Tag Archives: gratitude

Receive with Gratitude

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

Isn’t this so true? The goodness, very goodness, of our amazing world surrounds us. Pause for a minute and look. Listen. Touch. Taste. Drink. Inhale. Receive.

The natural resources, the abundant beauty, the stunning ongoing miracles uncovered by science, the rich diversity of plant and animal life: the myriad of good, very good, gifts from God surround us. Embrace us. Invite us. Bless us.

receive with gratitudeThis is wherebeing green begins for me, and for each of us who follow after our Lord:Seeing this wild and amazing world, the very life in our bones, as God’s good–very good–gift to us. And then receiving these gifts with profound gratitude and humility!

It is God who made us, and not we ourselves. It is God who made us and we are his.

And it is God who made the rocks and trees and skies and seas – God’s hands the wonder wrought.

And it is God who made tree frogs and humming bees, the mitochondria in our cells and the flaming stars flung across the heavens, the mighty redwoods and the quivering rabbits, the rich and the poor. Continue reading

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10 Little Ways to Wake Up

Pray more. Worship more. Read Scripture more. Yeah . . . you got those. These are often the spiritual “prescription” we receive when we know our spirit needs a boost. And these are right on. These are essential vitamins we need for our souls’  well-being! But in addition to these basics, God invites us into something other than just “do more” . . . than just a to-do list that always says you aren’t doing enough. Here are 10 little ways you can wake up your soul . . . peruse, pick 1 or 2, let your mind wander to pick your own.R U Awake

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1. Take 5 minutes to list (or speak aloud) things you’re grateful for. Praise God for them all!

2. Hug or kiss someone you really love. Consider how this human relationship provides a glimpse into intimacy with God.

 3. Hunt for nature’s beauties. God is the very essence of beauty! (Too cold outside? Look out your window with a mission to notice beauties you often over look. Or peruse online nature images instead.)

 4. Laugh out loud. Dwell in some delightful or silly memories or watch a funny movie. God is the ultimate source of joy . . . our own chuckles remind us of a deeper joy we experience in God.

 5.  Continue reading

Extras! Creation Care Week 1

Each Friday this month I’ll be posting some fun extras for you. As we focus this week on receiving God’s good gift of creation with gratitude, here are some powerful creation-care hymns for you to consider . . . and sing! (Be sure to click on them to find the full lyrics and melodies of each  hymns.)

•  “All things bright and beautiful, / All creatures great and small, / All things wise and wonderful: / The Lord God made them all.”

•  “I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, / Thy power throughout the universe displayed: / Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:/ How great thou art! How great thou art!”

• “All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly / Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee.” 

• “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies . . . Lord of all to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”

• “All that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care; And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.”

• “This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair; / In the rustling grass I hear Him pass; / He speaks to me everywhere.”

Meditate and Act; Creation Care Week 1

Over the next 4 weeks as we explore creation care, I’ll offer some Scripture passages to meditate on and some life-application steps to consider. And so we begin here: with gratitude, with worship, with praise to the Creator!

Meditate: Psalm 100:1-3

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Respond with Action:

• Go on a walk outdoors and notice as much as you can. God’s good gifts in creation are endless! As you notice, in your soul offer thanks.

• Have you taken God’s creation for granted? Pray, confessing an attitude of ingratitude that may have infiltrated your life. Freely receive God’s abundant grace for you.

• Spend time seeing bits of God’s amazing creation that may not be part of your normal life. Find pictures of animals at the National Wildlife Federation’s site or videos of endangered animals at Arkive. Watch the BBC/Discovery Channel Planet Earth series to see stunning vistas from around the globe (and even under the sea!).

Receive with Gratitude

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31).

Isn’t this so true? The goodness, very goodness, of our amazing world surrounds us. Pause for a minute and look. Listen. Touch. Taste. Drink. Inhale. Receive.

h2oThe natural resources, the abundant beauty, the stunning ongoing miracles uncovered by science, the rich diversity of plant and animal life: the myriad of good, very good, gifts from God surround us. Embrace us. Invite us. Bless us.

This is where “creation care” begins: Seeing this wild and amazing world, the very life in our bones, as God’s good, very good gift to us. And receiving these gifts with humility and profound gratitude!

It is God who made us, and not we ourselves. It is God who made us and we are his.

And it is God who made the rocks and trees and skies and seas – God’s hands the wonder wrought.

And it is God who made tree frogs and humming bees, the mitochondria in our cells and the flaming stars flung across the heavens, the mighty redwoods and the quivering rabbits, the rich and the poor. Continue reading

Do Your Thing

do your thingCalling is a great big, deep, often mysterious thing. It’s the answer we seek to the oft-recurring question we ask: “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” And calling is also some small, mundane, plain and daily thing. It can be tied to one’s job (like, “God’s called me to be a surgeon . . . or a missionary or a pilot or a writer or a farmer”). It can be completely separate from one’s employment (like, “God’s called me to volunteer in children’s ministry” or “God’s called me to be a parent” or “God’s called me to be an AIDS activist”). It can be linked to passions, hobbies, and interests—like art, gardening, music, writing, cooking, woodworking, dance, or fishing. And, as Leslie reminded us last week, it can be connected to our afflictions. Even cancer or widowhood or a learning disability or a failed marriage or chronic pain can flow into a calling: A calling to bless, to listen, to mourn with those who mourn, to act in compassion, to offer words of mercy.

And calling can also be all wrapped up in totally un-special and seemingly un-spiritual daily tasks—like dusting, changing diapers, sorting laundry, grocery shopping, sorting recycling, and paying bills—because these tasks are all wrapped up into larger callings of love: Loving family, blessing neighbors, receiving God’s gifts with gratitude, living in integrity, stewarding God’s world well. Consider this claim from Puritan William Tyndale (quoted in my book Embrace Your Worth): “As touching to please God, there is no work better than another. . . . Now if thou compare deed to deed, there is [a] difference betwixt washing of dishes and preaching the word of God. But as touching to please God, none at all.”

So God’s calling, like a brilliant thread, weaves in and out of the multitude of other threads that make up the fabric of our lives: our work, our hobbies, our gifts, our passions, our ministry, our abilities, our relationships, our daily tasks, and even our weaknesses and our suffering. Continue reading

An Ode to “Old” Love

Our culture glamorizes young love. And, of course, when you’re young and in love, you might not notice this imbalance. When you’re young and in love, everything feels fresh and new. And those old fuddy-duddies down the pew at church? You could teach them a thing or two about the spark of romance, baby!

Time and experience wear down snarky attitudes like this (an attitude I certainly had at times as a dating, engaged, and newly married young adult). So now, 13 years into marriage, I declare that pictures like THIS one ought to be the ones gracing the magazine covers, rather than glitzy girls in gorgeous bridal gowns or hot-bodied 20-year-olds smooching on the beach. THIS is what I admire. THIS is what I want to be someday.blog.elder couple

Marriage isn’t easy. You’re told this often when you’re young and in love and when marriage seems like it will be quite easy. But marriage, even between two committed friends & lovers who serve God and want the best for each other, will bring out the yuck. It will bring out the yuck in him . . . and in you. And that’s tough!

Further, love changes. The love of a couple 10 years in is not the same as the love they shared at their rehearsal dinner. The love 20, 30, 40 . . . even 80 years in? I imagine it’s rich with history, self-knowledge, God-shaped humility, mountainous piles of forgiveness, and fierce tenacity.

It can be hard, sometimes, to accept that love changes. Why? Continue reading

Dangerous Ideals and the Goodness of Real-Life Love

This month we’re surrounded by hearts and pink and teddy bears. February — and Valentine’s Day — draws our focus to romantic love. So this month we’ll zero in on marriage.

blog.love heartAnd I want to start, not with cutesy or romantic or sexy thoughts (though we’ll get to those!) but instead with what I see (and have experienced!) as a really dangerous threat to marriage pervading Christian culture. What is that danger? Read and pray through this  excerpt from my Flourishing Faith book Enrich Your Marriage:

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Ponder

This book is just one of hundreds, thousands, maybe even bizillions of Christian marriage books out there. Some of the books are amazing and helpful, some are so-so, but I believe some of them are dangerous.

Why?

Because they feed two little monsters that can destroy homes and hearts. The monsters’ names? The Myth-of-the-Ideal-Christian-Marriage and its cute little sidekick the Myth-of-the-Ideal-Christian-Husband.

These little myth-monsters told us that in marriage we’d have an amazing sense of spiritual union with our outstandingly Christ-like husband. We’d have regular, passionate, exciting sex in which he’d always be deeply romantic. We’d be listened to, cared for, treasured, cherished, and prized every moment. Our intimacy with God would fuel our never fading sense of profound intimacy with each other. Our “in-love-ness” would last forever.

(I’m only slightly exaggerating here!)

Hopes, dreams, and excitement about marriage are good things. But when those hopes are built upon completely unrealistic expectations, they can only lead to trouble. The ideal of the perfect Christian marriage is false advertising—and, frankly, it’s not what the Bible tells us to expect. Continue reading

Oh So Much . . .

Merriam-Webster tells me gratitude‘s antonyms are ingratitude, thanklessness, unappreciation, ungratefulness.

But in soul-terms, much more could be added to this list. On the polar opposite end of the scale from gratitude we find habits and mindsets like worry, bitterness, spiritual malaise, self-reliance, pride, mistrust, over-busyness, selfishness, consumerism, and self-centeredness.

When our hearts are full of a pervasive and interwoven sense of thanks — a conscious awareness that God has given us oh so much — we’re able to live soul-centered in the peace and joy of the abundant life.

When we don’t? We start to buy into the lie that we don’t have enough, that we just need what’s more or what’s next. We live a life grasping out in all the wrong places for an elusive “satisfaction” that cannot be found in material things.

When we train our sight on the many goodnesses God has poured into our lives — loved ones, friendships, sunrises, smiles, bonds of love, church family, and a multitude of rich spiritual blessings — we’re buoyed when hardship or suffering comes. We can trust God because we know how God has come through for us in the past. We can rely on God even if things turn out badly, for we know from experience that God is good.

When we aren’t strengthening our souls in gratitude? We instinctively respond to trouble with worry and anxiety. Rather than relying on God, we turn inward in self-aggrandizing reliance on our own abilities and efforts to work miracles. And if things don’t get better? We become people poisoned by bitterness and anger. Continue reading

The Jeskes: Extraordinarily Grateful . . . In the Ordinary

It’s Thanksgiving week and I’m so excited to introduce you to Adam and Christine Jeske, co-authors of the new IVP book This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling. Listen in as Adam and Christine share some candid thoughts about living gratefully in the midst of normal, regular, everyday life.

Welcome, Adam and Christine! Tell my readers about yourself.  

Adam: We floss daily. We can levitate. Our two kids never fight, and have never yelled at them. We sit up straight and never slouch. We give away over 100% of our income, which is possible, because we’re not very good at math. Our home is a bastion of aesthetic bliss, from the pioneer vibe, to an epic treehouse, to the raging keggers. We are sarcastic.

(OK, sidenote readers! I’ll fill you in on the Jeskes: After years doing aid work on the international scene, the Jeskes now live in Wisconsin where Christine teaches at Eastern University and Adam serves as associate director of communications for my favorite campus ministry, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.)

This month we’re focusing on gratitude on my site. So quick, right off the top of your head, what are 5 thing you’re grateful for?

Christine: Just last night before bed with our kids we listed singing songs together, the board game our son made up, warm fall weather, eating dinner in our tree house, and having enough money to buy what we need.

Adam: Doing pilates yesterday (I’m secure in my masculinity, and increasing my core strength helps), drinking Tetley British Blend tea with milk as I type this, having a couple Nerf guns at work, occasionally having a chance to rattle people’s cages, and your request to interview us!

It can be very easy, I think, to live “normal life” in grumbling and a state of discontent — to be envious of the adventures, the experiences, the seemingly better lives of others. From your own experiences, what’s the spiritual danger of this type of mindset? How can we combat it’s creeping power in our lives?

Christine: Yes, we have definitely felt that slide into grumbling over “normal life,” especially in the last couple years back in the U.S. after years overseas. So many people live idolizing adventure, and when they don’t get that adventure, they end up believing, “My life is nothing but a bare little cage I pace around in all day.” But on the other hand, you can also end up idolizing comfort, and get too settled, too far toward the “I love the feeling of my butt sinking into this safe, comfy couch” side of life.

There’s a sweet spot we need to find every day between idolizing adventure and idolizing comfort. In our experience, part of hitting that sweet spot comes from actively noticing what God is doing in your present reality. Phrases like “I will tell of God’s wonderful acts” are used at least sixteen times in the Psalms alone. We need to stop and tell ourselves, and tell other people, about the gorgeous snowfalls, conversations with lonely people, astounding ideas, and all the other daily miracles that remind us we are never just living in a dull prison cell. And when we savor notice and savor these, it also creates a craving in us to see more of God’s work in our world, so much so that we get off our couch and find and create more of it.

Gratitude is a thread woven throughout your new book, This Ordinary Adventure, in the sense that God has been teaching you to receive and gratefully appreciate a way of life that’s — by outward appearances — unadventurous. What practices and habits in your life drive this sense of gratitude?

Christine: One simple practical step that’s helped us appreciate both normal and extraordinary ways God works is to keep a list we call “Amazing Days.” For over 13 years now we’ve kept this list. We write on it whatever makes a day bold, unusual, bright, faithful, or miraculous. As we look back on the list and share it with others, we celebrate the ways God shapes big things through many small days of little things, and also wows us with a few big things now and then. It’s a way to stop “should-ing” ourselves about what doesn’t fit into an already busy and frazzled existence, and instead celebrate what we can experience with and from God Almighty, here and now. Continue reading