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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

thankful

I had the privilege of preaching on the subject of thankfulness this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We have many reasons to be thankful, and have the obligation to make our gratitude to God and other people.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 13:12-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Humble service, especially in tasks that are menial and that no one really wants to do, is expected of believers in Jesus Christ and exemplified by Him.

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On a recent “Happiness Hour” on his radio program, Dennis Prager made the point that in order to be happy, we have to realize that everything has a price. Once we know the price, we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to pay it.

Moving to another city to take a job has a price. We may leave a church we’ve loved and been part of (and may have a difficult time finding another one). We’ll be farther away from our extended family. We’ll disrupt our own family life with a move. We’ll need to find and make new friends and develop a new routine in the new city. The job will have to be settled into. We deceive ourselves when we think there will no price to pay and that everything will turn out “just fine.” The job may pay more a look great, but are we willing to pay that price? On the other hand, looking for jobs in only one geographical area will limit your possibilities.

There is a price to having children, and not having them. There is a price to going on a diet, and a price for eating whatever you want whenever you want. There is a price to be paid for achieving excellence as a musician. There is a price to be paid in order to become a world-class athlete.

Not surprisingly, there is a price for being a disciple of Jesus Christ, too. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26) Are we willing to pay the price?

There are consequences to everything – a price tag, in other words. If we don’t realize that, happiness will elude us.

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“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8) The apostle Paul gave these instructions to Timothy, a young man whom he personally trained and discipled to be a shepherd and an elder in the church.

Notice the clear distinction made between the body and soul. Timothy, and by extension we, are told to train ourselves for the purpose of godliness (progressively reflecting more of God’s character and nature) and to realize that bodily training has value in this life but not the next. This doesn’t mean, for example, that we shouldn’t exercise, but we should understand the its limitations.

Put in other words, this is what Paul is saying: physical things can never satisfy or fill our souls, and immaterial things can never satisfy or fill our bodies. There is a gigantic category difference between body and soul, material and immaterial. Certainly, they’re linked together – our soul (mind, affections, and will) influence our bodies, and our bodies influence our souls – but they are not the same thing. We get into trouble when we mix them up.

The best pizza you’ve ever had can never give you peace. Buying a new car will never give you purpose and meaning in life. Joy – true joy – can never come from your paycheck. Forgiveness cannot be given and guilt cannot be removed through alcohol and drugs. Why not? Because they were never designed to meet those needs. By the same token, if you’re hungry, don’t read a chapter of the Bible – get some food! Being content with life won’t satisfy your thirst. Kindness, as good as it is, won’t transport you from home to work. Why? Because they were never designed to meet those needs.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught that blessedness, or happiness, comes from being poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:3-12). We don’t find a pizza, clothes, cars, homes, alcohol, drugs, jobs, or anything material in that list because they cannot bring true blessedness and happiness.

I love pizza, but it can’t bring me peace, joy, or happiness. That was never its design. Peace, joy, happiness, and every other virtue, come from God and not from things.

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Bethany Storro is a 28-year old woman from Vancouver, Washington, who was the victim of a horrific attack while going to get coffee at Starbucks. A woman threw a cup of acid into her face.

She describes it like this to The Columbian,

It was the most painful thing. My heart stopped. I almost passed out. It made holes in my shirt. Imagine that on your skin. I could hear sizzling.

It’s hard – incredibly hard – for me to imagine what she experienced and what went through her mind in the midst of an attack that “came out of nowhere.”

But listen to what else she said and the attitude behind it.

I’m just trying to stay positive.

It’s not about looks. I can’t let what happened to me ruin my life.

I’m generally a happy person – everyone’s just been so nice to me.

The article, written by Bob Albrecht, also said,

A Christian, Storro returned throughout the half-hour (bloggers note: Storro and her parents had a thirty minute press conference at Legacy Emmanuel Hospital on September 3rd) to her profound belief that God is watching over her.

She points to the sunglasses – credited with saving her eyesight – that she bought 20 minutes before the incident as a sign of divine presence.

“For some reason, I had this feeling I needed to buy sunglasses,” Storro said. “That’s Jesus, for sure.”

We can’t control what happens to us. We can control how we react to it – what our attitude we’ll be. Bethany Storro exemplifies a thankful, positive, and happy attitude. She could be bitter, unhappy, resentful, and angry, but she’s not.

What’s stronger than acid? Bethany’s attitude and reaction.

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Dennis Prager, one of my favorite radio talk-show hosts, has one hour of his program every week devoted to the subject of happiness.

Several weeks ago, he brought up the issue of what we think will make us happy and what will actually make us happy. The lists are interesting.

What we think will make us happy

  • The absence of pain
  • Money
  • Fame
  • Fun

What will actually make us happy

  • Gratitude
  • Love (which often comes through friends more than family)
  • Passion (hobbies are one example of passion – have as many as possible)
  • Religion/Transcendental purpose
  • Growth (Have I grown in the last year in various areas)

What do you think? What would you add to the list? What would you subtract from it?

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