Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Change Agent: Optimism--A Life Changing Mindset

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” The phrase “set your minds” is where we get our idea of a mindset, or a fixed way of thinking. The way a person thinks, or their mindset, has a huge impact on how they live. This is precisely why Scripture directs believers to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). And also “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2). Literally—don’t let your mindset be shaped by the values, ethics, etc. of this world, but instead allow Christ and His Word to be the force that shapes your thinking.  If you do this you will develop the ability to discern God’s will and live wisely.

We shape our mindsets by what we choose to focus our minds upon. Then our mindsets shape us as they influence and guide our behavior and our decisions.  I want to share with you about an amazingly powerful kingdom mindset called optimism. I believe this mindset has the power to inspire your heart and make you more useful to the kingdom, and to the people around you who desperately need to know about the optimism producing Savior who lives in your heart!

I’m excited to share this with you for two reasons. First, because I have discovered that when we understand and practice a mindset of optimism from a Christ-centered perspective, it can completely, and positively, revolutionize the way we approach life. The second reason I’m looking forward to sharing this with you is because I need to hear it again myself!

I’m generally a can-do guy. When I face challenges in life I’m often reminded of something my dad, who was a pretty optimistic guy himself, always said, Son, that ain’t no hill for a climber.” My dad viewed problems as opportunities to grow and to learn from. I ’m thankful for the optimistic mindset my father passed down to me! Nevertheless, the negativity and despair in this world can be pretty daunting sometimes, so I’m always up for an optimism refresher course!

We live in a world that is deeply infected with the disease of pessimism. Do you remember the old cartoon of the kid with the raincloud over his head? I can’t remember the name of it, but everywhere this kid went, the rain followed him. That cartoon pretty accurately portrays the mindset that many people around us live with every day. So many are so quick to say, “You can’t do that, don’t even try,” or, “I tried that once before and it didn’t work so just forget it.” Living in this world sometimes feels like living in a proverbial half-empty-fishbowl. And when we live immersed in a negative-can’t do environment like this, it can get us down.

This is why the Bible so frequently and adamantly calls us to set our minds on the things of heaven (Col. 3:2); to think on good things (Phil. 4:8), and to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2).

There's not a single sentence in the Bible reminding us to think about our problems or all of the ways life is hard. Our natural minds are woefully conditioned to fixate on the negative.  We desperately need reminders to intentionally feed our minds God’s Word so that we are renewed in our thinking (Rom. 12:2) again and again.

I recently recorded a video for my YouTube Channel, entitled, “Why the Good News Never Gets Old.” The Good News of the gospel never changes or grows old for three reasons: FIRST, Our need never changes. We are fundamental flawed creatures. We desperately and daily need fresh doses of God’s love and grace in our lives. SECOND, God’s solution to our problem never changes. He stands unwaveringly before all humanity, with outstretched arms and proclaims, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mat. 11:28). THIRD, the testimony of the redeemed never changes. Every single person who has fallen to their knees in repentance and placed their faith in Jesus has the same testimony,

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me. 
I once was lost but now I'm found.
Was blind but now I see.”
(Amazing Grace, by John Newton)

This side of Heaven, we never “arrive.” We never get to the point that we can say, okay, I’m good now, I don’t need God’s grace anymore. That just never happens. In the same way, we never outgrow our need to be reminded of all the reasons we as Christ-followers have to be optimistic, faith-filled, can-do people! Think about this, as a Christ-follower you are a son or daughter of God. If you’ve put your faith in Jesus, you’ve been born again into an entirely new family. God is your Abba Daddy! Christians, figuratively and literally live life on a higher level. We wake up every morning as forgiven, adopted, loved children of God. We possess a larger perspective on life; an eternal perspective We’re not just living for here and now. Like the father of our faith, Abraham, we are sojourners in this world. We’re just passing through, "...looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). 

We serve a God who loves us with a love that is bigger, better and more faithful that our little minds can even grasp! “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:17-18). 

God walks with us every step of the way. We face each new day with a sense of purpose and destiny, because of the high calling we have received as holy agents for the King of all kings. We possess a mission and a message of hope, grace and redemption. In Christ we are free from guilt and condemnation. We are victorious people. And we are called to a courageous and optimistic life of faith, hope and love.

Jesus boldly declared that his church (his people) would break through the very gates of hell with the liberating message of the gospel—the good news about the cross that set’s captives free and delivers all who believe out of pessimistic darkness and into a life filled with joy, light and hope (Mat. 16:18)! It’s pretty difficult to have your mind filled with thinking like that and not face your day with optimism!

Thank for reading!  Remember to share!

Blessings,
Brad

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