Killing Discontentment

Fading gratitude is a terrible thing. Not being thinkful of our past not only keeps us from being thankful, but it also keeps us stuck in the past. And allowing gratitude to fade also sucks the life out of our every-day experiences.

Asaph told us about the manna that God provided for the Israelites to eat every single day that they were in the wilderness. He called it the bread of angels. But even this wasn’t enough for people who weren’t thinkful nor thankful. Instead, they craved more (Psalm 78:25-30). 

The dictionary defines forgetfulness as “ceasing to think about something.” Gratitude, then, is to continue to think about Someone—that “Someone” being God who daily provides for us.

Fading gratitude brings two ugly realities: 

(1) Discontentment. The dictionary calls this “a restless desire or craving for something one does not have.” In other words, it’s counting up what you don’t have instead of being grateful for what you do have. 

(2) Entitlement. This is discontentment’s sickly twin sister. Where discontentment counts up what it doesn’t have, entitlement says, “I deserve what I don’t have!” Jesus told a story about entitled people who had been given land, a vineyard, and everything they needed to be successful with their farm. Yet when the owner of the farmland asked for his rightful payment, the renters thought they were entitled to keep it all. 

There are serious—and potentially eternal—consequences for our unchecked discontented entitlement. Jesus said, “What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Mark 12:9). And Asaph reported that for the discontented, entitled Israelites, “God’s anger rose against them; He put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel. … So He ended their days in futility and their years in terror” (Psalm 78:31, 33). 

One of two things is going to happen: either we kill discontentment, or discontentment will kill us! 

It’s not complicated to kill discontentment, but it is hard work. We kill discontentment with contentment. We learn to separate the dis from discontentment with the sword of gratitude! 

The apostle Paul wrote “…I have LEARNED to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have LEARNED the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13). 

One way to learn contentment is to keep reminders around you of all the things which with God has blessed you. Don’t let your gratitude fade for one moment! 

Next week we will be wrapping up this series by considering what can happen to our future outlook if we let gratitude fade from our hearts and minds. I hope you can join me! 

Links & Quotes

link quote

Some good reading this weekend:

“It is bad to pursue something good negligently; it is worse to expend many labors on an empty thing.” —Hugh of St. Victor

A ground-breaking scientist of the 16th and 17th centuries who was (gasp!) a Christian: William Harvey.

Could the IRS do anything to make itself more unpopular?” Yep! Read more in New IRS Revelations.

“In the worst temptations nothing can help us but faith that God’s Son has put on flesh, is bone, sits at the right hand of the Father, and prays for us. There is no mightier comfort.” —Martin Luther

“Most of us are like the disciples. We see one miracle, and we are satisfied to talk about it for the rest of our lives. Yet, if we really knew God and let Him be God to us, we would ask Him for so much more.” —David Wilkerson

Great (not!): States Face Overwhelming Reality Of Obamacare.

Gratitude is a “chosen attitude.” Read more in Dr. Tim Elmore’s post The Inverse Relationship Between Gratitude And Entitlement.

Generation iY (one more chapter)

Generation iYThree years ago I posted this—

I’m going to make a statement about Dr. Tim Elmore’s book Generation iY that I rarely make: This book is a MUST READ for parents and anyone who works with youth!

Yes, a must read. The subtitle of this book is not over-dramatized, but really is an understated truth: Our last chance to save their future.

Recently Tim Elmore released in ebook format a final chapter to Generation iY. After reading this I was just as convinced that anyone who works with our youth must read this book (read my full book review by clicking here). Here are a few quotes from this chapter.

“Historical trends suggest that every time there is a population explosion among the youth (between 15-29 years old), violence follows. Sociologist Gunnar Heinson reported that countries are vulnerable when the youth population is 30 percent or higher.” 

“Our assessment of 8,500 high school and college students clearly reveals a drop in:

  • Resilience—we removed the ability to bounce back after a failure.
  • Empathy—we have pushed them toward self-expansion.
  • Work ethic—their short attention spans make the daily grind a turn-off.
  • Stamina—sticking with the task when the novelty’s going is difficult.
  • Ambition—the internal drive to succeed is replaced by external stimuli.
  • Self-awareness—few adults have been honest about their blind spots.”

“Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein released a report recently saying that the state of our youth is now an issue of national security. Seventy-five percent of America’s youth are not even fit for the military due to obesity, criminal records or failure to graduate high school.”

  1. As technology goes up, empathy goes down. We can find a direct parallel between screen time and the lack of empathy in adolescence. It makes sense, doesn’t it? A text that says ‘I am having a bad day’ doesn’t elicit the same empathy as being face to face with a person in tears, in the midst of a crisis. It seems virtual, so our empathy is virtual. Kids often laugh at what they cried about a decade ago.
  2. As information expands, attention spans diminish. Resilience, patience, and attention spans have dropped thanks to today’s quick, convenient, and saturated world. When overwhelmed, we surrender readily. Herbert Simon said it best: “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
  3. As options broaden, long-term commitment shrinks.
  4. As life speeds up, patience and personal discipline drop.
  5. As external stimulation increases, internal motivation decreases. Experiments among students show that external rewards actually reduce internal drive and ambition. Kids work for the reward, not the satisfaction of the work. The external (and possibly artificial and superficial) reduces incentive and, consequently, self-sufficiency.
  6. As consequences for failure diminish, so does the value of success.
  7. As virtual connections climb, emotional intelligence declines.
  8. As free content swells, so does our sense of entitlement.

 

16 Quotes from “Fight”

FightGuys, it’s time to unleash the godly warrior inside of you, and Fight by Craig Groeschel can help you do just that (you can read my full book review by clicking here). These are some of my favorite quotes from Fight

“The virtue of strength is determined by how it’s used. If it’s used to love and to protect, it’s good. Unfortunately, it can also be used to inflict harm, and that’s not consistent with what we see of God’s character in the Bible. He calls us to fight for what’s right. And a worthy is only as worthy as his cause.”

“Gentleman, God created you with the heart of a warrior. Until there’s something you’re willing to die for, you can’t truly live.”

“Men don’t plan to destroy themselves. The problem is that we have an enemy who does.”

“You have to stop trying to do it in your own strength. Because our spiritual enemy, satan, is an expert at making strong men weak. Fortunately, and don’t miss this, our God specializes in making weak men strong.”

“Lust says, ‘I want it.’ Entitlement says, ‘I deserve it.’ And pride says, ‘I can handle it.’ … You can fight using your own limited power. Or you can tap into the all-powerful, limitless God who wants to help you win every battle for His causes. Here’s how:

  • Turn ‘I want it’ to ‘I want God.’
  • Turn ‘I deserve it’ to ‘I deserve death.’
  • Turn I can handle it’ to ‘I can’t handle anything without God.’

“Pride is always born of our insecurities. When we don’t know who we are in Christ, we use pride to try to fill that void. … So many of us try to define ourselves by our accomplishments, to find worth in what we’ve done, instead of in Whom we belong to. We want to rely on our achievements, our victories, our trophies, our wins to define us instead of acknowledging God as the source of all good things in our lives.”

“If there’s one thing you can count on self-pity for, it’s exaggeration. Every time you start thinking about how bad things are, it’s like a game to make sure everything is as bad as it could be. You’ll catch yourself using extreme words like never, always, and forever.”

“We get stuck in these negative loops of self-judgment and condemnation that are not from God. His Spirit always leads us to confession, to changing directions and going God’s way, to a fresh start, to grace. Often God has forgiven us, but our emotions haven’t caught up. I’m convinced this is just another form of our pride—wanting to be in control of ourselves and not rely on God. We’d rather hate ourselves than risk the vulnerability and humility required to depend on Him. It seems easier to expect the worst than to put our hope in God.”

“If you let your need drive you to God, God will meet your deepest need. … When you return to God and give your weakness to Him, only then will your strength return. But it’s ultimately not your strength; it’s His strength.”

“If you’re a ‘real’ guy, then you’re supposed to be a sexual beast, a stud, a leader of the pack, a stallion the ladies can’t resist—right? Wrong. You’re supposed to be a man stronger than his physical urges or emotional responses. You’re supposed to be a warrior who’s willing to fight for something more important. And that’s a battle that’s fought one temptation at a time.”

“Don’t dare be strong in just business or at your job. Don’t dare be strong just in your hobbies or at some sport. Don’t dare settle for being strong just physically. Focus your strength on leading those around you into righteousness. … Don’t settle for being strong at what doesn’t last and weak at what does. Tap into the warrior within Don’t fight just the meaningless battles. Fight for what matters most. And fight for your life.”

“If you’re going the wrong way, stop. Stop now. Fall on your knees and fight like a man.”

“When we strip men of permission to fight back at the appropriate time, we emasculate them. We stifle the spirit of the warrior that God placed within them, the spirit that yearns to fight for what’s right. When men feel stripped of power, it’s that much easier to give in to temptation. If they’ve never learned to fight, then it’s hard to know how to fight the deadliest enemy of all.”

“Remorse is a common response to failure, but there’s a much better one: repentance. Instead of turning inward or deflecting outward, you turn upward. Instead of allowing yourself to get stuck, you stop and then let God move you through it. You drop the guilt, the regret, the anger, and the self-pity and return to the Lord. Repentance means owning up to your mistakes and accepting responsibility. … Remorse is a feeling based primarily on guilt (a selfish emotion), keeping our attention on the past. Repentance is turning away from that wrong, turning away from the past, and turning our attention to changing our future. Remorse builds an emotional monument to our sin, then stands there gazing at it while we feel bad. Repentance is turning one hundred eighty degrees away from our sin and then walking away from it. With each step, repentance moves farther away from that sin. And it doesn’t look back.”

“You are not what you did; you are who God says you are.”

“Giving your life one time is easy. You know what’s hard? Giving your life daily. Paul said, ‘I die every day’ (1 Corinthians 15:31). Real men give their lives daily.”

%d bloggers like this: