discipline

Nouwen on Gratitude

Have you thought about the difference between "giving thanks" and "being thankful"? Today's Worship Quote of the Week directs our thoughts to the spiritual attitude of gratitude. The author, Henri Nouwen, writes about the prodigal son's older brother.

GRATITUDE
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.

Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices of forgiveness and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.

There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: "You are with me always, and all I have is yours."

- Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, Image Books/Doubleday, 1994.


CHIP'S THOUGHTS

Dear Lord, thank you again for your steady and lavish (prodigal) love. Protect me from a spirit of resentment, and nurture in me a deep sense of gratitude for all that is mine because of my relationship with you. Amen!

Have a great week!


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Foster on Worship and Discipline

This Worship Quote of the Week is from Richard Foster's The Celebration of Discipline.

TO WORSHIP IS TO CHANGE
Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Resentments cannot be held with the same tenacity when we enter his gracious light. As Jesus says, we need to leave our gift at the altar and go set the matter straight (Matthew 5:23, 24). In worship, an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary, an increased compassion grows in the soul. To worship is to change.

- Foster, Richard J. The Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco, CA: Harper One, 1988, 173.


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Boa on the Practice of Prayer

This week the WQOTW deals with personal, not corporate, worship and is taken from the Introduction to Kenneth Boa's Handbook for Prayer: Praying Scripture Back to God, (Trinity House Publishers, 1993).

THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER
Spiritual growth is impossible apart from the practice of prayer. Just as the key to enhanced relationships with other people is time spent in communication, so the key to a growing relationship with the personal God of heaven and earth is time invested in speaking to Him in prayer and listening to His voice in Scripture.

As central as these twin disciplines of prayer and Scripture are to our spiritual life, most believers in Christ are frustrated by hit-or-miss approaches to both. As a result, their time in prayer and the word can become unsatisfying, routine, and even boring. It is no surprise, then, that most people spend a minimal amount of time in either of these disciplines and fail to develop intimacy with the One for whom they were created. The problem with prayer is heightened by the fact that people often succumb either to the extreme of all form and no freedom, or the opposite extreme of all freedom and no form. The first extreme leads to a rote or impersonal approach to prayer, while the second produces an unbalanced and undisciplined prayer life that can degenerate into a litany of one 'gimme' after another.


To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.