Every decision we make revolves around what we believe will bring us pain or pleasure. God created us to live incredibly happy lives. What we have made of this world is only a dim shadow of what He gave us in the beginning. We were created to live in paradise.

Paradise, however, is no longer a garden that is entered physically. It is an internal state that we experience as we trust and apply God principles of life and peace. Paradise within us has the ability to transform the world around us. But we can experience paradise within, regardless of the world around us.

Having been made in the likeness and image of God we do, however, have this power of choice. Our potential to live in paradise is controlled by our choices. Our choices are driven by our perception of pain and pleasure. Our perception is driven by our beliefs. And finally, our beliefs are shaped by the source of our focus and attention.

The greatest heart break of nearly forty years of ministry has been watching good people, people I love and people I desire to serve, who repeatedly make bad choices, believing they will find pleasure and, in fact, they sometimes find repeated unbearable pain and sorrow!

In the parable of the sower (Mark 4), Jesus taught that people will keep getting more of what they currently have, unless they change the seed that is in their heart. In Proverbs we are taught that the heart is source of our quality of life (Proverbs 4). The beliefs of the heart are shaped by the source of our focus and attention. Where I place my attention; that to which I give thought, consideration, contemplation and meditation forges the beliefs and the quality of my life, primarily because it creates the perception that determines my decisions.

If there is something I want, something I believe will bring me real pleasure I usually meditate on it. Fantasizing is a form of meditation. Anything we think about until it produces emotions is meditation. The emotions we experience while thinking about anything is the value we give to that action. It’s like wanting to date a particular person, and you imagine all the happiness that will come into your life as a result of being with them. That is a form of meditation.

Eventually your pursuit of any goal, the degree of passion with which you pursue or avoid anything will be in direct proportion to what you experienced in your mind when you fantasized about it. That is your perception, your sense of reality. Unfortunately, we have made a habit of attaching massive amounts of pleasure to things that will ultimately only bring us pain.

Religion has forced an image of God upon us which is totally false. We see life with God as the sacrifice of all the things that bring us pleasure. And we believe that the things which bring us pleasure will surely alienate us from God. In the end, we are confused about what will really make us happy, and we are confused about God as a source of pain or pleasure. At a heart level it makes it nearly impossible to trust and follow God!

To the fearful, total commitment to following God appears to be a hard, legalistic pursuit to please what they believe to be an angry, illusive God. It seems to be a total loss of the things they believe will bring them pleasure. They somehow refuse, or are incapable of seeing that those choices have never and will never bring them the true happiness they so desperately pursue. Those choices are, in fact, what keep bringing pain and chaos.

God is good and only good. All of the laws of health, the physical laws of the universe, the laws of the Kingdom of God, they are all the governing laws we can apply to find the true happiness we inherently desire. Every time we do something that really works, and results in happiness with peace, we have unknowingly applied a law that God created for our good.

All the laws of true success are laws God established. The things that make communication work, the process to having a healthy body… all of these are laws set into place by a proactive, loving Creator who established the laws and then gave us the freedom to choose. Trusting Him and applying His word becomes easy and light when we realize they are really the wisdom that leads us to a life of peace, happiness, love, prosperity and success.

The problem gets back to perception! What I perceive and what is real is often worlds apart. I am told, by those who have done the research, that unless I think with that part of my brain where I maintain my sense of self, I will default to a part of the brain that only pursues what my five senses identify as pleasure. The problem is: that part of my brain never factors in consequences. I am always surprised when the destructive part of my decision emerges.

In most people there is actually a failure to connect the dots and see that the pain is directly related to the choice. After all, I did experience some pleasure from the decision. So I mistakenly assume that I can make the same decision, modify a few factors and experience the pleasure with no pain. It becomes an endless pursuit of repeatedly trying that which has never and will never really work!

If I have no sense of self that sees me in the likeness and image of God, I passionately pursue the gratification of my five senses, while blindly rushing into a world of pain. If I believe what religion tells me, I will think it is God punishing me for my actions, thereby reinforcing the false idea that God is pain. I will see Him as the barrier to my anticipated pleasure and I reinforce the false perception that led me down this destructive path.

Through our process of pain and disappointment we have momentary inspirations, those brief glimpses that we could be happy. Whether those moments come spontaneously or we create them by choice, we must seize upon the reality that life in God is the only real hope of paradise. It starts with a willingness to believe that God is good and the pursuit of that reality.

Life is too precious and too wonderful to throw away. End all involvement with those who would influence you that God is mean, and angry. Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain, by embracing a vain image of who He is! He is as Jesus represented Him to be in every healing, every act of forgiveness and every expression of mercy.

When we seek we find. But we pretty much find what we have made up our minds to find. In other words, we find what we were seeking. Choosing to see God the way Jesus represented Him can open our hearts to a lifetime of endless discovery of the goodness of God!

Every day that I live, I see and experience more of the goodness of God. Every day is a gift of peace and joy, even in the middle of chaos. As the scriptures says, we have a peace that passes understanding, in other words it doesn’t even make sense.  I often find myself thinking, it doesn’t even make sense to feel this good and be this happy.

My greatest desire is for every human being to discover, believe and feel the unconditional love of the Eternal God!