Jonathan Edwards on Differing Capacities for Happiness

~ It is often understood that in Heaven there will be differing degrees of happiness (just as in Hell there will be differing degrees of unhappiness and suffering). Here and there though, the question arises as to how in Heaven, Joe and Jane can both be fully happy and yet still differ in how much happiness each has. I have wondered about this and found a great answer to this on-line in the following article at Reformed Answers. What follows is a link to the article, and some quick excerpts:

Jonathan Edwards on Degrees of Reward in Heaven   Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Question
I do not understand Edward’s on in his degrees of happiness, if the saints are completely happy how can there be degrees of hapiness?

“There will be a perfect harmony in that society; those that are most happy will also be most holy, and all will be both perfectly holy and perfectly happy. But yet there will be different degrees of both holiness and happiness according to the measure of each one’s capacity, and therefore those that are lowest in glory will have the greatest love to those that are highest in happiness, because they will see most of the image of God in them. And having the greatest love to them, they will rejoice to see them the most happy and the highest in glory.”  

So, to the question, ‘If all saints are perfectly and completely happy how can there be degrees of hapiness?

Edwards mentioned “capacities.” An illustration may help: Some may have a 8 oz cup of capacity based upon thier works and others may have the capacity of the ocean. When each arrive in heaven, they will each be perfectly happy because each one will be filled to the fullest of their capacity, but the person with the “ocean capcity” will of course have the greater happiness, while the 8 oz worker will not miss what the other has. Anthony Hoeksema answers and says:

“When one has studied music and has attained some proficiency in playing a musical instrument, his capacity for enjoying music has been greatly increased. In a similar way, our devotion to Christ and his kingdom increases our capacity for enjoying the blessings of that kingdom, both now and in the life to come. Leon Morris says, “Here and now the man who gives himself wholeheartedly to the service of Christ knows more of the joy of the Lord than the half-hearted. We have no warrant from the NT for thinking it will be otherwise in heaven.”

Paul’s Mystical Experiences…

In Chapter 12 of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul talks about a man who he knows, who was caught up to the third heaven about fourteen years ago. This man apparently “…was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”

Who is this man that Paul talking about? If you read the prior chapter to get some context and then keep reading forward, you will realize that Paul is really talking about himself. One indication of this is that Paul shifts his language from speaking in the 3rd person to the 1st person.

Now here is a question: How long ago did Paul have these remarkably great experiences and receive “surpassingly great revelations”?

Veil Nebula ~ Courtesy Pixabay

Ans. Fourteen years ago.

” …I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…” ~ 2 Cor. 12:2

And another question: Why is Paul telling us this now?

Why has Paul kept silent for fourteen years? I mean should he not have written whole epistles and books on the subject matter. Why so much silence? Why just a bare paragraph’s worth of information – no details given – and all this fourteen years later! Why?

Ans. I can’t say I know 100% why, but we can gather at least this much. Part of it was this it was not God’s will that he speak of these things. Another part of it is that Paul did not regard these experiences as particularly important to the furthering of the Gospel. He simply did not think that these subjective, and if you will – mystical – experiences were anything worth talking much about or anything that would help his neighbor in some special way.

Other wise Paul would have been the last person to hold back. If one reads the New Testament and gets a feel for Paul’s personality and temperament, one will realize that Paul would have been the last person to hold back on anything that will help you get to know God better. So for me the question becomes – just how important are mystical experiences?

I opine that they are not of much value. They simply are not. At the end of the day, our most important need is salvation from our slavery to sin. This comes from the Cross.

Here is a sermon, Strength In Weakness by Kent Hughes that in part discusses said issue:

Are Smart People Less Happy? ~ John Piper Interview…

EH_QuoteThe following was one among many question that John Piper was asked on his podcast Ask Pastor John. I found the answer he gave to be very interesting so I decided to transcribe it. The answer that he gives is here (click) , and you can listen to the audio there.

*Note: In the transcription below, the emphasis (underlining, bold face, etc.) and mine. So also the art. 


Tony Reinke: Ernest Hemingway is reported to have once said that ‘Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know’.

Pastor John, what do you think of this? Is this true? Are the deepest thinkers the most unhappy people?

John Piper: First of all, I doubt that Ernest Hemingway ever knew an intelligent, red-blooded, unashamed, thoughtful, articulate, happy Christian. The circles he functioned in, and the jaundiced view that led him to blow his brains out when he was 61 years old,  with a shot gun, didn’t give him a very good exposure to the possibilities of a kind of happiness that thrives precisely amid the sorrows of knowledge. But, he does put his finger on a truth that is biblical. And it is Ecclesiastes 1:18:

“In much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

Piper: Thats what he experienced. And thats true, so my answer is yes. Its true because the Bible says so. At the end of the book, it says:

“Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”Notice

Thats true. So the intellectual life. The life of the mind. The life of thinking and wrestling with problems and trying to solve them is a life of increased sorrow and weariness. Yes it is. Yes it is. But notice. It does not say that increased knowledge leads to decreased joy. Increased sorrow? Yes. Decreased joy? No. 

What if sorrow and joy increased together almost in proportion with increased knowledge? 

What if the reason all the intellectuals that Hemingway knew were unhappy, is that they were only increasing in one kind of knowledge and not the kind that brings joy? 

Biblically, the case for knowledge, the life of thinking and understanding is mixed. It increases sorrow and it increases joy.  If you would know God better and know the world better and know yourself better, there is a price to be paid in sorrow and vexation.  It will be costly. And there is also pleasure to be had, and it is the Bible says, worth it all!

So, let me give the reasons that I can think of why the Bible says that increased knowledge increases sorrow:

1. Because the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. Its like paddling your little boat of knowledge further and further out into the endless sea of knowledge which is infinite because God is infinite, away from the comfortable shores of security and ignorance.  

The ignorant people don’t know the extent of what they don’t know. Those who pursue knowing  get to the top of a ridge – switched the metaphor now from paddling to climbing – they get to the top of a ridge, that they’ve been climbing for 10 years and as they pull their chin up over their top, they see 10,000 mountains to climb.

The person at the bottom who hasn’t been climbing, he can’t even see over the ridge. He’s lost sight of the person climbing the ridge, so he is not bothered by those 10,000 mountains yet to be scaled out there, so thats number 1, number 2…

2. Knowledge increases sorrow because the more we know the more we know of suffering. This is a fallen world. The more you know of it, the more you weep. It is.  Its futility. Its brokenness. Its misery. The ignorant feel some of it, but those who increase in knowledge of the world outside and the scope of history – its a “conveyer belt of corpses” one historian said, and we weep because of the more we know of this fallen world.

3. Third reason that knowledge growing increases sorrow is because the more we know, the more we are accountable to live up to.  

“To whom much is given, much is required.”

Our responsibility increases.

“Let not many of you become teachers.”  There is a burden to carry when God has given you insight. Yes, Christ gives help with all of our burdens but Paul spoke of an anxiety for all the churches. He carried so much himself and he wanted them to know so much and it was a burden that they learned this and lived this. 

4. Fourth, knowledge increases sorrow because we are compelled to change our ideas of when we learned something. In jumping from that little boat I talked about – that little boat of knowledge that you are sailing on into the sea of what you don’t know. Sometimes you gotta leap out of the boat because it turns out to be wrong. “I’m sailing the wrong theological boat and there is just a little raft of truth out there and you got to leap for it and you get splinters in your hands and your ego and thats painful to have to change your thoughts.

Eccles1_18

I remember I wept my eyes out in the Fall of 1968 as my theology was crumbling and needing to be rebuilt. Its a very painful thing to be able to walk through transformation of what you think you know. 

5. And the last one I thought of was, knowledge increases sorrow because the more we know, the more dementia will take away.  A mind full of great truth from God’s Word and God’s World will feel the sting of senility more keenly than the mind that has less to lose. 

So yes  Hemingway, much wisdom increases vexation and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow, but the message of the Bible is that it is worth it. Its worth the sorrow. 

The summons of the Bible everywhere is “Get knowledge! Get understanding!” The Bible never says run away from it. It  warns you of the pain, but it never says turn and run. 

“My son if you receive my words and treasure and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”

Thats hardly a warning but aggressive an invitation as you could possibly make to go for it. Go for it! Yes sorrow, but go for it! That was Proverbs 2. 

Proverbs 20 – There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

Jesus – “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” 

Romans 10: “I bear them witness. They have a zeal for God but it is not according to knowledge.”

Colossians 2: “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

So in other words Mr. Hemingway, increased knowledge does increase vexation and sorrow, but that is only half the story and oh that you had known the other half!  In Jesus Christ, this vexing knowledge is a treasure chest of precious jewels.

JPiper

Reinke: “Yes and amen. Thank you Pastor John and in fact one of  the critical things to learn is how to build our intelligence in order to make us more childlike in our dependence on God, not less dependent on Him.

C.S. Lewis on Joy

pbs~ I need to think about this later… its a quote from C.S. Lewis that I am excerpting from PBS.org which in turn is excerpting from Lewis’s book, Surprised By Joy.

I perceived (and this was a wonder of wonders) that just as I had been wrong in supposing that I really desired the Garden of the Hesperides, so also I had been equally wrong in supposing that I desired Joy itself. Joy itself, considered simply as an event in my own mind, turned out to be of no value at all. All the value lay in that of which Joy was the desiring. And that object, quite clearly, was no state of my own mind or body at all. In a way, I had proved this by elimination. I had tried everything in my own mind and body; as it were, asking myself, “Is it this you want? Is it this?” Last of all I had asked if Joy itself was what I wanted; and labeling it “aesthetic experience,” had pretended I could answer Yes. But that answer too had broken down. Inexorably Joy proclaimed, “You want — I myself am your want of — something other, outside, not you nor any state of you.”

Eternal Life & Abundant Life

The following stems from a conversation I had with someone. Had to do some digging around and reading after words.  A couple of things  or points emerged basically.

The First Point: The Bible teaches that there is such a thing as Eternal Life.

~ If you ask a random person out on the streets – someone who is unfamiliars with the Bible – what they thought Eternal Life was, they would probably tell you something like, “Its living endlessly. Never dying. Being immortal.”

This is quite a contrast from what the Bible teaches.

And .   .   .   Annnnnnnnd . . .

Second: The Bible also teaches that there is such a thing as Abundant Life.

jesus_love_life_5___wallpaper_by_mostpato-d4ylhwx

~ If you ask a random person out on the streets – someone who is unfamiliars with the Bible – what they thought Abundant Life was, they would probably tell you something like, “Its having a nice, big, fat paycheck. A good retirement. Lots of money in the bank. A fancy sports car.  Etc.” I.e. An abundance of goods.

This is quite a contrast from what the Bible teaches – not that having an abundance of things in life is bad… (Its about the why’s of it all)

~~~>So what according to the Bible is Eternal Life?

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” ~ John 17:3

And what according to the Bible is Abundant Life?

jesus_love_life_by_mostpato-d4sw8e7

We are not given an exact definition, however it is mentioned in John 10:10:
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

The word abundant as used here has the idea of fullness. It means something along those lines. It is as if Jesus says “I have come that they may have life and have it exceedingly.” (I am going literally from the Koine here.) To understand better what it means however, we also have to look at how John uses the word life all through the Gospel of John. Do that and you will find that Abundant Life = Eternal Life and Eternal Life = Abundant Life.

*The amazing(!!!) artwork is by  Mr. Mostpato (Hernan Jacome) whom I follow out on DeviantArt.

The Things of Earth & the Lord’s Supper…

~ The following is an excerpt from Joe Rigney’s book, The Things of Earth. It is a brief comment on the Lord’s Supper.

TheThingsOfEarth

“In cultivating creation, subduing the earth, and faithfully naming God’s world (in all its varied forms), we are fulfilling the cultural mandate and participating in God’s mission to fill the world with his glory.

    When we write, perform, or listen to good music, we are being invited into the life of the triune God, who is the supreme harmony of all. When we write poetry or immerse ourselves in a novel or watch a good movie, our heart and mind can be enlarged so that we have greater capacity to worship God and love others. When we tend our gardens, change the oil, study for a math test, discover the characteristics of electrons, serve our customers, or build a new house, we are assisting in the enrichment of God’s world, and we ought to enjoy these activities and their results with clear eyes and full hearts.  Joe Rigney

   The Lord’s Supper is a regular reminder that human culture can be a means of grace and a divine invitation. After all, we partake of bread and wine, not grain and grapes. In other words, God mediates grace to us through created goods that have been cultivated and transformed by human effort. Bread is grain, but transfigured. Wine is grapes, but glorified. Human creativity and labor mingle with the stuff of God’s creation, and then God establishes the result as the church’s sacramental meal. And this special sacrament testifies to the potential of all human activity to communicate the grace of God. Our cultural efforts are fully capable of enlarging our heart and mind to know God more fully.      

   But this process of heart expansion through human culture is not automatic. As we saw earlier, it requires receiving culture (or making culture) with a heart of gratitude that is governed by the Scriptures and dependent on God in prayer. It requires believing and knowing the truth, so that our efforts align with God’s purposes, so that our creativity runs in biblical ruts, so that we cut with the grain of God’s world and not against it.

~ Rigney, Joe. The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts (pp. 147-148). Crossway. Kindle Edition. 

Count it all joy … ~ James 1:2

~ James 1:2 states:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

That up above is the NIV.   In the ESV, we have: 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds …”

~ If you look up other versions, such as the NASB, NKJV and so on, you will most often find either “count” used or “consider”.   Lets quickly look at the Greek which I will excerpt out from Logos:

2 Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις

Greek from:  Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Jas 1:2). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

~ The word of interest from up above is: ἡγήσασθε – hegesasthe which comes from ἡγέομαι – hegeomai.  This is the word that has been translated as “count” or “consider” in verse 2.  Logos has a nice chart showing the words various meanings. Here it is:

CountAndConsider

~ You can see that “consider” and “count” are primary meanings.  So what is my issue here?

Quite often when we read this verse, we think it is telling us to enjoy suffering somehow.  We think that someway, somehow we are to experience our trials as pure joy.  So we at times meet people who talk as though they are enjoying their suffering, delighting in their pain. How godly they are!

~~> I don’t think that that is what is going on in James 1:2.

~ Abraham was justified by faith alone. That is to say that righteousness was reckoned or credited to him. He was regarded by God as righteous. He was counted by God as such. Did he commit sins again for the rest of his life? Yes. But God considered him as righteous. In God’s eyes, he has the status of righteous on account of Christ righteousness being imputed to Him.  Like so…

Abraham by József Molnár (1821-1899)
Abraham by József Molnár (1821-1899)

When we repent of our sins and turn to Christ for forgiveness, we are regarded as being righteousness from that point on. Yet this does not mean that we feel righteous from that point on.  In fact we may feel like scum quite often.

So ??? James 1:2 ??

So James is telling us that when we go through a fiery trial, we credit what is happening to us as joy. We may not feel joyful, but we credit it as such. We regard it as such. We count it as such. We are taking joy to the bank.  And what we put away in the bank, will be something that we use or will experience in the future.

So when you go through a trial, it is as if you are making an entry in a ledger for future joy. Credited today. Experienced in an even greater fullness tomorrow.

J.C. Ryle on Happiness

~ John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was a bishop in the Anglican Church. He lived a pretty secular life until shortly after graduating from Oxford University, when he came to a knowledge of Christ Jesus. You can read a short biography of him here by John Piper

What lies below is an excerpt from a sermon by Ryle, titled Happiness that he preached back in 1878. I put the clip in because there is a streak of humor in it. It is on what I would call Faux Happiness – something that is everywhere. (It is exhibited by what I describe as existential incontinence. That is to say that human beings leak – existentially. With their mouths they say “Happy. Happy,” and yet with their lives they say unhappy, unhappy.)

 “Oh, no! Worldly merriment is not real happiness! There is a certain pleasure about it, I do not deny. There is an animal excitement about it, I make no question. There is a temporary elevation of spirits about it, I freely concede. But do not call it by the sacred name of ‘happiness’. The most beautiful cut flowers stuck into the ground, do not make a garden. When glass is called diamond, and tinsel is called gold — then, and not until then, those people who can laugh and revel will deserve to be called happy people.

Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, at a time when all Spain was laughing at his humorous work, was overwhelmed with a deep cloud of melancholy.

Don Quixote ~ Sketch by Pablo Picasso
Don Quixote ~ Sketch by Pablo Picasso

Moliere, the first of French comic writers, carried into his domestic circle a sadness which the greatest worldly prosperity could never dispel.

Samuel Foote, the noted wit of the last century, died of a broken heart.

Theodore Hooke, the facetious novel writer, who could set everybody laughing, says of himself in his diary, “I am suffering under a constant depression of spirits, which no one who sees me in society dreams of.”

A woebegone stranger consulted a physician about his health. The physician advised him to keep up his spirits by going to hear the great comic actor of the day: ‘You should go and hear Matthews. He would make you well.’ ‘Alas, sir,’ was the reply, ‘I am Matthews himself!’

Traffic Jam Therapy . . .

What follows below is an excerpt from a blogpost by Dr. David Murray. In the excerpt, I post 6 six questions that he poses to help you get out of a … a funk – shall we say? I find the first question itself to be a show stopper for me when I start to get into negative thinking.  A good and needed show stopper.

The Happy Christian by David Murray

I actually picked up on his questions not from his blog, but from a book of his that I am currently reading – The Happy Christian. I so liked the things that he says in the book, that I googled the first question with his name and came upon his blog-post.

Anyway here is the excerpt:

Traffic Jam Therapy
Let me return now to a simpler and less serious example in order to break this down further in a way that we can all relate to (well, the men at least).

Next time you’re sitting in a traffic jam and you start steaming and screaming, try to understand where these feelings and actions are coming from by asking yourself these questions.

Step 1. What are the facts? The facts are that I am in a two-mile back-up and the radio tells me it will take one hour to clear due to a breakdown in the fast lane several  miles ahead.

Step 2. What am I thinking about these facts? I’m thinking about the idiot who broke down in the fast lane. I’m thinking about all that I could have done with this hour.

Step 3. What am I feeling? I’m angry at the guy who broke down, I’m frustrated about the lost time, and I’m worried about what my friends will think about me for being late.

Step 4. Can I change the facts? No, there is no way out of the traffic jam.

Step 5. Can I change my thoughts about the facts? Yes, I can believe that this is God’s plan for this hour of my life. I can be grateful for time to stop and think and pray in the midst of a busy day. I can practice my breathing relaxation techniques. I can listen to a sermon on the radio. I can pray for my friends.

Step 6. What am I feeling now? Slowly I feel peace, tranquility, calm, and trust in God coursing through my heart and body.

We are what we think
In each of these examples, I’ve asked six questions in two groups of three. The first three – about facts, thoughts, feelings – help us identify our thoughts and recognize how they are impacting our emotions and behavior. The second three – also about facts, thoughts, feelings – help us challenge our thoughts, change them, and so change our feelings and actions. In summary:

  • How did I get into this mood? Facts, thoughts, feelings.
  • How do I get out of this mood? Facts, thoughts, feelings.

The Psalmist follows these stepDr. David Murrays when he found himself depressed and worried (e.g. Ps. 42, 73, 77).

These six steps are also at the core of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and help explain why it is so effective as part of a package of holistic care for suffering people.

Six Steps to Better Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions ~ @ Head, Heart & Hand

The Guitarist (1)

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso
The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso
~ The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend:
\\~~>
I remembered a friend of mine from a long time ago who was a trained guitarist. This guy was having trouble finding steady work and income via guitar playing. I mean he played solo at times and was a part of some bands but that did not cut it. There was just no bread being put on the table.
~
Howevvvvs . . .  He would not look for any other type of work. He only was looking for more guitar gigs.  His wife was very frustrated.  However… he had to stick to his God given calling!  “This is my calling! God has gifted me with musical ability. This is what I am supposed to be doing in life!” Yet, as they sunk into a deeper and deeper financial hole, the tension, anger, fighting, etc., increased and a divorce ultimately resulted.
 <~~//
Now ~~~> That all said: What is wrong with this picture?

Can positives conceal negatives? Post @ Wisdom For Life

~The following is a great post that I came across at Wisdom For Life. It is written by Pastor Steve Cornell. I place just an excerpt to it here. You can follow the link below to read the whole post.

“Each year for the past 23 years I’ve taught a class for singles on making marriage one of their best decisions. One of the things we look at is a chart titled, “Things I love now and what they might be in 10 years.”

The person you’re thinking about marrying, for example, is very attentive and you love that about him. Later his attentiveness turns to possessiveness. The laid-back person turns out to be lazy. The playful person proves to be immature. The confident one turns out to be arrogant. But because you’re in love, you didn’t have eyes to see the negatives in the positives.  …”

Read further at: Can positives conceal negatives?

~ Also make sure you read the list of Positives without Negatives which is contained in the link below in his post. It begins like this:

“Positives without negatives:

1. Confident without being arrogant.

2. Humble without being weak.

3. Determined without being stubborn.    …”

~ This has to be one of the best reads that I have had in a long time.

Joy and Sadness

Puddleglum
Puddleglum

(1) The Bible teaches that we are to always be joyful:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~ Philippians 4:4

~ Ever met a person who is always negative or down in the dumps? I am not talking about someone who has a depression that is a clinical issue. I am talking people we meet in daily life who have many a good thing going for them and yet still are always perpetual Puddleglums.

Anyway how can Christians always be joyful? Christians can always be joyful because at any given moment, they have more reasons to be joyful than not. The reasons for always outnumber the reasons against.

(2) Yet the Bible also teaches that we are to be sorrowful at times. Huh?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” ~ Romans 12:15

~~~> “… mourn with those who mourn.”

Yet this sort of mournfulness is not the same thing as that of the aforementioned Puddleglum. This is a different sort of a thing that much of the negativity and pessimism that can be found making the rounds in our everyday air. I am reminded of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who famously penned some work on Pessimism. Schopenhauer had a very negative outlook on life. If ever he found that he did not have anything to worry about at a given moment, then he would worry about the fact that he did not have anything to worry about.

No this is not the same thing as the mourning of Romans 12:15. There are ways in which you can be mournful and yet still not have a negative outlook on life. You can still move forwards in spite of sorrow-laded hardships. An interesting verse from the book of Proverbs to consider is:

“Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.” ~ Proverbs 14:13

~ I have had good days with all sorts of joking around, hanging our with friends, doing this and doing that, and yet at the end of the day when I introspected, I found that underneath it all I was still sad. Why? While I haven’t always known why, I think we can go right back to the above Proverb and see that sadness and gladness are possible together. And if that is so then you could have situations where you “mourn with those who mourn” and yet still have joy deep down within.

(3) Is this so? That we can be both sad and glad? Yes and in fact the Bible teaches that it is possible to be sad and yet still to have a gladness slipped in underneath. 

“… sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” ~2 Corinthians 6:10

~~~> ” … sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”

Yes while this is so, I think the default state is Philippians 4:4. So we are to always be rejoicing. And when rough times come, we can do both.

Flannery O’Connor & Peacocks…

This woman just rocks!

Flannery O'Connor

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is…. The struggle to submit… is not a struggle to submit but a struggle to accept and with passion. I mean, possibly, with joy. Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy – fully armed too as it’s a highly dangerous quest.” ~ Flannery O’Connor

~ I found the quote in John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God. You can click on the link to dl a pdf copy of his book.

And here is a book I will have to read…

FOC1

Joy in James ~ CB2L8R

zecntJames

~ The following is a clip from Craig Blomberg & Mariam Kammell’s Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on James. For now I just want to note it here. I will comment on it later.

“This verse starts off with the command to “consider it all joy,” an imperative that has been highly abused in interpretation. First, the word for “all” (πᾶσαν) does not mean “everything” in this context, but functions adjectivally here, implying “pure” or “entire.” In other words, it does not form part of the direct object (“ Consider everything”) but identifies the type of joy one should have. 12 “Joy” (χαράν), in turn, speaks of a state of being rather than an emotion. 13 Joy proves quite different from happiness, so that this verse does not support the idea that a Christian must smile all the time! Joy may be defined as a settled contentment in every situation or “an unnatural reaction of deep, steady and unadulterated thankful trust in God.” 14

The third key piece of this opening command is the verb “consider” (ἡγήσασθε). This is a verb of thought rather than emotion. James is not commanding how one should feel, but rather how one should think about one’s circumstances. 16 Thus one is to “consider” or “reckon” any given difficult circumstance as “pure joy.” 17


Blomberg, Craig L.; Kamell, Mariam J. (2009-10-06). James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 16) (Kindle Locations 751-772). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The references cited:

12 . Johnson (The Letter of James, 176 ) offers “consider it entirely as joy” as a translation of this line.
13 . Patrick J. Hartin (“ The Call to be Perfect through Suffering [James 1,2 – 4]: The Concept of Perfection in the Epistle of James and in the Sermon on the Mount,” Bib 77 [1996]: 477) notes that in James, “joy emerges as the proper response in situations where one’s faith is tested.”
14 . Derek Tidball, Wisdom from Heaven: The Message of the Letter of James for Today (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2003), 22.
16 . D. Edmond Hiebert (The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith [Chicago: Moody Press, 1979], 71) calls this a settled conviction because of the aorist tense of this command. While in many contexts, this may be to “abuse” the aorist, here it seems to work well.
17 . William R. Baker (“ James,” in William R. Baker and Paul Carrier, James-Jude [Cincinnati: Standard, 1990], 18) notes that “problems are to be viewed with joy not because we actually enjoy them, but because they are part of God’s plan for us.”

Blomberg, Craig L.; Kamell, Mariam J. (2009-10-06). James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 16) (Kindle Locations 1178-1193). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

Success & Dissatisfaction – Notes from Morris

~ I’m just taking some more notes from Tom Morris’s book, Philosophy for Dummies, Chapter 24, Success and Happiness n Life – pages 308-309.

Four Markers of Public Success:
Morris points out that “the greatest case of mistaken identity in the modern world has involved the four markers of public success: Money, fame, power, and status.” … Yet as ancient philosophers might say, they can make very good servants, but are themselves very bad masters.

“What is enough? The concept of enough is, of course, a relative concept.  … the concept of enough applies only to things that are of instrumental value, valuable only insofar as they lead to or produce something else … Enough is a relative concept. More is absolute.  There can always be more.  And that’s a problem for many people.”

Dissatisfaction in Human Life:
Morris states that there are two forms of dissatisfaction.  One is when you are not satisfied with what you have and another is when you are not satisfied with who you are and want to become something more with who you are. The first he calls the dissatisfaction of acquisition. The second, dissatisfaction of aspiration.

What the first form of dissatisfaction is, is obvious. Of it he states, “The dissatisfaction of acquisition deeds on itself in an almost cancerous way.  The more you give in to it and try to satisfy, the more it can grow, until it is literally out of control.”

Regarding the dissatisfaction of aspiration, he says, “You want to be wiser, to know more, to experience more, to develop more talents, to be a better person… ” And that the dissatisfaction of aspiration can be a very healthy goad to personal growth and fulfillment.

Robert Nozick on Happiness

I like the following comment on happiness from American philosopher Robert Nozick,

novick“We want experiences, fitting ones, of profound connection with others, of deep understanding of natural phenomena, of love, of being profoundly moved by music or tragedy, or doing something new and innovative, experiences very different from the bounce and rosiness the happy moments.” ~~>

The Green and the Grey – tentative thoughts

John Hancock Bldg
John Hancock Building – Chi-town

 

The green and the gray…

The garden and the city

The forest and the metropolis

I am not sure how to explain this.  I just saw this video which I absolutely loved but… but for one tiny nit: It has a bit too much grey-ness at times.

Takuya Suzuki 2014 Modeling Reel from suztak on Vimeo.

~ I think that there are two different (perhaps opposing?) impulses found in humans.

An impulse to greenery and an impulse to grey-ery. That is we have an impulse towards nature and an impulse towards the city. What I am trying to say is that we have a impulse for the silence and solace(?) of nature and an impulse for the hustle and bustle of of the metropolis.

metropolisfritzlang~ Its more than just an impulse. I would say it is really a longing. There is something to the healing solitude one can find in the woods. (Spend time in nature and you will find that the healing just seeps into your soul.  He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters” ~Psalm 23:2)  And yet there is something to the dive-into-life quality – “Ah… life!” –  found amidst the crowds and cabs of the concrete jungle.

What is interesting is that the first book of the Bible, Genesis begins with a place that is primarily a garden – the Garden of Eden.  It is primarily a garden and secondarily a city (or something that is hand-built).  Yes – there is a city like or a design like quality to the Garden of Eden.  An Indian would understand this because in India we have so many incredible gardens like the Brindhavan Gardens. In the US they don’t have such types of gardens. Here quite often a garden consists of just grass!

brindhavan

The Bible on the other hand ends with the book of Revelation. Here we are presented with a city, the New Jerusalem. This place is primarily a city, and secondarily something that is garden-like.

I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” ~ Revelation 21:2

~ Interesting that I have a nature wallpaper on my laptop. I live in a small city. I bet if I went out the country and took a look at the laptop of some woodsy farming guy, he would have on it a city wallpaper.

(Not 100% sure about this.  Still need to research this, especially New Jerusalem. Also wonder if Eden is obsolete as it is found in the infra-strictures of the Old Covenant (e.g. the tabernacle). Life is not so much about the echoes of Eden, but more rather about the stirrings of the New Jerusalem.)

1 Corinthians 6:10 & Happiness

~ I just came across one of those verses that I am sure I have seen a 100 times but now wonder “How did I miss that?” The verse is:

“… sorrowful, yet always rejoicing …” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:10

The idea in this is important to me because it just seems like there have been many times in my life where I have been fed the line that a Christian has to be on a 24/7 joy-buzz or else there is something wrong with them.  That is that a Christian is somehow defective if s/he is not always bursting with joy.

I have blogged on this here in Rejoicing and Mourning. The issue has been important for me because I used to struggle with why I was not one of those supremely happy Christians like others seem to be. I mean I was not depressed or anything but I was not flying up in the skies either.

Anyway, I found the verse at Adrian Warnock’s blog post, Can A Christian Get Depressed?1 Corinthians 6:10 &amp; Happiness

Hamartiological Sublimation

(The following post is a move from another blog of mine that I am going to delete in the New Year. ~RR)

Hamartiological Sublimation – At the moment I cannot find a better name for this idea that is floating around my head, but anyways… I will start with two definitions.

Hamartiology: is the branch of theology which studies sin.

Sublimation: Freud I believe originally came up with the idea. It has to do with dealing with a bad habit by of channeling our energies and drive for that bad habit, off into some other good or better habit. Wiki describes is thusly:

“…where socially unacceptable impulses or idealizations are consciously transformed into socially acceptable actions or behaviour..”

So for example, if you have problem area such that you get into a lot of bar-room brawls, then you may want to channel your energies into rugby or American football or weightlifting. That may help you to release some energy and cool down your bad behavior in the world.

Anger Management Problems? This may help.
Anger Management Problems? This may help.

Now there are forms of improper sublimation. For example, you may have a problem with cigarette smoking and you read all this data about how cancer sticks kill and how bad breath and generally a bad odor commonly accompany cigarette smokers – so… so you sublimate by smoking cigars instead. While cigars are a lesser harm than cigarettes, they are not the proper solution either.


So here is the thought that I have been processing:

~ Moralism is the false religion of do’s and don’ts.  It involves telling people what to do or not do in order to be a “good” person and also while not telling them of the means by which they can be empowered to do those do’s and not do those don’ts. Confused? So its about being courteous. Its about being nice. Its about being a “good” boy and this by in large for external reasons.

“Hey… I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t swear. All my aunties and uncles think so highly of me. I am a good person.”

Within a secular context this happens when you point out to a person their woes and then offer as a solution things like ~~> “Hey. You can change via sheer dint of will power” or “Here – practice this behavioral modification exercises” or heaven forbid, I saw this on tv the other week “You simply choose not to do that thing. You simply choose.” – Like its that easy! So like if I have been smoking for 20 years, and I want to stop, I simply choose to stop smoking. Right!

Yes. These things can work to some extent but they is not the best solutions. They are cigars.

bsmoker2
Indian Woman Smoking a Beedi. She needs to sublimate. (Or maybe she already is.)

Ok. So you get the basic idea. Lets see how this plays out in some contexts.

Within the context of evangelism, this can happen if you only tell point out to people that they are sinners by nature and choice and do not point out to them how the Gospel is the answer. Or 90% of your message is how they are such evil sinners and 10% is the evangel.

Within the context of Christian living, this happens when you attempt to some of the stuff listed out up above but fail to rely on the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to help you change. Rather than fall back on prayer, being accountable to others, being cleansed by worship, God’s goodness and sufficiency, etc., you rather attempt change by some technique, for example say wearing a rubber-band and snapping it when ever a bad thought occurs. Legalists also provide fine examples.


So how does Moralism relate to sublimation?

~ If all you do is point out some moral do’s and don’ts to a person and you do not point out to them how taking the Gospel and living it seriously feeds real and authentic change in their lives, then they will simply sublimate and go off and do another wrong thing. They will simply redirect their sinful activities into another channel.

So you tell them that what is wrong with worshiping one idol, they go off and worship another idol. You tell them what is wrong with one false worldview (= darsana), they go off and espouse another false worldview. They simply exchange a cigar for a cigarette, a vodka for a whiskey.

whiskey2
Life on the rocks or Life on the Rock?

In John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he [Simon Peter] was going to abandon Him, and “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'”

Well if we do not provide the Words of Life to people, then to whom can they go to for an answer to their problems? – The world – they go right back to the world.

Required Reading:

1) The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)

2) The Expulsive Power of a New Affection – Douglas Wilson’s comments on Chalmers essay @ Blog & Mablog

Capulets & Montagues – Thought Experiment

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” ~Psalm 37:4

(1) Pre-Delight Desires: Is this referring to the fulfillment of a set of desires on account of delighting ourselves in the Lord?

or

(2)  Post-Delight Desires: Is this referring to being given brand new desires on account of delighting ourselves in the Lord?

or

(3) Both?

~ Possibly something similar here:

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” ~ John 15:7

~ Are we referring to Pre-Abiding Wishes or Post-Abiding Wishes or both?

RnJ

Capulets and Montagues…

(1) Pre-Delighting/Abiding Desires: Is it that Romeo Montague wishes-for/desires Juliet and is told that he needs to go abide/delight for a while in the Capulet’s castle and thus be given Juliet’s hand?

or

(2)  Post-Delighting/Abiding Desires: Is it that Romeo does not even know that Juliet exists and is told that if he goes and lives in the Capulet castle for sometime, then he will take notice of Juliet and find himself with desires for her?

or

(3) Both?

~ Now comes the most(!) important question which only just now occurred to me  => Why the heck am I even wondering about this????? It seems so persnickety.

 

Sorrowful yet always rejoincing …

I am surprised to see that the Bible actually says this:

9 as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, 10 as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. 11Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.… ~ 2 Corinthians 6:10

~ It is there in the ESV, NASB, NET Bible, and many others… this is something to think about.

ὡς λυπούμενοι ἀεὶ δὲ χαίροντες,

 

What Does Calling Mean If You Hate Your Job?

The following is a great podcast by William Messenger. I found it at an incredible website: http://www.theologyofwork.org

~ I got interested in this issue because so many people, Christians included, talk about pursuing your calling in life or about finding a dream job.  My issue with this always has been: What if there are only so many jobs out there or if you just have to put bread on the table to survive?  Like can you tell the kid living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, “Yeah. Go for it. You got to pursue your dream job. Fetching water for your family is just not for you. Its not your calling in life.”  … If I am doing what I do only because it puts bread on the table, then am I failing at pursuing my calling? (This issue was a huge problem I had with Os Guinness’ book, The Call. Maybe I misunderstood him but I felt that he just simply failed to address the issue.)

~ Anyway here are some jottings from the podcast:

Ways that God guides people to work. 

1. Gifts and skills
2. Paying attention to the needs of the world.
3. Deepest desires

“In God’s eyes, the way you do your work is as important as what your work is.”

“What I did was pump gas and clean bathrooms. And I have to say – even now I am proud of the way I can wash a windshield. You know when I go to the gas station, I always wash – I always wash the windshields of my car,  you know just because – I can do it right! You know I mean if they have paper towels. It takes paper towels to do it really right.”

~ I totally know what he means here as I used to work at a gas-station my first year of college!

So if you want to know what calling means if you hate your job, it could mean one of two things:

1. God’s guidance could either help you find a new job,
or
2. It could help you do your current job more meaningfully.  (Find a way to do your job more meaningfully.)

Three other practical ways you can fulfill God’s calling in your job:
1. Take pride in supporting yourself and your family – even if it is not paid. (2 Thess. 3:10).  (~ The most important thing God is calling me to is to earn a living. Its ok to get a job primarily to earn a living.)
2. Be generous to others on the job (and elsewhere) (Eph. 4:28). (Affirmation, thankfulness, etc. are ways to be generous.)
– Praise will confuse your enemy…
3. Work so that other people in your workplace will respect the way you live (1 Thess. 4:11).

“If your job feels like an enemy, try blessing your job instead of cursing it. Try praying for your job instead of … ” (Thinking of your job as an enemy.) Note also that he is not talking about abusive jobs.

~ Context: Love thy enemy verse.

The Joy Command ???

~ The following is an excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s Can I Have Joy in My Life? (First edition., Vol. 12, pp. 1–4). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust. I got the book free from Logos Bible Software.

RC“The word joy appears over and over again in the Scriptures. For instance, the Psalms are filled with references to joy. The psalmists write, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5b) and “Shout for joy to God, all the earth” (Ps. 66:1). Likewise, in the New Testament, we read that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), which means that it is a Christian virtue. Given this biblical emphasis, we need to understand what joy is and pursue it.

Sometimes we struggle to grasp the biblical view of joy because of the way it is defined and described in Western culture today. In particular, we often confuse joy with happiness. In the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3–11), according to the traditional translations, Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.… Blessed are those who mourn.… Blessed are the meek …” (vv. 3–5, emphasis added), and so on. Sometimes, however, translators adopt the modern vernacular and tell us Jesus said happy rather than blessed. I always cringe a little when I see that, not because I am opposed to happiness, but because the word happy in our culture has been sentimentalized and trivialized. As a result, it connotes a certain superficiality. For example, years ago, Charles M. Schulz, in the comic strip Peanuts, coined the adage, “Happiness is a warm puppy,” and it became a maxim that articulated a sentimental, warm-and-fuzzy idea of happiness. Then there was the catchy song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” released by Bobby McFerrin in the 1980s. It suggested a carefree, cavalier attitude of delight.

peanuts book

However, the Greek word used in the Beatitudes is best translated as blessed, as it communicates not only the idea of happiness but also profound peace, comfort, stability, and great joy. So, we have to be careful when we come to the text of the New Testament that we do not read it through the lens of the popular understanding of happiness and thus lose the biblical concept of joy.

Think again about McFerrin’s song. The lyrics are very odd from a contemporary perspective. When he sings, “Don’t worry, be happy,” he is issuing an imperative, a command: “Do not be anxious. Rather, be happy.” He is setting forth a duty, not making a suggestion. However, we never think of happiness in this way. When we are unhappy, we think it is impossible to decide by an act of the will to change our feelings. We tend to think of happiness as something passive, something that happens to us and over which we have no control. It is involuntary. Yes, we desire it and want to experience it, but we are convinced that we cannot create it by an act of the will.

Bobbt McFerrin

Oddly, McFerrin sounds very much like the New Testament when he commands his listeners to be happy. Over and over again in the pages of the New Testament, the idea of joy is communicated as an imperative, as an obligation. Based on the biblical teaching, I would go so far as to say that it is the Christian’s duty, his moral obligation, to be joyful. That means that the failure of a Christian to be joyful is a sin, that unhappiness and a lack of joy are, in a certain way, manifestations of the flesh.

Of course, there are times when we are filled with sorrow. Jesus Himself was called “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). The Scriptures tell us, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Eccl. 7:2a). Even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Given that the Bible tells us it is perfectly legitimate to experience mourning, sorrow, and grief, these feelings are not sinful.

However, I want you to see that Jesus’ words could be translated as “Joyful are those who mourn.” How could a person be in mourning and still be joyful? Well, I think we can unravel that knot fairly easily. The heart of the New Testament concept is this: a person can have biblical joy even when he is mourning, suffering, or undergoing difficult circumstances. This is because the person’s mourning is directed toward one concern, but in that same moment, he possesses a measure of joy. I’ll have more to say about this in the next chapter.

~ Sproul, R. C. (2012). Can I Have Joy in My Life? (First edition., Vol. 12, pp. 1–4). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

 

Zylstra – Follow Through On This Someday…

The following is a blurb by Henry Zylstra that I need to follow through on and research someday.

“To be human is to be scientific, yes and to be practical, and rational, and moral, and social, and artistic, but to be human further is to be religious also. And this religious in man is not just another facet of himself, just another side to his nature, just another part of the whole. It is the condition of all the rest and the justification of all the rest. This is inevitably and enescapably so for all men. No man is religiously neutral in his knowledge of an his appropriation of reality.”

~ Henry Zylstra, Testament of Vision (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1958), 145.

“… the condition of all the rest …”

What does this mean??? Hmmm … well another day…

Aside: Henry Stob is very cool also. His thoughts

Focus, Fullness, Fulfillment – Acts 1-2, Chapel Message by Pastor Josh Smith

I found some really great Chapel messages on iTunes.  They come from the Chapel of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The following are some notes from a message titled Focus, Fullness, Fulfillment – Acts 1-2, given by Pastor Josh Smith on April 4th, 2013 at Southeastern.

Paradigm across the Old Testament and the New Testament: Focus, Fullness,Fulfillment

Focus on Christ ∝ Fullness of the Holy Spirit ∝ Accomplish great things for Christ.

∝ : is the mathematical symbol for proportional to. (He did not use the term. I am using it.)

Focus – What does it look like?
1) Focus looks like prayer.   → power
2) Focus looks like the study of the Word of God.  →  wisdom
3) Focus looks like obedience.  → blessing
4) Focus looks like corporate gatherings.  →  we need one another. *

*Note:  I will add that God uses corporate gatherings so that we can fill each other with the Holy Spirit.

~ Focus is the humble recognition of my desperate need for God.

~~> Focus always preceded fullness.

We focus that we might be filled but the reason is for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Disobedience – Quenching the Spirit:  The degree to which I am filled determines the degree to which I am useful to God.

The purity of my heart is related to the power in my life which is related to the influence and impact in my ministry.

Happiness – Afterthoughts from a Get-together.

~ More thoughts on this. I went to a friends the other night and we had lively discussions on all sorts of things. Some things that I wound up thinking about later on had to do with happiness, a topic I research from time to time. Here are my in process after-thoughts.

(H1) All people seek happiness.
(H2) All people do not simply seek happiness, but they seek lasting, abiding happiness.
– They do not simply want happiness for a day or an hour but they want as much of it as possible for as long as possible. An infinite amount for an eternity of time if possible.

Problems loom however in the pursuit of happiness.
(Problem 1) People seek lasting, abiding (i.e. infinite) happiness.
– Believe it or not seeking happiness itself is a problem.   Christians are actually not supposed to seek it. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things – happiness included – will be added to you as well (Matthew 6:33).  This is because happiness is a by-product. My thought on this comes from William Lane Craig (see blog post below).

(Problem 2) People seek lasting, abiding (i.e. infinite) happiness in finite things that are incapable of providing any happiness whatsoever.
~ Illustration 1: The drug addict or alcoholic thinking that the next fix will provide that happiness.
~ Illustration 2: The businessman racing to accumulate wealth, thinking that this will result in happiness.
~ Illustration 3: This is like trying to withdraw a ridiculously high amount of money from a bank account where the balance is $0.0.

(Problem 3) People seek lasting, abiding (i.e. infinite) happiness in finite things that can only provide some (i.e. a finite) amount of happiness.
– The problem is that some is never enough. Some runs out. Some takes us too soon to feeling hollow and empty.
~ Illustration 1: Seeking happiness in a boyfriend or girlfriend or in marriage – in a husband or wife.
~ ~ The problem here is that you have no guarantees on life. Reality bites and that too quite suddenly quite often. You have no guarantee on what a day may bring.  Your significant other could just simply go to sleep tonight and never wake up. (I also want to note that the Bible teaches that marriage is a temporary finite phenomena (Matthew 22).)
~ Illustration 2: This is like trying to withdraw a ridiculously high amount of money from a bank account where the balance is $100.00.

*Note: This does not mean we reject everything in the name of pursuing God. That is self-denial carried to the extreme. It is some kind of asceticm. Rather we understand the proper place and role of the world and the things in it. Additionally we realize that these all come from God and so we receive them from Him as such – for our enjoyment while still understanding their limitations.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Finish this later… thoughts to process
– Whom have i in heaven but you… Edwards sermon.
– Look up Asherism – Charry /
– Clark book on terms
– Striking the balance btwn God-only ascetism and World-only hedonism.
– Joy deposits and dividends. You do not make dividends happen.
– – Illustration: Don’t pursue the dividend. Instead seek first the right stock and the dividends will be added to you as well.
– Resolve other issues with joy… Nehemiah to contemporaries like Piper / Jerry Bridges
– relation to self-love

Are Joy & Happiness Really Distinct?

Here I am just taking some notes on joy and happiness from a blog post titled The Practical Benefit of the Word of God at the now defunct blog, Jollyblogger.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart.
~ Psalm 119:1-2

~ Jollyblogger discusses the meaning of “blessed” in the above verse and points out that in the Hebrew there are two basic meanings. One has to do with being happy or joyful and the other has to do with being complete or whole. So we can take blessed to mean something like “completely happy” or “wholly happy”.

~ JB also says:
“Many Christians, myself included for quite a long time, have sought to distinguish joy from happiness in order to contrast the joy of following Christ with the superficial joys of this world.

The more I think about it and the more I study it, I’m not sure you can make such a sharp distinction. Maybe you can make some distinction, but not a sharp one. For instance, the one who has lost their mate can have the deepest sorrow in their heart over their loss and there can still be a sense of joy knowing that their loved one is in heaven and is free from sorrow.

~ Later on in the comments my friend Jeremy also says something quite interesting:

I think it’s possible to have great sorrow and great joy about the same thing at the same time for different reasons. Losing a loved one who is saved is a good example, particularly one who was having a hard time of it near the end. It makes sense to be incredibly happy that the person is out of pain and with the Lord. It also makes sense to be incredibly sorrowful at not having the person here anymore. I wonder if it’s not wrong to say that God experiences this too.

If that’s right, then your argument that joy involves happiness shouldn’t really be threatened at all, since happiness and unhappiness are compatible. It’s possible to be happy and unhappy. It’s not possible to be happy and not happy or to be unhappy and not unhappy. Since happy and unhappy aren’t contradictories, but merely contraries, this is ok.”

Craig on Happiness…

~ I want to post a brief excerpt on the issue of happiness from a debate between the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig and atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen. The title of the debate is Does God Exist? and you can click on the link and read it in its entirety.

Craig:
“The chief purpose of life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God. One reason the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that the goal of human life is happiness in this world. But on the Christian view this is false. Man’s end is not happiness as such, but the knowledge of God–which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which seem utterly pointless with respect to producing human happiness, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or perhaps those around him. Whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering all depends on how we freely respond.”

Happiness As A By-product

Painting by Giovanni Francesco Caroto
Painting by Giovanni Francesco Caroto (1480-1555 or 1558)

My latest FB status are paraphrases that come from googling google books: (Correct me if notes are wrong.)

Happiness is a by-product of virtue. ~ St. Augustine (354-430 AD)
Happiness is a by-product of our pursuit of perfection. ~ Kant (1724-1804)
Happiness is a by-product of the satisfaction of desires for things other than happiness itself. Those who aim directly at happiness do not find it. ~ Bishop Butler (1692-1758)
Happiness is a by-product of living the virtuous life. Aristotle (384-322 BC)

This has been on my mind because of it seems that the idea might be in the following verse:

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well.” ~ Matthew 6:33

*Note: I added that painting because I think it looks funny.

Joy – Scratchwork…

1.  A million dollars vs. joy dilemma

2. Friend at school… who flunked an exam… Can’t lose my joy… lose the exam but not joy.

~ Lose the exam, I only lose one thing… one single thing. Lose my joy, I lose everything… the entire universe.

3.  Joy implosion – bad vs… overflowing surging joy

4. Joy the fruit. Fruit grows over time. Small baby grapefruit vs. large one that can barely be palmed and crushed.

5. Joy- early stages you maintain it… later on it maintains you. |baby joy vs. mature joy. Joy matured is the parent.

~ Nehemiah & Apostles verse.

~ Illustrations: Joy Deposits – 1) like a bank account or some investment account. 2) Maintaining a house so that when the storm comes, it will maintain, sustain you.

6. Joy – early stages – baby joy… challenges to it.

7. Drug addict cannot say no to the drug after a certain point. Addiction. He could once control his usage… after a certain point, the usage controls him.

Joy… you maintain it… later on it maintains you.