Invite, Welcome, Love

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Matthew 10:42

I am often asked why hospitality is such a big deal to me. Why is it that I enjoy having people come to my home? There are several answers I can give. First, I like to feed people. I think for me, this is the biggest reason. I like cooking for people. It’s my love language. Food offers so much more than physical satiety. Food can be a comfort to some,  fun for others, and sometimes it can literally be necessity for someone going through a hard time. Second, not only do I like to feed people, but I like to make them comfortable. Sometimes people just need a refuge away from their own busy chaotic life, or to see something beyond their four walls (especially true during this global health crisis). If my home can be that refuge, then I will swing my front door wide open and welcome you in faster than you can ring the doorbell. Third, sometimes you just need to feel invited. That YOU specifically matter enough to be invited into someone else’s sanctuary. Even when I have a packed full schedule and life is spinning out of control, I still smile when I receive an invitation. I may not be able to accept that invitation, but it makes me feel so loved just that I was thought of.

If we are to lead others to a loving relationship with Jesus Christ, it will be through His attributes displayed in us and extended to them. How do we do that? It’s quite simple when we go to God’s Word. We follow Christ’s model that He laid out for us throughout the Holy Scriptures. Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of three steps used by Christ. He invites us to come, He welcomes us in, and He loves us sincerely. We too can use this model as we cultivate relationships with one another and with strangers around us.

3 John 1:8  “We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”

Invite

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 

Matthew 11:28  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Throughout Scripture we see a rhythm of invitation from God extended to His people. We see God inviting us to rest in Him when we are weary. He invites us to drink from the Living Waters and never thirst again. He invites us to walk with Him in peace and harmony. The final invitation is to Salvation and a place at His table for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Over and over again we are invited to “come” and take part in something He’s provided for us.

We should be following Christ’s example and inviting others to “come”. We can, like Christ, invite others to rest, to participate, and to dine. For those of you who face anxiety about opening your home, take heart. This doesn’t always mean inviting into your home. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, then pray about it. Ask God for clarity, wisdom, or a change in heart. In the meantime, there are so many other ways to invite others. You could invite a friend out to coffee or to a movie. Invite a friend or co-worker to a picnic in the park. Invite the new couple at church to dinner out and maybe catch a concert after. Invite your mom or mother-in-law to join you for a spa day. Plan a trip to the zoo or botanical gardens with your small group or mom’s club. The opportunities for invitation are endless, but they are meaningful if done in the spirit of hospitality.

Keep in mind that not all invitations will be accepted. Today more than ever schedules are packed full of commitments, and others take a while to open up to new relationships. Don’t get discouraged by these obstacles. Keep showing Christ-like hospitality and extending those invitations. God will honor your hospitable spirit.

Welcome.

Luke 9:11 …He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. 

Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

Webster’s dictionary defines the word welcome as “received gladly into one’s presence or companionship”. God is once again our example as many times throughout scripture he welcomes us into fellowship with Him. God has gladly received us as believers into His family and will welcome us into His presence one day in Glory. In the scriptures, Jesus welcomed the crowds as He traveled and taught the Kingdom of God. Even when He went to be alone and the crowds would follow Him, we see Jesus welcoming those in need over and over throughout the His Earthly ministry.

What does this look like for us? While we’re no longer in middle school welcoming other girls into our club, we as women still have social clubs whether we think we do or not. How about welcoming the new woman in your small group by making a effort to include her in conversation. Not only include her, but engage her in the conversation by asking open ended questions. Show her that you are interested in her, and not in what she thinks of you. Welcome the new mom into a play group by placing a hand on her shoulder and telling her you’re glad she’s there. Send her a follow up text message after play date letting her know how good it was to see her. Welcome a visitor at church by allowing them to share your row. Welcome one another with a smile, a hug, a fist bump (or elbow bump if you’re still doing that). Make a decision that you are going to make someone feel welcome wherever you may be.

The biggest way to make someone feel welcome is to simply include them in the activities and conversation. Pray and ask God to place someone on your heart who needs to feel welcome, then follow His leading in obedience.

(HOSTESS TIP: If you’re having a large event, try to greet everyone as they arrive. However, enlist the help of a trusted friend or two to help engage all of the new attendees or guests. If you have an event with 30+ women, chances are that you’re not going to be able to sit down and engage in meaningful conversation with everyone. This is where you ask for help so no one feels left

Love.

I John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”

Kindness is the best way to show love to one another. Kindness not just in words, but also in our actions. Kindness can take many forms, and can be so simple once we take the time to stop and recognize the situation. Walking in the park, you might not think about all of the opportunities for simple kindness. But if you purposefully go into to the situation asking how you can show kindness, then opportunities will leap out at you. Are you walking with a child? Be patient and let them stop to pick that dandelion for the tenth time (I was that child). Are you about to pass another person on the path? Offer a smile and a hello. Is there a dog someone didn’t clean up after? Yes that’s right, get a baggie and clean it up yourself.

Kindness can be paying for coffee for the person behind you, inviting family to dinner, offering to pick up groceries for your elderly neighbor, a “thinking about you” card sent to a friend, an offer to babysit for new parents who desperately need a date night, and so much more. You can find a kind word or action in any situation. There can be so many opportunities is we are willing to recognize that we have the power to make someone else’s day better.

Here’s the thing though friends, we’re not taught to just love strangers and non-believers. No, we’re told to love one another. This seems like the hardest concept for some Believers to grasp and it’s sad. In John 13:35 we’re told “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We can show love to strangers as much as we want, but if they don’t see us showing that same love to one another, it will all be in vain. We cannot fight and bicker among ourselves as Believers and expect the world to want anything to do with the Savior we claim as ours. Love starts in the heart, floods into the home, spills over into the church, and then cannot be contained in our community.

Friends, with Christ as our example, let us continue the rhythms of inviting one another into a relationship Let us welcome one another with open arms, and then love one another as Christ loves. The difference we can make to a dark and lost world is limitless if we follow the example laid out in Scripture.

~Paige

An Inhospitable Marriage

I don’t usually write marriage related material. Having been married just under a year myself, I am no expert and I don’t pretend to be. But, when God lays something so heavy on my heart, I feel I must share it with you. I want to talk about practicing hospitality in our marriage.RobertsBaldwin01268

Hospitality isn’t just for guests or neighbors. Your spouse desperately needs your hospitality. Unfortunately, so many marriages today are inhospitable. Inhospitable is defined as being harsh and difficult to live in. Studies are showing that nearly 50% of marriages are ending in divorce. I have seen many end myself, especially over the past few years. Couple are splitting, and then before papers are even signed, they’re with someone else. It’s a fast run to the next person that can make them happy. Unfortunately, that’s the key to this broken covenant. Everyone is out to be made happy, to feel satisfied, or to get something out of the relationship. If you go into a relationship with high expectations for what your spouse will do for you, it’s going to fail. If you think your spouse is there to make you happy and feel fulfilled, then it will fail. If you think that everything will be easy and all about you, then your marriage will fail. Romance novels, television shows, and Instagram marriages today give us unrealistic and false views on how a marriage works. When our spouse fails to meet our expectations, we respond with anger, hostility, hurtful words, and withdrawal. This creates an inhospitable environment for our relationship and eventually, it will fall apart.

Ways couples create an inhospitable marriage:

marriagequoteforblog1.)  They discuss their spouse’s flaws with others.

2.) They wake up every day asking what their spouse will do for them.

3.) They don’t have open honest discussions.

4.) They constantly complain.

5.) They don’t place a value on a relationship with God.

6.) They deny one another grace to fail.

 

Sometimes, these things happen without us even realizing. We get so busy and caught up with every day life that we lose sight of the importance of how we treat our spouse and marriage. We don’t intend to complain or be selfish, it just happens. Friends, we have to be intentional about our marriage. We can’t afford not to. We have to wake up every day and ask ourselves “am I being hospitable in my marriage?”

Ways to create a hospitable marriage:
RobertsBaldwin01312.JPG

1.) Do not talk bad about your husband. To anyone. Ever.

2.) Every morning ask yourself  “What can I do to be a blessing to my spouse today?”

3.) Talk about the hard things. Have those difficult open and honest conversations.

4.) Every day, write down 3 things to be thankful for regarding your spouse/marriage.

5.) Spend time with God every day. As you draw closer to Him, you will naturally draw closer to your spouse.

6.) Learn to accept , or give, an apology when failure occurs.

 

When you become intentional about practicing hospitality with your spouse, you will notice how much closer you draw to one another.

Romans 12:10  reminds us “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 

 

Paige

Starved

We live in a world that is starved for true authentic hospitality. With so many magazines and TV shows displaying what a perfect home should look like, so many people are unwilling to open their home to others unless they achieve that level of perfection. From pristine living rooms that are unbelievably uncomfortable to picture perfect meals that take hours to prepare, we are so busy trying to impress others that we fail to bless others. God did not call us to perfection, He called us to love. Authentic hospitality is sadly undervalued among our culture today.

Blue flowers

We read a story in the New Testament of two sisters. Mary and Martha. Jesus had come and was having supper in their home. Martha was running around making sure her table was perfect and the food was just right, but Mary was sitting at His feet listening. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I seem to contradict myself. One day I talk about planning the perfect tea party and the next I’m telling you to forget planning. Let me clarify. I’m not against a planned out event, a pretty table, or delicious food. I will continue to offer guides and posts on all things lovely when it comes to hosting different events. However, the motivation and heart behind our hospitality must be authentic and must be out of genuine love for others. We cannot get so lost in the planning that we forget the people. Now you’re asking “ok well how do I do that” I’m glad you asked!

  1. When you have company, especially someone in need of a shoulder to cry on, try your best to limit distractions. Pour a couple of cups of tea, turn off the TV, put your phone down, and listen.
  2. When you have company show up while you’re cooking or in the middle of a project, invite them to join you. (This mainly applies to unexpected company)
  3. When you are hosting an event, put your phone down.
  4. Don’t apologize for the things you don’t have, or the imperfections in what you do have. If a glass of water is all you have to offer, offer it humbly but don’t apologize that you don’t have lemonade to offer.

Authentic hospitality is not just for our friends and family closest to us. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” It’s opening your heart to the neighbor next door, the single mom down the street, the broke college student who needs a nutritious meal, the elderly shut-in desperate to see beyond their four walls, or the lonely widow who just needs some company. We read in the Old Testament a story of King David. He desperately wanted to show kindness and hospitality to the family of Saul after his death. So he reached out to a complete stranger, a shut-in relative, and brought him to his home. What a difference we could make if that was our mindset. When we treat people with kindness, we often open the door for them to receive a witness of the gospel.

Some good ways to seek out those people in desperate need of hospitality:

  1. Ask your church pastor or leaders. I am sure they will have a name for you to reach out to.
  2. Get to know the neighbors on your street. Maybe consider holding an open house and inviting your neighborhood to stop in for lemonade and ice cream this summer.
  3. Contact your local university or seminary and ask if you can be a blessing to a struggling student.
  4. Offer to cook supper for a family with an illness or a new baby.
  5. Pick up a shut-in and take them for lunch or a picnic in a park.

Our world is starved for true genuine hospitality. Let us be the ones to show them that kindness and let them experience God’s love through our lives.

~Paige

Entertaining vs.Hospitality

What sort of things come to mind when you hear the word hospitality? Do you imagine a beautifully set table, cocktails, fancy dresses, and perfectly put together trays of hors d’oeuvres? Hospitality can indeed include all of these things, but it doesn’t have to. Most of the time we associate hospitality with the idea of entertaining when, in reality, they actually have two separate meanings. We were called to hospitality, not to entertainment.

Entertaining focuses on impressing others, hospitality focuses on being a blessing to others.

There is nothing wrong with anything I’ve described above, however we need to keep in mind that true hospitality happens when your guests leave your home feeling better about themselves, not better about you. If we only seek to impress those around us with the things we’ve acquired, we’ll never be effective in loving them or being a blessing to those that we bring into our home. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set a pretty table or use your good china so everyone gets to feel fancy; this is only a caution to help us get into the correct mindset and prepare our hearts to love those whom God loves.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing different tips and tricks to help us through the holiday season of parties, dinners, and overnight guests so that we feel prepared and confident. Please comment below with your thoughts and a topic that you feel would be helpful this season.
Paige