"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Happiness Doesn't Just Happen and the Holidays

I recently received a letter from a man serving time in prison for a white collar crime he committed. After being sent to prison, a friend gave this businessman a copy of my book Happiness Doesn't Just Happen.

A portion of man’s letter to me is reprinted below. Though my book is now "Out of Print" from the original publishers. I am re-issuing it through Istoria Ministries with a new Foreword for Happiness Doesn't Just Happen. The book contains a few study questions at the end of each chapter for small groups.

If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, you can read it for free. Or, you can purchase the ebook for $3.95 and the new paperback for $8.95. Some book dealers offer the paper book (used) for a much higher price, so make sure you only get the low-cost new paperback on Amazon.

The man’s letter begins with some personal background, and then he writes the following:
"As you might expect, when a man is in prison for a specific sentence, whether he wants to or not, he dwells on his progress toward his release. Then, when something happens to make him doubt the D.O.C.'s (Department of Correction's) calculations, it can really become overwhelming...this is where I've been.
I have been corresponding with a friend for a while now, and he occasionally sends me "Care Packages." I received one this past weekend and there was a copy of your book Happiness Doesn't Just Happen." The timing was perfect. It had to be God's timing. 
God has given me periods of peace in my misery, but nothing really took hold and stayed with me. I would read the Scriptures that dealt with waiting on the Lord. I reminded myself over and over that God's timing is perfect and that He controls my destiny, but it just wasn't sticking - that is, until I read your book Happiness Doesn't Just Happen. It jerked me out of my misery and brought me happiness. 
Wade, praise God, He has used this book to completely change my outlook. Your book has opened my eyes to the grace of God to the point that I told my wife I am going to read it over and over until I can't forget it. Now that I see it, I don't want to lose it. I have read other books by notable Christian authors, but second to the Scriptures, your book has spoken to me more than any of the others. 
This may shock you, but I am actually glad to be in prison now. He has allowed me to see many things I had not seen or understood before. Your book has been a major part of this process.
Thank you for being obedient in writing the book. Thank you for writing true to Scripture. Thank you for helping me work through difficult times."
I can't thank of a better recommendation for Happiness Doesn't Just Happen


Rex Ray said...


I believe you have more than just a satisfied customer. Never knew a book could fulfill, “…I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:36 NLT)

Wade Burleson said...


Thank you, sir!

Rex Ray said...


I can’t think of a nicer reply. Thanks to you. [It takes one to know one. :) ]

Rex Ray said...


Ken F and I have been debating on your November 9, 2019 post, if John the Apostle was martyred like his brother, James.

Ken, (as the majority of Christians) believe apostle John lived until he was old. I believe Jesus:

“Then the mother of James and John…came to Jesus with her sons… “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
…“Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering [Calvary] I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
“Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup…” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)

James was the first apostle to be martyred: “…King Herod…killed the apostle James (John’s brother).” (Acts 12:1-2 Living)

The last comment was two days ago, but now not any can be posted because: “Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval.”

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I was wondering if I was the only one being blocked. I sent you three replies that are waiting approval.

Rex Ray said...

Ken F.

Since my comment was the last one, I thought my ‘outstanding logic’ had you “stumped’; oh well, so much for wishful thinking. :)

Ken F said...

"I thought my ‘outstanding logic’ had you “stumped’"

Hi Rex,
That, of course, is a factor. :-)

I was a victim of auto-correct in my last post on that thread. The verse I refered to is Rom 6:3.

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

Wonder if we could do what the eunuch did? (“…the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized? Acts 8:36)

I mean, ‘Look, there’s lots of space on this post. Besides being off topic, why can’t we continue here?

I’ll start by stating your last comment: “…according to church tradition, John was exiled because he could not be killed - he survived being boiled in a pot of hot oil.”

My reply to that was:

“Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord? What sort of death will he die?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.” So, the rumor spread among the brotherhood that disciple wouldn’t die! But that isn’t what Jesus said at all! He only said, “If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you?” I am that disciple! I saw these events and have recorded them here. And we all know that my account of these things is accurate.” (John 21:21-24 Living)

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

I’m amazed that Wade has time to write his post, much less keep up with comments that we made six post ago. So, in order for him to keep ‘junk’ off the comments, he has to have:

“Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author.”

Some trash comments get by before he stops them such as the last comment made by “Anonymous” on post 11-4-19. Today, I wrote him: “I think you are a jerk in trying to profit by your comment.” But of course, my comment didn’t appear.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Sorry for not replying sooner. I tried to reply last night but accidently deleted what I wrote and did not have time to retype it (been very busy lately). Hopefully the longer answers I submitted will eventually get approved. The bottom line is while I don't think you theory is impossible, I find I highly unlikely because of how it creates more historical problems than it solves.

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

I’ll repeat the ‘strongest’ reason why John did not live to be old, is the words of Jesus:

“Then the mother of James and John…came to Jesus with her sons… “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
…“Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering [Calvary] I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
“Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup…” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)

James was the first apostle to be martyred: “…King Herod…killed the apostle James (John’s brother).” (Acts 12:1-2 Living)

James and John believed they could call fire from heaven as shown by:

“…the people of the village did not welcome Jesus…When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” (Luke 9:53-54 NLT)

I believe when the King killed his brother, John shook his fist in the King’s face and called fire from heaven. In retaliation, history records the King putting John in boiling oil; where I believe he died glorifying God just as Peter was told:

“Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God…” (John 21:19 NLT)

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
It's not that Matt 20 cannot be interpreted as you suggest. The problem is there is more than one viable way to interpret it. If I said I did not eat lunch in the cafeteria today it could mean 1) I did not eat lunch at all, or 2) what I ate in the cafeteria could not be called lunch, or 3) I ate lunch somewhere else. The only way to know the right interpretation is to ask me or to ask eyewitnesses. In the case of John, there is quite a lot of testimony from the early church that he lived a very long life. That testimony is not incontrovertible proof, but there is better evidence for his ling life than there is for him being matryed early.

I suppose the follow-on question is, "so what?" What difference does it make.

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
Adding on to my last comment, here is an excerpt from "Against Heresies" written by Irenaeus around 180 AD:

"We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.(2) For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed "perfect knowledge," as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews(3) in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia."

Irenaeus knew Polycarp, who in turn knew John the Apostle. If John did not live to old age, then either Polycarp or Irenaeus lied. While this is possible, there is no evidence suggesting they lied. Given the timeframe, it would be like someone today trying to claim Abraham Lincoln was already dead before the Gettysburg Address was given.

Christiane said...

FYI, just released today:


Christiane said...

and for an opposing view:


Rex Ray said...


I’ll bet you didn’t read all the 150 pages of your first link. :)
And your second link??????

Hi Ken, glad to hear from you. I don’t think that neither Irenaeus or Polycarp lied; they just didn’t know the truth. About eating lunch; I think you ate lunch somewhere.

Jesus said, “…You will indeed drink from my bitter cup…” (Matthew 20:20-23 NLT)

You never answered my question: Was Jesus only talking to James? What do you think?

If Jesus was only talking to James, the boiling oil didn’t kill John and John lived a long life and didn’t bring “glory” to the Lord as Jesus said Peter’s death would do in John 21:19.

Since John was known as the Apostle that Jesus ‘loved’, wouldn’t Jesus want him to bring glory to his Father?

3 John verse 1 states: “From John, the Elder. (Living) “This letter is from John the elder.” (NLT) “The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius…” (KJ)

For John the Apostle, to name himself “elder”, would be like President Obama naming himself “fund raiser”.

Does the following Scripture sound like Apostle John or some pompous guy full of himself?

“…Diotrephes [pastor of small church]…does not admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me. (3 John 1:9 Living)

Christiane said...

Hey Rex Ray,
I've read the introductory page on each and that's it so far. I put the sites here in case someone wanted to read them.

The second site: you have to scroll down. I can't seem to find a way to make the scroll larger, but the 'zoom' thing makes the words bigger and easier to read.

I wouldn't stay up all night reading this stuff, Rex Ray. It's just here for reference.
Anyone could google it up, but I'm trying to help out.

Take care of yourself. Winter's coming.

Rex Ray said...

We were seniors in high school, when my twin brother, Hez said, “Let’s go visit Rex’s girl.” (Betty) Another senior boy and our 15-year-old cousin, Frank, got in our Dad’s Model A. It didn’t have a starter; only a crank. One person used the crank to rolled the engine over while another person gave it gas. It was a mile to Ted’s house who was a farmer and father of Betty. It was only 8 o’clock at night, but since they didn’t have electricity, they’d gone to bed. We parked the car a hundred yards from the house.
Hez said, “Let’s wake them up!” Rain had left the dirt road with a lot of dried clods. The four of us got four clods each. We threw the first clods as high as we could, then threw lower so 16 clods hit the roof about the same time. (Betty said later, they thought the chimney had broken off and was sliding down the roof.)
We ran off laughing. After a while, Hez said, “Let’s do it again.” We repeated the process, but didn’t know Ted was in the yard behind a tree with a shotgun. I was still throwing when the others had started running as Ted’s shotgun sounded like a cannon.
Ted said later that he was aiming at one (me) a few feet from him, but when he saw three running, he was so angry he wanted to shoot three instead of one. (That probably saved my life.) No training is needed when a gun goes off; you dive for the ground then run like crazy. I went to the car and waited for the others, but a flashlight blinded me. I thought I was dead.
“Is that you Rex?”
In a voice about to cry, I said, “Yes Sir.”
“You boy’s should do things that make others do what they shouldn’t do?”
He was worried he’d hurt someone. He helped me get the car started. I drove, honking the horn. but couldn’t find the others. They were afraid Ted was driving it. I drove home, and after a while the others came in but not before they looked through a window to see if Ted was there.
Hez was the only one hit. Mother got the bird shot out from one leg with tweezers. Daddy was the only one mother was angry with. “See, you’ve filled our boy’s heads with your tales of doing tricks! You’re going to get them killed!” I figured if anyone should get hurt, the bird shot found the right spot.
Years later, I told the story to Frank’s grandmother.
She said, “So that’s what happened. I asked Frank why he was muddy, and all he said was, “It was muddy where I was.”

Ken F said...

"You never answered my question: Was Jesus only talking to James? What do you think?"

Hi Rex,
I assume that Jesus was speaking to both James and John. But the real issue is what did he mean. You are assuming that the cup and the baptism can only mean martydom. But that is not the only possible meaning. Rom 6:3 says all believers are baptized into Jesus' death. So it could be that what Jesus said to James and John also applies to all believers.

The records from the early church say that Christians did not fear death, but rather embraced it. They highly honored martys, and there are numerous stories of early Christians actually seeking to be martyred. It was considered dishonorable to avoid it. In light of that, if John's attempted martyrdom failed, would that not be a baptism into the humiliation of Jesus? If this son of thunder had wanted to die a martyr, he likely would have felt like a failure. And to make it worse, he ended up spending most of the rest of his life performong slave labor.

To suggest that Polycarp was misinformed would mean that he was duscipled by a fraud who was claiming to be John the Apostle? Do you really think that people that long ago could be so easily misled? What is your theory for how Polycarp and all the other early Christians came to believe that John lived to an old age if in fact he didn't?

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

I’ll quote Jesus again: “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” (Matthew 20:23 NLT)

Let’s see what we may agree on.

1. Jesus was speaking to James and John.
2. “bitter cup” was Jesus referring to Calvary. (Being martyred)
3. You will indeed drink from my bitter cup.
4. James was martyred with a sword. (Acts 12:2)
5. John was angry James was murdered.
6. Why didn’t the King kill John like James with a sword instead of using boiling oil?
7. Had John call fire from heaven on the King?

Ken F said...

Hi Rex,
I believe you are reading more into those verses than what is there. For example, we don't know exactly what Jesus meant by the cup. And Acts 12 says nothing about John's reaction. Nor does the Bible say how John died.

Is there a reason you did not answer my last question? What is your theory for how Polycarp and all the other early Christians came to believe that John lived to an old age if in fact he didn't?

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,


“Both Irenaeus, who as a young man heard Polycarp speak, and Tertullian[3] record that Polycarp had been a disciple of John the Apostle.[4]”

The reference for [4] states:

Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses III.3, Polycarp does not quote from the Gospel of John in his surviving epistle, which may be an indication that whichever John he knew was not the author of that gospel.

Ken, do you see the reference [4] for “John the Apostle” states: “…whichever John he knew was not the author of that gospel.” ???

So, Polycarp may have known some other John because the Apostle John didn’t survive the boiling oil just like Jesus told him he would drink the bitter cup [death] just like Jesus told his brother James.

Ken F said...

"Ken, do you see the reference [4] for “John the Apostle” states: “…whichever John he knew was not the author of that gospel.” ???"

Hi Rex,
The quote that goes with reference 4 is a modern editorial comment that is not found in the ancient texts. It was certainly not written by Irenaeus. I did some brief searching and found that it shows up on many blogs and wiki sites, but always as an editorial comment and never as a quote from an ancient source. If you can find an ancient text that says the apostle John died early, please let me know.

Ken F said...

"the Apostle John didn’t survive the boiling oil"

Hi Rex,
Can you provide a source that says John was boiled in oil and was killed as a result. I cannot find anything about the boiling oil that does not also say it caused him no harm. If you believe the sources that say he was boiled in oil, why do you not also believe that it did not kill him? It seems like both parts of the story sink or swim together.

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

There’s a reason why modern editorial comments disagree with ancient texts.

Modern comments were not brainwashed like early believers that wrote the ancient texts.

“So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that wasn’t what Jesus said at all…” (John 20:23 NLT)

Have you ever put your finger in boiling water (212 degrees Fahrenheit)? I imagine the king used cheap oil like Crude Oil that comes from the ground. It’s boils at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rex Ray said...


Have you watched the TV program, “Outnumbered”? Today, it didn’t have a political discussion among four women and one man. It showed a discussion in Congress about the possible impeachment of Trump.

I thought the greatest speech was from a Democrat, Jonathan Turley, who voted for Hillary against Trump. He is a lawyer and a professor at George Washington University.

“An impeachment of Trump would do harm to Democracy and the Constitution. We have laws in this country, and we don’t cut them down because we think someone is the devil. To impeach, there must be a crime. Shift said it was a case of bribery, but he doesn’t have any proof.”

He said there is rage vs. reason: Some promote Ukrainians are taking over the country or the Russians have moved into the White House.

He didn’t say it, but I got the impression that many would wish us to believe Chicken Little; the sky is falling. I believe the more they try to hurt Trump the less chance a Democrat has of being President.

Ken F said...

"Modern comments were not brainwashed like early believers that wrote the ancient texts."

Hi Rex,
Do you not realize how preposterous this statement is? Christianity is a religion based on historical facts and eyewitness testimony. If we cannot believe the people who passed it down to us then we cannot believe anything about it, including the bible.

I asked you for evidence and you provided nothing. What makes you believe that John was boiled in oil? The reports from brainwashed people? The historical records claiming John was boiled in oil all unanimously claim he survived. But you are choosing to believe only the half of the story that you like while rejecting the half you don't like, and in the process dismissing all recorded history that does not confirm your theory. History does not work this way.

Why are you so intent on believing your theory and rejecting the consensus of history? What difference does it make for Christians today if your theory is wrong? What important points of Christianity stand or fall based on this? Or are you just being a right-fighter?

Christiane said...

Hello KEN F.

I don't always agree with REX RAY on everything, but I think he should have a free voice in any case. He has a good heart. It's just that he finds conspiracy theories so interesting.
Even someone like can fall into a conspiracy theory or make one up and it happened to me once, so I learned that we are all of us somewhat vulnerably if what we are encountering creates fear in us. I worked it out. But I know I'm also in the same boat as REX RAY, even if it's just one toe. We're human: we want to believe what we want to believe and it's a shame, but all the 'facts' sometimes don't matter a darn.

Christiane said...

should be 'even someone like ME'

Rex Ray said...

HI Ken,

I think you know the Bible well enough that some is not true; such as Moses telling why he couldn’t go to the Promise Land in Deuteronomy (NLT).

1. “And the Lord was also angry with me because of you. He said to me, “Moses, not even you will enter the Promise Land!” (1:37)
2. “But the Lord was angry with me because of you, and he would not listen to me.” (3:26)
3. “But the Lord was angry with me because of you. He vowed that I would not cross the Jordan River…” (4:21)

God told him the reason why he couldn’t enter the Promise Land. Numbers (NLT)
1.“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (20:12)
2.“The time has come for Aron to join his ancestors in death. He will not enter the land I am giving the people of Israel, because the two of you rebelled against my instruction concerning the water at Meribah.” (20:24) [God told them to speek to the rock for water to come out, but both decided to go with what worked before (striking the rock) because they’d look like fools if water didn’t come out. In other words, they didn’t trust God.]
3.“After you have seen it, you will die like your brother, Aaron, for you both rebelled against my instructions…” (27:13-14)

Moses didn’t lose his temper and hit the rock; the brothers decide what he should do.

We can conclude the Bible doesn’t lie, but it does record people lying.

Does John 20:23 NLT lie? “So, the RUMOR spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die…”

John’s talking about himself!

Ken do you think John believed he wouldn’t die?

You and “historical facts” believed a rumor. Why do you believe a rumor?

I think you believe because that’s what you were taught. You probably agree that it’s easier to teach someone than it is to change what they think.

Rex Ray said...

"...easier to teach someone than is to change what they've been taught.

Ken F said...


Ken F said...

Interesting article I stumbled upon today: https://aeon.co/ideas/believing-without-evidence-is-always-morally-wrong

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

Your first link reminded me of someone; I’ll name him ‘X’. We were building our new church. The youth room was upstairs and required many two foot by eight foot sheetrock pieces. Rather than carry the heavy 4x8 sheets, ‘X’ was cutting the sheetrock in two downstairs with several kids and they’d carry them up the staircase.

There was a stack of sheetrock on saw-horses. ‘X’ would mark the halfway point on each end, snap a ‘chalk line’ down the middle, and cut the paper following the blue line left by the chalk very carefully-lee. Then ‘X’ would pull the sheetrock half-way off the stack of sheetrock, and push it down to break it; then while kids were holding each end of the sheetrock, cut the other side of the paper.

It worked very well, but it was slow. I came up and said, “How about using a half piece sheetrock, line up the cut edge on the stack of sheetrock, and use the fished edge to guide your sheetrock knife. You can cut as fast as you can walk.”

‘X’ was larger and stronger than me. Grabbing my jacket with both hands, he started shaking me. Said, “You always want people doing things your way!” After 30 seconds, he let me loose. The ‘news’ spread: “Two deacons almost had a fight.”

Another time, we planned to go to Mexico on a mission trip with about ten kids. We were in a large circle, and ‘X’ said what time we would meet to leave.

I said: “I didn’t hear what time you said”.

He walked to where I was standing and grabbed my ears. “I have a sore throat. You’re forcing me hurt my throat to talk loud because you can’t hear!”

The pain caused me to jerk away as hard as I could, but he held on which doubled the pain. He proceeded to lecture me. I thought of hitting him in the stomach, but I didn’t think that’d be a good example for the kids. Finally, he let go.

Rex Ray said...

Hi Ken,

It may be that ‘X’ thinks he is a greater thinker than anyone because he is a self-made millionaire many times over. His money came when he sold his company to General Electric. They bought his business to manufacture products he had patents on.

Many years ago, a church donated their old bus and padded church pews to be used in a church in Alaska where our father was the pastor. My sister’s family and mine and a 17 year old cousin, Ralf, drove it to Delta Junction. The bus seats were waterproof so we put them in a ‘cage’ I’d made on top of the bus, and filled the bus from top to bottom with ‘layers’ of pews. The driver was the only one that had a seat. Everyone else squeezed under pews to lay on a padded pew on the bottom layer. Also on top was my small boat and outboard motor we’d plan to use in doing a lot of fishing in a river nearby. We may have looked like the “Grapes of Wrath”.

On our first fishing trip, the boat had me, Ralph, my young son, ‘X’, and his son; I’ll name his son ‘D’. (‘X’ and ‘D’ had flown). Since the boat would only hold five, my older son who was 15, volunteered to fish from the bank. We spent a couple of hours going up-river and drifting back to where my son was. He said, “I’d like to fish from the boat some.”

‘X’ said, “No! There’s no room for you!”
I said, “You can take my place. I’d rather spearfish.”

I never fished in the boat again, and the next week we went to Fairbanks to visit my brother. I asked Ralph what he thought of ‘X’. “Most critical man I’ve ever met.”

Through the years, ‘X’ has led many to accept Jesus, but his grown son is not one of them. I think of, “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them...” (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)

Most thought ‘D’ ran away from home for a while, but ‘X’ kicked him out when he found him in the bathtub passed out drunk with his clothes and shoes on.

As the years passed, ‘X’ has tried to please ‘D’ in many ways. Took him on many fishing trips to Alaska. ‘D’ liked to play golf. ‘X’ made a beautiful 18-hole golf course with a large restaurant overlooking the golf course. He put ‘D’ in charge of everything.

‘D’ had two girls by his first wife. They found the oldest at age 15 in thick woods hanging from a tree. Her note said, “I know God will take care of me.”

‘D’ is no longer in charge of the golf course because of his mental condition. Doctors can’t find anything wrong, but it’s as if he had Alzheimer’s.