Fall 2007 CJA Network Featured Article

Count Your Blessings

(By CJA Network Founder David Arivett)

Recently the lyrics to a couple of songs came to my mind: "The best things in life are free" and "count your blessings".  These are two very profound thoughts and I would like to elaborate further on them.

The Beatles sung the lyrics to the first song I mentioned. The song goes on to make the point that although it's been said that "the best things in life are free" -  you can give them to the birds and bees,  I WANT MONEY!!!!  Our culture and its mad emphasis on "consuming mass quantities" creates a tremendous vacuum for the majority of us Americans - Christians included!! Unfortunately, the "American dream" has become grafted in with the presentation of the gospel. The constant bombardment of advertising on TV. and elsewhere helps create an enormous appetite for money and what it can supposedly give us. Our level of expectations is unnecessarily jacked up to an impossibly high level and then Jesus and the Father are thrown in the mix. Many Christians only get on their knees when the bank account is on empty. I can almost picture Jesus and the Father saying to each other, "you know, all they want from us is the car keys"!!!!

Yes, we live in a culture where the pressure is very great to make a living and the stress from doing so can be a major detriment to our spiritual lives. Much unhappiness can result from not being able to make ends meet! Moreover, I must confess that many times in my life I have found that when observing the financial successes of certain musicians this has had a negative effect of making me envious and discontent. Why?  Because I haven't found the monetary rewards that they have obtained, or that I once thought were an automatic guarantee to me and all us Americans - but especially for "us Christian musicians"!

The Psalmist states that, "my feet had well-nigh slipped when I saw the prosperity of the wicked"!! Do the wicked prosper??? According to the Bible they do!!!!!  It has taken me almost a lifetime to discover that regardless of how talented you and I might be, that is no guarantee or ticket to financial success. And accepting Jesus as savior isn't a ticket to financial prosperity either! (contrary to the "prosperity gospel!" ) And the old fairy tale, "I think I can, I think I can" only helps to propagate this myth further. The truth is if you try harder you might prosper -- or you might have a heart attack from the stress!!!!!!

Sometimes it takes a crisis before we come to our senses, maybe a health or financial crisis, a loss of a loved one, ect. before we begin to wake up and smell the coffee. Then it begins to dawn on us just how precious the gift of life is and how much we take for granted. But I really do believe (contrary to the lyrics in the Beatle's song) that the best things in life are free, and to be thankful and savor the days and moments with gladness is of utmost importance. And that serves as an intro/segue into the next song...COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!!

I recently have been working on this old hymn and have arranged it and written charts for it. I have chosen a fast swing (150 bpm) tempo and the song and lyrics have of course played over and over in my mind as I worked on it. I really think that there is no better therapy or prescription for our lives than to follow the admonition of these lyrics to "count our blessings"!! Begin to count the wonderful gifts that are truly free, the breath of life, the gift of family and loved ones, the gift of eyesight, hearing, walking, loving, the gift of music, the gift of learning, the joy of laughter, and the list could go on and on!

I once heard it said that the only way to get out of the valley of depression is to climb the mountain of gratitude! Start counting the incredible blessings that you and I have been given and name them one by one. Once you start doing this you will become victims of radical amazement because you will clearly be able to see all that God has done for us! All monetary rewards pale in comparison with having the breath of life. How can we compare the fleeting momentary financial successes that we might have in this life with all the freebies that our loving Creator has bestowed and lavished upon us????

Even further, how can we begin to compare the gift of playing, creating, and listening to music with any of the things that money can buy us? Living a life that is truly successful is a life that savors and enjoys the bounty of free gifts with a heart of thankfulness. Wanna' talk about something that is priceless??? Counting your blessings is the ticket! And thinking and praying for the countless millions of people, (human beings who are made in God's image) that are starving and suffering untold agonies every day is a humbling reality check for those of us who are blessed and fortunate enough to live in America!

The best things in life are free, count your blessings, and pray and have compassion for the needy. Sounds like the very essence of the teachings of Jesus!

Celebrate today!

David Arivett
CJA Network

 David Arivett is a pianist/composer and founder of the Christian Jazz Artists Network. Other articles by David can be found here!  More information on David Arivett's music, CD's, and other resources can be found here: