Dear Reader of the New Earth Community E-mail Broadcast Around The World,
This e-mail broadcast is about gratitude when 'Gratitude Gets Radical' and the 'Power of 'Thanks'. I apologise to those readers who share a different spirituality to my own but this very powerful .... it applies to all spiritualities. When 'Gratitude Gets Radical' .... a sustainable life is being expressed. In Australia on the 14th of May, we have National Thanksgiving Day whereby we thank God for our lives and we thank each other. See www.thanksgiving.org.au and the Governor General's 2005 Statement . The article today comes from Charles Colson 's Breakpoint Article at http://www.breakpoint.org/site_hmpg.asp
______________________________When Gratitude Gets Radical ..... The Power of 'Thanks'
May 17, 2005
The notion of gratitude is hot these days. Search the Internet, and you'll find more than a million sites about thankfulness.
For example, university psychologists recently conducted a research project on gratitude and thanksgiving. They divided participants into three groups. People in the first group practiced daily exercises like writing in a gratitude journal. They reported higher levels of alertness, determination, optimism, energy, and less depression and stress than the control group. Unsurprisingly, they were also a lot happier than the participants who were told to keep an account of all the bad things that happened each day.
One of the psychologists concluded that though a practice of gratitude is a key to most religions, its benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or no faith. He suggested that anyone can increase his sense of well-being just from counting his blessings.
As my colleague Ellen Vaughn writes in her new book, Radical Gratitude, no one is going to disagree that gratitude is a virtue. But, Ellen says, counting our blessings and conjuring an attitude of to-whom-it-may-concern gratitude, Pollyanna-style is not enough.
What do we do when cancer strikes-I have two children battling it right now-or when loved ones die, when we find ourselves in the midst of brokenness and real suffering? That, she says, is where gratitude gets radical.While they often mingle together in the life of a follower of Christ, there are actually two types of thankfulness. One is secondary, the other primary.
The secondary sort is thankfulness for blessings received. Life, health, home, family, freedom, a tall, cold lemonade on a summer day-it's a mindset of active appreciation for all good gifts.
The great preacher and once president of
, Jonathan Edwards, called thanks for such blessings "natural gratitude." It's a good thing, but this gratitude doesn't come naturally-if at all-when things go badly. It can't buoy us in difficult times. Nor, by itself, does it truly please God. And, to paraphrase Jesus, even pagans can give thanks when things are going well. Princeton University
Edwards calls the deeper, primary form of thankfulness "gracious gratitude." It gives thanks not for goods received, but for who God is: for His character-His goodness, love, power, excellencies-regardless of favors received. And it's real evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a person's life.
This gracious gratitude for who God is also goes to the heart of who we are in Christ. It is relational, rather than conditional. Though our world may shatter, we are secure in Him. We can have peace in times of pain. The fount of our joy, the love of the God who made us and saved us, cannot be quenched by any power that exists (Romans -39). People who are filled with such radical gratitude are unstoppable, irrepressible, overflowing with what C. S. Lewis called "the good infection"-the supernatural, refreshing love of God that draws others to Him.
And that, more than any words we might utter, is a powerful witness to our neighbors that God's power is real-and His presence very relevant-even in a world full of brokenness as well as blessings.
I personally am so thankful for a number of things right at the moment:1. The hundreds of people across the world who make this New Earth Community ..... connected by e-mail who often send me little notes of affirmation in response to what I have sent out.2. I am also thankful for the four week holiday Harriet and I had in Italy recently. We had a holiday from the 17th March to the 18th of April where we had:
Week 1 = Trip There: Eight hours to Hong Kong ...... a day in Hong Kong ..... then eleven hours on to Rome. See our overall travel Blog Site at this address
- Week 1 = Sorrento: Train down to Sorrento on the southern part of Italy on the Mediterranean Sea ..... Saw by bus the Amalfi Coast and Ravello, saw Isle of Capri for a day, Pompei for a day and Naples for a day and then had several days looking around Sorrento
- Week 2 = Venice: Walking the streets and canals for a week ..... one of the most beautiful cities in the world from out of the 13th Century .... all of it is like a museum piece ….. but a very impractical city ….. you can lost in it in the blink of an eye ....
- Week 3 = Florence: We stayed in a little town called Empoli about half an hour by train from Florence then went out from there every day to a different location: Florence for 1 1/2 days
- Pisa , Sienna,
- San Gimignano .... see this website
- Cinquere Terre.... see http://cinqueterre1.blogspot.com/
- Week 4 = Rome: We stayed in a small convent on the edge of St. Peters Square. From there we walk downstairs after breakfast to see places: St. Peter’s Square itself, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican Museum (seewww.vatican.va/, The Colosseum + The Palatine plus the Forum Area (First Century), The Catacombs …. One of six around Rome
- Week 4 = Trip Back: Eleven hours to Hong Kong ...... a day in Hong Kong ..... then eight hours on to Brisbane