The Power of Biblical Hospitality

Four characteristics that distinguish biblical hospitality from merely entertaining guests.
JEFF CHRISTOPHERSON

The Power of Biblical Hospitality

We all like to be entertained. An entire global industry has emerged to satisfy our longing to be amused, to somehow lift us out of the drudgery and doldrums of our ordinary lives. We take it in with reckless abandon, fully expecting to be transported to someplace better, someplace different. And just like any other idol, the gods of entertainment leave us feeling more unsatisfied, desperate, and empty than ever.

So, we’re not very good at being entertained. But how are we as the entertainer?

Entertaining guests is a cultural concept with various regional expressions, few of which translate into biblical hospitality. More recently across North America, “hospitality” is often reduced to a split check at a mutually suitable restaurant.

We may go so far as to invite someone over for dinner, but we tend to do so with those who look like us, talk like us, believe like us, and act like us. And before we even consider having these friends around, we’ll carefully engineer our homes and shape and polish our personas to communicate the best version of who we are—or at least the image that we hope to project.

But despite our cultural norms being increasingly bent toward a regaling spectacle, biblical hospitality and entertainment are not co-equal siblings. They’re really not even second cousins. In fact, they may be sourced from two opposing realms.

True hospitality is a cultural expression of other-oriented kingdom living. It transcends regional expectations of gourmet performance and focuses its energies on the blessing of honest and sincere relationships. It isn’t concerned with projecting an image of manicured lives devoid of stress, mess, and chaos. Instead, biblical hospitality flips the camera lens from a selfie to a wide-angle, pointed outward toward the lives of others, warmly inviting them into ours.

Here are four characteristics that distinguish biblical hospitality from entertainment:

Entertainment Impresses. Hospitality Blesses.

The first distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of orientation. It answers the question: “Who is the center of attention?” If I am the center of attention, then my goal is to impress those who enter my orbit. I want them to leave spellbound by me—my wisdom, my ability to manage life, my winsomeness, the obedience of my children, or the cleanliness of my house.

Entertaining others puts me on center stage and my guests as a fawning audience. A win is measured by the degree to which my guests leave impressed or—better yet—reverential by the spectacle they have just observed.

If, on the other hand, my guests are the focus, then my goal is not to impress them, but to bless them. I want them to leave enriched and encouraged—better for having been in my life. I see my guests as I see myself, with pains and fears and disappointments, and hospitality becomes an opportunity to enter into those broken areas with the grace of Jesus Christ. Hospitality blesses.

Entertainment Stresses. Hospitality Savors.

The second distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of aspiration: It answers the question: “What is my purpose?” The effort required to impress is immense because, let’s be honest, few of us are really that impressive. So, we fake it.

We stress about how to create the illusion of something we know we don’t actually possess. Entertaining others becomes an emotionally taxing façade that requires constant management so that no cracks can be seen.

Hospitality allows me to relax. I can enjoy being in the presence of another person created in the image of God. I give them attention, and I listen without the need to keep all the plates around me spinning. I simply savor the moment God has given me to enter the life of another and to bring them hope and help. The evening’s highlight is not a well-presented table, but the precious lives seated around that table. Hospitality savors.

Entertainment Babbles. Hospitality Listens.

The third distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of communion. It answers the question: “How is intimacy being fostered?” Those who seek to entertain feel the pressure to fill the silence by incessantly babbling about themselves, their conquests, their children’s performance, or their remarkable experiences. Conversations rarely move below surface subjects but keep everything shallow and safe. After all, how entertaining are problems?

Those pursuing genuine hospitality are other-centered, demonstrating a willingness to put the other person in the spotlight. Biblical hospitality listens to stories without the need to one-up. It asks meaningful questions and allows the other the grace of being heard.

Hospitality tunes spiritual ears toward the joys, pain, or fears of those sharing a meal, and models an environment where relational intimacy moves easily from the superficial to spiritual. Hospitality listens.

Entertainment Excludes. Hospitality Honors.

The final distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of inclusion. It answers the question: “Who, right now, is in need of Jesus’ love?” If I’m seeking to entertain, some people are simply not worth the effort. They are too “other” to pursue.

Entertainment takes the easiest road and animates me to look for those who require the least from me to love. I entertain people who are like me, those satiating my internal need to feel important, valued and validated.

Genuine, Jesus-like hospitality looks for those in need of love and honors them as esteemed guests (Luke 14:12-14). Because I’m freed from the assiduous bondage of seeking my own fulfillment, I’m able to bridge cultural lines of demarcation and pursue anyone, anywhere, who is in need of the love of God through Christ Jesus.

My home becomes a haven for guests who may not feel comfortable at my church—but who are becoming more open to the messenger and the Message of the church. Those far from God can find the fulfillment of their heart’s longing through the simple power of biblical hospitality. Hospitality honors.

What about you? Are you stuck on entertainment or zealous for genuine hospitality? You might think this to be some kind of superfluous add-on to the life of a kingdom-disciple, but a simple glimpse at the life of our Savior demonstrates that this was one of his primary means of ministry. All without a home of his own. Welcoming others. Eating with them. Listening to their story. Ministering to their pain. Holding out the invitation of the kingdom.

May we rediscover and follow his example.

Jeff Christopherson is a church planter, pastor, author and Missiologist at the Send Institute—an interdenominational church planting and evangelism think tank.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/august/power-of-biblical-hospitality-entertainment-jesus.html

Preparing Your Family for Adoption

Illustration of diverse family welcoming a little boy into their home

 

By Natalie Nichols Gillespie

 

Six years ago, my husband, Adam, and I had a bustling, blended family of six kids – his, mine and ours. Our quiver was full, not to mention our bathrooms. So when my husband and I felt unexpectedly drawn to adopt an orphan girl from China, we knew that the real test would be getting our kids on board. They had already made lots of adjustments being part of a big stepfamily. Would they want to share their time, parents and bedrooms with yet another sibling?

Surprisingly, most of our kids were captivated by the idea. “When can we get her?” they asked. But there was one holdout: Our youngest, Justin, was less than excited about the idea. We tried telling Justin that he would not lose any of our love or attention if another child came into our lives, but he seemed unwilling to give up his spot as baby of the family.

Adding one

Over the next 18 months, we met other adoptive families, ate lots of Chinese food and learned all we could about Chinese culture. We prayed every day for our new family member, and as we trudged through the mounds of paperwork, we began referring to this new child by her name – Amberlie Joy. As we moved forward, Justin’s heart warmed to the idea.

pan>Finally, in July of 2006, we brought Amberlie home. The wide smile on Justin’s face when he first held his baby sister made it clear that he was going to be a fabulous big brother.

A growing family

Amberlie was such a joy to our family that my husband and I decided to adopt from China again. We made plans to adopt 4-year-old twin girls, one of whom had cerebral palsy.

Adam and I decided that our kids needed a clearer picture of what this adoption meant, so we brought our four youngest children to China with us. As we met the twins in Nanjing, my husband and I watched in awe as our children forgot about their concerns and comforted two scared little girls who were leaving behind everything they’d ever known. If not for our children, I don’t know that Axi Grace and Addixian Hope would have so quickly accepted us. It was a miraculous trip, filled with warmth and laughter.

Open hearts

Today, I love watching my 16-year-old son toss his sister Axi into the air and catch her, as she dissolves into giggles. He only sees his little sister, not her disability. I also enjoy watching the kids chat and play outside and tell stories to each other at mealtime.

Yes, sometimes our kids have arguments, competing for our time and resources. And they’re not fans of cramming into the minivan on family outings. But I know my kids’ hearts are more open to loving people now. They have compassion for those who are different and a better sense of teamwork. Most of all, I see that their lives will be blessed with flexibility and a sense of adventure whenever God asks them to do something new.

Natalie Gillespie is the author of several books, including Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families. She speaks extensively about adoption and stepfamilies.

https://origin.focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/orphan-care/preparing-your-family-for-adoption


Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established  to fund the orphanage.


 

It is Legal to Pray in School (Voluntarily!)

By Bill Federer

The influence of socialism in public education.

Mandatory versus voluntary.

Though court cases have sought to limit “mandatory” school-sponsored prayer, students continue to have the right to “voluntarily” pray!

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute, stated (www.legaltopray.com):

“In every case defending students’ rights to pray, the students have prevailed, even teachers have the right to pray in school.”

President Bill Clinton stated at James Madison High School, July 12, 1995:

“The First Amendment does not require students to leave their religion at the schoolhouse door …

If students can wear T-shirts advertising sports teams, rock groups or politicians, they can also wear T-shirts that promote religion …

Religion is too important to our history and our heritage for us to keep it out of our schools …”

Clinton concluded:

“Nothing in the First Amendment converts our public schools into religion-free zones or requires all religious expression to be left behind at the schoolhouse door …

Government’s schools also may not discriminate against private religious expression during the school day.”

Though students continue to have the right to “voluntarily” pray in school, many are unaware of WHERE and WHEN the effort began to remove “mandatory” prayer from schools?

In 1959, a few atheists filed a lawsuit to stop New York’s “mandatory” school prayer, which took place every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students prayed:

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.”

The A.C.L.U. represented the atheists in the case, Engel v. Vitale, which went up to the Supreme Court.

The A.C.L.U. was started by Roger Baldwin, who wrote in 1935:

“I am for socialism, disarmament, and ultimately, for abolishing the state itself … Communism is the goal.”

Baldwin was referring to socialism as the transition phase from capitalism to communism, as Karl Marx wrote in The Critique of the Gotha Programme, Part IV:

“Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation.”

Baldwin also wrote:

“I joined. I don’t regret being a part of the Communist tactic, which increased the effectiveness of a good cause. I knew what I was doing. I was not an innocent liberal. I wanted what the Communists wanted.”

Harry S Truman stated in his Inaugural Address, January 20, 1949:

“Communism is based on the belief that man is so weak and inadequate that he is unable to govern himself, and therefore requires the rule of strong masters …

Communism subjects the individual to arrest without lawful cause, punishment without trial, and forced labor as a chattel of the state.

It decrees what information he shall receive, what art he shall produce, what leaders he shall follow, and what thoughts he shall think.”

Reagan told the Annual Convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, January 30, 1984:

“I was pleased last year to proclaim 1983 the Year of the Bible. But, you know, a group called the A.C.L.U. severely criticized me for doing that.

Well, I wear their indictment l

In the Supreme Court decision of Engel v. Vitale, 1962, Justice Hugo Black sided with the atheists and ended the three century old tradition of state-sponsored “mandatory” prayer in public schools.

Hugo Black, interestingly enough, had never been a judge before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Franklin Roosevelt. He had been a Democrat Senator and former K.K.K. member from Alabama.

Justice Hugo Black also supported Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of Japanese during World War II in his Korematsu v. United States decision.

Around the time of Hugo Black’s Engel v. Vitale decision, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, an atheist proponent of socialism-communism, attempted to defect in 1960 to the U.S.S.R. (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), but was refused entry, as reported by son, William J. Murray.

Returning to Maryland, Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued the Baltimore City Public School System (Murray v. Curlett) to have “mandatory” Bible reading taken out of public schools, using her 14 year old son, William J. Murray, as the plaintiff.

The case went to the Supreme Court where it was combined with the case of Abington Township v. Schempp. As as result, “mandatory” Bible reading was stopped in America’s public schools.

An interesting note is that Madalyn Murray O’Hair had the habit of hiring felons to work for her to project a tough image. In 1995, three of the felons she employed murdered her, mutilated her body, and buried it in Texas.

Her son, William J. Murray, years earlier, had disassociated himself from his mother.

He became a Christian, a minister, and an author, writing about his atheist upbringing in the book My Life Without God (2012).

In 1963, Democrat Congressman Albert S. Herlong, Jr., warned of the socialist-communist agenda infiltrating schools.

He read into the Congressional Record, January 10, 1963, the list of Communist goals for America (Vol 109, 88th Congress, 1st Session, Appendix, pp. A34-A35).

The Communist list included:

“Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of ‘separation of church and state’ …

… Control schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda …

… Soften curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put party line in textbooks … Control student newspapers …”

Herlong continued the list of Communist goals for America:

“Infiltrate churches and replace revealed religion with ‘social’ religion (ie. ‘social justice,’ ‘liberation theology’) …

 

… Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a ‘religious crutch’ …

… Discredit American culture …

… Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and divorce …

… Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as ‘normal, natural, healthy.”

 

Members of the Communist Party USA, in 1950, helped form the Mattachine Society, the nation’s first homosexual rights organizations. which lobbied to repeal sodomy laws.

It is necessary to tear down the old system of morals in order to bring in a new totalitarian system.

Truman addressed the Attorney General’s Conference, February 1950:

“If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except for the State.”

Why is important in socialist and communist countries to eliminate the Creator?

President Eisenhower stated February 20, 1955:

“The Founding Fathers … recognizing God as the author of individual rights, declared that the purpose of Government is to secure those rights … In many lands the State claims to be the author of human rights …

If the State gives rights, it can – and inevitably will – take away those rights.”

If there is no God, the state decides who is more equal and who is less equal.

George Orwell described the socialist state in his 1945 novel Animal Farm:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

In socialism, a dictatorship is inevitable, as selfishness is ingrained in fallen human nature.

St. Augustine called it: “libido dominandi” – the lust to dominate.

Only the Gospel can truly change a person’s nature.

Despite socialist promises of a “classless” society, Orwell explained in Animal Farm how socialism always ends up being run by selfish bullies who set themselves up as the elite ruling-class, the new royalty.

“We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare.

It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? …

The importance of keeping the pigs in good health was all too obvious.

So it was agreed without further argument that the milk and the windfall apples (and also the main crop of apples when they ripened) should be reserved for the pigs alone.”

Socialist hierarchy is contrary to the Bible, which states in Acts 10:34, “God is no respecter of persons.”

Truman referred to this in his Inaugural Address, 1949:

“We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God.”

Regarding America’s school children, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushschev reportedly told Ezra Taft Benson, Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture, in 1959:

“Your children’s children will live under communism.

You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept Communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism.

We won’t have to fight you; We’ll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote in Republic (380BC):

“Tyrants … will … take possession of the children, who will be unaffected by the habits of their parents; these they will train in their own habits and laws.”

Adolph Hitler stated November 6, 1933:

“When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’

I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already … What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'”

Adolph Hitler added May 1, 1937:

“We have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth … at a very early age … This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

In 1918, Communist Party Education Workers Congress declared:

“We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists …

We must remove the children from the crude influence of their families. We must take them over and, to speak frankly, nationalize them.

From the first days of their lives they will be under the healthy influence of Communist children’s nurseries and schools. There they will grow up to be real Communists.”

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin stated:

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Karl Marx stated:

“The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.”

Josef Stalin stated:

“Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”

Leon Trotsky stated:

“If our generation happens to be too weak to establish Socialism over the earth, we will hand the spotless banner down to our children … It is the struggle for the future of all mankind.”

On AUGUST 11, 1984, by an 88-11 Senate vote and a 337-77 House vote, Congress passed the Equal Access Act, stating:

“It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum,

to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meeting.”

Regarding this, President Reagan commented August 23, 1984 at Reunion Arena, Dallas, Texas:

“We even had to pass a special law in the Congress just a few weeks ago to allow student prayer groups the same access to school rooms after classes that a Young Marxist Society … would already enjoy.”

The Supreme Court upheld the Equal Access Act by a vote of 8-1 in Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, June 4, 1990:

“If a State refused to let religious groups use facilities open to others, then it would demonstrate not neutrality but hostility toward religion.

The Establishment Clause does not license government to treat religion and those who teach or practice it … as subversive of American ideals.”

Ronald Reagan stated in a radio address, February 25, 1984:

“Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart noted (in his dissent of Abington Township, 1963)

‘if religious exercises are held to be impermissible activity in schools, religion is placed at an artificial and state-created disadvantage.

Permission for such exercises for those who want them is necessary if the schools are truly to be neutral in the matter of religion.

And a refusal to permit them is seen not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.'”

Justice Potter Stewart added:

“The state may not establish a ‘religion of secularism’ in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus ‘preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe.'”

Along the same lines, U.S. District Court stated in Crockett v. Sorenson, W.D. Va,. 1983:

“The First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion.

When such insulation occurs, another religion, such as secular humanism, is effectively established.”

In Torcaso v Watkins (1961), Justice Hugo Black wrote:

“Among the religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, ethical culture, secular humanism and others.”

Supreme Court Justice Scalia wrote in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987):

“In Torcaso v. Watkins, (1961), we did indeed refer to ‘secular humanism’ as a ‘religion.’”

Intolerant discrimination against those who believe in God or the Bible is not what the founders intended when they wrote the Constitution.

George Washington wrote to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789:

“If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.”

Ronald Reagan commented on the National Day of Prayer, May 6, 1982:

“Well-meaning Americans in the name of freedom have taken freedom away. For the sake of religious tolerance, they’ve forbidden religious practice.”

In the Supreme Court case of Town of Greece, NY, v. Galloway et al, Justice Kennedy wrote in the decision, May 5, 2014:

“Respondents maintain that prayer must be nonsectarian … and they fault the town for permitting guest chaplains to deliver prayers that ‘use overtly Christian terms’ or ‘invoke specifics of Christian theology’ …

An insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer …

The Congress that drafted the First Amendment would have been accustomed to invocations containing explicitly religious themes of the sort respondents find objectionable.

One of the Senate’s first chaplains, the Rev. William White, gave prayers in a series that included the Lord’s Prayer, the Collect for Ash Wednesday, prayers for peace and grace, a general thanksgiving, St. Chrysostom’s Prayer, and a prayer seeking ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c …'”

Justice Kennedy continued in Greece v. Galloway, May 5, 2014:

“The decidedly Christian nature of these prayers must not be dismissed as the relic of a time when our Nation was less pluralistic than it is today.

​Congress continues to permit its appointed and visiting chaplains to express themselves in a religious idiom …

To hold that invocations must be nonsectarian would force the legislatures … and the courts … to act as … censors of religious speech …

Government may not mandate a civic religion that stifles any but the most generic reference to the sacred any more than it may prescribe a religious orthodoxy …”

Kennedy added:

“Respondents argue, in effect, that legislative prayer may be addressed only to a generic God.

The law and the Court could not draw this line for each specific prayer or seek to require ministers to set aside their nuanced and deeply personal beliefs for vague and artificial ones.

There is doubt, in any event, that consensus might be reached as to what qualifies as generic or nonsectarian …”

Kennedy continued:

“While these prayers vary in their degree of religiosity, they often seek peace for the Nation, wisdom for its lawmakers, and justice for its people, values that count as universal and that are embodied not only in religious traditions, but in our founding documents and laws …

The first prayer delivered to the Continental Congress by the Rev. Jacob Duché on Sept. 7, 1774, provides an example:

‘Be Thou present O God of Wisdom and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed;

that Order, Harmony, and Peace be effectually restored, and the Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people.

Preserve the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds, shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal Blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting Glory in the world to come.

All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen …'”

Justice Kennedy concluded his Greece v. Galloway decision, May 5, 2014:​

“From the earliest days of the Nation, these invocations have been addressed to assemblies comprising many different creeds …

Our tradition assumes that adult citizens, firm in their own beliefs, can tolerate and perhaps appreciate a ceremonial prayer delivered by a person of a different faith.”

On February 7, 1984, President Reagan addressed the National Association of Secondary School Principals:

“As we struggle to teach our children … we dare not forget that our civilization was built by men and women who placed their faith in a loving God.

If Congress can begin each day with a moment of prayer … so then can our sons and daughters.”

 

Original here


 

Abigail’s Story

Back in 2010 when I was in university in Ghana, I made a friend who was two years ahead of me. Even though he was troublesome (he wasn’t always very honest and often caused problems) he still remained my friend. One day he visited and asked if we could watch a preaching video by a local pastor. The sermon was titled “Understanding the power of your opportunity”. The point of the message was basically about treating people right, because you never know who you might need to help you one day.

Fast forward a few years and my friend completed university and went off somewhere else to do a second degree. I completed my course two years later. Little did I know that God was going to use him to affect my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I’d been working for about two and half years when my employer told me the company wasn’t making a profit and so they’d be scaling down. Within that period I had been applying to schools outside of Ghana to be able to do my second degree. So I told my old university friend about it, who was in a better position to help secure me a scholarship.

Just like in a bad dream, many of us at my workplace were told we no longer had jobs. The amazing thing is that two days after we were sacked, my scholarship to study in the UK (worth almost £30,000) was approved.

But a short while later I was told that I was not selected to be part of the beneficiaries of the scholarship. However my belief was that God still loved me anyway and that the time was just not right, according to His good wisdom.

Now I’m in the UK to pursue my masters in International Relations. I got here later than I thought I would, but it means I can carry on with my studies. I didn’t know how this was going to be possible without my friend going all out for me. All I knew was that God was going to come through for me and that He knew my name.

I just want to encourage someone out there that God is faithful. He really does know us, even from when He made us in the womb (Psalm 139:13). If you’re trusting in Him and waiting for Him to answer you, He will! Just delight yourself in the Lord and He shall provide what you need. Whilst you do that, treat people that come your way well. God loves and blesses us, and He often does that through people. In my case, He provided through my friend from university eight years ago. —Abigail

https://ourdailybread.org/story/abigails-story/

Vulnerability

August 30, 2019   by Discerning Dad   Tim Ferrara

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I recently returned from a men’s retreat that took place over a weekend. It was a powerful time with almost 500 men where we saw conversions and baptisms. We saw God show up in a big way through the messages that were spoken and in the hearts of so many men that shared their testimonies.

One of the themes that I took away from the weekend was about the importance of vulnerability. Now vulnerability sounds like a negative word, by definition it means that you are susceptible to attack or capable of being hurt. A picture to help think of this is that our lives are like a castle, we build walls and fortify the perimeter in order to not let something dangerous come in and ransack what is important to us. We may have been vulnerable in the past and got hurt, which caused us to build extra defenses to ensure that never happens again.

The Bible tells us to “guard our heart” (Proverbs 4:23), but what if in the process of building walls, we keep out resources that we need to function? What if we are in our castle dying from a lack of food and supplies and we don’t let our walls down to allow those supplies from coming in? What if Jesus is “standing at the door and knocking” but we don’t want to be vulnerable with our loving Savior?

I believe the lack of vulnerability for the Christian can lead to isolation and a false strength in your own power. Paul refused to boast in his strength but chose to boast about his weakness because through his weakness, the power of Jesus was revealed.

• It takes vulnerability to serve on a mission trip
• It takes vulnerability to lead a small group at church
• It takes vulnerability to serve at a food bank for the first time
• It takes vulnerability to read the Bible AND apply it to your life
• It takes vulnerability to share with an accountability partner about a sin in your life
• It takes vulnerability to admit you are wrong to your kids or your spouse and ask for forgiveness
• It takes vulnerability to give tithes and offerings to God when finances are tight
• It takes vulnerability to NOT respond to gossip or slander that is thrown your way in a measure that is due the instigator

From each of these instances of vulnerability can arise a reward and blessing in our life and in our walk with Jesus.

Jesus was the ultimate example of vulnerability. When He went to the cross, He was vulnerable to those around Him. He allowed the earthly authorities to execute Him even though He had the power to stop it. Through Jesus’ vulnerability, He was able to complete the work on the cross and pave a way for everyone who would accept and repent to be freed from the curse of sin.

When Mary and Martha invited Jesus into their home, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. She was vulnerable in the sense that she broke societal norms by sitting at a Rabbi’s feet which was usually reserved for the men. She allowed His words to be the focus of that moment regardless of all the other things that needed to get done that Martha was stressed about. Mary chose “the good part” (Luke 10:42). When we choose the good part and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Jesus, we will never be disappointed.

Some of the most unmovable people are those have been the most wrecked by Jesus- those who were captured by His love and forgiveness to the point of complete surrender. They came from a position of vulnerability to strength in knowing exactly WHO they serve, who they are, and who they are not as a fallible human.

Charles Spurgeon said that “Every Christian has a choice between being humble and being humbled.” The Israelites would not humble themselves, so God had to.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 says:
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Discernment is required to know when we should be vulnerable or not. It is not wisdom to let all our problems known to everyone and confide in people that have broken our trust. It takes a balance between knowing when to drop our defenses and when to take a God-inspired risk at the cost of getting hurt.

How thick are your walls? Have you built them so high and so wide that you are not letting the right people in? Is there a risk that God is calling you to take for His kingdom that you are afraid of because you will be vulnerable?

Remember that if God is for you, who can be against you?!

Discerning Reflection: How have I not been vulnerable to those that I should trust? How I have I not been vulnerable to Jesus? How can I step out of my comfort zone into vulnerability to where God is currently calling me?

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand that vulnerability in you means strength in your power and not my own. Allow me to be humble enough to hear your voice and wise enough to know when I need to act on what you are calling me to do. Amen.

Tim Ferrara

Discerning Dad

Vulnerability

Biblical Proof That Senior Years Can Be Your Most Fruitful

April Motl
Crosswalk.com Contributor

Biblical Proof That Senior Years Can Be Your Most Fruitful

A few years ago, my husband and I moved to a little mountain town in the country, well-known for its apples. So of course, we had to plant our own little orchard. However, we live on a hill riddled with big rocks. Eagerly watching the YouTube videos instructing us on the matter of tree planting pretty much set us up for some major disappointment. Planting trees was no easy job!

I’m pretty sure the orchard endeavor took some good years out of our backs and knees. And while I wondered what in the world I’d gotten us into, I came a across an obscure story online about someone farther along in years than we are…who also started an orchard.

I wish I could find the link to his story now, but as I remember it, it was back during the homesteading years, when staking your claim was for strong men and young families. In was in this time that a man over 70 years old also wanted a stake in the excitement. He built his homestead and planted apples and peaches. Everyone told him he wouldn’t live long enough to see any real benefit from his efforts. They said his labors were pointless; he was too old to work this hard.

But the man celebrated over 25 more birthdays and became quite a successful orchardist in the community. That orchard became one of his proudest accomplishments.

We live in such a youth-driven culture that it’s easy to wonder if adventure, calling, and purpose is only found in our fleeting twenties or thirties, and then just evaporates.

My husband is a pastor, and the bulk of our congregation is in their retirement years. While many of them are youthful and newly-retired, there can sometimes be a sense that these years don’t hold the same need for growth. Or, that the purpose of one’s autumn season is more for rest and pleasure than bearing fruit and fulfilling a calling.

Yet, there are also those who are all the more passionate about using their newly-found freedoms to serve the Lord. I especially cherish the examples of those I’ve watched dig more deeply into the Lord’s Word and work in their senior years.

The Bible offers examples of thriving, fruitful seniors.

Abraham is called the “Father of our Faith” and the bulk of his recorded journey with God happened in his senior years. (Genesis 17:1)

To her shock and near disbelief, Sarah saw the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in her old age. (Genesis 18:11-18)

Moses wanted a place in God’s kingdom work in his youth, but didn’t get his calling until his later years. (Exodus 7:7)

Naomi’s spiritual legacy came in her later years, at the time in her life she was most convinced all her chances at fruitfulness and purpose had withered. (Ruth 1:11)

David was anointed king as a youth, but didn’t ascend to the throne until he was middle-aged. (2 Samuel 5:4)

Jesus’ birth was surrounded by seasoned individuals who played important pieces in the story: Elizabeth encouraged Mary by confirming the Lord’s word (Luke 1:39-45). Simeon and Anna also proclaimed and confirmed God’s word to Mary (Luke 2:25-38).

These are just a handful of people! Scripture is overflowing with examples that buck our preconceived notions about purpose/potential resting only with the young.

In fact, the delight of our Father is to entrust great tasks to those we would least expect.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

While you consider how the Lord might be calling you to deeper places in His word and work, consider also how many generations before and after you have (or will) experience the privilege of retirement.

The notion of retirement is actually exceptionally rare when we consider our lives with the wide-angle lens of history and across different cultures. If God has providentially set you in a situation where you are enjoying retirement, He gave it to you for a special purpose.

Autumn is a season for harvest, but like Spring, it is also a planting season.

And some people say that trees planted in autumn do even better than the trees planted in Spring.

Like the senior orchardist, the Lord has work for you! And if you press into Him, this might be the most fruitful, purposeful season of your life.

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green. – Psalm 92:12-14

May all of our lives flourish in the courts of our God and still yield fruit in our old age!


April Motl is a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, and women’s ministry director. When she’s not waist-deep in the joys and jobs of motherhood, she writes and teaches for women. You can find more encouraging resources from April here and here.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/seniors/biblical-proof-that-senior-years-can-be-your-most-fruitful.html

Ministry rebuilds 12 churches destroyed by tsunami

Still working, 2 years after Indonesian disaster, to sponsor both homes, worship centers

Christian families gather at the entrance to their new church building in Palu that was provided by Barnabas Fund

Christian families gather at the entrance to their new church building in Palu that was provided by Barnabas Fund

A group that assists persecuted Christians is preparing to open a 12th church building for communities in Indonesia that were hit by an earthquake and tsunami last year.

Barnabas Fund said the multipurpose halls on the island of Sulawesi have been received with gratitude.

“Church hall No. 11 hosted its first Sunday service on 4 August and building No. 12 is almost complete,” the ministry said. “The first 10 multipurpose halls, which are used for Sunday services, prayer meetings, and women’s and children’s ministries, were completed by the end of May,” the ministry announced.

The ministry set up an appeal to raise money for the 12 buildings in the Palu area of Sulawesi shortly after the quake and tsunami hit in September 2018.

At least 2,256 people were killed in the disaster and more than 70,000 homes and about 300 church buildings were damaged or destroyed, the ministry said.

Along with providing financial aid to construct new church buildings, Barnabas raised enough funds to help build 277 homes for Christian families in addition to the churches.

The Salvation Army Church in Lompio, Sigi District, was destroyed in the disaster, and its congregation had to hold services under a canopy for many months.

Pastor Mayor Tule Martina said the new building had helped members of the congregation to slowly overcome their trauma.

Martina told Barnabas the church participants feel safe because of the strength of the new construction.

“Praise the Lord! The life of our church members here was very difficult, especially after the earthquake last year. We were hopeless … but after we have our new building, we are filled with joy,” said Pastor I. Wayan Darmadi of the Sidi District’s Filadelfia Lakuta Church.

The ministry provided food, water, medicine, electric generators, school supplies and baby milk powder in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

The ministry works in more than 60 nations around the globe.

 

Original here