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 seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves. Unlike your experiencing self—which is absorbed in the moment—your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out. Why would a football fan let a few flubbed minutes at the end of the game ruin three hours of bliss? Because a football game is a story. And in stories, endings matter.

Atul Gawande
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books, 2014), Kindle Location 3382.

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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Joppa’s Greatest Export May Actually Surprise You

God's compassion to Gentiles launched here in both Testaments.

One of the best parts of going to Tel Aviv is strolling down the beautiful seaside boardwalk to ancient Joppa. Amazingly, very little remains visible to speak of Joppa’s significance. But history tells a different story.

Joppa’s Greatest Export—God’s Compassion

(Photo: Joppa’s modern port, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Only a few fishing boats float in Joppa’s modest harbor today, hardly representative of its significant past. Beyond goods and trade, Joppa greatest export was something else.

It may actually surprise you.

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Jesus Has Many More Eye-Opening Truths to Teach You

A lesson from Bethsaida shows us how far we have to go.

Many people have never lived a day without knowing the name of Jesus. They grew up with the hymns and knowing the gospels. Others have taken their knowledge of the Savior further through intensive study, Bible school, or even seminary.

A Bethsaida Lesson—Jesus Wants to Teach You Much More

(Photo: The Plain of Bethsaida. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Although many years of knowing Christ often carry with them the danger of familiarity—i.e. complacency—not everyone falls prey to the threat. There is, in fact, another danger.

All of Jesus’ disciples grew up knowing their Bibles. They lived in anticipation of the Messiah. And finally, they had found Him.

  • By the time Jesus brought His disciples to Bethsaida that day, they had followed Him for more than two years.
  • They carried with them the admiration of the crowds.
  • They were leaders, promised by Christ to reign with Him.

What else was there to gain? They had gone as high as they could. Many of us might slip into the same error of thinking.

For the faithful follower of Jesus, there is another danger beyond complacency.

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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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Lachish—Blending the Bible, History, & Archaeology

How biblical history weaves a unified story, supporting what the Bible says.

Screams of war had had occurred where I stood. Hebrew and Assyrian arrows spraying at each other. Sling stones crushing armor and skulls. Assyrian battering rams methodically picking apart the city’s outer wall. Finally, Lachish fell.

Tel Lachish—Mixing the Biblical, Historical, & Archeological

(Photo: Relief from Sennacherib’s Victory Over Lachish, in British Museum)

Of all ancient tells in the Holy Land, the Israel Antiquities Authority owns only one—Tel Lachish. It remained the most important city in the southern kingdom of Judah, except for Jerusalem.

Archaeology abundantly points to the biblical events here as historical.

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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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