How Can I Be Happy?

How Can I Be Happy?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Short answer — that’s up to us. God never promised happiness for those of us who opt into the Christian lifestyle. By default, we have lots of enemies. We’re still on the same planet satan runs, so we have to deal with his garbage too. 

We find happiness through anticipation. We have to find excitement for the new life we’ll have, and hang onto that with everything in us. 

We find happiness through selflessness. Doing good things for other people is a tried-and-true way to be happy. Once we’re more focused on others than we are on ourselves, we’ll understand genuine happiness. 

We sometimes conflate happiness with euphoria. As Newton famously said, “What goes up must come down.” Euphoria is temporary and often accompanied by a rebound slump. But it’s a feeling of profound well-being that tends to be addictive, and is often above a natural baseline sense of well-being. Most people who want to be happy are really just chasing euphoria. We’re seeing now that it’s making everyone miserable. 

Happiness is not guaranteed, but we can experience it with the right mindset. Help people. Pray for your enemies. Love people who hate you. Designate at least a couple of minutes every  day to think about the next life. Look at the stars, planets, galaxies, and nebulae at night. You can’t help but be blown away by how intense and beautiful the universe is. This is God’s home (cf. Ps 115.16; Job 38.7; Deut 10.14; Neh 9.6; Ps 68.33; Mt 18.10), and the most tangible display of his power that we can experience with our senses (Rom 1.20). It puts our existence into perspective and reassures us that God actually is in control. 

This life isn’t about being happy — the next one will be nothing but happiness, because entropy and dysfunction will no longer exist (Rom 8.20-25). 

Gary Pollard
An Existential Crisis

An Existential Crisis

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Christians are not immune to existential crisis. While this overwhelming feeling of meaninglessness is a trademark of younger people, older people often deal with it too. Young people may seek meaning, direction, and purpose for their lives as they look to the future. Older people might look to their past, wondering if their life’s work was a functional/worthy investment of their lifespan. We all have fundamental questions to work through. 

This series will explore some of those questions we have: 

Why was I created? What is my purpose? How can I be happy? What is true/real? Why does God allow evil to exist? What do we mean by “next life”? 

This week we’ll look at the first question. Not one person ever asked for consciousness or existence. Why were we brought into a dysfunctional world? Even though none of us requested existence, we exist — and we’re going somewhere after we die. None of us asked for that burden, either. 

Here are some of the commonly given answers: 

  1. We’re here for the glory of God. 
  2. God gave us the ability to choose our fate, whether to reject him or be obedient to his will. 

The problem with those statements is that they don’t actually answer the question, at least not adequately. The Bible answers those questions, and with a little effort we can find out why God created us. 

Why are we here? 

1. We’re here to interface with God’s reality. 

2. We exist, ultimately, to populate a perfect world. 

God created us in his image and likeness (Gen 1.26-27, 5.1-3, 9.6; Js 3.9; I Jn 3.1-3). This is emphatic in scripture — he made us in his image AND his likeness. Let’s put the Hebrew words sal-me and de-moot (image and likeness) in modern English. The one speaking in Genesis 1 is Logos, according to John 1. That’s Jesus. He made us to look just like him. He is the visible form of the invisible father, according to Colossians 1.15. 

Genesis 5.1 — When God created people, he made them look like himself. 

Genesis 5.3 — Adam had a son who looked just like himself, and he named him Seth. Same exact words used in 5.1. 

James 3.9 — Uses ομοιωσιν, which means in that context, “to look the same.” 

God made us self-aware, intelligent living entities to interface with the reality he created. This life is just a trial run. We exist, and that’s something we have to accept. We have a life, so what we do with it is up to us. 

That leads to the second reason we were created — to populate a perfect world. II Peter 3.13 says, “Based on what he promised us, we’re looking for a new sky and a new earth where only morally good people can live.” Because we messed up and introduced evil to this planet, it’s no longer a paradise (Rom 8.20-25). But that’s not natural. We weren’t originally created to coexist with dysfunction or entropy. 

We can thank Satan for most of the dysfunction we face today: 

  1. Ephesians 2.1-2 — Satan has control over natural functions of the planet. 
  2. I John 5.19 — Satan has control over political power on this planet. 
  3. Luke 4.6 — Satan has power over every population group on earth. 
  4. Ephesians 6.12 — Those dysfunctional powers aren’t based on earth.

The church is a combat unit. We aren’t fighting other people, we’re fighting an enemy that has far more power than we could ever dream of confronting. That’s what “spiritual warfare” means in Ephesians, for example. God is our ally, so we can never be destroyed for good. Satan may have control of the planet, but God has control over the universe. 

Our job is to make the best of our existence, ideally living by our Creator’s definition of functional. If we do, we get to live in a perfect world without any potential for dysfunction. In Matthew 19.28, Jesus describes it as a “return to the way things originally were” or “regeneration”. 

Why were we created? To interface with God’s reality in a limited capacity, and to populate a new earth after this earth’s time is up. 

Gary Pollard


Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

David Chang

When I was in high school, my main extracurricular activity was band—concert and marching. Concert band was a challenge from time to time, but it was marching band that really put everyone to the test. After all, there is a major physical aspect to the activity.

The summer between my sophomore and junior year was a particularly hot one in Oxford, MS. It was difficult. The hot sun was constantly beating down on us, and if the sun weren’t killing us the temperature was high enough to make our knees buckle. We were fatigued and mentally exhausted as the summer went on. 

One of those days was very windy and there were patches of clouds—a very welcome change. We didn’t think anything of it. Some of us didn’t even put on sunscreen that day because the sun wasn’t just constantly beating down on us. But on that day it wasn’t the sun nor the temperature that got us. It was something that we didn’t even think twice about. In fact, we thought it was a good thing. On that particular day many of the band got windburns after being outside for more than 6 hours. 

It shocked me just how quickly something that we thought was harmless or even helpful could be so damaging. Those strong and gusty wind that helped cool us off initially, when we were exposed to it for hours, turned out to be an even bigger problem than the sun itself.


Whether it be 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, or the pastoral epistles, the New Testament is ripe with the idea of staying sober and vigilant. But why? Why is it so necessary for us to stay awake and be aware? Most of us are spiritually upright and good people, in the sense that we have good moral compasses and have a relatively heightened conscience. We do not go out and actively commit crimes, hurt others, or drown ourselves with vices.

But what does still plague all of us, no matter where we are in life, are the seemingly small and insignificant things we ignore. Things that we may not even bat an eye when we do and behaviors that we may even think is helpful—it’s those “little” sins that gnaw away at the connective parts that keep our armor of faith together. 

As a termite eats away at a house hundreds of thousands of times its mass causing permanent and significant damages, there are these little things that go under our radar that—give it enough time—can completely break down what we have built in terms of our faith.

To those of us who are not Christians yet, it may be that thing that you keep doing in your life that you know deep inside that causes dysfunction and problems but you write off because it’s not as “big” as some of the other bad stuff that people do.

To those of us who are Christians it may be something a bit more secretive, those hidden sins that we do not address—letting it fester and rot from the inside.

You see, the things that get most of us aren’t the outright terrible and unforgivable crimes. It’s the small lies that we tell. The little things we try to keep from God. The secret sin that eat away at our relationships and our integrity.

What are those things to you? What red flags are you ignoring in your life? What are you justifying? What are you constantly engaging in that you think is helping but instead is killing you? Give it enough time, and even a tiny trickle of water can split rocks. Even a small breeze can burn your skin with enough exposure. 

The reality of sin is all the same. It is something we must all be vigilant and aware to actively prevent and avoid. 



Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

Scientists with National Geographic went near the Solomon Islands to study one of the most active underwater volcanos on earth. What they found in the hot, acidic waters of the volcano, surprisingly, was life – a couple species of sharks, stingray, and fish swimming among the plumes of ash. The risk for these fish is great, as Kavachi is known erupt frequently.
Churches are made up of people, and people are imperfect. No church is immune to the problem of evil, though we should certainly have a greater level of immunity to evil’s influence. When non-Christians interact with us, they may be unsure of what to expect. The world does not paint a pretty picture of our beliefs.
So, what will they find? They will ideally find a group of people who, despite the pervasive dysfunction of the world, display unconditional love, forgiveness, excellent character, patience, forgiveness, fairness, grace, resilience, and hope.
Christians should strive to pleasantly surprise the world! When they expect to find an environment that could never support healthy, loving, functional relationships, we should blow their minds with positive, life-changing interactions.
“Always keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they might see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (I Peter 2.12).
“Quit Yer Whinin'”

“Quit Yer Whinin'”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary, with his wife Chelsea

Gary Pollard

I think we’ve all been in the uncomfortable position of witnessing a couple loudly arguing in public. Whether this is at a restaurant, the store, a gas station, or any other public place, it’s downright uncomfortable. Some thoughts going through our minds might be, “Where’s their self-awareness?” or, “They might need to see someone about those issues,” or, “Why here?” We definitely would not want to spend too much time with anyone whose conflict resolution abilities are so classless. Conflict in a relationship is unavoidable and, if handled properly, is vital to the health of a relationship. Poorly managed conflict, though, is sure to destroy it! 

Unfortunately, the world is seeing this more and more. Petty arguments between Christians over matters that have absolutely no bearing on our eternal destination are commonplace. Which Bible version is best? What will heaven be like? What should we wear to worship? Which college should one attend (“that college is liberal/conservative”)? Should we meet in a building or in homes? Should a Christian wear a head covering or not? Should a Christian celebrate certain holidays or not? Should a Christian carry a gun or not? Who should I vote for? 

These are topics I have seen debated in the ugliest possible ways in public forums, whether live or over social media. There is nothing wrong with disagreement handled in a godly way (Matthew 18.15-20). In fact, it can help grow the church because it often brings members closer together. However, when the argument is both non-essential to salvation and is handled unbiblically, it destroys the church. 

If I may be very blunt, this must stop. Our behavior is not only pushing the world away but generations of the church’s own members as well. When a Christian’s blocked list on social media is primarily members of his/her own spiritual family, we have reached concerning levels of dysfunction. I realize that this is not a pleasant article to read, but it is time for us to make a change. 

It is time to stop writing or sharing articles on inflammatory or controversial topics that have no bearing on our salvation. Religious keyboard warriors and trolls need to quit. People of authority and position must stop using their voice to divide and discourage the bride of Christ over non-essential matters (some examples are listed in the second paragraph). We will be held accountable for our words and influence over the body of Christ at judgment. 

When we inevitably find ourselves in disagreement with another Christian over a matter of opinion, we should either handle it privately and with patience and love, or let it go entirely (see Romans 14, I Corinthians 8, Matthew 18, Philippians 1.27, 2.1-5; 2.12, 2.14, 15; 3.17-19; 4.2). Being correct or winning an argument at the expense of peace is not worth losing our souls. This article is just as much for myself as it is for anyone reading this. It is for everyone. 

Around 156,000 people die every day (that’s about 56,000,000 people per year) and most them die outside of Christ. Our time is limited and our influence precious. Our words are among the most powerful tools and weapons ever created. Let us use them well, as they could very well influence someone’s eternal destination – or our own.