No Complaining. Really?

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If I challenged you to cut out complaining and arguing from your life for an entire week, could you do it? What about for a month?  Now we are getting a little difficult. What if I challenged you to stop complaining and arguing for the rest of your life? Wait! Don’t stop reading this blog! I’m serious. Let’s just take a look at the possibilities here. The apostle Paul actually wrote to the Philippians that they should do “everything without complaining, grumbling or arguing.”

Now perhaps you are thinking, Aren’t there times when we need to stand up for ourselves? Surely God doesn’t intend for us to never talk about our difficulties. Yes, there is a time and a place for wisely and respectfully sharing our concerns, but the bigger issue we need to consider is how do we handle life when it doesn’t go our way. Here’s what Paul wrote:

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. Philippians 2:14- 15.

Paul is encouraging us to shed some bad habits, so that we may shine Christ’s light more brightly in this dark world. Often complaining and grumbling are  born out of pride, anger or a lack of faith. We think we know what is best and when things don’t go as planned, we tend to get our feathers ruffled. Sometimes issues of unforgiveness or bitterness are lingering in our heart, causing us to complain and argue.

Is it really possible to live without grumbling? To be honest, we all have a tendency to grumble and complain – it is our basic human nature. But God can do a mighty work in our lives through the power of His spirit within us. He can transform our grumbly heart into a grateful one. Here are three ideas to put into practice the next time you feel a need to complain.

  1. Turn your eyes upward and thank the Lord for the good things He is doing. One of the greatest antidotes to complaining and whining is to take our focus off of the frustration and look instead at our blessings. As we sincerely thank Him for the ways He has worked in our lives, then we also begin to realize God can take care of our present situation. We don’t need to be spouting off about every problem that comes our way.
  2. Pray for guidance. Anytime we are about to grumble, we must ask ourselves a simple question, “Have I prayed about this?” As we seek God’s wisdom on how to handle the situation, we can ask Him to help us grow through it as well. Prayer allows our worries to dwindle. When we bring our challenges to God first, then we do not give worry an opportunity to set in. Like logs to a fire, worry and anxiety fuel complaining and whining. Faith says, “I will trust God’s unfailing love through this challenge.”
  3. Take positive action. There are times when we do need to present our point of view or our concern, but we can do it without grumbling or whining. Instead we can wisely, patiently and kindly present our thoughts or perspective to the right person. Let’s be willing to be a part of the solution, and look for what we can do rather than focusing on what we can’t do.

Every opportunity to complain is actually an opportunity to grow in our faith and trust in the Lord. Ultimately, when we truly believe God loves us and has a good purpose for our lives, then grumbling, whining and bickering tend to dissipate. May we be bright shining lights as we show an unbelieving world that we trust a big God.

This is an excerpt from my book, A Woman’s Passionate Pursuit of God. Click the link below for more information about the book and DVD based on Philippians.  https://positivewomanconnection.com/books/#biblestudy

 

 

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

30 Reasons to Give Thanks

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With Christmas decorations crowding the aisles of most stores, it’s sometimes hard to focus on the beauty of the Thanksgiving season. I believe a heart filled with thankfulness is one of the best ways to prepare us for the Christmas season. It’s not about how we decorate on the outside that matters, it’s what is happening on the inside that really makes the holiday season beautiful.

Personally, I have found that an attitude of thankfulness changes the way I handle difficulties and walk through challenges. Every morning I take a moment to write down at least five blessings that happened over the last 24 hours. Sometimes it’s easy, but to be honest, there are days that I have to think hard about those things for which I can be grateful. The practice is a great discipline that helps me start my day with a positive perspective. I highly recommend it!

What are the benefits of being thankful? Here’s 30 reasons to ponder – one for each day this month!

  1. It takes your eyes off of yourself and your problems
  2. It strengthens your faith
  3. It blesses others
  4. It changes your perspective
  5. It makes you more delightful to be around
  6. It helps you see where God is working
  7. It makes a bad day better
  8. It is contagious
  9. It’s an act of worship
  10. It helps you stay focused on what is good and lovely
  11. It reminds you that God is in control
  12. It chases away a grumpy attitude
  13. It lifts the fog of thinking that nothing good ever happens
  14. It stretches you
  15. It encourages you to take one step forward out of grief or pain
  16. It helps you see the good in others
  17. It makes you less critical
  18. It helps you be more disciplined
  19. It challenges you to think outside the box
  20. It increases your observation skills
  21. It invites you to smile
  22. It encourages you to help others to look for the good
  23. It allows you to dig for something positive in the midst of a difficulty
  24. It strengthens relationships because you are focused on the good in others
  25. It helps you press on toward your goals by looking for inklings of hope
  26. It starts your day in a bright direction
  27. It can dispel the blues
  28. It increases your creativity
  29. It helps you to look at a situation from different angles
  30. It reminds you that God is worthy of our thanks every day because of His goodness and grace toward us

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever”  Psalm 118:29

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

 

10 Ideas to Inspire Gratitude

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This month as we set aside a day to gather together and offer our thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives, let’s renew the habit of making thankfulness an everyday part our lives.  When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There is something to be glad about in every situation, but we need to be looking for it. That’s what thankful people do – they count their blessings rather than wasting time grumbling and complaining. Let’s be intentional about gratitude every single day and usher in the holidays with a joy-filled heart.

 

Here are 10 ideas to spark and inspire a grateful heart for both you and your family. These are simply suggestions, not another burdensome list. Keep it simple and just apply a couple of these in order to start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

 

  1. Write down 5 things you are thankful for every morning.
  2. Send a thank you note, text or email to a friend or family member, telling them what you appreciate about them.
  3. Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against and thank the Lord for His forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
  4. Give a thank you gift or flowers to brighten the day of someone who has been a blessing to you..
  5. Thank a member of the armed forces with a card or gift.
  6. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for in a challenge you are currently facing.
  7. Call your spouse during the day, just to say thank you.
  8. Create a space somewhere in the kitchen for everyone to write their list of blessings.
  9. Play and sing praise and worship music throughout your day.
  10. Pray together as a family at night, thanking the Lord for His blessings.

 

Finally, here are a few verses you may want to post around your house or memorize:

 

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

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

 

3 Things to Forget, One thing to Remember

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Thanksgiving is all about remembering. It’s about reflecting on what God his done and His blessings in our lives. When it comes to life, we never want to forget the goodness of God. Our thankful hearts show that we trust His love and believe He can bring good even out of the worst situations.

As important as it is to remember and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings, there are several things we need to forget. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

So what past things should we forget? Here’s three that come to mind:

Past mistakes – Most of us tend to beat ourselves up over mistakes we have made even years ago. We must recognize that we all make mistakes, but we can always learn from them. Don’t let your mistakes define you. Move forward and be who God created you to be.

Past sins – As believers in Christ, our sins are forgiven. Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That’s not a license to continue to sin, rather with a thankful heart we turn and repent and go a different direction. Christ came to free us from the burden of guilt and allow us to live in the joy of forgiveness.

Past offenses by others – It’s easy replay the hurts people have done to us in the past. Bitterness, anger and unforgiveness can fester in our memories for years. Let’s stop replaying the hurts and wounds. As forgiven people, we too must live a life of forgiving others. This Thanksgiving, may we release the right to hold past offenses over someone else.

I love to see the pictures on Instagram of Thanksgiving tables as people gather with family and friends. Although the food and decorations are lovely, keep in mind that there is nothing more beautiful than a thankful heart, and nothing more ugly than an unforgiving heart (whether it is not forgiving yourself or others). May your table be stunning as it overflows with thankfulness this year, leaving the negatives of the past behind you.

 

Photo by Cala on Unsplash