Book Review: Lord Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late

I was a stubborn child. I'm certain of it now, because I'm raising one of my own. I remember struggling with my parents, forcing them to deal with me even when they would rather leave the issue alone simply for the sake of exhaustion, whatever the issue of the day might be. I was the oldest, so often my struggles had to do with my younger siblings. I loved to terrorize them. I loved the squalling sound a younger sister makes when you pinch the back of her tricep. I love the deep thud that snow makes when you bump an unsuspecting person off the sidewalk and into the deep snow. But every so often I would directly ignore my parent’s instructions. I would behave in a belligerent way for seemingly no reason. In retrospect, as far as my own family was concerned, I am certain I was a miserable person to be around.
James Macdonald wrote Lord, Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late using the Israelites in the wilderness as the focal content by which to base the book. In the early pages MacDonald says: “If you want to know exactly why God killed off a whole generation of His children, you don't have to search very far; just open the Bible and check out Numbers 13-14.” Wow, is that necessary? Is attitude really that important? Was my behavior really something that God would be willing to knock off an entire generation for? It was these type of questions that were in the back of my mind, as the author really drew me into the necessity of me digging deeper and going along for the journey.
McDonald points out that our attitudes are patterns of thinking formed over a long period of time. For instance, he points back to the days of Egypt. This is where the Hebrew slaves were constantly whining and sniveling about everything. “Patterns of thinking are so deeply ingrained in our hearts that we hardly even notice them. We get so used to reacting in a certain way that our choices become automatic, and in time we cease to see them as actual choices.” I find this quote to ring loud and clear, not only in my own life, but also in the lives of people I have the opportunity to counsel and interact with on a regular basis. If a spirit of bitterness builds and forms within a person’s heart, I have found that it is an uphill battle to say the least in fighting back against that pattern of behavior.
Fortunately, James MacDonald doesn’t just leave the reader in a helpless state if they have already started to build a negative pattern of thinking. For example, he encouraged us to replace a complaining attitude with a thankful attitude. Using examples from the Gospels, where we see Jesus interacting with damaged and broken people with all the wrong patterns of thinking, MacDonald highlights the story of Christ meeting with only one leper after healing ten. “Christ himself was aware and disturbed by such a flagrant instance of ungratefulness. ‘Were there not ten cleansed?’ Then Jesus turned to the single thankful man saying, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’ You have been made well in a way much deeper than those who refused to be thankful.” The author does a fantastic job of pointing us to see what Jesus is after, and what Jesus chooses to highlight: an attitude that is glorifying to Him!
With much of the same type of logical back and forth, MacDonald demonstrates how the Israelites chose each of the 5 attitude issues (complaining, covetousness, criticism, doubt, and rebellion) and how making attitude adjustments (thankfulness, contentment, love, faith, and submission) changed their outcome. However, it is in the epilogue where MacDonald really drives the point home. He takes us back to the Israelites once again, who have fallen back into their murmuring patterns of thinking. “The people spoke against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?’” What a miserable group of people! God sends fiery serpents to attack the bunch of them.
You see, if my own attitude from my childhood hadn’t changed, or if my own attitude in the present returns to the way it wants to take me at times, I would be just as likely to be on the receiving end of the wrath of a holy and just God minus the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ. MacDonald implores: “Just like the Israelites did with the bronze serpent on the pole, if we look to Christ, we can be healed of our sin problem and know that our sins have been forgiven. There is an urgency to this message. I hope you will never think that this book is about trying harder to have a good attitude. Christ is the answer!”  
Christ has been the answer in my life as well! The only reason I have a restored relationship with family and friends that I damaged badly years ago, is because of Jesus did on the cross. Thankfully, he is still at work in me molding my heart to look more like his each and every day. Still, I need to be reminded regularly: “Lord, change my attitude as well!” Before it is too late, and the pattern repeats itself.


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