19 November 2015

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Why do some people stumble their way through life, lurching from crisis to crisis, enveloped in a cocoon of doom and gloom, with a (figurative) black cloud perpetually over their head?

And there are others that are quite the opposite. They seem to be full of boundless optimism, full of positive energy. They are - well - happy. And amazingly and genuinely so. Their positivity shines through!

What is their secret?

It's hardly what some people would call normal. Because these positive people are so rare nowadays.

But I'm assured that it is possible.

It's a question of attitude. And as a church we explored this briefly in our Sunday meeting at the Corps last week. And we were each given a challenge.

To sit down and to list three things to be thankful for at the end of each day.

I must admit, even I found it tough. We're surrounded by negativity all around us, so much so that such negativity starts to become second-nature to us. It doesn't need to be. On the first day I had to sit for a long time to come up with my list of three. There was no problem in getting the one. One is usually possible. But three? Regularly? Every single day? Even the days when everything seems to go wrong, when the computers crash, the trains are not running to time, that household appliance finally gives up and dies?

Yes. There will be something. Don't assume that your day (even if it has been awful) is truly all bad. There will be some positives to hold on too. And finding three isn't as hard as it sounds.

I'm told it's worth the effort. You see, without gratitude, happiness is rare. With gratitude, the odds for happiness go up dramatically.

And do you know what?

It's not only possible. It actually gets easier as the days progress. And you'll start to feel better..

Try it yourself! Count your blessings. Jot them down.

"Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
(lyrics: Johnson Oatman, jr)

9 November 2015

Dare To Be Different, Choose To Be Careful

"I dare to be different, I dare to believe;
I dare to be different, God's Spirit receive.
I dare to be different, my life sacrificed;
I dare to be different by living like Christ."
(lyrics: Dick Grommenhoek)

I appreciate the need to live a life that is different from other people. Jesus sends his followers out to make a real difference in this world.

But we also need to be mindful of others. Not only being aware of other people's opinions or beliefs, but sharing your own with tact and diplomacy. We need to take care to do this wisely... remember, Jesus said:-

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16, NIV)

Sounds like quite a juggling act, doesn't it?

A snake is a keen hunter, wary, attentive, wise and yet still eager to learn. They possess tremendous subtlety, and yet with the ability to win against overwhelming odds.

A dove is innocent, harmless, meek and gentle. Remember when the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove?

The challenge - my challenge - is to find the ways of witnessing without apology, without giving offence.

And without abdicating the responsibility to others.

Be different. But be careful...