grace and gratitude

first off...i am not a preacher. believe it or not...i'm not saying i am or pretending to be. recently, i heard a really cool definition of christianity: one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. this pretty much rocked my world when i heard it. it's so...simple? too simple? probably. actually...yes, it is.

i guess i need to mention that i am a Christian. now, before you bail on this blog screaming "Bible thumper," please hear me out. when i say that i am a Christian...i mean i follow Jesus Christ and believe that He died on a cross for me (and you), so that i (and you) can have the amazing gift of eternal life (if we accept it.) i'm not really one to cram the Bible down people's throats, or take Bible tracts to wal-mart and leave them next to the toilet to give someone that's going to hell a good read while they try not to think of the fact that they're sitting on a wal-mart toilet (it's awful, right? i know.) anyway, up until just recently (it's embarassing actually) i was stuck in some idea that flowed through my mind/heart that said that it was enough for me to accept Christ and just live life "the way i'm suppose to" and everything will be cool in the long run (meaning: i'll get into heaven and someday i'd be able to go out for an easy three with Jesus.)

my wife (emily) and i are reading an amazing book called "radical" by a pastor named david platt. in a nutshell...he basically calls us all out on making the Gospel into what we want it to be. it's about taking it back to the basics...the way the Bible is meant to be. it's all about challenging us to feel/hear/speak/want the Gospel according to Jesus. so, one could imagine after diving into this book i've been wanting to be a bit more "radical" with my spirituality. i know it's cheesy, but i believe this book is really awesome!

yesterday in a sermon the pastor was preaching on gratitude. i mean, come one, the first verse he opened with was Ephesians 5:20 which says, "and give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." are you guessing which word was underlined? it wasn't 'thanks' was actually the word 'everything.' easier said than done, right? being thankful for everything? the good and the bad? i thought the bad was from the devil...why would i want to thank that jerk?

the final little thing the pastor told us to write down sealed the deal for me. he said, "when grace flows in, gratitude fills up, and generosity flows out." this right here sums it all up. for me anyway, it means, Jesus dying on a cross for me was a true depiction of grace, then if i work on my gratitude filling up, more generosity will flow out of me. if i "think about my thanks" then i start to gain a new perspective on filled with gratitude for everything...not just the things i think i should be grateful for. see how it's starting to connect with the book emily and i reading? yeah...crazy stuff!

the challenge for me is to be consistent with my gratitude so that it continues to fill up so much i am overflowing with generosity...which will hopefully bring people to Christ. sure, yesterday and most of today it was easy for me to be grateful...but what's going to happen on thursday when i'm tired and have forgotten some of the sermon? am i going to let my perspective change back? i pray that it won't.

"this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
-Psalm 118:24 (niv)