Decisive

I am an indecisive person when it comes to what restaurant to eat at. I like food — a lot. So when you give me twelve awesome choices, I have no hope of picking just one. So usually I leave the decision of where to eat with someone who has a stronger opinion.

And I feel, oddly enough, like my normal indecision when it comes to eating establishments has started creeping into other areas of my life. I haven’t really struggled with indecisiveness previously. Usually I can make a choice and stick to it fairly well, but recently? Not so much. I don’t know if I’m just tired. Or if I’m burned out. Or if I’m just so overwhelmed with life, the universe and everything that I can’t make a decision.

Either way, though, it has to stop. Because being indecisive is dangerous. It’s unstable and it can be damaging, not only to myself but to people around me.

Joshua recognized this in the Old Testament when he had completed his task of leading the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. At the end of his story is where today’s verse comes from.

Joshua 24:15

15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
 
Joshua announced to the whole population of Israel that he and his family would serve God. Along with that, he told them pretty much that he didn’t care what they did. They just needed to choose to do something.
 
Joshua recognized the danger of indecisiveness. It’s dangerous because it keeps us unsteady. We’re not committed to anything. We have no solid ground to fall back on when we are tested because we’ve never given our whole heart to anything.
 
Christians today have one foot in the world and one foot in the Bible. We’re straddling the fence and we think it’s okay.
 
Well, it’s not.
 
Whatever we choose, we need to choose to do it with our whole heart and our whole mind and all our strength because everything we do will be half hearted until we make that final decision.  And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to hand God something half hearted.
 
I have chosen to follow God. So I need to follow Him with everything I have, not just when it feels right and not just when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I need to do the things He’s commanded me to do whether I can see the good rewards at the end of the path or not. And I don’t just need to walk the path He’s laid out before me. I need to run it. I need to be committed to it. And when the road gets rough and the path takes me up the side of a mountain, I need to keep going.
 
It takes discipline and devotion and dedication . . . . and faith.
 
I am as guilty as anyone of falling prey to the thought that I have enough time to live for myself. I have been running so hard for so long that taking a break and stepping back for a while was necessary — but I think I’ve rested long enough. And now I have to get up and get back into the game.
 
And like Romans 13:12 says, the night is nearly over and the day is coming. So I need to get my perspective straight and get over myself because life isn’t going to continue like this forever. There’s a change in the wind — and in the earth for those of us living in the Wichita, Kansas area.
 
God chose to put me where (and when) He put me for a reason. And I chose to follow Him. So I need to follow Him. Break time’s over. Like the old song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.”
Advertisements

Attitude is like Faith – you can’t see it but it changes everything

Does anyone else struggle with their attitude? Generally speaking, I’m usually okay, as long as my day is going all right and no one upsets me . . . or if nobody expects more out of me than I’m prepared to give . . . or if people don’t act like buttheads . . . or as long as people don’t drive like idiots . . .or as long as people do their own jobs. If everybody else manages to behave, I am usually able to keep my attitude in check.

But on the days when the people around me don’t behave? Yeah. Watch out.

It’s so strange too because all it takes sometimes is one thing going wrong — or one person acting stupid — and my attitude (and all of my good intentions) can go down the drain. How silly is that? That one person can affect my entire attitude?

My attitude is mine. It’s my choice. It’s not like you’re born with a bad attitude, even though some people act like it. Our attitudes are a choice we make, usually every morning when we wake up. In my case, my attitude is a choice I make after I drink my morning coffee . . . . But it’s a choice I have to keep making throughout the entire day.

Attitudes are kind of like faith because it’s something you choose and have to keep reminding yourself that you’ve chosen even when the world blows up around you. Attitudes aren’t some ethereal, abstract concept floating around in the ambiguity of life’s gray spots: they are real, concrete choices you have to make every moment of every day.

When I wake up in the morning, I can choose that I’m going to have a good attitude today and that no matter what happens to me I’m going to keep that good attitude. But I guarantee that I will have to remind myself of that choice a couple of hours into my day when someone cuts me off in traffic, or when some kamikaze suicide driver pulls out in front of me off Bently Road (it happens every morning). And then I’ll have to remind myself again when I get to work and discover that some project I worked my butt off on yesterday has been redone and I have to spend another week on it.

Attitudes are important because they determine how we handle the events in our lives. It’s beyond optimism and pessimism. That’s more of a personality issue. Like whether or not you say a glass if half empty or half full. I have always said half full. I know someone else who says half empty. I’m an optimist. This other person is a pessimist. But we both have good attitudes.

Attitudes reach beyond our personalities. Beyond our inclinations and proclivities. Beyond our talents and our identities.

The Bible says in Philippians 2:5-8 that we need to have an attitude like Christ had.

5You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

 6 Though he was God,[a]
      he did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
      he took the humble position of a slave[c]
      and was born as a human being.
   When he appeared in human form,[d]
    8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

That is a tall order. Have an attitude like Christ? Is that even possible? How can we even begin to do something like that?

Jesus was God. Period. It wasn’t that He was a man who God had chosen. It wasn’t that He was a man who had worked hard enough to be good enough. It wasn’t that He was even just the Son of God. He was God. (He is God, rather.) They are one and the same.

While He was on Earth, He could have demanded royal treatment. He could have had people bowing at His feet, worshipping Him. He deserved it. Even before He died for us, He deserved it. He would have been well within His right.

But He didn’t.

He was born in the dirt and filth of a stable. He grew up in a poor home. He was a blue-collar worker, a man who worked with His hands. He was despised by the people of his town because they looked at Him like an illegitimate child.

I’m telling you what, if anyone was entitled to have a bad attitude, it was Jesus.

Just imagine what it was like for Him. God sent Him down here, first of all (They’re the same, but They’re different; don’t ask me to explain the Trinity and don’t try to explain it to me either because you can’t). Jesus had lived in Heaven so how could Earth even begin to compare? It was filthy and nasty and dirty and poverty stricken, full of people who were vile and cruel and wicked on good days. And Jesus was here to die an agonizing death for us, so He lived with that knowledge hanging over His head for His entire life. Can’t you imagine what He must have felt when people mistreated Him? When people spoke ill of Him or made fun of Him or pressed Him to do things for them that they should have done for themselves? He could have easily put on the martyr attitude. Or the put-upon child attitude. Or the whiny attitude.

And it’s not like He’d done anything to deserve ill treatment, either.

He was God, in the flesh, on Earth, being mistreated. And what did He do?

He healed people. He loved people. He laughed with people. He cried with people. He was humble. No, He was beyond humble. I don’t think humble is a good enough word to describe the life Christ lived on Earth. I just think it’s the only term available to us at the moment.

So how can I justify getting angry at bad drivers? How can I justify letting my attitude slip into something dark and moody when someone mistreats me? I can’t. There is no justification for it. I’m sure Jesus had bad days too, but they didn’t affect His entire attitude. And that’s what I need to work on. When events in my life all feel like they’re stacking up into a mountain that’s higher than I can climb, I don’t need to get gunchy . . . I just need to take a step back and let God help.

I need to have an attitude like Jesus did. And I need to keep that attitude, no matter what happens to me throughout a day. I may have to decide to keep that attitude twenty times in a 24-hour period . . . but when the day is over, it will be worth it. Because even if everything in your life is going down the drain, if you can keep a positive attitude and keep your focus on God, you can deal with anything. You can have joy in the worst circumstances. Not only that, but it’s so much easier to remember that God is in control.

Talking to ghosts

There’s a show on SciFy that captures my attention every time I have the chance to see it. It’s called Ghost Hunters. And it’s these two plumbers who decided to found a paranormal activity society in New England. It’s actually gotten huge. They have an international branch too. And what they do is travel around the world, testing to see whether or not specific locations are haunted.

Let me first express the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts. At least, not the kind of ghosts that these people are chasing. I believe in demons. So it’s with something of a morbid curiosity that I watch this show. If the show is real and no part of it is fake, let’s just say that there are some demons out there having a lot of fun with these people, moving chairs, shutting doors, etc.

 These Ghost Hunters usually end up going to old houses or hotels or castles, and what they try to do is to determine whether or not the place is full of ghosts. Many times, this group is able to “prove” that a place isn’t actually haunted and what people who live there are hearing is a result of the house settling or other architectural issues (which is honestly why I enjoy the show since they truly take a very logical, rational approach to this unusual topic). However, if they decide the location is full of ghosts, sometimes they have to advise the owners how to proceed. Most of the time, their conversations “with the ghosts” center on what the ghosts want.

This isn’t a very good segue, but in a way, every Christian is something of a Ghost Hunter in that sense. Let me explain my thought process on this one.

Today’s verse is out of Galatians, one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Galatians 2:20

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Before I decided to believe in Jesus, I only had one side — the dark side. But the moment I chose to follow Christ, God renewed the dead spirit inside me, giving me full access to Him by filling me with His Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, though, that dark side is still there, haunting me. The person I used to be is still hanging around inside, urging me to do things I know are contrary to God’s Word. 

I’m ashamed to admit that many times I let my dark nature win. Somedays it’s just easier to give in and be selfish or feel pride or entitlement. Somedays a white lie will fix everything — or so it seems. Somedays it’s easy to lose patience with people who irritate me. It doesn’t matter how wrong it is, that dark side of my heart doesn’t care. And only after I let it happen do I remember that I could have stopped it.

According to this verse out of Galatians, my old self — that dark part of my nature — was crucified with Christ. The person who I used to be is dead. The person who I was has no more power over me than death itself does — except on the days when I give that person power over me by not trusting in Christ.

The fact is, I have to choose every morning who I’m going to believe, who I’m going to trust. I can either trust my dark, dead ghost of a sinful nature that has already been crucified but is still loud enough that I keep listening to it. Or I can trust Jesus who was crucified but still lives.

Personally, I think it’s a good idea to figure out what your old sin nature wants. Once you figure out what it’s telling you to do, you’ll know better how to say no to it. And I need to say no to it. Because nothing that old sin nature wants is good, but no is a term you shouldn’t use in a generic sense. You need to know why you’re saying no.

My old nature is dead. It’s not gone yet, but it’s dead. And it hangs around me like a ghost, screaming in my ears, slamming doors and moving chairs and making racket loud enough that somedays I think it’s easier just to do what it wants me to do. But I don’t have to listen to a ghost. I don’t have to live my life that way. God has given me the strength to choose to do the right thing, to follow His plan.

Living the Christian life is a process, a series of choices. Do I listen? Do I ignore? Do I outright refuse? Why or why not? This morning I have decided that I’m going to trust Christ today and deafen my ears to what my dark nature is telling me to do. In an hour, I will probably make that same decision again. And then, I will probably revisit the decision an hour after that.

In the end, though, I can’t ever be perfect. As long as I’ve got that dark nature hanging around my neck, I won’t ever make it on my own. I’m so thankful, though, that our dark sides won’t last forever. And I am eagerly anticipating the day that Christ comes back for us when the dark side of who I am will fall away and leave me with nothing but my renewed self and the Holy Spirit. Then I won’t have to listen to the ghost of my past self anymore.