Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Happy Mother’s Day to you!
Is anyone else noticing how negative our American culture is getting?
It’s crazy. It’s like we’re just angry about anything and everything.
You can read any article on the internet today…and somebody’s angry about it.
I try really hard to not read comments on online articles…but it’s like a trainwreck, I just can’t look away.
I mean, there could be an article about a dog giving birth to 4 beautiful puppies during a rainbow where everyone got free Lucky Charms, and somebody would be complaining about dogs overpopulating the earth or something
Or there could be a news story about a man coming home from fighting overseas to see his newborn baby for the first time
And people are mad that he was in the army
There is no positive event out there, that an American couldn’t find something negative about.
It really only takes just a quick scroll through facebook, and you’ll find how we so often look at the world through negative nancy glasses (no offense to the nancy’s in the room)
I took a quick perusal through my own facebook feed…
“Ugh, the stupid Twins. They’re going to set the record for the worst team ever in MLB history
“I just feel like no one cares about my life anymore. Good friends should be honest with you!”
“SO sick of all the drama people. It’s gottta stop!
“Seriously, why is it always me? I feel like I’m never gonna catch a break.”
It’s not too hard to find that most of us can be pretty negative about our life situations.
NEGATIVITY RUNS AMUCK
We are starting a new series today called, “Mind Control.”
Which makes it sound like we are going to talk about Hypnosis or some weird government conspiracy theory or something.
But we are essentially talking about how do you focus your mind to think about the things of God. To think about TRUTH.
This week we are going to talk specifically about developing an Attitude of Gratitude
Next week, we are going to talk about how to better “take your thoughts captive” and stop as much of the sinful thoughts as possible that roll around in our brains.
And instead surrender them up to God.
And the final week, we’re going to talk about how to then replace those thoughts in your mind with the things of God.
How do you dwell on the Things of God. Develop the Mind of Christ
Because the MIND is where the battle begins.
When Satan undertook a plan to draw Eve away rom God, he didn’t hit her with a stick, but with an idea.
The ultimate freedom that we have as human beings is the power to pick what we get to think about.
And thus, HOW we CONTROL our MINDS…is incredibly important!
So let’s get back to this pervasive negativity that has invaded our culture.
Because it’s like we’ve all got something to be really negative about
And by the way, it’s usually because we’re comparing ourselves to someone or something else.
Let me give you a few examples
See, for you, it might be that you don’t have a house…or you don’t like your house.
But, maybe you’ve got kids. Great kids. And a spouse. AND…And…here’s a decent one…you KNOW JESUS.
But man…life SUCKS…you’re house is junk. UGH!
OR, maybe you’ve got a nice place. You had a decent upbringing. Nice parents. You’ve got a nice job. YOU KNOW JESUS! But you don’t have kids. Or you’re not married yet. A lot of single people here this morning.
And we think…I’m single. I HATE IT. Life SUCKS!
It’s like we all think OUR problem is the most serious problem. But everybody else wishes they had what we had because their problem is something you don’t have a problem with.
But guess what…we all have problems. You’ve got problems. I’ve got problems. We all got problems.
In fact, own it. Say it out loud. Say it with me: “I’ve got PROBLEMS!”
And that’s OKAY!
You’re always going to have problems. Life’s hard.
But Jesus is good.
And really, a lot of our problems, and I want to be careful to Not minimize everything, but a lot of our problems aren’t that serious.
Are you familiar with the new phrase, “1st world problems?”
IT’s a good one.
A first world problem is essentially a problem that we have in developed countries, that people in developING countries (countries like Haiti) don’t even have the luxury of having as a problem.
For example, one of my friends mentioned to me lately that his wife said to him recently that she just couldn’t get comfortable in their bed…their King Size…Select Comfort Bed…
He said, he rolled over, looked at her and said, “First World Problem.”
In fact, there are videos out there that describe this phenomenon:
Like this YouTube video of First World problems…
PLAY FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS VIDEO
This is why I love missions trips so much.
It’s all a perspective issue.
It’s why I think EVERY one should go on at least one short-term missions trip before they die.
Go with us this January to Haiti. Sign up this summer.
Because you can’t go to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and then look at your problems the same.
Your complaints about your living situation, the size of your TV, or your job will vanish when you see 500,000 people living in tents with an 80% unemployment rate.
IT WILL change your perspective.
And your perspective on negativity.
OUR CONSTANT INGRATITUDE
And really, our negativity stems from a deeper issue: Ingratitude.
In fact, listen to this ancient parable:
Many years ago, as the story is told, a devout king was disturbed by the ingratitude of his royal court. He prepared a large banquet for them. When the king and his royal guests were seated, a beggar shuffled into the hall, sat down at the king’s table, and gorged himself with food. Without saying a word, he then left the room. The guests were furious and asked permission to seize him and tear him limb from limb for his ingratitude. The king replied, “That beggar has done only once to an earthly king what each of you does three times each day to God. You sit there at the table and eat until you are satisfied. Then you walk away without recognizing God, or expressing one word of thanks to Him.”
I mean, seriously, how good do most of us have it?
Despite the sometimes really difficult things we encounter.
Sure, we do encounter things like deaths in the family, job loss, divorce, you name it.
But we’ve got to learn to use our minds to count our blessings:
We have a place to live. You’re not worried if you’re going to have shelter during the next rainstorm.
You’re not worried about what you’re going to eat for lunch today.
It’s been said that ingratitude often denotes a level of spiritual immaturity, and I believe it.
Think of infants. See, infants don’t always appreciate what their parents do for them. Especially in the past.
They have short memories.
Their concern is not what you did for me yesterday, but what are you doing for me today! The past is meaningless and so is the future. They live for the present.
And are not so many of us just spiritual infants?
God has done absolutely wondrous things for us in the past, and will do great things for you in the future…
But if right now, you’re life is difficult, far too many of us boldly look up to Him, and declare, “Why do you hate me?” “What did I do to you!?” Or worse yet, “I hate you for this.”
Like infants, we live in the moment.
We scarcely keep a record of His good in the past, and are really no different than the Israelites of the past who so quickly forgot that God had delivered them miraculously out of Egypt.
(Ecclesiastes 7:14) – NIV
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this; God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
We’ve gotten in this bad habit of when good things come to us, we don’t give thanks to God. But when disappointments come, there must be someone to blame, and guess who we blame???
Think about our American culture. There are a lot of people mad at God even though we’re one of the most blessed cultures to walk the face of the planet. EVER.
We have access to more money, more assets, more things, more comforts, more opportunities, and more options, than 95% of the entire world.
And yet we say our lives our miserable!
Depression is through the roof, suicide rates are skyrocketing, and our general impression of our lives is plummeting.
But where does our IMPRESSION of our lives reside????
It’s in your mind.
It’s in your mind. Your perspective of what your life is…is all in your mind.
And I think this is a particular issue where our mind control…is out of control…or we have no control.
Americans on missions trips usually have no idea what to do when they meet someone in abject poverty and they seem happier, and more joyful than they are.
We think…NOT POSSIBLE!
But it IS possible.
And the control of it, is in your mind!
COMPARISON WITH PSYCHOLOGY
Now, let me just address what maybe a few of you are thinking right now.
In a way, this can almost sound like “the power of positive thinking mumbo jumbo”
And I think you’re right.
But here’s the problem.
I think the new age movement, and even some of sectors of psychology have stolen away this truth from Christianity.
SO much so, that we now think that it’s un-Christian.
When in reality, the truth about the power of the mind is all over Scripture.
Plus, just because something is seen in psychology, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
Christians often over-react to this
All truth is God’s truth.
Or, one of my favorite quotes from one of the best thinkers of our time, Dallas Willard is, “Just because Hindu’s eat breakfast, doesn’t make it a bad thing.”
But, how we articulate these things as Christians compared to the modern psychology movement is actually slightly different.
See, positive psychology tells you that if you focus on the positive things in your life…or just positive things in general, things will go better for you as this will change your perspective.
Now…is there some truth to that? Sure!
The Bible, however is slightly different.
(Philippians 4:8) – NIV
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Now, at the start, that almost sounds like positive psychology…straight out of the Bible.
Here’s what I would say the slight difference is though:
Positive psychology would tell you to just keep your mind focused on positive things…anything…draw some smiley faces and make yourself happy
What the Bible is asking of your mind, is for you to focus on TRUTH.
It’s not JUST asking you to think about POSITIVE things. It’s actually asking you to focus on REALITY!
That Jesus loves you. TRUE
That He died…on the cross…for you. TRUE
That He has a plan for you…That He IS indeed in control.
That he will not leave you. He will not forsake you.
That’s not just positivity…it’s REALITY.
The Bible is asking you to think of things that are “excellent” and “praiseworthy” (like Philippians said), they’re not just things Jesus did in the far past
They’re things that He did in your recent past.
When He spoke to your heart last month
When He provided a job for you
When He provided financially for you
When He taught you from His Word…
And on and on and on…
But…in the battle for our minds (mind control), we lose sight of all of those true and noble things we’re called to focus on.
And we just see the negative.
And the negative blurs our vision SO STRONGLY…that we actually, and embarrassingly so, have become ungrateful for all that God has done.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
So if the battle is really in your mind, what can you do to better control your mind, and thus become a more positive and grateful person for what God has done?
The best thing you can do is to be purposeful in having times of being grateful to God for what has done.
Here’s the thing:
Based on what is happening in your mind, your pride/humility level is constantly changing.
And when good things happen to you, which they do, almost every day…if you’re not giving thanks to God, guess who you are going to give credit to?
And if you are constantly crediting yourself (whether you realize it or not), you are building pride into your life
It’s funny to me, but I hear a lot of people make fun of athletes who thank God:
“Hey uh…we just won the big game…and uh…I want to thank God who gave me the talents to catch the football and score touchdowns”
And so many of us, again, I think, out of pride, we say, “Oh brother. Seriously. It’s football.”
But I say, “Good for them.”
We’d all be better off if we did that with our professions.
So you landed a big deal at work:
Thank God for it!
So you made an excellent meal or had a successful day with your kids
Thank God for it.
So you made it to work alive today.
Thank God for it.
If you’re not thanking God…who are you thanking???
We’ve got to bust out of this ridiculous habit of only thanking ourselves for good things, and only blaming God for bad things.
But it is indeed a very, VERY, easy trap to fall into
And I think that’s why the Bible tells us over and over and over to use our minds to thank God often. All the time.
(Colossians 3:17) – NIV
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 4:2) – NIV
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
(Hebrews 13:15) – NIV
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
(Psalm 105:1) – NIV
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
And that’s not even scratching the surface.
I think God puts it in Scripture so often because He realizes our propensity to only thank ourselves.
And when we just thank ourselves, not only do we develop the negative byproduct of pride, we also forget His Goodness, and slip into this attitude of constant negativity.
SO let me ask you?
How negative are you?
What are you thankful for that God has done?
I mean, I don’t think it hurts to even sit down and make a list if you need to.
In fact, I want to do that right now…for our church.
We are celebrating today the things that God has done in our midst.
And honestly, let me make a confession…I’m not very good at this whole celebrating thing
I know that it’s good ,but I have to force myself to do it
Naturally, I’m a driven person, so when good things happen, I just think, “Great. Cool. Let’s move on, and accomplish the next thing.”
But God calls us to celebrate! And give thanks!
Especially when new people give their lives to Christ and are freed from sin.
(Romans 6:17-18) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
So, we want to celebrate today the good things God has been doing here.
Up here on stage, you can see 35 _____’s. Each one of these represents a person who gave their life to Christ in the month of April.
How amazing is that?!? In fact, let’s just clap and give GOD the praise for that!
We’re also celebrating today that God would use us to already start 2 churches out of our church.
To be the fastest church ever in our network of 20 churces to plant a church…and we’re doing 2 of them.
But that’s through God’s provision in this church…and HIS growth of this church.
We give HIM credit…and praise.
And we want to celebrate what He’s done internationally through this church.
As we’re being thankful today, I wanted to bring in a picture for you that we just received along with an update.
Last year, we tried to raise $5,000 for our Children’s Home in Haiti, and our church raised an astounding $6,800
We did so to raise enough money to fill in dirt at the orphanage because they were experiencing floods every rainy season, and the mosquitoes were atrocious, and thus the risk for malaria was quite high
Here’s a picture of what it looked like
(SHOW OLD PICTURE)
I want to let you know that I just received word THIS WEEK, that they have made it through the rainy season, and have reported that they had virtually ZERO standing water this year because of all the dirt.
They were EXTREMELY grateful for the generosity of this church, and the work of the 17 of you that went to Haiti to make it happen!
(SHOW NEW PICTURE)
Here’s a picture of the filled in land
(Show BLUE BUILDING
And also a picture of the final food storage unit we built.
And again, that’s awesome! It’s incredible. And we are going to celebrate today, that not us…but GOD opened the doors for that relationship.
That HE moved in our hearts financially.
That HE connected those kids with us.
That HE kept them safe
So, we’re celebrating all morning…through music…through the message…through the flowers, AND I think, that whenever you celebrate, you should eat!
SO, in the back, after the service, there is free cake for everyone!
As we celebrate what God is doing TOGETHER!
And celebration…gratitude…is something we should put into our lives often as a discipline
As a daily discipline.. A weekly discipline…even a seasonal discipline.
It’s developing an attitude of gratitude, by the way you control what your mind thinks about.
And you can do that daily
Through your prayers.
One of the more famous prayer methods is the ACTS method
ADORATION, CONFESSION, THANKSGIVING, SUPPLICATION
But that’ll help you daily remember to thank God
Do it weekly.
Part of the power of coming to church every week, is you get to worship every week.
And worship helps us remember what God has done.
In the Bible, when God does a good thing, so often they sign about.
When God delivers the Israelites out of slavery…Moses and Miriam write a song about it
When God tells Mary she’s going to be pregnant with the savior of the world…she writes a song about it.
We worship, not only because God is worthy, but because it gets us out of our normal “I am King…I provided…I am in control”
To “HE is King. HE provided. HE is in control!!”
And even to have seasonal celebrations is important…like to celebrate today as a church.
In the Bible, so many of their annual festivals, like Passover, the Feast of the Harvest, or “Poor-im” were put in place so God’s people would ALWAYS remember to be grateful!
So what are you thankful for? What has God done?
Do you need to make a list?
How can you make this a daily discipline for your MIND?
A weekly discipline?
What can you do?
And ultimately…even if you can’t think of anything right now…
We know…that ultimately…the cross is enough.
The Cross…is enough.
Even if God did NOTHING for me my whole life…the fact, that He sent His Son…to die in my place on the cross…so I could be COMPLETELY forgiven…and spent ETERNITY in paradise with Him…
May God teach us to increase our Gratitude.
Thanks to be God.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.