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Words That Open Doors

“Sensitive listeners respond to comments with words that convey an interest in hearing more, sentences that open the door to information. Words that open doors transmit two messages:

1. ‘I am interested in whatever you have to say.’
2. ‘I will accept you regardless of what you say.'”

Dr. Larry Crabb, Encouragement: The Unexpected Power of Building Others Up, Chapter 10, “Opportunities for Encouragement” pp. 121-122

Questions for Reflection:
• Which of these two “door opening” messages do you have a harder time offering to others?
• Why? What are the barriers in your heart that block offering others genuine curiosity and love without a self-serving agenda?
• Is there a person that you’ll have contact with this season toward whom it’s particularly difficult to offer this kind of sensitive listening?
• Take some time today to ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the hindrances within you to being a good listener and to give you a fresh vision for the ways that you can love well by listening well.

Active Listening

“People committed to the ministry of encouragement must listen. Rather than thinking through their response while the other speaks, they will be listening. Active listening requires concentrated effort. It notices facial grimaces, slumped shoulders, quiet sighs, lifeless tones of voice, and moist eyes.”

Dr. Larry Crabb, Encouragement: The Unexpected Power of Building Others Up, Chapter 10, “Opportunities for Encouragement” pp. 121

Questions for Reflection:
• What is your biggest struggle with listening well to others? Thinking about what you want to say in response? Feeling the need to “say the right thing” in response? Wanting to correct ideas you disagree with?
• How would that barrier be decreased or removed by the perspective that the Holy Spirit is present with you and already at work in the other person’s life and you can be a companion in what God is doing?

Encouragement Opportunities That Abound

“…People are worth listening to. A cup of water offered to the least of God’s creatures is a noteworthy deed. Our calling and privilege is to involve ourselves in other people’s lives with the purpose of stimulating them to love and good deeds. When our goal is ministry and when we verbally express sensitivity to needs by listening underneath words and responding with door openers, we will begin to recognize the encouragement opportunities that abound whenever Christians assemble together.”

Dr. Larry Crabb, Encouragement: The Unexpected Power of Building Others Up, Chapter 10, “Opportunities for Encouragement” pp. 122-123

Questions for Reflection:
• In the holiday gatherings throughout this season, are you maintaining an awareness of the opportunities you have to love others by listening well?
• What tends to be your own biggest challenge to being present and sensitive to others and to the Holy Spirit?
• Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a vision for what He wants to do through you to provide meaningful encouragement for those with whom you spend time during this holiday season.

Satan’s Masterpiece

“Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum. It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

Dr. Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, Chapter 13, “A Hell of Mercy,” pg. 120

Questions for Reflection:
• What kind of circumstances most tempt you to live in the self-sufficient way described above?
• Why do you think Dr. Crabb describes this kind of life as Satan’s masterpiece?
• In what ways are you being given the opportunity to seek God’s kingdom instead living satisfied with your own?

The Battle Against Soul Disease

“God will one day wage war against every reason for tears, and he will win. But for now he is fighting a different battle that, as it is successfully fought, leaves plenty of reason for tears. Until we go home, we can count on God to lead us into battle against soul disease. That’s the war he is waging today. And that’s the war he wants us to fight along with him.”

Dr. Larry Crabb, Connecting, Chapter 17, “Releasing the Energy” pp. 173

Questions for Reflection:
• In what ways do you see God at work in those around you?
• What would it look like for you to join Him in battling for the souls of those close to you?
• Are there ways in which you see God at work battling for your own heart?
• How is the Spirit inviting you to engage that war within your own soul?
• Is there any way in which you are resisting His work in your soul and hindering your ability to fight on behalf of others?

Who Are We?

“We are capable of knowing God well enough to enjoy Him, all three Persons, more than we enjoy anyone or anything else, and therefore to want nothing greater than to put Jesus on display by how we relate, even in the middle of disappointment, heartache, failure, disease, injustice, or loneliness. Who are we? We are lovers because we’re loved.”

Dr. Larry Crabb, A Different Kind of Happiness, Chapter 15, “Question 3” p.165

Questions for Reflection:
• In response to the above statement regarding what it means for us to bear God’s image, what stirs in you?
• Which part is hardest for you to believe? Why?
• To which can you most easily relate? Why?
• “We are lovers because we’re loved.” Take some time today to allow this truth to shape how you approach God and others.

Larger Story With Larry Crabb

Hello!

Let me make you aware of a new opportunity, I believe a significant one.  There are many other worthwhile ministries designed to further God’s deep work in people’s lives and in the world.  This one, I’m convinced, is unique – one of a kind. And I’m passionate about it. Serving many other purposes, it will serve as the legacy of the thinking and writing and training and counseling I’ve been doing now for 50 years.  My focus has been to better understand how Christian counseling and spiritual direction can be used by God to form us into the people we were designed to be.

Admittedly, no small task.  But good minds – tech, theological, administrative, relational – have combined to present to a world-wide audience what it means to live in the Larger Story of God as we stumble through our smaller stories with its everyday hassles, pleasures, trails, and blessings.  Larger Story believes that when we tag along with what God is up to, we can find joy in the middle of heartache, hope in the middle of despair, faith in the middle of doubt – all through relating well in community.

Big claims, I know.  I think Larger Story delivers.  I’ve never been more excited about a ministry. Check it out here: www.LargerStory.com

Warmly,

Larry Crabb