Beware the evil ‘isms’!

From the moment we are born we are immersed in a machine that is designed to keep us pursuing instant gratification as opposed to that which will provide sustainable satisfaction. Most North Americans will spend 8 to 9 years of their life in front of a television.

Toddlers today know what the golden arches ‘M’ stands for before they know their own surname!

There is a way to be free of the materialism, consumerism, and hedonism that exercise such powerful influences in our lives today.

Have any of you ever had your car repossessed by the finance company?

I have!

Have any of you ever had your phone disconnected by the phone company?

I have!

Have any of you ever lost your business and had to declare bankruptcy?

I have!

These three events were the perfect storm in my life that motivated me to examine my life, and the choices I was making. Desperately in need of change I took an honest look at how I viewed life and what I was pursuing.

I had fallen prey to the seemingly attractive ‘isms’.  I was pursuing the ‘good life’ according to what all the images in the media were telling me.

The financial problems in my life back then were creating a lot of wrong thinking in me and I was headed down a path of destruction. I was carrying a lot of worry and anxiety; I just wanted to be able to provide for my family! But the choices I was making only sabotaged any chance of that. The wrong thinking, worry and anxiety manifested itself in some bad behavior…binge drinking with my buddies!

Desperately in need of change I took an honest look at how I viewed life and what I was pursuing.

Fortunately, and providentially I was introduced to a new way of thinking about all that life has to offer. I began to see things differently. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. The slow process of taking control of the isms in my life began.

3 Core Mindsets that have Paved the Way to a Much More Abundant Life!

# 1 It is all God’s Gift!

  • Everything we accomplish (skills, achievements) or accumulate (possessions / wealth) is not solely of our own doing.
  • God created us and has endowed each of us with particular gifts. It stands to reason then, that everything we have or are able to do as a result of our skills, achievements, and opportunities are a gift from God. It is all God’s gift!

I never used to think that everything in my life was a gift from God.  Ever since I’ve changed that thinking the pressure is off, I don’t worry as much! God will provide all that I need.

This leads me to the 2nd core mindset…

#2 Be grateful always and everywhere!

  • This is particularly helpful in finding balance and control over the ‘isms’.
  • Just think about how much we have to be grateful for in North America. And that is the key – to think about that on a daily basis. It’s too easy to take so much for granted.
  • Don’t get caught up in complaining about your circumstances, or compairing yourself to what others have. (If we are going to compare ourselves, then let’s compare ourselves to the millions of people in the world who struggle every day just to find something to eat and clean water to drink. We best not stay in our own little world view lest we forget just how blessed we are and neglect those in need.) 
  • Gratitude is the ANTIDOTE to complaining and comparing!

Gratitude silences any complaining voice in my head. Moreover science has proven that gratitude is extremely important in maintaining a healthy and strong mind! I know that when I practice gratitude I make better choices.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

If we believe #1 and practice #2 God will take care of the rest…the 3rd core mindset!

#3 Trust in God’s providence!

  • God always provides what we need.
  • We have Jesus’ word on that, see Matthew 6:25-33.
  • When we trust God it not only frees us from worry it also gives us the confidence to step out in faith and do what He wants us to do.

All good things come from our good and gracious God. Gifts that we should always and everywhere be grateful for. Stewardship of it all calls us to share it and trust God. God’s desire is that we receive His gifts gratefully, use them responsibly, develop them conscientiously, and share them generously with others. That’s the stewardship cycle.

When we cling to our gifts too tightly it leaves no room to receive, and the cycle closes! 

Stepping out in faith and trusting God reminds me of another God-incidence…

One Christmas years ago I had fallen prey to the ‘isms’ and responded to an image of a happy family opening gifts in a direct mail solicitation from a finance co. I got sucked in and borrowed a $1,000 so as to make for a wonderful Christmas for my family. It wasn’t so wonderful after Christmas. It took me 8 months and $150 interest to pay back the loan!

The next Christmas my thinking had changed. There were two God-incidences that Christmas that I will never forget. The first was when my wife noticed a single mom in line for a Christmas hamper at our church. Lynn knew this woman from the religious education program she coordinated at the church.

Lynn had an idea. In addition to the Christmas hamper the church community was providing what if we offered to buy her children some Christmas gifts. Lynn contacted the woman and she aggreed to allow us to do that. I’ll never forget the look of joy on those little girls faces when we dropped the gifts off a few days before Christmas – and the the way our own children were filled with joy for doing it.

The second God-incidence was the result of a prayer request I had been making to God all of December. I was praying that I would be a better steward that Christmas; be grateful for what we had; and, not give into the ads and go into debt again!

The money we spent on those children was a bit of a sacrifice, however it felt so good. It was part of me being a better steward of our financial blessings that year and it did not go without reward.

A couple of days before Christmas I was at the post office checking our mail. I was suprised to see a letter from a former employer; the company had gone out of business a couple of years earlier. I opened the letter and found a cheque for $380! It was part of a delayed and totally unexpected severance package.

I stood there with tears in my eyes, and looking up to heaven, I said, “I get it God…You will not be out done in generosity.” I think it was God’s way of letting me know I was now thinking about things rightly, and to stay the course and trust in Him!

If any of you reading this post feel like you could do with a change, then I hope you too will dare to think differently!

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