Turning Excess Into Healing
About the Guest
On the broadcast today, Graham and Treena Kerr tell how they've sought to live for Jesus without compromise, which has always been rewarding yet not without its challenges. Hear how they gave up the practices and foods that harmed them and turned it into something that blessed others.
Graham and Treena KerrGraham Kerr is an internationally known culinary and television personality, award-winning author, and master of metaphorical speaking. His focus is on serving people who want to make healthy, creative, lifestyle changes and to increase their consumption of fresh, local edible plants and seafood. His life goal is “to help to convert habits that harm into resources that heal both for ourselves and others in need.”
On the broadcast today, Graham and Treena Kerr tell how they’ve sought to live for Jesus without compromise, which has always been rewarding yet not without its challenges.
Turning Excess Into Healing
Bob: You know the ads you see that say, "You need this," "You've got to have this," "This will make you happy," "You can't live without it?" Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, says it's time for Christians to stand up and say, "No, that's not true."
Graham: It's like we, as Christians, are standing in front of a tank at Tiananmen Square and saying, "Excuse me, we need to have a dialog with you," the driver of that tank. "You are making us uncivilized in our behavior, and we are going to take the excess that you have conditioned us to desire, and we're going to turn that around for healing."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 23rd. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk with Graham and Treena Kerr today about learning to live out-dulgently.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I'm just curious, you knew that we were going to be interviewing Graham Kerr and his wife, Treena. Did you make anything special for breakfast this morning? Did you – a little Hollandaise sauce on your Eggs Benedict, anything like that?
Dennis: I'm just impressed you know about that, Bob.
I didn't have anything this morning. I had a couple of …
Bob: You skipped breakfast?
Dennis: No, I had some grapes, I grabbed some grapes, a little fruit.
Graham: I had some grapes as well, how amazing.
Dennis: Did you?
Graham: Yes, that's right.
Bob: I had a fruit smoothie, does that count for anything? I mean, I just don't want to be left out here of the Fraternal Order of Grapes or whatever is going on here.
Dennis: Treena, Graham, welcome to our broadcast.
Graham: Thank you so much, Dennis.
Treena: Thank you.
Dennis: That British accent that you're listening to, of course, is that of Graham Kerr, who was, for a number of years, the Galloping Gourmet and, I suppose, for many people you'll always be the Galloping Gourmet.
Graham: Yes, I suppose they'll do that, yes.
Dennis: You've written a book called "Recipe for Life," and it's …
Treena: Nothing to do with recipes.
Bob: There's not a recipe in here, is there?
Treena: No, no.
Dennis: I was looking for a good recipe to go with my salmon, but I didn't find any in there.
Treena: The book's coming out next year.
Bob: The recipe book?
Treena: To go with that.
Dennis: I want a signed copy.
Graham: Well, of course.
Dennis: I want a signed copy of that recipe book.
Dennis: You have to know a quick story here, Graham. In the early years of FamilyLife Today, Bob and I featured a recipe on air – just almost in jest – and the phones rang off the hook. Do you remember it, Bob?
Bob: Was this Barbara's French Toast recipe?
Dennis: No, no, no, it preceded Barbara's French Toast.
Bob: What recipe was it?
Dennis: Remember, it was chocolate gravy.
Bob: I do remember that.
Dennis: Chocolate gravy. Does that sound obnoxious or not?
Graham: Why am I not surprised?
Dennis: But our listeners somehow connected with chocolate gravy.
Bob: Yeah, or thought they would and called to get the recipe.
Dennis: And wanted to find out about it. Anyway, you've written this book just challenging, really, our view of materialism and things. Now, you said in your book that you were seduced by a suitcase. Explain what you mean by that?
Graham: I had a suitcase, which was a green fiber suitcase, and it had a strap around it because the locks were somewhat dubious, and it served me well. It kept moisture out, and that was it.
I was invited to go across from New Zealand to Australia to do a TV series. I went, I didn't think it would last for a minute. It was a hit overnight. It replaced Italian soccer at 8:00 on a Wednesday night, and there were more "Take him off the air, take that fruitcake off the air" calls than had ever been received in the history of television in Australia.
So the broker/manager thought, "If so many people are so violently opposed to him, it's going to get talked about. We'll keep him on and see what happens." And it actually outrated all the other four channels in the end.
Dennis: And ultimately was heard by how many people?
Graham: Oh, around the world, that got to be the 200 million mark for each episode. But just – oh, dear – it makes it the largest single one-person, one-subject television show in the history of the world and still remains that way.
Bob: And you said, "Oh, dear," before you said that because you don't want to appear to be bragging. Is that significant?
Graham: Well, I was a different person with a different purpose, and numbers are of no consequence anymore, and all of that doesn't – well, it means something to an ungarnished person and now a garnished person. The Lord is in my life, and I would love to see Him collect the credit for what He has done …
Bob: Get some royalties?
Graham: … since then, frankly, yes, that would be wonderful.
Dennis: It was actually a verse of Scripture that cost you that broadcast in the end, really, wasn't it?
Graham: Well, yes. You know, I'm not sure whether it was the verse of Scripture or the Word that the Lord gave to us with the very first one, which is to live for Jesus without compromise. And what was happening was, we were asked to compromise at the program. We used to put Scripture verse on the end of the show. This was a later show that we did, and the world objected to that in an amazing way. They said, "Take that off the air, otherwise we'll take you off the air."
And we said, "We don't believe we can compromise the thing, which the Lord has asked us," you know, that He said that He wanted a credit on our TV show. And, in the end, we gave up all our royalties and all our rights and all our residuals including the name "Galloping Gourmet," and we simply took off, just the two of us, and two pickup trucks, sold everything we had.
Bob: That's kind of a scary proposition to have all of that and three children and think, "Okay, we'll sign it over and follow the Lord."
Treena: Do you know, it's not. It really wasn't.
Graham: For Treena, it wasn't. I cried.
Treena: Oh, well, that's you.
Dennis: Well, no, it was him, yes, you're right, Treena, because that was his – that had been his idol.
Treena: It had been his idol, amen, amen, and amen.
Dennis: And his god, and so as you pry the fingers off the idol, that can be painful.
Bob: But the security issue, didn't it …
Bob: It didn't threaten you?
Bob: Why not?
Treena: I don't know. I was threatened by a lot of money. I didn't like it. I didn't want everything. I've never been that sort of person, have I?
Graham: No. The least acquisitive person I've ever met.
Treena: And to give it all up in front of Jesus was terribly exciting. You know, I was 40 years old, but that's how I felt. That's what I wanted to do. That's what I felt we were to do. But we got, of course, got distracted off that because there's another old man out there who tries to move us off onto something that we don't want to do and yet we think it's the right thing because it sounds right. That is the most awful thing. There are many things that we come up against, and they sound so right, but they're not.
Graham: I'd like to come back to your question because we took a big circuit, and that was the suitcase.
Treena: Oh, yes.
Graham: I went back to Australia. They said, "Quickly come back, you're a hit." "Oh." So I shoved all this stuff in my green fiber suitcase, and we got through to the airport, and a guy comes out with great rings all up his arm and he's a chief customs officer, and said, "Good day. I'd like to look at your suitcase," and I said, "I don't have anything to declare." "Oh, no, mate, I just want to put my initials on it. I'm a great fan. I watch your show all the time."
And I look at my suitcase, and he puts a chalk mark on it, and I think, "What a scruffy suitcase," instantaneously. And he said, "You're Rolls Royce is outside for you." "A what?" "A Rolls Royce." I was going to take a cab, you know? And he takes my suitcase up – the handle – "Shall I put this in the boot, sir?" And I said, "Yes." I get into the hotel, and the bellhop puts it, "Shall I put this on your bed, sir?" As if it should be exterminated, you know?
And, by now, I’m looking at this thing, and it's just awful. This is – I have a Rolls Royce, and I have the penthouse suite, and I have everything …
Dennis: But the suitcase just …
Graham: But the suitcase is …
Dennis: … it's bunged up, it's dirty …
Graham: It's dirty, and there's a belt 'round it, which is its security, and that's my life, and I've now arrived. And I got that thing out of my life as quick as I could, and I got this lovely leather portamanteau with all the beautiful buckles and my initials on it and everything else, and I changed – I utterly and totally lost it. I was to buy a suitcase. My appearance had to be everything. You see, I suddenly shot up that side of the ladder, but I was still Graham at the bottom.
Bob: The shift that came so many years later in life, I mean, after you had acquired and had and enjoyed and loved all of these things, then the shift away from them, when God – as we've already talked about this week – when God turned off the lights, and they didn't have their lure anymore, you began to pursue a pattern in your life that you've referred to as "out-dulgence," and I love the turn of that phrase. When did that hit you?
Graham: Really, it's Treena. Treena had a heart attack, stroke, and we discovered she had diabetes, too, the adult onset, and she had hypertension. Gosh, I mean, you think of all the stress of being twice-nominated as TV producer of the year, I mean, everything about her life had been stressed enormously, and all of this impacted physically now on her life.
We just simply had to find a way to change our life to be able to accommodate this. Right at the word go, as we started to realize that we would eat a lot less and take a change, we just looked at each other and said, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could take whatever we used to eat that used to harm you and make that as a provision for somebody else, somebody who is desperately in need – a child somewhere that was dying, you know, and needed help."
And so we began – and I love to do this, I'm a numbers man, so I counted the calories, counted the fats, reduced these elements and started to put the difference into dollars and cents. And, since then, we've shifted about $30,000 out of our food budget into other people's lives.
Treena: In 18 years.
Graham: In 18 years, and Treena has got really better as a result of that. We have wonderful connections with folks, you know, who are doing great stuff. Now it's not Warren Buffett, and it isn't Bill Gates. It's just a couple who have changed harm into healing. Both ourselves – we've been healed first. We're the first recipients. But then there's a second recipient, and that's somewhere in the world there is an injustice, and God is a God of justice, and God will give each one of us a perception about what needs to be healed, and we can take it out of our life, find healing ourselves, and find healing for somebody else.
Treena: If we give it for three years.
Bob: Give it for three years?
Treena: Oh, yes. You can't give anything for once. It doesn't do you any good, and it doesn't give anybody any good.
Bob: It's just kind of a tip at that point?
Treena: It is, it is, it is.
Bob: And you're saying it needs to be a discipline? It needs to be a practice?
Treena: Yes, because the three years will cure you of a habit that you just enjoy, which is not frightfully good for you.
Bob: Give me an example of a habit that you enjoyed that was not frightfully good for you?
Treena: Let me think …
Lattes. Now, this is – how Graham will explain to you when it's explained in the book that everything seems to grow and grow and grow. Everything is an upgrade, even a latte. It started very small, and then it went a little higher and a little higher.
Bob: Vente and grande and …
Treena: Grande, grande. And I got into the grande, grandes, right? Three times a week with my friends. I have three very good friends, and we met separately over the week, and I would have my lovely grande, grande.
Bob: Now, you know, you're talking to a lot of grande latte listeners today.
Treena: I know, but this is me. This is me. It was upsetting my heart. It doesn't upset everybody, the coffee, but it was upsetting mine. I was getting things and – all sorts of things going on, and we were talking at a META [sp] conference, and we had – Graham had worked out how much I was spending on lattes, which was $650 a year – for no good. It wasn't doing me any good.
Bob: In fact, I was very interested at the amount that you recommend people start with as they begin to practice outdulgence.
Graham: Like 50 cents a day.
Bob: Fifty cents?
Graham: Yeah, 50 cents per day for a family of four adds up to $720 a year, and that, to our way of thinking, is at least two children and a bit through an organization like Compassion International.
The most important thing, I think, about this book is this, and we lead right up with a dedication on this one. We believe it is so easy to be critical, and there is no end to criticism, and the body of Christ is today challenged as a very critical organization. We need to be contributors to the common good and, for goodness' sake, we could easily get into being critical.
But, instead of that, we've tried to understand what has happened to us, and we've said, "There is a way out of this." It's like the tank at Tiananmen Square, is American marketing, and it's like we, as Christians, and saying, "Excuse me, we need to have a dialog with you" – the driver of that tank. "We can't take this any longer, this is no good for us. We are a dying people. You are making us uncivilized in our behavior, and we are not critical of this. We are telling you, we are going to take the excess that you have conditioned us to desire, and we're going to turn that around for healing for other people."
That pastor from Uganda just the other day got me in a corner and said, "Tell me, brother, why is it that you Christian in America are so indifferent to the crucial needs of your brother and sister in Africa, and give me your answer in one word." I was fairly intimidated, and I just blurted out the word, "upgrade."
He said, "Upgrade." I thought, what's that? He said, "Explain." And I said everything that surrounds me at the moment, my motor car, my house, my fridge, my – this – even the bedside light – everybody's got an upgrade. And whilst I don't necessarily buy into the upgrades, I do consider the upgrades. Even if I reject them, I am considering them. And, frankly, I am so surrounded by marketing that I haven't got time to think about you.
Now, there we have our problem. Isn't it so that the Scripture says that in the latter days, because of lawlessness the love of many will grow cold, and I'm shocked by the sound of that Scripture. Lord, is this where we are today?
Dennis: Graham, I want to quote that passage that you just sampled from, and I have at the top of this, I have it called "Why good people give up." 2 Timothy, chapter 3 – "But realize this – that in the last days difficult times will come, for men will be lovers of self." I'm going to finish this in a second, but if I would have answered the Ugandan pastor who asked you the question "Why Americans?" I would not have nearly as good an answer as yours, but I would have said, "selfishness." I think we are lovers of self. I think we think about ourselves, and I think that's really what you're saying here.
To continue on in the passage – "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money" – in fact, I've got to stop there. You have a name for money, what do you call it?
Graham: Folded self.
Dennis: Folded self? I like that.
Graham: Yes. I give my time, somebody gives me money, my time is just running constantly. I make decisions about that, so it's my folded self.
Dennis: "For men will be lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power." And then Paul warns Timothy, "and avoid such men as these."
Treena: That's right.
Dennis: You know, I think we have to first of all evaluate is that me the Scripture is speaking of, and to what degree have I been seduced by the culture and by the suitcase, like you talked about earlier?
Bob: You know, Paul also wrote to Timothy earlier and said, "As for the rich in this present age," which, by the way, would include all of us …
Dennis: … yeah …
Bob: … and anyone listening – "Charge them not to be haughty," isn't that interesting that the first thing you tell the rich people is "don't be haughty," "Nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches but on God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, and to be ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." That's what you've experienced, isn't it?
Graham: That's what the "Recipe for Life" actually is about.
Dennis: Bill Bright, the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ, who has gotten his graduation papers and is no longer with us, when he would sign a book or sign a Bible, he would usually sign it around the Great Commission, the Ten Commandments, and the Golden Rule, just about loving others – loving God and loving others. And he called people to do that repeatedly and then modeled it with his life.
And, you know, one of the things that, as I was reading your book, that really encouraged me, you admitted that you became a legalist about this stuff.
Dennis: And started judging other people, and I just appreciated the freshness of your candor that basically admitted you've got enough challenges in your own life, you don't have time to judge others. You just want to make your own choices.
Bob: But you may have ruined somebody's grande latte today just by being on our program.
Treena: I am so sorry. That was just me, you know, that's just me. I mean, I just had a triple bypass about seven months ago.
Bob: And that's what's refreshing. That's exactly what you're saying. You're saying that's you, but each of us need to ask "What about us?"
Treena: That's right.
Bob: What do we need to be doing?
Graham: We found out earlier on that you introduce a rule you can almost bet on getting a revolution against that. So what's the point? Give people options and let them make the choices.
Dennis: Well, I just appreciate you guys – or you chaps …
Dennis: I really am grateful for you, and I'm grateful for this book. It's really caused me to do some thinking, and I hope you'll be back on FamilyLife Today again and maybe introduce our guest to some …
Bob: You want a recipe next time.
Dennis: … chocolate – something better than chocolate gravy. Would you do that?
Graham: Of course, I will. That would be wonderful.
Treena: With his book that's coming out.
Bob: When the recipe book comes out.
Graham: We'll do that.
Dennis: We'll have you back and hopefully you won't turn your RV …
Graham: … into a convertible.
Dennis: Into a convertible.
Graham: It lets the rain in.
Dennis: I must give you C.S. Lewis's definition of interruptions. He said there are no such things as interruptions in life. They are the real life that God brings us day by day. You've just had some real life brought to you.
Bob: You guys have done a great job of sharing this week your real life with us, and your "Recipe for Life" that we've talked about today, that's the title of the new book that the Kerrs have written – "How to Change Habits that Harm into Resources that Heal, " and I hope a lot of our listeners will get a copy of this book and not just read it but start to do a little tinkering, a little adjusting in their own lives.
Again, the title of the book is "Recipe for Life." We have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if you'd like to get a copy from us, you can go to our website, FamilyLife.com. In the middle of the home page, you'll see a red button that says "Go," and if you click that button, it will take you right to a page where there is information about this book by Graham and Treena Kerr called "Recipe for Life."
There's also a book that our friend, Randy Alcorn, has written that I think is a great companion to what the two of you have written. It's a book called "The Treasure Principle, Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving," and you'll find information about that book on our website as well.
In fact, if you're interested in getting a copy of both of these books, we'll send along at no additional cost the CD audio of our conversation this week with Graham and Treena Kerr. Again, go to the website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "go," in the middle of the screen, and that will take you right to a page where you can get the information about these resources, and someone on our team can make sure they get sent out to you.
Or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. That's 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and, again, we'll make sure that these resources get sent out to you.
You know, as we've talked about giving and living outdulgently today, we want to say thanks to a handful of folks who not only listen to FamilyLife Today but who are Legacy Partners. These are the folks who help support this ministry on a monthly basis with a donation of any amount, and throughout the rest of this week on most of these stations, we are going to be talking to listeners about how you can join us and become a Legacy Partner to FamilyLife Today and help join with a few of your neighbors who have already said we want to pitch in and make sure the program stays on this station in our community and is able to be heard in other communities around the country.
So let me invite you to tune in the rest of this week. We will be live on some of these stations, other stations, you'll be hearing pre-recorded programming, but I want to invite you to tune in. We always have a lot of fun as we do these programs over the next couple of days, and I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We hope to see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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