"...the research behind the World Happiness Report asks respondents to rate their lives on a scale of one to ten, with ten representing 'the best possible life for you,' and one representing the worst. .... the key, says Savolainen, is their low expectations. They don’t expect much, so they are highly satisfied, and, thus, very 'happy.'" - Veith
We’re a week or so into February, so today’s article has a bit of romance for Valentine’s Day and much application (finding happiness in life) for the other days of the year. I came across this true account from Reader’s Digest:
My cell phone quit as I tried to let my wife know that I was caught in freeway gridlock and would be late for our anniversary dinner. I wrote a message on my laptop asking other motorists to call her, printed it on a portable inkjet and taped it to my rear windshield.
When I finally arrived home, my wife gave me the longest kiss ever. “I really think you love me,” she said. “At least 70 people called and told me so.”
In Genesis 29, Jacob initiates what will be one of the great romances of all time; no cell phone message could compare to it. Although this romance had a happy ending (he did marry his beloved Rachel), Jacob’s life was complex, stressful, and messy. Despite great hardships, his life was rich and filled with happiness. How can this paradox be? The answer is no surprise: God.
Jacob had been scared, lonely, probably overcome with guilt, and walking into the unknown. He had stolen both the family birthright and Isaac’s blessing from his brother Esau; Esau was so angry with Jacob for his low-down scheming that he planned to kill him. To preserve his life, Jacob hurriedly exited Canaan and headed toward relatives in Haran (what we now call Iraq).
By Micah Colbert
What should we do when the wicked prosper?
Like most of you, I’m deeply concerned with a lot that’s taking place in our country. Godless ideologies are rapidly becoming mainstream as wicked people in powerful positions of influence relentlessly advance their agendas. Those who try to resist are marginalized or “cancelled.” The alarming success of the wicked cannot be ignored. It’s reshaping our culture, worldview, relationships, and freedoms. One can only imagine what might be on the horizon if the wicked continue to prosper in their endeavors.
So how should we as God’s people respond to all of this? Thankfully, we don’t have to figure out how to navigate through these challenging times on our own. God’s Word gives us answers. Below are a few thoughts from the Scriptures that I trust will be an encouragement to you:
I can’t think of a greater book to turn to in troubling times than 1 Peter. This epistle was written to encourage believers who are being persecuted for their faith. In this book, Peter exhorts suffering saints to passionately pursue a life of holiness in light of the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 1:13-21).
Mark and Nancy Sheppard began missionary service in the nation of Liberia, but God had an agenda of personal transformation neither of them expected. Nancy has written about that experience in her recent book, Confessions of a Transformed Heart. We asked Nancy to tell us a bit about her experience in Africa and her aims in writing the book.
After a wonderful first term of ministry in Liberia (1986-89), we were in the States for our one-year home assignment when the Liberian Civil War began. We hoped very much that it would end quickly and we would be able to resume the life and ministries we loved. Sadly, it dragged on and on. In 1991 we returned to Africa, this time to Liberia’s neighboring country, the Ivory Coast, where we began to minister among the Liberian war refugees.
After the missionaries evacuated from Liberia, Baptist Mid-Missions made a policy that no families with children still in the home could live inside Liberia. We had three young children at the time. It was our strong desire to continue work among the Liberians that caused us to make the decision to enter refugee work in the Ivory Coast rather than begin work among an entirely different people group.
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Some people love a good conspiracy. Others avoid them like the plague. Stephen Altrogge believes that whether we like it or not we are all part of one big conspiracy. This is not a conspiracy like those involving Area 51 or Lee Harvey Oswald. It is bigger and more sinister. It is a cosmic conspiracy.
In his new book, The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence, Altrogge explains this cosmic conspiracy we are all part of:
It’s a conspiracy between the world, my heart, and Satan to steal my happiness. These three are plotting and scheming together to make me perpetually discontent. They’re stubbornly determined to poison the joy I have in God and to deceive me into believing that I can find happiness somewhere other than God. They want me to dishonor God by gorging on the unsatisfying pleasures of the world instead of finding true joy and satisfaction in Christ. (p. 12)
So what is this conspiracy trying to perpetuate in our lives? Discontentment—specifically, discontentment with what God has given us in Christ.
Where does this discontentment come from? My circumstances or others around me? No—it comes from me. In reference to Mark 7:21-23, Altrogge points out the following:
The problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within. They’re not the product of my circumstances, and the desires won’t be satisfied when circumstances change. (p. 17)
Throughout Scripture we see that God is the center of the universe and its activities. That means I am not. God made me for Himself (Isa. 43:6-7). “Discontentment begins when I start trying to be God….when I attempt to displace God from his rightful place at the center of the universe” (p. 24).