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“I Feel” Versus “I Know”

Feeling and KnowingRight now, I feel tired. I also feel that I’m spinning my wheels and not getting anywhere, and that I’m failing to meet the expectations of others. I feel bogged down in things that need doing, and I feel inadequate to the tasks that loom largest in my life – be a great husband, a great Dad, and a great Pastor.

Right now, I know that God’s approval matters more than the approval of others. I know that He equips those whom He calls and that I am adequate and can do all things through Him who gives me strength, even when I’m tired. I know I am redeemed, forgiven, and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. So I know that moving forward in faith is the right, best, and wisest thing to do.

Living by what I feel is a deadly choice. Living by what I know, based on the unchanging truth of Scripture, is a life-giving choice.

I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.

~ 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT

Photo by Hani Amir.

4 Attitudes You Can Choose Today

JoySometimes God takes me back to kindergarten, spiritually speaking. I spend time reading theological treatises, but I sometimes forget the most basic and simple of truths. Here’s one of those basic truths I sometimes struggle with: We choose our attitudes.

We don’t choose our circumstances. We don’t choose the weather, the direction of the economy, what people around us will do, or the direction of world events. If we could choose our circumstances, we would avoid discomfort every time, and in doing so, we would miss out on some amazing opportunities for growth. So we don’t get to choose our situation, but we do get to choose our attitudes.

Here are at least four attitudes we get to choose:

I Can Choose Confidence In Spite of My Circumstances

My situation might stink, but God always alive, awake, actively working, and attentive to my situation. He saw it coming. He’s fully prepared. He wants to grow me through it and He’s on my side. Those are little truths to throw in the face of the enemy when he plants seeds of doubt. If God is for us (and we know He is) then who or what can possibly be against us?

I Can Choose to Be Positive In Spite of Criticism

Anyone who has ever had any influence on their surrounding culture has endured criticism. And often that criticism comes from the circles of people from whom we would least expect it. But criticism doesn’t have to defeat us. We should draw out of criticism anything that might be true and use it to our advantage. Everything else, we should throw at the feet of Jesus and turn our desire to be defensive over to Him (this is one of my biggest struggles). And we should be tenacious and stubborn enough to keep pressing toward God’s goal for us regardless of what others might say.


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I Can Be Hopeful When Nothing Seems Certain

Some of the toughest times we go through aren’t necessarily times of deep loss, but rather are times of waiting, times of uncertainty and unrest. When our presumed reality seems to be threatened and the positive things we were counting on seem to fall through, we can still be hopeful. God’s goal for us doesn’t change. He still intends to shape us into the image of Christ. He’s still going to return in absolute victory someday. He’s still causing us to be more than conquerors through Christ.

I Can Choose to Be Content with Christ Alone

Of the four choices I’m mentioning, this one is by far the toughest. In fact, it really takes a lifetime for us to get this one down. Being content with Christ alone is a difficult attitude to gauge in our western culture because we have so much more than Jesus. I have a family, a home, two cars, food on the table, cable television, air conditioning, and gadgets galore. Will I ever know if I would truly be content with Christ alone? I’m not sure, but what I can do is walk in this attitude on a daily basis when deals fall through, when people let me down, when losses come. I can practice the discipline of saying “Jesus, You are enough. If all I have is You, I’m okay.” Contentment boils down to accepting with gratitude whatever God has in mind for us, surrendering our own idea of what is necessary in exchange for His idea of it.

These are tough. Adopting healthy attitudes is a daily discipline that requires our enjoying time with God in prayer, yielding to others, and cultivating thoughts of gratitude for God’s grace. Regardless of the size of the challenge, I know that all of these attitudes are possible because they are all commanded and exemplified in Scripture. In fact, I found all four of these attitudes in [youversion]Philippians 1:12-21[/youversion]. And that passage is part of an entire book of the Bible devoted to this one radical idea – you can choose joy today!

Photo by Stacey Lewis

Thank God for His Boundaries

Boundaries

Our condo is two floors, with all the living space upstairs over the garage, so when you come in, you go upstairs. At the top of the stairs is a gate with a lock. This is a good thing, because Sam just started crawling and he heads for the gate all the time. So the rule is ALWAYS check the lock on the gate. Boundaries are good.

Why is it that we, as humans, have such a problem with boundaries? Isaiah said that like sheep, we have all gone astray. We’ve turned every one of us to our own way. We don’t like boundaries. They feel like restrictions on our happiness. If I were just allowed to _____, I’d be happy, or so we think.

But God has put into place some clear boundaries for our protection. He does it because He loves us. If we all lived by God’s commandments, we’d have a peaceable and safe society. We’d live longer lives. But we rebel.

Many times when I talk to people who seem to have a belief problem, I sense that it isn’t really a belief problem at all, it’s an authority problem. It’s a disagreement with God’s boundaries. If I believe Him and take Him at His word, I’m going to have to adjust to His principles and precepts. Jesus asked Saul on the road to Damascus, “why do you kick so hard against the goads?” Like an ox who doesn’t want to be prodded, we rebel.

Ever wonder how much better life would be if we stayed inside the boundaries? It’s true on the road – that’s why the lines are there. It’s true in coloring books and standing in line for a ride at Six Flags. Maybe boundaries aren’t such a bad thing. Maybe, just maybe, God means them for our good!

And when we stray outside the boundaries, or better yet, try to punch right through them? Bad things can happen. Just ask Beau, our dog, who excitedly bounded up the steps after we came in for a walk. When he got to the gate, his little doggie mind decided to just punch right through and… he got stuck.

Boundaries

Disclaimer: No animals or children were harmed in the production of this blog post. Beau is doing just fine in the gate. We feed and water him there each day…

Boundaries, by Cloud and TownsendRecommended Reading: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, by Cloud and Townsend, is a classic now revised and re-released.

Choosing the Godly Response to Circumstances

In our journey through the Word (I’ve been preaching through the entire Bible on Sundays), we’ve come up to the book of Ruth – one of my own favorites in the Old Testament. Ruth’s story takes place during one of the darker ages of the history of the Israelites. It’s a dark time in her nation, her life, and her family, yet Ruth manages to make some pretty great decisions along the way.

ONE GREAT TRUTH: Life presents a series of circumstances to us that are really opportunities for us to make a godly choice.

[Read more…]

Bold Leadership: A Cost vs. Benefit Analysis

To be honest, the title of this post is a misnomer in some respects. Bold leadership sometimes requires we ignore any assessment of cost versus benefit. There are just times when the cost is worth it no matter what, such as when truth or integrity is at stake. At other times, we need to ascertain the damage of a risky decision, such as when a “smart” move might hurt someone we love.

These are the inner conflicts leaders face daily. Consider these questions that swim through my own head quite often:

  • Should I press forward and leave some behind, or lead everyone together?
  • Should I make a decision without the authority when I know it’s right and can’t wait for permission?
  • Should I seek advice and counsel or go with my gut?
  • Do I make an immediate choice, or delay for some thinking time but lose the immediate gain?
  • Do I delegate an important task or complete it in the confidence I’m the best person for the job?

We hear pithy sayings that offer what are sometimes trite answers to these questions, and some great leaders reading this already have certain rules and boundaries in place for these and other scenarios. But let’s face it – there are times when we are backed into a corner by our situation and have to make decisions without all the answers being provided us. In fact, that’s the nature of leadership.


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?


These are some guidelines I’ve formed in my own life that help, but some of them are just that – guidelines – and have to be negotiated in the moment. Others are ironclad. The difference might be obvious…

  • What is right?
  • What is wise?
  • What is loving?
  • What develops someone else?
  • What is best for my organization?
  • What would Jesus do?
  • What would my wife say? (it comes in handy, sometimes)
  • What would my heroes do?
  • What regrets will I have?
  • What regrets will I avoid?
  • What impact will it have on people in the future, especially my kids?

Here’s the point – leadership has costs and benefits and a life of leadership is a life spent weighing them out. If you’re going to navigate leadership well, you need to have a moral compass. Mine is the beleif that God is holy and righteous, His Word is absolute truth, His Son Jesus is the ultimate leadership example, and His Holy Spirit is here to guide me.

I wish it were easier, but maybe then everybody would do it, and maybe it wouldn’t be worth it in the end.