Seven Kinds of Happiness

Happiness from Nature

It is important to explore nature and see what God has created for us. Nature is happiness.

According to a blog post recently completed for The Christian Post, there are seven distinct kinds of happiness, all which intermix and connect to create true happiness.  Six of these sources are able to be felt by both Christians and non-Christians.  First, there is the happiness derived from nature—from appreciating God’s creation, and simply spending time in the outdoors appreciating what God gave us.  Social happiness comes from joy provided by friends and family.  These close relationships are integral to contributing to an individual’s overall happiness. Next, is vocational happiness; while an individual’s job should never be one’s sole source for happiness, it is expected that a thrill will be felt when a particular goal is met or a challenge is overcome.

The next two sources of happiness are quite different from one another.  First, there is the physical sense of happiness—a joy that comes from being physically fit and healthy.  This sense of happiness is often particularly notable in those who were previously ill—undergoing some trial or surgery to overcome some obstacle.  Alternatively, there is the intellectual form of happiness. The source of this feeling is truly understanding something–analyzing it, explaining it, improving it, remembering it, using it.  Essentially, there is a certain type of joy to be derived from mastering a subject or solving a problem.  Finally, there is humor happiness.  While this source can toe a fine line between clean fun and sinning—as so very much humor is inclined towards crude comments and demeaning remarks at the expense of others—human nature does come with a sense of humor—a holy and healthy humor, not something that resulted from the fall.

While all six of these forms of happiness can be felt by non-Christians, these feelings are certainly amplified by the believer, as they feel each of these things, only with the added connection towards God’s grace and activity in their daily lives.  In addition, there is one sort of happiness that only the Christian can feel—spiritual happiness, which is often felt when the believer reads the Bible and learns more on God and His grace.  These experiences can often fill the Christian with unspeakable joy and a feeling fully of glory.

Dinner Conversation with Buddhist Prompts Contemplation of Worlds

A Buddhist scholar believed the inspiration behind John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” was Buddhism’s Heart Sutra.

A Buddhist scholar believed the inspiration behind John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” was Buddhism’s Heart Sutra.

According to an article recently completed for the blog of The Christian Post, a dinner conversation with a Buddhist scholar raised many questions for the Protestant Christian author of the blog post. The scholar declared that they believed the inspiration behind John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” was Buddhism’s Heart Sutra, which indicates that the Buddha Gotama discovered freedom depends on one’s own realization of Truth and not external power as a reward for good behavior.

From this topic of conversation, the author started contemplating on what songs created based in the Bible would paint a picture of. What type of world would these songs create? Instead of a world lacking materialistic burdens, these songs would focus on replacing a world of hatred and indifference with God’s unconditional forgiveness and love. This is all possible through Jesus Christ, through his actions, which broke the cycle of sin, indifference and hatred amongst the human race. While he hung on the cross, he asked his Father for forgiveness for those responsible.

This then raised another question for the author—an endeavor to imagine undergoing Jesus’s suffering, and still managing to forgive those responsible. Paul says that humans were God’s enemies, and He still managed to forgive all sins and hatred. It is only through realizing and appreciating the cost God expended in forgiving and accepting humans that we could forgive and accept others.

The author then applied this to the conversation they had with the Buddhist scholar, which evolved to discuss the responsibility of one’s actions. Karma, a prominent Buddhist belief, revolves around one action’s creation of a reaction. From there, a cycle is created, in which the believer is never truly free of their previous actions. Is this the world Lennon intended to pay tribute to? Is this the world the reader wishes to live in? Or would it be preferable to experience God’s grace and forgiveness? This very grace and forgiveness, in the author’s opinion, is what allows for the vicious cycle started by ideals such as karma to be broken. Through God’s infinite compassion, believers are able to create actions of love, instead of hate and indifference, creating a far more preferable world.

Everyone Matters, Through the Will of God

Just because your calling may not be to preach the word of the Lord, does noit make you any less worthy of God's attention.

Just because your calling may not be to preach the word of the Lord, does noit make you any less worthy of God’s attention.

It can be easy to set eyes on the authorities of the church—pastors and evangelists—and grow to assume that they contribute more than the average church-goer, who serves the ministry part-time around their other vocations, such as accountants, waitresses, nurses or teachers.  While this assumption can be an easy one to make, an article recently completed by The Christian Post God calls all followers to a variety of vocations.  By the pure will of God, a believer could be called to do anything.  Every individual has a job to do, in the eyes of God; He will lead the person towards their appropriate fate—what they are meant to do, the part they are meant to play.

Many can be drawn to believe that a call to preach is the highest calling imaginable; it is certainly easy to fall to the assumption that it is superior and higher than the individual’s own calling.  This can often lead to a sentiment of being a second-class citizen—less worthy of the attention of God than those whose serve full-time.  While it is true that to preach is a privilege—a very high calling—the article declares that no calling is higher than the one assigned to the individual.  The believer must show faith and be faithful in this calling—to acknowledge that, even if one can’t work in the ministry full-time, contributions are still possible, specifically through the individual’s calling.

This thought process maintains that not just those who are highly visible in the church are important.  Often, the assumption can grow that those seen regularly participating in services and addressing congregations are the only ones who are important and susceptible to the will of God.  However, this perfectly natural assumption neglects the fact that there are also many who are important in the eyes of God that the average individual overlooks or fails to recognize.  No one can declare who is and is not important in the eyes of God; it may very well be the individual who sits in church, doubting their own relevance.  Therefore, the article declares the believer must be who they are by the will of God and fate will follow.

Worship Is More Than Music

peter rigo worshipI want to talk briefly about our life in worship. In our life, we often think of worship as being, for the most part,  just singing slow songs after singing fast songs. And we then say, “Well, we worshipped.” But that is not all worship is. Worship is a lifestyle of serving Jesus Christ.

But there are moments in life when you might lay on the couch and watch TV, and there are moments when that’s not appropriate because you’re supposed to be at work. Similarly, there are moments when you sit on the street car and you close into yourself and plug your ears into your music and you just ignore the world. And that’s okay. But there’s another time when you’re sitting in your office and your boss is talking and that isn’t going to work.

So we are different things at different times. But worship means total encompassed lifestyle of living for Jesus Christ. Now that’s really hard to understand because we associate it with music and singing. So it’s going to be really difficult for you to be sitting in your desk at your office in customer service with your hands up singing, “I am alive in you, I am alive.” Your boss is going to walk in and sing, “In me you are fired, in me you are fired. Get your things and get off the property…”

But when we talk about worship–it’s not just music, rather it’s a relationship. I’ll give you an example: I worship my wife, by which I mean I live in relation to her. I live to please her. And when I fail to please her I find ways to get forgiveness for not pleasing her. I have got to be in relationship with her on the boundaries and statutes and precepts and principles and the relational covenant that we agree with. It doesn’t matter what anybody else does, it’s about what pleases her and what pleases me, and we work together on that covenent and we exchange respect and love and build a strong relationship together.

Worshipping God is the same. It means to build a relationship with him based on the word of God, being led by the Spirit so it reveals to you what the heart of God and his nature is really saying in the Word. And that allows us to begin to build a life of worship together.

 

The Kingdom of God

peter rigo kingdomWe don’t always start out feeling like it. We don’t always start out with all good news. But we know how to take bad news and make it good by giving God praise. By giving God thanksgiving. By lifting our voice in spite of what’s going on in our life and worshipping God. Lifting our hands when we don’t feel like it, shouting when we feel like crying. Lifting our voice and declaring God is good when everything around us feels bad.

If you live by the direction of this suit that you wear called flesh, you will never likely be happy about most things and most things will likely never satisfy you. But when you get a hold of the word of God and you let the spirit of God come through you and you start going opposite to what you think and how you feel and what your bank account says and what your employer says, and you start worshipping God and you start giving God praise and thanking Him for your great life, that great life will come and that weight will come off.

You’re up for an award right now. In the Kingdom of God, you’re up for an award for believing when no one would believe, and serving where no one would serve, and for loving and investing where no one wanted to be.

The Kingdom of God is backwards from the way you and I live. In our flesh and our mindsets and our culture, we’re taught to get as much as we can, hang on to it for as long as we can so we can have whatever we want. And we’re inundated it in our consumer culture–from our clothing to our food to our cars to our devices–advertising is telling us we need the latest version of everything.

So we live in this type of society and then you hear crazy word and scriptures come along that talk about sacrifice and difficulty and going the opposite way and being dead and buried and it doesn’t compute to us, it doesn’t jive with our society. But when you understand the Kingdom of God and you see how it works opposite to the way you and I work, then we begin to see why God is going to award you.

We need to replace the idea that we need more than we have with the idea that we already have everything we need. We don’t need more, we need to make better of use of what’s already ours.

God Has a Plan

peter rigo gods planI was thinking this week as I was studying. I was going back over my life and my history and this thought came back to me about the time that I discovered my wife’s engagement ring.

She wasn’t my wife yet of course. I had been at Bible College about three months. I know they call it “Bridal College” but I wasn’t looking for a wife, I can promise you that. I was like 19 and it was my first time really away from home–I was in the US, a whole different country. And on American Thanksgiving, we had a three-day break and I returned home to see my family and my church friends.

I made an appointment to see a friend who had a job at Jackson Square, but at the time I lived on the mound. I didn’t have a car anymore (I had sold it to go to Bridal College, er, Bible College) but luckily another good friend of mine was heading into town and offered me a ride. He had somewhere to be and couldn’t get me close, but he could at least take me into town.

He dropped me about 20 blocks from Jackson Square so I had a significant walk to make. I started walking and songs drifted into my head, the way your life has its own soundtrack, and there I was: 19 years old, strutting down the sidewalk, singing “Staying Alive” to myself, feeling like I had style and grace. And as I walked, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a sign that said “80% off.”  And as I continued walking and singing to myself, the soundtrack sort of got quieter and a little part of my brain realized it had been a jewelry store. And another little part of my brain said, “Hey, you could go back and get a piece of jewelry for your new girlfriend!”

So I turned right around and walked back in. But when I entered, the place was virtually empty.  And I look around and say, “Where’s all the jewelry?” And this little elderly lady comes out from the back and says, “This is our last day in business. Our family has had this store for 80 years. At six o’clock tonight, we close for good. And all we have left to sell you are these five rings.”

Well as I said, I was not looking for an engagement ring, I promise you. I hadn’t even connected to the thought in my head that I loved my girlfriend. I was a little slow. Maybe too many soundtracks.

But this lady pulls one ring out–I don’t know why she chose this particular one–and she holds it up into the light and it just sparkles. It was like the northern lights twinkling.

And you should know I know absolutely nothing about jewelry, I’m clueless. But I said, “Wow, that’s really nice. How much is that?” And she said, “It’s a thousand dollars.”

“Woah, a thousand dollars,” I said. I had been thinking I could get a chain or something for 80% off, at 25 bucks or something. So I thanked the kind lady for her kindness and generosity and headed out of the store, and the soundtrack came back and I moved on to my lunch appointment.

Later on, the friend who’d given me a ride called me and said he was coming back through and asked if I’d like a ride back. I said sure so he picked me up. As we were driving back I told him the story about the jewelry store and the 80% off and the old lady with the five rings and the six o’clock deadline. And he said, “Wait, really?”

Now understand, he knew a lot about jewelry. He was already married and something of a pro when it came to shopping for women. So he got  really excited about it and said, “Let’s grab my wife from work and go back to the store before it closes.” And I said, “Sure, okay, I’m riding for free, I don’t mind.”

So he grabbed his wife and we get to the store and park in front and we’ve got 30 minutes before it’s closed for good. And we go in and I introduce my friend and his wife. And once again the little lady pulls out that one ring that sparkles like the aurora. And my friend takes it and he looks at it, examining it. He asks her technical questions about the quality of stone and the size and the karat of the gold and she lists off all that it is and it’s a really good ring. But I don’t know that I have no idea. So he turns to me and he says, “Man, you should buy this ring for your girlfriend!” But I wasn’t even sure if she was my girlfriend at that point, and also wasn’t sure if I even had a thousand dollars to spend.

So I was thinking it over and the old lady’s husband must have heard the commotion from the back because he came out and started talking to us. And I didn’t know what one does in these situations so I said, “Will you accept 500 dollars?” thinking that if they’re going out of business, 500 dollars is better than nothing. And he turned beet red, pointed, and said, “Get out! Get out of my store!”

So I had to leave but my friends stayed and explained that I was simple, I didn’t know anything about jewelry and I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. My friend came out and said, “We talked to the man and he’s willing to forgive you, and he’s offering to sell you the ring for a thousand dollars.”

It just so happened that Canada Trust had just come into business and there was one right across the street. This was before cellphones where you could check your balance online, so I ran over and asked the teller if I had that much money. I was pretty sure I didn’t because I’d left a lot of my money at home when I went to school so my parents could use it to pay for things, but the teller informed me that in fact I did still have over a thousand. I took out the money and ran back and, with two minutes to spare, plunked the money on the table and picked up a ring that would change my life forever.

Now it’s interesting because when I started out that day and I started walking to that appointment, I wasn’t focused on where I was going forever, I was simply focused on what I was doing for that day. I was meeting somebody for lunch. The amazing part of that day was God was focused on where I was going for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t looking for a ring and I wasn’t looking to get married but God had plans for me. He had a purpose, he had a story that was going to be written about my life that included my beautiful wife and that beautiful ring and that 80% off sale. And though I was doing something normal, God showed up supernaturally and changed my story forever.