Show Hospitality

My cousins gathered for our family reunion a few weeks ago. I have 47 cousins on that side of the family. The hot, breezy weather kept me from attending. (I attended a cool, rainy, send-off picnic in May and battled allergies for a few days afterward.)

Another cousin, Danny, lives three blocks from us. They were hosting three of the out-of-town cousins. His wife Laura brought Jerry over to meet me. He lives in California and hadn’t been back to Iowa for years.

After a few hours of visiting, they rose to leave. They planned to go to my cousin’s farm.

“Can we stop somewhere for food?” Jerry asked. “I haven’t had lunch.”

Embarrassed, I realized I hadn’t even offered him water, sweet tea, or lemonade! I am not the “hostess with the mostest!”

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David went to the reunion with our daughter, Laura, and met our son’s family there. Derek and Rachel were amazingly able to put twenty-one-month-old Gideon down for a short nap. David made a video of Gideon playing on some “rocker animals” to show me.

He casually said, “David and Becky are in town until Wednesday. Cousin Laura is going to bring them over one night.”

After failing my hostess duties on Friday, I went into high gear! Monday, I cleaned the house and made more sweet tea, lemonade, and “no-bake” cookies. I was prepared! (I hid the cookies.)

They came over Tuesday evening and I “talked their leg off” about our trip to Israel. (That means I did most of the talking.)

I apologized and explained, “I don’t get out, literally!”

My favorite memory was David’s face when I brought out the cookies!

“Where did you hide those?”

I didn’t tell.

I felt better about being a hostess until I read Hebrews 13.

Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some had entertained angels without knowing it!”

New American Standard Bible

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I think I’m doing okay but Jesus wants me to go above and beyond what is required. Obviously, it is too dangerous to invite the stranger walking by to come in for cookies. But I could carry some extra water to give away.

The temperature is in the 90’s and humid this week. A bottle of water could be a life saver.

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What Good Can I Do Today?

Our greatest blessing is for our household to live our faith. Did you know we can be devout but not respect or revere God?

Acts 10:2, “A devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.”

New American Standard Bible

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It’s interesting that the author, Luke the physician, listed “giving alms” before “praying continually.” God cares about those who cannot help themselves. Our charitable gifts are noted in heaven just as our prayers are.

Acts 10:4, “…Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”

New American Standard Bible

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The first “act” of the church in Antioch was not to build a synagogue. It was to take a collection for the needy.

Acts 11:29, “And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.”

New American Standard Bible

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The money was collected and delivered to the elders, before the famine started, see Acts 11:28-30. Another thing that impressed me was they gave knowing that the famine would affect them!

  • When there is a need, give what you can.
  • When hard times are coming, give what you can.
  • When walking through difficult times, give what you can.

We have more to give than money. We can give time, encouragement, services, or goods.

My friend Robin started a floral business. God nudged me to give her supplies. I am embarrassed to remember how long it took me. David dropped off vases, floral wire, green zip ties, and seeds. I invested in her business this way.

Charity is investing. It is stored in heaven like our prayers.

Acts 10:30 says, “Jesus went about doing good.” What good can I do today?

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Random Acts of Kindness

All of my life we have prayed for revival. We ask God to send people that need Him to our churches. As much as we love each other, and the new people coming in, we still will have problems. Look at the first church.

Acts 6:1, “Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.”

New American Standard Bible

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Complaints come from those being overlooked. In this case, the Hellenistic Jewish widows were not being fed. So, after fasting and prayer, they chose Stephen to ensure they were given food. Stephen was martyred.

Acts 8:1, “…And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

New American Standard Bible

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Disciples scatter. Apostles stay. How do we become an apostle? Spend time with Jesus.

The disciples did not abandon their faith. They preached everywhere they went. They were witnesses in their country, the next country, and to the remotest parts of the world, see Acts 1:8. But eventually, they had to come back to Jerusalem.

Acts 8:25, “So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”

New American Standard Bible

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Those who scattered were sent, and the road they were on wasn’t pleasant.

Acts 8:26, “But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, ‘Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a desert road.)”

New American Standard Bible

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The disciples couldn’t avoid persecution by leaving town. It followed them.

Acts 9:2, “…so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

New American Standard Bible

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Jesus stopped Saul on the road to Damascus. He went from being a persecutor to joining the persecuted.

Acts 9:22, “But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews…”

New American Standard Bible

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Where did Saul’s strength originate?

Acts 9:9, 11, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 11) …a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.'”

New American Standard Bible

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Strength comes from fasting and praying. But no matter how strong we become, at some point, we have to return home, see Acts 9:30. Home is where they know you – the good and the bad. They know your history and will not shower you with honor, see Mark 6:4.

Your greatest witness is going home and letting them see how God has changed you. Your greatest testimony is how you treat your family, friends, and those in need.

Acts 9:36, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.”

New American Standard Bible

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It is easy to do “Random Acts of Kindness” for strangers. Charity begins at home.

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Money Answers Everything

COVID-19, “Shelter in Place,” – Day 6

Journal – March 21, 2020: “My sister, Michele called. She went to Dutchman’s and bought 50 pounds of white potatoes, 50 pounds of red potatoes, and 25 pounds of carrots. She shared them with family and will can the rest. There were no carrots in the store but God provided them another way – for free!

I texted my friend Brenda and asked how to use Boric acid. She is a nurse on the worship team. Sunday, I asked for help with my clogged tear duct. She mentioned Boric Acid. (It’s not the same as Borax.) She was getting groceries for herself and her parents. She offered to get me some. She bought the last bottle in town. I printed off instructions from leaf.tv and used it to soak my eyes.”

Ecclesiastes 10:19, “…money answers everything.”

Common English Bible

“Our money is everyone’s answer.”

Common English Bible Translation Note

“Yet another translation could be ‘money preoccupies everyone.'”

Common English Bible Note on Ecclesiastes 10:19

“In the final reflections before closing the poem, the Teacher discusses what one should do, given the brevity of life. This involves charity, taking risks while working wisely, and enjoying life while one can.”

Common English Bible Notes on Ecclesiastes 11:1-10

“The Bible teaches that God wants you to have enough money to:

1. Provide for the needs of your family and help them succeed. …

2. Tithe and finance His work. …

3. Pay your taxes and your obligations. …

4. Send His word to the four corners of the world. …

5. Help the poor and needy. …”

“The Word for You Today” 3-21-2020

When the shelves are empty, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. When the shelves are empty, God provides through other people.

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Will Lack Nothing

I was writing in my yellow office and noticed the time.

“Luke was born on this day at this time!”

This was his bedroom. We painted it John Deere Green colors, yellow with dark green trim. (He is also a Green Bay Packers fan.)

When he moved out, I painted over the green. It’s a sunny southwest office. We filled his former closet with shelves for office supplies, scrapbooks, yearbooks, etc.

Getting the stepstool from the kitchen, I climbed up and pulled his baby book down from the top shelf. I remembered the joy of bringing him home. There was a baby in the house! A baby fills a house with sunshine.

I looked at pictures from his first six years. I dressed Luke adorably – thanks to the generosity of my friend Paula. As her son outgrew his clothes, she loaned them to me.

And those curls!

His hair had a reddish tint when he was born. I found the picture taken before his first haircut. Paula cut it for me. I didn’t have the heart to do it.

I keep one of those curls in his baby book. I didn’t get it out this year. I’m not sad. I’m bursting with pride over the man he became – soldier, fireman, mechanic, farmer, husband, and father.

Looking back to that year, I realized we may have been poor but we were never needy. (Yes, there is a difference.) God always provided our needs.

Proverbs 8:3, “Poor people who oppress the needy are rain that washes away food.” Common English Bible

* * * * * * *

“…The poor are those who find themselves in situations of temporary want that can be alleviated by the generosity of those around them. The word translated ‘needy’ in 28:3 suggests that these are people who, because of some devastating life situation, most likely will never be able to care for themselves, and must rely on the goodwill of others for their wellbeing.” Common English Bible Notes on Proverbs 28:3

* * * * * * *

Proverbs 29:27, “Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who turn a blind eye will be greatly cursed.” Common English Bible

A baby changes everything in the best possible ways.

March 12, 2020: Proverbs 27-30.

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The Line Did Not Die Out

“Mom, I need to borrow a sheet pan.”

“What for?”

“I’m bringing pie.”

“What kind of pie?”

“Apple or cherry, or maybe, grape.”

“Grandma is bringing an apple pie.”

“Why don’t I just bring the cooked crusts and have everyone build their own pie?”

(Only my daughter…)

* * * * * * *

Thanksgiving is a family day. God cares about families. Children and grandchildren are our rewards.

Korah rebelled against God, (see Numbers 16). He and his family died – but not all of them. God spared at least one.

Numbers 26:9-11, “The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. [10] (These were the same Dathan and Abiram, community leaders from Korah’s gang, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the Korah Rebellion against God.  The Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them along with Korah’s gang who died when the fire ate them up, all 250 of them. After all these years, they’re still a warning sign. [11]  But the line of Korah did not die out.)” The Message

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy time with your family.

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Examine It Again

Last Monday, I was mad at David. I wanted to rearrange the basement for Thanksgiving and he wouldn’t even look at the plans.

I ranted to God. “I know there are three in this marriage. I won’t give up, but I’m getting nowhere with David. You be my husband.”

“Good,” God replied, “go put away David’s clothes.”

(Years ago, our children were not putting their clothes away. David had me pile his clean clothes next to theirs. After work, he put them away. He led by example. He was showing them that I was not the maid.)

I put his clothes away.

God worked on David’s heart and you know the rest of the story. It’s amazing the difference a week can make.

Leviticus 13:5, “On the seventh day…examine it again…” The Message

Today, all the furniture is in place. There are pictures on the wall. The ironed tablecloths are on the tables and dressers. The Thanksgiving tablescape and candles are ready. The table is set and waiting under dust covers.

Through the week, I learned a new approach to dealing with problems in a relationship:

  1. Exclude them from the conversation. The Israelites excluded one from the congregation, (see Leviticus 7:21). I excluded him from the conversation. I stopped talking to David about the problem and talked about it with God.
  2. I choose my attitude. On the hardest day, I studied Proverbs 17:22. It talked about a cheerful heart. The cross-reference verses talked about a peaceful heart, (Proverbs 14:30), and a happy heart, (Proverbs 15:13). I took a break from the basement and finished a Christmas project. That made my heart happy.
  3. Let God pick the time for the conversation. I wanted David to accept my reasons for rearranging, (see Leviticus 10:20). He didn’t on Monday but did on Thursday. I had to let God choose the time for the conversation.
  4. Wait until evening, (see Leviticus 11:24). Give yourselves a day to cool off and ponder the conversation. Look at the issue from their perspective.
  5. It might take a week, (see Leviticus 13:5). We are an instant society. We want problems solved now. We want everyone to agree with us. But God is not dealing with just the problem. He is dealing with hearts. Each heart has to come into submission to God before the problem resolves.

Have you had a problem resolve in a week?

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Whether Something Shouldn’t Be Done

The hardest part of raising children is letting them stand on their own two feet. We want to cushion each fall.

When they marry, we turn their care over to their spouse. When bad things happen, we still want to step in and rescue them as we always have.

Esther 3:4, “…to see whether something shouldn’t be done about it. …” The Message

Derek had a rough time over the last two weeks. He left work one day to find his back window shattered. He had it replaced before he even told us about it.

The next day, he got a nasty cut at work. It was already cleaned and bandaged when he told me about it. He asked Rachel to change the bandage.

Then his phone started acting weird. He got on the phone with technical support. He had to drive 30 miles to get the problem fixed.

After the car window, David came to me and asked, “Should we do something?”

After an internal debate, I replied, “We are not his source; God is. We need to let God meet his need.”

Derek cut the apron strings last week. He turned to Rachel instead of us. That means we did our job well.

I have one regret. I didn’t know it was his last meal at home. Had I known it, I wouldn’t have fed him leftovers! (You guessed it – macaroni and cheese.)

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My Heart Leaped for Joy

It’s wedding week. The song, “Goin’ to the Chapel” is running through my mind.

Psalms 122:1, “When they said, ‘Let’s go to the house of God,’ my heart leaped for joy.” The Message

When the exiles returned to Jerusalem, they rebuilt the Temple. Their joy was boundless as they were able to worship in Jerusalem again. They sang songs on their way to The Temple.

“Hezekiah is known for preparing Jerusalem for a siege by carving a long tunnel from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. Rabbis said the pool’s water was the purest on the planet because Mount Zion is its source.

Every year during the Feast of Tabernacles, water was taken from the Pool of Siloam in golden pitchers and carried up to the Temple in a huge procession. People sang the Song of Ascents, silver trumpets were blown on the Temple steps, and the entire city was lit up with torches. It was called the most joyous time in Jerusalem when the water was poured out on the altar as an offering to the Most Holy God.”

“Rivers of Living Water” by Gordon Robertson in “Frontlines,” September, 2018

Psalms 120-134 are the “Psalms of Ascent.”

Psalms 122:4, “The city to which the tribes ascend, all God’s tribes go up to worship, to give thanks to the name of God – this is what it means to be Israel.” The Message

A wedding is similar to the ascent on the Feast of Tabernacles. Everyone is in their best clothes. The place is lit up and filled with music. The bride walks up the aisle to the altar. Everyone wishes happiness for the couple.

Christ is the key to a successful marriage. He loved us so much that He gave everything – including His life. Seeing His sacrifice, we can’t help but love Him, respect Him, and submit to Him.

King Xerxes tried to create respect for each husband by enacting a law. It didn’t work.

Esther 1:22, “…’Every man is master of his own house; whatever he says, goes.’ ” The Message

Jesus showed us how to do it. The more love you give to your wife, the more respect you gain. The more respect a woman gives to her husband, the more love she receives, (see Ephesians 5:22-23).

If your wife doesn’t respond to what you say, check your motives. Will your decision benefit the family or just yourself?

A master is responsible for nurturing everyone in his household:

  • Are they getting enough sleep?
  • Are they getting enough food?
  • Do they have time with you that is free of distractions?
  • Do they have time alone to develop their God-given gifts?
  • Do you spend one-on-one time with each of your children?
  • Do you regularly share a physical love with your wife?
  • Do your hobbies take up most of your free time?

If no one is listening to you, maybe it’s because you are not listening to them.

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Quit Focusing on the Handicap

“Wow, you are really beautiful!”

The waitress was looking at me? Stunned, I fumbled for a response. I mumbled, “You must like curly hair.”

“Yes, I really do!”

I went to the bathroom because I wanted to see what she saw. I saw dark circles and not-so-youthful skin.

“I don’t get it, Lord. I don’t see beauty.”

“I see it. You are beautiful to me. You see the cracks, she saw the light coming through the cracks. The beauty is in the light. The Light is Jesus living in you.”

* * * * * * *

Have you ever wondered by some elderly people seem to glow? While others seem to shrivel up? They both sport wrinkles and gray hair. What is the secret?

The Light. After years of serving Jesus, their fire consists of red-hot coals. Coals glow. Coals can cook food without burning it up. Coals can warm a room and start a fire in the dead wood.

We all have “cracks” – weaknesses, scars, or handicaps. If we concentrate on our “cracks” we miss the light shining through them.

“2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “Then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. …I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. (10) Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.” Martin Luther

* * * * * * *

“If the heights of our joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude, and gratitude is but a way of seeing, a spiritual perspective of smallness might offer a vital way of seeing especially conducive to gratitude. Those child photos, that wonder I experienced firsthand through her eyes – ‘How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it!’ – was that it? I had just held evidence of it. The joy of small that makes life large. Hadn’t I personally experienced it before too, that vantage point that gave a sense of smallness before grandeur? At the lip of the Grand Canyon, peering into the carved earth, the vastness of the hewn and many-hued chasm.” “One Thousand Gifts” Ann Voskamp

  • This is why we go to the ocean. It makes us small in its vastness.
  • This is why men go to sea for years at a time. Seeing only the ocean everywhere they look, makes them small.
  • This is why we hike to the top of a mountain. Seeing for miles makes us small.
  • This is why we love to fly. Seeing people reduced to the size of ants makes us embrace our smallness.

I returned to our table in the back room. We chose this restaurant on a whim. The only available tables were in the farthest room. We had finished our salads and still had not been served our drinks.

I’m sure the waitress complimented me to make up for the lack of service. She apologized. And even left a pitcher of sweet tea because that is what we were drinking.

I told my kids, “That waitress must be a drama student at the local college. It’s Father’s Day, and since I didn’t cook, she assumed I would be paying.” (Why can’t I just accept a compliment?)

But this was not a planned dinner, only two of our children were there for a visit. We decided at the last-minute to go out to eat.

I had offered to cook but we are in a heat wave. David didn’t want to warm up the house anymore with cooking.

The food was not the important thing – the visit was. You cannot put a price on time together. You don’t really appreciate its value until you are apart.

David teased me as he put down the tip. “Hey, didn’t I pick up the tab on Mother’s Day, too?”

I quipped, “We picked up the tab on Mother’s Day and we picked up the tab tonight!”

2 Corinthians 12:14, “Everything is in readiness now for this, my third visit to you. But don’t worry about it; you won’t have to put yourselves out. I’ll be no more of a bother to you this time than on the other visits. I have no interest in what you have – only in you. Children shouldn’t have to look out for their parents; parents look out for the children.” The Message

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