Deflating the Misery Index

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy … “ Romans 15:13

Statistics show that you are miserable—albeit less miserable than you were last year.

Did you know that there’s such a thing as the Misery Index? In the 1970s, Arthur Okun, created a simple formula to measure the happiness of the average American. The equation is the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate, and as of February of 2015, the number is the lowest it’s been since the mid-1950s.

But, Americans still express a dismal outlook about the next six months. A recent article on NPR suggests that the formula is just too simple for today’s economy. They factor wage growth and consumer debt into the equation and surmise that the economy is still the culprit for our misery.

But what if there’s more to it? St. Augustine said, “”You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” And God’s own Word tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Even those who deny the deity of Christ or shun His saving sacrifice, understand the need for hope, joy and peace. It is the lack of those things that inflates our misery index—not simply empty pockets. As Christians, we possess the antibody to the world’s misery. In the grip of Christ, misery is indeed foreign to us; the love of Christ has dispelled it.

As we brave the world today, let’s flavor our witness with joy. The world is ripe for it.

 

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The Secret to World Peace (and yours)

In an election season, ‘peace’ is the buzzword. Every politician vying for your vote is promising you peace through their plan. Peace in your finances, peace in the form of less crime, international peace, partisan peace, peace with minorities and the absence of hate.

They valiantly pledge their lives to the betterment of public life. Then they turn around and viciously sling mud at their opponent. The worst part is, they can’t all be right! So where do we go for real, true peace?

The simple answer is: God. But unfortunately, that’s become a token response, spoken almost as glibly as a first grader in Sunday school class.

“Well, I’m just praying that God will intervene. If we would all just be obedient to God. Well, God’s going to punish America and then He will establish His peace.”

I’m absolutely not denying the fact that God Jehovah is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “My peace I give to you.”

If generations, centuries of Christians have believed that God is the source of peace for the world, then why do we not experience peace on earth? At the very least, why don’t we have peace in our own homes?

Remember the “good old days”? We say that when we look at our kids and realize that they have no concerns.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we think, to go back to having no worries, just trusting that Mom and Dad would take care of things? Those nights when you slept well; your breaths were soft and deep and you only cried if you stubbed your toe. Even then, Mom or Dad always had the power to make it better.”

Matthew 19:14 says, “But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Ah children, peaceful, quiet, innocent babes. (Not always, but you get my analogy.)

So what are they doing right?

In her Bible study, Living Beyond Yourself, Beth Moore made a startling observation – at least to me. She said, “peace is always associated with authority.” Think about it, your child lives peacefully, relative to you, because she is under your authority. This position includes being loved by you, cared for by you, advised by you and disciplined by you.

I have been mulling over that idea for a couple days. Then this morning, my Father showed me this truth definitively in His own words.

Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”

Peace is found under the rulership of Jesus Christ. When I try to be my own authority, peace becomes an illusion.

In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. The next verse tell us of His governance. Jesus brings peace to those who are under His authority.

Question: In my most harried moments, the days when my brain feels as if it’s filled with rabid birds, when the anxiety almost seems to physically burn my insides: am I under Christ’s authority? If so, then like a child, I can simply trust my Father – to love me, care for me, advise me and discipline me.

One final thought, that I hope to explore in more detail later:
Ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, tension has been an inevitable part of marriage relationships. There God cursed the man to be frustrated in his ambitions and the woman’s desire to be for her husband. Most scholars believe this indicates a power struggle between the two.

Throughout the Bible, God calls the man to be a leader in the home and for the woman to submit to his authority. We also know that God does not prefer men to women, or women to children or one race over another. So why this submission thing? Aren’t we equals?

Could it be that God knows in our sin-sick world, peace-less-ness will reign? I think He is offering us peace on earth by saying, “Yes, I love you the same, you are equal. But peace comes with authority. For the sake of peace in your homes, I am establishing a leader and a follower.” What do you think?

Book Review, Day 2

We are continuing to review Michael Leehan’s book, How Satan’s Solider Became God’s Warrior.  If you missed it, go back and read Monday’s post for an introduction. 

I found it startling that on a daily basis, Leehan wasn’t so different from you and me. He studied and went to college. He dated and married, had kids and divorced. He started his own successful business and was socially accepted by his neighbors and friends. Leehan even went to church with his girlfriend. The Bible tells us that Satan is the master of deception.

I began to wonder how deceived I might be – in a very different way, but perhaps just as deceived as Leehan was. In Ephesians 6, God tells us that we do not war against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities of darkness. But do I live like that?

Daily, I confess, I live a myopic life. I tend to believe that from the moment I wake, all my choices are my own and I make them dependent upon what will best serve my purposes. If I’m feeling especially altruistic, I will think about what will make my husband happy or how to meet my friend’s need. But I regularly fail to see myself as an eternal being whose actions today have eternal consequences now and forever.

 A couple things I did realize: we are not alone in our little biospheres – and we really never have complete privacy. Someone or something is always peering into the minute world of our experience.

After years of seeking and experiencing spiritual prowess and knowledge, it became apparent to me that we are truly spirit beings just on this earth for a short season…I knew with certainty the spiritual realm was more alive and active that the world I was born into.

That quote puts a lot of things in perspective. Here at Predatory Lies, I confess on a regular basis the shallowness of my daily concerns. I spent (and continue to struggle to refocus) 15 years trying to create and maintain my perfect earthly body. You can relate your own terrestrial worries to this truth; but I assume with few exceptions that most people muddle along with their minds buried deep in issues that have nothing to do with their souls.

How Satan’s Soldier Became God’s Warrior demolishes this misconception. It is a  book-length anecdote that will startle you awake to the certainty of eternal life. Where will you spend it?

Blue

Brazen blue on a blustery day.

Banish the sun, so the raindrops play. 

Dash the dreary daisy, 

In the late months of the year.

Wash the weepy window with a long and weary tear. 

Tantalizing tint, of soft and sweet azure,

Blue the blooming baby’s breath,

In a raindrop world washed pure.