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.


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

What I Really Deserve

Nice FruitThis week, I’m staying in a nice hotel in Ocala, Florida, driving around in a rented Camaro, and eating fresh fruit – all sweet gifts from The Church at the Springs where Pastor Ron Sylvia and others are hosting Nuts & Bolts, a conference for church planters. I feel very blessed to be here. I don’t deserve it.

What I do deserve is the full weight of the wrath of God toward sin for my rebellion against God. I learned a huge lesson a long time ago from my friend, Bobby Conway. I walked into a nice hotel with Bobby where we were hosting him while he preached a revival at our church. He looked up at his beautiful surroundings and exclaimed, “I deserve hell, and I’m staying here?” That line deeply impacted me. I am not entitled to any of the good and gracious gifts of God.

I don’t deserve nice surroundings. I don’t deserve my awesome, loving wife. I don’t deserve my precious kids that make me smile daily. Life, for most of us, especially in America, is cushy. If we ever get the impression we deserve any of it, we’re sorely mistaken. Instead, we need to understand that each next breath is a gracious gift of a very forgiving God.

Not only have I been spared from ever seeing the wrath of God toward sin, I also get to enjoy the bounty of the goodness of God. Why? Because of what the prophet Isaiah foretold about Jesus: “But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NLT)

I’m not saying at all that we should refuse to enjoy good things. That would demonstrate ingratitude toward the Creator and Savior of the world. What I am saying is that every time we enjoy even the smallest of gifts, our hearts should be reminded of the price Jesus paid on the cross so that we might enjoy the freedom and promise of eternal, abundant life.

The old phrase is “never forget where you came from.” That’s a good starting place, but I like the way the apostle Paul put it even better…

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world… All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else… But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!

~ Ephesians 2:1-5 NLT

Look around, and be thankful. You and I deserve hell, but the offer is freely on the table for anyone in all the earth to receive complete forgiveness of sin because of the price Jesus paid for us when He died on the cross. If you aren’t sure what to make of that, let’s talk.

Things I'm Thankful for Today

I’m actually thankful for these things every day, but today in the U. S. is especially set aside for the purpose of saying (or blogging) thanks for such things. Gratitude is life-changing and invites the blessings of God into our lives. So let me offer my thanks to God for…

  • Being a holy, wise, perfect, immutable, unchanging, sovereign, loving, gracious, awesome Creator!
  • Giving His only Son, Jesus, who died on the cross to pay the penalty of my sins.
  • Granting me salvation and the forgiveness of my sins merely on the basis of my believing in Christ and receiving Him as my Savior.
  • My call to ministry – to touch lives, to change the world, to spread His Word.
  • Being born in a place and time in which I have the freedom to worship Him without fear of persecution.
  • My beautiful, sweet wife, for all the reasons I wrote about yesterday.
  • My precious daughter who has one of the sweetest spirits of any kid in the world, and who happens to be smarter than her Dad sometimes.
  • My cool son who is now learning to “run” on all fours and climb stuff. He belly laughed this morning – I’m thankful for that!
  • My little dog, Beau. He’s nice.
  • My parents, my brother Kevin and his wife, Robin, and their sweet kids, Emma and Carter.
  • My in-laws including Angie’s parents, the Perry clan and Josh’s crew.
  • My church family, along with my Pastor and my boss and fellow staff members.
  • The opportunity to be creative, to design stuff, to think and strategize about communications and missions.
  • All the physical stuff like food, a roof, cars, furniture and all the things we take for granted around us.
  • Creation – which shows off the awesomeness and beauty of our majestic God.
  • Lifelong friends from the places where we’ve served… and I do mean lifelong!
  • The future, from here to heaven. It’s all in God’s hands and I’m believing that He’s going to do some pretty awesome things in, around, and through us!

I know I missed things. That’s the point. There’s no end to our giving of thanks to such a giving God! We’re never more like God than when we’re giving, and “thanks” and “giving” go together. So may God help us be more thankful and more giving all year long!

In closing, hear the challenge of the apostle Paul…

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

[youversion]Ephesians 5:17-21[/youversion]

Reasons I’m Thankful for My Wife

Brandon and AngieToday is the day before Thanksgiving. In years past, I’ve gotten to spend this day with my family, either in the car traveling, or with extended family. I miss that today! I’m sitting in my office at Saddleback, which I enjoy, but not nearly as much as being with Angie. Let me tell you why…

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I So Appreciated Being Appreciated!

Bethel Baptist Church CampusYesterday, our church family blessed us (yet again) with a wonderful luncheon for Pastor Appreciation month. I’m honored!! I often stand before our congregation and tell them I’d do what I do for free (of course, I don’t mind that they don’t take me up on that) because of the joy it brings. They really make it easy in many respects to be their Pastor. Let me tell you some ways this is true…

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I'm Frustrated with All This Free Stuff!

angry meHere’s something I find funny. It’s how quick we are to complain about everything that gets handed to us for free. We may just be the most spoiled generation in history, but we tend to suck the joy out of freebies. Examples, you ask?

  • “Ah, stinkin’ Twitter is down again!” (uh, it’s free)
  • “I’m so annoyed by Facebook’s games.” (yep, free)
  • I had to park 90 feet from Walmart’s door. (parking is… free)
  • The sermon was kinda long today. (Offerings are optional)
  • Rain, rain, go away. (God charges nothing for the weather, which is kinda necessary for life to exist.)

I could go on, but you get the picture. Now here’s a life-changing truth…

An attitude of gratitude will change everything in and around you for the positive! In fact, it’s scientifically proven that just expressing thoughts of gratitude triggers the release of seratonin (the happy hormone) in the brain. Maybe we’ll get over our grumpiness and depression when we start being a bit more thankful.

Now, feel free to chime in about this post, but don’t complain… you’re reading it for free.

I Am Bound to Give Thanks

In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul begins by saying “I am bound to thank God always for you all…” I’ve always loved that little snippet of Scripture because of its plain message – I am bound, obligated, indebted to give thanks. It’s the least I can do in light of all that our wonderful God has done for me. I wanted to take a few moments and list out some of those things for all who will read.

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