When I hear the term “gratitude,” it sounds so simplistic and underwhelming. But how often is it that the simple practices and professions in life ultimately become the most personal and significant in leading to real life change. Practicing gratitude–as simple as it sounds–is a revolutionary way of thinking, a decision to turn our backs on the lies that keep us harboring bitterness and face the truth: that we are meant to live with joy.
Jen Bell is a southern girl at heart, having spent her childhood in a quiet town in Oklahoma where all that matters is the Friday night lights. She is married to Brad Bell who pastors at the Well Community Church. They have two daughters who could be called “Night” and “Day” (in no particular order) and bring them great joy even though one is on the brink of the teenage years. She has a passion for discipleship and going back to the “ancient paths” and hopes to be a woman who speaks the truth in love for the glory of God. She and her husband converted their suburban backyard into a mini farm complete with grapevines and chickens, therefore much of their free time is spent tending and cultivating the growing things.
Scripture memory, to put it candidly, is a matter of discipline, choice, and perseverance. Our minds will be full of SOMEthing. What is that something going to be for you? Lady Gaga lyrics? Sports stats? Maybe even a tad more concerning, all the names and info involving the latest bachelors or bachelorettes…?
As I have pursued the idea of what it means to be a follower in the simplest sense of the word, it has meant saying to my Leader, “not my will, but yours,” while wholeheartedly entering into His direction for my life.I am admonishing each of us to look to our Leader for the unique agenda He has planned for each of us and to sink in to it completely, not looking to the left or to the right. As we run our race, may we also encourage others in their journey and seek to edify each person as ENOUGH.
I just wonder, what will it take for us to see humanity through His eyes?
When will we rush to love the broken, to cherish the needy, to be inspired to serve not because it’s the “now” thing, and not because of guilt or obligation, but because of a soul-level desire to serve God in a tangible, life-altering way.
Are you longing for any of the above? Do you honestly believe in the secrecy of your own heart that any of these things will finally bring you the absolute peace or joy you have been longing for? There is something that keeps occurring to me time and time again: it is the simple fact that we are not home yet.
I am typically a non-fiction kind of girl. However, on vacation I’m always jonesing for the latest mindless fiction phenom. One summer, after a little research, I downloaded the bestselling and highly acclaimed book, “50 Shades of Grey”. Very early in the book I began to realize that this was basically pornography in written form.
I am forever and always beyond grateful for GRACE. How does the old acronym go? God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. If we really sit and chew on grace for a moment, it gets more and more sacred, and it begins to seep into our consciousness and lift us up toward gratitude. In gratitude we find the precious motivation needed to live a life worthy of the call we have received. If I do what I do because I LOVE Him and want to please Him and represent Him well, then I am not motivated by guilt and obligation. Freedom.
Every once in a while a book comes across your path that is powerful and life-changing. A book that makes you think and ponder and pause, and compels you to act. Sometimes it might even influence the paradigm from which you view life. I was exposed to such a book over 20 years ago.
As a new believer I had read many of Elisabeth Elliot’s books and once, even had the chance to meet her. When asked which book had most influenced her, she immediately said, “any book by Amy Carmichael”. Ms. Elliot felt she had been mentored by Amy Carmichael through her writings. I set about trying to collect these books, and in the process found the tiny yet priceless treasure of If. The tag line asks the profound question, “What do I know of Calvary Love?”
Guilt. It was a constant companion, a joy-stealing robber of freedom and a misguided motivator. Are you familiar with this coy, esteem-ruining culprit? Guilt has followed me around for most of my life. I remember leaving for school in the morning and feeling sad on the bus because I thought my absence made my mother…
What do you think of when you hear the word: abide? My mind goes to the 1800’s and covered wagons in a prairie. I imagine a time when life wasn’t as messy as it is today, and things weren’t so complicated…when it wasn’t uncool to have strong values and a belief system that is founded on Biblical principles.