Sunday, May 31, 2020

Blessed Are Those Who Wage Peace

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(Pentecost Sunday at Redeemer)

A friend called me today. They said, "There's this guy on Facebook, who is supposed to be a follower of Jesus. He's  advocating throwing bombs at the police. It upset me to read this."

My response was: The bomb-throwing Jesus-lover is wrong. So was the police office who killed George Floyd. So are the terrorists who are destroying the livelihoods of others. Jesus said we are to love even our enemies, not annihilate them. And, by the way, Martin Luther King didn't advocate physical retaliation against people. See King's strategy in his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail." 

Any fool can wage war. Followers of Jesus are called to wage peace. 

As a pastor, I have found wars and rumors of wars in  marriages, families, churches, communities, and nations. A Jesus-following peacemaker has a full-time job. Waging peace never stops this side of the Age to Come!

I know some people who wage peace. They bless and inspire me. They say things like, 

"Come, let us reason together."

They grieve over injustice. They refuse to fight injustice with more injustice. These are the ones upon whom the Lord pours out his blessing.  

Blessed are those who put things together, 
rather than tear things apart.

Blessed are those who, more than loving peace, 
make peace.

Blessed are those who stay when the going gets tough,
rather than leave because the going is tough.

Blessed are those who go to the other person,
rather than tell others about the other person.

Blessed are those who deal lovingly with their anger,
rather than sleep on their anger.

Blessed are the problem-solvers,
rather than the complainers.

Blessed are the understanders,
rather than the judgers.

Blessed are the participants,
rather than the observers.

Blessed are the doers,
rather than the talkers.

Blessed are those who wage peace,
not war.

My two books are:

I'm now working on...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Spiritual Formation Bibliography

These are books related to my studies in Presence-Driven Leadership, Formation into Christlikeness, and Discerning God's Voice, with emphasis on African American Spirituality.

Spiritual Formation Bibliography
Arnold, Eberhard. Inner Land: A Guide Into the Heart and Soul of the Bible (Rifton, N.Y: Plough Publishing House, 1976). A classic in Anabaptist spirituality.
Barton, Ruth Haley

Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of ministry
- Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
-      -Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups
Beilby, James K., and Eddy, Paul Rhodes. Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views. Arguably, this is the book to read on the current state of spiritual warfare studies.
Black, Gary. Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life. A beautiful, inspiring book I could not put down.
Blackaby, Henry T., and King, Claude V. Experiencing God. An excellent, clearly written text that is especially good for church study.
Boyd, Greg. Satan and the Problem of EvilConstructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy
(IVP: 2001). An excellent study on the kingdom of God, esp. on spiritual battle and the kingdom of Satan. A coherent Christian response to the philosophical problem of evil.
Boyd. Present Perfect: Finding God In the Now. (Zondervan: 2010) This is an excellent, clearly written little book that contains some deep spiritual insights that are not found in other spirituality texts. Greg’s meditation on “death” is worth the price of the book.
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. The Practice of the Presence of God (Garden City: Image, 1977). A spiritual classic by a 17th-century monk that is still relevant today, and is especially good at knowing God in the everyday, mundane tasks of life.
Buechner, Frederick. Godric (New York: Harper and Row, 1980). A beautiful novel, spiritually deep and uplifting. The character of Godric reminds me of Thomas Merton.
Campolo, Tony, and Darling, Mary Albert. The God of Intimacy and Action: Reconnecting Ancient Spiritual Practices, Evangelism, and Justice. Nicely puts together the spiritual disciplines and social activism.
Collins, Kenneth J. Exploring Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Reader (Baker Book House: 2000). An excellent one-volume text.
Cone, James. The Cross and the Lynching Tree.
Costen, Melva Wilson. African American Christian Worship.
Dawn, Marva. Unfettered Hope: A Call to Faithful Living In An Affluent Society (Presbyterian Publishing Corporation: 2003). This is a deep, profound study allowing us to see our materialistic world and our spiritual place in it through God’s eyes.
Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson. The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call

Davis, John Jefferson. Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence
Deere, Jack. Surprised By the Voice of God: How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams, and Visions (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996). A very good, clearly written biblical and historical presentation of how one hears God speaking to them.
Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (Harper and Row). This makes my personal top ten ever-read list. A beautiful meditation of the creation, especially its microscopic aspects.
Fee, Gordon. God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1994). This massive text is, arguably, the definitive statement of the apostle Paul’s spirituality. A detailed study of every Pauline reference to the Holy Spirit.
Fee. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987). Superb, meditative, scholarly commentary on what it means to be pneumatikos (“spiritual”).
Felder, Cain Hope. Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation. (Augsburg: 1991) This edited collection does an excellent job distinguishing the Eurocentric bias in biblical hermeneutics from an African American perspective which gives place to the now-experiential reality of God’s Spirit speaking to us through the written text.
Fitch, David.  Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines that Shape the Church for Mission.
Foster, Richard. A Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco: Harper and Row). The modern classic on the spiritual disciplines. If you have not yet read this it should be one of your choices.
Fitch, David. 
Foster. Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (Harper and Row: 1992). Examines several different types of prayer that are both biblically and historically Christian.
Foster. Life With God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. (HarperOne: 2010)
Foster. Longing for God: Seven Paths of Spiritual Devotion. (Intervarsity Press: 2009)
Foster, and Griffin, Emilie. Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines (Harper and Row: Feb. 2000). A very good collection representing the great Christian types of spirituality.
Foster. Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith (Harper and Row: 1998). On the following traditions: contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice, evangelical, and incarnational.
Grenz, Stanley. Prayer: The Cry for the Kingdom. One of our great theologians positions praying within the context of the kingdom of God.
Gutierrez, Gustavo. We Drink From Our Own Wells: The Spiritual Journey of a People (Maryknoll: Orbis, 1988). Excellent, especially in its emphasis on corporate spirituality.
Hernandez, Will. Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension.
Holmes, Urban T. Spirituality for Ministry. Still one of the best books on this subject.
Jones, Cheslyn, et. al., eds. The Study of Spirituality (New York: Oxford, 1986). A very good one-volume source on the history of Christian spirituality.
Keener, Craig. Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in the Light of Pentecost.
Keener. The Mind of the Spirit: Paul's Approach to Transformed Thinking
Kelleman, Robert, and Edwards, Karole A. Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction. (Baker: 2007)
Kelly, Thomas. A Testament Of Devotion (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1941). This brilliant, provocative little text makes my top ten ever-read books on Christian spirituality. A modern classic.
Kraft, Charles. Christianity With Power: Your Worldview and Understanding of the Supernatural (Ann Arbor, Mi.: Servant, 1989). A brilliant study in paradigm theology by an anthropologist and missiologist at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Kruger, C. Baxter. The Great Dance: The Christian Vision Revisited.
Ladd, George. The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Eerdmans: 1959). A classic, still-used examination of the kingdom of God as both present and future. Schoalrly, but it often reads devotionally.
Leech, Kenneth. Experiencing God: Theology As Spirituality (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985). An excellent historical study, from biblical times to the present, of the experience of God.
Leech. Soul Friend: The Practice of Christian Spirituality (New York: Harper and Row, 1980). The best book available on spiritual direction.
Leech. True Prayer: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980).
Lovelace, Richard. Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1979).
Lovelace. Renewal As a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1985).
Manning, Brennan. The Ragamuffin Gospel. A beautiful, very thoughtful meditation on the grace of God.
Manning, Abba’s Child. This book spoke deeply to me about my need for experiential knowledge of the love of God.
Manning, The Importance of Being Foolish: How to Think Like Jesus. Very good as it gets at the real Jesus.
May, Gerald. Addiction and Grace (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1991). An excellent, clearly written book with an especially helpful section on addiction to control.
May. Care of Mind, Care of Spirit: A Psychiatrist Explores Spiritual Direction (New York: Harper and Row, 1992). A very good text on the nature of spiritual direction.
May. Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology (Harper and Row: 1987). An excellent text, especially on May's distinction between willfulness and willingness.
Mbiti, John. African Religions and Philosophy.
Mbiti. Introduction to African Religion.
McGinn, Bernard. The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism. McGinn is arguably our greatest scholar on the nature of Christian mysticism. This is the text to read on mysticism in the early church father, and in the West.
McKnight, Scot; Tickle, Phyllis. Fasting: The Ancient Practices.
McKnight. Pastor Paul: Nurturing a Culture of Christoformity In the Church.
McLaren, Brian. The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (Thomas Nelson: 2007). I loved this book about the kingdom of God.
Merton, Thomas. The Inner Experience: Notes On Contemplation (Harper: 2003). This is Merton’s final book. Few write about contemplation as well as he does.
Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation (New York: New Directions, 1961). Merton at his best.
Merton. No Man Is an Island (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983). Contains the classic chapter, “Being and Doing.”
Merton. Praying the Psalms
Merton. Seeds (Shambala: 2002). A killer collection of Merton quotes. A tremendous introduction to the depth, wisdom, and discernment of Thomas Merton. Prophetic.
Merton. The Sign of Jonas (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981). One of Merton’s journals, containing many spiritual gems,
Miller, J. Keith. A Hunger for Healing: The Twelve Steps as a Classic Model for Christian Spiritual Growth (New York: Harper and Row, 1991).
Miller. Hope In the Fast Lane: A New Look at Faith in a Compulsive World (New York: Harper and Row, 1987). An excellent text on overcoming sin in one’s life. Especially good on identifying the deep source of stress and overcoming stress.
Miller. The Secret Life of the Soul (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1997). About the vulnerability needed for the transformation of the soul.
Muse, J. Stephen, ed. Beside Still Waters: Resources for Shepherds in the Marketplace (Smyth and Helwys: 2000). An excellent text that uses Psalm 23 to speak to Christian leaders regarding spiritual issues. Very good on our need to care for ourselves physically.
Mulholland, Robert. Shaped By the Word: The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation (Nashville: Upper Room Press, 1985). An excellent book on how the Bible interprets us.
Nelson, Alan. Broken In the Right Place: How God Tames the Soul (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1994). A very good book on how spiritual brokenness effects personal transformation.
Nouwen, Henri. A Cry for Mercy: Prayers From the Genesee (Garden City, New York: Image, 1981). A beautiful book of prayers expressing our heart’s fears, struggles, and longings.
Nouwen. Behold the Beauty of the Lord: Praying with Icons (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1987).
Nouwen. Discernment: Reading the Signs of Everyday Life. 
Nouwen. Gracias! A Latin American Journal (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983). One of Nouwen’s spiritual journals.
Nouwen. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (Harper and Row). A brilliant little book, among the best I have ever read on pastoral leadership.
Nouwen. Lifesigns: Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective (New York: Image, 1986).
Nouwen. Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life (New York: Harper and Row, 1981).
Nouwen. Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Spiritual Life (Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1980).
Nouwen. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life (Garden City, New York: Image, 1976). An excellent text; a modern classic. On solitude, hospitality, and prayer.
Nouwen. Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith.
Nouwen. Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit.
Nouwen. The Genesee Diary: Report From A Trappist Monastery (Garden City, New York: Image, 1976). This book makes my top ten ever-read list in terms of spiritual impact. An excellent example of journaling that is of spiritual value.
Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love (Image Books: 1999). I find it hard to express how much God used a slow, meditative reading of this book to effect changes in my life.
Nouwen. The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in Memory of Jesus Christ (New York: Harper and Row). A tremendous book for pastors and Christian leaders.
Nouwen. The Only Necessary Thing: Living a Prayerful Life.
Nouwen. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (New York: Image, 1992). Simply put, one of Nouwen’s best and one of my very favorites.
Nouwen, and Dear, John. The Road to Peace: Writings on Peace and Justice. This is a spectacular book to read devotionally, with Nouwen's deep insights clarifying real Jesus-following and the blessedness of peacemaking.
Nouwen. The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine, 1981). A beautiful, meditative little book on solitude, silence, and prayer.
Paris, Peter. The Spirituality of African Peoples.
Payne, Leanne. Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God’s Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991). A very good, well-written text on what it means to hear God’s voice.
Peterson, Eugene. As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God

Peterson. The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction (Dallas: Word, 1989). I have read this book two or three times. It always reminds me of my priorities in pastoral ministry.
Peterson. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology. The first of five books in Peterson’s summary of his spiritual theology.

Piippo, John. Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Piippo. Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Porter, Steven. Until Christ Is Formed in You; Dallas Willard and Spiritual Formation.
Quinn, Robert. Deep Change (Jossey-Bass: 1996). A very good book, written from a leadership-business perspective, on the inner transformation required to lead effectively.
Renovare, et. al. The Life with God Bible NRSV. The spiritual exercises are woven into this study Bible.
Seamands, Stephen. Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service

Senn, Frank, ed. Protestant Spiritual Traditions (New York: Paulist, 1986). Various authors writing from the following perspectives: Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Puritan, Pietist, and Methodist.
Sittser, Jerry. A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. Perhaps the best book on a spirituality of grieving ever written, by a deep thinker and excellent writer.
Sittser. A Grace revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life. The follow-up to A Grace Disguised.
Smedes, Lewis. Shame and Grace. (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1994). For me, a beautiful book on overcoming self-condemnation by a deeper understanding and experience of the grace of God.
St. Teresa of Avila. Interior Castle. (Image Books: 1972) A spiritual classic.
Thomas, Gary. Sacred Pathways (Zondervan: 2000). Very good on showing different spiritual styles and various ways persons experience God (the naturalist, sensate, traditionalist, ascetic, activist, caregiver, enthusiast, contemplative, and intellectual).
Thurman, Howard. For the Inward Journey: The Writings of Howard Thurman (Harcourt Brace: 1984). An excellent anthology of Thurman’s spiritual writings.
Thurman. Jesus and the Disinherited (Beacon: 1996). If you’re going to read one book by Thurman this is the one to read. He is brilliant, insightful, and extremely relevant for even today. There s a timelessness about Thurman’s writings.
Thurman. Howard Thurman: Essential Writings. (Orbis: 2006) Edited by Luther Smith. Smith is one of our great, if not our greatest, Thurman scholars. His introduction to Thurman’s writing is very helpful.
Thurman. Meditations of the Heart. (Beacon: 1999)
Thurman. With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman.
Van der Kolk, Bessel. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Walters, Kerry (ed.). Rufus Jones: The Essential Writings. Howard Thurman was deeply indebted to the mentoring of the Quaker mystic Rufus Jones.
Weems, Renita. Listening for God: A Minister’s Journey Through Silence and Doubt (Simon and Schuster: 1999). An excellent reflection of the silence of God and intimacy with God.
West, Cornel, and Glaube Jr., Eddie S. African American Religious Thought: An Anthology. (Westminster John Knox: 2003)
Wilbourne, Rankin. Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God
Willard, Dallas. The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (Harper Collins: 1998). What a deep, beautiful book on the kingdom of God.
Willard. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP: 1999)

Willard. Life Without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23

Willard. Living in Christ's Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God

Willard and Gary Black. Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks
Willard. Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Navpress:2002). This excellent book is all about spiritual transformation and is especially helpful in defining biblical terms like “soul,” “heart,” “spirit,” and “body.”
Willard. The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (Harper and Row: 1988). A great book, profound, clearly written. Richard Foster called it “the book of the decade.”
Willard, Gary Moon, Richard Foster, et. al. Eternal Living: Reflections on Dallas Willard's Teaching on Faith and Formation
Wilmore, Gayraud. Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans.
Wimber, John. Power Healing (Harper and Row). An excellent, encouraging text filled with realism and hope.

Hurt People Love People

(911 Museum, Ground Zero, New York City)

This morning in America there are many hurting people. For those who are followers of Jesus, remember that hurting people still love people. 

Hurting people forgive those who hurt them. Right? This is the Real Jesus, who exemplified this on the cross. 

Love forgives others. This is love. This is huge! 

But, in our fallen subhumanity, here's what usually happens: payback. Revenge. Retaliation. Hitting back. "Getting even."

Someone posts something on social media that is hateful towards you. They call you derogatory names. So, you hate them back, calling them even more powerful hate-names. You tell them how stupid they are. And worse.

Here is the twisted logic of our fallen humanity.

1. Someone throws hate language at you.
2. You respond by throwing hate language back at them.

You respond to "power over" by exerting power over them.

You are crucified, therefore you crucify in return.

You are persecuted, therefore you persecute in return.

You are rejected. Therefore, you reject in return.

You wound me. I wound you.

You are hurt. Therefore, you hurt in return. Why? Because hurt people hurt people.

But, in history, there was One who, when he was hurt, loved in return,

when he was despised, understood in return,

when he was rejected, accepted in return,

when he was uninvited, invited in return,

when he was tortured, forgave in return.

When you went astray, he waited for you to return.

Craig Keener writes:  "The law limited revenge to legal retribution in kind—an eye for an eye, for example. By contrast, Jesus goes beyond this by doing away with revenge; one should love the other person more than one’s honor or even basic possessions (5:38–42). The law enjoins love of neighbor; Jesus enjoins love of enemies (5:43–47)." (Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost, p. 213)

My brothers and sisters, you nonbelievers and nones, you Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and Jews, you yellows and browns and blacks and whites: Shall we try loving when we have been hurt, instead of hurting when we have not been loved?

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

Thursday, May 28, 2020


In This Age of Outrage, Jesus-followers Are Kind

Image result for john piippo kindness
(Me and Joe LaRoy in Bangkok)

We need a wave of kindness to roll over all who identify as followers of Jesus. In a recent praying time God told me this would happen. So, I am praying into this. 

Kindness has transforming power. Rudeness deforms people.

As a result, I am studying love, again. The greatest words ever written on love are found in 1 Corinthians 13. There may be no better book to read on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 than
Lewis Smedes' Love Within Limits: A Realist's View of 1 Corinthians 13.

Chapter 2 is "Love is Kind." This is good for me, since in our age of outrage I need to grow the fruit of kindness. (See Ed Stetzer, Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at its Worst) Your outrage does not give you license to to be unkind and unloving.

"Kindness," writes Smedes, "is the will to save; it is God's awesome power channeled into gentle healing. Kindness is love acting on persons." (11)

Love is power. Love is gentle. 

Kindness is one quality of love. Harshness, on the other hand, is sin.

Kindness is power. Kindness moves people. The Word says, Speak the truth in love

God is sending his kindness to combat the outrage. "Kindness," says Smedes, "is enormous strength - more than most of us have, except now and then." (Ib.)

Outrage is enormous weakness. Outrage is nontransformational. Outrage mutates.

"Kindness is the power that moves us to support and heal someone who offers nothing in return. Kindness is the power to move a self-centered ego toward the weak, the ugly, the hurt, and to move that ego to invest itself in personal care with no expectation of reward." (Ib.)

Only a free person can love in such a powerful way. Waves of the Father's love set people free.

When I ask God to "set me free," I am thinking of this kind of thing; viz., freedom to love; freedom to be kind.

To war against outrageous behavior with outrageous behavior only elicits more outrageous behavior. 

I must remember - I am a follower of Jesus, not a reactor to social media hatred.

My three books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

After a break I'll continue writing Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart.

Then: Technology and Spiritual Formation.

Then, the Lord willing, Linda and I will write our book on Relationships.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

(Jax, Josh and Nicole's cat)

Be thankful.

In this stormy season, I find many things to thank God for. I find myself, sometimes unconsciously, whispering "Thank you Jesus" as I move through the day. This is becoming more and more common. It is increasing in me. The pandemic has not changed this.

Thankfulness, from the heart, is pleasing to God. In his pleasure, God adds benefits to our thankfulness. In his beautiful, healing, helpful book Finding Quiet, J. P. Moreland writes:

Here are some of the benefits of the regular practice of gratitude:

 • increased feelings of energy, alertness, enthusiasm, and vigor 
• success in achieving personal goals 
• better coping with stress 
• a sense of closure in traumatic memories 
• bolstered feelings of self-worth and self-confidence
• solidified and secure social relationships 
• generosity and helpfulness 
• prolonging of the enjoyment produced by pleasurable experiences 
• improved cardiac health through increases in vagal tone 
• greater sense of purpose and resilience (pp. 112-113)

A thankful heart produces so many benefits one could think God intended us to live thankfully.

“For everything God created is good, 
and nothing is to be rejected 
if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). 

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving 
and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:2).