Monday, April 30, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 21

When you feel restricted, held back or even imprisoned in is pretty challenging to be happy!

That is why God does what he does for us...
The last thing He wants is for you to be stuck.
Stuck by issues. Stuck by your past. Stuck by others.
In fact the imagery used in the Bible I think shows Gods heart for people again and again.

You can read about God rescuing over a million people from slavery in Eqypt.
You can read about God saying that He will release the prisoners from their captivity.
And you can read that God wants to take us all from something called 'mirey clay' and set us on a rock.
Then you watch God putting His actions where His heart is...and sends His only Son to rescue us by going to the cross and rising again. 
That action alone won us the opportunity to be truly set free. To have this thing called Freedom.

John 8:36 says...
...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

You and I can be happy through the freedom only He can bring.
You don't have to accept being restricted, held back or even imprisoned by life!
His heart for you is to have you living in freedom, not just hoping for it.

So how do you get it?
Give your life first, foremost and completely to Jesus.
Grow in relationship with Him.
Get discipled.
Get some prayer ministry from someone you know can help you.

Don't wait another day!
If you are not free, get free...
And if you are free, help someone else that isn't yet to have what you have.
That is how I think it works.

Something to think about...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 20

I thought of this one this morning in the shower...

You have to choose.

You probably just thought I meant you have to choose to be happy.
While that has an element of truth, it is not entirely what I was thinking.
And I don't think choosing to be happy has the same power as what choice can have.

What you choose as your foundation in life...
The values you choose to embrace...
What you hold as the most important to you...
What your beliefs are and how they are structured...

...those choices will dictate and influence how happy you will be in life.

What I am talking about above are the foundational elements of who you are and what is important to you.
A brand new iPhone can make you happy for a moment. But there are bigger things by which we judge our happiness over the long term.

Some guy many years ago understood this concept of choice.
He made this bold statement...

"...choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15-16 niv

Joshua made a distinction that was clear.
He declared what choice he had made.
It was the foundation of all he was, would be and could be.

With a choice like that he knew nothing could shake him.
That no matter what the world threw at him, that the bedrock of his life was secure.
And let's face and stability go a long why to helping us feel good.

With a firm foundation your happiness will never be entirely dictated by temporal things.
It will come from a deeper knowledge of who you are and what you are about.

My challenge, no my dream for you, is that you read those words that Joshua spoke...
That they resonate something in your spirit today.
That you from this moment on decide to make Jesus your highest priority. Your very firm foundation!
Please join me. Choose Him with me.

True happiness is found there...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 19

Sacrifice is a word used a lot especially today as we remember those who gave their lives over the many wars last century.
But I found myself today asking what the link was between sacrifice and my pursuit of happiness.
And you know what, they are very much linked...

A guy called Paul wrote a lot of the New Testament in the Bible and he was at many times sacrificing much of who he was and what many would have felt entitled to in his role.

Check out what he says to one Church that he wrote to…

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17

He was a man of sacrifice.
And he was a man who sounded happy…

Romans 12:1 says this challenging statement...
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Paul recognized that a life truly lived doesn’t avoid sacrifice, it actually embraces it and lives fully in it.

This has all got me thinking and I have come to some conclusions for my life:

The opposite of sacrifice invariably leads to selfishness

Without sacrifice nothing is ever achieved that has a lasting effect and value.

Sacrifice, once it has done its works leads to satisfaction.

1 Peter 2:5 says this... also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Do not worry. Embrace sacrifice as put of who you can be.
Use your life to change your world and you will give yourself happiness in this life and the next.

Something challenging to think about…

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 18

There was this advert that used to be shown around the world.
It went something like...
Have a Break - Have a KitKat

Catchy little phrase to try and get you to buy some chocolate coated biscuit thing with no real nutritional benefits.
It worked on me I must confess. I bought more than my fair share over the years and took my own little break.

So how does this KitKat thing work into the pursuit of happiness?
The chocolate may give you a quick satisfaction hit and some sort of a happiness boast.
But the main thing for me here is 'the break' part.

If you are like me and pride yourself in working ridiculously hard, then taking a break can sometimes make you feel guilty. It is almost as if that it seems like a waste of your precious time.
Being a slow learner like I am sometimes with some of life's big issues, I am only just realising now that 'the break' is sometimes my best work.

Here are some examples:
When I have spent hours trying to work through some technical issue without much success, why is it that if I walk away and take a break that I get an answer?
When I drive to a neighbouring town from here to do some errands, why is it that I seem to get my best ideas while driving along?
When I have a major change in my weekly routine that involves some down time, why do I feel energised to work again when I get home?

The Break!

To be happy in life you need some breaks.
Some interludes of change or rest or both.

When God made the world he took a break on the 7th day.
Was He tired or burnt out?
I don't think so.
I think He did it so that He could have time to enjoy what He had just done.

Maybe you aren't that happy at the moment?
Maybe the answer is to schedule a break.
Crack open a KitKat if you have to. I give you permission.
Let a break make you happy.
You'll be better for it.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 17

Today I am marrying some friends of mine.
I think that is pretty cool and it is such an honour to be part of their special day.

From this day a whole new life will open up for them.
In fact today is a day that helps set the course for the rest of their lives together.
Today is a day to celebrate. Something to really enjoy...
There is the wedding ceremony.
The honeymoon (won’t say anymore about that hahaha)
Their first home together. One day their first child?
According to the groom they are having lots!

I know today will also bring happiness to my life.

I have learnt that in my pursuit of happiness that true happiness comes from special events and not just
continual good things happening to and for me.

Special moments in time make life good.
They bring us happiness.

You and I need them.
They are the things to look forward too as well as the things that act as signposts of ‘the good’ remind us we have been happy.

The day I came to knew Jesus was a great day that I have never forgotten.
My wedding day and the days my children were born, again special days.
Starting to pastor our church, another happy day!
Looking forward to things like Christmas or New Years is a good thing.
Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, some special holiday or other moments you may have planned...all good!

So I guess what I am saying is this…
If you have moments you can look back on with some happiness, remind yourself about them.
As you look to your future, embrace the great moments you know you have coming. Even plan to make some for yourself and others.

One day, Jesus has promised a special moment for each of us where we will finally get to spend eternity with Him.
That is something to look forward to and should bring you some happiness.

Something to think about…

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 16

I normally recommend the same few books when people ask me for suggestions on what they should read...
One of them is a book called Weird by Craig Groeschel.
It attracted me in the first place because of its title. I figured it sounded kind of interesting.
In that 'Weird' book it shares some fantastic advice to follow, if you want to follow Jesus.

One of the ideas that has stuck in my mind ever since reading that book was the idea about 'the line'.

Most Christians I have met ask about 'the line'.
"How far can I go until it is wrong?"
"At what point does what I am doing make it some sort of a sin?"

Many today are wanting to get as close to 'the line' as they can because they think that is really living.
They think it is the way to be happy.
They even promote getting close to the line to others and some even call it nice sounding things like grace.

The problem I find with living close to 'the line' is that you never know when you might trip over it.

Take alcohol for example.
Living close to 'the line' means you only ask - "How many drinks until I have drunk too much?"
What about dating?
Living close to 'the line' means you only ask - "How far can we go before we have sex?"
When you flirt around the 'the line' you normally trip over it. We are not as stable as we think we are.
What about flirting in general? - "How much can I flirt before it cause me or others an issue?"
In 1 Corinthians 6:18 Paul simply states to Flee from sexual immorality.
Doesn't sound like going as close as you can to 'the line' in what he suggests.
He is saying to stay away as far as you can. Not as close as you can without getting burnt!

Living happy is not about living on the boundaries.
It is living in the sweat spot of what is right.
Some call it living in the centre of God's will...
That way guilt or worse can't have mastery over you.
And you can be feel happy. Happy with yourself and your choices.

Something to think about...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 15

It seems my Pursuit of Happiness series for our weekly email and blog seems to keep going and going…
So many cool things to share with you! Here is number 15!
Maybe I should write a book???

I have learnt that there are things out there determined to rob me of happiness.
It is like they have an inbuilt ability to go beyond what they are on their own, to take even more control over happiness for us.

You don’t have to live long in this world before you find someone out there who does something wrong to you and hurts you. From out and out evil things to something  seemingly simple like an insult thrown at you.
I regularly see people on social media commenting about how surprised they have been when someone close to them causes them hurt.

Jesus understands! I can say that because He really does!

Imagine if everyone you loved deserted you at your most vulnerable time in your life.
Imagine if a group you had entrusted to teach and love others let you down by going against you.
Imagine if the people you created and loved beat you to death.

When you think about all makes one of the last things Jesus says before dying kind of ‘out there’…
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 22:34

Jesus seemed to be able to forgive even in the most
painful and trying of circumstances.
Even though He had every right to be unforgiving and angry He goes in the complete opposite direction.
That is amazing and a miracle even on its own.

Colossians 3:13 says… Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

A guy called Fredrick Buechner said this…
“When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride. For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own skins and to be glad in each others’ presence."

You and I are the same…
You know in your heart like me that holding onto hurts and anger doesn’t help much at all.
Forgiveness is a key to finding happiness in life.

Maybe this week, you and I should take the time to check our hearts. Take the time to be honest. 
And take the time to forgive whoever we need add happiness back into our lives.

Something challenging to think about…

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness - Part 14

It really does fit with the Easter theme for this week…
I have been thinking about the link between sacrifice and happiness.

I bet you are thinking that can’t be true or at least wishing it wasn’t on some level.
I mean, sacrifice isn’t nice.
It is doesn’t sound good to us normally.

Jesus certainly wasn’t looking forward to the big sacrifice he was going to make! The Bible says things like that He was praying and sweating blood as He wrestled with God over this big deal.
But I am glad He chose to still do it. Otherwise you and I wouldn’t have much hope right now.
I am sure that if you asked Jesus, He would say that He was happy to do and that He is happy He did do it.

Sacrifice is ultimately bad when there is no real reason to do it. It makes the sting of sacrifice magnified.
Sacrifice with a reason is more able to be reconciled.
More able to be followed through with.

If you want to be happy, you need a element of sacrifice in your life. 
Avoiding any form of sacrifice will not make you happy, it will eventually make you miserable.

I have learnt that sacrificing my time for someone else seems to be more rewarding than the time I could have spent on my own.
Getting something now with financial stress is not as good as sacrificing my desires now for something better later.
Sacrificing my life to serve Jesus is actually the most fulfilling thing I think I have ever done.

Listen to what Paul said…
...even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17

1 Peter 2:5 also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Maybe sacrifice works with happiness because it goes along with being a disciple of Jesus?

Something challenging to think about…