Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. –1 John 4:7-9

People often ask about my inspirations as a writer. I do read quite a bit, but mostly – for me – it’s about paying attention. Or, as Rebekah put it when asked how she prepares for her Sunday message, “I try to stay awake.” Then sometimes I actually take notes in church. Yes, those little two-inch pencils in the pews turn out to be there for a reason, and I’ve been known to scribble all over my bulletin.

A recent topic was the relationship between gratitude and belief. There’s some good science out there now that confirms some of what we already know, that a grateful spirit is associated with benefits such as lower blood pressure, positive emotions, and general well-being. “But gratitude without purpose,” she said, “is nothing more than a good feeling.”

That’s where belief comes in. It turns out that at its historical heart, the word ‘believe’ carries the root ‘be-love.’ If we use that in context we find ourselves saying, “I belove in God.” “I belove my family.” “I belove my church.”

Love is the activating force that gives purpose to what we are grateful for, love is what turns belief into action. I belove Jesus and find that it is impossible to just sit there in church limited to feeling good, all warm and fuzzy inside with thanks and belief. Love propels – love compels – me to action. Love turns belief into service and purposeful change.

So, thanks to my wife Rebekah for preaching stuff that inspires my writing. Thanks for making good theology such a catalyst for change. Come to think of it, I belove in us. I am grateful and I belove our life together.

Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at