Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How Hospitality Built Our House

"No. I want to do this for you," was a phrase we heard often in the year we spent planning and building a house.

Hospitality is simple. It's sharing what you have for the good of others - drink for the thirsty, food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, love for the rejected, and care for the broken. It's opening our hearts and homes to the brother, the sister, and the stranger.

To be Christian is to have been shown hospitality. To be Christian is to practice hospitality. We who've been welcomed into Jesus' home, cannot help but welcome others into ours. At the core of Christian hospitality is our attitude toward our houses, our homes.

We had been blessed to live in a parsonage for 17 years, but knew we needed our own home. It was not as much an investment issue as it was practical. If I retired or could no longer be a pastor, my wife and family would have nowhere to live. For years we looked for a house. Nothing worked.

Today we live in our own home, but that reality was only possible because of the generous hospitality of so many. Contractors worked with little or no profit. God led us to sub-contractors who were believers who wanted to bless us. A men's Sunday School class bought us tools to use. I cannot give you many details because they all asked us not to tell others what they had done. They were not hospitable to us because they wanted recognition. They were hospitable to us because Christ had been to them.

From the land to the final product, our house was built by hospitality. We have been given a great resource that we can now use to practice the same hospitality toward other brothers and strangers. May God never let us forget. May he never let us become selfish with his generosity.

(The picture was our wonderful framing crew, John Pollard and the Hernandez brothers.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Loaner, a Cabin, a Call from the Game Warden and Hospitality

It's hard to define hospitality. It does mean a "warm greeting," in other words a handshake or neck hug. But, when it comes to God's definition, it's beyond the handshake. Here's what I think, Biblically, it is. It's seeing someone with a need, possessing what it takes to meet that need, and then meeting that need with a generous heart. It's all that, because that's what Jesus did for each of us. He saw our need. Had what it took to meet our need. Then He met our need because He loved us. I'm going to spend this week talking about times others have practiced hospitality toward me and my family. Maybe that will help define how I can be hospitable to others.

I was out of state with my son. My wife and daughter totaled a car. A Christian friend in that town showed up at the wreck sight, helped them through the process, made sure they were ok, and then gave them a spare car he had so they could continue on their trip.

Friends owned a beautiful vacation cabin in the mountains. We could never afford a place like that. We really couldn't even afford to go on a vacation, except to stay with friends. The people with the cabin made it available to us whenever we wanted to go and take a retreat from ministry. The picture above is my son fishing on the river where the cabin was located.

In our first church, we were nearly starving in ministry. A local game warden used to bring us animals he had confiscated, both for us and to give away to people worse off than we were in our church and community. Sometimes it was the only meat we had for weeks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Train Your Child To Be Great

But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:25-28

The room was full of family. All of them were singing the old lady's praises. She grew up in poverty. Lived simply all her life and was now about to meet her maker. Everyone in the room talked about how she fed them, loved them, and did whatever it took to raise them. They said she had literally given away her own clothing to help others. She was drawing near to the end of her life, but her family was filled with joy. She had served them without any thought of herself all her life and now they were glad to spend whatever time they had left serving her.

Psychologists say that today 80 percent of parents teach children that the priority in life is personal achievement and happiness.  That means those are the priorities for 80% of parents. So there are at least two generations who are doomed to fail.

They will fail because those are not the priorities that bring true success. As a matter of fact, if you want to find personal happiness, making personal achievement and personal happiness your priorities is exactly what you should not do. It dooms you to failure, because the only way to live a great life and have a great eternity is to make servanthood your priority. When self is the priority, there is never any true peace and happiness. When servanthood is the priority, not only does the servant find peace and joy, but the world sees peace and joy.

This has to be one of those areas of life where we, Christians, are radically different than the world.  It has to be because it's what Jesus said and did. The world needs to see the value of the difference and uniqueness of the Gospel. The Gospel is about Jesus. Jesus didn't come to achieve or to be happy. Jesus came to serve and give his life a ransom for many. And, Jesus was full of joy. When we preach Jesus as the only way and don't show who Jesus is, we gut our witness. When we preach Jesus and show it by serving, we give credence to our testimony. 

If you're an 80 percenter, what would it take for you to reprioritize your life? What would it take for you to reprioritize your parenting, your grandparenting?  Start by changing your message. Stop preaching personal achievement and personal happiness and start preaching personal servanthood. Then show your children how to serve others. But, what if you don't want to? What if you don't want to serve? Well . . .