Called to Lose

Matthew 10:39

“…if you lose your life because of Me you’ll find it.”

Mark 8:35

“…if you lose your life because of Me and the Message you’ll save it.”

As Christ followers, it seems we are called to LOSE. And by LOSE, I mean Listen, Observe, Serve, and Encourage.

Listen without thinking. To listen to someone without thinking, without forming your response before they’re finished, without judgement–this is difficult, yet magical. How deeply it honors someone to simply listen to them, for it communicates, “What you have to say is very important, and it’s important because you’re you.”

Observe lovingly. Then we observe someone, mostly through what we see (since touching, tasting, and smelling people can be a bit creepy), through a loving look with the intent to notice what they may be needing right now. Trying to see them as God sees them, lovingly, and even asking God to show us how He sees them and/or what He would like us to see.

Serve out of your observation. I love that the word serve is in the word observe. From the Latin observare, ‘to watch’, from ob-‘towards’+servare, ‘attend to, look at’. Chances are, if you take action serving after you’ve listened to someone without thinking, observed them lovingly, and asked God for insight, you’ll serve them very well and accurately according to their true needs. You don’t want to be the missionary who enthusiastically built a library in a village only to find out after putting the roof on that the literacy rate there was 1%!

Encourage with words. Again, if we listen first, we’ll be better at giving an encouraging word, because it will communicate to that person that we’ve been listening to them. In The Ripple Effect, we’ve always stressed the beautiful command of Hebrews 3:13 to encourage one another every day. Encourage someone today. Just do it. It’s amazing how uplifting an encouraging word can be to someone, and it’s ridiculously simple to perform.

So may we LOSE in life in order that others may find Life.

Going against the kingdom of this world, you might say we’re each called to be a LOSER, a Listening, Observing, Serving, Encouraging Rebel..!

Filling at the Station of Contemplation

CPN5R9 transport / transportation, car, petrol station, BP petrol station, filling station attendant is helping customer during the ref

1 Peter 1:23

You have been born again, not from seed which decays but from seed which does not–through the living and abiding word of God.

Soaking in this verse recently, what shimmered for me was “the living and abiding word of God.”

“Word” here is translated from the Greek logos, a word so pregnant with meaning that some say there are no adequate words in human language to convey its cosmic depth as used in Holy Scripture. But since through this particular medium we’re using written words, let’s throw some together to give us a starting point.

We might say that logos is the creative expression of God, the agent of creation. God created the universe through His word. So, Jesus is the creative expression of God as a human being. Peter says logos here is the Gospel that was announced to you (v.25b). It is living and abiding–active now and always true, never expiring. I don’t believe we will ever completely comprehend the Gospel–God dying for us–in this life. Therefore, it will always do us good to sit and contemplate it, to just take it in and be grateful for this great mystery of love and sacrifice.

Our new life in Christ, our rebirth, is initiated and matured not by any human agency, but by this living and abiding word of the living and eternal God. “It is a means of spiritual life, animating us and exciting us in our duty,” said Matthew Henry in his commentary. It has vital, life-giving power because of who speaks it. “New life operates on the word of the living and eternal God,” said some dude named Bede a long time ago.

So as I was contemplating this phrase, the living and abiding word of God, I was thinking how non-negotiably necessary it is to run on this fuel for the spiritual life–to operate on the word of God, and how we must connect to this Source.

I was given the picture of a filling station (what people use to call gas stations). I wrote down, as I felt directed, in the margin of my Bible, “Filling at the station of contemplation–making a complete stop to do so.”

Your car runs on gasoline, and must be filled regularly. When you go to the filling station, one thing is required for sure in order to fill your car: You must come to a complete stop! I love this metaphor showing us that we too, must regularly come to a complete stop, not only to rest/sleep, but to really be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Typically, also, you turn your car off, which we might compare to turning your brain off. Sometimes we need some time to stop thinking. We tend to think ourselves into insanity, don’t we? After turning the car off, we get out of our car to refuel. When we sit with God and soak in His presence, His word, the Gospel, we needs must get outside of ourselves. Drop our preconceptions, hang-ups, etc. and let the Spirit take us and guide us. To just receive.

When we contemplate, we simply receive. Meditation is chewing on something, and contemplation is just sitting with something, allowing the flow of it to wash over you. Both are great practices, and vital for growth in spiritual life and health.

May we take time daily, even if for a few minutes, to fill up at the station of contemplation, receiving from God Himself, making a complete stop to do so.

Gratefulness is the Key Ingredient to Cultivating Joy

1 John 1:1-4

Our message concerns that which was from the beginning. We have heard it; we have seen it with our own eyes; we have gazed at it and our hands have touched it: the life-giving Word!…We bear witness to what we have seen and heard…so that your joy may be complete.

As we take in this week of celebrating thankfulness, it is a good reminder that gratefulness is the key ingredient to cultivating joy. And “Joy is the gist of the Christian Good News,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a very wise, old Austrian-born Benedictine monk. He goes on to say:

Joy goes beyond happiness. Joy is the happiness that does not depend on what happens. It springs from gratefulness. When we begin to take things for granted, we get sucked into boredom. Boredom is deadly. Yet, everything within us longs for “life, life in fullness” (John 10:10). The key to life in fulness is gratefulness.

So tomorrow, perhaps you can be an instigator of joy cultivation in the midst of food and football, through a little intentionality.

A few Thanksgivings ago, our family tried a simple little exercise I read about in a beautiful book titled Joy Starts Here. After the meal, we sat in the living room, and one by one we shared our appreciation for each another. We started with my wife Ana in the “hot seat”, and we then went around the circle giving each person a chance to share what they appreciated about Ana. Then we moved on to the person to her left, and around until everyone was adequately appreciated. The children participated as well, of course, and everyone was in tears of joy by the time we were finished! I’m getting a little emotional right now just thinking back on it. I highly recommend it! Or at least some practice of intentional gratitude and appreciation such as this. With a little planning, we can make a routine gathering incredibly more meaningful! (I did give everyone a little heads up so that they could be thinking ahead of time on what they appreciated about each person)

And as a bonus, I’ll leave you with this individual practice from Brother David:

Try this: before you open your eyes in the morning, stop and think. Remember that there are millions of blind people in this world. Surely, you will open your eyes more gratefully, even if you’d rather keep them closed a little longer and snooze on. As soon as we stop taking our eyesight for granted, gifts spring into our eyes which we did not even recognize as gifts before. To recognize a gift as gift is the first step towards gratefulness. Since gratefulness is the key to joy, we hold the key to joy, the key to what we most desire, in our own hands….