Friday, October 16, 2015

The Battle For Our Minds

Mindset- v. a mental inclination, tendency or habit.
     n. ideas or attitudes with which a person approaches a situation.

How is it that two or more people can go through the same situation but come out of it with different outcomes?  Growing up in America I always heard that life is “10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.”  One of my professors at Liberty University also said “You can’t control your circumstances, but if you have the right attitude you will get the best out of your circumstances and rise above them.”  OK so these “silly quotes” only apply to motivating those who struggle with #firstworldproblems right? WRONG!!!  While they may apply to encourage those struggling with #firstworldproblems I find that people in third world nations understand this concept better.

Recently I’ve been struggling with the battle for my mind!  It’s a ferocious battle that must end in victory for me otherwise I will be a miserable wreck regardless of how great or small my circumstance is.  Mindsets are a powerful thing.  They can become like a sign on your head and people will treat you that way. Mindsets can harden your heart, cause you to become sarcastic and cynical, develop a fear of deep relationships and cause us to act a certain way, bringing on yourself the same results over, and over, and over again.

There are people all over the world literally loosing their lives for religious freedom.  There are children having their innocence taken and women who are slaves to sexual fantasies of perverted men eager to have their sexual desires fulfilled.  In the meantime we have corrupt governments protecting the criminals of their country instead of the citizens or keeping government aid for themselves so they can continue living in luxury.

I’ve been in Thailand working with Human Trafficked victims for over 5 months now and recently made a trip to a very impoverished Cambodia.  After careful observation of these 2 people groups I’ve actually felt guilty for allowing my #firstwordproblems to affect me in such a negative way.  One thing I have noticed about both these people groups is that they have every right to play the victim card yet they choose not to.

I went to a worship service at a rescue home in Thailand.  There were about 80 children, teens, and young adults there who had been rescued, worshipping the Lord with hands raised high, and voices singing at the top of their lungs at how great God is!  He is their rescuer, their protector, and their friend! They have every right to be angry at what happened to them but instead they choose to adore their heavenly Father.  But I can’t worship the Lord like that because “so and so” doesn’t like me and hurt my feelings with something they said.

While in Cambodia I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on the faces of the people there.  To a first world citizen their situation is bleak to say the least.  There is poverty everywhere.  The government can be using foreign aid to make life better for their citizens but instead they use it for their benefit.  The roads are made of dirt and rocks, and their animals look anorexic. But if you ask anyone of the natives about the direction of their country they have hope and talk about the improvements happening.  Christianity is growing in this nation and foreign missionaries and NGO staffs are loosing their jobs to the natives because these people want to make a difference and improve the well-being of life in their country.  Instead of allowing some foreigner to do it for them they want to “be the change.”  But I don’t like the way my boss is treating me so I’m going to complain about how horrible my life is and maybe go have a drink or two to wash my work depression away (even though I know where my next meal is coming from and I can go home to a house that is comfortable to live in).

Now I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad at all.  I'm just trying to prove a point.  Injustice happens everywhere.  But we need to have the right perspective of it.  Why is it so easy to feel defeated by our #firstworldproblems when we serve a God who is bigger than issues such as world hunger, human trafficking, and corrupt government just to name a few.  God cares about all our problems, even the small things, but I'm sure He is looking down from heaven asking, "When are you going to stop your 'belly-aching' and trust me?  I'm bigger than that! Give it to me!"  

     When we begin to change the way we think, everything changes, including our behavior.  No one can ruin your life without your permission.  People who are offended and hold onto the offense will not be fruitful.   We must forgive.  We must repent!  Repentance is a change of one’s mind for the better, causing us to change the way we live, think and conduct our life. 

There is great wisdom in having a proper mindset.  So what if “so and so” doesn’t like me, be kind to them anyways.  So what if my boss gives me a hard time, give them your best anyways.  So what if I feel like someone has mistreated me, get over it and move on.  “Wherever God puts us our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work.” ~Oswald Chambers

Instead of always looking at the negative aspects of our lives we should start trying to seek out the positive.  When things go wrong do not go with them.  This is something I learned from my Brazilian friends several years ago.  Life is not full of only negative things, unless we choose for it to be. 

I challenge each and every one of you reading this to really take a step back and look at your circumstances.  Check your motives for why you do what you do.  Have you sought out the positive aspects of your circumstance yet (life lessons count)?  If not repent of your negative mindsets and ask God for help.

 I was in a small group recently about mindsets and the speaker, Julie Powers, said, “Use the Word to change how I think”.  She told me to make a list of my negative mindsets then find a verse that combats that mindset and really pray over and meditate on that verse.  Maybe you can start there!!!  As Carrie Underwood sings, “Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand.”

James 3:14-16 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealously and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.