3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

How focusing on the other half of the truth can help.

Sometimes the new life God is leading you toward doesn’t seem as great as the one He has redeemed you from. When that happens, complaining often creeps in.

3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

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Remember the complaining of those redeemed from slavery in Egypt?

We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic. —Numbers 11:5

We all struggle with complaining. But in those moments, we betray our selective memories.

There’s a better way.

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A Lesson from Anathoth: Why Our Best Efforts Don’t Hold Water

Jeremiah reminds us we never outgrow God

It’s tough to work hard at something, only to see your efforts eventually leak out through life’s cracks. Sometimes, however, that frustration can turn into a surprising blessing.

A Lesson from Anathoth- Why Our Best Efforts Don’t Hold Water

(Photo: Anathoth looking east toward the wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Standing in his hometown of Anathoth on a wet, wintry day, the Prophet Jeremiah could look east and see grain fields lush with life. But just beyond those fields stretched the bleak and barren Judean wilderness—a land not sown with seed.

The Lord used a similar image when He told the Israelites how they had started out as a devoted people: “following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown” (Jer. 2:2), but then had turned from His ways.

The lesson Jeremiah wrote about from these simple elements is one we must never forget.

But too often, we do. Here’s how we can remember it.

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When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

Here’s what to think and what to do.

You will face disappointment today. I will too. Honestly, when these frustrations and discouragements come barging in as unwelcome guests, the promise of God’s presence with us often feels thin.

When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

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Frequently, we respond to these disappointments like Gideon did:

If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? (Judg. 6:13).

We say this (or think it privately) because we have a firm opinion of what God being “with us” looks like.

No pain.

But such a view treats the Bible like a buffet lunch where we pick and choose what we want to swallow about God. When we do that, the plate we hold in our hands represents a god in our image—a freak unlike the God whose tells us His ways are not like ours.

Why would we want to worship a God we can control or understand? Where is the awe in that?

There’s a better way to think about it—and a better way to respond.

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What You’ll See in God’s Surprising Plans for You

God wants to use you to change the world, but first He wants to change you.

Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment, I always request the first appointment of the day. I figure the earlier my appointment, the less time I sit in the waiting room counting fish in the aquarium. But it isn’t so.

God’s Plan for You Includes Preparation & Waiting

(Photo by Photodune)

I may have a time scheduled, but it’s entirely the doctor’s discretion when I see him. I find the same true with Dr. God.

Dr. God fills our lives with waiting rooms:

  • Your car in a traffic jam.
  • Your office when five o’clock is slow to come.
  • The grocery store when the line is long, it’s the cashier’s first day, and she’s out of receipt tape. (Ask me how I know.)

Inconveniences cause delays and frustrations. But there are other moments of waiting far more difficult and confusing.

You have plans. This appointment should be over by now. You’re ready to move on the next event, the next step in the grand plan.

But you wait because God has plans for you.

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How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

The surprising benefits of understanding your limitations.

We tend to expect God to act in ways we can understand. We work, and so God provides money. We pray, and so God answers prayer. We do this, and so God does that. In other words, we see God as the effect and ourselves as the cause.

How to Respond When God Demands from You Something Impossible

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Life is all about God responding, it seems, and if we do nothing, neither will God.

This isn’t true, obviously. But it’s how we feel.

So, what if we’re in a situation where we can do nothing? What happens when we can no longer be the cause?

When God demands from you something impossible?

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What Freedom Means and Absolutely Never Means

All those self-evident truths come in a broader context.

On a layover to Israel, we stopped in Philadelphia. We visited the Rocky steps (yes, I ran them), Betsy Ross’ house, and Ben Franklin’s grave. But I most enjoyed Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

What Freedom Means and Never Means

(Photo by Trent Yarnell)

There’s nothing like standing where history happened. It reminds us that Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were more than just names in a history book or faces on our money. They really lived.

On July 4, 1776, in Independence Hall, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, in which the second paragraph famously begins:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.

Independence Hall interior

(Photo: Independence Hall interior, where the Declaration of Independence was debated and adopted)

Even a deist like Thomas Jefferson affirmed there are some truths that are self-evident (i.e. obvious)—truths revealed by our Creator. Rights given that cannot be taken away (that’s what “unalienable” means.) And although creation offers truths we cannot (logically) deny, many people choose to reject them anyway. And that’s fine. Freedom allows us to choose what we accept or reject.

But there’s something freedom never allows us—and never will.

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What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

It’s time to graduate from our expectations to Reality 101

After a lifetime of people disappointing us, it’s tough not to develop a thick membrane of cynicism around our hearts. I’m convinced, however, we simply need stiff jolt of reality.

What to Do When People Absolutely Disappoint You

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We need to come to the place where we realize everybody in our lives will fail us to some degree. Everybody.

  • Our parents will fail us.
  • Our children will fail us.
  • Our spouse, our boss, our friends, and even our pastor—all will fail us.
  • And let me quickly add, we will also fail them.

But you know the most humbling reality? It isn’t easy to write.

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Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Why You Should Never Give up if You're in a Hopeless Place

Some places hoard bad memories. Maybe it was your hometown or even your home. The events associated with that place have forever tainted its memories. The Valley of Achor was such a site.

Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo: The Wadi Qilt, perhaps the Valley of Achor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21). Following this event, the Valley of Achor served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat.

But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

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Crazy Results You’ll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

Here are the changes I plan to make after the survey.

For the past four years I have surveyed my blog readers in order to find out about your needs, preferences, and interests. This year I learned some surprising results.

Crazy Results You'll Want to See from My 2016 Survey

My goal in writing this blog is to help you connect the Bible and its lands to your life. Each survey helps me do that better than before.

The survey offered some fascinating finds—some affirming and predictable. But some were a total surprise.

I’d like to share the results with you as well as some changes I’ll make as a result.

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Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

Yet some rules no longer apply (and why)

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

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When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

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