Week 1 - Hospitality
An Introverts Perspective on Hospitality
It’s December and you know what that means. Every spare moment of your family's life is now officially booked. There are office parties, school parties, Christmas parties with friends, Christmas parties with family, the Frosty 5k, Merry Main Street, Christmas shopping, Christmas Eve services at Hope, Skating the Square…the list is endless.
It is in this time that people who have what we sometimes call the gift of ‘hospitality’ come alive, but for introverts like me, hospitality can be tough. They love gathering people, decorating the house for a party, and throwing an epic bash. While I think all of those things are great, I want to stretch our understanding of ‘hospitality’ a little like Jesus has stretched this introvert lately. You see in Matthew 25 it's recorded that Jesus is explaining the difference between those who follow him and those who don’t. It's clear that those who are Christ followers are hospitable, but in a slightly different way than we typically think about it.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” - Matthew 25:35
According to Jesus, hospitality is more than just hosting a great party. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a good Christmas party with some great friends and family, but our call to follow Jesus makes it mandatory. Even if we are introverts who loathe even the idea of gathering together.
It seems that Jesus is saying that hospitality simply means seeing a need, and meeting a need. One of the parts of Jesus' story that I think is so awesome is the simplicity of the needs that are met. We aren’t being asked to figure out world hunger in a day, but to simply share a meal or give a glass of water to someone who is thirsty. We can all do that, whether introverted or an extraverted!
For me personally it played out in a very simple way today. My daughters orchestra teacher asked for someone to volunteer and get ice for a party she’s throwing for the kids. It would have been incredibly easy for me to mark that email as read, and assume someone else will take care of it. But when I responded and volunteered to do so without her begging, her teacher acted like it totally made her day. All because of $4 in frozen water!
So I want to challenge you in the midst of the craziness of the holiday season to find little ways that you can be hospitable. See a need, meet a need.
What need have you seen this week, that you and your family could meet?
Frisco East Campus
Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
My family and I have this Scripture hanging above our dining room table as a reminder to love those around us whether they are new to our lives or old friends. One thing I have learned is that doing life together with people around us can be so fulfilling and life-giving.
When these times of togetherness have come to an end, I often feel like I can conquer the world! I feel seen and loved and heard. And my hope and prayer is that as people are walking away from these times with me, they have a full heart and feel seen and loved and heard. My prayer this season is that you and I are able to invite people into your world. Maybe that looks like dinner around your table, grabbing a hot chocolate, a cookie exchange, a trip to Top Golf, or looking at Christmas lights.
Who can you reach out to today that might need time around your table? Make a purpose to let this season be about loving others, being generous with our time, and showing hospitality!
Who this holiday season can you invite over to make sure they feel seen and loved and heard?
Spiritual Growth Pastor
Frisco East Campus
God Made a Way
Hands down, Christmas is my favorite time of year. My wife and I were married ten days before Christmas. We found out we were having both of our children around Christmas time. The bright lights, the smell of my wife's peppermint candles, and the joy that overwhelms my son’s face when he sees presents sitting under the Christmas tree make up some the most joyful moments in my life. There’s a reason this time of year makes many of us so excited, but none of it compares to the Christmas theme: God made a way.
In December of my 6th grade year I was walking home from school when some guys rode up next to me on their bikes and yelled out a mean joke. I had some thick skin but for some reason it completely destroyed me. I cried and hurried home beating my mom and dad to the house before they returned home from work. I was overwhelmed with emotions and didn’t know what to do, so I did the only thing a normal 6th grade boy would do in a moment like that...I went to my dad’s toolshed in our backyard and grabbed an axe from the back wall. There was a giant oak tree in our backyard that towered over all the other trees in our neighborhood. I walked up to that giant tree, writhing in anger and hurt, and began striking the massive trunk with every ounce of strength I had in me. Bark was flying everywhere and I was crying uncontrollably as I left deep cuts in the trunk of our beautiful oak tree.
A few minutes into my soap opera drama scene, my dad appeared out of the corner of my eye. He arrived home from work early and quietly snuck up on me to see what in the world I was doing. I put the axe down to my side and looked at him with anticipation and waited to learn what my punishment was going to be for destroying the trunk of our tree. We stared at each other for a few seconds, mostly with confusion, and he finally looked at me and said, “You’re doing it wrong.” I was puzzled to say the least but didn’t respond. He continued and said, “Grab the other axe and meet me on our slab.” Confused, I didn’t say anything and did as he asked. I grabbed the other axe from his tool shed and met him on the slab next to our driveway.
As I walked up to him with both axes in hand he was rolling up the sleeves on his nice button-up shirt preparing for some sweaty work. He grabbed a fire log from the giant stack up against the wall of our house and stood it up on the edge of the slab. He took an axe from my hand, reared back, and proceeded to split the log in to four perfect pieces. I was amazed and impressed. Then he asked me to grab a log, stand it up, and give it a try. I gave it my best but never came close to the precision my dad could achieve.
To this day my dad never asked me what was wrong or why I was swinging an axe at our tree. All he knew was something was terribly off. He never told my mom about the axe marks in the tree. He simply saw something was wrong and redirected me to his care.
When sin entered our world, something was terribly off. The world wasn’t right anymore. We couldn’t be with God anymore unless God made a way. God saw this problem and set a plan in motion to bring us back to Him once and for all...and that plan’s solution was Jesus. Christmas is exciting because God came down to Earth and made a way for us to be with him again and there’s nothing more joyful than a life where we can experience joy.
Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
When we place our trust in Jesus the Messiah, the One who came down to bring us back to God, our season becomes hopeful and filled with joy beyond our understanding or comprehension.
There’s no season of life, no 6th grade bully, that can withstand the overwhelming fullness of being cared for by your Father in your Father’s presence. And there’s no solution, no axe, that can satisfy the void of being bridged with your Creator as He brings you within his parameters and says, “Life is better if you do it this way.” All of that and so much more is the reason we celebrate Christmas and the reason we rejoice at Jesus coming down from Heaven and making a way for us to be with our Father again.
This Christmas season, where is your trust?
On what is your joy contingent?
Frisco East Campus
Choose what is better.
Jesus at the Home of Martha and Mary
"Jesus and his disciples went on their way. Jesus came to a village where a woman named Martha lived. She welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was busy with all the things that had to be done. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, my sister has left me to do the work by myself. Don’t you care? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things. But few things are needed. Really, only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better. And it will not be taken away from her.”
I sit here next to the glow of our recently decorated Christmas tree looking at our December calendar. Each day is written in with reminders of varies appointments and errands that need to be kept.
- Christmas parties
- Doctor appointments
- Child’s class party
- Shopping that needs to be done
- Holiday travel
These are just a few things that are probably showing up on everyone’s calendar this time of year. It can get overwhelming to think of all that needs to be done during this Christmas season and cause us to fall into the worry mindset of Martha.
How many times have we caught ourselves focusing on all the things that need to be done? Martha was so focused on making sure things were just right that she forgot that the King of Kings was in her living room! This Scripture is a great reminder to me of how easy it is to focus on presents rather then being present.
The Mary Challenge: Choose what is better: to sit at the feet of Jesus. I challenge you to take some time today to sit and think about the things God has blessed you with. Enjoy the quiet moments with friends, family, and God.
Frisco East Campus
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
In the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus is asked the question, “What must one do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus then responded with a rather controversial story. He told the story of a man who was robbed, beaten, bloodied, and left for dead. The controversy of the story comes in when a priest, the “good guy”, sees the man up ahead, but instead of stopping to help, he crosses to the other side of the road in an effort to continue on his way. Then, if that’s not bad enough, the priest’s assistant actually walks over, takes a look at the man, but then follows in the priest’s footsteps by crossing to the other side. Then Jesus adds even more tension when He tells of a Samaritan, the despised enemy of the Jews, who comes along and sees the man in need. He gets down off his donkey, provides medical assistance, and brings him to an inn to recover. And he doesn't stop there! He tells the innkeeper that he will pay for his stay and anything else that the man might need.
It would be easy to read the story of the good Samaritan and try harder to be like him. You might say to yourself, “I need to do a better job at looking out for the needs of others.” or “I need to give more.” Those are all great points, and what we should be doing as Christ-followers, but if we aren’t careful we will overlook the purpose of this story. We aren’t the good Samaritan. We aren’t the priest or his assistant. We are the broken, bruised, and bloody man lying in the street. Christ, the good Samaritan, is the one who came down, a foreshadowing of what He would do for us, and paid a price that we couldn’t pay.
“Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Essentially what Paul is saying here is don’t forget what Christ did for you. We were broken, bloody and left for dead, but He took us in. Since He did that for us, we must do that for others.
The inn in this story is like the church. The good Samaritan left the innkeeper with the task of tending to the needs of this broken man. Would it be said of Hope Fellowship that we took care of the broken? The Church isn’t made up of brick and mortar, the Church is made up of God’s children (that’s me and you).
In our society it would be easy to think hospitality is making sure the table is set perfectly, the lighting is just right, and everyone is wearing the perfect clothes to make your instagram post get the most likes. But that's not Biblical hospitality. In fact, authentic, christian hospitality isn’t picture perfect. It’s messy. But that’s what we are called to do. We are called to take in the broken.
Who is the broken person lying in your path who you are called to take in? Don’t be the one who just sees the need but passes by. Be the one sees the need and brings them in.
Frisco East Campus
A Perfect Christmas
In the theater of your mind, get a picture of a “perfect Christmas morning”. Kids are waking up and rushing into the family room to the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. There are so many presents and they are all perfectly wrapped. The kids are anxiously awaiting for everyone to get out of bed and gather in the family room so they can begin to unwrap the packages. There is a wonderful aroma of homemade cinnamon rolls and freshly brewed coffee filling the room. Christmas music has saturated the room with joy as you sit in your pajamas by the fireplace. Just at that moment, you glance out the window and it is beginning to snow. You think to yourself, it just can’t get any better than this. Everything seems perfect. A home filled with family and family filled with love for each other. All is well. Life is good.
Then all the sudden you realize that this is not you at all. It is Christmas morning, but life isn't really this perfect. There are difficulties. There is pain. It might even remind you of the things that you've lost. The reality is, Christmas might actually kind of...hurt.
This is why Jesus came.
Luke chapter 2 declares: “The Savior ~ yes the Messiah, the Lord ~ has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth.”
Christmas is not all about the glittery lights, beautifully decorated trees, perfectly wrapped packages, and delicious food. No! Christmas is all about peace, joy, and hope.
Jesus' parents, Mary and Joseph, were all alone and far away from home. They didn’t have a reservation at the Bethlehem LaQuinta. Mary had been told by an Angel that she would bare a child and she is to name him Jesus. There would be no place available except a stable. Life seemed to be so unfair. She was going to give birth to Jesus surrounded by the aroma of cows and camels.
What? The Savior. The Messiah. The Lord. He is going to be born here? They had no idea how things were going to work out. All they had been was hope in a promise they had been given by God.
Today, you may be surrounded by a less-than-perfect circumstance. Life may not seem fair to you and you may not know how things are going to work out. However, you can also find hope in one of God's promises.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote:
“For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
May the true spirit and meaning of Christmas enrich your life today.
Frisco East Campus
Count Your Blessings
In Advent season, I am always pushed to reflect on all that the Lord has done for me throughout the past year. Like it says in Psalms 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Whether people have hurt you in the past or you've gotten lost in the whimsy of the Christmas season, you can trust that His faithful love endures forever. When you come to the end of your rope, His love endures. When you're hurting and confused, His love endures. When you are celebrating the good things going on in your life, His love endures. There is nothing we shouldn't be thanking Him for, no matter what season we are experiencing.
My husband and I sat down last week with pen and paper and wrote out about fifty blessings in our life. We wrote the ways we have seen God move, things we were thankful for because we knew they were impossible without Him, and even the things that we take for granted sometimes that create joy in our lives.
Now you're probably thinking to yourself, "Yeah, Yeah. Thanksgiving was last month. I already told someone one thing I was thankful for." That's true, but this verse in Psalms doesn't say that giving thanks to the Lord is reserved for the 3rd Thursday in November! This verse calls for a constant state of thanks.
So, at some point today, challenge yourself to write down fifty blessings (or if you are an overachiever go for 100). Spend time with the Lord today thanking him for how His love has endured in your life this year.
Spiritual Growth Coordinator
Frisco East Campus