#LoveMonday

you are lovely...

Source: Becca Dean

Have you ever felt discouraged? Like life is tough and there’s little support around? Or perhaps you’ve felt that life is just a bit dull and ‘samey’ sometimes, but it starts to get you down. I’m sure we’ve all be there.

But have you ever been encouraged? I mean actively encouraged. Not just that something has gone well or life is good for a while and it feels good, but that someone has taken the time and effort to speak to you or do something for you to lift your spirit. Have you experienced that? Doesn’t it make a difference?!

There’s a guy in the New Testament called Joseph (a good Biblical name if ever I heard one!) but Jesus’ apostles called him Barnabas which means ‘son of encouragement’ (one who encourages others) after he sold some land and gave them the proceeds to support their work/ministry. He also encouraged the Apostle Paul whilst everyone else was still (rightly) suspicious of him, encouraged the Church in Antioch and stood up for the young disciple John Mark when Paul was critical of him. He’s the kind of guy you’d want to count among your friends; he made a huge difference to the people around him.

How much like Barnabas are you? I wonder if your friends consider you a ‘son/daughter of encouragement’… Why not take the opportunity to encourage a friend, colleague or family member and brighten someone’s day?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.1 Thessalonians 5:11

There’s a small but steady ‘movement’ on Twitter to use Mondays as a specific opportunity to encourage others. It’s called #loveMonday and it works like this. You send an encouraging message (public or private) to three other Twitter users, and invite them to encourage three of their friends/contacts/followers. Don’t forget to include #loveMonday in the message. Simple. Of course, it doesn’t have to just be via Twitter. Feel free to do the same but on Facebook, via email, or even offline (send a postcard, leave a message scrawled on a post-it note, etc.).

Imagine for a minute that I encourage three people, and they each encourage three people, and so on. That’s twelve people encouraged (and we know what Jesus was able to do with just twelve people!). If that continues for another five cycles, that would result in almost three thousand people who have been encouraged (assuming none of the encouragers were then encouraged by the encouragees – are you still with me?!). What a difference that could make!

If you want to join the revolution movement, you know what you have to do: choose three people to encourage, do it and encourage them to do the same.

If that Monday feeling has got to you, you’re feeling a bit grumpy and not in the mood to encourage others (yet!), check out some of the ways that others have been encouraged today and have your faith in humanity restored. Go on – I dare ya!

Hat tips: @martinsaunders, @stevecampion & @beccadean
Image Credit: beccaislearning.com

Life of the Beloved – Henri Nouwen

Life of the Beloved - Henri NouwenToday I started reading Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen for the Worship & Spirituality module at CYM.  I’m half-way through which for me is a record (ok, it’s a short book and fairly big text) and so far I’ve found it really inspiring and challenging.  I’m looking forward to getting my head around it when brain-capacity allows. I don’t have time to write a review just yet but here are a few quotes which struck me:

‘Over the years, I have come to realise that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are a part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection.’

‘Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved”. Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our experience.’

‘What is required is to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life. Becoming the Beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about, and doing from hour to hour.’

‘When our deepest truth is that we are the Beloved and when our greatest joy and peace come from fully claiming that truth, it follows that this has to become visible and tangible in the ways we eat and drink, talk and love, play and work. When the deepest currents of our life no longer have any influence on the waves at the surface, then our vitality will eventually ebb, and we will end up listless and bored even when we are busy.’

‘The movement of God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft – and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically. The faithful discipline of prayer reveals to you that you are the blessed one and gives you the power to bless others.’

‘There is little or no neutral territory between the land of the blessed and the land of the cursed. You have to choose where it is that you want to live, and that choice is one that you have to keep making from moment to moment. […] I must tell you that claiming your own blessedness always leads to a deep desire to bless others.’

‘As the ‘blessed ones’, we can walk through this world and offer blessings. It doesn’t require much effort. It flows naturally from our hearts. When we hear within ourselves the voice calling us by name and blessing us, the darkness no longer distracts us. The voice that calls us the Beloved will give us words to bless others and reveal to them that they are no less bless than we.’

You can purchase the book from the Youth Ministry Bookshelf, along with all the other booksI have found useful from the reading lists throughout my degree.