Exercise in Gratitude

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On Sunday, we discovered the way to avoid selling our inheritance for a bowl of soup is to “be thankful” (Hebrews 12:28).

I gave you several questions to help guide us towards thanksgiving.  We went through them fairly quickly so I am posting them on the blog so you can take time to reflect again.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I did the list exactly the same in every service so it may look slightly different from your notes.

Questions to help us appreciate God:

  1. How did God come find you?  How did he pursue and rescue you?
  2. Where would you be if God hadn’t rescued you?  What would your life look like without the Spirit?
  3. What are the things since you became a Christian that God has forgiven you for?
  4. What are the current blessings in your life?
  5. Who are other people in your life that you have seen God rescue and transform?
  6. How has God been with you, especially in suffering?
  7. How has God healed you – physically, spiritually and/or emotionally?
  8. How have your experienced the discipline of God?
  9. What are the ways that God has blessed you through your involvement at Calvary or other churches?
  10. What are specific prayers that God has answered?
  11. What are the things you are most looking forward to in God’s kingdom?

Thankfulness and gratitude help us keep our eyes on Jesus, which is the theme of the song A Mighty Fortress, that we sang at the beginning of the service.  Here it is again to encourage you on your journey of gratitude this week.

Blessings,

Jim

Wrestling with Desire

As Christians, we often picture desire as a vice — a seductive, fleshly, sinful part of us that is attempting to tear us away from God’s authentic plan for our lives.

Then we read verses that say, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If a good God is granting faithful children the longings of their heart, can the desires really be wrong?

UnknownIn her book, Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith,” author Jen Pollock Michel writes a practical theology of biblical desire. Deeply rooted in scripture, as well as rich in examples from literature and modern life, the beautifully written book is loosely structured around the Lord’s Prayer.

Michel travels through the prayer that the Lord taught his disciples to pray, and guides our understanding that while desire can be corrupted, it is “good, right and necessary. It is a force of movement in our lives…. Growing into maturity doesn’t mean abandoning our desires, but growing in discernment of them.”

One chapter I really appreciated is “Be My Neighbor,” a chapter on community, specifically community found in the church. Many Christian books disregard the importance of the church in spiritual growth, but Michel argues for the “mysterious, unparalleled holy energy when believers gather together for church” even when it is messy and even when we are hurt.   Jim and I deeply believe in the power of church, which is helpful when you are pastoring in a local body, but this chapter still served as an encouragement.

Teach Me to Want would be an excellent book to read with your community. Each chapter ends with reflection questions, and there are additional discussion questions at the end of the book.

We had the opportunity to get to know Jen and her family this past summer, and she is as authentic, engaging and lovely as her writing.  I am not the only one to commend this book. The book was selected by Christianity Today as the best book of 2015 in the “Christian Living” category, as well as the magazine’s overall pick for the best book of the year.

All is well,

Lisa