Archive for May, 2014

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT)

So often it’s our past memories that dominate our present reality.

I was raised by two loving parents who had known the hardship of growing up during the Great Depression years in the USA. Even though my parents were loving, caring and generous people, being their only son I developed something of what I now recognize as a “scarcity mentality.” This term is being used by observers and researchers in Western, developed countries where consumerism and materialism dominate our cultural mindset.

A scarcity mentality says that there is only a limited amount of resources around, so you’d better act now and act fast to beat the crowd to the resources and get “enough.” Unfortunately, the “enough” extends not only to material needs such as food, drink and clothing but also to unmeasurable commodities such as recognition and self-worth.

I have lived outside the USA for many years now but when I return I am shocked by all the adverts which constantly bombard me. They entice me to urgently “act now before it’s too late!” They exert constant pressure on me to get in on the latest bargain.

In my formative years I was taught very early about the value of saving – even down to the scraps of paper that could be useful for grocery shopping lists!

Thrift is a wise value, unless it begins to dominate your life and lead to hoarding! We have that in our family too!

We enjoy the good things that material wealth provides, but no matter what we have we never seem to have “enough” of whatever we acquire.

This may be the downside of the materialistic age in which we live. Marketers and advertisers, some of whom are even my friends, make a living by exposing us to new opportunities for improving our quality of life. It turns dark when we begin to grow dissatisfied with who we are, what we have and bemoan our circumstances in life.

Jesus taught His followers, of which I am one, to be focused on the spiritual realities of His Kingdom and trust Him to meet their daily needs rather than seeing them as the focus of their lives.

I now think He’s trying to tell us that God is a God of abundance and the King will meet our material needs as we trust Him and follow His leadership in our lives.

This does not guarantee that we will all be fabulously wealthy or live lives free of pain and suffering. It does however, require a completely different mindset from the culture around us.

I have discovered that once the scarcity mindset takes hold, it’s very difficult to shift into an “abundance” mentality. If you’ve been taught that there’s a limited supply of God’s resources it leaves you fearful that you will lose what you have and will be forced to scrounge around for the scraps under the table like.

I don’t believe that God ever intended for His children to live with this mindset – even in times of hardship such as the Great Depression or a recession, such as what we have experienced in recent years.

When I live out of my scarcity mentality I’m blind and ungrateful. Blind to the abundance of God’s grace, love, mercy, kindness, generosity and provision. I’m also hesitant to consistently show gratitude to God for the riches that He has lavished upon me in every area of life.

Recently a friend was talking to me and was highly complementary of my family. It’s also a gift of abundance when a friend can point out the riches we have which we can so easily take for granted.

It is possible to move from a scarcity mindset to abundance thinking but it will take a radical and intentional shift in our focus.

Don’t let the mindset of the culture around you rob you of the joy that comes from being grateful for all the blessings God brings your way. In our moments of greatest honesty we have to admit that His abundance always comes through.  

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“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” – Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)

Do you ever wonder if Jesus ever had any bad hair days? With all the important things on His mind it’s doubtful that Jesus, The Son of God, ever worried too much about things that concern most of the rest of us humans.

In all the Gospel accounts you never hear Jesus complain about the state of his hair, the dusty roads or his dirty feet. And He did have dirty feet. We know that because he walked the same paths of first century Palestine as did his disciples and the rest of humanity. He also got tired and frustrated like the rest of us.

Jesus, however, seemed to have a focus that transcended the mundane things that seem to distract us on a regular basis, but that’s a different subject.

I’m learning more these days about the concept of “self-compassion.” It’s actually a very liberating concept which differs greatly from self-esteem or self-indulgence. It simply means that in order for us to have true compassion for others, we must first have compassion for ourselves.

How do you relate to yourself? Does that influence how you relate to others?

To be honest for most of my life I’ve given myself a harder time than any other human being I know. It’s doubtful that I would ever hear Jesus speak to Himself, or to me, the way I regularly talk to myself.

Can you ever imagine the Lord Jesus Christ making these comments to Himself?

“You’re a dumb human being!”

“Your feet stink!”

“You’re a hopeless case!”

“Why don’t you crawl in a hole where you belong?”

Of course we know that Jesus wouldn’t say that to Himself because He was the perfect Son of God. But how would Jesus speak to us about our concerns both major and minor?

Jesus valued each human being as worthy of love. He knew that every human was made in the image of God and was worthy of His affection and admonition. He gave His very life for each and every human being regardless of nationality, race or intellectual aptitude – despite all of their faults and failings.

He taught us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, implying that we should love ourselves and others as God’s image-bearers.

He bids everyone to come to Him by faith and find redemption, soul-rest and restoration regardless of their situation in life.

If the Divine Son of God never had a bad word to say about Himself, or us, then perhaps neither should we.

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