Thankful Thursdays

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Goodberry!  We pray that you are enjoying this wonderful time of year.  We also wanted to let you know that we are so thankful for the opportunity to serve you.  We feel very blessed today and wanted to share a message with you before we head out to fill ourselves with stuffing.

As Thanksgiving is a designated holiday to extend thanks, a large topic amongst staff here in the office is gratitude.  Gratitude is much more than a simple act; it is a practice and habitual discipline.  It requires a sort of mental re-routing and forging new connections between synapses.  Though gratitude does require work, the benefits are endless.

Perhaps this would be easiest to illustrate with an example.  Last summer I worked with a family who I really admired for a myriad of reasons:  their parenting styles, their servant-leadership, and for the ways they incorporated faith and fun.  Kelly, the mother of this family, is often the genesis of these family habits.  For example, she felt a few years ago that she wanted to personally be more thankful.  She wanted to train herself to not take things for granted and to not only appreciate the gifts around her, but to recognize more things as gifts.  So, Kelly devised a plan.

The first step was digging up a white board and writing “Thankful Thursdays” on the top of it.  Each Thursday morning, before her girls woke up, She would write down something she was thankful for and would leave it in their bedroom.  When the girls woke up, this message of their mother’s gratitude was the first thing they would see.  They were, of course, encouraged to add their own messages to the white board.

Kelly discovered that this habit not only helped her to detect the blessings before her, but it also reflected a spirit of gratitude which radiated amongst her entire family.  It became easier to identify things to be thankful for.  Setting a positive tone for the day also helped to alter the mindset of her family.  When you begin the day thankful for what you have around you, it creates a positive lens which acts as a filter for how you view and perceive things.

Essentially, gratitude is a mechanism for recognizing the Divine presence in our lives; it is a mode of celebration.  Gratitude becomes much more than saying thank you and becomes its own form of giving.  In other words, it perpetuates the cycle.  Think about giving someone a compliment, for example.  Not only does the person receiving the compliment feel acknowledged, but the compliment giver also receives a surge of positivity as well.

Will you join us on this Thankful Thursday?  Start by encouraging those around your dinner table to share what they were most thankful for this year.  Practice gratitude along with us by checking out the following resources:

Gobble up the gratitude, friends!

Daily Deals: What’s the Dealio?

A poem for this fine Wednesday:

The deals of the day are here for you, Check them out, you won’t be blue!
Goodberry gives you the best resources around, Trusted publishers and the best authors to be found,
So read on, and fill up your minds, That’s the delio, so here are the finds!

51lrep5mElL 510P6ck_2BahL 51ikcI1aMLL 41CKGQqrSUL 513H8_2Bmmn9L 4199qGUb-PL

We’ve got 37 deals featured today, to be exact.  Get these and other deals every day at: Goodberry Deals.  And if you’re lucky, more poems. Be sure to sign up for daily deals in your inbox to get the best deals at your fingertips and act while they last!

Wright On

Goodberry lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan – a city home to great community, faith, food, art, and fun.  One of the perks of the area is a tremendous focus on faith and education that is open and accessible to the public.  For example, Calvin Theological Seminary recently partnered with Mars Hill Bible Church to host N.T. Wright for a free public lecture, and thousands of people showed up (Goodberry staff included).

Goodberry currently features nearly 100 N.T. Wright works, so as you might imagine, we were thrilled at the opportunity to learn more.  Wright is the retired Bishop of Durham and currently serves as a Professor at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews in Scotland.  Wright is typically a proponent of traditional views and theology on some topics, but has also produced many controversial works to date.

This particular lecture was entitled “The Big Story.”  The main premise of the lecture was that the Bible, as we have it, is full of different levels of story.  And while it is important that we learn each layer of the story, it is also essential to recall the big picture.  Wright argues that the main theme is the faithfulness of God.  Wright echoed the challenge and charge he believes the resurrection to be – a call for us to recognize and propel the new creation within us.  God is faithful, and instead of focusing on just getting through this nasty world and leaving it (as most Western traditions tend to do), we ought to recognize that God’s Kingdom is here and now.

Wright concluded the lecture with a series of recommendations for how to address the world with the faithful love of Jesus:

  • We need a rediscovery of memory.  This story is not just about “me and Jesus;”  it is about all of creation.
  • We need a rediscovery of imagination.  The arts are the way into the very center of truth.  We need to put up signposts to the future world here and now.
  • We need a rediscovery of nerve to live this story in the postmodern world.
  • We need a re-expression of the personal message within the larger one.

It would be difficult to capture every thought that Wright shared in his hour long lecture.  In fact, many of us who attended shared a need for more time to process – but it was a great platform to build off of.  We’re excited to learn and seek along with you and wish to encourage you to continue seeking and living out God’s purpose for you.

 

Check out the following works by N.T. Wright to learn more along with us:

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, And The Mission Of The Church

After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters

Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision

The Kingdom New Testament

Wright on!

 

God is Grey

The mission of Goodberry is to help Churches be disciples and make disciples.  That’s a pretty large responsibility and undertaking given the vast denominational differences, needs of the church, and varying stances on several issues, but we hope to be a resource that encourages dialogue, presents both sides, and points people toward God.

I believe that one of the things that allows us to do this as an organization is the discipline of questioning.  We’ve found that there can be danger present in saying that being a Christian is black-and-white, or that the Bible always gives us definitive answers to all of the questions and debates we face.  Being a disciple of Christ often calls for radical life change and open-mindedness that allows you to both see God’s truth and experience His love.

So how do we respond when we’re confronted with a question, or have been wondering something ourselves?  Where do we turn to find truth?  It’s easy to ask others, or even just to spout off our own opinions.  Sometimes, pressing the pause button might be necessary.  It might be more God-honoring to go through a mental checklist of sorts:  Are we sure?  Have you checked?  What has time spent in prayer revealed to you?  What information does the context of that particular verse provide you with?  Are you reading the Bible with an open mind, or is your interpretation clouded with your own biases/agenda?  What about those topics that aren’t even discussed in the Bible?  How do we know what to feel or think to that extent?

The circles us back around to the discipline of questioning.  To clarify, questioning doesn’t allude to doubting faith or turning away from God.  Rather, it involves principles outlined in Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  These practices are essential to discovering truth.

This discipline is one that I have personally been living out recently.  The beautifully frustrating and liberating thing that I’ve found in the midst of the questioning is that God is sometimes grey – not black and white. Often times this leads to more questions than answers, but you see, the beauty is in the process; it’s what God intended all along.  In the midst of the process, we are changed.  We have the opportunity to stand next to God and look through His lens.  How astounding is it to realize that God isn’t just somewhere far off in the distance, but that His word is living, alive, and active?  God dwells in and among us.  When we seek Him out, we grow to be less concerned with the answers and more concerned with the heart of God.  Maybe this is what G.K. Chesterton was getting at when he said “the poet only asks to get his head into the heavens.  It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  And it is his head that splits.”

Perhaps it would be easier (and debatably better) if the Bible was an actual comprehensive moral code, or if God answered our prayers with undeniable words carved in immutable stone tablets.  Or, would this actually be worse?  Would eliminating the mystery eliminate part of our relational ability with God?  Would we perhaps be missing out on the beauty, creativity, and artistic nature of the divine?  Remember that Jesus spoke in metaphors.  There are some truths that can only be fully expressed in song (the entire books of Psalms, for example).  The Bible is essentially a puzzle full of parallel, paramount context and culture, and intentionally decorated with poetry.  Jesus was less of a logician and more of an artist, and I would argue that the best pieces of artwork are shaded.

Donald Miller puts it this way:  “black-and-white, either-or thinking polarizes people and stunts progressive thought.”

Maybe it’s time we set our judgments and demands aside.  Maybe it’s time to realize that polarity doesn’t exist with God, because His love (and creation) is present on all points of the spectrum and extends to every corner of the earth.  Will you join us in asking, seeking, and knocking?  Let’s read.  Reread.  Pray.  Double check.  And ultimately, rest in the shaded grey in order that God may fill our hearts.

The Golden Circle for Ministry

Here at Goodberry, it is our mission to help churches make disciples, and we believe that creating a strong local community is a great step to doing so.  We’re excited to announce that we’ll be sponsoring our second Meetup Event here in Grand Rapids!  Please consider joining us for an evening that promises to deliver all you’re after:  philosophy, people, and of course, (free) Panera!  We hope to share best practices for ministry leadership and discuss relevant tools and resources at each Meetup Event.  The topic this round is Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” and it’s application for ministry settings.

You’re Invited: Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at the Goodberry office

Who else will be there?:  Small Group Attendees, Small Group Leaders & Facilitators/Coordinators, Bible Study Leaders/Teachers, Pastors & Church Leaders

Learn more and RSVP at our Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/221939714649985/

 

Christian the Lion remembers

I have learned that “it is very easy to lose focus on eternal, spiritual truths when everything around us pushes us to give all our attention to our immediate, urgent, and often seemingly more interesting circumstances. But when we honor God by focusing our lives on him by serving him to the best of our ability (2 Timothy 2:15), by maintaining love and unity among ourselves (John 17:11), and by standing firm in confidence and hope in him (Hebrews 3:6), we will find that our circumstances will certainly be no less interesting…” (How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams)

And for some reason, ‘Christian the Lion’ came to mind. The image of a Lion after a long time in the wild makes his current circumstance predict him as wild and dangerous; not remembering his past owners. But yet, the outcome says otherwise. He remembers his ‘owners’ and greets them! It is definitely mind boggling.

As the quote from above, we may sometimes “forget” our relationship with our Heavenly Father and “give all our attention to our immediate, urgent and often seemingly more interesting circumstances” but maybe today is a start, a start to remind ourselves of our calling to…

  • Give Him our best (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Maintain unity among yourselves (John 17:11)
  • Offer our whole selves to Him (Romans 12:11)
  • Have firm confidence and hope in Him

Let us remember what our ‘owner’ has done for us and despite our ‘wild’ circumstances, let’s get back into focusing on our relationship with our Heavenly Father.