Does God Want Me to Be Happy?

"Well, I know this might not be the right choice for you, but it will make me happy, and God wants me to be happy."
Have you heard that one? It usually follows some revelation of impending compromise and is used as justification for sin.

So does God want us to be happy?

Or is that a human assumption based on our own wants. Is it one more attempt to create a god in our own image?

Happiness is a lot like cotton candy--looks great from a distance and tastes delicious for a few minutes, but it evaporates with the first bite and leaves us as empty as before. Happiness is relative, usually a direct response to positive circumstances. And we all know that positive circumstances are as changing as the breeze.

So is that all God wants for us? Just happiness? Fleeting, changeable happiness?

You'll find theory that nowhere in the Bible.

Joy is promised. Blessing is promised. Peace that passes all human understanding is promised. But not happiness.

God's desire for each of us goes far past that. He wants us to be like Him. 


Because He knows that happiness is a byproduct of being right with Him.

We'll be happy without trying. God's goal for each of us on this earthly pilgrimage is to conform us to the image of His Son. 

Would you say that Jesus was happy?

Not when he was throwing the creeps out of the temple. Not when the town fathers were ready to stone him. And certainly not on the night before he faced crucifixion.

So is it accurate to say that God wants you to be happy when He didn't provide that for his own Son?

As long as you seek your own happiness, it will continually elude you. Oh, you'll have moments. Maybe days or weeks, but you'll constantly have to keep supplying it, like a drug. Keep infusing yourself with the circumstances that provide that fleeting feeling we call happiness or it will evaporate like a fog, leaving you as desolate as before.

But God has already thought of that. "Seek first God's Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you." (Matt. 6:33)

Yes God wants you to be happy, but only when He gives it. His kind will never involve compromise, sin, or exclude Him. It also lasts a lot longer than cotton candy.


What? No Rules?

The law of liberty (James 2:12) can be the toughest law under which to live. Most of us feel far more comfortable with a list of rules we can check off and judge ourselves and others by.

The Pharisees did, and if we're honest, we all have a little Pharisee in us--even the self-proclaimed Tolerance gurus. Ever have one judge you for judging them? 
It's not difficult for the man in jail to keep the speed limits. And he can feel quite virtuous for not committing robbery while behind bars. But the law of liberty opens the prison doors and says, "Your standing with God is not based on your record. You can't impress Him nor will He disown you. He has set you free to live for His pleasure alone. In seeking it with all you've got, you will find your own."
But we like bars. We like rules. They work as gauges by which we can judge our own standing and decide that we are either better or worse than someone else. Prison bars separate us and force an outward compliance that doesn't have to go heart-deep.
Jesus came to bulldoze those prison bars and said, in effect, "If your obedience isn't heart-deep, I don't want it."
And that message is too difficult for many. They turn away from freedom to embrace man-made religion with plenty of rules to keep them feeling safe. Some even try to rewrite the law of liberty and interject some of their own rules, just as the Pharisees did. "We need a list. Surely there's a list! Let's create one.
The thought of self-sacrifice simply for the joy of pleasing the Lord is too foreign a concept. The idea of limiting their own freedom when they don't have to doesn't make sense. They need external motivation and fear is a good motivator. It was that attitude that so grieved the heart of our Lord. It still grieves Him.

The law of liberty threatens no bars, but holds us with cords of love so strong only a Pharisee would try to break out.

An Open Letter to the Church from a Lesbian

Reprinted by Hunter Baker
(I thought this was so powerful I had to share it. From the Gospel Coalition website.)

To the churches concerning homosexuals and lesbians:

Many of you believe that we do not exist within your walls, your schools, your neighborhoods. You believe that we are few and easily recognized. I tell you we are many. We are your teachers, doctors, accountants, high school athletes. We are all colors, shapes, sizes. We are single, married, mothers, fathers. We are your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. We are in your Sunday School classes, pews, choirs, and pulpits. You choose not to see us out of ignorance or because it might upset your congregation. We ARE your congregation. We enter your doors weekly seeking guidance and some glimmer of hope that we can change. Like you, we have invited Jesus into our hearts. Like you, we want to be all that Christ wants us to be. Like you, we pray daily for guidance. Like you, we often fail.

When the word “homosexual” is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs? Do you see the sin of pride, that you are better than or more acceptable to Jesus than we are? Have you been Christ-like in your relationships with us? Would you meet us at the well, or restaurant, for a cup of water, or coffee? Would you touch us even if we showed signs of leprosy, or aids? Would you call us down from our trees, as Christ did Zacchaeus, and invite yourself to be our guest? Would you allow us to sit at your table and break bread? Can you love us unconditionally and support us as Christ works in our lives, as He works in yours, to help us all to overcome?

To those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. To those of us who know God’s word and will not dilute it to fit our desires, we ask you to read John’s letter to the church in Pergamum. “I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home.

A Sister in Christ

Hurry Up Already!

The idea hits like a 2x4 across the head. You're pumped! This is it! Your calling. Your life's work. The reason you're here. You can't wait to get started.

But you don't get started.

You wait. And wait. And wait...

The timing's off. Not old enough. Not experienced enough. No resources. The reasons seem to go on to infinity and you paw the ground like a thoroughbred at the starting gate.

What's the matter with God? Can't He see how ready you are? Why won't He blow the whistle and open the gate?

Did you ever wonder how old Jesus was when He knew He was the Son of God? When did it hit Him? Somewhere between the teether and the temple, He realized He wasn't exactly like His brothers and sisters.

At age 12, He already knew who He was. He chose to spend His vacation in Jerusalem trading wisdom with the elders instead of skateboarding off the Wailing Wall with His friends. Everyone was impressed. What a kid! Full-ride scholarship material.

Mom and Dad were 3 days into the trip home before they realized He wasn't with them. He hadn't realized it either, so enthralled was He with what God had sent Him here to do.

So what did He do next?

The moment had come. He knew He was the Messiah. Should He start collecting disciples? Begin the public lecture circuit? Practice healing somebody? Think how much He could accomplish for God if He started now!

Luke 2:51
is the last we hear of him for nearly 20 years. It says "he went home to Nazareth and lived in subjection to them (his parents)."

That's it? After the big splash at the temple, He just went home like any other kid and did His chores and his homework? No Messiah stuff for eighteen years?

Is that how you would have done it if you were God?

What was the point of the next 18 years? Were they wasted? Couldn't Jesus have accomplished a lot more if He'd started earlier? Think of the notoriety of a Boy-King-of-the-Jews. The wise men would hear of it and tell everybody, "we saw him first." There would be interviews with the remaining shepherds who'd seen the angels. Old Herod-the-Meanie was dead, so that fear was over. What was with all the wasted time?

We are a generation and a culture of "hurry up." We cram as much activity as possible into every spare second, doubling and tripling chores so we can accomplish more at one time. We have completely lost the concept of "wait."

God has not.

Sometimes that business about one day being as a thousand years with God seems literal. We don't like His timing. Doesn't seem right to us.

But God is not in the same hurry that we're in. He already knows how this is going to turn out and He knows how to achieve the results He wants.

He sent Jesus home to grow up, learn earthly obedience, and go through the trials of living with an imperfect family in an imperfect neighborhood with Torah teachers who made mistakes about the very book He wrote. Joseph's kid from Nazareth had to know what it felt like to hit His thumb with a hammer, get stiffed by a customer, be made fun of for not dating, and not make the stick-ball team. That was all part of God's assignment just as the healing and preaching were. He had to learn how to wait, just as we do.

What season are you in? Does it seem that your life goal gets further and further away? Do you feel like you're spinning your wheels, lost in mediocrity?

Are you in a season of WAIT? In God's master plan, that season is just as critical as any other. It's all part of the big picture. He's seasoning you, training you, teaching you endurance, commitment, and chipping off a few rough edges before you're ready to do it His way.

Think what Jesus accomplished in only 3 years of actual earthly ministry. Those three years were backed by 30 years of training--and that made all the difference.


I Need a Drink!

The doe burst into the clearing and jerked to a stop, slender legs shaking with exertion. Her heart lurched and her parched tongue flicked from between dry lips.


It was all she could think about. Her nostrils flared, straining to catch the scent of a pond, a river, a puddle. Didn't matter. Even a drop of water would be better than nothing.

A pile of corn beckoned from three feet away and tender spring grass was thick beneath her feet, but it held no appeal. Even the vultures circling overhead did not frighten her as every cell of her being yearned for only one thing.

Water. Sweet, cold, refreshing water was her single-minded focus and she would press on until she found it. Nothing else mattered.

That's the picture the Psalmist paints when he writes: "As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Ps. 42:2)

Remember the feeling when you've exerted yourself on a hot summer day? Your thirst builds. You don't want candy. You don't want ice cream, pizza, or even coffee. Every cell of your being craves water. Pure, sweet, cool water. Your mind relishes the thought of it pouring down your throat. Your mouth quivers with desire, longing for a taste. Your limbs shake, your stomach tightens as the need grows stronger.

Entertainment no longer interests you. The trinket that captivated you yesterday is now only an annoyance if it does not bring you closer to your desire. Friends' suggestions recede into background noise as you frantically search for the only thing that can satisfy you at that moment.

That's the kind of thirst God built into the human spirit. When He breathed into man the "breath of life," that breath was an unquenchable thirst for more of Him. A thirst that nothing else quite satisfies--although most people spend their lives trying everything else to make the thirst go away.

The good news is that there is always more of God. You can drink all you want. That aching need can be satisfied. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." The passionate desire for more of God is one he gladly endorses.

Sadly, most of us spend our lives never recognizing that the dissatisfaction we live with is spiritual. We work ourselves into the ground trying to ease the ache on every other level. We throw money at it, earn college degrees, pluck, tweeze, tan, and diet. We buy bigger, fancier, better stuff, and model our lives after those we assume never felt this ache. Some even "try church," as if that half-hearted attempt is as good as it gets, eventually resigning ourselves to the realization that we must live unfulfilled.

Just as that deer will eventually find water if she seeks it long enough, you will find God if you truly seek Him. (Jeremiah 29:12)
What if that thirsty deer simply denied her need and turned her attention to the pile of corn instead? What if the thirstier she grew, the faster she ate?
Within a matter of hours, those circling vultures would have a reason to land. Trying to quench thirst with anything but water never works.

And trying to quench a spiritual thirst with anything but God never works either. The world is littered with the dying corpses of those who insist there is another way to be filled. And we watch the vultures of greed, addiction, immorality, and suicide prepare to land.

Are you thirsty? Is there an indefinable ache deep inside, a longing for something you don't quite understand? You may deny God, curse him, ignore him, or fear him. But you long for him anyway. You can't help it. It's how you were created.

If you are already a follower of Christ, can you honestly say with the psalmist, "Earth has nothing I desire besides you"? (Ps. 73:24) If you can't, you are like the thirsty deer perched on the river bank with no way to get to the water. Frustration, burnout, and depression are the vultures watching you.

If you've never truly met God through his Son, Jesus Christ, I invite you to click on the sidebar to discover how to quench that thirst.

There's a source of fresh, cool water just waiting for you!


Do You Have To?

Someone said: "You only worship God because you have to. Why would you worship anyone who makes you worship him?"

It's true. the book of Revelation describes the living creatures and the 24 elders falling down continually crying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty." Are they doing it because they have to?


They do have to...the way a writer has to write. An artist has to paint. A musician has to create music. They can't NOT do it because it is what is in them. Passion bubbles up from some inner spring and demands release.

If you learned today that you had won 10 million tax free dollars, you would express it. You would scream, laugh, leap around, and tell everyone you knew. You would have to. You couldn't help it.

When a sinner bound for hell is declared perfect before God, baptized in the Holy Spirit, empowered to live in holiness, and basks in the presence of Almighty God---worship results. We can't help it.  Every new revelation from God, every new exploration of His character, goodness, and strength incites more worship. Adoration bubbles up from an inner spring and demands release.

So the skeptics are right. We worship God because we have to. How can we not?

Got Questions?

I have the privilege of writing for an online Bible answer site called I love to research Bible answers for people and help them learn more about knowing God and what the Bible says about life's issues.  

This site reaches several million people from all over the world every month, with an average of 12,000 professions of faith in Christ every month!

Although I have answered personal questions submitted to the site during the past year, my answers are now appearing online. You can find some of my articles at the following links:

What Does the Bible Say About Black Magic?

What Does It Mean to "Count the Cost?"

Why Does God Hate Divorce?

Why Are Christians Always Arguing?

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Does He Really Care?

Does God care about human suffering? Does He care when YOU are suffering? How can we tell?
The answer is stamped all over the Bible. God despises human suffering. Hurt and pain were never part of his plan for us. That’s why he started with the Ten Commandments. Every instruction of God since then has been to eliminate the pain we bring on ourselves and other people.

Let's look at His reasons behind the first 10:

1. Have no other gods before Me—because I hate to watch you throw your lives away chasing things that can’t help or love you like I do.

2. Don’t bow to idols—because I created you to stand and worship Me alone. Bowing to idols lessens the glory of all you were meant to be.

3. Do not use My name profanely—because when you don’t reverence the sacred, you miss everything else.

4. Keep my Sabbaths—because you suffer when you work yourself to death and forget to rest as I rested.

5. Honor your father and mother—because I despise seeing older people cast aside when no longer needed and younger people missing out on their wisdom.

6. Do not murder—because I hate unjust killing. If you cannot create life, don't take it.

7. Do not commit adultery—because I hate watching families torn apart.

8. Do not steal—because I hate seeing someone lose what they worked for and someone else harden his heart enough to take it.

9. Do not lie—because it grieves me to watch someone deceive someone else, not realizing they are falling prey to the Father of Lies.

10. Do not covet—because I created you to enjoy contentment and when you covet, you live in emotional unrest.

 "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering."   Exodus 3:7

When we understand that God’s laws are designed to eliminate suffering, we can embrace them joyfully. Are you suffering because of yours or someone else's sin choices?  

God weeps with you.


True Confessions

 To Whom It May Concern:
I am the person who robbed Central Bank and Trust back in '03. I stole over $100,000 and have been hiding out. I am sorry I did that, although the money is all spent. I hope the city can forgive me and I can come out of hiding. I have suffered enough, don't you think? Sincerely, A Former Robber
What would you think if you read that in the classifieds? Is that a confession? Do you agree with his sentiments that everyone should drop the matter? Is it unfair if the ones he robbed don't think so?

Something similar to that is what many people call "asking God to forgive me." Guilt catches up with them. They've heard that God is loving and forgiving, so they bank on it. They sin big-time, then grovel in pseudo-confession. It goes something like this: 

"I'm sorry, God. 
I know what I did was wrong, but I did have reasons for doing it.  
(Fill in the blank with justifications here...) 
 Please forgive me, and I hope I don't do it again."  
(However, I know I probably will.)

They quote I John 1:9 and head back to their life, claiming forgiveness. Most of the time, they repeat the same sin or something worse. Sin. Guilt. Repeat. Is that what the Bible means when it says that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us?

I don't think so.

Now envision this. The same bank robber shows up at the police station 10 years later. He walks boldly into the detective's office and turns himself in. "I'm the guy who robbed Central Bank in '03. I spent all the money and have nothing to show for it. I have no excuses for what I did and I'm ready to take whatever punishment you see fit to give me. I am truly sorry for all the harm I caused and I'll do whatever you think necessary to make it up to everyone I hurt." Then he holds out his wrists for the cuffs.

Now THAT'S a confession! The kind of confession that warms the heart of God is one like that. We come to him with no excuses. We own our sin and hate what we've done. We know we don't deserve a break and are willing to do whatever necessary to demonstrate repentance. If it involves consequences, so be it. If we must humble ourselves and ask forgiveness from others, we do it. If it involves a lifetime of restitution, so be it. That's what repentance looks like in the heart of one who is ready for the forgiveness of God. In fact, it is those consequences that help brand into our hearts just how awful our sin was. Consequences make it not worth repeating.

God's forgiveness is not cheap. It cost him the life of his only Son. He has promised that a "broken and contrite heart, He will not despise." Confession without repentance is a waste of effort. It is an insult to a holy God who paid for your cleansing with his blood. 

Are you caught on a treadmill of repeat sin? Chances are great that you are not repenting and your sin looms ever before you. If you want the total healing God promises, hold out your wrists and show him you mean it.