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Recently I was thumbing through the Evangelical Theological Dictionary of Theology, and there it was! somewhere between Hallelujah and Homologoumena, I encountered  Happiness.  I was pleasantly surprised that a theology book considered happiness a worthy topic.  It not only explored the concept of happiness, but included a “to-do” list.  Things people need to do to be happy.  I have taken that list, modified it somewhat, and added a few things of my own, to come up with a Top Ten list of things  people need to do to be happy.

1.  Develop a close relationship with God.jesus

John 15:9  “Stay in my love.”  John 15:10  “If you obey my teachings you will live in my love.  John 15:11  “I have told you these things so My joy may be in you and your joy may be full.”  John 15:15  “I no longer call you servants.  Instead, I  have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have told you.”  New Life Study Testament

The most important thing to do to enjoy God and be happy is to have  a deep, trusting, and loving relationship with God.

2.  Have a strong moral base.

Mark 12:28-34  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This is closely related to number one.  One way we love God with  all our being is  to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Loving doesn’t necessarily mean “liking”.  Having a strong moral  base essentially means that we do to others as we would like  them to do to us.  We don’t have to like other people in order to treat them right.  Jesus uses the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate this point (Luke 10:25-37).

3.  Show mercy and compassion to the poor.

Proverbs 14:21 “He who  despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is  kind to the needy.”                                                       Matthew 25:37-40  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when  did  we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give  you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you  in, or  needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick  or in prison  and  go to  visit you?’                                                                                                                          “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”    New International Version

When we reach out and help the poor, less fortunate, the “least of  these”, God fills us with joy, because these are the kinds of works we were created to do to be happy people  (Ephesians 2:10).

4.  See your work as a gift from God.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13  “I know  that there  is nothing better for men than to be happy and do  good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.” (also Eccl. 2:24,25; 3:22; 8:15)

The author of Ecclesiastes mentions often that enjoying and taking pleasure in  your job is one of the most important things we can do to be happy.  God gives all of us special gifts, talents, and abilities, that, when put to work, brings us joy. I  believe God has given me the  ability to garden and to teach.  I have been doing these two  things for over thirty years.  While I  never made a lot of money doing these things, they have brought a richness of joy into my life.

5.  Think of others as better than yourself.

{love and happiness}

{love and happiness} (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philippians 2:3  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in  humility consider others  better than yourselves.”   1 Timothy 1:15  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”  NIV

Perhaps nothing can  take away my happiness quicker than when  I begin to think that I am better than  someone else.  That can be quite a temptation, especially when one lives  in a Christian community in a foreign county as I do.  Here at the home for  needy children in Mexico, there are staff members and volunteers from different countries, cultures, backgrounds, environments, and spiritual walks.  The Devil wants to bring divisiveness rather than unity, and he loves it when he can get us to think of ourselves better than those we are around everyday.  When we feel superior to  others, complain about others or look down on others, then the Devil has gained a foothold and we lose a precious bit of divine joy that  God has for us.  The great apostle Paul, writing to Timothy towards the end  of his life, comparing himself to others, states that he is  the worst of sinners.  If we can identify with Paul, then we can experience God’s love and enjoy Him in a unique way.

6.  Say “Thank you”.thank you

Colossians 3:15  “Let the peace of Christ have power over your hearts.  You were chosen as part of his body.  Always be thankful.”    1 Thessalonians 5:16  “In everything give thanks.  This is  what God wants you to do because of Jesus Christ.”     NLST

Say “Thank you” at least 50 times a day.  Say it to God, to friends and family, to co-workers and to complete strangers.  I f you have a thankful heart, you will have a happy heart.  Just ask Madame Blueberry from VeggieTales, she’ll tell you.

7.  Embrace silence and solitude.

“Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter – the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”  “Solitude … is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world.”  Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart, pg.s 16,22

“The day needs definite times of silence, silence under the Word and silence that comes out of the Word.”  “Silence is nothing else but waiting for God’s Word and coming from God’s word with a blessing.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, pg. 79

Two  writers that I have a lot of respect for when it comes to enjoying God, are Henri Nouwen and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  They both write about the importance of silence and solitude in the life of a happy, fulfilled Christian.  They both suggest that daily times of  silence and solitude, as well as extended get-a-ways where you can enjoy longer times of intimate silence and solitude with  God and His Word are extremely important.  It is especially in times of silence and solitude that we experience God, His  love and joy.

8.  Don’t talk so much.dont talk

James 3:6  “The tongue is a fire. a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is  itself set on fire by hell.”    James 3:8  “No man can tame the tongue.  It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

Hmm. Our tongues – fire, world of evil, corrupting, restless evil, full of deadly poison.  Not happy things!  Haven’t we all been burned and been poisoned by other  peoples words?  More tragically, we have burned and poisoned others with our careless words, gossiping, backbiting, sarcastic and venomous words.  James says in the beginning of chapter three that if you control your tongue you will be perfect – perfectly happy?  I think so.  Fewer words, more happiness.

9.  Delight in God’s Word.bible pic

Psalm 119:16  “I delight in your decrees;  I will not neglect your word.”  vs. 24  “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.”   vs.35  “Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.”   vs. 47  “I delight in your commands because I love them.”   vs. 77  “Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.”  vs. 92  “If your law had not been my delight, I  would have perished in my affliction.”  vs. 111  “Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.”  vs. 143  “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.”  vs.174  “I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.”    NIV

Start your day by reading God’s Word, studying and meditating on the scriptures, praying through some verses, memorizing others, and you will have a delightfully happy day.

10.  Don’t live in the world and go to church, but live in the church and go into the  world.

I don’t know who  originally said that, but I love it.  God not only saved us to have a personal relationship with Him, but, more importantly, saved us to be a vital part of His  body, His kingdom, the community of faith, the Church.  The Church is  not a building that we go into once or twice a week to “worship God”.  The Church is the body of Christ, a spiritual building that God has chosen as a growth instrument to help His followers grow  in  the fruit of the Spirit, of which  one important fruit is joy.  As a community, a fruit basket, we go into  a hurting world and bring to it love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness and goodness.  Hence, we “live in the Church”, and go into the world.

Romans 12:4,5 ,6  “Just as ach  of us has one body with many members, and these members do  not  all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form  one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”

So there it is, my top ten list of things to do  to  be happy.  When these things are prominent in my life, I discover I am happier, experience more joy and enjoy  God  more.  Most of these things don’t just happen overnight.  It has taken me almost 50 years to cultivate them to the  point that they are more or less natural to my life and faith walk, but I still  have a ways to go.

I have about ten different types of fruit trees that I  planted and care for here at the home for needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico.  I imagine these ten things “to do” to be happy, as fruit trees in our lives.  When they are young they bear no  fruit, or immature fruit that is very small or not very edible, but they have the potential of producing much fruit.  In order to finally bear good fruit they constantly need looking after.  They need water, sun, good soil, fertilizer, insecticide, and pruning.  After four or five years they almost all bear fruit, some more than others.  One has died and a couple others are struggling mightily.

So it is in our “spiritual orchard”.  Some of the things on our “to do” list come naturally, are comfortable for us to practice and live.  Others we struggle with, and some we just feel like giving up on.  With patience, diligence, and the goal of Happiness in view, we can have a beautiful and abundant orchard that yields a life of happiness and enable us to enjoy God forever.

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”    Jim Valvano, College Basketball Coach who died of cancer eight weeks after saying this in  a speech.

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Next post – The Lord’s Prayer, A  Happy Prayer

Elaine

Elaine and her husband Ian are long time volunteers from Canada, here at the home for needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico.  The other day I  asked Elaine if  she believed God loves her and wants her to be happy.  She said, “Absolutely!”  Then I asked her why she thought God allowed her to lose her hearing.

DSC00222

Happy Children Playing
Artwork by Elaine

She had had perfect hearing most of her life.  About 28 years ago she gradually began to lose her hearing do to menieres disease, losing her hearing first in one hear, and then in the other until she was  totally deaf.  She thought about my question.  She told me that she never thought a lot about why God allowed her to lose her hearing.  She told me about difficulties she experienced as her hearing became impaired.  With tears in her eyes she recounted a recurring nightmare she had  regarding her hearing  loss and her increasing need to  depend on devices used to help the hearing impaired.  A few more tears appeared as she told me about how much she loved music, and that she can’t go into a music store now.

Thinking more about my question, she mentioned that with her hearing loss she has learned to depend more  on God.  She rests more in God.  Sometimes God takes things away from us, things that we enjoy, to help us focus on Him so that we can enjoy Him more.

God has made Elaine happy and uses her in a tremendous way at the mission, in the community and in three Oaxacan prisons.  She is an artist and has  painted many beautiful pictures and murals that inspire everyone here at the children’s home.  She received a cochlear ear implant almost three years ago and partial hearing has returned to her life.  That helps her to teach art classes at the mission school.  She also has a sewing talent and ministry that reaches out to poor and incarcerated women, both physically, with quilts, and  spiritually, with words that flow from her compassionate and joyous heart.  She glorifies Him and enjoys Him in many different ways everyday.

Thinking about Elaine and her spiritual journey, I was  reminded of  two different scripture passages from the book  of John.  One  is  from chapter nine, the account of the man  born blind.  In those days, most Jews thought that physical maladies  were a result of sin.  The disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned?”

Jesus told them that the blind mans affliction was not a result of sin.  He was blind  all  his life so that one day the master healer, Jesus himself, would come along and restore his sight, and that God would be glorified through the miracle.  Surely, the man who could now see, glorified God and enjoyed Him forever.

I also thought about John 15, where Jesus speaks of God the Father as a gardener of a vineyard.  Jesus says the  gardener cuts off every branch that bears no fruit.  It is a basic principle of horticulture that to get more, you cut more.  I do  most of the gardening and landscape maintenance here at the mission.  While we don’t have any grape vines to  prune, I am constantly pruning roses and other flowers in order to get bigger and better flowers.  Lately I have been pruning some overgrown citrus trees in order to get more, high  quality fruit.  In  the same way, God prunes things from our lives, in order that we may produce more fruit – fruit of the Spirit.  In the case of  John 15, the spiritual fruit in question is JOY.  In verse 11, Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  God loves us and wants us to be happy, and many times He  prunes away one aspect of our live to ultimately produce more joy fruit in  our  lives.

Elaine  misses her ability to hear perfectly.  Daily her thoughts turn toward heaven and the time that  her hearing  will  be restored.  In the meantime, she  thanks God for the gifts he has given her and the compassion she is able to show others who have suffered loss.

Art

When I first met Art, he was dying of a brain tumor.  He was a middle aged man, gray hair, balding.  He had once been an active Episcopal priest.  I met him at a Lutheran church that I had just begun attending in Northern California.  As I recall, he told me a joke.  He loved to tell  jokes.  It was hard for  me  to understand him, because the brain tumor had caused his speech to be a bit slurred at times.  He also had trouble with his sight, and needed a cane to get around.  All of this didn’t stop him from enjoying God and  telling jokes.

He told me about the time he told God a joke.  Immediately afterward he said he was plagued with guilt.  Who was he to be joking around with the Almighty, Holy God.  He was in turmoil, he told me.  He prayed.  He cried.  He begged forgiveness.  He repented.  After some time in this anguished state of mind, he heard a voice.  The voice said, “Art, tell me another one.”

I think that because of this experience with a God who likes to laugh at jokes, Art began bringing much joy and mirth into peoples lives by telling  jokes and funny stories.  It didn’t matter so much that you couldn’t always understand him or get the punch line.  What mattered was, here was a man who believed that God loved him and wanted him to be happy, despite his painful circumstances.  As a result of the joy he experienced, he naturally wanted to spread the joy, and the best way he knew was telling jokes and hysterical stories.  After I gave Art my email address, not a week went by that I didn’t receive at least one new joke or funny story.  I always laughed and thanked God for Art.  I miss him.

Anita

Anita was born into poverty.  She was born at home because her parents couldn’t afford a hospital.  She had a brother that was stillborn.  One of her sisters died at six weeks, and another who died  before her tenth birthday.  Her youngest brother has Downs Syndrome.

Anita is a lady who suffered much as a young girl growing up poor in Mitla, Mexico.  Her parents couldn’t afford a house, so they lived with an oppressive grandmother who treated them like servants or slaves.  When that environment became too much for them, they decided to  move to a small piece of land they owned on the edge of town.  They constructed a “house” of bamboo sticks and a tin roof.  Some days all they had to eat was tortillas with a bit of salt or pumpkin seeds  for flavor.

Their only hope, so it seemed, lay in the syncretistic, Catholic religion that combined Christian orthodoxy with ancient, pagan, Zapoteco traditions.  They prayed to saints, built a shrine to dead loved ones, and put out offerings they couldn’t afford , to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.”  All of this brought nothing to their souls by way of peace, joy and  happiness.

Fortunately, protestant missionaries lived nearby, and helped Anita and her family financially by giving them jobs.  More importantly, they helped spiritually by giving them the gospel, the good news, that God loved them  and wanted them  to be happy.  One by one, Anita and her family gave their lives to Jesus.  One of the happiest days of Anita’s life was when she surrendered to God and embraced His love.  The  burdens  and oppression she had suffered all her life,  lifted away.  She felt light as a balloon.  She felt she was floating on air.  And oh the joy that flooded her soul.

DSC00231

Anita, The Happy Cocinera

Anita is my wife.  I met her my first day at the mission.  She is an  incredible cook and was working in the kitchen at the time.  The first thing I noticed about  her was her smile and sense of humor.  My Spanish wasn’t so  great  then, and I didn’t understand half of what she said, but I did understand that she was glorifying God by enjoying Him!

We married two  years later, and she continues to  light up my life, our daughter’s lives, and all those at  the mission, with her cheery attitude, generous giving of herself, and her contagious sense of humor.

I thank God everyday for this ray of  heavenly sunshine that He  has shined  in my life.  I also thank God for the inspiration of Elaine and Art, people who  show  me how to  enjoy God in the midst of unpleasant life situations.  People who know that God loves them and wants them to  be happy.

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“One day our Sovereign Father and Friend will allow us to grasp His reasoning.  Until then, we must trust Him.  He is filled with love for you and me, and He uses the things we don’t understand to bring us closer to  Him.”  Letter from Bob Vander Plaats to his severely disabled son – from his book Light From Lucus.

pain – death – war

Last time I wrote that we were created to enjoy God.  I wrote that God loves us and wants us to  be happy.  Writing that, I could hear in my mind, voices of readers making objections.  People naturally asking, “If God loves us and wants us to be happy, then WHY?  Why is there suffering and pain in the world?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why were more Christians tortured and killed last century, than all the other centuries put together?  Why are babies born with defects?  Why does God allow children to be abused?  Why is there war?”  The “Why’s” are many.

These questions lead to others.  Is God good and loving, yet weak or powerless to prevent pain and suffering?  Or, is God the almighty creator of the universe who made us and then takes an apathetic step back to see how it will all play out?  Questions like these are asked everyday in a hundred different ways, and it seems that no one has the answers.

Well, never fear, friendly reader.  Michael James Santiago Schwab is here.  I have all the answers.   In my dreams!  To tell the truth, my own voice was making the same objections when I wrote about God’s love, enjoying God, and being happy.  I was asking WHY?  I wish I had all the answers, but of course I don’t.  I live in the same world as you – a world filled with  the tensions of good and evil; wholeness and brokenness;  happiness and sadness; peace and conflict; joy and disappointment; success and frustration.  These types of tensions confront most of us on a daily basis.

Another question.  What do we do with all these tensions?  Try to ignore them?  Bury our heads in the sand?  Put on rose colored glasses?  Pray for the best, but expect the worst?  Let go and let God?

Again, I don’t have the answers.  All I can do is share some ideas about how I have learned to cope with these issues as they have sprung up on my spiritual  journey.  I hope what I have to say will encourage everyone, but undoubtedly my words will be a disappointment for some and ring hollow to others.

For me, finding the  right perspective on these issues of good and evil, suffering and pain, begins with reading the Bible.  I believe the Bible is God’s Word that He gives us to help us think His  thoughts after Him.  To open the eyes of our heart, our spiritual eyes.  I think of the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, as a User’s Manual, that God has graciously given us to.  He made us.  He knows how we function.  He explains what we need to know in the Manual.  In reading, studying and meditating on the Bible, God helps me  understand, a little bit more everyday, what’s going on.  I get more of His perspective.  Through the help of the Holy Spirit, I can see things more clearly.

One of the first things that I learn from Scripture is that having all the answers in life isn’t all that important.  In fact, having all the  answers is impossible.  What is important in life is to trust that God loves us and  wants us to be happy.  That’s what the Bible says.  One example- I just scanned the book of Psalms, all 150 chapters.  I  have read it many times, and underlined things that were important to me.  Scanning all those pages and reading things I had underlined, certain words and phrases jumped out at me.  Rejoice, gladness, joy, delight, steadfast love, love endures forever, rescue, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, goodness.  These are the words that the writers of the Psalms use to describe God, His gifts, and their reaction to those gifts.  Throughout the Bible, from the Garden of  Eden in Genesis, to the New Jerusalem in Revelation, I read about a Good God who loves His people and wants them to be happy.

Job

Job and his “friends”

This is not to say that  God’s people never suffer.  All we have to do is to read the book of Job to see that.  This book gives the account of a “blameless, upright man who feared God and shunned evil”.  He was very wealthy.  He was a devoted father.  A picture of health.  We all know the story.  He lost everything in a short time.  His wealth was stolen.  His children died in a tragic accident.  He began suffering from a horrible, painful skin disease.  How did Job react?  The first two chapters tell us that “Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” and “Job did not sin in what he said.”  Job 13:15 records Job as saying, “Even if God kills me, still I will trust Him.”

Naturally Job wanted to know WHY?!  Why God?  Why?

Towards the end of the book of Job, Job receives an audience with God.  Surely he must have thought, Now God will answer my question – WHY?  Guess what?  God did not answer the Why Question.  God proclaimed  His might and power to Job.  God told Job to consider the universe that He had created.  God directed Job’s attention to nature, and God asked a few questions of His own.  Forty-seven questions to be exact.  A few examples of the questions that God asked Job –

Where were you when I laid the earths foundations?

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?

Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?

Can you bring forth the constellations?

Do you send the lighting bolts on their way?

Will the one who contends the Almighty correct him?

To all these questions, Job had to answer “No”, while God says, “I was there, I have done it and will continue to do it.”  What God is saying to Job, and to us, is that He is all powerful.  He is sovereign.  He has given us a beautiful creation, and He can be trusted to do the right thing, even if we can’t see it or don’t understand it.  Job never did understand, this  side of eternity, why he had to suffer the way he did, but he did understand that he had to to trust in God, that  He is  good and that His love endures forever.

I love Psalm 103.  God is pictured as a loving, compassionate father.  He understands what we are going through.  Why we suffer.  Verse 14 says, ‘he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”    Our attitudes are dust.  Our actions are dust.  Our strength is dust.  Our motivations are dust.  As a result of all that “dust”  we suffer sometimes because of our sin.  We cause other people to suffer because of our sin.  We suffer because of other peoples sin.  Sin is the main cause of suffering, although certainly not the only cause.  Despite our sin, as Psalm 103 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”  When we recognize our sin, and ask God to forgive us and restore us to a right relationship with Him, then we can be assured, as verse 12 states, “as far as the east is  from the  west, so  far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

In our times of trials, turmoil and terrible pain, we can be sure that God, our compassionate Father, is  there beside us, walking with us, and at times carrying us.  Ultimately we can rest assured that we will  be delivered from all  sorrow  and suffering.  Why?  Because God loves us and wants  us to be happy.

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“Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home”     Amazing Grace

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Next blog – Three Happy People

The first page from the 9th edition of the Wes...

The first page from the 9th edition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1785). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why am I here?  I ask that question in two senses.  Why am I here on planet Earth?  And, Why am I  here blogging?  I mean, that’s all this  world needs is another blogger – Right?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the same question in a  slightly different way.  “What is the chief end of man?”  The answer, “To glorify God, and to enjoy Him  forever.”  John Piper, in his  book Desiring God, puts it a little differently, “To glorify God by enjoying Him.”   I like  that.

I am here on planet Earth to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. Or, as the blog’s subtitle asserts, God loves us and wants us to be happy.   As for creating another blog?  Same reason.  I  enjoy writing, especially about God and His goodness, grace, mercy, love, kindness, power – you get the  idea.  It makes me happy.  I hope to glorify God by my writing.  I  hope people reading this  blog will  come away from every post with a smile on their face, a deeper joy in their hearts; happier people.  I enjoy God in a myriad of ways everyday – through His Word, His creation, His presence.  Through my family by relation  and my spiritual, community  of faith,  family.  My desire, dream and hope is that because of this blog, as I share what I have  learned so far in my faith  journey with Jesus, up and down the path of life, that your journey will be a bit more enjoyable, joyous and happy.  God is the King of the world, the Creator of the universe, and our Daddy.  That incredible Being loves us and wants us to be happy!

I am a Dad to four daughters.  Two older daughters, Tifani and Brianna, who are in their twenties and are from my first marriage.  My youngest daughters are a result of my present marriage; Sally and Kelly, ages 3 and 2.  What an age difference!  My two sets of daughters are somewhat of a microcosm of my experience with God and His love that I have encountered on my spiritual journey.  I love all of them and want them to be happy.  This wasn’t always the case.  My first two daughters were born while I was in Bible college and “ministry”.  I loved them, but being “happy” wasn’t a top  priority.  Being obedient, good little Christian girls was more important to me.  I wasn’t such a happy guy either.  I was a stern, hard-nosed father, generally no fun to be around.  As they grew, they occasionally referred to me as “pharisee”, and I imagine the word “hypocrite” was sometimes muttered under their breath.

In my mind and on my lips were verses from the Bible about God’s love, but they were not always on my hard heart.  I didn’t think much about “enjoying God” or the idea that He wanted me to be happy.  Thus a failed marriage and strained relationships with my daughters.

God Never Gives Up

Fortunately, God’s grace, mercy and stubborn love kept working on me.  God was (and still is) the Hound of Heaven, who was constantly giving me good things I didn’t deserve, and constantly getting little messages into my head about how much He loved me and wanted me to be happy.  One of my favorite verses in Psalms is from the 13th chapter, “I will sing unto the Lord, for He has dealt bountifully with me.”  For a long time I  was spiritually blind to God’s bounty in my life.  All I saw was negatives, problems and selfish wants and “needs”.  I  didn’t always sing and give thanks for God’s goodness, because I didn’t always see it.  I was blinded by spiritual pride and self-righteousness.  Thank God, He never gives up on us, because He loves us and wants us to be happy and to enjoy Him.

The Apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians, that the eyes of their hears may be opened, and that they will know the depth and riches of God’s love.  Gradually the “eyes of my heart” were opened to the reality of God’s love, goodness and grace.  As I grew in that love, goodness and grace, I wanted to share that with others, with “the least of these”, as Jesus puts it.  I had wanted to be a missionary since I  was a young teenager, mainly because it seemed adventurous.  God wisely and mercifully put the brakes on that notion until I grew in the understanding and knowledge of His love, and could go to serve the “least of these” with the right motivation – Love.

Oaxaca

So here I  am, in Oaxaca, Mexico, cooperating with God in helping needy children.  I am part of a wonderful ministry called Foundation For His Ministry that helps the economically needy, physically needy, and most importantly of all, the spiritually needy, both children and adults, throughout Mexico.

I have never been happier in my life.  God has created us in such a way, that the more we share and reflect His love to a hurting world, the happier we will be.  God has blessed me (made me happy) with Anita, my loving, vibrant, God-loving wife and two beautiful daughters.

I regret the bad attitudes and wrong perspective that I had on life and about God in my earlier years, and the pain I caused other people.  I thank God everyday for the mercy he continually pours out on me, and the fact that He can make all things beautiful in His time.

I just turned 50 in December.  Through the years, in spite of my thick skull, God has shown me and taught me about His love;  His  kind of happiness, and I have been truly enjoying Him like never before.  With Sally and Kelly, I don’t care so much if they  are perfect or obey all the time.  I really care that they learn to love God, grow in His grace,  are happy, and enjoy God.  I  pray that God helps me to be a Daddy that can be an example of that.  I also pray that as people come ToEnjoyGod.com, that they will come to enjoy God in a deep, fresh way in every aspect of their lives.

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“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good  and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it as a bad thing, I submit  that  this  notion has crept  in from  Kant  and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if  we consider the unblushing promises  of reward and the staggering  nature  of  the rewards promised in the Gospels, it  would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but  too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures  fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants  to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”  C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

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Next blog – If God loves us and wants  us to be happy, WHY…?