, no, no. What I do to you will be minor compared to what that judge does to you, because I have an emotional attachment to you.
It's nice to go, to know that you can go to a God who has an emotional attachment to you. That He is Father. He is tough with us sometimes but we are His children. That's the present! That's who you can be now. And He says what's the future?
When we're changed when Jesus Christ returns, when He's revealed, we will see Him as He is. We will see the spirit world as it is. We will see God where He lives. That's quite a future.
That's a promised future. But you can't get to that future unless you accept God's purpose now. You can't do it. You know this isn't just, okay I'll accept the future and live my life however I want and I'll get there someday. It doesn't work that way.
You want the future? You accept the purpose now. You turn to God, now. You let God into your life, now. You live the way He says, now. If you want to be His child you have to act like His child. If you want to be God's child, you must act like His child.
We got to walk like God and talk like God and we say, how do we do that? Well we have an older brother who showed us. Jesus Christ showed us how to walk and talk and be and act and think. We have a family member who will tell us what to be now so we can see Him as He is then. You want that future? Or are we willing to be stuck in the chaos longing for the good old days that you can't, you can't recreate.
I'll never find a ravine full of money the rest of my life. I think we ended up with like two dollars and fifty cents each. Okay. I'll never do that again. But there's a future that's a whole lot more important than that, if we seize God's purpose now.
Now, remember we're offering you The Road to Eternal Life and you can get your free copy. When you order that, we will also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. The Good News contains articles on how to have a better marriage, prayer, managing your finances, discovering God's purpose revealed in the Bible and how to make sense of an increasingly confused world.
Request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read The Good News online at BeyondToday.tv.
To combat nostalgia, you must understand God's goal for your life—the future He has for you, as His child. And you must learn His purpose in your life now to be His child.
Now between understanding that purpose and the future, we have to live. And it's that gap that's difficult. That's where we are right now. And that brings us to our third point: Don't allow the difficulties of life to sidetrack you from the future that God is planning for you.
Don't let the difficulties of what you're going through right now keep you from His purpose in your life and His future.
You have to go ask for that purpose. You go ask for that future! But then sometimes it just, life gets difficult right? This is messy. It's always messy. I wish it wasn't. I wish it was the Waltons. I wish every problem got solved in an hour but it doesn't. Some things go on your whole life, right? Some things never get solved. That's life.
And it's not always just the big things, you know—illness, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job—sometimes it's the little things. I read something years ago about a tree in Colorado that scientists had been studying because it was 400 years old. And they were just fascinated about it. I mean this tree was a sapling when Columbus sailed, okay.
And they were studying this tree and it died. And they said well what caused it to die? I mean it had been through avalanches. It had been struck by lightning over and over again. It had gone through drought. This tree had gone through all kinds of things and why did it die? So they cut it open and what had happened was thousands of little beetles had gotten inside it and eaten it from the inside out.
You see sometimes in life, it's not the big things that get to us. It's that daily grind. We get caught up in that daily grind and life just gets chaotic and it gets, we lose our purpose. We lose our future and we're saying, oh remember the good old days.
I mean, 10 years from now there's going to be people that look back and say, oh 10 years ago were the good old days. And you're saying, these will be the good old days? These can't be the good old days.
The daily grind, the little things. When are the good old days?
There's an interesting story about the life of Jesus in Matthew 14. I want you to imagine something. There's a storm. I mean a really bad storm. Trees are being blown over. It's that cold pelting rain. You live beside a big lake and there's big waves in that lake and you're in your nice house.
And you're there and your children are in bed and your wife's in bed. You've had a nice evening meal. There's a fire in the fireplace. That's the good old days. Right? That's the good old days. And if you had to choose where to be in the middle of that storm, it would be in that house, in that bed, your children safe, right? Full stomach. Warm. Comfortable.
Well, in that storm there's another group of people. There's a group of men that are out on a boat in the middle of the storm; group of fisherman that shouldn't have ever been out there. They should've known to come in and they waited too long for whatever reason. I know I've been fishing and it's like one more. Just one more. One more cast, one more fish, right? One more throw the net in.
For whatever reason, they stayed out too long. It's now night. Their sails are gone. The rutters gone. The waves are crashing over the boat. It's sinking. They're thinking about their wives and their children because they're never going to see them and they're saying goodbye to each other because we're dying. This is the worst place in the world to be.
There's no place worse to be than in that boat dying with a group of other guys realizing our stupid mistakes left us here, and we can't get of this and we're going to die. I can't think of any worse place to be. Saying goodbye to each other. The mass broke. It's cold and you're going down.
And then they see Jesus walking across the water.
Think about that. Now think about those two situations and you think about where do you want to be. Where would you rather be? In the nice warm house, where you can look back at the good old days? Is that where you would rather be? Of all the places to be in the world, Rome? Big business deals in Rome? Jerusalem—where you can worship at the Temple? Where's the place you would rather be?
The best place to be? The good old days. Later that they would talk about over and over again was in a sinking boat in the middle of a storm. Best place to be—in a sinking boat in the middle of a storm. What 12 other bodies, probably when you look at their reputation, or I mean the way they interacted, all fighting and arguing over whose fault it was! Peter it's your fault. John it's your fault! How do we do this? Where did we make the mistake? James, why didn't you tell us to row in? Right?
It's the worse place to be and it's not. It's the best place to be. Christ walking towards them. Peter jumping out of the boat and trying to walk on water. Those were the good old days. You see the best place to be, the good old days, are wherever God is. That's the good old days.
We think it's when everything is comfortable and perfect and it's not. It's wherever God is. Those are the good old days. You want God' purpose in your life? You're going to have to go ask for it and you're going to have to live it. You want God's future for you? You're going to have to go ask for it and you're going to have to live it.
And those, those right now, today, whatever problem you're in... Today will be the good old days.
Now I want to remind you that when you get your free copy of, and order your free copy of The Road to Eternal Life, we're also going to send you a copy of The Good News magazine.
Now this Road to Eternal Life will help you understand the word repentance, what the Bible means by the fruit of repentance, and the importance of water baptism. When you order The Road to Eternal Life we'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine.
You can read The Road to Eternal Life online at BeyondToday.tv. Or request your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.
We also want to remind you that Beyond Today and the United Church of God will be conducting Kingdom of God Seminars across the United States, Canada and around the globe.
Each seminar is different. If you attended the last one you don't want to miss the next one in the series. So go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminar" link to find a seminar near you and register to attend.
So when were the good old days? When were your good old days? If God is in your life, right now, this is the good old days. God's purpose is being fulfilled in your life and God's future that He created for you before the foundation of the earth is waiting for you.
Join us next time on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. And keep praying "Thy kingdom come." For Beyond Today I'm Gary Petty.