Be Hospitable…Without Grumbling!

By Esther Hylden

1 Peter 4:9

     Ladies…isn’t this the scariest verse in the Bible?  Did Peter really know what he was talking about when he slipped that verse in between the End Times, Prayer, and a discussion on Love?  Did he know how long it takes me to clean my house, including vacuuming , washing the floors, dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, picking up and organizing the clutter that threatens to overrun our  home, making food…all the while taking care of children, answering the phone…and to do it all without grumbling???  What was he thinking?  Or maybe the better question is, what was I thinking about when I read, “Be Hospitable…without grumbling.”  Am I the confused person?  Am I the person mixing up Entertaining with Hospitality?

Many years ago, I read Open Heart Open Home by Karen Mains, and you could say that is changed my heart, and my life.    Karen Mains is a Pastor’s Wife, she wrote this book during their time of ministry in the inner city of Chicago.  During this time, they rented church space on Sunday morning, thus the Mains home was open to Council Meetings, Bible Studies, Counseling sessions, their neighbors, people who needed a place to stay; it was the site of almost weekly suppers for people in their parish and  popcorn parties.  It was the house where neighbor kids came to play.  Karen knew what she was talking about!   As a young wife, I took what she said to heart.   I grew up in a hospitable home, my Dad was a pastor, and my parents hosted many meals, housed many missionaries, VBS teams, visiting speakers and neighbors.  I learned to “serve from the Left, clear plates from the right!”   It seemed that the best conversations always occurred around the dinner table.  So…I was comfortable with having people over… or so I thought!

When I read this book, I was in my early 20’s, married to Mark, and living in married student housing at NDSU.  The first Thanksgiving that we were married…I decided to host Thanksgiving for both sides of our family.  Our little married student housing measured around 12 ft by 50 ft!  We borrowed a card table and chairs, and squeezed 10 people in our little apartment!  It was a lot of fun, we had more than enough food, and somehow the turkey fit in our little oven. The Bible has a lot to say about hospitality…   in 1 Timothy 3:2 it reads; “Now the overseer (what is an overseer?  It can refer to a pastor or church leader) must be the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable…and hospitable!”

Hospitality…what exactly does it mean?  What is God telling us to do?   Especially in contrast to what our society calls “entertaining.”  Karen Mains puts it this way: Entertaining has little to do with real hospitality.  Entertaining’s source is human pride.  Entertaining says, “I want to impress you with my beautiful home, my clever decorating and my gourmet cooking.”  Hospitality, however, seeks to minister.  It says, “This home is not mine.  It is truly a gift from my Master.  I am His servant and I use it as He desires.  “Hospitality does not try to impress, but to Serve.”  Hospitality focuses on the guests, their needs; whether it is a place to stay, a hot meal or a listening ear.  Hospitality can occur in a messy house, sitting around a table eating a warmed up can of soup.

Entertaining always puts things before people. “as soon as I get the house finished, the living room decorated, my housecleaning done—then I will start inviting people over.”  “Hospitality however puts people before things.  Hospitality says, “We have no furniture; we’ll eat on the floor, the decorating may never get done, please come just the same.”    I understand this all very well…when our children were young, we spent a Sunday attending many High School graduation parties…when we were on our way home; Jarrod said to me, “Mom, did you know that some people have matching furniture?”    Obviously, he had been raised in a home filled with mismatched, hand-me-down furniture!

The desire for a lovely home is a common desire, and sometimes this longing becomes a barrier to our Lord’s directive, “Be Hospitable”.  When I was a little girl, I used to draw house plans…I filled notebooks with plans for the house that I hoped to live in someday.  They were quite grand, filled with many rooms, and I even remember outfitting one with a bowling alley!  When I was a newlywed, many of our friends built homes, or moved into lovely homes.  However, we were a struggling farm family…and we built a basement, thinking that we would stay in it for 2 years, and that then we would finish our home.  2 years stretched to 5, 10, 15 and finally, about a year ago, after 25 years, we finished our home and moved out of the basement!  That was a joyful day!  So how do you think that I felt about being a basement dweller for 25 years?  Well…we had many moments of joy, and laughter often filled the walls…and we had some moments, especially in the winter when we had blizzard after blizzard, and we had to spend day after day in our little space, that I thought I would go crazy!  So, I guess that I would say that living in a basement home, without a garage in Northern North Dakota for 25 years was not easy…in fact it was very hard.  At first I would pray every day, please God let us finish out house soon…day after day, year after year.  Then, I got a little mad at God…and Mark…and had a slump…a time of bitterness.  One day, during my dark time, I read 1 Thessalonians 5: 16: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  It seemed like a light bulb went off in my head…”God is telling me to give thanks…now…in everything…”  And so, in obedience, I started to give thanks, I thanked Him for our two bedroom, basement home…I thanked Him for the dirty dishes that I had to wash, I thanked Him for the piles of laundry that threatened to overflow the laundry room…I thanked Him for my husband, I thanked Him for our sons, I thanked him for my job…   And so the years passed, we didn’t wait to be hospitable until we had a grand home.  We opened up our little basement home with the ugly entry way, to many youth group events, bonfires, decorating Christmas cookie parties, holiday meals, sledding parties, suppers with friends, 4th of July parties, Bible Study’s, coffee parties, pre-hunting meals, meals for the combining crew.   I didn’t apologize for my home; I welcomed people as they walked down the ugly outdoor entry to the door that lead to our house.  And I learned, that hospitality is not about having a perfect house, it’s not about making the perfect gourmet meal…it is about Loving God, and loving others,  it’s about sharing the Good News of the Gospel.  Because…  a Christian home is a miracle, it is a treasure, and God calls us to share it.

Now…you may be saying to yourself…that is all fine and dandy…but how can I live this out in my life?  I can barely get the breakfast dishes cleaned up before lunch???  Even though we all say that our house doesn’t have to be perfect…we know that we don’t want our home to be a health hazard!

Continued  next week………………………………

 

 

 

 

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Thank You from Jonni

Precious Ladies of the WMF, and Amery Family,

You both worked so hard to get us a dryer, I just have to show you a picture of it in action! It may not look so impressive in the picture but it dries 15 kilos of clothes at a time and that is WONDERFUL when it has been raining for two days! Bless you and thank you for your loving generous hearts!!!!

Jonni

 

Drier at Miriam Home web ready

“A Light in Dark Places”

By Esther Hylden

    The sky was cold, the air chilly and the spirits of the fish workers in Naknek, Alaska were downcast that summer of 2013.  People from far corners of the world, (Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sweden, China and many more,) had come to work in the fishing industry to earn much needed income, and now the fishing was poor.  With time on their hands, the workers filled the little town of Naknek.  The bars were filled to overflowing; fights often broke out as tempers ran high.

    In the middle of Main Street however, there sat a haven, an oasis…so to speak, known as The Net.  Nothing fancy, grey, three rooms…a small kitchen, storage room and gathering room, The Net was a place to go when one was cold, lonely and hungry…inside was a fresh pot of coffee, cookies, a listening ear and words of encouragement given to those who entered.  Quilts were given to those who were cold, fresh warm cookies were given to the hungry, and God’s Word was shared with many lonely and discouraged people.  Bibles and tracts were given away, and when people left that humble building, their hearts, body and stomachs were warmed.

  James 2:14 states:  “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, Is dead.”   

Fall marks the beginning of the “dark” season in Alaska.  The days are short, and spirits often sag, as one grey, rainy, gloomy day follows another.  However, shining out amongst the gloom there is “Light!”  Daily the KAKN Radio Station shares God’s Word with all who tune in, with Pastor Bob Lee serving as the Station Manager.  Pastor Jeff Swanson and Pastor Jeremy Crowell bring God’s “Light” to the two Naknek congregations and to the remote areas of Alaska, as they minister in Word and deed, often handing out quilts to those who gather at the little churches and meeting places.  Smiles stretch from ear to ear, as bodies and spirits are warmed by a handmade quilt and words of hope from God’s Word.

How can you help?

  1. Pray, Pray, Pray!
  2. Send financial support
  3. Send Quilts ( they used up their supply last summer)
    Send quilts to:  Pastor Jeff Swanson
    PO Box 501
    Naknek, AK 99663
  4. Come and help!   ( If God is calling you to come and help, contact the Home Mission Board )

“I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 13:47

I pray that God will use us to bring “Light” to Naknek, to  the family next door, to work, to the checker at the grocery store…and to all those who remain in the dark.

Corn and Squash Soup Recipe

submitted by Ruth Ratio

Ingredients
• 12 bacon strips, diced
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 celery rib, chopped
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
• 6 cups mashed cooked butternut squash
• 2 cans (8-3/4 ounces each) cream-style corn
• 2 cups half-and-half cream
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
• 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• Sour cream optional

Directions
• In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.

• In the drippings, saute onion and celery until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

• Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the squash, corn, cream, parsley, salt, pepper and bacon. Cook and stir until heated through. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

• Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

• Nutritional Facts1 serving (1-1/4 cups) equals 381 calories, 26 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 53 mg cholesterol, 1,021 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 9 g protein.

Ahhh…Fall

By Esther Hylden

WMF Officers at workAhhh…September…crisp fall evenings, football games, bonfires, school starting…and if you are a Board Member in the AFLC…it means All Boards Meetings at the AFLC Headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota!  Many gather from all over the United States, to pray, to worship, to fellowship and to make decisions and plans for the upcoming year.  The WMF board met in Pastor Kevin Olson’s office bright and early Monday morning.  Barb Strand opened our meeting by sharing from John 16:33 where Jesus tells us that “in the world, we will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”   We all face adverse circumstances as we live in this fallen world, but Jesus comes along side us, puts His arm around us and says, “Take Courage.”   Together we sang “This is the Day”, “Jesus, Jesus, Lord to me,” prayed, then got down to the business of WMF!  We are honored to be able to support AFLC Home Missions, World Missions, Christian Education and the Director of Development Position.  We met with the leaders of our church, and prayed with them.  We put our heads together and planned for the upcoming year. Our obligations and the needs of the congregations are many, as a new board member, it all seemed overwhelming.  However, as the hours passed by, I was reminded that “God, who called us…is faithful.” ( 1 Cor. 1:9 )

Dear ladies of the WMF…let us join together to bring God’s Word to those who have not heard, and to encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.

In the Midst of the Whirlwind

by Sarah Langness

2200 miles. Fourteen days. Thirteen nights. One Annual Conference. Two family reunions. One of my best friend’s (aka brother’s) wedding. It was a crazy – but blessed – two weeks. We stayed in the same location no more than four days before traveling to a new one. We went from North Dakota to Minnesota to Wisconsin and to Minnesota to Wisconsin and back to North Dakota. We saw extended family on both sides. I played ultimate frisbee for the first time in probably four years and felt the effects for days. I cried as I saw the love in my brother’s eyes for his beautiful bride. My son touched his grandpa’s bald head for the first time and increased his fascination with mowers.

It’s been a crazy whirlwind of two weeks for this Langness family.

And now we’re home. I’m on my third load of laundry since yesterday evening with hopefully only one more to go. I’ve got a front flower bed that needs weeding. Somewhere in my vegetable garden are watermelons; I just can’t tell because of the plethora of weeds in that corner. I’ve got groceries to get and a few errands to run. The in-laws are coming on Thursday. Zeke has a doctor’s appointment in Bismarck on Thursday morning. We’ve got a wedding reception on Saturday evening. Jordan leaves for the FLY convention on Sunday. And then there’s the every day stuff of simply enjoying life with my toddler and husband, making sure that toddler doesn’t dive headfirst into his new pool, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, and all the other joys of routine life.

Coming home has been a whirlwind too.

As I was making a to-do list last night, I felt overwhelmed with all that I needed to do, that I should get done in just a few short days. But this morning I was given a gift. The gift of sleeping in for all three of us — including my ever-active one-year-old. Because of that, I was given much needed rest and time. Time in the Word. Time with my Lord. Time to simply stop, sip my coffee, read the Word and be refreshed.

During that time, I was reminded of the importance of stopping. Of resting. Of putting the to-do list literally out of sight and praying that it will be out of mind as I spend time with my Savior. And I was also struck by how Jesus Himself took that time to be with His Abba – even in the midst of a larger to-do list than mine.

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; the found Him and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.‘ He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’ And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

And a leper came to Jesus . . . ”  Mark 1:29-40a, NASB, (emphasis mine)

The work – the to-do list – never ended for Jesus. Always He was needed. Always He was wanted. And yet He never complained. He served and loved because that is what He came to do. He spent time with His Father — setting an example for us to follow in.

I only wish setting aside the long lists and being able to truly focus on the Word and on Christ was as easy everyday as it was today. But I guess that’s what this whole learning to “set your minds” (Colossians 3:2) is all about.

Committedly Crazy

by Sarah Langness

As I wrote once before, I love to walk. Almost every day, Ezekiel and I head out on a four-mile walk. Even during the cold days of winter, we walked – as long as the temperature was above zero. I’ve gotten looks of disapproval from older ladies, countless offers for rides, and even made some friends on that walking path. I’ve been called determined and committed to my face; behind my back, I’m sure I’ve been called crazy and foolish. Today was probably one of those days I would be called either committed or crazy – take your pick. But at least it was just rain. And don’t worry – Zeke stays warm and dry. In fact, I think he’s wetter some mornings when he overflows his diaper than he is on days like today when we hit the walking path.

Today, with my hood soaked, falling over my face and making me look like some Star Wars character, I contemplated whether I was committed or crazy. And I couldn’t help but wish my walk with Christ was as much of an obvious commitment as my daily physical walk is. I mean, these people I meet out on our walk, whether they are on foot themselves or in a car, they see me nearly every day. Just the other day, a woman at a garage sale told me I was her “hero” because she drove past me every day.

But is my dedication to Christ as evident?

Do I follow Jesus with such obvious commitment?
Do those I meet in the grocery store or pharmacy know that I am not living for myself?
Do I get head-shakes from others who see me living as Jesus commanded?

And following Jesus? That happens in the little things, as well as the big. Following Jesus happens when I clamp my mouth shut when I want to participate in gossip about that person. Following Jesus happens when I respond in grace to my husband, instead of snapping back. Following Jesus happens when I go without the “extras” and the “nice” so that someone else can be given a meal.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for the edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear . . . Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:29, 31-32, NASB

“Let love be without hypocrisy . . .” – Romans 12:9, NASB

We don’t do it for ourselves, for our glory and praise. But for Him and for His.

“‘Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.‘” – Matthew 5:16, NASB