2 Negatives Make a Positive…Really?

Negativity…

It’s everywhere.
It’s especially rampant in people who are stressed out.
It saps the oxygen out of an atmosphere.
It makes a person focus on even the minutest of inconveniences and exaggerate their effect on their life.
It schools the soul to search out the worst case scenario.
It twists the innocent motives and benign happenings into evidence that the cosmos has a personal vendetta.
It causes a preoccupation with navel gazing to the extent that blessed opportunities are lost.
It drains a person of synergistic energy.
When it rains, it sees the mud puddles – not the glistening rose rising out of the mud.
When it’s cold, it feels the damp instead of basking in the warmth of the fire in the hearth.
When it’s hot, it wallows in the sticky humidity of the summer day instead of savoring the taste of refreshing cold water.
The food is too bland, too spicy, too cold, too hot, too expensive; the serving too big, too small; the waitress too slow; too grouchy, too friendly.
The professor is too boring; too long-winded; too thorough in presentation.
The exams are too hard; too tricky; too long; not enough points; too close together.
The house is too hot, too cold.
Gas is too expensive; the grocery bill too steep.
Your job takes too much of your time; the pay isn’t enough; your boss is too hard to please.

And on and on I could go….

Does any of this sound familiar?  We all are a bunch of spoiled kids who think the world revolves around them and them only.  Got news for you – the world does not spin on the axis of you or my likes, wants, and “needs”.  And most of the things we complain nonstop about?  Guess what, they are luxuries – things that most folks in other countries never take for granted.  They don’t even know if they will get the basics of survival for the next day.  Still feeling negative about the petty grievances in your life?  Then perhaps you ought to stop that navel gazing.

I’ve been on a self imposed negativity awareness watch here of late.  It’s amazing how many times I heard it in a day’s time once I started tuning my ear for it.  And yes, it came out of my mouth far too many times than what I would like to admit.  It’s debilitating to myself and to others.  By being negative, I’m making myself the most miserable, but I’m also making it extremely miserable for those around me too.

I’ve found that when I’m looking for the negative; things become negative that would not have been negative otherwise.  I’m not advocating looking at life with rose-tinted glasses.  There is such a thing as reality and being a realist.  But it’s possible to be a realist and be upbeat about it.  I learned that lesson from my Dad.  And so many people have told me the same thing about my Dad – what impressed them the most is that in the most impossible of situations, my Dad would find something positive about it or at the very least keep his smile and his upbeat attitude.

That, my friends, is an admirable reputation and legacy to leave with people.  I’ve got me a lot of growing to do.  Gotta toss off those dark, stormy-gray glasses and trade them in for glasses that show me the light in every situation.

Happy Monday to you all and hey, do yourself a favor and look for the positive this week!

"The Jesus I Never Knew"

Good morning, folks!  Yes, I do still exist!  After a stretch of silence, there are many avenues I could take but I want to share with you my renewed passion to know my Jesus more intimately.

I was looking over my packed bookshelves the other night in search of a medical textbook when a title on a book spine jumped out at me.  “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey.  I recalled being all excited about picking this like new book up in a used bookstore and being eager to start it as soon as I got home.  But alas, this book got lost in the shuffle and since I’ve got enough bookshelves now, it was unearthed from a box and set on the shelf.  Funny how it didn’t strike me when I was transferring my books onto the shelf.  
Perhaps I now have more of an intimate interest in exploring Jesus than what I did back a couple of months ago.  Am I alone in these periods of lackadaisical perception of Jesus?  I don’t think so.  Does everyone want to admit their times of struggle with this lack of interest?  I think we all feel alone in this struggle and feel somewhat less of a Christian if we admit it.  I know I struggle with doubts of my sincerity in my Christian walk if I don’t feel a consuming desire to learn more about Jesus.  Satan knows too that he can get me down pretty quick with these doubts.  If he gets me to wallow around in my doubts and insecurity, I’ll be so consumed with that I’ll waste time that could be spent in fanning the smoldering ashes of interest into a burning passion to reconnect with my Redeemer.
How many times does Jesus Himself get lost in the shuffle of my life?  Do I pack Him away and attempt to confine Him to a box?  A box with borders well inside my comfort zone and my stipulations of “sane Christianity”.  You know when you say, “Wait, wait, not too radical here, Jesus, after all what will others think about me if You lead me to a more passionate lifestyle, a more intense emotional investment in life?”  I am guilty of holding the reins back way too much in my relationship with Jesus.  How do I expect Him to be able to move in me and work through me if I’m constantly pulling back?  I know that feeling somewhat – when my horse is being obstinate and refusing to engage in riding and give it all she’s got when I ask her to gallop, it’s frustrating and I nigh to lose my temper with her.  That’s essentially what I’m doing with Jesus – He says, “Lets gallop!”  And I say, “I’ll fully engage my heart for the next 5 minutes but then I’m gonna fall back into my safe routine of Christianity.”
Why don’t I know Jesus more intimately and grasp His passionate zeal?  I can’t use the excuse that there’s not enough info available about Him.  I have no excuse.  God has revealed Himself clearly in all of Scripture and the Messiah is the main theme woven all through the tapestry of God’s Word.  The ball is in my court – am I going to play it or ignore it?  Does the intensity of Jesus scare me?  Does His unapologetic direct approach to truth make me uncomfortable?  Does His reckless abandon of man’s preconceived boundaries of righteousness infringe on my space?  What is it that prevents me from losing myself in Him?  
Modern day mainstream Christianity has tamed down what it means to live for Jesus.  We don’t want to offend anyone and we cringe from appearing radical.  We want want only what’s easy and whatever goes with the flow.  Too often I am guilty of restricting the power of Jesus in my life, simply because I am reluctant to go at a gallop with Him.

I have decided I am going to study just who this Jesus is.  I am going to put aside my preconceived ideas of Him and look at Him through the eyes of the Gospel writers as though I were learning about Him for the first time.  I desire to be radically changed by Jesus without impeding the process by dragging my heels.  I will work my way through the Gospels taking my time in order to scrutinize Jesus rather than giving Him my passive attention.  I also am going to read Philip Yancey’s book along with this study.

I hope to gain some fresh insights and am excited about sharing them with you.