The vision of DOXOLOGY is “To display and declare who God is and what He’s like everywhere we go.”
Let’s encourage each other to live out that vision! What if for the next 10 weeks, we were all intentional about looking for opportunities to display and declare who God is? We are asking each person to commit for 10 weeks to find at least one way each week to BLESS someone who does not know Christ.
If we do this together, this could be “The Summer of 10,000 BLESSings.”
Imagine the cumulative impact of that many blessings right here in Fort Worth! 10,000 blessings might seem like a big goal, but it would only take 1000 of us commiting to a single BLESSing per week. If all of us are intentional with our summer, we might find that 10,000 BLESSings is too small a goal.
Sign up by texting BLESS to 33222
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On that first Christmas morning, in that dingy stable, the King of Kings was born as a helpless baby. John 1:14 (The Message) “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
It’s the entire point of the Christmas story: God with us. From his first newborn cry, Jesus was with common working class shepherds as well as wealthy kings from far off lands. As He grew, He went to the homes of ordinary families like yours and mine, and He spent time with everyone from tax collectors to prostitutes, soldiers, fishermen, business owners and government officials. He knew no strangers.
Jesus loved us—His neighbors—so much that he stepped down from Heaven to be with us on that first Christmas morning. In light of that, don’t you think it would be an appropriate response for us to step off our front porch and go meet a neighbor across the street? If you peeked behind the decorated doors in your neighborhood this Christmas, you would meet…
People like Elizabeth, whose dreams have been on hold. People like Zechariah, convinced nothing will ever change. You’d meet families who persevere in prayer even when it doesn’t seem like God is listening. People like Mary, full of faith and trust—ordinary people who are special because God chose them. People like Joseph, who lay down their rights in the name of righteousness.
You would meet people working hard at hard jobs like the shepherds. And foreigners like the wise men who want to know more about this King born in Bethlehem. You would meet people longing for the gift of unfailing love and faithfulness—people who write GRACE on their gift list and wish for just a glimpse of peace in their little corner of the earth. They are waiting for the glory of God to be revealed. They are searching for a sign that someone sees, someone cares, someone has heard their prayer. They all need something that seems impossible this year.
This is what you can give your neighbor for Christmas: Share your life with others as Christ shared His life with you. To do that, you might have to leave the comfort of your home and step into the neighborhood, just like Jesus did.
Adapted from Amy Lively: an author and speaker living in Buena Vista, CO. Check out her book and her blog at howtoloveyourneighbor.com
And don’t forget to invite a neighbor to join you for our Christmas Eve services! One of the ways you can do this is to go to doxology.church/christmaseve and download one of the pre-made invite graphics and share them on your social media page.”
The Art of Listening
You have likely heard someone make the distinction between hearing and listening. The New York Times did an article about this difference and pointed out that unlike all of our other senses, hearing is something that never stops. Unlike our sight, which shuts off while we sleep, we continue to hear. And yet, the article points out that we are a society that is dangerously close to losing the art of listening as a result of digital distraction and the never ending supply of information. So what’s the difference between people who hear and those people who truly listen?
It’s not a super power. It’s not something for which we can claim we don’t have the gift. The difference between hearing and listening is simply paying attention. The problem is that through habit, we train ourselves to tune out certain sounds from others. And if you are like me, you might have to confess that when it comes to listening to my neighbors, both in what they say and what I see, I’m not as attentive as I know God wants me to be. For many of us this habit of listening starts simply with being aware, of intentionally seeking out conversations and relationship with our neighbors, of being observant of both what they are saying and what they are communicating nonverbally. There is something truly powerful about giving the gift of our attention. David Oxberg says it this way, “Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”
Asking good questions
When we have opportunities for conversation with our neighbors, we often ask superficial questions. Instead we could think about open-ended questions that can lead to more meaningful conversations. Some of my favorites are “What’s your story?” “What kind of things do you do for fun?” “What’s your spiritual background?” We have added some others below. Asking good questions can lead to knowing people better and figuring out how to love and serve them well.
Good listening is a habit we all can practice this week! And so here’s my challenge for each of us this week, to pray this prayer, “God, help me to attentively listen for the needs and interruptions of those around me. And graciously invest by asking questions.”
Sample questions for getting to know your neighbors
1. How would you define success in life? Why do you define it that way?
2. What kinds of things do you do for fun? When is the last time you did that?
3. Tell me more about your story –what is your background?
4. Tell me about your major in college. Why did you choose to study that?
5. Tell me about your family. How do you stay connected with them?
6. What is the most interesting spiritual experience you’ve ever had?
7. Did you grow up in a particular religion? Are you still connected to that faith? (If the answer is no, ask) What changed for you?
8. What has been your experience with the church/Christianity?
What are your favorite questions for starting a conversation?
It’s true that when Jesus commands us to love our neighbor in Luke 10, He defines neighbor as “anyone near you who needs you.” But you and I pass a whole lot of “anyones” every single day and many of them have needs. Since we can’t meet all their needs, most of us meet none of their needs. Especially when the people around us don’t seem to have obvious needs like the unconscious guy laying by the side of the road in the Good Samaritan story. Dave Runyon, says it this way, “When we aim for everything, we hit nothing.”
If we’re not careful, we turn Jesus’ command into a philosophy that sounds good, but that we have absolutely zero intention (or ability) of actually obeying… the exact opposite of the attitude Jesus was arguing for in telling the Good Samaritan story.
Maybe we need a baby step. Enter the Block Map.
We learned about this from Dave Runyon (if you’re interested in neighboring, his book “The Art of Neighboring” is the absolute best place we know of to start).
It’s awfully hard to love someone if you don’t know their name, so begin there. Think about the 8 actual neighbors who live closest to you and make it your goal to write down all their names on your block map. That may mean an awkward “Hey, we’ve been living here 12 years and haven’t ever met” conversation, but that’s okay. If you think about it, a situation like that is awkward whether you name it or not!
As you go along, you can add relevant information about their family, occupations, hometowns, or hobbies that may help you keep from asking the same small-talk questions over and over. Post the map somewhere obvious so you see it and remember who you can pray for and who you need to meet.
Most people, when they start, can only name every person in one or two of the eight neighboring houses. The first time we did this as a church around 5 years ago less than 1% of our congregation could name 4 of the 8. Today, after quizzing ourselves and challenging ourselves every few months, a significant majority of us know the names of all the people living near us.
That doesn’t mean we’re anywhere close to being perfect at loving our neighbors, but at least now if one of the people who actually live near us needs us, we’ll be able to call them by their first name. And when we read Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, our neighbor has a name and a face.