Friday, March 29, 2019

In His Image

     In creation God spoke everything into existence.  He said let there be light and there was light.  He commanded the land to be separated from the waters and it was so.  With his thought he divided the day into night and placed the planets, stars, the moon and the sun into place.  He glanced at the heavens and at the ocean and caused the fowls of the air and the fish of the sea to appear.  He stepped on the land and grass, herbs, trees and animals appeared.    However, when it was time for the creation of man, He could have said, "let man appear," and it would have been so.  Instead, he took the time to kneel by a spot of land of his own choosing.  He then cleared the grass until the clay appeared.  He gathered water and slowly poured it into the earth and with His hands he molded the clay until His image appeared.  He then fashioned the rest of the body into what would be described as 'the marvel of the work of creation.'  As if that was not enough, instead of rising to his feet and commanding the mold of the first man to rise to signify the creature from the Creator, still kneeling, he blew he breathe of life into his nostrils.  When mankind awoke, he was helped to his feet by God himself and given dominance of everything that was created.

     Everything was spoken into existence, except for mankind.  With his own hands God molded and fashioned him.  Then he breathe into his nostrils the breath of life.  Our existence therefore should never be taken for granted nor questioned.  God took the time to mold us and then breathe the breath of life into us after which he help him to his feet.  Indeed, this shows how intimately his relationship with mankind was intended to be from the beginning.  Man's search for meaning is found in his creator not in 'what is out there'. God is everywhere, waiting with an out stretched hand to lift us to our feet as he did Adam.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Man's Search For Happiness

"It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation which give you happiness." - Thomas Jefferson.

Have you ever asked yourself what is true happiness?  If you have, you are not alone.  It is now the focus of numerous ongoing researches.  Ironically, the late Eric Hoff, American social-philosopher who died in 1983 once said, "the search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."

The source of eternal happiness is viewed by many to be elusive, however, some have sought and found comfort in many self-help books.  Today the self-help industry is said to be worth more than US$10 Billion dollars in America alone.  In addition to the books, there are seminars, podcasts, workshops, exercises and coaches all directed towards enhancing and developing a happy mind and body.

Some people may look down on others for their pursuit of a happy frame of mind, however, the US Constitution declares it as a right. Over the years, other nations have joined in the search, to the extent, the United Nations has designated March 20 International Day of Happiness.

If so many researchers have studied the subject of happiness for so long why are so many people unhappy?  Iona Goulder in a 2016 article entitled, "Why Trying to be Happy is Making us Anxious," wrote, "The happiness industry tells us that our well-being is a matter of individual effort and personal responsibility.  And subsequently, we've conceived that if we put in enough time and effort, read enough books, use self-improvement apps, meditate and fill in gratitude journals then we can lift ourselves out of any fleeting or perpetually dissatisfied state and into one of pure happiness."  If it were that easy many people would be happier.

Ellen G. White, the author of the book Steps to Christ, eludes to man's inability to find true happiness outside of his Creator when she wrote, "God made man perfectly holy and happy."  She further stated, "It is the transgression of God's law - the law of love - that has brought" and I am paraphrasing here - "unhappiness."  For us to understand what it means to be happy we have to go back in time when it was recorded happiness and balanced existed.

The Bible teaches that in the beginning when the world was created the Creator pronounced that everything  ... was good."  He was happy as He looked around and saw that everything was existing in harmony.  Happiness can not be found within you until you acknowledge that which is evident around you.  The Psalmist David wishing to find this happiness earnestly asked God to create in him a new heart and renew a right spirit in him,"  Psalm 51:10.

In defiance, many try to 'pour new wine into an old sack' only to meet disappointment.  Like the rich young ruler, (Matthew 19:16-24) they see the evidence of contentment, however, because it calls for the sacrifice of self they turn away disappointed and instead seek happiness in pleasure based activities.

Emily Esfahani Smith in her book The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, presents research on a life spent seeking and living a life of pleasure.  This might make you happy in the short run, but without deeper meaning, it could make you miserable over time.

So, what is it that makes people happy in the long run?  Almost everyone agrees that giving of oneself to a cause, (for me it's sharing the love of Christ) and making the sacrifice that is hard.  If the rich young ruler was willing to detach himself from his wealth and was willing to trust the words of Christ he would have found the happiness that he sought after. 

Unfortunately many are still making the same mistake today.  Thinking sporadic short-term pleasures over time is equivalent to long-term fulfillment.  Only those who are willing to make the sacrifice in the long run and those who persevere will become content, fulfilled and happy.

The Pension Gamble

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow ...