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The Power of a Positive Attitude

25 Aug

A boy, playing baseball alone, was heard to say, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!”Little Boy Swinging Bat in Yard

He tossed the ball into the air, swung, and missed. “Strike one.”

Undaunted, he picked up the ball, threw it into the air, and said to himself, “I’m the greatest baseball hitter ever,” and he swung at the ball again. Again, he missed. “Strike two!”

He paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. Then a third time he threw the all into the air. “I’m the greatest hitter who ever lived,” he said. He swung the bat hard again, missing a third time.

He cried out, “Wow! Strike three ~ what a pitcher! I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!” (1)

Don’t you love that little boy’s attitude? He consciously choose to look on the bright, positive side of life, and his experience did not disappoint!

It’s easy to have a good attitude when our relationships are good, everything in our house is in working order, our health is good, our work is manageable, and our days are filled with blessings.

The challenge comes when all of these things fall apart.

Maybe our husband is grumpy, our children are uncooperative, or a co-worker is moody. Maybe our computer, car, and appliances conspire against us and act up or break all in the same week. Perhaps we’re suddenly sick, or on overload with too many tasks and not enough time. Maybe life just seems dull.

It’s harder to be positive when life doesn’t meet our expectations, isn’t it?

That’s when the intentional choice to be positive makes such a difference. A positive attitude seems to empower and energize us ~ it helps us cope. Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference!” (2)

I (Dawn) am not talking about a Pollyanna attitude ~ although Pollyanna made some wonderful choices with her “Glad Game.”  But I’m talking about a positive attitude that is based in two things:  choosing joy as a child of a loving Father God (Can you hear Pam saying, “Choosin’ Joy!”?), and also choosing gratitude.

In other words, when we pause to think about who we are in Christ, and the many blessings that we have because we are related to Him, we can move forward no matter our circumstances.

Positive Attitude boy - Thumbs Up!A positive attitude might show up in a number of ways:  optimism, motivation, being inspired, determination, creative thinking, seeing problems as blessings, being a problem-solver, seeing opportunities, or anticipating success.

[Note:  In our book, Pam and I suggested 10 Things to do when you don’t feel like “LOL-ing.” If you really struggle with a positive attitude, try some of these things, and see if taking some practical, positive action will help you develop some positive attitudes.]

Sometimes our circumstances don’t change for a long time … or maybe never this side of heaven; yet we can choose to respond with truth-based confidence in God’s loving care for us. It’s all a matter of our perspective. God is our hope!

We can decide not to let circumstances ruin our lives, knowing that God redeems every situation for good (Romans 8:28-29). Our lives will grow stronger as we depend on the Lord to change us from the inside while we cooperate with that transformation by pursuing godly, positive attitudes and actions on the outside.

As believers, we give God our sin in a spirit of repentance, and He gives us the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21); and that incredible exchange is the source of our deepest joy and deepest desire to live for God.

Remember that little boy … the would-be-hitter-turned “pitcher”? His attitude (and creative thinking) made a big difference in his day. A positive attitude is always powerful, and it’s made up of many choices each day.

(1) Michael Hodgin, 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speakers  (Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), Illustration #77, p. 40

(2) http://thinkexist.com/quotation/attitude_is_a_little_thing_that_makes_a_big/219106.html

In the Pits?

9 Jun

You’ll love this explanation by young “George Washington.”

“George Washington, did YOU chop down the cherry tree?”

“No, Dad.”

“I think you are lying.”

“No, no, no! I swear I did NOT chop down the cherry tree.”

“Son, I saw you out here with your ax. Your punishment will be much worse for you if you lie. Now, tell me the truth!”

“Dad, I answered your question truthfully. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions. While my answer was legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, Dad, I did cause the cherry tree to be lying on the ground. To do this was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. I know my answer to you gave a false impression. I misled you, my own father. I deeply regret that.

“I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting Mom from this shock. What I did, Dad, was use a saw to cause the cherry tree to fall. Only after the tree was already down did I go get my ax to chop off individual branches. So, I chopped off branches, but sawed down the tree. Look at the saw cut on the stump and the ax cuts on the branches.

“Therefore, legally, I told the truth. I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of this fallen tree and to return our attention to a solid family relationship. Thank you.” *

George Washington was a lawyer, so this imaginary conversation makes perfect sense!

I (Dawn) climbed an old cherry tree as a little girl so my Grandma Parks could make scrumptious pies. I remember the long hours pitting those cherries, though. Pits. Ugh. Not fun! Now I have a wonderful “pit-er” that makes the job more tolerable.

Humorist Erma Bombeck often wrote about life “in the pits.” In fact, she made her career on jokes like those you’ll find in her book, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?  Bombeck wrote, “I worry about getting into the Guinness World Book of Records under ‘Pregnancy: Oldest Recorded Birth.’ I worry about what the dog thinks when he sees me coming out of the shower, [or] that one of my children will marry an Eskimo who will set me adrift when I can no longer feed myself.” **

Bombeck’s book title aside, “in the pits” has nothing to do with cherries. Some say that the origin of “in the pits” is the deep holes or chambers where prisoners were confined ~ perhaps even an underground dungeon. The Oxford English Dictionary even suggested that “in the pits” came from the concept of “the pit of hell.”

What does it mean to live “in the pits” in American culture? When my husband thinks of “in the pits,” he thinks of speed car racing. The “pits” is defined as “any place of pain and turmoil” by one source.  Another says it’s a place where we become upset and despondent. We become anxious or at the end of our rope. Still another says it’s a place where we find ourselves needing comfort or encouragement. 

Oh, yes. I identify with that one. When I’m in the pits, I sure need an encouraging word.

Actually, when I think of the phrase “in the pits,” I can’t help but remember Continue reading

R U a Christian Optimist?

28 May

You know it’s going to be a bad day when:

  • You see a “60 Minutes” news team in your office.Bad Hair Day Cat
  • You turn on the news, and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.
  • Your twin sister forgets your birthday.
  • Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.
  • Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
  • Your income-tax check bounces.
  • You put both contact lenses in the same eye. *

On the other hand, attitude is everything. Some people are born optimists, like Zig Ziglar who said, “I’m such an optimist I’d go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me!” **

I (Dawn) think even the most negative person can LEARN to be an optimist. I’m not talking about optimism for optimism’s sake, but Christian optimism, based on the sure hope we have in God.

In my early 20s, a counselor called me “a case study for melancholies.” I was moody, negative, self-condemning … basically a miserable person to be around. God changed 90 percent of those attitudes in me as I began to do three things:  I dealt with sin issues in my life, I focused on who I am in Christ,  and I embraced the truth of God’s Word for everyday living. Though I occasionally slip up, most of the time these days, I’m an optimist!

I’ve discovered that:

  • We can be optimists because God loves us and cares about us (1 John 4:191 Peter 5:7). He loves us so much He sent His Son to die for us so we can be reconciled and reconnect with God (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) ~ because our sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). In the midst of such love, how can we not know that God is for us?
  • We can be optimists based on the character of the God we serve. He is trustworthy, all-wise, all-powerful, etc.
  • We can be optimists because our God is full of mercy, even when we really mess things up (Lamentations 3:22-23).
  • We can be optimists because we live in resurrection power (Romans 6:1-18) ~ we have the potential for great things in Christ.
  • We can be optimists because we are being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Romans 8:29), partaking of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4).
  • We can be optimists because the One who indwells us is greater than anything we will ever face (1 John 4:4).
  • We can be optimists because God causes all things to work together for good for His children (Romans 8:28).
  • We can be optimists because, even in our struggles, we know the One we have trusted is faithful to supply our needs for today (Philippians 4:19).
  • We can be optimists because we know there is more than what we see now. We have an eternal home and we are eternally safe with the Lord (John 14:2-3).

Yes, I know that there are many strong, hard sayings in the Bible. God doesn’t sugar-coat life. There are consequences for sin and foolishness. And we live in a crazy, sinful world.

But for the one who chooses to place his or her trust in the Lord and to honor His Word, there are many precious promises that bring hope. And with hope, there is always optimism.

* 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking by Michael Hodgin, #943, p. 353

** Ibid, #650, p. 248

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