I wanted to share a recent talk I gave on our campus. It is on the topic of gratitude.
During the message I offered these three ideas:
- Express gratitude as a discipline and engage in this discipline daily.
- Express gratitude for the small and ordinary things even when facing adversity.
- Express gratitude in tangible ways.
At the end of the talk I share the following quote:
“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” -John Henry Jowett
Neither has anyone else!
But there are many in the Evangelical Christian community who are quite ready to state how wrong Bell is (or is going to be) in his yet-to-be-released book entitled, Love Wins. While I typically don’t write lengthy posts in regards to theological debate, I find this conversation fascinating. I am intrigued by its substance, as well as the manner in which we argue and debate in an online environment.
I spoke on the topic of gratitude yesterday.
I think it’s one thing to be able to say thankful things. It’s a whole new level when one is able to live a thankful life. I’m still working on it.
I came up with a little bit of a homework assignment for those who were present (note…some people show up and some people are truly present). The assignment had two parts with an introduction.
The last couple of days have brought some amazing late afternoon storms. For most of the day it’s been clear and sunny, but around 5:00pm the clouds start showing up. Then there’s a wall of darkness that rolls in with 30-40mph winds and a lot of lightning and thunder.
I was sitting on my back porch when the rain started coming. While most people would run for shelter, I found it very refreshing to be outside in the whole thing. Of course, some would question my sense (my common sense) for being outside with all of that lightning charging up the dusky sky. But it was worth it.
Near the end of the storm I snapped this shot. The sun was setting just below the dark cloud horizon and all of a sudden…the rainbow appeared. Very cool.
I just got home from speaking at the SouthEast Oklahoma Youth Camp. They are a district of churches within the Church of the Nazarene. Camp was held at Camp Bond – a great campground in Tishomingo, OK.
The theme for the camp was Biggest Loser. Yes…the idea was stolen from a fairly popular reality tv show. My initial response to the theme raised two questions:
1. Did they choose the theme and then consider who might best represent the theme in their speaker?
2. Or did they choose me to speak and then think about what theme might best fit for me?
I had some fun (poking fun at myself…some people are afraid of heights – I’m afraid of widths) with the theme and having to speak with the giant biggest loser logo up on the screen every time I got up to speak. The real emphasis on the theme wasn’t on one’s weight, but on one’s ability to let go (LOSE!) all of those things that would get in the way of one’s walk with God.
I had the privilege of speaking at Real Life Church in Nampa this past Sunday. They meet in a Middle School gym and are pastored by a great guy by the name of Dana Hicks.
This is about the fifth time I’ve been invited to share with the people there. They are an encouraging mix of young and old who are authentically walking as a community in their spiritual journeys.
My talk was called: Listening – Must Be Present To Win.
If you’d like to listen to any or all of it, they’ve posted it on their website: Real Life Podcast (4/18/10)
During the talk, I speak about the importance of being fully present in order to fully listen. I think we live in a day where silence is quite scary for some of us. In fact, at one point I say, “In a world of too many words, silence affects people who are no longer affected by sound. Plenty of us who are defended against sound have no defense against silence.”
If you have a chance to listen or download the talk, let me know your thoughts and reactions in the comments.
Every summer, I get the opportunity to speak at two or three Jr High or High School Summer Camps around the country. It is awesome. I love camp. There are so many great things that happen at summer camp.
As a speaker, I tend to tell a lot of stories…that bring a lot of laughter…that make a point…that encourage students to make a decision in their spiritual life. There are typically a couple of key times throughout the week that students will find they want to make some changes – they want to live in a different trajectory.
I am always in awe of students who will do the hard work of looking at their own hearts and recognize they need to change the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that are blocking their own growth. My message is simple – follow Jesus…put your faith and your future in God’s hands.
Not only do I get to share stories, but I get to hear their stories. They talk about pain, about poor decisions, about success, about failure, and about hope. They come to camp where the distractions of an overly busy life are set aside for a few days. As they hear and respond to a simple message – they make some decisions and those decisions count. Sometimes those decisions are considered to be breakthrough moments and sometimes they just happen as a result of quiet contemplation.
Near the end of camp, I always share the following with these wonderful students…