Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Heart of Hospitality

Hospitality is a topic that it is hard for me to write about. I am an introvert, and because of it I would rather spend much of my time by myself. But after this past week and reading Willing to Walk on Water by Caroline Barnett, I am beginning to realize that I need to look for more ways to serve others.

Of course, at the same time, I am struggling with the fact that I already feel like my life revolves around serving others. In other words, my heart is not where it needs to be when it comes to hospitality.

I am learning that hospitality isn’t just about entertaining others with dinner parties and barbecues. The Lord is working on my heart to show me that true hospitality is about opening my heart and my life as well as my home to other people and finding ways to serve others.

As I am learning more and more about modeling my life after Christ’s life, then I also have to look to Him in the area of hospitality and Christ was the ultimate host. Time after time in the Gospels we see Christ opening His heart and His life to other people. Even though He didn’t have a home of His own, we see Him inviting people to visit Him where He was staying. He fed thousands of people multiple times.  He offered healing where needed and took time to talk with people. He met the needs of the people.

As Christians we are called to receive others as we are received by Christ.

We are called to have a heart of hospitality.

Some Scriptures on hospitality:

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister to, and to give his life for many.”--Matthew 20:28

“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not please ourselves. Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.”--Romans 15:1-3

 “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save.”--Luke 19:10

“The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall also be watered.”--Proverbs 11:25

“A new commandment that I give you:  that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”--John 13:34 & 35

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” --1 Peter 4:9 (This is the verse that really convicts me because many times I serve others, but I do it with the wrong attitude and so I 
do it grudgingly.)

Dear Abba,

I have failed you in the area of hospitality in my life. I struggle with opening my heart and my life to others. I fear being rejected and have many other fears in this area, but I know that You have called me to have a heart of hospitality. I ask that You show me how I serve others and how to open my heart and my life to them.


Monday, April 29, 2013

A Week of Hospitality and Willing to Walk on Water by Caroline Barnett

Before we talk about the book of the week, I want to tell you that I am devoting this week’s blog to the topic of hospitality. Over the weekend I attended a ladies’ retreat that our church sponsored and the topic of the discussion was hospitality. The book I am reviewing today also touches on hospitality from a Biblical perspective and that is where we are headed this week. I’m not Martha Stewart, but I am learning that hospitality doesn’t mean setting the perfect table and serving gourmet dishes. Hospitality is about sharing God’s love with others by welcoming them into our hearts, our home, and our lives. So let’s get started on this journey…WELCOME TO OUR WEEK OF HOSPITALITY!

Now on to our book….

Willing to Walk on Water: Step Out in Faith and Let God Work Miracles Through Your Life

Usually when I write a review I  write about the book and then I write about my view of the book (what I like or don’t like about it). Today I’m going to do this a little differently. Today I want to introduce you to the author of the book before discussing the book. The reason for this is because Caroline shares a lot about her life in the book and the church that she and her husband minister to.

Caroline Barnett is married to the founder of the Dream Center in LA Matthew Barnett. She has a passion for inspiring women to find their God-given cause. She and her husband minister to thousands of people at the Dream Center through a wide range of outreach ministries—from a food truck ministry (which she started) to Project Prevention, which is a program designed to help impoverished families stay together. 

In Willing to Walk on Water, Caroline talks about how each of us has a God-given purpose and how our purpose can best be found we are using our talents and our passions to serve the people around us and work to make our world a better place. She shares how through her experiences at the Dream Center God has not only changed her and her life, but how He has worked through her and others at the Dream Center to change the lives of thousands. She shares how even when we feel unworthy or when things seem impossible if we simply step out and trust God He can work miracles in our lives.

I loved this book! Caroline’s stories of people at the Dream Center and their lives had me laughing and crying, but even more they moved me, they stirred in me a desire to go and serve. I can quote Bible verses about how we are supposed to go out and share the Gospel and serve those in need, but so many times I hold back from fear.  This book has reminded me that I have a calling and that calling is to serve others, and I have to give that fear to God and step out of the boat. I have to be willing to “Walk on Water” and do what the Lord is calling me to do.

Thank you, Tyndale, for allowing me to read and review the book. I received my copy from them, but if you would like to purchase a copy like on the link to the my Amazon affiliate store below.

If you would like to read a chapter before purchasing,  a link to chapter one is attached.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Where are Their Stories?

This week has been a hard week for America. It has been a week of tragedy with the Boston Marathon explosions and the plant explosion in West, Texas.

I am having a hard time writing this blog. As I sit here typing, tears keep coming to my eyes.  Tears of compassion for those who were injured in both. Their lives will never be the same again.

For the past several days, I have seen our news programs splash picture after picture and story after story about the men who allegedly set the bombs at the Boston Marathon. We have watched the family of these two young men plead with them and with Americans. They want us to have compassion for the men who did this, but I have to admit. I have a hard time feeling compassion for these young men. I don’t want to know why they did. I don’t care. They made their choice whatever the reasons for it, and yet our news programs are devoted to finding out why. I say the why is not important.

What is important to me are the stories of the people who were injured in both Boston and West, Texas. I want to know their stories. I want to know what it is that I can do to help. I want to know where the compassion for those whose lives have been changed forever is. I don’t want to intrude in their lives, but I wonder, “What about their stories?”

Families who are struggling with grief because they lost loved ones.

 People who suffered grievous injuries.

People who are without housing.

Children without a school.

What are their stories? How can we help them?

We are called to help them. We are called to serve them with mercy and compassion.

Where are the stories of the helpers?

The people who are worked tirelessly to find people who were missing in West, Texas.

The doctors who worked round-the-clock to save the lives of those injured.

The men and women who ran toward the explosions in a desire to help without any thought to the danger they could be putting their own lives in.

We've seen pictures of them, but what are their stories?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book of the Week: More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger

Book of the Week: More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger
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In the book More or Less, Jeff Shinabarger asks the question, “What is enough?” We as Americans live in a culture of luxury and excess, and Jeff challenges us to look honestly at what we have and who we are and ask ourselves, “What is enough?” Then after we have asked ourselves, “What is enough?” We are challenged to ask ourselves, “What can we do to help others with the excess that we have?” Then we need to go out and use that excess to help others. Jeff Shinabarger takes us through our houses and our lives a chapter at a time. At the end of each chapter, he has a section called “Enough Talk” in which he gives action steps that we take to apply the concepts he is teaching to our lives. He also has sections throughout the book called “Visual Moments” which gives a website address for a video where you can see these principles put into action.

I have found that this book has been really challenging for me to read. It is challenging because I have found myself questioning what is excess in my life and what I can do with what I have to help others, and I haven’t come up with any answers yet. Let’s just say that I’m still working on it. There is a strong part of me that wants to let go of everything, and there is strong part of me that is holding on to what I have out of fear. I have never really thought of myself as materialistic but this book along with some other events in my life has shown me that I can place too much importance on things and not enough on relationships. The one drawback that I have found to the book is that Jeff Shinabarger does not speak about his faith in Christ, but through reading his stories, you can see his faith lived out in action.

For more information on Jeff Shinabarger, his book and his ministries, check out his websites

To purchase the book, click on the link for my Amazon store below.

Thank you to David C. Cook Publishing for allowing me to read and review this book.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Starting Over (Again and Again and Again)

It looks like I’m starting over all over again.

In the past few years it seems like my life has been a series of missteps and start overs, and once again I’m starting over.

But as I think about starting over this time, instead of being overcome with fear (which is my norm), I feel overcome by the possibilities.

The difference?

This time I’m relying on the Lord.

I have believed in Christ most of my life, but I haven’t always relied on Him the way that I should. Like everybody else, I fall down in most areas of my life only to have to turn around and pick myself back up again.

I finally figured out that that  is what I am doing wrong. I am picking myself back up again when I don’t have to.

I just have to look up. God is stretching out His hand and wants me to take hold and allow Him to pick me up.

I don’t have to be perfect. Honestly, I’m a perfect mess.

But Christ doesn’t say, “Come to me when you are perfect.”

Christ says, “Come to me as you are and I will make you perfect. You will become the perfect YOU!”

He has a plan for me. He has a plan for you. All we have to do is look up and embrace Him.

As we keep our focus on Him, He will make a way.