“This, Too?”

Blessings “The power of gratitude is breathtaking and centering. It is along the lines of nuclear power. It makes our lives richer and fuller and freer. And it is a direct link to the goodness of God, which is an unending source of power and hope and faith.”
~Nancy Ortberg, Looking for God

Too often I think the attitude we have about the way the Lord blesses us goes something like, “Thanks for blessing me with…. but…” or “I’m really glad that You gave me this, or helped me through that, but what I really wanted was…” We pray for things that seem to be a big deal, but completely miss something even bigger when we’re upset that the Lord didn’t answer our specific prayers.

I recently finished reading “Looking for God” by Nancy Ortberg (It’s fantastic, definitely a recommended read!) and the title of her second chapter is “This, Too?” as I read I began to realize that those two simple words need to be precisely how we look at each blessing the Lord places in our lives. I won’t get into explaining the context of how the phrase was used in the chapter, it would take a long time, but it shook me. We should be overwhelmed and overjoyed each time God blesses us. Whether it be something huge and completely life changing, or something as simple as seeing a smiling face when we’re feeling down.

Here’s the thing, if we go through life constantly expecting more and more from God, there WILL be disappointment. There’s a reason you didn’t get that promotion at work, or you didn’t win the lottery, maybe someone else is dating the person you thought you were meant to marry. There’s a good reason, God has something better planned for you! I have to be honest here, I’ve occasionally found myself looking at the blessings of people around me and having thoughts like “Why did the Lord give that to her? She hasn’t even been a Christian as long as I have.” Or “I’ve prayed and obeyed God and waited for what seems like forever for that, why did they get it so easily?” I’m sure it’s not just me that finds myself scolding myself quickly after I let those thoughts dance through my brain.

Can I tell you something? Yours is coming. The Lord doesn’t play favorites, and even if He doesn’t give you exactly what you want or think you absolutely HAVE to have, He still loves you. Bunches and bunches! He has a plan and a purpose for each blessing He places in your life, trust Him and His perfect timing.

From now on, no matter the size or relative importance of each blessing the Lord places in my life, my response is going to be “This, too? Thank you Lord for blessing me more than I deserve!” (And remember, as hard as it may be to accept or admit, most of the time life’s rough patches are blessings in disguise and opportunities to grow spiritually and pull closer to the Lord.)

“So whether we’re looking out of an airplane window, or into the faces of people we encounter everyday, whether we’re on the job or in our kitchens, whether we’re reading a book or paying bills, if we just look, we will see things that cause our hearts to well with gratitude. God created the world, and it reflects His nature. Because of that, we can see Him everywhere. And everywhere we see goodness, we see God. The only thing we have to do is connect the dots.”

~Nancy Ortberg, Looking for God

I am Blessed

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Jesus>Religion by Jefferson Bethke

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“No wonder the world hates us. Most of the time we’re persecuted not because we love Jesus, but because we’re prideful, arrogant jerks who don’t love the real Jesus. We’re often judgmental, hypocritical, and legalistic while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic, and loving.”

~Jefferson Bethke, “Jesus>Religion”

Jeff’s book will definitely make you think. Christian or not, it’s a must read. I pulled so many quotes and excerpts that I thought I might want to expand on, it’s going to be really difficult to choose just a few! I’ll try not to bore you or ramble too much, promise!  I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read through it again and really take some more time to absorb all that it has to offer.

The quote I opened with was the first thought that really hit me hard and made me stop and examine my life. As Christians we need to be sure that our lives are reflecting and representing Jesus, not the religious pharisees that even He wanted nothing to do with. It’s not our job to try to condemn others or judge them for behaviors that we may not agree with, our only job is to love them and show them Jesus through our actions and how we treat those we encounter in everyday life. We need to be transparent and honest with those around us and understand that the only perfect one is Jesus, all the rest of us will make mistakes and our lives will be a mess until the day we die.

Along the same lines as the previous quote, this one shook me as well:

 “The author Brennan Manning famously said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their mouths and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” 

Are we making sure that we’re not only acknowledging and glorifying Jesus with our mouths but with our lifestyles as well? It’s easy to praise Jesus up verbally, but are you living a life that shows others His love and compassion. His grace, forgiveness, truth? Even when your life isn’t going the way you think it should? Is your lifestyle pulling those around you closer to Jesus or pushing them away because you say one thing and do another? Take a minute to look at your own life and ask yourself that question!

We need to continue to glorify God even through the rough times, He doesn’t cause them, but I can assure you He’s going to find a way to use them for your growth and His glory.

“Too many times we curse the rain in our lives—suffering, trials, hardships—but the truth is, without rain nothing grows. Without rain there’s no fruit—just dry, flaky, and nasty leaves. Sometimes suffering is actually God’s blessing rather than God’s curse. It is clear in Scripture that He is not the source of evil, nor did He cause it, but He promises He can use it.”

If everything in life was perfect and always went the way we wanted it or expected it to go, how would we learn to appreciate the good? How would we learn to appreciate the blessings God puts in our lives if there wasn’t any rain or storms to let us see the difference? God uses the storms in our lives to grow us as Christians, as image bearers, and bring us closer to Him and reflect more of His image and light into a broken world.

With that being said, I’ll leave you with this final quote, then you’ll just have to go buy the book yourself for the rest of the good stuff I pulled!

“You want to radically change how you see others? See them as fellow image bearers—broken just like you, but image bearers nonetheless. We love God by loving his people.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! You can buy Jeff’s book at http://www.jesusisgreater.tv ! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Coming soon!

Hello my lovely readers!

Just a short post today. I’ve been chosen to read and review Jefferson Bethke’s new book Jesus > Religion before it releases next month. So, chances are good that if you check back here during the first week of October, I’ll have a post up about it! If you haven’t seen the spoken word that inspired Jeff to write the book, I’ve included the video in this post. Definitely check it out, and be sure to stay with me and watch for the book review in a few weeks! Can’t wait to share it with you guys and gals! It’s going to be a pretty good book, I can already tell!

Mandi