Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reading List: Radical Gratitude

I confess, when it comes to my relationship with my Lord and Savior, I’ve been thinking about my manners. Thankfulness, specifically.

How often do I praise and thank my Giver of Life? Did I learn those manners my mom taught me — and do I respond to the Spirit with heartfelt graciousness in my friendship with God?

I need good ideas, reminders and inspiration about that. I want gratitude to be my first response, part of my personality and my integrity. I found a book that helps.

In Radical Gratitude, Ellen Vaughn brings me as the reader into the very stories of all-surpassing gratitude. As I read and re-read them, I feel the Holy Spirit burning in my own heart, sparking thankfulness for my own salvation, life and blessings.

The author shares her thankfulness for deliverance from clinical depression. She shares stories of medical healings, and stories of thankfulness through grief. A story from Russia, and from Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp. Perspectives from the famous, and from God’s Word.

Radical Gratitude relays the experience of Martin Jenco, a priest and director of Catholic Relief Services in Beirut, Lebanon, during the mid-1980s. While in Hezbollah captivity, his only possession was a button — yeah, like for your shirt. He used the button as a meditative reminder during his captivity in 1984 and 1985.

But God spoke to Jenco, and convicted him to cling only to Himself, which meant giving up the button. God wanted to show the priest that He was with him always, even when Jenco was stuffed in the trunk of a car.

God, using Vaughn’s book, awakened me more fully to the deep importance of gratitude, too.

“Cultivating a grateful heart is not just an add-on nicety, a civil tip of the hat to God as we steamroll through our day. A posture of purposeful, perpetual thanks to God is absolutely central to Christian character. It gives glory to Him. It is the key defense against Satan’s temptations to despair, distrust, dysfunction. It protects us from sin and self. It is the hallmark of heaven. It does not exist in hell.”
(See page 51, Radical Gratitude)

Read Vaughn’s book for the good habits of grateful people she teaches. Read it for the Scripture examples she embeds.

Read Radical Gratitude to grasp the equal importance of gratitude for the daily gifts, and for the fireworks displays of God’s power.

Just read it.

Discussion Questions
What are you thankful for today?

What events relayed in the Bible touch your heart and spark gratitude in your life?

Is anything/What is getting in the way of radical gratitude in your life?

Are there other Christian books you’ve read about gratitude that you would recommend?

Above photo of Saylorville Lake in central Iowa. Photo by Helene Bergren

©Helene Bergren. All Rights Reserved.

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