Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a small town congregation for worship. The pastor was preaching on the need to renew our minds. Although I had heard numerous sermons on that topic I left there thinking this one was probably the best I've ever heard on the subject. We spent much of our time in Philippians 4:8 for the message as he reminded the congregation of the types of things we should focus our thinking on if we want to renew our minds. He also reminded us that it isn't easy because we are constantly bombarded with the other kinds of things that do not lead to renewed minds.
How many of the television programs you watch are uplifting and positive? What about the movies you see? The music you listen to? Do you find that most news programs encourage you and focus on things that are lovely and of good report? Do you find images on the Internet that burn themselves into your mind? Did those images appear while you were looking for something else, or did you go looking for them? What about your friends and people with whom you spend much of your time? Are they encouragers, positive people with positive attitudes that uplift you just by being around them, or are they mostly negative people who spend much of their time complaining about all the negative things in life?
We cannot ignore that there are negative things in this world in which we live. We shouldn't stick a finger in our ears and sing "La, la, la, la, la, la" real loud so we don't have to hear about the negatives and don't have to do anything about them. We are called to minister in this world in which we live with all the negative and bad things that exist. The challenge is to not allow these things to control what we dwell on. Our focus is to be on the person of Jesus Christ and His call on our lives and on our churches. We have to choose every day whether we will focus on the negatives that exist all around us or upon Christ and the good things He is doing through us to make a difference in this messed up world in which we live. That choice will impact our attitudes and how we go about our days.
One other thing...we also can't focus on the negative things that goes on within our churches. Virtually every week church leaders are confronted by the complainers, the controllers, the perpetual victims, the whiners, and the spiritually immature who have been languishing around the church for decades. These people are real joy suckers. Don't let them. Minister to them the best you can but maintain your focus on Christ and His call on your life. I've read where the typical pastor will leave a church because of seven people. That's what happens when we focus too much of our attention on the joy suckers and fail to remember the many others whose lives have been impacted by our ministry.
Why not make Philippians 4:8 your verse for this week? Write it down on a card and carry it in your pocket. Every time you find yourself focusing on the negative things that are going on around you, pull out that card and read it. Intentionally force yourself to begin to dwell on the positive and allow those thoughts to help renew your mind as you go about the day. It might make a big difference.