Category Archives: culture

But I just want to be happy, right?!?

On a recent episode of a cooking competition show, one of the contestants spoke about how he has recently made a major life choice for his own happiness. He explained that in this quest to be happy, he left his wife, then brought his three children together with his partner’s three children, thus creating what he called the “gay Brady Bunch.” On the same show, another contestant had just lost his wife to cancer, but was urged on by his children to enter the cooking competition in her honor. There were plenty of moments during this episode where tears streamed down his face as he grieved and remembered his wife. Both men were excellent cooks, and both men seemed like genuinely nice guys. Yet I was amazed at the contrast: while one man willingly left his wife, maintaining that he just wanted to “be happy,” the other man, still obviously in grief, probably would have given anything to touch, hold, even speak to his wife one more time.

Our culture is full of people who are happy addicts. People say all the time that they simply they just want to be happy, that they deserve to be happy, and that they should be able to live any way that they want so that they can be happy.  It’s in our Declaration of Independence, it’s been in popular songs by Pharell, Bobby McFerrin, and others, and it’s used in popular commercial slogans- heck, even McDonald’s has a Happy Meal for kids, right? Well, sure. It’s pretty loud and clear that we should and can be happy. After all, just do the right thing or buy the right thing or act a certain way and you too, can be happy.

And so, we have a culture of people who are obsessed with “being happy.” With the attention span of the length of a Tweet, happy addicts are constantly trying to hook onto something new to find a way to get and stay happy. After all, happiness comes and goes, and these things don’t last, so when the feelings of happiness leave (and they always do), these addicts desperately seek another way to be happy. They do things like purchase something new, or find a new boyfriend or girlfriend, or coyly seek attention on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumbler. In other words, they are miserably happy, but never satisfied.

Beyond this, these happy addicts fail to see how harmful their happiness addiction can be. For example, in the case of the contestant who left his wife, I wonder if his wife was happy about his turning her world upside down in the name of “being happy.” Or what about the endless job seeker, working in one place for a short period of time until the honeymoon period disappears, then looks for another job so he or she can be happy- doesn’t this harm the family that they support? Of course, these examples aren’t something that matters to the happy addict, and for this reason, I would argue that the happy addict is often nothing more than a selfish, rebellious, and idolatrous narcissist.

This should not be so. The selfish quest for “being happy” is no different from the lies told in the Garden of Eden: the temptation to be like God is in itself a grab for power, eternity, and self-seeking happiness. While of course, God wants us to be happy, we are first to be happy in Him, since He alone is the source of all joy, happiness, and peace. Being happy will not harm others with the consequences of selfishness. Being happy can and won’t ever conflict with being moral, or being godly, or being a follower of Jesus. It is also infinitely more satisfying than anything we have here on earth, because when we follow Him, we have a joy that is supernatural.  1 Peter 3:10–12 (NLT) says:

“If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

In other words, “being happy” is going to go beyond the temporary. Being happy is not going to be good, moral, and show an unselfish love. It is an eternal happiness that is directed at God.

Are you a happy addict? You can change that! Turn from that and taste the real joy found in Jesus Christ- look to God and live happily for Him, as He is our joy and our strength!

Pastor Fran

The lesson learned (so far) from Boston and beyond




The tragedy in Boston and the panic that struck that city was comparable in many ways to the events of 9/11. For a few minutes, which for many of us seemed like hours, people were terrified and tuned in to breaking news reports to hear of the next attack or the details of what has already taken place. Videos and pictures streamed in from everywhere, and the cable news networks went into full reporting mode.

What was virtually unnoticed at first, however, was the way that people on the scene responded to the horrific carnage at hand. First responders didn’t hesitate to run to the scene, tearing apart barricades and accessing the dead and the wounded within seconds of the blasts. They thought of themselves second and others first. Now we hear of one officer getting killed and another wounded in the line of duty. They were and are in every sense of the word, heroes. Thank you, men and women who have served us so unselfishly!

As we praise God for our police, firefighters, and other first responders, I’m also reminded of Jesus. “Don’t look out for your own interests, but take an interest in others too,” Paul wrote in Phil 2:4, and he called us to look at Jesus as the example of unselfish servanthood. It was Jesus who went to the cross unselfishly, who died painfully, who was raised righteously, and who triumphed victoriously- and how did it all begin? By Jesus willingly becoming flesh, willingly regarding equality with God a thing not to be grasped, willingly taking on the form of a bondservant as a stinky, smelly human, and willingly obeying to the point of death on a cross. 

His example is ours to follow. May God be honored with an unselfish commitment to Him! 


Pastor Fran

Trouble

Matthew 5:11-12 says in the Message translation, “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.”

Have you been in trouble, real trouble? There are those who love to stir up things, live drama, loving the soap opera of life, and they go from one crisis to another. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is the type of trouble that comes from those who mean evil for the godly. People who don’t want to face their own issues and cast blame on others, those who, as this text says, avoid the truth about themselves because it is too close for comfort. These are the ones who scream loudest while trying to stir up trouble.

My friend, speak the truth in love. Don’t veer from your mission in life and the message of Christ. Focus on doing things as Christ would, turn the other cheek, and press on. Most of all, count yourself blessed.

Not Political: Real Change

You are not of this world. You are a citizen of no place but heaven, pledged to no one but Christ, placing no idol before your love for the Lord. Your destination is altogether different than what you see around you today. Your goals as a believer is not financial prosperity but riches in Christ. Your focus is not on a earthly kingdom but an eternal Kingdom. It’s all different when you are a follower of Jesus.

In case you hadn’t heard, we are in an election season (yes, that was tongue in cheek). Being in a swing state, I literally get a half dozen election ads in my home mail every day. To and from the church office, I drive by hundreds of political yard signs. All this along with the constant bombardment of television, radio, and webpage advertisements, and I think I’ve seen enough campaigning for at least, say, four years.

It’s easy to get caught up in election campaigning, having an emotional attachment to one candidate or another. As a pastor, I have purposely not stated my political preferences publicly. I don’t allow yard signs in my yard, and don’t participate in the election rhetoric on Twitter or Facebook. I must admit that at times it is tempting, but I have to remember that my loyalty to Christ overrides my loyalty to the politician I might love or loathe.

So what is my response? Okay, yes, I will be votiing, yet I am also doing something far more as a service for our country. I am sincerely praying for our country. I am praying that godliness and righteousness will reign, that love and truth will be advanced, and that holiness will stand as a witness to those who need Christ’s salvation. It’s not a prayer to advance pet political causes but instead it’s a prayer for a godly light to shine from God’s people.

This is a biblical concept. Paul tells Timothy clearly in 1 Tim 2 that God’s people should be praying for leaders, for people, and for an atmosphere for God’s people to live holy and peaceful lives. We are all called to do pray in thsi way, no matter who is in a position of leadership over us. We are called to pray for our leaders to rule in wisdom as God’s established government while we are here on earth (Rom 13:1-2).

So, join me in prayer. Pray for our land. Pray for our election. Pray for godly values to be proclaimed through His people. And as we pray, let’s see God glorified and His name magnified!