Permission to Dominate

Calling the shots, running the show. Who’s the boss? If you’re anything like me, you’ve realised with some age and experience, there are very few things over which you truly have control. You might oversee, manage, direct, lead. But ultimate power over your life is fleeting, an out of reach mirage.

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I used to live under the delusion that being fun, attentive, engaging, and kind would govern how much and how many people liked me. The more amazing I was, would surely hold sway over people, forcing them to fancy me.

That’s a hallucination totally not worth the striving.

Worrying what people think of me to the effect of second guessing my decisions used to be a way of life.  Tethered to this issue of control, as if I could create a world where no one would disagree with me. What an illusion!

I’ve had struggles with control my whole life as they relate to an outward fixation on my environment or other people.

Thank God, I’ve found ONE area where I can give full vent to my desire to dominate – the elixir to my insatiable need to be in charge. Imagine, it’s right here with me, in my own possession, accessible 24/7, and ready to be put to use at my beck and call. It’s TOTALLY and utterly subjected to whatever I decide.

You have one too. It’s free of charge and comes with euphoric endorphins that make you feel high on life: your and my “Attitude of Gratitude” has been there all along, lying dormant at times but easily awakened. Just look up from your pain, your frustration, your stress. Thankfulness has the power to change your perspective and shift the atmosphere in your home.

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My Thankfulness Journal, where I document 3 things for which I’m grateful each day. Why not join me and let’s swap stories on its effect?

When I give thanks for the people around me, I suddenly have grace for their mistakes. Praising myself (instead of self-loathing) for working out or eating well, causes my reflection in the mirror to suddenly shine brighter. Words of blessing upon my children for their uniqueness diminish my frustration at their non-cooperation. A Thank You note to my husband helps cross out that list of wrongs I thought about keeping. Praise for my cute yellow house and its great entertaining space makes me less upset about how small it is.

What a powerful feeling – taking control of something so important, so life-giving, and so necessary. What would happen if we all acknowledged this untapped potential we have inside, utter reliance on something as firm and unwavering as gratitude? How might our days differentiate themselves when they find themselves full of fondness?

To look heavenward each day, governed by the Spirit of God who loves us and has our best interests at heart should be our aim. Dominate that space.

“And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:16-17 MSG).

 

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Fasting Devotion, Day Eleven

(Post submitted by Pastor Greg)

Psalm 95:1-7

A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most powerful traits every Christian should embody. It’s actually a characteristic of faith that is often forgotten or overlooked. We can easily get caught up in what we don’t have or what someone did to us that was wrong. Sadly, we harp on things that annoy us or gossip our negative opinions more easily than we give compliments.

When we live our lives overwhelmed with contentment and gratitude, we have an abundance of peace, blessing and the favour of God.

Thankful people are worshippers. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving. Enter his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4)

Thankful people don’t get offended. We can forgive others when we remember the forgiveness God has extended to us.

Thankful people are humble. The Apostle Paul models this as he celebrates other people’s success.

Thankful people are full of peace. They trust in an Almighty God who will provide them with supernatural peace in every situation.

Thankful people are “others” focussed. They see the value and potential in people because they understand how God has used them. Thankful people want to see others blessed and prospering.

Thankful people are generous. A spirit of thanksgiving produces a generous spirit because we recognize everything we have is a gift from God.

Lord, when I look at my life, I truly have so much to be thankful for. You have blessed me in many ways. Help me to focus on this more heavily than the struggles I face. Thank you for your word which brings life and direction to me. I want my reputation to exemplify the qualities above. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Gratefulness

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Instead of focussing on what stresses me out and what worries me today, I am choosing to be grateful.  If I’m not careful, however, I can allow this positive perspective to shift to complaining and criticizing.  Just looking at Facebook status updates halfway inspires me to join the plethora of groaning about everything from what sports team lost to which side of the political isle is stupid to what a bad day we are all having!

It reminds me of the Israelites who walked across the Red Sea on dry land; shortly thereafter, they remembered with fondness the wonderful food they could eat as slaves in Egypt and longed for those days, complaining about the Lord’s miraculous provision of manna.

The very thing that they were saved from is the thing they ended up wanting to go back to time and time again.

I  read these passages and think, “How could those Israelites be so ungrateful?  Wasn’t the fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day that led them towards the Promised Land evidence enough that God was with them?  Couldn’t walking across the Red Sea on dry land to escape the Egyptians be cause enough for total devotion and gratitude to God for saving and rescuing them out of slavery? The daily provision of food and safety should have been cause for celebrating not contravening.”

They complained about the manna, having no meat to eat.  God sent quail and it wasn’t long until that was unsatisfying again.  Even when they finally reached their destination, 80 percent of the leaders sent to spy out the land came back with a negative report- faithless, and fearful.  How easy is it for us to look on the outside and judge these Chosen Ones?  We look at all of these scenarios and think, “If God did all that for me, I would never (fill-in-the-blank)!”  We look at others’ lives and think, “if I had that job, that house, those children, that vacation, I would be more grateful.”

I can remember a time not too long ago when I was desperately seeking God to provide us with a house we could live in and at a good price.  God miraculously provided the perfect location, a newer house, the price we wanted, fabulous neighbours, and more.  Yet upon moving in, I quickly started complaining about the smallness of my kitchen.  I hated the sounds of the barking dogs around me during rest time.  I lamented the small backyard.  I made excuses to my guests and compared it to my spacious kitchen in Texas. For crying out loud, I have to keep all of my food in the makeshift pantry I created in the laundry room closet beneath my staircase!

If I’m not cautious, my desire to please God daily can be overturned by my own rotten attitude at times.  Paul persuades us to “Do everything without complaining and arguing” (Philppians 2:14).

What pleases God is an attitude of gratitude.  The Israelites never quite got this and it actually kept them out of the promised land.  They missed out on all that God had for them going around the same mountain over and over.  God called them a “stiff-necked” people.  Stubborn and hard-headed were they indeed!  How quickly we can shift our tune from gratitude to complaining.  And, like the Israelites, we can miss out on all that God has in store.  Let us steward the things he has given us with a grateful spirit.  The grass isn’t greener on the other side. I can look at what is before me and see the redeeming work of Jesus in my family, the health of myself and my kids, our progress in building Lift Church, and I’m astonished!

I won’t waste time turning back to long for another day or another way.

We must turn our focus onto the things within our reach instead of the things we can’t change or influence.  We can’t control what has been placed in our hands but we can control what we do with it.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Here is another post on gratefulness from a year ago!

A Cup Check

My whole life, I’ve battled the “glass half empty” mentality.  This will come as a surprise if you know me because I am generally full of joy and positive about everything.  My natural tendency, however, is to see things as a “realist.”  I think that is  my excuse for worrying.  It’s rooted in fear and doubt.  It comes from a desire to protect myself; playing out the worst case scenario somehow makes me think I can handle it better if it comes.  It’s not the way any Christian should look at life.

The word of God is full of His promises to us.  It’s full of descriptions and examples of His character and faithfulness to His people.  There is NO natural reason for any of us to ever walk in doom and gloom.  Or to expect bad things to happen.  I have spent a lot of time taking my thoughts captive as the Bible tells us to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

In order to see the glass “half full” there must be a conscious effort to choose my response to negative situations in life.  Although I’m not always perfect, I have found the greatest way to battle any negativity is to choose an attitude of gratitude.  Concentrating on the goodness of God and giving Him credit for each and every blessing overrides any sadness, depression, fear, or anxiety.

I can fill my own cup with a spirit of gratefulness.  I think this must be what James was referring to when he said to “consider it pure joy when you face trials” (James 1).  No one really is happy when he faces a problem.  But I can find something of joy in every circumstance and the perseverance I’m building is certainly something to celebrate!

Many of us have experienced inexplicable tragedies or pain that is unbearable.  It’s hard to see the cup half full during these times.  A good friend of mine years ago was walking through a dark time in her life after her husband left her.  It was difficult and lonely yet I never heard one negative word come out of her mouth.  She never spoke ill of her ex-husband.  When I asked how she remained positive despite her circumstances, she taught me something amazing.

She said it would do no good for her to hate him or to feel sorry for herself.  She actually prayed for him everyday.  On days when life was really hard she would take out her journal and literally make a list of things for which she was thankful. Writing down “my bed, my pillow, my breakfast, my car” might be the only things she could come up with some days.  This attitude of gratefulness would crowd out any fear, anger, depression, and/or doubts about her future.  I am forever grateful for what she taught me in that moment.

As my family is in a season of transition, I could easily let my cup dry up and be enslaved by anxiety and fear.  Instead, I wake up everyday and thank God for my blessings.  He fills my cup.

This morning, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for my children, my health, my most loving husband.  I thanked God that we will move to Australia debt free and able to start a new life without financial stress.  I thanked Him for choosing us to start Lift Church.  Most of all, I thanked Him for my salvation and my relationship with my creator who loves me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my CUP overflows. Psalm 23:5