Rules

By Linda Tancs

American poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Even paradise must have rules.” How right she was. After all, God did impose a rule in the Garden of Eden. He told Adam that he could eat of every tree in the garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Well, we know how that turned out.

In our own world, we recognize that community rules are integral to an ordered society. We even impose rules on ourselves. I’ll only eat dessert on weekends. I’ll walk 40 minutes each day. Calls will be returned within 24 hours. But, of course, rules are broken. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). The remedy is prayer. In fact, Paul exhorts us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). That may sound impossible, but it really isn’t. Every thought can be a form of prayer, a resolution to live out the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Which rules are you breaking? Pray over it so that, in time, you’ll mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31) and soar above the tendency to break the rules.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

C’mon Get Happy

By Linda Tancs

During trying times it’s hard to smile, much less be happy. But that’s especially when one needs to remember that happiness is more than just an emotion—it’s a state of mind. Choose to be happy. You reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

Take a cue from the Nordic countries. Apparently, they consistently place in the Top 10 of the World Happiness Report. And they’re happy to share their secret. In short, they embrace mindfulness (an awareness of the present moment), kinship and life’s simple pleasures.

Sounds a lot like Jesus’s approach toward life, doesn’t it? He mastered the art of being fully present and commanded those around him to be attentive, active and alert (Mark 13:37). In so doing, we’re more able to resist the temptation to react to circumstances that would otherwise steal our joy (Matthew 26:41). Kinship is a source of joy. In Jesus’s ministry, kinship in the sense of community, or belonging, is a central theme (especially as detailed in the Gospel of Luke). Jesus instructs his followers in Matthew 16:24 to put the needs of others above their own interests. In other words, don’t be selfish. Taking every opportunity to find kinship with others increases happiness, as Paul told the Philippians. Simply put, you can’t be both selfish and happy. And if you want to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, then be still (Psalm 46:10), don’t worry (Matthew 6:25-27) and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5).