The Pursuit of Happiness

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

blog-pursuit-of-happinessThe unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

These men were standing together against tyranny and against a form of government that no longer cared about the inalienable rights of individuals as highlighted in red above.  They stood together against a far superior force and military that for any other reason would be overwhelmed if it had not been for God allowing these men to form a nation:  The United States of America.

This post is not about the rich culture of American History and the men that made this such a great nation.  Not every founding father was a professing christian and had a relationship with Jesus Christ, but we read in Romans 8, that that doesn’t matter because God will use who He chooses to use for His good and purpose.  I am so thankful to be a part of this country and to be able to be free to speak and to worship and to read the Bible in public venues without fear of persecution or condemnation.  Clearly, some of you may be thinking that this government is so far away from the original statements laid before in this wonderful Declaration, but we have seen this before.  Communists trying overthrow our government through media channels, Nazis infiltrating very aspects of our society and some other modern day Governments that so desperately crave to destroy the very essence of Freedom.

There is a lot that is wrong with this world and even in our country, but remember this, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3.  No matter how we hope that legislators and rulers and bosses and so on can get the very essence of God’s word to promote justice and freedom and the belief for each and everyone of us to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we will always find those that want to stunt this thought and have plans of their own.  Plans that our contrary to the word of God and to the very statutes of our creator.

These founding fathers understood the most important lesson in life:  There is a Creator and every knee will bow and tongue will confess.  So what does that mean for you and I?  Simply put, why should each one of us act differently then the world?  Why should we be humble, teachable and respectful of others?  Why should we love the Lord God with all of our heart, mind, body and soul and secondly why should we love our neighbor as ourselves?  Because Jesus told us that these are the two most important commands to follow (because all the others hinge on this).

What rights do we have as legacy dads:

  • To love God
  • To read his word daily
  • To pray often
  • To be loved by Him
  • To love our wives unconditionally (Read 1 Peter 3:7)
  • To love our children unconditionally
  • To pursue our happiness (honoring God all the way)
  • To be humble in all circumstances
  • To trust and obey (for there is no other way)
  • To Submit to God’s will for our lives (this brings us His plans and His freedoms for our lives)

What if these are not the case in my life?  What if my life is bearing more sinful nature stuff then the fruit of the Spirit? What should I do, Dante? Lance?  Where can I turn?  How can I right this wrong?  How can I turn this ship around?  How can I take this dead marriage back to life?  YOU CAN’T, BUT  GOD CAN MAKE NEW THINGS AND RAISE THE DEAD TO LIFE!!!

Right now, if this speaks to you:

  • Pray, ask God to reveal His will for your life (note:  If you are not reading the Bible, then you will not get this request)
  • Get involved with other men (in a bible study, in an accountability group – true accountability)
  • Love unconditionally
  • If there is more deeper issues (scars, hurts, wrongs) get profession biblical help

Wait on God & Trust Him.

Blessings,

Dante

 

 

TOP 10 THINGS THAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL

As I continue to get older (and older) I have come to the realization that most older people (those that learn from their lives and continue to learn) have a wealth of knowledge if we could just take the time to engage them and chat with them and build relationship with them.  A dear old friend of mine used to say to me that there is only two things in life that we can control and that is: 1) Our attitudes and 2) how we handle the situation that God brings to us.
top-10-mistakesThis brings me to my top 10 list of things that you can’t control:

  1. Those around us – We cannot force our will on others nor control them for the outlook that we want
  2. The way that God made us – Each of us have been faithfully and wonderfully made.  God loves us all and has made each one of us unique in our own special ways
  3. Our family – We get to choose our friends (not our family) but God calls us to love our family and to show them the love of Christ
  4. Those who we work with and work for – (obviously if you are a boss, or company owner you have influence) if you yield to scripture and follow its teaching, whether you are an owner, a peon or somewhere in the middle or upper middle, you cannot control those around you nor the situations that they present you with
  5. The choices we have made (in the past) – we are accountable to decisions and actions that we have taken and we cannot control the outcome of those decisions if we made decisions that are contrary to God’s will for our lives
  6. The consequences of our past – God’s way brings the abundant life, the world’s way brings consequences to sin (as for me and my house we will choose to serve the Lord)
  7. What other people know that we don’t – unless they want to share with us, we cannot control what they want to share or don’t want to share
  8. What the future will bring (or won’t) – Read Roman’s 8 (God is in control)
  9. What others think of us – Who is your identity in? The world or in Christ?
  10. Whether or not others like us (or want to love us) – this is huge, because this impacts #1 through #9 and how we are around others.  If you have lived long enough on this earth you will find that not everyone will like you (people are different) and you will find that some may even hate you.  Is your identity in them or in Christ?

What we can control:

Our attitudes – how we react to positive and negative influences (and people) in our lives

How we handle the situation that God brings to us – From James 1 (NIV) 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.  26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Don’t just hear the words (of the Bible) do what they say (as we are required to do as disciples of Christ).

Blessings,

Dante

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s on the sin of lust

Hebrews 12:1-  (NIV) 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The following is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Temptation:

calls a man“In our members there is a slumbering inclination toward desire, which is both sudden and fierce.  With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery of the flesh.  All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled.  The flesh burns and is in flames.  It makes no difference whether it is a sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, our love of fame and power, or greed for money…”

“At this moment God is quite unreal to us. [Remember those words.] He loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real.  The only reality is the devil.  Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God…  The lust thus aroused  envelopes the mind and will of a man in deepest darkness.  The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us.  The questions present themselves as, ” Is what the flesh desires really sin in this case?” And, ” Is it really not permitted me, yes, expected of me now, here in my particular situation to appease desire?'”

UnWhich

This week is Founders Week at Moody.  There are some great speakers and you can click here to listen to the Speakers and their messages.  I was driving home today and listening to a an excerpt from Ron Hutchcraft about Christians who were trying to run the race and would not even begin to leave the starting line because they were bogged down with too many rocks in their backpacks of life.

He referenced certain rocks:  The rocks of unforgiveness, the rock of hatred and so on.   Later in his message he talked about the rock of Kryptonite (that which takes the strength from Superman), and prevents him from doing his very best.

How many of us Christians are stuck in our own proverbial ruts of life, in life and because of life circumstances.  Some more than others of us may have justification:

  • Parents divorce
  • Being made a victim as a child
  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Being unloved
  • Parents dying
  • Our health or lack thereof

Which way are you running dad?

Dear Dad,

As I watch you in your older years, it is difficult for me to watch your body and brain succumb to the ages of life (Parkinson’s, Dementia and your health along the way).  You are my dad and a man who has taught me so much and continues to do so in your elderly years.  You have always impressed upon me the importance of hard work, of finishing the job, of commitment, of being a man (even though you were not yet a Christian at this time of training – you paved the legacy for me to connect the dots).  I want to thank you for making me into the husband and father that you have worked so hard to do.

Do I always get that right?  No.  Am I selfish and sometimes fail to find the lessons in your many years of training? Yes.  But I strive to be the man who you want me to be and the husband and father that you so drove into me.  If it were in my power not to work, not to raise my kids and not to be the husband that you want me to be, I would quit everything and bring you with me and listen to you and hold you and comfort you without mom.  You taught me the importance of marriage and to avoid the temptations of life.  You quoted Shakespeare to me in ways to avoid debt and to be raised right.

Are smart phones a sin….?

smartphonesBefore I go into different parallels on this question, I wanted to ask you, the reader, what your initial reaction was?  Was it:  1) No way! 2) Hmmm 3) I never really thought about that 4) hmmm, okay, I can see where this is going?  If you are truly in tune with the word and with our old self (sin nature) and our new self (a new creation in Christ) then you could clearly choose option 3 and or option 4.

The reality of the question really becomes what is the writer really trying to ask me.   Does it have to be a phone?  Can it be a computer, a tv, a car, a person, a cherished item and/or what.  The real question is:  Are they any people, places or things in your life that are a sin?  Now you are probably saying how can a people be a sin in my life?  That is a fair question and one that deserves to be answered (not yet).  Stay with me, please.

Lessons of Faith, Part 1

Elijah1 Kings 17 New International Version (NIV)

Elijah Announces a Great Drought

17 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah Fed by Ravens

2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”  5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Be Watchful, Stand Firm, Act Like Men

What does this verse mean to you?

To Calvin, it meant, “13. Watch ye. A short exhortation, but of great weight. He exhorts them to watch, in order that Satan may not oppress them, finding them off their guard. For as the warfare is incessant, the watching requires to be incessant too. Now watchfulness of spirit is this — when, free and disentangled from earthly cares, we meditate on the things of God. For as the body is weighed down by surfeiting and drunkenness, (Luke 21:34,) so as to be fit for nothing, so the cares and lusts of the world, idleness or carelessness, are like a spiritual surfeiting that overpowers the mind. [169]